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Desperado

The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"What is the chief end of offensive war?" 


I'm reading Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fisher.

It is impossible to avoid comparisons between that imperialist British war and today's imperialist American war. I may write more about the book later, but for now there is this, buried in the book's "Historiography" section, way in the back:
On February 19, 1777, the Pennsylvania Journal published a "new catechism" in a series of political questions. One of the first questions asked,
What is the chief end of offensive war?
The correct answer was
To gratify the ambition of a tyrannic prince.

posted by Tom  # 1/28/2006 01:14:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Satire in peril in the time of Bush 


I thought I was being satirical about President George W. "W" Bush's percipient observation that "Germany is a really important country. It's right in the heart of Europe."

This, however, is satirical brilliance beyond my meager means to convey, other than by quoting in full:
Angie, Angie -- they can't say we never tried

Could it be a Reagan-Thatcher thing? It's just too soon to tell and I really don't know enough about Angela Merkel, but I felt she was charmed by Dubya and that the relationship is off to a good start. When asked to describe the meeting with her, he carefully chose the right sentiments:

"We've got something in common, we both didn't exactly landslide our way into office."(Humor! Humility! Realism!)

"I'm convinced that we will have a really important and good relationship."(Sounds like commitment to me.)

"First, I do want to send my best regards to Gerhard Schroeder. We spent a lot of time together, and we talked about issues. Listen, there was room for agreement and room for disagreement. And I do hope he's doing well."(Shows real sensitivity and an open mind.)

"Our job now is to work together. We've got big interests. Germany is a really important country. It's right in the heart of Europe; it's vital that Germany take the lead on a lot of issues."(She is important. She is the heart of Europe.)

"And I look forward to working with the Chancellor on common objectives. And my first impressions, with 45 minutes alone in the Oval Office, were incredibly positive."(She's a player on the world stage.)

"She's smart -- she's plenty capable. She's got kind of a spirit to her that is appealing. She loves freedom."(First and foremost, she has brain power -- but that's not all that's appealing.)

"I was particularly touched by hearing about her early life in communist Germany. There's something uplifting to talk to somebody who knows the difference between just talking about tyranny and living in freedom and actually done it."(He could listen to her life story all day long. She's compelling, and experienced in matters of freedom.)

"So we're going to have a very good relationship. And that's important for our respective people. I'm looking forward to consultations, visits, contacts, phone calls, all the things you do."(He can't wait to see her again. He'll be waiting by the phone.)

"And now I'm going to take her to lunch."(Bingo! Knows the way to the woman's soul and he's treating!)
The rest of the web log is certainly over the top, under the bottom, or otherwise adverbially related to some abstract noun, but my there sure are a lot of laughs there.
posted by Tom  # 1/24/2006 11:37:00 AM
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Monday, January 23, 2006

More Golden Retriever web logging in the snow 



Amber Lynn and her lifelong pal Java the Mutt, just a couple of movie gals, frolicking in the snow, not one of those boring pictures of the blogger's pet lounging around the house like a blogger, but two committed action dogs.

Photo by Brother Dave, known as Parmo in his photographic aspect. More dog pics there, or just wait until I run another one.
posted by Tom  # 1/23/2006 11:32:00 AM
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

A blogger is just a writer with a cooler name 


This is pretty much the way I feel. All that I have wanted, since I started doing this stuff in 1978, was to write. It's the one thing I've always wanted to do (and have always done).

Link via Brother Dave.

Ed's note: FWIW, I try not to use the words blog and blogger because they're so ugly.
posted by Tom  # 1/21/2006 12:32:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Medicare deadline - there's an inspirational phrase 


I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that I signed up for my Medicare drug benefit like a sheep going to shearing, not because I thought I needed it, but because of a paranoid fear that if I didn't sign something now, before the first deadline, I wouldn't be any further along in understanding by the time of the second deadline, and who knows if there's a third deadline?

End result?
I was paying $420 a year to the pharmacy for the one prescription drug I take.

I now pay $320 a year to an insurance company (one of 67 screaming for my baksheesh) and approximately another $100 co-pay to the pharmacy.

I'm still taking only one prescription drug and I'm pretty sure I'm equally screwed whether I signed up or not. I won't find out until I get another prescription, I guess.

posted by Tom  # 1/17/2006 12:11:00 PM
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Prince Henry the Navigator, meet King George the Geographer 


Brazil is big as President George W. "W" Bush said, but what about Germany?

The President can handle it:
"Germany is a really important country. It's right in the heart of Europe."
These sentient remarks were delivered to the respective leaders of these countries.

I wonder what he would say to Crown Prince Alois of Lichtenstein. Judging from the link, he wouldn't call it "an insignificant little dab", even though that's what it is.
posted by Tom  # 1/14/2006 01:17:00 PM
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Prostitute Fumento busted, John Monsanto goes free 


Aptly named amateur fumer and fomenter Michael Fumento just got canned from his job of praising chemical farming because he turned out to be in the chemical tank.

The "Hudson Institute scholar" wrote a book praising Monsanto after soliciting them for $60,000 to pay him while worked on it.

Money quote, literally, emphasis added:
The Monsanto grant, he says, flowed from the company to the Hudson Institute to support his work. A portion went to overhead and "most of it" went into his salary. He says the money was simply folded into his salary for that year, and therefore represented no windfall to him personally.
As the prophet said, "Of the huffing and puffing of hypocrites, there is no end."
posted by Tom  # 1/14/2006 12:35:00 PM
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

I am so proud of my "evil Cheney" reputation, I'm doing it again 


My recent item,
Inattention, evil, incompetence, we never expected a trifecta
is Number Ten on the Top Ten Results of a
Google blog search for "evil Cheney".
And a friendly Desperado greeting to all our new readers from No Such Agency.

Ed's note: Spell checker did not know "Google", offered "googol".
posted by Tom  # 1/12/2006 06:15:00 PM
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Wisdom of a Republican 

"If you don't want it known, don't use the phone."

Vice president Nelson Rockefeller, 1971.

posted by Tom  # 1/12/2006 11:25:00 AM
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Monday, January 09, 2006

More political equations 


Following up on my assertion that McCain = Bush - Torture, Brother Dave offers:
Bush = Nixon - Brain

Bush = Reagan - Heart
Finally, in honor of the Freudian little zero's fixation on his father, I give you
Bush = Bush - Bush

posted by Tom  # 1/09/2006 04:51:00 PM
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Up against the wall, Samuel Alito! 


How to question Samuel Alito when all he will say is, "I might have to rule on that someday." A leftover weapon, never used, from the Harriet Miers nomination, from the Boston Globe back in October:

How to question Harriet Miers
By Rashi Fein | October 14, 2005

A FEW DAYS ago I had occasion to visit the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. The building is adorned with numerous inscriptions: the preamble to the US Constitution; the First, Fourth, Sixth, and 14th Amendments; excerpts from the constitutions of Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, and great quotations carved in stone.

I stopped to read and think about the two inscriptions at the entrance stairways of the courthouse, one by Justice Louis D. Brandeis, the other by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. I then walked through and around the building and read others.

All of them, from the first by John Adams in 1776 to the last by Justice Stephen Breyer in 1991, are deeply moving. They are part of our rich history and legal tradition, a ''democratic conversation," in the words of the courthouse brochure. And so I offer a suggestion: Suppose the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were to spend less time asking questions a nominee to the Supreme Court would either choose not to answer, deem ''inappropriate," or just plain evade. Suppose instead they were to engage with the nominee in a conversation about the quotations from Boston's federal courthouse. Wouldn't the members of the committee and we, the public, learn more about the nominees' views than we do from questions that go unanswered?

Just over there, at the entrance stairway, is a statement by Oliver Wendell Holmes, made in 1881 before he was elevated to the Supreme Court: "The life of the law has not been logic: It has been experience." And from the brochure, we learn that Holmes went on to say, "In order to know what [the law] is, we must know what it has been and what it tends to become." In Holmes's view, then, the law is alive and ever-changing.

Does Harriet Miers stand with Holmes or does she find his statement wanting, thinks Holmes ''too activist" a justice? Let's talk that through with Miers.

And let's have a look at the words of Justice Louis D. Brandeis and talk about the role of the Executive Branch and the application of executive power. Here is what he said in 1914: "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole world by its example." Brandeis, the brochure notes, went on to say, "In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously" and "if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law . . ." Does that statement inform our discussion about the application of the Geneva Convention and, if so, how?

Or we might focus on and discuss what Justice Frankfurter in 1951 wrote, in words that some would argue apply to ''enemy combatants" and others: "No better instrument has been devised for arriving at truth than to give a person in jeopardy of serious loss notice of the case against him and opportunity to meet it." He went on to emphasize that "the validity and moral authority of a conclusion largely depend on the mode by which it was reached" and, as the brochure states, "He warned that a fair process is especially critical 'at times of agitation and anxiety, when fear and suspicion impregnate the air we breathe.' " Does Miers agree with Justice Frankfurter? If not, how would she amend his statement?

There are more than 30 engravings on the Moakley Courthouse. Every one is both a witness to and a maker of history. It would be useful for the US Senate to know what Miers thinks about those statements, statements that the designers of the courthouse considered significant to the understanding of the role of law and the pursuit of justice.

In the jury assembly hall of the courthouse are inscribed the words of Justice Brandeis: "Those who won our independence believed . . . that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government."

Applying those words in the forthcoming hearings would enable the citizenry to listen to the discussion and to be educated in the issues involved. Such a "democratic conversation" would be invaluable, far more useful and instructive than yet another round of predictable questions and equally predictable responses.

Rashi Fein is professor emeritus of the economics of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

posted by Tom  # 1/09/2006 03:00:00 PM
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Inattention, evil, incompetence, we never expected a trifecta 


In re last week's item, You personally, not symbolically, are under surveillance, a Raw Story report entitled, White House outrage over wiretap story is 'smokescreen'. The article, reporting on a Frank Rich column, argues that the White House is covering up something bigger than what has already been revealed.

Here is the last paragraph:
That the White House's over-the-top outrage about the Times scoop is a smokescreen contrived to cover up something else is only confirmed by Dick Cheney's disingenuousness. In last week's oration at a right-wing think tank, he defended warrant-free wiretapping by saying it could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Really? Not with this administration in charge. On 9/10 the NSA (lawfully) intercepted messages in Arabic saying, "The match is about to begin," and, "Tomorrow is zero hour." You know the rest. Like all the chatter our government picked up during the president's excellent brush-clearing Crawford vacation of 2001, it was relegated to manana; The NSA didn't rouse itself to translate those warnings until 9/12.
Ed's note: The spell checker offered travesty for trifecta.
posted by Tom  # 1/08/2006 12:31:00 PM
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Friday, January 06, 2006

Someone's dreams of internet glory flushed, a dot-com tragedy 


The always smooth-running JO reports that among the lapsed domain names at his name provider is
laxatives2go.com

posted by Tom  # 1/06/2006 02:10:00 PM
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

More Golden Retriever web logging in the snow 




Tennis-ball-detector reading off the meter

No, it's not one of those boring pictures of the blogger's pet lounging around the house like a blogger, but Ginger the action dog.

Photo by Brother Dave, known as Parmo in his photographic aspect. More dog pics there, or just wait until I run another one.

Ed's note: The first two Golden Retriever photos featured the current queen, Amber, but this one is of Ginger, the previous, now late, queen. Both these dogs, being beautiful blondes, have the middle name Lynn.
posted by Tom  # 1/05/2006 11:37:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

ABC, sure, but XYZ, not likely 


Abramoff and ABSCAM both start out at the beginning of the alphabet, but Talking Points Memo raises the point that ABSCAM never got to Z and that the same thing is likely to happen with Abramoff.

Why? The FBI stopped the ABSCAM fish-in-a-barrel investigation because members of Congress kept jumping in the barrel. The Abramoff investigation, too, might have to be stopped before they catch too many fish.

That is, don't jump on the bandwagon lest you upset the applecart.
posted by Tom  # 1/04/2006 01:26:00 PM
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Organized trollery 


You'll recall my suspicions that I was being trolled by Republicans in the comments to my post You personally, not symbolically, are under surveillance.

Morons.org had the same problem last summer, magnified by hundreds.
posted by Tom  # 1/04/2006 01:21:00 PM
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Here is your war on terror 


Let's hope this isn't all there is to the war on terror. These are terrible stories of human tragedy at the hands of our government. First they came for the Jews.
posted by Tom  # 1/04/2006 01:10:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Brain my numb, can't stop now, For sure ain't no doubt, Keep an open mind, let it all hang out 


I've been sitting on this one from Brother Dave for a while now, trying to make sense out of it, but it just isn't happening, so here, you try.

The blockquote below is from Instapundit, explaining, as is his wont, how wise, foresightful, and just gosh-darned cool is War Commander-in-Chief George W. "W" Bush.

You may experience side effects from reading this. Emphasis bumped here and there in the hopes of helping the reader.
December 18, 2005 | 11:05 PM ET

On Friday, the House of Representatives took a vote on the war, with a resolution that said Congress was committed "to achieving victory in Iraq." How did it go? Well, it passed, but "Democrats voted against the resolution by a roughly two-to-one margin."

Uh oh. Sunday night, President Bush gave a speech -- you can see the video here -- and in the speech he went out of his way to identify himself with the Iraq war. He didn't have to do that -- Congress voted in favor of war by an overwhelming margin -- but he did. He spoke repeatedly of the war as his decision, and he took full responsibility for it.

Why did Bush do that? Because we're winning, and he wants credit.
What's more, he wants to make clear in the minds of Americans that we're winning in spite of the Democrats' opposition, because he wants people to remember that come election time.

Bush obviously thinks that by the 2006 Congressional elections, and especially the 2008 Presidential election, it will be obvious that we've won in Iraq, and he wants to make sure that the Democrats can be portrayed as defeatists and losers -- imagine the television commercials that Republicans can run regarding Democratic members of Congress who voted against a commitment to "achieving victory in Iraq."

It looks to me as if the Democrats have been expertly maneuvered into a very uncomfortable position. Before long, I think it will look that way to them, too.
Ed's note: And, yes, the question "Who made Galileo look like a Boy Scout?" will be on the test.
posted by Tom  # 1/03/2006 02:23:00 PM
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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Tom Delay so crooked you could screw him into the ground 


Corrupt politician Tom Delay channeled money from everyone, Indian tribes, Russian oilmen, hiding behind a fake "family charity".

In an e-mail, DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said the donations were not a factor in the congressional activities of the Texas Republican and former House majority leader.

"Mr. DeLay makes decisions and sets legislative priorities based on good policy and what is best for his constituents and the country. Any suggestion of outside influence is manipulative and absurd," Madden said. "Mr. DeLay has very firm beliefs and he fights very hard for them."

posted by Tom  # 1/01/2006 11:11:00 PM
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