April 21, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 04/21/2009

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

Rivrdog: Let's do some math! - What is $787 billion plus $3.6 trillion, plus $2 trillion, which was in borrowed money (Treasuries) sold in the past 3 months? Anyone? Bueller? Yes Mr. Bueller, calculators ARE allowed...in the back of the classroom there...come up and write it on the board, please. (the usual exaggerated student scribbling on the chalkboard) $Six trillion, three hundred eighty-seven billion dollars. Thank you. Be seated please. Now, what percentage of that figure is $100 million dollars? Watch those decimal points, kids. Yes, Sally? No, six tenths of one percent is wrong. Bueller AGAIN, my, aren't we AWAKE this morning. Yes, you are correct, six ONE THOUSANDTHS of a percent, approximately. Does anyone know the significance of this figure? (READ MORE)

Black & Right: Rush Quote Of The Day - Last Thursday, Rush had a take on just where the Department of Homeland Security, and their memo warning of potential terrorist actions by disgruntled veterans, may be heading. “This DHS report is just a summary. This was just a declassified summary. It's much more in-depth than what they released. It's a much longer report. What does the whole thing say? That's what's interesting. So this whole notion that the Department of Homeland Security is gonna identify threats to the country, inside the border, and they're basically conservatives. Scandalmonger was the name of Bill Safire's book. It was Scandalmonger, and it is about James Callender, and he took some literary license here with some of the personal life aspects of James Callender, but you'll understand why this is important in just a second. This has happened before. The country has tried something like this before. This is fascinating. I want you to listen to this.” (READ MORE)

David Bossie: ‘Perfect Valor’ Premieres at the GI Film Festival - We’ve all noticed that coverage of the war in Iraq has dropped off over the last year or so. Ever since it became an incontrovertible truth that the Bush Surge worked, The New York Times and MSNBC seem to have decided that there wasn’t much worth covering anymore. Clearly, editors sitting in glass towers in New York City believe that “stories” like Korans being flushed down a toilet sell far more magazines than non-fiction accounts of hope and change in Iraq stemming from the hard work of our armed forces. Now that things are going better in Iraq and controversies are more difficult to create, it doesn’t merit the “coverage” it once did. This phenomenon, while unfortunate, is not the most egregious failure of the mainstream media in covering the war in Iraq. Focused as they were for the last five years on finding (or inventing from whole cloth) reasons to blast President Bush for anything that happened in Iraq... (READ MORE)

Gary Graham: Janet - Put on the Coffee - I’m your guy. You will want to pay me a visit. You’ll be wanting to sit me down in your offices and have a little chat with me. And if worse comes to worst, I won’t even cost you much at Gitmo (while it still exists); for I require no Koran, no prayer mats, nor would I require any of the bathroom fixtures to be realigned to point toward Mecca. But you are definitely going to want to bring me in. For according to you, Janet Napolitano, Director of the Department of Homeland Security, I am a dangerous threat to the security of America. Apparently, I am a right wing extremist. You said this past week that the pro-Life, anti-illegal immigration, returning vets are to be flagged as being possible right-wing extremists. Since I wasn’t in the service, I guess I missed the trifecta. But two-outta-three ain’t bad. In advance of your grilling, I’m sorry… profile interview…I will list some personal information for you so that my incrimination and persecution can go more smoothly. (READ MORE)

A J Strata: Dem Lawmakers Line Their Pockets With Taxpayer Bailout - Well, I knew it would break sooner or later because the incestuous coziness of politicians to industry, and today is the day for the second domino to fall (the first domino was Senator Chris Dodd (D)): “Feinstein sought $25 billion for agency that awarded contract to spouse - On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms. Documents reviewed by The Washington Times show Mrs. Feinstein first offered Oct. 30 to help the FDIC secure money for its effort to stem the rise of home foreclosures. Her letter was sent just days before the agency determined that CB Richard Ellis Group (CBRE) - the commercial real estate firm that her husband Richard Blum heads as board chairman - had won the competitive bidding for a contract to sell foreclosed properties that FDIC had inherited from failed banks.” (READ MORE)

Chicago Boyz: Helpless Felon - Federal law expressly bans people convicted of felonies, or who have been the subject of a Dishonorable Discharge from the military, from owning, possessing, or seeking to gain possession of firearms. If they are found guilty of any of the listed offenses, then it is another felony. It can get even worse, though. I have heard of cases where a convicted felon has been charged with possession even though they are simply living with someone who legally owns a firearm. I’ve never bothered to look up any specific cases, so take this assertion with a grain of salt, but it does point up the very real concern that exists when felons have access to guns. This desire to keep weapons out of the hands of felons in many states extends to less lethal defense tools as well. Felons are often banned from possessing stun guns and defensive sprays. Eugene Volokh thinks this is something that needs to be changed. (READ MORE)

In From The Cold: Call the ACLU... - I'm a past victim of U.S. government torture. Of course, I never made that connection until the other day, when the Obama Administration released memos on that subject from the Bush White House. Reviewing various media accounts of the documents--including this one from the Washington Times--I discovered that I was subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques." Of course, no one used that term at the time; we called it "survival school." Back in the day, your humble correspondent was a military aircrew member. Part of my training included a 17-day course at the U.S. Air Force Survival School, located at Fairchild AFB, Washington. The school provides detailed instruction in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) techniques, essential information for anyone who might find themselves on the lam in bad-guy territory, or even worse, in enemy hands. We learned resistance measures in a realistic training environment: (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Modern Times - On the same day that the NYT won five Pulitzer Prizes, Reuters reported that the company suffered a first quarter loss “of $74.5 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with a loss of $335,000, or nil cents a share, in the quarter a year ago.” Bill Keller claimed that Pulitzer Prizes showed why the NYT was an indispensable institution, citing its ability to hire lawyers to break a story. But if so, why is it losing its shirt? The quality reflected by the Prizes failed to pay dividends in ad revenues which declined severely last quarter and look to decline again. The Reuters article said that “ad revenue fell 27 percent. At its news media group, which includes its daily papers, it fell 28 percent. The second quarter’s ad declines, Times Co Chief Executive Janet Robinson said in a statement, so far looks similar to the first.” The indispensible NYT is being dispensed with by the market. If Pulitzer Prizes are a reliable proxy for “quality” then why didn’t the Pultizer Prizes return business dividends? (READ MORE)

Marc Ambinder: The Future Of Obama's Relationship With The CIA - In the wake of President Obama's decision to release the OLC memos authorizing the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, it can be stipulated that there is plenty of angst at the Company right now. One doesn't have to quote an unnamed Bush administration official to this end. The full story behind the memos and their release has yet to be written -- I hope to write it some day -- and so we can safely ask whether the President's team reflected on the history of the agency, and especially what Jack Goldsmith has called the pendulum-like swings between risk-taking and risk-aversion. I posed this question to an administration official, who, unfortunately, would not respond for the record. But the response is interesting: the release of the memos was, according to this official, the single most Obama-esque thing the President has done since taking office. That is -- it's the most risky, most un-culture-of-Washington, most-in-your-face-against-the-bureaucracy decision he's made. (READ MORE)

Harmless Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Snap Judgments - FoxNews reports that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has, again, verbally attacked both Israel and the United States, this time (ironically) at a racism conference sponsored by the United Nations. Why doesn't this surprise me? I really didn't think that President Obama's attempt to reach out to the Iranians with a speech on their TV would really open dialog between the two countries; so I wasn't surprised when it's obvious that nothing will open the minds of the Iranian leaders. They've made up their minds; Israel and it's supporters (most notably the United States) are cruel, racist and evil; and need to be wiped off the face of the earth. They've made their judgment and it will stand; no matter what. Ever know someone like that; someone who makes their mind and won't change it? Like the Iranian leaders, they tend to be scary. Now I'm not talking about someone who has principles and lives by them. (READ MORE)

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred: Charlie Johnson’s War - Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been under increasing assault for the past few months. Some conservative bloggers are upset at what they perceive is the ‘new’ editorial positions his blog has staked out, reflecting positions that are increasingly in conflict with their own. It is my opinion that Johnson is being unfairly targeted. To be clear, Johnson doesn’t need me to defend him. He is quite capable of defending himself. There are those who have serious differences with him and others who have made their adversarial relationship personal. It is not my intention to determine the motivations of his critics. Charles Johnson has remained a force in the blogosphere because he is intellectually consistent. His positions have not changed or wavered. Remarkably, he has managed to aggravate the entire political spectrum, no small feat. Even his harshest critics (on either side) cannot dismiss him or the influence his blog has because when all is said and done, his arguments are relevant to his supporters and detractors. (READ MORE)

Soccerdad: When self-defense is a holocaust or the continued rantings of Roger Cohen - Roger Cohen is at it again. He writes in Israel, Iran and Fear: “In the German mirror stands Israel, another vibrant democracy birthed from the crime, albeit one, unlike Germany, that has not found peaceful coexistence. Israel, too, craves closure on a past that holds the insistent specter of annihilation.” So Israel’s birth is every bit a crime as the Holocaust? Let’s go over some of the details of Israel’s founding. “On May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine ended, the armies of five neighboring Arab states invaded the new State of Israel, which had declared its independence the previous day. The invasion, heralded by an Egyptian air attack on Tel Aviv, was vigorously resisted. From the north, east and south came the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt.” So Israel’s “crime” in being founded was defending itself against those who sought to destroy it. Forgetting about the refugees (from what would become Israel and the Arab states - whether they invaded or not), Cohen is equating Jewish self-defense with Jewish annihilation? (READ MORE)

Baron Von Ottomatic: Obama orders cabinet to cut budget, deficit rises - Much like a fat man at Pope's Fried Chicken who sets out to lose weight by ordering himself an eight piece family meal and double side of mashed potatoes with one white and one brown gravy, extra biscuits, fried okra, and a fried pie - but with a small Diet Coke, Obama finally rolled up his sleeves and set to the nasty business of spending less. He's directed his cabinet to trim $100,000,000 from the budget. Far be it from me to run down any attempt to limit government spending, but who put Dr. Evil in the Oval Office? Seriously. Obama can't even go for a billion in savings? Think of it this way - Obama's new budget contains $650 billion in new non-war related spending. What he's asking the cabinet to do is the equivalent of a parent telling a teenager with $6,500 in new clothes she's spending too much and she'll have to take something that costs one dollar back. Or, as Republicans pointed out, that $100 million is what we'll pay every day in interest to cover February's stimulus bill. (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: The unintended consequences of regulating carbon dioxide emissions - The best article you will read on why it is not merely futile, but counterproductive, for rich countries to struggle to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. Teaser: “We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions—because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still. We don’t control the global supply of carbon.” (READ MORE)

Ilya Shapiro: Yes, California, There Is an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms - Last June, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, at least in the home for self-defense. Here’s our own Bob Levy, who masterminded the Heller litigation, talking about that decision: [Video at Site] While the Court’s ruling was a watershed in constitutional interpretation, it technically applied only to D.C., striking down the District’s draconian gun ban but not having a direct effect in the rest of the country. Well, today the Ninth Circuit (the federal appellate court covering most Western states) ruled that the Second Amendment restricts the power of state and local governments to interfere with individual right to have guns for personal use. That is, the Fourteenth Amendment “incorporates” the Second Amendment against the states, as the Supreme Court has found it to do for most of the Bill of Rights. I rarely get a chance to say this, but the Ninth Circuit gets it exactly right. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Time to Take a Deep Breath; Clarity to Follow - Barack Obama has been president for 3 months now. In a few days he will have arrived at the 100 day mark by which all modern Presidents are measured (in the MSM if not by history.) Addressing the economic crisis and changing the tone of our foreign policy have been the focus of the administration in its first 100 days. Hyperventilators on the Right have accused him of multiple failures (cozying up to dictators, blaming America first, etc) which in aggregate amount to endangering our security (as per Dick Cheney.) Hyperventilators on the Left have continued to attack the Right and especially the Tea Party Protests while starting to wonder whether or not the man they invested so much hope in might be just a little too close to Wall Street for their comfort. Perhaps it is time to take a deep breath and recall that whatever Barack Obama's policies and beliefs might be (and they are yet unfolding and until tested in an actual crisis, unknowable) reality will eventually be determinative. (READ MORE)

Rhymes with Right: Did Traditional Beliefs Cost Miss California The Crown? - Could be – and Miss California organizers has put all future competitors on notice that holding such views is unacceptable. “Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, tells FOXNews.com that he was ‘saddened’ by Prejean's statement. ‘As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman,’ said Lewis in a statement. ‘I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit. I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone and religious beliefs have no politics in the Miss California family.’” In other words, it is unacceptable for competitors to hold and express the views supported by a majority of Californians last fall. Oh, yeah – and how does the ever-so-tolerant Perez Hilton deal with the matter? With a typically classless comment about Carrie Prejean. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Janet Napolitano said what? - KING: A lot of Democrats in Congress want to you investigate [Joe Arpaio]. They think he is over the line. He says he is just enforcing the law and the problem is the federal government. NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, Sheriff Joe, he is being very political in that statement, because he knows that there aren’t enough law enforcement officers, courtrooms or jail cells in the world to do what he is saying. What we have to do is target the real evil-doers in this business, the employers who consistently hire illegal labor, the human traffickers who are exploiting human misery. And yes, when we find illegal workers, yes, appropriate action, some of which is criminal, most of that is civil, because crossing the border is not a crime per se. It is civil. But anyway, going after those as well. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: CIA: We stand behind our actions — and the results - With Barack Obama releasing the OLC memos and branding them as all but criminal and leaving the door open to prosecutions connected to the interrogation of Al-Qaeda terrorists, one might expect the CIA to retreat from its earlier defense of its actions. So far, though, the agency remains tenacious in insisting that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Abu Zubaydah saved American lives. CNS News reports that the CIA stands by its 2005 memo describing how those interrogations stopped another 9/11-scale attack: “The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of ‘enhanced techniques’ of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles. Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, ‘Soon, you will know.’” (READ MORE)

Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee: Torture or "Fear Factor" - Bugs in a box, slapping, simulating drowning, placing detainees in close proximity to an animal they find intimidating...this is torture? Sounds more like episodes of "Fear Factor" where "stunts" meant to challenge the contestants mentally involved ingesting a revolting animal, such as a cockroach, or being covered in tarantulas. It also involved getting close to an animal which many people would find intimidating and one stunt even required contestants to climb through a simulated electrical substation with "electrified wires" replete with simulated sparks and electrical sounds added in post-processing. Contestants were willing to undergo these "tortuous acts" for the almighty dollar and Americans by the millions were willing to watch them do so, week after week for six years. Yet today Americans claim to be horrified by these same practices when used on captured enemy combatants i.e. TERRORISTS to extract information in order to save American lives. (READ MORE)

Walid Phares: Jihad Corsairs on High Seas: What's Behind them? - Most of the media discussion about piracy in the Gulf of Aden has drifted understandably towards the sensational part of the story: how are the Pirates able to roam the Ocean? Is paying them ransom a better option than to engage them militarily? Last but not least, will a military intervention against the Pirates worsen the situation; will it lead to a massive escalation in Somalia and a Vietnam like quagmire for many years to come? The armed bands on the waters are still roaming the seas of Aden and the Indian Ocean across from Somalia and Kenya, are not impressed with the dozens of naval units dispatched by powerful navies from around the world. What is behind this Piracy phenomenon, what lays ahead if the international community intervenes and what could develop in that region if the latter is late to intervene or doesn’t meet the challenge? It appears the strategic challenge is even bigger than the mere piracy. Indeed the strategy now contemplated by regional powers could become a major military debacle. Here is why: (READ MORE)

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