Quote of the Day – International Edition

Quote of the Day – International Edition

This isn’t the QotD, but it’s the lead-in:

When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations. — Stephen Ambrose

Here’s another:

We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home… to live our own lives in peace. — Secretary of State Colin Powell

Today’s QotD comes from Maj. Said Rahim Hakmal of the Afghan National Army, discussing what he says by radio to members of the Taliban:

“The Taliban will say things like why do you side with the Americans? Why do you sell out your country? You love Obama more than Afghanistan.”

Hakmal said the standard response goes something like, “The Americans are here to help our country function again. They don’t want to stay. They want to help, then leave. You should help, too.”

Then the shooting starts.

They don’t want to stay. They want to help, then leave.

Damned straight.

Eric S. Raymond put it well once:

I was traveling in Europe a few years back, and some Euroleftie began blathering in my presence about America’s desire to rule the world. “Nonsense,” I told him. “You’ve misunderstood the American character. We’re instinctive isolationists at bottom. We don’t want to rule the world — we want to be able to ignore it.”

Rights, Again.

Former co-worker Mr. Bill, the Obama supporter who, after the fact, rejected liberalism, sent me an email today:

Sorry to bother, but have been running a few thoughts through my brain recently and wanted to run them by you. I have been thinking about ‘rights’ and what they really are. Given you are probably the most versed in such subjects of all those I know, I thought you might be willing to discuss your thoughts with me.

To begin with, what is a right? Miriam-Webster defines a right as something a person can make a just claim to. So… what can we make a just claim to? I first started looking at this from an American standpoint, but realized I had to move past that. As American’s are rights are only as good as they are recognized by others… which means the list gets really short of what actually are rights. Given that we as a human must have just claim to them, that would imply that all others would agree to that claim. Which means a right is subject to the crowd by which the claim is made. Which means, at least in my mind, that as the crowd increases the likeliness that they will all agree to your claim is less likely.

Moving past the abstract version of a right, I turned to American Rights. Obviously we have the constitution and the Bill of Rights that clearly defines our rights. However, I would argue that, as it was the government that gave us these ‘rights’ that they could then take them away at will. That for an American to truly have a right to something, even in America, that he/she must have the just claim that his/her fellow Americans agree and support. I could claim I have a right to all the fresh water in the country, but I doubt that many would agree with me… thus I don’t have a right to the water. However, let’s look at what is defined… I have the right to bare arms. For the most part, my fellow Americans would agree I have the right, but yet there would be those that disagree. Some of those people might even own a business and refuse my right to bear my arms in their establishment. With mere ownership and difference of opinion, they have stripped me of my right. So if the right can be taken away, then how is it really a right so much as just a privilege granted to me by those that would agree with me?

I know you have addressed these issues to great extent on your blog, but I am not sure you covered this outlook. If in fact the ‘rights’ we are granted by the constitution and the bill of rights are not really rights, but rather privileges… then what expectation can an American have of those privileges simply being taken away at the whim of anyone (or even the government that first granted them) taking them away? And, what recourse would one have against those that resend such privileges? If I grant you the privilege of drinking alcohol in my house, but then change my mind and want you to stop… as it is my house, don’t I get to make that decision?

Your thoughts?

Here’s my response:

Actually, the multiple essays on the sidebar under “The ‘Rights’ Discussion” are all about precisely what you’re asking. I strongly suggest that you sit down and read them in detail. The point of the original “What is a ‘Right’?” essay was that your “Rights” aren’t enforceable if your culture does not support them. If you want to keep your rights, you must fight for them and keep them active in the hearts and minds of your fellow citizens.
The six-part exchange I had with mathematics professor Dr. Danny Cline explored the concept of the “realness” of rights, but my slant on it was that the concept of rights isn’t a stand-alone thing. I concurred with Ayn Rand that what the concept of “Rights” does is codify ones freedom of action within a society. From a practical standpoint, your rights define what you can do (or others can do to you) without fear of sanction. I don’t know if you read last night’s post on our withering Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search, but that’s an example of what you’re talking about.
I am in agreement with Rand on another point – there really is only one, fundamental right: the right to ones own life. All other “real” rights are corollaries to that single right, but how broad those rights are and how well they are protected is fundamentally dependent on the culture in which one lives. Ours is the first (and to my knowledge still the only) culture founded on the concept that the purpose of government is the protection of the rights of individuals, and that failure to live up to that responsibility is grounds to replace that government. Prior to (and to be honest, subsequent to also) the founding of the United States, the purpose of government has always been understood to be maintenance of the power structure that formed said government, and to hell with the rights of the people. The idea that the rights of the individual are the single most important factor in a culture is – truly – revolutionary.
As to your example of a business owner restricting your right to bear arms in his establishment, that’s simply a conflict of rights – his property rights versus your right to self-protection. It’s an interesting conflict, since he (apparently) doesn’t also accept simultaneous responsibility for your protection when he denies you the possession of the tools you’ve chosen for that duty, but you have the choice not to give him your business, or even go into competition against him. Your right has not actually been taken, but it has been limited. No one has ever said that rights are unlimited – “Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.” What our Bill of Rights was supposed to do was place significant limits on what limitations government could put on our rights, because government is a monopoly – we cannot choose another government or start up one of our own without getting rid of the one under which we currently live. Unfortunately, people are people, and as the various courts have proven over time, we’re more than willing to “constitutionalize our personal preferences” when it suits us. This is why, IMHO, education is the battleground it is – if the populace is ignorant, it’s much easier to lead them around by the nose – ergo, the best place to undermine a culture is the schools, followed by the media.
Hope this helps.

Quote of the Day – Brave New World Edition

Quote of the Day – Brave New World Edition

From a commenter at Instapundit, this pretty much sums it up for me:

We’re about to become a less wealthy version of the Philippines…NASA can dream all it wants (though, it’s clear from Obama, that he could care less what they dream about), but after the first year of the Obama administration, I’m pretty sure we’ll do well to afford public sewage systems. I love the optimism behind these posts…but seriously. We have a generation of hard times ahead of us, even if we get rid of this monstrous political class we now have. I used to dream of going to space. Since Obama took over, I dream of not dying of consumption in a state run hospital when I’m 60.

And I’m about to turn 48.

Quote of the Day – Politics and Media Edition

Quote of the Day – Politics and Media Edition

the Obama administration could find itself in the uncomfortable position of reconsidering its vows

I bet that’s been programmed in as a keyboard shortcut by the tech support departments of the media companies of the world by now. Ctrl-Alt-O.

Posted by: bgates February 24, 2010 at 11:48 AM

That’s from the comments to Tom Maguire’s JustOneMinute post One Of Obama’s Great Achievements May Be Unraveling.

The snark is strong in this one.

Blogging Update

Blogging Update

There’s been a lot going on in the world and I haven’t been commenting on it, at least not on the blog. I’ve been lucky to get one or two (short) posts a day up, and those are pretty much linky, not thinky.

I’m pretty damned busy at work, which is a nice change from the previous several months. I’m working overtime, too, which is eating into my evening hours but funding some stuff that went on hold when I got laid off in December. I’m also trying to catch up on my reading. I’ve got five or six books that were loaned to me literally months ago I need to finish and return, plus I’ve got a stack of my own to plow through, and a LONG list I need to acquire.

Anyway, this is just notice that blogging at TSM will remain light for a bit, and at the moment there is no Überpost stewing in my head (dammit).

Carry on.

Quote of the Day – Back-OFF Edition

Quote of the Day – Back-OFF Edition

It’s my health, it’s my choice.

— Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams defending his decision to eschew Canada’s much-vaunted single-payer health care system and travel across the border for heart surgery in Florida instead.

But, as Mark Steyn observed, it’s a choice his government doesn’t give him. He had to leave the country to see the doctor he chose.

And the Democrats here can’t seem to (or don’t care to)grasp the cause of the opposition to “health care reform” here. We know what it will lead to, and WE DON’T WANT IT.

Kudos to Obama

Kudos to Obama

And I mean that seriously.

Fed Loan Guarantees May Boost Nuclear Power Return

$8B loan guarantees for Ga. plants may spur nuclear comeback 30 years after Three Mile Island

More than $8 billion in new federal loan guarantees to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia could be the first step toward a nuclear renaissance in the United States, three decades after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident halted all new reactor orders.

With the nuclear industry poised to begin construction of at least a half dozen plants over the next decade, President Barack Obama announced the first loan guarantees Tuesday, casting them as both economically essential and politically attractive. He called nuclear power a key part of comprehensive energy legislation that assigns a cost to the carbon pollution of fossil fuels, giving utility companies more incentive to turn to cleaner nuclear fuel.

“This is only the beginning,” Obama said in designating the new federal financial backing for a pair of reactors in Burke County, Ga., to be built by Atlanta-based Southern Co. Obama’s budget would triple — to $54.5 billion — loan guarantees available for new nuclear construction.

Of course, he killed the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage program, but . . .

I wanted to wait a couple of days and see what the liberals had to say about Obama’s announcement, and I’ve been surprised. Eminent nuclear physicist Michael Douglas (star of 1979’s The China Syndrome) now supports nuclear power. “(P)ioneering environmentalist Stewart Brand, the founder and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog” – for years an opponent of nuclear power – is now on board.

Hey, the religion of Anthropogenic Global Warming does have an upside!

But I still want my backyard nuke.