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About historical events, laws, beliefs, etc.

Context, Sweet Context

Sean King, a second-grader at a Colorado school decided to dress up as his favorite historic figure for a class project. He chose Dr. Martin Luther King, and wore black makeup as a part of the costume. Pop quiz: Did the faculty understand the context, and praise him for his efforts, or freak out, and force the kid to take off the makeup or be sent home?

You only need one guess.

Here's the thing: As a black man, I am sensitive to the obvious racial context of blackface. You needn't be black to be offended by blackface, or racism of any kind. The thing is, this isn't blackface, at least not the Al Jolson, minstrel-show kind most people think of. Precious context is required here: Shouldn't praise young Sean King for having such admiration for Dr. King, rather than crying racism, where it's reasonably clear none exists?

Context is everything, and this reeks of a political correctness that really ought to be fought tooth and nail...

HT: Althouse

"I just have a simple request, however."

"We the People..."

"Henry Kissinger famously said academic disputes are bitter because the stakes are so low. But here, alas, the stakes are high."

"That is something, but it is not enough. The Americans who served, suffered and died in Iraq--"

"---changed the world and won a great and a difficult victory. No account of their service, no commemoration of the dead that ignores or conceals this vital truth is enough."

Walter Russell Mead, via Michael Totten, on the victory in Iraq. Read the whole thing, and discuss. There is a bit of pro-war and pro-Bush bias in here, but the essential truth he lays out is solid--that despite the prophecies, predictions, and rigid declarations of a great many war critics, it's safe to say that victory, for all intents and purposes, has been achieved.

"In a bizarre way, though, his simple-mindedness turns out to have had a touch of genius to it."

Hitch, on Reagan, and a rather provocative question on the centennial of his birth:

It was extraordinary that, in Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan was dealing with a man who knew that the Soviet Union could not sustain the arms race and a man who was out of patience with the satraps of East Germany. To Gorbachev goes an enormous share of the credit. But if I run the thought experiment and ask myself whether Walter Mondale would have made a better interlocutor in 1987, I cannot make myself believe it. This does not involve un-saying any of the things about Reagan that his admirers would prefer us to forget. But it does acknowledge the distinction between a historic presidency and an average one. Reagan's friend Margaret Thatcher once said that the real test of her success was the way that she had changed the politics of the Labour Party. By that standard, the legacy of Reagan in permanently altering the political landscape is with us still.


Sometimes the critics are right

My previous post noted my amusement at the bizarre claim yesterday that the critics of the new deal were mistaken in predicting an expansion of government power if Roosevelt's agenda went through. And that reminds me of something. Prof. Julian Zelizer tells us that in the face of a variegated reform agenda, "senior members [of Congress] in the 1950s warned that opening the institution to the public and allowing the media to monitor legislative deliberations would result in a chaotic atmosphere where members played to reporters and the cameras instead of engaging in serious deliberation." On Capitol Hill 6 (2004). Gee. Those guys were way off, huh?

Zelizer wisely confines himself to observing that these objections failed, for one could hardly contend that they were wrong.

"When it's used—as it all too often is these days—to build the case for a conspiratorial, demonic system"

"...that bulldozes the American people into going to war or malevolently prolongs the fighting for reasons of profit, then it should be called out for what it is: the seedbed of some of the nastier rhetoric to infect our politics in recent times."

Despite these modest origins, the speech and its key snippets were quickly quoted out of context and enlisted in all manner of anti-war screeds. They provided an authoritative-seeming foundation for baseless conspiracy theories. There were plenty of good reasons to oppose the Vietnam War, but when anti-war extremists, invoking Ike, claimed that weapons-makers such as Dow and Honeywell were prolonging the fighting to line their pockets, they mainly served to discredit their fellow dissenters. Similarly, the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was best opposed on its merits; the shrill claims that Dick Cheney's previous service at Halliburton was somehow to blame only undermined the war's critics.

The "it" here is Eisenhower's oft-quoted, oft-misinterpreted "military industrial complex" phrase, and how it's been used, and misused by various anti-war types. Something to think about, and discuss.

What The Big Deal Was

In light of Simon's post below, and the accompanying uproar over the issues raised by Rep. Jay Inslee and others over the reading of the Constitution today, I think this piece helps illuminate that there was in fact a substantive argument in place behind their protestations, and contrary to certain right-of-center opinions, it wasn't just whining and pettifogging:

Even those parts of the Constitution that are superseded by amendments are still the Constitution, and they are still there for a reason. When the states (with a handful of exceptions) amend their constitutions, they delete and rewrite them. When we amend a statute we delete it and start again. The U.S. Constitution is never "rewritten" though. It is amended. In his wonderful book The Invisible Constitution, Prof. Laurence Tribe explains why the Constitution is written "only in a forward-moving manner that never backspaces to erase a word that went before." To this day, Tribe notes, the document still contains the language about the three-fifths compromise. Why do we preserve the language of the Constitution, even after we've amended or repealed it? "By keeping even textually superseded language (like that of the 18th Amendment) intact and fully visible in each circulated copy of official text, we undermine efforts to sanitize or otherwise rewrite our troubled history as those in power throughout the world are wont to do with theirs."

This makes perfect sense to me. Now, you may quibble with this, but this is a legitimate point of debate, and as one who watched the entire hour and a half event, with my iPad copy of the Constitution in hand following along, I did find it a bit odd that the 18th Amendment was left out, among other things.

Now, one can dispute this argument entirely--one can disagree with the premise here, but I think it's unfair to presume bad faith, and dismiss these arguments as whining, unless there are prior statements from Inslee that I don't know about.

Another point of substance: If one wants to argue that Inslee's points were out of order, or not relevant, keep in mind two things: First, Rep. Louie Gohmert was right (I can count on one hand the number of times I've said that) that those portions superseded by amendment are not deletions, and to treat them as such dishonors those who fought for those amendments, but if those portions are still taken out, then that's exactly what's happened--they've been deleted. Now, some will argue that the point of this was to show respect for the Constitution, in its current form, as the law all of us must live by. Yeah, but the closing section including the signatories was read, as well as the preamble to the Bill of Rights.

At the end of the day, my belief that this exercise, partisan motivations aside, was instructive in many positive ways still stands. I get that there are those who felt, and still feel that the whole thing was a waste of time. The point is, if this project's aim is to show reverence for the Constitution, and promote debate on the Constitution in the halls of Congress and across the nation, then I submit that Inslee's (and those others who advance the argument) point was legit.

"If some day Israel were to fall into the hands of its enemies, the West as we know it would cease to exist."

The West is what it is thanks to Rome, Jerusalem, and Athens–Rome’s rule of law, the Bible’s morality, and Greek democracy. If the Jewish part of those roots is overturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Israel is a lighthouse of life at a time when life is our most endangered value.

Via Michael Totten, from Giulio Meotti, on his new book. Read the whole thing.

Something To Think About...

Consider this:

The WMD diehards will likely find some comfort in these newly-WikiLeaked documents. Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.

But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms. As Spencer noted earlier, a January 2006 war log claims that “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons were smuggled in from Iran.

Of course, the idea that there was absolutely no evidence of WMDs in Iraq was bogus from the start, and a large aspect of the casus belli had to do with the prospect of terrorists getting a hold of weapons--terrorists that Saddam had been known to associate with. Mileage is your own, as usual--both sides will undoubtedly argue from their respective corners, and emphasize and ignore whatever serves their ideological purposes. Of course, the facts are what they are.

HT: Instapundit

"The workers are losing their jobs..."

and we, who love traditional light bulbs are being deprived of a product we want. And those vile CFL bulbs? They're made in China.

Thanks a lot, Congress.

Pretty much what she said.

"What those people don't do, but Hagee does, is transform millions of people into lovers of the Jewish people."

Steven Weiss, on the misunderstood relationship between Christian Zionists, and the Jews:

Christian Zionist theology aside, there's still the controversy over Hagee himself, appropriately summarized by the New Republic's Jonathan Chait. Hagee's said a lot to infuriate Jews: that the Holocaust was God's way of promoting Zionism and that Jews brought anti-Semitism upon themselves through their own faithless actions. I'm not going to defend Hagee's words here, because I don't agree with them and think he should never have said them. As a descendant of survivors of the Holocaust and pogroms—and, more importantly, of many nonsurvivors—I find them offensive.

But people say and believe a great many things I find offensive all the time, from pulpits Jewish and otherwise. What those people don't do, but Hagee does, is transform millions of people into lovers of the Jewish people. While watching Hagee speak live at the CUFI summit, inveighing against anti-Semitism and declaring, to the applause of thousands of Christians, "If a line has to be drawn, then draw it around both Christians and Jews, around Americans and Israelis," I got chills.

Read the whole thing.

ADDED: In a related story, it has been said that those who hate and destroy other groups of human beings they deem beneath them, hate and destroy themselves. I'm not sure how the quote really goes, but it's true. It really is true.

HT: Jaltcoh

"And yet there is an infected scar running across his politics that is hard to ignore."

"I am first of all a white man, and only then a socialist," he said, and he meant it. His socialism followed a strict apartheid: It was for his pigmentary group alone. Every other ethnic group, he said, should be subjugated—or exterminated. "The history of civilization is a history of wandering—a wandering, sword in hand, of strong breeds, clearing away and hewing down the weak and less fit," he said coolly. "The dominant races are robbing and slaying in every corner of the globe." This was a good thing, because "they were unable to stand the concentration and sustained effort which pre-eminently mark the races best fitted to live in this world."

The blood-curdling words, of Jack London. Read the whole thing.

HT: Althouse

"From Nazi Germany to the modern Middle East, societies that persecute Jews will get to homosexuals eventually..."

"... if they haven't been dispensed with already. This is a lesson that gays ignore at their peril."

Jamie Kirchick sounds off on the banning of the Tel Aviv float in Madrid's big gay pride parade. Apparently, hating on Israel just seems to take precedence over everything these days:

Like so many other democratic values, when it comes to gay rights Israel is an oasis in a sea of state-sanctioned repression, a "little patch," to use Mr. Poveda's words, that he and his comrades ought to defend. Gays serve openly in the Israeli military. While gay marriages can't be legally performed in Israel, the government grants gay couples many of the same rights as heterosexual ones and recognizes same-sex unions performed abroad. Many Palestinian gays seek asylum in Israel.

You know, this reminds me of, I think it was a comedy bit, that mocked a real life group that was called "Gays for Palestine." The thing is, anyone who supported such groups would neccessarily be oblivious of what actually happens to gays in Palestine, and Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and, well you get the idea.

HT: Frum, at the Dish

She Doesn't Recognize Israel

That is ostensibly, the reason behind this, from Helen Thomas. Now the age-old debates about free speech, and whether people should be fired for saying outrageous things are free to be had, but irrelevant with regards to the validity and decency of her argument. I'm not sure what an apology what acomplish, seeing that she appears to believe what she says, and thus any apoolgy would be insincere. Now, it's possible that she really has lost it in her old age, but I doubt it.

Keep in mind, that the only logical outgrowth of her statement, that the Jews should "get the Hell out of Palestine," and return to Germany, Poland, etc, is that she refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the state of Israel, and that those who see the presence of Jews in the land as an oocupation are correct. This position is of course repulsive, ignorant of plain history, and untenable, but unless something is up--it's the one she holds. I think she will doubtless get a substantial amount of rebuke and comdemnation for this view from respectable quarters--and every bit of it, she deserves.

That's all.

"There isn't a single objectionable point in the first fifteen minutes of his presentation. "

"Unfortunately, the sixteenth minute arrives, and, if you are still paying attention, you learn that he wants us to revere the most vicious and reactionary of Islamist sheikhs -- the people who promote violence, bigotry, totalitarianism, and terror. The sixteenth minute is not good. The liberal quality of his thinking falls apart entirely."

That's from Paul Berman, about Tariq Ramadan, in a must-read interview with Michael Totten, about his must-read book The Flight of the Intellectuals. They also discuss Bush Derangement Syndrome, Obama's strengths and weaknesses, and the lack of clarity of certain Western liberal intellectuals.

Thanks to Max for the hat tip.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating:

The President was will within his rights to do this, and as Justice Alito was well within his rights to respond, so was the Chief Justice.


New Orleans Saints fleur de lisAnd the Saints are marching in! Never really believed I would one day be able to talk about the Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints.

And what a great football game.

You have no idea what this means to the people of that city. This team just may manage to transform how New Orleans thinks of itself.


I agree with this:

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the president’s criticism of the court’s decision, although as Linda Greenhouse points out, he was less than precise in his description of the holding. But there was also absolutely nothing inappropriate about the justice’s reaction to him. Both the president and the justices are political actors, and all are entitled to screw up their faces and grumble in public as they see fit. Anyone who’s watched Alito at oral argument at the high court knows that he screws up his face and mutters to himself all the time.

The suggestion that he was showboating or grandstanding last night is spectacularly unfair. Unlike several of his colleagues, Alito is meticulously polite, balanced, and measured on the bench, and goes out of his way to shun big drama. I’m sure if Alito could take it back this morning he would. I’m equally sure that if he attends the next SOTU at all, he won’t move so much as a muscle.

As I see it, despite it being unorthodox, the President was hardly that out-of-bounds to challenge the Court in such way. That being said, if Obama is going to choose to challenge the justices directly, I think Alito (or any one of them) had the right to respond.

HT: The Daily Dish

TNR's Jonathan Chait takes it further (HT via the Dish again), and as referenced in the above quote, unlike Joe Wilson, Alito was correct.

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