Ed Driscoll is in my living room. Yours, too.
A reminder from Paul Miller that Libya is not Rwanda:
But Libya is not Rwanda. Rwanda was genocide. Libya is a civil war. The Rwandan genocide was a premeditated, orchestrated campaign. The Libyan civil war is a sudden, unplanned outburst of fighting. The Rwandan genocide was targeted against an entire, clearly defined ethnic group. The Libyan civil war is between a tyrant and his cronies on one side, and a collection of tribes, movements, and ideologists (including Islamists) on the other. The Rwandan genocidiers aimed to wipe out a people. The Libyan dictator aims to cling to power. The first is murder, the second is war. The failure to act in Rwanda does not saddle us with a responsibility to intervene in Libya. The two situations are different.
There’s another item Miller didn’t mention. Should the rebels prevail — an increasingly unlikely prospect — they would almost certainly fill mass graves with Gaddafi’s cronies. Would we then be obligated to intervene against the side we helped put in power?
“Responsibility to Protect” might have the perverse effect of prolonging deadly internal conflicts, rather than resolving them with minimal loss of life.
On the future of nuclear energy, Glenn Reynolds writes, “I see this as a case where the Obama Adminstration’s predilection for crony capitalism might actually work in the public interest.”
But the problem with crony capitalism isn’t that it doesn’t sometimes — or even frequently — get things right. The problem is that its mistakes are politically entrenched and aren’t easily undone. And its mistakes tend to be whoppers.
I’m selling off the last of my professional f/2.8 Nikon zoom lenses — the superb 24-70mm. My new D7000 body shoots perfectly well at an outrageous ISO 6,400 — which makes it silly to carry around a massive Wedding Portrait Mid-Range Zoom for chasing kids around the well-lit back yard. But any Nikon-sporting pro is gonna love this thing.
And it’s a seller’s market, all of a sudden. Nikon and Canon both still produce all their pro gear domestically, in Japan. And both plants were taken offline by the tsunami. Neither company has a clue when they’ll restart their production lines.
There’s another bit of weirdness to all this. I’m not replacing my midrange. Instead, I’ve dusted off and put back in my bag Nikon’s very first consumer grade DX lens — the f/3.5-4.5 18-70mm zoom. It came with the D70 kit Melissa bought me six years ago, and that rekindled my love for photography.
The first midrange zoom I ever owned might also be the last.
In the hyper-obsolscent digital age, that’s something rare and just a little bit nostalgiac.
Google has been sentenced to endure twenty years of “regular, independent privacy audits,” after plastering everybody’s personal stuff pretty much everywhere with its Buzz service last year.
There’s a good reason I don’t use Gmail and I don’t use Hotmail — and instead am very happy to spend $149 a year for Apple’s MobileMe family pack. When a service is free, you are the thing being bought and sold — your private email and surfing habits, that is. I’d rather pay a little money and keep my privacy, thanks.
Dear Prime Minister Berlusconi,
Calling on George Clooney as a witness to save you from charges of nailing anything leggy in a skirt? That’s like me bringing up W.C. Fields as a character witness at a DUI hearing.
Next time, may I suggest you subpoena someone slightly more believable? Maybe Andy Dick or Paul Lynde or that guy from the old Isuzu commercials? Remember him, always getting caught in those bald-faced lies? Wasn’t he just hysterical?
What I’m saying is, sir, you might want to dazzle ‘em with BS, since Clooney is going to hurt your case — a lot.
Oh, and as a public service to my readers, I’ve included a picture here of one of George’s many leggy girlfriends, since otherwise they might not have any clue what we’re talking about. Public service, really. Folks can even click-to-embiggen, if you totally get what I mean.
Anyway, best of luck at your trial, and try not to get caught actually doing it with any of your defense team or witnesses or jurors or anything, OK?
On yesterday’s Trifecta, Scott Ott offhandedly mentioned something that came as a bit of a shock — but shouldn’t have. When President Bush told the nation Saddam’s time had run out and offensive operations had begun, it was a four minute speech from the Oval Office. This, of course, was after engaging in such quaint and obsolete 18th Century niceties like informing Congress first, and getting their permission.
President Obama made his announcement in Week Two of the war, in front of an audience of dead fish, and with no input from Congress aside from a few, unspecified “leaders.” Obama’s speech went on for nearly half an hour.
Now, President Bush inspired me to invent drunkblogging. I think it was his 2003 State of the Union Address, before the Iraq War even started, when Andrew Sullivan was passing around the rules for a SOTU Drinking Game. I read the rules and thought, “I’ve been watching these things for over 20 years. Forget the damn games — I need to start drinking early and often.” And so a new genre was born that night.
But it never occurred to me to drink my way through Bush’s war address just two months later. And it never occurred to me not to drink my way through Obama’s. No matter what your opinions of the necessity or justice of either war, there’s no getting around this central fact: Bush took his war with deadly earnestness in exactly the way Obama hasn’t.
I don’t know what to make of that, but I do know I need a drink.
Engadget has a thorough review of the new Sony Ericsson Playstation Phone. Actually, it’s called the “Sony Ericsson Xperia Play,” which is a fine example of throwing 17 years of branding out the window. Playstation Phone? I know exactly what that is — it’s an iPhone from Playstation games. Xperia Play? What is that — an avant-garde community college theater production? I have no clue.
Anyway, Engadget has some nice things to say about the internal build quality, but calls the external plastics “brittle,” some of the controls “capricious,” the dedicated Android buttons* “inconsistent and frustrating,” it’s CPU and memory are “simply not powerful enough,” the display is so dim that it’s “borderline dysfunctional,” and the number one reason to buy one, the games, will have a “barren” selection at launch time.
Oh, and the battery life isn’t great.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but wait a few weeks after release and you’ll likely find one in the bargain bin.
*Hey, it’s an Android phone, too? I got none of that out of “Xperia Play.”
You could make a case that the first $10 billion didn’t have a huge impact, as they went to programs already scheduled to be cut (I don’t totally subscribe to that). But the low-hanging fruit is gone. This $20 billion will hurt.
We’re talking about $20 billion dollars here, or one-half of one percent of a budget that has grown by 25% in the last two years. We’re talking about ditching one fiftieth of the recent increases.
If that’s “hurt,” then we’re not going to make a whole lot of progress until after the 2012 elections — and that’s only if the GOP somehow manages to put up a candidate less unpalatable to the center than Obama is.
My hopes aren’t up this morning.
Robert Gibbs going to Facebook? That’s the story from the New York Times, which reports that Gibbs is in negotiations to take “a senior role in helping to manage the company’s communications.” A fine idea, if Facebook’s idea of good PR is a man who gets in front of the cameras to bite babies on the head.
Here are a few of his finer moments.
How often do you find yourself on Helen Thomas’s side? Only Robert Gibbs can manage that feat. If I were Facebook, I’d pay millions to keep him away.
Dennis Kucinich isn’t really going to try and get President Obama impeached — he was just asking around:
“I asked the question as to whether that was an impeachable offense; that’s different than actually calling for an impeachment or inducing a resolution, which I am not intending to do,” Kucinich told Fox Business Network Thursday. “I am speaking to the limits of executive power.”
Kucinich said that, in 2007, then-Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) had raised the specter of impeaching President George W. Bush over American military involvement in the Middle East.
“So I am in the same company with the now vice president and president with respect to the fact that the Constitution should be adhered to,” Kucinich continued.
Keep in mind that Kucinich most certainly did file articles of impeachment against President Bush, for waging a war he had bothered to get Congress to authorize. Of course, those articles also included Bush’s “offenses” against the environment, voting rights, Medicare, and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
I suppose when everything’s impeachable, nothing is.
Peggy Noonan says it’s past time for President Obama to sit down, address the nation, and tell us what the hell we’re doing in Libya:
I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he’s home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It’s what presidents do! And this is particularly important now, because there are reasons to fear the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.
Here’s the thing, Peggy. Obama has now waited so long, and spent so much of the intervening time traveling and doing other things, that the American public has pretty much made up its mind about Libya. We’re pretty sure that “the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.” Exactly, yes.
We’re pretty sure because the President didn’t sit us down beforehand and tell us what we were in for. Instead, we saw on TV and read on the innerwebs that our war aims are confused, our war means are too little, and our allies are disappearing. We saw that China and Russia were kind enough not to use their UN veto, but cruel enough to turn and snarl once the shooting began. In other words, they helped dress up that tar baby real nice. We watched our President get snookered — again — while talking up green jobs in Brazil.
So maybe President Obama will sit down behind the desk and in front of the cameras and give us the little talk he should have given us two weeks ago. But what good will it do? He didn’t lead us to this place; he kind of wandered in and around and now is looking to wander back out. We get that already. A speech now won’t bring the soft gauze of the Libyan War into any sharper focus — not even if it’s written by Peggy Noonan.
Eugene Robinson has a question:
So what the hell are we doing? I realize that President Obama and his advisers have answered this question many times, but I feel it’s necessary to keep asking until the answers begin to make sense.
Charles Krauthammer has an answer:
President Obama is proud of how he put together the Libyan operation. A model of international cooperation. All the necessary paperwork. Arab League backing. A Security Council resolution. (Everything but a resolution from the Congress of the United States, a minor inconvenience for a citizen of the world.) It’s war as designed by an Ivy League professor.
Starting to understand now, Eugene? We’ve been trying to tell you this stuff for three years now.
A senior member of al Qaida urged Libyan rebels to continue their fight against Muammar Gaddafi and warned of the consequences of defeat, in a videotaped message posted on Jihadi websites, the Qatar-based Gulf News reported on Sunday.
The message from Libya native, Abu Yahya al-Libi, marked the first time a top ranked al Qaida commander had commented on the uprising in Libya. Gaddafi has repeatedly blamed al Qaida for inciting the unrest against him.
“The Libyan people have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi for more than 40 years … He used the Libyans as a testing ground for his violent, rambling and disgusting thoughts,” Abu Yahya stated.
He warned that “Retreating will mean decades of harsher oppression and greater injustices than what you have endured.”
al-Qaeda has inspiring language, and no doubt will assist Libya’s rebels with everything it can muster — even if it isn’t all that much. We have an de-coalescing coalition and inspiring words about getting out of the lead and ending our efforts soon and generally doing as little as we can get away with.
Strong horse, meet weak horse.
I’m afraid US involvement, at least as directed by this President, will make things objectively worse in Libya.
I’m so in love with the high ISOs and low weight of my new D7000 body, that I’m switching to Nikon’s little DX-size lenses. I’ll miss that massive, fast FX zoom lens, but I won’t miss the giant camera bag.
Cheapie plastic consumer gear — here I come!
President Obama is coming home from Latin America a little early. Maybe he’s coming back to try and patch back together the Libyan War coalition. Maybe he’s coming home to try and do something about those wow-awful CBO numbers. Maybe he just got bored.
I haven’t been able to discern much from this White House since ObamaCare passed — a year ago today. The President demonstrates a strange combination of being involved in everything while doing as little as possible. Obama is that strangest of characters: A Type-B busybody.
We saw it first in how he handled the stimulus. Lots of talk, demanding action, followed by turning the whole thing over to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. If the President’s fingerprints were anywhere near the American Spend Our Way to Riches Act, it would take a CSI team to find them.
Same story with ObamaCare. The President laid down his demands (not really; he just wanted to change lots of stuff after his re-election, in a law to be passed right the heck now) and then let Pelosi & Reid carry his water. The funny part about ObamaCare is, it isn’t ObamaCare. It’s the patchwork proposition Reid was able to cobble together in the Senate, then passed by the House as-was, to avoid a losing reconciliation fight. Obama would have put his pen to pretty much anything.
And where was Obama while Reid was wheeling and dealing? Judging by the timing, he was probably working on his 2010 NCAA bracket. But that’s just a guess, and a mean-spirited one at that. Still, I’d bet lunch money on it.
The election? “The difference is, this time you got me.” And campaign, he did — although largely in safe districts to avoid making bigger losers out of all those big losers. Mostly, Obama did what Obama does best, which was to raise lots and lots of money. Not that it did the Democrats much good.
We’re seeing it again in Libya. Gaddafi “must go,” followed by inaction. The Big Nothing was followed by a sudden flurry of action by Secretary Clinton and Samantha Power, resulting two days later in a tragically-broad UN resolution, a war without leaders, and coalition which never coalesced. And when the missiles started flying, Obama had already flown the coop to wage some of that smart diplomacy in Brazil.
Yes, in Brazil, where they’re drilling offshore for oil with US-backed loans. How his entire audience managed to keep straight faces while Obama delivered that line in his speech about the promise of “green jobs” I’ll never understand. The Brazlians were practically German in their self-control.
But let’s wish the President good luck in putting the coalition back together or plugging that extra $2,000,000,000,000 hole he left in the budget — not that we should expect it to do any good. The budget was a sad joke before the new hole was found, and our European allies already fully understand where the President stands on the Libyan War.
Message: I don’t care.
Message received, Mr. President. Loud and clear.