This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

9/13/13

A Response to Vladimir Putin - America is Exceptional



President Putin, America Is Exceptional

By Rand Paul

A recent op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin has prompted me to respond. While his position that the Syrian conflict can and should be settled through a political and diplomatic solution is correct, virtually everything else in his writing should be taken to task. So I shall.

I begin with Mr. Putin’s disagreement regarding the exceptionalism of the United States of America. I could not more strongly disagree with him. While he is correct that God created every human being as an equal in His eyes, clearly the results of each of our efforts on this earth, individually and collectively, are not equal.

America’s exceptionalism is rooted in our founding documents and values. From the rights granted by our creator, but guaranteed by our Constitution. We should not shy away from saying so, especially when our actions are in keeping with this exceptional founding, as they were this week in our debate over going to war in Syria. Our constitutional checks and balances were on full display, largely resulting in the at least temporary halting of a rush to war.

Mr. Putin’s second mistake is to focus on the speck in the eye of the United States, while ignoring the plank in his own. He accuses the United States of alarming interventions in foreign countries. While I certainly have my bone to pick with our foreign policy over the last 15 years, the Russian President is the least qualified person I can think of to make this argument with a straight face.

We went to war in Afghanistan because they were harboring those who attacked us on 9/11. Mr. Putin’s cohorts went to war there three decades earlier for no legitimate reason.

The United States until now has resisted arming one side of the Syrian civil war – all the while the other side has been armed by Russia.

The United States has used diplomatic pressure to attempt to resolve the ongoing situation with Iran – Russia has just announced a large arms sale that will escalate tensions in the region.

Being lectured to on foreign intervention by Mr. Putin would be comical if it weren’t such a serious example of a lack of self-awareness.

Nevertheless here we are. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend, or at least my temporary ally. As Mr. Putin correctly pointed out, the United States and Russia banded together to defeat the menace of the Nazis a generation ago. And both countries certainly face real and present threats from Islamic extremists, both at home and in areas of strategic importance.

American should not act militarily in Syria because it cannot and should not join the same side as Al Qaeda. Russia cannot and should not continue to support militarily the brutal Assad regime.

And so, the dialogue that began this week must go forward, and it must be given a chance to succeed.

The issue of course, is with the participants and the details of the plan. Asking us to “trust them” is clearly not a palatable option, and we cannot act naively simply to bypass war. Any diplomatic solution must involve a clear plan to rid Syria of these weapons, with strong verification and enforcement mechanisms. As Reagan used to put it, Trust but Verify.

So while I welcome the engagement of the Russians, and the dialogue Mr. Putin this week attempted to begin with our country, I remain to be convinced of the details.

And I respond to him directly with the statement that yes, American is indeed exceptional. Our history has proved it so. While we all share the same Creator, we do not all share the same richness of history regarding human rights, freedom and democracy. There has been in the past 200 years a city on the hill that has shone brighter than all others. We will not be ashamed of that. May God allow us to continue to model this example to the world in these difficult times.

9/7/13

Whose Side are You on When Both Sides are Bad?

By Grant Davies

Imagine for a moment that there is a gang war going on between two crime families of modern day organized crime. They keep killing each other with drive-by shootings, executions, bombings and the like. In one of the attacks, innocent women and children are killed. The whole family and some of the neighbors of one of the thugs are killed in a particularly heinous manner to send a message to the other family and terrify them.

A high law enforcement official says "enough is enough" and vows to intervene. He decides to enter the conflict on the side of the crime family who has suffered the death of the family. Now imagine that the high law enforcement official is not from the US, but instead from another country with a large police force. That police force has the power to intervene and claims it's a moral imperative that they do so.

Both sides are enemies of the police force in question. And both are equally evil and violent. Hardly anyone in the country (or the world) except the members of the police board agree with the intervention. The high law enforcement official (who has argued against such intervention in the past) vows to intervene anyway.

The imaginative story above is not a perfect analogy. There are no perfect analogies. I designed it to get people thinking about our current situation with Syria.

Whatever you think of Glenn Beck, the video below will inform you of one thing; both sides are bad in this conflict. The presentation of the video is flawed in many ways and it's obviously designed to get you to agree with Beck's conclusion on the issue. There are legitimate questions which could be asked about the video itself. I bet you can think of some without my help.

The fact remains that both sides in this civil war are bad actors and that outside of the legitimate revulsion every decent person feels when confronted by the events in Syria, there is no imminent threat to America by those events.

On the other hand, contemplating the horrible specter of the unforeseeable consequences of intervention there is frightening to thinking people who do not support nor oppose the war for reasons of political affiliation.

WW III is a bugaboo that is overused sometimes, but I think it is a possibility because so many of these wars spin out of control. There are too many "what ifs?" and "what thens?" that follow these adventures. WWI was a good example.

What do you think? Feel free to tell others in the comment section below or just contemplate it in the privacy of your own conscience.

Disclaimer: the video is hideous and revolting. You have been warned. Those with a weak stomach are advised to take a pass on it.



Hat tip to contributor J Vanberger for submitting the video.

9/5/13

MSU Professor Threatens Students

I bet the folks who fork over tens of thousands of dollars every year for their kids to be educated at MSU are so happy that this professor is "teaching" them.

Of all the unbelievable things this imbecile says the most troubling is the part where he says "if he finds out" if any of the students are "closet racists" he will "come after them." He claims he can do that because he is a college professor. I'm guessing he is the sole arbiter of who is a racist and why. It's hard to know what he is threatening them with. Sounds serious though.

Allegedly this person is a professor of Creative Writing. As a "creative writer" who was not educated by this doofus, and as a frequent critic of the Republican Party, I'm amazed at what these people say when they don't think anyone will call them on it.

I shouldn't be amazed of course, but I'm sure things have changed since the time when I didn't go to college.





9/4/13

An Interesting Perspective - Illusion Economics

A few years ago (Oct. 2009) I wrote a piece titled The Best Place to be Poor. It is one of the most popular posts the blog has ever had. Unfortunately, I think most of the readers stumbled upon it while doing a web search for a geographic area to retreat to because their money wasn't going far enough. To this day it still gets a number of hits every month. (It certainly wasn't because the writing was compelling, it was/is awful and I think I may do a re-edit on it.. but I digress.)

Anyway, our guest contributor, Seth from Our Dinner Table , has written a post which is more current and expands on some of the points made by my earlier essay. Following the links he provides also leads to more interesting reading about the perspective an Indian college student studying in America has about our society. I found it to be a fascinating way to enjoy my coffee this morning.


Illusion Economics


One game plan for liberal politicians (and some conservatives) is to first convince you that you have it bad so they then can make the case that they can help.

There is a good example of this in my previous post. Graphs might lead you to believe one thing, but that’s blackboard economics. Look out the window and you will see a different story.

Thinking you have it good or bad is a matter of perspective. Poverty, itself, is a matter of perspective. Sure, if a politician compares the life of a poor person in the U.S. to a rich person, the poor person might feel slighted.

But, the observations from a student from India (via Instapundit) might help poor people in the U.S. find a better perspective:
[The U.S. is] An almost-classless society: I’ve noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living. Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I’ve seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the conveniences and standard of living the wealth of this country affords all people.

This reminds me of a news magazine show I saw long ago, when Brad Pitt was still courting Angelina Jolie. He said that on one of his visits to Africa he asked why they don’t have grocery stores and pharmacies on every street corner filled with remedies for basic ailments — ailments that kill people in poverty in other countries.

Capitalism is the answer. They don’t have much of it and we have more. Here’s why capitalism ensures we have ready access to the thousands of things that help improve our standard of living in ways that we are too spoiled to recognize.

Live in a country where the government or thieves (often one in the same) are going to take your stuff as soon as you have appeared to add value to it (like building a water well or fence to keep livestock) and you quickly learn that it isn’t worth expending the effort.

So, while the graphs Daniel Little uses and the speeches that politicians use may convince many that they are being slighted, in reality all of those people have a standard of living that is unsurpassed ever on this planet. Little’s charts don’t measure the value of having quick, easy and cheap access to basic rubbing alcohol that can easily prevent scrapes and scratches from becoming infected, life threatening injuries.

PS.. I also thought it was funny that the student from India thought we drank way too much coffee and thought it was crazy that we would spend so much on it, when we could brew it so easily and cheaply at home. But, I think this goes back to his comment on the classless standard of living. We are generally so wealthy that we choose to hire others to make coffee for us.