Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Disunion

It was on this day 150 years ago that the United States...weren't. The military arms of the brand-new "Confederate States of America" opened fire on the fortification in Charleston harbor as a way of officially announcing that it was "game on".

Enough ink has been spilled about the blood that was spilled thereafter to make any further effusion on my part somewhere between extraneous and foolish. I may just pick one of the Civil War engagements to talk about this month, although I'm starting to wonder whether anything about that mess of a fraternal slapfight was "decisive", given that we seem today to be as much a house divided, half Fox and half free, as we were back in the day.

But I will make one observation that should really be jim's, since he has gone further down the road towards recognizing that the first step to take when you set out upon resolving your differences through armed force should be to dig two graves, is that the capture of Sumter may well have been decisive in defeating the Confederacy.

Adam Goodheart observes as much in today's NYT:
"It is difficult to see what the rebels would have lost if they had allowed Major Anderson and his tiny Union force to remain indefinitely. Indeed, they could have couched their forbearance as a humanitarian gesture, a token of their peaceful intentions that might have won them allies not just in the North, but also – all-importantly – among the nations of Europe. Certainly leaving Sumter alone would have bought them more time: more time to more fully organize and equip the South’s armies; more time to establish all the ordinary apparatus – a postal service, a stable national currency, a judicial system – that serve to make government a solid fact rather than a speculative figment. Both to its own citizens and to the rest of the world, the Confederate States of America might have come to seem like a fait accompli."
Certainly the man who did perhaps more than anyone to scourge the Confederacy with fire and blood seems to have agreed. "They attacked Sumter," said Abraham Lincoln, "it fell, and thus, did more service than it otherwise could.”

I've always been pretty skeptical about the way we here in the U.S. seem to congratulate ourselves on our national greatness about liberty and equality. It took four years and millions of deaths for us to accept that owning other people like they were Cheeze Doodles wasn't really a good idea. The British, who made us look like pikers when it came to butchering and conquering peoples duskier than most Britons, did the same with a bloodless Act of Parliament thirty-two years earlier.

But, anyway, it was April 13, 1861 that we began our four-year internecine dispute over how the domestic help should be payed. Feel free to discuss.

Update 4/13 p.m.: One good place to start the discussion might be the fact that...
"In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, roughly one in four Americans said they sympathize more with the Confederacy than the Union, a figure that rises to nearly four in ten among white Southerners. When asked the reason behind the Civil War, whether it was fought over slavery or states' rights, 52 percent of all Americans said the leaders of the Confederacy seceded to keep slavery legal in their state, but a sizeable 42 percent minority said slavery was not the main reason why those states seceded."
...as many as a quarter of us LIKE the idea of "It was OK to believe that black people are ownable, like Cheeze Doodles" (i.e., the "sympathize more with the Confederacy") and almost half of us are lying to ourselves about history, and not in a subtle "well, gosh, the historical record is SO unclear on this" way but a "Gee, I know that Jefferson Davis said that
"The condition of slavery with us is, in a word, Mr. President, nothing but the form of civil government instituted for a class of people not fit to govern themselves. It is exactly what in every State exists in some form or other. It is just that kind of control which is extended in every northern State over its convicts, its lunatics, its minors, its apprentices. It is but a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves. We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority."
but that doesn't mean he and all those other rebs committed treason in defense of slavery..." sort of way.

I know that the post hoc does not ergo propter hoc, but the fact that a hell of a lot of Americans STILL believe this crap after millions of people like my great-granduncle Richard died trying to knock the fool-stuffing out of their ancestors' heads makes me even more irritated with the Public as Ass; we often get the nation and the government we deserve.

And the fools that believe this nonsense, well...

Update 4/14: Let me be a little MORE explicit here.

We in the U.S. need to knock this Lost Cause nonsense on the head like a sick cat. Here's a good example of what I'm talking about, from Crooked Timber; the writer explains that he had to take a citizenship test, that part of this test was about U.S. history, and that the part about U.S. history said this about the origins of the Civil War:
"The Civil War began when 11 southern states voted to secede (separate) from the United States to form their own country, the Confederate States of America. These southern states believed that the federal government of the United States threatened their right to make their own decisions. They wanted states’ rights with each state making their own decisions about their government. If the national government contradicted the state, they did not want to follow the national government."
This is the "official" version, funded by your and my tax dollars.

Well, horseshit. The "right" the rebels believed in was the Cheeze Doodle Clause. It didn't have anything to do with how they felt they should be able to spend federal highway funds, or whether the tariff on imported goods was too high or too low.

Would it kill us to drive a stake into the heart of this fucker? To accept, as most Germans today accept abut Naziism and most Japanese accept about the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, that the South broke the Union on behalf of their belief that it was right and proper for one man to OWN another?

I don't believe that we'll ever really get there. But this sort of stuff shows me we don't really even want to start.

So is it any wonder we're discussing stuff like bombing for peace and punching poor people in a depression? Christ, we can't even agree that the Cheeze Doodle Clause was fucked up like a football bat. No wonder we're so ate up.

(Crooked Timber post here: http://crookedtimber.org/2011/04/14/the-civil-war-in-americas-narrative/ - for some reason my computer has decided not to let me link to stuff today. It's probably virused, and I blame it all on Congressional dysfunction.)

72 comments:

  1. Chief,
    My disconnect with the CW is that it instituted a form of gov't upon this land THAT WAS NOT THE CHILD OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS.
    I like to talk about the protective tariffs reqd by the North as a cause of war. As imp as slavery in the downward spiral.
    I also believe that the right wing crazies are exactly the same mentality as the folks that fired on Sumter. If they had as much balls as they have mouth then they'd go to arms. The Glenn Beck's i mean.
    jim

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  2. Chief,
    I'll bet the southerners had strategic discussions on this topic before they atkd.
    And of course this made it all right.
    We can call this the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Charleston harbor. Per Lincoln's cmt.
    jim

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  3. I don't really have anything to say other than to point out that this post is an interesting contrast to Pat Lang's.

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  4. Adam Goodheart can observe as much as he likes, but he doesn't know very much about America and Americans. We're all about excess, and we don't ever do what's smart; we do what feels good. Firing on Fort Sumter felt good, so they did it. Setting an example for Euros? Oh, please. Not how we do it.

    This is a nation of rednecks. Lots of us highly educated—well, you betcha, best educated nation ever—but rednecks nevertheless. Newt Gingrich has a PhD and has been a college professor. Some college somewhere actually gave Palin and Bachmann degrees. Case closed.

    Obama is not a redneck, but he is a pussy. He is a white wine and cheese dude who happens to be black. Guess why he's having problems. An effete black in a redneck country. How did this happen?

    We're still fighting the Civil War. Obama is the first black president, but he's a pussy. No respect for him in the south. If we were going to go black, we should have elected Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.

    We are learning that neither the people in the North nor the people in the South actually "won" the Civil War. The blacks didn't either. We do know who "won" the Civil War, don't we?

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  5. The British outlawed slavery in response to the world's first grass-roots political movement.

    None of the elites in Britain wanted slavery gone. In fact, many of them profited from it in one way or another. Many of the modern political grassroots influence techniques were invented at that time.

    Compare that experience to the USA, where a similar movement got underway but could not hold itself together to maintain a concerted political focus.

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  6. jim: If I had to throw a stone, I'd throw it at WW2; I think the changes that war wrought to the U.S. government and U.S. politics far outweighed those made by the Great Rebellion. But that's just me, and YMMV.

    Publius; Yeessss....but we backed down from the Quasi-war. And from "54-40 or Fight". And from open war with Mexico in 1916. And from a bunch of other places where we actually thought before we shot our mouths off or ourselves in the foot. We can be cunning, in our redneck way. The Rebs weren't, and that was all he was saying; they took the "if it feels good, do it" approach you're discussing.

    As for Obama, pussy or no, he and his fellow intellectual, upper-class pussies have the rest of us rednecks by the short and curlies. THEY're the ones getting the tax cuts, not us. So in that sense he IS the spiritual heir to the oligarchs who won the war; the people who became the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age, the banksters and Wall Streeters of the Roaring Twenties, the S&L Crooks and crony capitalists of today.

    And, yes, they did win, as they always tend to do.

    Ael: Yes and no. There had to have been enough elite opinion on the abolition side to make it happen; nothing in Britain prior to WW1 happened without SOME sort of elite participation on the winning side. What helped there was that most of the actual slaves weren't in England itself but in its colonies, which (as our ancestors found out in the 1700s) don't make enough of a difference in Parliament to affect legislation.

    Here you had a solid regional bloc that had a hell of a lot of political and physical power. Not surprising that the slavers managed to block any attempt to change or rid the nation of their "peculiar institution".

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  7. Re: Publius' comment about "who won the Civil War"...because I think it gives us a lot of insight into the modern U.S.

    The real victors were the guys who became the Robber Barons in the Victorian North...and the southern elites who regained power post-Reconstruction. So you got a real devel's brew: unfettered capitalism and in-your-face redneckism. Like Ayn Rand in a pair of Daisy Dukes.

    Wow.

    And, to quote the Perfect Master: "This is the base metal from which all Modern Conservative alloys are manufactured. Add misogyny, xenophobia, "...and the Negroes" and you have Limbaughism. Blend in a massive dose of recycled Bircher crackpot conspiracy mongering and you have Glenn Beck. Squirt it into a Baby Jebus-shaped injection mold and you have the anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-choice Christian Conservatives.

    Then dumb the whole mess down about 70% and stick it into a pair of fuck-me pumps and you have Sarah Palin."


    How's that for a recipe for fiscal and social clusterfuckery?

    Sheesh.

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  8. Chief: "unfettered capitalism"

    I have to call foul here, Chief. A friend of mine recently found a Citibank report written in 2005. The bank analysts who wrote the report believed two things:
    1) that the economy has become a "Plutonomy," an economy of, by, and for, the few.
    2) that this made our economy more effective in competing in the world marketplace.

    I think we've pretty well proven the first with banks that are too big to fail getting tens of billions of government dollars in aid while the smaller banks are literally getting the shaft to ensure that the bigger banks have an increasingly overwhelming advantage.

    I think we've also disproven the second theorem on world competitiveness. The three major countries that the study commended for Plutonomy were the US, Canada, and Britain (I'd throw Japan in there as well). Canada has done okay (barely), the other three are in the process of falling apart because of their inefficient marketplaces.

    So while the vast minority enjoy "unfettered capitalism," the rest of us are going the other way.

    The particularly odd thing about this study was that it described the historical successes of Plutonomy in the US (Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties) in such glowing terms while totally ignoring the unhappy endings of both periods. Did the authors think that the third time would be any different?

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  9. As I think about this a bit further, we are also looking at a "Plutocratic" society. Where the politicians are tied to the interests of the wealthy and increasingly ignore the needs/desires of the rest of the population.

    This can't possibly be good.

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  10. Pluto: "As I think about this a bit further, we are also looking at a "Plutocratic" society. Where the politicians are tied to the interests of the wealthy and increasingly ignore the needs/desires of the rest of the population."

    The amazing part is that the bulk of society has no realization that you are probably correct. More and more uf the population slips under water a little bit at a time, and those still treading water hardly notice, or accept the notion that "taxes and big government" are to blame. The population itself is to blame, as no one thinks beyond the end of their own nose. I am convinced that a culture shift will not occur without a full catastrophe, ala the Great Depression. This last go-around wasn't profound enough.

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  11. Publius,
    In the North they have a saying- ONCE YOU GO BLACK YOU'LL NEVER GO BACK.To white i presume.
    Isn't it an interesting thought that Obomba is a carpetbagger? My idea.
    Explain how he became part of the elite. Was his Dad a tribal chief or sumpin'?
    AHHH didn't you vote for his sorry ass?
    jim

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  12. Chief,
    I'd put my money on Korea/rvn.
    Both saw Theater Armies deployed to ground combat w/o a dec of war. Both ironically by democrats, but yet repubs get the credit for being defense guys. Why?
    Didn't Nixon throw in the towel.?
    Before these wars we never sent such units w/o a declaration of war. Before it was Regt'l at best/worst.
    Nice little shoot em ups outta sight/mind.
    The Phillipine 01 thing may be an exception, since i'm hazy on the size of forces engaged, but i doubt it was a theater /macom action.
    jim

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  13. Publius,

    Please define "pussy" in the context you use it. How would the President have to act in order to not be a "pussy?"

    As for Sharpton and Jackson the problem with them is that they are the products of their times and generation and are unable to see things in a context other than the civil rights struggle. Maybe they would be "tougher" in the abstract sense of acting in an uncompromising fashion, but I don't see how their rather narrow worldview would be a good fit for the Presidency.

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  14. Pluto:
    1) that the economy has become a "Plutonomy," an economy of, by, and for, the few.
    2) that this made our economy more effective in competing in the world marketplace.


    My bet is that the analyst did, indeed, "believe" this. "Belief" as in no supporting facts or empirical evidence. It worked, at least in the short run, for CitiBank and the analyst, and the few, so therefore it was good.

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  15. I don't believe in congressional dysfunction.
    It functions fine.

    See Greenwald for a description of the blindingly obvious.

    Recall that last election there was a "landslide" turnover in the house (i.e. 5% of seats changed parties). Seems like more same-old same-old.

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  16. Fortune had this article about the claim that lower corporate taxes stimulate jobs. Lower corporate taxes stimulate anything but jobs. They do stimulate more money for the few.

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  17. Ael: My meaning was "dysfunction" in terms of "working to find legislative solutions to things that tend to weaken the U.S. the nation as a whole". In terms of "working to find legislative solutions that tend to benefit the wealthiest citizens at the expense of the national interest" then, yes. Greenwald's definition is correct.

    Andy: That's because, as I've noted before, where the goddamn Rebels are concerned Lang is just another friggin' Southern belle who gets all flushed and sweaty sitting there fanning himself and thinking about the Manly Goodness of the Southern Cavaliers and their friggin' Lost Cause. He's utterly hopeless where this issue is concerned, unable to call a spade a friggin' shovel.

    And I tend to agree with Publius that Obama is either a pussy - in the sense that he refuses to fight for what he says he believes in - or a liar - in that he says he believes things but his actions suggest he does not. Not a good choice to have in a President, although not an unfamiliar one for us gringos, vato.

    Sad. Just sad.

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  18. My definition of "dysfunction" would be putting party first over country.

    The sad spectacle of the Congressional rant about the debt ceiling is a prime case of that definition.

    Or the Public Liar John Kyl of Arizona lying on the floor of the US Senate about Planned ParentHood, or Obama canning Shirley Sherrod and letting ACORN wither and die.

    on and on . . . . .

    bb

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  19. Chief,

    How is he not fighting for what he believes in? It seems to me his problem is that the office of the President doesn't have the authority to implement most of his important policy efforts, which are mostly domestic. A President can talk up some bullshit, rally the base, etc., but at the end of the day he is beholden to what the legislature is willing and able to send to his desk. For example, he signed an executive order to close Guantanamo, but Congress, by wide bipartisan majorities, specifically prevented funding to implement that order. One Senate vote back in 2009 to insert that amendment into some legislation was 90-6. Similarly, Congress specifically prevented transfer of detainees from GITMO to the US by specifically refusing to fund any such effort.

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  20. Chief:

    Adam Goodheart is right (quite a moniker though, is that a pen-name?). And you are correct IMHO that the primary reason for secession was slavery. But that does not mean that your typical rebel yell was shouting hooray for slavery. The big slaveowners were the politicians in the statehouses and the county seats. They were what - maybe one or two percent of the white population in the south. Maybe another ten or 15 percent were small slaveholders with just one or two humans in bondage. The slaveowners and the merchants and tradesmen they dealt with had the power base and they owned the propaganda organs. They had proselytizers out preaching about the horrors of negro equality. And do not forget, it was not an all-volunteer army, there were lots of conscripts. Your average private in the CSA was not fighting for slavery. Yeah, there were a lot of racists who swallowed too much agitprop. But then so are a whole lot of folks in Detroit, South Boston, Philadelphia, etc. The worst racist rednecks that I ever met were not from the south.

    And not all Southerners fought for Jefferson Davis. There were many southern Unionists who died fighting in blue uniforms like your great-granduncle Richard. Some historians say, that with the sole exception of South Carolina, every state in the confederacy had at least one regiment in the Union Army. These were white southern regiments and did not include the black regiments who usually fought under the banner of northern states with northern officers.

    I don't know if that is a true historical picture or not. But I believe that there were whole populations in the Appalachians that were against slavery and against secession. One third of the state of Virginia seceded from that state and went for the Union. Alabama hill country was a hotbed of Union sentiment where the Confederacy faced an insurrection of their own. The same with eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Some white Unionists of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry at Fort Pillow were also massacred, it wasn't just black troops. Many places in tidewater North Carolina and Virginia where the primary occupation was fishing with little or zero slavery were Unionists. Sam Houston, a Unionist, ran for Governor of Texas in 1859 on a Unionist ticket and won the election. He was impeached in March 61 for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

    The sad thing is that after the war was over when they returned home most of those southern loyalists were treated badly by the northern Reconstructionists who showed no discrimination between them and the returning rebels. And then when the carpetbaggers left they got it from the Klan. Many left for the west if they could, or if they stayed their descendants denied their heritage and tried to blend in with their rebel neighbors.

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  21. Chief:
    BTW - congrats to the Timbers. Did you get to the game?

    basil:
    My definition of "dysfunction" would be cutting off your own nose just to spite your face.

    Sherrod? She was apologized to and offered a high level position by the Obama people but she declined.

    ACORN? Congress cut off federal funds, not the White House. But the main reason they withered and died was the loss of funding by private donors.

    As for Obama's speech Wednesday, yes, it was politics. But I for one am glad to see him finally get into campaign mode.

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  22. Andy: When a man makes a promise he cannot keep and does not work hard to attempt to keep it, then he is either a fool, a liar, or a coward.

    Gitmo was pretty much a slam dunk; Congress did not establish it, it is run entirely through the DoD, which as we recall the same idiots who fizz so loudly about funding and running it kept reminding us for eight years is the President's Commander-in-Chiefyness business.

    The prisoners there are not the business of the judicial branch, as we have been reminded, or of the legislative but the Executive. So it's pretty simple; you get your DoJ to rule that the prisoners are remanded to federal custody, try 'em, and either cage 'em up or let 'em go.

    As with Gitmo so with the budget. The guy seems to see the positions his party is supposed to hold as a starting point for negotiation, while the GOP sees theirs as the end point. He gets played, early and often.

    This is fighting?

    The guy has a bully pulpit. Does he use it?

    Yes, his speech Wednesday took some mild shots at Ryan and the other innumerate Teatards. But the man lacks the political viciousness of an FDR, who knew who his enemies were and used their bile to his advantage. Obama doesn't seem to get that he can tie the oligarch's can to the GOP and kick it repeatedly as a way of getting what he is supposed to want as a D instead of a moderate R.

    The man is just not a fighter. That, or he really IS a moderate R. Either way, this country now has a hard Right and a center-Right. For those of us not in the two-Beemer family...that's not good news.

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  23. mike: I know all the arguments; the Good Southerners, the racist north, the poor whites. And whilst you're technically right, there were a lot of decent guys who marched with the Grossdeutschland Division, too. They just fought for the shittiest cause any human ever picked up a rifle for. And all those decent Southrons? The second-shittiest. Or maybe the first - it's hard to quantify the badness of the two.

    Either way, the point isn't really about what they THOUGHT they were fighting for; it's what we can now understand that they WERE fighting for. And that was the continuation of the Southern state's right to own people. IT doesn't make their descendents bad people any more than it makes the Germans of 2011 bad people.

    But it does make us all a little smaller, a little stupider, and a little cheaper if we don't begin and end the discussion with "The Nazis - and the American South - fought for a despicable cause."

    And I'll tell you why.

    My kid is just discovering World War 2. And like a hell of a lot of kids, from eight to eighteen, he's discovering that from a visual point of view, the Nazis were...cool.

    They had all the cool stuff; their uniforms were cooler, their tanks and aircraft and ships were cooler. They just have that cool, slick, hard-ass look. I thought that, too, when I was twelve.

    I have to bang him over the head every time we talk about it. Yes, the Panther was a cool tank. No, the Nazis weren't ACTUALLY cool. They were murderous pricks who tried to kill your Grampa Jack (who was a Navy flier in 1945, so it was the Japanese, really, but never mind).

    The same with the South. LEt's face it; the South has all the cool generals and all the kick-ass battles. Their battle flag is neato. The whole Southern thing, like the Nazi thing, appeals to the eternal twelve-year-old in all of us.

    So it's crucial that that twelve-year-old gets reminded every time he sighs over the incredible coolness of the Waffen SS...these guys were NOT cool. They weren't just fighting for "their right to lebensraum". They were murderous fuckers who were the enemies of everything your country stood and stands for.

    I know I get pedantic about this, but I get really sick of seeing the Southern rebels get a pass on this. It makes it SO easy to justify all the long-term problems we have that our persistent unwillingness to deal with the legacy of slavery has left us...

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  24. Chief,

    Gitmo is not a slam dunk when Congress specifically takes away the money to do what you want to do. I suppose Obama could go all Iran-Contra and illegally bypass Congress, but other than that he doesn't have any options.

    And on the budget, the only power the President has is to sign or veto what appears on his desk.

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  25. Andy,
    I propose that our leaders view everything as a global struggle, hence GWOT. They are as blinkered as Jackson and Sharpton. Threats are great vote getters.
    I find it funny that Congress will cut off funds to close Gitmo, but not to close 2 useless wars, and allow 830 mil$ to be spent bombing Libya.
    Hooray for the USA.
    IMHO , it'd be better to just use a firing sqd and just cut the bullshit, we know that legality/justice will ever be applied in Gitmo.
    Those that voted not to fund the move should be req'd to pull the triggers, thereby giving them an insight to splattering people.
    As for Obomba's pussyness - i don't see us pulling out of IRQ. That one isn't over as long as we have troopies in the mix.
    jim

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  26. I find it funny that Congress will cut off funds to close Gitmo, but not to close 2 useless wars, and allow 830 mil$ to be spent bombing Libya.

    Yeah, that is the irony. Congress rarely uses it's power to deny funds - usually it allocates the money and then the politicians turn right around and bitch about the policy they just funded. Not exactly a profile in courage, is it? All this is enabled by the amendment process in which these measures are tied to legislation that is otherwise essential or popular.

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  27. Andy,
    You ignored my pussyness cmt.
    jim

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  28. To all esp Publius/Andy,
    I think obomba is a pussy b/c he campaigned as anti war, but bombing Libya was anything but.
    He and hrc are playing politics when they should be acting as statesmen. IMHO they are preparing a 2012 ticket of O/hrc. This little trick will be another of his sleight of hands trick. Biden will not be vp candidate on the next ticket. BTW - he's pretty nutless also. Hell, in fact i'm nutless but mine is service connected.
    They are short circuiting the Repub claim of being tough. A preemptive strike aimed at the right, but dropped on sandy soil.
    jim
    S

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  29. Jim - "As for Obomba's pussyness - i don't see us pulling out of IRQ. That one isn't over as long as we have troopies in the mix."

    No, its not over while we have armed Americans patrolling the country. As we've been drawing down the troops we've been adding contractors in Iraq.

    Needless to say, they aren't very popular with the locals. Neither are they well armed or armored. Their training is all over the map and their attitude isn't very COIN-friendly either. Could this be a catastrophe waiting to happen?

    Here's a link to a website tracking them: http://civiliancontractors.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/overseas-contractor-count-first-quarter-2011/

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  30. Pluto:

    I read that survey a couple of years ago, and remember all that you have outlined. What got me was that Citi believed that the three Plutonomist countries would inexorably move further and further in this direction, barring some unforeseen change in direction.

    As I have mentioned before, the only thing I can imagine, is some sort of revolution causing the apple cart to go tits up (and using same cart as a tumbrel).

    Arab spring in America? They have the balls right now. Do the Americans, Canadians, and Brits Have the Balls? If not, when?

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  31. mike:

    Sam Houston could have run on an Army of Uranus Interventionist ticket and won.

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  32. Jim,

    My reading was that the President didn't want to go into Libya, but when faced with the political cost of doing nothing and watching Qaddafi possibly butcher thousands of people and intervene, he chose the latter and has tried to keep US involvement to a minimum. As you probably know, I thought he made the wrong decision, but I don't think that makes him a pussy. Again, how does one define that term?

    With regard to Iraq, we are supposed to pull out by the end of this year. If that happens he will have filled his campaign promise, even if he is just adhering to the deal Bush negotiated and not the timeline he campaigned on. We'll see if the withdrawal actually happens. I have some friends in Iraq right now, they are quite busy preparing to meet that timeline and they have received no indication that it will be extended.

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  33. Andy.
    I see you use the word POSSIBLY and this is correct since NO ONE knows what would have happened IF we kept our noses in joint.Possibly covers it all. All the words we banter about strategy are founded/based on this word. It's all a bit nebulous to my simple way of thinking.
    Yes -political cost!2012 coming up. That's how i define pussy.
    I was thinking the other day about how nice and comfortable the cold war was.
    jim

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  34. Jim,

    I think, then, that by your definition the vast majority of politicians are pussies,

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  35. Fasteddie -

    Good one on the "Interventionists", I hope there are none in my neck of the woods. But Texas politicking was tough even back then. Sam lost in 1857 before winning in 59. He had many political enemies who slandered him for the defeats and massacres at Goliad and Alamo even though just a month later he tore up Santa Ana's Uranus.

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  36. FDChief -

    Pedantic you are not! I respect where you are coming from. Although I disagree with where you are going with it. It would lead to, or is already leading to, the Balkanization of America. Are we to end up like the Serbs, Bosnians, Kosovars and Croats still at each others throats after more than 600 years? Or like the Arabs or Afghans where an insult is not forgotten for 100 generations?

    And if you say: "...the American South - fought for a despicable cause.", then why gloss over the Yankee slavetraders from every port in New England? Why gloss over the non-seceding border slave states like Kentucky and others that made millions by breeding slaves and selling them in the cotton states. Why gloss over the carpetbaggers who raped the south and turned it into a third world economy for 100 years? Why didn't we do a Marshall Plan for the south like we did for Japan and Germany? That should be the question we are asking. The Civil War is over, there are no Confederates in the attic plotting to reinstate slavery.

    PS - when are you going to feature the Battle of Kosovo? Or did I miss that one?

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  37. Andy,
    I believe that all politicians are narcissists, and our recent Prez's have been extreme examples.
    This is easier to articulate than their relative pussy factor. In addition , it's less sexist, and i strive to be sensitive.
    jim

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  38. mike: We are already fairly "balkanized"; the GOP has been largely rural and southern for a generation. At the rate we are becoming regionally and politically re-polarized I don't rule out a genuinely regional political center in another.

    And I don't pretend that the Southern U.S. was the only "guilty party" for slavery. The entire country was guilty of it in 1776, and many people were still proslavery in 1865, regardless of their region. But Oregon (despite going for the Southern Democrats over the Northern in 1860) didn't secede to protect its vile anti-black laws - as a state it voted Republican and stayed in the Union. The power elites in the Southern states did not, and we need to keep reminding ourselves of that.

    The carpetbaggers are a pimple on a gnat's ass. They "ruled", for as much as they did - a hell of a lot of the South remained in the hands of the prewar elite - for about ten years. But 1870 "reconstruction" was over and the Jim Crow South had begun. The South remained a third-world economy largely because the same agricultural elites who helped it lose the war preferred to maintain their rural lifestyle rather than accept the social and political changes that the Industrial Revolution forced on the North. I agree that what SHOULD have happened is a Marshall-like rebuilding AND a "de-Confederatization" like we did with the fascist nations after 1945. Generations of southern (and northern) schoolchildren should have grown up ashamed that the Founders had accepted the 3/5's clause, and that their fathers and grandfathers had chosen to kill their fellow citizens rather than accept that a black man as a man.

    And don't kid yourself; the Confederates aren't in the attic; they're in the newspapers, on Fox, on Capitol Hill and in White House using the dog-whistle terms like "welfare queen", "Willie Horton", "ACORN" and "state's rights". Every time we let some goober refuse to confront that fact that the U.S.'s record on slavery is one of denial and deferral. We have preferred a largely-black underclass rather than make the social sacrifices we'd need to bring the nation's demographics in line with real racial integration, and a hell of a lot of that is that we've refused to shame ourselves with our history.

    Which isn't a surprise; few people and few nations do. But it just drives home the truth that we really AREN'T "exceptional". The "American exceptionalism" beloved of conservatives is purely bullshit. We're just another nation, not all that much better than many, no worse than most.

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  39. Re: Kosovo...not sure if that one gets a writeup. Not really a game-changer, and certainly not "decisive", since that entire region is still largely in flux.

    Tho I might just do "Operation Storm", the 1995 Croat-Bosniak victory over the Serbs that ended the Croatian war of independence and marked the beginning of the end of Serbian pan-Yugoslavian ambitions.

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  40. I think the Battle of the Milvian Bridge would be very interesting. Particularly, for it's *ahem* downstream impacts. An emperor picking up a slave's religion? Who would have thunk it?

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  41. FDChief:

    Pedantic no - but as obstinate as a Tea Party activist. Maybe we need more dogmatism like yours on our side. Or maybe not as it can tend to harden the opposition when you tell them their forefathers suck.

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  42. I have said it before, and will say it again: The Founding Fathers most enlightened act in framing the Constitution was Article 5, yet so little use of it has been made as we evolved from a small, agrarian, isolationist collection of 13 colonies into what we think we are today.

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  43. Al -
    Agreed on Article 5. But it is ironic that the Amendment on DC Voting Rights never passed due to time limits imposed on the ratification process. I am not suggesting we need a 51st state. But those Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves knowing that the citizens of our Capitol City have no representation.

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  44. Al,

    Agree. However, that would require actually convincing people that a certain course of action is right. Much easier to demagogue. And since the Constitution is a "living document" it's also easier to just legislate and pick the "correct" kinds of court justices.

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  45. Interesting post on the History Blog.

    http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/10686

    The money quote for me was "On April 14, 1865, Major General Anderson raised the flag over Fort Sumter again, in celebration of the end of the war. That same night, Abraham Lincoln went to the theater and never returned." Eerie!

    They also have a link to the National Park Service who has made their entire National Park Civil War Series of books available online for free. If you were to buy the series in print, it would cost you $186. I will pass myself. Our Civil War history is too melancholy for my taste. And as Chief has pointed out, it remains as a politically charged cancer in nour midst even 150 years later.

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  46. Al, Andy; Agree that the Framers did a pretty decent job of setting the U.S. up to succeed (kicking the slavery can down the road didn't help tho I have to admit I'm not sure what else they could have done...). But I also agree that they would have been disappointed by the degree to which we seem to have been willing to let things float along without trying to adapt our form of government to the challenges of modernity instead of just bloviating and jockeying for partisan advantage.

    Or maybe not. One of the design features of the Constitution seems to have been to avoid any real danger of what the Framers would have castigated as "mob rule". The result was to turn the bulk of the supposed citizens into spectators or, worse, kibitzers without skin in the game which seems to be a characteristic of U.S. society even now.

    I'm not sure if more "direct democracy" would have yielded a better result (certainly the experience of ballot initiative states such as my Oregon and California tend to suggest that it wouldn't). But at this point a hell of a lot of the residents of the U.S. have no real reason to take politics seriously, whilst another hell of a lot have taken it to mean the maximization of their own private gains at the expense of the public weal.

    It would seem that not even the genius of the Framers could outwit the human monkey's natural talent for venality, short-sightedness, poop-flinging, and masturbation...

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  47. "Or maybe not as it can tend to harden the opposition when you tell them their forefathers suck."

    Like I said; having a grandpappy who marched with Stonewall Jackson no more makes you a racist prick than having a GroBvati who drove a tank for the 2nd Panzer makes you a Nazi bastard.

    But.

    You need to accept that granddad - nice a man as he probably was - was fighting for one of history's truly rotten, miserable causes. That he helped cause a hell of a lot of human misery for no good reason. And that, despite what he may have believed at the time and despite the rationalizations made for him later, he was wrong and he did wrong.

    That's different from "suck". That's not calling granddad a terrible human being. All sorts of decent people do terrible things for all sort of reasons that seem to them good at the time. But if we, their own descendents, don't own up to the badness of the things that they did, how do we prevent ourselves or our own kids from doing something just as evil? How do we even identify "wrong" from "right"?

    If slavery isn't wrong, if racial superiority (and the conquest - and extermination, in some cases - of "inferiors") isn't wrong, what are?

    It's like having a daddy who worked as a hit man for the Mob. He was your dad, and you loved him. If you're a smart person you can still love the dad, who may have been a great dad, and be ashamed of the guy who killed people for money at the behest of criminals.

    It seems an admission that we're not big enough to differentiate between the people who fought for the Confederacy (who may have been genuinely decent people) and the wretched, thoroughly rotten cause for which they fought.

    And if we're that small, well...maybe we'll end up with a pretty small-souled country, as well.

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. Ael:

    I think the Battle of the Milvian Bridge would be very interesting. Particularly, for it's *ahem* downstream impacts. An emperor picking up a slave's religion? Who would have thunk it?

    I think a better "whodathunkit" in that story was the precursor to the "BatSignal", the Chi Rho flashed in the sky.

    Chief:

    It would seem that not even the genius of the Framers could outwit the human monkey's natural talent for venality, short-sightedness, poop-flinging, and masturbation..

    Yes, and what do you think Ben Franklin's reaction to the state of the press and other media in today's world would be?

    Maybe throw up his hands, turn around, and become a British subject?

    bb

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  50. My dad, originally from southern Georgia, has discovered that his local library offers ancestry.com for free, and he's been looking into our ancestry. It seems I'm the descendant of a slaveholder with several slaves and a sargeant in the army of the CSA.

    On my maternal side, a Captain Wilson was Union. So, how should I feel?

    Confused?

    :)

    bb

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  51. FDChief" And if we're that small, well...maybe we'll end up with a pretty small-souled country, as well.

    I think, ever so sadly, that we are damn near there. If the individual's desires trumps the collective well being, then our country cannot have much of a soul. The government was established to ensure the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". However, while this is defined as an individual "right", nowhere in the founding documents are we called upon to sacrifice for our neighbor to be able enjoy these rights. It was a dog eat dog culture from the very start. Just took a while for folks to catch on.

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  52. Aviator47:

    The government was established to ensure the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    And now that concept is derided as "socialism" among many of us.

    bb

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  53. bb-

    If you read the Declaration of Independence, these rights are individual rights, and the purpose of government is to allow us to pursue them, not to provide them. It is the latter, providing for the collective well being, that is called "socialism".

    Contrast that with the differing concept from the British North America Act of 1867 which states that the government exists to provide "peace, order and good government". The collective well being is the prime objective.

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  54. Chief,

    Not really interested in debating the Civil War again, but this might be some food for thought. It's one potential explanation of many, but I think it's pretty clear that most northerners weren't fighting to end slavery.

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  55. Have you boys worked out what the Civil War was all about yet?

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  56. Publius,

    Yep, like all wars, it was about oil.

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  57. Publius,
    You've touched the key point- the North had soldiers and the south had boys.
    That sums it up.
    jim

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  58. @ Andy - "My reading was that the President didn't want to go into Libya, but when faced with the political cost of doing nothing and watching Qaddafi possibly butcher thousands of people and intervene, he chose the latter and has tried to keep US involvement to a minimum."

    Then the son-of-a-bitch doesn't deserve the job of President. It wasn't our fight, it wasn't our goddamn business and it was certainly about oil. If he's too worried about his ass being exposed for 'not looking tough', then he is NOT the kind of person you want in charge of US foreign policy.

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  59. BRL - Kind of like Lincoln, huh??

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  60. Andy: No argument there. I'm not holding up the Northern cause/motivations/actors as "good", just the South's cause as "evil". You can be "evil" and your opponents can just be "slightly less evil" (or, in some cases, "just as evil but not to me at this immediate moment"; see Stalin, Josef).

    And the Civil War was, as all wars are, about whose dick was bigger.

    Because it's ALL about whose dick is bigger.

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  61. Chief,Since war is about big dicks the question begs- should we allow women in the military?
    jim

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  62. brl,
    If you accept that OBOMBA is a SOB then the birthers have no firm ground to stand on since his momma was an American citizen.
    I personally believe in free speech, but what good does it do to call him an SOB?
    Is this proper and appropriate for gentlemen such as we?? Most of us here use expletives to a purpose, but i see none in this cmt.
    jim

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  63. Bah, I ain't no Birther. I maintain it wouldn't matter anyway because we have a SCOTUS full of spineless scum in faux robes of nobility that wouldn't overturn any bill he signed into law. The Birther issue is a distraction, just as the Truther issue was for years as well.

    Anyway, more 'good' news from the War Front courtesy of Huffington Post:

    "WASHINGTON -- After 26 months in office, President Obama still has not forged a smoothly working national security team that can both nimbly pounce on military crises and deftly manage festering problems, say current and former U.S. officials.

    As in previous administrations, much of the problem lies in the friction between civilians working in the White House and military officers and Defense Department civilians working across the Potomac River in the Pentagon. Senior officials describe the predicament as a "culture clash." The miscommunications and misunderstandings between the groups cause frustration and anger, which sometimes even leads to policy paralysis, officials say.

    One recent example of this dynamic at work is the Obama administration’s tentative, half-way intervention in the Libyan uprising.

    "It’s a mess," lamented a senior U.S. official. Washington took the bold step of committing military force, but not enough to win. The administration waited to apply very limited military force until it was almost too late, and now, the official says, it has painted the U.S. "into a corner." In the resulting stalemate, Libyan rebels and civilians are being ruthlessly pursued and killed while the United States, in effect, stands helplessly by.

    The White House wanted the Pentagon to come up with a low-cost regime-change plan for Libya. Ideally, this strategy would have toppled Col. Muammar Gaddafi without bogging the U.S. down in another inconclusive foreign adventure. And by no means could the plan have included young American infantrymen advancing under fire across the sand.

    The military kept insisting that no such option existed. A real regime-change operation, some officers argued, requires "boots on the ground." That was a cost the White House, given rising domestic pressure to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, was unwilling to consider.

    In long meetings and email exchanges, arguments over strategic details often led to more serious disagreements, the official told The Huffington Post. The White House thought the Pentagon was disrespecting the president by refusing to propose a politically acceptable action plan, while the Pentagon became furious that White House officials didn’t "seem to understand what military force can and cannot do,’’ the official said."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/20/obama-white-house-pentagon_n_851705.html

    Anyone NOT think Operation Odyssey Dawn is being run by the Keystone Cops?

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  64. Finally, a Pentagon response that is doctrinally sound! How few have learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan, but more specifically Iraq. There is a world of difference between "Regime Change" and "Regime Termination".

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  65. BRL, AND ESP Al,
    All the arguments bypass the key(strategic?) question-WHY.
    All the dialogue misses this point. Innocent Libyans, if there is such a critter, is not a strategic US concern.
    IMHO we need a balance here- Bush was too brash and Obomba not brash enuf. I say this b/c Obomba lacks the moral courage to extract us from needless wars. The fact that he's pussy footing around a 3rd cock up is my disappointment.
    Al - i do agree that the military response is valid and doctrinally sound-BUT WHY DIDN'T THEY MOUTH THIS SHIT BACK IN 01/02?????
    jim

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  66. http://tinyurl.com/3qesnmm

    There's still the war being fought here.

    bb

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  67. jim: BUT WHY DIDN'T THEY MOUTH THIS SHIT BACK IN 01/02?????

    Ever hear of a guy named Rumsfeld?

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  68. Al,
    Yeah, i heard of R. He , cheney and all are a symptom that democracy doesn't work. When shit birds rise to the top then all is in question.
    If 1 man can short circuit the system , then democracy is belly up.
    jim

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  69. Al,
    After thinking about my last cmt- i'll even throw OBOMBA into my cmt about the shit rising to the top.
    In reality what possible quals did he bring to the job????!!
    jim

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  70. @ Jim - "He , cheney and all are a symptom that democracy doesn't work."

    I would say they're a perfect symptom of democracy. What is democracy? Its two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

    "Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses." - H.L. Mencken

    "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." - William Pitt

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  71. jim-

    My late Uncle Vincent, a very astute observer of the human condition often said, "Democracy is a form of government best described as self flagellation by people unable to realize that is precisely what they are doing. Thus, the most common reward from democracy is pain."

    Like so many things, democracy is highly over rated. As I watch people like Palin, Trump, Angle, Beck, Limbaugh, GWB and the like receive the adoration of the masses, I grow very weary of it, as, at least in terms of the current mentality of the population of the US, it has no useful future.

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  72. eToro is the ultimate forex broker for new and advanced traders.

    ReplyDelete