fpb: (Default)
To me, the repulsive clashes between "protesters," police and "deplorables" are an ugly sign of things to come. People on both sides have lost, or rather have never had, the ability to live with defeat. Trump is a detestable creature, but he is largely the creation of a political culture that no longer allows dissent or difference, because it is genuinely convinced that it contains all legitimate "diversity" - that diversity it always demands that we should celebrate - and that is therefore incapable of recognizing real diversity. Half the free world feels despised, limited and squashed by the pressure of this diversity without difference, and has for a long time now been trying to find a way to react. Trump has given them the perfect vehicle to do so.

There are ladies and gentlemen and people of sterling honesty in the diversity party, people like my friend Michael Rosenblum, who would go out in the rain to pay a penny debt, or Anna Maria Ballester Bohn, kindness incarnate with a funny face, or Carla Speed McNeil, artistic genius and good person, or half a dozen others, the kind of people who brighten the lives of their friends and leave a clean smell when they leave. I do not doubt their sincerity, but I doubt their knowledge of the world. Time and again they make remarks that just don't agree with my experience of the opponents. The effect of the views they follow is ultimately oppressive and aggressive. Firmly convinced that they are righting injustices and setting up new rights, they are in fact - not personally, never in a million years personally - trampling on established rights and working to silence and persecute truth. And there is a streak of persecution complex that is set to do a lot of damage. They are sincerely convinced that Trumpies are coming to brutalize and rape them. In this mood, even understanding the enemy is experienced as a kind of temptation: why should you try to understand a bunch of vicious, misogynistic racists?

I have never been of the enemy party either. My loathing of Ayn Randism and my contempt for gun "rights" make it impossible for many of them to even speak with me. The gun nuts especially reason with the logic of addicts. As with the rainbow party, understanding the enemy is not something to do but a temptation to be avoided, because anything that might undermine your precious hold on your piece of murdering iron would expose you naked and helpless to a terrible, homicidal universe. You cannot reason with a man who has willingly made himself an addict to his own fears. Like the rainbow nut's vision of the Trumpies, an undifferentiated mob existing in an ecstasy of rape and murder, the gun nut's world is one huge threat from which only his murder implements protect him.

I don't want to go further. I think you can imagine what I fear in a country where two opposing forces have many members in this state of mind.
fpb: (Default)
Donald Trump is the end result of every subversive tendency in the Sexual Revolution. He is Justice Kennedy's "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life" incarnate and personified. That concept, of course, has nothing to with liberty: quite to the contrary, it is the installation of a tyrannical, uncontrolled ego at the centre of each human being's universe - the invention of a world of a million million tyrants. To "define one's own concept of meaning, of the universe" is to impose it on external reality. It is to say "that is what I want, that is what I order" to the world at large. Now the child of that thought walks into the White House.
fpb: (Default)
And these people call the Trump electors stupid.

I can say very sincerely that I don't have much of an opinion of the brains, far-sightedness, or cunning, of the average modern politician. As far as I am concerned the breed of Bismarck and Disraeli, never mind Cavour and Lincoln, is extinct. But for sheer insanity of stupidity, for self-destructive inability to see the nose on your face, for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way and for the wrong motives, absolutely nothing compares with the pursuit of Russian hacking of Democrat computers. The Democrats should forget about those damned e-mails. They should forget about Russian intrusion, Putin, Assange, the FSB, Russian hackers and everything else. They are doing, quite literally, every wrong thing they possibly could. And if they have any influence on the CIA and the FBI at all, they should tell these bodies to shut up about them, too.

Consider, first and foremost, what a disastrous scene is playing out right now. Leaders of America's “intelligence community”, as they call them these days, are going to the President-elect to, in effect, beg him to show some public support for their position. This places Trump in the position of the receiver of supplications, and the arch-spies in the position supplicants. Now, if they think that Trump will ever give in on the issue in any public way, they are so politically stupid that to remove them from their positions would be a relief: nobody who puts himself in such a humiliating and destructive should be in a position to advise the most powerful man in the world. What the Hell are they thinking? Even if Trump were a good man, he would not have the least incentive to give in to their demands. He has called their credibility into question; to go back on that would be a setback, and also an open sign of creeping compromise with the hated DC establishment he has been elected to trash. And what does he have to lose if he doesn't? Precisely nothing. The half of his supporters who admire him regard his behaviour as all-American, and the half who voted for him in horror at the idea of a third Democrat term had such a low idea of him anyway that nothing could lower it. His core supporters would probably not think of being shocked at nations interfering in each other's internal affairs; as far as they are concerned, that is what they do. And indeed there is something about this that the Democrats, in particular, ought not to be doing, since the idea of American politicians complaining about foreign countries interfering in their elections would make a lot of the traditional left in foreign countries gag. American interference in other countries' politics is part of the hereditary folklore of exactly those forces who ought to be the Democrats' natural allies on the international stage, and to have the CIA of all agencies be the bearer of protests on this subject would rouse the bitter laughter of hundreds of millions from Santiago to Berlin. There are instruments of power that the Democrats should not be seen to be using.

But if the tactics are demented, the strategy is suicidal. The Democrats should have killed talk about those damned hacked e-mails. They should have made sure that everyone forgot that they had ever been published. Because whether or not it was the Russians who hacked them, there is one thing that no Democrat has been able to say: that they are not true. And so long as they are, and so long as they are in public, they show that everything that Catholics and Christians believe about the Democrat leadership and their attitude to them is absolutely true. The ignorance, the brutality, the contempt, the assumption that Catholicism is a remnant to be swept into the trash-can of history, are all there in black and white. And that is exactly what the Democrats should try to make people forget.

Trump has not been elected by the hard-core of unfocussed anger he expresses. He has been elected because millions of Catholics and Evangelicals had become convinced that another term such as the last two would mean the beginning of persecution in earnest, a legal and extra-legal assault on the churches that would lead them to have to make the dreadful choice between apostasy and second-rate citizenship. The split in the Christian communities ran between those who, like me, Catherine Alexander, or Rachel Hamilton, thought that Trump was so bad that he would pollute every cause he touched, and those, like Tony Esolen or Jonathon van Maren, thought that the prospect of a Rodham Clinton presidency had to be avoided even at the price of touching the foul thing. The idea of a widespread Christian enthusiasm for the orange adulterer is grossly overstated. Many people, as Barbara Ehrenreich observed, voted in advance, as if to get the damned thing over with.

But if that is the case, and if the Christian vote made the difference, then, if the Democrats cannot wean themselves of their addiction to abortion and rainbow causes, they should at least do their best not to have it talked about. And that means silence, silence, silence. And if personal documents fall into enemy hands to show what your real attitude is, be superior, ignore them, treat them with contempt. The madder you get, the more you prove that it's all true, and that the enemy has shown you as you are.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
From now I shall use a new word. The kind of people who argue against a minimum wage are neither conservative (how DARE they?) nor libertarian. They are starvationists. Remember the word: STARVATIONISTS.


Jul. 21st, 2014 10:48 am
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The narrow defeat of the Obama administration in the Hobby Lobby case has sent its supporters into ecstases of rage and hate that have to be seen to be believed, and that in some cases can only be described as murderous. I am glad I don't live in the USA. But this fury, that bewilders many conservatives and independents, does not bewilder me. The Mandate was criminal from the beginning, criminal in its prehistory. Remember how deliberately the President lied to poor Bart Stupak and destroyed his career. And the Mandate is really much more basic to the Obama project than people realize, because they can't see its actual purpose. Le me draw a historical parallel.

Ireland has one of the saddest modern histories of any country in the world. Repeatedly invaded and devastated by the larger neighbouring island, its Catholic majority was reduced to a pulverized peasantry, paying tax they could not afford to Protestant landlords and being tithed for Protestant parsons; a miserable swarm of penniless, ignorant and leaderless grubbers of the soil, fed by potatoes, with no middle class or aristocracy or any consistency. But what you have to realize is that, the destruction of the Irish educated classes, in spite of the frightful massacres and repeated wars, were not the result of military oppression or even of mass murder; they were, in the main, the result of laws. England wrote dozens, indeed hundreds,of laws, to destroy the Irish nation as elaborately and as legally as possible. As the Irish Protestant Edmund Burke said, the English laws against Irish Catholics - or "penal laws", as they are shamefully called - were "a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The Mass, of course, could not be said: to have it said or to say it meant life imprisonment. But neither could Catholics be educated: to set up a Catholic school was equally a matter of life imprisonment. And Catholics were to be robbed by law: "Every Roman Catholic was... to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy." The law encouraged Protestants to steal from their Catholic relations, or even pretended relations; and not just large amounts, but everything - every bit of property they had. "When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him."

"....Catholics, condemned to beggary and to ignorance in their native land, have been obliged to learn the principles of letters, at the hazard of all their other principles, from the charity of your enemies. They have been taxed to their ruin at the pleasure of necessitous and profligate relations, and according to the measure of their necessity and profligacy,"

"Examples of this are many and affecting. Some of them are known by a friend who stands near me in this hall. It is but six or seven years since a clergyman, of the name of Malony, a man of morals, neither guilty nor accused of anything noxious to the state, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for exercising the functions of his religion; and after lying in jail two or three years, was relieved by the mercy of government from perpetual imprisonment, on condition of perpetual banishment. A brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Talbot, a name respectable in this country whilst its glory is any part of its concern, was hauled to the bar of the Old Bailey, among common felons, and only escaped the same doom, either by some error in the process, or that the wretch who brought him there could not correctly describe his person,—I now forget which. In short, the persecution would never have relented for a moment, if the judges, superseding (though with an ambiguous example) the strict rule of their artificial duty by the higher obligation of their conscience, did not constantly throw every difficulty in the way of such informers. But so ineffectual is the power of legal evasion against legal iniquity, that it was but the other day that a lady of condition, beyond the middle of life, was on the point of being stripped of her whole fortune by a near relation to whom she had been a friend and benefactor; and she must have been totally ruined, without a power of redress or mitigation from the courts of law, had not the legislature itself rushed in, and by a special act of Parliament rescued her from the injustice of its own statutes..."

It says enough about the power of brute prejudice, of a kind we see in the highest places today, that this unanswerable attack on a disgraceful law lost Burke an election he should have won. The English had been taught to hate Catholics so much that they evidently thought that nothing done to them could be wrong or unjust.

What the Mandate is designed to do, mutatis mutandis, is exactly this. This is why the political and media leadership of your country has fought for it so obstinately, so savagely, and so underhandedly; this is why it took even a narrow defeat with murderous rage. It is because the real purpose of this abomination is to exclude Christians and especially Catholics from economic life. In a world in which money is the only power that can really affect politics - as Obama and his people know all too well - it is intolerable to them that there should be a number, however small, of rich people and of company owners who take their Christianity seriously. In this day and age it is not yet possible to make it legal for a man of the government's party to simply steal the property of his dissenting relatives; and besides, there is not - or not yet - a simple test of identity to separate the government's friends from its enemies, as membership in the "Protestant" church was in Burke's time. But they can impose a tax for a purpose that no Christian can accept, and then savagely penalize them - not by jailing them, which is not what they want, but by fining them into ruin.

Look at it in this light, and the whole mechanism becomes lucid, clear, rational and perfectly designed for its purpose. It is intended to make it impossible for Christians to have any independent economic activity in the USA, by making sure that they either have to resign their principles or be taxed into bankruptcy for them. Of course, they could not possibly declare their purpose; of course they lied from beginning to end. But that, and nothing else, is what this Mandate does.

Incidentally, this also gives you an insight into the real view that Obama and his henchmen have of the political process in your country, and of the nature of political power. This law is not meant to strike at Catholic or Christian faith. It does not try to obtain conversions. It does not set up anything like the imposing apparatus by which republican France, after 1875, worked tirelessly to break the ancestral Catholicism of its masses. The only thing that matters, the thing for which they have fought, the thing for which they have lied, the thing for which they ruined Bart Stupak and compromised the word of the President of the United States of America, was to be sure that no rich Catholics or Christians should exist. Wealth had to remain exclusively among people who had no problem with paying tax to distribute IUDs and abortifacients with a shovel. Because in the eyes of Obama and his crowd, only the very rich are politically significant. This attempt to winnow the Christians from their numbers makes it perfectly clear.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
President Obama has made a unilateral decision to place the American Embassy to the Vatican in the same building as that to Italy, excusing that with expenditure and security considerations. This is my comment on it, as a historian who knows a little about diplomacy and its conventions, and an Italian who knows a lot about Italy and Rome.

Right. To begin with, the diplomatic world is a very artificial world, and there are things you do and don't do according to its own code. The do-est of the do things is that any country or organization of importance gets an embassy. They don't have to be huge mansions – several embassies in several capitals occupy little more than a flat – but they have to stand on their own. And states are not the only thing you send ambassadors to. You have embassies to the UN and to various UN bodies, to international organizations such as Organization of American States, to NATO, and so on. You DO NOT have the same embassy in Brussels merely because you have one mission to NATO, one to the EU, and one to Belgium. That's expensive? Sad. If you are not disposed to spend a certain amount of effectively wasted money, you are only proving that you are not a first-rate presence on the international circuit and that you are not able to afford what such presences are. Diplomacy money is in good part display expenditure, but anyone who does not see that display of various kinds is utterly essential to status in foreign eyes (and that in diplomacy it is part of a fixed system that you simply don't have the power to rewrite, since it is shared by every other state and international organization) should not be in politics in the first place.

Now from the point of view of Washington DC, both embassies in Rome (there is a third, to FAO, of which nobody seems to be talking) are first-rate missions, for wholly different reasons. Italy is a major ally, with the third or fourth largest fleet in NATO, two aircraft carriers, over 120,000 men under arms, NATO and UN missions in various places, efficient and wide-reaching security and secret services, one of the world's top ten economies, a crossways of trade and industry, and a strategically dominant position in the Mediterranean. It is also visited and lived in by millions of Americans who need consular services every day of the week.

The Vatican, on the other hand, is by far the single most important trans-national body other than the UN and its various parts. In some ways it is more important. For one thing it has a far better information service than the USA or anyone. They have men in places where the CIA would not dare send a drone, and because of the nature of priestly work and the close relationship of priests with their bishops, they get to hear things fast. Have you noticed recently that a country called the Central African Republic has come to the attention of leading governments? I had been trying to get people to notice the civil war – or rather, the pseudo-civil war – in that country for about a year. Why? Because I follow the missionaries' information agency, Fides, and I knew that the country was being invaded by a bunch of thieving, murderous jihadis under the guise of a local revolt. And that's me, a private citizen. How many more interesting bits of information like that would a friendly government get from all those nice, unworldly celibates in the Vatican? But Obama has a problem with that, obviously. And he does not want the operational and political support that any American presence in any country could get if they were friendly with the local priests. Obama does not want to be in any kind of debt with the Church, because he has long since declared war on the Church over abortion. And from this point of view, it makes sense that the change was an entirely one-sided affair which the Vatican had to swallow, with no consultation, no previous warning, no courtesy of any sort. And courtesy is the soul of diplomacy.

On a purely local and operational grounds, the two embassy complexes have remarkably different aspects, that correspond remarkably well with their two very different missions. The American Embassy to Italy is in a former World War One military hospital on Via Vittorio Veneto, the famous shopping avenue, near Porta Pinciana; a major highway, densely trafficked, within walking distance of the Italian Confederation of Industry and of the Ministry for Defence (if not to the Italian Foreign Ministry, which is located in the eccentric and distant Farnesina), close to a couple of underground stations and comparatively easy of access to any American in need of help or any Italian in need of any of its services. On the other hand, the US Embassy to the Holy See is in Villa Damiana on the Aventine Hill: a super-luxurious residential neighbourhood made for old money and a few of the more discreet institutions, isolated from main roads (although well connected) and served by churches of incredible antiquity. The head office of the Knights of Malta (a theoretically independent state and the last redoubt of Europe's bluest blood) is not far. It is about as likely to be struck by a riot or invaded by terrorists as one of the more exclusive gated communities in the richer towns in America. And it seems to me rather evident that each of the two settings was chosen – by wiser judges than Obama – with their different role and use very much in mind, and that they confer on each a clear atmosphere that means that the workers of each would find themselves terribly ill at ease in the other. The Embassy to the Holy See is, as I said, in the most expensive, quietest and most secure neighbourhood in inner Rome, a place for soft contacts, fine manners, delicate suggestions and careful deliberation. The Embassy to Italy, a former military hospital, is a large building that towers over the bend of Via Vittorio Veneto, one of Rome's busiest and most luxurious highways, surrounded by hotels, businesses and splendid fashion shops, and constantly at work with American citizens and foreign visa seekers. To bring them together in the Via Veneto building is an act of brutality.

There is no organizational or practical advantage in the transfer, either. Neither location is at all near the Vatican. They are both on the eastern bank of the river, within the circle of the imperial walls, but they could not be much further from each other either. Anyway, physical closeness to the actual territory of the Vatican does not matter. Visit your own capital city; see where the embassies of the main powers are. I shall be very surprised if they are all next door to the White House or to Foggy Bottom. At any rate Roman distances are smaller than American ones, and a healthy man can walk both from Via Vittorio Veneto and from Villa Domiziana to the Vatican in an hour or two (and enjoy some of the world's finest sights along the way). And if we are talking security, the Villa Domiziana, surrounded by high walls and a garden, isolated in quiet residential streets where any intruder would be easy to spot, is considerably safer than the Vittorio Veneto building, open to anything that can come up one of the city's great highways (and there were, in fact, some security scares a few years back). Obama and his accomplices are simply falsifying fact, as is obvious to anyone who knows Rome.

To finish with, it is not just the Vatican that receives a savage and undeserved insult with this crass decision. In case nobody had noticed, Obama has implied that the streets of Rome are no safer than those of Benghazi. Thank you so much, Mr.President. You may not be aware of it, but one of the things that binds Italians together is pride that we have police, carabinieri and security forces loyal, brave and competent enough to have broken the Red Brigades and brushed back the Mafia at the price of many, many courageous dead. This is an insult to them.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
95% of American so-called conservative policy is nonsense. If you want to cut public expenditure, legislation and what are known as "cuts" are the bluntest and most damaging of blunt instruments. The very fact that Republicans talk about cutting federal departments as the measure of saving shows that they have not begun to understand the problem. The solution to obesity is not to cut off an arm, it is for the whole body to eat less. And that has very little to do with laws. What you want is to foster an administrative culture in which people take pride in doing more with less, in efficiency and effect. And there you can see why Reaganite demagoguery is a million miles from the point. How do you think the little guy at the bottom of the totem pole, the one who actually does the work, feels, when he is told by his own boss - the President is the head of the public sector, among other things - that he is the problem, not the solution, and that the scariest words in the language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help?" Such demagoguery and effrontery (history books will remember the Ronald Thatcher age as the Age of Bad Manners) may tickle the prejudices of the more ignorant voters, but it will do nothing for your own subordinates (because if you are President, they are) other than embitter them and make them defensive and mistrustful. Congratulations, Great Communicator. Congratulations, cheap imitators.
fpb: (The credible Hulk)
Well, I suppose all my friends are right. We do need Zimmerman lynched. We are in need of a lynch mob unleashed by short and fraudulent media summaries to rip a man who has been judged innocent by a jury of his peers and hang him on a tree on the reports of MNBC and the rest. Because journalists never would lie and always understand everything that is going on, and are in fact fountains of virtue and sagacity, and we may confidently hate those whom they tell us to hate; whereas the jury that has spent weeks being exposed in detail to everything that could be retrieved of the facts are too stupid, ignorant and racist to make the right choice. We need more demos. We need more shouting. We need more threats.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The fix is in good and hard. Already those who own the Republican party have decided that the opposition to gay marriage must go - hundreds of senior figures have signed letters to that extent, and Karl Rove forecast that the next candidate will be explicitly in favour. Republican consciences come cheap, after all. Now I will bet you that one or two of the supposed conservatives on SCOTUS will decide that gay marriage is compatible with their conservative consciences. And because nobody thinks of investigating the personal lives and finances of Supreme Court judges, nobody will find out by what means they have been convinced, and what is the price of a Supreme Court judge's conscience.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
Christopher Dorner was clearly a firm believer in the Second Amendment. Meeting what he regarded as intolerable wrong in the state sector, he got out his gun and started shooting. If this is not what [profile] johncwright means when he says that an armed citizenship is a bulwark of freedom, I would like him to explain, because I see no other scenario.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
I know that there is no reasoning with American gun nuts, and that by now they are already working on several different apologies for what follows. But to the rest of us...

The National Rifle Association wants an armed policeman in every American school and compulsory registration for every person diagnosed with a mental illness. All because unfettered gun ownership is so much on the side of Freedom. And because they are so very very opposed to Big Government.
fpb: (Default)
What is positively cretinous is to do so when the gift comes from a party and an Administration that have literally violated every article of the Bill of Rights except for an obsolete one, and would probably violate that one too if it ever occurred to them. Don't you see the relationship? The politicians inventing pseudo-rights that do nothing for most people except distort and devalue the central relationship in most lives, while at the same time they are taking away your real, basic, inviolable rights? Do you find it strange that the same Administration that is eating away at all the guarantees of the Constitution, has also enthusiastically taken part in the invention and forcible imposition of a supposed right that the Constitution's writers would not even so much have rejected as have laughed themselves stupid at?

This is what the Obama administration and its various outliers have done to the Bill of Rights.

First Amendment – Freedom of religion

Violated by "hate speech" laws. Violated by the HHS Mandate, on which no religious leader of any importance in America has any doubts, and which is the subject of dozens of legal challenges as I write. The HHS mandate, which was not passed by Congress and is not a law, nonetheless compels all employers, without right to conscientious objection, to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients, on pains of being subjected to ruinous fines ($1,300,000 per day). This act of administrative tyranny, unworthy of a country of laws, is intended to flatten any principled opposition to abortion and contraception.

Second amendment – freedom to bear arms

I premise that I think this amendment is obsolete and in need of rethinking. Nonetheless, such as it is, it is the law of the land, and notoriously under constant, underhanded attack. The law of the land ought to be reformed legally, and if, as it has been argued, the monstrous and criminal Fast and Furious operation had something to do with further discrediting the Second Amendment, then that just shows how wrong it is to use underhanded means.

Third amendment - freedom from billeting

To the best of my knowledge this clearly obsolete amendment has not been violated. But let's keep it quiet, just in case we give Ms.Sebelius or Ms.Napolitano ideas.

Fourth Amendment - Investigation, search and confiscation to be carried out only by a warrant and according to the forms and limits of the law.

Often violated, especially in the case of warrant-less phone tapping.

Fifth amendment - provision against self-accusation

Universally violated by American prosecutors' oppressive addiction to plea bargains, whose purpose is obviously to get the accused to accuse himself. The Obama administration is not particularly guilty of this, but neither has it done anything to change matters, and it has merrily used it when it suited them. An interesting paper on the matter: http://www.judicialstudies.unr.edu/JS_Summer09/JSP_Week_4/JS710Wk4.LangbeinTorandPleaBargtxt.pdf

Sixth amendment: open, correct, codified and swift trials.

Universally violated - see Fifth Amendment. Violated in Guantanamo since Bush II but also, enthusiastically, by Obama. Violated by the “kill list” known to be kept by Obama and his people.

Seventh amendment - right to a trial by a jury of one's peers

Violated in Guantanamo, violated by the "kill list”.

Eighth Amendment - torture, excessive punishment and vexatious and ruinous fines are forbidden.

Violated by the punishing fines of the HHS mandate. Violated by the commonplace practices of American courts - see Fifth Amendment. Violated by the torture in Guantanamo and elsewhere amd by special rendition. On the matter of torture, it is important to remember that Obama was elected on a promise not only to stop it but to punish the guilty. Well, if by "to punish" he meant "to reserve their posts in the new administration and carry on their practices", he certainly did. He even kept Bush II's Secretary for Defence.

Ninth amendment - the people's rights are not restricted to those mentioned in the Constitution.

Ultra-violated! Just how many uncodified rights, such as privacy, are annihilated in the enormous wake of comprehensive powers such as the Mandate's or the Patriot Act's?

Tenth amendment - The Constitution defines the federal government's powers, all undefined powers being reserved for the States and the people.

Violated to the point of being a joke. Fields of contention between intrusive federal authorities and state and local authorities are too numerous to mention.

All right, folks. This us what the current administration, alone or in cahoots with others, is taking away or allowing to be taken away. Is it not obvious that a supposed right, championed as it is by an administration that otherwise devours rights, is at least dubious? How can it have anything to do with actual, "certain and inalienable" rights, when the same people who destroy them against the people's will are pushing it on the people against the people's will?

Think about it.
fpb: (Default)
This election has already given us a historic moment; a moment which, I think, may well feature in future histories, become the centre of scholarly debate, and perhaps even be remembered as one of those factoids that everyone remembers about historical figures - like Pontius Pilate washing his hands, or Washington's troops starving at Valley Forge, or the fat figure and six wives of Henry VIII.

No, I don't mean the debate, although the results of the debate may well come to connect themselves with the event I mean. The event I mean is the publication, by the Obama campaign, of the following blog entry:

This is incredible. If it means anything, it means that the Republicans, if elected, would engage in a campaign of tearing out uteri from living women.

I think I can say with a clean conscience that no campaign ever stooped this low. This is a record, and, I would say, probably unsurpassable. My friends who are historians and know what I am talking about can make the mental experiment: project yourselves into the minds of Julius Streicher or Gabriele d'Annunzio. Try to imagine Streicher saying that about Jews, or d'Annunzio about democratic politicians. You can't. You know you can't. They would not think of it; and if they did, they, even they, would laugh at it as at a crazy joke. The evident and rather unpleasant sexualness of the enclosed drawing, featuring a lightly-dressed, apparently underaged young lady with her clothes being blown all over by the wind - the very image of the worst kind of irresponsible male fantasies - makes the thing even worse: it as good as invites women to identify with this near-paedophile fantasy image, and to imagine that there is something there that is worth something for women to keep and that it threatens women to lose. The abyss of abjection in the association of visual idea and depraved gag literally challenges description and analysis.

This does, of course, confirm my old belief that abortion is the central issue and the driving force of so much that seems unhinged and bewildering about modern politics. But it also suggests a desperacy lurking somewhere below the confident gloss of Obaman politics; as though these people felt the breath of the Avenger of Blood breathing over their neck, and feared it even where the rest of us can't begin to feel any presence except theirs. It is like the crazed language of British medical bodies on the subject of abortion - language that a child would know was insane. But it also suggests an essential hollowness at the heart of the Obaman message. If that is the sort of thing they resort to, they must feel they have exhausted every other weapon. Now, add this to the effect of Romney's definite victory in last night's debate, and see what you get.
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Let's see if we can help him a bit. We have a very rich man (although Romney's wealth can be exaggerated; he is not as rich, for instance, as Berlusconi, or as the average Russian or Arab crook, or indeed as his host during the fund-raiser where "the video" was shot). We have him sitting along with very many other very rich men, who have paid a small fortune to be there - none of us plebs welcome. We have him telling these people that he "does not care" - his words - for anyone who, for whatever reason, cannot afford to pay Federal income tax - such people are all spongers (all, the sick, the underpaid, the disabled, the old, the members of the military... all spongers) who depend on the State and therefore will vote with their wallet. Such people, of course, have no values to appeal to, no ambition, and no life except for the money (such enormous amounts, to be sure!) they get from the State; they make no contribution, pay no other tax, do no service - they are, one and all, thieves and scroungers. But still, even though he does not care for them, he wants to be President over them, and for this purpose he wants his fellow very rich people to give him lots of lovely lovely lolly to spend on purchasing the presidency. (His, evidently, was enough to purchase the Republican nomination against better men, but he still needs more.)

At which point I, as a person who would not be paying Federal income tax in the United States of America, beg to inform Mr.Romney that he has blown every last chance not only of my ever voting for him for so much as dog catcher, but even of not crossing the street if I see the bastard coming.
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A long passage (I could not bear to quote more) from Guy Benson, political editor of Townhall.com:

Read more... )

Notice that this supposed conservative, who is supposed to appeal to Christians, reproaches Obama not for his law-breaking, not for his abortionism, not for his secrecy about his past life, but because "he scolds... like a preacher". In other words, what makes Benson mad is that Obama speaks like a Christian minister. And he is perfectly right. That there is nothing admirable about wealth, that success is at best a delusion, that everything you have - beginning with your very self - is something that you were given and for which you cannot be proud but should be humble and grateful, is central and basic Christian doctrine. Anyone familiar with the New Testament will know that I have practically quoted throughout this paragraph, and will know where from.

This is what the Republicans have chosen to attack about Obama's platform: not his illegality, not his assault on religious freedom, not his extreme and underhanded support for abortion, not the secrecy that surrounds the man - but the fact that, for once, he repeated what twenty centuries of Christian teaching and twenty-five centuries of pagan and Christian philosophy had to say about wealth. IN the same way, they did not pick a candidate with principles to oppose Obama's false but real principles; they picked the unprincipled, two-faced, but undeniably rich Mitt Romney. It's all part of the same picture.

To Guy Benson, success it its own justification and demands, requires, respect and admiration. This is the Berlusconi view of the world: I built a bunch of big corporations, why doesn't everybody love me? And let us bear in mind that Berlusconi is far more successful than someone like Romney; his personal fortune dwarfs Romney's, and, unlike the latter, he has actually built companies and even towns that will outlast his life. (Berlusconi was a property developer before he went into sports and media, and built the handsome Milano2 development.) His claim to respect, and to political leadership, should by that standard be better based. And my point is not just that the man has ruined the country and been an utter disaster as a political leader; this should just tell us that the skills of a property developper and media tycoon are not necessarily transferable to political leadership. The fact is that, personally, Berlusconi is a clown. On Republican grounds, he ought to be a role model. A wiser man, who would no doubt be blasted by the average Republican as a practitioner of the "politics of envy", said that "God shows what He thinks of money by the kind of men He gives it to." Is it your impression that we are likelier to meet better moral characters, wiser people, and indeed better company and more fun persons, among the "successful" than in any other layer of society?

The Republican Party seems bent on making itself the bootlicker of the rich, whether or not they even want this despicable service (and some of the richest and most successful men in America have made it perfectly clear that they don't want it). Benson's article shows that they had not even failed to understand Obama's points: they had understood them and rejected them - evidently wealth is its own justification. As Aristotle is said to have said, if water itself sticks in a man's throat, what will you give him to wash it down with? I loathe Obama for his contempt for the law and his fanatical abortionism, but what do his opponents have to offer that would make worth anyone's while to get out of bed on polling day?
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I am not a lawyer and I thank God for that, but frankly, only a lawyer (or a political obsessive) could seriously treat the "purchase" of health care in the same light as the "purchase" of broccoli. And as the concept of health care did not exist in 1776, the notion that it is unconstitutional is about as helpful as to declare that the Moon landings were unconstitutional.

To me, this has the same feel as the American unwillingness or incapacity to contemplate serious legal reform - such as the introduction of a system of Administrative Justice such as most Code Napoleon countries have - and admit that new areas of life and experience have arisen. On the one hand, the monstrous complexity and private-only nature of Obamacare makes it unlikely to succeed in the long run; on the other, if the Republicans imagine that there is a majority for what America has now in the way of healthcare, they are living on the Moon.

The worst thing from my point of view is that while an Obama victory would mean a clash of State and Church not seen in a free country since the Combes government in France, on the other hand the Church's social doctrine has no friends among the Republicans and would mean that any alliance with them to resist Obama and his cohort of Church-hating harridans such as Sebelius and Pelosi would be dangerous and deceptive. Plus, the Republicans have seen fit to choose the worst possible candidate... at this point, I can't see a positive outcome.
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My post on "Soldiers and Suicides", a week or two ago, got some considerable response, including one terrible story I am not at liberty to repeat. It seems to have struck a nerve. Now here is another instance of how the ordinary soldier is simply being treated as raw material for the ideological obsessions of men who should never have been let into military academies, let alone given responsible command. The military chaplain played an important role in the US Armed Forces practically since their inception, and many of them became legendary. Now the leadership has decided that their role is too important:
Read more... )
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An Italian news outlet informs me that the rate of suicides in the US army is up to one death per day, and that the Secretary for Defence, Panetta, is said to be very concerned.

Is this supposed to be surprising? The damned HQ treats soldiers as cannon fodder, issues them with impossible standing orders that clearly regard the lives of the enemy as more important than their own, tries them for no reason, and if they have survived all that, dumps them on the street with a VA system I heard one soldier describe as "broken". Why would any poor fool want to be a soldier? Soldiers, believe me, always know when the leadership cares for them. When they do, soldiers will go to Hell for them; when they don't, they just hang around waiting for a bullet. Well, think of the Fort Hood slaughter, and of the headquarters chair-warmer stating in public that the real tragedy would have been if "diversity" were endangered in the American armed forces. What kind of message does that give to the relatives, friends, and two million colleagues of the slaughtered victims? Obviously, that they don't matter. And they have to risk their lives under such conditions.. From what I have seen and heard, most generals in the US army ought to be demoted to buck private and given a taste of what they give their subordinates.
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Point one: Mr Eric Holder, the United States' chief law enforcement officer, has announced that his department will not defend lawsuits involving the Defence of Marriage Act, a federal law duly passed by Congress and signed by (a Democrat) President.
Point two: In Italian law there is a crime called omission of an official duty, which carries, I believe, a jail term.


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