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In which an older and wiser yet terminally earnest former liberal struggles to come to grips with the cynicism, hatred, and paranoia that plague both sides of the American political spectrum. "Can we all get along?"

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And I quote:

"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."

Edmund Burke, 2nd speech on conciliation with America, Mar. 22, 1775 (Bartlett's 16th ed., p. 331)



Mrs. Powel: "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."

After Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1787. (Bartlett's 16th ed.)


"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other, and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."

James Madison ("Publius"), The Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)


"Of the three forms of sovereignty [autocracy, aristocracy, and democracy], democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the individual without his consent..."

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)


"To act successfully, that is, according to the rules of the political art, is political wisdom. To know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nevertheless, is moral courage. To choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is moral judgment. In the combination of political wisdom, moral courage, and moral judgment, man reconciles his political nature with his moral destiny."

Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946), p. 203


"Thus, whenever a concrete threat to peace develops, war is opposed not by a world public opinion but by the public opinions of those nations whose interests are threatened by that war."

Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations 6th ed., rev. by Kenneth Thompson (1985), p. 288


"The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly."

Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), p. 66


"Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."

H. A. L. Fisher, History of Europe (1935), p. vii [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 80]


"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."

Robert Frost, 'Black Cottage' North of Boston (1914), [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 86]


"My thoughts encompass divinity, therefore divinity is. The divinity that my thoughts encompass is associated with the order that arises out of chaos... As we expand our knowledge of this realm, we ... see it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization."

Louis J. Halle, Out of Chaos (1977), p. 646


"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."

E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 2nd ed. (1946), p. 93.


"My biggest blunder in life was attempt to seek common ground with Keynesians, based on the naive thought that by putting my ideas in Keynesian language that I would make any dent on the Keynesians."

Milton Friedman, New York Times, July 4, 1999


"War made the state and the state made war."

Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (1975), p. 42


"Americans like to mock Kuwaitis as rich and pampered and lazy and decadent, which is exactly what the rest of the world says about Americans. Actually, we shouldn't mock Kuwait at all. It represents the hopes and dreams of Americans of all political persuasions. For liberals, it's a generous welfare state with guaranteed employment and a huge government bureaucracy. For conservatives, it's a country with no taxes and plenty of cheap maids who aren't allowed to vote."

Peter Carlson, "Castles in the Sand," Washington Post Magazine Jan. 14, 1996, p. 32-33


"[Bill Clinton's] greatest strength is his insincerity... I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony... We know he doesn't mean what he says."

Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, in a speech in Indiana quoted by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Apr. 27, 1996


"Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his opponents [*] must be thwarted. They are enemies of democracy and of the Constitution that insures its possibility. We long ago lost the luxury of choosing our allies. This is war."
* (referred to elsewhere in this piece as "mad dogs bent on political annihilation")

Eric Alterman, "Democracy Disappears" The Nation, Jan. 11-18, 1998


"There are no enemies in science, professor. Only phenomena to study."

From the movie The Thing, 1951 (a Cold War sci-fi allegory)


Julia Roberts: "Can you prove any of this?"

Mel Gibson: "No... A good conspiracy is unprovable. If you can prove it, someone must have screwed up somewhere along the way."

From the movie Conspiracy Theory


THE 16 WORDS: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 2003


 

February 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Trump's first month: worse than expected

I'm one of those who is just too stunned to make a serious attempt at understanding what's going on with this new administration. I would like to think that my fears about President Trump's harsh and aggressive style of leadership were misplaced, but thus far he is governing the same way he campaigned. It validates my frequent warnings in the past about the dangers of the Republican Party flirting with populist politics, but it's probably too late to turn back the clock now.

First week: Seven days of mayhem *

President Trump's inaugural address four Fridays ago left little doubt that he was dead serious about fulfilling his myriad campaign promises. Aside from minor directives, he took the weekend off and then got to business on Monday. By the end of that week, the Democrats were in an uproar.

When Acting Attorney General was fired for having defied the President's executive order, the parallel with the October 1973 "Saturday night massacre" was obvious. But was the parallel a close one?

Trump wasted no time in fulfilling one of his campaign promises, of building a bigger wall with Mexico. To me, that is tragic and will probably have terrible consequences for our relations with that country and with the rest of Latin America for years to come.

U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas pan

Panoramic view of the U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas, Arizona. Click on the image to see it full size.

Weeks 2 - 4: more mayhem

Things only got worse after that, as Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after it was learned that he was discussing the economic sanctions imposed by then-President Obama in late December. I disagreed with that policy move, but Flynn's actions were inexcusable and downright subversive.

Trump's continued nice words about Vladimir Putin and disparagement of our European allies in NATO are further cause for alarm. He sent Vice President Mike Pence to the security summit in Munich, where he tried to reassure everyone of America's commitment to collective security. I would blame them for feeling uneasy, however.

And finally, Trump's most recent tirade against the press, calling them an "enemy" of the American people, is deeply disturbing. Sen. John McCain was right to call Trump out on that, noting that such words are often the first step in the establishment of a dictatorship.

What a crazy world we live in. I'll be spending the next couple weeks in Latin America, and it will be interesting to get those folks' perspective on what has been happening here in the U.S.A.

* Yes, that is a not-too-subtle reference to a movie from the early 1960s...





U.S. Cabinet, current

Department Secretary
State: Rex Tillerson
Treasury: Steven Mnuchin
Defense: James Mattis
Justice: Jeff Sessions
Interior: Ryan Zinke
Commerce: Wilbur Ross
Labor: Andy Puzder
Agriculture: ???
Health & H.S.: Tom Price
Housing & U.D.: Ben Carson
Transportation: Elaine Chao
Energy: Rick Perry
Education: Betsy DeVos
Veterans Aff.: ???
Homeland Sec.: John Kelly
Other cabinet-level posts:
W.H. Ch./Staff Steve Bannon *
EPA Admin. ???
OMB Director ???
U.S. Trade Rep. ???
Amb. to U.N. Nikki Haley
CEA Chairman ???
Small Bus. Adm. ???
NOTES: All cabinet positions are pending Senate confirmation.
* = not subject to Senate confirmation.

Last updated: 20 Jan 2017


115th Congress
(2017-2018)

U.S. Senate
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro TemOrrin Hatch--
Leader Mitch McConnell Chuck Schumer
WhipJohn Cornyn Richard Durbin
Seats5246 + 2
Two independents caucus with the Democrats.
U.S. House of Representatives
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Speaker Paul Ryan
Leader Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi
Whip Steve Scalise Steny Hoyer
Seats240193
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.
NOTE: As of Jan. 24, 2017, two House seats are vacant.

Last updated: 29 Jan 2017


Virginia Government

Executive branch
Post Name Party
GovernorTerry McAuliffeDem
Lt. GovernorRalph NorthamDem
Attorney GeneralMark HerringDem
Virginia Senate
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro Tem Stephen Newman --
LeaderThomas NormentRichard Saslaw
Seats2119
Virginia House of Delegates
Post Republicans Democrats
SpeakerWilliam Howell--
LeaderKirk CoxDavid Toscano
Seats6634
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.

In the November 2015 elections, the Republicans retained a 21-19 majority in the Senate, while the Democrats gained two net seats in the House of Delegates.


Last updated: 29 Feb 2016



 

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