The Late Beau Biden

Condolences to the family of the Vice President on the death of their son, Beau Biden, formerly Captain Biden of the United States Army.
Biden’s unit was activated to deploy to Iraq on October 3, 2008, and sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, for pre-deployment training, the day after his father participated in the 2008 presidential campaign’s only vice presidential debate. His father was on the record as saying, “I don’t want him going. But I tell you what, I don’t want my grandson or my granddaughters going back in 15 years, and so how we leave makes a big difference.”
The caption on the second photo says "Beau Biden in Iraq," but I never saw any part of Iraq with grass and trees like that.

The young gentleman died of brain cancer, at the age of 46. I extend my sympathies in particular to the Vice President, who has buried more than one of his children.

The line-up

Jonah Goldberg and Kevin Williamson want to add a couple more.

Ranger School Update

Ranger School is really hard. The Darby phase is still pretty early in the training.
At the end of Darby phase your squad will evaluate your efforts within the squad and someone has to be last, just as someone has to be first. Ranger candidates will explain to RI’s how the members of the squad are when they think no one is looking: This one of the most important parts of Ranger School. It is set up specifically to challenge the weak link and to see if that link strengthens or if it breaks. By the time the RI’s decide your fate at the end of Darby phase, people begin to question their reasons for being there.

This is where people start to miss home, talk about how their families need them or how they have to quit in order to go to combat with their unit. These candidates have yet to walk mount Yonah, pass the knot test, or conquer the nighttime descents of mountaineering. They have yet to enter the copper head inhabited Yellow river of Florida where alligators will swim next to their zodiac or have upward facing tree stumps ravage their legs as their bodies battle hyperthermia. On average, about 45 percent of Ranger School students will graduate.
Yet it is the Darby phase that has defeated all of the female candidates in the one-time trial program to introduce women to Ranger School. Eight of them were recycled, but they have all failed again. Of these, two will be permitted to retry a third time. That sets the maximum success rate for the Darby phase at 10% for the female candidates, if those two manage to do on the third try what they have twice failed to do. And that just gets them to the Mountain phase at Frank D. Merrill.

The Havok Journal celebrates this, not out of disdain for the women, but because it means the standards have not been lowered. High standards in an elite combat unit save lives on the battlefield.

Others feel otherwise.
But there is another opinion quietly being voiced as well: that Ranger School is more akin to a rite of passage – an opportunity for men to “thump their chest,” as one Ranger puts it – than a realistic preparation for leading in war. That women can actually make Ranger units more effective. And that the standards that keep them out are outdated....

The question, he adds, is: Are these standards a fair measure of the challenges of combat?

Dempsey recalls being in violent Kunar province in Afghanistan and hiking up to the rugged Pakistan border. Along for the mission was a male first sergeant who was also a Ranger-tabbed Golden Gloves boxer. The unit had to stop for the first sergeant because he needed to rest during the strenuous march.

“No one’s going to say that the first sergeant is a deadbeat. We need him, and we’re just going to take a break.”

On other occasions, he adds, the combat patrols would simply make the decision not to bring along their heavy packs.

“The equipment we carry is just insane,” Amerine says. “We all have back injuries at the end of our careers.”

The No. 1 Department of Veterans Affairs claim – made by 58 percent of all claimants – is muscular-skeletal injuries.

“If we really are serious about integrating the force, the equipment we carry is going to be one of the things we have to have a hard conversation about,” Amerine says. “It’s in our grasp technologically to make things a lot lighter.”
That doesn't sound like an argument that the standard is outdated, but that until we make huge changes in how we outfit our troops the standard points to a very real issue. If it's already a huge problem even for men, and we haven't yet made things any lighter, why wouldn't the ruck march at Ranger School be a practical test? First Sergeant's an E-8, so he's probably in his thirties somewhere. At one time he was able to make the ruck march. As a Golden Gloves guy he was at one time in fantastic shape. As an NCO in an infantry unit, he's kept himself in at least pretty good shape for a thirty-something. If even this guy is having trouble later in his career, and back injury rates are so high across the force, why would we think that people more prone to such injuries (and other allied injuries) would be a wise addition?

We should thank everyone who participated for exploring this with us, and declare the experiment closed.

Now There's Something You Don't See Everyday

According to the monitor, the Christian fighter, a member of the minority Assyrian community, found the jihadist in the local village of Tal Shamiram.

"He took him prisoner and when he found out he was a member of IS, the Assyrian fighter beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.


The dog in this article is a beautiful animal.
After meeting up with Crystal, Ashlee examined the kittens, who were approximately three weeks old. The little cats were covered in fleas and were in very poor condition.

“They were just skin and bones – completely emaciated,” Ashlee recalled. “I immediately treated them for fleas and worms and then took them home. I fed them and gave them a nice warm place to sleep.”
What you mean when you say that you 'treated them for fleas and worms' is that you poisoned the fleas and the worms. In other words, we found in nature three sets of animals struggling to survive, chose one of them, and destroyed the other two for the benefit of the one.

What's the justification for that? We feel perfectly justified in doing it because we like cats (very much) more than fleas and worms. We certainly have the power to do it, so if power is its own justification -- might makes right -- then our aesthetic preferences coupled with our power are enough.

Religious folks like myself can appeal to Genesis 1, of course, but that's not going to serve as a legal justification under a regime that does not allow for the establishment of religion.

Will the EPA someday prevent us from picking up kittens and "treating" them for fleas and worms? If not, why not? Just because the aesthetic preference is so common?

An Excellent Question

Byron York: "If Hillary becomes president, who will make her obey the law?"

It appears to be the case that no one can make the President obey the law, though a united Congress can impeach him (or her, in Hillary's case). However, there's no reason to believe that Congress will unite on the point in the supermajority required.

So: no one will make her obey the law. Next question: what are the consequences of turning her loose from all legal restraints, coupled with the power invested in a President?

UPDATE: Related.

American Trains Iranian Fighter Pilots

I expect that this guy and I must know some of the same people, because I've been hearing this story too. It's certainly not implausible, given the tight ties between the Iranians and the Iraqi Security Forces right now. It would be a little surprising if there weren't infiltration by Iranian agents.

Clinton Cash

The amounts are very large.
According to Sirota’s accounting from public records, the Clinton-led State Department authorized $165 billion in sales to 20 nations that donated to the foundation. State also authorized another $151 billion in “Pentagon-brokered deals” with 16 nations that coughed up cash for the family charity. Some of the defense contractors involved also donated to the foundation, and a few of them paid big money to Bill Clinton for speeches.

The US routinely conducts arms sales to allies, but this wasn’t a case of business as usual. Comparing the three full fiscal years of Hillary’s tenure at State to the corresponding timeframe of the Bush administration’s second term, Sirota found that the State Department nearly doubled the sales to those nations, and increased the amount of Pentagon sales by 143 percent.
On the other hand, it is possible to push this point too far.
Sirota notes that the Clinton Foundation took cash from regimes like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Algeria, and Hamas’s diplomatic ally Qatar while approving large arms sales. The Israelis objected strenuously to a $29 billion arms sale to the Saudis, and even Clinton warned about their lack of cooperation on counterterrorism strategy. Qatari cooperation against terrorism was “considered to be the worst in the region,” Hillary also declared in internal memos exposed by Wikileaks years later.
Qatar is also a key US ally, and the home of US Central Command's forward-deployed headquarters. Painting them as merely Hamas's ally obscures that the picture is not as clean. They are also our diplomatic go-between when we want to talk with the Taliban. Sometimes, in diplomacy as in war, you have to work with actors whose motives are dubious from your position. Probably our motives appear dubious at times to them.

The story is powerful enough as a painting of the appearance of massive corruption and conflict of interests. Trying to make it into a 'Clintons have ties to terrorist supporters' story is too far. As a diplomat, it was her job to have ties with people who support terrorism. Sometimes diplomacy means routing them something they want. It's the nature of the business, and it's a necessary business for nations to engage in sometimes.

Eternal Punishment

Generally a sentence to punishment like this has been practically reserved to the divine, and for good reasons. Some things it would be better not to invent.

Schlock Mercenary did a bit with an AI that was trapped in isolation for "megayears."

The Problem with American Intelligence

In my experience, this author is exactly right.
Let’s be honest about what it would mean to fix the problems Morell describes. CIA officers would have to get out of protected enclaves to spot and recruit the principal agents who, in turn, could find sources within the jihadist lair. Staying “inside the wire” isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous...

The agency has been wary of sending case officers onto the streets in war zones without bodyguards from the paramilitary Global Response Staff. But John Maguire, a veteran of many dangerous CIA assignments, says officers traditionally understood the rubric that “you will not be captured.” Under a special training program called Case Officer Defensive Action, operatives were taught to evade surveillance and, if that failed, shoot their way out of trouble. This course was abolished, Maguire says....

For decades, the CIA and the military have tried to fix intelligence problems by relying on National Security Agency surveillance. But the jihadists have gone to school on the leaks about U.S. capabilities and learned to mask their operations. Gathering intelligence against this 21st-century jihadist adversary, paradoxically, will require the kind of old-fashioned spying and resistance operations we associate with the CIA’s founding generation in the OSS.

The British Press

They have their moments and their flaws, but they do know how to write a great headline.

Cultural Domination

An excellent paper from the English Historical Review asks, "Why did the Anglo-Saxons not become British?" (H/t: Medievalists.) The question may be of interest to us today, not merely for historical reasons, but because of our own mass immigration from very different cultures than our own: different in language, education, poverty, and so forth. What prevented the Anglo-Saxons from fading into the British culture?

The 19th century idea, which the paper considers and rejects, was that the Anglo-Saxons had simply destroyed the native population or driven it out -- rather like early Americans did with the Cherokee. We did not become Cherokees because we cleared the land of them and their civilization, and thus there was little chance that we would intermarry or become subsumed. (I'm told that, in Latin America, genocide against the native population is euphemistically called "the North American solution" to the problems their cultures still today face integrating Spanish civilization and the native ones.) The 19th century thinkers found this view plausible because of the racial theory of the day. Unlike other peoples, those descended from good Anglo-Saxon blood were of a moral character fit for self-government; and since much of moral character was thought to be carried in the blood, obviously the Anglo-Saxon bloodline must be substantially different from, say, the Welsh.

That turns out to disagree with both the historical record and the genetic one. What happened instead was that the Britons intermarried with their conquerors. Rather than the Anglo-Saxons becoming British, the British became Anglo-Saxons in those areas where the new culture could command. In regions further flung, the native culture continued to dominate in spite of intermarriage.

Importantly, then, the issue has to do with language. So why did the Anglo-Saxons not become Frenchmen after the Norman conquest, when French became the official language of court and law?

In an important sense, they did: they became "frank" and free men who were fit for the "franchise." Their old thanes became "franklins." Amusingly, the very concept of being a people whose moral character fitted them for self-government that was fielded by the 19th century scholar with pride in his Anglo-Saxon roots was a French import. It was because they were "frank" that the English were fit to be free men.

(And that of course is true, in a way: the virtues of honor and forthrightness that the Franks saw in themselves are indeed a necessary condition for sustainable self-governance. What is not true is that they are especially French virtues, or especially Anglo-Saxon ones.)

The French language didn't come to dominate in England the way that English did, however. There simply were too few of the Anglo-Normans, and they spread themselves thinner yet: they went to Scotland and became Anglo-Norman-Scots, like Robert the Bruce, whom today we think of as the very model of a Scot. They went to Ireland and became Anglo-Irish, and while today the Normans are referred to by the Irish as "the Old English," even by the day of Elizabeth I they were more Irish than the Irish themselves. They were also the locus of Irish resistance to English rule, as they were the locus of Scottish resistance to English rule. I suspect Tolkien's concept of Black Numenorians is rooted here, in spite of his own stated preference for "Anglo-Saxon" characteristics more like the Eorlings and the Hobbits than like his Numenorians. The Normans like the Numenorians went everywhere the sea would take them, conquered and intermarried, and came to be the ruling element of different and disparate peoples. In the West, they were the leaders of the defense against Sauron; in the East and Harad, they were commanders of his legions.

The lessons for today are... well, again, obvious, aren't they?

Emergency? Why Didn't We Do This All Along?

A story from our friends across the pond, who like us are trying to use their central government to reform local schools' lunch menus.
Pupils at a Bath primary may have to be fed sandwiches from the local pub as an emergency measure while the school struggles to upgrade its kitchens to comply with the expansion of the government's free school meals programme.
The Devil you say! Sandwiches from the pub? Why, it's monstrous. Could the pubs just take over feeding all the students, do you think?

I'd endorse the idea here in America, only we haven't got enough pubs. Though perhaps if they were given responsibility for feeding all the students, we might get pubs in every town....

Call your Senator!

What's a Little Anthrax Between Friends?


Wise Advice

Elizabeth Price Foley and Naomi Schaeffer Riley agree that this behavior is problematic, and that it is an excuse:
But this idea that it doesn’t look right for a male boss to be alone with a female employee sounds like it comes straight out of Victorian England. And it’s probably just an excuse.

More likely the congressmen, like the professors I’ve spoken to, don’t want to leave themselves open to claims of sexual harassment and the lawsuits that might result.
I don't think it's an excuse at all. I think "it wouldn't look right" means that some people might think that something sexual is going on, and the point is to dispel any possibility of people coming to that conclusion. It's not just that you might harass someone sexually, it's that the two of you might be doing something perfectly consensual that violates your wedding vows or even just the spirit of the workplace. This was the advice I got from my father decades ago on how to deal with women in the work place: do it in the public eye, so that people come to understand that you never leave yourself room for anything inappropriate.

Once a sufficient bond of trust or friendship forms, of course, things can change. Still, it's hard to be friends with a superior or someone who reports to you directly, just as it was hard for a king to have friends. So the best thing, if you're dealing with someone who reports to you, might well be to deal with them only with the doors open.

The Venerable Bede

In addition to being Memorial Day, Monday was the Feast of St. Bede of England. I assume you all know his history, and its influence. You may not know how he came by the title "Venerable." No one does, really, but tradition holds:
The title Venerabilis seems to have been associated with the name of Bede within two generations after his death. There is of course no early authority for the legend repeated by Fuller of the "dunce-monk" who in composing an epitaph on Bede was at a loss to complete the line: Hac sunt in fossa Bedae . . . . ossa and who next morning found that the angels had filled the gap with the word venerabilis. The title is used by Alcuin...
...from the house of Charlemagne.


The Libyan Adventure and 2016

It seems as if 2016 will feature former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a prominent role. The debate over her tenure in that job is turning more and more toward the Libyan adventure, as it appears to have been her special project, and it appears to line up neatly several arguments about her corruption and incompetence. The most important aspect of the Libyan adventure, though, was that it was conducted as an exercise of pure executive power without any permission from Congress.

Clinton may have been the primary proponent in the administration of overthrowing a foreign government without consulting with the People's representatives. That she did so at the behest of a corrupt adviser who personally profited from it is bad; that the planning and execution of the adventure led to a failed state now functioning as a colony of the Daesh Caliphate is worse. The key thing, though, is the degree to which she proved to have contempt for the division of powers, or the seeking of permission from the People before taking us to war.

Had she sought a debate, I would probably have been on her side. This post is cryptic only if you do not know me: it cites Gadaffi's use of rape rooms as a tool of state policy without commentary from me. Yet the use of rape rooms as state policy was my reason for supporting the Iraq war, a fully sufficient justification for overthrowing Saddam in my opinion without regard to any questions about WMD. I wrote something very similar about Iran's use of rape in state policy. There are just reasons not to go to war in such cases, as for example if you believe you cannot win the war (for then you would be bringing about the harms of war without the hope of victory). However, if you think you can win such a war, it is always morally just to wage war against a state that uses rape as a tool of its policy. That is too deep a violation of human nature to be compatible with just government. Such governments are wicked and ought not to survive.

It ought to be most important in our consideration of her qualifications that she did not care for the limits of the law or the Constitution on such a mighty question.
We live in an hour in which we are told that democracy is the answer to political problems; and therefore, we should be interested in the great questions of the day. Yet the systems are such that, short of breaking the systems, we can have no hope of affecting the questions at issue. The law means nothing -- as we have seen in the case of the war in Libya, where the War Powers Act has proven toothless. I am in favor of that war, and indeed of a more emphatic approach to it, but the law is broken here. The administration shows no deference to the law.... It isn't right to say that we can do nothing; but I wonder if we can do anything meaningful that is also lawful. If democracy is the answer, the Stoic philosophy is of less use; we are bound to be involved, and engaged. Should we say that these matters are nothing to us? The laws are carefully crafted to keep our efforts from having an effect; and where they are not, they are ignored outright.
Democracy can ill afford another such administration. Is there no candidate for office who believes in obeying the limits of the Constitution? Are there no candidates who will feel bound by the laws they swear to enforce?

Happy Birthday, John Wayne

The Philosophical Structure of the New Sexuality

In the wake of the recent vote in Ireland, there is some concern about what the Church's teachings can say to the new generation. To understand what can be said, first you must understand what the new generation is endorsing. It is not (merely) a different position on a few discrete issues. There's a developed and unified mode of thought at work behind it. It tracks to John S. Mill, but has filled out over time.

The first assumption of this new philosophy is Mill's assumption, which is that the important element in human life is the individual. Where Aristotle thought (correctly, I believe) that societies are formed by families, Mill took the Modern position that the thing that comes before society is a state of nature made up of radical individuals. This assumption is unquestioned in the new philosophy as far as I can tell. The individual and the individual's will is the thing that matters.

The second assumption follows from the first: the individuals we are talking about are fully-formed adults. The first assumption means that the wishes of an individual will always be selected for when they come into conflict with the interests of families considered as a whole. The second means that the wishes of adults will be placed before the wishes of non-adults: abortion is at the will of the adult individual who is pregnant, without other considerations. The family structure that is best for children is the one that is best for the adult individual parent given custody of them, so long as that structure does not produce adults who are out of line with the new philosophy. Homeschooling is a questionable practice; single motherhood is not.

Those are assumptions, as I said: they are not argued for, but taken as given.

Proceeding, then, given those assumptions, the philosophy is that sexuality should be regulated this way:

1) Adult individuals should be free to choose.

2) Freedom to choose is not compatible with any sort of coercion.

3) Therefore, sex is fine as long as it is consented to freely, verbally, and enthusiastically.

It's a very simple philosophy, but it is coherent. Many on the right make the mistake of assuming there is some conflict between the left's position that women are the equals of men in all respects, and that they need special protections in college, in the office, in the workplace in general, from harsh language or offensive terms. All of it follows from what has been said above. Both the man and the woman are equals in that they are free to choose. However, men are physically bigger and stronger; in addition, it is argued, society provides men with unearned power over women in various ways. Thus, to ensure that sex is always only fully consensual, we must regulate all sexual interactions to ensure that there was no power relationship providing any sort of coercion. We should ensure that there was clear, explicit, verbal consent and that such consent was really desired in a deep way.

The reason you get 'gay marriage' out of this is that there's absolutely nothing in this philosophy to speak against it. It's fully consensual, and an association of adults, so it's perfectly fine. There's not only no reason to be opposed to it here, there's no room for a reason. The principles are clear bright lines, and they admit of no exceptions.

From this, then, you will not get bestiality and pedophilia in spite of right-leaning arguments to the contrary. Kant thought you would, so it's not a foolish position, but it depends on assuming that the bright lines of the old system are the only possible ones. There the bright line was human nature, and it is obvious that sex fills a natural and necessary function. You can draw a bright line between those acts that do and those that do not fill natural functions. That was the old position, and it is a rational one. The new argument rejects the concept of human nature, however, in favor of individual will. There is just no room in the system for a concept of nature that should constrain will.

You will not get bestiality because consent is not possible. There is no slippery slope there. You will not get pedophilia because of consent issues, and the underlying assumption that this is a system for adults. The slippery slope there is limited to arguments about just how young you have to be before you can't clearly consent, but there's no danger of that line falling beyond a certain point.

What you will get is polyamory and plural marriage, and all of the trans-* desiderata. Those things are perfectly in line with this philosophy, and there is no reason to oppose them possible within the system.

Now, the reason to spell all this out is to address the question: what can the Church say to people who believe this philosophy? Well, you can't persuade them to adopt the old standards without first persuading them to abandon this entire mode of thinking about sexuality (which they will call "my sexuality," because everything is fully individualized in this philosophical structure). You have to show that the whole mode of thought is to be rejected, and then begin again showing why the traditional mode is a rational and proper substitute.

What you need not do, and ought not do, is argue for the rules. The rules follow from the structure. What you have to do is argue against their structure, and in favor of the traditional structure of reasoning from things we can observe about human nature.

How do you argue against the structure of the new philosophy? There are two general modes of argument that can be effective.

1) Argue against the assumptions. It happens that the assumptions are both badly wrong, so a lot of headway can be made here. Point out that these assumptions exist, and that the structure depends on both of them being true. Show that they are false. Human beings do not come into the world as radical individuals. We come into the world dependent on those who brought us into the world, and who care for us until we are able to take care of ourselves. That is to say, we come into the world not as clean actors free to choose anything that they want so long as it does not harm others, but as members of a pre-existing society who carry debts and obligations to those who helped them when they were weak. Those debts point forward to the next generation. We are duty bound to think about what is best for them, and not only about ourselves.

2) Argue against the good being pursued. The good is pleasure. Mill's philosophy believes that life is properly structured around pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, according to rules (such as the three rules of the new philosophy) that make sure that these opportunities are as widely available as possible. But pleasure is a terrible standard for ethics. It is opportunity for pleasure and pain that ethics needs to control, because it is in temptation of pleasure or danger of pain that we are most likely to do wrong against others. Ethics needs to focus on how to ensure that we don't give in to our temptations to pleasure as much as it needs to talk about how we stand true to our duty in spite of the occasion of pain. Mill's rules are inadequate because they leave in place the idea that we should chase pleasure and flee pain as much as possible without being unfair to others. What we should be chasing and fleeing is something else entirely.

We might begin by saying that we should chase what is honorable and flee dishonor. (Aquinas says that, in his treatment of the virtue of magnanimity). Honor and dishonor are not personal like pleasure or pain, but have to do with relationships between human beings. They are the first answer to the idea of radical individualism as the proper seat of the good. The honorable is always about what you do from duty, and the dishonorable is always about letting others down who had a right to depend upon you.

Of course the Church will not wish to stop with honor and dishonor. It has something more to say, something that can become clearer to those who have begun following you on this road. When you have begun them in this direction, so that they see that their lives have some better end than pleasure, you will be doing again your ancient service to humankind.

Memorial Day

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead.

-The Havamal


Airborne Beer All the Way!

A good story from Stars and Stripes that I stole from Ace:

It took 65 years for Vincent Speranza to find out that his actions in Belgium during World War II had been immortalized — for his ingenuity with the beverage that the country is famous for producing.


Speranza joined the Army in 1943 right after graduating from high school. He was assigned to Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, as a replacement in November 1944 while the unit licked its wounds from the devastating failure of Operation Market-Garden.

Within weeks, Speranza would be in a foxhole in Bastogne, Belgium — cold, running short on supplies and ammo and surrounded by German troops.


On the second day of the siege, a friend named Joe Willis was wounded with shrapnel in both legs and brought to a makeshift combat hospital in a blown-out church. When Speranza tracked him down, the fellow paratrooper asked him to get him something to drink.

Speranza explained they were surrounded and no supplies were coming in. The soldier asked him to check a devastated tavern nearby.

Speranza found a working beer tap there. He filled his helmet — the same one he had used as a foxhole toilet — and made two trips to the wounded in the church. He was caught by an angry major and told he would be shot if he did not stop, for fear he would kill the wounded.

Visiting Bastogne in 2009, Speranza found his foxhole still there, but Dutch and Belgian military officials told him that the legend of the soldier filling his helmet with beer for the wounded is still told — and had been immortalized on the label of Bastogne’s Airborne beer.

The beer is typically consumed from a ceramic helmet.
So, I had to find  the beer. The website Untappd gives enough information that I should be able to order it. I wonder about the helmet mugs, though. (Pics at the linked page.)

There is more about Speranza's service and a video of him telling the story at Stars and Stripes.


The king stablished all his knights, and gave them that were of lands not rich, he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succor upon pain of death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, ne for no world’s goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.

-Le Morte Darthur

1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones.
2 He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were!
3 He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come back to life? “Lord God,” I answered, “you alone know that.”
4 Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life.
6 I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
7 I prophesied as I had been commanded. A sound started up, as I was prophesying, rattling like thunder. The bones came together, bone joining to bone.
8 As I watched, sinews appeared on them, flesh grew over them, skin covered them on top, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me: Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.

-Ezekiel 37:1-10

Some Details Leak Out

What's in the secret treaty? An economist writes:
Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future expected profits resulting from regulatory changes.

This is not just a theoretical possibility. Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia for requiring warning labels on cigarettes. Admittedly, both countries went a little further than the US, mandating the inclusion of graphic images showing the consequences of cigarette smoking.

The labeling is working. It is discouraging smoking. So now Philip Morris is demanding to be compensated for lost profits....

The proceedings are so expensive that Uruguay has had to turn to Michael Bloomberg and other wealthy Americans committed to health to defend itself against Philip Morris. And, though corporations can bring suit, others cannot. If there is a violation of other commitments - on labor and environmental standards, for example - citizens, unions, and civil-society groups have no recourse.
I can't see why we'd want to further mortgage our democratic institutions to major corporations. Don't they exercise enough control over our form of government already, without granting them a unique right to sue us for any new laws that interfere with their "expected" profits?


We have accomplished what no one said can be done, which is to be a trip for peace, for reconciliation, for human rights and a trip to which both governments agreed,” Steinem, 81, told South Korean media after crossing. “We were able to be citizen diplomats.”
Who said it couldn't be done? North Korea was delighted with the opportunity to help you stage their propaganda.