Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Justifiable Terrorism?

A friend shared this Washington Post article on Congressman Peter King and his apparent hypocrisy regarding the use of terrorism for obtaining political goals.  I found the article to be quite thought-provoking.  It definitely makes one think about how best to compare and contrast the IRA with Fundamentalist Muslim extremists.

An early point in the article reminds me of why I love the story of V for Vendetta so much, since that story also makes one think about terrorism and potential double standard one faces when condemning terrorism for an "objectionable cause" while elsewhere, if it's for a cause that's near-and-dear, celebrating it as a potentially valid (and effective) strategy.

I can kind of see King's point on the difference being the ultimate goal (that being the achievement of peace).  On the surface, that would seem to be a difference between the two terrorist organizations.  That being said, it's only a valid point if two things are true:  (1) it really was the goal of the IRA's violence, and (2) it's not the ultimate goal of the Muslim extremists.  Regarding (1), it's not clear that it was.  King's statements could just be revisionist history from a "political power chaser," attempting to paint past deeds in a positive light.  Regarding (2), I don't think we can say it's a definite difference with Muslim extremists, since it just might be the goal of at least some of them, if you define "achieving peace" as "finally convincing non-Muslim (Western) governments to stop interfering in their soverign affairs."  That would be a peaceful outcome, and it might undermine such extremism (just as the Irish peace undermined the existence of the IRA, making it obsolete).  Of course, if there are more sinister goals beyond "peace" for the Muslim extremists, then maybe there really is a difference and King is not just rationalizing.

All of this, though, is really beside the point when the man is going to hold a hearing that is, on its face, at least somewhat reminiscent of ugly stains on American history like McCarthyism and the process that led to Japanese internment camps.  Whether or not his motivation is duplicitous and hypocritical with past beliefs doesn't change the inappropriateness of such hearings.

Friday, February 11, 2011

We Should Not Be Embarrassed

Regarding a friend's sharing of an article where a British MP blasted Glenn Beck for being a bigot, many of his friends chimed in about how it's so embarrassing to us as Americans that Beck even has a show on TV.  I don't buy this at all.  In fact, it ought to be a point of pride for all Americans.

I think the fact that we even have people on TV who can espouse whatever views (dimwitted or otherwise) that they see fit is a positive for our country, no matter what opinion foreigners may have about the specific TV personalities.  Our freedoms, like those of speech and the press, are what make our country great, and no American should be embarrassed.  Because the TV personalities are not dictators forcing adherence among the citizenry to a specific agenda or dogmatic set of beliefs, we are all free to change the channel.  That's not embarrassing at all.  It's something to be celebrated.  Hence why I would defend to the death the right of Keith Olbermann to spew his own brand of vitriolic hatred.

Responses I got to this seemed to be lukewarm at best.  Some obviously took issue that I would lump Olbermann in with Beck.  Apparently, if it's something they agree with, it's okay.  But if it's rhetoric of the temperature but a different flavor, it's suddenly unacceptable and embarrassing.  Is it ignorance that causes people to be so hypocritical regarding tolerance?  Blind faith in "their side"?  Maybe being a libertarian helps me out in this regard, since I am not dogmatically and staunchly invested in one of the two "sides," no ifs, ands, or buts, no matter what they are selling.  I suppose I find it easier to call out people on either side on any given issue.  So, I can very safely put Olbermann and Beck in the same category, since they both yell at the top of their lungs about what they think is the right path forward, dismissively denigrating any opposing viewpoint with generalizing platitudes, unhelpful insults, and divisive attacks. To a lot of people, Olbermann is incredibly bigoted...just not against the same people or ideas that Beck is accused of being bigoted against.  Neither one helps achieve any semblance of progress or compromise on any issue.  And above all else, they are both all about ratings and entertainment. They both make a ton of money off of the art of blowing a lot of hot air.

One commenter remarked, "Yes, freedom of speech is an amazing part of our country, and something to defend vigorously. But the lack of civility, sense, and regard for the truth is what's embarrassing. No one's proud of rabble rousing and appealing to the baser nature of fools."  I told her she'd hit the nail on the head...mostly.  We don't have to be proud, per se, of the specific TV personalities or the stuff they say.  But one needn't be ashamed either, especially if it's not what one believes.  The existence of the TV personality or of their opinion, for that matter, within our country does not necessarily make any categorical statement about any other American, other than those who would agree and make the same statements.  And I'm guessing they don't really feel embarrassed.  Either way, it's no skin off our backs.  So don't be "embarrassed."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why We Need Government

This post at Cafe Hayek is excellent (link below). The answer that is provided by the biased government agency to the question of "Why we need government" is so ludicrous and ignorant of private property rights, market dynamics, the principles underlying the founding of our country, and other economically explicable phenomenon that counter its explanation that we would essentially be lost little children without government. It's well worth reading the comments section where readers offer their suggestions for a better explanation.

Why we need government

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Should NCAA Football Players Get Paid?

I know it has been a while...I am going to try to be better about getting over here to post a bit more. That being said, I had to share my thoughts on an article a friend shared regarding the paying of college players. The article is here. (HT: Dave Hebert)

And these are my thoughts on it:
Cam Newton (the subject of the article) is paid...a full scholarship. And I'm sorry, but $3,000 a year in extra expenses is a pretty paltry Stafford loan amount. So they graduate college with an education and $12,000 in school loans (and a chance at playing in a league with a minimum salary of $310K (2010)). Or, they leave early with the guarantee of being drafted into that league. Pretty sure that'll cover their expenses.

This author actually did the right thing in calculating per-player "earnings" but doesn't draw the right conclusion, imho. $17,000 per player is less than many tuitions these days (BCS Champs Auburn's out-of-state tuition is $21,916 in 2010-11). They are getting a bargain. Plus, they get exposure and a proving ground, helping them towards the potential big payoff in the NFL.

I'm certainly not for the draconian rules that Pryor, et al. violated...they should get to keep and profit off their personal effects from their accomplishments. But I'm not going to feel sorry for these football players not getting "paid."