I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Sunday, October 31, 2010

american exceptionalism

I think it is time for this topic.
Some define American exceptionalism as a belief that this country is ordained by God to lead the world. This version goes from John Winthrop's "City Upon a Hill" in 1630 to Ronald Reagan's use of that symbolism in the 80's.
This is the favorite definition of those who are opposed to the concept.

Wikipedia opens the topic ("neutrality disputed" -as I expect it always will be) with: "American exceptionalism is an American theory that the United States occupies a special role among the nations of the world in terms of its national ethos, political and religious institutions, and its being built by immigrants.
This is pretty close to the notion of American exceptionalism that I am going to argue for.

I believe that America is exceptional. By that I do not mean what Obama apparently meant when he said that he thought America was exceptional and he was sure that everbody else thought that their country was exceptional too. That is called uniqueness. And every country is unique.

I mean that America is very different in several substantive ways. (I cannot use the expression “very unique”.)

As de Tocqueville noted it was the first working representative democracy. But that facet has lost its significance.

For a half century after WWII it stood astride the world like a colossus with (for awhile) a GDP greater than the rest of the world combined while holding only 6% of the population. But probably England did that in the century before and Rome 2,000 years earlier. Besides those days are gone, anyway.

I. It was built by immigrants. Although one could say, “Well it has been built now, so that goes by the board.” But this is one of those substantive ways in which America is different. At its founding America was overwhelmingly northern European in ancestry and protestant in religion. WASP - White Anglo Saxon Protestant. But they accepted those Catholics and Jews and freed their slaves and gradually the complexion of the country changed. Now they come from all over the world. Has any other nation ever done anything like that? Willingly allowed their racial composition to change so much that the current predictions are that in a few more years those whites will be in a minority? If we want to we can make it so that each of our foreign ambassadors arrives at their assignment and finds himself in a country from which some of his ancestors came. We are the world’s laboratory experiment to see if “we can all just get along.” We certainly have more experience with it than anyone else does. I remember in the sixties some folks in European countries looked down their noses at us because of our racial problems. They now understand that it was not as easy as they thought to deal with racial minorities of a significant size. What about religion? Well we are now in the process of expanding that freedom of religion beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition and making it truly universal.

II. The Civil War is part of that history, too. Lincoln saw the war as penance for the crime of American slavery. Has any other country ever engaged in a slaughter of 2% of its own population in order to free an oppressed minority? To compare that to modern pain, 2% of our current population would be 6,000,000 Americans.

III. But the main thing is that to be an American is not simply a matter of geography or blood (see Monday May 10) or ancestry. As many have noted an American is defined by location and the acceptance of the creed: the "self-evident truths” of the Declaration; the Constitutional restraints that begin with things like “Congress shall make no law …” or “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

So, yes, I believe in American Exceptionalism.

Some will say, “Yeah but look at all of the bad stuff that America did.” OK, look at it. We’ve got it. In that we are not exceptional.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

faith in america

Although I'm not sure that his use of the expression "bad faith" is appropriate -it seems like what he is talking about is "lack of faith"- I think he may be onto something. This piece by Shelby Steele may be about what is troubling this Obama voter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

equal treatment 2

you should go to this link to hear the rambling justification of the firing of Juan Williams. It is here that she says that his opinions "are between him and his psychiatrist ...".

You can see Nina Totenberg's response to Krauthammer about this here

"Those who disagree with us are crazy."
Has that theme ever been seen before?

Friday, October 22, 2010

equal treatment

October 20, 2010 Juan Williams is fired from NPR for saying on another network:
“If I am in an airport and I see people in Muslim garb who identify themselves as primarily Muslim then I get nervous.”

Nina Totenberg was not fired from NPR for the following remarks:
July 8, 1995 On "Inside Washington"
I don’t think I have any Jesse Helms defenders here, Nina?
Nina Totenberg: Not me. I think he ought to be worried about the - uh - about what’s going on in the good lord’s mind because if there’s retributive justice, then he’ll get aids from a transfusion or one of his grandchildren will get it. (laughter)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Muslims attacked us on September 11, 2001. True or False

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I am not a witch

Fall brings its special days … Halloween and election day.
Even though its getting harder and harder to tell which is which,
both are still worth doing.
Bob Schieffer, CBS News,Sunday Oct. 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why? (a question for my liberal friends)

Suppose you were a Democratic Congressman who had voted for the stimulus bill to fund all of Obama's "shovel ready projects".
What would you think of Obama's recent statement that "there is no such thing as a shovel ready project"?
(David Brooks said on the PBS evening news that O had told him that - not for attribution - almost a year ago.)
It is not just one slip.
Biden says that people don't like the Health-care bill because it is too complicated.
The old "call the voters stupid" plan.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not quite 2 John Kennedy

I don’t know if he was the originator of it but John F Kennedy said to a distinguished group at the White House one day.
"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
It is a cute idea but as a saying it doesn’t really work. Obviously you would have a greater collection whenever TJ had Secretary Madison and the rest in for a cabinet meeting.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sexism to elect Democrats

I can appreciate an intellectually honest liberal, like Kirsten Powers, who wrote this article and appears regularly on Fox News Watch. For a similar and more provocative take on this issue, I highly recommend this article.

I don't know when this trend started -- perhaps with Bill Clinton's frequent use of the sluts-and-nuts defense -- but it is now an accepted tactic of the Left to villify and demonize its female opponents with sexist slurs. Sexism is evidently perfectly acceptable to many, if it is deployed to elect Democrats or help them stay in power. An intellectually honest liberal -- that is, one who is genuinely concerned about rooting out sexism -- should share my sadness about this development.

Friday, October 8, 2010

temporary note

I haven't had much time for this lately. I will be back in a 2 days.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Park 51 – 8 - Is that a threat?

In his interview with CNN’s Soledad O'Brien, Imam Rauf said: “If we move (Park 51) from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.” Like a lot of other people I wondered whether that second sentence was a threat or an observation. It seems like that is not a simple question and may depend on who says it, what their interest is in the outcome, whether and how they are connected with the “Muslim world”.
Here are several things in this category. I would say that 1 is an observation and 6 is a threat but where in between it shifts is not clear to me.
Please note that I am not saying that all of these things have occurred or will occur.

1. If someone burns a Quran.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

2. If someone publishes a bombhead cartoon of Muhammad.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

3. If someone recommends the publishing of drawings of Muhammad.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

4. If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

5. If we are not allowed to obtain funds for Park 51 from Iran.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

6. If some American government will not pay for Park 51.
The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Freedom of Speech

(an embryonic thought)
Has any one seen any discussion of the Snyder v. Phelps SCOTUS case (about the military funerals)which took the following approach:

The funeral is in some sense a private event which has some aspects of property. The Phelps are exploiting some other peoples property to advance their otherwise allowable speech.

One can make an analogy: You have a right to burn the American flag.
But you do not have the right to burn MY American flag! That is one that happens to belong to me!

Monday, October 4, 2010


"Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity."
- Lao-tzu

Friday, October 1, 2010

limited government

George Will - paraphrase - If the federal government can require you to buy something that you may or may not want to buy, then in what sense do we have a limited government.

When asked by a reporter where in the constitution was the authority to do what is mentioned above (in the Health care bill) Speaker of the House of Representatives Pelosi's response was - "Are you serious? Are you serious?" (A spokesperson for the Speaker later confirmed that the speaker did not take such questions seriously.)

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. Ayn Rand 1905-1982