The Economist’s perfect critique of America’s hypocrisy

Ever notice how we start wars in order to “promote democracy” abroad, then use secret courts to limit those same freedoms at home?

All this somehow got me thinking of the doctrine of “democracy promotion”, which was developed under George W. Bush and maintained more or less by Barack Obama. The doctrine is generally presented as half-idealism, half-practicality. That all the people of the Earth, by dint of common humanity, are entitled to the protections of democracy is an inspiring principle. However, its foreign-policy implications are not really so clear. To those of us who are sceptical that America has the authority to intervene whenever and wherever there are thwarted democratic rights, the advocates of democracy-promotion offer a more businesslike proposition. It is said that authoritarianism, especially theocratic Islamic authoritarianism, breeds anti-American terrorism, and that swamp-draining democracy-promotion abroad is therefore a priority of American national security. If you don’t wish to asphyxiate on poison gas in a subway, or lose your legs to detonating pressure-cookers at a road-race, it is in your interest to support American interventions on behalf of democracy across the globe. So the story goes.

However, the unstated story goes, it is equally important that American democracy not get out of hand. If you don’t want your flight to La Guardia to end in a ball of fire, or your local federal building to be razed by a cataclysm of exploding fertiliser, you will need to countenance secret courts applying in secret its own secret interpretation of hastily-drawn, barely-debated emergency security measures, and to persecute with the full force of the world’s dominant violent power any who dare afford a glimpse behind the veil.

Go read the whole article. It’s the single best piece of writing that’s come out of the NSA scandal.

Just as the USSR discredited communists, 1800s America discredited libertarians

Libertarianism’s Achilles’ heel:

The strongest political support for a broad anti-statist libertarianism now comes from the tea party. Yet tea party members, as the polls show, are older than the country as a whole. They say they want to shrink government in a big way but are uneasy about embracing this concept when reducing Social Security and Medicare comes up. Thus do the proposals to cut these programs being pushed by Republicans in Congress exempt the current generation of recipients. There’s no way Republicans are going to attack their own base.

But this inconsistency (or hypocrisy) contains a truth: We had something close to a small-government libertarian utopia in the late 19th century and we decided it didn’t work. We realized that many Americans would never be able to save enough for retirement and, later, that most of them would be unable to afford health insurance when they were old. Smaller government meant that too many people were poor and that monopolies were formed too easily.

Further evidence that Marco Rubio is a scumbag

From Rubio’s response to the State of the Union:

One must ask whether we will still be a free enterprise nation and whether we will still have economic freedom. America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity.

What evidence could Rubio possibly have to back up this claim? Oh right, he doesn’t have any. This is a bulls— claim meant to rile up Tea Partiers who want to “take back this country” (maybe even redeem it?) from the Muslim Kenyan socialist with fascist tendencies. 

How anyone takes the GOP seriously is beyond me.

A different view of the American Revolutionary War

From an excellent Reddit thread:

Major factors that tend to get swept under the rug include the fact that the British had concrete binding legal agreements with a lot of the native peoples on land claims. The American settlers, however, were increasingly growing in numbers and wanted to expand the east coast colonies westward, and this was infringing on the agreed boundaries. After a while, the British couldn’t prevent the colonist from illegally expanding, because there were so many doing it.

This led to a lot of hostilities: both between natives and the expanding colonists as well as competing colonists making claims on contested land. This eventually led to violence, to which the colonist claimed the British were not effectively enforcing the new territory (which the Brits had said they shouldn’t be taking in the first place, mind you). After enough pressure, the British decided they needed to put more garrisons in the colonies to prevent the violence, but insisted the colonies pay for it seeing, you know, they bought it upon themselves. This is now popularized as “British ruling with an iron fist” and “unfairly taxing the colonies”. After a while, the colonies were refusing to pay the increasing taxes for the garrison, but knowing it wouldn’t fly if they just said “we aren’t paying up anymore” they used the classic “no taxation without representation” argument, which is essentially a straw man argument. However, the British initially responded with an offer to have constituents in British parliament representing the colonies, basically accepting the offer the colonies had made. Well, the colonial leaderships didn’t expect this outcome and didn’t know what to do (they just wanted the taxes lifted), so they declined the offer and pushed the whole tyranny line instead, which eventually led to the outbreak of the revolution.

TL;DR – History is decided by the winners and everything is a matter of perspective.