Wotka World Wide

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

While the leftist commentators excoriate Dick Cheney for daring to challenge Barack Obama on terrorism and the ways to combat it, the Administration has spoken explicitly against Cheney while simultaneously moving to validate his ideas and actions at every turn.

Witness the announcement that the Administration is opposed to the release of the Uigher detainees held at Guantanamo, after ACLU types have been crying for years for their release. Guess their training under a major al-Qaeda leader might have influenced that a bit.

Then, the Administration announced that it was refusing to release classified documents that a District Court judge in San Francisco demanded be released, relating to the warrantless wiretapping program. In this case, they apparently realized that it might harm U.S. security to release the documents. Quite an insight there. Again, you have the Administration publicly bashing Bush and Cheney and their methods, and then adopting those same methods while fighting against oversight from other levels of government. It all comes down to protecting executive power. At least they are making the right decisions here, even if they won't admit it in public. And is it any wonder both these items break late on a Friday, with the hope that most of the country won't notice and more recent events will overtake the stories by Monday. Hypocrisy at its finest.
The Canadian governor general demonstrates masterfully how to handle nonsensical pronouncements from the EU and environmentalists:
Canada's governor general ate a slaughtered seal's raw heart in a show of support to the country's seal hunters, a display that a European Union spokeswoman on Tuesday called "too bizarre to acknowledge."

Governor General Michaelle Jean, the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as Canada's head of state, gutted the seal and swallowed a slice of the mammal's organ late Monday after an EU vote earlier this month to impose a ban on seal products on grounds that the seal hunt is cruel.

Asked Tuesday whether her actions were a message to Europe, Jean replied, "Take from that what you will."

Well, Robert Gibbs is certainly endearing himself (and by extension the White House) to the British with a public attack on their press corps:
"Let's just say if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I'd might open up a British newspaper," he continued. "If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not entirely sure it'd be the first pack of clips I'd pick up."
How nice. Way to strengthen America's image abroad, etc.
Who will replace GM in the Dow Index? Probably not Google, as has been suggested, as they would make up nearly 30 percent of the Dow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Russia breaks "wall" into U.S. nuclear market. Now, 20% of U.S. uranium needs will be met by a Russian supply company.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering the victims of Saddam Hussein, still being unearthed from mass graves in Iraq:

On May 13, news filtered out from the southern province of Diwaniya that the local authorities there had discovered a mass grave in the eastern end of the province containing what is projected to be 100 corpses. Initial reports, based on items of clothing and the state of decomposition, indicate that the victims, mostly women and children, were Kurds who had been transported from the north of the country and killed and buried there during the genocidal Anfal Campaign (1987-1988).

On Monday, the local bureau of the Ministry of Human Rights in Najaf declared that it will begin to exhume bodies from a single mass grave in the Qadissiya district, in the desert west of Najaf. It is estimated that 3000 victims of the Saddam regime, again mostly Kurds, will be found there, and there are expectations that some of the several hundred still missing Kuwaitis, who were abducted by the regime during its 1990 invasion, may be found in the vicinity too.

The news is not that six years after liberation mass graves containing anywhere from tens to thousands of Saddam’s victims are still being unearthed, but that in the province of Najaf alone there are 48 such sites still waiting exhumation and identification of the bodies.

Overall, some 400 mass graves have been discovered so far across Iraq, and the remains of their dead inhabitants have yet to be returned to their families. In a large number of cases, there are no families waiting for closure by collecting whatever is left of their loved ones since many of these mass graves entomb complete families. There is no one left to give them a decent burial, a name on a tombstone, or to tend the place with tears.
Via Gateway Pundit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peggy Noonan remembers some real American heroes. Hint: their last names are York and Murphy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The WSJ warns about the coming green climate-industrial complex. Many good points abound, but don't expect anyone to listen:

Even companies that are not heavily engaged in green business stand to gain. European energy companies made tens of billions of euros in the first years of the European Trading System when they received free carbon emission allocations.

American electricity utility Duke Energy, a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council, has long promoted a U.S. cap-and-trade scheme. Yet the company bitterly opposed the Warner-Lieberman bill in the U.S. Senate that would have created such a scheme because it did not include European-style handouts to coal companies. The Waxman-Markey bill in the House of Representatives promises to bring back the free lunch.

U.S. companies and interest groups involved with climate change hired 2,430 lobbyists just last year, up 300% from five years ago. Fifty of the biggest U.S. electric utilities -- including Duke -- spent $51 million on lobbyists in just six months.

Harry Reid is sounding like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi these days, with all the misstatements. And voters are starting to notice, as his poll numbers are falling! More:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the latest Democrat to stray into rhetorical trouble Tuesday, botching statements on three subjects in one news conference - including the fragile health of the chamber's most senior members.

The Nevada Democrat reported that one of them, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was absent because he was receiving a new round of treatment for his brain cancer. Asked if the cancer was in remission, Reid replied, "As far as I know, it is, yes."

Kennedy's office refused to confirm Reid's comments or make any statement in response, the public silence a classic Washington disavowal.

Reid was then asked about Sen. Robert C. Byrd, at 91 the longest-serving senator in history, who was hospitalized over the weekend for an infection. Reid reported that Byrd was to be released from the hospital Tuesday or perhaps later in the week.

Not exactly.

"Senator Byrd is improving," responded his spokesman, Jesse Jacobs. "But his doctors, in consultation with his family, have not yet determined when he will be released."

Reid also mangled his party's position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for relocating its prisoners.

But Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money before Congress approves it. "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," he said.

No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing them.

"Part of what we don't want is them be put in prisons in the United States," Reid clarified but digging himself into a bigger hole by departing significantly from some of his colleagues and administration officials. "We don't want them around the United States."

Did the administration put Democrats in an awkward position, asking for the money before setting out how it would be spent?

"Not at all," said Reid.

"Yes," his deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin replied to the same question.

Even the post-gaffe handling of Reid's remarks was awkward. Spokesman Jim Manley, who previously worked for Kennedy for years, swept through the press gallery to clean up after his boss. He retracted Reid's assessment of Kennedy's condition. He clarified Reid's comments about the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Manley's job was no fun at that moment, a reporter observed.

"Not so much," he said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here is a story, via Reuters, of some major US financial regulation reform initiatives, along with companies that might be affected by the proposed or possible changes. I like the proposed changes to short selling best (I agree with Cramer on this):

The SEC will meet as soon as this month to finalize an interim rule that requires large short sellers to disclose their positions to the agency. It is not clear whether the agency will require the positions to be disclosed publicly.

The agency is also considering five proposals that would restrict short-selling, including the restoration of an updated uptick rule, which allows shorting only when a stock's last sale price was higher than the previous price.

The AP has a look at the rising costs of automobiles expected with the recently announced fuel efficiency standards:

The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today's standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.

That means cars and trucks on American roads will have to become smaller, lighter and more efficient.

Eric Fedewa, vice president of global powertrain forecasting for the auto consulting firm CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich., said the changes will make pickup trucks so much more expensive that they will be used almost exclusively for work.

And instead of a minivan or SUV, more parents will haul their families in much smaller vehicles with three rows of seats - something more like the Mazda 5 small van, he said. The Mazda 5 gets about 28 mpg on the highway.

"I think what you'll see is a lot more creativity in interior packaging," Fedewa said. "You'll get more rows of seats where you traditionally had cargo space."

Already on Tuesday, some drivers were skeptical. Dixie Bishop, who runs a plumbing business in San Antonio that uses vans, worries the new requirements will drive up her costs at a time when customers are cutting back on repairs.

This all seems crazy to me, as cars will be vastly more expensive, while also smaller and lighter (meaning more deadly in a crash). Truck prices will skyrocket outside the range of your average consumer, while raising costs significantly for businesses that depend on trucks. And the claim that vehicle prices will rise $1300 seems pretty dubious to me, with the massive engineering costs that will go into these vehicles. I could see it being vastly more. What we are seeing is the freedom of a car being priced out of the range of the lower class. Once they ban the polluting older vehicles completely, the lower classes and immigrants will basically drive illegally or not at all. Of course, the Democrats are the party of the poor right? Don't expect these lower classes to notice they are being stepped on though...

And the era of sports cars could soon be over, as none of them come anywhere close to 39 mph, or even a third of that. Say good bye to Corvettes, Firebirds, Mustangs, etc. Only the rich will be able to afford vehicles like this, because of the penalties associated with buying foreign low mpg sports cars, as they will be the only things left.

Meanwhile, the Japanese have a huge head start on us, and do it with private companies, which virtually guarantees government ownership of American auto companies for the foreseeable future. Good thing for Ford they saw what was coming, but it is still questionable if they will survive these drastic changes to the rules.

Again, like health care, America seems to be rushing headlong towards the European model for society- a society with 10-15% unemployment that is held hostage to unions shutting down key industries every time they don't get enough increase in their month long paid vacations. Next the government will be announcing a 100% tax on the price of gasoline, to stimulate demand for more efficient vehicles. And look for a renewal of the 1970s idea of a low national speed limit around 60 or 55 mph, as this is the most efficient speed on highways.

Meanwhile, the Europeans are ditching their quasi-socialist leaders as quickly as possible to move towards the American model (see Merkel in Germany, Sarkozy in France, and whatever Conservative rises to the top in the UK elections next year, with Labour on the way out). It is a strange thing the way the world works.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Democrats in the Senate have decided to not fund the closure of Guantanamo, at least until they get a concrete plan from the White House. Surprise, surprise.

So far, the plan has consisted of begging EU countries to accept some prisoners (France has taken one), as the alternate, releasing them into the U.S., isn't exactly going over well with your average American.

I will be curious to see what the updated plans entail. Meanwhile in Texas, Bush is smiling, as more and more of his strategy gets legitimized by the Obama administration.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CIA Director Leon Panetta calls Nancy Pelosi a liar. Heh.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) infuriated Republicans this week when she said in a news conference that she was "misled" by CIA officials during a briefing in 2002 about whether the U.S. was waterboarding alleged terrorist detainees.Panetta, President Obama's pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton's former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that "CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed,'" according to CIA records.

"We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication," Panetta said in the memo. "Our task is to tell it like it is — even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it."
Even the New York Times is outraged at Rep. John Murtha's behavior:
Megadollar by megadollar, pressure keeps mounting for a House ethics investigation into the cycling of rich Pentagon contracts and campaign contributions through the appropriations empire ruled by Representative John Murtha. The latest disturbing tale is about Mr. Murtha’s nephew, Robert, whose defense subcontracting business lately has been winning millions of dollars a year in no-bid Pentagon contracts.

The nephew insists “good work,” not Uncle John, is the key to his success. But e-mails obtained by The Washington Post show the nephew touting family clout. One message advises a partner that a condition for “keeping funds flowing” mandates that part of the contract money, approved through Representative Murtha’s powerful defense appropriations subcommittee, be channeled to companies in Johnstown, Pa., his uncle’s home district. “This has been a requirement for what I do to get dollars through,” Robert Murtha declared.
But will Democrats in Congress do anything about it, especially after running on a platform of anti-corruption? Not a chance!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More do what I say, not what I do from President Obama:

And what better way for a new Democratic administration to symbolize cutting out excess in a time of hardship for millions of Americans than to hold a mega-fundraiser in Las Vegas, that urban personification of understatement, for a guy with millions in hand already and no one to spend it against?

Though the Democratic Senate majority leader's May 26 fundraiser at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace will feature Strip headliner Midler and songstress Crow, the biggest draw will be the commander in chief himself.

Nevada's glitterati have been clamoring for a visit since Obama turned the swing state blue, though we suspect the president might want to steer clear of some parts of town.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is still huffing and puffing over an offhand remark in which Obama appeared to link Sin City to corporate excess. Imagine that.

Apparently it is ok for our President to waste taxpayer dollars at this kind of event (along with NYC flyovers), but corporate retreats to reward high performers are highly immoral. Right. Don't expect to see a Dateline exclusive on this story. Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good news in Florida for Republicans: Gov. Crist announces he will run for the Senate in 2010 to replace retiring Senator Mel Martinez. This is what the GOP was hoping for, as he is a lock. The election would have been a toss-up without him. He is on the moderate side, but at this point the Senate needs all the help it can get.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Charles Krauthammer has an excellent column on torture and hypocrisy:

"We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened," asserts [Bush's director of national intelligence], Mike McConnell. Of course, the morality of torture hinges on whether at the time the information was important enough, the danger great enough and our blindness about the enemy's plans severe enough to justify an exception to the moral injunction against torture.

Judging by Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who were informed at the time, the answer seems to be yes. In December 2007, after a report in The Post that she had knowledge of these procedures and did not object, she admitted that she'd been "briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future."

Today Pelosi protests "we were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any other of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used." She imagines that this distinction between past and present, Clintonian in its parsing, is exonerating.

On the contrary. It is self-indicting. If you are told about torture that has already occurred, you might justify silence on the grounds that what's done is done and you are simply being used in a post-facto exercise to cover the CIA's rear end. The time to protest torture, if you really are as outraged as you now pretend to be, is when the CIA tells you what it is planning to do "in the future."

But Pelosi did nothing. No protest. No move to cut off funding. No letter to the president or the CIA chief or anyone else saying "Don't do it."

On the contrary, notes Porter Goss, then chairman of the House intelligence committee: The members briefed on these techniques did not just refrain from objecting, "on a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda."

More support, mind you. Which makes the current spectacle of self-righteous condemnation not just cowardly but hollow. It is one thing to have disagreed at the time and said so. It is utterly contemptible, however, to have been silent then and to rise now "on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009" (the words are Blair's) to excoriate those who kept us safe these harrowing last eight years.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Chavez just seized three oil rigs from an American company valued at over $300 million. Guess all that smiling and joking didn't do much, Barack.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Democrats seem to be working on all fronts to make sure that no one seeks to serve or advise their country in the future. At least, that is judging from their full frontal assault upon the legal scholars who advised the CIA on interrogation techniques after 9/11.

Never mind that water boarding is about the most lightweight torture imaginable, and using that technique is known to have prevented attacks and given significant insight into al-Qaeda's organization and future plans. Let's tar and feather the messengers! Or just drive them from their jobs and publicly shame them for merely suggesting that the U.S. has certainly used harsh interrogation techniques in the past and it is probably legally justifiable to do so again.

How do you Democrats think we won World War II? Do you think just asking the Japanese friendly questions and offering them tea actually worked in getting information from them? But we can't let what worked in the past get in the way of our current warm and fuzzy peace-nik intentions, because that has worked so well in getting our enemies to stop hating us.

I'm just waiting for someone to go on record saying that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad didn't deserve to be water boarded 150+ times. Go on, say it. I dare you. Let America know what you really think about those who organize the mass murder of innocent civilians.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Chavez and Anti-Semitism in Venezuela:
In a report to be released today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom puts Venezuela on a watch list of countries where religious freedom is threatened. "Anti-Semitic statements by government officials and state media," it says, "have created a hostile environment whereby some Venezuelan citizens have harassed and threatened rabbis, vandalized Jewish businesses with anti-Semitic slogans, and called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses in Venezuela." In a report on global anti-Semitism last year, the State Department listed Venezuela as a state sponsor of anti-Semitism.
Biden family linked to ponzi fund? Doesn't implicate Joe, but his son and brother manage a fund that is missing over a billion dollars. Look for this story to be buried by our press corps.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Considerations on what Arlen Specter's defection means for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the selection of Justice Souter's replacement, from Legal Insurrection. The idea is that Arlen's defection puts what was a wobbly Republican vote in the Democrat's camp, and any court nominee must get one minority party vote to get out of committee. Of course, Lindsay Graham and Chuck Grassley are on the committee, so they shouldn't be too hard to convince/bribe.