Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Morning Blog

Wouldn't it be nice to just say "Screw it. It's your problem"? Bear in mind that the last time we negotiated with the Israelis, we offered them 20 fighter jets, security assurances and a pledge to oppose any moves towards Palestinian statehood in the UN and for what? A 90 day moratorium on building new settlements. A moratorium that in the end, never materialized. That seems mighty expensive to me. I'm just not sure what else the Israelis can expect from us at this point. The bottom line is that the status quo as it stands simply is not functioning. If they won't accept any of our suggestions, than there's really nothing else we can do for them.

RIP: War Powers Act. Must be nice to be in a position to ignore laws when they prove inconvenient:

On Wednesday, six Republican senators sent a letter to Mr. Obama noting the imminent deadline “for you to terminate the use of the United States armed forces in Libya.” They asked “whether you intend to comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.”

On Thursday, Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, sent a similar letter to Mr. Obama stressing that the country was about to reach the War Powers Resolution deadline, which he portrayed as a “critical juncture.”

And on Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union also wrote to Mr. Obama expressing its “profound concern” that he was about to violate the War Powers Resolution, and arguing that he had no legal authority to use military force in Libya.

Administration officials offered no theory for why continuing the air war in Libya in the absence of Congressional authorization and beyond the deadline would be lawful. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, portrayed it as a significant constitutional moment.

A right to lie? Obviously, lying about being a veteran is despicable (and quite a bit weird), and I think that doing so to profit does qualify as fraud. But does the simple act of lying deserve jail time? It strikes me that mockery is probably a more appropriate punishment. More significantly, it does raise a significant constitutional question: If Congress is able to pass out prison sentences for this sort of lie, what sort of lies can't they punish in this way? Could people be sent to prison if they tell a potential employer that they quit smoking?

Speaking of the law, the courts will shortly be considering the ramifications of copyrighted tattoos, specifically that strange squiggle adorning Mike Tyson's face. Personally, I think the use of the tattoo in the movie "Hangover II" is clearly covered by fair use. It's obviously meant as a parody. However, it raises some pretty interesting questions. Can someone retain copyright ownership over something that becomes part of another persons body? It's really a very complicated question. If you create a design and find that someone else has been using it to make dozens of tattoos arguably you should be able to receive compensation because they're profiting off of your work. However, if you do the tattoo itself, should you surrender all rights to the design? It's tricky.

Speaking of copyright laws (I know, wonky blog today), France is looking to introduce a modicum of civilized behavior to the internet. Though I think that some international standards may be helpful...Let's face it: The internet is doing just fine by itself. It's best that government just stay out of the way.

Ok, ok! Just one more thing about laws I promise! Henceforth, they'll be written in English.

Oh no! Not outsourcing! I eagerly await the outrage.

I guess it was only a matter of time: masochists now have their own summer camp. Seems like they could save a lot of the expense and bother by just asking their friends to scream at them.

Oh, now I get it.

Oh well, it's the End of the World. Sadly, I've been told that this is not a viable reason to call off work. I'm happy that at least Wall Street is keeping on top of things.

Not that it should even be necessary to note, but that whole apocalypse thing seems to be running a bit late...

Seems like this has happened before: Other times the world has failed to end.

2012 Watch: Fire in her belly, no brain in her head. Know what would make a better President? A stick. Or a dog. Or a Jello Pudding Pop. Or a loaf of bread. Or a carburetor. Or a maraschino cherry. Or a...

Obama has pardoned an alligator poacher. I could talk about the enormous number of people that are currently serving sentences for non-violent crimes and wonder what made this guy who's already served his sentence, worthier than them of presidential attention. But I'm not going to. What I'm going to wonder about is the enormous injustice of disenfranchising someone for 29 years because they killed some lizards. And I'm going to wonder at how many other people who have served their sentences for non-violent crimes are still denied the right to vote as citizens.

Spotting psychopaths. Interesting piece. Features the phrase:

This was truly to be a radical milestone: the world's first ever marathon nude LSD-fuelled psychotherapy session for criminal psychopaths.

Which leads us nicely to an adorable, little thing that can kill you.

Anybody out there?
I imagine the conversation went along the lines of "Any chance you see a giant, old guy with a beard?"

Headline of the Day. Wow...For sheer craziness, Iran has trumped North Korea today.

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