Sunday, November 18, 2007

Marque & Reprisal

The weather over the weekend fulfilled its Novemberish duty. Overcast all the time, drizzling some of the time, neither very cold nor warm at all. We've been promised a slide into real winter temps come Thanksgiving. Wot fun.

I recently poked around the Library of Congress' "Thomas" system, which provides endless detail about the many bills, resolutions, joint resolutions, treaties, committee reports, letters of marque and reprisal, pie fights, hootenannies and other activities of the Congress of these United States. Actually, in my search, I couldn't find any letters of marque and reprisal enacted by the 110th Congress, and I have to say that as a taxpayer and honest citizen, I'm disappointed.

At one point, I did a search that turned up 92 actions by Congress -- which turned out to be an interesting sample, I'd say, of the day-to-day business of government, much of which matters not at all. The re-naming of post offices and other nameable federal facilities represented a lot of the sample, for instance. (The respective committees that oversee such re-namings are the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in case you were wondering.)

Other examples of congressional non-events include: S.RES.366: A resolution designating November 2007 as "National Methamphetamine Awareness Month," to increase awareness of methamphetamine abuse; S.RES.367 : A resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the mass movement for Soviet Jewish freedom and the 20th anniversary of the Freedom Sunday rally for Soviet Jewry on the National Mall ("Save Soviet Jews, Win Valuable Prizes"); and S.CON.RES.54 : A concurrent resolution supporting the designation of a week as "National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Awareness Week."

My favorite: S.CON.RES.55 : A concurrent resolution commemorating the centennial anniversary of the sailing of the Navy's "Great White Fleet," launched by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 16, 1907, from Hampton Roads, Virginia, and returning there on February 22, 1909. This is something we can all get behind, the memory of the Great White Fleet.


At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in knowing when last the United States government issued letters of marque and reprisal. The Confederacy did, I know, and I think the Republic of Texas may have, too. The European powers banned the practice in the middle of the 19th century, but I don't know that the United States has ever formally agreed to this. ANK


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