As misguided politicians and regulators continue to target short-term lenders, which provide American…
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Image of the Day: Sure Enough, Credit Card Balances Are Exploding

As misguided politicians and regulators continue to target short-term lenders, which provide American consumers with vital financial lifelines when the only alternatives are skipping payments, bouncing checks, running up credit card debts or even going to dangerous loansharks, we've consistently noted how short-term lenders' role becomes increasingly important as the U.S. economy deteriorates and credit card reliance skyrockets.  Sure enough, the New York Fed numbers provide an alarming illustration:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="546"] Credit Card Debt Skyrocketing[/caption]

All the more reason to protect consumers' access to legal, reliant, efficient short-term lending rather than irrationally target it.…[more]

December 05, 2022 • 02:38 PM

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In Defense of American Exceptionalism Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, October 31 2013
The irony is deep here coming from a man whose life’s work consists largely of having butchered the past.

All you need to know about the political inclinations of film director Oliver Stone is the following: He’s currently busying himself by publicly advancing Vladimir Putin’s agenda.

In September, Secretary of State John Kerry, in an attempt to emphasize American resolve against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria, said that the only way military action against the country could be avoided was if Assad turned over all of his chemical weapons. Noting the potential liability, Kerry’s own State Department dismissed the statement as rhetorical hyperbole within the day. That didn’t stop Putin from calling America’s bluff, however.

Knowing that the U.S. couldn’t turn down a plan that claimed to meet Kerry’s standards, Putin quarterbacked a proposal under which his allies in Syria would pledge to submit to international inspections and eventually turn over their weapons.

No serious observer expects this proposal to work. The clear precedent is Saddam Hussein’s similar tap dance during the 1990s, when he routinely vacillated between obstructing inspections and claiming to be in compliance. Any sane administration would have turned down Putin’s offer as a similarly obvious attempt to play for time. Because of Kerry’s verbal promiscuity, however, the White House was bound by rhetoric it could not undo (completing the circle from the similarly haphazard “Redline” pronouncement that started the whole fiasco).

After the announcement, Putin compounded the humiliation of the American president he clearly regards as a member of the JV squad by penning an op-ed in the New York Times. Within that piece, he had the temerity to boast about the diplomatic outcome and to claim that the Syrian regime wasn’t responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the first place.

Spiking the football, he concluded with a paragraph warning about the dangers of American exceptionalism. That passage closed by noting that “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Pretty audacious coming from a guy representing the country that brought the word ‘gulag’ into common use—and who’s doing everything in his power to resuscitate it.

This is where Stone comes in. The moonbat director penned a piece in USA Today earlier this week titled “The Myth of American Exceptionalism,” in which—after citing him by name—he did Putin one better, decrying virtually all American military efforts of the past several decades as representative of a crusading, neo-imperialist spirit. Stone doesn’t stop at being appalled by what he regards as American triumphalism. He clearly believes the nation to be actively malignant.

Stone attributes American ignorance of our stained national soul to ignorance, noting that only 12 percent of high school seniors are ranked “proficient” in U.S. History exams. The irony is deep here coming from a man whose life’s work consists largely of having butchered the past.

Stone’s filmography includes portrayals of Richard Nixon, Alexander the Great, George W. Bush, and the JFK assassination that could, in the most charitable characterization, be judged historically illiterate. His recent Showtime documentary series, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States suffers from such deep factual flaws and such roaring ideological bias that the historian Ronald Radosh has described it as “a rehash of Communist propaganda themes.”

Stone’s historical acumen is no better in the USA Today piece where he refers to the U.S. “helping the Soviets defeat Germany in World War II,” characterizes the Vietnam war as “the most egregious case of external aggression by any nation in the post-WWII era” (the U.S. was the aggressor in his telling) and waxes pseudo-poetic about the idea of constructing a wall like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that would contain “the names of all the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and others who died. Such a wall would be over 4 miles long. It would not only be a fitting memorial to all the victims of “American exceptionalism,” it would be a perfect tombstone for that most dangerous of American myths.”

As Daniel Greenfield notes at Frontpage Mag, “If Oliver Stone is fond of walls, what about a wall with all the Russians, Chinese and Cambodians, Cubans, North Koreans, Vietnamese and others who died under Communism? At approximately 100 million names, that wall would be 100 miles long. It would be a fitting memorial to Oliver Stone’s politics and the myth that the left is exceptional in anything but mass murder.”

Apart from his tenuous grasp on history, Stone makes the analytical error that plagues most critics of American exceptionalism: He holds it to a standard that he would not apply to any other belief system (certainly not his “you’ve got to break a few eggs to make a social justice omelet” heroes like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez).

American exceptionalism is not the same as American perfectionism. It does not hold the nation to be an infallible vessel of God’s own will. Rather, it simply notes that America has traveled farther and faster than any nation in history toward the conditions that maximize human flourishing—and that it has done so because of the unique nature of its ideology and the unique character of its institutions.

Thus, what is salient about America’s military engagements abroad is not that they have been arguably misguided at times (though not in the rapacious, imperialist fashion that Stone imagines). No nation can escape occasional errors in judgment. What’s noteworthy is that, despite acquiring hegemonic status, the U.S. has not sought, like superpowers past, to take colonies or create an empire. Moreover, it has often extended itself to protect the rights of those outside its borders (one wishes Mr. Stone would poll Cambodians to see if they preferred American exertions in Southeast Asia to those of the Khmer Rouge).

A similar principle is at work stateside. Critics of American exceptionalism often point to the existence of slavery for nearly the first century of the country’s existence as proof that there’s nothing special about the United States. But that analysis gets the history backward.

While detractors will often point to the Constitution’s three-fifth compromise (counting slaves as three-fifths of a citizen for the purposes of representation) as an example of undiluted racism, its intent was the opposite. In truth, it was southern states that wanted black slaves counted in full for purposes of representation—because it would strengthen the political clout of the South and make it harder to abolish the institution. Counting them as three-fifths was a compromise that walked that number back in order to assure that the South didn’t amass so much political power that it would ensure slavery’s survival.

Knowing that they couldn’t abolish slavery at the nation’s inception, the very fact that a coalition of Founding Fathers worked to weaken its hold on the nation from the start is, in and of itself, an example of American exceptionalism.

That’s what Stone, Putin and their ilk either misunderstand or intentionally mischaracterize. American exceptionalism does not mean a belief that the nation is perfect. It means a belief that the nation, despite all its flaws, has a unique capacity to do good, no matter how difficult. That’s a legacy that has held fast for nearly a quarter of a millennium … and one that will continue to resonate long after the likes of Putin and Stone are buried in unvisited graves.

Quiz Question   
Which of the following Presidents replaced the traditional candles with electric lights on the White House Christmas tree?
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Notable Quote   
 
"One of the old saws of censorship apologists is that without a government directing the suppression of free speech, it is not censorship.That is clearly untrue. Many groups like the ACLU stress that 'censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups.'The same figures insist that if, there is not a violation of the First Amendment (which only applies to the government…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
— Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
 
Liberty Poll   

Congress is debating adding $45 billion more than requested to defense spending for 2023. Considering a fragile economy and geopolitical threats, do you support or oppose that increase?