Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hearings! Oh Boy!

Well! The Empire's Iraq problems will soon be over. According to this story, the new Congress -- looking amazingly like the old Congress -- is going to hold hearings. You've got to hand it to the Representatives of the People: they can come up with the most ingenious and original alternatives to actually solving a problem. Hearings -- why didn't I think of that?

And if the hearings don't make everything better, there's always the Iraq Study Group:
But the most feverishly anticipated set of findings are those of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) - the commission headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton.

The ISG is a group of veterans of Washington politics from across the spectrum which is expected to present a set of policy options to the Bush administration.

So President Bush can expect to receive a torrent of advice on how to proceed in Iraq, much of it contradictory.

The leaks which currently saturate the Washington media suggest the president will hear the following:

* calls for diplomatic dialogue with Iran and Syria

* calls for a phased withdrawal from Iraq

* calls for more troops to be sent to Iraq

* calls for Iraq to split apart into autonomous zones

* and calls for Iraq to hold together at any cost

Well-placed officials tell the BBC Mr Bush's task will be to identify the recommendations that stand a chance of bringing stability to Iraq, but which are also politically acceptable at home.

One intelligence official said Mr Bush will have to find proposals that are acceptable to the US military, to his own administration, to the state department, and, crucially, to Congress.
Yes, but that "intelligence official" omitted the really crucial requirement for any acceptable proposal. It has to be satisfactory to the Israel lobby and to its various and sundry U.S. functionaries.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unplanned Hiatus

My posting productivity has never been my strong point, and it's been even less so lately. Illness has been a prolonged visitor at my household, and I've hardly been online in recent days. Tomorrow probably won't be any better, but I have hopes for Wednesday.

So, please be patient, and read some of the other fine material linked over at the right-hand side of the page.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back to the Classroom!

About this time last year, I advised the physics department chair at IPFW that I wasn't going to teach again this year. I thought the day job was going to be requiring me to travel more; and -- I hate to admit it, but I might as well -- I was really, really tired of grading papers.

Boy, was I stupid. Lazy and stupid.

As it turns out, the demands for travel did not materialize in any troublesome amount. As for grading papers: well, any time you have a chance to teach physics -- that supreme monarch of the sciences -- well, grading some papers is a small price to pay. I spent the fall semester mostly twitching and sweating in classic withdrawal symptoms. Well, I had recruited my replacement at the day job, and she mentioned to me a couple of days ago that she's hanging it up. In her case, the day job really has been riding her into the ground. In a matter of minutes, I e-mailed the department chair; and in due course, he let me know that I could count on being readmitted to academic Valhalla. So: come January 8, 2007, I'm a part-time, evening, just-barely-sort-of-paid instructor again!

Later, I'll be tired. Right now, I'm just tickled. YIPPEE!!!!!

More on The Gun

My friend Mort Chien left a comment on an earlier post, which I thought called for discussion too extensive for a comment thread. Mort's comment:
How about outlining another piece of the puzzle for me as I am slow of brain, and ill suited to libertarian lingo. Does your Christianity modify your Libertarianism or is the reverse true? Since Paul in Romans 13:1-7 says that the state can legitimately use "the gun" (or the sword in 1st century non-libertarian lingo) are you debating about what the proper use of the "the gun" is? Or is the issue whether that text is to be dismissed? "it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God" seems pretty clear that some force has divine sanction. What limits do you see on that and how does it (or should it) apply today in the almost anarchistic USA?
A few observations:

1. As it happens, I know Mort by his real-world name in the real-world context. I say this so that the reader will know that I speak from a factual basis in saying that he's anything but "slow of brain."

2. I don't really know how to talk about my libertarianism, because I'm unwilling to accept the category label -- for a couple of reasons that I find sufficient. One is that it puts you into the sort of disreputable company that operates the Libertarian Party today: Republicans in drag, pretty much. Another is that it implies acceptance of the idea that there exists a political-philosophical "system" -- a body of theory -- that can always produce the right answer to the problems endemic to groups of people living together. With an old-school libertarian, I can find a fair amount to agree about, but that doesn't mean I am one; I'm not.

A Christian, on the other hand, is something that I simply am. I didn't "become" one under my own power or my own initiative; and I don't think I can stop being one now, although I concede that I may be mistaken about that. This is a rambling way of saying that I don't think there's any question about any sort of political-philosophical-scientific "-ism" modifying my Christianity; we're talking about things that differ in kind, not degree.

3. Now, for Romans 13 and the post on which you commented (and, perhaps, the previous post, which was about more or less the same thing). Does Romans 13 say that "rulers" and "governing authorities" are authorized users of The Gun? The verses you cited, from the NASB:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Certainly, this passage says that the state is authorized -- assigned, in fact -- the use of The Gun. (It says some other things about the government that is so authorized, too; more on that later.) I do not dispute this, nor did I dispute it in my posts. What I was saying is that The Gun underlies everything the state does: free school lunches just as much as "dynamic entry" drug raids by the state's black-clad thugs. I say this because it is true, and because it is a truth that I think we should keep always at the forefront of our thoughts. Our rulers do not always aim for our good; indeed, a strong argument can be made that our rulers are quite seldom motivated by our good.

Which brings me to what else this passage from scripture says about legitimately-armed government. It says that the person who does good need not fear this government -- that, on the contrary, he or she can expect praise from it. The government being talked about here is a minister of God's justice, visiting wrath upon evildoers. This government's proper authority -- not power, but authority -- is established by God. This government is a dedicated servant of God. Seen a government like that around here lately?

4. Your final question seems to me to assume something that is not in evidence. You describe the USA as "almost anarchistic." The dictionary defines "anarchism" thusly:
Main Entry: an·ar·chism
Pronunciation: 'a-n&r-"ki-z&m, -"när-
Function: noun
1 : a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups
2 : the advocacy or practice of anarchistic principles.
I don't recognize the land where I live in those words. Where I live, we're up to our necks in "governmental authority." I live in a land where, increasingly, anything not forbidden is compulsory. Now, that doesn't mean that life is pleasant and orderly, by any means. Life is, in many places in the United State, disorderly to the point of chaos. (And I don't mean to quibble about word choice here; I'm guessing that "chaotic" goes closer to what you were thinking of.) For at least half a century now, we've been getting more and more and more government, while the tendency toward social disorders and pathologies has multiplied.

How are we to understand this? I think the passage from Romans that we've been looking at suggests an explanation. If we were living under a bad government -- a 1 Samuel 8:10-18 sort of government -- a lawless government: well, I wonder if this isn't the kind of result we might expect. How, the reader asks, can I describe our government as "lawless," when it takes a strong man to lift the Federal Register for a single year, and you'd need a pretty solid mule to haul the volumes of the tax code? By "lawless," I mean this: the federal government is supposedly created, defined, and strictly limited by a document: the U.S. constitution. And that constitution is today nothing better than a bad joke; it is routinely ignored by our masters, who have long since realized that words on paper are a poor match for The Gun, whether the words in question are those of the constitution or the scriptures. In short, I think we are ruled by a tyranny, an end to which is to be hoped for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Monday Folly Assortment

The Washington Post has a sort of catch-all piece online, offering a remarkable compendium of various sorts of knavery. Let's start with Senator John McCain, the inspirational leader of ... well, someone, I guess:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a likely presidential contender, leveled one of his harshest assessments yet, saying U.S. troops are "fighting and dying for a failed policy." He renewed his call for more U.S. troops in Iraq and said it is immoral to keep them fighting at the current deployment levels.
The article, regrettably, does not give Senator McCain's estimate of the "deployment level" at which it would be morally acceptable to keep The Troops fighting. I'm not hard to get along with; I would agree with Sen. Straight Talk that such a level exists. I doubt, though, that I could get him to agree with me about what that level is: exactly zero.

Wait, though -- there's more:
On ABC's "This Week," McCain reiterated his argument that the United States faces a catastrophic setback in Iraq unless it deploys more troops to reduce sectarian violence and stabilize the country. "We have to have additional forces, or we will be playing whack-a-mole," he said.
Here, too, the story is frustratingly incomplete. It fails to tell us whether any of the "This Week" sages asked Mr. McCain to identify the classic arcade game we'd be playing with the requisite additional forces; we're left to guess. I'll guess "Death Race 2000," or maybe the unforgettable "Space Invaders."

And then there's Congressman Charles Rangel:
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has long advocated returning to the draft, but his efforts drew little attention during the 12 years that House Democrats were in the minority. Starting in January, however, he will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday he said "you bet your life" he will renew his drive for a draft.

"I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session," Rangel said on CBS's "Face the Nation." He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.
Now, there's a man who really has a way with words. "You bet your life?" No, not your life; more likely, some callow 19-to-26-year-old's life. Yes, yes, I know he doesn't really want the draft back; he just sees this as a way to make "political leaders" (i.e., presidents) "think twice" about optional foreign wars. Would I seem ungrateful to Rep. Rangel if I suggested that there are more straightforward ways to induce that second thought? You might try refusing to fund such a war, Congressman; after all, the purse strings are supposedly in your institutional hand. You might try removing war criminals from the offices that they infest. Oh, but that's just not practical, is it? No, much better to bust out the Ironic Gesture. Besides, remember that there's the Non-Military Alternative Slavery Service for the kids; Rep. Rangel may not actually want the military draft back, but I'll bet he's quite sincere about involuntary domestic servitude. The enthusiasm for slaveowning pops out in other quarters, too.

Finally, one of the New Bosses illustrates the deep commitment of the Democratic Party to the principles of peace:
And Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, repeated yesterday his view that troop withdrawals must begin within four to six months.

The varying proposals underscored the extent to which key policymakers remain at odds two weeks after voters registered deep discontent over the war and restored Democrats to power in Congress.
I don't get this one either. American soldiers are either in Iraq to accomplish some particular task, or they are not. If not, complete and immediate withdrawal is an obvious imperative; there's no reason in the world why it should start later than this afternoon, or why it should take more than two weeks at the outside. If they are: the only "mission" which will definitely be accomplished by staying for six months is, well ... staying six months. What, Sen. Levin, do you say to the survivors of the numerous soldiers who are regrettably certain to be killed during your six months' "grace period?" What do you say to those who are merely maimed -- have their arms or legs blown off? The questions, I admit, are rhetorical -- we already know what he'll say. The content-free stuff of a thousand Memorial Day speeches, no doubt.

Here's hoping for bad dreams and indigestion for many of our public nuisances this week.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's a Gun, All Right

Stefan Molyneux, had an interesting post up at Lew Rockwell yesterday -- the day after I posted this about the fundamental nature of government. An excerpt:
One of the most difficult – and essential – challenges faced by libertarians is the constant need to point out "the gun in the room." In political debates, it can be very hard to cut through the endless windy abstractions that are used to cover up the basic fact that the government uses guns to force people to do what they do not want to do, or prevent them from doing what they do want to do. Listening to non-libertarians, I often wish I had a "euphemism umbrella" to ward off the continual oily drizzle of words and phrases designed to obscure the simple reality of state violence. We hear nonstop nonsense about the "social good," the "redistribution of income," the "education of children" and so on – endless attempts to bury the naked barrel of the state in a mountain of syrupy metaphors.

It is a wearying but essential task to keep reminding people that the state is nothing but an agency of violence. When someone talks about "the welfare state helping the poor," we must point out the gun in the room. When someone opposes the decriminalization of marijuana, we must point out the gun in the room. When someone supports the reduction of taxes, we must point out the gun in the room – even if one bullet has been taken out.

So much political language is designed to obscure the simple reality of state violence that libertarianism sometimes has to sound like a broken record. We must, however, continue to peel back the euphemisms to reveal the socially-sanctioned brutality at the root of some of our most embedded social institutions.
Now, the "we" talk puts me off a little; I'm not a libertarian, and the only category title that I claim at this point is "Christian." But I do like the linguistic approach that Mr. Molyneux takes here -- reminiscent of my hero George Orwell in "Politics and the English Language". It is shamefully necessary to choose or invent alternative terms for robbery and murder, if we insist on robbing and murdering, and simultaneously pretending that we aspire to being good people.

Mr. Molyneux might want to avoid saying "we" while talking about libertarians. Libertarian is like conservative in that both have lost any real, concrete meaning, owing to their adoption -- or, rather, their co-option -- by the unprincipled.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Secretary of Peace?

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

--- George Washington
I was at IPFW (Indiana University - Purdue University, Fort Wayne) last evening. Before this year, I taught physics there; one of my former students, of whom I think very highly, is involved in Phi Theta Kappa, a service and honors organization. They conduct a series of "satellite seminars" during the fall semester, and last night's was the final one for this year. At these events, there's an hour's worth of satellite TV linkage with the main speaker, a host, and a studio audience; then there's a second hour at each local site with a local discussion panel. (I was a local panelist one evening last year, having been recruited by my student.)

So, as I say, I attended last night mostly so I could renew acquaintance with my star former student, which was agreeable. The speaker, as you may have seen from the link above, was Arun Ghandi (Mohandas K.'s grandson), who had some interesting things to say -- some of which I agreed with, and others about which I was dubious, to varying degrees. All in all, well worth an hour of my life. The local panel was something else. With all due respect to my friends of a liberal persuasion, I'll just say that a formidable load of good, classic, all-assuming, self-satisfied lefty claptrap was duly delivered. By now I'm sure it's all been shoveled out of Walb G21, and much of the, uhhh, aroma will have dissipated, so no harm, I suppose. Add to that the fact that the local panel featured Kevin Knuth, and I have to admit that my review might not be particularly objective. Well, so it goes; one man's meat is another man's etc., etc. Your mileage may vary.

One lady sitting in the local audience said something, at the end of the "local" hour, that provoked a thought in me. She was describing her own thoughts during the days following the Holy Nine-Eleven, during which she was wondering what sort of counsel Dubya was getting -- considering that the Pentagon constitutes a huge voice that was presumably urging war-war-war. Where, she wondered, was that part of the government that would be institutionally inclined to counsel peace, as the Joint Chiefs and so forth would be to counsel war? Leaving aside the extremely low probability that it made any difference what sort of advice The Great Chucklehead -- who, by all accounts, had long since decided that invading Iraq would be super-keen and was looking for any excuse to do so -- might receive, that was a good question. Where, indeed, is the Peace Department?

The answer, it seems to me, is not a cheerful one. As our first and best president warned us, the fundamental nature of government is force and compulsion. Violence, and the threat of violence, is the very grammar of government. Take away the euphemisms, and the essence of government is a gun, held to your head and mine, because we can't otherwise be trusted to be good boys and girls. Why does neither the political left nor the right understand this? "Conservatives:" you know that government that you like so well when it builds stealth airplanes and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and uses them to stage splendidly-patriotic little wars? That's the same government that regards the wealth that you earn as its natural property, and makes careful calculations about what fraction that it might choose to allow you to keep. "Liberals:" you know that government that you like so well when it sets mandatory fuel-economy standards and minimum wages, and determines what classes of private property that smoking may be permitted in? That's the same government that enacted "PATRIOT" Acts 1 & 2, and whose "war on drugs" has made the Fourth Amendment into a balled-up scrap of paper in the trash can. Averaged over time, government is scrupulously neutral concerning the left-right argument; what it does consistently is to increase its own power. More guns, larger caliber.

To expect an entity organized around coercion and violence to adopt a meaningful institutional mechanism promoting nonviolence is like expecting an organized-crime "family" to start sincerely promoting modest living and hard, honest work. It's like expecting to get milk from a steer. It's just not happening.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

That's a Little Better

I'm not happy with it yet, but at least the links are back. In alphabetical order this time, too.

I'll continue to tinker.

First Problem ...

I see that somewhere in the process, I shed all my links. Hmmmmmm. Regrettably, I'm about to leave for Indianapolis, so I don't have time to restore them now -- but they'll be back as quickly as I can manage it.

Shouldn't have started this with five minutes' time ... what a ma-roon!

Might As Well Rearrange the Furniture a Little

As I mentioned previously, I decided to give in to the temptation of novelty for its own sake and make a couple of changes. While the URL is the same, the name has changed. I still wish to honor the excellence of George Orwell, but also to be a little less obscure about it. A blog could be described, metaphorically, as a place of sorts -- it has, after all, an address -- and so I took from Chapter 7 of 1984 the name of the Chestnut Tree Cafe. This was a place where persons on their way to unpersonhood could sit all day, drinking Victory Gin and playing chess, waiting for the bullet in the back of the head, more or less, while the telescreen played the song:
Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.
I also have decided that, while it might well have been a good idea to blog under a nom de net, I may as well include my offline identity here, since the GOP hackmeister Mitch Harper has seen fit to reveal it to the world. I left a polite comment at his blog-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned-here, thinking that the usual practice would be used: that my signature would show up as "Bartleby," and would link to this blog. Well, wrong again. I had entered my email address in the appropriate field, from which Little Mitch ("Big Mitch" being the current governor of Indiana), like his nominally-opposing hackmeister Kevin Knuth, was able to divine my name. So Little Mitch appended my actual name to my comment -- complete with middle initial, no less -- and made it a link to this blog. I'm booted from the closet! I'm outed! I sent Little Mitch the following email -- still reasonably polite, I thought, although I'll leave that to the reader's judgement:
Mr. Harper --

Last night, I posted a comment to a thread on your blog:

Nowhere on your blog is a warning that posting a comment gets the commenter's name published. And -- amazingly! -- my name turns out to be a link to my blog! So now, I don't suppose there was any point to my blogging under a pseudonym.

A couple of questions, and a couple of requests:

Q1. How did you learn my name? With the middle initial, yet ... I certainly did not type my name anywhere in your comment fields.

Q2. Have you ever been introduced to the concept of "manners?"

R1. Would you kindly remove my name from your blog?

R2. Would you kindly remove the link to my blog from your blog?

Jim Wetzel
Well, Little Mitch couldn't be troubled to reply to my email, much less to apologize for his egregious lack of online etiquette, so I suppose my second question has been implicitly answered. He also honored my second request -- I no longer exist, not being linked anymore from the Official Northeast Indiana Blog of Record And If You Don't Believe Me Just Ask Him -- but not the first; my name and my blog link are still in his comment thread. So, may Little Mitch have both some severe indigestion and some bad dreams; and beware, O Reader, of leaving comments on his blog.

And enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Camp Now, Change Later

Well, friends, now that I've voted just the way Osaddam bin Hussein wanted me to, I'm heading out tomorrow for the 2006 edition of the Men's Fall Campout. No, we don't beat drums ... but we will fart, belch, pee on the ground, practice over-the-fire haute cuisine, and cull some of the stale, slow brain cells from the herd by loosing that ferocious predator, beer. It'll probably rain and rain ... but it's been on the calendar for months now, and off we go, no matter the weather.

When I come back, I plan to change the look-and-feel of this blog a little. I'm thinking I'll give that Blogger Beta thing a try, and I'm becoming heartily sick of this template, which I've been using for very nearly two years now. Maybe I'll dream up a new name that makes a little more sense (and maybe I won't, I guess).

Meanwhile: enjoy the weekend, and I'll do likewise.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Me & Ted Haggard

So: the Rev. Ted Haggard says: "There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life."

Well, that's one thing I have in common with him. And at lunchtime today, I left my workplace and gave in to my own Dark Side. As my first step to recovery, I need to simply be clear and honest and transparent about just exactly what it was that I did. I voted for Hayhurst.

Now, in an earlier post, I tried to get all cute and deceptive about this. I said that I wouldn't really be voting for Hayhurst, although the machine would probably think I did. What a laughable attempt at avoiding responsibility! I might as well have said, a la Haggard, that I'd gone to a hotel room with a sodomite prostitute for a "massage." Uh huh, oh yeah, a massage. I might as well have said, sure, I bought some crank, but only so I could throw it away. My trash cans always work better with some methamphetamine ballast, right?

No, I've got to get real. It's the only possible first step toward getting clean. I pushed the button on the ol' MicroVote next to the Hayhurst name. I saw the "X" show up onscreen, in the box adjoining his name. And, in due course, I pushed the big red "cast vote" button. And so, in the reality-based world, I voted for Hayhurst.

The shame, the shame. Damn.

Why did I do this? Have I bought into that "lesser of two evils" nonsense?

No, I have not. My real motivation is where that Haggardesque "dark side" comes in. In fact, I voted for Hayhurst because that's the closest I could come to smacking Marky-Mark Souder right across his triple chins. And that ain't very close. How cheaply I've sold my integrity!

There's one saving grace for me here. Hayhurst is not, in fact, going to win. Thus, I bear no responsibility for whatever it was that he might have done in office. (Continued the Iraq War, unless he was lying, which I doubt.)

OK, I'm off to rehab. Maybe I'll blog a little from there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Gallows Vote

If this is supposed to be the Bush administration's November Surprise, well ... it seems pretty weak.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Joker

Yes, yes, yes: I know Senator Kerry was talking about Bush when he said that those who don't work hard in school end up stuck in Iraq. Of course Dubya isn't personally in Iraq; Kerry was using the same sort of metaphor that Dubya's folk use when they credit the Wee Emperor with "fighting terror," even though his closest brush with personal involvement was limited to a series of frantic dashes from one secret, secure spot to the next on 11 September 2001. And of course Prexy's handlers and minions are feigning outrage at their simulated misunderstanding of Kerry's "joke." I get all that, and I'm sure everyone else does, too. Everyone this side of the mouth-breathers in Limbaugh's audience, that is.

It occurs to me, though, that the source of Kerry's difficulties is that he can't simply speak the truth in plain language. Instead, he must denigrate the Chimp-in-Chief with little Pseudo-Zingers for Halfwits. And what is that truth? Well, Kerry's been at this game long enough that I basically have no idea what he really thinks -- or whether he really thinks anything, beyond the White House would look much better with me living there. If I were to guess, I'd guess that Kerry's plain truth would sound like: "Bush is a bungler; he's the nominal head of the Stupid Party, and they have a tough time whenever they're occasionally placed in power. You all should be sure to elect Democrats -- me in 2008, for example -- because we're more competent in handling the levers of the Big Machine: the permanent government. The Machine won't do anything fundamentally different; it will just do what it does more effectively, bigger 'n' better. Under Democratic leadership, for example, the U.S. won't be stuck in Iraq; instead, we'll be going through those Ay-rabs like shit through the proverbial goose."

He can't say that, though, because it would alienate the antiwar part of the Democratic Party base. (I suspect they're vastly overestimating the size and power of that part; I suspect it basically doesn't exist. But I could easily be mistaken.) He also can't say what I think is true: "Bush is a tyrant and a war criminal. If my party achieves power, American soldiers will be out of Iraq by next week, and will be home and being discharged the week after. They'll be in a tight race with the American soldiers in Afghanistan, Korea, Germany, Japan, and wherever else we have more than a token-sized embassy honor guard. As for Dubya and his henchmen, they're Hague-bait as far as we're concerned; if the World Court wants 'em, we're happy to extradite." He definitely couldn't say that; it wouldn't sit well with the magnetic ribbon and flag crowd on their way to the Toby Keith concert.

So, since he can't say anything coherent, he's reduced to working the comedy circuit, trying to zing il Duce with carefully-calibrated one-liners. Well, to paraphrase: you live by the dishonest sound bite, you die by same. A plague on both their houses.

Wednesday is Keyboard Kommandos Day

At least this Wednesday is, anyway, at The Poor Man's place. Have a look at this one. Put the coffee down first.