Archive for March, 2011

Mess We Can!

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

In the world of global politics, President Obama has had his moments.  He was served a plate of excrement, and has managed a fairly decent record on the world stage.

However, there are exceptions:  He has failed to close Guantanamo. He has doubled-down on the empire-sodomizing black hole of Afghanistan. He got some sort of Portuguese dog, which I assume is mostly cork.

And these are sizeable exceptions.  On 90210, Ray Pruitt was a pretty good boyfriend to Donna Martin, except when he would knock her around occasionally.

Now we move to Libya, the 3rd front of our impending 12-front middle eastern military sunday fun day action.

I’m no strict constructionist. In fact, self-proclaimed “strict constructionists” are usually unreasonable and unhinged longbeards with homemade napalm, or (in most cases), politically motivated clowns who hold these views only when self-servingly expedient.

However, I can’t deny the fact that this is another unilateral executive power grab I genuinely abhor.

 As Greenwald points out:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.

I understand that it’s hard to put that Executive Power Genie Back in the bottle. 50+ years of unchecked war partying will do that.

But despite the qualifiers trotted out by the President, there’s no getting around the blatant abuse of power this action constitutes. As Michael Lind points out in his excellent reading of constitutional / international law:

However, while the Security Council can authorize member states to undertake a war for purposes other than national or regional self-defense, it cannot order any country to do so. The U.S. agreed to participate in the United Nations only because the U.N. charter makes it clear that each member state has the right to decide, on the basis of its internal constitutional processes, whether to take part in an enforcement action authorized by the Security Council.

In other words, there are two distinct systems of authorization, one international and one national. Under international law, the U.S. lacks the authority to engage in wars unrelated to its own defense or that of its allies. Security Council action might lift that legal restraint. But once the Security Council has acted, Congress must still authorize the military action by formal voting, not by mere “consultation” with the president.

Yes, Qaddafi is crazy. Yes, he controls a lot of oil, and this country uses a lot of refined oil to fuel its transport vehicles and Japanese sex dolls (diesel).  But if we’re truly just going around protecting citizens of other countries from their crazy despots, we still have dozens to go. I’m not sure we want tio get into that. (d.r.a.f.t?)

Eugene Robinson took a moment from his affable chuckling to write an excellent article this morning. This about sums it up…

Gaddafi is crazy and evil; obviously, he wasn’t going to listen to our advice about democracy. The world would be fortunate to be rid of him. But war in Libya is justifiable only if we are going to hold compliant dictators to the same standard we set for defiant ones. If not, then please spare us all the homilies about universal rights and freedoms. We’ll know this isn’t about justice, it’s about power.

Amen.

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Same Writ, Different Decade

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

aging wastefully

When Obama hired Kumar as some sort of White House liaison to Hollywood’s less fortunate, I hoped he would turn the page on the indefinite detention of Guantanamo’s Uncharged Prisoners – a/k/a ‘Havana-Go-Home’ – the world’s biggest a capella group.

In fact, one of his first decrees as President was to ‘close Guantanamo prisons.’ But that was way back in 2009, before he implemented corporate Sharia law on our unsuspecting country.

When it comes to military commissions and indefinite detention, President Obama never listened to candidate Obamz. Why? Don’t you read US Weekly’s Executive Order section? 54% think BO drafted it better. (28% thought W and for some reason, 18% went with Emily Blunt.)

the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Nearly two years after Obama’s pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo, more inmates there are formally facing the prospect of lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.

Conveniently, the White House blames this on Congress, and its bedwetters like Peter King who are scared shitless about heavily guarded, malnourished Pakistanis setting foot on American soil to stand trial.

But as Greenwald points out, this is what we in the cliche industry would call a ’red herring.’ 

It is true that Congress — with the overwhelming support of both parties — has enacted several measures making it much more difficult, indeed impossible, to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. But long before that ever happened, Obama made clear that he wanted to continue the twin defining pillars of the Bush detention regime: namely, (1) indefinite, charge-free detention and (2) military commissions (for those lucky enough to be charged with something). Obama never had a plan for “closing Guantanamo” in any meaningful sense; the most he sought to do was to move it a few thousand miles north to Illinois, where its defining injustices would endure….

It was Barack Obama’s position — not that of Congress — that detainees could and should be denied trials, that our court system was inadequate and inappropriate to try them, and that he possessed the unilateral, unrestrained power under the “laws of war” to order them imprisoned for years, even indefinitely, without bothering to charge them with a crime and without any review by the judiciary, in some cases without even the right of habeas review (to see why claims of such “law of war” detention power are so baseless, see the points here, especially point 5).In other words, Obama — for reasons having nothing to do with Congress — worked from the start to preserve the crux of the Bush/Cheney detention regime. Even with these new added levels of detention review (all inside the Executive Branch), this new Executive Order is little more than a by-product of that core commitment…

Private Santiago Ahmed was never to be transferred from the base at all, was he Mr. President?!

In high school, I received a 4-hour detention for messing around and “accidentally” breaking a chalkboard. Luckily, this was before Glenn Beck revealed the sanctity of the writing surface, so I wasn’t thrown in prison at 16 – like dozens of the prisoners at Guantanamo. Maybe one of them is guilty as well.

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Pitch

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

it's his time

This Charlie Sheen guy is getting a lot of play and it’s a little disconcerting.  CNN We need to get back to our normal lives of ignoring 6-figure protests in Madison, bitching about the Grammys and not having health insurance.  Level the universe and jettison people back to the altar of television. 

So here it is, CBS.  Bruce Vilanch and Vern Troyer in a screwball sitcom. Gold, right? I call it Jew and a Half Man

First one is on the house. However, my avante-garde Crispin Glover vehicle - Criminal Mimes, is going to cost you.

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Governor, Is Your Refrigerator Running?

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I thought the prank call era was over, but Scott Walker brought it back with panache last week. It was pretty hilarious, right? However, certain people have an inability to be self-deprecating, or otherwise laugh at their own missteps or shortcomings.  They’re called Republicans.

Legislators in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker was recently on the business end of an embarrassing prank telephone call, have decided that it is in their state’s best interest to ban prank calls. A bill currently circulating in the Wisconsin legislature, authored by Sen. Mary Lazich and Rep. Mark Honadel, both Republicans, would prevent callers from using fake voices, or phone numbers, in order to “defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain any information of value from” the person on the other end of the line; those found guilty of prank calls could be subject to fines of as much as $10,000.

Haha. Government needs to protect the idiots from their own idiocy.  Very good.

So where do you stand on this? Let’s say a friend of mine has a match.com account and another friend thinks it would be funny to create an account of a made-up female who also loves white cheddar cheese and the ’85 Kansas City Royals. This gorgeous non-existent female keeps sending me my friend messages exposing his loneliness and vulnerability. Long story short: Can I get $10,000 from my asshole buddy?

Feel free to call Lazich or Honadel’s offices to express your opinion. Then tell them you’re calling from Baskin Robbins and if they can name 31 flavors in 31 seconds they’ll get $31 dollars in gift certificates.

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