March 12, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 03/12/2009

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Lawhawk: Former Nazi John Demjanjuk Charged With 29,000 Counts of Accessory To Murder - John Demjanjuk is alleged to be a Nazi war criminal who was a guard at Sobibor and was previously convicted for being Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp. German authorities have charged him with 29,000 counts of accessory to murder.
Demjanjuk is accused of participating in the murders while he was a guard at the Nazi camp in occupied Poland between March and September 1943. "In this capacity, he participated in the accessory to murder of at least 29,000 people of the Jewish faith," Munich prosecutors said in a statement. The 88-year-old Demjanjuk, who lives in a Cleveland suburb, denies involvement. (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades HQ: Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Obama - Monday Obama continued his string of undignified attacks on the previous administration, when he announced his views on the much maligned (by Democrats anyway) practice of presidential signing statements and his intention to use less of them. Guess what the Dear Leader did today when he signed the omnibus spending bill. “[Obama] also issued a ‘signing statement’ in which he objected to provisions of the bill that he said the Justice Department had advised ‘raise constitutional concerns.’ Among them are provisions that Obama said would ‘unduly interfere’ with his authority in the foreign affairs arena by directing him how to proceed, or not to, in negotiations and discussions with international organizations and foreign governments. Another provision, Obama said, would limit his discretion to choose who performs specific functions in military missions.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: The entropy devil - Somebody had to say the obvious. Barack Obama is tying himself in knots. Andy Grove does in the Washington Post. “We have gone through months of chaos experimenting with ways to introduce stability in our financial system. The goals were to allow the financial institutions to do their jobs and to develop confidence in them. I believe by now, the people are eager for the administration to rein in chaos. But this is not happening. Until the administration does this, we should not embark on attempting to fix another major part of the economy. Our health-care system may well be ripe for a major overhaul, as are our energy and environmental policies. Widespread recognition that all of these reforms are overdue contributed to Barack Obama’s victory in November. But if the chaos that resulted from initiating such an overhaul were piled on top of the unresolved status of the financial system, society and government would become exhausted. Instead, the administration must adopt a discipline; not initiating a second wave of chaos before we have a chance to rein in the first.” (READ MORE)

The Barnyard: Tea Party Protests And Going John Galt - I have not read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" so I can't really classify myself as a Randian but from what I have learned lately I would surely qualify as such. As I understand it John Galt was Rand's hero that withdrew his productivity from society in protest of an ever intrusive over taxing government. I just watched this very interesting video from PJTV on going Galt as a large and growing segment of people are doing in protest of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid trifecta seeking to spend and tax us into oblivion. I have always had a very strong libertarian streak that despises government though I recognize it as a necessary evil good for only a limited number of things. I am going Galt in a way by closing my business in California and moving back to Alabama since Ca. has chosen to raise my taxes by a minimum of $500 bucks a year and that's a conservative estimate. Once I get back to Al. we will get a big garden planted and put that good old canning process to work. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Before Obama Downed Brown, He Harrowed Taro - We have all heard about how our new president, Barack H. Obama, snubbed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, head of the government of our most important ally since the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. But before Obama dissed Brown by refusing to allow him a full press conference or state dinner -- and reciprocating to a beautiful, meaningful gift from Brown by sending an aide to Blockbuster to grab a DVD boxed set in return -- the One perfected his boorishness by treating the prime minister of another ally like the hired help. In late February, Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan was actually the first foreign dignitary to pay a formal visit to the White House under the Obama administration. The Japanese were very proud of the fact that their PM was the first to meet this popular and historic American president, about whom they had heard so much; Aso himself -- who already had the reputation of being an ignorant, near-illiterate yokel who was out of his depth -- desperately needed the visibility of the summit to burnish his sagging popularity. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Beginnings and Endings - This is where your earmarks are being spent. “BOSTON – More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys. The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute.” In the meantime, taxes are being cut and compensated for by borrowing! “Democratic state leaders announced the elimination of $1.3 billion in proposed nuisance taxes from the state budget Wednesday, and will pay for the move with federal stimulus funds. … The agreement between Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith eliminates new taxes on common items — including previously tax-free goods and services such as clothing under $110, sugared drinks, digital downloads, cable and satellite television, and manufacturers’ coupons.” (READ MORE)

Andrew Cochran: Pulling the Curtain Back on Counterthreat Finance Initiative... Finally - Today, in a hearing room before (maybe) 50 people and with no "media elite" reporters present, a Congressional subcommittee finally pulled the curtain back on the single most effective counterfinancing measure in this decade, the joint Defense-Treasury counterthreat financing initiative. After covering this issue for 18 months, I was beginning to think that the success of the Iraq Threat Finance Cell, and the close coordination between Defense, Treasury, financial institutions, and payment system experts would never receive the attention and funding they deserve. Hopefully this hearing and the December 2 memorandum institutionalizing the concept at DoD are just a beginning to more funding, more personnel, and more success at stopping the financing of the most dangerous terrorists. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: There is nobody there - Barack Obama is too busy posing for magazine covers to actually do the job to which he was elected. There is a price to be paid when a president throws a party every other night, weekends in Chicago or Camp David and poses for magazine cover after magazine cover. After 51 days in office, Barack Obama has appointed only 73 people to 1,200 jobs that require Senate confirmation. If they require Senate approval, they are important jobs. But Obama is too busy to properly vet the people and appoint them to fill the jobs to get the work done. That is his job. And he shirks it. And now we pay the price. The London Independent reported: “Last week, it was all smiles and handshakes as Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama put on a show of unity in Washington. “But yesterday, Sir Gus O’Donnell, Britain’s most senior civil servant, exposed transatlantic tension when he protested that Downing Street was finding it ‘unbelievably difficult’ to plan for next month’s G20 summit in London because of problems tracking down senior figures in the US administration. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Steele reverses himself on choice - For the third time in his short tenure as RNC chair, Steele has fumbled a media appearance, this time on abortion, and had to reverse himself afterwards. Steele told an interviewer that he thought abortion was a matter of personal choice and that it should be regulated by the states. Now, as Ben Smith reports at Politico, Steele explains that what he really meant was that abortion should be banned by a Constitutional amendment: “I am pro-life, always have been, always will be. I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a ‘choice’ before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.” (READ MORE)

Patterico's Pontifications: Obama and the “Too Much, Too Soon” Syndrome - A mere 50 days into his administration, Pres. Obama is rejecting the suggestion that he is trying to do “too much, too soon” — a criticism from Obama supporters like Jim Cramer and Warren Buffett that is resonating at outlets like the L.A. Times, ABC News and an article by William Galston at The New Republic. Pres. Obama retorted that FDR “didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war,” while White House flack Robert Gibbs gave the extended dance remix of FDR’s “burning house” argument for Lend-Lease at Monday’s press gaggle. Putting aside the evidence that FDR’s policies prolonged the Depression, which was only reversed by WWII, Galston’s TNR piece recounts how Roosevelt in fact delayed most of the programs that did not bear directly on the economic emergency. As a warning, Galston notes a different historical example: (READ MORE)

Right Truth: Gauntlet for the GOP - With all of the talk lately regarding conservative leadership (or the lack thereof) you would think that conservatism is nothing more than a mere subset of the national polity. First, there was Rush Limbaugh versus President Obama, followed by Rush Limbaugh versus RNC Chairman Michael Steele, then Rush Limbaugh versus Newt Gingrich, and, as always, Rush Limbaugh versus the Mainstream Policía as evidenced most recently by the Newsweek cover feature involving, you guessed it, Rush Limbaugh. Unfortunately, for critics of American orthodoxy, conservative beliefs are not simply a matter of personal involvement; they are the essence of America itself. Conservative values come solely from God and flow within our soul in both intangible (“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) and tangible (“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) form. Therefore, one does not simply choose conservatism from a list of available options; they discover it from where it has always existed. (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips: A voice of decency inside the church - Having written so critically of certain Anglican attitudes towards Israel, I was very heartened indeed to see the realistic and decent comments made by Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney, in the Church Times the other week. Fraser, pictured above at 'Levellers' Day' in Burford last year and who helped prepare an edition of the Gospels with a neo-Marxist introduction, certainly could not be accused of being an apologist for Israel. Nevertheless, he has grasped that something has been unleashed which is in a different category altogether from legitimate criticism – and it is coming from the political left. Reflecting on the fact that far from being its ideological opponent the left has historically tapped into Jew-hatred, Fraser wrote: “Of course, no one on the Left would dream of saying such a thing these days, but many argue that this anti-Semitic prejudice has morphed into the rhetoric of anti-Zionism. An attack on the State of Israel is some­times code for an attack on Jews.” (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: National Security Ark Syndrome: A Tough Dilemma With No Easy Answer - Yesterday's post has prompted an interesting discussion, both public and private, stemming from the good folks on Multiply, where this blog also is published. Recap: The U.S. received excellent intelligence and a dire warning from a trusted friendly (Israel); but still we could not stop the September 11 attacks on the homeland. Burning question: Have we addressed other warnings? In some ways, yes, we have. In other ways, no. In my experience, investigators and analysts who shoulder the tough job of counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and related specialties truly are the cream of the crop. They tend to be both analytical and intuitive, and are devoted to national security. They follow up on leads. They track down our enemies, and prevent them from attacking us. But counterterror operatives also work within a bureaucracy that handles an overwhelming workload. Sometimes even an urgent warning falls through the cracks. (READ MORE)

Urban Grounds: The More Pork Sen. Byrd Pulls in, the Poorer West Virginia Gets - After our cowardly King Obama signed the pork-filled $410 billion spending bill behind closed doors (only to emerge and say, “From now on, we’ll try to be more responsible with earmarks. But not now. After this pork-fest.”) — Don Surber has this interesting observation: “Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd led the Senate in earmarks in today’s Ominous Spending Bill. All those years and all those earmarks have helped West Virginia become what she is today. The second poorest state in the nation.” Because government spending is not the solution. The creation of jobs and wealth by the private sector is the solution. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Advocacy Journalism - Scott Johnson notes Walter Pincus' whitewashing of the Chas Freeman withdrawal brouhaha: “Freeman's parting shot combined falsehoods, misdirection, and anti-Semitism combined with imputations of dual loyalty (at best). It is not only newsworthy in itself, it also raises serious questions about the Obama administration's judgment. In short, the Washington Post has expurgated this story in a most discreditable manner.” Though this may be disappointing, it is hardly surprising. Pincus has long urged reporters to use their positions as filterers of the news to build support for their personal political objectives: “Pincus does something rare for any mainstream journalist: he openly argues for a more political press. He even uses the word ‘activist,’ which is forbidden in the mainstream newsroom code. And he says that courage in political reporting sometimes means the courage to admit you’re a participant—a player, a power in your own right—within the struggle for self-government, the battle for public opinion and the politics of the day.” (READ MORE)

Robert Stacy McCain: How to Hate Feminism - Months ago, when I first coined the motto, "Equality Is For Ugly Losers," some of the ladies took umbrage. What was I saying? What was the point? And, even if my point was valid, why would I choose to express it in such a potentially offensive manner? Isn't it better to "draw more flies with honey," so to speak? Whomping the mule - Mild and accommodating rhetoric, the pleasing niceness of polite discourse, is a fine thing to practice in one's personal life, and I attempt to do so. Taki's editor Richard Spencer can tell you of the CPAC cocktail reception where he struck out with Suzanna Logan in part because he insisted on provoking rather a fierce argument with a Republican political operative. (Dude, we've got to work on your game. Seriously.) However, the engaging habits of deference and humility, so requisite to success in interpersonal relationships, can become a deadly poison when applied to political and intellectual combat. (READ MORE)

Dan Gifford: Stewart, Santelli And Sarcasm - Something didn’t sound quite right when I listened to Jon Stewart’s set-up for his sarcastic blast of CNBC’s Rick Santelli as a hypocrite who thinks federal bailout money for corporate America is just fine while a helping hand from Uncle Sam (a bailout by another name) for strapped mortgage holders isn’t. So I reverted to the method I’d come to rely on while an investigative reporter when I could not follow what a fast talking con artist was actually saying: I transcribed what he said. And sure enough, the words on paper revealed Stewart’s sophistry that my ears could not pinpoint: “Actually, our guest tonight was supposed to be this guy. His name is Rick Santelli. He’s an analyst for CNBC and he’s a former derivatives trader. The reason he became famous was because of a sort of Howard Beale moment on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He had done some critical reporting on the hundreds of billions of dollars of bailout money going to failed banks, failed auto makers and insurers of failed banks and auto makers (laughter). But when it looked like the president wanted a small percentage of that money to go to actual homeowners, whu ho!!!!! (laughter). David Banner became The Incredible Santelli.” (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Fast and Thick in the Age of Obama - One Big Thing - In this fiscal crisis, the public wanted one big thing to quote Archilochus: A reform of the banking industry that offered federal-guaranteed lines of credit to ensure liquidity, and a new transparency so investors would at least know that their supposedly blue-chip AIG stocks or Lehman Brother portfolio was, in fact, a house of cards based on the serial reselling of sub-prime mortgages—and in the end hinged on whether a wage-earning Bill Smith in Merced could keep servicing an 8% loan on a $400,000, 3,000 sf home that he bought with no down payment. But that one thing was not to be—and instead from Obama we got the entire kitchen sink—drain, pipes, basin, and faucets thrown at us all at once. (READ MORE)

Just the Library Keeper: I may never have mentioned it but... - I was broken by the end of the Vietnam tour, or molded into the fellow I fool the world with, doesn't matter about the carving me out of the boy and grinding me into a man, but I remain very interested in the military, history and arts of war and will. I follow most of the space combat, good fantasy adventures and techno-thrillers. I have followed Stephen Hunter since Master Sniper - love both Earl (my Name!) and Bob Lee Swagger (Robert E. Lee is one of my heroes) and in the 47th Samurai I find another Vietnam Vet that is sixty and still a dangerous old man - certainly more dangerous than I could ever claim to be - nice story, fairy tale ending, but nice story. Jerry Pournelle answers a question about an Introduction he made to a David Drake book titled Hammer's Slammers. It is titled "Mercenaries and Military Virtue" and worth the read, but then I am not giving up my copy of that book. I hear rumblings that Andy Rooney doesn't see any heroes now in America, and I laugh knowing where they all are: (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: Get Off Michael Steele's Back - Michael Steele is in trouble again with Republicans, but this time, unlike the Rush Limbaugh / RNC Nazi flap, the criticism is totally undeserved. Nothing against Jill Stanek, Tony Perkins, or Charmaine Yoest, who I absolutely adore, but regrettably, I have to say that their comments on this are bordering on silly. So, Steele said women have a right to choose an abortion. So what? Newsflash: they do currently have that right. Hence the "choose life" slogan that those of us who are pro-lifers love to slap on t-shirts, posters, and bumper stickers. Here's what's really going on here. Liberals are going to try to destroy Michael Steele because if you're not a straight, white male, they think they own you. In you are black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, female, gay, etc., etc., and a Republican, they're going to try to personally humiliate and destroy you for being a living, breathing, refutation of the idea that women and minorities can only succeed with the help of the Democratic Party. On the other hand, there's something very different going on with conservatives. (READ MORE)

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred: Poli Sci 101 For Obama: Why Democracy Works And Socialism Fails - Why isn’t there a single example of a successful ‘People’s Paradise’? How is it that the best of intentioned revolutionaries was never able to produce a functional society? Why is it that societies that espouse economic equality and predicated on well meaning ideals, either secular or religious, have proved to be abject failures? Socialists mistakenly believe that a collective ‘unity’ of belief, thought and ideology empower a society. Their strength, they believe, are in the numbers of those who share their ideologies. Socialists believe that they have every right to design a society based on what they believe is in the best interest of that society. They also believe that an unwillingness to conform to their ideals, poses a threat and quite possibly, a danger. For today’s liberal elites and their Democrat hangers on, it is about ‘the color of one’s skin’ and not the ‘content of character. It is about image and not substance. (READ MORE)

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