Saturday, November 25, 2023

Musings on Entering a New Era of A.I. Without Understanding its Potential Dangers

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., November 25, 2023

I don’t pretend to understand the potential for Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)--for good or bad.  I have only heard its plaudits and dangers, and for me, the dangers seem to outweigh the potential good.  In time we’ll find out, since A.I. has been embraced by the capitalism that has shaped our culture.  A.I. will likely redefine our capitalism and our culture, but we don’t yet know how.

Will A.I. undermine the essence of ethics and morality by eliminating their human restraints, or will A.I. open the door to creativity and a new era of prosperity?  It seems we are already past limiting it, leaving any restraints on A.I. to the marketplace.  That scares me.  I understand that capitalism is ingrained in our democracy, but our freedom requires restraints.

Is it really possible for A.I. to defy control by its human creators?  It sounds like science fiction, but it has become a very real fear of many, including me--a retired lawyer and pastor.  I worry that it could enable the Ayn Rand faithful who run Wall Street to ignore the altruistic moral standards that have kept American capitalism in check.

A.I. is relevant (and perhaps critical) to the effectiveness of traditional religious and secular moral standards of legitimacy as they relate to politics and the economy.  Human control over its creations is the issue, and the jury remains out.  Imagine a world in which major decisions are made by automatons rather than humans.


Evan Klein has concluded, “I don’t mean to be too pessimistic; but if the capabilities of these [A.I.] systems continue to rise exponentially, as many inside the industry believe they will, then nothing I’ve seen in recent weeks makes me think we’ll be able to shut the systems down if they begin to slip out of our control. There is no off switch.”

The fundamental risk in A.I. is in giving free market capitalism control over moral decisions that have traditionally been made by humans.  Religion, law, moral standards and politics have long provided assistance for human control of its destiny.  As Klein points out, if A.I. can override human controls, there is no “off switch”.

The danger of a new era of A.I. is that we may have already begun a journey into unknown territory with no opportunity to turn back.  Since the  beginning of history, humans have controlled all their mechanical instruments.  If humans ever forfeit that control of their creations, concepts of religion, law, moral standards of legitimacy, and politics must be redefined.

The potential dangers of A.I. involve matters of religion, philosophy and politics; and I oppose the idea that capitalism, with greed as its primary motivation, should be the primary means to resolve the complex issues of A.I.  All religions and civic organizations in America should contribute to a national discussion of the potential dangers of A.I.



Ezra Klwin has opined: “Science fiction writers and artificial intelligence researchers have long feared the machine you can’t turn off.  As a powerful A.I. is developed. Its designers are thrilled, then unsettled, then terrified. They go to pull the plug, only to learn the A.I. has copied its code elsewhere, perhaps everywhere.  At the heart of OpenAI is — or perhaps was — a mission. A.I. was too powerful a technology to be controlled by profit-seeking corporations or power-seeking states. It needed to be developed by an organization, as Open AI’s charter puts it, “acting in the best interests of humanity.” OpenAI was built to be that organization. It began life as a nonprofit. When it became clear that developing A.I. would require tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, it rebuilt itself around a dual structure, where the nonprofit — controlled by a board chosen for its commitment to OpenAI’s founding mission — would govern the for-profit, which would raise the money and commercialize the A.I. applications necessary to finance the mission.“It would be wise to view any investment in OpenAI Global LLC in the spirit of a donation,” it warned. The company then went out and raised tens of billions of dollars from people who did not see their investments as donations. That certainly describes Microsoft, which invested more than $13 billion in OpenAI, owns 49 percent of the for-profit, put OpenAI’s technologies at the center of its product road map and has never described its strategy as philanthropic.

Ensuring that A.I. serves humanity was always a job too important to be left to corporations, no matter their internal structures. That’s the job of governments, at least in theory. On Oct. 30, the Biden administration released a major executive order “On the Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.”  Broadly speaking I’d describe this as an effort not to regulate A.I. but to lay out the infrastructure, definitions and concerns that will eventually be used to regulate A.I.  For now, the order mostly calls for reports and analyses and consultations. But all of that is necessary to eventually build a working regulatory structure. Even so, this quite cautious early initiative met outrage among many in the Silicon Valley venture-capital class who accused the government of, among other things, attempting to “ban math,” a reference to the enhanced scrutiny of more complex systems. Two weeks later, Britain announced that it would not regulate A.I. at all in the short term, preferring instead to maintain a “pro-innovation approach.” The European Union’s proposed regulations may stall on concerns from France, Germany and Italy, all of whom worry that the scrutiny of more powerful systems will simply mean those systems are developed elsewhere.

I don’t mean to be too pessimistic. If A.I. develops as most technologies develop — in an incremental fashion, so regulators and companies and legal systems can keep up (or at least catch up) — then we’re on a good track. But if the capabilities of these systems continue to rise exponentially, as many inside the industry believe they will, then nothing I’ve seen in recent weeks makes me think we’ll be able to shut the systems down if they begin to slip out of our control. There is no off switch.” See The Unsettling Lesson of the OpenAI Mess at

David  Books has opined, “The people in A.I. seem to be experiencing radically different brain states all at once. I’ve found it incredibly hard to write about A.I. because it is literally unknowable whether this technology is leading us to heaven or hell, and so my attitude about it shifts with my mood.  

A.I. is a field that has brilliant people painting wildly diverging but also persuasive portraits of where this is going. Organizational culture is not easily built but is easy to destroy. The literal safety of the world is wrapped up in the question: Will a newly unleashed Altman preserve the fruitful contradiction, or will he succumb to the pressures of go-go-go?” See


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Hate and Violence in the Holy Land

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., November 18, 2023  

Over 3,000 years ago Joshua’s Hebrew army annihilated the people of Jericho pursuant to the ban of Deuteronomy 20:16-18.  The massacre depicted in Joshua 6 illustrated the power of hate and violence in the Holy Land, and was a precedent for genocide in the name of God.  Today Israel remains the epicenter of religious hate and violence in the Abrahamic religions.

Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who appeared in Israel 1500 years after Joshua.  While Jesus and Joshua are Semitic variations of the same name, Jesus was a man of reconciliation and peace, while Joshua was a man of war; but the Church ignored the teachings of Jesus with Crusades from 1096 to 1204, and with Inquisitions from the 12th century to the 19th century.       

The latest explosion of religious hate and violence came on October 7, 2023, when Hamas terrorists emerged from their tunnels under Gaza and caught Israelis by surprise, killing  over 1100 Jews.  Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to exterminate Hamas as “payback” for its terrorist attack, and President Biden pledged America’s unconditional support for Israel.

The Israeli-Hamas holy war rages on, with the carnage of thousands of women and children.  Where is God in this holy war?  In the cosmic conflict between the forces of good and evil, God’s will is to reconcile and redeem humanity, while Satan’s purpose is to  divide and conquer; but Satan has done a convincing imitation of God in the church and politics.

The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions--and even our enemies. as we love ourselves.  In the Beatitudes Jesus taught that peacemakers were blessed as children of God, but history doesn’t reflect that peacemakers are blessed--at least not in this world.

History indicates that religion has been more a source than a solution for hate and violence in the world, and that it’s more likely to arise in the Holy Land than elsewhere.  While the doctrines of Just War and the Law of War have theological origins, they don’t have much practical value in stopping a war; and when a war is over, the winner makes the rules.

Religion serves many useful purposes, but preventing and stopping wars is not one of them.  That’s why the mission of America’s military must be prepared for war to preserve peace.  That’s the motto of the Army War College.  Churchill noted that war is a terrible thing, but that there are worse things than war.  Hate and violence in the Holy Land is evidence of that.

The teachings of Jesus on love and reconciliation don’t need Christianity to validate them, but the church has subordinated the teachings of Jesus to exclusivist beliefs that Jesus never taught.  The church must reinvent itself and give primacy to the universal and altruistic teachings of Jesus on God’s reconciling love over Satan’s divisive power of hate and violence.


Saturday, November 11, 2023

Musings on the Failure of the Law of War to Protect Civilians in Wartime

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., November 11, 2023

After the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, President Biden rushed to commit U.S. aid to support Israel’s “payback” to Hamas.  Biden sent Secretary of State Blinkin to promote a “pause” in Israeli strikes in Gaza to allow civilians to escape the worst violence in north Gaza and for humanitarian aid, but there was no agreement on pauses until November 9.

Biden was right to assure Netanyahu that the U.S. was committed to defend Israel, but wrong to give him a blank check for a Zionist strategy of ”payback.”  Netanyahu has used the precedent of Joshua at Jericho for his strategy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza; but  instead of opposing Netanyahu’s strategy, Biden assured Netanyahu that he was also a Zionist.

How do Americans feel about Biden’s ambivalent actions?  A current poll shows Biden trailing Trump in key states.  Most Americans likely see a similarity between Trump and Netanyahu, and a weakness in Biden failing to oppose Netanyahu’s “eye for an eye” response to the Hamas terrorist attack.  Biden’s actions have raised doubts about his competency.

Biden has said that America will promote humanitarian aid in Gaza, but is not  consistent with military aid to Israel’s IDF that’s killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza.  The first obligation of humanitarian aid in wartime is to end unnecessary suffering among civilians.  By providing aid to IDF combat operations, the U.S. is exacerbating civilian suffering in Gaza.

Biden and Congress need to clarify America’s conflicting objectives in the Israeli-Hamas war--or get out of it.  Unless Congress mandates U.S. involvement in Gaza, America should leave that holy war to religious extremists.  The fact that America has supported Israel in past offensive operations against Islamist extremists should not set a precedent for the future.

Wars are most often the domain of Satan; but there are times when the evils of demagogues like Hitler and Putin must be countered.  America should support Ukraine in its war of national survival against Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.  There is a clear distinction between the existential defense of Ukraine and Israel’s payback to Hamas. 

The protection of civilians against the ravages of war is a critical component of the Law of War, and was first applied in the American Civil War.  In 1863 America adopted the Lieber Code as America’s first Law of War, but it was ignored by Union General William Tecumsh Sherman in his infamous march to the sea and the burning of Columbia, S.C. (see notes below).

In WWII America failed to obey the Law of War with the fire bombing of civilian targets in Tokyo and Dresden, and with the infamous nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  More recently Russia has egregiously attacked civilian targets in Ukraine; and Israel is now attacking civilian targets in Gaza.  America pioneered the need to protect civilians in wartime in the Lieber Code, but has since been complicit in failing to enforce those protections. 


Notes from chapter 1 of Military Legitimacy: Might and Right in the New Millennium, Frank Cass, 1996, By Rudolph C. Barnes, Jr. (Barnes is a retired Army JAGC officer from Columbia, SC who served two terms on city council, and taught the Law of War on active duty). 

At the height of the American Civil War in 1863 the U.S. adopted the Lieber Code as General Order No. 100. It was a landmark statement of military legitimacy and civil-military relations that confirmed a principle at the heart of the law of war: those who do not make war should be protected from its harm.18 The Code was written by Francis Lieber, who emigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1827 after being imprisoned by Prussian police on suspicion of being a revolutionary. He settled in the deep South, assuming a professorship at South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in Columbia, South Carolina. Lieber left the city of Columbia for Columbia University in the 1850s, during a time of political intolerance when southern "fire-eaters" effectively purged many intellectuals who did not embrace their views, including the need to maintain the "peculiar institution" of slavery. Professor Lieber could not have known that his adopted city, Columbia, would be destroyed by the Union Army in 1865 in violation of his Code. The provisions of the Lieber Code then governed military operations as U.S. law, and would become international law when incorporated in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and the Geneva Conventions of 1945. During the War Between the States there were violations of the Lieber Code on both sides; but with the exception of partisans who were beyond the control of regular commanders, violations were rarely egregious and were usually denounced by senior commanders.

On the Confederate side, General Robert E. Lee was not subject to the Lieber Code, but exemplified its ideals of chivalry when he moved his army into Maryland and Pennsylvania. The citizens of these states remarked at the perfect discipline of Lee's rag-tag rebels as they marched by their homes. This was the result of instructions given by Lee to his men that reflected his moral conviction that civilians should be spared the ravages of war:

"I cannot hope that heaven will prosper our cause when we are violating its laws. I shall therefore carry on the war in Pennsylvania without offending the sanctions of a high civilization and Christianity."19

Lee treated civilian property with respect. Rather than have his men live off the land, Lee instructed his commissary officers to make formal requisitions when supplies were needed. Lee made a distinction between combatants and noncombatants when he exhorted his troops " abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property. It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men."20

The respect accorded enemy civilians by Lee was in stark contrast to the scorched earth strategy of Union General William Temcumseh Sherman, who had been given the mission of destroying Confederate forces in the deep south while Grant hammered Lee in northern Virginia. General Sherman did not share the philosophy of Lee, nor did his tactics reflect even a hint of chivalry. In fact, while Sherman gave lip service to the Lieber Code, his troops consistently violated its provisions.

Sherman was an advocate of total war, having declared his philosophy as early as October 1862. Total war was based on collective responsibility, which allowed for little real distinction between combatants and noncombatants. Sherman believed the Union must "make the war so terrible" for all rebellious Southerners that they would never again revolt. To accomplish this, the

Southerners must "be made to fear us, and dread the passage of our troops through their country."21

General Sherman's views may have been influenced by Prince Edward's raid into France in 1355; harrying and wasting the South was Sherman's stated objective. After burning Atlanta to the ground, it did not take long for Sherman's men to get the hang of plunder and pillage. By the time they reached Savannah they had destroyed vast areas of the Georgia heartland. But it was just a preview of what awaited the Carolinas.

In January 1865, Sherman's 60,000 veteran troops, moved out of Savannah, made a feint toward Charleston and Augusta, and then moved toward Orangeburg and Columbia. Sherman left no doubt that he intended to punish South Carolinians, as they were the first state to secede, and make a special example of Columbia since the act of secession had taken place there.22 In Savannah Sherman had promised vengeance for the Union in South Carolina:

"I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt we shall spare the public buildings there as we did in Milledgeville." He also acknowledged the hatred among his men for the Palmetto State: "The truth is the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her."23

Along the way to Columbia, Sherman's men demonstrated their talent for plunder, pillage and wanton destruction. In Hardeeville, a church was destroyed piece by piece, with soldiers heckling local residents as the church collapsed.24 "Bummers" were the primary vandals: they were soldiers who did their own thing, but were seldom disciplined for their indiscretions. They were especially fond of destroying pianos with their hatchets, competing to see who could make the most noise, breaking dishes, and dressing up in the finest women's clothes.25

Sherman's army arrived on the banks of the Congaree River opposite Columbia on February 16, 1865, and the next day the Mayor of Columbia, T.J. Goodwyn, surrendered the defenseless city to Sherman. The general and his staff spent the afternoon with notables, but the troops had their own priorities. They arrived singing "Hail Columbia, happy land; if I don't burn you, I'll be damned."26

The city was awash with liquor, and friendly house slaves were passing it out to the feisty troops as they began their looting sprees. Soon things were out of control, whether by design or accident, and by evening drunken soldiers were torching everything that would burn.

There was no doubt that the fires were intentionally set by Union troops. Some hurried from block to block carrying wads of turpentine-soaked cotton, while others interfered with firefighting efforts. The only issue was whether Sherman authorized the destruction or not, and this he vehemently denied. He initially blamed the mayor for the free-flowing liquor, citing the impossibility of controlling his drunken soldiers; but he later blamed General Wade Hampton, a popular native son whose cavalry had been the last Confederate troops to leave Columbia.27

By morning, 84 of the 124 blocks of Columbia had been burned. Included in destruction were churches, an Ursuline convent, all public buildings except the unfinished statehouse, as well as most of the city's private residences, of rich and poor alike. Sherman's reaction, other than disclaiming responsibility, was the rationale of collective responsibility:

"Though I never ordered it, and never wished it, I have never shed any tears over it, because I believe it hastened what we all fought for--the end of the war."28

The Union troops did more than burn the city. There were many reported violations of human dignity, if not assaults, upon the women of Columbia. "An extreme practise followed by a few of the soldiers in looking for valuables hidden on a woman's person was to catch her by the throat and feel in her bosom for a watch or pull up her dress in search of a purse hidden in her girdle or petticoat. Those not so brazen did not hesitate to point a pistol at a woman's head to learn the location of the family heirlooms."29 While there were few reported cases of rape against white women, the same was not true for black women. On the morning of February 18, "their unclothed bodies, bearing the marks of detestable sex crimes, were found about the city."30

After February 17, pillage and plunder became more restrained. But the soldiers never showed any repentance for their acts, and "...made no pretense of hiding their loot. Stolen jewelry and coin were very much in evidence on their persons as they strolled the streets boasting of having burned Columbia."31

When Sherman's men finally left Columbia on February 20, they had earned the lasting enmity of the people of Columbia, the South, and even some Yankees. "Whitlaw Reid, the Ohio politician, called the burning of Columbia 'the most monstrous barbarity of the barbarous march.' The people of Columbia, in full agreement with Reid, were also positive that one day the Devil 'with wild sardonic grin, will point exultant to a crime which won the prize from SIN.'"32

The Great War ended at Appomattox later that year. Sherman held to his belief that his punishment of southern civilians contributed to Lee's surrender, although there is little evidence to that effect. To the contrary, Sherman's total war tactics created a hatred for him and the Union that made relations between the North and South difficult for many years. It was a legacy of hate that would take more than a century to heal and would never be forgotten.

End Notes 18-32 to chapter 1 of Military Legitimacy:Might and Right in the New Millennium, By Rudolph C. Barnes, Jr., Frank Cass, 1996. 

18. The Lieber Code defines the limits of military necessity by requiring a distinction be made between combatants as lawful targets and noncombatants, who should be protected from unnecessary suffering. Martin van Creveld has referred to The Lieber Code as "the Union text on international law" and decreed that the rebels would be treated as if engaged in an international conflict. See Creveld, The Transformation of War, supra n 1, a p 41. The following provisions of The Lieber Code were applicable during the War Between the States and remain standards of military legitimacy today: Article 15 describes military necessity as allowing the destruction of "armed enemies, and of other persons whose destruction is incidentally unavoidable in the armed contests of the war."(emphasis in the original) Article 16 goes on to provide that "military necessity does not admit of cruelty."

Article 22 makes the critical distinction between soldier and civilian, "between the private individual belonging to a hostile country and the hostile country itself, with its men in arms. The principle has been more and more acknowledged that the unarmed citizen is to be spared in person, property, and honor as much as the exigencies of war will admit." Article 23 expands on this theme by ensuring that "the inoffensive individual is as little disturbed in his private relations as the commander of the hostile troops can afford to grant in the overruling demands of a vigorous war."

Articles 24 and 25 compare the practice of barbarous armies with that of Europeans and their descendants. "The almost universal rule in remote times was, and continues to be with barbarous armies, that the private individual of the hostile country is destined to suffer every privation of liberty...." In contrast, "In modern regular wars of the Europeans, and their descendants in other portions of the globe, protection of the inoffensive citizen is the rule."

Article 38 prohibits the seizure of private property except for military necessity. Article 42 declares slavery to be against the law of nature, citing Roman law to the effect that "so far as the law of nature is concerned, all men are equal." Article 43 requires that any slave that comes into the hands of U.S. forces be treated as a free person under the shield of the law of nations.

Article 44 prohibits "All wanton violence against persons in the invaded country, destruction of property not commanded by the authorized officer, all robbery, all pillage or sacking, even after taking a place by main force, all rape, wounding, maiming, or killing of such inhabitants, are prohibited under the penalty of death."

Article 155 requires that the distinction between combatants and noncombatants in regular war be applied to a government in rebellion, and that military commanders protect loyal citizens. Disloyal citizens can be made to bear the burden of war, but this does not authorize violations of their rights under previous provisions.

The above provisions are part of the 157 articles of the Lieber Code, General Order N. 100, dated April 24, 1863, published in The Military Laws of the United States, War Department Document No. 64 (Washington, Government printing Office, 1897), pp 779-799. They have been incorporated in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, which is set forth in FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare (July 1956). But there is ambiguity over the treatment of enemy civilians in this Army FM; see discussion in note 20 to chapter 4, infra.

19. Shelby Foote, The Civil War, Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian (Random House, New York, 1986), p 444 (hereinafter The Civil War).

20. Lee also told his men "we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemies..." Idem. The Operational Law Handbook (JA 422), Center for Law and Military Operations and International Law Division, The Judge Advocate General's School, Charlottesvill, VA (1993), cites the following quotes from General Lee and General Sherman as a contrast in command:

"No greater disgrace can befall the army and through it our whole people, than the perpetration of barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenseless. Such proceedings not only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected to them, but are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army, and destructive of the ends of our movement... [T]he duties exacted of us by civilization and Christianity are not less obligatory in the country of the enemy than in our own." (General Lee on marching into Pennsylvania) "I sincerely believe that the whole United States, North and South, would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina, to devastate that state in the manner we have done in Georgia." (General Sherman marching into South Carolina).

21. John G. Barrett, Sherman's March Through the Carolinas (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1956), pp 15, 16 (hereinafter Sherman's March).

22. Ibid, p 38.

23. The Civil War, pp 753, 754.

24. Sherman's March, p 53.

25. Ibid, p 55.

26. Ibid, p 75.

27. Sherman's March, pp 81-90; The Civil War, pp 793-796.

28. Sherman's March, p 91; The Civil War, p 795.

29. Sherman's March, p 85.

30. Idem.

31. Ibid, p 92.

32. Ibid, p 89.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Worries of a Maverick Methodist Over a Democracy that Seems Blind to Reason

By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

The Pandemic helped produce a $33 Trillion national debt.  Rather than reducing that massive debt, President Biden has increased it with promises of $105 Billion in foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.  Reason and common sense should make U.S. solvency a political priority, but economic caution was thrown to the wind in new commitments for aid to Ukraine and Israel.

With Mike Johnson the new leader of the House, America now has a functioning Congress to consider those commitments.  Until the Israeli-Hamas War began, aid to Ukraine to counter Putin’s aggression tested the economic limits of American foreign aid, but now Biden’s announced $105 billion combined aid to Israel and Ukraine threatens the U.S. economy.

America’s massive national debt is paid off with bonds, and interest rates on those  bonds have been steadily rising.  Increasing interest on the national debt will displace critical budgetary expenditures like social security and Medicare; and printing new dollars to pay for increasing expenditures would weaken the value of the dollar.

In 1992, James Carville famously said: In politics “It’s all about the economy, stupid; and that political priority hasn’t changed.   Congress has always debated economic priorities, but Republicans shut down a functioning Congress and left America with its largest national debt since WWII.  Now It’s up to Congress to restore reason to America’s economy.

We become our own worst enemies if we make financial commitments we cannot keep.  America hasn’t faced insolvency since the Great Depression; and if not for the devastation of WWII,  America would not have had the lucrative post-war markets that sustained its economy since then.  America needs to acknowledge its current economic limits before it’s too late.

Israel and Ukraine are both democracies, but they have little moral equivalence.  Israel has the military power to destroy Hamas, while Russia has the power to destroy Ukraine.  Netanyahu’s policies focus on his political power, while Zelensky must appease allies in NATO.  Congress must consider those factors in deciding how much aid should go to each nation.

CNN has described the aid drama “as the latest failure of American governance”. Biden made a mistake giving Netanyahu a blank check after the Hamas terrorist attack, but has since conditioned U.S. aid on “more humanitarian aid and more protections for Palestinian civilians in Gaza--“or else there will be no partners for peace." 

It’s now up to Congress to determine how much aid goes to Israel and Ukraine.  In the past, religious beliefs and conflicting moral standards of political legitimacy have polarized partisan politics; but the mandates of national security and the danger of economic disaster should now cause Congress to put reason over partisan politics and produce a consensus for aid to Ukraine and Israel.  Otherwise, like the Marines, Americans will all go down together.


On the effect of rising interest rates on bonds, see Get ready for more US debt sticker shock as Wall Street sees a bigger wave of Treasurys flooding the bond market at

On Biden drawing a direct link between Putin and Hamas on aid to both Ukraine and Israel, see

While Israel and Ukraine are both democracies facing existential threats, there is little moral equivalence between aid for the two nations.  Congress must separate Biden’s link between aid for both nations and ensure that the total does not threaten the U.S. economy.  See

CNN has described the Israel aid drama as the latest failure of American governance, and contentious partisan debate on aid to Israel “is painting exactly the kind of picture of American dysfunction that adversaries like China and Russia leverage in their attempts to weaken US power.  Biden has already vowed to veto the current House bill in the unlikely event it ever reaches him.  The aid debate is also exposing the huge rift inside the Republican Party over foreign policy between Make America Great Again isolationists and the old school establishment that still advocates robust global leadership through alliances that helped secure global peace since World War II. Johnson’s maneuvering – in loading down the Israel bill with political priorities and separating it from Ukraine funding – has created a rift with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch conservative, but who is closer to Biden than his own party in the House on the issue. ‘Over and over again, history has taught us that the costs of disengaging from the world are far higher than the costs of engaging,’ McConnell said Wednesday.  ‘As foolish as it is to deny the clear link between America’s adversaries and the threats we face, it’s every bit as dangerous to pretend that as a global superpower, our nation could not or should not face each of them down.’  As McConnell suggested, the related showdown over aid to Ukraine is also exposing the chasm inside the GOP and showcasing the broader question of whether the United States and its people are prepared to continue to be a bulwark for global democracy. This is a question at the core of a possible general election clash between Biden, an internationalist whose worldview was forged in the Cold War, and former President Donald Trump, a transactional leader who views alliances more as protection rackets than multipliers of American global power.  The fundamental question at issue on Ukraine is whether the US will continue to stand for the independence of a country whose right to exist is being threatened by a ruthless invasion planned in the Kremlin. Johnson told Fox News last week that the US shouldn’t abandon Ukraine to Putin.”  See Israel aid drama is the latest failure of American governance at  See also

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has added a new condition to US aid to Israel, saying that “more humanitarian aid and more protections to protect Palestinian civilians are needed in Gaza, or else there will be ‘no partners for peace.’" See Rudy Barnes, Jr., November 4, 2023