Posts for April, 2011
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date that will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan. ... I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
Anybody remember that? I do. My parents and I listened to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt speak those words on a small RCA Victor table radio on our kitchen table, on December 8, 1941. I was eight years old, but I can still hear those words, words which embarked the United States on the terrible and ultimately victorious voyage that was World War II. For the record, the Congress immediately and unanimously voted and issued the requested Declaration of War.
That was the last official Declaration of War issued by any Congress of the United States. Since then we have engaged in ten wars, not all of which were called wars--like Harry Truman's Korean "police action"--but all involved the U.S. military in a deadly shooting conflict against a designated enemy. When you go into another country, on ground or in the air, and kill people toward a geopolitical end, in my book that's a war. The ten, according to my memory, were/are Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Somalia, Panama, Iraq 1, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq 2 and Libya. None was accorded a Congressional Declaration of War.
The U.S. Constitution explicitly states in Article One, Section Eight, that "Congress shall have the power .... to declare war." No mention is made of the President having like authority. The purpose of this requirement, of course, is to put the imprimatur of the citizenry, via its representatives as opposed to a single individual, whose sons and daughters will be placed in harm's way, on this fateful decision. It also empowers the Commander in Chief to employ the military with the full authority of the country behind him or her.
All U.S. wars prior to Korea were sanctioned by a Congressional Declaration of War. President Truman broke that precedent by entering the Korean conflict under the disingenuous cover of a "police action" authorized by the United Nations, one which cost 54,000 American lives and over a million total dead. Since then, no American president has seen fit to request the Constitutionally-required formal Declaration of War.
During the Cold War, President Richard Nixon asserted the authority to initiate hostilities without the prior approval of Congress, using the necessity for an immediate retaliatory response to a nuclear attack as justification. In response to this and quite likely also Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which limited the power of Presidents to engage the U.S. in hostilities without Congressional approval or Declaration of War under the aegis of the United Nations or other specious justification.
It stated that the President could initiate hostilities only upon the approval of Congress except in the case of a national emergency created by an attack on the U.S. In that event, the President had to notify Congress within 48 hours of initiating the armed response and that the commitment of armed forces was limited to 60 days without specific Congressional authorization or Declaration of War. Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act as an infringment on presidential powers but the veto was overridden. The Act stretches the Constitution by not requiring a formal Declaration of War. In fact, it likely is unconstitutional since it changes a specific Constitutional requirement by simple legislation rather than the prescribed amendment process.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson had previously stretched the Constitution by using the Gulf of Tonkin incident where, in August of 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked a U.S. destroyer, to initiate an armed response. No casualties were inflicted but LBJ nevertheless petitioned Congress for authorization to respond to this specific incident, which was granted. The eventual result was, as we know, the six-year Vietnam War which cost 58,000 American lives and the lives of millions of Vietnamese. There was no Declaration of War and no specific authorization for extended hostilities. (Congress did fund the war, which I suppose could be considered de facto authorization if you're desperate for a justification.)
Precedent being established for going to war without a formal declaration, all Presidents since then have engaged in foreign wars under the War Powers Act, seeking only Congressional authorization--in many cases after the fact. Until now.
President Obama committed U.S. military forces to armed action in Libya against the government forces of Col. Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi without the benefit of any Congressional action, and it is even in doubt that Congress was notified of the action either prior to or within 48 hours. Also, it should be noted that the 48-hour delay is intended solely to allow the President to respond to an attack or impending attack without delay. The Libyan intervention was hardly in that category.
It is rumored--I cannot verify this, although I tend to believe it--that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton replied to a reporter's question with a statement to the effect that the administration did not need Congressional authorization and that as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama could do whatever he wished. Apparently, UN Security Council authorization was all that was necessary for the U.S. to go to war.
So now, the U.S. Constitution, even as unconstitutionally (probably) modified by the War Powers Resolution, is irrelevent to this administration. It was stretched unrecognizably by previous administrations, but this is the first time even the stretched version has been ignored in favor of a United Nations resolution.
Ask yourself what is the supreme law of the land in these United States? Is it the U.S. Constitution or the United Nations?
The frog is boiled.
I received this over the Internet from a friend. I don't usually do this, but in this instance I couldn't resist. I have nothing to add by way of comment, except to assure you-all that it's all true and it predates the 50's. Also, I think things had already begun to change in the 70's. I know, because I am a contemporary of the "older woman."
The Green Thing In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day." The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right, that generation didn't have "the green thing" in its day. It was called "reality" in those "olden" conservation days of the 50's, 60's and 70's
Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But they didn't have "the green thing" back in the day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn't have "the green thing" in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throwaway kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts of electric power. Wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn't have "the green thing" back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house--not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you.
For entertainment they talked, read books or played games. Sometimes they listened to the radio. They didn't have a PC with a Pentium Northstar and 100 GB of disk to run game disks. No plug-in Nintendo or X-Boxes either.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam peanuts or plastic bubble wrap. Brown grocery bags were saved. The brown wrapping to mail a package was the backside of the paper bags used to bring home the groceries. The brown bag paper bag had other uses. It was used as construction paper and other needs. Hardly anyone purchased "brown paper"
Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right, they didn't have "the green thing" back then.
They drank from a fountain or a glass when they were thirsty instead of using a paper cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn't have "the green thing" back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school, walked or rode the school bus (rural only) instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.
They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
Most people did not have air conditioning in houses, offices, or cars. Millions of kilowatts saved.
But she's right, they didn't have "the green thing" back then, but they used less energy and went through less raw materials than the green thinking people will ever do.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have "the green thing" back then?
(Full disclosure: I am the proud father of two adopted daughters.)
There was a time when a pregnant woman would say that she was carrying a baby, from the moment she learned that conception had taken place. She didn't say, "I'm carrying a zygote."--or "blastocyst", or "embryo". She didn't even refer to that little life within her as a "fetus". It was a baby, a human, living baby. Whether or not the pregnancy was planned, or even wanted, it was a baby.
However, when abortion was legalized early in 1973, the language changed. Refuge from reality was taken in Latin, insulating us from recognizing the truth: that pregnancy from the beginning is the miracle of creating a new human life. We could not recognize that in the atmosphere of legalized abortion, lest we acknowledge that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, otherwise categorized by society as murder.
Early in 2011, this mechanism was amply illustrated by actress Nicole Kidman and her husband Kieth Urban, who happily announced the surrogate birth of their baby girl, Faith Margaret, expressing gratitude to their "gestational carrier." One marvels at their linguistic creativity. Personally, I would have preferred "surrogate mother." I wonder how many of you mothers out there would appreciate being referred to as "gestational carriers."
Some medical authorities some years ago, advocating the legalization of killing newly-born handicapped children, described them as "radically defective neonates." That's about the pinnacle of dehumanization, on a par with describing brain-damaged individuals as being in a "persistent vegetative state." I guess relating a severely injured or handicapped person to vegetation or "radically defective" shields us from the reality of dealing with a human life.
Personally, I'm much more comfortable referring to babies, mothers, parents and grandparents rather than the more politically-correct modern terminology of fetus, neonate, gestational carrier and vegetable. By dehumanizing the language, we enable magical thinking whereby we can choose a convenient rationalization rather than face the hard reality of the vicissitudes and necessities of life and the attendant responsibilities.
In 2008, there were 1.21 million abortions, down a bit from the peak of 1.6 million in 1990. Since Roe v. Wade there have been about 50 million abortions. In 2008 36% of abortions were to white women and just over 50% to black and Hispanic women. Nearly 60% were to college-educated women, which calls into question the commonly-cited element of poverty as a driving factor.
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated during a speech some years ago, "It is a small leap in logic to go from taking life in the womb to taking life outside of the womb." Abortion-rights advocate Naomi Wolf has written, "... the pro-life slogan, 'Abortion stops a beating heart,' is incontrovertibly true." Fellow supporter Camille Paglia wrote "I have always admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful."
Recent figures from Planned Parenthood reveal a booming business. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) performed 332,278 surgical and chemical abortions in 2009. At the same time, there was a 25% decline--7,021 recipients--in prenatal services and adoption referrals, of which only 977 mothers received the latter, a 59% drop from 2008. At an average of $400 a pop, that's a net income from abortions of about $133 million. Not bad for a public service organization that receives taxpayer subsidy.
Finally, we have the replacing of the term "abortion" with the neutered term "pro-choice". "Choice" is a nice-sounding term; in this freedom-loving nation we are all in favor of "choice". But in a civilized society, our choices are of necessity limited. We cannot "choose" to burn down the house of a neighbor who annoys us. We cannot "choose" to drive 90 mph in a school zone because we're late to work. Also, we cannot "choose" to take another human life. Except in the latter case, there is an exception and I don't mean self-defense. Under Roe v. Wade, a human life can be taken for a variety of reasons other than to save the life of the mother, i.e. self defense. I won't bother to enumerate them as they are ludicrously varied, vague and rationalized. You've undoubtedly heard them all.
I close with a posthumous tribute to Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist and founder of NARAL ( National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), who estimated he had performed 75,000 abortions in his medical career. In 1979, he quit his practice and strongly and actively opposed abortion for the rest of his life. He was the producer of the lauded and reviled--depending on your orientation--film Silent Scream, which depicted ultrasound images of a pre-born baby trying to escape an abortionist's instrument. Dr. Nathanson died February 21st at the age of 84, a testimony to the miracle of redemption.
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