Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cruising the Web

Oh dear. This is an unfortunate photograph. I wonder if the photographer knew what was being captured at the time.

Charles C. W. Cooke explains why Piers Morgan has gotten such lousy ratings.

Critics of modern art just couldn't make this up.
A cleaning woman in southern Italy has unwittingly thrown away contemporary artworks that were supposed to be part of an exhibition.

Lorenzo Roca, head of the cleaning company, said the woman "was just doing her job" when she thought two artworks were part of rubbish left behind by those setting up for the show that opened on Wednesday in Bari.

Show organisers said one of the works she gave to a city sanitation crew before dawn included pieces of cookies, which were scattered on the floor, as part of an artistic arrangement.

Mr Roca said the cleaning company would use its insurance coverage to pay for the trashed art works, whose value was estimated at 10,000 euros ($13,700).
And she is not the first person to make that mistake about some supposed modern art creation. Why does this not surprise anyone?

Here is a surprise. And why are we just finding out about this now?
In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.

Mr. Curran gave the testimony in 2010 to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.
How many times are we going to see this headline? "Another day, another Obamacare disaster"

Politico catches up with the story about the files that the Clintons are keeping secret at the Clinton Presidential Library. The date for keeping such records secret from researchers expired in January 2013.
The long-sealed records pose a delicate series of choices for the Clintons, and even President Barack Obama. They could allow disclosure of the papers, fueling new stories about old controversies like Whitewater and pardons granted as the 42nd president left office in 2001. Or they could fight to keep some or all of the files secret, likely triggering a court battle and stoking concerns that the former president and his wife are unduly secretive.
Well, is this story any surprise to anyone? Perhaps Hilary's good buddy, President Obama will to help the Clintons out and go back on his campaign promises to make presidential records more open to researchers. But what surprise would there be about Obama breaking campaign promises?

Timothy Carney reports on how the revolving door keeps spinning for the Obama administration.
President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has left the administration and joined an electric bus company he subsidized and praised while in office.
Now isn't that convenient? But no real surprise.

AP reports on the problems the administration is in protecting people's private information from hackers on Obamacare websites.
Documents provided to The Associated Press show that more than two-thirds of state systems that were supposed to tap into federal computers to verify sensitive personal information for coverage were initially rated as "high risk" for security problems.

Back-door attacks have been in the news, since the hackers who stole millions of customers' credit and debit card numbers from Target are believed to have gained access through a contractor's network.

The administration says the documents offer only a partial and "outdated" snapshot of an improving situation, and the security problems cited were either resolved or are being addressed through specific actions. No successful cyberattacks have taken place, officials say.

However, the issues detailed in documents and emails provided by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveal broader concerns than the federal Health and Human Services department has previously acknowledged.
The administration says there should be no worries because they had action plans in place.

The WSJ reminds us that the obnoxiousness that John Dingell is bemoaning on Capitol Hill is partially his own creation.
Mr. Dingell may have intended his "obnoxious" barb at the tea party and Americans angry with Washington, but most of those people don't know how to maneuver through the corridors of power. They can't afford to hire someone from "the Dingell bar," the name adopted with an almost civic pride by the Washington lawyers who were well paid for representing businesses caught in the Dingell investigative cross-hairs. Many were his former staffers.

The "Dingell method," another phrase from the era, was to conduct an investigation, selectively leak what his staff found to a newspaper and TV network (double the media points), then haul the poor business targets for a public grilling before the cameras. The journalists would win prizes for the appearance of enterprise. The CEOs would be advised by the Dingell bar to be obsequious and remorseful whether guilty or not. The acrimony was one-sided.
First Amendment advocates such as Floyd Abrams and Nadine Strossen are chiding the IRS for proposed rule changes to burden the free speech of tax-exempt non-profits if they are engaged in candidate-related political activity.

Kimberley Strassel rightly criticizes outside conservative groups for supporting challengers to Republican incumbents when they haven't done sufficient research to check out these challengers. She writes in the aftermath of the story about how Dr. Milton Wolf, who is running against Kansas senator Pat Roberts had some bizarre joking Facebook posts using the x-rays of wounded and dead patients. And then there is the story of Matt Bevin, running against Mitch McConnell whom he criticizes for signing on to the bank bailout even though Bevin himself wrote a letter supporting the bailout.
The episodes have raised a fresh round of questions about these outside groups' vetting procedures and an endorsement process that has led to candidates that have imploded amid controversy (see Christine O'Donnell or Richard Mourdock, for starters). In announcing support for Dr. Wolf, SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins proudly noted that the candidate was "not a career politician." Yet while everyone might have an interest in fresh faces in Washington, conservative groups are getting a reputation for backing candidates that are untested, unvetted and clearly unready for prime time. It's worth noting that most of SCF's successful picks (Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Jeff Flake) are principled conservatives who'd nonetheless held elective office prior to running for the Senate.

The constant focus of SCF and the Madison Project on the history and voting records of sitting conservatives make it hard for them to complain when a spotlight is aimed on their own candidates. Their insistence on "purity" among conservatives guarantees a heightened scrutiny of their own picks. And their refusal to take a second look at their candidates—even in the face of disturbing revelations—risks making more voters wonder just how much their endorsements are worth.