Tony Blair’s speech to Congress Blair for Presi…

Tony Blair’s speech to Congress

Blair for President! Seriously though, are there any cogent counterarguments to the points Blair articulated so well in his speech to Congress last week?

A quick review:

– terrorism is bred of poverty and illiberity

– terrorism plus destructive technology is a security threat to ALL the west

– the best way to combate terrorism is to spread liberty

– we mustn’t let terrorists get their hands on WMD

– the only way to prevent terrorist from getting WMD and to spread liberty are to be sure the world is in lock-step with us

Is there another way to look at the state of the world? If not, are the only arguments remaining to do with HOW to implement the last point?

Mankiw vs. Greenspan?

Mankiw is saying that growth, spurred by the administration’s tax policy, will increase the government’s top line and reduce the deficit.  Greenspan is saying that deficit’s are bad when the economy is at full employment.  It’s not clear that these two men would disagree with each other.  What counterposes their opinions?

The only difference seems to be the writers’ editorial bent.

Movie review: Flash Dance Dreams Alex is a wel…

Movie review: Flash Dance

Dreams

Alex is a welder by day and she is a exotic dancer at night. As the movie opens, we come to understand that her dream is to become a classical dancer. As a kid, her Nana took her to ballet and her father taught her to see the music at classical music concerts. Now she is grown up and in a fork in the road of her life. Does she realize her dream or does she accept her position in life?

The film is filled with characters that have had their dreams crushed or have not realized their dream. Hanna wanted to be an ice skater, but that dream was crushed by one poor performance. Do you really only have one shot? Richy wants to be a stand-up comic, but will he realize his dream? He’s failed once before will he try again? Johnny never even had a dream.

Sometimes family or friends will get in the way. Their own crushed dreams will make them uninspiring, even without words. The blow can come in the form of a rolling of the eyes or just plain disinterest. Sometimes their own failures will cause them to conspire to make sure you don’t reach your dream. They might actively try to dissuade you to give up your dream. Some will want to see you put in your place (your place, of course, is no where near your dream). If you don’t resist their calls to remain were you are, then you will. What would have happened if Alex didn’t make Johnny let go of her in that alley?

In the end, the worst enemy of your realization of your dream is you. You’ll be afraid to bring your dream into focus and you won’t know what to strive for. Or you’ll know your dream, but you’ll be afraid to go after it. The hardest part will be to take the first step: to fill out the application, to lift the first weight, to take the test or to write the first line. Why did Alex leave the line to fill out the application to the ballet school? Seeing others fail before her needn’t have stopped her from taking that first step.

Some never take that first step and their dream fades away. Tina, another dancer at the club, doesn’t know why she didn’t grow beyond the night club. You could ask “why does this happen? Why do people lose sight of their dreams?” But the answer doesn’t matter. The most academic explanations involving Tina’s psychology or descriptions of her upbringing, will not change the fact that she never realized her dream. What really matters is that you don’t lose sight of your dreams.

Alex got some help, a “kick in the ass”, by Nick. He is her self-made, successful boss and owner of the steal factory. He has realized his dream and now he wants to see her realize hers. He nudged her into finally applying to the ballet school. Of course, luck plays its part and Nick, who happens to know the music conservatory director, makes a few phone calls to get her an audition.

The story in Flashdance is, at the same time, timeless and dated. Discovering and realizing your dreams is a classic story. For Alex, she was from humble beginnings and she had to break free from the boundaries of poverty. Her’s is the classic story of the American dream. Despite economic adversity, she worked hard and was passionate. She has no agenda and she pursued her passion for its own sake. With a little luck and determination, she made it to the audition.

Today, the story of the American dream has to be modified. Most people grow up with out the economic hardship that Alex had. For the average kid, everything is handed to them. They don’t have to struggle find the open door, many doors are open for them at birth. It’s easy to realize your dream, when you don’t have to strive for it, right?

Can the American dream be salvaged with such a lack of struggle?

Your dream, the American dream, is what defines your purpose in life. To have purpose is a struggle for everyone not just those in poverty. Where poverty denies you options, privilege saturates you with them. In poverty, the path you choose defines you. In privilege, you have to choose among your many options and you’re defined by what you chose and what you didn’t chose. In both poverty and privilege, your path is not set but it will appear to be. And in both you have to overcome the temptation to accept your standing in life and to discover your true ambition. From there, whatever your challenge, you need focus to become great.

Whether your obstacle is poverty, privilege or something else: “Take a deep breath and jump”. After that first step, what if you don’t make it? You will, I know you will.

Lyrics to the What a feeling.

Neo-conned A seemingly objective and well thoug…

Neo-conned

A seemingly objective and well thought out article by a member of congress(!). Neo-conservatives have taken over the government (congress and the executive). They believe in Machiavellian philosophy of authoritarian government, perpetual war and “honorable” lies.

The congressman argues that neo-conservative actions are eroding the constitution and the principles of the Founders when they ‘entangle’ us in foreign affairs and support the welfare state. The first point is better made, it seems probable that the current foreign policy of the US government is contrary to our neutral/isolationist tradition. While the declaration of independence proclaimed universal, inalienable rights of all humans, the subsequent constitution never required us to spread these ideals overseas. In our tradition, foreign policy is only made in respect to our defense. Of the two options for defense strategy, altruistic neutrality or proactive meddling (including preemptive war), I think the constitution, and certainly the founders, would favor the former. In any case, it wouldn’t hurt for someone to remake the argument for neutrality. (My first reaction to this idea is negative as I think ‘isolationism’… How can you square neo-liberal ideas of free trade and the American tradition of neutrality? Both seem to be sane ideas, more sane than pre-emptive war.)

The second point is not as effectively made. Why does big government undermine the constitution? My gut agrees with this assertion, but the proper argument wasn’t made in the article.

In any case, I want to revisit this article and the “liberty committee”.

Coldplay Lyrics: A Warning Sign A warning sign…

Coldplay Lyrics: A Warning Sign

A warning sign

I missed the good part then I realised

I started looking and the bubble burst

I started looking for excuses

Come on in

I’ve got to tell you what a state I’m in

I’ve got to tell you in my loudest tones

That I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is

I miss you

Yeah the truth is

That I miss you so.

A warning sign

You came back to haunt me and I realised

That you were an island and I passed you by

When you were an island to discover

Come on in

I’ve got to tell you what a state I’m in

I’ve got to tell you in my loudest tones

That I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is

I miss you

Yeah the truth is

That I miss you so

And I’m tired

I should not have let you go

So I crawl back into your open arms

Yes I crawl back into your open arms

And I crawl back into your open arms

Yes I crawl back into your open arms

Coldplay Lyrics: The Scientist The Scientist …

Coldplay Lyrics: The Scientist

The Scientist

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry

You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you

Tell you I need you

Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets

And ask me your questions

Oh let’s go back to the start

Running in circles

Coming up tails

Heads on a silence apart

Nobody said it was easy

It’s such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing

At numbers and figures

Pulling your puzzles apart

Questions of science

Science and progress

Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me

Come back and haunt me

Oh and I rush to the start

Running in circles

Chasing our tails

Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy

Oh it’s such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

Randy E. Barnett on Supreme Court & Sodomy on Nati…

Randy E. Barnett on Supreme Court & Sodomy on National Review Online

Randy’s right on. He says we’re all missing the boat on the Supreme Court sodomy case. The real story is that the burden of proof regarding whether or not a law governing private affairs is constititional has moved from the individual to the government. The court used to presume that laws passed by the Congress or by State legislatures were constitutional. You had to petition the court to prove that the law was not constituional. Now, the court will require the government to justify its limits on liberty.

My favorite line is this one: a legistlatures “judgment of immorality means nothing more than that a majority of the legislature disapproves of this conduct, which would be true whenever a legislature decides to outlaw something. Such a doctrine would amount to granting an unlimited police power to state legislatures.”

Americans must preserve institution of marriage …

Americans must preserve institution of marriage

Is it just me or does this editorial have no substance at all? To summarize: gay marriage is coming, marriage is important for society because you raise children through this institution, marriage is being destroyed because people are confused about what it is, society is headed to ruins. Oh and how dare those unelected charlatans (i.e. the nine Supreme Court justices) destroy our society without asking us?

If marriage is so damned important, why would making more people eligible to participate in the institution be a bad thing? Also, why, again, can’t homos raise children?

What confuses me about marriage is that there are these arbitrary rules governing the institution. Marriage is only betwen men and woman. (Why?) Marraige is important to help raise kids. (What about couples that don’t have kids?) The institution of Marraige must be supported by the government but that support must be unequal. (What other legal institution have this kind of baised governmental support?)

Policy should not be guided by personal preference. Senator Santorum should express his opinion, but he shouldn’t insist that his preferences for how other people live be codified in the constitution.

Marriage ‘tames’ geniuses, criminals Hah! I kn…

Marriage ‘tames’ geniuses, criminals

Hah! I knew it…

Previously, I’ve heard that criminal ‘instincts’ are dulled by marriage. This is why marriage a stabilizing force in society and why societies that have strong institutions of marriage have ‘evolved’ to be less violent. The context being that American culture is headed to shit because of the decline of marriage.

This article goes one step further. Marriage dulls creativity. So to counter the conservative argument that marriage is good for society, this article suggests that it can be bad by distracting our best creative minds.