Saturday, May 21, 2011

We Still Alive? Check.

Yet another failed end of the world prediction.  You would think by now that folks would tire from having to do this yet again... but natural disaster isn't likely to do in the planet.  We are.

From oil spills, nuclear leaks, chemicals leaching into groundwater and factories pumping poison directly into our breathing air, we are rapidly approaching a tipping point of no return.  We cannot continue to abuse the planet on this scale and expect to survive another thousand years.  The issue of global warming has led to debates, to the point where it seems people are overlooking the obvious while the planet falls apart around us.  

A record year for tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and storms should tell us enough.  

The Rabbit Versus Double G

Matt Osborne takes on Glenn Greenwald on the subject of our "illegal" war in Libya.  Now I personally think that for us to be in Libya is stupid, but I wouldn't go so far as to say we're doing it illegally. The points Matt raises are in rebuttal to Double G, who argued earlier this week that the War Powers Act of 1973 simply doesn't apply to Libya because it's not US territory, and US forces were not involved nor attacked, ergo without an actual congressional declaration of war, we're past the 60 days clause of the War Powers Act anyway and that it's illegal all around.  Matt picks it up from there:

The problem with this argument is twofold. (1) The United States has ratified, and is treaty to, international laws requiring our participation in collective security. (2) The Constitution of the United States specifically names the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the Constitution is not a technicality. 

Let’s start with number two. Greenwald would like to see Congress declare war before the first Tomahawk missile is launched, but the exigencies of modern war eclipsed that process with the attack on Pearl Harbor. By the time Roosevelt had a chance to ask Congress for a formal declaration of war, American forces had already received orders to fight — indeed, were already engaged in pitched battle.

These issues are why the Supreme Court has generally given presidents wide discretion to make decisions about the use of force (see Campbell v. Clinton, cert. denied, 531 U.S.815 Oct. 2, 2000). Far from “clinging to a fiction” that the WPR authorizes operations in Libya, as Greenwald and his sources declare, this president — like every president since 1973 — sees the law as constitutionally problematic, not to mention potentially disastrous when applied to the letter.

And that's problem number one with Greenwald...he's arguing the War Powers Act exists solely in a vacuum, and that there's not judicial precedent involving the enforcement and interpretation of enforcement of it...something you'd expect a former constitutional lawyer to at least acknowledge.

Nor can Greenwald realistically argue that Congressional deliberations produce a better outcome, as Congress gave President Bush an authorization to use force in Iraq. To his credit, Greenwald doesn’t try to make this argument; instead, to his discredit, he tries to establish that America’s role in Libya is just like Iraq. That is ridiculous. Iraq was governed by a despotic dictatorship and its citizens speak Arabic — that is as far as the similarity goes. There was no popular armed uprising in Iraq begging for international assistance. If Greenwald thinks that makes no difference, he can ask the Libyans what they think, since they’re the ones doing all the dying.

There's that vacuum again, with Glenn narrowly tailoring the argument to one facet rather than the holistic approach.  As many times that Greenwald has argued that the Bush administration and their neo-con supporters failed to grasp nuance when dealing with the Middle East, Greenwald himself does a spectacular job of failing to grasp nuance and instead resorts to the lazy "Iraq = Libya, neeners" comparison.  Problem number two.

It is their war, after all. This is an inconvenient fact for Greenwald, for like many detractors of the NATO mission he seems to think Obama decided to use the big stick on a lark, unilaterally. In fact, Moammar Ghadafi declared war on Libyans first, Libyans declared war right back, Libya’s already-unstable neighbors brought the Arab League to a vote, the United Nations Security Council took a vote, and NATO took on the Libyan mission before the first American missile flew. Obama had to be lobbied by Sarkozy and Cameron — a historical irony, as Reagan could have only wished for such allies.

G.W. Bush wanted a UN resolution as cover, but went to war in Iraq with only Congress on his side. The Bushies didn’t have NATO, much less the Arab League. They flouted international law; Obama is responding to it

And here is problem number three with Greenwald's argument as Matt points out:  Obama did not in any way act unilaterally.  The international community and particularly our NATO allies Britain and France begged us to help them undertake this mission.  You can absolutely make the case that NATO is more trouble than it's worth in 2011, but Greenwald doesn't do this.  Our NATO treaties, which Congress ratified, are the authorization we needed to undertake the mission.  The Arab League and UN signed onto it.  It really is that simple.  I don't agree with it, but it's not illegal, and it's silly to say it is.

Matt Osborne ends with this notion:

Collective security is the progressive idea at the heart of our liberal international order. You would think more people on the left would get this; Greenwald simply doesn’t care, because taking old posts about Bush and using find/replace is easier than admitting you are less relevant than you were in 2003.

It's a harsh judgement, but a fair and decent one.  Well played, Rabbit.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If you're reading this post, then there's A) going to be a lot of really annoyed Christian fundies out there about right now and you should go easy on them, or B) you're stuck here with me and the world's about the end.

Either way, I'll have a good laugh today.  And speaking of good laughs:

Pirates Lacking Booty

According to early reviews, the new Pirates release is not wowing the audience.  Johnny Depp gets some good laughs in regardless of the plot, but even he can't salvage this shipwreck of a film.  The problem seems to be mostly with the plot, and the lack of motivation.  Who needs a fountain of youth when you can return from death at any time?

It looks like there will be no sequel.  That ship has sailed.

Your Civics Lesson For Today

Last week when New Jersey high school sophomore Amy Myers challenged Michele Bachmann to a debate over the US Constitution, I thought "Well, Bachmann's in trouble if she takes her up on the offer...and in trouble if she doesn't."  Granted, it's a bit of a gotcha moment there, like Stephen Colbert's "Better Know A District" interviews but I figured Bachmann would send the young woman a signed copy of the Constitution from the Capitol gift store or something and move on.

What I didn't count on, and should have, was the reaction of Bachmann's unhinged followers.

A New Jersey teenager says she's received threats since challenging U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to a debate over the Constitution.

Ann Myers challenged the tea party favorite in a letter dated April 29. After it started getting media attention last weekend, commenters on tea party websites have threatened to publish her home address and some have threatened violence.

The 16-year-old from Cherry Hill says several commenters have called her a "whore."

Her father, Wayne, says he's concerned for his daughter's safety

Hey, stay classy, internet conservative trolls picking fights with 16-year old girls and giving them the granite countertops treatment.  Threatening to release her address?  Yeesh.

Are we that terrified of exposing Bachmann's ignorance?  She does that on a weekly basis by herself.  There's no excuse for this kind of nonsense, but somebody called Bush "Hitler" once so it's justified.

And Speaking Of World-Ending Stupidity...

Here in the NKY, state tourism officials have voted unanimously to give my state tax dollars to the Yabba Dabba D'oh.

Plans for the construction of a "creationist theme park" in Kentucky are moving right along, with the state's tourism board on Thursday granting the project $43.1 million in tax incentives.

The theme park -- dubbed Ark Encounter -- is backed by both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Answers is Genesis, a Christian organization that also built a similar attraction, the Creation Museum.

"This was the last real hurdle for us as far as I'm concerned," Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, told the Associated Press.

The tax incentives could subsidize up to 25 percent of the project. As part of the incentives, the state would return the sales tax on costs such as food, admission and gift sales. In order to qualify for tax incentives, the park must meet certain attendance requirements. 

That's great.  The problem is we're giving tax dollars to giant boats and dinosaurs when actual humans in the state are suffering through yet another round of education and social service cuts.

Beyond constitutional issues, the tax breaks for an amusement park come at a time when state leaders are asking residents to sacrifice as they cut important social programs. “The state has gone through eight rounds of budget cuts over the past three years,” including cuts to “education at all levels” and a pay freeze for all teachers and state workers. Meanwhile, the state cut funding for Medicaid by shifting enrollees to managed care plans, which often make it more difficult for enrollees to access care while increasing administrative costs by up to 20 percent by adding a new “layer of bureaucracy between the Medicaid Department and providers.”

And while developers say the economic benefits of the Ark park will make up for the cost of the tax breaks — pointing to Kentucky’s recently opened Creation Museumnot all are convinced. Indeed, after lengthy consideration, Tennessee declined to give tax breaks to a similar proposed project, Bible Park USA, concerned that it was not a sound investment of taxpayer dollars. 

Kentucky:  we can afford to invest in giant boats, but not education.  And these are the state's Democrats behind this project, like Gov. Dinosaur Steve.

Christ, indeed.  Joe Sonka, as always, has much more on this idiocy.

StupidiNews, It's The End Of The World As We Know It Edition!

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