The U.S. Must Not Be The World's Policeman

Decades of interventionist foreign policy have eroded our freedom without making the world a safer place.

Even if everything Secretary of State John Kerry says about chemical weapons in Syria were true, the evidence would prove only that Bashar al-Assad committed crimes against civilians. It would not prove that the U.S. government has either the moral or legal authority to commit acts of war.

These issues must be kept separate. We have reason to be skeptical of Kerry’s case—why did President Obama try to stop the UN inspection?—but if it were otherwise, the case for U.S. military intervention still would not have been made—even if authorized by Congress.

No one appointed the United States the world’s policeman. The government's founding document, the Constitution, does not and could not do so. Obama and Kerry have tried hard to invoke "national security" as grounds for bombing Syria, but no one believes Assad threatens Americans. He has made no such statements and taken no threatening actions. He is engulfed in a sectarian civil war. Inexcusably, Obama has taken sides in that civil war—the same side as the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate—but still Assad poses no danger to Americans. Bombing would make him more—not less—of a threat.

As it interferes in other people’s conflicts, a self-appointed world policemen will breed resentment and a lust for revenge. No one likes a bully, especially when it’s a presumptuous superpower armed with nuclear warheads and monstrous conventional weapons. (By the way, Assad's conventional weapons have killed far more people than sarin gas has.)

You might ask, How could U.S. punishment of Assad be equated with being a bully? Isn't he the bully? To be sure, Assad is a criminal. But the U.S. government's record on the world's stage hardly qualifies it for any merit badges. It rails against Assad’s brutality, but it backed Iraq's late president Saddam Hussein, even when he used chemical weapons in the 1980s. It condoned the Egyptian military's mowing down of over a thousand street demonstrators after the recent coup, and it has more than tacitly approved Israel's string of onslaughts against the Palestinians and Lebanese. In these cases, American presidents could have properly responded by ending military aid—but they refused.

Similarly, the U.S. government for decades provided advanced weaponry to brutal and corrupt monarchies in the Arab world and autocrats in Asia and Latin America. More often than not, when a government represses its population, it uses equipment made in the USA.

America's selective outrage is not lost on the world. The U.S. government is neither an honest broker nor an avenger of the victims of injustice. It is the world's ham-handed hegemon, with overriding geopolitical and economic interests that determine what it does in any circumstance.

Assad is a suitable foe, not because he is uniquely cruel—hardly—but because Russia and Iran are his allies. American foreign policy in the Middle East has long been dedicated to guaranteeing that no country can challenge U.S./Israeli hegemony. American presidents have no problem with strongmen who crush their people’s dreams of freedom, as long as those rulers do what they are told. But if they don’t toe the line, watch out. Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammar Qadaffi learned that the hard way. Now it's Assad's turn (earlier in the "war on terror," the CIA outsourced torture services to him), even if that means helping al-Qaeda in Syria.

It's not just that no one appointed the United States the world's policeman. By assuming that role, the U.S. government—no matter who's president—undermines the values we claim to uphold, such as freedom, justice, privacy, and peace. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan left hundreds of thousands dead, many more gravely wounded, and corrupt authoritarian governments in control of the social wreckage. The law of unintended consequences cannot be repealed, and the risk is no less with interventions that begin modestly, because no one can say what the other side—which includes Iran and Russia—will do.

At home, a perpetual war footing drains our pockets, puts us at risk of retaliation, violates our privacy, and distorts our economy through the military-industrial complex.

James Madison understood well: "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

This column originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation. 

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  • db||

    I had the weirdest fucking dream last night. Nick Gillespie and I were crusing around in a Toyota Corolla talking about stuff. I have no recollection of what we talled about other than that I asked him how long it took to drive here from home.

  • ||

    I really wish I didnt know about that.

  • db||

    I'm worried The Jacket is gaining enough power to finally pierce the interdimensional membrane and invade our subconscious. Once it learns how to manipulate the rotation of the harmonic four-day time cube, we're toast.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Or perhaps you just have a man crush.

  • ||

    Yeah, thats what I was thinking.

  • db||

    My man crushes only drive big diesel pickups with exhaust stacks behind the cab and stickers of somebody pissing on something.

  • Ted S.||

    The exhaust pipe is not for sticking your member into.

  • ||

    See, that is where you are wrong.

    http://www.peoplesrepublicofco.....p?t=173735

  • ||

    That link is NSFW.

  • Ted S.||

    Then I'll make sure my child laborers don't upen it.

    I wonder how you were able to produce that image so quickly, however. :-p

  • ||

    Someone posted it the other day, I forget why. It was seared into my brain. You just cant unsee something like that.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Hey I want my commentor-to-commentor hat tip!

    My goal is to make Hot Rod the male counterpart to Lobster Girl here.

  • ||

    Thanks for that on a Sunday AM.

    Need. Bleach. For. Eyes.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Google "Mariann Gavelo".

    And I have to say, I'm ashamed at chief O'Brien. I knew he liked engines, but...

  • Rhywun||

    NOW you tell me.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Not clicking there. Not making that mistake again.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    What you don't want a hot rod? What kind of wuss are you!

  • gaoxiaen||

    You don't have a Mack bulldog with two steel nuts wired to its crotch? Pitiful.

  • Long Range Boredom||

    It has chosen you as its next host.

  • MJGreen||

    Wait... our subconscious resides in another dimension?

    Far out.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I had a similar dream, but The Jacket and I were double-teaming Michelle Fields in the back of a van. David Boaz was driving and providing commentary.

  • Ted S.||

    You should have asked him why he keeps hawking his shitty book.

  • Ted S.||

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Al Pacino?

  • ||

    Harrison Ford?

  • Almanian!||

    Milner in "American Graffiti"?

  • Ice Nine||

    Nicole Kidman?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Huey Lewis & Gwyneth Paltrow?

  • Jake W||

    Ted Kennedy

  • gaoxiaen||

    Cheech and Chong?

  • ||

    Yesterday, while my wife was shopping in Hobby Lobby, I waited in the Jeep and used her iPad to read some of the threads on here.

    When she came back and saw what I was doing she asked why I read Reason so much.

    I tried to explain my suspicion that many of the commentariat here have spent most of our lives feeling marginalized and drowning in a sea of stupid. Finding Reason and hanging around here reminds us that there is thoughtful analysis that simply cant be found anywhere else and there actually are other people that think like us. They might be a gaggle of super-assholes, but they are my kind of assholes. Some here are addicted to this site, being ever-present, and some even naming their children after the site.

    When I read your comment about your dream, I suddenly found all of that a bit unsettling. That is why I said I wish you had not told us that. I was kidding about the man crush thing.

    But....it does sound suspiciously like a man crush. Are you sure y'all just talked or are you leaving something out?

  • Ted S.||

    They might be a gaggle of super-assholes, but they are my kind of assholes.

    I'm offended. "Super-asshole" doesn't even begin to describe my level of assholery. Try "Giga-asshole", and you might be part of the way there. :-)

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    We could get a comment rating system like the huff po. Guys who comment a lot and get rated up become "Super-Assholes".

  • Jake W||

    Yes but such systems give stupid remarks credibility because "the guy who posted it posts like 40,000 times a day!"

  • Rich||

    my kind of assholes

    Nice band name.

  • Almanian!||

    Actually, it's the name of the new album by the neo-punk collection of over-the-hill songsters known as Teh Childrenz.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Hobby Lobby"

    Did you know they sued to stop the contraceptive/sterilization mandate?

  • ||

    Yes.

  • fish_remote||

    Come for the ....thoughtful analysis that simply cant be found anywhere else and there actually are other people that think like us.

    Stay for the pure undiluted venom!

    God help me....I love it so!

  • Irish||

    This is the strangest thing I've ever read.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The only Reason staffer I ever had a dream about was Kerry Howley.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Not even one "dream" about Emily Ekins?

    Homo.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    No offense intended to Emily or Kennedy or whoever. I was in my mid-20s when Kerry was playfully frolicking about in these parts. Without popping those Ageless Male pills like M&M's I'm not likely to see those hormonal levels again.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Killazontherun||

    What was the music that was playing? He always plays the Stooges first album or Diamond Dogs when we are riding around in my dreams.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No one appointed the United States the world’s policeman.

    And yet we're still going to shoot Syria's dog and tase Syria's grandmother.

  • db||

    There are procedures to follow, after all.

    I just had a thought: "procedures" are basically a liturgy of the religion of statism. People institute governments among themselves to foster safety, justice, etc., but the governments have merely developed this cargo cult of procedures that at one point were associated with justice being delivered.

    It's like the original cargo cults: build a replica control tower and perform the motions, and the big planes with food and cool stuff will land again. Make some "procedures," follow some departmental gudelines, and you too can foster justice!

  • ||

    Sadly I spent some years working for the State of Louisiana. Two rungs up the ladder from me were a swarm of bureaucrats who had exactly that mentality. You nailed it.

    It was infuriating to try and accomplish anything at all when the people directing the operation make no distinction between following procedure, filling out the right forms and the logistics of the real world.

    The military is full of this crap too.

  • SweatingGin||

    I just had a thought: "procedures" are basically a liturgy of the religion of statism. People institute governments among themselves to foster safety, justice, etc., but the governments have merely developed this cargo cult of procedures that at one point were associated with justice being delivered.

    This idea deserves more consideration/thought.

    I've been thinking about Feynmann's Cargo Cult Science article/chapter. Maybe that sort of non-rigorous, going-through-the-motions thinking is common in all sorts of other things.

    I tend to think it can be seen in politics, where you'll get some blind Dem supporter arguing for card check union organizing, without realizing that the secret ballot is the only way to avoid intimidation (granted, there are some on the union side who support it just to be able to intimidate, but certainly not all of the Dem rank-and-file think about intimidation)

    Same thing could apply in thinking about rights, or checks and balances. The reasoning behind why something is a particular way matters, and needs to be examined.

    "If we just add another procedure, we'll get it back to the perfect world."

  • db||

    This is my line of thinking, pretty much. When things get out of hand, do more of the same that used to work. The problem is the misunderstanding of what it was that used to work, or the probably unique circumstances in which it worked.

  • SweatingGin||

    It scares me a bit to think about what portion of people have that line of thinking, though. 60? 70%? more?

  • db||

    Lots and lots.

  • Almanian!||

    The technical term is "a metric buttload".

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I tend to think it can be seen in politics, where you'll get some blind Dem supporter arguing for card check union organizing, without realizing that the secret ballot is the only way to avoid intimidation (granted, there are some on the union side who support it just to be able to intimidate, but certainly not all of the Dem rank-and-file think about intimidation)

    That's more tribalism than procedures-following. If you bring up the possibility of union intimidation to a rank and file Dem, they respond with talking points, indicating willful ignorance, not mere failure to think about it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    That's not just government, it's any large organization. Religions, private schools, and large businesses have the same tendencies. Once they become too large for a single leader to exercise direct control over, "procedures" have to take his place.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    No one appointed the United States the world’s policeman.

    Of course not. The US is the world's policeman and Obama is its boss.

  • ||

    I cannot disagree with Richman's conclusion, and agree with most of his premises. One of the things lacking from most American analysis of ME politics is an understanding of what those countries are. They arent countries, not as we understand them.

    Here, I can get in my car and drive to the most geographically remote part of the country I can find, park my car and knock on a random door and chances are pretty good that a guy will answer the door that I recognize. I will understand his language, recognize the kinds of clothes he wears, the kinds of wares he has in his home....hell, he might even have a lawnmower identical to my own. Maybe we served together. We may disagree on a number of things, but we wont come to blows over it but they will be genuine disagreements. He is my countryman.

    This is not the case in the middle east, or in most of the world really. Those lines you see on the map and the names in them are just ink on paper, they do not exist on the ground. Syria is not a country where Allepoans and Damascans see each other as fellow countrymen, but where they belong to different tribes, hate each other with a white-hot passion and are sworn blood enemies. Western style representative democracy and the notions of liberty will simply not work there.

  • ||

    I remember seeing an article in an egyptian paper once. I dont remember it word for word, but this is pretty close. Except for the info I cant remember, which is obvious, this is how I remember the article, it is not abbreviated or put in a nutshell.

    "Mr. X walked into the public latrine and saw Mr. Y. Mr. X said to Mr. Y "You are from (some other town) arent you?". Mr. X said yes. Mr. Y got a stick and struck Mr. X on the head, killing him. Then he said "You are stupid!".

    This is why the west has been propping up strong men who do as they are told in that part of the world for so long. It allows some semblance of order to exist there so that we can pursue our economic interests, namely oil.

  • Number 2||

    Syria is nothing more than lines on a map drawn up by the French and British when the created they Middle East out of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. It has no historic, ethnic, religious, economic, military, ideological, or any other basis for existing as it does. It is as artificial a construct as were Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, neither of which exist anymore. In retrospect it is no surprise that these artificial Middle Eastern countries became authoritarian dictatorships, as government is the only thing that holds them together.

    And we want once again to stick ourselves into the middle of this morass we barely understand? Did we learn nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • BakedPenguin||

    This is also true of almost every African nation, and a decent part of the reason why most of them are basket cases.

  • Nazdrakke||

    The point you make is one of the things that drove me crazy about the Iraq invasion back when it was first being drummed up. We even had recently had the bloody example of the former Yugoslavia to guide us and still, somehow the Top Men completely ignored that the most likely outcome of removing Hussein was going to be massive civil conflict between groups of people that totally fucking hate each other. Americans in general take for granted the amazing level of cultural cohesiveness that allows our nation to function as well as it does, and tend, I think, to project that onto the rest of the world, with often tragic results.

  • Number 2||

    Too many of us seem to buy into the fantasy that there are billions of would-be James Madisons and Thomas Jeffersons in the world ready to spring into action once they are freed from the boots of the Evil Dictators who hold them in terror. This fantasy seems to cross party and ideological lines. So strong is this fantasy that seventy years of being disproven has hardly put a dent into it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It wasn't that long ago, historically, that the Middle East was a diverse multicultural beacon of civilization, while in Italy pretty much every city was frequently at war with its neighbors. Sicilians and Florentians were just as far apart as Alawites and Kurds in Syria.

    What allows diverse populations the US and W.Europe to peacefully coexist is the fact that we're extremely wealthy (even the so-called "poor" in the US are wealthy by global standards). Yes, there's some ideology there too which is nice, but that would evaporate right quick when the chips are on the table.

  • ||

    From 24/7;

    "White House releases gas video to drum up war support. "

    The videos are horrific, but they are evidence of nothing. Seriously, this is how jugears is making his case, with appeals to emotion? Goddammit, what an idiot buffoon. And people are going to die over his incompetence? He cant retire fast enough.

    Given the accelerating trend of the recent past, I suppose the next POTUS will make this dope look like a genius. We are fucked. I guess if we miraculously bucked the trend and elected someone decent and competent the leadership of both parties would chain themselves to the WH doors to keep them from getting in.

  • Rich||

    The videos are horrific, but they are evidence of nothing.

    Yep. And every time one of these gas videos is shown, with the obligatory "difficult to view; children should leave" warnings, it should be followed by a *truly* horrific video showing the results of "kinetic action".

  • ||

    I remember the administration of Bush I shitting circles around themselves when photos of dead Iraqi soldiers were published during the Gulf War. That was followed by a clamp being put on such photos.

    The horror of war is something that should be very visible to the American public. "You want war? Take a good look at what you are asking for. Still up for it?"

    It is a shame that those photos dont also have the smell that goes with war.

  • Number 2||

    I remember the Obama Administration, with much fanfare and with great media approval, removing Bush's ban on media coverage of military caskets returning from overseas.

    Funny thing though. Although the ban was removed, I have yet to see coverage of a single returning casket.

    It is good to have the media in your pocket, isn't it?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You know, you can comment in 24/7.

  • ||

    I know that I can but why would I?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Poor 24/7, reason's red headed stepchild.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Seriously, this is how jugears is making his case, with appeals to emotion?

    You sound surprised.
    Which is perplexing because jug-ears always makes his case with dishonest appeals to emotion.

    It wouldn't surprise me in the least if it were revealed that these videos aren't even from Syria 2013, but some other atrocity.

  • Marshall Gill||

    You mean like gassed Kurds? Nope, that never happened and even if it did Saddam went cold turkey on chemical weapons just afterward.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    And five minutes after appealing to base emotion, he acts all sophisticated and patronizes us about how the world is a complicated place so you can't have a consistent principled approach to foreign policy.

  • ||

    The videos are horrific, but they are evidence of nothing.

    Actually, when compared to gaping bullet wounds, missing limbs and people burned beyond recognition from conventional weapons, those videos are pretty mild.

    That people can get so worked up over a gas attack goes to show that most Americans have no concept of what really goes on in a war. Just because your boys aren't dying horrifically, doesn't mean your enemy isn't.

    In reality, there is nothing particularly horrific about gas.

  • Long Range Boredom||

    And yet I see no release of say, footage of white phosphorus launched at the U.S. military at Iraqis and its effects. Those bombs must be made out of rainbows and sunshine.

  • Long Range Boredom||

    *launched by, not at. It's too hot today.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I didn't watch those videos. I thought that they were about gasoline prices. Maybe that angle would work better.

  • SIV||

    SWAT gets their man. This must be some kind of record:

    "Distraction devices were thrown"

  • ||

    That is sad.

    If the police are telling the truth about what happened, and that is a big if, then it was justified.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Suicide by cop.

  • Floridian||

    Do you mean record because the guy was old or record because they tried non-lethal methods first?

  • AdamJ||

    Yep, can't use "flash-bang grenades," some guilty white liberal thinks its demeaning. They've started a campaign against "the FBG word."

  • Jerry on the boat||

    "How about presenting us the evidence Mr. President, instead of linking to these Youtube videos."

  • AdamJ||

    President Obama is as bad a "convincer" as GW Bush was a "decider."

  • Number 2||

    I am still stunned by Obama's claim, through his Secretary of State, himself a former "antiwar activist," that an airborne attack upon a sovereign state, launched from warships and designed to "degrade" the military capacity of that state's recognized government, is not "war in the classic sense."

    Seems to me that the Japanese launched an airborne attack against us from warships, with the intention of degrading our military capacity. I seem to recall that felt quite strongly that this was without question "war" in just about every conceivable sense, and were not very happy about it.

    And these people are supposed to be smarter than George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle, et al.? Really?

  • ||

    You will be well served by a simple rule: Keep in mind that team blue never speaks in good faith. EVER. They even have a little handbook that instructs them so.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    They do sometimes speak in good faith, but it's usually by accident.

    For example, BO's "you didn't build that" speech was completely sincere about his way of thinking.

    Of course, Team Red politicians aren't too great at the whole good faith thing either.

  • nailzer||

    Amazing how these comments are mostly never on the subject of the article.

  • SweatingGin||

    It's the weekend. We're always off topic on the weekend.

  • Mike M.||

    We've had tons of threads and plenty of discussion lately about Syria, and understandably so.

    And then sometimes the article subjects are completely uninteresting to most people, like when they're about Double-Stuffed Oreo cookies and that sort of crap.

  • ||

    They are not double stuffed. They are x1.86 stuffed.

  • Mike M.||

    Cold Arctic summer leads to record increase in the polar ice cap; Northwest Passage blocked by ice all year long; scientists now say we're entering a period of global cooling.

    So Time Magazine in the 70s was right all along? I'll be damned. Good thing we didn't completely destroy our economy, eh?

  • ||

    Tony just assured us that the arctic would be totally ice free soon. In fact, he made a similar claim about record low ice sometime in the last two weeks.

    Hmmm.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean wasn't supposed to melt for about 50 years. Not to nitpick, but nobody thought the entire Arctic would be ice-free, as Greenland's ice would take hundreds of years of global warming to melt.

  • ||

    Read the article.

  • ||

    See. The climate is changing just like we said. Keep sending money, we'll figure it out and tell you exactly what you need to do to avert catastrophe.

    /IPCC

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Even if global warming happens there would still be cold winters and cool summers. It's a change in the MEAN GLOBAL temperature, measured over many years, that's the problem.

    Even if global mean temperature increases by 4C by 2100, you wouldn't step out of your time machine and immediately say "man, it's HOT out here!" Detecting the change would require statistical analysis.

  • Irish||

    Yeah. Mike's point is just as dumb as liberals who are shocked that there are brush fires in Arizona and assume it must be the result of global warming.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Well, the envirowhackos are dishonest when they pull that stuff too.

    A lot of warming-believing climatologists fucking hate Al Gore for that reason -- he opens them up for these kinds of ad hominem attacks with his lily-gilding.

  • Mike M.||

    There's no such thing as a "global mean temperature". That term is largely a political fabrication that has no real scientific meaning or merit at all.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    And of course, the forgotten danger when it comes to high atmospheric CO2 is ocean acidification, which has no connection to global warming.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Danger to who or what?

    Atmospheric CO2 levels have been multiples higher in the past. Didn't end life in the seas.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The natural pH of the ocean is determined by a need to balance the deposition and burial of CaCO3 on the sea floor against the influx of Ca2+and (CO2−)3 into the ocean from dissolving rocks on land, called weathering. These processes stabilize the pH of the ocean, by a mechanism called CaCO3 compensation...The point of bringing it up again is to note that if the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere changes more slowly than this, as it always has throughout the Vostok record, the pH of the ocean will be relatively unaffected because CaCO3 compensation can keep up. The [present] fossil fuel acidification is much faster than natural changes, and so the acid spike will be more intense than the earth has seen in at least 800,000 years.

    http://www.realclimate.org/ind.....-emission/

  • Dave C||

    Realclimate.org? You might as well quote from DailyKos.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Every time you ad-hom, Aqua-Buddha kills a kitten.

  • Dave C||

    So witty Tulpa. And what's ad-hom about that comment? I say the website you're posting from is full of dishonest fucks, including Michael Mann.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It's archetypical ad-hom. You ignored the argument and attacked the source.

  • BLEEDINELL||

    You must have a job at the IPCC; got to keep the company line going, eh?

  • ||

    No. Tulpa is just an asshole. He would argue with his grandmother about her birth date.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The [present] fossil fuel acidification is much faster than natural changes, and so the acid spike will be more intense than the earth has seen in at least 800,000 years.

    That assertion is questionable, with no supporting evidence provided and the cutoff is significant because atmospheric CO2 levels were much higher than today 900,000 years ago, coinciding with no mass extinction events.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

  • VG Zaytsev||

    LOL

    Even you aren't disingenuous enough to claim that a rise in atmospheric CO2 caused the P-T extinction.

  • ||

    McCain raises impeachment - if boots hit ground in Syria

    WASHINGTON (CNN) - After endorsing President Barack Obama's plan to launch military strikes against Syria, Sen. John McCain warned the president would face impeachment if he were to put "boots on the ground."
    At the meeting, McCain, who has favored a more robust American response to the Syria crisis, faced intense criticism.
    Despite his warning to the president, McCain spoke out in favor of the Syria authorization again Saturday
    In an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Tuesday, McCain told Wolf Blitzer the president needed to "explain to the American people" why urgent action in Syria is necessary

    .

    "It's common sense you don't warn them and give them plenty of time to disperse," McCain said

    A man divided. He really, really, really wants to kill him some brown people, but he's afraid of the public backlash, so he'll threaten the president with impeachment for boots on the ground AND call for airstrikes so he can kill "SOME" brown people. (I'll only put the tip in.)

    It's good that we have elected such principled leaders.

    This guy is fucking out of his gourd! Too much time as a POW!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    McCain is completely insane at this point.

  • Bam!||

    "At this point?" He started out this way.

  • ||

    Remember when Homer was kicked out of the house living in Bart's treehouse and that paper plate cut out of Marge's face attached to a plant? McCain is giving me that feeling.

  • BLEEDINELL||

    Ting Tong made us a Ding Dong.

  • SIV||

    Are you one of the 1% ?

    Take the quiz

  • ||

    10%

  • GPZsug||

    13 out of 13. Falsely skewing the scores of 65+ year-old high school educated women. Fuck Pew's metrics.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    4%, I thought the percentage of congress that is female was around 30%.

  • ||

    Yeah I got 13/13 but I completely guessed on that one.

  • BLEEDINELL||

    You were just seeing double after your afternoon wank. No apology necessary.

  • Jerry on the boat||

    5%. Failed the 1st question and the Dow Jones question.

  • Redmanfms||

    1%.

    Guessed the population pyramid thing, but figured it was Nigeria because of average mortality ages being much higher in the other three choices.

  • Long Range Boredom||

    So, re-reading Transmetropolitan because I'm bored and its cathartic. Out of curiosity I hopped online and of course saw a ton of comparisons of 'The Smiler' to Republicans. Now, there's some really obvious commentary on the Bush Adminstration's handling of Katrina, but 'The Beast' seems to be more in line with a Republican criticism. This guy seems a little too familiar.

  • SugarFree||

    Obama is The Smiler. TransMet is becoming a book of prophecy.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I tried to explain my suspicion that many of the commentariat here have spent most of our lives feeling marginalized and drowning in a sea of stupid. Finding Reason and hanging around here reminds us that there is thoughtful analysis that simply cant be found anywhere else and there actually are other people that think like us.

    This would be more plausible if I had not just skimmed through last night's festival of shitslinging.

  • Slammer||

    You beat me to it. That thread last night was a flaming pile of dogshit. Total garbage.

  • Nazdrakke||

    I saw the number of comments and just assumed some kind of flame war. What was the fuss this time?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Child abuse and video games.

    I don't think it was that bad. The only shit I saw flying was from people Brooksie likes, so I'm perplexed.

  • ||

    Take the Tony out of it and parts of it were pretty good.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Coming up on Meet the Press:

    Savannah Guthrie takes a long hard look at Teh Weiner.

    I can hardly wait.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Guthrie: Huma Huma Huma. You've humiliated her, blah, blah, blah, you big daumb meanie.

    Weiner: I want to talk about the issues.

    Guthrie: Fair enough. Will Huma be campaigning with you? Will she be there on election night?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Serious question: How can a woman who comes from a country whose law allows men to have four wives, and who still follows the religion which is the basis for the law, be "humiliated" by her husband trying to attract other women? Perhaps Ms. Leathers would have made a wonderful "sister wife"?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Are you popping xenophobe pills today, HM?

    Do you also condemn gay Jews in light of the fact they should stone themselves according to their religion, or do you save the venom for Muslims?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't see where I'm being venomous; especially, since my faith, Buddhism, has no problem with polygamous marriages.

    Did Huma ever say she was "humiliated" or is that something that was assumed by those who can't think outside the Judeo-Christian cultural paradigm? Perhaps they have an open marriage or some other arrangement.

  • ||

    Even in a polygamous society it would be fair to ask if someone was humiliated or at least jealous. They aren't pretending that females can't feel jealousy, right?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Indeed. If a Saudi man did something like this he'd be in seriously deep shit.

    There's a difference between having four wives and showing your silhouetted pecker to random women.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Indeed. If a Saudi man did something like this he'd be in seriously deep shit.

    Give me a break! You know what goes on in Jeddah, right?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What happens in Jeddah stays in Jeddah.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Jealousy is a much different emotion than humiliation. I can be jealous of my neighbor's new car, but it doesn't necessarily imply that I'm humiliated that he bought it.

    In a polygamous society, a guy who is looking for his 2nd wife is going to flirt with other women. That's a fact of life in such a society, so I don't see why one would feel humiliated considering humiliation in such a situation usually stems from the breach of trust and the negative feeling associated with it. However, if the marriage contract is understood in that culture to be one where a man can look for other wives, then there is no breach of trust.

  • ||

    If your neighbor has four wives and you have none--a necessarily common occurrence in polygamous societies, you are going to feel humiliated by your complete lack of wives. Perhaps it's not acceptable to admit this humiliation but it is certainly going to be there. Envy and humiliation are close cousins.

  • gaoxiaen||

    As are second, third, and fourth wives.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I know many American Muslims and none of them have group marriages, so I fail to see how that assumption makes any sense. That's like assuming that all Catholics live in communes and have married bishops because that's what the post-gospel New Testament says they did.

    If indeed there is a cultural thing going on here, it would be in Weiner's best interest to come clean about it, no?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I know many American Muslims

    I think it a bit disingenuous to describe Huma Abedin as an "American Muslim" in the sense you use in your observation, considering her family moved to Saudi Arabia when she was two years old and she only returned to America when she was eighteen. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but let's not pretend she was raised on apple pie and softball in the park.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Few of the people I'm talking about were born here, and most first came here as adults.
    Do you have any idea how many men in SA are married to four women in practice?

    Or are you throwing it out there as yet another way to make Muslim immigrants seem weird.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you have any idea how many men in SA are married to four women in practice?

    Very few, actually, as you need to be able to financially support all of them.

    Or are you throwing it out there as yet another way to make Muslim immigrants seem weird.

    Huh? My whole point is that the obsessive reporting on Huma's "humiliation" is because Americans who aren't aware of Saudi culture find it "weird". I'm criticizing that.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Americans who aren't aware of Saudi culture find it "weird".

    Saudi culture would find it "weird" too. Jesus Ragnarok Guatama, you're really going to die on this hill?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Saudi culture would find it "weird" too.

    You say that with such authority, as if posting one woman's anecdotes has awarded you a degree in Saudi Studies.

  • BLEEDINELL||

    Muslims as a whole are backward thinking savages, deserving of ridicule and even outright violence.
    You do not protect your values as a society by tolerating those very things you raise your kids to avoid.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If indeed there is a cultural thing going on here, it would be in Weiner's best interest to come clean about it, no?

    I agree.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Have you ever been curious what it feels like for Saudi women to be part of polygamous families? ... Since I’ve come to teach ESL at a women’s college in Saudi Arabia, I’ve found that confronting stereotypes and the desire to clarify the Saudi lifestyle globally is a predominant issue for my students. Through the global media they are very aware of how the wider world sees Saudis and they often describe belittling and humiliating experiences when on vacation in Europe or North America. Many of them have first-hand experience of being treated like terrorists and they can’t fail to notice that their Western interlocutors raise their eyebrows in disbelief when they describe balanced or moderate Saudi views. Then there are the more imaginative stereotypical questions they are asked about faucets that pump out oil and camels in their yards. However, the ubiquitous stereotypical question that ticks them off is the one based on the assumption that all Saudi men have four wives. And thus Saudi women abroad are regularly asked: “How can you live with THAT?”
  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    In fact, polygamy is not the norm amongst Saudi families. Polygamy is legal in Saudi Arabia, and when it has happened to a student or to someone in one of their families, the students are generally openly upset about it. They describe their anger at their fathers and how they must take care of their depressed mothers and siblings in classroom discussions, and in their writing. Divorce and polygamy seem to cause equal amounts of distress, and while polygamy is socially understood, it is rarely comfortably accepted. Some students have said their families have been totally split apart, and describe what I would, from a Western point of view, consider permanently separated marital status. In these situations, the father doesn’t divorce the first wife – he just lives with the new wife. He may or may not financially support the first wife and his children, and the emotional support has definitely dwindled. This obviously causes a strained relationship with the children, who try to look after their hurting mothers, and thus they often struggle to keep up with their studies. By contrast, I have only seen a few cases where the children are openly OK with the reality of a polygamous father. This is usually the case when the mother is mentally stable and has family support, and the financial support continues to come from the father.

    http://www.languageonthemove.c.....gamy-esl-2

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    From the article:

    Polygamy is thus a class phenomenon: in a rich family the second marriage might have been more socially acceptable and the impact less painful.

    That's the point.

  • gaoxiaen||

    This is the case in many countries, except that rich Saudis give their mistresses some legal rights (in a sense)through an obligation of financial support.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The guy's a laughingstock, made so through his own obsessive actions. How can he hope to talk about the issues? I can look past most boners in people's personal lives, but Wiener's have been so big that you just can't. They're a sign of a serious medical condition requiring immediate attention.

    If Bozo the Clown showed up in full makeup on MTP and insisted that he wanted to talk seriously about agricultural policy, would you blame the host for asking

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Dispatches from the world of the tragically hip

    I began to think about the marshmallow kid and how much I wanted my own daughter to be like him one day last fall while I sat in a parent-teacher conference in her second-grade classroom and learned, as many parents do these days, that she needed to work on self-regulation. My daughter is nonconformist by nature, a miniature Sarah Silverman. She’s wildly, transgressively funny and insists on being original even when it causes her pain. The teacher at her private school, a man so hip and unthreatened that he used to keep a boa constrictor named Elvis in his classroom, had noticed she was not gently going along with the sit-still, raise-your-hand-to-speak-during-circle-time program. “So ...” he said, in the most caring, best-practices way, “have you thought about occupational therapy?”

    I don't know if I'm tough enough to read any more of this.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...he used to keep a boa constrictor named Elvis in his classroom...

    I don't see any way that could not turn out well.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Certainly puts "you ain't nothin but a hound dog" in different context.

  • Bam!||

    My 5th grade classroom had two big snakes, two lizards, a tarantula, and a tank of hissing cockroaches. The snakes were fed once a month by dangling a dead mouse just inside the cage, which the snake would then lunge at.

  • ||

    That first grouping of words, which I refuse to call a sentence, was enough to make me throw in the towel.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Yet here in 2013, even as the United States faces pressure to “win the future,” the American education system has swung in the opposite direction, toward the commodified data-driven ideas promoted by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who at the turn of the century did time-motion studies of laborers carrying bricks to figure out how people worked most efficiently. Borrowing Taylor’s ideas, school was not designed then to foster free thinkers. Nor is it now, thanks to how teacher pay and job security have been tied to student performance on standardized tests. “What we’re teaching today is obedience, conformity, following orders,” says the education historian Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. “We’re certainly not teaching kids to think outside the box.”

    No shit, Honey. But keep telling yourself you're part of the intellectual elite. Don't worry, your social status will help your precocious little nonconformist get into a top tier school and learn all about how society has oppressed her for all these years.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    That's bullshit. during the 20th century that "not designed to foster free thinkers" school system produced the greatest innovators the world has ever seen.

    Kids will have plenty of time for free thought after they master the 3 R's, which along with learning social skills and teamwork is the point of school. It's cute for a first grader to ask why 2+2 is 4 instead of 5, and perhaps fruitful for a senior in college to ask the same because at that point they may understand the explanation, but if this dispute is being had in 7th grade there's a problem.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's bullshit. during the 20th century that "not designed to foster free thinkers" school system produced the greatest innovators the world has ever seen.

    Name ten.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    Are you arguing that there were no American innovators in the 20th century.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    No, I want you to name the ones that were the product of late 20th century public schools.

    And I'm still waiting, btw.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    No, I want you to name the ones that were the product of late 20th century public schools.

    There go the goalposts.

    I'm talking about the entire 20th century and schools in general. Private and parochial schools followed the same paradigm as public schools that the lady is denigrating.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    And I'm still waiting, btw.

    If you want to argue that there were no native American innovators in the 20th century, I'll let you make that argument.

    And of course my case is even stronger since most immigrants to America came from backgrounds with even more regimented school systems.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    And still no examples of creative thinkers created by the modern American public school system.

  • Plopper||

    @VG Zaytsev:

    See my response to your emotional outburst on the other thread where you accuse me of being a pedophile and totally misrepresent what I was arguing.

    What you said was no different than saying that people who think crack (and all drugs) should be legal are in favor of people smoking crack.

    But hey, I'm used to being beat up on regarding this subject because most people are incapable of thinking rationally about it and instead have a violent conniption.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What you said was no different than saying that people who think crack (and all drugs) should be legal are in favor of people smoking crack.

    Yes, I think that people should be free to smoke crack or any other drug recreationally. That logically follows from my wanting end the drug war and all prohibition.

    Likewise, anyone arguing for the legalization of child prostitution logically thinks that it is fine for someone to pay children for sex.

  • Irish||

    American innovation was not fueled by the United States' school system. Many of those great innovators, particularly in the last 20 years, were foreigners who were innovative because of the opportunities granted them by the American economic and political system.

    America and England were also very innovative in the 1800s when there were very few publicly financed schools and those that existed were very different. The idea that American innovation was caused by our school system needs an awful lot of evidence to support it, and I haven't seen any.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The last 20 years barely intersect the 20th century, which is what I was talking about.

    American schools, public, private, and parochial, followed the model that she is denigrating, since at least the 1920s.

    And of course, foreign schools are even less likely to teach questioning authority and freethinking either.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The issue I have is that she's not really attacking regimentation itself, she's attacking schools being held accountable for the students' actual learning. She's totally OK with letting third graders use calculators for everything and replacing the time spent memorizing multiplication tables with making self-esteem portraits full of ribbons and glitter.

  • BLEEDINELL||

    Well, women did invent toilet paper.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I never heard this. Could you please elucidate?

  • Goldwin Smith||

    Great American School System

    When was the American Public School system ever regarded as "great"? Seems it has always been criticized for being underfunded and crappy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What we’re teaching today is obedience, conformity, following orders. [emphasis added]

    That's not just due to standardized testing, and it's certainly not just today. It was by design, since John Dewey (et.al.) thought the point of mandatory public schooling was to produce "good citizens", not necessarily educated ones.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yep.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    War on Walmart, ch. 6.751

    Paul Solman: So would you be happy or unhappy if Wal-Mart signed on?

    Alice Maggio: Well, we don't really worry about Walmart signing on because Wal-Mart is sort of antithetical to the BerkShares spirit. We want to support locally owned stores that are employing people with living wages and producing things here for local consumption. Wal-Mart's business model is to export the money they take in to their corporate center. So it wouldn't make any sense for them to take BerkShares because BerkShares stay here.

    Oh, horror! Those damn Arkansas carpetbaggers, raping and pillaging the Berkshires.

  • Bam!||

    Good luck trying to produce a cell phone locally, dumbass. And it's on a PBS website! We fucking paid for that.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    And then:

    Paul Solman: But wouldn't it be a bad thing if every community in the world was simply trading within itself?

    Alice Maggio: What we want to do is create an appropriate scale currency for our region that will then serve the needs of our region. We used to have a system in this country of local currencies everywhere, and then there was a national currency, too. So that's what we'd like to see again: regional currencies that work for their region and then a national currency -- why not? You need that too so that you can trade across the country, or even an international currency.

    Whatever you do, don't answer the question; just ignore centuries of economic history. I'm sure the Berkshares board will approve financing for that steel mill.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    She probably so stupid that she doesn't realize that she just endorsed free banking and the abolition of the federal reserve.

  • mtrueman||

    I've never felt that anything will come of this Syria business. I think the US has lost its enthusiasm for foreign adventures, and Obama was never a big supporter. What really struck me was the Bengazi assassination on Sept. 11 a couple years back. The reaction to this was one of resignation rather than anger. There was no mood of revenge, and mostly I saw partisan bickering. Who knew what and when etc. I think this reaction was compounded with the obvious recognition of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I think the US has lost its enthusiasm for foreign adventures, and Obama was never a big supporter.

    Yet he did it anyway, and is insisting on doing it again against popular opposition, because _____________.

    Do your apologetics for murderous leftists know no bounds?

  • mtrueman||

    I really don't know exactly why Obama followed the European lead in the attack against Libya. I don't think the explanation that he's just another murderous leftist is all that satisfying, especially given that he followed Bush's withdrawal plans to the letter despite some pressure to abrogate the agreement. Obama has also set in motion a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    What exactly Obama thinks about Syria is not clear to me. I just don't see a lot of enthusiasm on his part for overthrowing Assad. (Assad by the way is by far the most murderous leftist in this drama, and he's the enemy.) Obama's closest strategic partners in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have been the biggest sabre rattlers so far and while they are murderous to be sure, they are hardly leftists. Murderous leftism is a vicious force in our world, but it can't explain everything. Syria is a confusing and complex situation and Obama feels he must do something as president. I really doubt he feels he knows the right or best thing to do.

    I'm not sure how you see this as apologetics for Obama. I question his fitness to lead on issues like this. And that reflects on the resolve of the American people which I've pointed out has gone wobbly. Obama lacks the courage or ideas to formulate an alternative to the mood that captured the American people during the Bush administration.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    He is a leftist and he orders murder. Thus he is a murderous leftist. That's not intended as an explanation, it's a statement of fact. Now, why does he order murder? Why is he a leftist? Those are complicated questions.

    I'm not sure how you see this as apologetics for Obama.

    Because you blame other people for his actions.... just like you blamed Western paranoia for Stalin's horrific crimes, and American misunderstanding of Vietnamese culture for the atrocities perpetrated by the VC and NVA in the war. You infantilize monsters as long as they're on the correct half of the spectrum.

    Obama lacks the courage or ideas to formulate an alternative to the mood that captured the American people during the Bush administration.

    The mood of the American people was against the Libya crap, it's certainly against this Syria bullshit, and it was against continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations for the 3.5 years and 4.5 years and counting, respectively, that he continued them for.

    If he were merely going with the mood of the American people, his Peace Prize would not be the joke that it has turned out to be.

  • mtrueman||

    I'm not blaming rightists for Obama's actions or lack of actions. I think we can safely blame a lack of courage and moral fibre within Obama for the worst he's managed to achieve. As for his being a murderous leftist, well he's a president and that's part of the job. Name a recent president who's not the same. His predecessor Bush teamed up with ex-Soviet clients, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

    And I never blamed Western paranoia for Stalin's worst crimes. That's simply sloppy reading on your part. His worst crimes, the subjugation of Eastern Europe, the deaths of half the population of Kazakhstan, or the liquidation of millions of party members in the 30's were all down to Stalin's own personal fear and/or were in line with communist doctrine.

    About Vietnam, I said that the Americans thought that communism was a monolithic force bent on world conquest. This was a misreading of the situation between China and the USSR, which was antagonistic at the time and growing more so. The Vietnamese who relied on these powers for support certainly had a better handle on their intentions and how they could exploit them to their best advantage. They won, after all and the USA lost. If that doesn't cause you to question the validity of the assumptions that led the US into war, maybe nothing will.

  • mtrueman||

    "If he were merely going with the mood of the American people"

    I don't think any president goes merely by the mood of the people. Leadership, admittedly not one of Obama's strongest suits, is more than that regardless of what his or the nation's political leanings are. The facts of the matter are that despite the turmoil in Syria that has been ongoing for some years now, Obama has not escalated it appreciably. I still hold my doubts that he ever will, notwithstanding those voices from Saudi Arabia etc egging him on to ramp up the violence.

    Don't get me wrong about the mood of the American people. I think exhaustion and frustration with the failures of foreign adventures has set in. This is not to be confused with a longing for peace. I don't see any calls for the closing of overseas bases or drastic cuts to the military expenditure.

  • Bam!||

    No revenge? What are you talking about? The video maker who instigated the whole think is in jail, right?

  • mtrueman||

    No revenge? That's a bit premature. Under the Colonel, Libya was probably the most advanced country in Africa measured by Western standards such as female literacy, per capita GDP etc. With all the chaos now in Libya in the wake of regime change, those standards have certainly fallen. Revenge can take many forms, and my point was that the American people have lost their taste for punishing military adventures overseas.

  • 4thaugust1932||

    Obedience or Peace?
    What is USA seeking from rest of the world?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    She probably so stupid that she doesn't realize that she just endorsed free banking and the abolition of the federal reserve.

    The accidental anarchist!

  • Goldwin Smith||

    The U.S. government is neither an honest broker nor an avenger of the victims of injustice. It is the world's ham-handed hegemon, with overriding geopolitical and economic interests that determine what it does in any circumstance.

    And this is different from any government ever?

    strongmen who crush their people’s dreams of freedom

    Dreams is too nice a word...

  • Bruce Majors||

    Today's protest at the White House http://insomniaclibertarian.bl.....otest.html

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