Archive for June 23rd, 2011

June 23, 2011

Marco Rubio and Hubristic American Exceptionalism

by Vince

A perfect example from an up and coming U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio, in his first floor speech for the Senate. Daniel Larison rips his hubris to shreds but I will parse some of his lines:

But since her earliest days, America has inspired people from all over the world. Inspired them with the hope that one day their own countries would be one like this one.

And so he begins his smug parade of looking down on the rest of the world.

I know that now some say that times are so tough here at home that we can no longer afford to worry about what happens abroad. That maybe America needs to mind its own business.

Well, whether we like it or not, there is virtually no aspect of our daily lives that is not directly impacted by what happens in the world around us. We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.

(…)

Almost half a century later, America is still the only watchman on the wall of world freedom. And there is still no one to take our place.

What will the world look like if America declines?

Well, today people all over the world are forced to accept the familiar lie that the price of security is our liberty. If America declines, who will serve as living proof that liberty, security and prosperity can all exist together?

Today, radical Islam abuses and oppresses women. It has no tolerance for other faiths, and it seeks to impose its will on the whole world. If America declines, who will stand up to them and defeat them?

Today, children are used as soldiers and trafficked as slaves. Dissidents are routinely imprisoned without trial. They’re subjected to torture and forced into confessions and labor. If America declines, what nation on the earth will take these causes as their own?

And if America declines, who will do all these things and ask for nothing in return? Motivated solely by the desire to make the world a better place?

The answer is no one will. There is still no nation or institution on this planet that is willing or able to do what America has done.

Is this a call to an ongoing interventionalist streak in the world? Can we afford interventionalist wars? Can we fight these threats on our own soil? Where is the line? Larison puts this part of Rubio’s speech into perspective:

Whenever Rubio refers to American decline, we need to remember that what he means by this is that the U.S. will not attack other countries, intervene in their internal conflicts, or attempt to dictate the pace and content of political developments abroad as much as the U.S. does right now. In other words, what Rubio calls decline is what many of us would call a return to normal, or at least a reduction in the number and frequency of foreign conflicts and entanglements. What Rubio calls American decline is what many other nations around the world would refer to as being left alone.

In fact, the decline Rubio describes won’t prevent the U.S. from being that “living proof” of the co-existence of liberty, security, and prosperity. It is quite conceivable that both American liberty and security would be enhanced when our government concentrates its “defense” policies on nothing but the defense of the U.S. and those allies that America will have for limited periods of time. There are many states that already combat jihadist militants on their own soil at great cost, and because most of them are fighting largely in self-defense they are going to continue doing so no matter what the U.S. does or does not do. Something that believers in Rubio’s particular version of American exceptionalism seem to take for granted is that the rest of the world is largely hopeless without constant, direct American involvement in their affairs. If that was ever true, it isn’t any longer.

Finally, you gotta love this line from the tail end of Rubio’s speech:

You see, these nations, these new emerging nations, these new shining cities, we hope they will join us, but they can never replace us. Because their light is but a reflection of our own.

Larison claims that “it is flattering to us to believe that other successful nations have become successful only by basking in the reflected glory of American light.” Indeed.

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June 23, 2011

Troop Levels in Afghanistan and Iraq Infographic

by Vince

Click here for the enlarged version (I had to size it down and you can’t read all of the fine details).

H/T: Whitehouse

June 23, 2011

Urban Gold Miner

by Vince

TDW:

43-year-old “urban gold miner” Raffi Stepanian of Queens — a freelance diamond setter by trade — says he brings in over $500 a week sifting through the streets of Manhattan’s Diamond District in search of gold, diamonds, and other precious materials.

“The streets of 47th Street are literally paved with gold,” Stepanian says. “Material falls off clothes, on the bottom of shoes, it drops off jewelry, and it falls in the dirt and sticks to the gum on the street.”

Impressive, indeed.

June 23, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince


“I didn’t create a single job,” said the former Governor of New Mexico.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are proud of this distinction. We had a 11.6 percent job growth that occurred during our two terms in office. But the headlines that accompanied that report – referring to governors, including me, as ‘job creators’ – were just wrong.”

“The fact is, I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor,” Johnson added. Instead, “we kept government in check, the budget balanced, and the path to growth clear of unnecessary regulatory obstacles.”

(…)

“My priority was to get government out of the way, keep it out of the way, and allow hard-working New Mexicans, entrepreneurs and businesses to fulfill their potential,” he said. “That’s how government can encourage job growth, and that’s what government needs to do today.”

Gary Johnson in quite candid and humble terms.

June 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“Tax hikes are off the table,” he said. “First of all, raising taxes is going to destroy jobs….second, a tax hike cannot pass the US House of Representatives — it’s not just a bad idea, it doesn’t have the votes and it can’t happen. And third, the American people don’t want us to raise taxes. They know we have a spending problem. –Speaker of the House John Boehner.

June 23, 2011

Legalization of Marijuana Hits Congress

by Vince

Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced a bill today that would amend the government’s Controlled Substances Act to remove all federal penalties for the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana, effectively striking down its classification as a scheduled drug.

The bill aims to allow individual states to set their own marijuana laws without the concern of being overridden on the federal level. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 [pdf] — the first bill of its kind — resembles the repeal of the 18th Amendment in that it restricts the government’s role in controlling the substance to keeping the drug out states where it is banned.

“The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal,”  according to the MPP statement.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), is the first of its kind to be proposed in Congress that would end the 73-year-old federal marijuana prohibition that began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Although Frank insists that this “is not a legalization bill,” it will be an excellent test for those in Congress who claim to be for a limited, smaller, federal government — one that gives more power to the states whenever possible as Paul and the “tea party” have rallied for over the last few years.

If the bill somehow makes it through both houses of Congress, it would be interesting to see if President Obama would sign it, seeing as the president’s feelings on the controversial matter have been hazy.

“We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” Obama said in Feb. 2008. “But I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we’re operating in the drug war. Currently, we’re not doing a good job.”

During a conference call today, Frank suggested what he’d like to see states do with their new autonomy, expressing his view that “prosecuting responsible adults who make the decision that they wish to smoke marijuana interferes with their personal freedom.” He said he was “particularly struck by the hypocrisy of public officials who will themselves talk about smoking marijuana, wink at it, and then make it criminal for other people,” which results in “a very discriminatory pattern of enforcement.” (Ahem, Bloomberg.) Frank conceded the bill “has no chance of passing” anytime soon, but added, “I think we are making progress. I think the public is way ahead of the legislators on this….This is an educational process.”

The bill amends the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer a scheduled drug and declares:

This Act [the CSA] shall not apply to marihuana, except that it shall be unlawful only to ship or transport, in any manner or by any means whatsoever, marihuana, from one State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, into any other State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or from any foreign country into any State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, when such marihuana is intended, by any person interested therein, to be received, possessed, sold, or in any manner used, either in the original package or otherwise, in violation of any law of such State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

I take from this all that the states will deal with marijuana issues on their own terms (some are with their heavily militarized approaches). The rest of the fine details I have not fully digested yet.

(TDW/latimes /reason

June 23, 2011

The Energy Expenditure of Internet Usage

by Vince


This is an interesting short video titled “How Green Is Your Internet?”

TDW:

Hungry Beast‘s Dan Ilic explores the facts and figures behind the oft ignored energy expenditure of Internet usage.