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Bloggingheads
02-21-2008, 09:21 AM

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 10:21 AM
Boy, Mickey was especially tedious in that opening segment. I don't know whether he's once again trying to sabotage the leading Democratic candidate or he thinks he's being Mr. Keep-Their-Feet-To-The-Fire, and I don't care. Either way, his line of argument was weak and stale.

Citing John Podhoretz as some kind of authority was the straw that made me hit the pause button.

What, exactly, is the problem with what Michelle Obama has said? It probably speaks volumes about Mickey's bachelorhood that he finds it so appalling that she would say that her husband is "snorey and stinky" -- how insecure can one man be? Man, if that was the worst dirt my significant other ever revealed about me, I might be tempted to think I was a saint, if not a Messiah-in-Training.

As for the proud-to-be-an-American bit, what, exactly is so bad about her saying this? We are a country that has often been arrogant and imperialist on the foreign policy front; our citizenry consumes far more than its fair share of natural resources and overwhelmingly has felt entitled to do so; we are dominated by mindless religious nuts far more than any other advanced nation; our education is among the world's worst; we show little concern for the less fortunate among us; we are unable to organize health care so that all may obtain at least a basic level of care; we idolize overpaid and egotistical entertainers and CEOs; we pay more attention to shock jocks than intellectuals; we care more about who wins "American Idol" than we do who wins elections, and when we do bother to vote, we are motivated principally by fear of boogeymen; our former spirit of innovation has morphed into thinking up schemes for ridiculous patents and financial pyramid schemes; Congress is wholly owned by lobbyists and has shown no spine in reining in the executive branch; the list goes on and on. And that's from the perspective of a white male, brought up in the middle to upper-middle class, not a black woman.

Is this a bit of an oversimplification? Yes. Is there a lot to love about America, especially in the ideals it was founded upon? OF course. But, as Al Franken has pointed out, there's a difference between loving like an adult and being critical of the flaws of the object of your affection, and loving in the naive way that a six-year old loves his mommy. "My country right or wrong" is the worst kind of mindless yahooism.

Besides, it's perfectly reasonable to take Michelle Obama's words in a narrower sense. This is the first election in at least a generation that has shown consistent energy in state after state, rather than being settled by the first few primaries. For all of its tedium and daily obsessions over trivial slights, it has also been remarkably civil. And however cynical one might wish to be about the phenomenon, I take it as a real positive that so many people, especially young people, are responding to a message of hope. We've spent way too long both feeling sorry for ourselves and looking for scapegoats.

In the end, this piling on to Michelle Obama's statements does have a silver lining: if that's the best critics of Obama have, they got nothing.

Okay. End of rant. Let's go hear the next bit of nonsense from Mickey.

=============

[Added] Oh, lord. Now Mickey wants to speculate about philandering. This obsession with the sex lives of other people is beyond old. Someone, please, find Mickey a girlfriend. His monasticism is twisting him.

Oh, and BTW? I wonder what he'll have to say about McCain and Vicki Iseman (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/us/politics/21mccain.html)? My prediction: crickets only, in the Kausfiles.

David Edenden
02-21-2008, 10:40 AM
Notwithstanding what US officials are saying that Kosovo independence is "sui generous" (unique), Kosovo is a precedent and it is too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

I am now waiting for Russia to sponsor the independence of Crimea (70% Russian).

Independence for Bosnia's Republika Srpska (90% Serb)

Turkish Cyprus (100% Turkish)

Get Januz Bugajski (http://the-macedonian-tendency.blogspot.com/2007/10/putin-seize-opportunity-with-nato-on.html) and Richard Hoolbroke (http://david-edenden.blogspot.com/2007/03/richard-its-americas-test-in-kosovo-not.html) to discuss on Bloggingheads.tv why this will not be a problem, then we can look back to see if they were right.

Simon Willard
02-21-2008, 10:52 AM
After years of watching states move their primaries up, it's refreshing to hear the argument that late primaries have value. Mickey makes the case here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=00:24:48&out=00:25:36).
A close Clinton/Obama race will help drive this point home.

Eastwest
02-21-2008, 10:57 AM
Wow. Bob: animated and voluble, not so pushed around by Mickey's goofy ideas as usual. (Good espresso?)

OK: Topics of earth-shaking importance:

1) Second Round of Investment. BHTV needs to fix tech problems involving choking and non-playing and intermittently-available DVs before it drives away all of the interested eyeballs getting sick of having to come back later. (Is somebody scrimping on server bandwidth?) Then maybe some savvy rich investor like me will bestow BHTV cash nirvana.

2) Ah-hah! There is a "Ding-a-link" of the Week competition! Big beef:

I posted THE DL of Robert Wright "defeating Dr. Evil" so charmingly proposed by Monsier Knobe, and hands down, was the first (and perhaps only) guy to do so, and should have gotten the DL of the Week for that! (This was superior even to my dozen other stellar DLs.)

So, what does BHTV do? First, they falsely attribute it to some "Simon Willard," (whoever that is). (update 11:30 Pacific Time: just noticed this was just fixed, thanks to Simon Willard, the great 21st-century connoisseur of creme-de-la-creme dingalinks.)

Then, insult added to injury: after a few days they put it up yet again (again unattributed) as a "Highlight Reel."

Not only no prizes, but no credit, either. Way miffed. (And currently on DL "strike.")

EW

Simon Willard
02-21-2008, 11:16 AM
I'll tell you what's bad about Michelle Obama's comment.

But first let me be careful to distinguish this from Mickey's other little controversies where he is way off the mark. Bob had it right on the "snore-y and stinky" issue. This is an old meme, a way wives humanize their spouses while at the same time drawing attention to their relationship.

It's OK to talk about American injustice, but the Obamas have complained too much about injustice against themselves. These are two of the most privileged people on the planet. It rubs me the wrong way to hear such complaints from people who went to Harvard and Princeton.

I trust they will clean up their act quickly. This stuff will not go down well with middle America.

scotchex
02-21-2008, 11:35 AM
Over-privileged scumbags like the Obamas love to bash America. I know this class so, so well. I've lived my life surrounded by the progressive left. The richer they are, the more they hate America. Americans are all fat, racist Wal-mart shoppers. Most lefty whites don't have the faux racial grievance that the Affirmative Action babies like the Obamas have, but I know tons of rich, lefty women who honestly believe they've been oppressed. I'm always embarrassed for them when I hear some rich girl whine about the patriarchy while discussing their latest overseas vacation.

Michelle Obama is one of the richest, most privileged people in all of human history, but lacks the decency to be thankful for that. And she even admits she got Affirmative Action. She thinks she's beaten the odds in a racist society. But the odds were rigged in her favor!

I know I tell my half-Asian nephew not to mention his Asian heritage when he applies to college -- he'll have to score 200 points higher on his SAT. If anything he should say he's hispanic. He'll probably get a scholarship!

I know white people aren't allowed to complain about being discriminated against by racist Affirmative Action, but I do look forward to the day when Asians finally stand up against this racist evil. All the Asians in my extended family are well aware that the "people of color" Rainbow Coalition fraudsters don't give a damn about them. Asians actually do have to be twice as smart (ok, 200 SAT points smarter) to get ahead. Luckily many of them are.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 11:41 AM
I think there's no doubt her comment was extremely ill-advised -- it plays into two memes that could kill Obama's chances: the "angry black person/Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton" meme that Obama has been very careful to avoid (for good reason) and the "liberals hate America" meme. Both of these memes play, not just among Republicans but among white working class Dems and independents.
Her after the fact explanation was good though. She explained that she meant she was proud of how ordinary Americans who often seem pretty passive in their approach to democracy were coming together to actively support the candidate they see as best, rather than waiting for the establishment and the big donors to do everything.
I think she saved herself there (but who knows what will happen when the Republicans turn it into a big campaign ad). I just hope she doesn't make any more slips like that.
I haven't seen all this Obama whininess that Simon (and Scotchex below) seem to detect. Perhaps I've missed it, or perhaps some people are primed to see (especially if they are Clinton supporters) in the political give-and-take between the Clintons and the Obama people (though Obama wisely, unlike Bill Clinton, kept himself personally largely out of that) before the SC primary.
If either of the campaigns has been more whiny than the other, I'd have to give the prize to the Clinton campaign (of course, they have more reason to whine).

brucds
02-21-2008, 11:47 AM
Gotta love the irony of this idiot attacking the Obamas for "whining" with one of the whiniest (and moronic) screeds ever posted here.

piscivorous
02-21-2008, 12:01 PM
Gotta love the irony of this idiot attacking the Obamas for "whining" with one of the whiniest (and moronic) screeds ever posted here. Have to agree with the "whiniest ... screeds" bit but it is an attitude that exists. and an issue that will have to be addressed on a level somewhat more sophisticated than "moronic."

Joel_Cairo
02-21-2008, 12:13 PM
Over-privileged scumbags like the Obamas love to bash America.

scotchex- You come off like a cartoon here, like a sloppy, broad caricature of the cultural conservative mentality sketched by Brink Lindsey in Age of Abundance. Your arguments would be more persuasive if you tried not to get all bent out of shape and have a hernia while typing.

Also, Bob, you are correct here. (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=01:05:45&out=01:05:55) It's Brown.

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 12:15 PM
Bob:

Regarding this bit (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=1:12:25&out=1:13:10) ...

Noted. I accept that you, along with others, felt I crossed the line in my comments on Rick Arndt. If those comments, by themselves, caused some other worthwhile potential guest to decline your invitation, then I'm sorry about that.

I am not otherwise sorry for anything else I said in that particular instance. By your own standard, which you expressed shortly before or after the above dingalink, we should consider posting a comment as equivalent to saying something to a diavlogger's face. I would not hesitate to say what I said in print to Rick Arndt's face. I'm sorry if I won't budge on this one. I found him that offensive, and deserving of any sort of verbal abuse I could come up with.

Second, I don't think I have much of a history, outside of Arndt, of engaging in ad hominem attacks, especially against diavloggers. As I've said before, you might have pointed out to your thin-skinned decliner that a survey of my remarks would show that my Arndt attacks were singular, and that I, like the overwhelming majority of other commenters, tend almost always to restrict our criticism to diavloggers' ideas.

I don't know if you had me in mind when you were speaking of Charlotte Hays. As I recall, I exercised considerable restraint in holding back what I was tempted to say about her. Even if it wasn't me whom you had in mind concerning that particular thread, I don't think there's much to be said in favor of taking it easy on her. Sometimes you just have to call a dumb person dumb. There's an enormous difference between a person with disagreeable politics who actually shows some evidence of independent thought about his or her position and another who has nothing to say that isn't a repeat of talking points from Fox News (or Air America Radio, for that matter). I want the first kind to return early and often, and I want the second kind never to reappear. How else should we make our preferences known?

Finally, I'll express a rare moment of agreement with Mickey: It is also my impression that the forums on this site are unusually polite and respectful, compared to the rest of the blogosphere. Nonetheless, I concede the possibility that I, or others, may go too far on occasion. I know you're busy, but it might be useful to take the time to respond in the comments when you see something that you feel violates decorum. More useful than speaking in vague generalities at the tail end of a diavlog, at any rate. I think I probably speak for a lot of people when I say that we're more than willing to receive feedback about our behavior, and possibly adjust accordingly.

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 12:38 PM
Simon and BN:

I agree with you both that Michelle Obama's remarks were perhaps ill-considered in the political context. I stand by what I said about their actual content, but you're right: from the point of view of winning an election, she probably should be a little more aware of the eagerness the right has for little things like these statements. Please let her never mention baking cookies.

Simon:

It's OK to talk about American injustice, but the Obamas have complained too much about injustice against themselves. These are two of the most privileged people on the planet.

I don't at all agree with that. To my mind, they have worked for what they have gotten. If they got a little bit of help via affirmative action to gain entry into good schools, so be it. They've made the most of that small opportunity, far more than most people do, and as far as I'm concerned, they are stellar examples in favor of continuing such programs. (I'm not wholly convinced of the worth of keeping race-based AA programs in perpetuity; I'm just saying that here are two fine examples of the good parts about such programs.)

Also, I don't think it's possible for a white person fully to grasp the ongoing indignities of life that black people have to deal with, particularly in America. From DWB (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=DWB) to being belittled for their accomplishments because of affirmative action, it's still the case that black people have it a lot tougher, on average, than do white people in this country.

Finally, I haven't heard a whole lot of complaining on the part of the Obamas regarding injustice against themselves. Care to enlighten me?

BN:

If either of the campaigns has been more whiny than the other, I'd have to give the prize to the Clinton campaign ...

Right on.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 12:57 PM
I know I piled on Charlotte Hays myself. Don't remember what I said exactly, but I know I wasn't complimentary. I have to say, that though I might have been a bit nicer than I believe I was, I kind of agree with Brendan in her case that she just didn't have much to offer intellectually. She just seemed to be parrotting Bush-Cheney talking points without really having thought through the issues. And when one of those issues was torture, well it's hard to be too polite about the inadequacies of her defense.

In general, I would stand behind commenters giving judgments of the quality of the diavloggers as diavloggers (how well they talk, how enlightening and reflective etc. they are) -- even when these may be hurtful -- as opposed to attacking them on the basis of their personal choices about how to live -- or on the basis of how many people who have made similar choices have turned out in the commenter's experience (i.e., stereotypes).

An interesting question is what to say about the objections people had to Eric Alterman's personality. I actually had no problem with those comments -- he comes across as quite arrogant (though he's not at all uninteresting), and that's part of his persona as a diavlogger. What bothers me most is when a personal comment is unfair or when it gets turned into an ad hominem argument about the diavlogger's position. I'm more in favor of being fair than of being nice -- though that doesn't help Bob book more "slave labor" -- as Will Wilkinson put it.

Simon Willard
02-21-2008, 01:07 PM
Eastwest,

I credited you with your dingalink in the Fine/Cox comment section. I. Me. What greater plaudit could one hope for?

You aren't keeping up with the older comment sections, are you? I know, it's hard to do when the new content comes every day.

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 01:07 PM
And let's not forget her howler that Bush is more mature because he sees things only in black and white. I'm not sure I could construct a more idiotic statement, even if I excused myself from believing it.

Andrya6
02-21-2008, 01:09 PM
I thought Micky could use a history lesson. The Basque secession movement didnít come from nowhere. Because the Basque community largely identified with the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, the Franco government violently suppressed Basque culture and even the use of the Basque language. Thousands of Spaniards, mostly Basques, who had fled to France, were deported by the Vichy regieme and died in concentration camps. (For details, see the Wikipedia article on Franco.)

Given this history, the idea that because a lot of Basques (not all) want to secede from Spain means that we will be facing a Hispanic movement to pull the southwest out of the US, is, well, quite a stretch.

And while Iím giving Micky a hard time- couldnít you, just once, spread unfounded rumors that a REPUBLICAN politician is having an affair?

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 01:19 PM
And while Iím giving Micky a hard time- couldnít you, just once, spread unfounded rumors that a REPUBLICAN politician is having an affair?

The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/us/politics/21mccain.html?hp) seems to have that base covered. (If they aren't unfounded rumors, the story is largely innuendo.

graz
02-21-2008, 02:12 PM
[QUOTE=Eastwest
Second Round of Investment. BHTV needs to fix tech problems involving choking and non-playing and intermittently-available DVs before it drives away all of the interested eyeballs getting sick of having to come back later. (Is somebody scrimping on server bandwidth?) Then maybe some savvy rich investor like me will bestow BHTV cash nirvana.]

I am experiencing the same very frustrating impediments to smooth replay of the video playback. It worked smoothly before and rarely works now. It would be interesting to know why... yet, I just want it to be fixed - waaaaahhh!

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 02:12 PM
Also, I don't think it's possible for a white person fully to grasp the ongoing indignities of life that black people have to deal with, particularly in America. From DWB (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=DWB) to being belittled for their accomplishments because of affirmative action, it's still the case that black people have it a lot tougher, on average, than do white people in this country.

It's definitely true that black people in this country, on average, face a number of hurdles and sleights that white people do not routinely face. However, I agree with Simon that the Obamas are not "average." While they have both surely been the victims of racism, I think it's fair to argue they have enjoyed several benefits on account of being ambituous, intelligent people who also happen to be black.

Honestly, does anyone really believe that Obama would be nearly as appealing to voters if he was a white Senator with two years of national experience? Would so many people be inspired by his speeches (which, as far as I can tell, are the onlything that really distinguished him from Clinton or Edwards) if they were delivered by a white guy? I don't think so.

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 02:25 PM
Elvis:

Honestly, does anyone really believe that Obama would be nearly as appealing to voters if he was a white Senator with two years of national experience?

No way to tell for sure, but I say, why not? Think JFK and RFK, for example.

Eastwest
02-21-2008, 02:29 PM
Re Simon Willard's:
I credited you with your dingalink in the Fine/Cox comment section.
Ahhh, indeed, just now noticed your very generous Fine/Cox comment. Nice to know at least somebody appreciates my recent flourish of DLs.

Yeah, what a great digital storm of DV's. Hard to keep up, much less track comments.

Peace,
EW

AemJeff
02-21-2008, 02:46 PM
Honestly, does anyone really believe that Obama would be nearly as appealing to voters if he was a white Senator with two years of national experience? Would so many people be inspired by his speeches (which, as far as I can tell, are the onlything that really distinguished him from Clinton or Edwards) if they were delivered by a white guy? I don't think so.

I think you're wrong about that. Obama's race is undoubtably part of the overall stew, as it were; but his ability to deliver rhetoric is a specific quality. There have been other gifted orators, who were also black, who have run for the presidency - namely Jesse Jackson, and even Al Sharpton - they obviously didn't have anything near the effect on a crowd that Obama does. If he was white, his personal history might not have taken him to a place where had this rare opportunity - but in the abstract, it's true for everybody who does have the chance to run credibly, if their racial background is unimportant, some other set of attributes is.

What I'm saying is that his specific background was obviously important in putting him in the place where he has the opportunity; but, I doubt that his ability to move people with a speech would be particularly diminished if you painted him a lighter color.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 02:54 PM
Elvis:



No way to tell for sure, but I say, why not? Think JFK and RFK, for example.


John Kennedy had over a decade's worth of national experience before running for President, as did his brother. John also had the benefit of being a war hero and best-selling author, while Robert's campaign was helped by being the brother of a fondly-remembered, recently-deceased president. Both also had the benefit of being Kennedys (we younger folks tend to forget how powerful Joe Kennedy was). Good speeches certainly helped both of them in life, but not nearly as much as their family name and their resumes.

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 03:07 PM
Elvis:

I agree the cases aren't exactly parallel, but I do think what launched JFK and RFK to national prominence, especially the latter, had a lot to do with charisma. Politicians with a decade of Congressional experience and powerful families are a dime a dozen, and few of them capture the public imagination.

I like what AemJeff had to say, as well.

Wonderment
02-21-2008, 03:09 PM
I am experiencing the same very frustrating impediments to smooth replay of the video playback. It worked smoothly before and rarely works now. It would be interesting to know why... yet, I just want it to be fixed - waaaaahhh!

Not sure if this is a hard-and-fast fix, but downloading the file as a WMV rather than watching it from the website seems to have eliminated the glitches for me. Plus, you can really fast forward as opposed to merely doing the 10-sec jump.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 03:16 PM
I think you're wrong about that. Obama's race is undoubtably part of the overall stew, as it were; but his ability to deliver rhetoric is a specific quality. There have been other gifted orators, who were also black, who have run for the presidency - namely Jesse Jackson, and even Al Sharpton - they obviously didn't have anything near the effect on a crowd that Obama does.


There's a reason for this. Obama is far less confrontational than Jackson and Sharpton. The fact that white people don't see him as a threat makes them respond much more strongly to him. The inexplicably significant fondness white people have towards Colin Powell and Condi Rice are other obvious examples of this phenomenon. No disrespect meant towards either, but it's a bit surprising how many white people have such great suspect for either despite having little familiarity with their political or military positions. I've never seen bumper stickers that say "Draft Armitage" or "Eagleburger in '08."


If he was white, his personal history might not have taken him to a place where had this rare opportunity - but in the abstract, it's true for everybody who does have the chance to run credibly, if their racial background is unimportant, some other set of attributes is.

I completely agree. While I think it's obvious that Obama wouldn't be nearly so successful if he wasn't black, I also doubt Dubya would have ever been elected if he wasn't the son of a former President, or McCain would be so appealing if not for his war record, or Hillary would have had such a successful political career if it wasn't for the fact that she was a former First Lady, etc.

My only point is that while racial attitudes have often been a detriment for black people in the United States, this is not uniformally the case. Obama's racial background has been an asset to his political career, not a liability.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 03:25 PM
scotchex- You come off like a cartoon here, like a sloppy, broad caricature of the cultural conservative mentality sketched by Brink Lindsey in Age of Abundance. Your arguments would be more persuasive if you tried not to get all bent out of shape and have a hernia while typing.

Personally, I was disappointed that scotchex didn't make a clever play on words regarding the similarity between the names Obama and Osama.

Seriously, as piscivorous has already mentioned, there's a speck of a legitimate argument made in scotchex's diatribe. But that speck is surrounded by so much crap that I won't bother to touch it.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 03:27 PM
I think you're wrong about that. Obama's race is undoubtably part of the overall stew, as it were; but his ability to deliver rhetoric is a specific quality. There have been other gifted orators, who were also black, who have run for the presidency - namely Jesse Jackson, and even Al Sharpton - they obviously didn't have anything near the effect on a crowd that Obama does. If he was white, his personal history might not have taken him to a place where had this rare opportunity - but in the abstract, it's true for everybody who does have the chance to run credibly, if their racial background is unimportant, some other set of attributes is.

What I'm saying is that his specific background was obviously important in putting him in the place where he has the opportunity; but, I doubt that his ability to move people with a speech would be particularly diminished if you painted him a lighter color.

I agree with Jeff here, but it isn't just that Obama can move people with a speech -- it goes way beyond prepared big speeches. I think if you compare Obama on "authenticity" or the appearance of authenticity with the other major candidates on the Democratic side, he wins. HRC has long been perceived as inauthentic -- I think people like Andrew Sullivan blow this way out of proportion, but there are a lot of people that feel that way, and I think there's probably a little something to it. I couldn't warm to Edwards, despite his positions, partly because he seemed a bit "fake" or "slick" to me. Obama, while I'm sure not perfect in this regard (what politician could be?) seems far more direct. Yes, this is at least partly a matter of performance -- perhaps it shows that he's just the best fake of the lot, because he's able to carry off the act that they are all trying to carry off. But the fact remains (I think) that he is the one who comes across as most authentic -- even when he is not making some stemwinder of a speech.

Don't just compare him to current candidates here either. Compare even his ordinary speaking style with that of Kerry. He probably doesn't seem more authentic than Dean, but he's more controlled than Dean -- he can keep his cool where Dean would now and then shoot himself in the foot now and again (though the "scream" seems to have been more or less faked by the news media removing all the noise of the crowd). I think he talks more connectedly and persuasively than most politicians, and without the blowhard quality that you find in Biden, for instance.

Authenticity isn't enough all on its own of course. He seems extremely intelligent and poised and competent. HRC and most of the rest of the Dem field seemed pretty competent this time around, though, so that isn't the point of comparison.

I wonder if TS Elvis has read Obama's first book. The reflectiveness and maturity revealed in that book seem like pretty rare qualities for most presidential candidates, white or black. And after the current occupant of the Whitehouse, it's no wonder a lot of people would be looking for a president with those qualities. I think Obama is pretty extraordinary among US presidential candidates.
(I also think his record in elective office is hardly all of his record. I find it reassuring that he was a lecturer on Constitutional Law (and that Cass Sunstein thinks highly of his constitutional thought). I think that seems preferable to a few extra years in the Senate.)

Given that he's so impressive in the first place, and given that he can avoid setting off white people's alarm bells, I'm sure it helps in many ways that he is black (though it initially didn't help when even blacks were afraid to vote for him in the fear that he couldn't be elected). But to focus primarily on his race and on the brevity of his career in elective office is to seriously sell him short.

Wonderment
02-21-2008, 03:41 PM
Isn't the whole issue of being proud of one's country a little nuts?

Is it so unthinkable that someone could run for public office without being a flag-waving chauvinist? Is it possible that Michelle Obama is the grown-up in the room?

Do all the candidates (and spouses) have to pass a ridiculous litmus test of attesting to the belief that the "United States is the greatest country in the world?"

Isn't the patriotism meme even a wee eensy-weensy bit questionable?

I am not suggesting being ashamed of being American. I'm just saying that getting beyond pride and shame in any national identity can be a worthwhile intellectual and spiritual endeavor.

Simon Willard
02-21-2008, 03:50 PM
I agree with AemJeff that Obama is greatly helped by the perception among some people that he is black. The idea of a "rebranding", as Bob W. called it a few months ago, weighs in his favor.

My own perception is that Obama is white. He was raised in a white family and professes to adhere to the same values my WASP parents and teachers tried to instill in me. He also speaks carefully, uses standard English, and enunciates to be understood. This also weighs in his favor.

Heck, I might even consider voting for him. Perhaps that's why I have a bad reaction to any whiff of the Obamas playing the "downtrodden race" card.

As for not knowing what it's like to be black, let me propose a gedanken experiment. We all have obstacles and difficulties in our lives. There is an urge to blame our situation on something... it's only human nature. I am certain that if I were black, in precisely the same situation I am as a white, that I would blame a number of my difficulties and shortcomings on racial prejudice. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I am that weak, but I believe it's just human nature.

Obama.... He's not the first female president. He's the first "White Brother" president.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 04:15 PM
I wonder if TS Elvis has read Obama's first book. The reflectiveness and maturity revealed in that book seem like pretty rare qualities for most presidential candidates, white or black.

Admittedly, I have not. But from the excerpts I've seen published elsewhere, and the discussions I've observed people have about the book, I'm guessing (as is the case with Obama's speeches) that I'd be left cold. I simply don't care about how someone came to terms with his familial background and ethnic identity. Likewise, appeals to "hope" and a "sense of community" don't do anything for a misanthrope like me. On a personal level, I think Obama's a likeable guy, but he certainly doesn't inspire me.

I also don't find a person's ability to talk about their path to self-actualization to be a particularly impressive trait that qualifies them to be President.


I also think his record in elective office is hardly all of his record. I find it reassuring that he was a lecturer on Constitutional Law (and that Cass Sunstein thinks highly of his constitutional thought). I think that seems preferable to a few extra years in the Senate.)

I strongly disagree. William F. Buckley once famously claimed that he would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard, and I tend to agree. People with impressive academic credentials don't always make effective policymakers, as the careers of people ranging from Woodrow Wilson to John Yoo demonstrate. Bright people with little real-world experience often seem to make the biggest errors on account of their naivete as to real-world application of their theories.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 04:40 PM
Let me start by saying that Michelle Obama clearly didn't mean her statement to come out the way it did, and even if she did, I'm not sure why that should affect people's attitudes towards her husband, who is the one running for President.

With that being said, there's a difference between saying that America has its flaws and saying that you've never been proud of the country. The former leaves open the possibility that the country has its positive aspects, while the latter does not.

Michelle Obama also didn't say that it's inappropriate to ever have pride in your country (a legitimate position -- though one I would hope is not shared by someone hoping to be elected to an office having the responsibility of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States)...she said she never felt pride in her country until now. That suggests that she does think it's possible to feel pride about America, but didn't have any until her husband ran for President. Regardless of one's political opinion, it's hard to believe that an American can't find anything to appreciate about their country in the last 25 years.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 05:00 PM
I also don't find a person's ability to talk about their path to self-actualization to be a particularly impressive trait that qualifies them to be President.

But that is not what I was saying. It's his ability to reflect AND decide, make reflective decisions and even revisit them after the fact -- unlike a certain incumbent who listens to his gut and then refuses to reconsider -- that impressed me. That does strike me as important in a president -- and particularly salient now.


I strongly disagree. William F. Buckley once famously claimed that he would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard, and I tend to agree. People with impressive academic credentials don't always make effective policymakers, as the careers of people ranging from Woodrow Wilson to John Yoo demonstrate. Bright people with little real-world experience often seem to make the biggest errors on account of their naivete as to real-world application of their theories.

I would agree if he had ONLY been a professor, but he was an organizer before that and a legislator after that. It also undersells him to look JUST at the academic part of his career. Again, he seems able, unlike a lot of academics, to bring reflection and action together.

It's not clear that if he'd spent more time in the Senate he'd have so much more "real world" experience than he has now. Looking at the other main choices, I don't think Obama had that much less experience. Edwards had one senate term. Clinton had one senate term and then she was first lady before that, and a lawyer before that. Dodd and Biden had more senatorial experience, but is that the "real world"?

McCain has more senatorial experience and spent a lot of time in the Hanoi Hilton. The latter is real world experience, but I'm not sure how applicable it is to the presidency. Maybe you'd expect him to be more concerned about going to war than Bush, but that doesn't seem to have been the effect.
Obama is a gamble, but so is everyone.
There are (or were) a lot of Republicans who worshiped GWB. Wouldn't you admit that that worship was far less justifiable in terms of outwardly evident gifts (and experience) than the current Obamania -- even though GWB was (and remains) white?

Wonderment
02-21-2008, 05:06 PM
Here's my honest "translation" of what she said:

"Look, this country has done so many fucked-up and shameful things for so long that it's been depressing and discouraging me all my adult life. Now I'm seeing a lot of young people of all social classes and ethnicities getting excited about peace and social justice. It's mind-blowing. It finally gives me something to be proud of about this country."

This may be fodder for the jingoistic right-wing propaganda machine, and it's not good for the campaign, but there you have it.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-21-2008, 05:17 PM
I agree with Elvis -- there's a big difference between not claiming "we're number one" and not having any pride in one's country. And I don't think it's crazy to want the leaders of the country to identify with it.

Her comment actually contradicts (or appears to contradict) Obama's message, which is one of pride in America (pride in the things liberals like best about it -- openness to immigrants, opportunity etc.) Look at his speech to the Democratic Convention in '04.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-21-2008, 06:11 PM
It's his ability to reflect AND decide, make reflective decisions and even revisit them after the fact -- unlike a certain incumbent who listens to his gut and then refuses to reconsider -- that impressed me. That does strike me as important in a president -- and particularly salient now.


Being able to reflect and revisit policy decisions is a valuable trait for a political leader to have. But I'm not sure Obama's record reflects that he possesses this to any greater degree than other politicians. When has he revisited and reconsidered a political position or vote? Does his voting record reflect less ideological orthodoxy than most other politicians? I don't believe that to be the case.

The claim that Obama is able to reflect and revist prior choices appears based on his personal biography. But that hardly makes him unique -- go to any college-area coffee shop and you'll overhear plenty of people discuss how they've reached self-actualization. Even this President claimed in 2000 to have "found himself at 40," reassessing his life and alcohol usage and learning to be "comfortable in his own skin."

In short, I don't think we can read too much about a person's policy acumen by their ability to rationalize their life choices.

I would agree if he had ONLY been a professor, but he was an organizer before that and a legislator after that. It also undersells him to look JUST at the academic part of his career.

He was an academic lecturer, a community activist for three years, a state rep. for eight, and a Senator for two. While this resume may seem impressive in a vacuum, it really is fairly paltry for the office of the President. There's nothing in this resume that indicates that Obama is prepared to manage a branch of the federal government (as perhaps a governership would), or has a deep understanding of issues of national importance (as a longer career in the national legislature might).



Looking at the other main choices, I don't think Obama had that much less experience. Edwards had one senate term. Clinton had one senate term and then she was first lady before that, and a lawyer before that. Dodd and Biden had more senatorial experience, but is that the "real world"?

McCain, Dodd, Biden's senatorial experience is extremely impressive. They've been around Washington a long time, and know how legislation gets passed, what the executive is capable of implementing, and have substantial knowledge regarding a number of policy issues (Biden, I believe, may have been on more fact-finding trips to Iraq than any other candidate). Hilary has actually done quite a bit in her six years, and more significantly, she saw how the presidency operates first-hand for eight years. I'll readily grant that Edwards's resume is no more impressive than Obama's.

Obama is a gamble, but so is everyone.

This is true, but some gambles pose greater risks than others.

There are (or were) a lot of Republicans who worshiped GWB. Wouldn't you admit that that worship was far less justifiable in terms of outwardly evident gifts (and experience) than the current Obamania -- even though GWB was (and remains) white?

I don't think "worship" of Bush is justifiable either, but I'm not sure why the fact that some people unconditionally approve of Bush therefore makes it acceptable to support Obama for similarly vague reasons. Also, I don't understand what your comment about Bush's skin color means. I'm sure most people would agree that people shouldn't like or dislike someone on account of their skin color, and people who like Bush because he's white are idiots.

cragger
02-21-2008, 07:27 PM
Having also been pretty blunt in my assesment of Ms. Hays, I think there is a certain amount of "reap what you sow" in the tenor of the comments about her appearance. If somebody offers thoughtful and nuanced discussion of some topic, it may increase the tendency toward the same sort of responses, in agreement or otherwise. Diavalogers who come on to parrot a set of partisan talking points tend to get somewhat snarkier responses, not to say that there aren't commenters who operate in that mode exclusively.

The worldview of Hays' main point was so shockingly childish that it triggered a similarly simplistic response - "No!, Bad!". That may not reflect well on me, but there you go.

Re Alterman, I can see how his attitude could come across as arrogant to some, particularly depending on how those folks feel about his positions, but I always had a different take on him. He always struck me as an old idealist, somewhat bitterly disappointed in the direction that things in the US have been moving and who has become somewhat cynical and unwilling to put up with bullshit.

piscivorous
02-21-2008, 09:16 PM
Or it could just be the drugs and the alcohol dependencies of Mr. Alterman's

bjkeefe
02-21-2008, 09:36 PM
cragger:

Good call on Alterman. I miss him being on, though -- he's one of my favorites.

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:14 AM
Michelle Obama also didn't say that it's inappropriate to ever have pride in your country (a legitimate position -- though one I would hope is not shared by someone hoping to be elected to an office having the responsibility of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States)...she said she never felt pride in her country until now. That suggests that she does think it's possible to feel pride about America, but didn't have any until her husband ran for President. Regardless of one's political opinion, it's hard to believe that an American can't find anything to appreciate about their country in the last 25 years.


I think that both Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus' takes on this were about as close to the mark as it gets.

I think Mrs. Obama knew exactly what she was saying, and it really says something negative about Michelle Robinson.

The Regime of special race preferences will be closing in on the 50 year mark sometime in the next administration. This means that for close to 50 years doors were opened for some people simply because they were purposely shut for others who came before. (Of course, the same doors were opened for Mr. Obama whose father and his ancestors weren't really very much a part of any of all that ugly Deep South history at all.)

It wouldn't just be the evil right wingers who would read the comment as saying that America, (the land where I guess everyone gets into Princeton and moves on to $200,000 a year administrator careers,) has had a gray cloud over it until the recent weeks when my husband has finally achieved national prominence!

What is grating is that there is no thanks back to the tolerance of rest of American society to let these little bump ups happen. You get the feeling that the beneficiaries think that all the rest of America has been similarly blessed for the same amount of work effort, and that this is just fair payback. I know in the college and law school I went to, that was commonly the assumption underlying those gifts from the rest of us.

Saying "I wouldn't have gotten through the door without these programs" is not the same as saying "thank you for these programs". The first line seems to insinuate some bad presence other than charity. The second one is a little more "hon ne" as they say in Japan---honest gratitude.

I like what Mrs. Clinton had to say at the end of tonight's debate: that she realized at a young age that she had privileges that not everyone got in life, and so she dedicated herself to public service. While this, too, overlooks the nice power and bennies and saying-what-shall-be that comes with these "public service" positions, it just seems like a more authentic and trustworthy expression, one that is more in tune with Purple American Culture.

One also gets the feeling for the number of doors that were opened for her because of being a woman (I missed pointing that out about Mrs. Obama but she got those opened, too), it looks on the facts that Mrs. Clinton had to her share of barging in, welcome or not in the man's club.

it is only to the monotone eardrums of social liberals in America that these textual backgrounds don't have nuance and aren't communicating something back to the populace.

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:27 AM
I agree with AemJeff that Obama is greatly helped by the perception among some people that he is black. The idea of a "rebranding", as Bob W. called it a few months ago, weighs in his favor.

My own perception is that Obama is white. He was raised in a white family and professes to adhere to the same values my WASP parents and teachers tried to instill in me. He also speaks carefully, uses standard English, and enunciates to be understood. This also weighs in his favor.

In a sense, he is like the Tiger Woods of politics.



Heck, I might even consider voting for him. Perhaps that's why I have a bad reaction to any whiff of the Obamas playing the "downtrodden race" card.

This part is the part that makes me uncomfortable too. It's not so much if he gets the nomination, and not even if he wins---I am sure he will be competent and make good decisions for the country. It is what other people will then say and do as a result of "first black president".

It is hard for me to believe, that in a country with a 300+ year history of racial tensions, that everything comes out just fine in one election cycle. There will be people opposed to Obama because he is by definition "black". While many, some, a lot, a litte of how they feel will be based in the gut and in "bad thinking", another amount will be based in a rational evaluation of how American politics changed in an Obama Administration. Some may be based on preceptions in the changes of race relations in America. And this will particularly boil down into dollars and cents, and respect and dignity and careful application of civil rights, versus the kinds of social wedge politics that the liberals have encouraged pretty much since the 1960's riots.

Obviously, any voter opposition (which will get called "backlash" by the social liberals) will mean a benefit to the Republican party. Maybe even mean a Republican Congress in 2010.

In the end, an Obama Administration would be no disaster. But it would not be the, er, "fairy tale"? as made out by the fervent Obama supporters. It would be a very realistic American in-between.




As for not knowing what it's like to be black, let me propose a gedanken experiment. We all have obstacles and difficulties in our lives. There is an urge to blame our situation on something... it's only human nature. I am certain that if I were black, in precisely the same situation I am as a white, that I would blame a number of my difficulties and shortcomings on racial prejudice. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I am that weak, but I believe it's just human nature.

Obama.... He's not the first female president. He's the first "White Brother" president.[/QUOTE]

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:40 AM
. . .

In general, I would stand behind commenters giving judgments of the quality of the diavloggers as diavloggers (how well they talk, how enlightening and reflective etc. they are) -- even when these may be hurtful -- as opposed to attacking them on the basis of their personal choices about how to live -- or on the basis of how many people who have made similar choices have turned out in the commenter's experience (i.e., stereotypes).

. . .




What I take from Bob Wright's cautionary remarks is that the internet creates new ways to hurt and offend people, either unintentionally or on purpose.

He was indicating that it behooved the "BloggingHeads Community" to be a little more careful about, about, well . . . whatever nasty things you people who had the finger pointed out to you publicly did or said to cause Bob to lose a guest.

There is gentle ribbing, and then there is maybe not-so-gentle ribbing. And the definition is as hard to pin down as the code word "diversity" (oops another thread). But I think his point was to use discretion or else it will get around, and fewer people will agree to be on, and then no site.

Myself, I was one of the Ann Althouse supporters in that whole, uh, JVBC and I think she had it handed to her worse than Hillary Clinton. Swore me off doing anything over the internet where I was not anonymous and with a voice disguiser.

If you could hear my voice on these posts, I would definitely use such a machine like you see on TV that makes you sound like you are a sci-fi computer.

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:45 AM
. . .

Seriously, as piscivorous has already mentioned, there's a speck of a legitimate argument made in scotchex's diatribe. But that speck is surrounded by so much crap that I won't bother to touch it.


it isn't the height of eloquence, but there is a feeling behind the poster's remark that cannot be easily dismissed. (What if the Obamas are actually ingrates and in general "bad people", not good ones like we are being told.)

Before dismissing, has anyone considered that if just a small handful of the otherwise Democratic electorate feels this way, they will do a switcheroo and vote Republican in the fall?

Why can't you (i.e. those in general) see around the curve on this one?

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:55 AM
After years of watching states move their primaries up, it's refreshing to hear the argument that late primaries have value. Mickey makes the case here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=00:24:48&out=00:25:36).
A close Clinton/Obama race will help drive this point home.

I particularly liked this point of Mickey Kaus'.

The irony is that this thing might not be decided until August. And everyone in the Democrats (except those who for political reasons want the clock to continue) are saying, "What a Disaster!"

But in fact, this is exactly when candidates were usually finally decided on. And I think both parties did it that way. You really didn't know who the candidate was going to be until the Convention. In some cases, it took many many ballots.

With Clinton-Obama, I would suggest actually, that if neither has the 2,025 by the Convention, they should proceed to that convention and use many many ballots until it is decided whether it will be Clinton, Obama, or a third acceptable alternative to both candidates. If the Obama people won't accept Clinton, and the Clinton people won't accept Obama, the Convention is well within its rights to select a third candidate, and give them (him or her)the nomination.

I think the only Democrats ineligible are those born in Canada or another foreign land, those under 35 unless they reach age 35 by January 20, 2009. Or Bill Clinton.

bjkeefe
02-22-2008, 10:05 AM
Hoofin:

Interesting that you should note that "... the internet creates new ways to hurt and offend people ...," and then go on to say that past events "[s]wore me off doing anything over the internet where I was not anonymous ..."

I myself think the biggest enabler of coarse behavior online is the easy anonymity offered to those who choose it. This, of course, is not a thought unique to me.

We had a long debate about this a long time ago, on this site. Thanks mostly to Wolfgangus, I am no longer as absolutist in my belief that people should use their real names when posting comments in a public forum, but I still do wish that using a pseudonym was the exception, not the rule. I think that would make people consider the tone of their remarks much more carefully than the exhortation to consider posted remarks as equivalent to face-to-face speech.

osmium
02-22-2008, 11:27 AM
that's nothing, mickey. i remember david corn saying motherf3cker. of course, he was quoting the president of the united states of america.

Bloggin' Noggin
02-22-2008, 01:05 PM
Being able to reflect and revisit policy decisions is a valuable trait for a political leader to have. But I'm not sure Obama's record reflects that he possesses this to any greater degree than other politicians. When has he revisited and reconsidered a political position or vote? Does his voting record reflect less ideological orthodoxy than most other politicians? I don't believe that to be the case.

The claim that Obama is able to reflect and revist prior choices appears based on his personal biography. But that hardly makes him unique -- go to any college-area coffee shop and you'll overhear plenty of people discuss how they've reached self-actualization. Even this President claimed in 2000 to have "found himself at 40," reassessing his life and alcohol usage and learning to be "comfortable in his own skin."

I'm not just talking about some claim to have found himself. I'm talking about the quality of thought and (non-Hamlet-like) thoughtfulness evinced by the book. Very likely you would have a different reaction to the book if you read it. But I'm going (necessarily) on my own perception of the qualities that would have been necessary, not just to turn your life around (or say so), but to think the thoughts he describes in the book. I'm not expecting you to share my reactions to a book you haven't read or to the speeches which you have heard. I'm just trying to point out that a resume is only one indicator of something deeper -- resumes can lie too. If many people think they see that deeper something in Obama, it needn't be that they are subject to wishful thinking or having the pants charmed off them. Resumes are "objective" but how you interpret them is not. Some job candidates with less wonderful sounding resumes interview much better and convince you that they could do the job better than the person with more outward experience -- and of course that's a subjective judgment, which another interviewer might not make.

In short, I don't think we can read too much about a person's policy acumen by their ability to rationalize their life choices.
I don't think I made that claim. I would like a president who can revisit what he's done and maybe change his mind instead of digging in and denying that anything is wrong. Whether Obama is a thoughtful, reflective person able to take a hard look at his past decisions is something that I think can come through and did come through in the book -- in the specifics of the book, not in some very general claim about "turning one's life around." That's a subjective view, but by no means baseless.

He was an academic lecturer, a community activist for three years, a state rep. for eight, and a Senator for two. While this resume may seem impressive in a vacuum, it really is fairly paltry for the office of the President. There's nothing in this resume that indicates that Obama is prepared to manage a branch of the federal government (as perhaps a governership would), or has a deep understanding of issues of national importance (as a longer career in the national legislature might).

I don't think "worship" of Bush is justifiable either, but I'm not sure why the fact that some people unconditionally approve of Bush therefore makes it acceptable to support Obama for similarly vague reasons. Also, I don't understand what your comment about Bush's skin color means. I'm sure most people would agree that people shouldn't like or dislike someone on account of their skin color, and people who like Bush because he's white are idiots.

I had in mind your original claim that people wouldn't be so moved by Obama's speeches or so excited about him if he were not black. There's an old joke about a man marvelling at another man's dog playing checkers. The owner says, "what's so great about that, I've beaten him 2 times out of three." Your view seems to be that Obama fans are so impressed that a black politician can do all the things he's managed to do that they confuse that with his being best for the job. I thought and still think this is very unfair to Obama. Comparing him with many white politicians who also ran for president, his intellectual abilities, his ability to connect with ordinary people and his apparent honesty (the last two are the "authenticity" I tried to draw attention to in my initial post), he is at least their equal.
And he's clearly much the superior of the incumbent in intellect and knowledge and concern about the details of policy.

Sure it helps that he's black, though not, I think just because people want to show that they're not prejudiced or whatever. Rather, it helps because, if he lives up to his promise, he can symbolically turn the page (and symbolism counts for something even in the real world) -- both on racial divisions and to some degree on our relationship with the rest of the world. He can serve as a credible broker for the divisions within the constituency of the Democratic party. If, as Mickey suggests, he were to argue for replacing race-based with class-based affirmative action, he would have an added level of credibility that might get it done - like Nixon going to China. His being both white and black is a rational part of his appeal, but I think he gives every evidence of being at least the equal of many a white presidential contender -- including Bush, Kerry and Hillary Clinton -- in intelligence and political skill.

Hoofin
02-22-2008, 02:06 PM
I myself think the biggest enabler of coarse behavior online is the easy anonymity offered to those who choose it. This, of course, is not a thought unique to me.



But it gets even trickier:

People can make like they are giving enough identifying information about themselves to be "real", but in fact what they have put up is really a mask.

People can use someone else's identity.

People can purloin a user's screen name from one site or blog, and then post messages as if they were that person.

People can use a real person's picture and someone else's name (the kind of thing a dating site might be taken in by, come to think of it.)

There was that young teenage girl out in one of those out-of-the-way Midwestern states, I forget which one, who thought she had found a boyfriend over the internet. At some point, this supposed boyfriend spurned her. Then, it turned out to be some mother of another young girl down the road with very few personal standards (sounded kind-of like a WT that somehow got a nice house in a suburb). She had it out for the teenager for some reason, perhaps because of some rivalry that teen had with her own daughter. (A Helicopter Mom driving a Blackhawk, I suppose.)

If the young girl didn't commit suicide over the prank I am sure that it would all have passed by with no consequence.

bjkeefe
02-22-2008, 02:08 PM
Hoofin:

Yes, you're right about the ability to present a false identity on the Web being potentially even worse than anonymity.

I'm just starting to learn about OpenID. Maybe that'll help, although I think it's going to take a shift in the global mindset to really fix the problem.

allbetsareoff
02-22-2008, 03:36 PM
Reduce Mexican immigration to suppress the spread of oompah music. This could be Mickey's most potent talking point yet. Except you'd have to cede Texas back to Mexico. Hmm, sounding better . . .

Matt
02-22-2008, 04:04 PM
Bob argued that Reagan didn't win the Cold War because the Soviet Union was going to collapse anyway. He cites in support of this contention the fact that he visited the Soviet Union in 1991 and the stores were bare. But you could just as easily argue the opposite conclusion: stripped down stores in the 1990s prove that Reagan's escalation of the arms race in the 1980s wrecked the Soviet economy and forced them to capitulate.

bjkeefe
02-22-2008, 05:27 PM
Bob argued that Reagan didn't win the Cold War because the Soviet Union was going to collapse anyway. He cites in support of this contention the fact that he visited the Soviet Union in 1991 and the stores were bare. But you could just as easily argue the opposite conclusion: stripped down stores in the 1990s prove that Reagan's escalation of the arms race in the 1980s wrecked the Soviet economy and forced them to capitulate.

You could make your argument, I suppose, but it sort of ignores external realities. From everything I've ever read, the Soviet Union never had much to offer in the way of readily available commericial goods, except, in some cases, to Party members. They just never did get their economy to thrive, not in the late 1980s, and not before.

I think it makes more sense to take what Bob was saying as an illustration, not a piece of evidence.

Matt
02-22-2008, 08:03 PM
Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I wasn't actually proposing that the bare stores Bob visited were proof that Reagan won the Cold War, I was trying to show that it was weak to cite it as evidence for his argument.

As Mickey alluded to with Cuba, you can't just point to meager consumer goods to prove that revolution was bound to happen imminently regardless of what Reagan did. Why couldn't the Soviet Union have limped on? Castro's regime has survived despite the fact that average Cubans exist under similar or worse conditions.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
02-22-2008, 08:29 PM
Bloggin'

It's not just the 2004 Convention speech. Obama gives hundreds of speeches celebrating America...(the whole Yes We Can speech/song is a celebration of America and American history It was a creed...written into the founding documents...) and yet his wife makes a single comment and all of a sudden they're both whiny and ungrateful (with the assumption that they should be grateful to whites, I guess).

Normally, I'm in favor of dialogue and I always hold that people have the ability to change, but it's really not worth talking to people so pathological that they really believe (and I have no doubt they really believe this) that it is so hard to be a white man in America these days.

And where exactly are all the speeches where Obama is whining about being personally oppressed? Really, I haven't heard them...can someone point me to them.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

piscivorous
02-22-2008, 08:56 PM
The Senator Obama phenomena is also being recognized by others including apparently some in the German media Change You Can't Believe In (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,536232,00.html).

uncle ebeneezer
02-22-2008, 10:38 PM
Did anyone else get the feeling, after that segment like they had just gotten the "I'm disappointed" speech from Dad? Blush and look down your shoelaces. Of course that would make Mickey the crazy uncle who gets drunk at Holidays and rants about Mexicans taking over the US, and Ann Coulter and imaginary sex-scandals involving the democratic presidential candidates. Wait, so if Steven Kaus has children, then Mickey really IS that crazy uncle!

Happy Hominid
02-23-2008, 01:44 AM
Here it is:

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=00:04:32&out=00:04:52

The thing is this - when you state something like "he stole" when it is clear that nothing of the kind happened, you really are smearing someone. You can make an argument that if Obama wants to be known for his tremendous speeches, then he needs to not only be able to deliver them but to write them. This alone is a disingenuous comment, because most politicians have speech writers and many politicians almost never write a word of a speech. So if a guy is writing and delivering speeches, that's actually kind of impressive.

But even if you do get away with the above argument, the facts in this case are quite clear. Duval Patrick is a co-chair of Obama's national campaign. He used the line in defense of himself. He saw a similarity to the criticisms Obama was taking and suggested that he use the same argument in his stump speech. Just to be clear, in a 45 minute speech this was one talking point that took about a minute. So you have Obama giving a speech in which a few lines were given to him by a member of his campaign. To say he "stole" anything from Duval Patrick is an absurd allegation and I really hope Bob will correct himself on that one.

deebee
02-23-2008, 08:57 AM
By now we are all know that our statesmen and leaders have feet of clay. Now we are told that they may also be stinky. I personally believe that Michelle Obamaís many ill-advised comments could spell trouble on down the road.

As for Mr. Obama, recent revelations re: his not-so-original words, his thinly-veiled misogynistic remarks etc. may not be enough to immediately derail his campaign but they represent real dings in his armor and could spell trouble on down the road.

deebee
02-23-2008, 09:47 AM
Just read Piscivorous' recommended article "Change You Can't Believe In" and I recommend his recommendation -- excellent article!!

piscivorous
02-23-2008, 09:59 AM
Better be careful, I've a bit of a disreputable reputation here and anything and everything you say is likely to be discounted from now on; but thanks anyways it nice to know someone appreciates ones efforts.

bjkeefe
02-23-2008, 11:18 AM
Abu Noor:

Excellent points.

bjkeefe
02-23-2008, 11:20 AM
uncle eb:

Did anyone else get the feeling, after that segment like they had just gotten the "I'm disappointed" speech from Dad?

That's a good, and funny, way to put it.

To be fair, though, I think I understand what Bob wants, and I don't disagree with him much at all in this regard. But yes, I wish he would engage more directly more often, rather than using the method of criticism that he has.

Whatever happened to the Comment Nanny, come to that?

bjkeefe
02-23-2008, 11:28 AM
Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I wasn't actually proposing that the bare stores Bob visited were proof that Reagan won the Cold War, I was trying to show that it was weak to cite it as evidence for his argument.

As Mickey alluded to with Cuba, you can't just point to meager consumer goods to prove that revolution was bound to happen imminently regardless of what Reagan did. Why couldn't the Soviet Union have limped on? Castro's regime has survived despite the fact that average Cubans exist under similar or worse conditions.

I think I already addressed your first point, in that I perceived Bob's mention of the empty stores as more of an illustrative example than a solid hunk of evidence.

I agree with your second point -- meager consumer goods is not, in and of itself, indicative of a regime that's about to collapse. On the other hand, it does suggest a serious and systemic problem, and it is worth noting that both Cuba and the Soviet Union have had to use harsh totalitarian methods to keep the peace. You could toss North Korea into that, as another example.

Granted, some countries don't have consumer goods, just because they're poor (or the government is excessively corrupt, or whatever). But I think these three countries all share the characteristics of having failed economies, consequent unhappy citizenry, and the need for repressive measures to keep the powers-that-be from becoming the powers that were.

bjkeefe
02-23-2008, 11:33 AM
Better be careful, I've a bit of a disreputable reputation here and anything and everything you say is likely to be discounted from now on; but thanks anyways it nice to know someone appreciates ones efforts.

As one who has long and frequently disagreed with you, Pisc, I would not say that you are disreputable. In fact, my respect for you has grown over time. I'm not sure whether it's that your arguments are becoming less absolutist and you have shown more willingness to admit the validity of other points of view, or just that I'm getting to know you better, but I consider your voice a worthy addition to the discourse.

As for the Der Spiegel article, I take the author's point. Obviously, I don't think it's an excellent article, but there's not much point in arguing about it, since the disagreement basically comes down to whether you feel the sense of hope that Obama engenders is real and worthwhile, or you want to be a cynic about it. I believe that a big part of what gets an economy going again is the mood of the people. Sure, it's irrational, but it is a real phenomenon -- if people believe the economy is going {good|sour}, then usually, a {boom|recession} follows. Was there irrational exuberance in the 1990s? Yes. Do some Obama fans appear similarly crazed? Yes. But I don't think it's a bad thing. Especially when compared to the alternatives.

piscivorous
02-23-2008, 11:50 AM
As one who has long and frequently disagreed with you, Pisc, I would not say that you are disreputable. In fact, my respect for you has grown over time. I'm not sure whether it's that your arguments are becoming less absolutist and you have shown more willingness to admit the validity of other points of view, or just that I'm getting to know you better, but I consider your voice a worthy addition to the discourse.
This may come of a surprise to you bt elf depricating irony is a form of humor.As for the Der Spiegel article, I take the author's point. Obviously, I don't think it's an excellent article, but there's not much point in arguing about it, since the disagreement basically comes down to whether you feel the sense of hope that Obama engenders is real and worthwhile, or you want to be a cynic about it. I believe that a big part of what gets an economy going again is the mood of the people. Sure, it's irrational, but it is a real phenomenon -- if people believe the economy is going {good|sour}, then usually, a {boom|recession} follows. Was there irrational exuberance in the 1990s? Yes. Do some Obama fans appear similarly crazed? Yes. But I don't think it's a bad thing. Especially when compared to the alternatives. It is not a dichotomous choice. One can "feel sense of hope that Obama engenders" and applaud it while at the same time think that it is composed of little substance or the substance, provided that one puts in some effort, is against that very substance.

bjkeefe
02-23-2008, 11:58 AM
Pisc:

This may come of a surprise to you bt elf depricating irony is a form of humor.

Sorry if I missed the joke. Sounded like it had more than a grain of truth in it, though.

And why do you feel it necessary to disparage little people? ;^)

It is not a dichotomous choice. One can "feel sense of hope that Obama engenders" and applaud it while at the same time think that it is composed of little substance or the substance, provided that one puts in some effort, is against that very substance.

I agree that it's not absolutely an either-or choice. Still, my sense of the article was that the author was saying that the hope Obama engenders is all empty, and that anyone who believes it is entirely irrational. That's what I was trying to dispute.

piscivorous
02-23-2008, 12:26 PM
Pisc:
Sorry if I missed the joke. Sounded like it had more than a grain of truth in it, though... For some of the more narrow minded here it is the absolute truth but I am comfortable with who I am.

samuelsd
02-23-2008, 07:06 PM
This (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8944?in=32:33&out=32:41) seems to me like the best imaginable summary of Mickey Kaus's philosophy.

Why participate in anything? Because participation gives me the 'right' to be snarky and sarcastic about what I just participated in.

It's a shame, really - I used to love and anxiously await Bob and Mickey's weekly offerings. Now? There are easily a dozen pairings I enjoy more. Mickey's repetitive sophistry has completely killed my enjoyment of their once wide-ranging discussions. I swear, if Michelle Obama was accused of having an affair with an illegal immigrant, Mickey would be so excited, his pants would actually explode. It's a shame that someone so smart and witty puts his gifts to such lame uses.

theconsistentfool.blogspot.com (http://theconsistentfool.blogspot.com)

Happy Hominid
02-23-2008, 07:41 PM
DeeBee -

As an Obama supporter, I welcome the shotgun blast of attacks he is currently receiving. I think he is "behind" in the national opinion of who is most qualified to lead. Probably McCain is considered to be the one, with Hillary in 2nd place. As Obama fields these attacks and gets a few chinks in his armor, we will have the opportunity to evaluate his ability to lead, while under fire. He had a press conference today in response to Hillary's charge that his flyer contained false info and that he was pulling a "Rove". He handled it, and the other questions that were thrown at him, in a rather Presidential manner.

As to Michelle Obama's missteps - see my answer above. As to the specifics of this particular flap - much ado about nothing. Let me show you her quote two different ways:

"For the first time in my adult life I feel really proud of America".

"For the first time in my adult life I feel REALLY proud of America".

I'm not speaking for Michelle Obama in this paragraph, just Happy Hominid. I ain't all that proud of America. At times I feel proud and mostly I feel disheartened. Anyone who wants to start up with the "love or leave it" crap can sit on it. I don't particularly drool over this country and I ain't going anywhere, so deal with it.

In closing, I'm one of the last ones to play the "race card" to engender sympathy. I think it is largely misused and seldom has the effect you would like. In fact, most people who claim racism in any given situation are both wrong and unlikely to get accomplished whatever it is they were trying to do. But I had to cringe on behalf of Mickey with his "angry black women" comment. Back away slowly, Mick. Tell you what, we'll figure out who the angry black women are for you, then deport them to Mexico. Now go do what you are good at and find out how many times McCain schtuped Vicki Iseman before doing favors for her boss in the Senate (a year after he voted for Clinton's impeachment).

You_had_me_at_hello
02-25-2008, 05:41 PM
The phrase "cat have your tongue?" was begging to be uttered during this diavlog.

Somehow I have this vision of doing a YouTube Remix of this episode, where using the wizardry of modern technology, Lauren Bacall walks behind the momentarily tongue-tied, blushing form of RW as he is bending over towards the viewer and she in her usual smoky way says the above phrase, right after Kaus asks RW if he is all right (or says something like that).

You_had_me_at_hello
02-25-2008, 05:42 PM
Look, I'm new here, and obviously I do not know Lemon Sorbet or Bloggin' Noggin at all, but when I heard RW talk about the "crush" between Lemon Sorbet and Bloggin' Noggin --- Well, I became very, very, concerned.

I mean, isn't somebody going to point out the obvious?

I mean, really, think about it. Isn't there the very real danger that Lemon Sorbet, will soon be melting into BlogginNoggins' arms? That he, after some hesitation, won't be able to resist her lemony goodness, and start consuming her? And that she will ultimately be absorbeted into him?

Then they would have only one screen name like: Sorgin Lemonoggin?

Think Bennifer.

You_had_me_at_hello
02-25-2008, 05:43 PM
Hi BJKeefe,

I am very curious about a phrase that you use in your first post of this thread: "mindless religious nuts."

These phrase bugs me in many ways, not least of which is that it brings to mind a visual of a fake ad for Southwest Airlines: Here at Soutwest Airlines sitting next to the Religious Nuts is still FREE!" unlike the leading competitors.

Would you kindly expound on what you mean by that phrase? Not necessarily within the context of that post, but just in general.


You know the whole topic of religion seems to naturally segue into the topic of doing what is right. What does it mean to do right?

Anyhow speaking of the topic of right I am reminded of what Al Gore said at the 2000 Democratic convention: Sometimes there is the need to "Pick the hard right over the easy wrong."

Profound. I couldn't agree more. But I would have to add: It's not necessarily difficult to embrace the "hard right", in fact, quite the opposite----- it can be exhilarating knowing in your heart that you are doing the moral and right thing, and this knowledge also gives you the added bonus of strengthening you to carry out the "demands of right acting" to their satisfying if sometimes unexpected conclusions.

Anyway --- just want to say: clearly, clearly, I am outgunned here at BHvt in the art of political discourse and just plain political knowledge; but like how Christ didn't come to earth to save the righteous, but the sinners ---- I believe BHvt helps educate the less politically sophisticated and savvy (for which I am the lowliest) among us, in all the world.

Next stop: Find out what the word "punditry" means ---- So far I have assumed it means people who are conversent in "Speaking in Puns" but oddly I'm not seeing too much of that here. . . so I have a suspicion that that isn't it.

But if it was --- clearly, it would be you, not me who was outpunned.

BJKeefe! I have eyes behind my head. Stop! See--- My hands are off of the keyboard.
I can tell that you're pointing a pun at me.
slowly put down the pun, BJ,
won't put down the pun?

OK, just as long as you don't pun a put-down.

(BJ falls disarmed, sorry BJ but you were pointing a pun at me).

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 12:07 AM
YHMAH:

Hi BJKeefe,

I am very curious about a phrase that you use in your first post of this thread: "mindless religious nuts."

These phrase bugs me in many ways, not least of which is that it brings to mind a visual of a fake ad for Southwest Airlines: Here at Soutwest Airlines sitting next to the Religious Nuts is still FREE!" unlike the leading competitors.

Would you kindly expound on what you mean by that phrase? Not necessarily within the context of that post, but just in general.

Hard to know how seriously you want an answer, since the rest of your remarks were so comic (and entertaining), but assuming you do ...

For the record, and other readers, my phrase appeared in a list of reasons I gave (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=70596&postcount=2) in support of the idea that one might not always feel pride in America:

... we are dominated by mindless religious nuts far more than any other advanced nation; ...

I mean by "mindless religious nuts" the sort of people who accept, unquestioningly, a total mindset and way of life as dictated to them by preachers, or in some rare cases, as deduced from their personal parsings of what they would call their holy book. I mean the sort of people who reject rational thinking in favor of blind faith, who display a smugness of certainty in their own interpretations of religious teachings, who flaunt pride in their ignorance, and who feel that the world would be a better place if only they got to tell everybody else how to live.

I mean by "mindless religious nuts" those who whine about being persecuted when they simultaneously pronounce themselves the "chosen" people, who demand "tolerance" (read: favored treatment) while condemning everyone who does not agree with the political aims, who riot when they perceive a slight, and who claim that God is on their side when making war.

I mean by "mindless religious nuts" people who treat women as possessions, who view gays and lesbians as needing to be "cured," who think a blastocyst is worth killing over but who applaud the death penalty and ignore "collateral damage."

I could go on, but out of consideration for people who have been around these boards longer than you, I'll leave it there for now.

Sorry if the phrase bugs you. Those people bug me. I would say that if you're offended, you deserve it; if you don't deserve it, you have no reason to be offended.

piscivorous
02-26-2008, 12:22 AM
YHMAH:..I mean by "mindless religious nuts" those who whine about being persecuted when they simultaneously pronounce themselves the "chosen" people, who demand "tolerance" (read: favored treatment) while condemning everyone who does not agree with the political aims...
I suppose that you would be talking here about the good reverends Jackson and Sharpton. Other than refereeing to themselves 'the "chosen" people' they fit your definition to a T

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 12:40 AM
I suppose that you would be talking here about the good reverends Jackson and Sharpton. Other than refereeing to themselves 'the "chosen" people' they fit your definition to a T

Other than that.

And other than the fact that neither are anti-science, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, pro-war, or believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, yeah, I guess you're right. Except for matching very few of my criteria, they sure do fit my definition to a T.

Can we referee to an umpire on this one?

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
02-26-2008, 12:06 PM
Well, Brendan, you had three paragraphs worth of description of "religious nuts" and piscivirous picked out one line which he felt fit Revs. Jackson and Sharpton...and even then he had to admit that part of that line did not fit them...but then he went ahead and said they fit "your" description to a tee.
Maybe I don't understand the expression "fits to a tee" but it doesn't make sense to me. (On a side note, I have my own issues with Jesse Jackson, but I must say I don't really understand the sense the hatred and vitriol so many people have towards him...I guess that's what happens growing up in the kinda house I did...I think my deep mistrust of the whole idea of democracy started from seeing Ronald Reagan as being popular and winning elections by landslides when I didn't know a single person who had anything nice to say about the man).

Anyways, Brendan, I understand your extreme hatred for the 'religious nuts,' as you call them, because I basically share it. Of course I am my own flavor of religious nut myself. And this is the point I want to make...I really do think that your opposition to these people is so virulent that I sometimes am not sure if you are really listing reasons you dislike them or just listing things about people you don't like or just listing a string of insults. Again, I share your basic feeling on "those" people, I think, but of course, I also realize that I, probably much more so than Revs. Jackson or Sharpton, do share certain characteristics with these people (in the abstract, on a practical level, we would have extremely little in common). All of that is just rambling observation, but I do wonder this -- do you see your opposition to these people (I think we're broadly talking about the "Christian Right" but correct me if I'm wrong) as being because of their religious beliefs? I am not convinced that the political or even social views these people express are even the result of any real study of Christianity. Instead, they use Christianity to justify political and social views and values that arise out of other things -- of course this then becomes their own particular understanding of Christianity.

Anyways, I don't know if the above really means anything, but those are some thoughts.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 01:27 PM
Abu Noor:

Maybe I don't understand the expression "fits to a tee" but it doesn't make sense to me.

That is one of those expression, like "the whole nine yards," that everyone seems to "know" the origin of, and no one agrees upon. However, the meaning is fairly universally accepted: it means the thing in question matches the description in every way one can think of, without exception. So, I think we agree: neither Jackson nor Sharpton fall into the category of "mindless religious nuts," according to my definition.

I, too, think the hatred some people have for Jackson and Sharpton is incomprehensible. Both can be blowhards and camera hogs at times, and both have appeared to use unhappy racial events for their own personal gain, but both have also done good community work and have said plenty of things that needed saying.

Anyways, Brendan, I understand your extreme hatred for the 'religious nuts,' as you call them, because I basically share it. Of course I am my own flavor of religious nut myself. And this is the point I want to make...I really do think that your opposition to these people is so virulent that I sometimes am not sure if you are really listing reasons you dislike them or just listing things about people you don't like or just listing a string of insults.

That's a fair point and maybe even a legitimate criticism, especially regarding some of the things I've said elsewhere on the topic. However, in my particular response to YHMAH, it seems to me I was only listing characteristics of what I meant by the phrase "mindless religious nut." I think anybody will agree that there are people who display these characteristics.

It is true that I strongly dislike such people, or maybe more precisely, strongly dislike the consequences of them trying to impose their mindsets on the rest of the world. It is also true that I think they cause or at least aggravate much of the problems in the world. Finally, it is also true that I think it is necessary for some of us to adopt as extreme an attitude as they display in order to keep them in line. You probably remember that I've had this debate before on these boards, and I hope you remember that I have acknowledged that my way is not the only way -- I am happy to have others be more polite in their disagreements with religious fundamentalists who want to rule the world.

Finally, for the record, I don't know you very well, yet, but as far as I can tell, I wouldn't describe you as a "mindless religious nut." I don't share many of your beliefs, to be sure, but you do present as someone who tries to keep an open mind and who acknowledges the validity of other points of view.

... I do wonder this -- do you see your opposition to these people (I think we're broadly talking about the "Christian Right" but correct me if I'm wrong) as being because of their religious beliefs?

I was not only speaking of the "Christian Right," although they are the ones who have the most impact on my life. I feel the same way about extreme fundamentalists of all religions.

The short answer is, no, I don't have a problem with what people choose to believe. Free country, and all that. I have an impatience with people when they go on and on in some highly non-rational manner, whether it involves God, astrology, or conspiracy theories, but if it were the case that everyone kept their faiths to themselves, and did not try to shut down other beliefs, I wouldn't be looking to pick fights with them. I have no interest in being the Thought Police. My main problem comes from them trying to impose their beliefs on others.

It's hard to say where, exactly, to draw the line, though. Many religious people believe proselytizing is integral to their faith, and in some cases, is even required by it. So it's hard to say, "believe what you want" if part of that belief means that you're going to be trying to control my life. It's also hard to be laissez-faire when you see the religious powers powers that be violating basic human rights in their treatment of less powerful members of their own societies.

There's another piece: what are we as a society to do when we see children being raised in a manner we consider counterproductive to society? There is a lot of good that can come from raising a child in a religious culture, to be sure, but there are also downsides, especially in the cases of extremist parents. I don't know the complete answer on this one, but part of dealing with it, it seems to me, is making sure the kids have unbridled opportunity to learn that not everyone in the world shares the point of view that they get brainwashed with at home. This means, for example, not allowing Creationism to be taught as science, not allowing the government to push for wrong-headed approaches on sex education, and not permitting officially-sanctioned prayer in the classroom.

The thing is, many religious people can't accept either the strictures or the freedoms that come up when you really look at the nuts and bolts of what's involved in ensuring a pluralistic society. They often respond, instead, with fervor and considerable political clout. From my estimation, treating them with kid gloves has not been sufficient to maintain a balanced society. Also from my estimation, the attitude displayed recently by more aggressive non-believers has done a lot of good. So, as I said, that's why I consciously come across as harsh on such matters.

Wonderment
02-26-2008, 03:45 PM
I have my own issues with Jesse Jackson, but I must say I don't really understand the sense the hatred and vitriol so many people have towards him.

I love Jesse Jackson. I wish he had done better in the primaries in the 80s. He would have made a far, far better president than Reagan.

I also like Al Sharpton, although I didn't support him for president.

The first African American presidential candidate I supported was Shirley Chisholm in 1972. She was an amazing candidate! When she dropped out, I voted for McGovern.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
02-26-2008, 06:48 PM
Brendan,

Thanks for your reply...it's helpful to me in thinking through some of the issues. I know you've spent a lot of time discussing these issues here on these boards and I can't even say I've read all of it. The whole issue of the tone you take with religious nuts is one thing, but putting to the side whether such tone is justified, productive or what, I was just trying to make sure that I could see through the tone to get to what the heart of your critique actually is. Anyways, more later, inshAllaah.

Peace.

piscivorous
02-26-2008, 08:49 PM
YHMAH:I mean by "mindless religious nuts" the sort of people who accept, unquestioningly, a total mindset and way of life as dictated to them by preachers, or in some rare cases, as deduced from their personal parsings of what they would call their holy book. I mean the sort of people who reject rational thinking in favor of blind faith, who display a smugness of certainty in their own interpretations of religious teachings, who flaunt pride in their ignorance, and who feel that the world would be a better place if only they got to tell everybody else how to live.

I mean by "mindless religious nuts" those who whine about being persecuted when they simultaneously pronounce themselves the "chosen" people, who demand "tolerance" (read: favored treatment) while condemning everyone who does not agree with the political aims, who riot when they perceive a slight, and who claim that God is on their side when making war.

I mean by "mindless religious nuts" people who treat women as possessions, who view gays and lesbians as needing to be "cured," who think a blastocyst is worth killing over but who applaud the death penalty and ignore "collateral damage." It seemed to me that with 3 paragraphs you were describing 3 different categories of "mindless religious nuts" the reverends Jackson and Sharpton fit one of those 3 distinct categories. But since they don't fit all you 15 or so conditions that span the 3 paragraphs they don't. How many of the various conditions must one subscribe to in order to qualify as "mindless religious nuts" 10%, 30%, 50%, 90% or must they fit all your stipulated criteria. If the latter then logically very few individuals will fit into your definition of "mindless religious nuts."
Abu Noor:I, too, think the hatred some people have for Jackson and Sharpton is incomprehensible. Both can be blowhards and camera hogs at times, and both have appeared to use unhappy racial events for their own personal gain, but both have also done good community work and have said plenty of things that needed saying. Hatred is a word that gets thrown out on this BB quite a lot, it is a good emotive noun, and seemingly the penultimate descriptor of opinions and expressions of someone that disagrees with commenter. Yet it's frequent appearance here tells me that it is either misunderstood or deliberately misused to try and strengthen ones arguments. Because I have little respect for the reverends Jackson and Sharpton doesn't mean that I hate them. As to their respective good works I would agree that they have done some. I would also stipulate that they have done things that I and many others find repugnant. They have used the cover of bigotry to push an agenda that I believe has been more harmful to society than the good they have done for it; beginning with Mr Jacksons appearance in Chicago in a bloody tee shirt he claimed, falsely I might add, was Dr Martin Luther Kings, shortly after his assassination, exacerbating the racial tensions that were prevalent at the time to Mr Sharpton and Tawana Brawley to give two examples. Abu Noor:
That's a fair point and maybe even a legitimate criticism, especially regarding some of the things I've said elsewhere on the topic. However, in my particular response to YHMAH, it seems to me I was only listing characteristics of what I meant by the phrase "mindless religious nut." I think anybody will agree that there are people who display these characteristics.

It is true that I strongly dislike such people, or maybe more precisely, strongly dislike the consequences of them trying to impose their mindsets on the rest of the world. It is also true that I think they cause or at least aggravate much of the problems in the world. Finally, it is also true that I think it is necessary for some of us to adopt as extreme an attitude as they display in order to keep them in line. You probably remember that I've had this debate before on these boards, and I hope you remember that I have acknowledged that my way is not the only way -- I am happy to have others be more polite in their disagreements with religious fundamentalists who want to rule the world.

Finally, for the record, I don't know you very well, yet, but as far as I can tell, I wouldn't describe you as a "mindless religious nut." I don't share many of your beliefs, to be sure, but you do present as someone who tries to keep an open mind and who acknowledges the validity of other points of view.



I was not only speaking of the "Christian Right," although they are the ones who have the most impact on my life. I feel the same way about extreme fundamentalists of all religions.

The short answer is, no, I don't have a problem with what people choose to believe. Free country, and all that. I have an impatience with people when they go on and on in some highly non-rational manner, whether it involves God, astrology, or conspiracy theories, but if it were the case that everyone kept their faiths to themselves, and did not try to shut down other beliefs, I wouldn't be looking to pick fights with them. I have no interest in being the Thought Police. My main problem comes from them trying to impose their beliefs on others.

It's hard to say where, exactly, to draw the line, though. Many religious people believe proselytizing is integral to their faith, and in some cases, is even required by it. So it's hard to say, "believe what you want" if part of that belief means that you're going to be trying to control my life. It's also hard to be laissez-faire when you see the religious powers powers that be violating basic human rights in their treatment of less powerful members of their own societies.

There's another piece: what are we as a society to do when we see children being raised in a manner we consider counterproductive to society? There is a lot of good that can come from raising a child in a religious culture, to be sure, but there are also downsides, especially in the cases of extremist parents. I don't know the complete answer on this one, but part of dealing with it, it seems to me, is making sure the kids have unbridled opportunity to learn that not everyone in the world shares the point of view that they get brainwashed with at home. This means, for example, not allowing Creationism to be taught as science, not allowing the government to push for wrong-headed approaches on sex education, and not permitting officially-sanctioned prayer in the classroom.

The thing is, many religious people can't accept either the strictures or the freedoms that come up when you really look at the nuts and bolts of what's involved in ensuring a pluralistic society. They often respond, instead, with fervor and considerable political clout. From my estimation, treating them with kid gloves has not been sufficient to maintain a balanced society. Also from my estimation, the attitude displayed recently by more aggressive non-believers has done a lot of good. So, as I said, that's why I consciously come across as harsh on such matters. But how different is your belief in a system of non belief any different than a "mindless religious nuts" system if your system leads to restrictions that prevent me from conducting my life and business according to what I believe is fair and right. Both systems lead to repression and control of others based on the beliefs they consider sacrosanct.

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 11:29 PM
pisc:

It seemed to me that with 3 paragraphs you were describing 3 different categories ...

I guess I can see that. I thought they flowed, but a new paragraph can sometimes mean a separation of ideas. If you're apologizing for your misunderstanding, I accept. If you're asking my apology for being unclear, I offer it.

How many of the various conditions must one subscribe to in order to qualify as "mindless religious nuts" 10%, 30%, 50%, 90% or must they fit all your stipulated criteria. If the latter then logically very few individuals will fit into your definition of "mindless religious nuts."

That's bordering of false quantification. I don't think one can be that precise, nor do I think there is a hard-and-fast threshold of a certain number to be met, neatly dividing people into MRNs and non-MRNs. Typically, the sort of person I have in mind when I say "mindless religious nut" tends to have most, nearly all, or all of those characteristics. That said, if a specific person displays fewer than half of the listed characteristics, that doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't call that person a MRN. It might depend on how fervently said person clung to some of the views, or how distastefully the views were expressed. For example, if someone says to me "homosexuals are sinners and they're going to burn in hell," I say, apply label, next case.

I don't agree that "very few individuals" have all those characteristics, and I don't see how it follows "logically." I think you might be trying to say, "intuitively, it seems improbable that someone possesses every single one of those characteristics." I could accept that statement.

However, I would have to say that I've met enough, and read about enough, people who do possess all those characteristics, or very close to all of them, that it seems plausible that there are lots of such people. If you listen to the radio in the boonies, watch televangelists or certain radical imams or rabbis, and look at things like Pew surveys on religious attitudes, for example, this feeling is supported.

I grant that my sense of things is not a proof, nor is it rigorously logical. But I'd be willing to bet the data are available to support my claim, and in any case, I've already met enough such people to be convinced that there are way too many of them.

Hatred is a word that gets thrown out on this BB quite a lot, it is a good emotive noun, and seemingly the penultimate descriptor of opinions and expressions of someone that disagrees with commenter. Yet it's frequent appearance here tells me that it is either misunderstood or deliberately misused to try and strengthen ones arguments. Because I have little respect for the reverends Jackson and Sharpton doesn't mean that I hate them.

Fair enough. I wasn't specifically accusing you of hatred, but I apologize for the implication. You're right that the term is probably overused. I was brought up to reserve that word for very limited use. Perhaps I've forgotten what my mama told me. I'll try to watch out from now on.

Nitpick: penultimate means (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A&q=penultimate) "second to last."

I am going to pass on the opportunity to debate the worthiness of Jackson and Sharpton. I think we basically agree they have done some good things and some bad things.

But how different is your belief in a system of non belief any different than a "mindless religious nuts" system if your system leads to restrictions that prevent me from conducting my life and business according to what I believe is fair and right. Both systems lead to repression and control of others based on the beliefs they consider sacrosanct.

First, it's a bit of a canard to say that I have a "system" of non-belief. That implies some sort of unthinking adherence to dogma. It's more accurate to say that I try to maintain an attitude of skepticism, a preference for evidence-based thinking, and a willingness to abandon theories if better ones come along. Granted, I am probably not perfect, nor perfectly consistent, in this attempt. But saying I have a "system" is like saying atheism is my "faith."

Second, I don't see how the philosophy I espouse leads to "repression and control of others," unless you want to expand your definitions to include things like my belief in proper education and the idea that one religious group should not be allowed to impose its own rules on others. I suppose you could do this, just as Jonah Goldberg is free to label liberal political goals as "fascist" when they seek to improve the common good, but a definition so expanded is fairly useless.

I don't wish to repress religious people. As much as I might disagree with certain aspects of religion intellectually, and as extreme an attitude as I sometimes adopt for the purposes of debate, I think people should be allowed to believe what they want, worship as they see fit, and should be given some consideration for practices that their particular religions require. What I am against is any of these things being imposed on people who do not belong to the same religious group.

Maybe this example will help to illustrate: I am firmly opposed to "school prayer" in public schools if it means the teacher is compelling every student to stand and recite a specific prayer. However, I have no problem with individuals praying in a classroom. As a further example, I used to work as one of the sysops in my college's computer lab. One of the other sysops was a devout Muslim, which meant that he believed he was required to stop what he was doing, face Mecca, and pray, five times a day. He did not wish to make a big deal about it, but he did mention to me once that he was made very uncomfortable if, during his shift, one of his prayer times came around and there were other people in the lab. I made it a habit to drop by at least once during his shift to cover for him, so he could leave the room for a few minutes and say his prayers. Problem solved, as far as he was concerned, and an easy enough accommodation for me to afford.

Now, granted, not all sticking points are as easily resolved, and it's not always as easy to draw a line between what I'd consider acceptable displays of religiosity and what I'd consider unacceptable impositions of one faith on another. But hopefully, that example gives you some sense of where I'm coming from.

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 11:51 PM
Wonderment:

Hard to say for sure, but I agree with you about Jackson vs. Reagan. Certainly, I liked his attitude on most issues a lot better. I do remember thinking when he was running, though, that the fact that he'd never held significant political office was worrisome.

I also agree with you about Sharpton. Whatever qualifications he might have, he doesn't seem presidential, whatever that might mean.

Thinking about it a little more, though, I guess I wouldn't be very happy with having a president whose previous career was as a religious leader, even as I acknowledge that such a career path meant something different for blacks a generation or two ago.

Never did learn much about Shirley Chisholm. 1972 was a little before my time for following politics. From what little I do know about her, my sense is that it is our loss that she was born too early to have a realistic shot at becoming a major political player.

Your mention of her also makes me wonder what life might have been like had Barbara Jordan been born a generation later.

bjkeefe
02-26-2008, 11:57 PM
Abu Noor:

I know you've spent a lot of time discussing these issues here on these boards and I can't even say I've read all of it. The whole issue of the tone you take with religious nuts is one thing, but putting to the side whether such tone is justified, productive or what, I was just trying to make sure that I could see through the tone to get to what the heart of your critique actually is. Anyways, more later, inshAllaah.

I hope you will come back and expand upon your thoughts.

I will state that your presence on these boards makes me a little more aware of watching my tone. I hope you will understand two things: I hold a distinction in my mind between devoutness and mindlessness, even if I don't always make this apparent; and I do, on occasion, say harsh things on purpose because I believe it is necessary to balance the extreme points of view coming from the other side. I appreciate your effort to get past my tone.

Wonderment
02-27-2008, 12:24 AM
Never did learn much about Shirley Chisholm. 1972 was a little before my time for following politics. From what little I do know about her, my sense is that it is our loss that she was born too early to have a realistic shot at becoming a major political player.

Ms. Chisholm was interesting. The MSM dismissed her, of course, as a freak not to be taken seriously. But her message was, I'm black, I'm female, and you damn'd better take me seriously.

Obviously, both Clinton and Obama have a debt of gratitude.

I will take you back even further down memory lane to another formative experience of my political life -- the '68 Dem. Convention in Chicago, which I "attended" as a street demonstrator against the Vietnam War. Quite a political year. I remember exactly where I was when MLK and Robert Kennedy were murdered, and of course, I remember every moment of the police riot that ensued in Chicago, and the convention that culminated in the nomination of Hubert Humphery (destined for defeat against Nixon and the quite popular segregationist George Wallace).

It was a very very bad year.

I'm the same age as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Clarence Thomas and Dennis Kucinich. We're all vintage 1946-48. We all lived through the same national nightmare, albeit from different vantage points. We're all haunted by the same ghosts of our adolescence.

bjkeefe
02-27-2008, 12:42 AM
Wonderment:

We're all haunted by the same ghosts of our adolescence.

Nice.

My own first ghost was Richard Nixon, although I wasn't really capable of grasping what he was doing at the time. But every time I read something about those years, vivid flashbacks occur.

piscivorous
02-27-2008, 12:46 AM
pisc:I guess I can see that. I thought they flowed, but a new paragraph can sometimes mean a separation of ideas. If you're apologizing for your misunderstanding, I accept. If you're asking my apology for being unclear, I offer it.[QUOTE] I was neither seeking nor offering an apology, just an explanation, but thank you and your welcome should cover both. [QUOTE=bjkeefe;70898]pisc:That's bordering of false quantification. I don't think one can be that precise, nor do I think there is a hard-and-fast threshold of a certain number to be met, neatly dividing people into MRNs and non-MRNs. Typically, the sort of person I have in mind when I say "mindless religious nut" tends to have most, nearly all, or all of those characteristics. That said, if a specific person displays fewer than half of the listed characteristics, that doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't call that person a MRN. It might depend on how fervently said person clung to some of the views, or how distastefully the views were expressed. For example, if someone says to me "homosexuals are sinners and they're going to burn in hell," I say, apply label, next case.

I don't agree that "very few individuals" have all those characteristics, and I don't see how it follows "logically." I think you might be trying to say, "intuitively, it seems improbable that someone possesses every single one of those characteristics." I could accept that statement.

However, I would have to say that I've met enough, and read about enough, people who do possess all those characteristics, or very close to all of them, that it seems plausible that there are lots of such people. If you listen to the radio in the boonies, watch televangelists or certain radical imams or rabbis, and look at things like Pew surveys on religious attitudes, for example, this feeling is supported.

I grant that my sense of things is not a proof, nor is it rigorously logical. But I'd be willing to bet the data are available to support my claim, and in any case, I've already met enough such people to be convinced that there are way too many of them. While I agree there are too many but in this instance I was using few as a relative term not necessarily numerical. As a percentage of population a very small percentage will possess all of these characteristics, a larger subset will possess a combination of enough of the characteristics so as to be troublesome but that will still be relatively few. pisc:Fair enough. I wasn't specifically accusing you of hatred, but I apologize for the implication. You're right that the term is probably overused. I was brought up to reserve that word for very limited use. Perhaps I've forgotten what my mama told me. I'll try to watch out from now on.

Nitpick: penultimate means (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A&q=penultimate) "second to last." I understand that you weren't addressing me directly it is just a word that carries a lot of baggage . My inherent understand of penultimate (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/penultimate) is "next to last" perhaps a distinction without a difference.
pisc:I am going to pass on the opportunity to debate the worthiness of Jackson and Sharpton. I think we basically agree they have done some good things and some bad things. I don't blame you as I'm fairly sure when considered in the whole they are both indefensible. http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif
pisc:
First, it's a bit of a canard to say that I have a "system" of non-belief. That implies some sort of unthinking adherence to dogma. It's more accurate to say that I try to maintain an attitude of skepticism, a preference for evidence-based thinking, and a willingness to abandon theories if better ones come along. Granted, I am probably not perfect, nor perfectly consistent, in this attempt. But saying I have a "system" is like saying atheism is my "faith."

Second, I don't see how the philosophy I espouse leads to "repression and control of others," unless you want to expand your definitions to include things like my belief in proper education and the idea that one religious group should not be allowed to impose its own rules on others. I suppose you could do this, just as Jonah Goldberg is free to label liberal political goals as "fascist" when they seek to improve the common good, but a definition so expanded is fairly useless.

I don't wish to repress religious people. As much as I might disagree with certain aspects of religion intellectually, and as extreme an attitude as I sometimes adopt for the purposes of debate, I think people should be allowed to believe what they want, worship as they see fit, and should be given some consideration for practices that their particular religions require. What I am against is any of these things being imposed on people who do not belong to the same religious group.

Maybe this example will help to illustrate: I am firmly opposed to "school prayer" in public schools if it means the teacher is compelling every student to stand and recite a specific prayer. However, I have no problem with individuals praying in a classroom. As a further example, I used to work as one of the sysops in my college's computer lab. One of the other sysops was a devout Muslim, which meant that he believed he was required to stop what he was doing, face Mecca, and pray, five times a day. He did not wish to make a big deal about it, but he did mention to me once that he was made very uncomfortable if, during his shift, one of his prayer times came around and there were other people in the lab. I made it a habit to drop by at least once during his shift to cover for him, so he could leave the room for a few minutes and say his prayers. Problem solved, as far as he was concerned, and an easy enough accommodation for me to afford.

Now, granted, not all sticking points are as easily resolved, and it's not always as easy to draw a line between what I'd consider acceptable displays of religiosity and what I'd consider unacceptable impositions of one faith on another. But hopefully, that example gives you some sense of where I'm coming from.Not wanting to get to philosophical, there are others that comment here that are much better versed in that subject matter than myself, I will only say that unless you can prove that no GOD exists then you accept it on faith that one doesn't. You can use all the science and logic you wish to disavow that your decision is not faith based but you can't prove it.

bjkeefe
02-27-2008, 01:20 AM
pisc:

Not wanting to get to philosophical, there are others that comment here that are much better versed in that subject matter than myself, I will only say that unless you can prove that no GOD exists then you accept it on faith that one doesn't. You can use all the science and logic you wish to disavow that your decision is not faith based but you can't prove it.

I don't claim to be able to prove that God does not exist. No sane person does.

However, I dispute your claim that my lack of belief in God is something I accept on faith. I don't believe in God because I have no reason to. No one has shown me any evidence for existence, and no one has made a compelling logical argument, either. The overwhelming majority of observed phenomena can be explained to my satisfaction without invoking an outside agency, and the remaining open questions, it seems to me, are susceptible to the same style of investigation with the same refusal to punt. I doubt that all questions will be answered in my lifetime, or even ever, but that doesn't give me any reason to think that we have need of the God hypothesis.

If you want to say that my unwillingness to believe in something absent any good reason is "faith," that's up to you, but I think that would be another case of expanding a definition so broadly as to make the word meaningless.

Everyone, including the most devout, doesn't believe millions of things exist, for the simple reason that there is no compelling evidence to think that they do. Is it a matter of faith not to believe in unicorns? Would you consider some guy reasonable if he said to you, "I will continue to believe in unicorns until someone proves they don't exist"? Would you accept him saying to you (I presume you do not believe in unicorns) that your disbelief was just your faith?

Of course not.

piscivorous
02-27-2008, 01:34 AM
pisc:



I don't claim to be able to prove that God does not exist. No sane person does.

However, I dispute your claim that my lack of belief in God is something I accept on faith. I don't believe in God because I have no reason to. No one has shown me any evidence for existence, and no one has made a compelling logical argument, either. The overwhelming majority of observed phenomena can be explained to my satisfaction without invoking an outside agency, and the remaining open questions, it seems to me, are susceptible to the same style of investigation with the same refusal to punt. I doubt that all questions will be answered in my lifetime, or even ever, but that doesn't give me any reason to think that we have need of the God hypothesis.

If you want to say that my unwillingness to believe in something absent any good reason is "faith," that's up to you, but I think that would be another case of expanding a definition so broadly as to make the word meaningless.

Everyone, including the most devout, doesn't believe millions of things exist, for the simple reason that there is no compelling evidence to think that they do. Is it a matter of faith not to believe in unicorns? Would you consider some guy reasonable if he said to you, "I will continue to believe in unicorns until someone proves they don't exist"? Would you accept him saying to you (I presume you do not believe in unicorns) that your disbelief was just your faith?

Of course not.While we have not yet comprehensively cataloged every corner of the earth, so that in some far away corner your straw man unicorns may yet thrive in undiscovered bliss, we have explored enough of it to eliminate doubt as to their nonexistence something I don't think you can say about the existence or nonexistence of a a divine being. It is merely your belief and lack of evidence is your justifications for expressing that belief.


P.S. There is an old saying "that there are no atheists in foxholes." While I can't attest to the absolute truth, of this statement, I can say that I know one or two the were willing to hedge their bets. (edited thanks to Brendon and the inability to use strike through you will have to guess the edit)

bjkeefe
02-27-2008, 03:05 AM
P.S. There is an old saying "that there are no theists in foxholes."

Freudian slip?

As to the rest:

It is merely your belief and lack of evidence is your justifications for expressing that belief.

Well, sorta. To me, it seems more accurate to summarize my attitude as: "No evidence, no belief." Maybe it's just a matter of semantics, but it seems to me a real difference.

However, if you want to insist that my lack of belief is itself a belief, I won't argue about it further.

piscivorous
02-27-2008, 03:09 AM
I will have to repair that one as it does sort of distort my meaning

bjkeefe
02-27-2008, 03:17 AM
Just yanking your chain. I knew what you meant.

piscivorous
02-27-2008, 03:20 AM
That was the spirit in which I read it.

garbagecowboy
02-27-2008, 06:31 PM
_______________

Wonderment
02-27-2008, 06:51 PM
...it is probably a fair question to ask of the candidate himself whether or not he shares his wife's more dubious view of racial assimilation.

What's dubious about it?

garbagecowboy
02-28-2008, 04:32 PM
As in "doubtful." She, in the thesis, expresses doubts that African Americans can ever really integrate fully. Witness, for example, her statement that even after 4 years at Princeton she feels even more like an outsider than at the beginning.

Wonderment
02-28-2008, 04:43 PM
As in "doubtful." She, in the thesis, expresses doubts that African Americans can ever really integrate fully. Witness, for example, her statement that even after 4 years at Princeton she feels even more like an outsider than at the beginning.

She expresses no doubts about integration.

She may have lots of doubts about assimilation, which any sane person would.

She may also be asserting that African American students face challenges at Princeton that others do not. Some of these challenges may be related to Princeton's history as a white-male-dominated institution.

I find nothing even remotely objectionable in the sections quoted from her thesis. If anything, you might criticize it for overstating the obvious.

garbagecowboy
02-29-2008, 01:37 AM
_________________________

Wonderment
02-29-2008, 03:25 AM
The subtext is that I am sympathizing with what I take to be Mrs. Obama's perspective both in the somewhat personal writing of her thesis and in the much more public airing of her recent comments which I would argue contradict Mr. Obama's much more prevalent rhetoric of hope, which as I implied seems to be to be somewhat naive given the social forces which his own wifes' words depict.

Ok, I did misunderstand you. And I agree with your point, although I wouldn't call Barack naive, by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps he is an idealist, while she is a more pragmatic type person.

[Obama]seems to try to transcend racial issues, rather than confront them.

Well, maybe his message is, "My hope is that you can do better than the cynics and pessimists among you might assume."

(Hillary's fatal mistake was to diss this message of hope. We'll see if McCain falls into the same trap.)

You make an interesting point about affirmative action, but my hunch is that Obama won't mess with it. He'll simply appoint liberal justices to the courts and let them sort things out, just like every other Democrat would. It would be a waste of the power of his bully pulpit to risk his "base" support and go out on a limb on AA.

As future generations integrate and intermarry, race-based AA becomes increasingly absurd. Let it wither and fade.

bjkeefe
02-29-2008, 12:53 PM
Wonderment:

As future generations integrate and intermarry, race-based AA becomes increasingly absurd. Let it wither and fade.

Yes. As Senator Jay Bulworth has advocated, all we need is a program of "progressive racial deconstruction."

I omit his restatement in plainer words out of fear of the Comment Nanny.