The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Whither America?

I miss America. It was a great country; full of hope, ambition, innovation, and confidence. When I was a young boy, we had been the reason that World War II ended the way it did. We had a beautiful future ahead of us. We saw a great future under Pax Americana. We were self assured, movers and shakers, striding about the world like Titans. We provided the cash and the machines to rebuild Europe, to drag Japan and Germany out of the devastation instigated by their leaders, and provided the counter to the threat of Soviet communism. We were building an interstate highway, nuclear power plants, and a world seemed to look on us in awe.

Then, somehow, we became "the ugly American". We were too pushy, we were overbearing, we demanded things be done our way. We were resented. The world thought we wanted to re-shape the world in our own image.

And then came Vietnam. And the grassroots (and not so grassroots) driven political protest 60's. It set parent against child, sibling against sibling, youth against all. My America was tarnished. My peers sided with my enemies. In the late50's, we began to peel away the veneer and what we found was ugly; the racism, the inequality and more. Things that had festered since the birth of the nation. As we tried to deal with it, as we tried to live up to the standards we thought we should, things began to fall apart. We became a nation of factions, each fighting for dominance, or at least a larger share of the "pie."

It had to be done.

Now I watch it shrink, much as the British Empire shrank after World War I. Much as the Roman Empire shrank as it became divided and lost control of itself. America's leaders now oversee its decline. Willingly, it would seem.

Instead of pushing back against our critics, we accepted the criticism and tried to change, tried to be liked again. Any smart person knows you cannot please everyone all the time. But we still tried. We also tried to buy that love with foreign aid and seeking compromise amongst antagonists (resulting in both sides resenting our input). Countries began playing us against the Soviets, collecting from both sides. And we kept pouring blood and treasure into the bottomless pit that is world politics. Why? Because we liked being the Top Dog, we liked being looked up to. We were going to be what no other great nation had ever been, a benevolent and loved oppressor.

I don't know how we can get back the old America, the America of my youth, maybe there was too much wrong with it and it was all illusion.

But I still miss it.

And now, when we kill a bad guy in a foreign land, the ACLU (with concurrence from Libertarian Ron Paul) berates the administration for violating the bad guy's rights under the Constitution. While I understand the ACLU's position, I disagree that his right to due process was violated. The Constitution's power stops at our borders.


Thechubbychatterbox said...

I'm a newcomer to your blog but I sure like what I see! I couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed in your latest post. I'll be waiting eagerly for more.

Douglas4517 said...

Thank you for the kind words. I'm afraid that my political commentary is reserved for Saturdays only. The rest of the week I just babble on bout life in general.

Steven Scott said...

Ron Paul is a Republican and [mostly] a "libertarian," but he hasn't been a "Libertarian" for decades.

The Constitution has no power. Human rights don't stop at our borders. The Constitution is there to set up our system of government and to limit its power to violate our innate human rights. The text of the Constitution and (especially) the Federalist Papers are extremely careful to make this distinction, and it's an important one. It's a problem that 200+ years later we think we're granted privileges, when in fact we have innate rights that the government isn't allowed to trample. There was extreme disagreement over the Bill of Rights - the people that wanted it [Jefferson] did so because they wanted some explicit guarantees. The people that didn't want it [Hamilton, Madison] knew and accurately predicted that over time an explicit list of rights would lead to the government ONLY recognizing those rights...and begrudgingly, at that. The 9th & 10th were supposed to take care of that, but obviously failed to do so. Of course, who knows where we'd be now without the BoR. Anyway.

I will concede that the Constitution doesn't limit the government's ability to trample the rights of non-citizens, which, in the end, is the point you're making. I just get antsy when government's power over life and death is the issue, like the death penalty. I don't trust government enough to make a budget, spend money wisely, run any kind of service, communicate with rest of the citizenry, have any transparency...but I'm supposed to trust it with the ultimate power of ending somebody's existence? There's human scum that doesn't deserve to walk this mortal coil, and I wouldn't have any qualms about, for instance, ending somebody's life in defense of me or mine...I just have no faith in the bureaucracy.

Anyway, just my opinions, I know you're wiser and more experienced and that I'm idealistic. I'm glad I have the freedom to be idealistic and think this is still the best country on the planet, despite our flaws, simply because of our foundation based on liberty. We need different viewpoints, and we need to argue over them. This isn't a homogeneous nation and we're all the better for it. It's better that we have some people questioning illegal wars (Libya) and debating government-sanctioned killings than just sitting idly and letting individuals with power do whatever they want.

Steven Scott said...

So, I think I just read an article about what you were referring to - the missile strike in Yemen. The Obama administration made itself judge, jury, and executioner against American citizens. That's not ok, even if they were scum and traitors. That's why we have a judicial branch and the concept of Due Process. Do the Feds get to grab anybody they dislike, take them off US soil, and summarily execute them? Or is it only ok if they left the US of their own accord? I didn't know when I wrote the first comment that we were referring to US Citizens...and yes, our Constitution does apply to governmental action against our own citizens even if they're not physically located within our borders.

What a dangerous precedent to set. We have the rule of law for a reason, and it's not ok for the executive branch to think they're above it.

Just my $0.02.

Douglas4517 said...

You are right, I should not have capitalized "libertarian". However, Paul is a Republican by registration only. AI believe he maintains that registration because it is extremely difficult to get elected to Congress as a Libertarian. His political ideology is clearly libertarian.

I am afraid you missed the point I was making about the Constitution. It does not allow the government to trample the rights of non-citizens. In fact, the courts have long held that non-citizens on U.S. soil are protected. One of the reasons that it seems so difficult to deport illegal immigrants. My point was that the Constitution is not an international document and when you are on foreign soil, you are subject to the laws and justice system of whatever country you are in. The argument made by those who are offended by the drone attack on Awlaki is specious if they resort to the Constitution. I tend to agree with the administration's view that he was an enemy combatant fighting against the U.S. on foreign soil and not subject to Constitutional protections. I understand those who disagree with this but I think they are technically wrong.

Douglas4517 said...

The problem is that we (the U.S.) have no authority to grab people anywhere except within the territorial limits of the nation and on the battlefield during war... the latter being controlled by the Geneva Convention. Obama probably violated the laws of Yemen but I don't think Yemen is really complaining all that much. Fighting terrorists is a problematic situation. They can create problems and stay out of our control and authority simply by operating from a country with whom we are not at war. This is what Alwaki did. It is also what Osama bin Ladin was doing. The drone attacks are an interesting solution but they probably violate some international law. Strange that we do not hear the Left screaming for him to be packed off to the Hague to face charges of being a war criminal, eh?