The Local Crank

Musings & Sardonic Commentary on Politics, Religion, Culture & Native American Issues. Bringing you the finest in radioactive screeds since 2002! "The Local Crank" newspaper column is distributed by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

Just a simple Cherokee trial lawyer, Barkman has been forcing his opinions on others in print since, for reasons that passeth understanding, he was an unsuccessful candidate for state representative in 2002. His philosophy: "If people had wanted me to be nice, they should've voted for me."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Official Decoder Ring!

From Katrina Vanden Heuvel via The Huffington Post ("Delivering the opinions of self-important rich liberals since May 9, 2005"), your very own Rosetta Stone to the President's State of the Union address.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Eric said...

There were primarily two things in the speech that irritated me:

1 - The bizarre logic that terrorists or non-democratic regimes overseas somehow "threaten our freedom." They may very well threaten our lives, but the only thing that threatens our political freedoms is our own government. Period.

2 - His misuse of the word "isolationism." America has never had, at any time in its history, an isolationist foreign policy. Never. Nor is there any sitting member of Congress who, to my knowledge, advocates anything like isolationism. But apparently in the president's own mind, anything other than a hyper-interventionist policy is isolationist. If you don't support his specific military, immigration and economic policies, you're an isolationist.

I do applaud his "commitment" to weaning the nation off of oil. I consider that to be one of THE most important challenges for our nation, and I hope it was more than just talk.

2/01/2006 1:59 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

"They may very well threaten our lives, but the only thing that threatens our political freedoms is our own government. Period."

Spoken like a true libertarian.

"America has never had, at any times in its history, an isolationist foreign policy."

I think you're mincing words here. True, we never completely cut ourselves from the rest of the world North Korea-style, but we were pretty uninvolved with the universe beyond our borders from, say, 1789-1898 and from 1921-1941 in the sense that during those periods we rarely, if ever, had anything to do with other countries that didn't directly involve us (like the War of 1812 or the pirates of Tripoli).

"If you don't support his specific military, immigration and economic policies, you're an isolationist."

No, that means you hate America. Actually, I've give Bush credit for consitently refusing to give in to immigrant-bashing, even when Pete Wilson was making it look like the wave of the future for Republicans in the early to mid-nineties.

2/01/2006 5:02 PM  
Anonymous BrodyV said...

Here's my problem (other than I don't want to think about Wheat v. United States anymore)...

a) something south of 20% of our oil is imported from the middle east. A 75% reduction in middle eastern oil could probably be accomplished pretty easily by calling up that nutjob Chavez. I'd bet Cindy Sheehan could get that done with one tshirt tied behind her back.

b) It releases more pollution into the air to make ethanol than if you simply used the amount of oil it replaced. Ooops.

c) It takes more energy to produce ethanol than the oil it replaces. Yes, in small quantities, with agricultural waste of the correct kind, you can overcome this. But once you try to scale it up to any degree, you have to start growing biomass just to turn into ethanol and it takes oil to plant, fertilize, and harvest that biomass. Pesky laws of thermodynamics. Maybe Bush can issue a signing statement re-interpreting that law too...

d) We could eliminate our ENTIRE middle east oil imports with a 5 MPG, across the board, rise in the mandated fleet fuel economy of new vehicles. But who wants to conserve when there's a new super-mondo extremo Hummer special edition about to come out? In the meantime, I'm going to retrofit my car to run on whale oil.

2/01/2006 10:28 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

And that goes to the heart of the problem: we CONSUME too much energy. Coming up with new sources won't change that. And even if every car in America were converted to electric batteries overnight, that doesn't solve the problem of sprawl associated with building cities around millions of people each drivng their own personal vehicle by themselves. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go gas up my Dodge Ram pickup. I'm hoping to convert it to run on hypocrisy.

2/02/2006 12:57 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

<< we were pretty uninvolved with the universe beyond our borders from, say, 1789-1898 and from 1921-1941 in the sense that during those periods we rarely, if ever, had anything to do with other countries that didn't directly involve us (like the War of 1812 or the pirates of Tripoli). >>

If by "uninvolved" you mean we didn't have troops stationed in more than half the nations of the world, then sure, I agree. But the affairs of other nations have always been of interest to our government in every era. That they didn't always want "entangling alliances" with them doesn't make their views isolationist. The U.S. has never been "isolated" from the world in any meaningful sense of the word. In fact, having just finished Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" about Lincoln and almost being done with McCullough's "John Adams," I'm conisistently reminded about how much each president and his contemporaries worried about commerce and America's relations with other nations. Most of the times when buffoons like Bush use the word "isolationism," I think they mean any policy which doesn't wholeheartedly support our active role as the world's policeman.

2/02/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

We're just arguing the definition of a term, then. When I hear "isolationism," I think Charles Lindbergh and American First: no troops outide the Western Hemisphere, no membership in international organizations, no treaties that would obligate us to defend anyone from anything.

2/02/2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Even by that definition, we have never truly been an isolationist power. Hell, we landed troops across an ocean on foreign soil as early as 1804 when American troops attacked Derna on the Barbary coast. True isolation to my mind means little or no contact with the outside world, which has never been true at any time in our history. We've always been a strong commercial nation very much interested in friendly relations with as many trading partners as possible. That we didn't always want troops overseas or entangling alliances didn't, in my mind, make us isolationist so much as unilateralists.

By the way, an excellent book on our foreign policy traditions is William McDougall's "Promised Land, Crusader State." He makes the same point I did, which is that we've never been isolationist. He describes eight distinct foreign policy traditions our country has embraced at different times and in different combinations. It's easily the best book I've read on foreign policy.

Another good book, speaking of the the Barbary Wars, is "The Savages Wars of Peace" by Max Boot. He chronicles a lot of the forgotten small conflicts we've fought all the way back to our founding.

2/02/2006 7:04 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

<< Spoken like a true libertarian. >>

Despite my voting record, I don't tend to think of myself as much of a libertarian anymore. I'm only a libertarian insofar as I generally favor a smaller, more limited federal government, but there are many Libertarian Party issues that I don't support. I also don't share their quasi-religious faith in individualism (in all its forms) as the miracle cure to all problems. One of the ironies that libertarians generally don't get, but that Tocqueville did, is that individualism CAUSES large, expansive government by gradually eroding all of the intermediary institutions of civil society, creating a void that government then fills. For that reason I've come to think of myself more as a communitarian, devoted to limited government but also to strong, vibrant communities and, when necessary, local governments. In my fantasy world, the legitimate functions of government should always be performed at the lowest level practicable (a doctrine called subsidiarity). Libertarians, in contrast, believe there's almost nothing government does that couldn't be done better and more effectively by private enterprise. In some cases that may be true, but in general I think that's an even greater fantasy than my own.

2/02/2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Correction: the author of "Promised Land, Crusader State" is WALTER McDougall, not William McDougall.

2/02/2006 9:04 PM  

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