April 30th, 2011

Politics

sad but true

"America has experienced periods of bitter partisan division in the past, but in the current era it often isn't the interpretation of our national life that's in dispute but the actual facts of our common existence. That's as significant a rejection of the serious news media as it is of opposing political figures. Until very recently, if every professional news organization in the nation examined a charge and found it baseless, it was — for all intents and purposes — dropped. Today, the growth of the Internet has drained the noun 'news' of its former authority. If you don't like the facts presented on the sites of established news organizations, you simply keep clicking until you find one whose 'facts' accord with your beliefs."

News

The infrastructure, Obama's foreign policy, and Japan's trash

"This is such a classic case of how things work on Capitol Hill. The issue itself is (a) pretty much unknown to the average voter and (b) worth absolute mountains of money to a very small, very influential segment of American industry, namely big banks and big retailers. This makes it the perfect lobbying issue: banks and retailers are highly motivated to spend mind-boggling sums of money on this, while voters barely even know this fight is going on."

SATURDAY NEWS:
* "The Consequentialist: How the Arab Spring remade Obama's foreign policy."
* "Last month's earthquake and tsunami have left Japan with a massive trash problem."
* Where is the investment in America's infrastructure?
* Supreme Court limits class action lawsuits, because, you know, plutocracy.
* Joel Achenbach on the birthers vs. reality. And yes, it's racism.
* Studies show that no, the rich don't leave states because of high taxes.
* The BBC on how to explain, uh, stuff.
* Ooh! The uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray finally released.

News

this is not America

"The system of military commissions that will try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 plotters contains a dirty little secret. Hardly anybody talks about it, but it's a key reason for concern as the apparatus becomes established.

"It is this: The commissions can operate inside the United States, and they have jurisdiction over a broad range of crimes. Nothing in the Military Commissions Act limits the military trials to Guantanamo detainees, or to people captured and held abroad, or even to terrorism suspects. Nothing prevents the commissions from trying noncitizens, arrested inside the country, whom the president unilaterally designates as 'unprivileged enemy belligerents.' In other words, the law permits military officers to try non-Americans from Alabama and Arkansas as well as Afghanistan...

"Once the military commission apparatus becomes established, every future administration will have a ready instrument to arrest, judge and sentence wholly within the executive branch, evading the separation of powers carefully calibrated in the Constitution."