I recall being introduced to the concept of a domain in a mathematical context. A function, our algebra teacher told us, has a domain of values for its independent or X variable, and a range of dependent or Y values it produces from that domain. In that formulation, a function is a sort of machine: the domain is its “input,” and the range is its “output.” Turn the key, throw the switch, pump the bellows, and the function will crunch each X value and produce the corresponding Y value.

     “But what about values for the X variable that aren’t in the domain?” I asked somewhat naively. Teacher smiled. “It doesn’t operate on them,” she said. “But what if you were to feed it one?” I persisted. She shook her head. “On any value outside its domain,” she said, “the function is undefined.

     For a twelve year old boy already entranced by the beauty of mathematics, that came as a disagreeable surprise. Wasn’t math in the business of defining things? How could we casually say of something, “Oh, that’s undefined,” and pass on as if there were nothing more to say about it? It took me awhile to come to terms with it. (Never fear; they were well-defined terms.)


     We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

     The above gives five purposes for the federal government of these United States. They sound admirable, one and all. However, there’s something missing from the statement:

     …establish Justice for whom?
     …insure domestic Tranquility where?
     …provide for whose common defence?
     …promote whose general Welfare?
     …secure the Blessings of Liberty for whom?

     In other words, the domain is left unstated, though the intent of the document is to define a federal structure for the United States.

     The Constitution that structures and authorizes the federal government didn’t do so to provide those noble goals to the denizens of other lands. Nowhere in its pages does it authorize Washington to go forth establishing justice, etc. for the subjects of other regimes. The domestic tranquility of places beyond America’s borders was of no concern to the Founding Fathers. Should the Golgafrinchans or the Whackistanis decide that they want the blessings of liberty – never mind their posterity – they’d just have to do the work for themselves.

     These subtle distinctions are lost on today’s political class.

     We generally look at America’s participation in the World Wars as a noble thing. What goes unexamined is on what grounds we intruded into them. What was the Constitutional justification? Woodrow Wilson made a big deal out of the Zimmerman telegram — “The world must be made safe for democracy!” he orated – but in fact it was no more relevant to the U.S. and its interests than the nebular hypothesis. FDR practically had to invite the Japanese military government to strike American soil for his war. “We have reached our rendezvous with destiny,” he announced. Once more, Americans bled and died. American treasure flowed forth in a hemorrhage. Evil regimes were put down…and others far worse arose in their wake.

     But the appetites of our political elite had been whetted. After Versailles, America was a world power. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was the world power. We could reshape the globe after the American model…and flex our muscles a lot and make bundles of bucks as we did so. Some of us, anyway.

     After that, any excuse to go to war would be good enough. After all, aren’t we the world’s policemen? Isn’t justice ours to maintain? Isn’t the peace of Mankind ours to safeguard? High-minded ideals can’t just be mouthed or set down on parchment by skilled calligraphers; they must be acted on! Especially if we can do so at a profit.


     The proper domain of the federal government was defined in the Constitution. It set out a short list of enumerated powers and responsibilities, and no others. The Bill of Rights emphasized its limitations in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. But after decades of chiseling at the margins by high-minded men – perhaps a bit tipsy with power, but surely animated by nothing but the desire to promote “the general Welfare” – the Constitution seemed to have become a mere historical footnote.

     Just now, we’re propping up a kleptocrat in a corrupt nation half a world away for the ludicrous notion that we’re “defending democracy.” Once again, American treasure is flowing forth in a torrent. Present trends continuing, American blood will soon be spilled. At that point, the habitues of Washington’s corridors of power will be too deeply enmeshed to give up. They can only “justify” their actions to date by carrying the nation into the horror of a third world war – but this one, we’ll start ourselves.

     We’ve been tiptoeing in this direction since Vietnam. After the Afghanistan disaster, our politicians’ pride is at stake. Our love affair with Volodymyr Zelensky and his satrapy is unique only because the adversary is Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation: the owner of the largest nuclear arsenal on Earth. It involves the biggest opponent and the biggest dangers. Men with the biggest egos seen this past century are pushing the biggest pile of chips ever hazarded to the center of the table.

     Hey, I know a place. Let’s go. – Russell Baker


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    • Evil Franklin on July 24, 2023 at 10:30 AM

    The U.S. became the policeman of the world in order to bully less powerful government leaders into a one world government. The less powerful government leaders used the “read between the lines salute” to say no. …
    Socialists tried to push revolution as a means of achieving one world government, but got the same response.

    Europe thought that creating a super state, the EU, would solve the problem. The states of the EU are worse off than they were as independent nations….

    Now the big boys are trying to take total control by bringing in migrants from the fourth world. (It’s too much to call them third world.) That’s taking too long. They want what they want, now.

    What do the big boys want? Heaps of dead and rotting corpses to the tune of seven to eight billion humans.

    WORLD WAR 3, 4 and 5.

    Evil Franklin

    • crankyoldcoot on July 24, 2023 at 12:05 PM

    I read about the russian invasion of Ukraine a lot and am quite puzzled as to why so-called conservatives are willing to allow the war criminal putin to do whatever he wants with whichever weaker country he wants.  If he isn’t stopped now, then when?

    The russia/soviet union has been our nemesis for over 70 years which is why we have the nukes, bombers, ICBMs, aircraft carriers, F-35s, B2s, B1s, B52s, boomer subs and the most expensive military in the world. It wasn’t built to defend against or deter anybody else.

    As much as we might wish it, the russia/soviet union has NEVER not been our arch enemy. If it wasn’t we could eliminate about 90% of our military. The war in Ukraine isn’t about Ukraine, it’s about finally stopping the russia/soviet union from doing whatever the hell it wants with its neighbor countries and its plans of reconstituting the soviet empire.  Previously we, the west, have looked the other way as it incrementally tried to “annex” its old socialist republics.

    President Reagan knew the score and pretty much forced the soviet union to dissolve. Since then the west has relaxed while the russia/soviet union never has. It clearly considered the west to still be its arch enemy otherwise why would it build doomsday nuclear tipped torpedoes and doomsday nuclear tipped hypersonic cruise missiles? Does that sound like a friendly country to anybody? Meanwhile the US sits on its ancient B61 bombs which require aircraft to deliver. The next Columbia class boomer subs have reduced the number of Trident II missiles carried in them from 24 to 16. What about the various arms reduction treaties? The russia/soviet union has been ignoring them for years while the US continues to hamstring itself with unilateral reductions.

    Thus, the START II treaty was officially bypassed by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which was agreed to by Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit meeting in November 2001 and signed at Moscow Summit on 24 May 2002. Both sides agreed to reduce operationally-deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 from 2,200 by 2012.
    On 13 June 2002, the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty, and the following day, Russia announced that it would no longer consider itself to be bound by START II provisions. Both countries continued to pursue their objectives. Russia still retains 54 MIRV-capable RS-20/R-36M (SS-18 Satan) with 10 warheads each, 40 MIRV-capable RS-18/UR-100N (SS-19 Stiletto) with 6 warheads each and 24 MIRV-capable RS-24 Yars with 3 warheads each. The US developed the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to protect itself from small-scale ICBM attacks.
    In October 2002, the US began its unilateral withdrawal of MIRV (including complete deactivation of Peacekeeper missiles) and completed it by 19 September 2005. The Minuteman III is, as of 2011, the only American land-based operational ICBM. It can potentially carry only three RVs. – wikipedia

    Finally the vile putin came right out and announced the russia would no longer participate. As if it has ever been participating. We, the US and the west have been suckers. Wishing and imagining the russia is/was not a hostile, evil, aggressor enemy is insane.

    With its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and threats to pre-emptively nuke the US and other western countries we can finally take off the rose-colored glasses.

    People as old as me and Fran ought to have known better.  We grew up under the cloud of being nuked by the vile bastards.

    1. There must be a hard line that distinguishes:
      1. Fights in which the U.S. has a legitimate interest and can successfully influence;
      2. Fights in which the U.S. has no legitimate interest;
      3. Fights the U.S. cannot successfully influence.
      Now I’ll grant you that people can differ about “legitimate interest” and the appropriate value for “successfully,” but myself, I put every war since World War II in either category 2 or 3 — and I’m dubious about the World Wars.

      Carrying Ukraine to victory is in both categories 2 and 3. The only way to beat Russia in a Eurasian ground conflict is to commit the entirety of our Army and most of our other armed forces to the conflict…which would almost certainly trigger a nuclear exchange. Add to that the openly despotic nature of the Zelensky regime and its wholesale corruption. Feel free to go to war for that it if suits you, but leave me and mine in peace. We’ve had enough of the political elite’s imposing its will on other countries at our expense, when we can’t even control our own borders or establish peace in the streets of our large cities.

    • crankyoldcoot on July 24, 2023 at 12:51 PM

    On three occasions in September 1938, Chamberlain went to Germany in efforts to prevent the outbreak of a general European war over Hitler’s demand that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland to Germany. By the Munich Agreement of September 30, he and Premier Édouard Daladier of France granted almost all of Hitler’s demands and left Czechoslovakia defenseless. He returned to England a popular hero, speaking of “peace with honour” (echoing an earlier prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli) and “peace for our time.”

    – Encyclopedia Britannica.
    Munich Agreement, (September 30, 1938), settlement reached by Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy that permitted German annexation of the Sudetenland, in western Czechoslovakia.
    After his success in absorbing Austria into Germany proper in March 1938, Adolf Hitler looked covetously at Czechoslovakia, where about three million people in the Sudetenland were of German origin.
    A surprise onslaught “out of a clear sky without any cause or possibility of justification” was rejected because the result would have been “a hostile world opinion which could lead to a critical situation.”

    – Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Sound familiar?  Appeasement to despots in 1938 wasn’t a good look back then and it isn’t a good look in 2021.

    I’m going with #1

    1. Fights in which the U.S. has a legitimate interest and can successfully influence;

    1. You’ll have to do better than that. We’re talking here about:
      1. A conflict halfway around the world from the U.S.;
      2. With the largest nuclear power on Earth;
      3. Which also has a land army larger than ours;
      4. And has already defeated Ukraine militarily, regardless of whether Ukraine ever admits it.

      It’s not about whether Russia is the aggressor, and it’s not about how it “looks.” We stood back as the Soviets absorbed ten Eastern European countries after World War II because:
      1. There was nothing of particular importance in those countries to the U.S.;
      2. We could do nothing about it at an acceptable price. Our Army had gone home, and had largely been dismantled. Add that there was massive popular resistance to further involvement in foreign conflicts.

      Americans have rights. One of those rights is to our government’s loyalty. Loyalty to Americans and Americans’ interests, not to other regimes, or the subjects of other regimes, or the transnationalists, or the interests of the defense industry. This is no longer the pre-Westphalian world, in which kings went to war for enrichment, aggrandizement, or out of boredom. To go to war under such conditions, where there’s nothing of value to the U.S. and the probability of triggering Armageddon is high, is foolishness blended with hubris. So we’ll have to disagree.

    • crankyoldcoot on July 24, 2023 at 2:47 PM

    So we’ll have to disagree.

    And that’s fine.  That doesn’t preclude my agreeing with most everything else you write on your site which I read daily.

    1. A conflict halfway around the world from the U.S.;

    Better there than here.

    2. With the largest nuclear power on Earth;

    And that’s our fault for being satisfied with #2.  Plus what does the russia intend to do with it?  Answer:  Cower the west with it so putin can take what he wants.

    3. Which also has a land army larger than ours;

    Why would they need such an army?  Oh, I know, to invade their neighbors.

    #4 I guess we’ll see.

    Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an “evil empire“.  In my opinion russia still is and demonstrates that on a daily basis.

    Disagreements aside, I still enjoy what you write.

    • pc-not on July 24, 2023 at 3:37 PM

    I respectfully disagree, crankyoldcoot.  Before the Ukrainian war, I was of the same mindset as you.   Since Feb. of a year ago I have tried to get a better understanding of the situation and my opinion is 180 degrees from what it was.  For a clear perspective please go to YouTube and watch some of Col. Douglas MacGregor’s videos.  His expertise is not a bit in line with what the narrative from MSM or either political persuasion in this country nor the NATO propaganda.

    After Iraq and Afghanistan, you’d think we would be able to identify the propaganda better.  Apparently not.  I joined the military in 1969, fully supporting our efforts in SE Asia.  Still was onboard with US policy until shortly after 9/11.  Call me cynical, but there is nothing in our original or revised Constitution  of 1871 that justifies any of these foreign entanglements.  I could not agree more with the above points made in today’s essay.

    • ontoiran on July 25, 2023 at 9:37 PM

    so crankyoldcoot is still going to side with the regime; even after everything we’ve seen for the last few years. here look at this…”If it wasn’t we could eliminate about 90% of our military. ” there you go. the reason for the russian boogeyman. let somebody else defend zelensky’s democracy for a change. we’re broke and tired of it all.

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