Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Fireside Chat for March 26th, 2011 (VIDEO)

The President says that thanks to our men and women in uniform, the military mission in Libya is succeeding even as responsibility is transferred to our NATO allies and partners.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes, this is video of an Arab Protest in the streets of Libya...THANKING us for the No-Fly Zone... (VIDEO)

Thanks to The Only Adult in the Room (and apparently Bobfr) for the great, great catch...

Are we done with Huffington Post yet? I mean collectively, as a Civilization? Shouldn't we just quit?

I love this. First, HuffPo notes the presence of Keith's Worst Person's video, only it wasn't a worst person's video. It was a Special Comment (a fact that even this tiny little blog noted, and got right), and Keith noticed that HuffPo screwed the story up.

This was all after Huffngton Post decided to pull noted racist Andrew Brietbart from its front page, mere hours after their decision to stand by him.

Huffington Post still sucks, but dangit all if Arianna didn't get herself paid.

"Qaddafi’s air force effectively no longer exists.” (VIDEO)

Michigan's (shudder) Juan Cole lists out the ten things accomplished by the No-Fly Zone at Informed Comment, and posted this video from France24:

Juan also let this slip toward the end:

The liberation movement at the moment likely controls about half of Libya’s population, as long as Misrata and Zintan do not fall. It also likely controls about half of the petroleum facilities. If Benghazi can retake Brega and Ra’s Lanouf and Zawiya, Qaddafi soon won’t have gasoline for his tanks or money to pay his mercenaries. Pundits who want this whole thing to be over with in 7 days are being frankly silly. Those who worry about it going on forever are being unrealistic. Those who forget or cannot see the humanitarian achievements already accomplished are being willfully blind.

Even Andrew may be started to see the light. Meep-meep!

The rise of Liberal Catholics? (Or really, how they never went away in the first place)

Via Lawrence on the Last Word:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finally, something Megan Fox did I can watch without shame or loss of pride! Even though its a year old. (VIDEO)

Great catch by @steveweinstein.

After surviving the horrors of Transformers 1 & 2 (on HBO only, never in the theaters), I finally have a piece of Megan Fox footage I can watch without shame.

I'm just sorry I missed it when it came out. My bad.

But think, this was out there when y'all were going to the ballot box, and the problem's not only still there, its gotten worse.  Way to go people who didn't help re-elect Democrats.

Keith is back doing "You're Not Doing It Right Television" again. Thomas Ricks answers him the day before (VIDEO)

Ummm, does Keith ever listen to his guests, or does he only listen to them when they're on his show?  Are his guests just situationally convenient?

What am I saying?  Of course, they were situationally convenient, it's Television for pity's sake.

So here's Keith, sans Network until later this Spring (Spring having started on Monday), with his first "Special Comment" post MSNBC:

Keith even pulled a Dennis Kucinich:

After that Imperial period of a few days, a President – this one included – is required to either call it off, or justify why it must continue, or maybe even follow the Constitution and get approval from Congress by explaining the threat to this country that rationalizes the continuing action. Especially when we now have American pilots bailing out over hostile territory.


Okay, Keith at least paid tangential attention to the War Powers Act of 1973.

But Keith apparently doesn't read his former Countdown guest Thomas Ricks's column, because he addressed this the day before:

Everybody's going all wobbly over Libya, except those who never liked the idea in the first place. Tom's advice: Calm down. We have done what we set out to do in Libya. We kicked the door down, and with radars and SAM sites degraded, have made it possible for lesser air forces to patrol the skies over Qaddafi.

We should now say, OK, we have created the conditions, time for you all to have the courage of your convictions. The goal now for the United States, I think, is a negative one: To not be conducting a no-fly zone over Libya 5 years or even 5 months from now. If the French and Italians want to park the good ships Charles de Gaulle and Garibaldi off the Libyan coast, good. And if the Arab states want to maintain an air cap over Benghazi, fine. Step right up, fellas.

As for the American military, let's knock off the muttering in the ranks about clear goals and exit strategies. Fellas, you need to understand this is not a football game but a soccer match. For the last 10 years, our generals have talked about the need to become adaptable, to live with ambiguity. Well, this is it. The international consensus changes every day, so our operations need to change with it. Such is the nature of war, as Clausewitz reminds us. Better Obama's cautious ambiguity than Bush's false clarity. Going into Iraq, scooping up the WMD, and getting out by September 2003 -- now that was a nice clear plan. And a dangerously foolish one, too. The clearer we are now about command and control, rules of engagement and other organizational aspects of the intervention, the harder it will be to pass if off. Better they do it in their own way than we make it so they can only do it our way.

Thomas Ricks, valuable Military expert during the Iraq War. Libya comes up, and its Thomas Ricks who?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A nice explanation of what goes on in a Nuclear Reactor (VIDEO)

Via Ta-Neishi Coates, but of course I picked it up reading Ezra Klein.

This is of course, the beauty of the web and, specifically, the beauty of YouTube.  Now, we are no longer totally depending on the Nightly News to come out and with their 20 second segment on how a Nuclear Reactor works.  Now, an independent expert, who's not necessarily TV friendly (though I'd put this guy on the air) can put up his or her own video, and share his or her expertise.  Best of all, that expert can take as long as they want to explain something and its available to the viewer 24 hours a day, on demand, for free (provided you have internet access).

What if Qaddafi had succeeded? What if we had another Rwanda on our hands, and we sat on our hands and did nothing? (VIDEO)

It has been interesting, seeing the fault lines of who's for and who's against the operation in Libya. Republicans, depending on who you ask, (and what time of day it is) are either for or against it. Same with Democrats and Liberals. VoteVets doesn't seem comfortable with the operation, yet Steve Clemons and other Foreign Policy officials seem to on board with the idea and necessity, though they have their doubts about success.

Myself, I remain ambivalent. I don't like the idea of going into this operation without a solid way out, but as Thomas Ricks explained yesterday:

I grow weary of talk of an "exit strategy." It is a canard and a false concept. Can anyone remember the last time there actually was an exit strategy going in that actually worked? Military actions aren't interstates.

What he's saying is true. Battle strategy lasts only up until the moment you make contact with the enemy. You can't dictate how that's going to go any more than how you're going to leave. Any illusions to the contrary are the products of deluded minds who've never fired a shot in battle.

Oh, and for the record, I've never fired a shot in battle either, so...

At the same time, despite Smeagol's calls for Impeachment, Butters' demands that we "take the lead" or general Congressional demands that the President get Congressional permission first (which wasn't needed...Congress having abrogated its responsibility in these matters years ago), there's another thing that's escaped the attention of the Pundit-class:

What if Qaddafi had succeeded? What if we had another Rwanda or Balkans on our hands, and we sat on our hands and did nothing?

One of the things that annoys me about all the Congressional demands in this matter, is that it's not about process, it's about C.Y.A., covering (your...or in this case their) ass. They're only questioning it now because the outcome is uncertain, but you can bet your ass that if the Libyan mission comes off successfully (definition of success, TBD), Congress-critters and Senators will be lining up to take credit.

If the President had done nothing, these same people would be lining up to demand he take action. Why did he let this happen? (Notice, there wouldn't be any discussion of Congressional process after blood had been spilled). Why did the President let all those noble Libyans die in the streets like dogs?

But in the meantime, the President was faced with a choice. I don't think he wanted to interfere, for good or for ill in Libya. Then he started getting pressure from the French (and I'm pretty sure, the Italians) both of whom do major business in Libya. And then Qaddafi started to mow down civilians, and threatened to have his own apocalypse in Benghazi.

So the President acted. American Planes and Tomahawks are doing the things that the French, Italians and maybe Qataris can't do. We're paving the way. We're taking out Qaddafi's Anti-Aircraft batteries and support systems. We're making it impossible for him to shoot back. We've stopped the slaughter in Benghazi. We're providing logistical support and I do believe that by this weekend, we'll be done. Partly because there won't be anything left to shoot at, and partly because it'll be up to the rebels at that point.

Funny, I wrote all that...then I clicked over to watch Rachel Maddow's interview with Steve Clemons (Publisher of the Washington Note), and he pretty much said the exact same thing. But credit to him and the other Foreign Policy-types on the Left. Methinks they said it better, and said it first.

Switching gears ever so slightly. Of all the people I'd thought would be against this thing, Juan Cole was at the top of my list (as an Ohio State Fan, I'll forgive his unfortunate association with that University). To be fair, he's not cheerleading this thing from the sidelines. At the same time, he seems rather clear eyed about what's been going on in Libya, and the differences between it and Iraq:

1. The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. That in Iraq was not. By the UN Charter, military action after 1945 should either come as self-defense or with UNSC authorization. Most countries in the world are signatories to the charter and bound by its provisions.

2. The Libyan people had risen up and thrown off the Qaddafi regime, with some 80-90 percent of the country having gone out of his hands before he started having tank commanders fire shells into peaceful crowds. It was this vast majority of the Libyan people that demanded the UN no-fly zone. In 2002-3 there was no similar popular movement against Saddam Hussein.

3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi, by the Qaddafi regime, which precipitated the UNSC resolution. Although the Saddam Hussein regime had massacred people in the 1980s and early 1990s, nothing was going on in 2002-2003 that would have required international intervention.

4. The Arab League urged the UNSC to take action against the Qaddafi regime, and in many ways precipitated Resolution 1973. The Arab League met in 2002 and expressed opposition to a war on Iraq. (Reports of Arab League backtracking on Sunday were incorrect, based on a remark of outgoing Secretary-General Amr Moussa that criticized the taking out of anti-aircraft batteries. The Arab League reaffirmed Sunday and Moussa agreed Monday that the No-Fly Zone is what it wants).

5. None of the United Nations allies envisages landing troops on the ground, nor does the UNSC authorize it. Iraq was invaded by land forces.

6. No false allegations were made against the Qaddafi regime, of being in league with al-Qaeda or of having a nuclear weapons program. The charge is massacre of peaceful civilian demonstrators and an actual promise to commit more such massacres.

7. The United States did not take the lead role in urging a no-fly zone, and was dragged into this action by its Arab and European allies. President Obama pledges that the US role, mainly disabling anti-aircraft batteries and bombing runways, will last “days, not months” before being turned over to other United Nations allies.

8. There is no sectarian or ethnic dimension to the Libyan conflict, whereas the US Pentagon conspired with Shiite and Kurdish parties to overthrow the Sunni-dominated Baathist regime in Iraq, setting the stage for a prolonged and bitter civil war.

9. The US has not rewarded countries such as Norway for entering the conflict as UN allies, but rather a genuine sense of outrage at the brutal crimes against humanity being committed by Qaddafi and his forces impelled the formation of this coalition. The Bush administration’s ‘coalition of the willing’ in contrast was often brought on board by what were essentially bribes.

10. Iraq in 2002-3 no longer posed a credible threat to its neighbors. A resurgent Qaddafi in Libya with petroleum billions at his disposal would likely attempt to undermine the democratic experiments in Tunisia and Egypt, blighting the lives of millions.

If Reason No. 10 is true, then I do have to ask, why isn't it the mission of the United States to take Qaddafi down, especially if it imperils the Arab 1848 we've all been watching from afar?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Courtesy @EllnMllr. Where exactly did the Kock Brothers "make it rain" this year, and for who? (IMAGE)

Courtesy of Ellen Miller at the Sunlight Foundation. Koch Brother's money...apparently, it's not just for Republicans anymore. I see some blue dots around there.

But look how much money has hit the South.

And Dan Boren (D-OK), why am I not surprised.

More on the legality of the Libyan Mission...

Courtesy of @awienick, we have yet another viewpoint of the legality of the mission in Libya:

The clear legal authority for actions sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council lies within the United Nations Participation Act.

Title 22, Section 7, § 287d. Use of armed forces; limitations

The President is authorized to negotiate a special agreement or agreements with the Security Council which shall be subject to the approval of the Congress by appropriate Act or joint resolution, providing for the numbers and types of armed forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of facilities and assistance, including rights of passage, to be made available to the Security Council on its call for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security in accordance with article 43 of said Charter. The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance provided for therein...

I had actually never heard of the United Nations Participation Act before this, but it's U.S. Code now. It's Law.

Suffice it to say that this is only a matter of the legality of the attacks on Libya, not about whether you think they're right or wrong. There's a clear argument to be made against these attacks, and its one that I'm not only willing to hear it, I may even agree with...a little.

But as far as Kucinich's statement that this is an impeachable offense, that notion seems to be complete and utter nonsense.

In case you ever wondered why I can't stand Dennis Kucinich, here he is calling for Obama's Impeachment.

Yeah, it happened:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) says President Obama should be impeached over the Libya campaign.

A short while ago a couple of our reporters were asking questions on the history of the War Powers Act and the necessity for a declaration of war for the president to go to war.

[Josh Marshall of TPM] explained that the current constitutional rule is that a president doesn't have to do anything to send the military into battle. Except in cases where the ruling party believes an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) sets the party up well for the next election campaign.

That last sentence was a bit of snark from Josh, but was factually correct. The President and Congress have been battling over this for decades. It focuses on the War Powers Act of 1973.

So what is the War Powers Act of 1973? Well...

The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto.

That paragraph came from Wikipedia. The text of the Law can be found at the above referenced link.

Also, Wikipedia mentioned this:

The War Powers Resolution has been controversial since it became law. In passing the resolution, Congress specifically cites the Necessary and Proper Clause for its authority. Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Because it limits the President's authority in the use of force without an official resolution or declaration of war by Congress, there is controversy as to whether the provisions of the resolution are consistent with the Constitution. Presidents have therefore drafted reports to Congress required of the President to state that they are "consistent with" the War Powers Resolution rather than "pursuant to" so as to take into account the Presidential position that the Resolution is unconstitutional.

Thus, the President consistent with the War Powers Act did this today:

Obama has now sent a letter to leaders of Congress defining the mission, in keeping with the War Powers Resolution of 1973 requiring a report to Congress within 48 hours of commencing military action, and it contains rebuttals of both lines of criticism.

Obama is taking criticism from the right for failing to articulate “regime change” as a goal of the mission. But his letter to Congressional leaders unapologetically sticks to the narrower definition of the mission as tailored to halting violence and preventing a humanitarian disaster:

These strikes will be limited in their nature, duration, and scope. Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited U.S. actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners...

United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster. Accordingly, U.S. forces have targeted the Qadhafi regime’s air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Qadhafi’s armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas. We will seek a rapid, but responsible, transition of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realize the objectives of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

My ultimate problem with Kucinich is that I...I...

What am I doing?

Jesus, why am I going to write something new when I wrote up this very point last August?

I probably agree with Dennis Kucinich 98% of the time (the idea for a Department of Peace is just ridiculous) but it doesn't mean I like him, nor does it mean I trust him. The same goes for the others. Watching the Professional Left's behavior over the last two years has frankly been the thing that turned me into a Liberal who hates other Liberals.

I think there is a responsibility for those of us on Left to hold the President accountable, as he has asked. But there is also a responsibility for those of us on Left to deal in facts, to understand that ideology is a way of looking at the world, not a purity checklist (again, Republican behavior), to understand how, where and why a piece of legislation goes wrong, to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and most of all, to keep working.

In short Dennis's call for the President's impeachment was a Ideological purity test, and had nothing to do with the reality of law. Like it or not, and I know a lot of Liberals don't like it, the President is...well, being consistent with the Law.

If Kucinich wants to do something about this (and I really doubt that he does, it's all about the Kleig lights for him), he can rally for Congressional Action in the 30-60 day time period.