Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

With the "fair and balanced" FOX News now openly advocating the Teabaggers Hate Obama After Three Months Parties and sending FOX News anchors to actually participate in the rallies, we have to realize that feeding the fire does make it stronger. It's the only avenue of power they have left now, they know it, and they are daring us do something about it by using it so badly. And if we don't, they'll pick a fight with their own in order to create blood in water for the feeding frenzy.

But leaving them unchecked control over the media narrative is far worse. Challenge them on the facts and they lose practically every time. Not only that, but you get the American people behind you in a major way when you offer them real policies instead of pointless blather.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Steve Benen makes some observations on Republicans and Constitutional amendments, and the latest idiocy, an amendment to protect the rights of parents to be able to spank their kids.

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child isn't, or at least shouldn't be, especially controversial. In fact, there are a grand total of two countries in the U.N. that have not ratified the treaty -- Somalia and the United States. Both President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice have stated publicly they'd like to see this change.

But this, in turn, has only encouraged far-right Republican lawmakers and their allies to push a new constitutional amendment to protect "parental rights" from protections for children. One GOP activist, Michael Farris, who helped craft Hoekstra's proposed constitutional amendment, said the right of parents to "administer reasonable spankings to their children" must be protected.

Putting aside just how foolish this is, I can't help but notice the right seems to want quite a few constitutional amendments. Hoekstra's measure comes shortly after Rep. Michele Bachmann's proposed constitutional amendment to ensure the U.S. doesn't adopt some imaginary "global currency." And that measure came just a couple of months after several high-profile Republicans renewed an effort to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

What's more, just over the last few years, conservative officials have also pushed for, and even voted on, amendments on flag burning, abortion rights, and gay marriage. There was some talk about a "Victims' Rights Amendment" for a while. Three months ago, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) even introduced an amendment on school prayer.

Aren't conservatives supposed to support conserving our constitutional traditions? Granted, none of these amendments are going anywhere, but this push to treat the Constitution as a rough draft strikes me as odd.

Why should that strike anyone as odd? George W. Bush famously said that the "Constitution is just a piece of paper." Rule of law means whatever Republicans say it means, and that goes for the highest law in the land, the Constitution.

They don't exactly give a damn.

Rejection, Vatican Style

Seems the Vatican is no longer accepting ambassadors from the US that aren't pro-life.
Vatican sources told Il Giornale that their support for abortion disqualified Ms Kennedy and other Roman Catholics President Barack Obama had been seeking to appoint.

Mr Obama was reportedly seeking to reward John F Kennedy's daughter, who publicly gave her support to his election bid. She had been poised to replace Hillary Clinton as New York senator, but dropped out amid criticism that she lacked enough experience for the job.

The Italian paper said that the Vatican strongly disapproved of Mr Obama's support for abortion and stem cell research. The impasse over the ambassadorial appointment threatens to cloud his meeting with the Pope during a G8 summit in Italy in July.

This is something of a serious problem at this point. The Pope is clearly furious at Obama, and blocking the US Ambassador to the Vatican is not a step to be taken lightly. But it gets worse:
"It's imperative, it's essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values. I hope the President doesn't make that mistake," he told the Boston Herald. "She said she was pro-choice. I don't assume she's going to change that, which is problematic."
Point of order: Abortion is legal in the US. Going on that logic, why not refuse to recognize the US diplomatically until Obama bans abortion in the country? It would be like Iraq insisting the Ambassador be a Muslim who publicly opposes the war or something. Obama's going to have to decide if the Catholic Church is running US policy or not. Regardless if this is a pro-life/pro-choice issue, this is a slap in the face of the President.

Then again...he's the Pope.

Obama's Used Volker's Waggin' Problem

The WSJ is reporting what I could have told you from Day One of this administration: Paul Volker's advice is largely being ignored.
The one-time central banker has been put in charge of a presidential advisory board that hasn't yet had a formal meeting. It has been nearly a month since he has seen Mr. Obama. Mr. Volcker hasn't been a main player in key decisions handling the global financial crisis.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the administration's plans for handling troubled financial institutions and the housing crisis without seeking input from Mr. Volcker, associates say. "Paul was surprised" at the failure to consult him, particularly on issues of financial rescue after his dominant role in resolving financial crises in the 1980s, says one person who has spoken to Mr. Volcker recently.

On the eve of one announcement, a Wall Street executive ran into Mr. Volcker at a cocktail party and asked what he expected from the Treasury secretary's imminent announcement. "I have no idea what Tim's going to say," he responded, according to somebody there.

A Treasury spokeswoman said Mr. Volcker was "briefed" on all plans, including the latest one addressing banks' toxic assets. A White House spokeswoman said that Mr. Volcker "is a valued economic adviser to the president and the administration." She said that his "advice on issues including regulatory reform and financial stability are invaluable to the administration."

Mr. Volcker, who recently had a pacemaker implanted in what he told friends was a "trivial procedure," said in a brief telephone interview Wednesday that he has no complaints about his role. "How they use me is up to them," Mr. Volcker said. "I'm conflicted about wanting to go fishing and being responsive....I might get busier than I want to be." He declined to comment about specific areas where he was or wasn't consulted.

When Mr. Obama announced the blue-ribbon advisory group on Feb. 6, he praised Mr. Volcker as "one of the world's foremost economic policy experts." With big names like General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt, the group, Mr. Obama said, would provide "voices to come from beyond the Washington echo chamber...." At a ceremony in the White House's East Room, the president added that the group would "meet regularly" with him.

So far, the full group hasn't met. "The whole organizational side of this has been a nightmare," Mr. Volcker says. A White House spokeswoman says it will hold its first quarterly meeting in mid-May.

Make no mistake, Volker's being put out to pasture. This disturbs me, as he has hands on experience in fixing a busted economy, getting us out of the inflation mess of the late 70's and early 80's as a Fed chariman that made the tough choices when the needed to be made.

Now? The old man's served his purpose, and Helicopter Ben and Timmy are running the show right when it's clear we need somebody like Volker to make the big calls. Obama still seems to believe that the problem is credit flow and undervalued toxic assets, not solvency of the banks.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Four armed Somali pirates get kicked off a US container ship by unarmed crewmen, with one pirate getting captured and forced to make a deal to escape to a lifeboat, worst pirates ever.

Same four Somali pirates manage to tie up a US Navy destroyer, a frigate, and an amphibious assault boat for days by taking one hostage, maybe they're not a stupid as we originally thought.

Obama has done the right thing, meeting a blatant act of piracy against the US with overwhelming force. At the same time, the need to revisit and revise the US military for the 21st century as Obama is doing has turned out to be far more vital than most of us thought. A $140 million F-22 Raptor is useless against pirates stealing merchant ships and taking hostages, after all. What heppens next needs to be an object lesson in America's war colleges. The FBI's Hostage Resuce Team has been consulted. It seems to me our military should have more units capable of dealing with that when American citizens face hostage situations in foreign countries or international waters.

These are the threats we'll face over the next several years, from so called non-state actors, pirates, thugs, and terrorists. Given the financial meltdown and the unstable economic picture, we'll see a lot more of this. After all, the pirates are doing this for money...lots and lots of money.

Refighting the Cold War with stealth fighters and aircraft carriers and supertanks? Not so much need for that.

StupidiNews, Easter Edition

US Navy ships have chased off the pirate mothership, resurrecting the hostage's chances at freedom.
Obama plans to release hundreds of thousands of Reagan era documents back from the dead.
GOP approval ratings are in a deep, dark cave of a hole.
Thai anti-government protesters have brought a halt to the Asian Summit meeting, killing it.
Apple's latest major parts order seems to indicate a new iPhone reborn this summer.
Related Posts with Thumbnails