Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Stuff

Stephen Colbert does it again...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

...and praise be, the weekend is here too.

Saying “No” To Another Flowers Fraud On Koh

(And I also posted here.)

I really didn’t like this column when it was written for the Philadelphia Inquirer last week by Former Senator Man-On-Dog (and by the way, why am I not surprised by this?), and I like it even less today after seeing that it has been regurgitated by Christine Flowers in The Daily News.

Specifically, stuff like what follows, in a criticism of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had the temerity in Flowers’ view to note that our jurists should consider the rulings of international courts in their deliberations (and it is a continual source of astonishment to me that Flowers can concoct this drivel, given that she is a lawyer – and try not to laugh too hard as you read about her supposed defense of the Constitution, seeing as how she’s made a career of providing cover for our previous ruling cabal)…

Ginsburg apparently doesn't believe in the supremacy of the Constitution because to do so would apparently be arrogant. She implied that the failure to consider the reasoning of foreign judges diminished the importance of the Supreme Court, although she didn't give details other than to say that the Canadian high court is "cited more widely abroad than the U.S. Supreme Court," and she made the telling observation that "you will not be listened to if you don't listen to others."

Ah, so that's it. We have to play nice in the international legal sandbox so that other people will pay us some respect. Ginsburg and her legal eagles apparently believe that the law is like a popularity contest and the system with the most friends wins.
Well, I would say that that is precisely the attitude that had led to the following development, as the New York Times noted here from last year…

“One of our great exports used to be constitutional law,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. “We are losing one of the greatest bully pulpits we have ever had.”

From 1990 through 2002, for instance, the Canadian Supreme Court cited decisions of the United States Supreme Court about a dozen times a year, an analysis by The New York Times found. In the six years since, the annual citation rate has fallen by half, to about six.

Australian state supreme courts cited American decisions 208 times in 1995, according to a recent study by Russell Smyth, an Australian economist. By 2005, the number had fallen to 72.

The story is similar around the globe, legal experts say, particularly in cases involving human rights. These days, foreign courts in developed democracies often cite the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning equality, liberty and prohibitions against cruel treatment, said Harold Hongju Koh, the dean of the Yale Law School. In those areas, Dean Koh said, “they tend not to look to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The rise of new and sophisticated constitutional courts elsewhere is one reason for the Supreme Court’s fading influence, legal experts said. The new courts are, moreover, generally more liberal than the Rehnquist and Roberts courts and for that reason more inclined to cite one another.
And if you guessed that Dubya and his playmates have had something to do with this also, specifically on the matter of torture, then you win the complete “24” anthology on DVD, with a bonus feature of “Jack Bauer’s Most Violent Interrogations.”

And speaking of Koh…

President Obama's nominee for top legal dog at the State Department, Harold Koh, believes that Islamic sharia law could be applied in American jurisdictions in "appropriate cases."
As noted here, that is a flat-out lie.

The urban legend that Koh said that Sharia law could be applied in “appropriate cases” was propagated by a guy named Steven Stein based on a speech Koh gave to the Yale Club of Greenwich. As Jed Lewison notes in the post, Robin Reeves Zorthian, President of the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich, wrote a letter to the New York Post (where the story originated – figures) saying that that item in the story by Meghan Clyne was “totally fictitious and inaccurate.”

Memo to Brian Tierney and Philadelphia Newspapers – maybe you guys wouldn’t be losing so much money if you bothered to do a little fact-checking and tell the truth instead every once in awhile (and needless to say, tell Flowers to peddle her drivel elsewhere and hire a respectable columnist in her place).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Stuff

K.O.'s "Special Comment" on the latest torture memos to seep out from the fetid, still-remaining Bushco sewage (this from Glenn Greenwald via Atrios sums up the awfulness)...

...and if torture was one of the evil manifestations of our former ruling cabal, here is perhaps the other most notorious one ("blessed" by the Dems, if you will, last year of course, amplified in this interview with James Risen of The New York Times)...

...and I've had some thoughts on all of this "teabagging" business that I haven't been able to quite put into words, though Janeane Garofalo manages to do it for me here (and here's more on the person at the mic)...

...and here's a note for some local-area folk; I have to tell you that I found myself stuck in a horrendous traffic jam today while trying to cross from PA into NJ over the Route 1 bridge, and I listened to Pierre Robert of radio station WMMR in these parts tell a story of how the surviving members of The Grateful Dead met President Obama recently, and either by design or chance, there were scarlet begonias in a vase near where the meeting took place - Pierre built up the story really well and then led into the wrong song for a minute, but it was funny to listen to his ad-libs while he screwed up but eventually played the right tune...this gives me a chance to thank him for making a bit of misery an actual moment of fun, as well as all of the good vibes he's generated over lo these many years - this is for you, dude)...

...oh, and suddenly I just remembered I have to call the cable company tomorrow - wonder why?

Sarko Est Très Stupide En Obama!

Remember back when Nicolas Sarkozy took over in France while Dubya was still president, and gosh, so many people were happy that that boring, stodgy Jacques Chirac was gone, and Former President Brainless went out of his way to be “buds” with the new guy?

And remember how Sarkozy was supposedly so much better even though he still stiffed us on sending troops to Iraq, as noted here (and no, I never agreed with the war either, but I’m talking about “sharing the pain” of the brave men and women of our military, which is and always will be an entirely separate issue from how we feel about the politicians who put them there).

Well, I’m not sure exactly what spurred this on, but “Sarko” just laid a first-class hissy fit on just about every world leader but himself of course, including President Obama, about whom he said…

On the US President, Mr. Sarkozy said: "Obama has a subtle mind, very clever and very charismatic. But he was elected two months ago and had never run a ministry. There are a certain number of things on which he has no position. And he is not always up to standard on decision-making and efficiency," he said.

The US President had underperformed on climate change, said Mr. Sarkozy: "I told him: 'I don't think that you have quite understood what we are doing on carbon dioxide'."

In another swipe at the American leader, Mr. Sarkozy was quoted today making a dubious joke about the Obamania sweeping the European media. According to L'Express news magazine, Mr. Sarkozy talked to another set of visitors about Mr. Obama's planned visit to the Normandy beaches in June, Mr. Sarkozy said: "I am going to ask him to walk on the Channel and he'll do it, you'll see."
What a pipsqueak – as noted here…

France currently has about 1,600 troops in Afghanistan (see update below) as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), most of them deployed around the capital Kabul. In the wake of 9/11, France offered its military resources and capabilities to support the US-led military campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom. French fighter aircraft regularly offer close air support to ISAF ground troops.

France participates in the operational training of the Afghan National Army. In eastern Afghanistan, France deployed four teams of special French Military instructors (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams, OMLT), each consisting of 50 soldiers inserted into units of the Afghan army. France has also sent more combat aircraft to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Last month, two multi-purpose Rafale fighter jets returned to Kandahar Air Base to support ISAF troops against insurgents.

At the NATO defence ministers’ meeting, French Defence Minister Hervé Morin confirmed that Paris is considering a greater role in Afghanistan. He declined to give details but suggested that President Sarkozy could announce a change in French policy at an April NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met for the first time in Paris with Sarkozy on February 1. Scheffer told a press conference: “I can’t say that [Sarkozy] gave me definite assurances, but the impression I had after the talks...and the indications I received suggest that France might well take on more responsibilities in Afghanistan, but of course it’s the French government’s decision.”
(Actually, this more recently updated article tells us that France now has about 2,780 troops in that region – better, but a long way from our force numbers.)

The WSWS story also tells us that Sarko took over as EU president last July under an agreement where European leaders “rotated” every six months in and out of the job (the minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg, is in charge at the moment according to this Wikipedia article).

That’s important to note because nobody “rotates” in and out of the job of President of the United States, Sarko, assuming that's the reason why you feel full of yourself, claiming some "statesemanship" mantle you haven't earned (concerning this country, you could go back and read about how Grover Cleveland was the only president to "rotate" in and out of the job, but that’s really a stretch I know).

And another thing – this story tells us that, rightly or wrongly, Obama has committed 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

How many more has the entire continent of Europe committed? About 5,000 according to this story.

Say goodnight, Sarko.

The Robertses Spit On The Memory Of 9/11

I'm going to say some decidedly un-liberal things here, but I don't care (and I also posted here - "slumming it" a bit, so far).

As I've often said, the Bucks County Courier Times ends up attracting a substantial amount of wingnuttery to its Op-Ed page, and the latest from Cokie and Steve Roberts ended up there yesterday (from here, a column that was written a week ago, as it turns out).

And what is ironic is that, for a change, there are some reasoned observations about how Obama can (and has) reach(ed) out to Muslims to mark an end to the wholesale demonization of an entire people and religion by Obama's predecessor and his Republican handlers in the political-media-industrial complex (with Dubya talking about how he wasn't waging war against Islam in general on the one hand while condoning torture primarily of Arabs on the other).

However, what really got me in the Robertses column was this...

No one is minimizing the significance of 9/11, but it happened more than seven years ago. Seven years after Pearl Harbor, Americans were rebuilding Japan and Germany. So it's entirely proper for Obama to rebuild America's relationship with the Muslim world. And he can start at home, by ending racial profiling.
I really don't know how to respond to that exactly, but I'll try.

First of all, it doesn't matter if 9/11 happened seven years ago or seventy; the need is no less great for this country, acting in its own interests as well as that of much of the world, to hasten the day when Osama bin Laden's head is eventually mounted onto a post and paraded around the town square. Does that mean we have the right to kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan or Pakistan with attacks from drone warplanes or other means? No.

Second, comparing the legitimate fight against al Qaeda (with 9/11 being an intelligence failure above all else, let's not forget) to a war against a nation-state shows a rather startling lack of historical perspective. Our fight in Afghanistan is primarily one of winning hearts and minds by replacing one ingrained idea (killing infidels) with another (America and NATO can successfully help you rebuild your homes, schools, clinics, and public infrastructure better than those pretending to act in your interest ever could, which would go a long way towards eliminating the root causes of terrorism - of course, saying that is the easy part; delivering on it is the sticky part).

And using 9/11 as an excuse to end racial profiling? Huh?? (That's a topic for another day that requires more detailed analysis, I'll admit).

Apparently, to the Robertses (and much of this country, I would guess), 9/11 is a social-political demarcation point, an abstraction of a sort, but not much else (helped along by the grandstanding antics of characters like Rudy Giuliani, I suppose - one of the only columns J.D. Mullane of the Courier Times ever wrote that I actually agreed with is one from years ago where he envisioned what it would be like the day that 9/11 became something remembered only in history books, and a new generation found themselves wondering what the "big deal" was heavy handed, but I still think it showed what was, for him, an unusually deft touch in my opinion).

As I've said in the past, my sense of outrage and loss from that day is no better or worse than anyone else's (driving home on the PA Turnpike wondering if a plane would fall on me, diverting the young one from the news reports, getting choked up hearing "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan after learning about "morgue barges" on the Hudson River - you can fill in your own memories at least as well as I can).

I just can't imagine how any American, knowing what they know of that day, could just say that seven years is enough to internalize what happened, but now, partly because we have a recently elected Democratic president, we're supposed to stuff all of our own personal baggage about it away into a closet, turn out the light and lock the door (starting the paragraph by saying "no one is minimizing the significance" is cowardly and disingenuous; that's exactly what the Robertses are doing).

And I detest the implication from the Robertses that the events of that day require additional sacrifice on our part somehow (you can make a credible argument for why we must "rebuild (relations) with the Muslim world," but NOT one based on 9/11). I'm sure that would indeed be unwelcome news to the brave souls commemorated here, among the others we lost that day.

I will admit, though, that the Robertses are quite right when they say "we have to listen carefully to each other."

However, they should start by listening to themselves first.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

One of the best "Still Bushed" segments from K.O. (The Murdoch Street Journal allows itself to be used as a mouthpiece of sorts for CIA agents getting the word out to let them do what they want or...gee, maybe they won't play ball with Obama - nice; 300 women protest Hamid Karzai's law legalizing marital rape and are met by 1,000 males - the good news, at least for now, is that the women are apparently still alive, having not been slaughtered in as degrading a manner as possible by life forms pretending to be actual men; and how about those teabaggers protesting how much corporations hide in tax revenue in this country, to the tune of $100 BILLION? Wonder if Fix Noise would help you promote THAT? Do I even need to ask? Oh, and by the way, no-class move by GE/MSNBC not to include this vid from their site)...

...and I just wanted to extend a little message of sorts to all of the "teabaggers," and though this is out of context, it's the best I can do for now: "Clowntime Is Over," by Elvis Costello and the Attractions from '83 (I'm sure those people don't "do irony," though).

A REAL Protest, And Nary A Teabag In Sight

As Media Matters tells us here, quoting Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic (h/t Atrios)…

Their origins -- organic, programmatic, accidental or otherwise -- don't matter much anymore. If -- and we'll have to see the numbers at the end of the day -- 100,000 Americans show up to protest their taxes, the onus to dismiss them as a nascent political force shifts to the Democrats.
Oh, that’s funny.

You want to hear about a real demonstration? Check this out from February 2003…

Up to 10 million people on five continents are expected to demonstrate against the probable war in Iraq on Saturday, in some of the largest peace marches ever known.

Yesterday, up to 400 cities in 60 countries, from Antarctica to Pacific islands, confirmed that peace rallies, vigils and marches would take place. Of all major countries, only China is absent from the growing list which includes more than 300 cities in Europe and north America, 50 in Asia and Latin America, 10 in Africa and 20 in Australia and Oceania.

Many countries will witness the largest demonstrations against war they have ever seen.

The majority will be small but 500,000 people are expected in London and Barcelona, and more than 100,000 in Rome, Paris, Berlin and other European capitals. In the US, organisers were yesterday anticipating 200,000 marching in New York if permission is given. A further 100,000 are expected to march in 140 other American cities.
And “the onus to dismiss them as a nascent political force” shifted to the Repugs.

Which, sadly, is just what happened.

Update 4/17/09: Meet the soon-to-begin new conservative quota hire columnist for the Times (I wasn’t even trying to prove that he’s incredibly wrong here, and I ended up doing that more or less by accident - h/t The Daily Kos).

Bashing Obama Yet Again With “The Catholic Crutch”

(And also posted over here.)

As many of us are aware, we observed the most important day of the Christian calendar last Sunday in commemoration of Easter. And if you guessed that that has ushered in yet another round of pundit idiocy about how President Obama is supposedly losing the support of Catholic voters, then you win a free picture of Bill Donahue suitable for mounting on a dart board or insertion into the bottom of your cat’s litter box.

The most recent culprit is Amy Sullivan, “religion correspondent” for Time Magazine here (and I have an issue with reporters from our corporate media pretending to write about faith generally, usually because they use it as an excuse for their own twisted brand of pontificating – I more or less go along with it from the Bucks County Courier Times, often because they have good writers, but mainly because fighting that battle isn’t one that I’m going to win).

Here is an excerpt from Sullivan’s column…

…Obama's first few months in office have seen a sustained assault by a loose coalition of Catholic organizations and leaders who are committed to convincing their fellow church members that Obama doesn't share their values. They have strongly criticized his selection of Kansas Democratic Governor (and pro-choice Catholic) Kathleen Sebelius to be HHS Secretary and have circulated unfounded rumors that the Vatican rejected several candidates to be Obama's ambassador there. Most visibly, the right-wing Cardinal Newman Society and a number of Catholic bishops have protested the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama to speak at this spring's commencement. Even Cardinal Francis George, who sat down in the Oval Office for a half-hour meeting on St. Patrick's Day that he hoped would "foster fruitful dialogue for the sake of the common good," slammed the school's action, calling it "an embarrassment to Catholics." (Notre Dame has made clear it will not rescind the invitation.)

None of these attacks should pose a serious problem for Obama. But lined up against his early moves to restore liberal social policies that many pro-life Catholics oppose, they make it easier for the President's Catholic critics to question whether he respects their values and positions.
By the way, Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, has been showing his animus towards Obama for a good while now. I honestly don’t expect that to change.

This is the sort of “doom and gloom” stuff on Obama and Catholic voters that Christine Flowers of The Philadelphia Daily News served up last October here about how anyone who voted for Obama wasn’t a “real Catholic” (gee, I guess he got the support of an awful lot of “unreal” ones, then – and here is a reminder on the FOCA that Flowers railed about, by the way).

Not to be outdone, though, is former Dubya speechwriter Michael Gerson here, who recently characterized Obama as “extreme” on abortion (typical, given that Gerson called Obama the most “polarizing” President here; that talking point came and went about a week ago, I know, and I didn’t comment on it at the time because I thought it was particularly stupid – fortunately, John at Americablog did a pretty good job of shredding that one here).

I believe the bottom line, though, is captured pretty well by US News correspondent Dan Gilgoff here, who points out (entirely accurately, I think) that if a “Catholic rift” exists, it isn’t between Obama and U.S. Catholics as a whole, but by Catholics and their church leaders (kind of an obvious observation when the direction from Rome is to keep beating the proverbial drum over “values” issues at the expense of issues such as health care, the environment, and economic opportunity – also, here is another example of Obama’s Catholic support “not fraying”).

Sullivan also tells us this…

Bill Clinton also benefited from Catholic backing at the polls, but he squandered some of that goodwill when those supporters concluded that he failed to carry through on his promise to reduce abortion rates.
In response, I give you The Big Dog himself (from a campaign story when Hillary ran for president here)…

“When Hillary was in the White House, she supervised our efforts to number one, let young women who have children out of wedlock live with their parents and still keep all their welfare benefits so that the grandparents can take care of the kids while the women went to school. Number two, led a serious effort to reduce teen pregnancy and we had the lowest teen pregnancy rate since the statistics had been kept when we were doing that. And guess what? Without overturning Roe v. Wade, or trying to keep people all torn up and upset or calling them killers, the abortion rate went down almost 20 percent on our watch.”

But the issue wasn’t put to bed just yet. Several minutes later, one of the activists shouted, “What about pro-life, Bill?”

A visibly agitated Clinton responded again, his voice growing stern, his language more forceful.

“I gave you the answer. We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree,” he said. “If you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won’t say you wanna do that because you know that because you know that you wouldn’t have a lick of political support.

And then Clinton related the issue back to his wife: “You can’t name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America.”
And I would say that this validates Clinton’s claim about the steadily decreasing number of abortions in this country overall since 1990 (though medical abortions rose from 2000 to 2005 with RU-486, as opposed to surgical ones).

I know stories such as the one Sullivan foists on us here get really old after awhile, but they need to be debunked from time to time despite that. Basically, Obama will rise and/or fall with Catholic voters based on his performance on the issues that matter to all voters.

And let’s not forget that it was a Democratic president (and Catholic also) who pretty much “created the template” for how matters of spirituality should be handled in The Oval Office when he said this (here)…

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
Pretty smart fellow, that John F. Kennedy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Stuff

Back to blogging tomorrow, I hope. But meanwhile...

O joy of joys! Is the state of Texas...actually seceding from the Union here??!!

Are you actually going to return to Mexico?

No? Then shut your pie hole, Perry! Besides, where the hell was this wave of anti-federal-government bravado when your predecessor took up space at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Oh, and one more thing - the only president in the last 20 years who actually shrunk the federal government was Bill Clinton...

Update 4/15/09: Keep digging, Rick - we'll just keep laughing (h/t Atrios).

...and yeah, I guess there's no escaping the lunacy due to unfold tomorrow; as I and others have said, at least they won't be shooting anyone instead - at least, I hope not (thanks to The Daily Kos for these two)...

...and K.O. and Richard Wolffe give this nonsense the proper treatment (and really, after this, how dumb would a human being have to be to watch Fix Noise and think they're hearing the truth - never mind, I'd better not ask)...

...and in light of this story I think it's time for a tune by "the quiet Beatle."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Stuff

Another questionable posting day coming up tomorrow, sports fans - I have a feeling there will be more in store...I'll keep you posted.

Also, I don't know what else to say but RIP Harry - I'm sure he and Whitey are doing play-by-play in the great beyond, as it were - they both went out the same way as it turned out...

...and gosh, whaddaya know - they actually DO convict celebrities of murder in Southern California (the composer of this song by name, as noted here - have fun in the joint, Phil)...

...the real "money quotes" from Gore Vidal come at about 4:30 or so here, by the way, in this recent episode of "Real Time"...

...and with the passing of Harry The K, I think the whole world could use a "Little Bit Of Red," preferably with pinstripes too.

Bolton Cheerleads “Blackhawk Dumb” Wingnut Bombast

Leave it to former Bushco U.N. Rep John “Blow ‘Em up” Bolton here to call for an invasion of Somalia by a new “coalition of the willing” in response to the rescue of Maersk ship captain Richard Phillips (above, right) by our special forces; commendations to all (and I heartily agree with John Cole here via The Daily Kos; approving stuff like this comes with the territory if you’re president – sometimes it works, and sometimes you get sand in the gyroscopes of your helicopters while trying to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran and people get killed…and yes, I really said that).

(Besides, I’ll be perfectly honest with you; while I’m definitely glad that a Democrat occupies the White House at this moment as opposed to a certain Republican senator from Arizona and his clueless former governor as veep dontcha know, I would like to know just what the hell kind of a game our chief executive is playing when he codifies and actually expands the surveillance activity of his predecessor as noted here.)

More to the point, though, I have to admit that I find myself at a bit of a loss in the matter of advising our ships in that area of the world. Here is another member of the wingnut chorus and his screed (another kos h/t), telling us as follows…

Start by blaming the timorous lawyers who advise the governments attempting to cope with the pirates such as those who had been engaged in a standoff with U.S. hostage negotiators in recent days. These lawyers misinterpret the Law of the Sea Treaty and the Geneva Conventions and fail to apply the powerful international laws that exist against piracy. The right of self-defense -- a principle of international law -- justifies killing pirates as they try to board a ship.
Funny how we don’t care about the Geneva Conventions when we’re trying to obtain “reliable” information from torture, but now suddenly we expect it to apply when it suits us. And by the way, we can’t enforce the Law of the Sea Treaty for a simple reason – we never ratified it!

I thought this New York Times story by Jeffrey Gettleman yesterday was interesting in that it provided historical context, discussing raids by pirates off the “Barbary Coast” in the 18th century in an area very similar to where the most recent raids have taken place; back then, from around 1786 to the early 1800s, we actually tried to work with the pirates to a degree, mainly because, as a young nation trying to survive, we really didn’t have much choice – Gettleman also tells us how we sought to avoid conflict with them…

“The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” a 1796 treaty reads. “It has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,” which is how Muslims was spelled back then.
“Not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” huh? Gee, maybe all those wingnuts screaming here about what Obama said recently (clipping the quote, of course) would do well to keep that in mind (as well as these words from a former Catholic president – this ties in a bit to this post, by the way).

And this New York Times story today tells us of the dangers of arming the crews of our ships…

“If we arm our crews with light machine guns, they can probably buy heavy machine guns,” (Arthur Bowring, the managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association) said. “And if we buy light rocket launchers, they can buy heavy ones.” The answer to piracy, he said, was better law enforcement ashore.

Most ports severely restrict vessels from having weapons on board, and changing those regulations in each country would be difficult, (Shipping Consultant Matthew) Flynn said. The United States Coast Guard has been especially wary, fearing that the weapons could be used for terrorist attacks.

Because a commercial vessel might stop in a dozen countries during a voyage, it would be hard for it to carry weapons if any port along the route forbade that, Mr. Flynn said.

International regulation of shipping has shifted heavily away from the countries that register vessels and toward the local and national governments at the ships’ ports of call. This has made it even more complicated to come up with common international standards, because so many countries are involved.

Protecting tankers from pirates is especially difficult. They are a favorite target in Asia and Africa because they are relatively slow moving and may carry valuable cargo like gasoline and diesel, which are easily unloaded and resold.

Accidental fires are a constant worry for tanker crews, which train for them constantly. A tanker crew that is exchanging gunfire with pirates could run the risk of igniting vapors from the cargo, or the cargo itself, shipping executives have said.
So it looks like perhaps indeed our best defense against the pirates is to be vigilant and monitor them from ashore as closely as possible (though I have no doubt that they’ll come up with more creative ways to plunder in response).

The toughest way to head this off, though, is to intervene in Somalia in an attempt to pre-empt the pirates before they take to their boats (yeah I know, good luck with that).

So as long as we have something of a plan, Former Secretary Bolton, I just have two words in response to your call for invasion into that part of the world:

You first.

Update: Wasn't the AP threatening action against web sites linking to their content in an "unauthorized" fashion just last week? Do they mean laughable dreck like this? Hell, giving a link to this stuff would be extending a favor it doesn't deserve.

Also, is it any wonder that news organizations are in trouble, given the fact that they give so much credence to the knuckleheads featured in this clip (particularly Krauthammer, who you see in that daffy turtleneck for a couple of seconds)?

And oh yeah, just go ahead and "charge for online content" and charge the same for your print ads as your online ads. And expect that to fix everything.

Yeah. That'll work...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter 2009

May you all have a happy and blessed Easter (if you don't observe anything, may you have a happy and blessed long weekend).