"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scooter keeps on scooting, and other news

It's been two weeks since I returned from Desert Talon and I'm still way behind on my current events (somewhere on my DVR, there's still a Republican debate at St A's waiting to be watched). So I will do a quick round-up in no particular order, call it even, and start going more in-depth from here on out.

  • Scooter Libby's sentenced was commuted by President Bush yesterday. Commutation falls short of a pardon, in that he doesn't have to serve time but he still has to pay a six-figure fine and serve two years of probabtion, plus his record still shows him convicted of a felony. The whole trial seemed farcical to me, since the Democrats were determined to turn it into a witch hunt, the White House handled the whole issue with its usual skill in public relations (that is, none), and in an indictment centered around leaks, Libby wasn't even the guy who did the leaking (insert your own potty humor here). Various commentators think Bush's action was either too cold, too hot, or just right (also interesting are the usual blistering outcries from a number of Democrats, some of whom had no problem with President Clinton's pardoning convicted terrorists; further down the column, also of interesting note, are some difficulties the Dems seem to be encountering in changing Congress' "culture of corruption"; who knew that corruption wasn't restricted to one side of the aisle?). Given that Patrick's Fitzgerald's arguments boiled down to "he said, she said", and that Libby wasn't even the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name, two hundred and fifty G's and a felony conviction seem a pretty steep price to pay. Still, pardoning is the president's prerogative, no matter how distasteful the criminal; can we finally lay this one to rest and move on to slightly more important issues, like, say . . .
  • Immigration? Incidentally, the latest reform effort failed, despite President Bush's stirring and eloquent argument that those who were against the bill didn't want what was "right" for America (and any assortment of racist charges from the bill's other supporters). How depressing is it that one of the most important social, cultural, economic, and national security issues of our time came down to name-calling? Why were supporters allowed to play the culture as much as they wanted, but when opponents did they were labeled "xenophobes"? Why is it so inconceivable that the bill's opponents were truly concerned with things like fairness to immigrants who actually do what they're supposed to to come into this country, or upholding existing laws, or keeping track of exactly what kind of people (i.e. criminals or terrorists, that is, not race) cross our borders, or the massive economic cost of providing benefits (educational, medical, etc) to people who demand all the rights of living in this nation without fulfilling a citizen's most basic responsibilities? Depressing, yes; sad, yes; immature and pathetic, most definitely. I have no problem with folks coming here in search of a better life, and I don't particularly care where they come from, but I have a huge problem with people breaking our laws to get in here and then telling the rest of us what they think they deserve. Bottom line: if you broke the law to come in here, you deserve nothing. I know that we're a country of immigrants, and I can trace most of my family's lineage back to men and women who came here from abroad looking for a new start (at least one of my great-grandparents' names is engraved on the wall at Ellis Island). But guess what: the vast majority of those immigrants came through Ellis Island and other places, went through the vetting process, followed the rules, and then got to reap the benefits. I don't see how we can put the brave souls who brought their whole lives with them through the halls of Ellis Island and those who dodge this country's laws and responsibilities together in the same category.
  • An interesting tangent to the twin issues of immigration and assimilation: over the weekend, Britain managed to foil what could have been an extremely bloody terrorist plot. This is one more example of something we've seen more and more of across Europe, and particularly in the United Kingdom; namely, that the Old World has a huge number of immigrants who want to enjoy the benefits of the West but impose the ideology of the Islamic caliphate. America has thus far avoided this situation and the widespread unrest and violence that accompanies it (though we've had several close calls, as seen at Fort Dix and JFK), demonstrating that when it comes to integration, we're doing something right over here. A related story takes us into the mind of a former jihadist. And, as we prepare to celebrate our two hundred and thirty-first year of independence, perhaps the events in Britain can serve as a reminder that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
  • Finally, a fascinating article by General Petraeus on the benefits of sending military officers to graduate school in order to expand their intellectual "box". I wonder: could the minds of the Harvard board of trustees or the entire San Francisco educational system ever open wide enough to consider the value encouraging young Americans to join the military to expand their intellectual, social, or moral "boxes"?

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