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January 17, 2006

On Fear Itself
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:16 PM * 138 comments

From a speech by Al Gore, 16 January 2006:

… As President Eisenhower said, “Any who act as if freedom’s defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America.”

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: “Men feared witches and burnt women.”

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment’s notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens’ right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President’s apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, “The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.”

Okay, American people. Over to you.

Comments on On Fear Itself:
#1 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:32 PM:

When did Barr say that?

#2 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Wait. Al Gore gave a speech? Yesterday?

Are you sure? I didn't hear about it on the radio at all, and if the losing candidate in a fiercely contested presidential campaign decided by the Supreme Court was gonna call the winner out like that, well, hell, the TV news would be all over it. And yet, bupkes.

Am I just being obtuse or something? Is this another one of those alternate world jokes?

#3 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:44 PM:

Good speech, but:

when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously

Huh? Is this a typo, or what?

#4 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Barr's statement sppears in a piece he wrote for Time, in the January 9, 2006 issue, according to the Time archive.

It's scary when a real conservative gets mad. But then, Barr was the one who said we had as much right to invade Iraq and change their government as Iraq did to invade us and change ours, so we knew he wasn't exactly marching to the same drummer as Bushco.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:47 PM:

It got fair coverage in the online news yesterday, and the local paper today. And on NPR of course. Even Drudge ran a full transcript.

But TV news? Puh-leeze.

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:47 PM:

Kip: it was on C-SPAN, and got minimal coverage by other networks, who seem to be afraid of saying or doing anything that might possibly offend King George.

I keep wondering what Rove and Cheney and their buddies promised to do, when they got taken up to the mountaintop and shown all the countries of the world. Somehow I doubt that they said 'go to hell' when they were offered power.

#7 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:49 PM:

He was probably referring to the two main fronts for the USA in WWII (Pacific and Europe).

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:51 PM:

when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously

The consensus in blogland is that he meant consecutively, and also that WW2 was, by the nature of the two fronts so far apart, pretty nearly two world wars simultaneously.

I kind of wish he'd made more speeches like this five years ago. Maybe we'd have avoided having shrub.

#9 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:57 PM:

"Two World Wars simulataneously" Maybe he meant two fronts....Germany and Japan.

#10 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Go, Al!

I'm just trying to figure out what to do, myself. Write letters? I don't have a congressman currently...

#11 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:10 PM:

"The consensus in blogland is that he meant consecutively, and also that WW2 was, by the nature of the two fronts so far apart, pretty nearly two world wars simultaneously."

I would also note that he didn't actually say it in the speech he gave. The error is just in the prepared text. One wishes they would correct it to match what he actually said.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Now, if only Gore had sounded like that in 2000. But no use crying over spilt milk.

What's interesting is that some liberals, some conservatives, and some libertarians are seeing clearly that the fundamental principles on which this country is founded -- separation of powers and constitutional supremacy -- are being crushed under the hooves of the Man on Horseback who simultaneously declares that freedom is being defended and that it needs to be restricted in its own interest.

The Framers of the Constitution sought to construct a republic that would last, inspired by the Roman republic but also concerned that the American republic would suffer a similar fate (coming under the control of an emperor). They devised a system designed to prevent that happening. Bush, for his part, seems determined that empire in every sense shall prevail. It is not King George that we should worry about (the Hanoverians, for all their faults, operated within the constitutional structure as it existed at the time), it is Georgius Augustulus the phony populist who proclaims that he is acting in the interest of the ordinary person, even as the rights of said ordinary people turn to dust.

Or, as Kipling put it:

All we have of freedom, all we use or know--
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.


Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw--
Leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the Law--

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing,
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.


Till our fathers 'stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom--not at little cost--
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.


Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.


Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure,
Whining "He is weak and far;" crying "Time shall cure."

(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins,
Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people's loins.)

Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace,
Suffer not the old King here or overseas.

They that beg us barter--wait his yielding mood--
Pledge the years we hold in trust--pawn our brother's blood--

Howso' great their clamour, whatso'er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name.

Here is naught unproven--here is naught to learn,
It is written what shall fall if the King return.

He shall take a tribute; toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms--arms we may not bear.

He shall break his Judges if they cross his word;
He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

He shall peep and mutter; and the night shall bring
Watchers 'neath our windows, lest we mock the King--

Hate and all divisions; hosts of hurrying spies;
Money poured in secret; carrion breeding flies.

Strangers of his counsel, hirelings of his pay,
These shall deal our Justice: sell--deny--delay.

We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse,
For the Land we look to--for the Tongue we use.

We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet,
while his hired captains jeer us in the street.

Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun,
Far beyond his borders shall his teachings run.

Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled,
Laying on a new land evil of the old--

Long-forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain--
All our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.


Here is naught at venture, random or untrue--
Swings the wheel full-circle, brims the cup anew.

Here is naught unproven, here is nothing hid:
Step for step and word for word--so the old Kings did!

Step by step and word by word: who is ruled may read.
Suffer not the old Kings: for we know the breed--

All the right they promise--all the wrong they bring.
Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King!

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:45 PM:

"But no use crying over spilt milk."

Really? I find it rather cathartic.

Give it a try, next time you have a pint past the best-by date.

#14 ::: John Sabotta ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Yes, well, when we get a Democrat president again, anybody who talks about "rights" and "liberties guaranteed by the Constitution" will revert back to the status they held under Maximum Leader Clinton - that of "anti-government nut."

Not you people, of course. You'll have "moved on."

#15 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:47 PM:

FL - this poem was linked in 11/04, with modern annotations by Avram Grumer. Rousing stuff.

#16 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:48 PM:

P. J. Evans writes:

The consensus in blogland is that he meant consecutively, and also that WW2 was, by the nature of the two fronts so far apart, pretty nearly two world wars simultaneously.

No, the European/African/Russian war and the Pacific war may have been pretty nearly two big wars, but there is no way they can be called two world wars.

Rather, Gore is leaking something that for over sixty years has been Really Beyond Top Secret Ultra:

The hush-hush Third Front on Mars.

#17 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Wow, a second stupid whack-job post by John Sabotta. Why am I not surprised?

Ignore him, people. He thinks he's setting a cat among the pigeons, but he's setting a kitten among the pterodactyls. Not enough meat to be worth ripping him to shreds.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:54 PM:

The hush-hush Third Front on Mars.

Goddard must have been doing better than he let on!

#19 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:59 PM:

John Sabotta, did you just address us as us "you people?"

Have you read "Telltales?"

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 01:59 PM:

"Not you people, of course."

Methinks I hear the disemvoweller stirring in the basement.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Ajay: Thanks!

PJ: Sure it wasn't Venus?

#22 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Sure it wasn't Venus?

It was before my time; besides, isn't Mars the usual source of invaders? (Invaders other than trolls, that is.)

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:07 PM:

PJ: I suppose so; Mars and Zeta Reticuli.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Goddard must have been doing better than he let on!

Jean-Luc Goddard?

#25 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Now, if only Gore had sounded like that in 2000.

At this point, I find it entirely too painful to try to remember the 2000 presidential campaign. But I rather suspect that even if Gore had delivered a trailblazing barn-burner on the stump trail (however that extended forest-fire metaphor works out in the end), the so-called liberal media would've either declined to cover it at all or wantonly twisted it for their own entertainment.

#26 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:31 PM:

I was thinking dispiritedly on the weekend -- "what's the point of a Gore speech"? -- 5 years too late. But after seeing the coverage on the internets, I'm thinking, "yeah!" We need an opposition leader who can articulate our pain and our outrage.

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:36 PM:
GORE V. BUSH: If a tree falls in a forest... A former Vice-President of the United States delivers a major speech accusing George W. Bush of breaking the law. What do all three cable news nets cover under the "Breaking News" banner? An overturned tanker truck on a New York highway. THIS is the problem for the left. And as I've said a hundred times: if the Dem establishment doesn't go after the media institutionally, things simply will not change. It's astonishing to me that they haven't gotten it yet. The only other option is for the progressive netroots to organize and fight the media on its own, an uphill struggle, to say the least...

-- The Daou Report

#28 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:42 PM:

the so-called liberal media would've either declined to cover it at all or wantonly twisted it for their own entertainment.

This speech for instance, would have been boiled down to the "simultaneously" statement and parsed as "Gore lies about history!" This would be even more likely if Gore didn't actually say it but instead it was a transcription error. I think...Majikthise? recently did a good argument on why Maureen Dowd get more flak for what she wropte about Gore 6 years ago than anything she writes about dating now.

#29 ::: Maven ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:46 PM:

"suppression and suspicion and fear"

A group called The Bruin Alumni Association are blacklisting UCLA faculty they see as radical. Their ugly little website is here: http://www.uclaprofs.com/

They offer $50-$100 to students for evidence against professors on their watchlist.

I don't know what action to take against this project other than to spread the word. Any ideas?

#30 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Bob Barr reportedly said: “The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.” Now, Al Gore has endorsed this view.

I'm not sure the President has dared "the American people" to do anything. I think the President has only dared the institutionalized elites of the Republican Party to do something about it, and I'd say there's a lot of cause to be pessimistic about their appetite for opposing him.

Institutions of democracy can only flourish amid relatively free, open and transparent capital markets. Unfortunately, capital markets don't particularly want or need democratic institutions to function, as the existence proof of the People's Republic of China shows.

Markets are only free to the people who own them. And the people in America who own the markets may not actually think they need democratic institutions to preserve their ownership.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 03:35 PM:

Julie: If a few thousand more people had voted for Gore because he succeeded in motivating them by telling the truth in as clear and direct a way as he did yesterday, we might have been spared the inanities and the unconstitutional actions of the Shrub.

I'll agree that the media is a bunch of cowards (speaking as a former reporter myself); but that's not because reporters are biased, it is entirely because the media is mostly owned by people who want the kinds of policies that W(itless) and his Merry Band are promulgating.

That is to say, they will not object to what Bertram Gross, a quarter century ago, called friendly fascism.

#32 ::: Vardibidian ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 03:35 PM:

... if only Gore had sounded like that in 2000
See, the thing is, that's pretty much exactly how I remember him sounding in 2000. I may be misremembering, of course.

I'll also point out that he's been using the fear talk for a while, too. From a speech on February 5, 2004: "Fear drives out reason. It suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction." That was two years ago. It was pretty widely quoted at the time (in Left Blogovia), but I don't think the networks paid much attention then, either.

Thanks,
-V.

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 03:53 PM:

Re the Kipling:

More evidence that a sufficiently clear observation of human nature can allow eerily accurate predictions of the future.

Or to look at it another way: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." --George Santayana, "Reason in Common Sense"

(This gets my vote for the best explanation of the evolutionary advantage of the long lifespan of Homo sapiens--we could call it "the Miss Marple advantage". If you live long enough, you start seeing the same personalities and events coming around again. If you're sufficiently astute, you recognize them in time to do something about it.)

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 03:59 PM:

V: You may have a point there.

#35 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 04:13 PM:

Fragano: I have no idea what the national average is for things of this sort, but I myself have only personally attended one speech by a presidential candidate, when Bill Clinton came to my workplace in 1992. I would imagine that most people's knowledge of political current events is shaped almost entirely by how or whether the media decides to cover those events.

And then there was that slight unpleasantness about how, when, or (again) whether to hand-check the machine-incompatible paper ballots in Florida, according to the wishes of local activists for a value of "local" equating to "Capitol Hill staffers flown in for the occasion".

If you make an inspiring speech and nobody reports it accurately, does it make a sound? (Well, sometimes it does, especially if the surrounding crowd noise is filtered out. Auuuugh.)

#36 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Well, I wrote (paper letters and e-mail; I have no access to a fax that doesn't cost me $3/page) my congresscritters (all Republicans) two weeks ago, and still haven't received so much as an autoreply. Time to follow up. But then, I still haven't received replies to the ones I wrote regarding extraordinary rendition, way back when. I feel so much a valued part of the democratic process.

#37 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 04:32 PM:

The point is well taken and the speech, currently posted in an as-delivered version, covers a great deal more than excerpted here. FREX the speech mentions the Alien & Sedition Acts passed in the early days of the Republic.

There have of course been other periods in American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents. And when his successor, President Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses, in his first inaugural he said: "[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."

As for instance sunsetting the Patriot Act(s).

Just the same I have real trouble parsing the following phrases:
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

However true the first quoted paragraph may be, surely by the time of the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process the treason of the founding fathers had long since prospered? That is the dangers of the revolutionary period had long passed and the dangers of 1812 were yet to come.

So my dual questions
- in the teeth of what dangers?
- And who is they who both founded this country and insisted on passing the Bill the Rights but neglected to incorporate such rights in the Constitution as reported out of committee?

Any comments on the technical issues of Carnivore and broadscale interception? I've always assumed NSA listened to every channel of many a telephone microwave relay when such were common. A packet sniffer has to at least identify all traffic to discard material.

Stimson famously said "[G]entlemen do not read each other's mail" and reportedly tried to cripple the American Black Chamber. Was Stimson correct? Are the gains simply not worth the effort? Or should we as the Brits do to entertain their CCTV watchers allow indiscriminate invasion of privacy?


Rather, Gore is leaking something that for over sixty years has been Really Beyond Top Secret Ultra:

The hush-hush Third Front on Mars.

Now we know the inspiration for NATO's Cosmic classification (bad tradecraft to emphasize the association?) - Omnilingual was historic code breaking and Piper died for knowing too much?

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Clark: The Constitution was written in 1787, six years after Yorktown and four years after the peace treaty was signed. Tensions were still high - IIRC, the Royal Navy had problems with recognizing the US as a real country - although it took another twenty years to blow up again. (Remember that John Adams and Jefferson were still very much alive during the war of 1812, although they were elder ststesmen then.)

#39 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 04:44 PM:

I'll also point out that he's been using the fear talk for a while, too. From a speech on February 5, 2004....

He gave a rip-roaring barn-burner of a speech a few days later at a TN Dem function I attended that hit on the same theme. He compared today's fear-mongering to that of the Nixon administration on "law and order" that was used to bludgeon his father in his Senate campaign.

Why more people don't pick up on this theme is a mystery to me. Who among us does not like to be told he's brave?

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Julie: You'd be right, I'd say, except that these days people have other sources than the American mainstream media easily available to them via the Internet (including this most excellent blog). I'd say my average was lower than yours, having heard only one major party VP candidate (Lloyd Bentsen) speak directly to an audience in vivo. (I've heard other national leaders speak right in front of me, shaken their hands, asked them questions, and been accused of sleeping with their wives -- but that was in another country, and besides...)

#41 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:35 PM:

Yes I know, and John Adams was hardly taking his life in his hands when he served as Ambassador to the Court of St. James in 1785-1788 spanning the writing of the Constitution nor did James Monroe later 1803-1807 Pinckney 1792-1796 and King 1796-1803 I wouldn't consider founding fathers. Adams (with others) of course had earler negotiated treaties of peace and commerce directly with the British and ignored instructions to coordinate with the French.
FREX this from Wikipedia:
When he was presented to his former sovereign, George III, the King intimated that he was aware of Adams's lack of confidence in the French government. Adams admitted this, stating: "I must avow to your Majesty that I have no attachment but to my own country.”

I'd have no quarrel with a phrasing such as "with those memories fresh" but I read no lethal danger ("teeth of these dangers") to the American establishment as such after Yorktown. I'd argue the Alien and Sedition Acts were in response to a perceived threat to the American revolutionary state much as the French Revolution was opposed by Monarchists in many countries some of them monarchs.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Clark: Given your argument, could you explain then why some of the most clearly revolutionary figures among the Founders of the US opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts?

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:49 PM:

They may have been worried about the neighbors (Florida, Canada, Louisiana), none of whom were particularly friendly (Canada had good reason: there'd been at least two attempted invasions already).

#44 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:50 PM:

C-SPAN just ran the speech again. Mr. Gore is practically roaring the "fear" portion that concludes the speech. An impressive, and grim, performance.

Nitpick note: Gore really does say "two world wars simultaneously" on the tape.

#45 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 05:59 PM:

"Gore really does say 'two world wars simultaneously' on the tape."

He does? Well, okay then. I stand corrected.

#46 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 06:20 PM:

The Great Pacific War and Hitler's War both properly count as World Wars, at least in as much as both involved more widespread fighting than the Great War did.

Clark -- The War of 1812 was in part fought over whether or not the United States would continue to exist. Up until the conclusion of that conflict, the British policy was containment leading to obliteration, and absent Napoleon it would very probably have worked.

So, sure, the Revolutionary War was over when the Bill of Rights was enacted, but I don't think that can properly be taken as evidence that the infant United States was out of danger. (It would be entirely simple to argue that a mostly agrarian, small, new, colonial country was just plain inherently in more danger than the present continent-spanning superpower United States, no matter who wants to commit terroristic acts on its soil.)

j h woodyatt -

You are the Sovereign People.

#47 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Jim, thanks. I read the speech yesterday on a Kos link and was impressed -- and thoroughly pissed at the contempt shown by the MSM, and irritated by the silence of the (nominally) Democratic legislators about the issues Gore is willing to engage upon. Most of these guys seem to me to be defeatist and craven. I'm not surprised that they don't respond to their constituents.

OTOH, in the last few weeks I've e-mailed my Congressman twice, and received an answer within 72 hours both times. But my Congressman, George Miller, is a liberal, unashamedly so, who voted against the Iraq war resolution.

Glad to find another Kipling fan.

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Lizzy: Like Auden, and like Edward Said, I can only say:

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

I actually desperately want to hate Kipling as an imperialist and a racist ("lesser breeds without the law" and all that), but can't. He manages to redeem himself by both a fundamental decency ("So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man") and a true mastery of language that continues to impress me no matter how often I think of "'Oh, plain black’s best for a nigger,’ said the Ethiopian."

#49 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:11 PM:

And tv covers the (in)famous "chocolate" speech by New Orleans Mayor Nagin. *sigh*

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Lin: Not to mention Nagin's sub-Robertsonian declaration that Katrina was God's way of sending a message.

#51 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:22 PM:

I shan't devolve into the Kipling Had Complex Views rant, really I shan't.

I will say that I think Houseman's The Oracles might be the more appropriate poem just at the moment, though.

#52 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:25 PM:

The phrase "lesser breeds without the law" comes from "Recessional", a somber poem that warns Britain against excessive pride in its empire. In context, that phrase does not refer to any of the subject peoples of the British empire. It clearly refers to an imperial people. Possibly it's a topical reference to another imperial power of the time, such as Germany or Russia, or possibly it's a general comment on all people who see imperial rule as a chance for plunder instead of as a duty and a burden. But it certainly isn't the crude sort of racism that one might think from seeing that phrase out of context.

Kipling was an imperialist, and judging him ahistorically by today's standards it's probably right to think of him as a racist, but he was a thoughtful imperialist who, even though he believed that a people had its own innate national character and that some nations deserved to rule others, still respected other peoples for themselves.

#53 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:31 PM:

Graydon writes: j h woodyatt— You are the Sovereign People.

I keep asking my veteran friends how we're supposed to know when we've been called and where we're supposed to muster when it's time to fight the domestic enemies of the Constitution we've all sworn oaths to defend it against.

The closest thing I've ever gotten to a straight answer to that question, in twenty years of asking it, is the one I got from my friend Drieux, who said this to me:

Kid, when the recruiting team comes around, you'll know whether it's legitimate.

Until then, I suppose, the Enemies of the Constitution don't have much to worry about from me, since about the only other threat to them I might be able to pose is that I won't be voting for them and I might be able to persuade a few friends and family not to vote for them either. Like they really care about how my family and friends vote, when they've totally compromised the free press and they can rig the results of official elections without detection.

What if the U.S. Constitution collapses to the accompaniment of thunderous applause? What if Sinclair Lewis was right, and it really can happen here? At what point am I morally obligated to defy the law in defense of a Constitution, which the "soverign people" don't uphold and won't defend anymore?

To put it more bluntly, at what point may I be excused for opting instead to defect to the West?

#54 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:43 PM:

The Bill of Rights as it would have been understood by say a Bostoner or citizen of Jamestown or Saratoga or Yorktown in 1776 was this, plus other related and things in the corpus of the Common Law like this and its acknowledged antecedent, this (which was - although this is not widely known - notably unsuccessful at the time. Some fruit is slow to ripen.)

Which is why it was incorporated in bits and pieces into this, and into the precedent and subsequent state constitions in the wake of the devolving chaos and anarchy before, during and after the subsequent civil war, until finalized (mostly) a few years after the impromptu national constitution was hammered out in committee compromisee.

There's only one major difference (some would say improvement, while others most definitely do not) in the American version over the Bill of Rights of 1689: and that is the separation of church and state, and the rejection of preference by religion, or identifcation of political party and religion. It's amazing what a hundred years of practical experience of the reverse can teach you... We tried puritanism, we tried theocracy already: it didn't work very well.

#55 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 07:53 PM:

jh:totally compromised the free press

By "free press" I am assuming you mean tv, radio, newsprint and news magazines, yes? It ain't free and hasn't been for a long time. It's owned by advertising revenue. As long as news media are paid for by advertising, as long as advertising is handed out based on ratings, the "press" will not be free.

I can't find the Ben Franklin quote (or it may have been someone else at the same time, if someone knows) but I believe he said something about there being freedom as long as someone has a printing press and uses it. The traditional newsmedia is not free, but we are. This blog and the left, right, center, rightsideup and upsidedown blogs all over the internet are still free. This blog is found and read by many, as can be seen by the trolls that come wandering by. When I read something I totally disagree with, but find well written and insightful, I think, "Ben Franklin would be proud." This is our printing press. I have taken the insights shared here and used them effectively against those who would "think by headline."

Then I read Alec R's stuff and think, "Ben Franklin would laugh his ass off." But that's what owning your own printing press means.

and they can rig the results of official elections without detection

Um, they've been detected. Big time. But the guys doing the screaming have no authority to do anything about it. Yet.

Which means I'm doing some serious praying/wishing/focusing on the 2006 elections getting more Democrats into the House. The vote of impeachment comes from the House.

#56 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 08:02 PM:

I watch the local NBC News (DC area, NBC-owned station) and it showed both clips of Gore's speech and clips of Nagin's speech at least once on each of the four separate news programs last night. The 5pm & 6pm programs had briefer bits of both speeches after the half-hour.

#57 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 08:12 PM:

But then Chris Matthews spends umpty-ump minutes today on parsing Hilary's use of the word "plantation" rather than Al Gore's stemwinder.

Gag. Competent and working in the best interest of the country they aren't.

#58 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 08:17 PM:

I should add that since "the Press" is the only occupation mentioned in the Bill of Rights, I do think they have a larger obligation to do right by the country than, say, oil companies do.

#59 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 08:33 PM:

Maven: I see that they're reporting on professors who dare take such radical views as being "anti-Bush" or "anti-war". ("Anti-Israel", depending on how one defines it, may or may not actually be a radical view. Somehow I don't trust this outfit to define it reasonably.)

Aconite: If you want to send faxes, you might look into an email-to-fax service. I use one because I like to send faxes to my Congresscritters: it's more immediate than postal mail, and I have heard that faxes carry more weight than email.

#60 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:02 PM:

William Rees-Mogg is saying something very simiar in the Times:

The 21st century has been a period in which most governments sought to reassert and extend control; often adopting policies that would once have been regarded as illegal and outrageous. The decisive event was 9/11. Public fear of terrorism gave governments the support needed to tighten systems of social control and supervision. In the United States, the clear constitutional safeguards against imprisonment without due process were set aside. Any president responsible for “extraordinary rendition” or Guantanamo before 9/11 would have been impeached; President Bush was re-elected.

The British Government followed the lead of the United States, passing a succession of anti-terrorism Acts, each with new restrictions on personal liberties. Historians are not surprised. Periods of threat to the nation, whether by terrorism or invasion, have always seen new limitations on personal liberty. Indeed, the public demands stronger protection. However, the British Government took advantage of this opportunity to impose new methods of control that could not have been put through Parliament in normal circumstances. In particular, the Home Office, under authoritarian Home Secretaries, introduced Bills that it had wanted for a long time. The whole balance between the citizen and the State was altered in favour of the State.

Many of these new interventions could partly be justified in terms of counter-terrorism, but they still invaded the liberties of the citizen. For instance, Britain has four million CCTV cameras, which gives the UK a quarter of the world’s cameras to photograph 1 per cent of the world’s population. Phone taps are now going to be extended, for the first time, to MPs; and therefore to their constituents. There are universal taps on the internet, which may be passed on to foreign intelligence agencies. All of these new powers can give counter-terrorism benefits, but they can also be used for intrusions not connected with terrorism, or even with crime.

#61 ::: Jeff Lipton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:05 PM:

Vardibidian:
See, the thing is, that's pretty much exactly how I remember [Gore] sounding in 2000. I may be misremembering, of course.

His acceptance speech at the Convention was a "stemwinder" indeed. I recall thinking that tis was a man I wanted as President (Tipper had kinda put me off with her PMRC antics). By the Presidential debates, he was talking about "lockboxes". The Dems lost by not countering, full force, the lies that BushCo were spreading, but Gore did himself no favors by tempering his speech during the debates.

If there other invigorating speechs through the campaign, I don't recall them, but I have trouble remembering any.

#62 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:09 PM:

Acording to Kos, the Administration has already started to fight back, er, comment on Gore's speech. I haven't heard Gonzalez' comments, but Kos prints Gore's response:

The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs -- even though factually wrong -- ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program.

*pumps fist* YES!

#63 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Sorry -- don't know why those italics didn't carry to the end of the response. The pumping fist and "Yes!" are me. The five paragraphs above it are Al Gore.

#64 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:14 PM:

"The Great Pacific War and Hitler's War both properly count as World Wars, at least in as much as both involved more widespread fighting than the Great War did."

I think that says more about the Eurocentrism of calling the Great War a "world war" than it does about the separateness of the Pacific and European Theatres. The world is an awful big place: from China, I doubt that the Great War seemed terribly great. The same cannot be said about WWII--it was, quite literally, a global war.

#65 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:14 PM:

j h woodyatt --

Not being silent is a significant matter.

(I interacted with Drieux a bit on usenet some time since. A man with a decided surplus of character.)

You have made, from the sounds of it Al Gore has made, the mental adjustment to this isn't a political difference. Most people in the States haven't done that yet. (Pretty much everyone else on the planet appears to have.)

So, yeah, maybe it will be time for the Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon[1] one day not so far off. And maybe the sinews of the thing are still sound enough to rise and throw off the usurpation.

But either way, you won't see the recruiting team until the belief in the need is widespread, instead of still slight enough to be convinced it's an insignificant minority.

So talk.

[1]
"After the battle was broken and spent
Up to the hilltop the Deliverer went,
Flung up his arms to the storm clouds flying,
Cried unto Israel, mightily crying --

Come up O warriors! Come up O brothers!
Tribesmen and herdsmen, maidens and mothers!
The bondman's son and the bondman's daughter,
The hewer of wood and the drawer of water,
He that carries, and she that brings,
And set your foot on the neck of kings.

And that is the tale of Gibeon fight
Where we smote the lords of the Amorite
And the banners of princes with slaughter were sodden
And the beards of the seers in the rank grass trodden
And trees were smashed with the wreck of cars
And the reek of the red field blotted the stars
And the dead heads dropped from the swords that sever --

Because His mercy endureth forever."

(From memory, so apologies to Mr. Chesteron's shade for any infelicities or errors.)

#66 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 09:36 PM:

I found this on Juan Cole's website and had to pass it on. The speaker is Martin Luther King Jr. Timely, no?

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 10:12 PM:

When I hear people high up in government saying that criticism of the government is giving 'aid and comfort to the enemy' I start hearing faint choruses of 'Alien and Sedition Acts'.

#68 ::: wrye ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2006, 11:23 PM:

I have to say that World War One did in fact involve actual fighting in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific. WW2 was more intense in some places and less in others--on the whole, "bigger". But the difference was one of degree, not kind or location.

#69 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 03:56 AM:

I'm not sure that the World War One label was used until World War Two was looming, and until Pearl Harbor the World War concept may have been less obvious. There was fighting in Iraq and Syria, and the emergence of the Russian Front, but until Japan came in, the war was essentially Euro-Mediterranean, and not so different from the wars against Napoleon.

We don't think of those great wars of the 18th and early 19th Centuries as world wars, though the Seven Years War of the 1750s had England and France fighting campaigns all around the world. Perhaps you cannot really have a world war without a fast global communication system. "Commence Hostilities Against Germany" went around the world at the speed of light.

David Weber is often a bit heavy-handed on the re-working of Nelson's sort of naval war. but if an interstellar war were ever possible it would have the same communication problems that Nelson did.


#70 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 04:18 AM:

Most people here and in Britain referred to the 1914-18 (properly speaking, 1919) war as "the Great War", and of the 1939-45 war as "the World War", until quite recently, when the other convention of numbering them took over. I have the idea that this convention is American in origin, but I don't know if this is true.

#71 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:25 AM:

Jen Roth: Thank you. I'll look into that.

Kevin Marks quoted William Rees-Mogg regarding Bush's re-election in the wake of Guantanamo etc. I think it's important to keep in mind that there's evidence he wasn't actually re-elected (see Lin Daniels' link on Ohio voting fraud). The American people may not have been as thoroughly under his spell as we've been led to believe.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:28 AM:

My wife has been re-reading the Jeeves & Wooster stories and she was rather shocked to discover that some of them were written during the Great War, especially since it didn't seem to affect how many young men are around to have their bacon saved by Jeeves. Also, we're watching the TV adaptations again and can't tell whether or not those are set before the Depression. If it's happening after that, then there's no reference to it. I told Sue what someone posted on Our Hosts's site some weeks ago, that Reality seldom intrudes upon the Wodehouse stories, and that when it does, it's thru caricatures like fascist Spode.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 07:04 AM:

Matt Austern: In that case, I should have said 'sullen folk and wild' not to mention 'half-demon and half-child' (also from 'Recessional', and quite definitely racist, as opposed to anti-German).

Lizzy: Watch for the 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy' response, and the 'get on-side or else' response.

#74 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 12:55 PM:

Much as I regretted his loss (or "loss") in 2000, two things should be borne in mind:

  1. The Al Gore who's been out of power for five years is probably a very different Al Gore than the one who'd exercised a lot of it for eight,
  2. If he had in fact been elected, there's a very good chance that major terror attack would have happened in some form or another (though maybe not the day before I turned 40). Gore would have borne the brunt of criticism of real and imagined Clinton-era intelligence failures, and very possibly would run for cover under something like the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, some of which was of Clinton era vintage. It wouldn't have worked to save him, and McCain would be our strongman now, and probably a more popular one than Bush but not much better---McCain himself is a different animal now than if he had been in power.
That being said, I applaud Gore enthusiastically; I'm glad circumstance and character have combined to allow someone I basically like to say the right things.

#75 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Serge -- you might be interested in reading the recent biography of PG Wodehouse by Robert McCrum. IIRC, he spent most of WWI in America, which of course did not get into the war till rather late, and he also had physical problems which would have prevented him serving if he had been in England. But later in his life, when he became rather intimately acquainted with Nazi hospitality in France and made his major bloomer (see, it's even hard to WRITE about Wodehouse without sounding a bit Wodehousian), it really didn't show up in his writing. He created his world and he stuck to it, and nothing was allowed to intrude.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Wodehouse "...became rather intimately acquainted with Nazi hospitality in France...", Janet? So he did NOT flirt with fascism, as I had read somewhere. That would have been a strange situation, what with his depiction of Spode. Still, as 9/11 has shown, people sometimes go thru some strange changes of heart.

As for the TV show, it's weird to see Hugh Laurie when he was so young. Yes, when you've turned 50, a 31-year-old becomes a whippersnapper.

#77 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Also, we're watching the TV adaptations again and can't tell whether or not those are set before the Depression.

Bertie's American adventures are expressly set during Prohibition, if I recall correctly. So that puts them between 1919 and 1933.

#78 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:19 PM:

(Arriving late to this) Hadn't seen or heard anything about Gore's great speech till I found it here. And that Kipling poem does indeed sound ominously prescient -- right down to "sell--deny--delay" (though he couldn't have known we'd have ol' Tom to kick around).

#79 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:20 PM:

American history (including the World Wars) are frought with infringments on civil liberties. Japanese internment during WWII, domestic spying on citizens of German decent, Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1800s and WWI. The list is long and is rightly looked down upon.

Those past wrongs in no way excuse the wrongs of today, but proclaiming that PATRIOT and the NSAs actions are somehow new is intellectually dishonest.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Thanks, Tim. About the Prohibition... I didn't realize it had lasted that long. I seem to remember an interview Groucho Marx gave back in the mid-Seventies where he talked about that era, and how some people who had show no interest in booze got very much into making and selling it once the Prohibition started. Not exactly a raving success, was it? The thing that amazes me is that people had to courage to repeal it. I'd like to see more of that courage today.

#81 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:42 PM:

I just received that Wodehouse biography for Christmas, and finished it earlier this week.

No, he did not flirt with fascism. What he did do was make five broadcasts set up by the German Foreign Ministry (not the Propaganda group) reflecting on his internment in several civilian detention camps. In typical Wodehousian style, they were lighthearted accounts; this did not go over well at all in Britain, which had just fought the Battle of Britain and was in no mood for humor when it came to Nazis.

#82 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Chris: Those past wrongs in no way excuse the wrongs of today, but proclaiming that PATRIOT and the NSAs actions are somehow new is intellectually dishonest.

I think what's new about them is the scope. This isn't about select groups being spied upon; it's about everyone being spied upon, without even the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing or connection to The Enemy in any way. Everyone's a suspect. Everyone.

#83 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 02:01 PM:

Chris...they're new since the 1970s. They're "rightly looked down upon," and there's one reason to regard them as a new thing: they're a "wartime" measure when a permanent state of war has been declared (by the WPE, not the Congress). The Alien and Sedition Acts were intended to be permanent too, but the other outrages you mention were at least masked as temporary necessities.

And the idea that the POTUS would go on national radio and declare not only that he's been breaking the law, but that he intends to continue to do so is novel as far as I know. So is the idea that a President could sign a bill and simultaneously declare his privilege to ignore any parts of it that displease him.

I think it's also new for members of a President's own party to declare that "impeachment is the remedy" for what he's done. If any of these things is precedented, we need to find out, but I don't think they are.

#84 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 03:37 PM:

What Linkmeister said. Wodehouse simply did not seem to realize how his actions could have been misconstrued as support of the Nazis. It just wasn't the right time for his broadcasts; after the war they might have raised very few hackles. He was a rather naive person who just wanted to write the kind of musical-comedy books he was so good at.

And I haven't seen _House_ yet. To me Hugh Laurie IS young. (BTW, you may have known that his Jeeves, Stephen Fry, is quite a writer, but Laurie has also written at least one book, and as I recall, it was not bad at all.)

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 04:54 PM:

Janet, it almost sounds like Wodehouse WAS Jeeves...

#86 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 05:16 PM:

From my memory of period literature, the First World War was often referred to as "The War to End Wars" up until the '30s when it became apparent that it had done nothing of the kind.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 05:30 PM:

"The war to end all wars" was, I think, coined by H.G.Wells, Clifton. So much for SF's predictive powers...

#88 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:16 PM:

More like Wodehouse was Bertie, without a Jeeves around to keep him from making such a silly ass of himself...

#89 ::: Bez ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:18 PM:

Fragano Ledgister: I think those lines are from White Man's Burden, not Recessional. (Tangentially, White Man's Burden was originally subtitled The United States and the Phillipine Islands).

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:32 PM:

Darn, I did it again, Janet. I meant to suggest that Wodehouse was Wooster, not Jeeves.

Ever seen the movie based on the story? Wooster as played by David Niven, and Jeeves was played by Arthur Treacher. I never caught enough of it to decide if it was any good.

#91 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Alito, Gonzales, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, the Schmuck and the yellow-bellied ass-licking Congressional catamites facilitating the rape of US law, the US populace, and the world...

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 06:40 PM:

Who is a schmuck, Paula? Oh, you mean Chimpy.

Talking of schmucks reminds me of a scene from short-lived courtroom drama 100 Centre Street. Alan Arkin is a judge and he's having dinner with another judge, and, in the course of the meal, he refers to some colleague as a schmuck, and to another as a putz. His perplexed friend asks what the difference is between a schmuck and a putz. Arkin explains that a schmuck is an idiot, and the putz is an idiot too, but he's the one driving.

#93 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Bez: You are perfectly right. I suffered a mental burp, there. (I was thinking of the lines from 'Recessional': 'Far-called, our navies melt away/On dune and headland sinks the fire;/Lo! All our pomp of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre' and contemplating Kipling's prescience with regard to the British Empire and the possible relevance of those lines to those who speak of an America that is 'imperial but not imperialist'.)

#94 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 10:23 PM:

I agree with everything Gore said -- but why should the media pay attention to his speeches? They don't indicate any proximate change in policy; as a defeated candidate holding no elected post he has at most only moral leverage, and on the minority party at that. He doesn't have a flock of dittoheads or Dobsonian fanatics following him. What he says is not news in the way an immediate disaster is, and the media that report current facts pick accordingly.

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 10:28 PM:

why should the media pay attention to his speeches?

I noticed that while Gore's speech was third or fourth item down in the right column on CNN.com, the lead story was Nagin and his 'chocolate' remark. Seemed backward to me and pretty much guaranteed more lack of notice.

#96 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 11:10 PM:

It just wasn't the right time for his broadcasts

According to P.G. Wodehouse: A Portrait Of A Master by David A. Jasen, the problem was that the broadcasts were heard only in America. He didn't spare the Germans at all--in fact, Jasen says, "[t]hroughout the war, the United States War Department used recordings of his broadcasts in its Intelligence School at Camp Ritchie as models of anti-Nazi propaganda."

In Britain, only the fact of his having made the broadcasts was known, and "Cassandra" (an anonymous columnist, real name William Connor) viciously attacked on Wodehouse on the BBC.

Probably, if Britain had heard the broadcasts, they would have been more forgiving; Evelyn Waugh's rather pitiless satire of the war effort, Put Out More Flags, was published in 1942.

#97 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2006, 11:31 PM:

If John Adams had had the technology to spy on every American (or at least those that disagreed with him) I'm reasonably certain that he would have done it. Pointing out that the details of the current situation are a bit different than those of the past is hardly enlightening. We have never had a "war" on a tactic or ideology before, we have never had the means to monitor all communications at all times simultanesouly before, I don't understand how this makes the substance of this administrations actions substantively different than prior actions. Everyone that spoke out against the war (WWI, WWII, 1812, etc) was a suspect before the only difference is that now they have the technology to spy on people that communicate internationally.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:01 AM:

Did Wodehouse's reputation recover, Tim, at least while he was still alive?

#99 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:08 AM:

I just realized today that our friend Anne's calls to her friend in England may have been among the international calls monitored by the NSA.

I now have a mental image of an NSA analyst with a puzzled expression turning to another analyst and saying, "These two women are talking about Hugh Jackman's butt. Do you think that could be code for something sinister?"

("The Sinister Butt of Hugh Jackman" Must note that one down in the Potential Story Titles list...

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:15 AM:

I don't think there are many heterosexual women out there who'd consider Hugh Jackman's derriere sinister.

Which reminds me of the time when I asked a gay co-worker if he knew what the X-men movies have in common with PBS's 1994 adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.

"Hunks?"

Which was the wrong answer. The answer also wasn't Hugh Jackman. No. Think instead of evil mutant masters of magnetism who wear dorky helmets.

#101 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:23 AM:

The Stasi moved from former East Germany and reside based out of Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC....

#102 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Serge, per McCrum's bio, Wodehouse lived out his life in America partly because he was advised not to return to England. That changed in the 60s or 70s, and he ended up knighted, although he didn't travel back to receive the award.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:45 AM:

That's sad, Linkmeister. And Wodehouse never got to see the renewed interest in his work, did he?

#104 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 02:16 AM:

This poem, sung as a hymn at Remembrance Day and Anzac Day services, has been mentioned here before

Recessional
God of our fathers, known of old --
Lord of our far-flung battle line --
Beneath Whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine --
   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Ninevah and Tyre!
   Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
   Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe --
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law --
   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard --
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard --
   For frantic boast and foolish word,
   Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

   Rudyard Kipling (1897)
January 19th, when we remember Mohammed, James Watt, Robert E Lee, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Cezanne, Janis Joplin, Hans Sachs, Congreve, Johann Bode, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, & Harold Wolpe,
as well as Zeppelin attacks, the Boston molasses disaster, important events in the history of the League of Nations & the PGA, and in the lives of Titus Brandsma, Indira Gandhi, Tokyo Rose & Elizabeth Bouvia.

#105 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 03:00 AM:

Well, according to the bio, his doctor advised against travelling, as it would strain his heart. He was knighted in the New Year's Honors of 1975, so he was past ninety.

On the occasion of his 90th birthday the British media made much ado, and "it was acknowledged [by the media] that Wodehouse had been guilty of nothing worse than stupidity."

I can't find the reference in there immediately, but I think he was aware of the resurgence of interest, and certainly it went on after his death. My uncle (an AP reporter in Phoenix) was a huge fan, and in fact was the person who first introduced me to Jeeves back in 1968 or 1969.

#106 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 04:50 AM:

I have faint memories of a late 60s BBC TV series of Jeeves and Wooster with Ian Carmichael as Wooster, so Wodehouse was certainly a household name in the UK at the time.

Googling, I see that it ran from May 1965 to the end of 1967. I may be remembering repeat showings.

Jeeves was Dennis Price, whose face I recognize, but whose only role I can remember is in Kind Hearts and Coronets, opposite a lot of Alec Guinnesses.

Carmichael went on to do some very good Wimsey adventures, although he was really too old for either role when the series were made.

#107 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:20 AM:

Last night on the (rereun of Tuesday's) Daily Show, there was a bit with Nagin explaining what he meant by the chocolate remark, as opposed to what he said: you get chocolate by mixing dark-brown cocoa with white milk. Uh, thanks, Ray, your choice of metaphor was, um, unique.

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:26 AM:

My thanks to Linkmeister and Niall about Wodehouse.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Speaking of The Daily Show, Carrie, Jon Stewart is hosting the Oscars this year. THAT's about the only reason I'll consider watching this year's Awards. I pretty much stopped paying attention to the Oscars in 1983 when I realized that their criteria have little to do with excellence. Hell, that's when Bladerunner lost for costume design to Gandhi, and it lost for FX to ET.

#110 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:50 AM:

For more on Wodehouse's German adventures, see George Orwell's take.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 09:20 AM:

Thanks for passing on Orwell's defense of Wodehouse, Niall.

#112 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Yes, thanks, Niall -- I'd read OF it but never read it, and it analyzes the whole thing very well.

McCrum doesn't speak highly of the Niven/Treacher version. The Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry ones are excellent, though I seem to recall a certain amount of shark-jumping in the final season. There was also something called Wodehouse Playhouse which I used to catch on PBS late at night -- it was mainly the non-series short stories, I think, and recently released on DVD. (I've had it on my wish list for some time...) There's also a Blandings Castle made-for-TV-movie out there with Peter O'Toole as Lord Emsworth, which I remember as being quite good.

#113 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Well, bin Laden made a new threat to the U.S.

I suppose we'll all be wearing ear tags by the end of the year.

#114 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 01:30 PM:

re: ear tags

I'm afraid you're not far off. How about this one? The administration wants a million random Google records and isn't even trying to hide it under the antiterrorism umbrella. Nope, it's the protect-the-children-from-porn umbrella:

http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/13657386.htm

This, by the way, is to try to defend the statute the Supreme Court overturned a couple of years back.

#115 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Re Google and child porn:
"The government contends it needs the data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches as part of an effort to revive an Internet child protection law that was struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court on free-speech grounds."

Given that porn sites can turn almost any word or phrase into a tag, this is pretty silly as an argument. Using it as an argument in conjunction with Google, which has how many searches per day ... what can we say that would fit?

#116 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 02:57 PM:

Chris: "We have never had a "war" on a tactic or ideology before,"

What would you describe the Cold War as, then? I've always thought the parallel was rather clear--shadowy, incomprehensible villians from across the world, with just enough actual conflict involved to justify any damn thing the government wants to do. Constructing a new Cold War has always been one of the ideas guiding the Bush administrations actions, I've long thought.

#117 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Heresiarch: You've forgotten the 'evil empire', AKA the USSR?

Actually, some of the people in Washington are probably making Nikita smile, wherever he is.

#118 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 03:13 PM:

"Constructing a new Cold War has always been one of the ideas guiding the Bush administrations actions, I've long thought."

Oh, sure. There's been a desperate search for a new enemy since the Berlin Wall fell. Gotta keep the military-industrial complex well fed, doncha know. (I was once part of it when there was a Cold War; I'm not reflexively anti-military or DOD.)

That's why we still have ~$10B budgeted for Star Wars, why we still have advanced fighter airplanes at ~$1B per plane in (at least) the planning stages, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Forget the fact that we won't be fighting wars on the plains of Eastern Germany anymore.

#119 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 03:30 PM:

I've been thinking of, and calling, the 'War on Terror', 'Son of Cold War' for the past few years. It has become abundantly clear that the Shrub administration seeks to create a more restrictive state on the basis of 'national security'. I feel -- and I have no real evidence for this -- that even if 9/11 had not happened there would still have been a war in Iraq, and there'd be an occupation and the same rah-rah about bringing democracy to the benighted natives of the cradle of civilization. Democracy and lucrative government contracts for companies with close ties to the Monar, er Republican Party.

#120 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 03:45 PM:

Pity we can't just have a Cold War on Global Warming.

#121 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Chris wrote:
If John Adams had had the technology to spy on every American (or at least those that disagreed with him) I'm reasonably certain that he would have done it.

Supposing this is true, so what? Does that make what Bush is doing acceptable?

The Columbia Encyclopedia describes the Alien and Sedition Acts as "four laws enacted by the Federalist-controlled U.S. Congress, allegedly in response to the hostile actions of the French Revolutionary government on the seas and in the councils of diplomacy..., but actually designed to destroy Thomas Jefferson’s Republican party". With suitable changes of names and dates, that seems an eminently succinct description of what Bush is doing, except that he's not even bothering to get laws passed first.

One of the basic principles of U.S. Government is written in the Declaration of Independence: "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed". The Acts could plausibly be justified as having the "consent of the governed", since Congress, in the name of the governed, approved them. Bush has no such justification; the Presidency is historically no more than a limited "monarchy", and even those voting for him were probably doing so in the belief that he would respect historical precedent. I find it hard to believe that any but the most extreme Republicans would approve of granting dictatorial powers to the office of the President.


Pointing out that the details of the current situation are a bit different than those of the past is hardly enlightening.

That depends on the details. And what one considers "a bit different" (or, for that matter, "enlightening"). If nothing else, it allows discussion of whether the differing details are significant ones.


[W]e have never had the means to monitor all communications at all times simultanesouly before, I don't understand how this makes the substance of this administrations actions substantively different than prior actions.

Which "prior actions" are you referring to? If the Alien and Sedition Acts, then it would seem to me that having Congress explicitly approve of the spying (by passing the Acts) is indeed substantively different from Bush unilaterally declaring that he doesn't have to obey the law because he's President. (Do recall that there already existed a legal procedure to secretly spy on people, one that offered a great deal of slack in getting approvals. Bush ignored it.)

However, let us suppose that what Bush is doing is 100% equivalent to what past administrations have done. Indeed, let's suppose that every past administration would have done exactly what Bush & Co. have done had they had the technology.

Does that make what Bush & Co. are doing now right?


Everyone that spoke out against the war (WWI, WWII, 1812, etc) was a suspect before the only difference is that now they have the technology to spy on people that communicate internationally.

Again, so what?

It certainly looks to me like you're arguing that, because this sort of spying can be done, it should be done, and it's right to do it. If not, you'd do well to clarify your position.

#122 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 05:42 PM:

The Alien Enemies Act and Alien Friends Act are still in effect today. The Alien Enemies Act was the legal basis for the internments of non-citizens in WW2. Not sure what the (legal) justification for the internment of citizen "aliens" was.

#123 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 06:24 PM:

@Glen Fisher - My original post specifically said "Those past wrongs in no way excuse the wrongs of today, but proclaiming that PATRIOT and the NSAs actions are somehow new is intellectually dishonest."

Other chose to attack that viewpoint - I assume - to prove that Bush is, indeed, the most evil man of all time.

#124 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 06:38 PM:

"The Sinister Butt of Hugh Jackman"

Well, the Left Behind series is devoted to the Rapture.

Mind you, some forms of right-wing lunacy do make a bit more sense if one equates orgasm with apocalypse. See, everything comes back to the Infernokrusher version of Romeo and Juliet after all.

#125 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Chris wrote:
proclaiming that PATRIOT and the NSAs actions are somehow new is intellectually dishonest.

Who's been "proclaiming" that those are without precedent, that such things have never been attempted in the past? Or does the fact that such things have been attempted in the past require that people abandon outrage over the current incarnations? Failure to list precedents is not remotely the same as claiming that there were no precedents.

And how is it any less intellectually dishonest to pretend that the doings of the current administration are merely "business as usual", something that anyone in power would do, no more reprehensible or significant than the actions of any randomly-chosen past administration? Adams and the Federalists at least gave lip service to "consent of the governed". Bush isn't even bothering with that. No, Bush & Co. didn't invent corruption and power grabs. I don't think anyone is claiming that they did. But the sheer baldness of Bush's efforts--and the remarkable unwillingness of the American citizenry to acknowledge those efforts as what they are--put them in a class by themselves. That certainly seems to make current events "somehow new".

#126 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Chris, the thought that anyone here would waste time trying to "prove that Bush is, indeed, the most evil man of all time" is, so sorry, ridiculous.

Any one of us could easily provide a list of men much more "evil", however you might choose to define it, than George Bush; to wit: Kim Jong Il, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Hitler, Stalin, Ivan the Terrible (they called him that for good reason), a certain British Judge named Jeffries, Timur il Leng, Vlad the Impaler, a whole passle of French kings named Louis, Nero (an emperor), Tiberius, Caligula, (more emperors) I think I'll stop now, it's too easy. George Bush is a sad little incompetent (insert favorite string of adjectives here) cipher compared to those guys.

#127 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2006, 09:52 PM:

Uh, Bush doesn't have to be particularly evil in order to be dangerous. Pol Pot was a much worse person, but he never had the chance to kill perhaps everyone on Earth and ruin our nation's fiscal health.

Though some take issue with Bruce Schneier's use of the words "threat" and "risk", the distinction he makes---severity vs likelihood---is good to bear in mind (e.g., the risk of dying one day or another is 100%, modulo The Rapture for Nerds, but for those of us in decent health who look both way, the immediate threat is generally low).

#128 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 12:35 AM:

Uh, Bush doesn't have to be particularly evil in order to be dangerous. Pol Pot was a much worse person, but he never had the chance to kill perhaps everyone on Earth and ruin our nation's fiscal health.

I don't disagree.

On a tangentially related point, I am quite irritated that the Democratic party heads did not choose John Murtha to give the response to the next State of the Union speech. They are wasting an opportunity. It's really time they made it clear -- they stand for something.

#129 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Here's an interesting one that Ye Who Make Light may see fit (or may not) to bring some attention to -- the fellow at Electric Politics did an interview last week with General William Odom, former director of the NSA, who called Iraq "the greatest strategic mistake the US has ever made."

It's a long interview. I'd give a direct link to the post, but their blog software seems not to offer a la carte; there's just text on the front page and a link to the MP3.

#130 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 07:50 AM:

Other chose to attack that viewpoint - I assume - to prove that Bush is, indeed, the most evil man of all time.

Nah. Just the Worst President Ever (WPE, which has supplanted 'Dubya' as my casual reference to him).

#131 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 07:53 AM:

the WPE acronym is pronounced Wipe.

#132 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 09:10 AM:

Okay, American people. Over to you.

So, we're doomed, then. Or will a waning spark be fanned once more into a bright flame, bringing a light that will illuminate all corners of our system of governance, restoring accountability once more?

Nope, I'm sticking with doomed.

#133 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Chris: Everyone that spoke out against the war (WWI, WWII, 1812, etc) was a suspect before the only difference is that now they have the technology to spy on people that communicate internationally.

Ah, but now you don't even have to speak out against the war to be a suspect, you see. Everyone is a suspect all the time, and everyone is monitored. They don't need probable cause. They don't need any justification at all.

#134 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Lizzy, I admit I'm a Virginian, but I think Kaine was a good choice. He won election over a popular Republican who had a very dirty campaign.

#135 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:27 AM:

Lizzy said [T]he Democratic party heads ... are wasting an opportunity. It's really time they made it clear -- they stand for something.

Stand for what?

That's not meant snidely, nor in any negative way. I agree -- the Democratic Party has not well defined its message.

There's a pretty cool project, though, that might remedy that problem. Our Ten Words is a site where people can submit, in ten words or fewer, what they believe Democrats ought to be about. There's room for discussing sets of words; it's pretty interesting. It's apparently being supported strongly by Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa (which certainly makes me want to know more about him and his future).

No, I haven't yet submitted my words, having not gotten them as I'd like. After the workweek (I work weekend overnights) it's on the to-do list.

#136 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2006, 11:35 PM:

(long) Posted by someone (anonymously) at Firedoglake:
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. --Benjamin Franklin

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be isolated, be ignored, be attacked, be in doubt, be frightened, but do not be silenced. --Bertrand Russell

When the people fear the government you have tyranny... when the government fears the people you have liberty. --Thomas Jefferson

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. --Abraham Lincoln

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. --Theodore Roosevelt

Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel. --H.L. Mencken

Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it. --Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

Today American's would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government. --Henry Kissinger

I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy, but that could change. --Dan Quayle

There ought to be limits on freedom. --George W. Bush

If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator. --George W. Bush

A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it. --George W. Bush

The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one. --Adolf Hitler

I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God. --George H. W. Bush

Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a 'living document,’ we now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake... We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones. Don't think that it's a one-way street. --Antonin Scalia

#137 ::: P J Evans sees something ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2007, 12:25 PM:

not comment spam, but not the usual level of intelligence for this place.

#138 ::: P J Evans sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Again...

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