Thursday, May 15, 2014

Last Call For Unauthorization

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is finally, finally backing efforts to revisit the Eternal War that Bush started...and maybe finally putting an end to it.

Although Reid did not take a specific stand on how the law should be changed, in an interview with BuzzFeed he argued the time has come to revisit the Authorization of Use of Military Force.

“It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but 9/11 was a very difficult time in the history of this country,” said Reid, who voted for the law in 2001.

[But] I definitely think its something we should definitely take a look at. I think 9/11 is a long time ago, and it’s something that needs to be looked at again. I have no problem with that,” Reid added.

The AUMF gave military and intelligence agencies wide leeway to pursue individuals and organizations with suspected ties to al Qaeda. The law provided the legal groundwork for the administration’s aggressive counterterrorism strategy, from armed drone strikes to “kill/capture” missions, raids similar to the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Although anti-war elements in Congress have long complained about the broad scope of the scant 60-word law, over the last several years members on both sides of aisle have increasingly raised concerns with the law, worried that it can be used for attacks across the globe against people or groups that were never intended by Congress.

We are still operating in a war declared on Sept. 14, 2001,” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine said Wednesday during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And both the Bush and Obama administrations have determined that that war can be carried out against members of al Qaeda, against anyone who associates with affiliates or associates of al Qaeda, no matter when those associates pop up … so long as the al Qaeda or affiliated organizations have violent intentions against the U.S. or coalition partners. That’s sort of a vague phrase.”
“I don’t think Congress passing that AUMF Sept. 14, 2001, that 13 years later we’d be still engaged in war,” Kaine added.

The Warren Terrah will be 13 years old in September.  That's how long we've been at "war" with Al Qaeda and terrorism, a third of my entire life.  It's ridiculous and it needs to end.  I'm glad we're finally taking the first steps to see this come to a close.  It's cost us millions of lives and trillions of dollars over the last 13 years.

It has to end.  Now's the time.  I'm all for this.

The Gender Gap Suddenly Exists

Despite all the talk that the gender gap is a myth from the right, they're suddenly crowing about...the gender gap in the NY Times firing of Editor-in-Chief Jill Abramson.  In fact, even CBS News assured us that the pay gap between men and women simply doesn't exist, even in the same industry and job.

According to all the media headlines about a new White House report, there's still a big pay gap between men and women in America. The report found that women earn 75 cents for every dollar men make. Sounds pretty conclusive, doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's misleading.

According to highly acclaimed career expert and best-selling author, Marty Nemko, "The data is clear that for the same work men and women are paid roughly the same. The media need to look beyond the claims of feminist organizations."

On a radio talk show, Nemko clearly and forcefully debunked that ultimate myth - that women make less than men - by explaining why, when you compare apples to apples, it simply isn't true. Even the White House report: Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being explains why. Simply put, men choose higher-paying jobs.

Except that's not what happened in Abramson's case.

Fellow-journalists and others scrambled to find out what had happened. Sulzberger had fired Abramson, and he did not try to hide that. In a speech to the newsroom on Wednesday afternoon, he said, “I chose to appoint a new leader of our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects …” Abramson chose not to attend the announcement, and not to pretend that she had volunteered to step down.

As with any such upheaval, there’s a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. Sulzberger is known to believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, needed to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson had also been at the Times for far fewer years than Keller, having spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, accounting for some of the pension disparity. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, said that Jill Abramson’s total compensation as executive editor “was directly comparable to Bill Keller’s”—though it was not actually the same. I was also told by another friend of Abramson’s that the pay gap with Keller was only closed after she complained. But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy. A third associate told me, “She found out that a former deputy managing editor”—a man—“made more money than she did” while she was managing editor. “She had a lawyer make polite inquiries about the pay and pension disparities, which set them off.”

So you can't have it both ways, guys.  Either the gender gap is a complete myth, or it exists, we need to do something about it, because even the NY Times is guilty of it.

Pick one, conservatives.

Bogged Down By Democrats

The Michael Boggs judicial nomination by President Obama has run into the Honey Badger buzzsaw, and the entire process has turned into a complete mess, as Ed Kilgore points out.

As you may have heard, Senate Democrats—now including Majority Leader Harry Reid—are bailing on the president’s nominee for a district court position in Georgia, Michael Boggs, a state judge who was once a Blue Doggy Democratic state legislator representing a district in southeast Georgia. Mostly at issue are Boggs’ votes in the Georgia legislature for maintaining Confederate symbols on the state flag, placing restrictions on abortion providers, and enacting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (this last position came with some inflammatory conservative rhetoric about “judicial activism” as well. At his confirmation hearings yesterday, Boggs took the standard approach of not talking about his specific positions on specific issues, though he did indicate his support of the abortion restriction bill was the product of ignorance, and admitted his Flagger vote was a nod to his constituents’ convictions.

What I hope angry progressives do understand is that Boggs’ appointment was the product not of the Obama administration’s wishes, but of the system—imposed against significant precedents by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT)—of requiring positive “blue slips” (basically statements of approval) from both senators in the state where any judicial nominee would serve.

The Blue Slip process allows senators to cut deals, and in this case, the deal was to allow Boggs nomination to go through in order to get Georgia's two GOP senators to sign on to Jill Pryor's nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which they have been blocking since 2012.  The deal has clearly crumbled and the permanent holds will continue on Obama nominees.

Yet another example of President Obama willing to negotiate, and then getting his throat cut by his own party.  And people wonder why Republicans control the House and the vast majority of states right now.


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