the lead of Basil Fawlty, I shall be doing my best
to not mention the w**. There are a number of reasons
for taking this path. One is, that the high-toned
mongers – and I have shortened the word so as to leave
out an offending syllable – have once again issued
their Directive on Good Manners and W**time Punctilio.
According to the ***mongers, it is very, very bad
form to keep on debating these matters, once the bombs
have begun falling.
one must fall in line and shout agreement with this
incontestable principle, even if there are some problems
built into it.
example, how are we to know when the Thing that we
are not discussing has officially come about? Falling
bombs cannot supply a proper boundary, in this case,
since the bombs have been falling, off and on, for
eleven years. In a sense, the Thing we can't mention
has been going on since 1991. Does this mean we shouldn't
have been mentioning it for twelve years?
not, as we have been "allowed" to discuss
it up until last week. Apparently, bombs or no bombs,
the Thing has begun once the President says
it has. From that moment on, we must All Shut Up until
such time as the President says it is over.
when will that be? What if he never says it
is "over"? This would be a dandy way to
suspend the Constitution, but never mind.
official doctrine of the self-appointed patriots is
that if US forces are sent on a fool's errand, the
fools who sent them must be immune from criticism
until such time as the same fools announce the ending
of the errand. For all I know this is the very essence
of political truth, but I have never seen anyone cite
a convincing constitutional text for it. Instead,
hands are sometimes waved in the general direction
of a vague and unseen Thing called "the war power";
hoary old references to the statutes of Henry VIII
and Cecil II the Fat come forward to fill in the gaps.
we are said to have a First Amendment, and that says,
rather unequivocally, "Congress shall make no
law… abridging the freedom of speech…." (I have
left some bits that are not to the point.) Good Heavens!
We can't take that literally, can we? If we did, who
would suppress speech during a w**?
suppose the several states could, depending on whether
or not they have bills of rights, but how inconvenient
it would be, should the entire glorious federal government
stand powerless to suppress speech during a w**.
the lawyers went to work on this very early, explaining
how this could not possibly mean what it seemed to
mean, and how "Congress shall make no law"
respecting X, Y, and Z, actually meant that Congress
could make a law respecting the same, provided
we take into account wagonloads of allegedly applicable
English precedent (e.g., Henry V, Statute for the
Suppression of Animal Food Trough Whoppers). Perhaps
the Straussian lawyers can explain this to us, since
this is arguably the First Straussian War in that
ever-popular series, the Wars of Soviet Succession.
there really is an unfathomably Big Thing called "the
war power." Perhaps the hoary old English precedents
do apply. Might be. Who knows?
course this renders the entire theory of our Constitution
completely idle, but that is another matter.
the meantime, you must not mention, question, or debate
the Thing we are not mentioning, until such time as
permission is granted by the Proper Authorities, including
but not limited to National Review, 33rd
Degree Straussian Adepts, and the President, in no