Wednesday, March 30, 2011

American Exceptionalism - the force that begets our downfall as an Exceptional Nation

I hate quoting other bloggers unless I can weave it into a thought parade of my own. Perhaps it's the professor's son in me; more likely its the fact that I started this blog to do real analysis of the world, not just regurgitate the thoughts of others.

In following that path I've slowed of late, as many do. I am intellectually weary of what is going on around me, from the philosophical war against public employees unions that wages in the mid-West to the now three real wars in Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa. I've also come to the conclusion that our political system is tainted, and that, wiht the next Presidential Election expected to cost $1 Billion, We The People are about to witness the unraveling of our cherished and fetished democracy.

SO, to quote Andrew Sullivan:

America's ideals are not unique to America, and America's success led it to the same temptations of great powers since ancient times. America's exceptional freedom and exceptional wealth did not exempt it from unexceptional human nature or the unexceptional laws of history. To believe anything else is to engage in nationalist idolatry. In retrospect, Vietnam was a form of madness brought on by paranoia. In Iraq, America actually presided over 100,000 civilian deaths as it failed to perform even minimal due diligence in invading and occupying another country (while barely a few years later, we invoked - with no irony or even memory - the risk of mass murder as a reason to invade another country). And US forces are still there - and the same alliance that gave us the Libya campaign will surely soon be arguing for extending their presence as the Potemkin democracy slowly collapses. In Afghanistan, the graveyard of so many empires, we are busy sending drones to hit targets with inevitable civilian casualties in a war that has no end, no discernible goal, and has now lasted longer than any war in the country's history. When America finds itself in wars where it can accidentally kill nine children gathering firewood, it seems somewhat abstract to talk uncritically of America's moral superiority. And when America has also crossed the line into legalized torture, and refuses to acknowledge or account for it, let alone hold the war criminals responsible, it has lost the moral standing to dictate human rights to the rest of the world.

Obama had a chance to turn this around.

H/T The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winconsin Updates

If both of these things are true, it says something really sad about the state of conservative political trust of Americans:

NPR's link to The Nation:

Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau was created in 1968 by a Republican governor, Warren Knowles, and a Republican-controlled state legislature.

The purpose was to establish a nonpartisan agency that would provide honest fiscal analysis and information for Wisconsin Legislators. Across more than four decades, the bureau has done just that, earning the respect of legislators from both parties, including a young Scott Walker, who frequently cited the bureau when he served in the state Assembly.

Less than a month ago, a Fiscal Bureau memo reported that the state had a $121.4 million surplus through the remainder of the current fiscal year.


This from AFL-CIO Political Communications Director Eddie Vale who’s on the ground in Madison, Wis.

As we speak, Gov. Scott Walker & the Senate R’s are literally having the windows of the capital welded shut to keep people from passing food into the building to the people inside.

This is why our national government is going broke

From the CQ Toady/Roll Call Briefing email that landed in my in-box, the House is working the budget issue, the Senate is debating patent reform, which is becoming a vehicle for fiscal policy amendments 9which have nothing to do with patent law. This is why Mr. Reid is not a leader - my employer runs out of money come mid-night Friday, and he can't be bothered to rearrange the deck chairs to deal with that. Amazing!

Today In Washington

THE HOUSE: Convened at 10 and will start legislative business at noon. Before sunset it will pass the latest stopgap spending bill, which would cut $4 billion from fiscal 2011 appropriations and keep the government open for the next two weeks.

THE SENATE: Convened at 10 to continue debating what would be the first substantial patent law rewrite in half a century. The bill — which would switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of issuing patents — is quickly becoming a magnet for unrelated fiscal policy amendments that could slow its progress. One would offer an early test vote on raising the debt limit; another would endorse the idea of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment.