Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Little Sunday School

From the Bible (NASB translation):
There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.

-- Proverbs 6:16 - 19
From the BBC:
Early on Sunday morning, as BBC correspondents arrived at the site of the deadliest Israeli strike so far in this conflict, frantic efforts to find survivors were already under way.

Displaced families had been sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana, which was crushed a
fter a direct hit.

The Israeli strike killed at least 54 people, more than half of them children.

The BBC's Jim Muir said that for some of the rescuers, experienced as they were, the emotional impact of finding so many dead children in the ruins was too much.

"As I arrived, they were carrying out on a stretcher the limp body of a young boy of about 10. Many other children were pulled out of the rubble lifeless," our correspondent said.

"That's a Red Cross rescue worker sitting here in the sunshine just sobbing - he's so overcome with emotion here," he added.

Many people renewed the call for an immediate cease-fire:
The UN secretary general has called on Security Council members to take urgent action after 54 Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli attack on Sunday.

Kofi Anna
n spoke at an emergency meeting on the "tragic" events in Qana.

He asked council members to put aside differences and call for an immediate ceasefire - which is opposed by the US.

More than 30 children died in the Qana attack - the deadliest Israeli raid since hostilities began on 12 July when two Israeli soldiers were seized.

The strike has drawn strong international condemnation and, correspondents say, given a new urgency to diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

Washington continues to oppose calling for an immediate ceasefire at the UN.

President George W Bush said the US wanted "to develop a resolution that will enable the region to have a sustainable peace, a peace that lasts, a peace that will enable mothers
and fathers to raise their children in a hopeful world".

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has expressed regret at the killing of civilians i
n Qana, but said he would not call an end to the bombardment of Lebanon.

He is reported to have told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel needs 10-14 days to press its offensive.
I wonder if our American Likudniks felt betrayed at all when the Izzies announced that maybe they would suspend aerial attacks for a couple of days after all? Of course, talk is cheap, and that hasn't quite happened yet.

"Haughty eyes ...

... a lying tongue ...

... and hands that shed innocent blood."

Any questions?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Today's Hot Trailer

Mr. John Good has posted a trailer at his site, Left in Aboite, for an upcoming film called America: Freedom to Fascism. The trailer runs 14 minutes and 49 seconds, which is a while ... but, for whatever my recommendation might be worth, I recommend it as a good use of that quarter-hour.

Signing Statements: Mr. Rogers Explains it All

This is yesterday's news, and early yesterday at that. So I'm behind the times; sue me.
Sen. Specter ready to challenge signing statements
Legislation would permit judicial review of Bush's actions

Wednesday, July 26, 2006; Posted: 4:50 a.m. EDT (08:50 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.

"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said on the Senate floor.

Specter's announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.

Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.

"That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," said ABA president Michael Greco. The practice, he added "is harming the separation of powers."
Ah, now then, Mr. Greco. You are, no doubt, a lawyer. (Wouldn't the president of the American Bar Association be a lawyer?) And lawyers, as we all know, are smart people. So, I hope I can be forgiven for suspecting that you're just trying to drum up business for your brother and sister attorneys. If you were actually sincere when you said that "Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," why, you were just being foolish -- and, as I say, I don't for one minute esteem you as foolish. Of course Congress can respond to a signing statement. Here's how.

Suppose -- and this is just a wild hypothetical example here -- suppose that the Congress made a law telling President Dubya that he couldn't torture prisoners any more. Now obviously, that could never be necessary, since we live in the most wonderful and free country in all of human history, but bear with me; this is just an example, for the sake of discussion. And suppose Dubya signed this law, but attached a "signing statement" saying yeah, yeah, that's nice, but I'll torture anybody I damned well please, because I'm the Decider, protectin' the Murkan people, time of war, blah blah blah ...

All hypothetical, of course. But what could the Congress do?

[Excuse me for a moment here, while I channel Mr. Fred Rogers.]

Well, neighbor ... the Congress could just ignore the signing statement, because it's something that has no constitutional existence anyway. But they could keep an eye on President Dubya ... we call that "oversight." That's a big word! Can you say "oversight?" ... good! I knew you could. The Congress has many good tools that it can use to do oversight, if the Congressmen and Congresswomen really want to. These tools can help them find out many things for sure, if they really want to. And then, the very, very first time the Congress found out that President Dubya had tortured a prisoner, the Congress could do something else. Something very, very special. It's another big word ... let's spell it!

Here we go ... I, M, P, E, A, C, H! Im - peach. Can you say "impeach?" ... good! I knew you could. But what does "impeach" mean? Does it have to do with that really yummy fruit we get to eat around this time of year? It sounds like it ... but that's not what it means. It means that President Dubya doesn't get to be president any more. It means he has to stop living in the White House, and he doesn't get to torture prisoners any more. And that might make President Dubya sad. But he'll feel better after a while. He could go to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and he'd feel better. President Dubya's Neighborhood of Make-Believe is different from ours. King Friday doesn't live there, and neither does Lady Aberlin. He doesn't take the trolley to get there, either. But President Dubya's friends, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, live there, and sometimes he can get some special candy, called "nose candy." So soon, President Dubya will feel fine again, even though he's not the War President any more.

And the prisoners who don't get tortured any more will feel lots better.

And neighbor ... you and I might feel a lot better, too.

Now, it's time for me to slip off my cardigan and put my suit coat back on. See you tomorrow, neighbor!

It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: you're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
"I think I'll make a snappy new day."
It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pink Elephants and Insurgents

From the Washington Post, yesterday:
Former President Joins Rally for Lieberman

By David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 25, 2006; Page A03

WATERBURY, Conn., July 24 -- Former president Bill Clinton joined a stage full of Connecticut officials Monday night in testifying to the Democratic credentials of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, whose 18-year tenure is threatened by the primary challenge of antiwar
insurgent Ned Lamont. (Emphasis added.)
"Insurgent?" An ordinary incumbent politician -- a mere mortal, you understand -- might have an opponent in a primary election. But to oppose Mighty Joe Lieberman, bipartisan hero of the War Party, is to be an insurgent. Hmmmmmmm.

Skipping down a little in the story:
Lieberman did not mention Iraq or his support for the war, and Clinton touched only lightly on what he referred to as "the pink elephant in the room."

Clinton made no effort to support Lieberman's view; instead he said that Democrats should bear no blame for "the mistakes that were made after the fall of Saddam Hussein" and added: "We can disagree on what we do next . . . but we can fight together and we can go forward together."
Bubba Clinton has certainly uttered some howlers during his lengthy career as a public nuisance, but the above is destined for absolute-classic status in the Quotable Chronicles of Bill. Democrats should bear no blame for our savory national shit sandwich* in Mesopotamia? Au contraire, Mr. Former Maximum Supervisor; Democrats as a party are fully, completely complicit. Own it, donkeys: either you've been in substantial agreement -- or you've been afraid to oppose Bush's imperial project. The exact details vary from one jackass to the next, and one or two individuals may have consistently opposed the war ... but as a party -- as a money-eating, vote-buying machine -- you are exactly as guilty as the GOP. In fact, as I do not tire of saying, you and the pachyderms are simply two very-slightly-different caucuses in the overarching U.S. Party of War and Global Management.

Finally: who else is in the insurgency?
The battle is attracting more and more attention from outside campaigners. While most of Connecticut's Democratic elected officials are in Lieberman's corner, two liberal House Democrats, Reps. Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), came here over the weekend to campaign for Lamont.

Liberal bloggers are also heavily involved in mobilizing antiwar Democrats to support Lamont.
Ah, now we know. Accursed bloggers, heavily involved ... up to their Amurka-hating elbows in dirty insurgency. The fully-respectable, certified non-insurgent David Broders of this world have certainly done their duty in carrying the War Party's water.

- - - - - - - - - - -

* A note of apology to readers of gentle sensibility: I generally try to keep the obscenity / profanity / scatology level in my posts to a low minimum; I think the use of language of that sort betrays a sad poverty of expression. Here, though, I made myself an exception. I don't know of any other way to say "shit sandwich," apart from just saying it ... as my late father said once or twice, "some people wouldn't say 'shit' if they had a mouthful." Be assured that I'll keep these exceptions to a very few.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pulling Down the Idols

Thomas DiLorenzo has done it lots of times to the cult of Lincoln. Today, Arthur Silber addresses the cult of Churchill. Check it out:
The endless, interminable comparisons of the world situation today to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s are noxious and almost entirely wrong. Given the neocons' plans for endless and constantly widening war, they are especially dangerous. And the perpetual mythologizing of Churchill -- joined in by conservatives and liberals alike, with almost everyone else thrown in -- is tiresome in the extreme. Even a cursory examination of the actual historical record reveals most of it to be untrue. But people absolutely refuse to give up their myths.

Fine. Let's set all the facts and the real history aside. Let's embrace the myth completely.

None of us wants to be Chamberlain. We all want to be Churchill. Cool.


= = = = = = = = = = = = =

Update: read this one, too. Silber's totally on fire today!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wah! Hooooh! Good God, Y'all ...

In a thread below, TW left a comment that calls for post-length discussion:
TW said...
Thanks for the response and for posting the foreign policy section of Washington's Farewell Address. I don't recall out and out reading it before, although, some parts of it seemed familiar.

Washington's Farewell Address is wise counsel in my humble opinion. Particularly for the year 1796. I truly believe that George Washington could provide us with wise counsel today as well. He was obviously a gifted man. I dare say today his counsel would be somewhat different today than what he espoused in 1796.

In 1796 the movement of things like men, materiel, trade goods, and raw natural resources like oil, metals, textiles, and such were not of paramount concern. In essence the United States was for the most part self-sufficient and insulated from the rest of the world's troubles by time and distance.
It's not at all clear to me that international trade had less relative importance to Americans in 1796 than international trade has for us today. Even by the standards of the time, America had essentially no industrial infrastructure and was highly dependent on the world (Europe, more or less) for manufactured goods and for the tools needed to build an industrial base. As time went on, America did become relatively self-sufficient, but that had yet to happen in Washington's time. Obviously, the details of the trade (specific commodities and goods) and the volume of trade (proportional to population, more or less, and there were lots fewer of everyone then) are different -- but it seems to me that trade was vital then, and trade is vital now.
How would things like the world economy, as in the world's interdependence on products, services and natural resources from other parts of the world affect his advice? Those considerations are just for starters.
Once again, there was trade in 1796; if trade means international interdependence, then the world was interdependent then and is now, too. Are the world's economies more closely intertwined now? Probably -- but I see that as a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.
How about things like chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons or even aircraft and machine guns? How would things like ICBMs, terrorism (both state and group sponsored), or asymetrical warfare modifiy his guidance? How about the ability of a person to travel halfway around the world in a matter of hours versus months.
Let's take that a little at a time. Weaponry = details of how wars are fought; I do not see how the details of the weapons of war affect the desirability of entering into alliances, as opposed to honesty, evenhandedness, and mutually-beneficial trade with all. Terrorism, state-sponsored or less formal? That would have been nothing new to George Washington; read the history of the French and Indian War(s). Among the French and English militaries, the colonists, and various Indian tribes, there was a broad spectrum of conflict, much of which would qualify as "terrorism," I think, by anyone's definition. (I can recommend Allen W. Eckert's That Dark and Bloody River as some fairly horrifying reading on this subject.) Warfare was horrible in Washington's time, and is at least potentially even worse today; I don't think that whatever changes have taken place in the intervening time would militate against Washington's counsel concerning the best ways to avoid the bloody business.
I've just touched on a few of the major differences between 1796 and 2006. While I'm sure much of what he said would still hold true for today, I can hardly envision him making exactly the same Farewell Address for today's world.
Now there I can agree. I'm sure that Washington would have realized that there wouldn't be much point in writing or delivering an address that demanded as much literacy, and ability to closely follow a line of reasoning, as the one he wrote in 1796. For today, he'd need something that would fill 30 seconds or less, using English that calls for a reading level of grade 3 or so.
And, while your answer was fairly good, I'm still left wondering about when you would become concerned about national defense, what sort of worldly events or actions would motivate you to action? Precisely at what point would you take action and what type of action is permissable in your view?
Oh, I'm wildly concerned right now about what our leaders are pleased to call "national defense," and is in fact national offense: interventionism. What is a legitimate national defense? Well, I think Major General Smedley Butler, USMC (ret.) had it about right, in his famous War Is a Racket: "The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation."

In my view, actual invasion of U.S. territory is a legitimate cause of war. An obvious invasion fleet could legitimately be attacked off the coastline. Any offense not provably and officially committed by a nation-state is an international criminal act, and the legitimate response is a police response, not warfare against whatever nation-state happens to be convenient. A 9-11 type attack falls into that latter category. 9-11 would not have occurred if the U.S. had not been -- against all of Washington's counsel -- indulging "passionate attachments" for some (or one) nation, and "inveterate antipathies" toward other nations. I do not say that we can now avoid all further terrorism by beginning now to practice non-intervention; as The Poor Man has put it so colorfully, it's hard to "unshit the bed." No, we should start practicing non-intervention now because we don't need to compound our existing problems by adding to the list of our bitter enemies. The first rule for the prudent man who finds himself at the bottom of a deep pit: stop digging!

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Quick Perspective-Restorer

Alexander Cockburn, at CounterPunch today:
As the tv networks give unlimited airtime to Israel’s apologists, the message rolls out that no nation, least of all Israel, can permit bombardment or armed incursion across its borders without retaliation.

The guiding rule in this tsunami of drivel is that the viewers should be denied the slightest access to any historical context, or indeed to anything that happened prior to June 28, which was when the capture of an Israeli soldier and the killing of two others by Hamas hit the headlines, followed soon thereafter by an attack by a unit of Hezbollah’s fighters.

Memory is supposed to stop in its tracks at June 28, 2006.

Let’s go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.

Now we’re really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing 8 civilians and injuring 32.

That’s just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.
Why not go read the whole thing?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A View From Inside Lebanon

For general interest and informed-ness: here is an e-mail (all names redacted) from a woman in Lebanon to a guy who met her in medical school a decade ago:
Dear - - - - -,

Thank you so much for your encouraging words...It is the prayers of our friends and extended families all over the world that keep us going...

Devastated is an understatement when it comes to describing our state here...It seems that without any warning, and simply overnight our worlds have been turned upside down.

We were expecting 1.5 million tourists, the country was at its best, with medical conferences, artistic festivals planned and numerous new hotels and restaurants ready.This was supposed to be the first summer ever for a free Lebanon (last summer was still plagued by the car bombs targetting our true patriots and the last bomb was Dec 14, 2005).

We woke up Wednesday the 12th to 2 kidnapped Israeli soldiers and a few bombs in the south. We thought it was just the usual in the south. [- - -] drove himself to the airport and left his car there. My cousin and her kids, visiting from the USA, and myself and the kids went to our downtown to enjoy the festivities that evening. We woke up Thursday to a closed airport and the rest is history...

[- - -] was stuck in Jordan for 48 hours, the worst 48 hours of my life.
He made it back on friday through roads that were bombed before and after he passed through. We all spent the weekend in Broumana at my inlaws and came home Monday (Monday July 17, 1976 is the anniversary of when my dad's brother, then a a very distinguished ENT, was injured by a bomb on his balcony, lost his leg and was rendered a paraplegic). It is amazing how history is repeating itself 30 years later and all those terrors, insecurities and memories of the war, that had been so suppressed, have now come back, full force to take over once again...

I had been planning to take the kids and spend the week in Tripoli to be close to work and at least be of assistance since so many Beirutis have fled to Tripoli. But we woke up today to find they bombed my route: the beautiful Jbeil, the army checkpoint on the way to tripoli and another army checkpoint further north in Aabde.

I was terrified to take the kids on this route and to be separated from [- - -] once again so we stayed put at home.

The situation is far too complex: Hezbollah's supporters constitute almost 60% of our population including children, women and the elderly.
This is why they have 30 representatives in parliament and those were all elected in our first ever democratic elections last year.

Thousands of refugees who were lucky enough to find a way out (some 50 bridges that link tiny villages in the south and Beirut suburbs have been destroyed) are now living in schools and in the public gardens.
Most with serious medical needs and no means of meeting them:dialysis and chemo patients and so many expectant women who are due...

At our hospital (120 beds), we have enough IV Fluids for 1 week since the main supplier and manufacturer in the Chouf area was bombed on the 3rd day of fighting. A decision was made to cancel any none life threatening surgeries or even simple cases of dehydration or hyperemesis to save the IVF for the true emergencies and deliveries.

We are praying and hoping we do not have to make any rash decisions. It seems that out of nowhere, our lives have been torn apart and though my gut feeling is to take the kids and flee so that they do not relive our "child'hoods or rather "war'hoods, we just can't turn our backs on our country, our countrymen and all we have tried to build here over the past 9 years...

For now, all we can do is try to stay put, try to be united and pray for some divine intervention to save us from more terror as we all stand and watch our beloved Lebanon, that we have worked so hard over the past 10 years to rebuild, destroyed overnight, once again...

Please keep us in your prayers

With all my best
So, what is it that our Israeli masters are doing over there: wiping out Hezbollah, or (as one of their generals said, "turning back the clock on Lebanon by 20 years?" Based on this letter, it sounds to me as if it's the latter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Command Performance

In the comments below, my old message-board friend TW asks me to explain myself regarding the foreign policy of these United States. Well, when TW calls, I am ever his servant. Besides, I am happy to do so, for otherwise I might be credited with having had "original" thoughts. This is a good time to confess to the world in general, and to TW in particular, that "my" ideas are, in fact, borrowed. I am not ashamed to admit this; I try to borrow from the best of sources. Concerning foreign policy, I refer one and all to a "G. Washington," the first and best President of our formerly happy land. Click here to read his Farewell Address. If you're short on time, and would prefer not to read the whole text, I'll excerpt the foreign-policy part:
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
On an unrelated topic, let us now refute the twin preposterous notions of "progress" and "evolution." Consider: George Washington not only delivered that address, but he wrote it -- every word, all by himself. After 230-odd years of "progress," can anyone imagine President Smirking Chimp even being able to read it without stumbling over "all them big words?"


Monday, July 17, 2006

Our Wonderful Christian President

In another "open mike" incident:
In an online chat today at, the newpaper's media critic Howard Kurtz was asked about the widely-reported "open mike" in St. Petersburg on Sunday that caught President Bush uttering a certain curse in conversation with Tony Blair. "Will newspapers print Bush's remarks unedited, as they should?" asked the reader.

Kurtz replied, "S---, I don't know. I'll report on that tomorrow. The Post did famously print the F-word when Dick Cheney told Pat Leahy to perform an unnatural act on himself, but I don't know what the decision will be on this one."

While it's too early to know what papers will do in print tomorrow, the verdict is in on Web usage. Many top papers and news organizations freely printed the word on Monday, although The Associated Press, following its stylebook, offered two versions.

At the Web site of Kurtz's own paper, Peter Baker quoted Bush: "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."
Ah, our exemplary Bible-believing President, who has restored honor and dignity to the Oval Office. Running around the world, threatening Putin, broadcasting casual scatology, cheerleading for the butchers of Tel Aviv ... but he doesn't have a thing to worry about, where his base is concerned. They have long ceased to be able (to borrow Orwell's phrase) to smell what's in front of their noses.

"F--k Saddam ... we're taking him out."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Israel, Israel Uber Alles"

Happy Sunday, American citizens Imperial subjects. Just read here as your supervisors formally consign a random number of you to be future domestic terrorism victims:
Israel, with U.S. support, intends to resist calls for a cease-fire and continue a longer-term strategy of punishing Hezbollah, which is likely to include several weeks of precision bombing in Lebanon, according to senior Israeli and U.S. officials.

For Israel, the goal is to eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat -- or altogether, the sources said. A senior Israeli official confirmed that Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah is a target, on the calculation that the Shiite movement would be far less dynamic without him.

For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.

Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants -- with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike.

"What is out there is concern among conservative Arab allies that there is a hegemonic Persian threat [running] through Damascus, through the southern suburbs of Beirut and to the Palestinians in Hamas," said a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity because of sensitive diplomacy. "Regional leaders want to find a way to navigate unease on their streets and deal with the strategic threats to take down Hezbollah and Hamas, to come out of the crisis where they are not as ascendant."
How much clearer can our supervisors make it that anything like an American "national interest" is unambiguously renounced in favor of the Israeli national interest? Every bomb, artillery shell, and bullet flying into the miserable remains of Lebanon and Gaza now has a perfectly-official "Greetings from the USA!" painted on its nose.

Ah, but we're also standing up for those "key Arab leaders:" meaning the long-term doomed. You know, the house of Saud, the Egyptian torturers, the emirs of this and the sultans of that ... in years past we could well have added the Shah of Iran and our former employee Saddam Hussein. The folks whose petro-involvement with the global corporate structure outweighs any ties they have with "the Arab streets."

When the next 9-11 happens, please remember this week. I know that essentially no one will, but I have to ask anyway. We're allowing ourselves to be represented by a true "axis of evil," defined (as all lines in geometry are) by two points: DC and Jerusalem. It won't matter to our supervisors how much American blood might be spilled; after all, they personally have those secure undisclosed locations, and they have "broader goals:" the strangling of rival axes.

I guess that's just life -- and death -- in Murderville.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Don't Pump & Run!

Debbie Harbeson's written another good one. Like her, I live in Indiana, and I've idly wondered who that ferocious-looking state trooper, whose scowling likeness adorns gas pumps hereabouts, was. Also like her, I've seen a fair number of such stickers defaced -- some quite entertainingly. And these days, we all need any entertainment we can get, especially when in the vicinity of a gas pump.

$78 Oil? Wait for $100

Somehow, the news today is reminding me of the summer of 2004 -- all of two years ago. We had a presidential election coming up that fall, and I remember passing signs on gas stations, on my way to work, that offered self-serve unleaded regular for $1.89 per gallon. I thought at the time that those signs said, in effect, "Kerry for President." I was quite mistaken -- or maybe that was in fact the message, but the electorate was unconvinced. Properly so, too ... Kerry would've done substantially the same things Bush has done.

I won't repeat the error now. If, as seems possible by fall, the signs say $3.95, that likely won't elect many Democrats to Congress. Not only has the art of gerrymandering effectively election-proofed most Congressional districts, but the Democrats have proven themselves an incredibly pathetic opposition party. The most likely medium-term future that I see from here involves a soggy-cardboard-style economic collapse, resulting from the building debt tsunami. Fasten those seat belts, and hold on tight!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Are Empires Subject to Laws?

From Reuters, via
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the human rights minister said on Monday, as the military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis. [Bartleby's note: outrages me pretty good, too.]

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Wigdan Michael said work on it was now under way and a request could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council, under whose mandate U.S.-led forces are in control of Iraq.

"We're very serious about this," she said, blaming a lack of enforcement of U.S. military law in the past for encouraging soldiers to commit crimes against Iraqi civilians, such as the alleged rape and murder of a teenager and killing of her family.

"We formed a committee last week to prepare reports and put it before the cabinet in three weeks. After that, Maliki will present it to the Security Council. We will ask them to lift the immunity," Michael said. "If we don't get that, then we'll ask for an effective role in the investigations that are going on.

"The Iraqi government must have a role."

Analysts say it is improbable the United States would ever make its troops answerable to Iraq's chaotic judicial system.

The day before handing formal sovereignty back to Iraqis in June 2004, the U.S. occupation authority issued a decree giving its troops immunity from Iraqi law. That remains in force and is confirmed in an annexe to Resolution 1546, the Security Council document that established the U.S.-led force's mandate in Iraq.
So now, even our chosen and selected puppet regime in Mesopotamia is asking for some sort of check or control over our legionaries? I've got an idea ... why don't we get out of there right now, while we still have some tiny little fragment of a soul left.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Link

Good reading -- from an explicitly Christian perspective, in this case -- is available at The Backwater Report. Trying to keep up with my daily circuit of online reading is my favorite way of not getting enough sleep. But life's tough, and good stuff has to be linked anyway. Enjoy.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Times and "Treason "

This seems like a propitious time for a quick quotation from that notable old insurgent-sympathizing America-hater, Thomas Jefferson:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
Yes, but in this age of cowed, embedded, cheerleading media, we're much closer to Jefferson's former condition than to his latter one.

Kimchi Fear! Flavor of the Week!

So now, we're all supposed to be wetting our pants because the North Koreans are testing missiles. As with everything that happens in the world, Dear Leader has something to say about it:
Bush said he thought the North Korean leader "wants us to either fear him or pay attention to him."

"And I view it as an opportunity ... to get the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese and Russians to work with us and send a clear message that this is unacceptable behavior," Bush said.
So, Axis of Evil #3 wants us to either fear him or pay attention to him. Sounds as if our childlike Despot-in-Chief is projecting his own motivations on others.

Meanwhile, it's very, very bad if the North Koreans have ICBMs (which they don't, yet). Testing missiles is a very bad thing, unless the U.S. is doing the testing, in which case it's a matter of obvious and uncontroversial routine. The U.S., the only state ever to nuke anyone, can be trusted to possess nukes and their delivery systems. No one else qualifies.

I suppose it's understandable if the Japanese are concerned about a fully-nuclear North Korea. But I'm not Japanese. And, last time I checked, that clown that -- regrettably -- I help pay to be president isn't President of Japan, either. I daresay the Japanese are perfectly capable of defending themselves. Especially if they have to do so.

Pull the U.S. armed forces out of South Korea. Bring them home and demobilize them. Aren't we bankrupt enough already? Do we have to seek out yet another crisis to manage (i.e., screw up)?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Uncle Leo: What a Guy!

Mr. Morris asks what I'm sure he imagines is a cute, cute question:
Am I being insenstive if I wish Cindy Sheehan the greatest success, if you know what I mean, with her peace diet?


I have a different perspective, so I make different choices. I had the biggest, fattest steak I could find on the Fourth. If I become a 300-pound, non-ambulatory freak, have some sympathy. The war on terror is tough work, and we all have to do our part.
Well, no, Uncle Leo, I wouldn't say "insensitive," exactly. I'd say hateful, ugly, and pretty much everything I've learned to expect from you. Jerko. Can't wait for the day when the News-Sentinel's new owners pull the life-support plug on that poor old lame former newspaper.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Links Note

I had dropped my link to Debbie Harbeson's blog a while back, since she had acquired a regular column in her local paper and was concentrating her writing efforts there. But I happened to look in today and noticed that she's re-activated her blog (by posting her columns there). So, I'm happy to re-add the link. Debbie's always got something interesting to say, and she's a gifted writer, too -- recommended reading.

Parties and Pledges

After I started this blog, I became aware of a couple of other blogs written by people who live where I do (Allen County, Indiana) and who are active in the local Libertarian Party organization. I've been reading their blogs with a certain morbid fascination. This one is written by one Mike Sylvester, who is the chairperson of the Allen County LP. In this lengthy post, he reports on the national LP convention from which he recently returned. Mr. Sylvester is enthused about a group which wants to "reform" the LP by (among other things) getting rid of a pledge that apparently is currently required for party membership:

I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.

Mr. Sylvester referred his readers to the web presence of a group within the LP who want to either get rid of this pledge altogether, or change it to:

The Libertarian Party will always stand for more liberty and less government on every issue. As a member of the Libertarian Party, I will NOT attempt to change this.

I'm not here to offer the LP any unwanted advice on whether to retain their historic membership pledge, or modify it, or dump it altogether. I have nothing to do with political parties, other than to make fun of them whenever possible, which is pretty much all the time. But it did seem odd that the county chairperson of the LP would write:
I have always and am still 100% against this pledge. I am a Constitutionalist. We have a right to keep and bear arms for a reason, just like our Founding Father's. I am 100% in favor of changing or removing the pledge.
Well, I thought, I don't see how you can get to be a county chairperson in the LP without being a real, official-type member. So I asked, in the comments attached to the post, whether Mr. Sylvester had taken the pledge to which he has always been one hundred percent opposed. His reply: "I refused for several years. IN 2004 I signed it..."

It's amazing, how casually people will admit to dishonesty. "I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force ..." How can a person sign such a statement, knowing that he in fact believes in and advocates exactly "the initiation of force?" I could understand and sympathize if he said he'd changed his mind, or had signed this pledge without truly understanding it. I myself have pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag in the past, before I woke up to a real appreciation of just what I had been saying, and repented of it. But no: Mr. Sylvester says he's always been completely opposed to the LP pledge ... and then signed it anyway.

It occurs to me that if I were in the LP, and someone like Mr. Sylvester signed off on the new-version pledge, I'd have to wonder what that was worth. If a man takes one pledge falsely, why not a second? And a third, and so on? What's it worth?

The Libertarian Party's national website claims that the LP is "the party of principle." Yeah, right. About like the others -- except not as successful.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

An Independence Day Thought

The founders of the republic -- Patrick Henry, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and so on and on -- were rebels against what, according to man's reckoning, were the legitimate authorities of the day.

They were, you might say, insurgents. I'm sure that's the kindest term that British officialdom would have applied.

The same term was undoubtedly applied by the Germans of the early 1940s to that part of the French people who carried out guerilla warfare in and around occupied France. No doubt the Germans have words equivalent to "terrorist," "insurgent," and "dead-ender."

Well, God bless the insurgents. And may God give the redcoats a little touch of wisdom, sufficient to inspire them to start marching homeward.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Time on Their Hands

So: here we are on the eve of Independence Day -- and what a bad joke that seems like, as Americans have never been less free than they are today, July 3, 2006. But here we are. We have a lot to think about. You might think that the Congress, in particular, would have plenty of concerns; after all, two and a half thousand young Americans have been killed for ... well, Iraqi duh-mocracy or whatever the Great Cause is this month. The central government is bankrupt and drowning in debt, as are many Americans on a personal level. The White House is occupied by a third-rate Napoleon who has figured out that he doesn't have to attend to the law, as long as his minions have more and better guns than anyone else. So what preoccupies the election-proofed aristocracy of gerrymandering in the Congress? Well, this:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and other lawmakers are demanding explanations after hearing complaints that the movie "Facing the Giants" was rated PG instead of G due to religious content.


After meeting with MPAA officials, Blunt and a handful of other House members said they remain concerned about the subjective nature of the ratings process.

"I'm not satisfied," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who attended the meeting with Blunt. "We probably will want to revisit this ratings process to have some commonality in the standards that exist for movies, videos and video games."
Shouldn't our supervisors at least finish making sure that our naughty professional baseballers quit juicing, before moving on to the MPAA?

The knuckleheaded apprentice tyrants who oversee us have exceeded my poor ability to make fun of them. Somebody help me.