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Jim Hamilton

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  1. Saint John Fitzgerald

    Dealey Plaza is cordoned off today for an "official" (i.e., non-public) commemoration, and so rather than being there, I write this brief commemoration of my own. Last night we watched Parkland. I know of no better way to capture a sense of the events and their immediate meaning than by portrayal through the great American art form of the motion picture. An antithesis to Oliver Stone's JFK, Parkland portrays the assassination and its immediate aftermath in an extremely disciplined and realistic manner. The most powerful aspects for me were the sense of real time -- just how quickly and inexorably it all happened -- and the enormous dignity and strength of the ordinary citizens of Dallas who tried to save the President and comfort Mrs. Kennedy. The young nurses, doctors, and technicians at our public hospital who quickly overcame their horror and valiantly attempted to resuscitate the bullet-shattered man, the senior police officer outside the emergency room who delicately assisted Jackie into the hearse for the waking nightmare drive back to Love Field, all are portrayed with clarion dignity and realism. Perhaps most moving is the portrayal of Dallas businessman Abraham Zapruder (by the incomparable Paul Giamatti), which somehow signaled the immutable change in the country and the world by illustrating how the event and his role in it -- the man's own motion picture of those frozen seconds in time -- would change his life and our view of things forever. I struggle with what to tell my own children about November 22nd, 1963. I myself was only a baby at the time. I grew up thinking in a strange way that the whole world was in my adopted hometown that day. And I guess in a way we were.
  2. Slavery and the Civil War

    Good article, but in many ways more complicated than the author portrays. Abolitionists, almost exclusively of northern states, were forcing the issue too. I strongly disagree with the cited historian that Lincoln was talking only about Union dead at Gettysburg. That notion seems contrary to the article's thesis, and it does not match up with any of my reading on Lincoln or the Address. Essential reading here on the underlying issue is W.J. Cash's classic, The Mind of the South. It reveals the roots of southern-tier identity, planted long prior to the Revolution. A brutal read, but well worth it. In gross terms Neil Sheehan captures Cash's thesis in his book on John Paul Vann, A Bright and Shining Lie. Another abolition issue bedevils us now. As Lincoln said of slavery, if we all agreed that it is moral, then that would be the end of it. And if we all agreed that it is immoral, then that would likewise be the end of it. And so it follows that the morality of it is the only question presented. Let the states vote on it, as Stephen Douglas successfully advocated? Two words -- "Bleeding Kansas." As Marques James observed in his biography of Sam Houston, The Raven, "The first shots of the war were not fired at Sumter. They were fired in Lawrence." And so all slave, or all free? I think these are the mechanics of it: "No state shall impede access to birth control measures or medical termination of pregnancy in the first trimester." Of course, this is already the law. "No state shall permit termination of pregnancy after the first trimester." This would require a Constitutional amendment, like an analog to the Thirteenth Amendment. In our system there is nothing trickier than what Lincoln called, "the practical relation of the states to the federal government." Due to this, he recognized that it would be better if Davis were to flee rather than be captured (as he eventually was, after Lincoln's death). As Lincoln's successors found, Davis was likely to be acquitted of treason. After all, if states voluntarily join the union, how can they legally be precluded from seceding? Only the outcome of the war answered that question, and so essentially, it remains unanswered -- hence the defiant Southern obelisks that the article's author describes. On the lighter side, the vanity of Dixie elan and idealized individualism is revealed in Davis's government within a year of Sumter. His VP, Alexander Stephens, quickly decried the "despotism of the central government in Richmond," and holed up in his native Georgia, refusing to appear in Davis's cabinet. His descendants today would similarly decry the "concentration of power" in state capitals if they toppled Washington DC, and then rail against the "centralized government" in their respective county seats after that. In short, such men are simply anarchists. As Edmund Burke observed, liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.
  3. Mom and brother were booked, and I understood that Angie's softball game on Saturday was at the same place we played last time. Turns out it wasn't. Angie and I left the house a few minutes late, but we expected to be at her game in plenty of time for most of warm-ups. But when we arrived after a white-knuckle drive through central Dallas weekend traffic, none of her teammates was there. It occurred to me that the game might be at another field on which we had played before, and so we drove there. Still no teammates. I thought, "OK, we got the time wrong. The game is not at 11:15; it must be at 12:15." The hopeful conclusion and new plan bolstered me and seemed to calm Angie, whose anxiety had been on the rise as her ten-year-old psyche contemplated the possibility of letting down her friends and coaches. We drove back home to get a change of clothes for a post-game playdate that she had planned with one of her teammates, intending to double back to one or the other of the two familiar fields in plenty of time for warm-ups prior to a 12:15 start. When we got back to the house, I looked up and called the mom of Angie's playdate teammate. "No, the game is at [thus-and-such] Field, and it's starting right now. You need to get over here." I was within half a breath of saying, "You know what, we can't do that. We've already been to two different fields, it's going to take at least twenty more minutes to get there, and we just got back to the house." But I swallowed the words, and Angie and I piled back into the car for another traffic adventure through construction zones, stop signs, red lights, leaf-blowers, potholes, marathon runners, triathlons, unicycle rallies, and hundreds upon hundreds of non-signaling motor vehicles of every description. I somehow time-warped / navigated to the third field of the morning and quickly shooed Angie out of the car. She was badly frazzled, as I was, and while I parked the car I watched her jogging hesitantly toward the diamond, where her friends were already playing and the activating murmur of an in-play sporting event wafted over the grass and among the trees. I walked up within just another couple of minutes to find that Angie was already batting. The writing now seemed to be on the wall, and sure enough the very first pitch hit her on the wrist and ricocheted hard into her ribs. She dissolved into tears at the plate. I froze, momentarily overwhelmed by the stress of the last ninety minutes of traffic, logistics, cross-information, and now, offspring trauma. The mom I had called from the house was nearby, and instantly assessing the situation, she turned to me and said, "You need to get out there." (God bless her.) Snapped from my catatonic state, I strode rapidly toward Angie, who though crying copiously, was still standing in the batter's box. The mom followed me helpfully, but now, just in time, an overwhelming clarity illuminated my mind as I reached Angie at the plate and wrapped my arms around her. The mom retreated while all eyes around the diamond fell upon us, and my daughter and I were completely alone. "Do you still want to bat?" "Nooo," she whimpered through her tears. I hugged her again, saying nothing. "Take a deep breath," I said after a moment. "And now another one." Her tears subsided a little and she gripped the bat a bit more hopefully. "Another big breath," I said. The tension on her face was easing. "Now stand tall." She imitated me as I held my hands up in a batting stance, extending my height so that we could continue to breathe deeply. I hugged her once more, and then as I left her at the plate I looked back and called out as softly as I could, "big breath!," again holding up my hands and illustrating a tall batting stance. The field was utterly silent as the pitcher wound up and delivered, and the ball arced toward the plate. I could see right away that Angie had no intention of keeping the bat on her shoulder. The movement started in her toes, and spiraled up through her legs, torso, shoulders, and arms. Her face now bore a look of irresistible determination, her blue-gray eyes glinting hard underneath her eyebrows and tousled red hair. She swung so hard that she audibly grunted. "Smack!" The ball hit the ground two-thirds of the way down the third-base line, top-spinning furiously. The girl at third bravely knocked it down, but it was too hot to handle and Angie charged down the first-base line in time to beat the throw. The crowd erupted in cheers, and Angie's name rang over the field. The next "Wildcat" up to bat promptly smacked a base hit, and Angie advanced to third. She and several of her teammates then scored their first runs of the season as the next several batters, inspired by the heady morale now sweeping through the team, pounded the ball one after another up the diamond. A couple of innings later, Angie pitched for the first time this season, which she had "really, really" been wanting to do. It was now clearly her day, and she pitched a perfect inning. (Two strikeouts, and she threw out the third batter at first base after fielding a hard grounder up the middle). As we left the field, I was brimming with pride for my precious, brave little redhead. The accolades came from everywhere, and she fielded compliments and high-fives from teammates and parents in every direction. On this simple Saturday in June of 2012, on Father's Day weekend, I had no camera, no videotape, and so I have no pictures or film -- no physical or tangible record at all -- of these few remarkable moments. But as I think of it now, I will never need any. Despite my own boneheaded lack of planning and information on this day, what possessed me in the crucial moment, the moment when Angie's unique and beautiful spirit, though ultimately so timeless and enduring, was in such a precarious state? How did I know exactly what to say and do? How is it that fathers sometimes know exactly what needs to be done? I can't claim to have known the obvious answer right then, in the rush of events, but I can very simply state it after a few days of reflection. All I did this past Father's Day weekend was assure my child of who she is, about what she can become, and that her future belongs to her rather than to me. And in return Angie reminded me that Father's Day isn't about fathers at all.
  4. Global Warming: Fact or Fantasy?

    I took two years of college-level chemistry in high school, and I studied scientific methodology in college (along with four semesters of geology). So I have no degree credentials sufficient to make me any sort of climatologist, but I am familiar with some of the concepts. I have also read a couple of dozen books or so on NASA and the space program, which as you'll see below is relevant. A quick aside: In 1999 my wife and I stumbled into Parliament without any idea of what debate / topic would be on the table. Eureka! Tony Blair was defending his government's commitment to the Kyoto protocol. Timing is everything. As Tony the Tiger brought his brilliance to bear, the Conservatives bit their thumbs and hissed in derision (no kidding; the Limeys really know how to put on a rhetorical show). Back to science: We have about 680,000 years of the Earth's climatic record to go on. The source of the information is ice cores that the one-world, grant-grubbin' scientists have drilled from ancient icepacks in Antarctica. The ice cores are like rings on a tree. The long-haired pot-smokin' grant grubbers can look at each year in the "rings" of ice and determine things like levels of various gases in the atmosphere, and mean planetary temperatures, over time. In this climatic record, there is a statistical one-to-one correlation between high levels of CO2 and increased global temperatures. This correlation is also borne out in simple modern-day experiments: Expose a closed system (like the Earth's atmosphere) to increased levels of energy-trapping gases (like CO2, methane, and others), and then more of the heat from an ambient energy source (a light bulb, or the Sun) is retained in the system. We know from our ice core records that CO2 levels have been increasing steadily since the first factories began belching tons of smoke in the late 1700's and early 1800's, and mean planetary temperatures have been trending sharply upwards ever since (particularly after the advent of the automobile). In fact, these scientific facts are so simple and so elementary that the burden of proof has now shifted to the Luddites and naysayers. O Luddites and naysayers, do you deny that increased levels of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases lead to increased temperatures in closed systems? Do you deny that CO2 levels on Earth are higher now than at any time in the almost 700,000-year geologic record available to us? If you do, then you fly in the face of the documented, peer-reviewed facts. But you're good at that, as your years of slavish devotion to make believe messiahs like Ron Reagan and GW Bush so amply prove. What you're NOT good at is sticking to and analyzing the facts. And so I'll help you out . . . BECAUSE I AM A RIVER TO MY PEOPLE! Let's go outside the Earth's system for a moment. The Sun, unlike our little science experiment's light bulb, is not ambient; it's dynamic. I bring that up to say this: As I recall from my youth, Mars' (Mars's?) northern and southern polar ice caps were huge a couple of generations ago. The caps waxed and waned with Mars' seasons, but were always visible even to the rudimentary, Earth-bound telescopes of the day. Now, today, them mofo's is tiny. Que pasa? The Earth's burgeoning greenhouse gases don't have anything to do with planetary temperatures on Mars. Is the Sun emitting significantly more energy in the last 30 or 40 years, such that Mars' ice caps are shrinking and Earth's mean temperatures are increasing? On the far end of this spectrum of Solar activity, a super-giant "coronal mass ejection" from the Sun would have the same effect on us and every other mammalian creature on Earth as a thousand neutron bombs -- i.e., we'd all be dead within a few hours, but every single building would still be standing. But even relatively mild increases in the Sun's nuclear activity would significantly warm the entire Solar System. There, Luddites and naysayers, I've helped you out. Can you carry the ball from here?
  5. Kleptocracy As The Antidote For Communism

    OK, I admit it -- I'm a monster. I've accused Rand of forming her theories when she was twelve years old. Oh, the humanity! Will Hamilton never stop his predations? Hank's hand-wringing here is exactly the sort of pabulum that right-wing ideologues resort to when they're being cuffed around like Marvis Frazier fighting the young Mike Tyson. "That guy who's right and knows how to express it is being dominant and just plain mean! Make him stop!" Reaganists like Hank don't like dealing with facts, because facts are too complex. And facts that seem to be conflicting need to be reconciled, which leads to -- well, just too much thinking for simplistic brains. Much better to parrot the ideas of a twelve-year-old and just keep it simple, so that you can sound appropriately forceful (or in Hank's current case, merely plaintive) without actually having to think. If Hank wants it simple, I'll keep it simple for him. Rand was a quack. She was traumatized by being caught in the midst of the biggest political and social upheaval of the Twentieth Century. She never got over it. Mediocre thinkers like Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan (as now revealed) took her novels -- her novels! -- as gospel and then fashioned the entire world's economics on Rand's idea. And her idea? In a nutshell? "If we were all perfect, there would be no need for government." Well, well, well . . . Ain't that profound? Every single human being, each his or her own country, perfectly self-contained, self governing, etc. Except, of course, for the roads that run from one house to the next. Or the water that runs in the stream that starts on my land but passes by yours on the way to the next guy's. Or the gross domestic product that I'm willing to bet will be worth 105% of its current value next year, but you're willing to bet will be worth 500%. (We're back to Brooksley Born, for those of you who haven't noticed.) Are you starting to get it? Sure, we'd all like a perfect world where no one has to pay taxes or answer to regulators and everything would just run itself. But NO SUCH WORLD EVER HAS OR EVER WILL EXIST. Except in periods of anarchy (the worst of all human states), taxes and government and regulation have always existed, and they existed in the best balance humankind has ever known from 1935 to 1985. Now, sadly and dangerously, we're back to 1929. Because of Alan Greespan . . . because of Ayn Rand . . . and because of Ronald Reagan and GW Bush. And these people and their ideas need to be discredited. Before they do any more damage.
  6. Kleptocracy As The Antidote For Communism

    Always glad to strike a chord, but here Rain misses the point of my closing. There's a reason I referred to FDR at the end of my post. The lesson is not that capitalism will never be fair; the lesson is that capitalism was fair, from roughly 1935 through about 1985. That is, under the New Deal, robust federal (and to some extent state) institutions and agencies protected small investors and consumers from the worst excesses of the financial markets and corporate "personhood" (i.e., the notion that corporations are in a sense commercial "people" that shield the real people who run them from personal liability for theft, fraud, defective products, etc.) And don't forget that under President Eisenhower, a Republican, the highest base tax rate on the wealthiest Americans was over 70% (so that we could all have Tamiflu, instead of having Cindy McCain, the offspring of a beer distribution monopolist, owning 14 personal residences (Or is it 15?)). The New Deal model, which served us amazingly well through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, was dismantled by Rand, Reagan, Richard Mellon Scaife*, and GW Bush. The right-wing story was that the New Deal was no different than communism, but for the reasons set out in my prior post, we know that's childish nonsense. What Rand, Scaife, Reagan and Bush really wanted was what we have now -- Brazilian style third-world capitalism, under which the rich become super-rich but don't have to worry about The Mob (because they can now afford gated communities and private armies). The solution to our current woes is not to bemoan the eternal injustice of capitalism, but rather to just go back to the New Deal. If you're related to the governor and you get picked to put the tax labels on the booze, such that you're making a million dollars a month with no competition, you need to pay taxes of more than 50%. If you're a $30K per year nurse keeping old people alive with dignity, you need to pay taxes of about 3%. This is not radical. It's the American way. It's real democracy. Can I get a witness? Will someone testify? WHY IS THIS SO MYSTERIOUS? * Richard Mellon Scaife, scion of the early 20th Century monopolist Mellon families and heir to the Mellon Bank, Gulf Oil and Alcoa fortunes, bankrolled Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky during the impeachment of President Clinton in the late 1990's. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/polit...emain050299.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Mellon_Scaife
  7. According to Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan, kleptocracy is the only antidote for communism. I was surprised at how unsophisticated Alan Greenspan sounded in his video clips from last night's PBS Frontline episode, The Warning (about the quixotic attempt by the Clinton administration's Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief, Brooksley Born, to penetrate and then regulate the "over-the-counter derivatives" market in 1998). I always took ABC, The New York Times, et al. at their word; i.e., that Greenspan was an above-the-fray super genius who, all politics aside, really knew what was best for the world. Instead, actually listening to Greenspan's Congressional testimonies as he defended unbridled "black box" (non-transparent) corporatism throughout the 1990's and 2000's, I was struck by how simplistic the Federal Reserve chairman sounded: "Free market good; government bad." Ronald Reagan sounded more sophisticated about macroeconomics. Explanation? The Warning begins with an introduction to Greenspan's ideological mentor: Of all people, Twentieth Century novelist and post-Soviet maven of libertarianism, Ayn Rand. Libertarianism is an innate human condition, and it is already embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Every American is a libertarian. However, today's kleptocrats trot out libertarianism as if it is a recent antidote to the current supposed Stalinist, Barack Obama, and Rand is the notion's dusted-off and trendy standard-bearer of today. Well no wonder Greenspan, who after 2008's near calamitous financial meltdown admitted in further Congressional testimony that he had been wrong all along about the role of government in the world economy, sounded so childishly simplistic during the last couple of decades. Consider the following Wikipedia biographical information on Rand: ______________________ Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She was the eldest of the three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora) of Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her father was a chemist and a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur.[9] Rand was twelve at the time of the Russian revolution of 1917. Opposed to the Tsar, Rand's sympathies were with Alexander Kerensky. Rand's family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik party. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets, and the family temporarily fled to the Crimea. ______________________ Well naturally, a budding twelve-year-old Russian socialite (Rand was very intelligent and very beautiful) would object to and be molded by her father's fortune being confiscated for the good of the local soviet. But it doesn't follow that the philosophy forged by such a life experience -- i.e., that government interference in business is inherently evil -- is any more accurate or practical than any other adolescent notion formed by even the brightest of us. So no wonder Greenspan sounded so childish. He was parroting the notions of a child. A very few of us will understand the significance of this, but how many other post-modern Americans will, even if I could reach all 300 million? A thousand, perhaps? Even fewer? The Frontline episode was exemplary, and I recommend it to all. However, it's already a forgotten and dusty file in a forgotten and dusty archive. Greenspan and Rand acolytes Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner are Obama's chief financial officers this very day. The message, and thus the future, I'm afraid, is very clear: We've gone back to and will remain in the pre-1933 model, in which wild fortunes are made and lost by the financial markets' biggest inside gamblers, and the rest of us are along on the medieval ducking stool. If we gamble wildly and cash out in time, we never have to work jobs. If we still think that FDR democracy regulates the market, we're likely to age and die in the same conditions as Tom Joad.
  8. Joe Wilson, Liars, And Decorum

    Here's my Civil Discourse on the truthers versus birthers topic: I'm surrounded by idiots. I'm not sure where the truthers versus birthers theme is in this thread, but as I've explained before regarding the truthers -- and I'm the only one in the world to have capably done so, to my knowledge -- President Bush did NOT know about the 9/11 attacks beforehand. But I don't base this on the Ordinary American's usual intellectual rigor (all conspiracy theories are wrong because . . . well, because they're conspiracy theories). Rather, I base my conclusion on the forlorn anachronisms of evidence and logic. Bush was handed a two-page typewritten CIA memo almost six weeks before the 9/11 attacks. The memo said that a Saudi radical by the name of Osama bin Laden was determined to attack in the United States soon, that he might hijack airliners, and that he might attack buildings in New York City. Bush laughed off the memo and went back to his vacation. On the morning of 9/11, he froze in that classroom because he thought as follows: "Oh shit -- this is exactly what that memo was trying to tell me. Will Cheney be able to get me out of this?" There is also some evidence that Beltway VIPs were warned to stay off of jetliners the week of 9/11. It appears that intelligence agencies were concerned by elevated "static" indicating an impending attack, but the information was too vague, in the intelligence community's judgment, to warrant shutting down the nation's billion-dollar-a-day commercial air travel industry. Does any of this mean that "Bush knew" of 9/11 ahead of time? Of course not. It merely means that he was warned of the risk and ignored it. (In the immortal words of Gen. Buck Turgidson, do I have to do everything myself?) Likewise the birthers are idiots. But unlike the truthers, they're much more heavily armed and much more dangerous. By this site's standard, I appear to be the only person in North America who recognizes today's Joe Wilsons and the John Boltons for what they are -- brownshirts. Just as Rudolph Hess did for Hitler in the 1930's, men of this type are willing to threaten and bludgeon those with whom they disagree, and they are not above attempting to seize power even though they currently control only about 30% of the electorate. (This is not hyperbole -- Bolton was one of the supposed "grass roots" Rethuglicans who in December of 2000 physically confronted election officials in the Dade County recount process; second bit of evidence -- the survivalists packing assault weapons at Obama's presidential appearances.) Where does this leave us? Like I said, surrounded by idiots. Except that the idiots on my side are not threatening the President with assault rifles and sick signs about the blood of "tyrants."
  9. That Rascal Rove

    My note to DMN reporter Wayne Slater: Mr. Slater, Great article of yours in the Dallas Morning News today regarding former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer's new book. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dw....1a1d1b75f.html I too am wryly amused by and grudgingly admiring of Karl Rove's political tactics, especially in the post-9/11 world and with American troops dying and being maimed in two ground wars in Asia. Whispering campaigns and knowing defamation of public servants and national political figures who might oppose Rove's boss in a public election; wanton falsehoods about then-President Bush's desires regarding a proposed public policy speech; etc. What's not to admire? The sheer "go for it" ruthlessness -- so bold, so super modern. Interestingly, you open your article with a grotesque bit of false equivalence: " . . . Karl Rove was hardly alone in the practice of spreading rumors to damage a political opponent." I'm sure the journalistic rigor that you applied to your article of today will now force you to report on the Democratic political operatives who employ Rove's tactics to Rove's extent.
  10. Get Thee Gone, Gonzo

    Dear Chancellor (Kent) Hance: I am a 22-year AV-rated Texas attorney with a bachelor's degree in government. Texas Tech's hiring of disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a mistake. Mr. Gonzales derelicted his duty as a public servant and member of the bar by serving as a simple clerk and "yes man" for the Cheney / Bush administration, and by in all likelihood perjuring himself before Congress. He has been unemployable according to the nation's law firms since stepping down as AG in 2007. For the sake of Texas Tech University, I respectfully urge you to reconsider the hiring of Mr. Gonzales. He can only detract from your reputable institution.
  11. John Yoo

    I demand satisfaction. Thank God that AR-15's with grenade launchers are now legal for private ownership. Because I hereby challenge Michael Major to a duel. AR-15's, with grenade launchers, at 50 yards in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas on December 25th, 2009 at 12:05 p.m. Each duellist will stand on the field's respective 25-yard line, with duelling to commence upon the signal of Sonya Sotomayor, who will fire a live-round Desert Eagle .50 caliber bullet into the air to initiate matters. Television coverage TBA. Michael's position is this: Richard Bruce Cheney is an American hero. Michael offers no facts in support of his position. My position is this: Cheney is a draft-dodging, untreated alcoholic who is a traitor to the United States. My facts are these: Cheney was convicted of DWI/DUI in 1962 and was arrested again for the same offense in 1963. Cheney dodged the draft five times in between 1959 and 1967. Cheney flunked out of Yale, and then stumbled to a modest Bachelor of Arts degree at the weighty University of Wyoming (in just six years!). Cheney ran a secret, unconstitutional shadow government behind the cover of G.W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. God will decide who is right, and who is dead. Michael, I will see you at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas on December 25th, 2009, at 12:05 p.m. I know that you already have your duelling weapon. I will purchase mine down the street at Assault Weapons R Us, or have my teenaged neighbor do so for me.
  12. Jihad--the War Against The West

    Wow . . . tough crowd. But I'm glad to see the general recognition that the Islamic jihadists are not the existential threat to us that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were during the 1930's and 1940's. The United States always has a warrior class. Seventy-five to one hundred thousand mercenaries or so, who should be locked in a glass case marked, "Open Only in the Event of War." We used such men to topple the taliban in Afghanistan, but then Cheney and Rummy sniffed at the matronly, Clintonian idea of nation-building, and now we're mired in that backwards hell-hole just like the Soviets were from 1979 to 1989. Of course, their lines of communication were right next door, whereas we're 8,000 miles away, so (a) no wonder a six-pack of beer costs one of our grunts $40 in goat country, and (b) our geopolitical position is even worse than that of the dirty commie rats way back in the ancient history of the 1980's. Afghanistan bankrupted the Soviets, and it's likely to do the same to us. I've told the secrets here and elsewhere, but here they are again: Don't invade a place that you can't or won't fix. Don't create mass refugee situations, which lead to privation and the growth of radical ideologies. (The taliban sprang from the squalid border refugee camps that sprouted after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979). Support, both openly and clandestinely, modernist reform movements in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran (particularly women's movements). Address the terrorist threat like the international criminal enterprise that it is, rather than as a geopolitical strategic threat to the United States. In other words, be smart, and don't act like undereducated, fatuous global dumbasses, like the Cheney administration routinely did. (Did you know that Dick stumbled to a modest bachelor of arts degree -- in just six years! -- at the estimable University of Wyoming, while dodging the draft five times? No wonder we were in such good hands from 2001 to 2009!) Obama and his people are incalculably smarter than Dick and Shrub, but the new boss is caught in the classic American Tough Guy trap, just as Johnson and then Nixon were from 1965 to 1973. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. "If we stay, there'll be more killin'. If we go, there'll be more killin'. Whatever we do, there'll be more killin'." The morasses of Iraq and Afghanistan are just another happy legacy of our recent eight-year experiment with arrogant incompetence in the White House. I know, I know -- I digress. But as I've also said many times, this shit is all connected. Everything leads to the next thing. Believe me, America, or continue to wither. But there is one more thing of which I am the most sure -- one more mortal danger that we must avoid, no matter what the consequences to our lives, our fortunes, or our sacred honor. Our very survival depends on avoiding the one thing that we cannot -- nay, MUST NOT -- allow. This IS an existential imperative. We must not -- not now, not ever, never, ever -- raise taxes as a means of paying our bills. That way lies MADNESS . . .
  13. Studying American History

    Fantastic, everyone of Civil Discourse. I'm ecstatic about the American history reading plans. According to the brothers Dupuy, whose Encyclopedia of Military History is a must-have for every American library, Washington was a military genius. In my own ignorance, for years I mis-recalled the battle of Trenton and Washington's crossing of the Delaware as a sort of successful retreat / preservation of the Continental Army. When I revisited the history and realized that it was a successful assault on a Hessian mercenary encampment -- by Washington's barefoot, starving soldiers, on Christmas night and in freezing temperatures, no less -- I was . . . well, proud to be an American. Washington also realized, as do our adversaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, that all an asymmetric force in its own territory has to do, when faced with a superior occupying military power, is hold out. Wait. Survive. Disrupt. Propagandize. Hit-and-run. When the occupier is drained, disgusted, and bankrupt, they'll have no choice but to leave. It works every time. In short, Washington was an insurgent, albeit for the highest purposes rather than the lowest. As a counterpart to the reading campaign, I recommend HBO's recent series John Adams very highly. Based on the David McCullough book, the show was brilliantly written and cast. Paul Giamatti was stellar as Adams, and the actor who played Jefferson, in particular, was like the man come back to life; utterly, completely, and totally believable. Laura Linney was a revelation as Abigail Adams, the brilliant and highly involved wife of our second President. Of course, it also doesn't hurt that much of the dialog was based on Adams and Jefferson's end-of-life correspondence, in response to which I was struck by the notion that their discourse -- Hellenistic, Platonic, Aristotelian -- was the highest form of thinking, or even of being. As in human being. We Americans spring from an amazing group of leaders, who somehow collectively foresaw many generations into the future. The Founders were children of the Enlightenment. A few were devoutly religious, but most were primarily secular lawyers, engineers, and scientists (and of course, as exemplified by Washington, soldiers). They shone light on the future of humankind not through pious religious ideology or certitude, but through disciplined humility and the belief that ordinary human beings, rationally governing their common public destiny, would change the world forever. Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government, "except for all those other forms that have been tried." Lincoln called democracy "the last, best hope of Earth." Best wishes to aC . . .
  14. Antisemitism--Why?

    I'm a book pusher. I'm ruthless and relentless. Americans don't read enough, and what we do read is mostly garbage. Read, people, read. And then read some more. In A Distant Mirror, The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman points out that as hegemony in Europe devolved from the crumbling Roman Empire to the First Estate (the Church and its clergy), ecclesiastical doctrine held that lending money --or more specifically, charging interest on loaned money -- was un-Christian. (My how things have changed.) However, the Church knew that debt in healthy doses is an essential part of every functioning economy. Since the Jews were by definition not Christians, they exclusively could be allowed to lend money in order to grease the economic skids, and thus no good Christians would be consigned to hell for sullying their hands with debt interest income. Thus European Jewry was essential to the medieval economic system, but not very popular. Because they were money lenders, geographically displaced, and a fractional minority in terms of population, Jews became the whipping post for every social upheaval in which European peasantry reacted to being starved, subjugated, impaled, or burned at the stake by the First Estate (the Church and clergy) and/or the Second Estate (the Crown and the nobility). The Holocaust was simply a modern, mechanized, Twentieth Century macro-continuation of pogroms that had been inflicted on European Jewry since the Dark Ages. (We are oh so civilized, aren't we, my European-American brethren?) That accounts for the history of anti-Semitism in Europe. In the Orient today, which is to say in post-modern Asia and the Muslim world, Jews are unpopular because of Israel. Although Jews have always lived in the Levant, before 1948 they hadn't made the rules there since the time of King David. Since the Babylonian Captivity and the Diaspora, hegemony in the Levant belonged to Alexander and his successors, then to the Caesars, then the Arabs/Muslims, then the Turks, and then the Palestinians. When the U.S. and the U.K. established Israel through the United Nations (located in New York City, U.S.A) in 1948, millions of Palestinians were displaced and a very powerful non-Muslim state was made rule-maker in Jerusalem and Galilee by Anglo-U.S. fiat. Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims were accordingly displeased. Now, to make matters worse in Muslim minds, Israel has unchallenged military superiority (as well as nuclear or at least atomic capability) in the Near East, and no one else does. Without impugning the unquestionable skill and bravery of Israel's military forces, this military superiority is 90% the result of U.S. largesse. Muslim peoples in Asia are smart enough to realize this, and thus they quite rationally blame Israel's hegemony in the region on the United States. (The analogy would be a nuclear-capable Iroquois state in between New York and Canada, created by Muslim votes in The Hague.) What to do? I have said before that I do not believe Israel is sustainable in the long-term, and that its existence is in fact a detriment to U.S. strategic interests. Accordingly I think that over the next several generations the U.S. should welcome all seven million Israelis to the United States with lodging, tax breaks, and jobs. They will make us a better country. Short of this, the Obama administration, as Hillary Clinton has long advocated, has proposed the creation of an actual Palestinian state in and around the West Bank. At least then, the theory goes, the Muslim peoples in the Levant will have their own hegemony to oppose that of Israel. Real scholars on these subjects will be able to blast most of this, but for us laypeople, what I've said is mostly accurate. "History is no mystery. You just have to read it or repeat it." Jim Hamilton
  15. Abortion

    Yes, and the ratio of RU-486 abortions to overall abortions is increasing, which is also a good thing. Second trimester abortions and late-term abortions not actually supported by medical necessity are still troubling. And these do still occur, even though they are a relatively small percentage.