American Elephants

I’ll Show You Mine, If You Will Show Me Yours. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s goal is to show a friendlier face to other countries, and to coax Russia into doing the same.  This is intended to be a confidence-building initiative begun last fall when Obama abandoned the U.S. missile-defense system being installed in Eastern Europe that had so upset the Russians.

Even though the system was designed to protect against future missiles from Iran, Obama mistakenly hoped that such a unilateral U.S. forfeiture would encourage Russia to put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear weapons development.

That didn’t work, and the new START Treaty allows Russia to sell missiles to Iran at will.  So to indulge further in such confidence-building, a confidential U.S. note was sent to 128 other countries two weeks ago, according to George Jahn of A.P.

The United States … will provide pre-launch notification of commercial and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space launches as well as the majority of intercontinental ballistic and submarine-launched ballistic missile launches.

There is something here that I am not quite grasping. This is a “confidential” note from the President to 128 of his closest friends, designed to build confidence because we will tell you whenever we are going to have a secret launch of our secret weapons?  And this builds “confidence” in what?

If we so readily blab our own military secrets, then others are going to tell us their secrets?  This sounds like grade school — “You tell me your secret and I’ll tell you mine.”

The 129 countries are members of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.  Four of the world’s nuclear-armed nations belong to the convention —The U.S., Russia, France and Britain.  I was really worried about France and Britain’s missiles.  Russia has not often told the truth in living memory.  And China, North Korea, Pakistan and India and Iran do not belong, and do not provide notice. So as N. Korea and S. Korea are close to war, this effort has helped…?

I have long believed in a tiny, infectious worm that enters the ear canal.  When it reaches the brain, it expels a thick, cloud-like substance that gradually surrounds the brain, making thought slow and ineffective.  It seems to be especially attracted to urban liberals, and is often contracted in crowded classrooms of Ivy-League colleges and universities.

The European Union, Not Having Enough to Do, Takes On the Father of the Bride! by The Elephant's Child
May 25, 2010, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

David Pryce-Jones, a senior editor at National Review wrote yesterday:

I spent the week-end celebrating a wedding. The bride and bridegroom made a fine couple. The church was very old, with a magnificent Norman arch and medieval wall decorations. Afterwards we repaired to a nearby great house built in the seventeenth century of beautiful grey stone, with a chapel of its own, mullion windows, statues, a vast lawn and gardens which I in my ignorance only then learnt are famous. Everything was perfect, in other words, here was a traditional moment of the kind that has made England what it is, and formed the loyalty of its daughters and sons.

In the course of his speech in her honour, the father of the bride then informed the audience that the European Union has passed a Gender Equality Bill. One provision of this preposterous and impudent measure is that fathers are no longer allowed to give away their daughters in the traditional church ceremony.

Greece is in flames, the Germans close to rebellion, and the entire European Union on the brink of breaking apart with some nations bankrupt beyond help, and the future of the euro is in doubt.  So, of course with everything seemingly falling apart, the bureaucrats in Brussels have decided to prohibit fathers from giving away their daughters in marriage as they have done for centuries.  The bureaucrats have decided that the custom treats daughters as chattel.

Sometimes the real world is so ludicrous that it wouldn’t be believed if it were fiction.

Just What is This “Office of the President of the United States?” by The Elephant's Child

When George Washington was elected President, there were so many questions. A Republic was something completely new to the Americans.  What they knew was monarchy, and a very opulent monarchy at that.  They definitely didn’t want to go back to the pomp and circumstance of England.  The new office of the President of the United States needed importance, respect, dignity and what exactly? The people did not rebel against a King in order to establish a new monarchy.

Congress insisted on a salary of $25,000, a huge sum for the time.  Washington accepted it reluctantly, but he spent nearly $2,000 of it on liquor and wine for entertaining.  He had, of course managed an army and a plantation.  In fact, Mount Vernon had more staff than his presidency did.

“Washington was keenly aware that whatever he did would become a precedent for the future. How often should he meet with the public? How accessible should he be?  Could he have private dinners with friends?  Should he make a tour of the new states?”  He sought advice from those closest to him, including his vice-president, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, his Secretary of the Treasury.  The only state occasions that any of them were familiar with were those of European monarchies.

“Hamilton thought that most people were ‘prepared for a pretty high tone in the demeanor of the Executive,’ but they probably would not accept as high a tone as was desirable.  “Notions of equality,” he said, were “yet…too general and too strong” for the president to be properly distanced from the other branches of the government.” Gordon Wood tells of the dilemmas.

“When Washington appeared in public, bands sometimes played “God Save the King.” In his public pronouncements the president referred to himself in the third person.  His dozens of state portraits were all modeled on those of European monarchs.”

We can be truly grateful that Washington was so aware that he was establishing precedent, and so careful of what he said and did.  He was setting an example, and everything he did was intended to hold the new nation together, to form a more perfect union.

One simple problem was what to call the president.  John Adams had discussed the problem with his colleagues in Massachusetts.  They called their governor “His Excellency”: should not the president have a higher title?  Adams thought only something like ‘His Highness’ or ‘His Most Benign Highness’ would answer.  Washington was said to have initially favored “His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties.” The Dutch leaders of the States-General of the United Provinces called themselves “Their High Mightinesses” and they were leaders of a Republic.”  Madison managed to get his fellow congressmen to vote for the simple republican title “President of the United States. And that was that.

Washington was relieved when the title question was settled.  But “he still was faced with making the institution of the presidency strong and energetic.” In fact, said Gordon Wood, “the presidency is the powerful office it is in large part because of Washington’s initial behavior.”

Gordon S. Wood: Empire of Liberty; A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

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