Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Philadelphia, 240 Years Later

On the occasion of Independence Day ("Fourth of July" is a calendar date while "Independence Day" is the name of the occasion; even the British have a Fourth of July) my wife and I got together with some other U.S. expatriates in my town last evening.  Not like the Independene Days of the past.  We all sensed that there was a damper on things, caused by the policies of the Obama presidency.  And while it would not be fair to say that everyone at the gathering is a Trump supporter (few of us were unabashed in backing him), it would be an accurate statement to say that none of the attendees at the gathering expect a Hillary Clinton presidency to fix things significantly.  It all boils down to a "who would be the least worst" thing.

Anyway, the discussion got to the Democratic convention coming up in Philadelphia, a city with which I have more than a little amount of familiarity.  (My mom had an aunt there, and I still have cousins who live in the city and its suburbs. Business from my Long Island law practice took me there on a number of occasions.  A former business partner of mine is now there, too.  And my wife did her undergraduate studies in Philadelphia.).

The question now is whether there will be unrest of the type seen at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.  I believe that there may well be.  Disorder has already been threatened, whether puerile or serious (i.e., the not-so-veiled threats of violence from the Sanders crowd that already was unruly in Nevada)

There will be demonstrations.  The question now remaining is how violent they will be allowed to become.

P.S.  The transit system in Philadelphia is now impaired for the summer with the removal of a significant portion of the railcar fleet on account of technical problems.

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Civis Romanus Sum

Seems that Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the Israeli girl killed by a terrorist as she slept in her bed, was an American citizen.  From the State Department, we get the usual mawkish half-hearted condolences.  President Jimmy Carter set the tone back in 1979, when some Iranian terrorists took the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran hostage and Carter allowed the situation to continue, literally until the last day of his term in office.

Once upon a time, there was an international perception that America would protect its citizens abroad.  In 1904, President Teddy Roosevelt had the State Department send the famous "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead" telegram to secure the release of Ion Perdicaris, an American (or, as it turned out, a former American) held hostage in Tangier.  [Never mind that Raisuli's political demands were met; at least Roosevelt sent in the Marines.].

Genghis Khan had no patience for those who harassed his subjects.  And in 1850, the Don Pacifico affair boosted the political career of Henry John Temple, the Viscount Palmerston, who would become British Prime Minister five years later.  As Palmerston noted in his speech to Parliament, in the days of the Roman Empire a Roman citizen's declaration of his status as such ("Civis Romanus sum") would bring various privileges and protections not only from the Roman governmental authorities, but from the governments of other nations as well.

This questionable ability and resolve of the State Department (which, you will recall, utterly failed to protect its own Ambassador in Benghazi) is not sitting well with the American expatriate community here.

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