Friday, October 31, 2003

15.4% Surge in Business Investment, USG Spending Rises by Only 1.4%

According to the "official" statistics, the economy is growing at the fastest pace since 1984...

Associated Press story by Jeannine Aversa

WASHINGTON (AP) - The economy grew at a blistering 7.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter in the strongest pace in nearly two decades. Consumers spent with abandon and businesses ramped up investment, compelling new evidence of an economic resurgence.

The increase in gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy's performance, in the July-September quarter was more than double the 3.3 percent rate registered in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The 7.2 percent pace marked the best showing since the first quarter of 1984. It exceeded analysts' forecasts for a 6 percent growth rate for third-quarter GDP, which measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States.

"This is a gangbuster number. Everything came together for the economy in the third quarter," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at "The key challenge now is jobs," he said.

On Wall Street, stocks were mixed. The Dow Jones industrials were down 2 points, while the Nasdaq was up 2 points in morning trading.

President Bush's spokesman, Scott McLellan, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Columbus, Ohio, that "today's numbers are another positive sign" that the president's strategy for boosting the economy by cutting taxes "is working, getting more money into people's pockets."

"While the economy is moving in the right direction, because of the actions that we have taken, there is more work to be done," McLellan said. "We need to contine to act and build upon the steps we have taken to get our economy growing so we can continue to translate growth into job creation."

The economy's recovery from the 2001 recession has resembled the side of a jagged cliff; a quarter of strength often has been followed by a quarter of weakness. But analysts are saying that pattern could be broken, considering increasing signs the economy finally has shaken its lethargy and is perking up.

Near rock-bottom short-term interest rates, along with President Bush's third round of tax cuts, have helped the economy shift into a higher gear during the summer, economists said. The next challenge is making sure the rebound is self-sustaining, they said.

Democrats, however, argue that the tax cuts contributed to a record budget deficit in the recently ended 2003 fiscal year and have done little to spur significant job growth.

"This has largely been a jobless recovery," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Although the nation's payrolls grew by 57,000 in September - the first increase in eight months - the economy needs to add a lot more jobs than that each month to drive down the 6.1 percent unemployment rate, analysts have said.

The administration has argued that as economic growth improves, meaningful job creation will follow. Bush will be counting on that as he heads into the 2004 presidential election season.

In other encouraging economic news from the Labor Department, new claims for unemployment benefits last week dropped by 5,000 to 386,000, a sign that layoffs are slowing. U.S. workers' wages and benefits went up by 1 percent in the third quarter, up slightly from a 0.9 percent increase in the previous quarter.

Economists believe the economy will grow at a slower - but still healthy - 4 percent rate in the final quarter.

In the third quarter, consumers ratcheted up their spending at a brisk 6.6 percent annual rate. That was the biggest increase since the first quarter of 1988 and was up from a 3.8 percent pace in the second quarter.

Consumers in the third quarter spent lavishly on big-ticket items, such as cars, boosting such spending by a whopping 26.9 percent rate. And, they also spent briskly on "nondurables" such as food and clothes, which grew at a 7.9 percent pace, the strongest showing since the first quarter of 1976.

While consumers have been the main force keeping the economy going, there are more signs that businesses are starting to do their part.

Especially encouraging was the 15.4 percent growth rate in spending by businesses on equipment and software in the third quarter. That marked the largest increase since the first quarter of 2000 and was up from a 8.3 percent growth rate in the second quarter.

Sustained turnarounds in capital spending and in hiring are crucial to the economy's return to full throttle. Economists said business wants profits to improve and wants to be sure of the recovery's vigor before it goes on a spending and hiring spree.

The red-hot housing market, powered by low mortgage rates, also contributed to the strong showing on third quarter GDP. Investment on residential projects grew at a 20.4 percent rate, the biggest increase since the second quarter of 1996, and more than three times the 6.6 percent growth rate seen in the second quarter.

Federal government spending, which grew at a 1.4 percent rate, was only a minor contributor to GDP in the third quarter. Spending on national defense was flat. But in the second quarter, military spending on the Iraq war - which grew at a whopping 45.8 percent rate - helped to catapult economic growth.

A better trade picture in the third quarter also contributed to GDP growth.

Tadeusz Kotarbinski on "Praxiology"

Tadeusz Kotarbinski (1886-1981) is one of the most representative figures of the Lvov-Warsaw School, not only on account of the doctrines he put forward but also because (like Ajdukiewicz ) he continued his activity in Poland after World War II, greatly influencing Polish philosophical culture, of which he became a sort of guardian spirit.

After the Second World War, Kotarbinski turned to a field of research in praxiology. Already anticipated by other scholars (such as B.C. Dunoyer, W. Jastrzbowski, Meliton Martin, Louis Bourdeau, Alfred Espinas, Eugeniusz Spucki, L. von Mises and A. Bogdanov), praxiology has its roots in what Kotarbinski called "practical realism" and represents a common-sense attitude towards the world, respecting things that really exist, the limits and conditions affecting action, and full awareness of the importance of the factors contributing to the situation in which one is working. It was, in short, a resumption of the just means and practical rationality of Aristotle which, in the new reality that emerged after World War II, Kotarbinski must have seen as having an important social function in the construction of a new Socialist order, an effort he viewed in a constructive, co-operative spirit. Praxiology presents itself as the most general of practical sciences, one that can provide a methodology for the efficient performance of any action aiming at a specific goal.

Praxiology provides and explains practical directives, i.e. the commands, prohibitions and restrictions that are applied to actions in order to enhance their efficiency; it formulates a series of types and builds up its own conceptual and terminological apparatus to analyse the basic concepts of the new science and the modes of efficient action: agent, impulse, action, aim, product, result, as well as efficiency, economy, usefulness, effectiveness, exactness, appropriacy, etc. are the cornerstones of his thought. Praxiology thus contains both descriptive theses, whose aim is to explain and clarify its fundamental concepts and their reciprocal relationships (among which he distinguishes between simple and compound, external and internal actions, various modes of co-operation such as positive and negative, etc.), and theses of a normative nature, indicating the necessary and/or sufficient directives for a certain action to be efficient with respect to the goal to be achieved in given situations, and thus the prescriptions and prohibitions to be respected. Kotarbinski also delineated the characteristics of an even more general science than praxiology: the theory of complex systems, which in more recent times was independently proposed by L. von Bertalanffy as a general theory of systems and which Kotarbisnki saw as being outlined in the work of Bogdanov. Examples of the practical directives formulated by praxiology are those expressed by the concepts of activation, automation, instrumentalisation, anticipation, integration, potentialisation, temporisation, mechanisation and so on, with a whole series of further subdivisions (e.g. integration is subdivided into co- ordination, concentration, preparation, planning, etc.).

Praxiology developed in Poland from 1958 onwards, the year in which the Polish Academy of Sciences set up an autonomous Laboratory of Praxiology, which was transformed into a Department in 1967 and in 1974 became part of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology. In 1980 it took on the name of Department of Praxiology and the Science of Science. It currently edits the four-monthly "Prakseologia" and the English- language annual review "Praxiology", which publishes articles by both Polish and foreign authors. Praxiology has now assumed full autonomy as a scientific discipline, counting research institutes in Poland and abroad. Its main Polish representatives are M. Nowakowska, T. Pszczolowski and L. Lewandowski. The attempt has been made to apply the principles of praxiology to the field of economics by the famous economist Oskar Lange, who sees it as a science of rational action and thus interprets it from a methodological viewpoint. A new generation of scholars such as W. Gasparski, T. Wojcik and J. Zieliniewski have expressed the need for further formal refinement of the discipline and greater integration with similar disciplines that have in the meanwhile arisen in other fields and other countries.

Mention should finally be made of Kotarbinski’s ethical interests, which led him to support an "independent ethic", i.e. one that refuses to search for a foundation in sources other than emotional judgements formulated in the course of human relationships, and especially an ethic that is independent of both religion and any specific world view.

  • Read More About Tadeusz Kotarbinski
  • Praxeology Defined

    In June 1950, Murray Rothbard published, 'Praxeology: Reply to Mr.
    Schiller' in the "American Economic Review."

    Rothbard explains (pp. 193-164):

    "The categories of praxeology may be outlined as follows:

    Praxeology -- the general, formal theory of human action:

    A. The Theory of the Isolated Individual (Crusoe Economics)

    B. The Theory of Voluntary Interpersonal Exchange (Catallactics, or the economics of the market)

    1. Barter
    2. With Medium of Exchange

    a. On the Unhampered Market
    b. Effects of Violent Intervention with the Market
    c. Effects of Violent Abolition of the Market (Socialism)

    C. The Theory of War -- Hostile Action

    D. The Theory of Games (e.g., Von Neumann and Morgenstern)

    E. Unknown"

    Reprinted in Sandye Gloria-Palermo, ed., "Modern Austrian Economics," vol. I (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2002) pp. 161-164.

    Thursday, October 30, 2003

    Senholz On Saving the Dollar From Destruction

    A snippet of 'Saving the Dollar from Destruction' by Hans F. Sennholz...

    ...A more optimistic scenario would be a gradual abandonment of the monetary policies and an orderly readjustment to unhampered market conditions. The Federal government would balance its budget in the next few years by holding the line on both transfer spending and military outlays. The Federal Reserve System would allow the market rate of interest to resume its basic function, the efficient allocation of economic resources in the course of time. A painful readjustment process would commence immediately; interest rates would rise, calling a halt to misguided spending patterns and encouraging saving and capital formation. Boom industries soon would suffer withdrawal symptoms while others would revive from several years of stagnation. At the same time, China and other creditor countries hopefully would allow their currencies to rise and the U.S. dollar to decline gradually, which would trim America's trade deficits, raise goods prices, and depreciate all dollar debt at home and abroad. With the Federal budget in balance and interest rates at market levels, the dollar would continue to function smoothly as the primary world currency.

    Such a scenario would tell the truth about the international state of affairs. In world money markets a dollar depreciation of 30 percent would reduce the financial as well as nonfinancial American debt of $32 trillion by that percentage of purchasing power. It would diminish the three-trillion-dollar international debt burden of the U.S. government by one trillion dollars. American goods prices would rise at lesser rates, which undoubtedly would bring relief to all debtors while it would diminish the wealth of creditors. There are many ways of cheating a creditor. The United States government would use an old political ruse, the depreciation of its currency...

  • Read All of Hans Senholz's Article @
  • Secret Trials, No Files, No Lawyer On Record, and Heading To The Supreme Court

    Secret 9/11 Case Before High Court

    By Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor

    MIAMI (Oct. 29) – It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period.
    Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice? Secrecy has been a key Bush administration weapon in the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft warns that mere tidbits of information that seem innocuous about the massive Sept. 11 investigation could help Al Qaeda carry out new attacks.
    Yet this highly unusual petition to the high court arising from a Miami case brings into sharp focus the tension between America's long tradition of open courts and the need for security in times of national peril. At issue is whether certain cases may be conducted entirely behind closed doors under a secret arrangement among prosecutors, judges, and docket clerks.
    While secret trial tactics have reportedly been used by federal prosecutors to shield cooperating drug dealers, it's unclear whether the high court has ever directly confronted the issue. But that may change if they take up MKB v. Warden (No. 03-6747).

    What's known about the case

    This is among the first of the post-Sept. 11 terrorism cases to wend its way to the nation's highest tribunal. There was no public record of its existence, however, until the appeal was filed with the clerk of the US Supreme Court.
    A federal judge and a three-judge federal appeals-court panel have conducted hearings and issued rulings. Yet lawyers and court personnel have been ordered to remain silent.
    "The entire dockets for this case and appeal, every entry on them, are maintained privately, under seal, unavailable to the public," says a partially censored 27-page petition asking the high court to hear the case. "In the court of appeals, not just the filed documents and docket sheet are sealed from public view, but also hidden is the essential fact that a legal proceeding exists."
    Despite the heavy secrecy, a brief docketing error led to a newspaper report identifying MKB by name in March. The report said MKB is an Algerian waiter in south Florida who was detained by immigration authorities and questioned by the FBI.
    MKB's legal status remains unclear, but it appears unlikely from court documents that he is connected in any way to terrorism. He has been free since March 2002 on a $10,000 bond.
    The case is significant because it could force a close examination of secret tactics that are apparently becoming increasingly common under Attorney General Ashcroft. In September 2001, he ordered that all deportation hearings with links to the Sept. 11 investigation be conducted secretly. In addition, the Justice Department has acknowledged that at least nine criminal cases related to the Sept. 11 investigation were being cloaked in total secrecy.
    MKB v. Warden is the first indication that the Justice Department is extending its total secrecy policy to proceedings in federal courts dealing with habeas corpus - that is, an individual's right to force the government to justify his or her detention.
    The case offers the Supreme Court an opportunity for the first time to spell out whether such secret judicial proceedings violate constitutional protections. It may also offer the first insight into how much deference a majority of justices is willing to grant the government in areas where the war on terrorism may tread upon fundamental American freedoms.
    From the perspective of news reporters and government watchdogs, the case marks a potential turning point away from a long-held presumption that judicial proceedings in the US are open to public scrutiny.
    The case is one of several currently on petition to the high court dealing with some aspect of the war on terror. Two cases relate to detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and one challenges Yasser Hamdi's open-ended detention as an enemy combatant. A fourth case seeks to force the Justice Department to disclose the names of detainees caught up in antiterror investigations - an issue closely related to the Miami habeas case.
    Federal judges have the authority to order sensitive documents or even entire hearings sealed from public view when disclosure might harm national security. Such rulings are usually issued after the judge has explained the need for secrecy in a decision available to the public.
    In addition, judges can order that an individual be identified in public court filings only by a pseudonym or by initials, as happened when the MKB case arrived at the US Supreme Court.
    What is highly unusual in MKB v. Warden is that lower court judges ordered the entire case sealed from the start - preventing any mention of it to the public.

    'Abuse of discretion'?

    In her petition to the court, Miami federal public defender Kathleen Williams says the judges' actions authorizing the secrecy without any public notice, public hearings, or public findings amount to "an abuse of discretion" that requires corrective action by the justices.
    "This habeas corpus case has been heard, appealed, and decided in complete secrecy," Ms. Williams says in her petition.
    A government response to the petition is due Nov. 5. It will mark the first time the Justice Department has publicly acknowledged the existence of the habeas corpus action. The justices are set to consider the case during their Nov. 7 conference.
    Justice Department officials have defended the blanket secrecy policy, saying that public hearings and public dockets would undermine efforts to recruit detainees as undercover operatives to infiltrate Al Qaeda cells in the US. According to press reports, similar secret trial tactics have been used by federal prosecutors to shield cooperating drug dealers from mention in public court documents that might blow their cover and end their use as operatives in ongoing undercover narcotics sting operations.

    Profits, Sales Soar at Kellogg, Brown, and Root

    AFP story from the Yahoo Wire...

    HOUSTON, United States (AFP) - US oil industry services giant Halliburton said Thursday its Kellogg, Brown, and Root unit's profits rose four-fold and sales leapt 80 percent, boosted by work in Iraq

    Profits from the unit's operations soared to 49 million dollars in the three months to September from 12 million dollars a year earlier, helped by "government services activity in the Middle East," Halliburton said.

    KBR, the engineering and construction division that netted a no-bid government contract to help rebuild Iraq's shattered oil industry, also posted an 80-percent jump in sales to 2.3 billion dollars.

    Iraq-related work by KBR produced revenue of 900 million dollars in the three-month period and delivered an operating profit of 34 million dollars, it said.

    KBR's results boosted the entire Halliburton group, of which Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) was chief executive from 1995 to 2000.

    Halliburton sales rose 39 percent to 4.1 billion dollars in the third quarter.

    "This increase is largely attributable to additional activity in Engineering and Construction Group government service projects, including work in the Middle East," Halliburton said.

    But net profit at the group fell to 58 million dollars or 13 cents a share from a year-earlier net profit of 94 million dollars or 22 cents a share, the group said.

    The profit was hit by a 34-million-dollar net loss from discontinued operations and by a 77-million-dollar charge related to a Texas court finding against a subsidiary for breaching confidentiality agreements.

    Overall, US government contracts for Iraqi reconstruction given to Halliburton are now worth some two billion dollars and could go higher, the army said last month.

    The deals have been sharply criticized by some members of Congress, especially because some were awarded without competitive bids.

    The contract to rehabilitate Iraqi oil fields has been revised upward to 948 million dollars, army spokesman Dan Carlson said.

    A separate 10-year army field support contract to Halliburton awarded in 2001 has been boosted to one billion dollars, the spokesman added.

    Halliburton chief executive David Lesar, meanwhile, is fending off Democratic lawmakers' accusations that the group overcharged the US government for imported gasoline in Iraq.

    The US government pays Halliburton between 1.62 and 1.70 dollars for each gallon of gasoline it imports from Kuwait, including a 91- to 99-cent transportation fee, according to Democratic representatives Henry Waxman and John Dingell.

    But Waxman and Dingell said they had been assured by industry experts it was possible to bring gasoline from Kuwait into Iraq for between 15 cents and 25 cents a gallon.

    "The overcharging by Halliburton is so extreme that one expert has privately called it 'highway robbery,'" the lawmakers said.

    Lesar has rejected the allegations, arguing that Halliburton had become a "political target" because of Cheney's past involvement with the company. Cheney has denied any role in Halliburton's Iraq contracts.

    Celebrating Over Ten Years of Defence Planning Guidance

    In 1992, Messrs Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, and Eric Edelman drafted the Defence Planning Guidance.

    The United States, the document stated, can and should prevent any nation or alliance from challenging its military dominance. It will participate in coalitions, but would 'act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated', unconstrained by international treaties and organisations.

    The Guidance went on to advocate 'pre- emptive strikes' against rogue states that acquired weapons of mass destruction, and sketched scenarios for such wars, including another attack on Iraq.

    The underlying idea was that the US could 'shape', not just react, to the world, using its overwhelming military and economic might to create conditions conducive to American values and interests.

    In September 2002, the 'National Security Strategy of the United States' was released. It Proclaimed a 'distinctly American internationalism.'

    'The President has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge (military) lead the US has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union,' it stated flatly.

    'Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the US.'

    The document promulgated the doctrine of pre- emption, and stated clearly that the US 'will not hesitate to act alone' in pursuing its interests if necessary.

  • Rise of the Neo-Cons
  • Private Fire Prevention

    Fire Fighting for Profit from by Nancy W. Poole

    Fire-fighting services don't need to be provided by government. For-profit is better, and Scottsdale, Arizona, industry leader Rural/ Metro Corporation proves the point. Mayor Herbert R. Drinkwater doesn't need prodding to lavish praise on Scottsdale's second largest nationally headquartered company. "I'm a great believer that the private sector can normally do things a little better than the public sector-and for less money," says Drinkwater. "Our fire service does a superb job," he continues matter-of-factly. "The citizens of Scottsdale love it. I get compliments all the time on Rural/Metro's performance."

    Statistics back the mayor's enthusiasm. A recent poll by Arizona Opinion and Political Research found that by a margin of six-to- one, Scottsdale voters prefer Rural/Metro to the option of a municipally owned fire department.

    Moreover, the price is right. Drinkwater says that because of Rural/Metro, Scottsdale citizens benefit from a superior level of fire service at a considerably lower cost than if the city had a municipal fire department.

    Drinkwater, however, doesn't want to focus exclusively on economics. "Even more important," he stresses, "the kind of service Rural/ Metro provides is based on incentive and innovation. So our citizens aren't subject to the constraints experienced with traditional municipal fire departments."

    For example? "'The traditional emphasis is on fire response," Drinkwater answers. "We think Rural/Metro's emphasis on prevention is a more effective way to deal with fire protection service.

    The company's core philosophy is prevention. As a result, Scottsdale citizens are offered a much better balance between response and prevention than is available in most communities."

    Rural/Metro's unique mix of part-time firefighters working alongside career professionals makes Scottsdale's fire protection service one of the most economical in the nation, and one of the most effective.

    There are literally hundreds of small private fire companies along with seven industry leaders in 14 states, according to Private Sector Fire Association statistics. Rural/Metro is not only the largest such company in the country, it is an industry model for customer service, excellence, cost containment, and innovation.

    For example, an increasing number of established departments are emulating Rural/Metro's subscription services in remote areas. Rural/Metro created the concept of providing fire protection to areas that might otherwise have difficulty obtaining any fire or emergency medical service at all - communities without the tax base to subsidize fire departments. Rural/Metro currently services communities in Arizona, Tennessee, and Oregon on a subscription basis.

    The subscription process is voluntary. Rural/ Metro contracts with home and property owners in subscription areas, who pay annual fees for fire protection and emergency medical service. Level of service is based on population density and geography.

    Rural/Metro is the first-responder agency in these locales. A non-subscriber must pay a fairly high hourly rate per fire-fighting unit if it is necessary for Rural/Metro to respond to a fire at that person's residence or property... (The adequate protection of members' properties requires response to all fires and medical emergencies in a subscription area.)

    ...Rural/Metro has a strong prevention ethic. "The best way to fight fires is to prevent them," comments Edwards. "For example, we have a much higher number of inspectors per capita than is the norm." Rural/Metro fire inspectors are also asked to serve as fire- fighters, so that their awareness of hazards in buildings throughout the community often aids in the suppression of fires. "For us," Edwards explains, "it's not prevention and suppression; instead, it's prevention/suppression-the two components interact."

    As a national leader in the development of fire prevention programs, Rural/Metro abundantly communicates prevention to its customers through many training and education programs. These include home fire-safety inspections, CPR classes, emergency first aid, water and mountain rescue courses, and hazardous materials services, as well as fire safety education classes in the schools.

    With top performance records and dramatically lower costs than publicly owned counterparts, Rural/Metro is a hard-to-beat sell. Nevertheless, since public sector turf is often just across the street, the company's nonunion, privatized operation is frequently a target for intra-city politics and media misconceptions. (Rural/Metro's employees recently voted down union membership.) Firefighter Wes Kemp elaborates. "Our position as a privatized emergency services company is a challenge because we are continually up against the municipalities to prove ourselves."

    Historically, a rivalry has existed between Rural/Metro and unionized municipal departments. "We position the company not in a directly competitive mode with these departments, but as a fire service alternative," says Suzanne Brossart, Rural/Metro's corporate communications manager. Brossart adds that Rural/Metro does not approach communities that have established municipal fire departments. "Instead," she explains, "we prefer to target small but growing communities that don't have fire departments or that want to expand volunteer departments into full-time services. With this approach, we can build our strong fire prevention and operational philosophies directly into a community's development."

    President/CEO Manschot adds, "We must continue building relations with other agencies, and reinforcing an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and respect."

    Rural/Metro's philosophy translates into financial success. Corporate revenues have grown over the past 10 years from $6 million to almost $65 million annually, increasing in the past three years alone by over $24 million. Revenues for the current fiscal year are estimated at nearly $68 million.

    Rural/Metro Corporation has shown that firefighting and other emergency services can be privatized, with outstanding results. As municipal budget crises plague many communities, privatization is an option that merits careful study.

  • Read All of Fire Fighting For Profit @
  • Wednesday, October 29, 2003

    Camille Speaks!

    Courtesy of the Visa Daypass, Kerry Lauerman's interview with Camille Paglia...

    Camille speaks!

    Paglia returns to cast a withering eye on Clark ("what a phony!"), Kerry ("the hair!"), Madonna ("a monster"), bloggers -- and the "delusional narcissists" in the White House who led an out-of-his-depth president into a disastrous war..
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    By Kerry Lauerman

    Oct. 29, 2003 | Camille Paglia retired her Salon column more than two years ago, and some readers still remain in deep denial, sending us letters -- "WHERE'S CAMILLE?" and "Bring back Paglia!" -- and clamoring for her singular blend of historical analysis and crackling street smarts.

    The last time we spoke with Paglia, in February, at the onset of war, she spoke of "a terrible sense of foreboding" about what would come next. We pick up the conversation from there -- and cover other recent key cultural developments, from Gen. Wesley Clark ("What a phony!"), Sen. John Kerry ("the hair!"), and the tumultuous fall of Rush Limbaugh. She also cast a disapproving eye on the confused antics of Madonna, the comedic influence of David Letterman, and bloggers ("endless reams of bad prose!").

    Paglia continues her work as a professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is completing a book about poetry and a new collection of her essays. Salon spoke to her last week by phone.

    You talked the last time about being "extremely upset about our rush to war." Has it played out as you would have predicted?

    How to start! This Iraq adventure is a political, cultural and moral
    disaster for the United States. Every sign was there to read, but the Bush administration is run by blinkered people who are driven by ideology and who do not feel the largeness of the world and its multiplicity of religions, ethnicities and customs. Despite the multicultural ambitions of higher education in the last 25 years, there has been a massive failure in public education. Media negligence also played a huge role in this cataclysm.

    Throughout all of last year, as the war drums were beating, the media did not do its job in informing the American people about the complexities of Mideastern history or of the assumptions of world Islam. For example, it should have laid out the dark saga of foolish decision making by the European powers as they cut up the Ottoman Empire after World War I and unleashed the territorial disputes and animosities that still plague us. With more historical perspective during the debate over Iraq, I don't think the polls would have been as high as they were.

    I also blame the media for failing to inform the American people about the ancient history of Mesopotamia and of the vision of Saddam Hussein -- who was just a Podunk tyrant who was no threat to the continental U.S. -- to revive the greatness of Babylon. If that had been understood, maybe more people would have suspected that all that bluster about stockpiled weapons of mass destruction was hot air. Of course it was in Saddam's regional interest as a macho man to imply that he had this mountain of armaments, that he could strike the West at any moment. The Egyptian pharaohs were always pounding their chests and boasting in exactly the same way. U.S. intelligence was so naive to have fallen for that, hook, line and sinker!

    Another sin by the media was their failure to publicize the immense archaeological and artistic past of Iraq, to show America that Iraq wasn't just this desert wasteland over a big puddle of oil. Few people realized that until the National Museum was looted after American troops seized Baghdad. Then came -- the utter hypocrisy! -- tear-stained, hand-wringing articles by those big blowhards at the New York Times: "Oh, the Bush administration are such awful vandals!" Well, where the hell were all of you last year? Why didn't you show the architecture and artifacts of ancient Mesopotamia or Islamic Baghdad under the caliphate? The American people were led to believe that Baghdad was just a bunch of Bedouin tents huddled in the middle of the desert. As I said the last time I spoke with Salon, I also blame the Democratic senators--

    A "bunch of weasels," you called them at the time--

    Yes, and that word "weasel" went out from that interview and caught fire. The New York Post used it by that weekend, and from there it was seized by the right wing, as in the bestselling "Deck of Weasels" playing cards. It's a great example of the power of Salon: We put "weasel" back into the American vocabulary!

    The emptiness at the heart of the Democratic Party is absolutely clear in the current campaign for the 2004 presidential nomination. The Democratic senators never take a stand without consulting a pollster. They're all trimmers -- they put their finger in the wind and frantically trim their sails. They were so twisted up about political fallout before last fall's election that they gave Bush a rubber stamp for war. Sen. Robert Byrd was the only strong, eloquent voice denouncing this dangerous expansion of presidential power and misuse of our military.

    I had a momentary hope, when Bush recently hung out that outrageous bill for $87 billion, that maybe Congress would stand up and refuse to pay for one more day of this. But no, they've all collapsed again like toothpick men. As I repeatedly prophesized over the years at Salon, we are in a period like the Roman Empire, where there is an arrogant, imperial executive branch and a misuse of the army for partisan or fantastically hallucinatory purposes.

    My view -- which is an extreme position -- is that we should get the troops out of Iraq now. But even many liberals are saying, "We're gone too far. We cannot turn back now!" Oh, yes, we can! Get the United Nations in there, and get out! I don't think this thing is worth one more American life -- not with the pressing needs we have at home. We have catastrophically compromised our internal system of defense against terrorism because of this adventure overseas. Our National Guard and reservists are over there -- our first responders for emergencies in terrorist attacks here.

    The failure in upgrading domestic defense was horrendously clear during the Northeastern blackout in August, when 20 million people lost power. It was shocking to see that nearly two years after 9/11, there was still no emergency evacuation plan in New York to get people across the Hudson River to New Jersey. I monitored the TV for six hours from Philadelphia as over 20,000 people, including old people and pregnant women, were stranded in the baking heat on those wharves like sitting ducks. There were only a few tiny boats ferrying them across the river. Two years, and still no emergency plan to call in the military or National Guard? And there's been no systematic effort to deal with the No. 1 threat to national security - - the container ships unloading at our ports.

    I don't personally hate Bush. I think he's sincere and well-meaning. But I feel very sorry for him. Every time I watch him, I feel his suffering, and I suffer with him. But he's out of his depth in this job. His view of the world is painfully simplistic -- like a Wild West video game where the good guys wear white hats and always win. But he's surrounded by manipulators -- like Vice President Dick Cheney, the invisible man, the shadowy puppeteer.

    The person I do hate is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is out of control and who has trashed what should be the professional cooperation between the State Department and the Pentagon. Rumsfeld is lost in some delusional state. He's like Newt Gingrich in the grandstanding narcissism department. Both Rumsfeld and Gingrich show how narrow-bore thinking can turn high I.Q. into colossal stupidity.

    The Bush administration is now in defensive mode to prove it was right about Iraq, while there are huge problems facing the nation in education, healthcare, care of the elderly, Social Security, the infrastructure of our highway system and bridges and public transportation -- the kinds of problems that require massive of infusions of cash. And what are we doing? We're throwing our hard-earned tax dollars down that hole over there. Bush has not been a good steward of our treasury or our national reputation, and he's torn this country apart.

    The argument against pulling out from Iraq, though, is that al-Qaida is stronger now in Iraq...

    Oh, yes, that's the great accomplishment of the Bush administration! They've turned Iraq into a Hollywood studio for terrorism. Al-Qaida was on the run, we were after them in Afghanistan, and now there's been a massive reinvigoration of al-Qaida. They've become heroic role models to Islamic youth. And there's been a poisoning of world opinion against us -- after the sympathy we got after 9/11.

    As Salon readers know, I am not anti-military. On the contrary, I believe in just wars and would have been proud to serve in the military. But this Iraq adventure was a grotesque misuse of American power unleashed on a Third World nation. What pleasure can we take from a victory where our high-tech arms were blasting poorly armed foot soldiers to oblivion? Most of the Iraqi Army weren't necessarily Saddam fanatics -- they were working-class people just trying to make a living. U.S. officials don't even bother trying to count Iraqi casualties -- including civilians -- and the American media lets them get away with it. Only American deaths matter; Iraqis are non-persons.

    Of course it was worth trying to get rid of Saddam -- but not by an obsessive-compulsive distortion of American foreign policy. It had to be done through the slow, patient process of international diplomacy, to show that our interests weren't simply selfish, that it wasn't just a naked grab for oil. It's pretty clear that we went into Iraq because of the contorted reasoning of neoconservatives who were looking for a staging area to protect our ally Israel and to seize the Saudi Arabian oil fields, should that regime crumble and be overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists. It was a strategic play -- cold realpolitik. But a false bill of goods was sold to the American public, and people should be furious about it.

    You're an independent thinker -- but a lifelong Democrat. Who do you like among the presidential candidates? And can any of them win?

    Unless there's some huge change, I'll be voting for Dean in the Democratic primary, simply as a gesture for the antiwar side. But I'm not thrilled. I don't think Dean is remotely presidential in manner. He hasn't thought any of this through -- the style of presidential authority. You can't just run around wildly with this dour, dyspeptic, sanctimonious persona. Dean's ability to galvanize a wide-ranging electorate is very limited. I don't see how he's going to inspire or attract African-American or Latino voters, or anyone outside white upper-middle-class professionals and the media elite.

    For years, I was looking forward to voting for John Kerry. He is deeply knowledgeable about military and world affairs and is truly authoritative in presence, with a natural gravitas. I once talked in Salon about seeing him on C-SPAN and thinking, wow, he's so articulate and low-key -- how wonderful to have a president like that! This was in the early Bush period when Bush could barely get a complete sentence out. But I've been shocked by Kerry's performance on the stump. His manner is so strained, dead and aloof. One problem is that he's spent way too much time with rich people and fellow thinkers -- that burden of being a Massachusetts liberal that sank Dukakis. And the hair! All that faux-Kennedy stuff that Democrats like Kerry and John Edwards can't get rid of. They're so out of it! Don't they see that hair styles have changed and that flowing locks don't signal authority? Look at Bush's short cut -- it's a Roman general's style. Rush Limbaugh hilariously refers to John Edwards as "the Breck Girl" -- perfect! And Edwards' whole chirpy, boyish manner -- who thinks that's going to fly in the age of terrorism?

    But Kerry seems to be a prisoner of his handlers -- that whole venal machinery of political consultants that has taken over the Democratic Party, all in the Terry McAuliffe mold. I loathe McAuliffe -- a cheap buffoon and parasite. Consultants lobotomize the candidates, whose energy then gets sucked dry by fundraising. Kerry's advisors have made him seem prissy. It's a real tragedy because it's Kerry who has the military record and knowledge of the federal government to be president -- he's an insider in the best sense.

    But as a pro-military Democrat, what do you make of Gen. Wesley Clark?

    What a phony! What a bunch of crap this Clark boom is. Clark reminds me of Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- a blank, vacant expression, detached and affectless. There's something sexually neutered about Dullea in that film -- a physical passivity necessitated by cramped space travel -- that I also find in Clark. And the astronaut Dullea plays is sometimes indistinguishable from the crazed computer, HAL -- which I find in Clark's smug, computerized vocal delivery.

    And yet Clark enthusiasts insist that he's not only handsome but great on television.

    Doesn't anyone know how to "read" TV? The guy's an android! He gives me the creeps. And don't they realize how short he is? He's a slick, boudoir, salon military type who rubbed plenty of colleagues the wrong way. Clark is not a natural man's man. And he's no Eisenhower, who was a genial, charismatic leader with a genius for collaboration and organization. This is just another hysterical boomlet, as when the nerdy Northeast media went gaga for John McCain -- "Finally, a soldier we like!" Well, McCain was another big hot dog with little natural rapport with regular guys. Clark made a major strategic error in going for the presidency. He's been stumbling all over the place and exposing his lack of general knowledge as well as experience with practical politics.

    Two weeks ago, NPR ran a scathing series of taped quotes from leading military figures clearly implying they know more about Clark's career failures than they can tell. A lot of people don't trust him. Last summer, I thought Clark would be a good vice presidential partner for Dean. But Clark's hubris undid him -- he's tainted meat now. The Democratic Party should stay away from this guy -- who wasn't even a registered Democrat until recently.

    And yet he's galvanized support among a certain established Democratic elite.

    Well, right-wing radio has been saying all along that the Clark campaign is a ploy by the Clintons to destroy the Dean candidacy, since Dean is an obstacle to the Clintons' hold on the national party and to Hillary's march to the White House. I had a turnaround on Hillary this year. I was an early fan of hers from the Clintons' first national campaign in 1992. I loved the sharp, no-bull way she talked -- "I could've stayed home and baked cookies!" I thought it was the authentic voice of my 1960s generation of women. But within six months of Bill's taking office, I turned completely against her. She intruded herself into the political process, conducted secret meetings like the Kremlin, and ruined our one chance for healthcare reform, when both parties wanted it. She behaved like Eva Peron.

    But when I reviewed her book last June in the London Times, I found it a credible statement. Her voice is strong and individual. People complain that the book was ghost-written. Well, so what? She showed the ability to hire the right people! And in the current vacuum of the Democratic Party, with no dynamic candidates in sight, she's suddenly gained enormously. So I began to look at her in a new way and have been hoping that she'd run. But I don't think she's a natural politician -- she lacks spontaneity and instinct, and she's always implying she's smarter than the electorate.

    I think Arnold Schwarzenegger learned from Hillary's tactics in her senatorial campaign -- that is, never do anything that isn't staged. Never go on serious talk shows -- just hide behind the late-night comedians and do chit-chat. Make sure public appearances are super-managed, using advance men to keep protesters away. It was a very antidemocratic way of campaigning, and Hillary gave Arnold the road map. I fail to see how Hillary will ever win any primaries outside the eastern and western seaboards. On the other hand, I think it's crucial for women who are viable candidates to run. I really regret that Dianne Feinstein, who is way more presidential than Hillary, seems to lack the fire and drive for a national campaign.

    Instead of writing shrill books, the way the liberals are doing these days, why don't they look deeply into what's happened to the Democratic Party? It's lost its connection with the mass of people and is now driven by a snobbish elite of lawyers, snide journalists and consultants. Bush would be defeated if there was a strong Democratic candidate. But there isn't one.

    Many liberals -- and many of the people buying those books you're talking about -- are celebrating the fall of Rush Limbaugh. Should they?

    Look, I am a longtime listener of Rush Limbaugh because I'm a fan of AM radio. I've listened to radio since childhood. I was in anguish for a week over what was happening to Rush. It began with the flap over his remarks about our Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb being "overrated" because he's black -- an ill-advised intrusion of racial controversy into a tightly scripted jock show that wasn't the right forum for political debate. Then within days, news broke of the National Enquirer's cover story on Rush's abuse of prescription pain medication. The news stunned his fans. For me, it was almost like when Diana had her accident or when Natalie Wood was found drowned off Santa Catalina. That's the level of deep emotional upset that admirers of Rush had -- not because his private life contradicted his public code but because of the revelation of the desperate, agonizing subterfuges to which he had been driven by his addiction.

    Now, I do not agree with Rush on most political issues -- I voted for Ralph Nader! And I definitely don't agree with him on Iraq. But Rush transformed the media landscape in America. He resurrected AM radio. From coast to coast, AM radio is buzzing and vibrant because of what Rush did. He is a master broadcaster, a master of the microphone. Anyone who is a true student of media should respect his achievements.

    Is his show what it was, say, in the early '90s? No. When anyone makes it big and is suddenly hobnobbing with the rich and famous, of course he or she no longer has that fire in the belly. The outsider becomes the insider. This happened to Howard Stern too. But I've been saying to friends for several years that something was happening with Rush's show. There was less air space and free-form rumination, less comedy and satire. At times, it felt like he was going through the motions, working himself up into a partisan fever because he thought his listeners expected it. I just assumed he was relaxing more, playing golf -- which he deserved!

    In the beginning of his career, Rush was an odd character who did nothing but devour the news all day long and give his take on it -- and his audience kept expanding. Since Bush was elected, the show turned too much in an Us vs. Them direction -- "us" being conservative Republicans. But Rush's fan base crosses party lines. I now see that it was the drugs that were affecting the show. Rush was functioning amazingly well, but he was losing his original wide range of ideas.

    When the McNabb flap broke, Rush could have caught himself and demonstrated his genuine erudition in football -- which he's shared with his audience for years. But suddenly his isolation became dramatically clear. Where was his staff? Callers to his show challenged him, asking who exactly in the media had ever overrated McNabb? Rush kept saying vaguely, "the Philadelphia media," and I winced. The Philadelphia media have fried McNabb! For heaven's sake, a radio star here even took a mob up to New York to boo McNabb on the day he was drafted! McNabb is personally very popular, but his uneven skills as a quarterback are constantly being hashed over here.

    Days passed when Rush should have been getting research data from his staff -- chapter and verse to support his position. His inability to manage basic crisis control amazed me. But through all of that public abuse and exposure, he emerged not diminished but with the dimension of a major Hollywood star, like Judy Garland, who attained semi-divinity through her drug overdoses and suicide attempts. It's as if Rush stepped over from pugilistic political commentator to mysterious, tortured myth in just a few days.

    When Democratic candidates like Dean attack Rush, they don't realize how they are alienating millions of people. By blaming the messenger, all they're doing is showing that the Democrats have no answer to the policy dilemmas of our day. And that Newsweek cover story hatchet job on Rush was a total disgrace! After two years of intense debate about whether the American media is biased toward liberals, for Newsweek to produce such a pathetically underreported piece of crap is mind-boggling. Rumor has it that Newsweek stringers had gathered more positive comments about Rush's career that were junked by the top editors.

    Of course the newsmagazines never honestly covered Rush Limbaugh as a major force in American media and politics since the early '90s, but Newsweek finally put him on the cover for his drug scandal. That's fine -- it's breaking news -- but then shouldn't they have interviewed some longtime Rush fans who know the show? But who do they call? Maureen Dowd -- that catty, third-rate, wannabe sorority queen. She's such an empty vessel. One pleasure of reading the New York Times online is that I never have to see anything written by Maureen Dowd! I ignore her hypertext like spam for penis extenders.

    The nerve of Newsweek to be portraying Rush as a "schlub" -- as if that wouldn't describe half the big enchiladas in Hollywood! In 1992, at the glittering 25th anniversary black-tie party for "60 Minutes" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I dined at a small table with Rush Limbaugh. He was a jovial, witty, commanding figure who offered me a cigar. The distorted portrait of him in Newsweek was vile and meretricious.

    Who is poised to take his place? Can anyone -- on the right or left?

    O'Reilly is a crass sliver of Limbaugh. He doesn't have Limbaugh's homespun Midwestern common sense or his broad sense of the nation. But O'Reilly and Hannity are thorns in liberals' side, so there's all this talk right now about getting liberal voices on the radio to counteract them. Well, Al Franken isn't it, let me tell you right now -- or Michael Moore either. Look at them! They're like big, drooling babies -- is this the face of the Democratic Party? Big, squalling babies -- "wah wah wah!"

    Liberals are the most Hollywood and media saturated -- the ones most open to popular culture. So why is it that no liberal show seems to thrive on AM radio? My analysis is that liberal humor somehow switched gears and ran off the tracks. The scathing Lenny Bruce was a tremendous influence on me and everyone in the '60s. His humor had an aggressive, ethnic edge and rhythmic style -- it was like jazz and rap, and it was made for radio. But bourgeois liberals lost continuity with that raucous, vulgar voice.

    The great switch -- and I'm not sure how it happened -- was into juvenile, white-boy David Letterman style, smirky, cynical, callow, smarmy and jejune. I wonder how many black fans Letterman has. I can't stand him and never watch him. But those late-night shows became a vehicle for politicians -- the Democrats started it, and conservatives have followed. And that media marriage between liberal figures and the smirky Letterman style has perverted the entire process. The authentic voice of talk radio is raw, rude and hot, hot, hot! -- not that cool Letterman style (to use Marshall McLuhan's media terminology).

    There's only one successful liberal voice on AM radio that I've ever heard, and that's Ron Kuby on New York's WABC. He's a leftist lawyer who shares a show with the conservative, obnoxious Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels. Kuby is whip-smart, funny and empathic. He shows that it is possible to get a strong liberal voice on the air. But it's got to be somebody with a quick-to-the-draw, damn-the- torpedoes rap. You can't have an unctuous, pompous Cuomo voice or a simpering, precious Al Gore voice. And the whiny Al Franken may draw comedy fans, but as a political analyst, he's the joke.

    So, then who?

    Hannity is a massive, coast-to-coast phenomenon. He's gobbling up more and more station programming and in the long run is going to be more successful than O'Reilly. On his recent book tour, Hannity drew huge, enthusiastic crowds all over the country. He boasts disturbingly on his show about "the Hannitization of America" and refers to himself with the royal "we." He feigns modesty but is embarrassingly drunk on his cult of self. I've concluded that O'Reilly and Hannity have had huge success because of their Irish gift of gab -- a nonstop river of words where meaning sometimes becomes completely unmoored. I cannot stand Hannity. But I listen to him, because he gives good radio! He also reveres Rush and has clearly learned from him.

    But it's distressing to me as a teacher to listen to Hannity. Even though he went to college, his world is amazingly simple -- as if he learned the absolute truths of the universe from Catholic catechism. He seems to be blissfully unaware of his automatic and sometimes servile deference to male authority. Of course he's emotionally pro-Bush and pro-war in Iraq: the Bush administration has made no mistakes and never stretched a fact. Anyone who questions Bush is a traitor who is undermining our troops. Liberals hate America. And America is always right, especially when it selflessly brings the joys of freedom to the down-trodden serfs of the world. Hannity seems to have had absolutely no experience of any country or people beyond our borders. For him, America is a blessed, sunny islet in a dark sea of oppression and ignorance. It's frightening because Hannity has such mental and verbal energy. What we're hearing from him, I'm afraid, is the future of America. His view is persuasive because it's so simple: The world has become too complex for people to take in.

    When I listen to Hannity, which I do a lot, I feel like I'm being swept back to the rigid, conformist 1950s of my youth. In my lifetime I've seen two moments when I felt we were moving toward an expanded perspective on life, a more flexible attitude toward issues -- authentic free thought, without this horrible, irreconcilable polarization between left and right. The first moment was the 1960s, when thanks to pioneers like Lenny Bruce and Bob Dylan, you could say anything and be anything. You could be eccentric and opinionated on the left, but it was all shut down into the dogmatic, politically correct era that reached its height in the 1980s. The second liberating moment was the early 1990s, when Bill Clinton emerged as a moderate Southern Democrat. There were independent voices all over the political spectrum -- Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and Madonna, who was at her zenith. And then it all shut down again. I blame it on Clinton, who should have resigned when the Monica Lewinsky affair broke. He would have spared the nation tremendous trauma, and his successor, Al Gore, could have been more attentive to the looming threat of terrorism. Instead Clinton clung to power, and it re-polarized the country. Let's not leave out the moronic stunts of the far right, who thought they had nailed Clinton and put all that porn on the Internet.

    As a culture critic and intellectual, I am in despair about the immediate future of American thought. The window has closed, and we are in Sean Hannity's America, where everything is so elementary and so crystal clear.

    On to another, possibly declining, important cultural figure: Madonna.

    Speak of schizophrenia! Within two weeks, Madonna can appear on the MTV Video Music Awards dressed in black leather as Vampira, Queen of the Night, and in her persona of polygamous dominatrix smooch Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the lips, then suddenly turn up in a matronly flowered dress in London kicking off her new children's book, pushing Kaballah as the future of mankind, and saying oh, pooh, it was just an innocent kiss between friends. [Sighs.] What can I say? Madonna remains a major star -- actually much bigger around the world now than she is in America. She got overexposed and lost ground in the U.S., then gravitated toward London and ended up marrying an Englishman. Because there are few real stars in the U.K., she created a big platform for herself there.

    But I do feel there's something wrong with that kiss. Great stars have to learn to age gracefully. I loved it when Stevie Nicks -- who's a true artist -- zinged Madonna for "kissing girls half her age." She was right. Madonna was trying not only to compete with these figures she spawned but to overshadow and upstage them and suck them dry. It was very unfair to Britney Spears, even though she looked spectacular in white lace -- as nubile as a real bride. Jennifer Lopez was smarter and opted out.

    It's crucial for the great stars to find a persona that allows them to mature with their fan base. Look at Cher! Just when Madonna's latest film and album were flopping, there's Cher on the charts for a year with her song collection. Cher has a natural warmth and rapport with the audience. But Madonna feels like she has to pound everyone into the ground like a steam hammer.

    And that children's book! When I found out what the plot was, I was absolutely shocked -- and I'm rarely shocked, particularly by anything that Madonna does! But for someone who has been so concerned about shielding her child from the limelight to make Lourdes' problems with her London classmates the subject of a book -- and then to blame it on the other girls' "jealousy" because her daughter is so pretty -- and then to arrange a mega-wattage book launch with editions simultaneously released all over the world! Well, I haven't seen anything so gross since Al Gore used his son's near-fatal accident as a metaphor for America in the gutter in his speech at the Democratic convention. Anyone who exploits their children in this way is exposing a blindness to basic ethics. In the guise of helping, Madonna has crushed her daughter with her own ego -- hardly a way to help young people adapt to life's problems. I've prophesied for years that the cloud on Lourdes' horizon is the ghost of Tina Onassis, who also had too much too soon.

    But these things are irrelevant to Madonna's permanent artistic stature. Her best compositions, like "Into the Groove" -- 20 years old next year -- never lose their freshness. Her videos are in the main line of the best of studio-era Hollywood. I personally feel that the video for "Vogue" is superior to anything produced in the fine arts worldwide in the last decades of the 20th century.

    She's at least taking care of herself -- we're not seeing nervous breakdowns and drug overdoses. Madonna's drug is mania -- these monstrous intrusions into her husband's and children's lives. But all great stars and great artists are monsters. I'll be happily watching her to the end.

    Who has emerged to eclipse her? Where is the next Madonna, the mass-multimedia star?

    I'm afraid that the great era of great stars and great personalities is over. American popular culture, which I thought was in a Renaissance, turns out to have had a natural organic shape to it, and this is its stage of decline. The entertainment industry is massive but fragmented. Video games have absorbed young people's creative energies and diverted them away from the study or practice of the fine arts.

    The Web has also dealt a fatal blow to the culture of stardom because isolated types can now instantly express and exhibit their conflicts and find fellow sufferers around the world through the Web. But e-mail is evanescent. And the blog form is, in my view, the decadence of the Web. I don't see blogs as a new frontier but as a falling backwards into word-centric print journalism -- words, words, words!

    The Drudge Report, on the other hand, is a true product of the Web. It's interesting how Matt Drudge still has no competitors. I used to think, how long can Drudge be king? Surely his rivals will spring up like mushrooms. But no, Drudge remains unique. He shows that the Web can be a medium for stardom, if you know how to use it. Unlike Madonna, he knows how to preserve his mystery.

    But I'm very worried because young people are growing up without major role models in terms of stardom. Madonna was trained as a dancer and had independent ideas about music and performance. Too many young stars are bland Madonna clones without a thought in their heads. Because she was raised in a rigidly moralistic Catholic household, Madonna's use of sex had symbolic meaning -- she was challenging institutional tyranny. Now girls borrow her moves, but there are no ideas behind it. It's all glitz for the eye.

    I like Britney Spears -- I find her very charming and athletic and sexy -- but she's not producing the kind of galvanizing songs that were Madonna's signature. And she also doesn't have Madonna's sophisticated, hypnotic skill for posing for the still camera -- which emblazoned her image into the minds of people who never heard a note of her music. None of these young women has that ability to master and manipulate the world media.

    Why aren't you a fan of blogs?

    Blog reading for me is like going down to the cellar amid shelves and shelves of musty books that you're condemned to turn the pages of. Bad prose, endless reams of bad prose! There's a lack of discipline, a feeling that anything that crosses one's mind is important or interesting to others. People say that the best part about writing a blog is that there's no editing -- it's free speech without institutional control. Well, sure, but writing isn't masturbation -- you've got to self-edit.

    Now and then one sees the claim that Kausfiles was the first blog. I beg to differ: I happen to feel that my Salon column was the first true blog. My columns had punch and on-rushing velocity. They weren't this dreary meta-commentary, where there's a blizzard of fussy, detached sections nattering on obscurely about other bloggers or media moguls and Washington bureaucrats. I took hits at media excesses, but I directly commented on major issues and personalities in politics and pop culture.

    If bloggers want to break out of their ghetto, they've got to acquire a sense of drama and theater as well as a flair for language. Why else should anyone read them? And the Web in my view is a visual medium -- I don't log on to be trapped on a muddy page crammed with indigestible prose.

    Do you also think that anyone is interesting enough to have something worthwhile to say, sometimes several times a day, on a blog?

    Sure, if there's a powerful sensibility behind it. But every writer must work on his or her prose to find a voice. No major figure has emerged yet from the blogs -- Andrew Sullivan was already an established writer before he started his. A blog should sound conversational and be an antidote to the inept writing in most of today's glossy magazines.

    As a writer, I'm inspired not just by other writing but by music and art and lines from movies. I think that's what's missing from a lot of blogs. Most bloggers aren't culture critics but political or media junkies preoccupied with pedestrian minutiae and a sophomoric "gotcha" mentality. I find it depressing and claustrophobic. The Web is a wide open space -- voices on it should have energy and vision.

  • "Equal Opportunity For Death"

    Young enlistees have highest death rate in Iraq

    Scripps Howard News Service
    October 28, 2003

    - When Army Pvt. Joseph Guerrera, 20, died on patrol after a bomb hit his vehicle in Baghdad Sunday, he exemplified the profile of America's war dead in Iraq.

    In a pattern as old as war itself, it is the young U.S. enlistees like Guerrera, a paratrooper and former church choir member from Dunn, N. C., who are doing most of the dying in the ongoing war in Iraq.

    More 20-year-old soldiers have died - 40 - than those of any other age represented in the ranks, according to a Scripps Howard News Service computer analysis of the war dead.

    And troops 21 and under account for nearly one-third of the 353 troops identified by the Pentagon who have perished in combat or by accidents, disease and suicide since the war began seven months ago.

    Raise the cutoff age to 25, and young soldiers make up more than half of the war dead.

    Similarly, it is the enlisted troops who are suffering the highest casualties, according to the Scripps database.

    Commissioned officers such as Army Lt. Col. Charles Buehring, who was killed Sunday in an enemy rocket assault on a Baghdad hotel, have accounted for just 11 percent of the troops who have died in Iraq and surrounding areas since the war began March 19. They also were about twice as likely to die during the major combat of the war in March and April than in the six following months.

    Non-commissioned officers such as sergeants have made up 34 percent of the fallen U.S. fighting force, while privates such as Guerrera, specialists and other grunts comprise 55 percent of the toll.

    That breakdown is more top-heavy than has been typically seen in past conflicts, where non-officers - who commonly make up 85 percent of the force - died in numbers more proportional to their number in the ranks.

    David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, says that is because of the nature of the Iraq war, where a mostly urban battlefield dominates, there are no defined front lines, and guerrilla attacks are largely indiscriminate in their choice of victims.

    "I think it is an equal opportunity situation" for death, Segal said.

    But the Scripps analysis, which is based on Pentagon-released data about the war dead, also shows that, as the U.S. occupation of Iraq has progressed, reserve and National Guard troops have become three times more likely to die in enemy attacks.

    Before May 1 - the date President Bush proclaimed the main combat over - only about 9 percent of the battle dead were citizen-soldiers. Since then, reserves and guard troops have accounted for 22 percent of the deaths directly attributable to enemy action.

    The shift mirrors, in part, the metamorphosis of the 130,000-soldier U.S. force in Iraq from a primarily combat operation, in which active-duty troops predominate, to one with a greater peacekeeping focus.

    Even so, it is full-time GIs who are the most by far coming home in caskets. Of the war dead, 293 have been active-duty troops, while 59 have been reserve or guard soldiers. The affiliation of one casualty could not be determined.

    Similarly, it is Army troops who are bearing the bulk of the toll. Since the war began, 258 Army soldiers have died, compared with 82 Marines, seven Navy sailors, and six Air Force airmen.

  • Young enlistees have highest death rate in Iraq

  • "Being In The Neighborhood" Is A Crime

    I was pulled over by a police officer last night for "being in the neighborhood." After identification verification, the suspects were released.

    Earlier that same night, my car was broken into.

    Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address

    Thomas Jefferson gave his first inaugural address in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 4, 1801. Jefferson is a man among the very best this land has ever produced. And yet, he too, was flawed. Gary North recently highlighted the break in US foreign policy that occurred during Jefferson's tenure.

    Pay particularly close attention to this passage on man's circumstances:

    "[E]ntertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? "

    Not one thing, Fellow-Citizens. A government shall no longer restrain men, but shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned!

    Chief Justice John Marshall administered the first executive oath of office ever taken in the new federal city in the new Senate Chamber (now the Old Supreme Court Chamber) of the partially built Capitol building. The outcome of the election of 1800 had been in doubt until late February because Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the two leading candidates, each had received 73 electoral votes. Consequently, the House of Representatives met in a special session to resolve the impasse, pursuant to the terms spelled out in the Constitution. After 30 hours of debate and balloting, Mr. Jefferson emerged as the President and Mr. Burr the Vice President. President John Adams, who had run unsuccessfully for a second term, left Washington on the day of the inauguration without attending the ceremony.

    Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

    CALLED upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye—when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue, and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.

    During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

    Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

    About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people—a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.

    I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage is a great consolation to me for the past, and my future solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.

    Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.

    Thomas Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address

    Thomas Jefferson gave his second inaugural address on Monday, March 4, 1805. A pivotal transition has been made in US foreign policy since Jefferson took the oath of office for the first time.

    Pay close attention to the following paragraph:

    "I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved had enabled us to extend our limits, but that extension may possibly pay for itself before we are called on, and in the meantime may keep down the accruing interest; in all events, it will replace the advances we shall have made. I know that the acquisition of Louisiana had been disapproved by some from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively? The larger our association the less will it be shaken by local passions; and in any view is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own brethren and children than by strangers of another family? With which should we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse?"

    It might be time to embrace that candid apprehension, disavow the idea of the federative principle operating effectively, and shake loose of our local passions.

    Our brethren, children, and strangers seem to live in harmony and friendly intercourse in spite of USG interference.

    The second inauguration of Mr. Jefferson followed an election under which the offices of President and Vice President were to be separately sought, pursuant to the newly adopted 12th Amendment to the Constitution. George Clinton of New York was elected Vice President. Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol.

    PROCEEDING, fellow-citizens, to that qualification which the Constitution requires before my entrance on the charge again conferred on me, it is my duty to express the deep sense I entertain of this new proof of confidence from my fellow-citizens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires me so to conduct myself as may best satisfy their just expectations.

    On taking this station on a former occasion I declared the principles on which I believed it my duty to administer the affairs of our Commonwealth. My conscience tells me I have on every occasion acted up to that declaration according to its obvious import and to the understanding of every candid mind.

    In the transaction of your foreign affairs we have endeavored to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and especially of those with which we have the most important relations. We have done them justice on all occasions, favored where favor was lawful, and cherished mutual interests and intercourse on fair and equal terms. We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others.

    At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These, covering our land with officers and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which once entered is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of property and produce. If among these taxes some minor ones fell which had not been inconvenient, it was because their amount would not have paid the officers who collected them, and because, if they had any merit, the State authorities might adopt them instead of others less approved.

    The remaining revenue on the consumption of foreign articles is paid chiefly by those who can afford to add foreign luxuries to domestic comforts, being collected on our seaboard and frontiers only, and incorporated with the transactions of our mercantile citizens, it may be the pleasure and the pride of an American to ask, What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a taxgatherer of the United States? These contributions enable us to support the current expenses of the Government, to fulfill contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish the native right of soil within our limits, to extend those limits, and to apply such a surplus to our public debts as places at a short day their final redemption, and that redemption once effected the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just repartition of it among the States and a corresponding amendment of the Constitution, be applied in time of peace to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great objects within each State. In time of war, if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue will be by increased population and consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expenses of the year without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burthening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful works, and a return to a state of peace, a return to the progress of improvement.

    I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved had enabled us to extend our limits, but that extension may possibly pay for itself before we are called on, and in the meantime may keep down the accruing interest; in all events, it will replace the advances we shall have made. I know that the acquisition of Louisiana had been disapproved by some from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively? The larger our association the less will it be shaken by local passions; and in any view is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own brethren and children than by strangers of another family? With which should we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse?

    In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or state authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

    The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population from other regions directed itself on these shores; without power to divert or habits to contend against it, they have been overwhelmed by the current or driven before it; now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter's state, humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts; to encourage them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence and to prepare them in time for that state of society which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry and household use; we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity, and they are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among ourselves.

    But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of circumstances have powerful obstacles to encounter; they are combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudices of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty individuals among them who feel themselves something in the present order of things and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, among them also is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and of bigotry; they too have their antiphilosophists who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of improving our reason and obeying its mandates.

    In giving these outlines I do not mean, fellow-citizens, to arrogate to myself the merit of the measures. That is due, in the first place, to the reflecting character of our citizens at large, who, by the weight of public opinion, influence and strengthen the public measures. It is due to the sound discretion with which they select from among themselves those to whom they confide the legislative duties. It is due to the zeal and wisdom of the characters thus selected, who lay the foundations of public happiness in wholesome laws, the execution of which alone remains for others, and it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries, whose patriotism has associated them with me in the executive functions.

    During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety. They might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved to and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation, but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation.

    Nor was it uninteresting to the world that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth—whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation. The experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow-citizens looked on, cool and collected; they saw the latent source from which these outrages proceeded; they gathered around their public functionaries, and when the Constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict, honorable to those who had served them and consolatory to the friend of man who believes that he may be trusted with the control of his own affairs.

    No inference is here intended that the laws provided by the States against false and defamatory publications should not be enforced; he who has time renders a service to public morals and public tranquillity in reforming these abuses by the salutary coercions of the law; but the experiment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions in league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct false reasoning and opinions on a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opinion.

    Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so generally as auguring harmony and happiness to our future course, I offer to our country sincere congratulations. With those, too, not yet rallied to the same point the disposition to do so is gaining strength; facts are piercing through the veil drawn over them, and our doubting brethren will at length see that the mass of their fellow-citizens with whom they can not yet resolve to act as to principles and measures, think as they think and desire what they desire; that our wish as well as theirs is that the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public good, that peace be cultivated, civil and religious liberty unassailed, law and order preserved, equality of rights maintained, and that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of his father's. When satisfied of these views it is not in human nature that they should not approve and support them. In the meantime let us cherish them with patient affection, let us do them justice, and more than justice, in all competitions of interest; and we need not doubt that truth, reason, and their own interests will at length prevail, will gather them into the fold of their country, and will complete that entire union of opinion which gives to a nation the blessing of harmony and the benefit of all its strength.

    I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow-citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice, but the weaknesses of human nature and the limits of my own understanding will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence which I have heretofore experienced from my constituents; the want of it will certainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.