Thursday, June 29, 2006

Three Reactions

Maybe I owe Dubya an apology. In the previous post, I referred to His Slowness as "a murderous, imbecilic child." But, as our benefactor and mentor state, Israel, destroys Gaza yet again, the War President has shown that he is able to learn, or at least recite, his lines:
Amnesty International, the human rights group, called for all hostages to be released and for "an end to the wanton destruction and collective punishment" by Israel.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, criticised Washington for giving approval to the Israeli incursion. Mr Haniya said Washington had "given the green light to aggression" and called on the United Nations to step in to prevent an escalation in violence.

A spokesman for US President George W Bush said Israel had a right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens.
Yes, obviously wiping out the supplies of electricity and water is self defense. Ah, yes, and that "Amnesty International" organization is obviously objectively pro-terror. Why does AI hate America so? Why does AI hate our freedom, and our values? We shouldn't even ask ourselves that ... next thing you know, we'll be "blaming the victim" (ourselves, that is). No, better just to preemptively bomb them, or maybe just round 'em up and put 'em on ice until terror is finally defeated. If that takes all of our lifetimes, hey ... not our problem.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Even Less Than Usual

Not that I've been posting much lately anyway ... but I'm out of town during the first half of this week. Maybe by the time I resume what passes for my "normal" life, I'll be a little more talkative.

Meanwhile, I still think the usual things I write are true. In no particular order:

1. Killing people, unnecessarily and purposefully, is a brutal and hideous wrong. Calling it "war" doesn't help. Hiring youngsters dressed in German-style helmets and wrap-around shades doesn't help, either. To hell with it -- all of it.

2. America is increasingly specialized in consumption, being entertained, and borrowing. There's not much future in it. Having some sort of alleged super-mega-hyper army, navy, etc. doesn't help. At best, it allows us to make a temporary living as pirates. When you have to get foreigners to lend you the money to buy the bullets and pay the killers ... well, as I said, there's not much future in it.

3. We could actually start educating ourselves (as opposed to operating the circus/prison system in which we warehouse our kids now), learn how to make something that someone sane might want to buy, and make it. Really, we could. We won't ... but we could.

4. George W. Bush is a murderous, imbecilic child -- and a spoiled one at that. None of his potential 2008-and-up replacements looks like much of a bargain, either.

5. Our 1.002-party political system is about as broken as it can be. I see no actual hope of recovery there, short of a general collapse, or the Lord's return. Voting certainly isn't going to fix anything. I'll vote anyway, though. It's a bad habit, and low entertainment ... just the sort of vice for which I'm a round-heeled pushover.

6. Based on my experience, I estimate a probability of about 0.7 that tomorrow's sunrise will be breathtakingly, eye-poppingly gorgeous. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Just a Few Questions

Sometimes all you can do is to wonder what our supervisors are smoking:
TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- U.S. officials said Wednesday they are ready to respond to any North Korean missile test and rejected direct talks with Pyongyang over the issue.

U.S. and South Korean officials said North Korea appeared to be preparing a test of the Taepodong-2, a ballistic long-range missile that could reach parts of the United States.

Thomas Schieffer, U.S. ambassador to Japan, said Wednesday that Washington believes "steps have been taken for a real test" and all options are available for an American response.

"We have greater technical measures of tracking than in the past, and we have options that we have not had in the past, and all these options are on the table," Schieffer said Wednesday, responding to reporters' questions about how the United States would react to such a test.

Officials said the Pentagon could try to use its missile defense system to shoot down the North Korean missile. The military has nine interceptor missiles based in Alaska and two in California.

While Pentagon officials doubt a military response will be necessary, U.S. diplomatic officials were giving no ground on the issue, rejecting a North Korean offer for direct talks.

"We know the United States is concerned about the test-firing of missiles," Han Suk-Ryul, North Korea's deputy chief of mission at the United Nations, told the Yonhap news agency. "If that is the case, then our position is that we should resolve the problem through negotiations."

A senior U.S. official quickly said no to any one-on-one negotiations, according to Reuters news agency.

"Their desire for bilateral talks is well known, as is our position on bilateral talks," the official who was traveling with President Bush in Austria told Reuters.

Washington repeatedly has refused to hold direct talks with North Korea, saying any discussions should involve the nation's neighbors.
Unless our domeless wonderboys are purely intentionally trying to drum up yet another war, what is the possible harm in talking to anyone in any way at all?

If the aforementioned wonderboys are trying to drum up the aforementioned war, why? (And who's going to fight it?)

So, the wonderboys are thinking of using their untested antimissile system to "shoot down" somebody else's test flight? I can only think of two bad outcomes to such an exercise: first, that it might fail; and secondly, that it might succeed. Apart from those possibilities, I suppose everything will be just fine.

Finally: is there anyone infesting public office, or working for those who do, who hasn't gone completely, rabidly, gibbering-at-the-full-moon crazy?

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Little Criticism For the Blogos ... No, I Can't Type It!

No creative writing today ... just another reading recommendation. Alexander Cockburn has a very good piece today at CounterPunch. A lengthy excerpt, in case you inexplicably fail to go and read the whole thing:
Since 9/11 where has been the good news for the Administration? It’s been a sequence of catastrophe of unexampled protraction. Under Rove’s deft hand George Bush has been maneuvered into one catastrophe after another. Count the tombstones: “Bring it on”, “Mission Accomplished”, the sale of US port management to Arabs. It was Rove who single-handedly rescued the antiwar movement last July by advising Bush not to give Cindy Sheehan fifteen minutes of face time at his ranch in Crawford.

And when Rove’s disastrous hand is wrenched from the steering wheel it passes to another bugaboo of the left, in the form of Dick Cheney. It was the imbecilic vice president who gave Jack Murtha traction last October when the Democrats were trying cold shoulder him for calling for instant withdrawal from Iraq. In his wisdom the draft-dodging Cheney insulted the bemedaled former drill instructor as a clone of Michael Moore, and had to apologize three days later.

Rove and Cheney, the White House’s answer to Bouvard and Pecuchet, are counselors who have driven George Bush into the lowest ratings of any American president. Yet the left remains obsessed with their evil powers. Is there any better testimony to the vacuity and impotence of the endlessly touted “blogosphere” which in mid June had twin deb balls in the form of the Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas and the above-mentioned “Take America Back” folkmoot of “progressive” MoveOn Democrats in Washington, DC?

In political terms the blogosphere is like white noise, insistent and meaningless, like the wash of Pacific surf I can hear most days. But MoveOn.Org and Daily Kos have been hailed as the emergent form of modern politics, the target of excited articles in the New York Review of Books.

Beyond raising money swiftly handed over to the gratified veterans of the election industry both MoveOn and Daily Kos have had zero political effect, except as a demobilizing force.

The effect on writers is horrifying. Talented people feel they have produce 400 words of commentary every day and you can see the lethal consequences on their minds and style, both of which turn rapidly to slush. They glance at the New York Times and rush to their laptops to rewrite what they just read. Hawsers to reality soon fray and they float off, drifting zeppelins of inanity.

Enjoy the rest of Mr. Cockburn's short essay. Good night, and good luck. Sweet dreams. Sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite.

Operation Infinite November Elections: Coming Soon?

Arthur Silber has a worthwhile post about how BushCo's beating the well-worn war drums at Iran:
As I say, it's all about Iran now. The Bush administration is suffocating under the punishing weight of the catastrophic failures of its policies in every area, and it can only be saved by another major crisis, even an entirely invented one. They hope that such a crisis will serve to unite the country behind them once again, at least to the extent required to save them from the equivalent of political death.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Critical Difficulty

Blogger, which graciously provides the means of my producing (extruding? excreting?) this blog, has provided an arrangement whereby I get an automatic e-mail when anyone leaves a comment. Don't let that make you hesitant to comment -- your email address is not revealed thereby, nor are your phone number, Social Security number, major credit card number, name of your firstborn child, etc. But that's a handy thing for me. Once a post recedes very far into history -- like three or four posts ago -- I'm not apt to scroll down far enough to see that a comment's been left.

So, I got an email a couple of days ago indicating that TW left a comment on the Zarqawi / Goldstein post that I put up last Saturday. TW is a fellow-participant of mine on several message boards from a couple of years ago (message boards seem to be in decline these days, which is a pity in several ways). He's left the occasional comment here, although it had been a while ... hey, TW, how's it going with you? Glad you stopped by. Whatcha been up to? Posting anywhere?

I post this because TW's comment is lengthy, and probably no one will see it 'way down there, what with me being the only one who gets a heads-up email from Blogger about comments here and all. As has been typical over the years, his comment is in substantial disagreement with me, and I point it out here in the interest of some kind of rudimentary fairness, at least. I advise you to go and read it, and my advice is well-known to be worth every cent you pay for it. I also want to respond to some of it:
I have a hard time with some aspects of Christianity. If Matthew 5:38-48 in total context means to let your enemies saw your head off and/or the heads of your progeny and then go ahead and love them anyway....well, like I said.
Rather than talk about the meaning and "total context" of the turn-the-other-cheek passage from the Sermon on the Mount, I'd like to go somewhere else in Matthew: to chapter 19, verses 16 to 26.
And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things have I kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "then who can be saved?" And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
When TW says he has a hard time with some aspects of Christianity, I agree with him completely. Like anything that is both real and complex (I think I'm being redundant there), Christianity contains elements that are, at first, strange and disagreeable and alien. If I really believe that I am weak and sinful and mortal, then it shouldn't surprise me when God's thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not mine, and it shouldn't surprise me when He doesn't affirm my natural inclinations as being good. Christianity is a matter of submission and surrender, and for every person, there's one thing that seems too precious to set aside or give up. For the rich man in the passage above, it was his wealth, and that was what Jesus demanded of him. It's not riches for everyone; for some, it may be revenge. It may be the imperative need to rejoice over the death of our enemy.

Whether I could forgive someone who had slaughtered my child, I cannot say. I've never been in that position, and I earnestly hope I never will be. But even if I'm convinced that I could never say what Michael Berg said, I still rejoice that he has been able to do so. "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." This is often quoted as one of those icky-sweet "promises of God," but I think it can sometimes actually feel threatening. Not only do I think I cannot set aside my thirst for revenge -- truth to tell, I don't really want to, either. God's saying that He can make me able to do that isn't good news, when I don't particularly want to. Matthew 7:14 quotes Jesus as saying, "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." Like the rich young man, we all have something that seems too important to surrender, and most of us seemingly never do manage to relax our grip, open our hand, and let it go.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The War On You

Government has a "war on drugs." It has a "war on terror." I put these "wars" in quotes because they aren't, really. You can't make war on tactics, and you can't make war on inanimate materials. These are contradictions in terms. They're mere foolishness. The government does have a real war going, though. It's a war against you and me.
A split Supreme Court ruled Thursday that drug evidence seized in a home search can be used against a suspect even though police failed to knock on the door and wait a "reasonable" amount of time before entering.

The 5-4 decision continues a string of rulings since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that in general give law enforcement greater discretion to carry out search-and-seizure warrants.

President Bush's nominees to the high court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, notably sided with the government.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said disallowing evidence from every "knock-and-announce violation" by officers would lead to the "grave adverse consequence" of a flood of appeals by accused criminals seeking dismissal of their cases.
Well! If we're afraid of a "flood" of appeals, then I guess knock-and-announce violations must not be very unusual. I guess they're probably pretty much business-as-usual.
"People have the right to answer the door in a dignified manner," Hudson's lawyer David Moran had told the high court. The justices have ruled in the past that police should announce their presence, then normally wait 15 to 20 seconds before bursting into a home.
Well, Mr. Moran, people have all sorts of "rights," in principle, but as the government grows increasingly lawless, those "rights," along with fifty cents (or several dollars at Starbucks), might get you a cup of coffee, but they're not going to keep the black-clad commandos from howling into your house like a militarized tornado, screaming obscenities as they throw you to your floor and shove their H&K muzzles into your face.

Once again, government is about absolutely nothing except force. If you must have government, you'd better find some way to keep it tiny, weak, starved, and fearful; or you'd better get used to hoping you only end up getting roughed up and zip-tied, instead of being shot down like a rabid dog. WWPHS? (What Would Patrick Henry Say?)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Flag Day ... Rii-i-i-i-ight

Well, gee, it's Flag Day. Hmmmmm. Well, in order to properly celebrate, I'm happy to announce a new link: to clarkstooksbury. In particular, check out his post on the "Pledge of Allegiance." It doesn't say a lot that's new, I suppose; in fact, I'm immodestly pleased to refer you to what I've said on the subject. But the picture is just excellent; by all means, go have a look.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Our Sacker-ficial President

I just heard George the Slow's weekly radio address. Needless to say, he's attempting to catch a wave of relative popularity (what would that mean for him these days? Approval ratings soaring clear up into the upper 30s?), using the body of Zarqawi as a grisly surfboard. But, he sternly warns us, although everything's all better, we must still realize that more "sacker-fices" are required.

Does this mean the First Twins are about to don the uniform?

Yeah, well, maybe not. Still, though, I've heard that every time (or is that "ever time") Jenna does Da Butt Dance, she dedicates it to The Troops. So, she's Supporting the Troops. She's already sacker-ficin'. And that's the main thing, isn't it?

Zarqawi / Goldstein

At Reverent and Free, Craig has a post -- well worth your time to read -- which led me to an account of Soledad O'Brien's interview with Michael Berg. Mr. Berg's son, Nicholas, was killed on videotape -- "probably," says CNN by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Given the volume of lies and deceptions about the whole Mesopotamian adventure that the American public has been fed, I tend to think that "probably" means "our interview will certainly have the poignant symmetry" ... but never mind; let's say that Zarqawi in fact did it. It's irrelevant: although Zarqawi's killing is the occasion of what we're looking at here, it isn't really about Zarqawi at all.

Mr. Berg -- a very, very bad boy -- says that Our Wartime President is no better than that personification of evil, Saddam Hussein:
O'BRIEN: There's a theory that a struggle for democracy, you know...

BERG: Democracy? Come on, you can't really believe that that's a democracy there when the people who are running the elections are holding guns. That's not democracy.

O'BRIEN: There's a theory that as they try to form some kind of government, that it's going to be brutal, it's going to be bloody, there's going to be loss, and that's the history of many countries -- and that's just what a lot of people pay for what they believe will be better than what they had under Saddam Hussein.

BERG: Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't pull the trigger, didn't commit the rapes. Neither did George Bush. But both men are responsible for them under their reigns of terror.

I don't buy that. Iraq did not have al Qaeda in it. Al Qaeda supposedly killed my son.

Under Saddam Hussein, no al Qaeda. Under George Bush, al Qaeda.

Under Saddam Hussein, relative stability. Under George Bush, instability.

Under Saddam Hussein, about 30,000 deaths a year. Under George Bush, about 60,000 deaths a year. I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?
This, of course, is supposed to be the cue for patriotic outrage: imagine this traitorous wretch saying that Dubya's no better than Antichrist Saddam!

Well, I don't exactly and completely agree with Mr. Berg about this. Bush probably is, in fact, a little better than the deposed-and-soon-to-be-executed Iraqi strongman. But to compare them is like arguing about which is more venomous: a hooded cobra or a coral snake. I'm sure they're not exactly equally venomous. One is very likely more dangerous than the other. But the difference is a matter of degree, not a fundamental difference in kind. Was John Wayne Gacy any "better" than Ted Bundy, or vice versa?

Not in any important way. They are varieties of the same creature.

Back to Michael Berg:
O'BRIEN: Mr. Berg, thank you for talking with us again. It's nice to have an opportunity to talk to you. Of course, I'm curious to know your reaction, as it is now confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man who is widely credited and blamed for killing your son, Nicholas, is dead.

MICHAEL BERG: Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that ...

O'BRIEN: I have to say, sir, I'm surprised. I know how devastated you and your family were, frankly, when Nick was killed in such a horrible, and brutal and public way.

BERG: Well, you shouldn't be surprised, because I have never indicated anything but forgiveness and peace in any interview on the air.
I don't know that first thing about Mr. Berg -- what his spiritual ideas or position might be. He certainly talks like someone who is familiar with the words of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:38-48:
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," but I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
As I say, I know nothing about Mr. Berg's beliefs, or lack thereof. I only wish that some of the evangelical cheerleaders for Bush and his wars, who've cackled so gleefully over another dead raghead, would display some similarity to -- some of the signature of -- my redeemer, as Mr. Berg has with his words. Instead, they sound like junior Outer Party members, screaming at Goldstein's image during the Five Minutes' Hate in 1984.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Free Advice For the Wee Emperor

So: the Imperial legions have killed ... well, not Hannibal, exactly, but what was billed as a high-ranking Carthaginian. I'm sure that the "insurgency" is now over with.

Unless it's not.

Free advice for Generalissimo El Supremo Jorge Boosh: declare victory and leave -- right the hell now. Redefine the mission. You've done that enough times; you should be good at it by now. The Empire invaded Iraq in order to kill the antichrist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That was the mission all along. "Mission accomplished." Now call the legions back to Rome, before some more of them actually get caught using their M-16s to win the hearts and minds, and other anatomical regions, of Iraqi toddlers, their pregnant moms, and their lame-legged grandpas.

It's your big chance, Decider! But it's time-critical. Get it done now!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Good Timing

So, I set an appointment with my dentist about five months ago for my annual checkup/cleaning ("annual" because I don't grow any placque, not to speak of). The appointment's tomorrow morning at 8:00. I completely forgot about it, but the office called a couple of days ago to remind me, so that's good. I'm planning to go there in the morning, before work. So, I'm eating supper tonight, and all of a sudden, the piece of bread I'm chewing on has something hard in it. Two somethings-hard. Yeppers, it's a crown, most of which has broken and come off. I have four of them. Or I should say, I have about 3.2 of them, soon to be four again, I'd guess.

No political significance ... just better timing than usual, that's all.

Rise to the Bait, Boobs

It seems that the GOP's proposed constitutional amendment forbidding the states to join men with men or women with women in sodomatrimony has failed. But lo, how many are the failures of this farcical gesture! They are a multitude of failures, indeed.

The amount of time for which Dishonest Abe's party has been in power is becoming especially tiresome to me, because it's making me awfully monotonous. All I do is write bad things about the pachyderms. Cross my heart and hope to die, if the jackasses turn the tables, I'll be dogging them, too, and for almost exactly the same things. But I have no idea how soon that might happen, so I'll have to ask you to take my word for it.

Meanwhile, a few observations from my home in Reactionary Utopia:

1. What I mean by "marriage" is an arrangement invented by God. It is not threatened in the slightest by any alleged attempt by human governments to "redefine" it. The state is, of course, able to give any exotic definition to the term "marriage" that it wishes; outside of the potential for low entertainment, I care not. But then, I am already resigned to the fact that the state is simply organized compulsion (and other forms of evil). It surprises me from time to time, but seldom disappoints me, since my expectations of it are pretty much rock-bottom anyway.

2. Homosexuality is at least as old as recorded history, and no doubt rather older. Scripture clearly views homosexual acts as sinful, and I view scripture as authoritative, so that takes care of what I think about the matter -- to whatever microscopic extent my opinion may have been demanded. (Scripture takes a similar view of gluttony, and drunkenness, and the excessive accumulation of the material goods of this world, and -- most emphatically! -- of gossip; and again, I accept the authority of the word of God, even as I stand guilty of many infractions thereof.) Admittedly, my knowledge of history is far from encyclopedic, but if there has ever been a widespread demand on the part of homosexuals to enter into the forms of family, I'm not aware of it. Be that as it may, though -- if some, or all, homosexuals want to refer to themselves as "married," then obviously the term doesn't mean the same thing in their speech that it means in mine, but -- to (obliquely) paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket.

3. One possible reason for people's being upset about the possibility of widespread, legally-recognized sodomatrimony is that people don't want the supply of government goodies currently handed out to married folk to be diluted by being shared with large numbers of homosexuals. I'm thinking of favorable tax treatment and whatever else there is. To which it seems to me that there's an obvious answer: get rid of the "goodies." For everyone, that is. It would be much harder for our rulers to get us at each other's throats if we weren't glued to their teats, like so many newborn puppies. If we weren't so busy rooting for milk, maybe we'd quit nipping at each other and start noticing what they are doing to us.

4. Overlook -- for a moment -- the GOP's obvious, poll-driven pandering to what they hope will continue to be the ├╝ber-gullible evangelicals, and look at their idea of a solution to the maybe-problem of activist judges requiring the states to "marry" those in the inverted fraternity (and sorority) who desire such. These evil activist judges tell the poor helpless little elephants that the U.S. Constitution requires that state and local governments provide sodomatrimony as an option to all. Now, a legislator who actually had a serious objection to this might respond by impeaching an activist judge or two, or by simply removing the question from the jurisdiction of the offending court. Both remedies are constitutionally available right now. But the GOPpers are not that sort of legislator. Instead, they furrow the brow; they get all righteously indignant; and they thunder, "Judge So-and-So says that the Constitution requires sodomatrimony! I know perfectly well that it requires no such thing! So we'll show him ... we'll amend the Constitution so that it doesn't require sodomatrimony! (which ... it ... already ... doesn't ... but ... never ... mind) And I mean so that it really, really, really doesn't require it!"

To amend the Constitution is to say that the evil activist judges must have been right -- it really must mandate sodomatrimony, after all! I mean, who "amends" something that isn't flawed, right?

Of course, "trying" to amend the Constitution has an important virtue, in the eyes of our Gee Oh Pee lawfakers: it won't happen. It's beyond their power. Impeaching judges, on the other hand, can be done today -- no amendment needed. Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 is already there; again, no amendment is necessary. But neither of those remedies would be any good: they would require the GOP Congressional majority to take action and be responsible for it. And they would eliminate a very important source of red-meat boob bait, whereby they tell us rubes, "Better vote for us! We'll appoint the right kind of judges! We'll amend the constitution!" No, that would never do, would it?

5. Look at another aspect of the GOP "solution:" it forbids -- yet again! -- the several states from doing something. Yes, indeed, a further centralization of power.

But cheer up, evangelicals. The fight's not over yet. From the news story:
But the defeat is by no means the amendment's last stand, said its supporters.

"I do not believe the sponsors are going to fall back and cry about it," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "I think they are going to keep bringing it up."

The House plans a redux next month, said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"This is an issue that is of significant importance to many Americans," Boehner told reporters. "We have significant numbers of our members who want a vote on this, so we are going to have a vote."
Yes, they'll "keep bringing it up," every other year or so, when a little political pornography is needed to mobilize their electoral vassals. Yes, Mr. Boehner, I'm sure that many House members are feeling an urgent need to get on the record for the edification of the somnolent voters back home. World without end, amen, amen.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Strange Days, Indeed

Our military heroes require ethics-training sessions in order to know that shooting noncombatants isn't good. Iraqi civilians are receiving posthumous promotions from gimp-legged nobodies to fierce, AK47-armed IED-buriers. And now the damnable, Amurka-hating "media" are guilty of prisoner abuse right here in the USA, at the infamous Abu Pendleton prison in California:
Tuesday, June 6, 2006; Posted: 10:40 a.m. EDT (14:40 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Navy investigators have evidence that U.S. Marines may have committed "premeditated" murder in the April shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamdaniya, a military officer close to the inquiry told CNN.

The incident is unrelated to a criminal investigation into the alleged massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November.


An attorney representing the Navy medical corpsman, expressed concern that the media frenzy surrounding the case "has contributed to the current conditions my client is enduring at the Camp Pendleton Brig."

"There are known terrorists incarcerated in military facilities around the world who enjoy more freedom and less restriction than he is experiencing," Jeremiah J. Sullivan said in a statement issued to the media.

"During the one brief period per day he is allowed to utilize the recreational yard, my client remains shackled at the hands, waist, and ankles. Anytime he walks within the recreational yard he is escorted by at least one military prison guard who grasps onto his waist shackles at all times. The balance of his time is spent in solitary confinement," Sullivan said.
How exactly the frenzied media are able to cause this egregious mistreatment of the heroic Troop in question (presumably by other heroic Troops, somewhere inside a Troop facility) is not clear. However, if getting the corpsman away from the frenzied media is all that's needed, I'm sure the CIA can arrange a quiet airplane flight -- a rendition, so to speak -- to somewhere that no media have ever seen. It's happened before. I expect it can happen again.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

Charley Reese, posted at
President Bush teared up on Memorial Day and said we must complete the mission in Iraq to honor the 18,000 wounded and 2,400-plus dead.

Well, I have a question. What is the mission?

Is it to overthrow Saddam Hussein? He's been overthrown and is awaiting execution by a kangaroo court we selected to do the hit.

Is it to allow the Iraqi people to hold elections? They've held three elections – one for an interim government, one for a Constitution, and one for a permanent government, which is now in place except for two Cabinet positions.
[Emphasis added.]

The keyboard warriors here in the States -- even, or especially, the war supporters who now affect to be scandalized that the war hasn't been well-managed -- often fault il Duce for not having an "exit strategy." And they're right as far as they go -- that's not good. What's worse, though, is what Mr. Reese brings up: the lack of an exit criterion. Yes, I know, we've all heard about standing down as Iraqis stand up. But, judging from the fortress "embassy" being built, and the permanent bases we hear about, it doesn't sound as if any hypothetical "stand-down" being contemplated by Chimpy involves any exit, exactly.

The entire article is well worth your while.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Toward a Theory of Empire

"Isolated incidents." "A few bad apples." Yes, but the isolated incidents seem to be forming a pattern. Haditha. Ishaqi. Abu Ghraib. Even those who favor Bush's war should be alarmed on utilitarian grounds: "Remember _______!" is apt to be a very effective recruiting slogan for the "insurgent" and "terrorist" organizations that El Presidente claims to be fighting.

From the Ishaqi story:
The US army has also announced that coalition troops in Iraq are to have ethical training following the alleged incident in Haditha.

However, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Baghdad says the move is likely to be greeted with cynicism by many Iraqis, as the troops have long been accused of deliberately targeting civilians.
Surely Mr. Pannell is mistaken ... it's quite unbelievable that "many Iraqis" could possibly be cynical about the impeccable intentions of the U.S. The Americans are the guys in the white hats, as Dubya has explained so many times now. And if you can't trust Dubya, whom can you trust?

But, on to the theory. Conservation laws are very important building blocks for theory in physics; many processes are profitably analyzed in terms of conservation principles, which say: in a certain kind of process, the amount of some physical quantity present before the process is the same as the amount after the process. The usual conserved quantities in physics -- depending on the process involved, of course -- include mass, charge, total energy, kinetic energy, linear momentum, angular momentum, and so on.

Today, I propose a conservation law that might be applied to world affairs. Simply put: in certain kinds of places, such as artificial nation-states that were welded together by outsiders and consist of multiple natural sociological groups of people who share little besides mutual antipathy, the number of Saddams before regime change and after regime change tends to be a constant. To the U.S. this means: to depose Saddam is to replace him -- with yourself.

In my vanity, I was tempted to refer to this as "Bartleby's Law." But I've overcome the temptation. I propose instead to call this principle "The Law of Conservation of Saddams."

(Nobel Prize committee: just feel free to leave my invitation to Stockholm next year in the replies below.)