Friday, March 21, 2008

Huckabee Sticks His Neck Out For Obama

This I found quite interesting, and dare I say, refereshing. Mike Huckabee comments on Rev. Wright's comments, and tries to understand:

And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie.

You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..."And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

First off, let me say that I like what Huckabee's saying. I know people will accuse him of excusing Wright's hatred, but he's not. I'm not, and Obama isn't either. Huckabee (and Obama) is simply trying to put things in context, to try and understand where it comes from. It's not right what Wright said, and Wright's comments cannot be justified. They must be rejected in full. We cannot allow ourselves to remain in bitterness and the past, but I think context helps to understand the complex relationship Obama has with his pastor.

Nice work by Huckabee, and a pleasant surprise, considering some of things he's said in the past.

HT: David Schraub, who I've officially added to the blogroll.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

In all the mess over the Obama-Wright controversy, I forgot to post about Arthur C. Clarke's passing away. A true genius, and a giant of storytelling. God rest his soul.

Thanks to Stubborn Facts for the tip.

Further Thoughts on Obama/Wright and Iraq

It's been a day since the speech, and after further reflection I still hold to my view that it was a good speech, and Obama did most of what he needed to do. One big thing that still nags me though, is the problem I'm having reconciling Wright's supposed good qualities that Obama asserts we haven't seen, and his anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and his anti-white bigotry. In other words, I'm wondering what Barack Obama sees in this man. I've said before that I do not believe for a second that Obama shares his views. The question is of judgment, and integrity. He still has to go further in explaining this.

In other news, today is the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. President Bush gave a speech acknowledging it today. Call me crazy, but at the end of the day, setbacks, blunders, missteps, foul-ups, and tragedies included, the Iraqi people, America's long-term security, and the free world is better off. Yes, there's still a lt of messes to clean up, and a lot of those are messes that should not have been made, but the idea that Iraq circa 2008 is not an improvement over Iraq circa 2003, is just not cricket.

Just for reference, let's remind ourselves why we went in again.

UPDATE: No, Tom, not quite. (HT: Instapundit)

UPDATE#2: The Obama-Wright discussion continues over at my second home, Stubborn Facts. Thoughtful and heated at the same time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jeremiah Wright is a Conservative

That is, a Black Conservative. David Schraub explains the difference in a must-read essay:

Black Conservatism essentially operates off the premise that racism is an ingrained and potentially permanent part of White-dominated institutions. As a result, Black Conservatives essentially tell Blacks they can only rely on themselves to get ahead in America -- counting on White people to be moral or "do the right thing" is a waste of time. Politically, this means building tight-knit communities that emphasize the patronizing of identifiably Black institutions, with the end result being social independence from White America. In this, it mixes at least partial voluntary self-segregation with a significant aversion to external dependency, with Whites and White institutions being defined as outsiders who can't be trusted.

He goes further, and explains how this applies to Obama:

I'm not saying I agree with all of his points -- I'm not a Black Conservative, and as I outlined in the Thomas post, I'm not sure that a White person can morally adopt the premises of Black Conservatism. But we can't understand what we're yelling about until we properly position it within its philosophical school. This is why I feel confident in asserting that Obama and Wright are not of a political kind -- they operate from totally different ends of the Black Conservative spectrum. Obama is an integrationist, the very act of running for President means that he believes that there is a space for Blacks in our hitherto White-dominated government, and all of his speeches, policies, and writings have indicated he believes that there is hope for an America that is not separated and divided on racial lines. All of these positions would be derided as doe-eyed idealism by a true Black Conservatism. And if there is one thing Obama can't be accused of, it's of being too much of a pessimist.

Damn good stuff. Read it all.

HT, from Andrew Sullivan

Obama's Speech

I watched the speech, and I thought it was really good, and did most of what it supposed to do, at least in terms of the Rev. Wright controversy. I believe Obama effectively repudiated the hateful and divisive rhetoric of his former pastor, while doing his best to explain the complex relationship he has with him:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all. Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

And this:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

And this part here:

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

I think Obama is saying that Wright's views reflected in this sermons are wrong and hateful, but one must understand the background they issue from--and this is important, they do not reflect the totality of the man. Wright is family, and he cannot totally walk away from his family.

You should read the whole thing here. (HT: Tom Maguire and Drudge.)

As I said, the speech was pretty good, and dealt with this issue the best way he could have. As a black man, I have experience dealing with the wide range of views Obama talks about. It's important for us to continue to move forward, face the challenges, and heal the wounds that still remain, even after all the progress that has been made.

Politically, I still feel he may face questions about his judgment, (namely why he let his children attend, and the fact that many of Wright's statements weren't so much but race, but vicious attacks on American foreign policy) but at the end of the day I think he did a pretty good job. I'm in agreement with the view that those who choose not to vote for Obama over this probably weren't going to anyway, and those who have a preconceived negative view of Obama aren't going to be swayed by this speech.

Ross Douthat has a really insightful piece on this:

Barack Obama’s long association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright isn’t significant because it suggests that Obama shares Wright’s more controversial views; I have no doubt that he does not. It’s significant because it undercuts an important aspect of Obama’s promise as a politician: Namely, his potential to break the mold of American politics, by transcending both the recent templates for African-American political activity (grievance-based shakedown politics on the one hand, Afrocentric separatism on the other) and the larger red-blue polarization in the country as a whole.

He needs to reject his minister's politics, in other words, in the name of a new generation of African-Americans, while simultaneously suggesting that the bigotries are not necessarily the only measure of the man, and that the appropriate response to Wright's noxious words isn't outrage but rather the mix of pity and tolerance that a white American might feel toward a racist parent or grandparent, who deserves to be loved and accepted in spite of their retrograde opinions.

Could he actually say all this? Can a half-white, half-Kenyan politician presume to speak for the experience of black America? Can a man who clearly loves his pastor go so far down the road toward attacking him outright? Can a black man persuade white Americans that they should feel toward a ranting black preacher the way they might feel toward their own grandparents? I doubt it. But I'd love to see him try.

Shelby Steele goes a somewhat different route, and deals with Obama's whole candidacy. As to "the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap," Steele in effect says that it is. He's totally wrong, much like Geraldine Ferraro was wrong, but his piece deserves a read. (HT again to Tom Maguire)

UPDATE: The always-on-point John McWhorter gets it right. (HT: Sully, who gets it right as well.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind."

David Mamet, on his break with liberalism:

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

He continues:

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

And this:

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will.

Quite naturally, as one who still calls himself a liberal, albeit a moderate one, I disagree with a number of his overall conclusions. Let me agree with Althouse and say this is a cool essay. I love my country, in spite of her imperfections. I certainly agree that putting too much trust and power in the hands of government is bad, and that utopian socialism is bad. I also agree that the military and corporations are not malum in se, and while our military is not perfect, they defend our freedoms and our lives every day, and do so with honor and respect, and have brought more freedom to the world than the rest of the world gives them credit for. Also, I don't hate corporations.

I do feel his view of liberals as utopian, quasi-socialists who hate the military and love the government is a silly caricature however. Perhaps this is how Mamet used to feel, and certainly certain people in his traveling circle probably still feel that way, but I feel the need to reiterate the distinction between liberals and the leftists he describes.

Nevertheless, a thoughtful essay, one that will undoubtedly get him kicked out of certain circles, if he hasn't been already.

HT: Althouse

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yeah, This Sounds About Right:

Shay from Booker Rising, on Geraldine Ferraro:

Damn, I check out for one day to attend to family business and another crusty, white feminist Democrat becomes unhinged at the thought that a black person isn't (1) being subservient to white interests and (2) has the audacity to not only not shuffle and move out of their way, but is outdoing them. As a black moderate-conservative feminist, I gotta do a mini-rant. On Monday, it was Sen. Hillary Clinton's condescending, white arrogant appeal for Sen. Barack Obama - who is the Democratic frontrunner - to be her number 2. Now a blast from the past back when I was a kid, Geraldine Ferraro, is cutting up. Ms. Ferraro - who is backing Sen. Clinton for president - yesterday claimed that Sen. Barack Obama wouldn't be where he is in the presidential race if he weren't black.

And this, which hardly anyone else has brought up:

Sen. Obama put Ms. Ferraro in check though, and also said that if someone in his campaign had suggested that Sen. Hillary Clinton "is where she is only because she is a woman" then she and Ms. Ferraro would be offended. Never mind that Sen. Obama has more experience as a legislator than Sen. Clinton has - I don't count sleeping with President Bill Clinton to be significant experience, since Sen. Clinton won't release her First Lady papers - but Ms. Ferraro wants to diss Barack. Oh wait, Sen. Obama has more experience as a legislator than Ms. Ferraro too. Talk about someone who got a vice presidential nod due to race and gender. - that would be Geraldine Ferraro. White girl needs to sit down somewhere and check herself.

Indeed. I'm going to expand on this tomorrow, but let me say that Ferraro's argument is risible and ridiculous. I'm not saying she's a racist, but the idea that Obama is only here because he's black, or because the country wants to elect a black man is insulting to Obama and those who voted for him.

The sexism charge is pretty silly as well. Let me say that if Hillary loses (or wins), it won't have that much to do with her gender, and if Obama loses (or wins) it won't br because he's black, not that being the first black or female President isn't a boost, and momumentally great for the country.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that Obama's race isn't a factor. There is a strong desire to see a black or female President, but with Obama, the fact that he's black isn't the only thing keeping him at the top. I know Earl Ofari Hutchinson disagrees, but if Obama was white, and still brought the same qualities he has to the race, he'd still be on top.

Now, this is somewhat moot now that Ferraro has stepped down from the campaign, but I don't think she should've been sacked. I'm inclined to agree with the view that this rush to fire people who say things that are offensive is a disquieting impulse. I think we need to be really careful with this. Besides, her argument deserves to be scrutinized and exposed as faulty, not silenced. I also don't expect her to apologize for something she apparently believes in her heart.

A final point on the media coverage. Some of the media coverage of Clinton by certain outlets has been unfair, and Obama probably hasn't been hit has hard in certain respects as he probably should've been. That being said, there has been a lot of dirt, unfair charges, and hype on both sides, and the fact is that a lot of the wounds Clinton has received were self-inflicted.

I mean honestly, who knows, the media is a fickle beast. As to the sexism charge, I'm inclined to agree with this from Camille Paglia, via Althouse:

The cloud of feminist cant about Hillary's struggling candidacy has been noxious.

Uh huh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Once More to the Dictionary...

Consider these:

hu·bris /ˈhyubrɪs, ˈhu-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled
[hyoo-bris, hoo-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA

excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

/stuˈpɪdɪti, styu-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled
[stoo-pid-i-tee, styoo-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA

–noun, plural -ties for 2.
the state, quality,
or fact of being stupid.
a stupid act, notion, speech, etc.

/ˈsɛlfdɪˈstrʌktɪv, ˌsɛlf-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled
[self-di-struhk-tiv, self-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA

harmful, injurious, or destructive to
oneself: His constant arguing with the boss shows he's a self-destructive
reflecting or exhibiting suicidal desires or drives: Careless
driving may be a self-destructive tendency.

/fiˈæskoʊ or, esp. for 2, -ˈɑskoʊ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled
[fee-as-koh or, esp. for 2, -ah-skoh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA

–noun, plural -cos, -coes.
a complete and
ignominious failure.
a round-bottomed glass flask for wine, esp.
Chianti, fitted with a woven, protective raffia basket that also enables the
bottle to stand upright.

Where am I going with this? Ask this guy. What a tragic mess this is.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

When You Slander The Military...

people take offense, and fight back. Over at Winds of Change, Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger calls out idiot James Gibney at the Atlantic Monthly:

Please cancel my subscription.

My son - serving in the US Army - is not a part of a group that needs to justify that "most of them are not sociopaths".

Indeed. Our military is the bravest and noblest fighting force in the world, and that doesn't change because of a handful of mistakes by a few. The military shouldn't have to explain why they're not sociopaths--they ought to be given the benefit of the doubt by those who benefit from their scarifice, at home and abroad. Gibney, and the Atlantic should be embarassed, and can only except more blowback if this continues.

To be fair to the magazine as a whole, I emphasize the word 'if." There are some first-rate writers over there, and one writer shouldn't affect the reputation of the whole magazine, but if this attitude is in fact the prevailing attitude at the Atlantic, then I won't be reading the magazine anymore either.

I mean, the military is being attacked on all fronts, it seems.

HT: Instapundit