"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."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hold your nose and swallow . . .

. . . seems to be the attitude in the Senate, which passed the "sweetened" bailout bill yesterday by a wide margin. It's now getting kicked back to the House, and the hope is that the "sweeteners" - which include raising the FDIC insurance cap and various tax breaks, reliefs, and extensions - will bring more House Republicans on board (though possibly driving away an equal number of Democrats) to get it passed. Some of these sweeteners, by themselves, might be a good idea (others, like a provision to force health care providers to treat mental health issues the same way they do physical problems, stink of pork); that doesn't mean the bill is any more palatable. It still saddles taxpayers with the most risky debt owned by financial institutions, hopes - doesn't guarantee - that we'll recoup that debt in five years, and gives the federal government ownership stakes in these institutions that it's not likely to give up once the crisis passes. Oh, and now the bill will cost more than the original $700 billion requested. At this point I'd be very surprised if the new bill doesn't pass in the House; and once it does, and the president signs it into law, I fear we'll look back on that day and mark it as one where this country gave up a big piece of what makes it American.

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