June 12, 2008

The Tenuous Victory of Liberty in Boumeddiene vs. Bush

"The [habeas corpus Suspension] Clause protects the rights of the detained by a means consistent with the essential design of the Constitution. It ensures that, except during periods of formal suspension, the Judiciary will have a time-tested device, the writ, to maintain the 'delicate balance of governance' that is itself the surest safeguard of liberty. See Hamdi, 542 U. S., at 536 (plurality opinion). The Clause protects the rights of the detained by affirming the duty and authority of the Judiciary to call the jailer to account."

So wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the (slim) majority in Boumeddiene vs. Bush, the latest of many cases with Bush (or Rumsfeld) designated as the losing party in a civil liberties case. Bush loses all these cases because he opposes Constitutional liberties, and the U.S. Supreme Court, with its current membership, feels a responsibility to uphold them. At issue was whether Guantanamo inmates have the right to challenge the basis of their detention through a writ of habeas corpus. It is a demand to the detaining authority (the jailer) to produce the facts justifying the incarceration, or, in simpler language, to answer this question from a prisoner: why am I here?

Led by Bush's Senate errand boy, Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina), the Congress passed a Military Commissions Act which deprived the federal courts of habeas jurisdiction. As I have written before, there were numerous Senators, including Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who voiced their concern on the record that the MCA was unconstitutional because of this provision and yet voted for it anyway. I don't see how such a vote can be consistent with the oath of office these guys take. Specter and others should have listened to themselves. The Supreme Court just told them that their reading was right; the MCA is unconstitutional.

The majority prevailed 5-4. If John McCain is elected, there won't be any more victories for those who support the United States Constitution for a long time. Justices Ginsberg and Stevens have held on about as long as they can. Roe vs. Wade will be overturned, and when you open up the Supreme Court Reports in future years, this is the kind of shit you're going to be reading as the majority opinion:

"America is at war with radical Islamists. The enemy began by killing Americans and American allies abroad: 241 at the Marine barracks in Lebanon, 19 at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, 224 at our embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and 17 on the USS Cole in Yemen. See National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 60-61, 70, 190 (2004). On September 11, 2001, the enemy brought the battle to American soil, killing 2,749 at the Twin Towers in New York City, 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., and 40 in Pennsylvania. See id., at 552, n. 9. It has threatened further attacks against our homeland; one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one. Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, 13 of our countrymen in arms were killed."

Justice Scalia, in dissent. Now, I know he's supposed to be real smart and everything. But I ask you: in what sense is this a legal argument? It is true that there are terrorists in the world who practice the Muslim religion. There have also been Catholic terrorists in Ireland, Protestant terrorists in America, Jewish terrorists in Israel, Zoroastrian terrorists in Iran, Buddhist terrorists, Hindu terrorists and atheist terrorists. It is true that many of the prisoners at Guantanamo are Muslims. But Scalia makes the same illegal, pre-scientific, pre-Enlightenment, bigoted, biased, and stupid argument that Bush makes. He assumes that because a Muslim is locked up in Guantanamo, that he's part of the "It" described above. He's the "Enemy." Go back and read Scalia's statement again. Boumeddiene himself is not even from any of these places. He's from what we used to call Yugoslavia. Whether Scalia, this fearless duck hunting buddy of Dick Cheney (they shoot caged birds together) realizes it or not, he's making exactly the same argument which justified the internment of the Japanese during World War II. Muslims attacked us (as the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor). You're a Muslim (or a Japanese). Go to jail and wait for the war to be over.

Except the "war" on terror will never be over. Many of the prisoners at Guantanamo have been there for six years without charges ever being filed. A lot of them have been held in solitary confinement and have lost their minds. And we don't know whether they should even be there because Bush has never allowed any factual test of the basis of their incarceration.

"Major General Jay Hood, commander at Guantanamo, admitted to the Wall Street Journal that '[s]ometimes we just didn't get the right folks,' but innocents remain at the base because '[n]obody wants to be the one to sign the release papers. ... there's no muscle in the system.' The federal courts are supposed to be that muscle. Today's decision ensures that they will be."
Shayana Kadidal writing on the Huffington Post; Kadidal is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, lawyers for many of the Guantanamo prisoners.

The Guantanamo concentration camp will, in the eyes of history, represent one of the darkest chapters in the American experience, and it will come to epitomize everything that was wrong with George W. Bush's approach to leadership: cowardly, sneaky, weak, unfair, discriminatory, and oblivious to the basic concept of human decency.

This Bud's for Belgium

I suppose the sale of the Chrysler Building, that Midtown Manhattan landmark on Lexington Avenue, to the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is a foregone conclusion. Nothing to be done. The sheikhs are being cool about it; the American management group (Tishman) will still hold a 25% stake in the building and the Arabs are content, for now, with being "silent partners." I suppose that's a distinction between them and someone like The Donald, who would feel compelled because of his own insecurities to begin throwing his weight around immediately, yelling "You're fired!" at everyone currently working there. The Abu Dhabi folks will bide their time. No rush; they've got all the time, and money, in the world. When oil sells at $135/barrel, and the United States imports 14 million barrels a day, we're floating $1.9 billion per diem to give the countries who want to buy us up the wherewithal to do so. Don't think for a moment they're not grateful. It's astounding, in the sense of proportion, how much time some Americans of a conservative stripe spend worrying about whether Barack Obama is a "Muslim mole" when we are auctioning off our key assets, like the Chrysler Building, to these same countries they fear so much. If the Sunni Arabs of Abu Dhabi want to cooperate with "activist" brethren in launching another attack on some other part of Manhattan, couldn't they simply now use the Chrysler Building as conspiracy headquarters instead of those fetid caves in Afghanistan? Although maybe that's the thinking in selling to them; it's proactive defense. The Muslims now have a stake in the "ownership society" that Bush created. It's just that other countries now own this society.

But that is as nothing compared to the brew-ha-hah (I know you read this site for the clever wordplay; you can get information anywhere) currently brewing (I'm pushing it now) over the pitch by InBev to buy out Anheuser-Busch. Oh, the humanity! InBev is a Belgian holding company which owns the Beck's and Stella Artois brands, but now wants to add Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob to its (Clydesdale) stable. Belgium? Yep. Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, Hercule Poirot. Belgium. They've got a $64 billion bid up, all cash, to take over the company. Sounds like a lot of money, but look at it from the euro perspective. Not so long ago, when the dollar and the euro were at parity, the price would have been 64 billion euros. Now that the dollar is worth 65% of a euro, on a good day, the Belgians can buy Bud at a steep discount.

Various American players are mobilizing against this buy-out, including the governor of Missouri, where Anheuser-Busch is headquartered. A lot of other American forces, such as the arbitrage departments at hedge funds, are cheering it along, since AB's stock has been surging lately on news of the deal, after years of stagnation. Sales have been flat in recent years, while the price of barley and hops has shot skyward. Americans, maybe needing something stronger these days, have moved on to wine and cocktails, and anyway, that horse piss Budweiser calls beer is just awful. I can't figure out why the Belgians would want it.

Unless it has something to do with its big distributor, Hensley & Co. Could the crafty Poirots over in Brussels have seen the possibility of an opening wedge here? Hensley is headed up by former USC cheerleader and Vicodin addict Cindy McCain (the former Cindy Hensley), whose personal fortune is estimated as at least One Texas Unit ($100 million, or 65 million euros). Hensley & Co. is Budweiser's go-to wholesaler. That's what Cindy's company does, it sells beer for Budweiser. Imagine what a coup that could be for InBev. Their wholesale beer distributor would be the First Lady of the United States of America. Guess who's in the driver's seat of that relationship? I mean sure, a distributor has a list of customers, contracts with supermarket chains, restaurants, 7-11's, trucks, refrigerated warehouses, a network designed to get the swill you manufacture from the vats at AB to the guts of American men watching the Packer-Cowboy game on the Chinese flat-screen. But InBev doesn't need Hensley like Hensley needs the brewer. Under John McCain's much-beloved NAFTA arrangements, InBev could in a trice wipe out the Hensley deal and replace it with a Mexican outfit who could run all that beer out where it needs to go for probably half the price that Hensley pays its Mexicans.

When America's such a bargain, these big foreign outfits can take flyers like these and see how it works out. This Chrysler Building is kind of nice; wonder what they want for the Empire State Building? Budweiser's okay, but I'm a Miller man myself. Oops, our South African competitor already bought them. Well, wait a while. The White House itself might come on the market.

June 11, 2008

Handicapping Obama-McCain

First, a word from my current favorite Outside Observer, Dmitry Orlov:

"The United States has traditionally been a very racist country...It was founded on the exploitation of African slaves and the extermination of the natives. Over its formative years, there was no formal intermarriage between the Europeans and the Africans or the Europeans and the Indians. This stands in stark contrast to other American continent nations such as Brazil. To this day in the U.S. there remains a disdainful attitude toward any tribe other than the Anglo-Saxon." Reinventing Collapse, p. 98.
Well, undoubtedly true, Dmitry; but what's your point? Although when he mentions Brazil...is that what's going on down in Ipanema? You mean we could have looked like that? This must be part of the high price of emerging from British stock, people who really look like hell but think their genes are too precious to mingle.

Speaking of which, we now have a real horse race, with the Scots-Irish McCain (meaning: he's British, a descendant of the Ulster colonists) versus a man who can trace his connections to Africa more immediately than most of the rest of us can.

Certain auguries tilt toward Barry. Number one, I note that the country is beginning an orgy of self-congratulation. Even George W. Bush gushed that he thought it was great that a "major political party" had nominated an African-American. He then quickly reaffirmed his support for John McCain, but who's buying that? Bush is an Obama supporter, we both know it, and good for him. Besides, McCain treats W more or less as one might the albatross-accessorized Ancient Mariner. My guess is that those two guys hate each other. Two snobby Anglo-Saxons from the old ruling class, inbred toward middling intelligence, united solely by membership in an obsolete party.

So I think it will be hip to support Obama, and in a country as susceptible to trendiness as this one, that counts for a lot. Barry's a cool guy, after all, and it will be cool to support him. He speaketh with the tongues of angels and he hath charity in his heart.

McCain, meanwhile, is a true dogmeat candidate. Boring, cranky, unpleasant, corny, tiresome to look at in all his monochromatic blahness. He's got one thing going for him, and one thing only: he was a prisoner of war. If he had flown his missions without getting shot down, he would have been another nameless Vietnam War aviator, one whose dad and grandpa were big cheeses in the Navy and got him into Annapolis. But without the Hanoi Hilton back story, a group of fat cats from Phoenix would not have made him into an Arizonan and inflicted him on the country. He would not have ditched his crippled first wife and married the trophy wife/ beer heiress. (Well, he would have ditched his first wife anyway, but I doubt the rest of it would have fallen into place.)

Under these conditions, Dmitry's assessment can be put to a modern, definitive test. There is no reason for anyone, anywhere, to vote for John McCain other than from racist motivations. It's that simple. Barack is very smart, quick on the uptake, inspirational, and tuned in to modern technology. These qualities will be absolutely essential if we're going to surmount a staggering list of serious economic and environmental problems. McCain, on the other hand (and this is not a joke), does not know how to use a computer.

It's 2008, the world runs on electronic communications, and McCain does not know how to use a computer. So far, then, McCain has admitted that he doesn't know anything about economics and he doesn't know how to use a computer. And he wants to be President of the United States in times like these.

The table is set. I am hoping that there have been huge changes in attitude among my fellow citizens over the last forty years or so. I know, from seeing those election returns from Appalachia, and from listening to wackos like Geraldine Ferraro (who has so internalized her racism that she can't even see it for what it is), and from long personal acquaintance (and even blood relation) with many dyed-in-the-wool racists from the Old South, that a huge discriminatory tide in this nation must be overcome for Obama to win. Hillary Clinton counseled the party elders that it could not be overcome, and she and Bill make political book for a living. Hillary, however, was hardly an objective observer, and even Hill & Bill may be somewhat behind the power curve when it comes to modern sociology. Those of Obama's generation and younger don't really see dermatological melanin percentages as defining criteria of personal worth. That's a hang-up for those who are old at heart and for losers, and if they want to remain hung-up and keep losing, they can vote for that pasty old fraud with the nasty temper. Their choice.

Interesting times, and we'll see just how much they've been a-changin'.

June 10, 2008

Moe, Larry & Curly Put the Screws to the Witness

So Scott McClellan, whose term of derision I shall no longer employ out of a newfound respect for his valiant crusade of self-rehabilitation through political penance, will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on June 20. Early word has it that McClellan's testimony will naturally focus on the Valerie Plame matter, which formed the thematic center of his book What Happened. Congressional hearings, like other forms of entertainment, need unifying motifs, and it was apparently the counter-propaganda conspiracy of White House operatives against Joe Wilson, after all, which sent Scott into a spasm of introspection. Or so I've heard; I haven't read the book, and I'm not going to. Maybe I have newfound respect but I'm not that big a sucker.

Still, it's difficult to see what new thing could possibly be disclosed in a Congressional hearing, which is unfortunate, since what is publicly available at this point is not enough to indict Bush and Cheney. There is a line of questioning, which I at one point attempted to sketch out on this very site, which could force the issue into the open once and for all. To wit, if we remember way back when, the summer of 2003, when the Plame disclosure first became news, Bush took the consistent position that he did not know who disclosed Valerie Plame's CIA connections to the press. He held this position from July, 2003 until at least the end of September, 2003, and it was during this period that he made his various pledges to "get to the bottom of the leak," "fire anyone involved," etc., which transmuted over time into a lame promise to fire anyone "convicted of a crime" in connection with the leak. Obviously, the shift in tone, the relocation of culpability from "involved in the leak" to actual "conviction" for something connected to Plame resulted from Bush getting the word. All the main players in this treasonous cabal were direct assistants to the President. So Bush "moved the goal posts," in the argot of our cliche-ridden day.

I suspect the White House was pretty certain this standard insulated them from the need to take any punitive action against one of their own. Their Ashcroft-picked prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was not going to indict anyone for a violation of the so-called "Identities Act," although the prima facie case for such a prosecution was always there. Fitzgerald, however, was a reliably obsessive fussbudget who wasn't going to take any chances. When he finally indicted Libby on five counts of "non-substantive" criminal activity (not direct violations of the Identities Act), he had mountains of corroborating evidence which he had obtained through a truly farcical overuse of the grand jury mechanism. He allowed Rove's attorney to "talk him out of" indicting Karl. Even with all that, Fitzgerald managed to lose on one of his five counts against Libby. So Scooter became the one thrown to the mob, all on the understanding that Bush would take care of him, come what may.

Still, even now a skilled questioner could find out from Scottie whether it ever occurred to anyone that it was pretty weird for the President to roam around the United States in an information blackout, talking about his "search" for the leakers, when in some instances they were standing right behind him while he railed about them. This point is so obvious that I thought even the brain-dead American press would figure it out. But I also thought that l'affaire Plame would prove Bush's undoing; it was when it did not so prove that I realized I and most of my fellow Americans had entered uncharted territory. The era of Watergate-style investigations, even of Iran-Contra hearings, were definitively over. A skilled news-cycle management team (and Rove & Cheney are definitely that) could spin and deceive their way out of even so perilous a predicament.

And, if you're old enough to recall, you might notice another major difference twixt now and 1973 concerning how such investigative hearings are held. The lessons of Watergate were not lost on Congressional committee members. You could become a star, like Sam Ervin and Howard Baker. And allowing skilled attorneys like Sam Dash (the majority counsel) to ask the questions of people like Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy and John Dean might advance the case, but it did not advance the career of the incompetent popinjays elected to Congress. So they took over. We now have "rounds" of questioning by 12 or 15 Senators or Representatives, each with about six minutes, which they fill with grandiloquent testimonials to the majesty of, well, mainly themselves. Then they start asking "questions," which never get anywhere, because these people are not trained in interrogation, follow-up, trapping with a hidden premise, boxing in, or any of the other finely-honed tricks of the cross-examiner's art. There are a few exceptions, such as Arlen Specter, Sheldon Whitehouse and Carl Levin, who remember enough of their attorney skills to bore in when they need to. Most of these career poseurs, however, are hopeless.

John Conyers of Michigan heads up the House Judiciary Committee. Thus, I don't expect any miracles; his folksy, avuncular, imprecise style defines the approach that doesn't work when crucial matters are at stake. The hearing will turn into a morality play, where Conyers will muse, "How in the world could high-ranking members of the White House staff get themselves involved in outing a brave member of our intelligence community?" And that will be that. The air will go out of the proceeding as Scott, the prodigal son now on the side of all that's good and decent, will cluck along with John, shaking his head in sad agreement.

Bush will look at the TV replay later, the money shot where his fate hung in the balance, and laugh it off. Moe, Larry & Curly will take their turns fecklessly "grilling" the witness, Scott will sell some more books, and somewhere in the darkness of Dick Cheney's office we will hear that hollow report: yuk yuk yuk.

June 09, 2008

The Discussion Industry

In my opinion, the two writers who have brought more clarity to the American problem of insolvency and imperial overstretch than any others are Chalmers Johnson and Kevin Phillips. Johnson has put down his ideas about American imperial overstretch in his Nemesis trilogy; Phillips also has a trio of books about American finances, the last of which was Bad Money, about the "financialization" of the American economy. Interestingly, both of these intellectuals were formerly Republicans who worked, respectively, in the Nixon and Reagan administrations. Since in this country any "radical" critique emanating from the Left is, ipso facto, regarded as bogus, naturally these two are afforded an enhanced credibility. (As a case in point, I note that Tom DeLay, that paragon of probity, recently concluded that Barack Obama was "definitely" a Marxist, probably meaning to imply that Barry got his ideas from the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya.) Despite their legitimacy, however, Johnson and Phillips are largely ignored.

The reason for the obscurity of their ideas, which seem so unassailable, is that they lie outside the parameters of the "mainstream" dialogue. J & P both contend that America is on the brink of fiscal disaster, although the paths they describe leading to perdition vary somewhat. Johnson thinks that a bloated military-industrial complex is unsustainable yet politically invulnerable. Phillips contends that America's reliance on paper-shuffling as a way of life, as opposed to productive activity which builds real wealth (such as a manufacturing sector), hollows out the fiscal core of the nation. Both agree that the U.S. has huge foreign and domestic liabilities (debt to foreign countries represented by Treasury obligations and intramural debt in the form of money robbed from entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare), and that the United States will probably try to monetize its way out of its debt. That is, succumb to the temptation to run the printing presses and inflate the currency to make the debt cheaper.

The problem with this loophole is that it may also be closing as the world's economies, particularly in hot emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil and a resurgent Russia, enter the active phase of "de-coupling" their economies from the United States and creating their own markets. Which is another way of saying that the dollar will not necessarily be Planet Earth's fiat currency anymore, and no one will be interested in our efforts to print paper with numbers on it and present it as legal tender. They'll see us for what we are: insolvent, energy deficient and basically irrelevant, except for our adolescent tendency to start wars whenever we get tired of dealing with our own problems.

The mainstream dialogue is not actually based on these realities. The real situation is supported by mountains of converging evidence, such as the sad situation that American depository institutions (i.e., banks) have current unborrowed reserves of negative $130 billion, according to the official figures published by the Federal Reserve, but on which no one comments. In May of 2007, the reserves were a positive $43 billion, so a negative swing of $173 billion has occurred over the last year as the result of the various "liquidity crises," which were actually just the last act of financial cannibalism the U.S. could come up with as it digests its real assets and offers them up to an impatient world.

No one talks much about the unfunded entitlement programs, Medicare and Social Security; based on foreseeable outlays, each American family of four will have to come up with $1.4 million to keep the promises the government has made but broken as the result of its insatiable desire to maintain a huge military establishment. One does hear about the negative American savings "rate," and the dried up equity lines of credit which used to fund consumer luxuries like buying Asian electronics, but no more. What money is left is used for luxuries like eating and driving a car.

Actually, talking about these things won't help much at all, yet the Internet is full of blog sites, cable news runs 24 hours a day, newspapers publish on paper and online around the clock. A very small percentage of the yakking actually touches on the "radical" truth that thinkers like Phillips & Johnson write about so thoroughly and eloquently, based on such unimpeachable research. That's because the day-to-day discussions are actually simply an industry, an economic sector like bundling subprime mortgages or working in corporate "branding." It won't sell if one keeps hitting the negative notes over and over, so the tone alternates between hopeful optimism (the Presidential race! change!) and occasional nods toward reality, where some buzzkill expert like David Walker, formerly a G-Man who kept insisting we weren't facing up to things, is given a couple of minutes.

You can, in other words, buy optimism as yet another product of the relentlessly innovative American economy, one where the stock market is down a little, but is about to turn the corner toward positive growth in the "second half of the year," or where oil prices will moderate when the "speculators" are squeezed out, or where the housing market will soon recover once the loan money starts flowing again. Like a 24-hour Reality Show, only more like a 24/7 UnReality Show. Take your pick; it's on right now.

June 08, 2008

Changed Conditions Ahead

It was a road sign near my house: "Changed Conditions Ahead." I guessed it referred to a new set of stop lights at a previously uncontrolled intersection, but the lights had been there for at least a year. Surely we'd all gotten used to those changed conditions by now. I live in a county so renowned for its hippy-dippyness that the sign might be taken more as a randomly placed philosophical statement, although it looked like a regular road sign.

As Thoreau told us, we stand always at the frontier of two conjoined eternities, the past and the future; we "toe that line." Modern quantum theory might create a few wiggles in the sharpness of that border, a few results preceding a few causes, but that's nevertheless where we live in macro-reality. The future doesn't really exist; it is simply the order reality takes as that wave of time moves forward from now into the next moment, so that if we say we can't predict the future, what we're really saying is that we don't understand what's happening around us in the present.

I think a lot about this country we live in, write this blog about it, and particularly about the strange journey we've traveled during the last eight years or so. In the present political campaign, I sense that there is a widespread assumption that election of more Congressional Democrats and a new Democratic President will result in major "reform" of the worst political excesses of the Bush years, and will also bring on an amelioration of the tremendous economic difficulties the country now faces as the result of about 30 years of completely ignoring our problems in favor of a policy of never "changing our conditions." When the future arrives, I don't think the order of reality comprising the Now of that future will resemble a still image of a movie run in reverse to some American Golden Age.

Over the last couple of weeks, Scott McClellan and the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the use of pre-war information by the Bush Administration have confirmed what most Americans already knew: the Iraq War was set in motion through deliberate, calculated propaganda. In the effect, if not in exactly the style, the push to war was reminiscent of Joseph Goebbels's efforts in the summer of 1938 to supply the motive force for the German invasion of the Sudetenland. Both the Iraq War and the Third Reich's dismemberment of Czechoslovakia were completely "unnecessary" and sold to their respective audiences on the basis of specious "humanitarian" impulses (in the case of the Sudetenland, the alleviation of the "suffering" of the ethnic German minority in Czechoslovakia) and historical manifest destiny. It's ironic that Bush has borrowed the "appeasement" language of 1938; it's as if he doesn't understand which side of history he's on. He isn't a "peacemaker," he's a propagandist who in coldly calculated terms, and for reasons more personal than national, sold the United States on a disastrous and violent course of action that may prove our undoing.

The crushing expense of the war, the complete neglect of other pressing national problems, the torture and Gulag sideshows of the companion "war on terror," are only one part of this devolution. The problem is more basic than that. The Third Reich, as masterfully portrayed by Richard J. Evans in the second volume (The Third Reich in Power) of his three-part history, obviously had transmogrified itself into something unrecognizable before the rape of Czechoslovakia; but once the Wehrmacht rolled into the Sudetenland, the die was cast. Germany did not "reform" itself back to the society of civilized nations. Events simply took their course and Germany's fate was decided for it.

Momentous changes, within the context of modern international politics and economics, will happen here as well. The war and its aftermath will not simply blow over. There is a reason that this seemingly irrelevant misadventure in one, fairly small Middle Eastern country, whose fate is tied neither to our security nor to our prosperity, should preoccupy us, take up such a central place in American fortunes for over five years. Remarkably, as irrational as nearly everyone recognizes this war to be, how unaffordable it is in lives and treasure, in international goodwill, we can't find the political will to stop it. It's a form of national insanity. If we could figure out how we could have arrived in a state of such historical entropy, we could understand the broad outlines of the changed conditions ahead.