April 30, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 04/30/2009

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

The Lasso of Truth: The flaw of a socialistic democracy - An interesting observation: “Economic growth and industrialization usually lead to the creation of a middle class. As its members become wealthier and more educated, the middle class turns increasingly vocal, demanding more rights to protect its economic gains. But over the past decade, the antidemocratic behavior of the middle class in many countries has threatened to undermine this conventional wisdom. Although many developing countries have created trappings of democracy, such as regular elections, they often failed to build strong institutions, including independent courts, impartial election monitoring, and a truly free press and civil society. The middle class's newfound disdain for democracy is counterintuitive.” Is democracy under threat from those who benefit from it the most? Maybe. But the important question is not whether democracy really works, but rather whether we recognize that we are practicing the wrong kind of democracy. (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: The Fading Appeal of Bill Clinton - I believe one reason Barack Obama tapped Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State in large part to buy her husband’s silence. As the most popular Democrat in the country until Obama came along, Bill Clinton could give “blue dog” Democrats cover should he ever even hint that he opposed one of the President’s initiatives, particularly those undermining his own legacy (like the provisions in the “stimulus” weakening the landmark welfare reform he signed in 1996). But, with Bill’s wife in the cabinet, Obama effectively tied that Democrat’s tongue. Not an easy task. And a politically shrewd move. Somewhere deep down, Clinton may well resent Obama. The incumbent, unlike his Democratic predecessor, actually won a majority of the popular vote. (READ MORE)

NMAW: The Marine “deserter” who earned the Medal of Honor - You could say that Jack Lucas was something of a troublemaker in the Marines. He lied to get in, then deserted his post when it didn’t suit him. Declared AWOL and demoted, he finally reappeared as a stowaway on a troopship far away from the rest of his unit. But despite his disregard for certain rules, Lucas was more patriot than troublemaker. He had boarded the troopship because it was Iwo Jima bound. Within hours of arriving there, Lucas became the youngest Marine to ever earn the Medal of Honor. While it was not uncommon for young men to lie about their age to join the military, few World War II veterans had signed on as 14-year-old high school freshmen. But big, athletic Jack Lucas, a cadet at the Edwards Military Institute in North Carolina, was determined to fool the Marine recruiters. He enlisted in August 1942 with forged documents and saw duty at several Stateside locations before being sent to Pearl Harbor in late 1943. (READ MORE)

Information Dissemination: Phase 0 Operations For Failed States MIA - The question continues to be asked, what is the solution to the piracy problem? The question was posed by the Senate during the nomination process of Ray Mabus and Bob Work, just like it is continuously asked every where else. I think there are plenty of good ideas, although I am not sure which ideas would be seen as compelling at this time. For example, I think as part of the arsenal of soft power, the United States maritime services need to have the strategic capability to organically establish a Coast Guard, but all of the supporting reasons and analysis of this idea would take three thousand words, at least. Perhaps some other time. What the question reveals is what bothers me. First, the question reveals the reality that the answer doesn't exist. Nobody in the Navy knows, and before that is considered a problem it is still being debated whether this is a problem to be solved by the Navy, or the Coast Guard. (READ MORE)

Spike Spencer: When in Rome Fight Anti-Americanism - We’ve all heard the old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Now that doesn’t mean crucifixions, world domination, and little boy rump humping. That simply means live as the locals do. Blend in. We as Americans are notorious for doing exactly the opposite. And definitely we should all collectively do our best to be decent travelers so we don’t continue to come off as obnoxious boobs to the rest of the world already looking for a reason to hate us. I’ve been that boob before, and I hereby apologize to the entire world. I have learned my lesson. But, hate us? Really. Then why do people cross oceans on tiny little boats, risking their lives in the process, to get to our horrible country? Why do people from all over the world come to us for serious health care when it really hits the fan? Why is it that someone can come to our country, not even speak the language, and in a few years become wealthy? (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Nothing New Under the Sun - The Same Old Equality of Result - Rather than nitpick about Obama’s envisioned brave new world, I think it wiser to see it in the larger context of age-old divides over the nature of Western democratic and liberal society. Nothing that we have seen proposed since January 20 is novel; everything is merely the promise of the past outfitted with a new snazzier veneer of hope and change. Take his domestic policies. What overarching philosophy seems reflected in raising taxes, borrowing trillions to spend trillions more on new entitlements, creating a new health care bureaucracy, cap-and-trade, allotting trillions more for education, and the expectation of the appointment of more liberal judges? It’s old… In a word, it is adherence to the idea of equality of result rather than an equality of opportunity, the age-old debate that goes back to the Greeks. (READ MORE)

In From the Cold: The Forgotten Element of the Fly-by? - Viewers of President Obama's prime-time press conference might have noticed a significant omission. During a hour of give-and-take with the press, there wasn't a single question about Monday's fly-by debacle in New York. Never mind that lots of New Yorkers are still ticked. Or, that many questions about the airborne photo op remain unanswered. The White House has appointed a deputy chief of staff to look into the matter and his report will (most likely) be released on a Friday afternoon, six months from now. That's the cue for the MSM to drop the matter and let Louis Caldera hang onto his job. Not surprisingly, Mr. Obama's friends in the press corps are only too happy to comply. But the fly-by scandal may not die as quickly as Mr. Obama--or the media--would like. A little digging shows the "training mission" could be a bit more complex than the White House will admit. (READ MORE)

AJStrata: The Economic Train Wreck Keeps Playing Out - While Obama floats high and the conservatives do their drama queen thing, the real political force in this country is moving along with the incredible and unstoppable momentum. The real political force is the economic train wreck which is still tearing its way through the very core of this country, as we can see in the latest quarterly GDP numbers: “The overall figure was stark. GDP, the value of all goods and services produced within the U.S., declined at a worse-than-expected annual rate of 6.1 percent after having fallen at a 6.3 percent rate in the final three months of last year. It marked the worst two-quarter performance for the GDP in a half century.” Liberals from DC to the halls of the dying media outlets are trying to claim there are glimmers of hope. They are deluding themselves of course. The economy is shrinking, which means revenues to the government are crashing, which means we are also piling up debt at record levels: (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: The price of safety - So does this mean that Barack Obama agrees me? Or do political circumstances only create the illusion? The LA Times reports that the President has acknowledged that voluntarily refusing to employ certain forms of coercive interrogation may make it harder to obtain intelligence from enemy captives. However, he is willing to pay the moral price. “The assertion that the CIA’s methods worked doesn’t answer what Obama called the core question: ‘Could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques?’ Obama asked. ‘And it doesn’t answer the broader question: Are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?’” Having had to equivocate on the notion that coercive interrogation is useless, he is now asking the “broader question”. I think the honest answer to this question is that one always forgoes certain advantages by voluntarily restraining one’s self. (READ MORE)

William Teach: Obama Slurs Fellow Americans Yet Again - It seems that there isn't a segment of people who oppose Obama's agenda, or just happen to be a talking point, that he won't insult. He went after Rush. He went after Joe the Plumber. He insulted Nancy Reagan. He insulted Special Olympians. He had his little DHS report, which some on the Left still do not get, that basically put religious folks, veterans, and Conservatives in a box that said "right wing extremist." And let's not forget his little wonkiness when he called America "arrogant." Now, he goes after Fox News and TEA Party protesters. During his little 100 day photo-op in Arnold, MO, he had this to say (hat tip Nice Deb) “Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around,’ Obama said, ‘let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security. But,’ Obama continued, ‘let's not play games and pretend that the reason [for the deficit] is because of the Recovery Act.’” (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: Eric Holder: Putting Gitmo Terrorists In American Hotels? - In George Bush's America, the government worked to kill terrorists and keep them out of the country. In Barack Obama's America, the government brings the terrorists into and puts them up in hotels. “At another point, a questioner earnestly asked of those Guantanamo detainees who are believed to be innocent could be put in a hotel somewhere. ‘Hotels might be a possibility, it depends on where the hotel is,’ joked Holder. Before the speech, Holder met with reporters, saying the United States has made decisions on a group of about 30 detainees, but has not yet decided where it wants to send them. He said the United States is weeks away from asking certain countries to take detainees.” Four things: (READ MORE)

Classical Values: A dishonest debate over a misleading narrative - Speaking of principles, I loved Jacob Sullum's vintage 1992 Reason piece in opposition to all -- and I stress all -- hate crimes. What bothers me about the current debate is that it is being spun -- by various people on the left and the right -- as a debate over homosexuality. Naturally (and doubtless to maintain this misleading narrative), the bill has been misleadingly titled "The Matthew Shepherd Act" even though -- by federalizing non-federal crimes -- it goes much further than adding sexual orientation to the list of protected categories. “The new federal nexus requirement is so laughably accommodating that it might as well have been left out. A violent crime against a victim selected for one of the mentioned reasons can be federalized if it ‘occurs during the course of, or as the result of, the travel of the defendant or the victim...across a State line or national border’; if the defendant ‘uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce’; if ‘the defendant employs a firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or other weapon that has traveled in interstate or foreign commerce’; if the crime ‘interferes with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim is engaged at the time of the conduct’; or if the crime ‘otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.’” (READ MORE)

Humbled Infidel: Marine LtCol Chessani Wins Another Round - ANN ARBOR, MI – Yesterday evening, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), sitting in Washington DC, denied without comment the government’s motion for Reconsideration. Government prosecutors had asked that the unanimous ruling in favor of LtCol Jeffery Chessani, USMC, by a 3-judge NMCCA panel be reconsidered by all 9 judges. A majority of the 9 judges would have had to agree to take the case. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been representing LtCol Chessani since January 2007. He is also represented by detailed military attorneys LtCol Jon Shelburne, USMC; Capt Jeffrey King, USMC; and Capt Kyle Kilian, USMC. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Federal Hate Crimes Bill Will Erode Civil Liberties and Undermine Constitutional Safeguards Against Double Jeopardy - Update by Jay: The House passes the hate crimes bill! 249-175! Originally written by Hans Bader. Reproduced with permission. On April 23, the House Judiciary Committee voted 15-to-12 to approve a dramatic expansion of the federal hate-crimes law. The bill, H.R. 1913, would add gender, sexual orientation, and transgender characteristics to a law originally designed to protect racial minorities. It also greatly expands the law’s reach over local offenses typically handled by state prosecutors, by eliminating many jurisdictional limits. The bill would allow people who have been found innocent of a hate crime in state court to be reprosecuted in federal court. Many supporters of the federal hate crimes bill want to allow people who have been found innocent of a hate crime in state court to be reprosecuted in federal court. (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips: Creating an insult to intelligence - Listening to the Today programme this morning, I was irritated once again by yet another misrepresentation of Intelligent Design as a form of Creationism. In an item on the growing popularity of Intelligent Design, John Humphrys interviewed Professor Ken Miller of Brown University in the US who spoke on the subject last evening at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge. Humphrys suggested that Intelligent Design might be considered a kind of middle ground between Darwinism and Creationism. Miller agreed but went further, saying that Intelligent Design was: “nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.” But this is totally untrue. Miller referred to a landmark US court case in 2005, Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, which did indeed uphold the argument that Intelligent Design was a form of Creationism in its ruling that teaching Intelligent Design violated the constitutional ban against teaching religion in public schools. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Solipsism and the Apocalypse - It is a truism that human beings are fascinated by the Apocalyptic. Since the dawning of civilization, myths and legends of Apocalyptic times past and future have been a regular element of human discourse. Legends of a great flood are common across cultural mythologies. Wishes for the transformation of an Apocalypse are incorporated in major religions. Apocalyptic fantasies serve many purposes, not least of which, is as a defensive screen behind which genuine dangers can be hidden and ignored. Apocalyptic fantasies tend to germinate and grow when the fertile soil of deprivation and failure or personal solipsistic emptiness occur. We are all, by this time, all too unhappily familiar with the Apocalyptic fantasies of the Islamists. (READ MORE)

Right Wing Nut House: Moderates? Who Needs ‘em - What’s wrong with conservatism? Philosphically, absolutely nothing. There is a family argument going on at the moment where some question how conservative principles can be translated into a set of issues and policies that would lead to actual conservative governance but beyond that, everything is just peachy, right? Sarcasm aside, the question for the day is can political moderates be conservative too? Can you believe in conservative “First Principles” and believe in less ideological, realistic conservative governance at the same time? (Note: This is the de facto position of the David Brooks, David Frum’s, Ross Douthat’s, and Kathleen Parker’s of the world.) Forget Specter. This was no “moderate” and, of course, neither was he a conservative - except around election time when all of a sudden he would discover his connection to Ronald Reagan and the conservatism he represented. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: 101 Days! - We’ve arrived at the administration proper. Before we dive in, though, here’s Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard doing the honors on Dear Leader’s First 100 press conference: “One thing that is certain: Obama’s answers weren’t nearly as weak as the questions that prompted them. Jeff Zeleny embarrassed himself and his paper when he asked Obama what was the most ‘enchanted’ moment of his first 100 days. I was unable to see whether the question was read out of a My Little Unicorn notepad.” And here’s Tom Shales at the Washington Post carrying the luggage in an embarrassing bit of must-read soppery. “‘Now let me write this down,’ the president said with perfect comic timing. And he did appear to be jotting down the four terms so he could answer them in order — no hint of talking down to the questioner or making light of the question. Barack Obama is a truly flabbergasting president. And in a good way — not the way some of his predecessors were. He’s not flabberghastly.” OK, it’s Day 101, that’s all in the rearview. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Who’s paying for the Wal-Mart Airlift? - At 10 am ET, 100 Wal-Mart workers from around the country will demonstrate in Washington DC to demonstrate for Card Check. They will complain about working conditions and wages, which should prompt reporters covering the protest to ask a basic question: “Washington, DC – Nearly 100 Walmart workers from 17 states will come to Washington, DC this week for a national organizing committee meeting, and to brief Congressional staff on working conditions at America’s number one private employer and why they need a union voice in the workplace. Workers from Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, will be available to speak to reporters following the briefing with Congressional staff:” So these overworked and undercompensated employees from 17 states have enough time and money to take a couple of days off to travel to DC for a demonstration? Is this a spontaneous decision? (READ MORE)

Drew M: Chrysler Bankruptcy - Chrysler is going to go Chapter 11 but that's not really the big story to me. The really important story is the contempt with which Barack Obama speaks of capitalism. During his speech announcing the deal they will take to the bankruptcy court, Obama praised various parties, management, Daimler, workers and other stakeholders for their willingness to 'sacrifice'. Shockingly Obama singled out hedge funds and investors who were holding out for a better deal. He specifically said he did not "stand with" them. It wasn't surprising but it was a shock to hear a President of the United States speak this way. Aparently these investors enemies of the people, who kept the company afloat and workers paid, had the temerity to demand they be compensated for their efforts. It seems the government wouldn't even talk to them. (READ MORE)

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