Saturday, March 31, 2012

American Health Care Law.

" would be folly to predict what the court will conclude..."
                                                        -New York Times, March 31.

Welcome to Supreme Court follies.

It is Saturday morning which means that the members of the court met yesterday to take a "preliminary vote" on the constitutionality of Obamacare and (prediction) voted it down, probably 5-4. 

There was, and is, a great debate in America over the wisdom of Obamacare.  That, in a democracy, is as it should be. It is a peculiarity of the American democracy that the members of the third co-equal federal branch of government do not assume, or "ascend" to, as it is sometimes put, their positions via democratic vote.  They are not elected but appointed.  For life. The American way thus seeks to insulate Supreme Court justices from the vicissitudes of politics. 

Oh, there is some tinny sound to this, certainly.  Most Americans, and I, hear it too. Laws, plural, are made by politicians; they are the product of overtly, unabashedly, often messy-looking political work and judges, who are registered voting Republicans or Democrats and sometimes were elected politicians before their "ascent," are in some meaningful way not political?  Oh yes, we hear it too. That discordant noise is merely a part of the larger symphony from above.  On the whole, we like the sound.

We like the sound of “all are equal under the law” and “the law is above all.” Those familiar maxims of verticality put the law, singular, "up" and politics "down." Judges "up," politicians "down."  The Constitution is the uppidiest "up" there is.  All are under that Law. We want the Constitution protected, we don’t want it pulled down from on high, and we will swallow our democratic principles to do it. We want Supreme Court justices to protect the Constitution and we will protect the justices to accomplish that. And so lifetime appointments. We will protect Supreme Court justices from us.

Just do not act politically on the bench.

In return for this protection from us political animals we ask Supreme Court justices to refrain from politics.  Obviously no campaigning or endorsing; aside from voting we ask Supreme Court justices to keep their political opinions to themselves. We agree not to ask, they agree not to tell.  That’s easy.  We also ask them to keep their political views out of their decisions: “apply the Law” is another American bromide.  “Apply the Law,” do not change it.  That’s hard sometimes.

It is impossible sometimes. When we political animals enact “a” law that conflicts with “the” law, the Constitution, we charge Supreme Court justices to smite it, and us, down.  We hope that doesn’t happen often since he who is smitten sometimes wants to smite back and we agree to protect Supreme Court justices, not smite them. So we ask Supreme Court justices not to do that very often. And they don’t.  They are above us in this elevated position because we put them there. They're vulnerable to a long, hard fall.

Supreme Court justices understand that it is a long, hard fall and so they have, enacted, of their own, certain limitations on their own behavior.  Like this:

''It is but a decent respect to the wisdom, integrity, and patriotism of the legislative body, by which any law is passed to presume in favor of its validity, until its violation of the Constitution is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.''*

And this:

“The Court developed, for its own governance in the cases within its jurisdiction, a series of rules under which it has avoided passing upon a large part of all the constitutional questions pressed upon it for decision. They are:

1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, non-adversary, proceeding, declining because to decide such questions is legitimate only in the last resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real, earnest, and vital controversy between individuals. It never was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.

2. The Court will not anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it. It is not the habit of the court to decide questions of a constitutional nature unless absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.

3. The Court will not formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than required by the precise facts it applies to.

4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of… If a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter.

5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its operation.

6. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its benefits.

7. When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided.” **

Now I ask you, are these not wise rules to distance the Court from politics and vice versa?  Are these not sentiments of comity between co-equal branches of government? They are.

Is this?:

     "Mr. Clement, I didn't take the time to figure this out, but maybe you did. Is
     there any chance at all that 26 States opposing it have Republican 
    governors and all of the states supporting it have Democratic governors? Is that 

*Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213, 270 (1827).
**Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority 297 U.S. 288, 346-9 (1936) (Brandeis concurring) (citing cases). 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday.  No court.  Friday morning. Run errands. File pleadings in courthouse. Few people. Little interaction. Good. Conserve energy.Auto-pilot. Own world. Oblivious.

Go visit clients in jail. Depressing.

Enter jail. Buzzed in to sign-in space. Small. Three-four person capacity tops. Metal detector. Present id, signing in, back turned. Auto-pilot. Own world.

"Good morning, sir."

Turn around. Young, fresh-scrubbed. Blue uniform. "Good morning, ma'am."

"Good morning, sir."

Turn around. Young, fresh-scrubbed. Blue uniform. "Good morning, sir."

"Good morning, sir."

Turn around. A battalion. A tour. Leaving as I'm entering. One after the other. All young, fresh-scrubbed, blue uniform.

All polite.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trayvon Martin, cont.


There is no injury to George Zimmerman apparent on these police videos.  This conflicts with #4 and casts doubt on #9.  It focuses attention on the underlined portion of the "stand your ground" law below:

"If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

Was it "necessary" for George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon Martin?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

American Health Care Law.

Today was the last of three days of oral argument before the United States Supreme Court. Case number 11-393, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and 11-400, Florida v. Health and Human Services Department, tests the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by the United States Congress and signed into effect by President Obama on December 24, 2009. The law, popularly (or unpopularly) known as "Obamacare," so identified is it with the president, was lauded here, as was the president, upon enactment.  It is the most significant piece of social legislation in fifty years.

The law has not been lauded in oral argument before the Supreme Court.  Based on their judicial histories and questioning of the lawyers the nine justices seem split on party affiliation of the president who appointed them. Those who were appointed by Republican presidents seem inclined to strike down the law, those appointed by Democrats to uphold it. This has surprised many close observers of the Court who had predicted approval by a decisive majority.

Yesterday's arguments revealed deep reservations by half of the court on whether the federal government had the power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to enact legislation mandating, as Obamacare does, individuals to pay for insurance or pay a penalty. The concerns about this Commerce Clause power are captured by a question asked by Justice Anthony Kennedy:  "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?"  Solicitor General Donald B.Verrilli, speaking for the government, answered, "That's not what's going on here, Justice Kennedy." Nor does it seem to this legal non-scholar and non-close, non-observer of the Court to be what is going on here but it seemed that way to Justice Kennedy--and Justice Scalia and Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts (Justice Thomas didn't ask any questions, seldom does, so predictably conservative is he.).  That's a 5-4 majority against the law right there.

Today's arguments reinforced the impression from yesterday that the law was in trouble: they focused on whether the law could be saved if the "individual mandate" (to buy or be fined) was struck down.  Justice Scalia, who thinks as a hatchet cuts, said, "My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute, the statute's gone."  That would be unfortunate for the American people in the opinion here.

It would also be unfortunate for President Obama.  It is called "Obamacare" after all and this is an election year. If this signature piece of legislation from the president's first term is deemed unconstitutional it hurts his chances for a second term.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin, cont.

Yesterday, I wrote the following:

"...I am unaware of any evidence that George Zimmerman was 'attacked' (in the language of the 'stand your ground' law) by Trayvon Martin. I am unaware of any evidence on who 'started' the physical altercation."

Now I am:

9. George Zimmerman told police that he stopped his vehicle, got out, and was unable to find Trayvon Martin, who he had been pursuing or following, and Trayvon Martin came up behind George Zimmerman, punched George Zimmerman in the face, knocking him to the ground, and began banging George Zimmerman's head into the ground.

This information was first published in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday.  Prior to this information I also wrote yesterday:

" 'However, the use of deadly force is not justifiable if you find: 

George Zimmerman initially provoked the use of force against himself unless:
the force asserted toward George Zimmerman was so great that he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force on Trayvon Martin.' "

"The jury will get that law read to them if Zimmerman asserts self-defense, which he will. Jurors get read a lot of parts of the law that they must apply to the facts of the case if they find them relevant to the facts. I do not believe a jury will find that part of the law applicable to the facts as I know them right now."

Based on this new information I have changed my mind. The above law would be considered by a jury, and will be considered by prosecutors now deciding whether to arrest George Zimmerman as directly applicable to the facts of the case. It may not be the determining fact, it may be believed or disbelieved in whole or in part, although it is consistent with fact #4, that George Zimmerman suffered some injury in the physical altercation with Trayvon Martin, but it is part of the facts of the case that will be and should be weighed by the prosecutors.  It is important.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin, cont.

On Saturday I wrote the following:

"I am not sure of the legal relevance of the facts as to how George Zimmerman's attention came to be on Trayvon Martin before they became engaged in a physical altercation..."

Having thought about it over the weekend I have changed my mind.  The following fact, as reported in the media, is legally relevant and is added them to Saturday's list:

7.  George Zimmerman pursued or followed Trayvon Martin before the physical altercation.

This fact is, to my knowledge uncontroverted. How is this relevant?  The killer's state of mind is always at issue in a homicide investigation and the deceased's state of mind can be legally relevant in a self-defense homicide. Evidence that George Zimmerman pursued or followed Trayvon Martin is relevant to show that Zimmerman had a confrontational state of mind, that he was the aggressor.

Where does this fact come from?  What what I've read Trayvon Martin's girlfriend has stated that she was on the phone with Trayvon right before the physical altercation, that Trayvon told her that he was being followed or pursued, I do not know the exact verb she used.

The above, what Trayvon said to his girlfriend, would, I believe, be admissible under the hearsay rule as a spontaneous statement or excited utterance or a then-existing mental, emotional, or physical condition.  What the girlfriend said to Trayvon in response, "Run!," I am not sure of the admissibility, I think not, but I am not sure.

If #7 above is legally relevant it would also tend to undercut the applicability of the "stand your ground" law to George Zimmerman. In fact, Zimmerman's lawyer has said that the "stand your ground" law is inapplicable to the case.  Additionally, I am unaware of any evidence that George Zimmerman was "attacked" (in the language of the "stand your ground" law) by Trayvon Martin. I am unaware of any evidence on who "started" the physical altercation.

If #7 above is legally relevant and admissible does it constitute a crime that George Zimmerman was committing before the physical altercation? That would be important because then investigators could reason that Trayvon had the right to avail himself of the laws quoted in the Saturday post.  Based on what I know of the facts at this point, the actions of George Zimmerman do not constitute assault or aggravated assault:

"An 'assault' is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent."

Aggravated assault is the same but using a deadly weapon.

If Zimmerman's actions are deemed not to constitute a crime against Trayvon Martin then I do not believe investigators could reasonably conclude that Trayvon was "attacked" within the meaning of the "stand your ground law."

Zimmerman's pursuit or following of Trayvon is obviously relevant to Trayvon's state of mind.  Even if the pursuit/following does not constitute a crime, it would produce some emotion in Trayvon: anger or fear are two obvious choices, if Trayvon's state of mind is deemed relevant. If Trayvon's state of mind is relevant then the two obvious choices, anger or fear, are cross-cutting.  "Fight or flight?"  the conclusion that investigators reach on which was in Trayvon's mind, or which predominated, is obviously important, but not necessarily determinative.

I also find the following fact legally relevant:

8.  Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman at some point during the physical altercation.

Even if George Zimmerman is deemed to have "started" the physical altercation, or to have instigated it by pursuing Trayvon Martin, there is another part of the "justifiable use of deadly force" law that applies:

"However, the use of deadly force is not justifiable if you find: 

George Zimmerman initially provoked the use of force against himself unless:
the force asserted toward George Zimmerman was so great that he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force on Trayvon Martin."

The jury will get that law read to them if Zimmerman asserts self-defense, which he will. Jurors get read a lot of parts of the law that they must apply to the facts of the case if they find them relevant to the facts. I do not believe a jury will find that part of the law applicable to the facts as I know them right now.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Umm, it seems the uh Rooskis did not intend to make happy time.  They uh, googled... they googled "Kazakhstan national anthem" and pulled the uh...the Borat one off the internet and, yeah.


Scholars agree* that the apex of artistic achievement in the West was reached in 2006 with the movie film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.**

Kazaks (Kazakis?) however have never...taken to the movie.  Thus it becomes our disagreeable duty to report of an international incident that occurred Thursday at the "Arab Shooting Championship"...The Arab Shooting Championship?... in Moscow.  It seems that a Kazaki lass, Maria Dmitrienko, won a gold medal at THE ARAB SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIP! and as happens at championships the national anthem of the winner's country was played. Well, it seems the Rooskis thought it would make happy time if they played the Kazak national anthem as it was performed in Borat:

"Kazakhstan greatest country in the world 
All other countries are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium!
All other countries have inferior potassium.
Kazakhstan home of the Tinshein swimming pool.
It's length thirty metre and width six metre.
Filtration system a marvel to behold.
It removes 80 percent of human solid waste.
Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place, 
from plains of Tarashenk to northern fence of Jewtown.

Kazakhstan, friend of all except Uzbekistan.
They very nosey people with bone in their brain.
Kazakhstan, industry best in the world, 
We invented toffee and the trouser belt.
Kazakhstan, prostitutes cleanest in the region, 
except of course for Turkmenistan's.
Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place, 
from plains of Tarashenk to northern fence of Jewtown.

Come grasp the mighty phenis of our leader, 
from junction with testes to tip of its face."

Kazak Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov promised a full investigation.

*There is near unanimity on this point.

 **And in particular the nude fight scene with Azamot Bagatov:

Trayvon Martin

This is the dominant public occurrence in America this week. President Obama commented on the case yesterday. The (1) legally relevant (2) facts (3) as they are known to me (4) at the time this is written (5) in my personal and legal opinion, are:

1. Trayvon Martin was killed by a single gunshot to the chest by George Zimmerman.
2. Trayvon Martin was unarmed.
3. George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin during a physical altercation.
4. George Zimmerman received some injury in the physical altercation with Trayvon Martin.
5. George Zimmerman told responding police officers that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
6. George Zimmerman was 28 years old, Trayvon Martin 17; George Zimmerman outweighed Trayvon Martin by approximately 100 pounds.  Trayvon Martin played football.

It is not clear to me that investigators have concluded who uttered the exclamation "Help!" before the gunshot was heard, which would be relevant.

I am not sure of the legal relevance of the facts as to how George Zimmerman's attention came to be on Trayvon Martin before they became engaged in a physical altercation, nor of George Zimmerman's 911 communication with police before the physical altercation, nor of the legality of his possession of the firearm. President Obama's comment, "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon," was legally irrelevant, unhelpful to fact-finding, and prejudicial to the fairness of the investigation.

In my opinion, the most important parts of the laws that would apply to this case are the following:

"In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used.  The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual;  however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force.  Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real."

"If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

"In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin."

"If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty."

"However, if from the evidence you are convinced that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved."

"Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias, or sympathy."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Seeking the Soul of China

There is no Church.  There is no Criminal Law.  Those are unavailable to Chinese as structures of legitimacy for accountability and judgment. A formal "truth and reconciliation commission" would need the imprimatur of some formal institution. The Center has the power to do it; it does not have the integrity to do it.  It put on a show-trial with the Gang of Four.

Is formal structure necessary?  Is formal judgment necessary? The Chinese people, and Song Binbin, have been doing this on the internet.  The accusations against and suspicions of Song, and her defenses and apology, are no less powerful in the absence of formal structures. Song cannot be formally compelled to speak, but she is speaking. Individual Chinese, including Song, are speaking to one another about history, about judgment and accountability. The Center, royal or red, has never done that.  Can the people accomplish this?

Are the Chinese people finally standing up?

Seeking the Soul of China

"That we could do:"  Professor Xu Weixin in November, 2008 on the question of whether a "truth and reconciliation commission" could work on Song Binbin particularly and Cultural Revolution violence generally.

Do Chinese want that?  Does Song? 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seeking the Soul.

China is not part of Christendom (it's "Oriental").

Painting: Song Binbin by Professor Xu Weixin. 

Seeking the Soul.

In Christendom the cycle is sin, punishment, acceptance, forgiveness, redemption. 

Carlos Tevez knows.

Painting: Icon of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oh my God.  What, again?

I don't think National Geographic has gotten enough mileage out of this.  They should change their name to National Titanic.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Look how feminine Mao's lips are.  Even by comparison with a female supermodel's.  Here's another view and a close-up:


What is this, botox?  Those lips need lipstick. Was the sculptor trying to make Mao androgynous?  Was Mao androgynous?  Oh my God.  The lips, the hair: what image of Mao was the sculptor working from to create this weirdness?  Maybe the sculptor was on LSD.
Whoa. Liu Wen looks like she could kick my ass.


Mao on Mount Mao-more and Beethoven.  Pretty close.  But Mao's 'do has a blow-dried look, Beethoven's an egg-beater look.

How about this comparison:

How do you mend a broken h-ar-ar-heart. Barry Gibb's 'do! Mao's hair is definitely blow-dried Do NOT get on my case for liking the Bee Gees and here you can see in comparison I can defend that position to one of the ultimate blow-dried performers of the late '70's-early '80's. Mao even had a high, squeaky voice.

  Zowie, it's Maoie!  Stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

"Hand in hand with equal plod they go.  In the free hands--no.  Free empty hands.  Backs turned both bowed with equal plod they go.  The child hand raised to reach the holding hand.  Hold the old holding hand.  Hold and be held. Plod on and never recede.  Slowly with never a pause plod on and never recede.  Backs turned.  Both bowed. Joined by held holding hands.  Plod on as one."

                                                                                  -Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho (1983).

Image: "The Fallen Man," sculpture by Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1915-1916).

Friday, March 16, 2012


Interesting-looking people.

Liu Wen (at left) is the first Chinese supermodel.  She is pictured next to Mount Mao-more in Changsha. Mao, here with Beethoven-style hair, is still the straw that stirs the drink in China.

Bo Don't Know.

Interesting looking person. There is some actor or maybe movie character that he reminds me of but I cannot put my finger on it. One of the Star Wars characters, maybe?

Bo Xilai was the CCP chief in Chongqing (one of the search keywords recently was "Chongqing spy") and a rising political star until a couple of days ago when he was summarily dismissed.  Given that 2012 is a transition year in CCP politics Bo's removal also removes any chance that he could join the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

Mr. Bo is described as a "leftist" in Chinese politics, one who wanted even tighter control over the populace, and a Maoist ideologue who wanted old Cultural Revolution songs sung again in Chongqing.  He made his name as an anti-corruption crime fighter.  He was undone when his right-hand man, Wang Lijun, paid an un-announced visit on the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. Wang was also fired. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


O c'mon.
Oh my god.


Kiribati's economy is weak and is affected by rises and falls in the world demand for coconut.”
                                   -BBC Country Profile.

Coconuts?  Their economy depends on coconuts?  That’s absurd.  What, are there coconut futures?  Is this a joke?  I could see the Brits doing this but I did not make this up: 

I mean, the nearest country to Kiribati is Fiji and it’s 1200 miles away!  How valuable are Kiribati coconuts that it’s profitable to export them 1200 miles.  And Fiji doesn’t have coconuts? What’s the nearest place that doesn’t have coconuts?  I don’t know.


That post contained 7 words and five pictures, a very in-depth examination of the country.
My goodness gracious look at the Kiribati post, now 8th on the T.T., supplanting "Protests in Egypt."   Before this month there had been 28 pageviews of that post. This month, 859.

Monday, March 12, 2012

War in Afghanistan

"Legitimate military purpose."

Is that not a meaningful distinction between street crime murder and killing in war?

On America's streets--I think of the Columbine or Virginia Tech massacres--gunmen just shot whichever people they came across.  Isn't that what the Army Sergeant in Afghanistan is alleged to have done?  If it's murder at VaTech, why not in Afghanistan?

"Where do you draw the line?"  God, I despise that saying; it's a cop-out for us when we don't want to think through something. It usually ends the thinking:  "See I can stop thinking about it now because, you know, where do you, like, draw the line?"

You draw the line between killing and murder wherever a full consideration of the moral and practical consequences merits.

But the Palestinians justify attacks on Israeli civilians, including children, as killings done for a legitimate military purpose. Who decides what a "legitimate military purpose" is?  Doesn't the answer to that depend to some extent on what end of the gun you're on?  "We do", each of us individually,  is my answer to the first question.  "Yes," is my answer to the second question: One considers which end of the gun one is on. And then one answers.

But the Palestinians are "we" too, and they disagree.

Each of us is a moral agent. Each of us, even in thinking about Big Stuff like this, has to "draw the line" somewhere.  That is, each of us has to make judgments and that others think and act differently does not absolve each of us from the moral responsibility to judge. 

This individual moral agent adjudges those Palestinians who shoot or blow up Israeli civilians guilty of murder and this American Army Sergeant who shot Afghan civilians guilty of murder as well.

War in Afghanistan

The headlines--in the New York Times, in Britain's Daily Mail, on CNN--say a U.S. Army Sergeant "killed" 16 Afghan civilians, including children.

Why "killing?"  It's murder.

The license to kill in war does not include targeted children.

Or does it?

The United States targeted the entire civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in atomic attacks in World War II.  I approve of that.  The United States also bombed Dresden and other German cities into oblivion.

I remember my brother, initially trained as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam war, saying he didn't think he could kill someone face-to-face, as this Army Sergeant in Afghanistan did, but dropping bombs on the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong?  He could do that. I understood that.

I think I could kill face-to-face and bomb.  But I couldn't do what the Army Sergeant in Afghanistan did (apparently): deliberately setting out, going door to door, and shooting unarmed civilians, including children.

Why not?  Certainly, the immediacy--my brother's tipping point of squeamishness--would make it harder; in addition, the defenselessness of the Afghan civilians, especially the children. Would my brother and I have been able to bomb deliberately the very houses where the Afghan civilians were shot?  Speaking for myself now, if I were told "Hey Harris, wanna have some fun?  Go bomb those houses. They only contain civilians, including kids," my moral tipping point would have been reached and I would have refused.  But, if I were told, "Hey Harris, go bomb this area (point to map)" and that area was known or reasonably assumed by me to have civilians present, that I would do.

Newt Gingrich, as he frequently does, said a brilliant thing over the weekend.  He said he didn't think America was "ruthless" enough to wage the kind of war in the Middle East necessary to success--the kind of war that Abraham Lincoln came to see as necessary to win the Civil War.  I entirely agree with Gingrich and have written the same thing here.

But you can't just go house-to-house looking for people to shoot and then shoot them regardless of whether they're the enemy, civilians, or children. I say that's murder.  Why?

Image: New York Times.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Entire nation of Kiribati to be

relocated over rising sea level



                                                                                             -Daily Telegraph, March 9.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The monthly job figures were released today by the U.S. Labor Department. 227,000 jobs were added in February. That's the size of Garland, Texas.  Garland says hello.

Unpopular Posts

There is a new Unpopular Post:  "Susan Boyle" fell out of the Top Ten today and was replaced by "Kiribati."

Other Unpopular Posts

"Cesare Paciotti Jewels," July 24, 2006.

"True Crime Stories: I Am Become Death," January 3, 2005.

"Wonderful Norway!," October 12, 2009.


Faroe Islands





Cote d'Ivoire

Isle of Man


Burkina Faso

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"bin bin" song "red guard"

Image: Christmas dancers at Kiribati airport.

Golden Apple.

According to a BBC report, Apple, Inc.'s market value is over $500 billion, making it the most valuable company in the world. Their profit this year was $40 billion.  The report says that's more than most huge firms generate in revenue.  Finally, Apple has $50 billion in cash.

That's a lot. All of those things are a lot.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Huh?  No, I can't think of anything to say about that... I mean, I think a lot of things about that but I can't think of any one specific thing to say about that.

So, yeah.

"It's better to be a dictator than gay."
                                                                -President Alexander Lukashenko of Balarus.

President Lukashenko was responding to criticism by German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, who is
openly gay, of Balarus' human rights record.

All that I am to be, I am.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

And this is how I see the East.  I have seen its secret places and have looked into its very soul; but now I see it always from a small boat, a high outline of mountains, blue and afar in the morning; like faint mist at noon; a jagged wall of purple at sunset.
And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice.
I had faced the silence of the East.  I had heard some of its language.  But when I opened my eyes again the silence was as complete as though it had never been broken.

-Joseph Conrad, "Youth" (1898);  Painting:  Odd Nerdrum, "Man in Boat" (1998).