Thoughts on the Passing of Joseph Cropsey

I hope I’m not doing a disservice by writing these brief remarks as late as I am; however, the passing of Professor Joseph Cropsey warranted some small mention of appreciation from one of the many people Dr. Cropsey influenced. ?Dr. Cropsey was introduced to me when my college professor thrust History of Political Philosophy into my hands and said, “If you truly appreciate political philosophy, get this. ?It is the ‘bible.’” ?My copy (third edition; still looking to grab one of the earlier ones as well) sits beside my laptop as I type. ?It is a thick tome. ?The thoughts and writings inside, edited by Drs. Strauss and Cropsey, even thicker; requiring concentration and thought as you read, and re-read, and underline, and read once more. News of Dr. Cropsey’s passing immediately spurred thoughts of Goethe’s passing in my mind. ?Goethe was on his deathbed with his daughter-in-law sitting by his side. ?Wanting another shutter in his room opened by one of the servants, Goethe is said to have called, ?more light! before his ties to this world were severed by Father Time’s scythe. “More light!” Allan Bloom said, “Education is the movement from darkness into light.” ?Joseph Cropsey spent his life helping pilgrims on their way from darkness into light. ?He started out much more economically-minded by writing at lengths about Adam Smith and Karl Marx. ?His writings on Plato, however, are considerable food for thought. ?Very, very rich food. ?Some people can stomach it, others might prefer something lighter. ?Nevertheless, one of the subjects Cropsey looks at is the human condition, as Peter Lawler stated in his comments on Postmodern Conservative, “our wondering and our wondering” in Plato’s World: Man’s Place in the Cosmos.??Here’s to hoping that his departure gave him what all philosophers long for: ?More Light!   -rj  Read More →

President Obama Needs to Remind Us Why We Are There

“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight – our country – these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.” Those were the words of Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, who is Secretary Gates’ senior military assistant.  He went on to point out that less than one percent of the population serves in the armed forces currently, and there is a growing concern within the military community regarding their isolation in the America they are defending.  Not only are our men and women facing isolation at home, they are being left on the battlefield with little support by their countrymen stateside. A recent poll was released by ABC News and Washington Post shows that a paltry 34% of Americans find the war in Afghanistan worth fighting.  Sadly, this poll came out the same day General Patraeus gave his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee asking his audience, Senators and informed Americans alike, to “remember why we are there in the first place.” These statistics must be detrimental to anyone who has sent a family member or friend overseas; however, these statistics must be even more harmful for those serving overseas themselves.  America was founded with the military, but philosophically, as a commercial republic.  The two founders who shared the greatest vitriol were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.  Despite their differences, they agreed on founding a republic that was commercial in nature so as to avoid war.  Thomas Jefferson was the friend of the yeoman farmer, stating that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God…”  Hamilton hoped this commercial republic would “soften the manners of men, and [to] extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars…”  Until what can be considered... [Read More...]

Balancing Act: The Debt, The Senator, and The Constitution

Ken Blackwell posted on his Facebook fan page a column by his friend, and the Republican Senator from Utah, Mike Lee. Senator Lee wants a balanced-budget amendment, and five other Senators on the Judiciary Committee agree. This week, 58 senators – including all 47 Republicans, 10 Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent – recognized this urgent need and expressed support for a balanced-budget requirement. I have put forward a proposal that would require a balanced budget every fiscal year; limit federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product; and require a two-thirds vote in Congress to increase taxes, raise the debt limit or run a specific deficit. I made the comment, “We never would have been able to have supply-side economics during Reagan if we had a balanced-budget amendment.” Nobody responded. Unfortunately, the nation’s debt has sky-rocketed to levels high enough to be mistaken for a Ron Paul supporter at a Phish concert (I kid). Now we are at the point where even the people who say, “deficits don’t matter” are thinking, “holy hell, this deficit is out of control.” In fairness to Vice President Cheney, he was saying that deficits don’t matter in the short-term because he was responding to the naysayers from all sides of the aisle that have never been fond of supply-side economics. It might behoove us to remember that then-Chief of Staff Dick Cheney was on the ground floor of the supply-side revolution when, according to legend, Arthur Laffer drew an inverted U-shaped curve on a napkin at lunch. The Laffer Curve was used to articulate how lower tax rates might produce higher tax revenues. In the 1970s and early-1980s it was a party of the Right Fight Club (the rule is to never speak of Party of the Right Fight Club) with the supply-siders arguing that the deficit will work itself out with the tax cuts (as it started to do) while the old guard was arguing that balancing the budget was the way to go,... [Read More...]

February 12th: Algeria’s Turn?

On February 12th, Algerians plan to stage a similar protest that has been held in Tahrir Square. In Algeria, the square that is gaining recognition is 1st of May Square. This will be the sight on February 12th where Algerians will gather to show solidarity in an overthrow of the government. This is led by a pro-democracy group, however, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika understands the importance of the current uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. According to MEDEX Global Solutions, in an attempt to squash a reoccurrence of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Bouteflika has ordered 10,000 police officers and 20,000 security personnel to guard the Capitol from protesters. The difference between Egypt with other Arab countries is the leadership. Mubarak was not willing to use extensive violent force on the protesters, however, other regimes are not as understanding. As citizens in other nations take to the streets to demand more freedoms, the hope is that the autocratic rulers listen to the citizens rather than use excessive force in an attempt to subdue their uprisings. As the domino effect continues, future uprisings will have to take the route of the Egyptians, peaceful yet non-compromising. It is amazing that we live in a day when a region riddled with autocratic rulers and corruption decides to unite together to overthrow the governments that hold them back from becoming nations where people have a voice. It will be interesting to see if another domino shall begin to fall Saturday, February 12th.  Read More →

Egypt- Almost There

On February 11, the Facebook Revolution reached an apex as news media sources reported that Mubarak had stepped down. As this happens, the critical decision is how the Egyptians remain united to create their new government. I am overwhelmed seeing the Egyptians celebrate their persistence in the streets. As Mubarak’s concession is made, a new Egypt is under way. As it stands now, victory is not complete. Egyptians must still stand united. This was not a revolt against Mubarak, this was a revolt against a lack of freedoms, the absence of unalienable rights, and a corrupt government. It just so happens that Mubarak embodied all of these. As Mubarak hands power to the High Council of the Military, the question that remains is how the Military will begin to restructure government and allow for a representative government to take hold. One point of concern is whether this is resignation or merely delegation. It is well thought that this is truly Mubarak’s last day in power. It is good to see that as Mubarak goes, Soliman retreats with him. If Soliman would have been allowed to remain in power, concerns would have been raised that the move by Mubarak would simply be delegation, opening the door for a return.  This brings to mind the “transition of power” that never really happened in Russia, when Putin stepped down and Medvedev stepped in. As everyone knows, it is Putin who really runs that nation. However, with the High Council in control, these fears can be subsided for a short time, allowing the Egyptians to form a new government. As Egyptians are cheering in the streets, a democracy in Egypt is closer than ever before. As mentioned in my previous post, Egyptians must keep their minds on a plan that promotes their goals, more freedoms, more human rights, and a democratic government. Egyptians, the world watched and you delivered hope of a new form of government, hope of a new future, and the realization of a new Egypt. Thank you for what you have done... [Read More...]

Why Egypt’s Economy Needs a Plan More Than Protests Now

With concentration focused on the protesters, the resignation of Mubarak and hopefully a peaceful transfer of power, few are talking about the economic impact of the protests and Mubarak’s resignation. With tourism accounting for 11 percent of GDP and the Big Three rating companies dropping the Egyptian bond rating, the nation’s citizens are being adversely exposed to a falling economy. Additionally, many foreign companies are exiting the country. This latter point hit home to me recently as I spoke to one of my many cousins in Egypt. He explained that the Japanese company that he works for called to inform him it has “decided to abandon projects and leave Egypt.” Another relative mentioned that her bank had been burned to the ground. While the current topics of conversation in American media are correctly focused on the political aspects of the power transfer, we should remember that the economic impact of the transfer of power will be just as critical. There are two potential transfer of power scenarios being discussed in much of the international community. In the first, Mubarak steps down in September per his recent statement; in the second, Mubarak steps down much sooner, possibly in the coming month. However, there are great risks to both approaches. Should Mubarak step down now, it could leave a political vacuum for the Muslim Brotherhood. If he were to stay in power and protests continued then the world may see the same sad violence that was observed on February 2. Whichever scenario holds, Egypt’s economy will suffer loss and chaos will persist. Currently in Egypt, the financial market is crashing, banks are burning, capital investments inside and outside of Egypt are disappearing, tourism revenues have vanished and foreign companies are leaving projects behind. And that is the good news, at least compared to citizens in Egypt who are not working. What’s currently at stake is greater poverty which will lead to greater chaos in the streets and perhaps... [Read More...]

The Americans Are Leaving- Why Some Egyptians Want Them to Stay

As the state department of the United States urges its citizens to make emergency flights out of Egypt, the US embassy in Cairo is hard at work. The US Embassy has tasked itself with the safety of US citizens to ensure a safe and quick departure from Egypt. However, is this a bad thing for Egyptians? Egyptians are saying that this departure could be a threat to their safety. The current situation in Cairo is highly unsettled and other countries are urging their citizens to pull out of Egypt as well, including Britain and Japan. As this is happening, reports are surfacing in Egypt that President Obama is speaking to President Mubarak. No one knows what these talks entail; however, the Egyptian people assume that President Obama is still supporting Mubarak’s regime. As I am told, “We do not need the United States’ help in our revolution. What we hope is that the United States will tell Mubarak that the United States will no longer support Mubarak’s regime.” So, why would Americans leaving Cairo affect the Egyptian people? The Egyptian people feel that as American, British, and Japanese citizens are departing for their home countries, Egyptians are left without their “shield”. With the only people left being Egyptians, people believe that Mubarak will be more willing to order the military to start using force to deter protesters. In response to this, the Egyptian people have begun asking for a million citizens to congregate at Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 1. Some do believe that this is going to be a “million-man march” but the sentiment in Egypt is that the calling of a million people is to deter Mubarak from using force against the people. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. As Mubarak’s days are numbered the reality that he would irrationally use military force on protesters in Tahrir Square which would cause a massacre is unlikely. However, it is this fear that has Egyptians concerned. They want this to be their fight and... [Read More...]

America and Egypt- Stand With Your Allies?

The events that have transpired over the last few days in Egypt are breathing life into protesters and exhausting others. After speaking with family, I have gained insight as to what happens at night in Egypt. In America we have heard of the neighborhood watch groups, but allow me to paint a picture as to what it looks like. The men gain minimal hours of sleep during the day and at night stay outside walking around protecting their neighborhoods. The instruments of choice for protection are baseball bats, knives, and guns. Though guns are not allowed to be in the procession of citizens, those who have served in the military usually have obtained licenses to keep arms. The men in neighborhoods are using a lot of strong instincts in knowing how to handle the situations at night. Homes are keeping their lights on. One reason is to give looters the appearance of an alert household, but as I heard today, “we must keep the lights on in the house because if the lamp posts go out, we need the light to stay vigilant”. These neighborhood watch groups are signifying themselves by wearing similar garments. For instance, you may see everyone in a neighborhood wear red ribbons around their arm. This provides an opportunity to easily identify outsiders as no two neighborhoods use similar garments. As looters approach, shots are fired to deter them from vandalizing homes in the neighborhoods. It is likely that night patrols will not cease until Mubarak is dethroned. The question that is being raised most often is, what should America do moving forward? Should we speak out against Mubarak? How do we treat one of our most trusted allies in the Middle East? I do not pretend to be a fellow within the Council on Foreign Relations, however, Egypt is changing before our eyes and America must stand with Egyptians at this moment. As the men in the night watch describe the situation, “These protesters will not stop until Mubarak is out of office. There is no timetable on the passion for... [Read More...]

The Coming of a New Egypt

With family in Cairo and Alexandria, I am very well attuned to the goings on in Egypt at the current moment. After speaking with uncles and cousins via landlines (all other communication is shut down in Egypt) I have begun to understand the complexity and severity of the issue. I have been asked by many people, why is this happening and what caused this? In response, this is an issue of a corrupt government. Close to half of Egyptians are living off less than $1 a day and the citizens simply expect basic human rights and their inalienable right to freedom. Despite the stereotype of the Middle East, religion has not played a part in the protests…yet. All of this was compounded with the brutal police killing of Khaled Mohamed Said in June 2010. This killing of a man in his twenties ignited a spark against the government. What is more amazing about this, is the impact that Facebook has had in changing the environment in the Middle East. After the brutal killing of Said, a message on a Facebook page dedicated to Said talked about a protest that would happen on the national holiday celebrating the efforts of the police force in Egypt. The date was January 25, 2011.  After hearing about the protest, Mubarak’s response surrounded the theme of ‘well let the children do what they wish’. Not knowing how upset the people were and how much of an issue for change this would become, the police force was unequipped which bolstered the protesters. As of 6:00 pm EST on January 28, 2011, President Mubarak spoke to the people promising to remove his ministers but remained bold in his belief that he should stay in power. This will not happen. Protesters are upset with the Parliament in Egypt but they are more forceful with their words and actions as it relates to President Mubarak and his corruption. What does this mean for Egypt going forward? Egyptians must make it known quickly that they want a moderate in power. If this does not happen then the Muslim Brotherhood will find... [Read More...]

State of the Union Keeps Broadband On Front Burner

Obama is the tech president.  He’s the guy that finally got a Blackberry into the White House after all.  And gadget nerds and tech geeks will always remain true to their hearts even if they do become president.  So that being said it is no surprise that Obama made sure that America’s broadband strategy, or lack there of, was given a shout out.  SiliconAngle picked up my post from Digital Society on the issue today.  You can read about my thoughts on the Presidents comments at either of those sites. -nick  Read More →

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