Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff."

"I won’t be going over the cliff with them."

That's Charles Johnson, of Little Green Footballs. No, I'm not kidding.

I'm planning on discussing this later, but there has been much talk of the Charles Johnson's shift. Back in the day, he was neck-deep in the worst of far-right ugliness. From what I see now, he has opened his eyes, and seen how far his former allies have gone. The thing is, those types didn't just become crazy in the last couple of years, they've always been nuts. Pam Gellar has always been a raving lunatic. I suspect he finally saw how off the rails they on the far-right are, and had a sort of Damascus experience, and decided that enough was enough. Bravo for that.

HT: Andrew Sullivan

Monday, November 16, 2009

"America does not face a threat from the perversion of faith in general."

"We face a threat from the perversion of one faith in particular."

Obama is right to continue emphasizing the all-important distinction between religious views compatible with democratic pluralism and those that aren't. As he deals with the fallout of the attack, he must continue to separate Islamic extremism from Islam as a whole. But his words at Fort Hood, while comforting, do not really come to grips with the problem. America does not face a threat from the perversion of faith in general. We face a threat from the perversion of one faith in particular. The president needs to dip into his reservoir of good will to remind mainstream Muslims of their special responsibility. If militant Islamism is a distortion of their moderate beliefs, only their beliefs can defeat it.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

"There is absolutely no political lesson to be learned from this."

Via Megan McArdle, who reports on an eyewitness account of the slaughter:

There is absolutely no political lesson to be learned from this. Gun control would not have stopped a commissioned officer from obtaining guns. Barack Obama had no power to stop this. Infectious PTSD is a lousy theory. And nations certainly do not--and should not--shape their foreign policy around the possibility that a random psychopath will start shooting up a crowd. Evil people do evil things. That's all.

And from the letter from the eyewitness referenced in her post:

But please, no one use this politically! The Army is not "broken", PTSD doesn't turn people into killers, most Muslims aren't evil, and whether we should stay or go in Afghanistan has nothing to do with this.

Indeed. I mean, there still serious questions to be asked about the motives of this murderer, the role his alleged anti-war views or feelings of persecution played in this. There are questions about his supposed mental state. The thing is, this has been politicized already to the point of stomach-turning, by the usual suspects, and it's ridiculous.

ADDED: An uncomfortable number of people, even some who you'd think would know better, have been politicizing this tragedy in order to take cheap shots at the President. I'll have to mull this over, but it appears that the President may have committed a foul, by using this incident as a rallying cry of health care reform. I'm withholding judgment....

AND: Here's what he said:

“Sacrifice is not casting a vote that might lose an election for you; it is the sacrifice that someone makes when they wear the uniform of this country and that unfortunately a number of people made this week,”

Not as bad as it's being spun, but he shouldn't have said it. The Fort Hood massacre is not a rallying cry in order to pass legislation, even if it's legislation you believe in. If John Boehner had said something the effect of "vote no for freedom, the same freedom that those slain at Fort Hood fought for," he'd be committing the same foul, and it would be wrong.

Foul by the President.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"He has told us what he thinks when it can make a difference, and for that we should be grateful."

This piece by Jon Meacham is a bit old, but I just saw this the other day, and I thought it was on-point:

The McChrystal incident raises an interesting question: if commanders cannot speak their minds in such a forum—and the general was the very model of reason and grace—then what are the rules for commanders to engage in public debate? Many liberals have suddenly discovered Article II of the Constitution, arguing that civilian control of the military means soldiers should not express their views outside the chain of command. There is much to be said—in some senses, everything to be said—for officers restricting their comments, but I suspect the left would be taking a very different view of McChrystal's speaking his mind if the general were arguing a position with which it agreed.

In politics and in war, truth can be elusive; often all we can do is muddle through, trying to make the best of things. McChrystal knows better than anyone the complexities of what he faces, and if you read the whole speech he delivered in London you see that he was at pains to make the difficulties at hand as clear as possible.

He goes on:

History is not very helpful on this point. Douglas MacArthur is a bad example. He defied a president; McChrystal has not yet even disagreed with one. Still, the cultural imperatives within the armed forces are clear. As our longtime defense correspondent John -Barry notes, the tradition in the American military is captured best in Gen. George C. Marshall's dictum that commanders should present their views in private and then resign if they disagree sufficiently with the decision of the political leadership.

The issue is complicated, but then most issues of significance are. McChrystal appears to be a good man trying to do a nigh-impossible job. At least the general in whose hands lie the lives of thousands of soldiers and in whose success may lie our own national security chose to be clear now, in real time, when it matters, rather than waiting for a book contract. He has told us what he thinks when it can make a difference, and for that we should be grateful.

Full disclosure: I support staying the course in Afghanistan. That being said, I don't think Obama is "dithering," by waiting a bit to see how the elections turn out. I also think it's outrageous that certain being are suggesting that Gen. McChrystal should STFU, or that he is somehow undermining his CiC. McChrystal was handpicked by Obama, and gave his assessment of the situation. He has made clear that he will follow whatever orders are given. He has not disagreed with the President's decision, because the President hasn't made a decision yet, and that final decision will be ultimately up to President Obama.

As to the larger debate, I think it behooves everyone to take McChrystal's recommendations seriously. As far as the politics are concerned, I've no doubt that if McChrystal had argueda position they disagreed with, plenty of righties would be in an uproar, and Lefties would be hailing him, as opposed to hurling insults. Partisan politics has become war by other means. Nevertheless, suggesting that a general who does his job by giving his commander-in-chief true counsel is doing anything but his duty is disgraceful. The fomentation of division between the President and his generals, by either side, to score political points, or to further personal agendas, is even more so.

"I'm sorry about the lack of balance there. If I had control, that wouldn't have happened."

Yeah, Shep, I believe you.

Wow, indeed.

Not A Maoist, But A Moron

There is a new controversy of this brainfart by Anita Dunn, in which she appears to be praising Mao. The usual suspects have piled on, but like Andrew Sullivan, I sense that this is one of these kinds of situations. I submit that Dunn is not a Maoist, but a moron. A first-class moron.

ADDED: I mean, of course she was joking*, but who in their right mind jokes like that about Mao? Not only is it dumb politically, considering the optics, but it's downright disgusting. Ugh.

Oh, BTW, I used Media Matters purely for the links, via Andrew Sullivan

*I stand corrected. She wasn't, and those other links don't really mitigate the situation.

Cross-posted from Stubborn Facts

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Still, how can people be so stupid. And 50 people can push one man out of the way. As they should have done, after the first hurl."

Althouse, on the avoidable tragedy of the sweat lodge deaths at the Angel Valley resort:

A channeler is reporting that the people who died voluntarily crossed over into the next world during the ceremony, decided they liked it, and chose to stay. Dead.

Clearly there is a lawsuit in the works. And Ray has a good big pile of money. You can see the competing stories about whether his followers chose to stay or were blocked when they tried to leave. Whether they fell for his idiotic explanations or tried to prevent escape, he should have to pay. Still, how can people be so stupid. And 50 people can push one man out of the way. As they should have done, after the first hurl.

Bad ideas can kill you. After the first hurl, one ought to have fled. Certainly, after Ray told them they couldn't leave, they ought to have forced their way out. Big heaping pile of red flags. Bad ideas can kill you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Barack Obama Is The President Of The United States.

I point this out, because I've started to wonder if he occasionally forgets. I'm starting to wonder if he doesn't need for someone to gently whisper in his ear from time to time, "Sir, you arethe President." I'm probably overreacting, but I think that may go a long way in preventing displays like this:

“Why is it four years after Katrina we’re still fighting for money to repair our devastated city?” asked Gabriel Bordenave, 29, a Loyola law school graduate. “I expected as much from the Bush administration. But why are we still being nickeled and dimed?”

The president, in a rare moment on the defensive in a format that is usually friendly to him, said many people in New Orleans were “understandably impatient” and said he had inherited a backlog of problems.

“These things were not all going to be fixed tomorrow,” Mr. Obama said. “So we are working as hard as we can, as quickly as we can.” He added, “I wish I could just write a check.”

When someone shouted, “Why not?” Mr. Obama replied, “There’s this whole thing about the Constitution.”

He added that “we’ve got to go through procedures” in assessing, for instance, how much to reimburse for the damage done to Charity Hospital in New Orleans. But he said his administration had freed up $1.4 billion in aid and told the young man, “That may not sound like a lot of money to you, but it’s real money.”

Now, that's just lame. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that President OBama doesn't care about the people of New Orleans, but after four years of delay, and nine months into his Administration, after billions of bailout dollars to AIG, are you telling me that the same Congress that passed Cash for Clunkers can't cut a check, if you leaned on them? And why say it like that? Oh, and then leave after a couple of hours, and jet to a 30 grand a plate fundraiser, in San Francisco!? WTF?

I'm probably overreacting, but I just think, when Obama won the Nobel Prize, and said it was to be a "call to action?" That means less of this, and more of actually getting things done. Remember. You are the President. You are the President.

cross posted from Stubborn Facts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Giving the award to Obama is kind of like giving that junior professor the Teacher of the Year award -- it dooms their chances for tenure."

That's Daniel Drezner, with the inside scoop on how Obama got the Nobel:

MEMBER A: Fine, no one else likes Neil Patrick Harris at this table, I get that. What about Roman Polanski? That would make a statement.

CHAIR (looks at watch): Fine, whatever, we're way past deadline. (Points at MEMBER B). Write up the explanation. (Points at MEMBER A). Contact Neil Patrick Harris and put him on "standby" in case Obama can't make it for the acceptance speech.

MEMBER B (scribbling furiously): Hmmm....how's this? "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened."

CHAIR: Hmmm.... no actual achievements other than Not Being George W. Bush in His First Term, but it sure sounds good! OK, we're adjourned

MEMBER C (looking through nomination letters): I can't believe that professor from Tufts nominated Salma Hayek again. Doesn't he know that this is a serious award?!

Ha! Read the rest. Oh, and I made this clear elsewhere, but let me say here that this in way reflects poorly on President Obama, who has handled this pretty well. More on that later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize, and the Wartime President

In the continuing discussion over Obama's Nobel Prize, there has been much talk of what this means for Afghanistan. Certain people are wondering if Obama, as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, will continue the fight in Afghanistan. According to Bob Kerrey, he has to:

Then, against all reasonable predictions, President Bush chose to increase rather than decrease our military commitment. The "surge," as it became known, worked. Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.

From what I have seen, President Obama has the same ability to step outside the swirl of public opinion and make the right decision. While success in Afghanistan may not look the same as it does in Iraq, I believe there is a very good chance that a stable democracy can survive there. If it does, it would be good for the Afghan people, good for the security of the region, and good for the United States. The heroism of Afghan voters who turned out this past August in spite of the Taliban's violence should inspire us to stand by their side until security and stability are established in their country.

He continues:

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors.


HT: Althouse

"...by the prevailing Democratic "logic," this means that Obama supporters yesterday were casting their lot"

"...with Communist dictators."

Glenn Greenwald, in a must-read rebuke to the DNC, and the far-Left, over their hypocrisy in criticizing the critics:

What's particularly bothersome about yesterday's attacks is the premise that it's improper, unpatriotic and even Terrorist-mimicking to do anything but cheer -- have a "national celebration" -- when Obama is awarded the Nobel Prize. Whether Obama is actually pursuing policies of peace happens to be an extremely legitimate topic of debate. The same is true for whether he's done anything meaningful yet to merit the award. Numerous liberals in good standing objected to Obama's award -- from Ezra Klein ("It is undeserved. It is a bit ridiculous") to The Nation's Richard Kim ("I woke up, read the New York Times website and thought I had come to the Onion instead . . . Obama doesn't deserve the prize, yet") to Naomi Klein ("disappointing, cheapening of the Nobel Prize"). While there are arguments to make in his favor -- I even made some myself yesterday in the first two paragraphs of what I wrote -- there is something unquestionably bizarre about awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a leader who did not merely "inherit," but is advocating, actively prosecuting and escalating, a major war that is killing large numbers of civilians with no plans to stop, while at the same time building prisons to house people who will have no due process.

Unquestionably, those are and must be legitimate topics of debate. Some smart people yesterday made some reasonable arguments for Obama's Prize. But to insist that it's the patriotic obligation of every American to stand and cheer -- and that those who don't are "casting their lot with the Terrorists" -- is creepy and repugnant. It's also a very dangerous game to play.

And this:

If George W. Bush had won the Nobel Peace Prize as Klein suggested he might deserve, would it have been the solemn obligation of every American -- including liberals -- to stand up and cheer, to hold a "national celebration," to congratulate and express support, happiness and patriotic pride? Or would it have been appropriate even for Americans to make arguments about why that Prize was wrongly awarded? If Bush had won, surely the Taliban and Hamas would have objected, just like they did yesterday with Obama. Would Bush critics have been guilty of "casting their lot with the terrorists" if they echoed those objections? Karl Rove and Fox News would have done so, but would Media Matters have condemned liberals who questioned Bush's Nobel Peace Prize as "unseemly and downright unpatriotic." Please.

Indeed. I guess all the liberals who criticized the decision are casting their lot with the terrorists as well? What putrid nonsense. Over the last nine months, many on the Right have accused Obama supporters of trying to stifle dissent. Most of the time, that charge has been off target, but in this case, it's true. Shame on the DNC.

It is never unpatriotic to question the President. Even in wartime. Even when he's a Democrat. Even Barack Obama.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If You Check The Blogroll

A new site has been added that in a million years I never thought I add, but I have to say again, that it's almost like it's a whole new world over there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Despite what Sam Tanenhaus says, conservatism is not dead. Rather, it's undead."

Rod Dreher, on the state of conservatism today:

The conservative movement is herking and jerking like a zombie, dedicated to little more than frenetic gestures execrating Obama, and to regaining power. To what end? Given that they're birthing a conservative party whose instincts are dictated by loudmouths, reactionaries and crackpots, and overseen by cynics, it's dispiriting to contemplate.

Where can those who wish to think and debate clearly about a serious politics of the right go? The degenerate form of populism now dominant on the right loves to praise "freedom" – but it has no use for freedom of thought, or thinking much at all. In turn, increasing numbers of thoughtful conservatives have no use for it.

Read the rest.

HT: Sully

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September Update.

I've said this before, but I really need to stay consitent with this blog. Most of my blogging has been at my second home, Stubborn Facts, and that's been a blast as usual, yet I need to maintain around here as well. Just wanted to let my readers know to expect more in the coming days, on both fronts.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Panic at The Schoolhouse

In case you missed it, there is something of a panic over President Obama's decision to give a "back to school" message to the nation's school children. Some parents are planning to pull their children out of school, and certain school districts have taken issue. Now, my reaction to this whole affair is that it appears to be yet another outburst of mass hysteria, over what will most likely amount to nothing more than a harmless pep talk, with calls to "stay in school," "do your homework," and "serve your community." I've not heard the speech of course, and sure, it's possible that politics could be somehow injected into the speech, but how plausible is that? There has been some concern about the proposed cirriculum, but again, from what I'm seeing, the proposed lesson involved writng a letter in response to the speech, about how students can help the country (although apparently there may have been a wording issue, as the White House has walked back from some of this).

The most thoughtful critique of this I've heard so far is from Althouse, who ties it to a larger point about students being compelled (via compulsory education), to listen to the leader of the country. She argues that the students should be challenged to critically analyze the speech, and voices concerns about the level of deference Obama will receive.

If this were to be an actual policy speech, I'd share her concern, but I suspect, as I've said before, that this will be something more general--in fact, I think this will have less to do with what is said, than who's saying it. It's a message from the President! President Obama! A lot of this will involve Obama's still-relatively-high popularity, and the respect many have for him, and that bothers certain people.

The fact is, if this were any other President, this would be a non-story. I mean, it's not like this sort of thing hasn't happened before.

Oh, and one more thing, I think this is important to keep in mind:

It's worth noting that schools are, encouraged, not required, to air the speech. The Houston Chronicle reports that one Dallas school district is leaving the decision to individual teachers. Susan Dacus, spokeswoman for the Wylie school district, says parents who don't want their children to see it can opt out.

In an ironic twist, one Missouri school won't be airing the speech because of a lack of funding. Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for Columbia public schools, told the Columbia Daily Tribune, "We don’t have the funding or the equipment to support that type of broadcasting.”

ADDED: As Allahpundit, no fan of the President said:

One pap-filled 20-minute speech about working hard and serving others is so lethal a threat to tender minds that they have to be yanked off the premises for the day to shield them from it?


UPDATE: Here is the text of the speech. Judge for yourself. (Kudos to Althouse for the HT.)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Victory Means Changing Their Minds

You know what, I've come to a realization. I think it's clear that the town hall protestrs by the right are backed by lobbyists and party activists. It's also true that many of these protests have gotten kinda ugly. Oh, and I also believe that a number of the attacks on the health care plan are boundless, hysterical, and also false.

That being said, the Democratic strategy of complaining about all this does nothing to actually get the bill passed. Right or wrong (and I guess I outed where I stand), the GOP strategy is working in some respects. Obama's numbers are going down. To be fair, there are many legitimate concerns about the health plan, and while I think certain people are stoking those fears to the point of hysteria, those fears need to be assuaged. Spending your energy complaining about bogus GOP arguments wastes energy that ought be spent countering those arguments.

Put simply, to complain about being punched in the nose looks like whining, and nobody wants to be the one who looks like they're trying to stop protests. The idea is to fight back, and win, by winning the argument.

Just sayin.'

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Happy Fourth everbody. Happy Birthday America:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

* * *

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It's Just Like I Told You

This dude is a dangerous prick. Now, I know there are those who will hear those comments, and try to explain them away, but I fail to see how one gets past the idea that Scheuer is wishing for an attack by al-Qaeda, in order to further his own agenda. Beck is a clown, and is a mix of hack entertainer, and true-believer nutcase (maybe both?), but Scheuer seems to believe ever insane thing he says, and that's frightening. Remember, this guy has defended torture, and has said on nationa television that he would sell Israel out if it somehow would save American lives.

He's an old-school right-winger, and as I said before, a real prick. Not trying to get worked up or anything, but it is a blessing that this guy no longer has any control of our foreign policy apparatus. Can you imagine what would happen if a left-winger said this sort of thing? They'd be villified day and night. And rightly so, if they actually said it.

HT: Sully

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"If the insurrection continues, a fast hard shove might well push it over. If the regime survives, it may well feel invincible."

Michael Totten, on the manifest corruption of the Iranian regime, the people in the street protesting the regime, and what our response ought to be in the West. I just thought I'd add this to this discussion.

The regime’s only allies in the world are terrorist armies and Bashar Assad’s Baath Party state in Syria. Assad himself, like Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, is a pariah among the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Azeris, and Israelis who make up the region.

Iranian civilians risk violent beatings and worse by the thousands for standing up to the regime in the streets and treating it as the enemy it clearly is. There is no better time for the rest of us to do so, as well, especially since such gestures carry far less risk for us. The Pasdaran have no divisions in Washington, Paris, or London.

Obama Administration officials still hope they can talk Khamenei out of developing nuclear weapons and supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. This is delusion on stilts. Khamenei can’t even compromise with his own regime or his hand-picked presidential candidates. He placed them under house arrest, along with a Grand Ayatollah, and deployed thousands of violent enforcers into the streets. Not only does he confront the world, he is at war with his very own country.

Understand the mind of a totalitarian. “Probe with a bayonet,” Vladimir Lenin famously said. “If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”

Read the whole thing. This situation does appear to make the chances of diplomacy monumentally less likely to be effective. I'm cautiously optimistic that the internal revolt may yet bring real change, or that some form of hard diplomacy may still work. Obama promises hard diplomacy with the regime. Assuming diplomacy has any real chance of working, it's going to have to be really hard--as hard as steel.

Also posted on Stubborn Facts.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Myers apparently sympathized with the Cuban ideology and revolution that put Castro into power."

Walter Kendall Myers, and his wife have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Cuba for nearly three decades:

An indictment unsealed Friday said Walter Kendall Myers worked his way into higher and higher U.S. security clearances while secretly partnering with his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, as clandestine agents so valued by the Cuban government that they once had a private four-hour meeting with President Fidel Castro.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the arrest culminated a three-year investigation of Myers and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has ordered a "comprehensive damage assessment" to determine what he may have passed to the Cubans.

Good heavens. The story continues:

Court documents indicate the couple received little money for their efforts, but instead professed a deep love for Cuba, Castro and the country's system of government.
The documents describe the couple's spying methods changing with the times, beginning with old-fashioned tools of Cold War spying: Morse code messages over a short-wave radio and notes taken on water-soluble paper. By the time they retired from the work in 2007, they were reportedly sending encrypted e-mails from Internet cafes.
The criminal complaint says changing technology also persuaded Gwendolyn Myers to abandon what she considered an easy way of passing information, by changing shopping carts in a grocery store. The document quoted her as saying she would no longer use that tactic. "Now they have cameras, but they didn't then."

And this:

Court documents say Castro came to visit the couple in a small house in Cuba where they were staying in 1995, after traveling through Mexico under false names. Kendall Myers reportedly boasted to the undercover FBI agent that they had received "lots of medals" from the Cuban government.

They made other trips to Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina to meet with Cuban agents, the indictment says.

Myers apparently sympathized with the Cuban ideology and revolution that put Castro into power. Court documents say he wrote in a personal journal in 1978: "I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. ... The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit."

He praised Castro as a "brilliant and charismatic leader" who is "one of the great political leaders of our time." And he called the United States "exploiters" who regularly murdered Cuban revolutionary leaders.


UPDATE: Pat over at SF called Myers out over two years ago, over wholly irresponsible statements he made in 2006. How about that.

"if she would rule on the right side on the life issue, I might look past this racism.."

That's Rush Limbaugh, talking to Sean Hannity, about his possible newfound support for Sonia Sotomayor. Now it seems that Rush is still convinced that she's a racist. Of course, that is completely ludicrous, as I don't believe at all that Sotomayor is a racist (or a reverse racist). That being said, I'm not sure what's worse--that Rush thinks Sotomayor's a racist, or that he's apparently willing to overlook her supposed racism in the service of another potential pro-life vote on the Supreme Court.

Glad to see your principles are in check. Sigh.

HT: Althouse

Thursday, June 04, 2009

David Carradine, Dead at 72.

Wow. Story here (HT: Althouse):

David Carradine, the star of the 1970s television series “Kung Fu” and the title villain of the “Kill Bill” movies, has died in Thailand, The Associated Press reported. The United States Embassy in Bangkok told The A.P. that Mr. Carradine had been found dead in his hotel suite in Bangkok, where he was working on a movie. He was 72.

Tragic. It's the end of an era, RIP.

UPDATE: Apparently, he was found hanged in his hotel room closet. Suicide? More forthcoming.

UPDATE#2: It most likely wasn't suicide, and it may have been accidental.

Obama's Cairo Speech: Initial Thoughts

I've read the text of the speech, and I think it's really good- concise, and far-reaching, and shows a real good-faith attempt to step up to the plate on the key issues:

One of Obama's chief themes here is building (rebuilding?) bridges between Islam and the West:

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Good balance here, although Obama's critics may choose to interpret the line about sweeping change causing certain Muslims to view the West with hostility as showing weakness--but Obama makes sure to point out that such a view is invalid.

Many will no doubt take issue with Obama calling the Koran the Holy Koran (of course many of those same people will take issue with the idea of engaging the Muslim world in the first place), but if you read the whole text, you'll see that he is trying to show reverence to all faiths. He explains his unique background:

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

Obama goes out his way to quote the Koran to make his case. He then proceeds to expound on the contributions of mainstream Islam, and gives a sound defense of American values, and how Muslims ought to appreciate those values and contributions.

I thought his words on tolerance and religious liberty were good, although I found this interesting, and kind of strange:

We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

Pretense of liberalism? That just sounds so strange the way he says that. Later, he begins to delve into specific policy points, particularly on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq:

Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

As one who supported the war in Iraq, I'm glad that he acknowledges that Iraq is better off without Saddam, and while one needn't at all be a supporter of the war to agree with that sentiment, I find it interesting that if he had made this speech a year ago, many war critics would be vexed. I'm also glad that he has stuck to his responsible withdrawal plan (as I predicted he would), although Stephen Hayes does kind of have a point on this:

In a speech about freedom and democracy, America and Islam, Obama glides right past the most remarkable development in the region in decades: "Iraq's democratically-elected government." He mentions it only in passing, to note that he's keeping his campaign promised to remove troops...the fact that he can even use that phrase -- Iraq's democratically-elected government -- might have caused him to acknowledge that America's intervention there, despite the tremendous difficulties, has made Iraq a country that practices many of those things that he seeks for the rest of the region.

Now, I don't think it's fair to suggest that Obama didn't really acknowledge Iraq, but it's probably true that he could have been more specific with regards to the success of the surge, and exactly true that the situation in Iraq now would be near impossible without it.

On Israel, things get a bit more dicey. I've no doubt about Obama's pro-Israel bona fides. I think he is really trying to strike the right balance here, so while I think he loses me a bit when he talks about "the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation," I think he's trying to do the right thing. My issue with lines like that is that it can leave the impression that Israel is somehow to blame for the Palestinians present condition. I get what he's saying for the most part, and I think the right-wing criticism is just out of line. Maybe he could've mentioned Hamas and Hezbollah a few more times, but some of the criticisms (more here, here, and here) laid at his feet are really over the top. As Zalman Shoval said, there is no reason for panic.

At the end of the day, it was a good speech, and had Obama's classic rhetorical skill. That being said, speeches are just that--speeches, and he himself pointed out, they must be backed up by sound action.

More thoughts forthcoming.

Kudos to Sully for the speech reaction h/t's, and to Althouse for the speech link.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Update; Checking In

Blogging's been infrequent lately, and I've been neglecting my own blog for quite some time now. Most of my blooging as of late has been at my second home. I plan to resume my regular blogging pace, and I'm planning to touch on all the latest topics, including the torture debate, Obama vs. Cheney, and the my thoughts on Judge Sotomayor (and the circus-like atmosphere like will surround her confirmation).

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"People like Du Bois did not dedicate their lives to paving the way for black people to be exempt from tests. "

John McWhorter, on the issues at stake in Ricci v. DiStefano, the case now before the Supreme Court:

Thus if the black firefighters aren't at home with the format of the promotion test (reading passages and answering questions on what they mean), it is understandable and has nothing to do with their innate ability. After all, placing 16th in a pool of several dozen candidates is not too shabby in itself. The job, it would seem--say, to old-time Civil Rights leaders with a black pride that deserved the name--would be to enhance the innate ability. The black candidates need practice.

Plaintiff Frank Ricci understood this. He's dyslexic. Instead of doing poorly on the test and charging discrimination, he had textbooks read onto tape, worked with a study group, and practiced hard. He placed sixth out of 77. Any notion that this is too much to ask of someone with more melanin--or even with a different "racial history"--is nonsensical at best and gruesome at worst.

Still, we justify the rhetorical contortions that excuse black people from challenging examinations; in the end, it is based on a tacit sense that such things are antithetical to black authenticity, that it is somehow untoward to require this kind of concentrated scholarly exertion on black people. It is the grown-up version of what Barack Obama termed in his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention "the slander that says that if a black youth walks around with a book in his hand he's acting white."

Yeah. He continues:

This will not do: People like Du Bois did not dedicate their lives to paving the way for black people to be exempt from tests. Sure, the tests may not correlate perfectly with firefighters' duties. But which falls more into the spirit of black uplift that you could explain to a foreigner in less than three minutes: teaching black candidates how to show what they are made of despite obstacles, or banning a test of mental agility as inappropriate to impose on black candidates?

Zora Neale Hurston had some apt words in her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road: "It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it."

Agreed. It seems to me, that if you're going to decide to throw out a test because black candidates didn't perform, as opposed to trying to find ways to figure out why black candidates didn't perform, not only do you hurt people like FRank Ricci, but you send a very disturbing message--that black people should not be subjected to testing based on mental agility, because judging us based on our brainpower is racist?

Surely this is not what we want, right?

HT: Althouse

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Do You Know You've Gone Too Far?

When Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs thinks you've gone too far:

Johnson supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, but he spent some of the campaign attacking anti-Obama conspiracy theorists, and he rejected the idea designs were malicious, rather than merely naive. Johnson worries, in conversation and on his blog, that his old allies have been duped by far-right European political parties and have bought into wild attacks on the president that discredit their own causes.

“I don’t think there is an anti-jihadist movement anymore,” Johnson said. “It’s all a bunch of kooks. I’ve watch some people who I thought were reputable, and who I trusted, hook up with racists and Nazis. I see a lot of them promoting stories and causes that I think are completely nuts.”

You've got to read this article. I applaud Charles Johnson for having his eyes opened, and speaking out on this. His former allies, many whom he helped bring into the limelight, have turned on him:

“Some people at that summit in Belgium were not people we should have been associated with,” Johnson said, pointing out that since 2007 the terrorism-focused conservative bloggers have become supporters of Dutch politician Geert Wilders , who wants to outlaw Islam in his country. “Some of these people outright want to ban Islam from the United States, which I think is crazy, completely nuts. That’s not something we do in this country. These people will outright defend banning the Koran or deporting Muslims. That’s popular with the Geller/Spencer crowd.”

When they talk about Johnson today, the rest of the terrorism-focused bloggers alternate between anger and regret. He has smeared them, they say, and according to Dymphna he’s “destroyed a lot of networking that was beginning to emerge” between American and European critics of Islamic extremism. “He’s really gone off the deep end,” Geller said, pointing to Johnson’s more and more frequent criticisms of creationists, such as the attack on the anti-evolution, Glenn Beck-inspired event, which made the host angry enough to lash out at LGF on his show. “He’s a leftist blogger now.”

It's amazing what happens when you dissent from the party line, huh? Make no mistake, I don't expect Johnson to become anything approaching an Obama supporter, but one needn't be, to see that many on the rightosphere have gone John Birch.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Pirates Have Been Beaten,

and Captain Richard Phillips has been rescued by the Navy. Huzzah.

Just after dark on Sunday, snipers on the U.S.S. Bainbridge saw that one of the pirates was pointing an automatic rifle at Captain Phillips, and that the captors’ heads and shoulders were exposed from the capsule-like lifeboat. President Obama had previously authorized the use of force if the commander on the scene believed the captain’s life was in danger, so they fired, Admiral Gortney said. The lifeboat was about 100 feet from the Bainbridge when the shots were fired, a little after 7 p.m. Somalia time (seven hours ahead of Eastern time). The vice admiral said he did not know Captain Phillips’s location at the time the shots were fired, but given the length of the lifeboat, he was less than 18 feet from the snipers’ targets.

Awesome work, to our brave Navy men, and good show by the President, who deserves full props for making the right call. Even his critics are saying so.

According to John Reinhart, the Maersk Line president and chief executive, Mr. Phillips told him by telephone: “I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.” President Obama, making his first comments on the situation, praised Mr. Phillips’s “selfless concern for his crew,” who had been freed when the captain let pirates take him off his cargo ship. “His courage is a model for all Americans,” Mr. Obama said.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

"It increasingly struck me that these protests served primarily as form of group therapy via self expression."

A spot-on analysis of the current "tea party protest" phenomenon on the Right, from a reader over at Andrew Sullivan's joint, who has experience with the protest Left:

It increasingly struck me that these protests served primarily as form of group therapy via self expression. When ones movement is, quite literally, powerless, there's a sense of despair that can take over. In a demonstration, one can commiserate with ones fellow travelers, and instead of powerlessness, there's a feeling of righteous indignation. Also, there's the added advantage of getting a forum where it's socially acceptable to shout your beliefs at other people, which regardless of its utility and efficacy (or lack thereof), is a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, it leads to a deep intellectual rot, as good ideas commingle with ridiculous ones without vetting, and protests obsessed with self-interest leave vital political action undone.

Yep. A lot of noise, but unless converted into sensible debate and discussion, it amounts to not that much.

Take a word of advice from the Left, guys -- until you engage the country where it is, instead of scolding it about where you'd like it to be, you're going to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Until then, enjoy the shouting -- it's about all you'll get out of the teabags other than tea.

Again, true dat. Sullivan himself, in his original post on the tea party protests, goes deeper into the problem:

But again, if this is a protest in favor of slashing Medicare, Medicaid and social security, great. Where do I sign up? But those rallies do not exist.

Which leads to an inescapable conclusion:

These people are unserious. But we knew that already.

I've pointed out elsewhere that it seems that the a number of the primary voices on the Right these days are the voices of knee-jerk opposition, paranoia, and outrage, much like the far-Left was after 2000. It might make you feel better for a while to vent, and whip yourselves into an anti-Obama frenzy, but eventually, there comes the business of solving problems.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"His shtick is really more of a “question authority” pose taken to its limits of paranoia and nihilism"

Via Hot Air (and Althouse), on this clip of Mos Def, Hitch, and Salman Rushdie on Bill Maher last Friday:

I watched the whole show, and I didn't find it that excruciating to watch, at least not quite in the same way others did. It was vexing no doubt, to see a performer I always thought was cool expose himself as being neck-deep in naivete, ignorance, and "the government-can't-be-trusted-on-anything style paranoia, but as Allahpundit points out, Hitch saves the day:

Consider this yet another reason to like Hitchens, though. Is there anyone else on the chat-show circuit who would have kept after Def as persistently as he does? You keep waiting for him to relent in the name of “cultural differences,” but he never does. No sacred cows for Hitch.

Hitch is fearless. He's proved that. You can call Hitchens a lot of things, but cowardly is not one of them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Brief Trip Into The Bizarro World

I get that the Right in general isn't particularly happy with the way things turned out this past election, and I don't expect them to pretend otherwise, but I must tell you that if this is how the conservatives hope to turn things around, I guess we can look forward to continued Democratic control for the foreseeable future. I mean, this is straight out of the bizzaro world:

A digital war has broken out, and the conservative movement is losing. Read the comment sections of right-leaning blogs, news sites and social forums, and the evidence is there in ugly abundance. Internet hooligans are spewing their talking points to thwart the dissent of the newly-out-of-power.

As Althouse (thanks for the HT) points out, what's going on is a debate, and apparently righties like Breitbart cannot abide that the other sides would dare offer their points of view, even if they happen to be in favor of the party in power. Dissent in as legitimate now as it was then, Andrew, but you don't get to do it free of dissent from the dissent. That's not part of the deal.

It gets worse:

Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize the enemy - us. They want to ensure that President Obama is not subject to the same coordinated, facts-be-damned, multimedia takedown they employed over eight long years to destroy the presidency - and the humanity - of George W. Bush.

Political leftists play for keeps. They are willing to lie, perform deceptive acts in a coordinated fashion and do so in a wicked way - all in the pursuit of victory. Moral relativism is alive and well in the land of Hope and Change and its Web-savvy youth brigade expresses its "idealism" in a most cynical fashion.

The ends justify the means for them - now more than ever.

This gem:

So now that the right is vanquished and thoroughly out of power, why doesn't it learn from its conquerors and employ similar tactics?

The answer is obvious. The right, for the most part, embraces basic Judeo-Christian ideals and would not promote nor defend the propaganda techniques that were perfected in godless communist and socialist regimes. The current political and media environment crafted by supposedly idealistic Mr. Obama resembles Hugo Chavez's Venezuela more than John F. Kennedy's America.

You've got to be freakin' kidding me. Has he checked out any righty blogs at all? Does the right have any instinct for self-criticism at all, anymore? Never mind the blatant slandering and name-calling in his own article, a cursory review of the righty blogosphere will reveal the far-right as being just as susceptible to poisonous rhetoric, name-calling, and angry paranoia as the far-Left. Many on the Left have said mean things, just as the right has. The point is, both sides have their fringe elements, and both sides have taken things too far at times.

He closes out:

The American right is in a heap of trouble in a media age that doesn't shun the goons and liars that have poisoned the political process and won the American presidency by breaking the rules of fair play. It is time to fight back, but it won't be easy. The enemy is willing to do and say anything in order to win.

Sigh. I tell you, it's like he's operating from some sort of mirror universe, where up is down, black is white, and conseravtives have never said anything bad at all about liberals. Look, I'm biased, but maybe referring to those with whom you disagree as godless, communistic, lying hooligans isn't the best way of winning the battle of ideas.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"This misreporting fed into the prevailing anti-Obama theme that he cannot speak without a teleprompter."

THoughts on Obama's press conference are forthcoming, but I had to weigh in on this. You know that story about Obama's supposed gaffe at the St. Patrick's Day event? It's bogus. Pure bullshit even:

In the recording, Cowen begins speaking by ad libbing, saying: "Good evening everybody and welcome to St Patrick's Day at the White House. And I think it's particularly fitting that we gather tonight at the house that was, after all, designed and built by an Irish architect."
Then he goes into Obama's speech, and realises his boob 18 words into it: "We have had a wonderful day that began by meeting with a strong friend of the United States...that's your speech."

After Cowen got his act together - amid uproarious laughter - and completed his speech, Obama returned to the microphone for his little joke, as per the pool report.
Somehow, somewhere this all got mixed up, inadvertently or otherwise. The Associated Press reported it
this way. Accurate enough - though very sparse and including the slightly ambiguous line: "In doing so, President Obama thanked President Obama for inviting everyone over."
This was transformed into Obama making a mistake, as in
this account, in the Times, written in London by an online reporter for their website.

"On this occasion, as a laughing Mr Obama returned to the podium, the script was belatedly switched over to the Taoiseach's text - leaving Mr Obama inadvertently thanking himself for inviting everyone, to further laughter," went the report. "'First, I'd like to say thank you to President Obama!' the President said."

This misreporting fed into the prevailing anti-Obama theme that he cannot speak without a teleprompter.

The right-wing anti-Obama train rolls on nonetheless, unimpeded by facts, or context. It's all quite amazing really, the way Obama's right-wing enemies behave. You almost have to laugh at the stuff they come up with.

ADDED: It is worth pointing out that the White House screwed up with the teleprompter for Cowen's speech, not to mention allowing this to go unanswered for so long, although I suspect the only ones making that big of a deal about this are unpersuadable righties. As to the larger issue of the teleprompter use, I think it's flatly absurd to suggest that he cannot go without it, and he's given plenty of off-the-cuff interviews to prove that. Perhpas his reliance is simply a style he's settled in to, although there are certain potential drawbacks.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success."

Hitch gives us the word on yet another insidious plan to stifle free expression, in the name of "not offending Islam":

Yes, I think we can see where we are going with that. (And I truly wish I had been able to attend that gathering and report more directly on its rich and varied and culturally diverse flavors, but I couldn't get a visa.) The stipulations that follow this turgid preamble are even more tendentious and become more so as the resolution unfolds. For example, Paragraph 5 "expresses its deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism," while Paragraph 6 "[n]otes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001."

No decent person wants to defend actual bigotry against Muslims, or ethnic profiling, but there is something subtle and wholly sinister at work here. He continues:

You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism. In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely "tragic") is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too. This is clumsy, but it works: The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success.

First off, I find it morally absurd to be lectured, via the agency of the U.N, by theocrats who commit unspeakable acts such as these, on the virtues of tolerance. Secondly, 9/11 wasn't just tragic. When someone drowns in a lake, that's tragic. 9/11 was an abomination, and an act of war. A lot of decent, freedom-loving, non-terrorist-loving people have decsribed it as a tragedy, but in this context (tragic events), it comes off as an insult, much like the whole of the document.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Certainly we are an America ardently "conversing" about it year-round. What Holder wants is not a conversation but a conversion."

The indispispensable John McWhorter, on Eric Holder's "nation of cowards" comment, with regards to our conversation (or lack thereof) about race. My view is not only that Holder's words were an inappropriate way of making a legitimate argument, but also that he is too harsh, even on the substance. McWhorter handles this better than I could:

This idea of a "conversation" (conversion) on race forever just out of reach is interesting in an intellectual sense. However, all evidence is that the only conversation that's going to happen already is. It is a sometimes messy exchange, conservative and liberal going head-to-head, gradually settling on a centrist position.

Namely, racism must be reviled, the government can do things to help people, but much of what ails black people today is too abstractly connected to racism for whites to feel guilty about it anymore. That centrist position is no longer heresy among an ever-growing number of blacks or whites, and is underscored by a black man running the United States.

Yeah. The fact is, we've been having a conversation about race for a while now, and there is of course a lot more tht ought to be addressed. but I suspect Holder's beef is that we're not havig the one he would like us to have.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Jac

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"That a part of my family started Jim Crow is kind of a load to carry, " she said. "I wish I could change that."

That's from Phoebe Ferguson, the great-granddaughter of Judge John Ferguson, who ruled against Homer Plessy in the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson. The descendants of Plessy and Ferguson met in New Orleans, to remember the historic event of Homer Plessy's act of courage:

People often think that his ancestor held some responsibility for the legalized segregation known as "separate but equal, " said Keith Plessy, 52, a longtime New Orleans hotel bellman whose great-grandfather was Homer Plessy's first cousin. In actuality, Homer Plessy boarded that train as part of a carefully orchestrated effort to create a civil-rights test case, to fight the proliferation of segregationist laws in the South.

Keith Plessy first learned about his relationship to the case from his teachers at Valena C. Jones Elementary School, who called him to the front of the room as they discussed the case. But his textbooks simply listed the name of the case and its result: a half-century of "separate but equal" schools, drinking fountains and buses.

Phoebe Ferguson, 51, a documentary filmmaker, left New Orleans in 1967 but moved back after discovering her great-great-grandfather's role in the infamous legal fight.

Judge John Howard Ferguson ruled against Plessy from his bench in Orleans Parish Criminal Court. The judge was born in Massachusetts and had strong ties to abolitionists, she said. So she doesn't think he was a racist.

Still, Phoebe Ferguson can't quite get over the powerful impact his decision had on the black community, which would endure a half-century of government-sanctioned segregation.

"That a part of my family started Jim Crow is kind of a load to carry, " she said. "I wish I could change that."

Read the whole thing.

HT: Althouse

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Etta James vs. Beyonce (and Barack Obama)

This is all still in the gossipy stage at this point, but the word on the street is that Etta James was not at all pleased about Beyonce singing the song she made famous, "At Last, " at the Inauguration. Based on her rant though, something tells me the real focus of her ire lies elsewhere:

"You guys know your president, right? You know the one with the big ears? Wait a minute, he ain't my president, he might be yours, he ain't my president," James told fans during a Seattle concert last week.

"You know that woman he had singing for him, singing my song -- she's gonna get her a-- whipped. The great Beyonce...But I can't stand Beyonce," she added. "She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day...singing my song that I've been singing forever."

I think her real issue is Obama. For some reason, she has beef with Obama. I suspect she didn't want Beyonce singing her song, but I don't think she's mad at Obama because Beyonce sang at his Inauguration, rather I think she's mad at Beyonce, because she sang at his Inauguration. She started off by dissing Obama, renounced him as her President, and didn't mention his name.

It's as if she saying, "You sang my song there? For that guy?"

Again, this is all gossip at this point, but I think Etta James has ought with our new President. Ideology? Disgruntled Hillary voter? Just doesn't care for the guy? Who knows.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Pajamas Are Back In The Drawer?

Apparently, Pajamas Media, the mostly-right wing blogging outfit is going belly up, and there's a whole lot of wailing, and gnashing of teeth going on, along with the schaudenfreude. Roy Edroso over at the Village Voice is having all kinds of fun chronicling this thing, and I think offers up the coolest, snarkiest, smackdown I've seen in a while (you'll need to read the comments for the context):

Keep this under your hat, but the Voice sells ads and uses the money to pay us. That's capitalism, comrade, and as much as you and I dislike it, it's the deal we're stuck with. (The Voice also saves money by "crowdsourcing" other editorial functions, so thanks, Nikki, for the proofreading!)

The thing is, PJM has embraced, with a few notable exceptions, full-on, right-wing anti-Obama attack mode, culminating in the ascendancy of celebrity journalist/one-man-ego-trip/righty icon JTP as their special reporter for Israel. Waging war on the MSM is one thing, but it does help to make sure you can pay your bills first, you know? No gloating here, though. Besides, they do have a few really good bloggers who still work there.

Read the whole piece. You won't regret it.

HT: Althouse

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama.

It's the day after the Inauguration, and the first fully day of the Obama Presidency. I plan to offer more thoughts on everything later, but I'll just say now that it was a great day. The speech was good. Not hisbest one, but it was good. The real indeliable moments wre in the moments themselves, and the overall theme of the speech, which was the America will prevail, despite the challenges we face, because she always has prevailed by the strength of our values, and her people.

Rev. Joseph Lowery's prayer had to be the moment I'll probably remember most. It was an emotional moment, and had more smoother poetry than Elizabeth Alexander's/ I though she was a bit too clunky.

Agaun, more later, but I thought this was worth noting:

"Those who doubted that a black man could be elected to the highest office in the land no longer have a leg to stand on. That can be a force for good, when young blacks can no longer be told that there is no point in their trying to get ahead in this society because 'the man' is going to stop them. In another sense, the Obama presidency may not be nearly as big a change in the country as some might think. Colin Powell could probably have been elected eight years ago. But you don't know it can happen until it happens. No doubt the race-hustling industry will continue, and no doubt their chief victims will be blacks, especially young blacks, who buy the paralyzing picture of victimhood and the counterproductive resentments which sap energies that could be better used to improve their own lives. Now that we have the first black President of the United States, maybe we can move ahead to the time when we can forget about 'the first' whatever to do what. There is too much serious work to do to spend more time on that."

That's from Thomas Sowell, whom as we all know, was no fan of Obama.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Three New Jersey siblings whose names have Nazi connotations have been placed in the custody of the state,"

You know, based on the names these children were given, it's pretty likely these parents have Nazi sympathies, but am I off base if I wonder if removing these children, sans any physical abuse, sets a dangerous precedent? It's pretty horrible to subject young minds to that garbage, but you can the state just up and decide to take your kids away, based on what they're being taught? Slippery slope doesn't quite cut it.

I don't condone what these parents are most likely doing at all, but...

UPDATE: I've been thinking this over, and I cannpt get this out of my head. Assuming these kids are being bombarded with hateful Neo-Nazi doctrines at such a young age, couldn't that count as child abuse? Assuming the case turns out to be what I think it is, these children are in really bad spot. Yet, if we set the precedent here, even for children this young, where do you draw the line?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

“He’s misguided sometimes, but when you read him, you finish the whole article.”

A pretty spot-on, and unexpected take on Christopher Hitchens. Spot-on, because it's correct and concise. Unexpected, because it comes from Rush Limbaugh.

The piece is an old one, from last July, but it was near the top over at Hitch's website, so I checked it out.

BTW, It's not that I can't believe Limbaugh can get it right at least once in a while, rather it's just that Hitchens doesn't seem like the guy Limbaugh would read. Or Camille Paglia, for that matter.

Bernie, Let It Go

Bush's Presidency ends in less than seven days, and his official potrait has been prepared. Apparently, there's an issue with the inscription on the bottom. Sen. Bernie Sanders has cried foul:

"When President Bush and Vice President Cheney misled our country into the war in Iraq, they certainly cited the attacks on September 11, along with the equally specious claim that Iraq possessed vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The notion, however, that 9/11 and Iraq were linked, or that one "led to" the other, has been widely and authoritatively debunked. ... Might I suggest that a reconsideration of the explanatory text next to the portrait of President Bush is in order."

It appears that people may be taking Sanders seriously on this. Look, I'm not exactly a fan of Bush, and I didn't vote for him in either election. I've commented elsewhere and often, on the final verdict of his legacy. The thing is, it's his potrait, and his vision. He's the outgoing President, and he deserves his portrait, with his vision on it. You may not agree with it, but it's his vision, and Sanders ought to let this go.

Maybe my bias is showing, in that I do believe, as a supporter of the Iraq war, that the threat Saddam posed was unacceptable in a post-9/11 world, but I'm just not sure what this accomplishes. It's like picking at the man's bones. Besides, I'm also a bit concerned about the fact that one Senator can object, and the Nation Museum basically caves. Better men than Sanders have spoken out on bigger things, and have been thwarted. Maybe I answered my own question in here somewhere, as this whole issue is so small, and so is Sanders apparently, for bringing this up.

Sen. Sanders, let it go. Let it go.

HT: Althouse

ADDED: As for people with personal agendas and their intruding on the proper processes of the Presidency, some hit you on the way out, and some hit you on the way in.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell."

More from PJM's new Israel correspondent, and conservative uber-celebrity. Can someone explain to me again, what is it exactly, that makes certain people take this guy seriously? Are you kidding me?

Look, a lot of us have seen that the MSM has a habit of screwing up the reportage, but it's absurd to make a blanket declaration that all journalists need to go. Is that just the MSM journalists (are only MSM reporters journalists?), or anyone? What the Hell is this guy talking about?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Joe The Reporter?

You know, I almost didn't want to blog on this, but I just had to share a few thoughts on JTP's new job as foreign policy analyst, with PJTV. I'm getting a negative vibe from this whole outfit, although not enough to lose any sleep over. Look, the professional media has certainly made, and continues to make big mistakes in their Israel-Palestine coverage. That much is clear. I certainly have no objection to bloggers, or anybody exercising their right offer up their perspective. That being said, assuming JTP's coverage is supposed to have some meaningful value, I cannot shake this feeling that this will turn out to be less about covering Israel, than pumping of Joe Wurzelbacher's image. I'll be honest, the guy just rubs me the wrong way, and it's not just his lack of gratitude, or his seemingly inflated sense of self-importance. I mean, there are a lot of solid journalists and bloggers who have proven themselves reliable voices on the region. My favorite Mideast blogger even works for Pajamas Media, BTW. Maybe it's just that I have this feeling that this Israel tour will turn out to be more of an attempt to bash Obama, then an attempt to show the Israeli side of things.

I'm not going to get bent out of shape over this, and qho knows, maybe he'll do a good job, but nonsense like this covers JTP's credibility in something of a dark cloud, or rather, a miasma.

HT: Althouse

ADDED: I was reading the comments over at Althouse's place, I felt compelled to add a bit more. Let me say again that my main beef with JTP is that I think he comes off as an ego-driven, self-important, celebrity hound. It's clear why some many righties like him, because he basically shares the views of the base. Heck, he may yet offer up something meaningful, and you know what, I hope I'm wrong about the guy (although I doubt it). I think in one sense he has perceived the utterly wayward media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, that much like the Lebaon war is as compromised as ever. The thing is, his utterly insane support for the idea that Obama means death for Israel totally wounds his perspective.