Posted by Brad @ 4:54 pm on February 28th 2013

The Sweet Sistine

File this under “Things I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Think of“; cross reference to “Headlines/Titles/Names Good Enough to Make the Whole Project.”

Posted by Brad @ 1:22 pm on February 28th 2013

Picture of the Day – and the correct answer to the question of where the sequester came from

The whole Bob Woodward / White House kerfuffle doesn’t even merit its own “I Don’t Care About…” post, that’s how little I care about it. Not only according to its own internal logic, but really, to the Big Picture. Namely…what does it matter who conceived of the sequester? Like, whoever’s head it popped into? What possible import does that possess?

That doesn’t strike me as particularly relevant.

The relevant bit is: how did it become a law that tomorrow will presumably do Bad Stuff and Wreck Things?

And on that front – namely, who agreed to the sequester and who then did the things required to put it in existence – the chain of possession is actually quite clear. There is, in fact, a very simple and indisputable answer. Or, if you want to get way more specific.

So, to the question of “Whose Fault is the Sequester”, it’s not really something we have to debate. We know exactly that process, we can literally put names to the ayes, and we know its final realization, when it actually became law.

I, in fact, have a picture of that very moment!

10 seconds before that picture was taken, the sequester was a hypothetical construct. 10 seconds after that picture was taken, the sequester was a real thing, and the law of the land, and something we would have to live with.

So what the F are we talking about?

Posted by Brad @ 5:05 pm on February 27th 2013

Sports occurrences that will or will not happen in your lifetime

Based on a comment Rojas makes every now and then. Which of these sporting events do you think will or will not happen in your lifetime (let’s just be optimistic and say 50 years, because I’m not sure Rojas can assume the 2014 World Cup). I’m only asking about those things that I really would have to put an over/under to – other things, like a gay athlete in a major American sport, I think are too easy (i.e. inevitable), or, like most wins by a pitcher in MLB, too impossible.

  • America wins the World Cup
  • The Chicago Cubs win the World Series
  • A single city wins all four major American sport championships (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) in a single year
  • A #16 seed (or higher) wins the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament
  • A female plays professional football in the NFL (in a non-novelty appearance way)
  • Mexico gets a franchise in a major American sport league (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA)
  • Somebody runs a three minute mile or better
  • Somebody breaks Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak record (could have also gone with Pete Rose’s hit record or Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games played, but let’s say hitting streak)
  • Somebody breaks Brett Favre’s record of 297 consecutive games started (which is actually 321 counting playoffs)(could have also gone with Jerry Rice’s career receiving yards)
  • Somebody breaks Wilt Chamberlin’s 100 point game record
  • Somebody breaks Wayne Gretzky’s 92 goals in a season record
  • Somebody breaks Julio Cesar Chavez’s 87 straight wins record in boxing
  • A major sports league (American or European) legalizes all performance enhancing drugs and body modifications
  • The NCAA dissolves or is replaced and colleges begin paying their Division 1 athletes
  • A team sport other than the current big four (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) becomes the most popular sport in America

I’ll give my answers in comments.

Any others I should add?

Posted by Jack @ 4:57 pm on February 27th 2013

Can anyone explain Rand Paul’s votes on the Hagel nomination?

He voted against cloture twice, but was one of only a handful of Republicans to vote in favor of the actual nomination. I don’t get it. Three scenarios/perspectives:

1. The “true to your roots” approach, i.e., a Ron Paul influenced foreign policy perspective would see Hagel as a breath of fresh air in his skepticism of military intervention, realistic non-Likudist Israel policy, and the need to trim a bloated Defense Department. Not a perfect Defense Secretary, but as good as you are likely to get in the current environment, and one worth giving the thumbs up to in both the cloture and final votes.
2. A “true to the party line” approach would see Senator Paul holding his nose and voting no on both cloture and the nomination.
3. A “straddle the fence” approach would see him vote for cloture and against the nomination. In this way he would retain political cover with the core Paulite/libertarian constituency via the cloture vote (on which a significant number of Republicans eventually broke ranks as well) while still demonstrating party loyalty via the final vote.

It seems to me that he aimed for #3 but got it backwards. Thoughts?

Posted by Brad @ 11:10 am on February 26th 2013

Goodbye, Italy

It was nice knowing you.

Posted by Brad @ 3:14 pm on February 25th 2013

Drone Quiz

If you don’t know, call to mind, in your head, about how many people you would guess we’ve killed with drones. Just based on what you know about the drone debate, how many would you assume have been killed?

Lindsey Graham is one of the first who sees the docs we aren’t allowed to to put a figure to it:

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 12:49 pm on February 25th 2013

I Don’t Care About…Sequestration

And if I have to listen to one more doom-saying about all those draconian “cuts” that will take effect and Wreck Everything…

Let’s make this real, real clear:

What we are talking about is giving everything in government more money next year than we did this last year…but about 2% LESS more money than we would have otherwise. Most of those cuts will NOT be from the money we hand out to taxpayers in the form of Medicare, Social Security, and the like. Most of it will be operational, and will include defense.

And ho no, when I say “defense” don’t get it in your head that we’re taking the equivalent of cops off the street or plucking soldiers from that line they have set up out in the Middle East that prevents terrorists from coming over. Remember, defense spending will not be REDUCED, just increased less – so take heart, even with full sequestration, defense spending will continue to rise steadily thankyouverymuch. The difference works out to roughly a 16% increase instead of 23 – oh and theoretically we’ll have some wars winding down over that period of time (not that they won’t keep spending that off-the-books money). In any case, their will be a few consultants in Northern Virginia that may have to wait an extra year to pay off their second SUV*. We are probably not in any danger of getting Red Dawned.

So, yeah. I don’t even really care that it’s reduced increases in spending done in a less-than-thoughtful way. I am pretty confident that you could put the names of every governmental program and department on a dart board, in a dark room, and still wind up hitting one that can perfectly stand getting 94% of their funding increases for the next decade instead of 100%. The only thing that potentially scares me about sequestration is that markets and consumer confidence may take a hit because everybody seems to LOSE THEIR MINDS when it comes to not increasing the amount of money shoveled at government as robustly as politicians think we should be.

*present company excluded

Posted by Brad @ 10:22 am on February 20th 2013

1000 Words

Sullivan et al for some reason view the alleged ceasing of torture under the Obama administration as the important bit.

To me that rather misses the point.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:23 pm on February 18th 2013

Rush the shooter

So says our high school administrator, passing down the word from law enforcement on how to deal with an armed and violent individual within our school’s perimeter. Assuming, of course, that we don’t have an easier opportunity to get the class away from the building, or into a fully secure environment.

Needless to say, this is a pretty substantial change from the prior protocol, which was essentially to take cover and wait to be shot. I am given to believe that this is more or less the new doctrine post-Newtown, and that we can expect to see other educators told to do the same. Sound OK to y’all?

Needless to say, my personal plan in a school shooter situation is to piss myself with fear and hold the kids in front of me as meat-shields.

Posted by Brad @ 5:17 pm on February 15th 2013

In Which I Return to Reading the Corner Question Mark?

Kevin Williamson writes truth on the al-Awalaki case. Most drone supporters take it as a given that he was actively “taking up arms” against America. That may even be true – I honestly don’t know. But all the information I’ve seen on him mostly concludes that we targeted him for “supporting” terrorism – namely, preaching death to America and hob-nobbing with actual terrorists. He was a propagandist, basically, and while I am certain he had operational ties to Al Queda in some capacity, it is not at all clear to me that we would have been able to even gin up enough evidence against him to even try him for treason, much less vault him into a special category of human being for whom due process no longer applies.

While this is not an analogy I would have ever made in a million years, Williamson notes:

If sympathizing with our enemies and propagandizing on their behalf is the equivalent of making war on the country, then the Johnson and Nixon administrations should have bombed every elite college campus in the country during the 1960s. And as satisfying as putting Jane Fonda on a kill list might have been, I do not think that our understanding of the law of war would encourage such a thing, even though she did give priceless aid to the Communist aggressors in Vietnam. Students in Ann Arbor, Mich., were actively and openly raising funds for the Viet Cong throughout the war. Would it have been proper to put them on kill lists? I do not think that it would. There is a difference between sympathizing with our enemies and taking up arms against the country; there is even a difference between actively aiding our enemies and taking up arms against the country, which is why we have treason trials rather than summary execution.

Also, a good line:

Killing a U.S. citizen in the heat of battle is one thing, but Al-Awlaki was not killed in a battle; he was not at arms, but at breakfast. Enemy? Obviously. Combatant? Not obviously.

This is, again, on National Review’s the Corner (and actually, in response to a Krauthammer column who supports them abroad but has also said they must be banned domestically and thinks the first American to shoot one down will be declared a national hero.). And I’ve noticed a trickle of commentary coming out of there from guys like Ponnoru, Goldberg, hell even Mark Steyn, at least dipping their toes into the waters of “hey, maybe this ISN’T a good idea.”

That isn’t the mainstream Republican position, of course, but certainly, space has been made in the mainstream Republican conversation, I would argue. I am disinterested in the inevitable calls of hypocrisy or “it’s only because it’s Obama”, as I was when people were still making the “where were you under Bush?!” charge against the Tea Party four years after Bush (and of course, Obama supporters who are finding themselves defending drones and lack of executive transparency and presidential kills lists might want to bite their lips a bit on calling people out on partisan opportunistic hypocrisy0.

But still, it interests me, after so many years that some of the Republican intelligentsia may be beginning to awake from their wild-eyed phase and begin taking seriously again that “we are a nation of laws” does not just apply to brown people and sex.

Posted by Brad @ 11:09 am on February 15th 2013

Quote of the Day

“What I think is absolutely true is that it is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing.”

Barack Obama, addressing concerns about his lack of transparency on national security issues last week

Posted by Jack @ 3:23 pm on February 14th 2013

Dear Beast TV: Killing someone is a tragedy for the victim, not the killer.

Note the headline of this Beast TV story: Tragic Turn For The ‘Blade Runner’

Posted by Brad @ 1:52 pm on February 14th 2013

Rep. Amash to Run for Senate?

He might, sources tell NRO.

I envision Senators Paul and Amash in suits without ties, jackets blowing behind them as they walk forward nonchalantly, a car exploding behind them.

Posted by Brad @ 10:22 pm on February 13th 2013

A Symposium on the Battle of Hoth

So, Spencer Ackerman at Wired wrote a military critique of the Empire’s plan and execution of the Battle of Hoth. And as you might expect, that caused the internet to as plode (beginning with the best top comment I’ve seen in awhile).

So given the strong opinions, he called in six military nerds to hold a symposium on the real takeaways from the tragically misguided battle.

Needless to say this is very entertaining.

Posted by Brad @ 6:33 pm on February 12th 2013

Dear Christopher Dorner…

Can you maybe drag this thing out until about 11 PM EST? An incredibly dramatic conclusion timed for like 9:10 would also be acceptable. Thank you.

Posted by Brad @ 4:44 pm on February 12th 2013

Quick Question Regarding Drone Strikes

I get the knee-jerk response to the drone program from supporters who really just don’t want to have to think about it too hard. Like this guy, and his courageous stance that:

“I am pro killing Al Qaeda leaders via drones even if they are American citizens. That is not a war crime. The authorization for use of military force gives the president that power and frankly you cannot join al Qaeda in a time of war and traitorously plot against us in a foreign country and expect Constitutional protection.”

Uhhh, ok.

But my basic question to these guys is: what is entailed exactly in “joining Al Queda”? Are letters of intent involved? Is it when you fill out your Al Queda W-2? Is there a sign-in sheet?

And what precisely is “traitorously plot against us?” I mean, the most clear-cut case of this type of person is apparently Anwar al-Aulaqui, and even his crimes seem, to me, to be more of the pamphleteering variety – do the advocates of his drone death know for what crime, precisely, he was killed? Feel free to read through his “contacts” and “connections” and “may have been linked”s and indicate to me which of them constitutes, or SHOULD constitute, a capital crime. Near as I can figure he never fired a bullet, built a bomb, attacked anyone, or even organized anything specific. Do “online sermons advocating that muslims kill Americans” count?

What I’m getting at, obviously, is there exists, in most supporters of the President’s assassination authority, an apparently very clear-cut class of person who “brought it on themselves” and through their actions deserve no consideration for anything but death. Can anybody nail down what, precisely, qualifies a person to be in that class? Because they are apparently so obvious as to be self-evident, but damn if I can figure it out.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:28 pm on February 11th 2013

My name is my name!

Ron Paul wants RonPaul.com for his own use. The website owners, who have put five years into the site on behalf of his movement, want compensation for it. Dr. Paul disagrees, and has apparently made an attempt to get the UN organization in charge of monitoring domain registrations to turn it over to him for free.

I am not sure how I feel about this–there are interesting arguments, both legal and moral, on both sides. But it is, to say the very least, bad PR for Dr. Paul, who has been piling up a fair amount of such lately

Posted by Rojas @ 11:33 am on February 11th 2013

Papal election betting

Bono sitting at 1000-1 early on.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:28 am on February 11th 2013

Know Fear

The next Pope might be French Canadian.

Posted by Rojas @ 2:31 pm on February 9th 2013

Can’t stop the signal

Good luck trying to control gun sales and ownership in an era of 3D printing.

Posted by Brad @ 2:56 pm on February 8th 2013

Quote of the Day

The most central concern of the due process limit in the eighteenth century and earlier was surely that the king not have power to kill domestic opponents by labeling them enemies of the regime.

Posted by Brad @ 8:03 pm on February 7th 2013

Quote of the Day

“I think the American people would be quite pleased to know that we’ve been very disciplined and very judicious” and that the Obama administration only uses targeted killings “as a last resort.”

CIA Director nominee John Brennan

Posted by Brad @ 1:54 pm on February 5th 2013

Video of the Day

This made me crack up – Top Gear can be a good show. The world’s smallest car. Mind those potholes.

Posted by Brad @ 11:55 am on February 5th 2013

The Parsing on When the Government Can Remotely Assassinate American Citizens Continues

In secret, of course, and without debate or recourse for the citizenry.

But, in a confidential justice department white paper, the Obama administration has appeared to have moved beyond an American citizen being an imminent threat by traditional definitions of that word, and instead:

the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

But wait, there’s more! You probably assume that drone strikes are only authorized if we cannot capture the person. Not true!

In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.” But the memo elaborates on some of these factors in ways that go beyond what the attorney general said publicly. For example, it states that U.S. officials may consider whether an attempted capture of a suspect would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel involved in such an operation. If so, U.S. officials could determine that the capture operation of the targeted American would not be feasible, making it lawful for the U.S. government to order a killing instead, the memo concludes.

So replace “murder drones” with “tazers” and you can pretty much get a bead on how that works out in practice, when government forces get to decide for themselves what constitutes “undue risk” on themselves.

This all contradicts statements that Eric Holder and other officials have made when they’ve dropped hints about the secret rationale for citizen assassination – they have used the words “imminent attack” and “capture infeasible” before. But of course, that was always fungible in the first place, as they have also made it clear that their legal rationale is none of our business and, besides, they don’t really need a legal rationale in the first place. They just need internal reasoning they can kick around the office to justify to themselves (and no one else) why whatever they want to do is legal. And if that changes or expands, *shrugs*

I might have to change my murder drone pool bet.