Tag Archive: united states of america


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Says Puddles, “Although Canada, Mexico and South America are all American, today is the celebration of the independence of these United States of America. Here’s to empathy, progress and hanging in there.”

United Stated Map

Re-arranged, courtesy of webcomic xkcd.com:

united_states_map

To all the men and women who put their lives on hold and on the line to serve their country, THANK YOU.

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The Federalist Papers – Excerpts

Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Excerpted from Number 84, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in McLean’s Edition, 1788:


“The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.  The observations of the judicious Blackstone,* in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital: ‘To bereave a man of life, [says he,] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.’”

*Vide Blackstone’s “Commentaries,” vol i., p. 136 – Publius


Naturally, I thought of Guantanamo Bay when I read this.  Wasn’t Obama supposed to close that down?  I know, no one wants terrorists in their backyard.  But why wouldn’t ADX Florence in Colorado be sufficient?  Ain’t nobody ever gonna escape from there.  I think I may know why: they need to be placed in some federal-run facility that’s a legal no-man’s land.  To be placed in Supermax, they’d have to have been convicted of a crime.

Also made me think of the 19th-century French penal system, ala Papillon or Chateau d’If.


This will be the last post of this Federalist Papers series.  Thanks to everyone who commented on my political musings.

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The Federalist Papers – Excerpts

Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Excerpted from Number 79, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in McLean’s Edition, 1788:


“In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.”


It’s amazing I just read this, because just yesterday I commented on koan911’s blog, about people being slaves to their jobs.

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Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Excerpted from Number 76, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in the New York Packet on 4/1/1788:


“Hence, in every exercise of the power of appointing to offices by an assembly of men, we must expect to see a full display of all the private and party likings and dislikes, partialities and antipathies, attachments and animosities, which are felt by those who compose the assembly.  The choice which may at any time happen to be made under such circumstances, will of course be the result either of a victory gained by one party over the other, or of a compromise between the parties.  In either case, the intrinsic merit of the candidate will too often be out of sight.  In the first, the qualifications best adapted to uniting the suffrages of the party, will be more considered than those which fit the person for the station.  In the last, the coalition will commonly turn upon some interested equivalent: ‘Give us the man we wish for this office, and you shall have the one you wish for that.’  This will be the usual condition of the bargain.  And it will rarely happen that the advancement of the public service will be the primary object either of party victories or of party negotiations.”


Remember the 2002 Winter Olympics?  There was a huge scandal in pairs figure skating.  The French judge gave her best scores to the Russians, in exchange for the Russian judge giving his best scores to the French skater in another category.  The French judge insisted she was under internal pressure, and the ISU insisted that changes would be made to ensure this sort of corruption would never happen again.

Har.  Well, they made sure the judging is now so opaque and arcane that no one could possibly detect any impropriety.  Instead of showing each country’s individual scores, they now show only a grand total of all the scores.  It’s always been this way.  It’s skating’s open dirty secret.  All the skaters know it.  Even at regional levels, it’s all political.  It’s such a shame, because these kids spend their entire lives devoted to perfecting the sport.  I used to get up at 4am, skate till 8 or 9am, go to school (I had a 1st-period PE exemption), return to the rink after school, and skate until 10pm.  That was 6 days a week, and I was only a mid-level skater.  There’s also an enormous amount of money involved.  Skating is expensive.  To be cheated out of a rightful win because of some arbitrary bullshit, seems criminal.

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The Federalist Papers – Excerpts

Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Excerpted from Number 75, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in the Independent Journal:


“[The power of making treaties] relates neither to the execution of the subsisting laws, nor to the enactment of new ones; and still less to an exertion of the common strength.  Its objects are CONTRACTS with foreign nations, which have the force of law, but derive it from the obligations of good faith.  They are not rules prescribed by the sovereign to the subject, but agreements between sovereign and sovereign.  The power in question seems therefore to form a distinct department, and to belong, properly, neither to the legislative nor to the executive.  The qualities elsewhere detailed as indispensable in the management of foreign negotiations, point out the Executive as the most fit agent in those transactions; while the vast importance of the trust, and the operation of treaties as laws, plead strongly for the participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body in the office of making them.

“However proper or safe it may be in governments where the executive magistrate is an hereditary monarch, to commit to him the entire power of making treaties, it would be utterly unsafe and improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of four years’ duration.  It has been remarked, upon another occasion, and the remark is unquestionably just, that an hereditary monarch, though often the oppressor of the people, has personally too much stake in the government to be in any material danger of being corrupted by foreign powers.  But a man raised from the station of a private citizen to the rank of chief magistrate, possessed of a moderate or slender fortune, and looking forward to a period not very remote when he may probably be obliged to return to the station from which he was taken, might sometimes be under temptations to sacrifice his duty to his interest, which it would require superlative virtue to withstand.  An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth.  An ambitious man might take his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents.  The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States.”


Having said all that, Hamilton then goes on to explain why the President should have the sole power of making treaties. 

This all brings to my mind thoughts of the US’s relationship with Israel.  It started with Harry Truman in 1948.  We have tax treaties with them, we have peace treaties with them.  We send them about $3 billion per year in economic and military grants, refugee settlement assistance, and other aid.  None of this has fostered friendly relations with other middle eastern nations; on the contrary, our position has invited much negative attention, most notably in the form of terrorist attacks.  Israel has routinely and brazenly broken her own boundaries and ventured to start settlements on Palestine land, against her own signed treaties with Palestine.  Just last week, Vice President Biden arrived for a state visit just hours before Netanyahu announced even more development in another disputed area, forcing Biden to condemn the plan, and then later have to kiss ass, saying the U.S. has “no better friend” than Israel, and that the relationship is "impervious to any shifts in either country or either country's partisan politics."

My question is, what do we get out of this relationship?  Other than more terrorism, I mean.  Is a treaty binding forever?  (Yes, I hear the hysterical laughter of Native Americans everywhere.)  But seriously, is there a time when a nation can decide a treaty is no longer beneficial or valid?  And if not, how is it that one man can make such a decision into perpetuity?

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The Federalist Papers – Excerpts

Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Excerpted from Number 72, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in the New York Packet on 3/21/1788:


“An avaricious man, who might happen to fill the office, looking forward to a time when he must at all events yield up the emoluments he enjoyed, would feel a propensity, not easy to be resisted by such a man, to make the best use of the opportunity he enjoyed while it lasted, and might not scruple to have recourse to the most corrupt expedients to make the harvest as abundant as it was transitory; though the same man, probably, with a different prospect before him, might content himself with the regular perquisites of his situation, and might even be unwilling to risk the consequences of an abuse of his opportunities.  His avarice might be a guard upon his avarice.  Add to this that the same man might be vain or ambitious, as well as avaricious.  And if he could expect to prolong his honors by his good conduct, he might hesitate to sacrifice his appetite for them to his appetite for gain.  But with the prospect before him of approaching an inevitable annihilation, his avarice would be likely to get the victory over his caution, his vanity, or his ambition.

“An ambitious man, too, when he found himself seated on the summit of his country’s honors, when he looked forward to the time at which he must descend from the exalted eminence for ever, and reflected that no exertion of merit on his part could save him from the unwelcome reverse; such a man, in such a situation, would be much more violently tempted to embrace a favorable conjuncture for attempting the prolongation of his power, at every hazard, than if he had the probability of answering the same end by doing his duty.”


This is about term limits for the President, but it applies to the issue of term limits in general.  As some of you may have discerned, I don’t trust any politicians.  (You can tell when they’re lying – their lips are moving!)  My first impulse is to say, ‘throw all the bums out, annually! Anyone who’s served, never gets to serve again!.’  Even make it a mandatory service, like Israel or Switzerland’s mandatory military service.  Everyone would have to spend one year serving their country, as a soldier, or as a legislator, or doing some kind of community service.  Get them when they’re young and full of energy and idealism, then let them loose before they get corrupted.

Then one day, years ago, I heard Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, speak so eloquently against term limits.  Many of the points she touched on were just mentioned above.  Since then, I’ve always given the subject grains of salt on both sides.  I always thought she was just the coolest, smartest, tough old broad (in the best sense of the word).

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Click here to read an introduction to this series.

Also excerpted from Number 71, written by Alexander Hamilton, published in the New York Packet on 3/18/1788:


“The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter; as if the exercise of its rights, by either the executive or judiciary, were a breach of their privilege and an outrage to their dignity.  They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the other departments; and as they commonly have the people on their side, they always act with such momentum as to make it very difficult for the other members of the government to maintain the balance of the Constitution.”


Just like the excerpt from no. 70, this could apply today to any number of conservative and liberal extremists alike.

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