Saturday, May 8, 2010

Here and Now...

Well, it's about that time again. It gets to where there's so much going on that I don't know where to start, so I don't post, and I just make things worse for myself (I'm a terrible procrastinator, and you'd think I'd learn), and then end up having to condense everything into three paragraph blurbs and combine them into one rather longish post that deals with more than one issue.

So yes. Here we go.

The Oil Spill

Yes, yes. The oil spill that is going to kill lots of little animals out in the ocean and endanger fishing livlihoods all over the US. Well...I never liked fish, so that's no skin off my nose. I haven't been following this story very much, mostly because oil is of absolutely zero interest to me.

But looks like the new opening up of offshore drilling places (you see how horribly ignorant I am of this issue?) is going to be postponed because of this spill. However, this spill has also (according to some members of Congress) made it politically unfeasible to try to pass energy and climate legislation- probably because any plan that'll get in good with the Republican minority will have to include something increasing offshore drilling, and the environmentalists aren't going to go for that right now...

And I sort of agree with them. Let's see...we just had a huge oil spill that may or may not have been caused by poor security or safety practices, and we want to add more cooks in the kitchen? o.0 Yeah. That's smart. Not.

Supreme Court Appointments and You

So with Justice Stevens retiring, that leaves another spot open on the Supreme Court. Meaning Obama gets to appoint another Justice. Which obviously means that we'll have to be subjected to a repeat of last year's Sotomayor Fiasco, with accusations whirling, counter-accusations being shot back, and underneath it all, the absolute certainty on the Right that Obama is an evil socialist who wants to enslave us all.

Hence this lovely quote- "Senate Republicans said they would be watchful for a nominee who made decisions based on his or her "own views and political agendas," in the words of Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee..."

Translation: "We're going to absolutely flip over any nominee you send us who isn't Republican and making decisions based on our views. Because anything less is absolutely unamerican."

And of course, being the civil rights geek I am, I was wondering exactly what the potential judges think about said rights...which, of course, means this caught my eye.

What exactly do the potential Justices think about executive power? Their records are vastly dissimilar in many ways, but I must say this woman talks some sense-
"Of the three, Judge Wood, of the appeals court in Chicago, has the clearest record in favor of protecting civil liberties and taking a skeptical stance toward executive power. In a 2003 essay, she spoke out against approaches to counterterrorism that she said posed “a significant threat to the continued observance of the rule of law” — like giving noncitizens fewer due process rights than citizens and sacrificing individual privacy to foster intelligence-gathering.

“In a democracy, those responsible for national security (principally, of course, the executive branch) must do more than say, ‘trust us, we know best’ when they are proposing significant intrusions on liberties protected by the Constitution,” Judge Wood wrote."

Thank you, Ms. Wood. One of the other prospective nominees (another woman, Ms. Kagan), I feel more iffy about. She has a known record of siding with the White House when it comes to executive power...and that's not a good thing. The other front-runner, one Merrick Garland, also has a mixed record which means he could go either way when it comes down to a decision on the issue.

Now I know very little about all the prospective nominees, but the NYTimes did a piece giving a brief blurb about each. Check it out.

Israel and Nukes, oh me oh my....

So it's happened. Finally, the IAEA is looking into Israel's nuclear capabilities. After ignoring her lapse for years in favor of jumping all over non-nuclear countries that are trying to proceed with their own programs, somebody has finally blown the whistle on Israel and asked for an investigation.

Sort of.

Israel is eighth on the agenda. Tentatively. Of course, if Israel and her allies (us) throw a big enough fit, she'll be struck off the agenda, probably never to return. Which would be wrong.

I thought the UN was about the world working together to reach common goals. I thought the UN was about us all knowing what everybody else was doing, so that nobody gets ahold of something they shouldn't (which kind of makes the whole world sound like a playdate...). So why shouldn't Israel's nuclear arsenal be discussed?

We've consistently yelled at Iran about their nukes (which they don't have). We went to war in Iraq over nukes (which they didn't have). We've consistently lambasted North Korea for their possession (and testing) of nukes. Yet somehow, our allies and ourselves are immune to this wave of criticism against the Big Bad Boy Bomb.


Ah yes. The difference. Iran would use nukes, and we never wou- Uh....wait...

Iran would use nukes, but Israel never would. Ever.

And we know both of these things for certain because we read the minds of their leaders. Uh-huh. Tell me how that works out for ya'.

How Convenient- Pakistan and the 'Square Bomber

So after the bomber-that-wasn't, our Government has decided Pakistan is the new Enemy of the State. Which of course means that the most obvious course of action is to invade their country, or, in the nice language of our President, "put more boots on the ground."

You almost have to wonder how this could happen so conveniently. Obama is looking for a way to invade Pakistan (for purposes of "national security", naturally), and hark! A bomb! Driven by a dummy who was trained in a Pakistani Taliban camp! He's a Pakistani Talib! Help!! Invade Pakistan!!

Of course.

Now naturally, the Pakistanis don't want us invading their nice little country. But that's okay. That's why we've been really nice to Islamabad lately. That way Pakistan will like us. Or maybe not. We'll just have to get hit with another attack, that's- oh wait. Did we say that out loud? ^.^


The Golden Eagle said...

I don't really think that Obama wants to invade Pakistan.

suntzusays said...

He doesn't have to invade. He could just increase the drone strikes further. I'm sure that would decrease the ire of people like both the Christmas underwear bomber and this newest fellow in NYC (as well as the Afghan bomb that killed 10 CIA agents several months ago, and Hassan, the Ft Hood shooter), who all expressed a principle motivation of seeking vengeance against American drones for killing innocent Muslims.

Given the nature of national security policy over the last decade and the relative importance of the AfPak region to the Obama strategy, we should be wary of any possible increase in force in Pakistan. I don't expect one to happen. But it's not totally inconceivable.

Don Emmerich said...

Liberty, it's good to hear from you -- been too long. Good post here. I too was surprised to read in the NY Times article that some people in the Obama administration are "making the case to increase the number of Special Operations troops working with Pakistani forces in the country’s western mountains." I didn't even realize that we currently had US troops in Pakistan.

And good point about Israel. It's such a sad, frustrating world over there in the Middle East. I think it's pretty clear that Iran is up to no good; I don't think they're currently building nukes, but they’re probably working to achieve a breakout capability. Which, of course, is not a good thing. But it’s not fair to demand that Iran be more open about its nuclear program (and it definitely should be more open about its program) when we won’t even ask Israel to ratify the NPT.

Liberty said...

Eagle- Dunno what else you call increasing the troop complement there in Pakistan nearly every other month.

Sun Tzu- the White House is looking into increasing Special Ops forces in Pakistan. I find this a bit alarming considering the Special Ops' poor track record in being good with this kind of thing. There was a big scandal a few months back about how these troops were wantonly killing people and were out of control. But meh. I suppose we'll see what happens.

Don- definitely. Yes, Iran with nukes wouldn't be necessarily good. But with such a double standard with two countries that aren't that far removed from one another land-wise isn't a good policy. ^.^

suntzusays said...

Special Ops did pretty well in Afghanistan prior to 2003, except for the torture part. The upside is they are liable to be more precise than a predator drone. The downside is they are more visible and potentially could screw up or get caught in firefights, or just be engaged in random slaughters that perhaps someone dropping a bomb from 10k might avoid. But, so far as I can tell, they don't appear to be any more trigger happy than random soldiers have been in Afghanistan and they may be more likely to possess some local training and knowledge that may turn out to be useful (languages for example). I would state that any such deployments, of any sort of troop levels, should be treated with great skepticism, but much of that objection is simply that I'm not sure what we think we are accomplishing by bombing and attacking insurgents in Pakistan. Or Afghanistan.

Also: I agree completely the double standard to the NPT violations (Pakistan and India are in this camp as well as Israel) are a problem. It makes it very difficult to make a serious case that Iran should abide by the rules when we make exceptions.