In other news, the recent dropping of "enemy combatant" as a label made a lot of headlines, but it is in many ways a re-declaration of the power of the Executive to detain anyone, apparently anywhere, if in the administration's judgement they provided "substantial" support to terrorism.
There are some improvements, from a powers-theory standpoint. The new definition does not say the power is inherent in the Executive; instead the statement claims that the power is based on the post-9/11 acts of Congress, which I consider a powers-theory improvement of substance, even if it makes very little real difference on the ground. Also, the word "substantial" is new. However, when reviewing the word "substantial," please remember that the Pentagon has defined "talking to the press about your imprisonment" to be "returning to the battlefield" within the last year or so; it's not necessarily much of a step up. The ACLU issued this large-ignored press release expressing its displeasure.
The somnambulant New York Times is starting to talk about "Mr. Obama and the Rule of Law." Too bad they couldn't be bothered back when it could've turned the Democratic Party into an actual opposition. Too bad there isn't really much of a press dedicated to anything other than helping preserve executive power and maintain embarrassing secrets, either.
Or just to being idiots. There's plenyt of that. Over at Fox News, they're making fun of the Canadian army serving in Afghanistan, and here, have this clusterfuck spew declaring CNN the "communist news network" and... well, it's such a trainwreck I'm not even going to try to explain it.
In religious crazies news, here's an amusing story going around from India about Sanal Edamaruku challenging a "black magician" to kill him with his magic powers. There are a variety of screenshots; anybody known if this is real? Because it's awesome. Meanwhile, Texas is considering a bill allowing a religious school to grant a state-certified Masters of Science degree in Creationism. And courtesy nihilistic_kid, here's Alethea Kontis's interview with J.F. Lewis, expelled from his church late last year in response to his writing a vampire novel. As Nick notes, there's an extra layer of irony:
Alethea's usual venue for interviews wouldn't run this one because the Q/A about Lewis being removed from his church might offend some readers. That Lewis's church is a retrograde institution interested in stoning people wasn't the potential offense, the implicit criticism of the church was.Awesome, is it not? Oh, and the Obama administration is bringing Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council in for policy discussions. David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network is pleased, and has kind words for Mr. Obama's invitation and approach. The meeting is tomorrow.
And finally, have some unintended consequences: a lead-safety law effectively bans all resale and possibly distribution of children's books from before 1985 because they haven't been tested or certified for lead levels and are not on the exemptions list. There has also been an enforcement ruling noting that used resellers are not responsible for testing books - but it still holds that books with such lead levels cannot be resold, and that resellers are to "avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit... The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part." And they've issued a statement saying they won't enforce on any "ordinary children’s book printed after 1985," but it's pre-1985 that's the problem. According to the City Journal article, libraries are particularly worried, and the ALA has taken the stance that libraries don't count as distributors for these purposes, but book sale-fundraisers are affected, and, quoting City Journal: "One CPSC commissioner, Thomas Moore, has already called for libraries to 'sequester' some undefinedly large fraction of pre-1985 books until more is known about their risks." An attempt led by Jim DeMint (R-SC) to amend the law recently failed.