Saturday, February 10, 2007

NCLB? It's Relevance Free!

Daily Kos: Education Reform: The Curriculum

Until we re-think and rework the curriculum devised by the Committee of Ten in 1893 , education "reform"—standards and accountability, raising the bar, imposing rigor and so on—will produce little but political noise, student hoop-jumping, educator burnout, ever-escalating costs, and increasing societal inability to meet the demands of an unknown future.
A must read for everyone concerned with education, especially this bit.

Successful human functioning requires (a) ready access to the whole of one's knowledge via memory, (b) skill in identifying what one knows that’s applicable to the situation at hand, (c) an understanding of the systemic relationships between specific things one knows, and (d) the ability to predict or anticipate the consequences of the interactions of those things.
Consider the impact on society and politics if we started teaching to this standard in kindergarten. It would vastly expand the Reality-Based Community.

There are some profound thoughts in this, with a coherent plan of action that it appears can be implemented at the teacher level, at least to some extent, without the need to seek out approval. It's certainly applicable to charter schools, and I shall be suggesting that the Washoe County School District take a serious look at applying it.

The full-blown idea, plus supporting archives is at Marion Brady's site, complete with the expected PowerPoint presentations.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Zibiggy has a plan:

Expressed in an address to Congress, the sum of which is "DO YOUR JOB."

But seeing that it's Zbigniew Brzezinski (May St. Vidicon of Cathode be praised for clipboards), there is a great deal of the precise and the specific in support of his blunt "suggestions."

It's amazing how much a mind can be improved by a prolonged lack of power and patronage.

Blog For Arizona: Brzezinski's Warning to the Senate

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD’s in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the “decisive ideological struggle” of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack which precipitated America’s involvement in World War II.

This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine. In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism; al Qaeda is an isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration; most Iraqis are engaged in strife because the American occupation of Iraq destroyed the Iraqi state; while Iran—though gaining in regional influence—is itself politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Deplorably, the Administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on such sloganeering. Vague and inflammatory talk about “a new strategic context” which is based on “clarity” and which prompts “the birth pangs of a new Middle East” is breeding intensifying anti-Americanism and is increasing the danger of a long-term collision between the United States and the Islamic world. Those in charge of U.S. diplomacy have also adopted a posture of moralistic self-ostracism toward Iran strongly reminiscent of John Foster Dulles’s attitude of the early 1950’s toward Chinese Communist leaders (resulting among other things in the well-known episode of the refused handshake). It took some two decades and a half before another Republican president was finally able to undo that legacy.

One should note here also that practically no country in the world shares the Manichaean delusions that the Administration so passionately articulates. The result is growing political isolation of, and pervasive popular antagonism toward the U.S. global posture.

Zbiggy needs to include footnotes! But the essay, in the whole, is well taken - it does not take a giant, pulsating brain such as Brzezinski's to see what rough beast is shambling toward Persia. But he does name that beast more fully and damningly and publicly than most in the political establishment would dare.

The Administration clearly wishes to cast us into a protracted war with Islam in general - World War III is terminology that the Right Wing has floated several times to describe it, as well as the term "clash of civilizations."

I would call it a clash of realities - the term "civilizations" is a bit oxymoronic in my view, considering the leading proponents for this clash on both sides of a divide that I see as being both intentional and convenient to the Idiologues of Islam and the Chickenhawk Castastrophizers of Christianity. In fact, there's little support for either group among the religiously moderate or the moderately religious - in either religion. Sojourners criticizes the war, while Liberal Islam Network cautiously explores the possibility of religious dissent. Interestingly enough, when religious conservatives of all sorts thump their scriptures, yelling loudly about what "The Good Book" has to say, reading the book itself brings a new, and far less "conservative" perspective on the original intent.

When you think of it - all this "clash of cultures" nonsense may well bring to pass the exact opposite; two cultures, so long completely and blissfully ignorant of the values and tenants of the other, discovering that what they have "always known" about the Infidel Other is in fact nonsense, and their greatest threats and foes are those who make a fine living pointing out the Evils and Dangers of the Others.

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A Graphictrivia Special Entry.

Falling for things like this is why I rule at Trivial Pursuit, even though it bores the stones off me.

"A fact a day keeps the bible away." That's a bloody great bumpersticker!

africans - The return of PURE FACT

One thing I do delight in receiving, however, is factual information. My father once told me that a fact is like a lump of coal - solid, carbon based, and it burns brightly in the darkness. Compared to fact, whimsy and humour are like damp pinecones. Bloody useless. With a body of knowledge built on undisputed fact, a man may argue flawlessly, assured that he is more right than any callow dissenter. Armed with fact, wars can be won, and enemies crushed. A fact a day keeps the bible away, my grandfather used to say. He was a naval man, and did not gladly suffer a fool. He lived and died by the fact.

I've taken the liberty to go ahead and scour my email inbox, and pluck out the best facts I could find, for your perusal, and the embroadening of your mind. I have decided to do you this kindness, because today I am feeling benevolent. Don't hesitate to soak in what you can, because my mood won't last, and I'll probably beat you for trying to steal my thoughts.

Um, no, I didn't bother to fact check the factoids related at the link. Take this article - and source - seriously at your own risk.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Death Throes of the Hierarchy

A great explanation in 30 seconds, with implications.

And the implications ARE:

Simple: No one group, person, class or creed can determine "what's important" any more than they can choose what people "ought to be protected from." And that's just ONE implication - uncomfortable to Conservatives.

Information is education. It's now accessible to anyone, anywhere, at a price that's a lot lower than libraries. Once a person has "learned how to learn," they don't NEED a university to become educated. That's an implication sure to be uncomfortable to Liberals.

Yep, XML is not just a powerful tool, it's a powerful idea; the idea that information can (and should) be separable from presentation bias.

We are looking at a fundamental change in how we relate as human beings, how we communicate, indeed, this will affect how we think.

Those who thought that Armageddon was coming at the millennium were correct in a sense. It has. Those who still await the Messiah while staring at their screens are blind.

"In the beginning, there was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Now, lest you accuse me of committing heresy, I suggest I'm only committing an observation. My personal faith is not dependent upon the end of the world as we know it. In my lifetime, that's already happened several times, and a couple times each in my parents and grandparents lives. But this is significantly different from even such a fundamental shift as the Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution. This is a quantum leap in the ability of human beings to communicate, to learn, to understand and - possibly the most practical difference - to do business without intermediaries or recourse to the offices of government.

Of course, we had to be ready for such a change, and I'm astonished to say, it appears that the preceding social and scientific upheavals have prepared us for that.

Despite all appearances and local anomalies, the world as a whole has become surprisingly more decent, livable and civilized over just my lifetime. We are now outraged at what would have been commonplaces for our parents and unquestionable, doctrinal realities for our grandparents.

George Bush - one of those anomalies - has tried to return the world to an older, more comfortable place for him and his ilk, where the common folk are but pawns and profit centers; electronically chained serfs to the New World Order.

It's a tried and true formula. A little more than a century ago, during the reign of the Robber Barons here in the US, it worked perfectly - until their sheer greed led them to folly, and yet they still managed to retain enough power to set up conditions for the Great Depression in '29.

There was not just one foreign war during that time - there were several, with appalling loss of life, losses that continue to affect many countries to this day.

It has taken a bare six years to go from applause to outrage here in the US. The fact that we get little or no credit for that speaks well, I think, of what the world expects of us - and the far higher standards they expect of themselves. Even fifty years ago, the general world reaction to the use of torture by the US would be, and I quote, "so?"

At that time it was a commonplace, a routine thing, both foreign and domestic. Now, it is still depressingly common as a form of governance, but it's becoming a guilty secret; a thing to be ashamed of; something definitive of lesser peoples and futile powers.

The difference is awareness - and the ability to communicate effectively to organize in opposition to, or in avoidance of coercive force.

And therein begins the seeds of peace; not from altruism, but from the realization that the use of naked force to control a population that can easily learn to create it's own counterforce is both terribly expensive and futile in the fairly short term.

The above link leads to a firm that markets new and used vehicles developed for the South African Defense Forces during the long struggle to end apartheid. These are arguably some of the very best such vehicles on the market. Our troops SHOULD be using vehicles this capable in Iraq.

And yet - there is no apartheid in South Africa, the long struggle to maintain control ended, not so much with a bang as a whimper of utter exhaustion, and I doubt you will find all that many Southern Africans pining for the Good Old Days, a grim, paranoid fortress state that in its way was as much of a prison for those it deemed worthy of it's "protection" as those it more honestly and ruthlessly oppressed.

As beautifully designed and brilliantly engineered as these marvelous sculptures of war are, they are symptomatic of a problem that is far better addressed by the means of Gandhi and Desmond Tutu than by the Sjambok and the testicle crushers of previous Administrations.

All of these things are the fruits and symptoms of the chaos Alvin Toffler predicted,
but he also missed the mark in his seminal work of the 70's, Future Shock. He saw chaos as dangerous and completely alien to the human psyche, a stance that while considerably better founded in the scientific consensus of the day, is essentially no different than the anti-science Dominionist Theocrats of the far and winged Right.

In fact, we seem to be adapting well to an increasingly chaotic world, and possibly this is due to the fact that all organic systems - us included - are chaotic systems.

But it does require letting go of Newtonian, deterministic and behaviorist approaches to the economy, to governance and, indeed, to all levels of human governance. We must adapt to the idea that it's impossible to "see the big picture" without changing the picture simply by looking at it. One abandons aiming for particular outcomes and instead navigates into a range of favorable possibilities.

When you start realizing that large chunks of immutable order are clamped into place and kept in rigid alignment to one another, the result is paradoxically a great deal of chaotic friction leading to far less than perfect order, you start realizing that Order, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a terrible master.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Soldier's Duty: Lt. Watada

UPDATE: Mistrial:

The court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada has been ruled a mistrial because of a dispute over a pretrial agreement. Watada’s attorney, Eric Seitz, called the ruling a “significantly positive event,” and said he hoped it would put an end to the case.

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada still refuses Iraq deployment orders, calling the war illegal. A six-year prison term could result. His preliminary hearing was yesterday; trial commences Febuary 5th.

"WATADA: Certainly. I think that when we take an oath we, as soldiers and officers, swear to protect the constitution — with our lives as necessary — and those constitutional values and laws that make us free and make us a democracy. And when we have one branch of government that intentionally deceives another branch of government in order to authorize war, and intentionally deceives the people in order to gain that public support, that is a grave breach of our constitutional values, our laws, our checks and balances, and separation of power."
A lot of people think of this young man as a "coward" for refusing to "do his duty." It's true that in nearly every other military, there would be absolutely no room to argue that he is refusing to do his duty. But the United States is an exception; unlike every other military power I'm aware of, the oath is to the Constitution, not to the Crown or to Civil Authority, and that makes a huge and sometimes awkward difference.

It is ordinarily assumed that superior officers ARE obeying their oaths and issuing legitimate orders. When circumstances arise that make that assumption unreasonable or impossible, an officer has a higher loyalty - to their oath. And there is a procedure to test and resolve such questions, because the alternative is to give orders he's reasonably certain to be illegal.

Therefore, when a commissioned officer says to a superior, "I request and require written orders to that effect, Sir." the challenged officer knows that is a means of perpetuating evidence for the eventual court-martial. Since the orders in question have to do with the legitimacy of the war itself, he's got both the duty and the right to refuse unfounded orders until the matter is resolved in just such a court-martial.

Watada has questioned the validity of an order under the terms of the Constitution. The conditionality and legality of the order now becomes a matter of fact to be determined. The shock and awe comes in when we realize the scope; he is questioning the validity and legality of the President's orders in his military capacity as Commander in Chief.

Watada must be well aware that this is career suicide and likely to dog him throughout civilian life. Indeed, he may well have to leave the country after facing whatever legal consequences may ensue. So the consequences he faces are as grave as those any other officer of his rank in combat. Different, but no less severe.

He is not facing a mere slap on the wrist and a dishonorable discharge. The stated charges carry a maximum of six years hard time and a dishonorable discharge. However, military courts have wide latitude and the charges he's facing are in all likelihood "placeholders" while the prosecution attempts to build a strong case on unassailable grounds that will see him in Leavenworth for the greater part of his life. Indeed, it would be no less than the proper duty of the prosecution to make every effort to see him dance at the end of a rope.

This is a legal No-Man's land and there's not a single person involved who will have a single clue about the outcome, except that it's some variety of "bad for Lt. Watata." He is staking "His life, his fortune and his sacred honor" on this matter.

The path of cowardice would be to serve as ordered, despite his qualms, knowing that to do so would be to betray his conscience and (in his view,) his oath. Many officers have taken a quieter path of protest, simply resigning their commissions, or leaving active duty service.

I'm certain Judge Advocate Generals office has offered him some sort of plea, probably a rather attractive plea, that anyone looking for a "way out" due to cowardice would have jumped at. I can't imagine any sane reaction from SecDef other than "make this go away!"

Instead, he is choosing to face the full might of an angry Defense Department and Administration, who accurately see him as personally challenging their basis of legitimate authority.

But those questions have been politely asked and brusquely dismissed. We have been lied to, we have seen organized campains to discredit civilians who ask, we have found out that our government wants the ability to simply disappear people without question, and we cannot help but wonder if "asking questions" will be considered a good reason for indefinite detention without trial.

WATADA: The constitution was established, and our laws are established, to protect human rights, to protect equal rights and constitutional civil liberties. And I think we have people in power who say that those laws, or those principles, do not apply to them — that they are above the law and can do whatever it takes to manipulate or create laws that enable them to do whatever they please. And that is a danger in our country, and I think the war in Iraq is just one symptom of this agenda. And I think as soldiers, as American people, we need to recognize this, and we need to put a stop to it before it's too late.

There are a lot of things you could call him, but I think that "Coward" ain't one of 'em. Please take a moment and consider why some folks might want you to think he is a coward and trying to escape his duty, rather than an officer who is trying to fulfil it. And then ask yourself, if there is the slightest question as to whether or not he's right, don't you want to see that sorted out?

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the Lieutenant's stand, it's impossible to understate the potential social and legal consequences here. The Army, the Defense Department, the President, and indeed Congress and the entire government are as much on trial here as one young first Lieutenant.

And if he prevails in either a legal or moral sense - this war, and all the further conflicts and military involvements the "global war on terror" surely implies will face increasing skeptical review. Given the stakes, it's a review that EVERY American needs to make, if only because every NON-American has been keeping their reviews current since at least '03.

It will surely bring increased Congressional oversight and it certainly will add fuel to those questing for grounds to impeach the President. Indeed, if the Lieutenant is permitted to call in his defense witnesses he should obviously call, it will in fact be preliminary hearings to that effect.

If Lt. Wataba is willing to stake his future and reputation upon the legality of orders he might find himself giving - is it not reasonable to ask George Bush, Commander in Chief of all American Forces to stake his future and reputation upon them as well?

As a matter of record I will state this; any trial that is legimately attempting to establish the facts of this case and which does not have George Bush on the stand under oath is not to be taken seriously and no verdict should be considered less than a badge of honor.

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Chief counsel for committee that probed Nixon wants similar Bush probe

The chief counsel to the committee that investigated abuses of power by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s tells RAW STORY he’d like to see a similar inquiry into clandestine intelligence operations under President George W. Bush.

read more | digg story

Beam us up, Spocko!

Revisiting the Law of Unintended Consequences

It's refreshing to know that this issue isn't being ignored simply because I haven't blogged about it for a few days. I admit that sounds arrogant as hell, but really, it's just thanksgiving that my unaccountable ability to shut down a discussion threads - something akin to a nun at an orgy - does not apply to the internet as a whole. At any rate, the far-right hate media, such as the far-too-common examples on KSFO are finding out what happens when their free speech is piped out of their comfy little call-screened ghetto.

A graphic summation of Hate Talk Radio 560 from YouTube - one of several possible examples to be found there.

Meanwhile, they continue their attempts to "blog." Melanie Morgan actually writes for World Net Daily, proving for sure that here ideas are not the result of some strange manifestation of Tourette's Syndrome. In Death by Liberal Activism, she takes on the Godless Liberal Hordes of the Weather Channel, dastardly advocates of that Liberal Chimera, Global Warning. I'm not quite sure what the title has to do with the topic, other than the usual - equating "death" with "Liberalism."

Project much, Mel?

And considering that even George Bush has accepted - kinda - the latest reports on global warming, it's a little silly for her to be continue beating a overheated horse. Silly, but apparently profitable.

She is proudly headlined as a World Net Daily Exclusive Columnist. I think we can let that observation stand, with all the dreadfully obvious conclusions left unstated.

Lets return to KSFO and the Not Ready For WorldNetDaily Players.

David Gold

The most loquacious, and I grudgingly admit, not at all bad.

I suspect he may be a real conservative, instead of the expected
Rovian Tool

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

One entry, but a surprisingly good one.
But then, he also blogs here
Toward Tradition
and here at
Welcome to my Blogroll,
Reb Daniel!

Lee Rodgers

One Entry:


We love you too, Lee!

Officer Vic

Has written nothing.

Of course, given the quality of his spoken words, it's a blessing if he is, as I suspect, functionally illiterate.

So, two that WorldNetDaily wouldn't consider because they express individual, considered conservative opinions, and two that are - shall we say - sub-par even by WorldNetDaily standards. One made the cut, because of her mastery of that Rovian Rhetorical tool, innuendo. combined with a complete lack of that great Liberal value - any evident sense of proportion or of the absurd.

But all told, I'd have to say that I'm grudgingly impressed. I had expected the lineup to be all wing-nut, all the time, and this post to be yet another exercise in duck hunting with claymore mines.

As I've observed more than once: "It's not SUPPOSED to be this easy!"

Maybe - just maybe - there is hope for America, if otherwise sane and sensible Conservatives intelligently (and as far as I can tell, honestly) advocating their considered positions without slavish adherence to the ever-changing and never-conservative Administration line.

I should like to publicly ask both both Rabbi Lapin and David Gold to express their personal positions on fair use, copyright, and the reasonable consequences of speech in the public square at public expense.

If Lee Kelso, Officer Vic and Melanie Morgan are not a textbook example of The Tragedy of the Commons, I don't know what is. That link leads to a particularly good, well-balanced Wikipedia article, I should add.

Rabbi Lapin has written an excellent piece touching some of these issues already - (I Warned You that Ancient Jewish Wisdom Discouraged Investing in Sirius Satellite Radio,)
I hopes for an excellent discussion of the topic.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

Thanks to Wot is it good 4

Demise of GOP just took turn for the worse - Scarborough Country -
Republican senators are now turning their rhetorical guns away from Democrats and toward one another. A few conservative Republican senators, whose votes usually cheer me up during bleak political times, are actually accusing Virginia’s senior senator, John Warner, of providing comfort to terrorists. The White House even got involved in the name calling when Tony Snow suggested Warner’s actions could embolden the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Story continues below ↓ advertisement The message from the Bush administration seems to be this: “Thanks for carrying our water on this miserable war for four years. Now we’re going accuse you of helping terrorists.”

How pathetic.

The entire strategy of the Bush Administration - from day ONE - has been to vilify critics rather than to engage them - and by "critics," I mean anyone who disagrees to the slightest extent. Joe Scarborough places himself squarely in the terrorist/liberal/peacenik camp with the following accurate observation:

Even if you agree with me that this war was worth fighting as long as we believed Saddam Hussein had WMD’s aimed at America, at some point you have to face the facts: the Bush administration was wrong about those weapons, wrong about the nuclear program, wrong about their refusal to quell rioting early, wrong about Bremer’s gutting of the Iraqi army and police force, wrong about refusing to kill or capture al Sadr in 2003, wrong to tell the generals not speak of the coming insurgency, wrong to stubbornly refuse to give generals the troops they needed to win this war, wrong to make the “Mission Accomplished” declaration, wrong for the VP to claim that the insurgency was in its death throes and wrong to push a surge plan that the president’s top generals opposed.

The list could continue for pages but I will be generous to the White House and leave it at that.

At some point, GOP senators and congressmen need to understand that this war is no longer a battle between Republican war heroes and Democratic 60s hippie freaks. The lines have now been blurred by Bush’s bungling war strategy. Now we find ourselves in a fight between war heroes and war heroes. Former secretaries of Navy and former Vietnam POWs. Conservative Republicans and protectors of the president.
And as I recall observing on my radio show Saturday, Download wma file even if you agree with the "Project for a New American Century's" "Rebuilding America's Defenses", there is a right way and a wrong way to go about creating an American Empire. It was not the Legion's might that established and maintained that empire; it was good roads, reliable commerce and general prosperity that made it's more oppressive aspects tolerable to most folks.

In order to build and maintain an empire that is more than fleeting, one has to be clearly superior to the alternative. In that we have failed utterly.

I of course oppose the idea of empire - the time for empires is long gone. They bring no benefits to the table that are not better achieved in simpler, less expensive and far less violent ways. In point of fact, there is no great profit in supporting an empire - and a great deal of both tangible and intangible wealth to lose.

This stark reality overcomes all else; if more than 70 percent of the privileged citizens of the Empire's heart disapprove of it's running, then I'd say that the rest of the world has every reason to be skeptical about joining up. And I would add that should we be so foolish as to continue, the empire might become manifest - but the capital might well be in Europe, South America or China.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Lincoln on War Powers

I wish to take this bit out of context, because I really wish to focus just on Lincoln's words, which are of critical relevance today.

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Our little Churchills: "s this letter from Abraham Lincoln, written while a member of Congress in 1848, to William Herndon (h/t FMD). Herndon had argued (echoing the claims from the White House and the likes of Joe Lieberman and Bill Kristol today) that the President had the unrestrained power to wage war against Mexico in order to defend U.S. interests regardless of the views of Congress or anyone else -- a view which Lincoln (accurately) found repulsive to the core principles of our political system:

[And here I cite the entire letter -BK]




WASHINGTON, February 15, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:--Your letter of the 29th January was received last night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to submit some reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness that I know actuates you. Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is that if it shall become necessary to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line and invade the territory of another country, and that whether such necessity exists in any given case the President is the sole judge.

Before going further consider well whether this is or is not your position. If it is, it is a position that neither the President himself, nor any friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken. Their only positions are--first, that the soil was ours when the hostilities commenced; and second, that whether it was rightfully ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the President for that reason was bound to defend it; both of which are as clearly proved to be false in fact as you can prove that your house is mine. The soil was not ours, and Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it. But to return to your position. Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,--"I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will say to you, "Be silent: I see it, if you don't."

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. Write soon again.

Yours truly,


Glenn continues:

The view of America as advocated by George Bush and his followers is as antithetical as can be even to the views of the individuals to whom they claim allegiance. They exploit historical events and iconic individuals as tawdry props, and they neither understand them nor actually care about their meaning. They turn them into cheap cartoons -- Churchill! Lincoln! America! -- drained of their actual substance and converted into impoverished, degraded symbols used to promote ideas that are the exact opposite of what they actually embody.
And here I segue; for while Glenn clearly feels (using such laden language as he does) that this is a most cynical policy, I have reason to believe that this is the result of a confusion of thought, of the most fundamental sort of "magical thinking." There is, I suggest, a genuine inability on the part of the Right to understand the distinction between symbolism and reality, just as there is a general misunderstanding of the difference between power and force.

One of my Sifu's favorite stories about his teacher was a vivid demonstration of the distinction between power and force. His master would toss a pine board in the air, and strike so hard on the way down that splinters rained down upon the awed students. "That is force," he said, disapprovingly. He would then toss another board in the air and strike it so that it fell at his feet - neatly split lengthwise. "That is power."

Power is force used with control to achieve a precise, determined end without fuss. We used to be a powerful nation. Now we are a forceful nation - and the rest of the world is picking splinters out of it's hair.

Moreover, we have demonstrated the problem of using force in an indiscriminate, uncontrolled and unconsidered way - it creates far more issues and enemies than can be addressed.

The response of a powerful nation would have been something along the line removing the Taliban from play, securing the Afgan-Pakistani border and a number of very public trials and convictions, involving the sorts of persons who could be tried and convicted. For the remainder - let us say that knowing who is involved opens up a range of potential, precise actions.

But that, of course, would have required investigation and determination of fact. The good police work that wingers, usually so concerned with law and order, dismiss when they wish to lash out without concern for justice, consequence or even useful outcomes.

But I would observe that any rational counter-terror strategy has to involve drying up the potential supply of recruits while making training those recruits a more difficult and personally dangerous job. It would also have to involve confronting the sources of funding and arms on some level, probably on a number of levels both covert and overt. Most importantly, it should seem to those trying to bring terror to bear that it was a vastly unlucky and dangerous enterprise that seemed to gain little notice or positive attention.

It's not a flashy approach. It's not glamorous. But it's a well-proven approach that, coupled with a reasonable and rational foreign policy will bear fruit far more quickly than this disastrous course.

And this brings us back to Lincoln's wise and prescient words, for what he describes as a grave risk is exactly what has happened, to an end far worse than Lincoln might reasonably have foreseen.

Executives are, by their nature, competitive and combative folks. They are indeed the stuff of Kings, and that very trait, the one that makes a good King, executive or President effective is also what needs to be restrained; the scope of their actions must be circumscribed and subject to review if only to save them from their own ambition.

While it's easy and valid to blame Bush and his coterie of incompetent visionaries, as they are the sine qua non of "misrule," this mess is truly the fault of a Congress so distracted by it's finagling and fundraising that it could not be bothered to read the bills the President advocated. Nor was this the sole failing of Republicans; a great many Democrats - and I include in this Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and Sen. Biden - failed as badly as their Republican colleagues and with far less political excuse. They essentially handed George Bush powers that Lincoln clearly felt were above HIS pay grade, that would test his ethics - and we have reaped the whirlwind.

It was in such fashion that the Roman Senate became irrelevant and a line of Caesars began to grind the known world beneath the hobnails of it's Legions. And that is a history lesson the rest of the world remembers all too well - from Seville to Istanbul.

Whether or not we choose to reign in the Presidency and return to Constitutional governance, the world as a whole will act to place us in checkmate. It will be vastly better for us, as responsible Citizens, to take on that unpleasant task ourselves. Moreover, it's our duty.

Impeaching the President would be a great start to alerting the world that the great Silent Majority is awake and aware.

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