The court scholar serving Hermann of Thuringia.

The court scholar serving Hermann of Thuringia.
The scholar


Between rock and hard place

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) complains about Obama's approach to ISIS. Problem is, McCain is in kind of a bind. On the one hand, Iran is acting against ISIS on the ground in Iraq. ISIS is a truly awful, terrible outfit that commits atrocities. We're conducting active hostilities against them, bombing them very frequently. Iran is the entity we're negotiating with about their not-yet-built nuclear weapon and is supporting many not-friends in the Middle East. Iran is also actively conducting hostilities against ISIS (A point that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared to be very confused on a while ago). McCain wishes to replace Iran in Iraq with American “boots on the ground,” but Americans are very unenthusiastic about getting back into a war in Iraq. A Quinnipiac University poll (18-22 Nov 2014) asked respondents: "Do you think the United States military should have combat troops on the ground in Iraq or not?" The response was that only 37% of the public is in favor of that, 55% said no. 
Speaker of the House John Boehner is also very unhappy and is also in a bind. He's very unhappy with the draft AUMF that President Obama has proposed for authorizing a war against ISIS. Also, “For years, Boehner and other GOP leaders have complained that Obama is an out-of-control tyrant, hell-bent on ignoring the Constitution and amassing excessive power in the executive.” So, Boehner's statement on the situation is: “President Obama should scrap his war powers request to fight Islamic terrorists and go back to the drawing board, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday.”

But why is the President the one who has to “go back to the drawing board”? Why can't Congress draft and pass its own AUMF? There's no obvious reason that anyone is able to see for Congress to delegate this job to the President. Yes, it's a difficult process, with lots of clashing priorities. That doesn't get Congress off the hook. Boehner is a Speaker “with a large majority in the House at his back and a longing for historical significance in his heart, Boehner is determined to be remembered by history as someone who did something.” But in order for a legislator to be remembered as a significant figure, that means doing the hard work of governing, not just slacking off and expecting others to do your work for you.

ISIS and Iran and the unwillingness of the American people to re-engage in Iraq makes for a tough, hard-to-resolve situation. It's not difficult to see that there are no quick and easy and simple, expedient answers. It appears that the Republican Congress and Senate are both so used to simply saying “No” to everything, they've forgotten how to do the hard work of governing.


Avengers – Age of Ultron

Very cool! In the first Avengers movie, someone ran a property insurance program to see how much money would be needed to reconstruct New York City after all the events in the movie occurred. They figured about $160 billion would do it. Later, for Man of Steel (Superman), they ran it again and figured it would take about $700 billion. For Avengers – Age of Ultron? Whooo-weeee!!!!! Dunno, but it would add up to WAY more! Civilian casualties? There would have been some, but the heroes make very determined attempts to see to it that casualties would be minimal. 

I described how an old comic series featured an Iron Man who assumes the role of the villain (Machine Man takes place in what was then the far, far future of 2020) and someone asked if the comics featured anyone going the other way, from villain to hero. As a matter of fact, this second Avengers movie features just such a transformation.

Interesting changes in some of the characters from the way they are in the comics. The changes to their powers and origins are minor, but make good dramatic sense.