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Tuesday, September 27, 2005


"Treat them with humanity," Washington directed with respect to the captured Hessians. He forbade physical abuse and directed the detainees be quartered with the German-speaking residents of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the expectation that they would become "so fraught with a love of liberty, and property too, that they may create a disgust to the service among the rest of the foreign troops, and widen the breach which is already opened between them and the British." (Things unfolded exactly as Washington envisioned). Washington also set the rule that detainees be given the same housing, food and medical treatment as his own soldiers. And he was particularly concerned about freedom of conscience and respect for the religious values of those taken prisoner. "While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable."

George Washington, Battle of Trenton, December 24, 1776

Assassination as political reform...

History was once again altered by the assassination of a Kennedy. One would have to go back to ancient Rome to find a precedent in the stunning back-to-back assassinations of two brothers at the height of their political glory -- all the way to the second century B.C. when first Tiberius Gracchus and then his younger brother Gaius were viciously hacked to death after being elected tribune of the people and antagonizing the Roman aristocracy with their democratic reforms.

David Talbot

Sunday, September 25, 2005


"To oppose something is to maintain it."

Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, September 19, 2005

Potemkin village

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Brian Williams

Man's best friend - the dog

"The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son, or daughter, that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and good name may become traitors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head.

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only to be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.

"When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

"If fortune drives his master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies,. And when that last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there, by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death."

--Senator George Graham Vest, speaking to a jury about Old Drum, shot in 1869. Johnson County Circuit Court, Warrensburg, Missouri

Saturday, September 17, 2005

contingencies, possibilities...

"We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination.

E O Wilson, Harvard biologist

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Questioning Supreme Court nominees...

"The Senate can and should do what it can to ascertain the jurisprudential views a nominee will bring to the bench in order to prevent the confirmation of those who are likely to be judicial activists. Determining which will become activists is not easy since many of President Clinton's nominees tend to have limited paper trails... Determining which of President Clinton's nominees will become activists is complicated and it will require the Senate to be more diligent and extensive in its questioning of nominees' jurisprudential views." (Address of Senator Hatch before University of Utah Federalist Society chapter, February 18, 1997)"

Senator Orrin Hatch today, September 14, 2005:

"A second Repubican senator, Orrin Hatch of Utah (defying conventional political tie conventional wisdom in a very nice gold striped number), seems to be trying to lay the groundwork that it’s okay for Judge Roberts not to answer questions he find uncomfortable. Hatch tried to bring up a Harding nomination from years ago, citing a same-day nomination and confirmation as some kind of gold standard."

Senator Hatch, flip-flopper of the day

Sunday, September 11, 2005

2000 Election

"You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator, or you look at his record in Texas. But it's really easy, and it's fun, to disprove Gore. As sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us."

Margaret Carlson

Time Magazine columnist, 2000 Election

natural disasters

"... I went to Florida a few days after President Bush did to observe the damage from Hurricane Andrew. I had dealt with a lot of natural disasters as governor, including floods, droughts, and tornadoes, but I had never seen anything like this. I was surprised to hear complaints from both local officials and residents about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handling the aftermath of the hurricane. Traditionally, the job of FEMA director was given to a political supporter of the President who wanted some plum position but who had no experience with emergencies. I made a mental note to avoid that mistake if I won. Voters don't chose a President based on how he'll handle disasters, but if they're faced with one themselves, it quickly becomes the most important issue in their lives."

-Bill Clinton, My Life (p. 428)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."

-Mark Twain

Monday, September 05, 2005


"A time comes when silence is betrayal."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

disloyal subversion

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, September 02, 2005


There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

John DiIulio

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