February 20, 2008

Pride and Plagiarism.

In this blogging game, there are sometimes stories that fall so squarely in my zone that I feel obligated to write a post. But blogging, to me, means quite specifically that I'm not obligated. Nevertheless, I want to flag these 2 recent Obama-related stories:

1. Michelle Obama is under fire for saying: "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." She said that in Milwaukee on Monday, and later in the day, in Madison — at an event I attended — she put it: "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country." As I wrote on Monday, I thought she gave a brilliant speech, full of inspiration, and the bad phrase didn't strike me at all. But the uproar shows that anything you say in a campaign can mushroom out of all proportion. Anything can become a weapon for your opponents. People should look at the whole person and her whole message to decide whether this asserted lack of pride somehow reveals a person who feels no solid connection to her country's history and values. Does it resonate with other evidence? Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?

2. Barack Obama got accused of "plagiarism" for using 2 well-known quotes followed by the exclamation "just words!" from an old speech by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Charles Krauthammer said:
In a Democratic campaign that is so completely empty of ideas and differences, this comic relief is welcome. In fact, Obama changed the order of these quotes. That was his innovation.

It's not as if Duval [sic] Patrick had said something original. This is a rhetorical device that Obama had borrowed. It is not as if Obama had stolen his healthcare plan or his solution to Fermat's last theorem, or even his life story, like Biden did of Neil Kinnock in 1988.

So this is really a scraping of the bottom of the barrel. What Clinton is trying to do is to build up a record of inauthenticity. That's all she's got.
The question isn't really what counts as plagiarism. We're not imposing sanctions. The question is whether seeing the similarity between the 2 men — Obama and Patrick — makes us think Obama's speechifying is not all that special. And if our good opinion of him is based mainly on his speeches, then we have reason to examine why we're supporting him. But politics is full of stock phrases, contagious memes, and brainstormed messages. If attacks like this work, we'll never hear the end of it. For example, the NYT has this tale of a Bill Clinton "stealing" the phrase "force the spring" found on a sheet of paper in a dead man's typewriter. Do we want every speech larded with acknowledgements? As my wise old friend Joe Blow likes to say.... On the other hand, if that were the rule, you'd probably paraphrase to keep it short — and hide the theft. But it wouldn't be theft if the idea expressed was as unremarkable as the one Obama lifted from Patrick.

64 comments:

Pogo said...

The charge of Obama 'plagiarism' is a bore. No one held JFK to the same standard when he modified Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' advice "to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return." Comedians admit that all the best lines are stolen. It would have been more disturbing had some speech been rattled off verbatim, but such was not the case here. A great orator, however, does indeed invent his own lines. Borrowing and modifying is fine. JFK greatly improved upon Holmes. Obama just stirred the ingredients a little.

Michelle Obama's transgression resonates with those who distrust the left, however. The tone is smugly anti-American, and serves to confirm what the right has said about their oponnents for many years: they hate the USA. She's a bit of a loose cannon if she does not now realize that, as her husband avers, words have meaning.

It's not up to me to prove she's anti-American. Someone who speaks so loosely is either anti-American or unready to lead. Poorly chosen words. She now must prove to me she is pro-US.

If she, as first lady, and speaking for her husband, cannot be for America, first and foremost, then who will be? If she cannot be for America, first and foremost, then why does she want the job?

Cedarford said...

Right now, the people that do "oppo research" have held their fire in the Democratic contest. On Hillary, Slick, and Obama.

Obama and his wife have probably been the greatest beneficiaries of a media attitude they best not be too hard on Hillary or their old favorite pet McCain but especially be ever mindful the Party Line is "hands off the black beacon of hope"

In the General election though, what Barack and Michelle have said about America, the "minority victimhood/America is bad" claims of their Pastor will come up if not from McCain, from the 527s.

I believe that the Pastor is quite critical of America, that the Obamas appear to both give little credit to white people rectifying injustices, and that Michelle Obama has had some very harsh past words about American institutions.

Tim said...

"People should look at the whole person and her whole message to decide whether this asserted lack of pride somehow reveals a person who feels no solid connection to her country's history and values. Does it resonate with other evidence? Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?"

Does it resonate? About the Obamas maybe not specifically, other than a stated lack of gratitude for all the previous benefits bestowed upon them. Disaffected voters in Ohio, to take one state at random, might wish America had abused them as it did Michelle. About the culture of the Democrats, who are (rightfully) perceived as agnostic at best on American Exceptionalism and seek public office solely to change America (were this a marriage the Democrats would have divorced America decades ago), much more so. Hard to get the middle class vote in a state like Ohio if your pride in country is suspect. Michelle Obama's statement confirms that suspicion of the Democrats, that their love of America is highly conditional at best, yet again.

Roger Sweeny said...

Pogo,

I don't think this is being picky but though JFK spoke the line, it was Ted Sorenson who wrote it--and improved upon Holmes.

George said...

If, indeed, Obama is lifting "unremarkable" ideas, as you suggest, then his support is based more on audacious--and misguided--passion than reason.

"We, perhaps white people especially, look to him for atonement and redemption," wrote Barbara Ehrenreich. (She wrote a recent book about trying to get by working as a house cleaner.)

In the minds of many, Obama bookends Martin Luther King, confirming the victory of the civil rights struggle, a vote for him amounting to a formal apology for an ancient blood debt, not only as repayment to African-Americans but to all whom America has oppressed and wronged, especially those in Iraq.

Yesterday Oprah (and the aptly named Dr. Oz) spent 10 to 15 minutes interviewing a caucasian guest with curly white hair and a white beard. He was blue. Not depressed, but his skin had actually turned blue--royal blue--all over his body because he had drunk a colloidal silver tonic and rubbed himself with a silver-enriched ointment. He explained, as if he had done so many times before, with shrugging matter-of-factness, how foolish he had been, that actually he took the medicine out of sympathy for a friend who was using it. Oprah listened, she nodded, she emphathized. At the end of the segment, the man was still blue. All his expenses had been paid. Everyone saw. Someone cared. When the blue man went back in the street, he felt as though he had done something important. He had been useful. Oprah and Dr. Oz felt good. It was time for a commercial.

Middle Class Guy said...

Cedarford said…
Right now, the people that do "oppo research" have held their fire in the Democratic contest. On Hillary, Slick, and Obama.


Oppo research? The whole media has given Hillary a play. She has been given a free ride from day one. There is no scrutiny of her. Just look at this issue? Has anyone gone over her speeches to look for plagiarism?

No one has even fact checked or verified her thirty five years of public service and making change and policy. No one has documented anything she has been responsible for. They all refer to her biography for their facts. Oppo research? How about some plain, old fashioned, objective research?

Middle Class Guy said...

Roger Sweeny said...
Pogo,

I don't think this is being picky but though JFK spoke the line, it was Ted Sorenson who wrote it--and improved upon Holmes.



And guess who is a senior or emeritus speech advisor to the Obama campaign?

rastajenk said...

I didn't think too much about the lack-of-pride comment at first. I don't think it's a window to her core beliefs as much as it's a poorly-worded way to express the enthusiasm of the moment. Not that big a deal, it seems.

But on further review, it does reveal a weakness. There could be some uncomfortable moments as the First Lady's role in ceremonial, traditional military rites clashes with her lack of pride. Can you imagine Jackie Kennedy uttering such a line? The Obamas seem to have absolutely no connection to the military mindset that connects honor and pride to success; as commander-in-chief and Mrs. C-in-C, they'll have to develop one on the fly, and that sounds unnecessarily dangerous and/or contentious.

Windbag said...

Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?

Well, how about hanging a Cuban flag with an image of Che on it in your office, refusing to wear an American flag on your lapel, and not saluting the American flag while the national anthemn is being played?

That addresses the first part of the question. Concerning the second part, who knows if they even do feel good, now that they're having their 15+ minutes? My guess would be that they still don't feel good.

These are people (I know I'm lumping them together, but that's what you get when you stump for your spouse) who can't find a single thing to be proud of concerning the greatest nation on the planet.

I would think these people would be emigrating to Venezuela, not trying to occupy the White House.

Roger Sweeny said...

This silly "plagiarism" story will have done some good if it gets people to take a look at what has happened--or more exactly not happened--in Massachusetts.

Last year Deval Patrick won the Democratic nomination for governor over several more seasoned politicians. Patrick was bright, accomplished, and young. He came from the left wing of the Democratic Party but ran as a uniter, as a person who would bring change, as a person who would solve all the problems caused by years of a Republican as chief executive. His slogan was, "Together We Can."

One of the ways Patrick would unite us was race, because he is African-American. Many Massachusetts voters felt that to vote against him was racist, and that to vote for him would help erase the reputation of Massachusetts as racist.

(Ironically, his general election opponent was the female Republican lieutenant governor. But we had had our first female governor a few years ago--another Republican--and she was pretty generally been considered a failure, even an embarrassing one. So there was little of the "should I show my good person bona fides by voting for the non-white or the non-male?" that we have seen in this year's Clinton-Obama race.)

Patrick won handily and the legislature is now even more Democratic than before. However, nothing wonderful has happened. Patrick has disappointed his supporters on the left by essentially saying, "hey, there's no money to do the things you want me to do." And all those problems that we have, well, there just don't seem to be any simple solutions that a change in party can make.

So far his major initiative is an attempt to boost government revenues by building casinos in three economically depressed areas.

Middle Class Guy said...

George said...
Yesterday Oprah…


Oprah is Barney for adults.

joe said...

"...a vote for him amounting to a formal apology for an ancient blood debt, not only as repayment to African-Americans but to all whom America has oppressed and wronged, especially those in Iraq."

Wow, what an unmitigated crock of shit this is. On so many levels. So if we vote for Obama, we never have to hear about "slave reparations" again? So the lives lost in the Civil War did not constitute "repayment" or an apology? And who, exactly have we oppressed and wronged in Iraq? Unless you are a Saddamite, this is ridiculous.

boldface said...

Looks like Obama has a platform on which to stand, eh?

Roger said...

Once again my inner cynic tells me that Obama has played a very well thought out, tactical game: get to the democratic left first to get through the primaries and caucus states; once he gets the nomination in hand (like right about now), start moving back to the center--I suspect we will see him move more to the middle in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania--and I suspect he will unveil some more specific policy proposals with respect to economic issues for Ohio and PA voters--probably in the upcoming debates with Ms. Clinton.

I find the charges of "plagiarism," absolutely ridiculous. There are only so many ways to express yourself about high and lofty themes, and in the 200 plus year history of the republic, I am sure every permutation and combination has been played. As for Ms. Obama: she may well believe what she said, but given how careful this campaign has been, I suspect it was a sop to the left. And even if she believes it, we are not electing her.

Both of these are non-issues but have been made issues so pundits can have something new to talk about every day.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann,

I think Michelle Obama's line rightly makes us very suspicious, on a couple of levels:

"For the first time in my adult life... "

Oh, please. Does no one else here an echo of the putrid Clintonian "This is the most X administration in history?" I realize that in rhetoric, there's a tendency to be rhetorical, but I for one cannot stomach another 4 years of that kind of hyperbole.

"... I am proud of my country"

Oh please, but this time on steroids. She became an adult in the mid- to late- 80s, right? Note a single worthwhile thing has happened in the country in the entire last 2+ decades? She's either been soundly asleep, or (as many of us no doubt suspect, and fear) this was the slip of the mask concealing a standard extreme-left dislike of most of what's good about America.

Kirk Parker said...

Oh, jeez: 'here' should of course be 'hear'.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

People should look at the whole person and her whole message to decide whether this asserted lack of pride somehow reveals a person who feels no solid connection to her country's history and values. Does it resonate with other evidence? Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?


I would say that their continued attendance and allegiance to a Church that preaches racism, anti-Zionism, hatred of Jews, and preaches that blacks are not a part of this country (black separatism) would be some evidence.

http://www.newsmax.com/kessler/Obama_Church_Racism/2008/01/07/62285.html

This is the church that is attended by Michelle Obama (and later Barack after their marriage). I firmly believe she is a racist and a dangerous person to be in a position to influence a President of the United States.

If we had a candidate who attended a church that held similar beliefs but on the "white" side, wouldn't there be an uproar? Oh....wait.... I forgot the media feeding frenzy about Romney and Mormonism /sarcasm.

If Obama and Michelle don't agree with the warped teaching of their church's pastor, why do they continue to attend? Hmmmm. Because they do agree.

She was raised to hate her country and despite all the benefits she personally has received and her privileged lifestyle, she still hates the US. Do we really need to elect people to represent us as President and First Lady who hate their country and 50% of the electorate

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

As to Obama and his beliefs....who knows? Don't you think we should be a bit curious about his core beliefs. Is he proud of America? Does he hate America like his wife does?

How is he going to deal with the very dangerous issues in the Middle East with Israel, Iran, Iraq. Is he going to deal as a member of an Jew hating church, anti-Zionist, black separatist or is he going to be a President that represents ALL of America.

He has been very very careful to avoid all of these issues and when the issue of race or religion (his Islamic early childhood) is even hinted at in regards to Barack the PC police are out in force.

Zeb Quinn said...

I thought she gave a brilliant speech, full of inspiration, and the bad phrase didn't strike me at all. But the uproar shows that anything you say in a campaign can mushroom out of all proportion.

Maybe being caught up with and enthralled with Obamamania has caused you to filter out things you shouldn't be filtering out. For a prospective first lady to say that the hope her husband supposedly gives causes her for first time in her adult life to be proud of her country is a major league bigtime gaffe of gargauntuan proprtions, something that only the Obama kool-aid drinkers overlook and otherwise explain away. Sorry, but if you were your normal discerning and analyzing self you would've been all over that one.

amba said...

Watch new excellent commenter: George. I actually went to see if he had a blog of his own, and saw that he just got on Blogger.

"America bad" is a venerable left-dem meme, both among minorities and among guilty elites. Michelle was just speaking as if she was among friends -- fellow Democrats -- forgetting that the national media is eavesdropping. If you know any diehard liberal democrats, you know that they feel the country has been on the wrong track, with a few disappointing lurches to the side, pretty much since RFK was assassinated. They can only be proud of the country if it's on the liberal track.

It plays badly among mainstream Americans, as it should, but it doesn't rise to treason. It's the loyal but carping and whiny opposition, fretting (to repeat myself) about their worldview being out of power. We are all allowed to criticize our country and have others tell us we're wrong. It's more revealing of the arrogance and elitism of those who believe they are enlightened and those who disagree with them are benighted or worse.

To her credit, Michelle says "work hard, get an education," and she herself did that.

amba said...

That said -- that line of hers could cost her husband the election. She basically handed Karl Rove's apprentices a sharpened knife pointed at their campaign's heart.

Kirby Olson said...

Michelle Obama's quote, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," is all most of us have gotten of her speech. It's been replayed endlessly, with Patrick Buchanan uttering a Philippic against it last night on MSNBC for several minutes.

It struck me as being somewhat like Lady MacBeth's discontentment with her husband being merely Thane of Glamis and Cawdor. After all, her husband is a Senator and she is herself at a top American institution: why is this the first time she's proud of America?

But like the MacBeth's perhaps their only contentment is going to come with actual coronation?

Most of us out in the hinterlands don't know this couple, and most of their speeches seem devoid of any but the most innocuous content. But this sentence does seem to tell us something at last about their viewpoint:

They're tired of being merely Thane of Glamis and Cawdor.

Theo Boehm said...

The linked piece from Fox...ahem...News was an Onion parody, no?

BREAKING NEWS: LEADING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SAYS ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
This dramatic idea was floated yesterday by leading Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama, when he said at a speech before enthusiastic supporters that, "It is self- evident that all men are created equal...."  Critics say that this idea has been suggested before by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, one pointing out that "Obama is just plagiarizing an attention-getting phrase Patrick used in his campaign for governor."

In another development, Obama made the statement that, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."  According to reports, Patrick supporters were outraged, and a spokesperson for the governor said, "While Governor Patrick endorses Senator Obama, that doesn't mean that Barak can go around stealing the governor's words."

PatCA said...

The accusation of plagiarism is a non-starter for me; it's political rhetoric and it's fine if pols give each other tips.

As for Michelle, I'm sure that being in the moment of the speech diluted somewhat the sting of her remarks, but I do believe it exposes the real Michelle, because this view of America is so common in the arts and and in education, which are both predominantly left. It's really not unique to her or unusual at all; students are trained to think and to analyze history this way from freshman year on.

For all her blackness, she is a limousine liberal now. She bought her big dream house in Chicago with the help of a guy now on trial for fundraising fraud. She makes over $275K a year as Outreach Director for UC Hospitals. (Wonder how much the black orderlies make.)

No, nothing unusual for this speech, except it was uttered by a prospective First Lady and who-knows-what when it's her feminist turn. In fact, I wonder if she borrowed her speech from someone.

Richard Dolan said...

The Obama campaign is all about image, making people feel good about themselves by supporting him. His campaign conveys the message that the Candidate deserves the people's support, rather than earns it, just by reason of who he is, what he represents. He's entitled! It's as far from a campaign based on ideas or specific "issues" as one can get.

Because the Obama campaign is all about image, rhetorical slips like the one by Mrs. Obama inevitably have resonance. Her comments called up other, far less flattering images than the one the campaign is trying to project. The same, to a lesser extent, with the plagiarism kerfuffle.

The danger with image-based candidacies is that, like more mundane PR-created ad campaign, they are all built on pretty vague and airy foundations, and it doesn't take much to puncture them. They don't stand up well when battered by a heavy dose of reality. Unlike Hillary, the McCain campaign will not be hamstrung in responding to Obama, and McCain's bio presents as heavy a dose of reality as one can find.

I think the conventional wisdom is that Obama would be a tougher opponent for McCain. Don't count on it.

MadisonMan said...

The danger with image-based candidacies is that, like more mundane PR-created ad campaign, they are all built on pretty vague and airy foundations, and it doesn't take much to puncture them.

Bush's Y2K run seemed to work okay. Sure, he didn't get the most votes, but he became President nevertheless.

former law student said...

dbq is unable to separate criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians from anti-Semitism. Are Obama's pastor's views that unreasonable? Has Zionism been good for Palestinians? Why does not Israel grant displaced Palestinians the same right of return they grant Jews? After all, Jews returned after a two millenia absence; Palestinians have been gone only some 60 years.

ZPS said...

I wonder if Cindy McCain was proud of her country when she was baked out of her mind on every thing from the medicine cabinet to under the kitchen sink. That crypt keeper look-a-like better watch her mouth...she is on thin ice and ripe to be ripped apart.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Why does not Israel grant displaced Palestinians the same right of return they grant Jews?

Ignoring that the Arab nations expelled almost a million Jews in the late 40s and early 50s, leading to refugee camps in Israel.

The difference: Israel accepted the newcomers and made them part of their nation. The Arabs? They locked their fellow Arabs in slums, never to be allowed to work or live in other Arab nations.

The Arabs lost a war (then another, then another). Generally, that means losing territory. Ask the German citizens of Koenigsberg and East Prussia what happens next. If you can find any.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I wonder if Cindy McCain was proud of her country when she was baked out of her mind on every thing from the medicine cabinet to under the kitchen sink.

This must be that famous leftist compassion I hear so much about.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama's spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright's daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness." That man is Louis Farrakhan


fls: IF you can defend that Farrakhan is not an anti-semite, I would be most interested to see how you can twist yourself into a pretzle.

When the pastor of the church claims Farrakhan as a great man, his daughters publish a church magazine praising anti-semitism and giving Farrakhan an award, and the parishioners don't distance themselves from this, tells me that they must also believe it too.

In addition when a church steps into the political area, aren't they supposed to lose their tax exempt status. I believe that Pastor Wright and his church have stepped well over that line.

Walk like a duck, talk like a duck.

Of course, the media, not being interested in "ducks": being more interested in talking our economy into recession, electing the candidate of their choice and of course.... as always ...bashing Bush, is ducking their responsibility to bring issues like these to the public area.

ZPS said...

Hey...she puts her hat in the ring and she's fair game.

And, luckily, she's red meat. Crazy old bag.

former law student said...

dbq: Did Obama's church honor Farrakhan for his anti-Semitism? I admit I can't see how anyone could pay any honor to Farrakhan, who can be reasonably considered to have incited fellow Black Muslims to assassinate Malcolm X. But quote how Obama's church is anti-Semitic.

JohnAnnArbor: the argument that "Well, if you think what I did is bad, just look what Billy did!" didn't work for me when I was a kid, and doesn't work now. People don't have to condemn every wrong in the world before they can criticize Israel. Israel wanted more Jews; their purpose was to be a haven for the world's Jews; to make a Jewish state possible they needed a critical mass of Jews. Arab countries didn't need additional Arabs any more than their deserts need additional sand.

former law student said...

In addition when a church steps into the political area, aren't they supposed to lose their tax exempt status.

Good point. Considering their well-publicized endorsements of the Republican candidates, have Pastor Falwell and Pastor Robertson lost their tax-exempt statuses? How about Pastor Dobson?

Richard Dolan said...

MM: I don't see your point about the Bush 2000 campaign. The similarity is that the 2000campaign was light on issues, as is the current fight between Hillary and Obama. But the Bush 2000 campaign was a classic throw-the-bums-out pitch, with Bush offering himself as the compassionate conservative who would return normal, decent leadership to the WH. It was hardly an image-based campaign with Bush offering his personal story as the reason to vote for him.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Arab countries didn't need additional Arabs any more than their deserts need additional sand.

That must be that wonderful Arab hospitality I hear so much about.

Why are Arabs unique among 20th-century refugees?

And you may wish to read up on history a bit. The Arab governments in 1948 basically told the Arabs in Palestine to get out of the way so the Arab armies could slaughter Jews unimpeded. When that failed? Well, too bad! Off to refugee camps with you!

former law student said...

Excuse me, Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Huckabee.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You know what, fls? I'm not in the least bit interested in debating Zionism or the tiresome details of the Palestine situation with you. That is an endless argument and a deliberate distraction to the point of this post of Ann's about Michelle Obama and her world viewpoint, to which we are responding.

You can debate the anti-zionism doesn't equal anti-semitism meme all by yourself.

The beliefs of the Church that the Obama's attend is indicative of their own personal mindset and it isn't a pretty one.

former law student said...

Why are Arabs unique among 20th-century refugees?

Because the US has not taken them in in any numbers, unlike the survivors of the Armenian genocide, Russians fleeing the Communist Revolution, displaced persons from WW II, people who fled Viet Nam after the fall of Saigon, or the Jews and Christians who left the Soviet Union.

former law student said...

dbq: fine. Just keep smearing the Obamas with racist and anti-Semitic associations.

Scrutineer said...

People should look at the whole person and her whole message to decide whether this asserted lack of pride somehow reveals a person who feels no solid connection to her country's history and values. Does it resonate with other evidence?

Maybe Michelle Obama is like the majority of "liberal voters" who, according to a Rasmussen poll in 2004, disagreed (or declined to agree) with the statement that the US is "generally fair and decent." I doubt they feel proud of their country.

I take her words at face value because their plain meaning is consistent with the expressed views of many on the left.

Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?

I doubt she "hates" America. The feeling is probably something closer to disdain.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Because the US has not taken them in in any numbers, unlike the survivors of the Armenian genocide, Russians fleeing the Communist Revolution, displaced persons from WW II, people who fled Viet Nam after the fall of Saigon, or the Jews and Christians who left the Soviet Union.

So America--unique among nations--is responsible for ALL the world's refugees?

Amazing.

Arab PR is good, though. They get everyone to gang up on Israel while simultaneously killing more Muslims in a year or two (Darfur) than Israel has killed since 1948.

Oh, wait, I forgot! Two wrongs don't make a right! Must focus on Israel! NO other world situation is worthy of scrutiny!

That attitude, alone, is why anti-Zionism is often masked anti-Semitism. Asking far more of Israel than any other nation, and not bothering to even look at other situations, begs the question: could the focus on Israel have nothing to do with their actions, and everything to do with their Jewishness?

MadisonMan said...

The beliefs of the Church that the Obama's attend is indicative of their own personal mindset and it isn't a pretty one.

I generally don't ascribe the beliefs of church leaders to those who attend church, mostly because I attend a Catholic Church and I think the Pope and the local bishop are old-fashioned gasbags.

I agree it's something to consider and watch for. One hopes that eventually a question -- maybe in a debate! -- will be asked to address this.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I generally don't ascribe the beliefs of church leaders to those who attend church, mostly because I attend a Catholic Church and I think the Pope and the local bishop are old-fashioned gasbags.

Me too. :-) BUT if my church and the especially if the priest were to begin espousing some radical and offensive ideas I would change churches (not my religion) at the very least. I certainly wouldn't sit there on my hands and be complicit.

chuckR said...

Michelle Obama could have easily expressed her pride in her husband without that particularly grating modifying clause. I guess the attitude behind this comes from experiencing the horrors of not one, but two, Ivy League educations.

Several years ago, around July 4th, I followed a long since forgotten-by-me blog's links to entries of what America means to some immigrant bloggers. I still read a couple from time to time. Its worthwhile to get a different perspective from someone who chose to live here and had to earn citizenship. I wonder how many of us could pass the citizenship exam, including MO? Here's one entry worth reading:

http://tinyurl.com/2kbmzz

Sophisticates will note his passion is uncool. It is not unique.

PatCA said...

"I generally don't ascribe the beliefs of church leaders to those who attend church, mostly because I attend a Catholic Church and I think the Pope and the local bishop are old-fashioned gasbags."

Well, me too, but I also don't invite the Pope to all my big life events or call him my personal spiritual adviser, either.

Zeb Quinn said...

Michelle Obama could have easily expressed her pride in her husband without that particularly grating modifying clause. I guess the attitude behind this comes from experiencing the horrors of not one, but two, Ivy League educations.

She could have said, "I'm very proud." Or, "we can all be so proud." She didn't have to say "for the first time in my adult life." But she did. And my guess is that she said it exactly that way because it was exactly what she intended to say. As you say, two Ivy League educations says that she knew what she was saying when she said it. The question is, wouldn't she also therefore know the resulting criticism that it would cause? And my answer is that, yes, she knew that too. It was a gambit. She knew there'd be a hit, but she said it anyway because she was reaching to solidify and cement all those people out there who have also been conditioned to NOT be proud of America in the Obama fold.

Pogo said...

What I find amazing is that the left find nothing of interest at all in her statement, and blow off the criticism. It's just standard boilerplate leftspeak.

This will come back to haunt him, however.

former law student said...

Asking far more of Israel than any other nation

I hold Israel to the civilized western nation standard, like France, England, or Germany. Would you like me to judge Israel by the Idi Amin/Pol Pot standard?

Israel: better than Sudan AND Rwanda. Put together!

Cedarford said...

DBQ - I agree that a few other posters have tried derailing the thread with another Israel debate.

However, before we return to topic, JohnAnnArbor left hanging a big fat lie that is easily debunked by any real history reader vs. a misleading Zionist propagandist:

And you may wish to read up on history a bit. The Arab governments in 1948 basically told the Arabs in Palestine to get out of the way so the Arab armies could slaughter Jews unimpeded. When that failed? Well, too bad! Off to refugee camps with you!

The myth was concocted by some of Stalin's old propagandists, loyal Jewish Bolsheviks allowed to move to Israel for their great work for the Soviet Union and Communism, perhaps to better influence Israel going communist. (in the late 40s,early 50s, Israel was very close to the USSR)

The myth was that "Arab Radio Broadcasts" encouraging "voluntary abandonment of lands and homes were the reason why some 240 Arab villages in Palestine ended up burned and abandoned, and 700,000 Palestinians fled - according to Israelis. And since the land was "voluntarily abandoned" along with bank accounts and business investments....why all that suddenly belonged to a few lucky Jews!
Not like the Nazis and all their acquisitions of "voluntarily abandoned property" at all..because of the Radio Broadcasts!!!

Except in other countries, where Jews do not control a good deal of the media, the real story that discredited the Zionist lies has been known since the mid-60s. British researchers obtained all radio intercepts of Arab, Jewish radio stations - the transcripts from the 1948 war. Everything but the coded Israeli militia radio comms.

1. No calls were made to Arabs to abandon their homes, bank accounts, business investments. Instead, the Arab Broadcasts were to stand fast if you can, because an Arab Army is being formed to protect residents from Zionist terrorists.
2. Arab Muslim and Christian stations protested Jewish extermination squads at work, and the use of organized rape to terrorize.
3. Only in Haifa, where Jewish leadership was not on board with the goal of a "racially pure land" redeemed for Zion, was an effort made to encourage Palestinians to stay. And this was because of of both good local relations between peoples, and concern that tales of atrocities Pal refugees from the interior were bringing to the port as they hoped to get a ship to take them to safety - might cause rioting.
4. The story how British researchers debunked the Zionist lies is a great Christopher Hitchens essay "Broadcast".
5. Later, in the 90s, Israeli historian Benny Morris got access to the off-limits Israeli military comms and some parties involved. He found that most Arabs were terrorized off their property in a coordinated campaign of ethnic cleansing. That the campaign was carefully set up prior to the 1948 war and couched in euphemisms regarding wholesale liquidations, selective rapes and executions.

There was a wave of booting Jews from Arab countries in retaliation for the war, but most left voluntarily in the 50s for Aliya - the Right of Return - as Ashkenazi Zionists sought to induce large masses of Shepardic Jews to populate Israel.

MadisonMan said...

It's just standard boilerplate leftspeak.

And the response is standard boilerplate righty outrage.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

standard boilerplate righty outrage

I suppose it is. I'm usually pissed off when popular a leftist make anti-American comments, and still surprised (though I shouldn't be) that the left refuses to see good in America, except that in themselves.

So count me a standard conservative.
I would be ashamed to be a standard liberal, if Michelle's statement doesn't give you any pause at all.

Revenant said...

I hold Israel to the civilized western nation standard, like France, England, or Germany.

Do you, now? Because when those nations come under attack from their neighbors, we deploy troops to help them.

With Israel, we insist that they not only face the attacks alone, but that they refrain from launching attacks in retaliation. Israel's suffered far more than we did on 9/11, and nobody's demanding that we help Al Qaeda establish its own country somewhere.

Revenant said...

"standard boilerplate righty outrage"

I suppose it is.

Is it, though? In my experience, conservatives don't get "outraged" when left-wingers reveal that they have no real feelings of love or pride for America. After all, that's pretty much what you expect from left-wingers. That's why patriotic sentiment has come to be identified as evidence that a person is right-wing; you don't hear it from the left.

This is more of a "see? There they go again" moment, really.

MadisonMan said...

I would be ashamed to be a standard liberal, if Michelle's statement doesn't give you any pause at all.

If that was her genuine meaning -- and having given speeches, I'm sometimes chagrined at how much what I said deviated from what I meant -- it's a sad comment on her, not to be able to see the good around her.

It would be nice if a journalist would press someone when they make negative comments to see if they could come up with something good to say. Just like it would be nice to hear a True Patriot talk about failings in America. The reality is in between the two Poles.

Cedarford said...

Madison Man - It would be nice if a journalist would press someone when they make negative comments to see if they could come up with something good to say. Just like it would be nice to hear a True Patriot talk about failings in America. The reality is in between the two Poles.

I agree.
I get grief from conservatives when I say tax cuts for the rich and supply side don't work, wealth is concentrating unacceptably in America because the game is rigged, and our inability to allow 1/6th of our hard-working population health benefits and 1/3rd adequate dental coverage is a disgrace. And while I want abortion - truly - unlike Clinton's dissembling, to be safe legal and rare, it's near the bottom of issues I care about.

They say I "can't be a true conservative" with such beliefs. Like I care.

But politicians have to push the right buttons, even if the end result is a decent man of integrity like Romney looking like a pandering phony.

Michelle Obama is on the other side and not only plays to the hatred of America manifested in the Moveon, CodePink types...but I think she was nurtured to believe it. No one in the UK despises Britain, its culture and history more than the privileged elites that attend the London School of Economics, Oxford and Cambridge.
In America, students like Michelle Obama are indoctrinated to hate America in a similar way at elite schools like Berkeley, CU Boulder, Duke, SUNY, and the Ivys.

I suspect that, unlike mundane run of the mill Lefties never challenged at college or by the media on it, that she will be called out on it just as the Clintons were called on their Yale anti-Americanism that they "loathed the American military". Because they aren't running for a critical studies faculty position or slot with the ACLU or NAACP, and 80% of the public does not want someone in charge of a country they hate.

Revenant said...

Just like it would be nice to hear a True Patriot talk about failings in America.

Could you give an example of a True Patriot who doesn't talk about failings in America? Because off the top of my head I can't think of any. Certainly there is no shortage of conservatives who both love and respect America while still thinking there are a lot of things wrong with the country.

Kirby Olson said...

It would be great if Al Qaeda were to have its own country. Then at least we'd know where to bomb. As it is, I think we're getting more collateral damage than actual members of Al Qaeda.

Perhaps the Bush administration in its last months should work to establish a homeland for Al Qaeda.

steve said...

The issue for Michelle Obama was that it came on the heels of the Che Guevara posters in the Houston hq. A campaign in which volunteers with responsibility venerate Che resonates with her comment about not being proud of America during her adult life.

rcocean said...

Here we go again. Don't vote for Obama because he's "unpatriotic". Did you know his middle name is "hussain"?

Once more the Out-of-touch Republican's are trying to win by playing the war hero vs. hippie card.

Fact: they're isn't a dime worth of difference between Obama and McCain on Multiculturalism, Immigration, illegal aliens, international trade or foreign aid. Neither will do anything about dependence on foreign oil, the collapse of the dollar or massive budget and trade deficits.

Both are internationalists. The only difference: McCain never met a war he didn't like and wants us to be policeman and nanny to the world, while B.H. Obama is satisfied with merely being Nanny.

Gary Rosen said...

C-fudd:

How about the fact that after the 1948 war, the West Bank and Gaza were still in Arab hands but *they* chose not to establish a Palestinian state there? Can you figure out a way to blame that on the Joooos? Incidentally folks, C-fudd is a proven liar.

rcocean said...

Gary,

Are you Cederford's sock puppet? You never seem to show up except to attack him.

My own opinion is that "Cederford" is in fact Jewish.