Tuesday ReadsPosted: March 8, 2011 | |
Good Morning!! There is a lot of news breaking this morning about Libya. The Guardian just posted this story: Barack Obama raises pressure on Gaddafi as no-fly zone gains support
Barack Obama has stepped up pressure on Colonel Gaddafi, saying the US and Nato allies were considering a military response to violence in Libya, with the list of options including arming the rebels.
Obama’s remarks came as Britain and France made progress in drafting a resolution at the UN calling for a no-fly zone triggered by specific conditions, rather than timelines. Downing Street is hopeful that a resolution with clear triggers such as the bombing of civilians would not be subject to a Russian veto at the security council.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, told the Commons a no-fly zone would have to be supported by north African countries and rebel leaders and would also need an appropriate legal basis.
There is concern by Western governments that Gadhafi may succeed in defeating the opposition forces if they don’t get more international support soon. Obama is getting pressure from Senator John Kerry who has been pushing for the no-fly zone for some time now.
Kerry, chairman of the foreign relations committee, argued at the weekend that a no-fly zone would not amount to military intervention, adding: “One could crater the airports and the runways and leave them incapable of using them for a period of time.” ….Obama is believed to oppose US military intervention in Libya, partly because it could boost Gaddafi’s standing. But if civilian deaths mount and the humanitarian crisis worsens, his hand may be forced.
The New York Times says discord is growing in DC over the Libya situation.
Of most concern to the president himself, one high-level aide said, is the perception that the United States would once again be meddling in the Middle East, where it has overturned many a leader, including Saddam Hussein. Some critics of the United States in the region — as well as some leaders — have already claimed that a Western conspiracy is stoking the revolutions that have overtaken the Middle East.
“He keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic,” the senior official said, quoting the president.
At the same time, there are persistent voices — in Congress and even inside the administration — arguing that Mr. Obama is moving too slowly. They contend that there is too much concern about perceptions, and that the White House is too squeamish because of Iraq.
Furthermore, they say a military caught up in two difficult wars has exaggerated the risks of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, the tactic discussed most often.
The American military is also privately skeptical of humanitarian gestures that put the lives of troops at risk for the cause of the moment, while being of only tenuous national interest.
It really makes me angry that our government had no problem going into Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein over weapons that didn’t exist, but now that we have a humanitarian crisis with people being slaughtered by a vicious tyrant, our President is dithering and the military doesn’t want to help because our own selfish interests aren’t involved. What about doing something because it’s the right thing to do? For once we actually have a chance to be the good guy. Yeah, I know that’s crazy talk…
According to Reuters, Gadhafi is “looking for [an] exit deal.”
Two Arab newspapers and al Jazeera television said on Monday Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was looking for an agreement allowing him to step down, but there was no official confirmation of the reports.
Al Jazeera said Gaddafi had proposed to Libyan rebels to hold a meeting of parliament to pave the way for him to step down with certain guarantees.
It said Gaddafi made the proposal to the interim council, which speaks for mostly eastern areas controlled by his opponents. It quoted sources in the council as saying Gaddafi wanted guarantees of personal safety for him and his family and a pledge that they not be put on trial.
Al Jazeera said sources from the council told its correspondent in Benghazi that the offer was rejected because it would have amounted to an “honourable” exit for Gaddafi and would offend his victims.
So, while Western leaders argue and Libyan rebels hold out for a better deal with the madman, Gadhafi’s forces continue to attack the ragtag opposition from the air. I think our indecisive President needs to think about how he is going to look if Gaddafi manages to crush the opposition and stay in power.
In other news, Alan Simpson is out in public making a fool of himself again.
The co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission tried to scold the elderly on Monday for complaining about their Social Security funds being targeted, but instead he found himself making a reference to “Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg.”
“This is a fakery,” Simpson said on Fox News. “If they care at all about their children or grandchildren, and sometimes I doubt that – I think, you know, grandchildren now don’t write a thank-you for the Christmas presents, they’re walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, and they don’t like them!”
There’s video the link, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. Please, can’t some of Simpson’s relatives get him into a nursing home or something? He’s clearly a danger to himself and others.
In the dispute over collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Democratic leaders asked for a meeting with Governor Scott Walker to discuss possible compromises, but Walker refused, instead calling a press conference to excoriate Wis. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller.
Walker said he and his administration have been in communication with at least a couple of the AWOL state Senate Democrats about a deal that could bring them back, but the lawmaker who asked for the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, “is firmly standing in the way.”
That accusation led to a flurry of angry responses from Democrats who said Walker was misrepresenting the talks.
“Right now, I’m so damn mad at his misrepresentation of the truth and the public should be as well,” said Sen. Bob Jauch, one of two Democrats who had talked last week with the Senate Republican leader about possible compromises. “Trust is completely broken down now. I don’t believe anything he says.”
Meanwhile Republican State Senators are learning that attacking collective bargaining rights is not popular in Wisconsin:
REEDSBURG, Wisc. — At a town hall meeting held in this rural community on Sunday afternoon, Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz faced loud opposition to a proposed compromise he said could end the legislative stalemate over union rights that’s led to close to three weeks of protests in his state.
Schultz has proposed an amendment that freezes collective bargaining rights for public employees for two years, and said he though that would be a fair compromise — and one that could end the standoff in Madison over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill….
The word “no” reverberated loudly through the crowd, while many others shook their heads silently.
“That won’t do!” an audience member called out to the senator.
Their reaction suggests that the plummet in support for Walker among Wisconsin voters since the standoff began — his negative rating is up 18 points since November and his “strongly unfavorable” rating shot up to 41 percent from just 19 percent then — could also be something affecting Republicans further down the ballot.
And at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Thomas Linzey And Mari Margil of the Environmental Legal Defense Fund in Chambersburg, Pa. propose making collective bargaining a constitutional right.
While the system affords constitutional rights to those who own the workplace, it relegates workers to a lesser status, grudgingly allowing some regulation of working conditions. That strikingly differential treatment is reflected in how our system of law treats corporations and unions.
Creating a corporation requires only completing a form and paying a fee. Unionizing a workplace, on the other hand, requires jumping through a series of byzantine hoops while the employer retains the power to threaten employees and close the workplace.
Faced with a system of law that protects property and commerce over the rights of workers, we consign ourselves to regulating workplace conditions and terms, rather than advancing worker rights.
Why make collective bargaining a constitutional right? The fury in Wisconsin shows how easily workplace regulations, including collective bargaining, can be taken away. If we don’t begin to shift our organizing to recognize legal rights of workers, we will always be at the mercy of those like Walker.
The latest state to attempt to curtail public workers’ rights is Iowa, where a public hearing on a new anti-union bill attracted a large crowd.
Hundreds of people turned out for a public hearing on a labor bill that would effectively curb collective bargaining rights for public employees. The bill echoes similar legislation that caused massive protests in Wisconsin last month, although the response to the bill currently in the Iowa House has been much more tepid.
The bill would restrict bargaining on thing such as insurance terms, factors relating to employee layoff and pay….
The House gallery was completely full, and a line formed outside with people waiting for those inside to leave so they could get a chance to watch and listen to the hearing.
Those unable to get a seat in the House gathered for a rally in the rotunda area, where the voices of the speakers in the chamber were being piped through a large speaker. The crowd erupted into cheers as each pro-bargaining speaker finished his or her address.
The opponents of the bill in the rotunda carried signs with slogans like “Kill the Bill,” “Public Safety is Worth the Cost” and even one with the clenched fist symbol with “Solidarity” written in block letters beneath. Chants of “solidarity” occasionally broke after a particularly rousing speaker.
This really does appear to be an organized, nationwide effort by right-wingers like the Koch brothers. Another state that has had protests like this recently is Tennessee.
But Americans are finally pushing back against our corporate-owned politicians. There were even demonstrations in DC yesterday by people demanding prosecutions of Wall Street executives over mortgage fraud.
You probably heard that President Obama has officially gone back on his promise to close Gitmo.
President Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start new military commission trials for detainees there.
The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay’s continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Administration officials said the president is still committed to closing the prison, although he made no mention of that goal in a short statement Monday. The administration’s original plans to create a detention center in the United States and prosecute some detainees in federal court have all but collapsed in the face of bipartisan congressional opposition.
The executive order recognizes the reality that some Guantanamo Bay detainees will remain in U.S. custody for many years, if not for life. The new system allows them the prospect of successfully arguing in the future that they should be released because they do not pose a threat.
Bush III strikes again, perhaps paving the way for Bush IV. Yes, I refer to the dreaded Jeb Bush and right wing mastermind Karl Rove’s efforts to put another Bush in the White House. I highly recommend you read the Legal Schnauzer’s take on the recent New York Magazine piece about Rove. There’s also a tidbit about Rove’s [ugh!] romantic affairs.
That’s about all I’ve got for today. Just a head’s up though, today is International Woman’s Day, and Minxoff Minx will have a post about that a little later on.
What are you reading and blogging about today?