Monthly Archives: September 2009

My dog passed away…

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che dog

My dog passed away after 14+ good years as a steadfast companion (June 6, 1995 – September 26, 2009). He was an incredibly strong, sensitive, witty and funny Pitbull-Boxer mix who was born in my house in California and passed away in his sleep with me by his side. He was truly the best friend I ever had. Thanks to everyone who ever looked after him when I was out of town or out of the country, gave him a bone to gnaw on, a pig ear to crunch, or a piece of tri-tip to savor, or gave him some attention from a simple pet on the head to a scratch on his butt. He will be missed by many, especially me. Needless to say I am incredibly depressed and will not be posting anything for a while…

che in jungle

Library of Congress Report Finds No Coup in Honduras, Zelaya Returns

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[H/t Neo-Republica for this image and image below]

Mary Anastasia O’Grady (WSJ) has uncovered some very important information on the so-called coup in Honduras.  She notes, “a report filed at the Library of Congress by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides what the administration has not offered, a serious legal review of the facts”. The report, written by CRS senior foreign law specialist Norma C. Gutierrez claims:

Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system.

I have been trying to find a copy of the report online this morning but am unable to locate it. As soon as I find it I will post a link.

Meanwhile, Zelaya has returned to Honduras with the assistance of Brazilian president Lula de Silva. This is via Voice of America:

Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has returned to his country’s capital, Tegucigalpa, and taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy to avoid arrest.

In a television interview Monday, Mr. Zelaya said he had returned to Honduras to reclaim his presidency in accordance with the will of the people. He called for for a national dialogue.

Initial reports that Mr. Zelaya had returned were unclear about his exact location. Crowds of supporters rallied outside the United Nations building in Tegucigalpa amid reports that he was inside.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Ian Kelly, said the U.S. reiterates its “almost daily” call for supporters of both Mr. Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could provoke violence.

Kelly added the U.S. still considers Mr. Zeyala Honduras’s democratically elected and constitutional leader.

Jose De Cordoba (WSJ) reports:

A few thousand Zelaya supporters surrounded the embassy in Tegucigalpa, raising fears of violence between his backers and the interim government of President Roberto Micheletti. Mr. Micheletti’s government had vowed to arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returned.

Some of the demonstrators said they would march to the presidential palace on Tuesday to throw out Mr. Micheletti’s government and install Mr. Zelaya. Mr. Micheletti’s government had set a Monday curfew from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m., and later extended the curfew through Tuesday evening.

In a television address, Mr. Micheletti, flanked by his cabinet and Gen. Romeo Vasquez, the Honduran army’s chief of staff, said the Brazilian government should turn over Mr. Zelaya to Honduran authorities so he can face legal charges. Mr. Micheletti said Mr. Zelaya’s “irregular” return didn’t change anything, as Mr. Zelaya had been removed from power following a Supreme Court order.

In New York, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin told reporters he hoped that Mr. Zelaya’s return to Honduras would open a new stage in the so-far failed negotiations…

Close ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Mr. Zelaya told him he traveled with four companions. Mr. Chávez hailed Mr. Zelaya’s return and said his country stood ready to help him return to power.

honduras_zelaya_suppoters_palos

Also in WSJ:

Mr. Zelaya was deposed and deported this summer after he agitated street protests to support a rewrite of the Honduran constitution so he could serve a second term. The constitution strictly prohibits a change in the term-limits provision. On multiple occasions he was warned to desist, and on June 28 the Supreme Court ordered his arrest.

Every major Honduran institution supported the move, even members in Congress of his own political party, the Catholic Church and the country’s human rights ombudsman. To avoid violence the Honduran military escorted Mr. Zelaya out of the country. In other words, his removal from office was legal and constitutional, though his ejection from the country gave the false appearance of an old-fashioned Latin American coup.

The U.S. has since come down solidly on the side of—Mr. Zelaya. While it has supported negotiations and called for calm, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both insisted that Honduras must ignore Mr. Zelaya’s transgressions and their own legal processes and restore him as president. The U.S. has gone so far as to cut off aid, threaten Honduran assets in the U.S. and pull visas to enter the U.S. from the independent judiciary. The U.S. has even threatened not to recognize presidential elections previously scheduled for November unless Mr. Zelaya is first brought back to power—even though he couldn’t run again.

This remarkable diplomatic pressure against a small Central American ally has only reinforced Mr. Zelaya’s refusal to compromise short of a return to the presidency, with all of the instability and potential for violence that could involve. It also probably encouraged him to gamble on returning to Honduras on Monday, figuring even that provocation won’t endanger U.S. support. And so far it hasn’t.

Now that he is back, Mr. Zelaya and his allies aren’t calling for calm. His supporters have flocked to Brazil’s embassy with cinder blocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails. “The fatherland, restitution or death,” he shouted to demonstrators outside the embassy. In anticipation of trouble and with concern for public safety, President Roberto Micheletti announced a curfew. But when police tried to enforce the curfew, the zelayistas resisted and there is now a Honduran standoff.

On Monday Mr. Zelaya said he owed his return and political survival to “the support of the international community.” He’s getting support from Nicaragua’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, the former guerrilla group FMLN in El Salvador, and especially from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. But let’s face it: None of that support would mean very much without the diplomatic and sanctions muscle of the U.S.

This is from J.E. Dyer at Contentions:

Brazil’s support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is the latest event in a worrying trend. Zelaya has been holed up at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since his secretive return to Honduras on Monday. Brazil is not taking a neutral stance by harboring him. Brazil is among the majority of Latin American nations that have insisted on Zelaya’s reinstatement, but it is significant that Brasilia’s embassy is hosting the ousted president, rather than, say, the embassy of Costa Rica, whose President Arias acted as mediator in talks this summer…

It should not surprise us to learn that Lula da Silva is facing the same decision that confronts all modern Latin American presidents: the end of his constitutionally permitted tenure in office. He has steadfastly refused to consider amending Brazil’s constitution so he can seek another term. But he is a popular president, his handpicked successor has been battling cancer, and Brazilian sentiment is 50-50 on whether he should be allowed another term. Like Uribe of Colombia, Lula da Silva is popular enough to obtain the approval of the people for this course—making them both unlike Zelaya.

Lastly, here is former Honduran Foreign Minister and Supreme Court Justice Guillermo Perez-Cadalso on the situation (via C-SPAN2):

Cults: Minions of Extremist Nutcase Fred Phelps to Picket Brooklyn Synagogue

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Funeral Protest

[H/t Congregation Beth Elohim]

If you happen to be in Brooklyn this weekend, I just received this alert from Congregation Beth Elohim:

On Saturday, September 26, from 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM, Congregation Beth Elohim will be picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist anti-Semitic, anti-gay independent church based out of Topeka, Kansas.

They plan to send representatives who will stand on our sidewalk displaying disturbing signs and provoking those entering our building. They try to create enough confrontation to incite others to provocation. It is their constitutional right to picket.

Congregation Beth Elohim does not welcome this group’s message or
actions in any way. Our focus and mission as a community is to build an
inclusive Jewish community that celebrates the strength of diversity. It is a home for individuals and families of all backgrounds to grow and to learn and to care about and deepen their connections to one another.

We have clear priorities during difficult moments such as these.

Protecting our members and visitors, and most importantly our children, is a primary goal. Our internal security team is already in action and local police authorities have been alerted. Although you are entitled to your right to free speech, we ask that you calmly pass these protesters and walk directly into our building without incident.

For more information about the Westboro Baptist and for educational materials about responding to hate groups, please download a PDF provided by the Anti-Defamation League.

Congregation Beth Elohim is an amazing community in that it is a warm and welcoming place. This group will be picketing us because of our commitment to those who desire community. Though Saturday may be upsetting, it is important to remember that our precious values are truly a source of great pride. Our best and only response is to conduct ourselves as usual.

More info on Westboro Baptist Church via anti-cult activist and journalist Rick Ross here.

Shana Tova–Happy New Year!

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Happy Rosh Hashanah and Shana Tova to you and yours!

If you are interested, check out 10Q:

10Q was inspired by the traditional ten days of reflection that occur between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a period of time that’s long been considered an opportunity to look at where you’re at, where you’ve come from, and where you’re heading. Whether you’re Jewish or not, though, 10Q is a great way for anyone to look back at the year that’s past, look ahead at the year to come, and take stock. That’s a beautiful thing in any language.

(h/t Rabbi Andy Bachman)

Irving Kristol, R.I.P.

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[Image by Keith Myers/NYT]

The “Godfather of the Neoconservative Movement” has passed on.

Here is a bit from John Podhoretz’s post at Contentions:

The intellectual and political life of the United States over the past 60 years was affected in so many important and enduring ways by Irving Kristol that it is difficult to capture in words the extent of his powerful and positive influence. Irving, who died today at the age of 89, was the rarest of creatures—a thoroughgoing intellectual who was also a man of action. He was a maker of things, a builder of institutions, a harvester and disseminator and progenitor of ideas and the means whereby those ideas were made flesh…

The number of institutions with which he was affiliated, or started, or helped grow into major centers of learning and thinking is hard to count. There is this institution, COMMENTARY, where he began working after his release from the Army following the conclusion of the Second World War. There were two other magazines in the 1950s, the Reporter and Encounter, which he helped found and whose influence on civil discourse was profound and enduring, even legendary. There was the Public Interest, the quarterly he co-founded in 1965 with Daniel Bell and then ran with Nathan Glazer for more than 30 years, which was the wellspring of neoconservative thinking on domestic-policy issues. He helped bring a sleepy Washington think tank called the American Enterprise Institute into the forefront. And he made Basic Books into a publishing powerhouse that was, for more than 20 years, at the red-hot center of every major debate in American life.

It was through his encouragement and lobbying efforts that several foundations began providing the kind of support to thinkers and academics on the Right that other foundations and most universities afforded thinkers and academics on the Left. Through his columns in the Wall Street Journal, he instructed American businessmen on the relation between what they did and the foundational ideas of capitalism as explicated by Adam Smith, and changed many of them from sideline players in the battle over the direction of the American economy into front-line advocates.

Just an example of Irving’s approach: In 1979, as a first-year student at the University of Chicago, I started a magazine called Midway (later Counterpoint) with my friend Tod Lindberg, now the editor of Policy Review. I sent the first issue to Irving, a family friend. He called me a few days later. “Do you need money?” he said in his fascinating accent, which bore both traces of the Brooklyn of his youth and the London where he spent crucial years in his 30s. “Money?” I said. “No, we made enough from advertising to pay for it.”

“If you ever do, let me know,” he said. And a few issues later, we did. I called him, and he instructed me on the fine art of writing a grant proposal to a new foundation he had begun called the Institute for Educational Affairs. A few weeks later, he called me to report that a grant of $2,000 had been approved and, moreover, that he had used our little magazine as an example of what might be done on college campuses to encourage non-Leftist thinking among students. The board of the foundation found his pitch compelling, and it was decided that efforts should be made to encourage the creation of other publications like Counterpoint. From this seedling came a project that would, by the mid-1980s, lead to the creation of more than 50 college newspapers and magazines across the country engaged in a vital intellectual project to bring ideological diversity to campus life.

Now, if one were to measure by the nature of colleges today as opposed to 30 years ago, one would have to say this venture did not effect much change. But what came out of it were dozens of young writers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs (like Peter Thiel, the co-creator of PayPal and one of the founding editors of the Stanford Review) who have enriched American life.

So it was with Irving the mentor. There are people throughout the United States, writers and editors and academics and thinkers and speechwriters and policymakers, who owe their careers and the shape of their lives to Irving and his direct efforts on their behalf—giving them counsel, writing them letters, finding them employment. He was a human job bank.

The Heritage Foundation:

With the death of editor and scholar Irving Kristol, the conservative movement has lost another of its intellectual champions. In recent years, Irving was a Senior Fellow Emeritus with our friends over at the American Enterprise Institute. That post, though, was merely the capstone to a long career in media, publishing and academia.

Famously, of course, Irving Kristol wasn’t always a conservative, much less a “neoconservative.” He began his career as a Marxist, but from the position of a leftist was able to recognize the weaknesses of Marxism. That realization led to his gradual move to the political right.

Here’s how he once put it: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a neo-something: a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-liberal, a neo-conservative; in religion a neo-orthodox even while I was a neo-Trotskyist and a neo-Marxist. I’m going to end up a neo-; that’s all, neo dash nothing.”

Instead, Irving ended up an influential conservative icon.

Among other jobs, he was managing editor of Commentary magazine from 1947 to 1952, executive vice president of Basic Books for eight years and professor of social thought at New York University Graduate School of Business.

Irving Kristol was an inspiration to all of us. During the early days of the conservative movement, liberals controlled academia even more completely than they do today.

Yet Kristol reminded us that ideas were more important than ideology. He gave birth to an intellectual movement that proved conservative ideas work, and he helped make conservatives into what the late  Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York called “the party of ideas.”

“A conservative,” Irving liked to say, “is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality.”

Robert Kagan at WaPo:

He was a truly great man, a great intellectual, and a great, patriotic servant to his country. He was also a unique inspiration, to me personally, and to untold thousands of other young people for whom he provided a model of the intellectual life well-lived. He was a deep and fierce thinker, who nevertheless delivered his thoughts in the most amiable fashion, without animus or bile. He was curious and invited others to be curious, to engage in serious dialogue on the important issues of the day. He was also a creator of communities and institutions. He occupied a unique space between the world of the mind and the world of action. Networks of thinkers, policy-makers, and politicians revolved around him — and not because he thrust himself into their midst but because his mind and character attracted them to him. To go to work for him, as I did fresh out of college almost 30 years ago, was to enter a rich and exciting intellectual universe, filled with learning and integrity and a commitment to the well-being of society. I fear such a universe may no longer exist. But the memory of what Irving Kristol created is enough to warm the soul for a lifetime.

Myron Magnet in the City Journal:

Irving Kristol, who died today at 89, was famously the godfather of neoconservatism, and he was the godfather of City Journal, too, having urged the Manhattan Institute’s then-president Bill Hammett 20 years ago to start a magazine. Ever practical and realistic, Irving knew that it wasn’t enough for conservatives to have good ideas; they also needed vehicles to communicate them. If the mainstream media—which in that pre-Internet era really had a monopoly on news and opinion—didn’t want to give conservatives a platform, there was no use complaining: we’d just have to start our own publications. Irving understood the power of ideas as well as anyone, but he also understood the power of institutions.

His own world-historically influential magazine, The Public Interest, bore Irving’s stamp of practicality and realism, indeed of realpolitik. It aimed, through its hard-headed emphasis on social-scientific data, to rise above mere theorizing and opinion into the realm of fact and proof. Ever the anti-utopian, in politics and in temperament, Irving was interested in the world as it is, not as some system wanted it to be. He’d had his youthful flirtation with left-utopianism and, disillusioned by experience, became a neoconservative—a liberal, as he defined it, who’s been mugged by reality. What he really meant, of course, was simply a liberal who’d been mugged—who’d seen that all the liberal, welfare-state ideals for the uplift of the poor, and especially the minority poor, had in the end produced a criminal underclass, exactly the opposite of the intended uplift. The good intentions counted for nothing with him and even sparked a certain dry contempt; it was the result that mattered.

For all The Public Interest’s hard-headedness, however, Irving—a New York Intellectual, after all—saw clearly the power of that very intangible reality, culture. He knew how perversely wrong Marx had been to think that economic relations mold the world, giving form even to our ideas. On the contrary, Irving understood, the ideas, beliefs, customs, virtues, even the prejudices that make up the tissue of our culture are the true shapers of reality. As he explained in his greatest essay, “When Virtue Loses All Her Loveliness,” which closes Two Cheers for Capitalism, Adam Smith, for all his greatness as an economist and philosopher, did not see how crucial to the functioning of markets as he described them was the Presbyterian culture of the Scotland that bred him, with its emphasis on probity, thrift, enterprise, and truthfulness. Even in the economic world, material reality is only part of the story.

The NYT:

The Public Interest writers did not take issue with the ends of the Great Society so much as with the means, the “unintended consequences” of the Democrats’ good intentions. Welfare programs, they argued, were breeding a culture of dependency; affirmative action created social divisions and did damage to its supposed beneficiaries. They placed practicality ahead of ideals. “The legitimate question to ask about any program,” Mr. Kristol said, “is, ‘Will it work?’,” and the reforms of the 1960s and ’70s, he believed, were not working.

For more than six decades, beginning in 1942, when he and other recent graduates of City College founded Enquiry: A Journal of Independent Radical Thought, his life revolved around magazines. Besides The Public Interest, Mr. Kristol published, edited and wrote for journals of opinion like Commentary, Encounter, The New Leader, The Reporter and The National Interest.

All were “little magazines,” with limited circulations, but Mr. Kristol valued the quality of his readership more than the quantity. “With a circulation of a few hundred,” he once said, “you could change the world.”

Small circles and behind-the-scenes maneuverings suited him. He never sought celebrity; in fact, he was puzzled by writers who craved it. Described by the economics writer Jude Wanniski as the “hidden hand” of the conservative movement, he avoided television and other media spotlights; he was happier consulting with a congressman like Jack Kemp about the new notion of supply-side economics and then watching with satisfaction as Mr. Kemp converted President Ronald Reagan to the theory. Mr. Kristol was a man of ideas who believed in the power of ideas, an intellectual whose fiercest battles were waged against other intellectuals.

A major theme of The Public Interest under Mr. Kristol’s leadership was the limits of social policy; he and his colleagues were skeptical about the extent to which government programs could actually produce positive change.

Neoconservatism may have begun as a dispute among liberals about the nature of the welfare state, but under Mr. Kristol it became a more encompassing perspective, what he variously called a “persuasion,” an “impulse,” a “new synthesis.” Against what he saw as the “nihilistic” onslaught of the ’60s counterculture, Mr. Kristol, in the name of neoconservatism, mounted an ever more muscular defense of capitalism, bourgeois values and the aspirations of the common man that took him increasingly to the right.

For him, neoconservatism, with its emphasis on values and ideas, had become no longer a corrective to liberal overreaching but an “integral part” of conservatism and the Republican Party, a challenge to liberalism itself, which, in his revised view, was a destructive philosophy that had lost touch with ordinary people.

But, I am a Liberal has links to a variety of obits here.

So does Poumista.

Friday Fall (is on its way) Roundup

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Fall is about to arrive in NYC. The summer is behind us. Some of my friends and neighbors are bummed out because the summer was so rainy. But I actually enjoyed it. Summers are so hot and humid in NYC, it is hard to bear for a native son of California. Plus, I rather like the fall. After living on the West Coast for most of my life, it is nice to see the leaves shift colors from green to orange and gold (which will happen next month), experience the weather getting cool and crisp and feeling that there is change in the air.

While the weather is still warm I am going to get out and enjoy the day. So take a look at these posts by some of my regular reads:

Airforce Amazons on Afghanistan (and some other countries) and Iran, Israel, Palestine

Bob from Brockley discusses Terror and British Islam

Contentious Centrist opines on Human Rights Watch’s Marc Garlasco

Flesh is Grass on Lubna Hussein

Long War Journal: “Senior al Qaeda leader killed in Somalia

Martin in the Margins continues with a second post on anarchism.

Mod on the stupidity of the anti-Israel boycott

Simply Jews clowns Jimmuh Carter

The Stark Tenet on the Tea Party protests and protests in general

Michael Totten: “The Warlord in His Castle”

Demonstrations and Double Standards

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Whatever you think about the Tea-Party protesters, whether you think their cause (or causes) is right or wrong, you cannot help but notice different standards applied to them and the demonstrations organized by the far left.

First, the matter of numbers. It’s strange how a protest of tens of thousands will make the first few pages of the NYT but a conservative protest with hundreds of thousands is back on page A-37. Moving further left, the various IMCs–the reporters of political rallies, protests, demonstrations, and the like–have been silent. Why is that?

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Second, the organizations represented. When the NYT recently reported on an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. they noted the anti-war movement “consists of dozens of organizations representing pacifists, veterans, military families, labor unions and religious groups.” Nothing was mentioned about the groups on the radical left (communists and anarchists) who organize these anti-war protests. Nothing was mentioned about the black bloc and others who routinely destroy property and aggressively confront the police in these demos.

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And, as Zombietime points out, nothing ever gets mentioned about the people who threatened violence against president Bush when he was in office.

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Zombie asks:

Is there a double standard? Seems to be.

Every threat to Obama is now vigorously pursued, trumpeted and dissected by the media and the blogs, and roundly condemned. And I condemn such threats as well.

But in the past, whenever someone threatened Bush at a protest, there was a deafening silence on the part of the media and the left-leaning blogs, and consequently very little (if any) follow-through on the part of the Secret Service. Which I find quite distressing. I was condemning those threats in the past (as best I could, by drawing attention to them on my blog) — but few people were joining me in my condemnation.

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This is not a new development. The NYT regularly downplays the prevalence of extremists on the left, instead preferring to focus on the right. However, where were the racist skinheads, brownshirts and other neo-Nazis at this conservative demonstration? Where were the organizations representing the far-right? Nowhere to be seen or found.

Sure, you had some “birthers” and other kooks but nowhere near the prevalence of “truthers” and other crackpots one finds in left gatherings. Yes, there were nutty Paulistas and people who think Obama is a Muslim Marxist. Like this dude:

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But these people, and the people who compare Obama to Hitler, are far and away in the minority on the conservative right. Most conservatives find those comparisons offensive. Yet comparisons between Bush and Hitler were common on the progressive left during Bush’s two terms in office and few in the mainstream media or on the left were offended by that.

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This brings me to the third double standard, the issue of motivation. What drives individuals to engage in collective action? In the case of left-wing protesters, they are pushed to participate due to a sense of great moral conviction. They protest because it is the right thing to do. What about conservatives who protest? What is their motivation?

The predictable response from the mainstream media is racism. Conservatives protest because our president is black. That is some sad commentary on the state of American politics in the 21st century.

Think about it. It used to be the right that was obsessed with race. At least that was the case when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are right-wing racists and extremists out there who are incensed about Obama’s blackness. All you have to do is look around the Internet. An important thing to keep in mind is radicals are on the margins of mainstream conservatism.

When I look at the political culture of the U.S. today, the partisans obsessed with race are largely located on the left. And I am not only talking about the radical left, the liberal left engages in this as well. NY representative Charlie Rangel, other Democratic legislators and the mainstream media have been reducing conservative disagreements with Obama’s policies to racism.

Congressman Rangel claims conservative opposition is “a bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling” and thinks “some Americans have not gotten over the fact that Obama is president of the United States. They go to sleep wondering, ‘How did this happen?’ “. Even former president Jimmy Carter felt the urge to chime in. Kate Phillips (NYT) notes:

Coupling the Wilson remark with the images in recent weeks of angry demonstrators wielding signs depicting Mr. Obama as a Nazi or as Adolf Hitler, Mr. Carter said: “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

Carter continued:

“I live in the South and I’ve seen the South come a long way.” However, “I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people not just in the South but around the country … that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

You really should not have to be a conservative to find this sort of rhetoric insulting. I am not a Tea-Party protester. But the double standard applied to them is disturbing. These protests are about dramatically increased taxes, a bloated deficit, and the expansion of federal government power. For the vast majority of participants, race is not an issue.

ADDED:

Martin in the Margins on Carter, “race” and the right

The Stark Tenet on protesting and demonstrations