We are now accepting foreign aid

Now we know how Third World countries feel.  We should be grateful, though isn’t it kind of humiliating, a sign of our decline in the world?

US accepts international assistance for Gulf spill – Yahoo! Finance.

Keep and bear arms

The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment gives individuals–not militias–the personal right to keep and bear arms, a right that state and local governments may not abridge:

The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates.

The 5 to 4 decision does not strike down any gun-control laws, nor does it elaborate on what kind of laws would offend the Constitution. One justice predicted that an “avalanche” of lawsuits would be filed across the country asking federal judges to define the boundaries of gun ownership and government regulation.

But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the court’s dominant conservatives, said: “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”

The decision extended the court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” That decision applied only to federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington; it was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.

via Supreme Court affirms fundamental right to bear arms.

I don’t see how the Second Amendment could be read in any other way.  For those who only think that it refers to militias, I would think they would have to support militias as constitutionally-mandated.  At the time of the founding and extending through the Civil War, America had no large standing army.  Just local and state militias consisting of ordinary citizens.  Who kept their weapons at home.

The National Guard is not equivalent to those militias (note the “national” in the name and its connection to the standing military forces).  Nor are the radical groups that call themselves militias but operate under no governmental chain-of-command.   But since the Constitution calls for them, shouldn’t we have them?  Could they, properly trained and equipped, offer an alternative military system to what we have today?

ANOTHER THOUGHT: Those who think the Second Amendment applies primarily to militias should, therefore, support the possession of military weapons, such as assault rifles. Clearly, the amendment is not talking about the right to hunt but the right to “security.” That certainly has to include the keeping of weapons for self defense.

America and the World Cup

The whole world is caught up in the excitement of the World Cup, the global championship of soccer. This is a true world series, involving virtually every nation in the world, all of whom care passionately about it. Except the United States! We have a team, which opens the tournament Saturday in South Africa in a game against England, but who here is noticing?

What I want to know is this: Why is the United States so apathetic when it comes to soccer? You could say that it isn’t part of our culture, and yet our kids play it, and many parents take that very seriously. Do even soccer-playing kids follow the World Cup? Despite the low scores, soccer can be an exciting game. The scores are no lower than hockey–in fact, the games are very similar, except hockey is on ice–and that sport is a big deal in this country (ask Chicago Blackhawk fans, whose team just won that championship). So how do you account for America’s lack of interest in soccer, unlike virtually every other country in the world? We get all excited about the Olympics, even with less popular sporting events. Shouldn’t we get similarly psyched up about the World Cup?

UPDATE:  The American team took a 1-1 draw with England, which counts as a major upset!  England is ranked way up there as a contender for the championship, and a tie gives you a point and undefeated status in the tournament.  C’mon, everybody:  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

War between the states?

OK, it’s not on the scale of 1862, but since California is threatening to boycott Arizona because of its new law  evicting illegal immigrants, Arizona is threatening to cut off California’s electricity.  Los Angeles gets 25% of its power from Arizona.

via Power Play Over Immigration Law | NBC Los Angeles.

The decline and fall of American power?

Richard Cohen says that America just doesn’t have much effect on world events anymore.  He starts with the President’s visit to the oil spill. . .

Everyone knew that Obama was merely showing that he was not George W. Bush. He was not going to ignore a calamity, especially one affecting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. On the other hand, we all knew that he could not reverse the winds or cork the spill. In fact, he could do precious little except show that he cared.

This was a symbolic moment — the tide, menacing the coast with oil, moving its own way, just as events across the globe seem to be. We are accustomed to American presidents being supremely important if for no other reason than that they command the world’s mightiest military. But we ought to appreciate also that presidential importance, in terms of being able to influence events, is slipping.

In the Middle East, nothing Obama has done has made much of a difference. In Europe, the euro teeters. As critical as this currency is, it is far less important than the concept of European integration upon which it is based. We tend to forget that Europe is the home office of awful wars — twice in the last century we got involved — and if you include Russia as part of Europe, as some Russians insist, then we have to count the Cold War, too. As for Russia, it shrugs off American complaints and moves progressively backward — not a European democracy, just something else.

On the periphery of Europe is Turkey, seeking to reestablish some of the influence the Ottoman Empire once had in the region. It may also be reverting to a more Islamic state, possibly concluding that nearly a century of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's secularism is enough. Whatever the case, there isn't much we can do about Turkey, either. It no longer needs the United States as a Cold War ally, and it even blocked military access to Iraq at the start of the war. The waning pull of the American present can no longer match the pull of the Ottoman past. Israel,

China, too, is beyond our reach. In some ways, we need it more than it needs us. We owe Beijing money. We buy China’s goods. We respect its growing might. We rue our diminishing power. We muffle our concern over human rights. We are a superpower. But against what?

American conservatives look at the defeats and disappointments, and they fulminate about Obama. They call him weak and inept — and surely in some areas he has been both. But they are wrong in thinking that another person would make much of a difference. Times have changed. America’s power is diminished — relatively, for sure, but absolutely as well.

via Richard Cohen – A superpower — and a president — with declining clout.

Is this just liberal glee at America’s decline?  Or evidence of an ineffective government?  Or is this a good thing, a recognition that some things are beyond our control that is necessary for a realistic approach to the world?

Europe abandoning what America is embracing

From  Europe rewrites its rule book in creating fund to contain financial crisis:

The massive emergency fund assembled to defend the value of the euro is backed by a political gamble with an uncertain outcome: that European governments will rewrite a post-World War II social contract that has been generous to workers and retirees but has become increasingly unaffordable for an aging population.

So Europe is drawing back from the social democratic welfare state JUST AS the United States is adopting the social democratic welfare state.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X