Archive for February, 2009

obamabirthcertificate

A month after taking over leadership of the country, questions are still swirling among conservatives about Barack Obama’s citizenship. The latest to try to revive the issue, which was thoroughly investigated and debunked, is Alan Keyes – the man Obama defeated in 2004 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

This isn’t the first time Keyes has raised the issue of his former rival’s birthplace. After the 2008 elections, he filed a lawsuit against Obama, Joe Biden, the California Secretary of State, and the state’s 55 electors.

Keyes has not been a mainstream conservative for some time. He wasn’t even getting 1 percent in Republican primary polls in 2008, and defected to the Constitution Party, and promptly lost their nominating contest as well.

Most Republicans don’t believe this conspiracy theory. But it won’t stop an extreme minority from continuing to raise the subject and keep it alive. I have a feeling it will come up again when Obama runs for re-election in 2012, in a similar way that George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard did in 2004.

Update: Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama caused a bit of a stir over the weekend in discussing the issue. The quote, attributed to him and if accurately reported by a local Alabama newspaper, leaves the citizenship issue unanswered.

Another local resident asked [Alabama Senator Richard] Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof.

“Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.”

Shelby’s spokesman is saying the senator was misquoted. The paper’s editor and his reporter say they stand by their reporting and that the senator was quoted accurately.

Politico’s Ben Smith warns there may be video of this.

Holocaust revisionist denier Bishop Richard Williamson has worn out his welcome in Argentina.

Argentina has thrown out Holocaust-denying British bishop Richard Williamson, saying he must leave the country in 10 days.

The Interior Ministry said last night Williamson had failed to declare his true job as director of a seminary on immigration forms and because his comments on the Holocaust “profoundly insult Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying an historic truth”.

Williamson’s views created an uproar last month when Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication and that of three other bishops consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as part of a process meant to heal a rift with ultra-conservatives.

The flap led the Vatican to demand that the clergyman recant before he could be admitted as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. It also prompted the Society of St Pius X, founded by Lefebvre, to dismiss Williamson as director of the La Reja seminary in Argentina and to distance itself from his views.

The Vatican had no comment on the Argentine action.

Although Williamson has been in Argentina since 2003, the government’s secretary for religious affairs, Guillermo Oliveri, said immigration officials only realised he had made an undeclared change of jobs when the controversy hit the press.

But Mr Oliveri made clear the Holocaust uproar played a key part.

“I absolutely agree with the expulsion of a man residing in our country following his statements (denying) one of the greatest human tragedies,” he said.

It was not clear when or where Williamson would go. A person who answered the phone at the Society of St Pius X said Williamson was still in the country, then hung up.

I find it interesting that the Argentinian government used the immigration excuse to kick him out of the country. Even if he hadn’t included inaccurate information on his papers, I’m sure they would have found some loophole to throw him out. It’s worth keeping in mind that the people and government of Argentina are extremely sensitive when it comes to the Nazis, World War II, the Holocaust and antisemitism.

Several Nazi collaborators and war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, fled to Argentina after the war, often with the blessings of Argentinian president Juan Peron.

More recently, there were two terrorist attacks on Jewish facilities in Buenos Aires: the Israeli embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center in 1994.

The global uproar over Williamson’s comments show just how raw and heated emotions are about the Holocaust more than 60 years later. I find it astonishing that an educated man like him could genuinely believe discredited theories to whitewash what really happened. Whether or not he will recant and change his views is entirely up to him, but until he does no church, seminary, school, or organization will want anything to do with him.

Live Performance

Posted: February 20, 2009 in Music
Tags: , , ,

Foo Fighters and Serj Tankian“Holiday in Cambodia”

cambodia-skulls

The Huffington Post published my story on the Khmer Rouge trial getting underway in Cambodia right now.

The current issue of Foreign Policy magazine has a special report titled “The Axis of Upheaval,” with in depth articles on the three countries that could be the source of some of the world’s biggest problems.

I was surprised by their selections, since none of them were obvious choices:

  • New York Times East Africa bureau chief Jeffrey Gettleman says Somalia is the most dangerous place on Earth.
  • Economist Moscow bureau chief Arkady Ostrovsky writes about Vladimir Putin and the risks of Russia in these tough economic times.
  • Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones writes about the escalating drug war in Mexico.
  • All of them are must reads.

    money

    Government Executive has this story about a new memo from the OMB listing the requirements for disclosing spending from the stimulus bill, contracting, and risk management.

    While this, and the new recovery.gov website, are great tools in theory for investigative journalists, watchdog groups, and taxpayers to keep an eye on how all this money is being spent, it sounds a little overwhelming. I also have a feeling that the new transparency and disclosure requirements are going to come back and haunt somebody, either in one of the government agencies or the White House or Congress.

    There’s a new sheriff in town at the SEC.

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday named a former federal prosecutor as its new enforcement chief to lead the embattled agency’s drive to strengthen its pursuit of financial fraud.

    Robert Khuzami has been a top legal official on Wall Street at investment firm Deutsche Bank since 2004. Before that he worked for 11 years in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and prosecuted insider trading cases, Ponzi schemes and other financial crimes.

    Khuzami, 52, replaces Linda Thomsen, the SEC enforcement director since May 2005. Her departure was announced last week.

    Thomsen became a lightning rod for criticism over the SEC’s failure to detect the $50 billion Ponzi scheme allegedly run by money manager Bernard Madoff, despite red flags raised to the agency staff by outsiders over the course of a decade.

    The naming of Khuzami by new SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro came two days after the agency accused Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford in a civil lawsuit of a “massive” $8 billion fraud that lured investors with sham promises of double-digit returns on certificates of deposit.

    Besides leading several major financial fraud cases, Khuzami also prosecuted the “Blind Sheik” Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman in what was then the largest terrorism trial in U.S. history following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Ten defendants were convicted of operating a terrorist organization responsible for the bombing, the assassination of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, and planning bomb attacks on law enforcement and other high-profile targets.

    Other than Patrick Fitzgerald, I can’t think of another prosecutor who would scare me more if I were under investigation.