“Democracy as a nation-breaker”

This analysis suggests Kenya and many other countries need one or two things ahead of strict two- or six-party “democracy.”  Something to think about.

Could a State join Canada?

The article from the last post is about people in Maine interested in having that State secede to Canada.  The author lightly opines, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards and start calling ourselves a province.”

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.

A State is a sovereign, like “the State of Israel;” a province is a subdivision of a sovereign, like the provinces of the Roman Empire, or of many countries today.  When the UK colonies of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (as we now call them, more or less) decided to get together in 1867, after watching the Union of sovereign States to the south go through a bloodbath of a  Civil War, they decided they wanted ‘a more perfect union,’ and so remained provinces (as all Britain’s North American colonies were sometimes called), legally giving more power to the central “Confederation” they were creating, Canada.  (Up there this word denotes the exact opposite of what it does for Americans, reflecting on the traditional propaganda about America’s previous “weak Articles of Confederation.”)

It’s true that after over a century of legal adjustments, court rulings (especially by the Brits aiming to protect the constitutive Provinces from Federal encroachment), and political compromises, Canada today seems among the world’s loosest federations, and it’s common to say the Provinces are “co-sovereign” with the Confederation (or Dominion), in almost American terms.  And while, in theologian Stanely Hauerwas’ perfect phrase, “there may be no denying the descriptive power of this statement,” and the Provinces of Canada may have evolved nearly into sovereign States, it still remains a bit of an exaggeration, constitutionally speaking.

Let me elucidate.  As described in their unilateral Declaration of Independence, 13 of the colonies / provinces to the south considered themselves “free and independent States” on or about July 4, 1776 – and they meant States, not State.  Over the next 11 years several wars among them almost broke out, one-on-one affairs IIRC, including New York vs. New Hampshire over the territory claimed by yet another one, the independent Republic of Vermont which everyone forgets, which wasn’t cooperating much with the other 13 at all, sought to exchange ambassadors with the Mother Country, and even to reunite with it!  So in 1787, when a mostly-secret “convention” proposed their “more perfect union,” one thing these “free and independent States” didn’t give up was sovereignty.  The new (written) Constitution merely delegated some of these States’ sovereign attributes or powers or rights to the Union, retaining all those not explicitly delegated.  In this arrangement, similar in species to the “pooled sovereignty” often referred to in connection with the European Union, these States and their Union were definitely co-sovereign (though the term isn’t used in the U.S., being of more-recent Canadian coinage), the Union in the areas delegated to it, and the States in every other way.  American law takes this very seriously, even though the States delegated to the Union powers the world usually considers primary reflections of sovereignty, such as international relations, defense, and currency … and even though there’s been some growth of Federal power due to Constitutional Amendments and court rulings down through the years.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is the fact that not just any case can be appealed to Federal courts; it has to be “a Federal matter,” otherwise the State courts have the last word.

(This came up after the 2000 Presidential Election.  As you may have heard, we don’t actually elect the President of [the Executive Branch of] the United States, Presidential Electors do.  And these Electors are State officers, not Federal.  Each State legislature is completely free to prescribe how to choose its Presidential Electors.  In the first place, as the mischievous Florida Legislative Republicans reminded us, Electors don’t have to be popularly elected; it’s up to each State.  [Though it's debatable whether they would've gotten away with changing the rules after the fact. Would the U.S. Supreme Court have been that brazen?]  More importantly, how each State elects its officers is entirely its own business, and not normally “a Federal matter.”  Therefore, most of us considered that the Federal courts had no business hearing GW Bush’s appeal from the Florida Supreme Court regarding interpretation of Florida’s election laws and administration, by its own State courts.  To get around this, Bush had to concoct a laughable argument that his civil rights – a Federal matter – would be violated if every vote were counted in the counties in which Republican shenanigans were alleged by the Al Gore campaign and many others.  This was an argument of the proverbial “legal mind: the ability to think about something intimately related to something else, without thinking about that to which it is related”: Civil Rights, intended to protect Blacks from re-enslavement after the Civil War, used to deny many Florida Blacks and others the electoral franchise accorded them in this contest under Florida law!  [This is exactly the same area of law that supposedly bestowed human rights on corporations in the U.S., and of course the irony is identical. It's also the kind of reasoning made famous by the medieval {Western, Catholic} Scholastic philosophers and theologians, now employed by a son of the Protestant Reformation, a Methodist: rationalizing about how many teeth a horse was allowed to have based on made-up prior principles ... instead of opening his mouth and counting them!!!  Instead of rationalizing, Florida law provided that the winner of the election would be determined by counting the votes cast.  WHAT A F*CKING CONCEPT!!!]  In a tragic example of expansion of Federal power by court ruling, the Federal courts allowed Bush, and ultimately so did a partisan Supreme Court – although they sure didn’t want their ruling used against  Republicans, when they said, in flagrant violation of every legal principle and tradition this country – and all Common Law countries – supposedly stand on, that their ruling shouldn’t be used as a precedent in any future case.  So much for independent judiciary and rule of law … and the last 7 years of American and world history!  Yes, Canada, courts aren’t always legally correct.)

This is the opposite of what happened in Canada in 1867: the Fathers of Confederation delegated to the Provinces some powers, rights, and privileges, delineated others as shared by the Confederation and Provinces, with the rest remaining with the Confederation.  Arguably, legally, the Provinces are creatures of the Confederation – and hence Provinces - even though they antedated it!

For comparison purposes, in 1901 the drafters of the Australian Commonwealth constitution, fearful of a Canadian-style (theoretically) stronger center, went more with the American model again, on behalf of the federating colonies there.  And so Australia’s constitutive parts, like America’s, are sovereign States, not Provinces – and BTW, their State viceregal officers Governors instead of Lieutenant-Governors.  (Which brings up another illustration: Canadian Provinces have LGs because historically they are lieutenants to the Governor General, even Federal employees, appointed on Federal Advice, not Provincial employees, clearly subordinating the Provinces to the Federal Crown, in spite of the fact that they can have “Her Majesty In Right of” a Province … even suing “Her Majesty In Right of Canada”!)

This is not to say that a State can’t create additional sovereign States; in fact it’s alleged to have happened in a number of newer “federal” countries, essentially constituting their subdivisions Sovereigns in certain areas.  The Holy Roman Emperors even bestowed actual sovereignty on some of their subject principalities (while they remained subject).  I fully expect this century that some Canadian court will find Canada’s Provinces are, have always been, or have become, Sovereign States.  Whether this would require formally reopening the constitution, or could take effect by itself in the British tradition of uncodified constitutional evolution, I don’t know.  Or else Provinces will insist on (greater) involvement in nominating their LGs, and then, on the exclusive right.  Quasi-American Alberta might even be the first to declare itself a (Canadian[?]) State!

Nevertheless, the question before us for now is whether, as the words of the columnist quoted atop this post suggest, an American State would have to give up Statehood to join Canada.  (I doubt she had this question in mind, so I must take full blame myself!)

Before answering it, just for the record, let’s establish whether Maine and other things like it in the U.S. really are States.  After all, only 13 States formed the Union … Vermont joined having formerly been independent just as they … so did Texas, maybe California … that’s it.  The rest were carved out of Federally-controlled/occupied “Territories” (including Indian Lands), settled by Whites and others from elsewhere, then elevated to Statehood and “admitted to the Union.”  But if we accept that sovereigns can create other sovereigns, that’s OK.

So.  Could the Canadian Confederation include both Provinces and States?  Well apparently there’s such a thing as “asymmetrical federalism,” best illustrated by the Russian Federation at this time, the Holy Roman Empire previously (sort of).  But theoretically two ‘levels’ both claiming all but delegated powers would seem to cancel each other out!  Furthermore, Maine residents would be used to the theory of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, saving an undetermined reservoir of rights to them even against the government of Maine … as well as the whole three centuries of experience with The Common Law of Maine (including Massachusetts before Maine’s separation from it).  Section 26 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms brings the 9th Amendment into Canada so to speak, but only insofar as it relates to “any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada”: here’s one place where the competing “residual powers” doctrines collide head-on, because Mainers might not want to give up U.S. or Maine Unenumerated Rights, especially if they don’t know the extent of what they’d be giving up – kind of like the reluctance to codify the Royal Prerogative for fear of leaving out something that’ll become important in the future.  Then again, not knowing might make it easier for the Mainers!  Aside from this perhaps academic conundrum, in terms of legal systems it might go OK, since each Province does have its own version of the Common Law already, we’d just be adding Maine’s to the mix.  Maybe even the Residual conflict could be finessed with words saving as much of what each side is used to already as practicable.

What’s Admission look like?  Several of the relevantly-named documents here convey an idea, although they all cover admission of British territories … without a lapse of 250 years! ;)

Does Maine remain a State in all this?  I don’t see why not.  The physics of the balance of powers between State and Federal might be shuffled slightly in the move from the USA to Canada, and some shared powers would probably be introduced that America isn’t used to constitutionally … but then again, in reality America has evolved some degree of sharing via Federal mandates and/or funding, it’s just that the method and tone are very different, less ‘interactive’ you might say!

Then there’s the matter of the 3 Indian Reservations and associated Trust Lands in Maine (our example).  I don’t believe Canada holds lands in trust for First Nations groups or individuals like the U.S. Federal government does.  Quite a bit of the U.S. is actually Indian Trust Lands!  The U.S. exploits the land, pursuant to Treaties, and is supposed to collect the revenues and forward them to the Tribes or individual Indians who own them.  (They’ve been screwing this up for years though – so bad they even had to take down their website? - and Indians suing the government allege they’re out 12 Billion dollars all tolled!  Maybe they’d have better luck going to the Chinese!)  Especially Out West, Trust Lands have farms or ranches on them, or mineral extraction, or even towns, counties, railroads, highways, etc.  I don’t know how much land we’re talking about in Maine, but they originally claimed more than 2/3 of the State on the basis of unratified Treaties before a settlement agreement in 1980.  There’s also the matter of the Reserves themselves.  I’m not too familiar with Indian Law in Canada, and it’s pretty rough down here, but there’s the potential to consider that Reserves and Tribes are in fact subject sovereign States themselves (the 1800s Supreme Court’s “domestic dependent nations,” as bad as that sounds!), and my impression is that Tribal self-governance and Sovereignty are farther along here than in Canada.  For that matter, there are also a fair number of French-speakers in Maine … and the theory that most of them are Métis, facing potential recognition under the Canadian constitution as Aboriginal North Americans, and whatever that may entail - adjudication of Aboriginal Rights, Land Title, Sovereignty, hunting and trapping rights….

Does Canada accept a State though?  Well, talks with Maine might “call the question” of the Statehood of the other Provinces anyway.  OTOH, constitutional sticklers might consider it too great a risk to the union; as I’ve said, courts aren’t always legally correct.

As for the columnist’s other comment, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards,” the British North America Act 1867 presumes the kind of government the Provinces have now, ie, the Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Governor General (on advice of the Prime Minister) in The Queen’s name, governing with the advice of a Ministry retaining the confidence of (in Maine’s case I guess the lower house of) the legislature; and a legislature consisting of the LG and its one or two houses.  ISTM any deviation from this would require a Constitutional Amendment.

Another way might be a Treaty of Union between all Canada and Maine, or USA and Canada with respect to Maine, which Canada could simply receive into its law as constitutional legislation.

Métis are Legally Aboriginal

I’ve just remembered why the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 says Métis are as Aboriginal as Indians and Inuit: Because Métis have Aboriginal and/or Treaty Rights of which Canadian Law is required to take notice.

I have said I think Indigenous is a better word for Métis than Aboriginal, because as I read the word in its plain meaning, Aboriginal means “here first” (or at least, before actual European-led settlement began) or “from the beginning.” Métis as such, being of Mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry by definition, wouldn’t be described that way.  But I was looking at the matter perhaps anthropologically (Heaven forbid!) or sociologically, even just grammatically.  The constitution is a legal document, addressing a special set of concerns not necessarily identical to or coterminous with those of the anthropologist, sociologist, or grammarian.

For centuries in the Anglo/American legal system, Aboriginal groups, and sometimes Aboriginal individuals, have been held by courts to continue to possess certain rights in tenure (Aboriginal Title) and/or use of territory and resources (Aboriginal Rights), to the extent that the rights in question are not incompatible with Crown rule “where The Queen’s Writ runs,” or have not been extinguished* by the Crown-in-parliament, ie, by competent, valid legislative statute.**  This ultimately goes all the way back to when the Welsh and Anglo-Saxons were the Aboriginals when William the Conqueror arrived in Britain in AD 1066, since the Common Law in England has been held to antedate the Conquest.  It also would have applied to Ireland if The Case of Tanistry had gone another way in the 1600s; the court ruling was that the Celtic chiefly or clan succession system (to lands) by that name, by a competent, previously-appointed, -nominated, or even -elected adult near relative (rather than strict primogeniture) was incompatible with Crown rule.  (I remember thinking when I read about it a few years ago that, in the light of more recent and diverse Imperial and Commonwealth jurisprudence and governmental experience - my gosh, India! Africa! - that the Irish practice of tanistry might have been upheld vis a vis British rule had the case only been brought today rather than 400 years ago.  I forget exactly why, though.)

Since the 1600s the Crown, its successors (eg, the USA) and its agents (eg, colonial proprietors or governors) have frequently tried to free-up lands and/or resources they desired, in the hands of Aboriginal groups outside Europe, by Treaty – not always accompanied by the threat or reality of violence as commonly in the case of the U.S. … nevermind broken Treaties.  It’s possible they thought relatively-voluntary relinquishment would be easier than by war, which would inevitably follow mere legislative extinguishment way off in London or Ottawa.  Even the U.S., I suppose, is to be lauded for not simply extinguishing – or trying to – all rights by a piece of paper on Capitol Hill, despite its mostly “warlike”(!) approach to Aboriginal peoples since the Revolution.

In any case, any land title or other Aboriginal Rights not ceded by Treaty (or sometimes equivalent negotiated settlement) remains in the hands of the Aboriginal possessor(s).  In what is now Canada many Métis groups and individuals in the past or even the present have lived “on the land,” occupied territories for centuries alongside or “in-between” Indian Tribes, hunted, gathered, fished, trapped, signed or “adhered to” Treaties ceding some but not necessarily all Aboriginal Rights – who knows, maybe even have mineral rights!  There are even a handful of Métis Reserves (reservations) in Canada.  And Métis living elsewhere may still hold unceded Aboriginal Rights or Treaty Rights, whether as Métis or even strictly as Indian/Inuit descendants.

In addition, like the U.S., Canada often offers benefits or assistance – never enough of course – to Aboriginal groups and individuals as part of (lobbied) social legislation or executive government functions.  While not technically part of the constitution or Treaties, these may be more available to Métis from lawmakers and Governments now that they’re officially recognized in the constitution as Aboriginal.  Métis in Canada suffer much from discrimination, poverty, and health problems, little different from their Indian or Inuit cousins.

Now how about other countries?!!

(*–I do not believe this use of extinguished is the same as when, in the 20th century, the United States Congress acted to “terminate a Tribe.”  Congress has since “unterminated” some “terminated Tribes,” but Aboriginal Rights “extinguished” are considered incapable of being “unextinguished” or restored, at least in Commonwealth Nations.  However, I am not a lawyer, just an amateur legal scholar!)

(**–The way I read U.S. constitutional documents, I’m not sure any U.S. legislative body is empowered to extinguish Aboriginal Rights without Treaties or similar agreements, like a Westminster Parliament probably is by Common Law, since U.S. lawmakers have only powers explicitly or clearly implicitly delegated to them by written Constitutions, Federal or State, respectively.  Thank God!)

Why Canada’s Different, and Getting More Different

This quote I found here is related to that book a little while back on this topic:

While America was founded on the idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Canada’s constitution is dedicated to “peace, order, and good government,” a decidedly less individualistic, more community-minded stance, which explains Canada’s predisposition for “balancing individual autonomy with a sense of collective responsibility,” according to Adams.

The rampant individualism found in the US comes at the expense of security and stability. “[I]n an instant, illness, crime, or an injudicious investment portfolio can turn the proverbial American Dream into an outright nightmare,” Adams writes in “Who Are the Real Masters of Docility?,” an essay found on theglobalist.com.  As a result, “an ever greater proportion of America is clinging to old institutions — family, church, state … even gangs — as anchors in an increasingly chaotic world.”  Americans are seeking stability in traditional authorities: “a strong police force, a strong military, a strong nation, the President and Commander-in-Chief.”  Ironically, then, in this land of the free, people are afraid to explore new perspectives, new ways of living.

And from the article to which the above is a sidebar:

Sure, {Canada}’s a capitalist country and there’s competition, but it’s less ferocious, less cutthroatTrue, if rankings of Gross Domestic Product are any measure, the US is richer than Canada.  But Canada has a higher quality of life.

This isn’t in the first place Canada-worship on my part, but Classical Conservatism, aka progressive conservatism, aka Red Toryism, aka reason not ideology, pragmatism not experimentation (‘American pragmatism’? Hah!), the Common Good of everybody – all of us – not just MEMEME.

And Time magazine complains about Russia under Putin?!  Worry about real nascent(?) Fascism here!

Soldiers evangelizing, harassing?

So says one of those Gay-looking men’s magazines I saw in the supermarket the other night.  Apparently nearly half “the troops” in Iraq and vicinity are “Dominionists,” ie, real theocrats (vs. those who just want “conservative” Evangelicalism to be the Established Religion) – think Christianized Jewish/Old Testament ‘Sharia’ law* - and they’re preaching their gospel to Iraqi Muslims, and non-Dom comrades in arms – and harassing and/or shunning the latter in their units if they don’t convert!

Because of the danger to whatever “the mission” in Iraq is this week, and more importantly to the non-conformist troops, and to the future of U.S. and “Coalition” foreign policy throughout the Muslim world, this near-total breakdown in military discipline has to be stomped out.  This behavior is entirely inappropriate for soldiers and officers in a Theater of Operations.  Unit solidarity is the whole point of armies, boot camp, Drill Instructor abuse, etc.  When you’re out doing one thing 24/7, you can’t be doing other things, especially when lives and nations are at risk (humanly speaking, of course).  You may evangelize, harass, and shun Stateside, not on the battlefield.  Period.

Classical Conservatives don’t have to be hawks or imperialists to respect war, soldiering, sacrifice for the Common Good (hopefully for the CG), etc.

(*–Yes, that’s the sound of Martin Luther turning over in his grave.)

“Club Paradise” and Monarchy

OK, I know this is a little weird….

Club Paradise was a diverting 1986 light comedy featuring Robin Williams, Peter O’Toole, a Twiggy wondrously evoking Olivia Newton-John, and a cast of thousands.  Williams goes in on a dive Caribbean would-be resort with Jimmy Cliff, who’s a “revolutionary” reggae singer on the side (a stretch, I know), trying to fight-off foreclosure by a crooked island Prime Minister who wants to turn it over to international developers who would build it all up and destroy “paradise.”

Here’s where Tiernan comes in.  When the PM thinks he’s gonna lose the deal, he declares martial law, mobilizes the island’s army, and there’s almost (mini) civil war – provoked by him.  Just as the PM and his forces are about to attack Williams and Cliff and Co. on a beach, here comes a few hundred (that’s all it takes apparently there) of the island’s common people to confront the out-of-control PM, and at their head is the island’s “representative of Her Britannic Majesty,” O’Toole, who rallied them.  O’Toole rides up on horseback in full viceregal regalia, ostrich plume(?!) and all, like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan, hops down, almost literally reads the PM the Riot Act, draws his own pistol, and threatens to blast the corrupt politician right between the eyes.  The PM backs down, especially when Williams draws his attention to his foreign developer-sponsors in their massive yacht sailing off to easier pickings – but O’Toole and the people were the linchpin of the whole scene: the delay they caused allowed the yacht to sail into view on its way … away … taking the wind out of the PM’s sails with it.

Now for housecleaning.  I missed the beginning of the movie when I saw it in rerun a few weeks ago, but this fictitious island of St. Nicholas seems to be an independent nation: the PM refers to “army” or “defence forces” or words to that effect, and they’re Black, not White Brits as one might expect in a movie if it were still being considered an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom (although certainly there are many non-Whites in the UK armed forces today).  So the “Governor” should’ve been titled “Governor-General,” as some U.S. reviews at the time corrected, and certainly all the Canadians involved in its production should’ve known well.*  Also, as a Caribbean Commonwealth Realm even in the 1980s, it probably would’ve had a Black GG, not a White Englishman whom Robin Williams repeatedly addressed as “Your Grace” – a Duke? a Bishop?! although maybe Williams’ character wasn’t expected to know that, as an American, and just made up the honorific.  Also, in a finer technicality, “Her Britannic Majesty” has nothing to do with her non-Britannic Realms; she is sometimes (rarely) referred to as “Her Canadian Majesty,” but in this case, “Her Nicolite Majesty” or something like that wouldn’t have meant anything to anybody, since it’s a fake place whose name was probably even forgotten by the original viewers by this point in the film (I only know about it because of the WWW!), nevermind its obscure adjectival form.  Finally, of course, none of HM’s viceregals is authorized to execute her errant Ministers without trial, nevermind personally!

Nevertheless, one Canuck analyst has called the Crown – and by extension, its viceregal representatives – “a constitutional fire-extinguisher,” meant to exercise authority personally in the event of some breakdown in governmental order.  (They could use one in Kenya about now.  As they once had.  Arguably, we could’ve used one before, during, and after the 2000 election, and since then.)  Now, St. Nicholas is also described in the movie as a Third-World country, and many of them have “martial law” provisions, so the Prime Minister might not have been technically breaking the law.  But in movies, for dramatic (or even tragicomic) effect, you can have GGs intervene even when the politician just has a seriously bad idea, like embroiling the nation in a civil war over a corrupt land deal, and when when the GG can rally most of the population in favor of calm and reason also.  Other constitutional alternatives would’ve been the island’s Parliament, or firing the PM, or even (presumably) refusing to sign the Order for Martial Law itself, and dealing with the fallout later.

But none of these would’ve been as much fun to watch!

Anyway, what was visibly dramatized for us was the ability of “symbols” and “figureheads” like The Queen and a Governor-General and a uniform on horseback and a system of tradition, to rally a nation in time of crisis, like chickenhawk W. couldn’t even do on 9/11 quite like “al Qaeda” itself did – even the ability of these things/persons to bring rogue politicians to their senses.

(*–Maybe the Canadians in the movie thought we ignorant Yanks would be confused by a “Governor-General” title, taking the “general” as a military role, undermining the sense of danger and drama from the martial law regime under just the PM.  Although the GG would probably be constituted Commander-in-Chief of the island’s Army in The Queen’s Name anyway – another finer point, one that I find some Canadians who should know better – nevermind actors and comedians – aren’t fully cognizant of.)

FREE CANADA!, or, What else American Red Tory means

Many Canadians feel economically dominated by the United States, the 800-pound gorilla to the South.  Though what should be done about that should probably be guided by Canadians who have that country’s best interests at heart.  For instance, letting them tear-up NAFTA and US-Canada Free Trade as well as other agreements prejudicial to Canada – or reopening them for fairer negotiations - and impose domestic corporate ownership quotas.

Some Canadians also feel culturally dominated by us.  Certainly they get all the American TV shows, books, movies, and music - though somehow they don’t seem to affect them like they do us, ie, making us kill each other and others different from us!  Also, Canadian influence on U.S. TV, movies, music, etc., is strong, or at least, the influence of Canadian-born persons (Pamela Anderson, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Michaels, Neil Young, Peter Jennings, etc.).  Interesting question for further examination.

But worst of all is U.S. influence on Canadian politics.  Not merely keeping an eye on the 49th Parallel since we are the local 800-lb. gorilla, but putting up with us exporting American republicanism, Republicanism, Classical Liberalism / irrational libertarianism, political Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, other ideologies, horse-race campaign news coverage and attitudes, greed and Rationalized Capitalism, giving orders to Canadian Forces behind the back of their own government, dictating policy to Ottawa, our government influencing their elections, Bay Street a carbon copy of Wall Street, the question of Fort Drum,* etc etc etc.  Now, ‘children must play,’ but must America muck around with such a loyal ally and generous neighboUr, when instead we should be learning from them?!!!  MAKE AMERICA IN CANADA’S IMAGE!!!

PS: Why don’t Canucks, with more guns per capita than us, kill each other like we do?  Why don’t our TV and movies have such a bad influence on them if any at all?  Why do they have health care, multiple parties, Responsible Government (read accountable executive),** hand-marked paper ballots, profounder education, more peaceful diversity, nicer cities, less-”concentrated” Indians, recognized Mixed-Blood Indigenous, true friends in all parts of the world, etc etc etc.  They’re not perfect.  But the answers must lie in their culture, their heritage, their history, even their legal tradition.  (Conversely, our late friend Marc Chaitlin firmly believed our violence today was rooted in our violent Revolution and replacement of legitimate government with “the Slavemaster Republic.”)  How do they differ from us?  Monarchy, peaceful evolution vs. violent revolution (They’re ‘the American Evolution’!), Classical Conservatism, gradual independence, British tutelage (vs. enmity) in statecraft and soldiery and diplomacy, “Peace, Order, and Good Government” more important than mere “Pursuit of Happiness” (sounds like a motto for Hedonism!), a sense and tradition of the Common Good as an active not passive thing, national solidarity even in peacetime, self-restraint, a check on politicians even in the appointive offices of Governor General and Lieutenant-Governors, greater High-Church influence (Roman Catholic and Anglican), an Empire-cum-Commonwealth of Nations, etc etc etc.

(*–Rudmin alludes to the “unprecedented” Congressional appropriation behind the initial construction of Ft. Drum, unprecedented because it was unconstitutional!  Being for three years, it violated Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which limits military appropriations to two years!  Somebody in Washington really wanted Ft. Drum, bad enough to risk public exposure and a court case, neither of which apparently came.)

(**–Think about how our elite structure their own corporations.  There isn’t a Board of Directors in the land that would give a CEO the carte blanche any U.S. President has for 4 or 8 whole years, unless he was already majority owner or the inventor of the product or something, of course.)

Israel: a Mideastern country?

Has Israel become a Middle Eastern country?

I think we’re used to thinking of it as a sort of European / American island in that region, kind of a Jewish / semi-Anglophone version of the former French Lebanon.  But has it turned more into a Jewish version of, say, Syria, or Egypt?

Christians are certainly freer to be Christians in (secular) Ba’athist Syria, as they were in (secular) Ba’athist Iraq, than they are in Israel, or (Islamist) Bu’ushist Iraq for that matter.  But even generally, Israel’s treatment of dissidents, ‘liberals,’ peaceniks, or even Reform Jews, nevermind the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Arabs in Israel Proper and the West Bank (Gaza is clearly currently a special case, though even there, they’re way excessive), is really wanting.  “Democratic island”?  Sure, there are elections, and discos, and newspapers, and kibbutzim, and multiple political parties (in this last sense more democratic than America).  But not so much on human rights after all: ask Mordechai Vanunu.  [That's Vanunu, not Sununu!]  Speaking of him, Israel is the only clear and present nuclear weapons danger in the region (besides the Bush regime), and (like the Bush regime) has frequently threatened to attack Iran (admittedly, no poster-child).  Conventionally, Israel has frequently invaded or attacked Lebanon, occupying its southern portion for a generation, accomplishing nothing while doing so.  And it has shown consistent bad faith in its relationship with the incipient Palestinian State, and with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Greek-ruled, but traditionally predominantly-Palestinian in makeup), the Mother Church of Christians.

Rogue state?  Typical bully, if a formerly abused bully?

In the end, very like many other Mideastern countries?

MLK Day

  1. “Martin Luther King Sales”?!!!  I guess it was only a matter of time.
  2. “Day-on, not day-off”?  I’ve been familiar with this since the ’80s.  I understand the sentiment, but I think it makes non-Black adults (ie, not in school) question whether it’s a “real holiday” (as they say) if it’s not a day off except for government.  Fewer and fewer of them are “real holidays” anymore, with stores open, malls, even businesses / workplaces, factories, customer service….  It seems only Christmas, New Year’s (mostly), 4th of July, and Thanksgiving are “sacred” anymore, know what I mean?  And Europeans get all August off…!  Even Canadians get a couple unnamed, theme-free “bank holidays,” while we’re merging holidays – Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday into “Presidents’ Day.”  Frankly, I think February is too long as it is; we should un-combine them, and in fact, get every Monday in February off!  How about every Monday in August, too?  Christmas Eve … Black Friday … Thanksgiving Eve … Easter Monday … Friday before Memorial Day … Halloween (Trick-or-treat all day, kiddies!) … Election Day … Friday before Labor Day….

366 Days and counting

A few worthy insights here.

Personally, I won’t believe they’re gone till the plane touches down in Texas … or Gitmo … or The Hague!!!  Remember when Giuliani wanted more time as Mayor of NY after 9/11?  I’m still seriously concerned about “Bush Overtime” or “Extra Innings.”

Nevermind how the Repugs will steal this election come what may anyway….

The Democrats could still cut this term short, if they had stones.  (Sorry, Nancy P.)

Bush “stimulus package” buying votes for GOP?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And I thought he was just “stimulating his package”!!!

Maybe this is even a well-timed recession, to produce this “lovely parting gift” for the voters?!!!  Flash a check in front of some people, and they forget the last 7-plus years….

Gay Staph STD?

Do you have to be Gay, or a man who has sex with men, to get or spread MRSA, as alleged by “scientists” this week?  Or merely have skin-to-skin contact with someone infected, within or outside sexual intercourse, as de-emphasized even in this San Francisco version of the story?

DUH!!!

Hillary, MLK, LBJ, ETC…

Obviously Hillary Rodham Clinton is not my candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the Executive Branch of the United States.  But let’s keep it real here.  Sure, Martin Luther King Jr. and the rest of the Civil Rights Movement were necessary to bring change in the nation’s laws and dominant racist culture.  But they were not sufficient.  If you want to change the laws, and don’t want (another) violent revolution, you have to do it through the Constitution and elected officials like Congress and the President, and/or judges – the last of whom, as we have seen in the last 7-plus years, are not to be relied upon for legality or Constitutionality after all.  It shouldn’t have to be so difficult, it should be a no-brainer actually for anybody whose business is law or politics or government or justice, but as someone has said, Common Sense ain’t so common!

This is all she was saying.  Please, she’s married to “our nation’s first ‘Black‘ President,” I think she knows a thing or two about this!

Conan Don’t Do It!

Don’t move to Los Angeles when you take over The Tonight Show!  (OK, so, I’m boycotting you; the Writers’ strike won’t last that long – Fall ’09?!!  NBC’ll cave long before then!)

Lala-land will ruin you just like it ruined Leno!  Jay used to be a great standup comic, which of course is why he got The Tonight Show.  And he promptly turned Hollywood-mean, celeb-suckup, glamor-glitzy, and Kansas-conservative (anti-Mexican, Jay?!!) and at the same time amoral (in his “humor”).  I stopped watching him in first-run years ago, and now that NBC has fecking Poker instead of Tonight reruns, I never see him anymore!

Carson Daly is Carson Daly, but still, even he was better, edgier maybe, when Last Call was in New York.  NYC is a character on Late Night, Conan.  Moving to LA would be like firing NY from your show – as if you were replacing Carol Leifer, say, with Paris Hilton!  Paris is always good for a laugh, but she’s no Carol Leifer.  (Ask Jerry Seinfeld!)  In any case, I don’t imagine Daly’s moving Back East, so unless Late Night gets a new host and stays here in the real world – the East Coast! - NBC late nights will be all-LA all the time – BORING!!!

Mrs. Conan O’Brien, Liza Powell, is from Seattle, so maybe she prefers the West Coast.  Trust me, I can understand that.  But New York is New York, man!

Judge-Made Law

…has a long tradition in the English/American legal system.  What do you think Common Law is?!!  Montesquieu’s analysis, dividing the British (uncodified) constitution into three branches – legislative, executive, and judicial – seems to have been historically ignorant.  Parliament only became the lawmaking busybodies they are today in the last couple centuries.  Before that, Parliament moved far fewer statutes, the King made law by himself or in his Council, and judges dispensed justice ideally on the basis of actual justness, reason, Divine law, legal tradition, and (Western) Christian morality, “from time immemorial” – the Common Law or case law.  (The much-lampooned Trial by Ordeal had to be relatively rare when you think about it, eh?)

Of course, Parliament didn’t used to be in mostly continuous existence like it is today, giving them plenty of time for politician mischief!  The King only used to convoke MPs when he needed them to allow a tax for his administration and military.  At that time Parliament used to petition him for some changes in the laws (or “redress of grievances“) before granting him his tax.  And then they were gone until he needed them again.  Of course, then there was little Parliamentary “oversight” over his administration … so we’ve traded royal court mischief for politician mischief.  Which is worse?!!

Mostly, Continental European countries have completely codified their legal systems via legislatures and/or written Constitutions.  [Maybe one reason why the proposed EU Constitution was like a New York phone book ... and that the EU is infamously bureaucratic!]  They have no more “judge-made law”!  Is that what you want?!  Catholic, Napoleonic, Imperial, French, German, Roman, Louisiana/Quebec law?!!  They seem to have taken Montesquieu very seriously.

In reality, of course, even most U.S. courts feel hamstrung to merely apply existing law, and only State Supreme Courts or the U.S. Supreme Court, each in their own constitutional competence, feel empowered to interpret law – but even they are (supposed to be) bound by U.S. and State written Constitutions, unlike English courts traditionally, U.S. “conservative” (actually Classical Liberal) and antigovernment whining notwithstanding.

So really, most of America’s judge-made law is many centuries old, and not at all recent – much even back to “time immemorial,” even before AD 1066 – “for the common law of England was not introduced by {William} the conqueror.”

Wicked Counsellors

W. surrounded himself with Yes-Men, Vestal Virgins, and even the classical “Wicked Counsellors” (e.g., Rove, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, etc.), just like the worst English kings were traditionally said to have done.  This is part of why Parliament took charge of the King’s/Queen’s counsellors and administrators – so now “parliamentary democracies” are virtually or actually ruled by elective politicians and suckups, instead of royal court politicians and suckups.

Amid the latter, at least, usually you have one person who has some idea what s/he’s doing – the Monarch!

Actually, Parliament started out as “the Great Council of the Realm,” not a legislature per se: The King was expected to take into consideration the input of his bishops and abbots (ie, the educated, lawyers, diplomats, etc.: “Lords Spiritual”), generals (ie, the nobility: “Lords Temporal”), administrators, even elected representatives of the commoners who had some idea what they were about.  The U.S. President has no Council, nobody whose input he’s expected to take into account.  The Personal Rule of ‘George IV’ is in many ways similar to The Personal Rule of Charles I – whose head Parliament cut off.

The Federalist Papers parody the idea of an Executive Council as no more than a way for colonial governors to either be hamstrung, conspire, or hide the blame when they do something wrong or unpopular.  But in their time there was still the King’s own Privy Council, which then generally, practically still had less power over him than colonial Councils over their governors.  Gee, wonder why they left that out?!!!  (As you know, this isn’t the first time I’ve caught the Federalists “spinning” the truth in their favor and against the rest of us.)

A ‘council for the Counsellors’ might sound redundant, but be a way to improve the problem of Prime Ministerial Dictatorship, too.  But can’t it be depoliticized somewhat, maybe via a “blue ribbon panel” approach???  Because one would prefer advisors and administrators who know what they’re talking about.  Obviously there are often honest disagreements among “those who know what they’re talking about” … which is why a head of government really needs to put them together in a room working together to come up with the best idea, rather than going just with the ones of his/her class, party, religion, race, ethnicity, region, or worst of all, Yes-Men, Vestal Virgins, and Wicked Counsellors.  Experts may not be without political agenda also … but usually they can call each other on their sh*t too, which is why you really need a diversity of viewpoints on such a panel.

Cyber-Budgets, or, GIGO, or, The Coming Coverup

So the Bushies aren’t going to issue Budgets generally on hard copy anymore?  Do you trust them?  I sure as hell don’t!  They’re already spending money without Congress’ approval, picking-and-choosing which laws to “faithfully execute” and how, and making up other laws on their own without Congress; now they can just make financial changes as easily as you or I “cut” a zero from one line and “paste” it to another, or worse!!!

This is the same reason I don’t let Welfare, auto insurance, HMOs, banks, student loan servicers, etc., communicate with me by email.  I want it in print, on paper, you lying, thieving, deceiving, greedy, power-hungry sons of bitches!!!!!  Dated, postmarked, the whole damned nine yards!

More on Writers’ strike and late night

NBC and ABC threatened to fire employees of Carson Daly, Leno, O’Brien, and Kimmel?  Let’s fire THEM!  Boycott NBC, ABC, their late-night advertisers, and these networks’ affiliated companies, if you can!  It’s hard, I know, they’re everywhere!  But don’t boycott MSNBC, it’s our only alternative to Faux News Channel and their MSM clones, for politics and government coverage, such as it is.

It’s OK, Craig Ferguson has the most entertaining/longest monologues in late-night!  Well worth the price of admission … and then some!  ;)

BTW, so much for Conan’s allegedly-wispy facial hair….

“Richardson Leaves the Personality Contest;” Go with Kucinich

The Nation’s perceptive editorial about the frontrunners and MSM coverage of them.

Guess I have to go with Congressman Dennis Kucinich now, just to make a statement.  Although really, all his experience in Congress does dwarf Rodham Clinton’s, Obama’s, and Edwards’s, and is current, versus Mike Gravel’s (honorable) terms in the Senate back in the ’70s.

Heck, even running a major city, Cleveland, wisely, for a few years during a tumultuous time for it, should say something!

Huckabee crossed a picket line; Late night shows

…even if he doesn’t want to admit it.  When he went in a back door to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to avoid “crossing a picket line,” he either didn’t know or didn’t care that you don’t have to physically walk through a barricade of striking workers to “cross a picket line.”  All you have to do is help a struck workplace perform struck work.  IIUC, Leno, who is himself a Writers’ Guild member and theoretically still on strike, believes as long as he ad-libs and doesn’t “write,” he’s not scabbing himself.  But IIUC, the Guild – who are supposed to be his authority in such matters – disagrees, and was indeed picketing the taping of his show.  (If the Guild kicks Jay out, he’d be barred from writing for his own show!)  If Huckabee really supports the writers, he should’ve foregone the temptation to make political hay by going on Jay’s first new show since the strike began, on the eve of the Iowa straw poll.  But he either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t really care.

Catholic theologian David Tracy and sociologist Andrew Greeley have a theory that might explain Rev. Huck’s behavior.  They say Protestants have a congenital difficulty comprehending analogy – the idea that something is like something else - rooted in their Biblicism and centuries-long opposition to Latin-Rite Catholic material “sacramentalism.”  Thus, Huck wouldn’t have understood that the taboo against “crossing a picket line” isn’t necessarily literal.  It has nothing to do with a face-to-face challenge to the picketers on-duty at that moment, and everything to do with the total aim of the job action by all the employees.

Then again, maybe it’s just because he’s a Republican … which may be the same thing.  Greeley tells the one about the two old Irish-American ladies in Chicago: One says, “I hear Alderman O’Leary has become a Republican.”  The other replies, “Ridiculous!  Wasn’t I after seeing him in church just last Sunday?!”  ;)

Of course, Leno calls himself a Catholic of some kind….  Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly, too.  (Daly even majored in Theology at Loyola Marymount … calling into question the Jesuit education available there!!)  So I guess we should boycott them and their advertisers!?  (I must confess that, last night, eating at a turnpike service area, their two TVs were blaring Fox News and O’Brien/Daly. Tough choice. I went with the latter, for which may God have Mercy on me! In Orthodoxy, we seek forgiveness even in a dilemma, rather than seek to justify ourselves before God – before Whom no creature can justify himself. But I saw it as the lesser of two evils!)

Catholic Dave Letterman* did the right thing, reaching an “interim agreement” with the Guild on behalf of himself and Craig Ferguson (aka Worldwide Pants Inc.), before returning to production.

(*–As Dave told fellow Catholic Ray Romano a year or two ago, “I have a season ticket, but I don’t make it to all the games.”)

IOWA Caucuses: another view

One thing I’m not hearing amid calling Iowa for Obama and Huckabee is an old political principal, the (regional) Favorite Son.  Could it just be because they’re both Midwesterners, Obama from Illinois, Huckabee from Arkansas?  Just askin’.

Looking ahead to New Hampshire Tuesday, would it be so meaningful if the governor of neighboring Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, did well there?  Not at all unprecedented, especially given New England’s long absence from the White House (not counting sitting de jure President John Kerry, of course).

Wearing tape

It really is “the end of history”: Women are now taping their clothing on!  They’re being convinced/pressured to believe that they have to show us so much skin, or other improbable clothing positioning, that won’t keep from indecency in most U.S. jurisdictions or on most U.S. TV channels, without adhesives.  This isn’t fashion, it’s soft-core pornography, or circus-wear - and as usual, damned uncomfortable for the women, in more ways than one.

I guess this means the end of the old joke about when a young lady is old enough to wear a strapless dress: “If it stays up, you’re old enough.”  And I guess 8-year-old Lisa Simpson’s been taping since the ’80s!

How soon before the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models’ paint-as-clothing goes “mainstream”?!  It’d certainly give new meaning to the Golden Globes!!!*

Yup, paint ‘n’ spackle, that’s all an actress or supermodel really needs today!  She’s nothing more than a robot-(wo)mannequin!

(*–I own that one.  You can’t use it without paying me.  And since the writers are still on strike, don’t hold your breath!!!)

Germany warns on Wifi; What about cumulative effects?

This recent British newspaper piece* is somewhat opinionated, but includes facts about German concerns about health risks.  This Wikipedia link currently provides allegedly-scientific counterpoint.  ["Jane you ignorant slut!"]

One thing possibly hinted at in the German report is the cumulative effect of ALL the electromagnetic radiation we now live amid (“electrosmog”?).  We’re usually told about their “safety” one at a time, but what about altogether?!!  One smokestack or factory-farm, car or burnt forest or clearcut, doesn’t cause Global Warming, but millions do, after all!

(*–Don’t worry about the .ece suffix on this link, it seems to just be a normal webpage.)

Britney’s pregnant kid sister

Is anyone else really disturbed that we’re now being subjected to tabloid speculations about “the real daddy” of the unborn child of a minor, or is it just me?  As if a single statutory rapist were not enough….  WHO CARES?!?!?!  Or, who should care?!!  This is intrusive for her/them (I mean, all 3 … or more), and prurient for the rest of us.  I think it’s great that she wants to go home to Louisiana; I just hope she isn’t persecuted there … or harassed by the “media.”

You know, the singular of media is medium, in-between excellent and lousy … but right now I’m thinking a little farther down the scale….

Loss Of Signal (LOS)

What if they put in an appropriate permanent orbit around Mars a radio relay satellite, for when probes get behind the planet?  At least we might find out what happens to them when they ‘disappear’….

(If they don’t already know, that is!  Bwahahahaha!)

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