Monday, April 8th, 2013 :: 11:49 PM
"Remember the words of James Madison: 'The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.' The 'studied care' Madison describes behind that 'vesting' has not been matched by any equal and opposite studied care in recent decades, as we've divested that same power. It's not a conspiracy. Rational political actors, acting rationally to achieve rational (if sometimes dumb) political goals, have attacked and undermined our constitutional inheritance from men like Madison. For the most part, though, they've not done it to fundamentally alter the country's course but just to get around understandably frustrating impediments to their political goals. The ropes we had used to lash down presidential war-making capacity, bindings that by design made it hard for an American president to use military force without the nation's full and considered buy-in, have been hacked at with very little appreciation about why they were put there in the first place.
"When Ronald Reagan extricated himself from the Iran-Contra scandal by cutting one of those crucial mooring lines-without considered forethought or specific course headings in mind-it set the country adrift and heading into a dangerous tide.
"Congress has never since effectively asserted itself to stop a president with a bead on war. It was true of George Herbert Walker Bush. It was true of Bill Clinton. And by September 11, 2001, even if there had been real resistance to Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush starting the next war (or two), there were no institutional barriers strong enough to have realistically stopped them. By 9/11, the war-making authority in the United States had become, for all intents and purposes, uncontested and unilateral: one man's decision to make.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this." (>>)
Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 :: 9:56 AM
"This insistence on secrecy was fueled in part by Reagan's fear that the hostages or the men inside Iran doing the talking would be killed if details of the negotiations became public. Nobody in the Reagan administration had good enough contacts to know if this fear had any basis in reality. Hard data had never been-and would never be-a controlling factor in the Reagan administration's decision-making process. But there was also just the embarrassment factor. Given a choice between secrecy and the public finding out about the operation's Laurel-and-Hardy-worthy failures (up to and including the Iranians sending our weapons back, dissatisfied!), who wouldn't choose secrecy? Finally, there was the fact that much of what Team Reagan was doing was not simply flying in the face of their own stated policy against dealing with terrorists ('We make no concessions,' Reagan had said. 'We make no deals') or state sponsors of international terrorism (Iran was a gold-plated designee on that list); it was not just shredding the president's own executive orders and national security directives; it was not simply executing a spectacular and hypocritical affront to good sense and good diplomacy; but, in fact, much of this arms-for-hostages operation was quite flagrantly against the law. Flat-out illegal." (>>
Friday, February 22nd, 2013 :: 11:46 PM
"But when I hear about a church spending $130 Million on a building campaign, I get pissed off. That is money stolen from poor and homeless people, from hungry children unable to eat day-to-day, from programs that would have helped people survive. [...]
"And for what? Leather seats for the large dollar contributors while many families within the community have no furniture at all to sit or sleep on? [...] Numerous wide-screen TVs to read the songs lauding how much you love the Jesus who told you to give it all up and take care of the poor, the widows, the sick, and the imprisoned? A large fountain that pumps a massive number of gallons of water when people have no clean water to drink?" (>>)
Thursday, February 14th, 2013 :: 2:11 PM
"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." (>>
Friday, January 18th, 2013 :: 10:51 PM
"Freedom of speech is useless unless it includes the freedom to offend others. No one is jailed in Cuba or Iran for speech that offends no one. It is only once speech offends someone that its freedom can truly be tested. In this way, the Westboro Church is a test. We fail the test if our impulse is to use guns to shut them up." (>>
Monday, December 31st, 2012 :: 9:11 PM
"What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet, or even, if he is a boxer, just his muscles? Far from it: at the same time, he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war." (>>