It’s the President’s Day Holiday in America. I can remember when we actually celebrated Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays as Holidays. Now in its infinite wisdom, Congress melded them into one generic Holiday. Probably because the less the electorate knows about two of the most just and honourable leaders this or any country has ever had, the better it makes our modern sorry crop of intern-groping crooks and in-bred family scions look. It’s been downhill since Truman, and we’ve been in free fall since Carter. I keep hoping we’ll hit bottom and actually elect someone who is better than his predecessor. Though it’s not looking good for 2008 at this juncture.
Oh well, in honour of the day, two anecdotes about the above giants from my own memory, so hopefully they will be obscure enough that every other blog in the country isn’t mentioning them. And since they are from my memory, the quotes may not be completely accurate, sue me.
Washington was not known for his sense of humour, being a taciturn and down to earth man for the most part. However, he did have his moments. There was an occasion where he was sitting in on a debate in Congress. A law had been proposed that would strictly limit the size of the federal army to two thousand men, our forefathers were very concerned about the deleterious effects of a large standing army. After much debate, Washington got up and with a completely straight face proposed that they also pass a law that limited the size of any invading army to no more than three thousand men. And that was the end of that debate.
On one occasion during a discussion Lincoln pointed to a dog and said, “Gentlemen, if I call that dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does he have?” “Five” was the answer from the assembled company. “No” said Lincoln, “That dog only has four legs, calling his tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” This one is useful for debates with people who want to call the American invasion of Iraq a “liberation” or any other euphemism to pretend that using an army to march into and conquer a sovereign country isn’t exactly that. Though frankly, I’m more and more wondering if the people who still think invading Iraq was a great idea aren’t particularly interested in rational debate. How many innocent people have to die before they can admit at least the possibility the invasion may not have been such a great idea in the first place?
Moving right along, here’s a great article about a recent 911 conspiracy movie. If you’re one of those people who believes in robot planes, Pentagon missiles, controlled demolitions…skip it…you’ll just be offended. In my opinion people that promote this sort of conspiracy silliness are doing the country a great disservice, they are actually helping to legitimize the real 911 conspiracy: The fact that the Bush administration used 911 to hijack American foreign policy and justify American military domination of the Middle east, if not the entire world.
And in some final mixed news, a new poll shows the majority of people in both the west and the Muslim world don’t see conflict between the two as inevitable. Sadly nearly one third of the respondents do in fact see such conflict as inevitable. And if one looks at the picture the BBC helpfully selected to illustrate this story, it’s not hard to understand why. It’s really tiresome how the western media almost always uses images of the worst sorts of extremists when illustrating Muslims. I’m sure the opposite happens in many other places, but that’s no excuse for the western so called free press to do the same.
(The above image predates 1923 (I hope) and is thus public domain under US copyright law. I’m guessing it dates from after Lincoln’s assassination and shows Washington greeting Lincoln in Heaven. By modern standards it makes them look kinda, you know, gay…which is just an observation on how times change and not meant in any pejorative sense.)