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July 18, 2008

Leave Michelle Obama Alone!!!!

What are we to believe about Michelle Obama?

In a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Barack Obama took the media to task for the crime of including her public statements, made on the campaign trail on his behalf, in their campaign coverage. How dare they take this strong, independent, Princeton educated, Harvard trained attorney seriously? After all, she's just a wife and mother.

No one has the right to expect her to defend her own ideas:

It's infuriating, but it's not surprising, because let's face it: What happened was that the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk—went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way...and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans. And I've said this before: I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do it. Because essentially, spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this. They're supporting their spouse. So it took a toll. If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives.

Everybody who knows Michelle knows how extraordinary she is. She's ironically the most quintessentially American woman I know. She grew up in a "Leave it to Beaver" family. She is the best mother I know. And our kids are a testimony to that, because she's really had to raise them, oftentimes without me being there. She's the most honest person I know, she's smart, she's funny, so yeah, it infuriates me. And I think that it is an example of the erosion of civility in our political culture that she's been subjected to these attacks, and my attitude is that the people who have attacked her in the ways that they have...if they've got a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her.

I have to hand it to Senator Obama on this one. As a woman, for the first time in my life I feel real hope for the status of women in this country because I can see that under an Obama presidency we will be respected as fully equal partners. Why, this example just screams respect and equality.

For far too long, women have not been allowed their rightful place in American politics. Senator Obama made a place for his wife in his campaign. He placed her right in the forefront, allowed her free reign to speak her mind honestly and forthrightly.

And when her remarks generated the kind of spirited debate that has characterized American political discourse for over two centuries, he boldly stepped forward to shield her from the distasteful chore of having to defend her own statements in the marketplace of ideas:

, and my attitude is that the people who have attacked her in the ways that they have...if they've got a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her.

It is truly heartening to see this kind of respect for the intellectual accomplishments of women. It's been a long time coming. And the best thing of all is that the respect is busting out all over!

Democrats are upset (again) about a new Republican ad featuring Michelle Obama. This one, produced by the Washington State Republican Party, begins with Mrs. Obama's famous "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country" remark. From there, it cuts to a series of Washingtonians saying why they are proud of the United States. "Because we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave," says one woman. "Because in our country people can freely express themselves however they wish," says another. "Because this country has given more blood for freedom than any other country in the world," says a third. After that, the ad cuts to those same people reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. After a quote from Ronald Reagan, the ad ends on a slide that says, "Help us welcome Michelle Obama to Washington. Forward this video to your friends and family!"

And that's it. So what's wrong with that? Now, this is not a big-budget production, but it's one of the more positive negative ads you will ever see. And it is, on the whole, quite unremarkable. But it has made some Democrats very, very upset. "I was proud to welcome Michelle Obama, who clearly loves our country deeply, here to Washington state this morning," says Governor Christine Gregoire in a just-released statement:

These shameless attacks by the state Republican Party have no place in our politics. If John McCain is serious about running a 'respectful' campaign on the issues, he and Republican leaders like Dino Rossi will denounce this tasteless attack ad and tell the state Republican Party to pull the plug on it immediately. After eight years of the most divisive, fear-driven politics this country has ever seen, I agree with Senator Obama that it's time to turn the page and bring Americans together.

You can see why the Obama campaign, from the candidate down, is trying to take the Michelle Obama issue off the table. But calling an ad in which people describe why they are proud of the United States a "tasteless attack" and a "shameless attack" and a continuation of "the most divisive, fear-driven politics this country has ever seen" is a bit over the top, isn't it?

Damn straight.

Freedom of speech means the freedom to speak your mind without encountering opposing speech! If you attack a person's ideas that is exactly the same as attacking them personally: it is intolerant and divisive behavior which is incompatible with civil discourse; unless of course the ideas themselves are harmful (in which case they must be suppressed lest they create a hostile environment or subjective feelings of alienation or discomfort in the listener).

Obama understands this, as he understands the need of liberated, fully equal women to be given a platform where they can freely express their ideas without the tiresome accountability that so often accompanies public speaking.

Posted by Cassandra at July 18, 2008 06:14 AM

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Comments

Obama understands this, as he understands the need of liberated, fully equal women to be given a platform where they can freely express their ideas without the tiresome accountability that so often accompanies public speaking.

He just doesn't believe in paying them for it at the same salary level he pays the *men* on his staff. Geez, work with the Light Worker here, okaaaay?

Posted by: BillT at July 18, 2008 07:51 AM

Pay attention to her! Because she's smart, accomplished, and a crucial asset to this campaign!

But don't dare criticize anything she says, because if you do, you're attacking her, ya big meanie! :p

Posted by: Step Into the Light at July 18, 2008 07:54 AM

Oh, and while we're at it Jesse Jackson has said a few things he'd like the media to ignore while they are taking him equally seriously.

LISTEN TO HIM, BUT STOP PAYING SO MUCH ATTENTION TO HIM PEOPLES.

DAMMITALL!

Some days, the comedy just writes itself.

Posted by: And Then Her Head Exploded at July 18, 2008 07:59 AM

Perhaps the Obamas need to see a Dermatologist. Skin that thin could be a serious medical condition.

But I'm glad the Wise and Wonderful St. Barack hasn't attacked Cindy McCain for all the outrageous things she's said on the campaign trail. You know like, uh wait a minute it will come to me. But then Cindy can't match Michelles accomplishments. Its not like she's run a successful business and donated huge amounts of time and money to charity or anything.

Posted by: Schnauzer at July 18, 2008 09:21 AM

Why am I still defending Senator Obama? *Sigh*

This is one thing the Senator does that doesn't bother me. A man's under no obligation to be fair when he's defending his wife.

That's not to say you're wrong about what fairness entails; it's just that fairness isn't the only value that matters. Loyalty to one's love -- including a readiness to spring to her defense and always to be on her side -- is an admirable trait. Lancelot fought to clear Guinevere of charges he knew were justified: for if love is true, a man is meant to be wholly unfair in his lady's favor.

If she wants to fight her own battles, of course -- if that is important to her -- then she has every right to insist he stay out of it. It's pretty clear that Michelle Obama could insist on whatever she wanted from her husband, so if he keeps fighting for her, it must be because that's what she wants him to do.

Now, I understand your argument that this demeans women as a whole, and hurts women as a whole, in order that he can protect just this one woman.

But that's just what the arrangement of marriage is. The oath of marriage says that you do put the interests of just one woman ahead of the whole rest of womankind. That's the very nature of the thing.

It's not fair: but it's not supposed to be fair.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 09:56 AM

Grim, I completely agree with you.

His impulse, as a husband to defend his wife is entirely laudable and correct.

However, what bothers me about this is that HE PLACED HER IN THIS POSITION. This is the same thing he did when he allowed his two young daughters to be interviewed and then obviously regretted it.

If you view woman as needing your protection, well then damnitall, PROTECT THEM.

Don't put them front and center in your campaign and then throw the victim card when the media treat them like adults.

If they have never entered the political arena as participants, then they are not fair game. But this is clearly not the case with Michelle. I am only holding the Obamas to their own professed values. This is what adults do: they stand up for what they say they believe in. If you think women are fully equal, then they need to be able to stand up for themselves, don't you think?

Posted by: And Then Her Head Exploded at July 18, 2008 10:11 AM

A point that is being missed in all of this is that women (and especially professional women) often complain of not being taken seriously.

I fail to see how stepping in to defend a professional woman from the consequences of her own statements helps that process along :p The implied idea here is that she can dish it out but that she can't take any criticism of her ideas. And that is pretty demeaning when you get right down to it. Michelle Obama is articulate and intelligent in her own right.

I don't think she needs a knight in shining armor, and I have a hard time seeing her in the role of a helpless victim. I think such a characterization is unfair to her and doesn't add anything to the overall debate.

Posted by: And Then Her Head Exploded at July 18, 2008 10:16 AM

"I don't think she needs a knight in shining armor, and I have a hard time seeing her in the role of a helpless victim. "
I agree and will say that my perception of Michelle is quite the opposite.

IMO Barack is the fortunate one in that Michelle strikes me as having more character, certainly tougher, and possessing a more resilient spirit. Neither would I doubt that she is the brains of the outfit.

If this were not an election campaign, I would expect that it would be Michelle performing the arse kicking functions along with the taking of names.

Posted by: bthun at July 18, 2008 10:51 AM

Everybody says "knight in shining armor" like it's a bad thing.

Anyway -- I've got no problem with people going after her. No doubt she's no victim: she's one of the most successful people on the planet, as judged by personal wealth, social status, salary (did you see the size of the raise you get when your husband becomes a Senator? Wow!), etc. Anybody who wants to criticize her is free to do so, and I don't think they're doing anything wrong by it.

I just think that when the Senator defends his wife, we should say: "Well, yes, naturally he should defend his wife. Nevertheless..."

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 11:38 AM

No, not at all like it's a bad thing.

I think the objection is that traditionally the knight in shining armor champions the weak and defenseless who lack the means to fight for themselves.

Michelle is hardly that. Neither is she a monster.

That is the only point I wish to make here: that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in the victimization of Mrs. Obama.

Posted by: Jean Fraude-Kerry, the Human Weathervane at July 18, 2008 11:42 AM

"I think the objection is that traditionally the knight in shining armor champions the weak and defenseless who lack the means to fight for themselves."

Yah. Grim, I understand what you're saying but I think this part is the problem.

A husband and wife should stick together; it's not surprising that Sen. Obama should speak up for his wife.

But.

She's been campaigning for him on her own, as an equal. Her words have been taken seriously and debated, as an equal. When the reception was negative in some quarters, she then ran back to the old model.

Now, she's either "weak and defenseless" and needs protection or she's an independant woman who speaks her mind and can defend her own words. Can't have it both ways--and trying to have it both ways is what makes people crazy.

Posted by: Maggie100 at July 18, 2008 11:58 AM

If I may, I believe that Grim's contention that Sen. Obama's defense of his wife, while incorrect from a political standpoint, is laudable from a spousal standpoint. I other words, he's doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Obama SUPPORTERS who go off the handle and scream, "Leave Michelle alone!!!" are the ones who have no excuse. She's not their wife. If THEY believe in equality of the sexes, and that a strong woman can take care of herself, then they need to let her put on the grown-up pants and do so. To attempt to shield her from criticism of her own words tells volumes about how deeply they hold to the standard of equal treatment for equal genders.

Grim has covered this many times, and I happen to agree with him. My wife is a big girl, and can take care of herself. But that doesn't mean I don't also defend her. I can't really help it, I realize it's not 100% rational, but really when is love ever 100% rational? If she's wrong, I will tell her she's wrong and I know she can handle it. But if someone else tells her she's wrong (even if I might agree) I still FEEL the need to assist in her defense.

If you like, I see this as an extention of marital privilege where a husband or wife cannot be compelled to testify against their spouse. Clearly, if testimony is sought, there is an accusation of wrongdoing, so it would be "right" for the one spouse to testify against the other. But we recognize a legal right for the witness spouse to refuse to testify against the accused spouse. It's not "rational" to defend someone else's lawbreaking, but it is understandable.

Posted by: MikeD at July 18, 2008 12:54 PM

Well, the knight is supposed to be a "friend to the weaker party," as Scott says in Ivanhoe. However, his service to his beloved lady wasn't predicated on her being "the weaker party." It could very well be the case that she was a queen, and he only a poor knight; his service might be all he had to offer. She hardly needed it (except in Gunivere's particular case), but was still honored by it, as he was ennobled by it.

As I said, I understand the issue as regards womens' social equality, and I think I can be said to be a friend to that cause. However, I would like to reiterate that it's not the only value or the only cause. We are all here also friends to marriage, and to the ennobling quality of love.

We have to find a way to balance those interests in this case. I think it is by continuing to criticize her in spite of his objections; but also recognizing that making such objections, even if they are in a sense unfair, is a fit and proper thing for a husband to do.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 01:23 PM

"If she's wrong, I will tell her she's wrong and I know she can handle it. But if someone else tells her she's wrong (even if I might agree) I still FEEL the need to assist in her defense."
I am the same... I usually carry that principle on through wife, children, family, friends, state, nation, etc.

Faulting BO for defending his wife if she is being attacked is one thing, but when she opens her yap in public, to share her opinion, her perception, or the facts according to Michelle, BO would do well to buttress her argument(s) rather than tell those who respond to her pronouncements to sit down and shut up.

But I'm just a card carrying member of the Overflown, Bitter & Clingy, Pickup driving, Knuckle-draggersЯus club so I'm doomed to a life of conservationism anyway.

Posted by: bthun at July 18, 2008 01:30 PM

When Obama forms his State Security Service, Michelle won't have to worry about people who might question what she says. Michelle has said that Barack "won't leave you peasants alone, won't let you return to your ignorant uninvolved ways, he will make you work!" Sounds to me like we're going to have CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps--not the CCCP) camps where people who say bad things about Michelle can work until they learn the error of their ways. That's change we can all hope for!

What a humorless jerk!

Posted by: Mike Myers at July 18, 2008 01:30 PM

And if you think Michelle is taking a beating, take a look at the harsh treatment BO suffers at the hands of the press.

Ohhhh, the humanity!

Posted by: bthun at July 18, 2008 01:50 PM

A man's under no obligation to be fair when he's defending his wife.

Source Links

* After these matters we ought perhaps next to discuss pleasure. For it is thought to be most intimately connected with our human nature, which is the reason why in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain; it is thought, too, that to enjoy the things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest bearing on virtue of character.
-Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

I just think that when the Senator defends his wife, we should say: "Well, yes, naturally he should defend his wife. Nevertheless..."

He's not defending his wife, he's defending himself. Because Michelle Obama "supports" her spouse, by defending Michelle's support of him, Obama is also defending his own political course in order to stay the course.

When it has come to human affairs that a man allows or makes use of his wife's public appearance or stature to bolster his own, it would not be too much to expect from a virtuous man that he ought to hate what ought to be hated. And what ought to be hated is not Fox News or the Republicans, but the consequences of that virtuous man's own actions.

To say that it is to be expected that the Senator attacks other people for the consequences he himself brought on his wife, is to say that the Senator is not a virtuous man. And if he is not a virtuous man, then does it really matter what the Senator thinks he is doing when he is assaulting other people's characters solely to defend his own actions and the actions and words of his wife?

This is what adults do: they stand up for what they say they believe in. If you think women are fully equal, then they need to be able to stand up for themselves, don't you think?

It's not that Obama thinks Michelle needs protecting because she is his wife. I prefer to think Obama is dong what he is doing because it is a way to exploit the weaknesses or character or virtues of his political opponents, who might feel overt sympathy for Obama and Michelle.

It's too good a chance to pass up, Cass. And in the end, does it really matter to Obama if he contradicts his own actions, so long as he wins the power of life and death over 300 million people, not to mention the power that would be indirectly had over the 6.5 billion people here on Earth?

That's a lot of power, and a lot of available justifications for doing whatever Obama thinks will net him that reward.

It's not fair: but it's not supposed to be fair.

But it is supposed to be fair, because that is what Obama has just said and accused his opponents of violating. You call it not fair, Obama's defense of his wife, and that it should be this way. Yet you ignore the fact that Obama's "defense" of his wife consists solely of attacking other people's unfairness or fairness or whatever.

That's not honor, that's not even marriage. That's war, and in war, there are only actions and consequences. Supposed to be or not supposed to be, is not a decisive factor.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 18, 2008 03:34 PM

If Michele is going to have an active voice in the campaign, then she is certainly fair game for criticism. I don't see any other way to look at it.

It's not like she's the first potential first lady to be criticised. Is she? Are there precedents anyone can think of?

I remember mercilessly making fun of Nancy Reagan for consulting astrologists. That might have been after she was actually first lady, though.

Posted by: April at July 18, 2008 03:46 PM

Ymar, it seems to me that a lot of things seem like war to you, including a great many that don't seem like war even to me. :)

A husband is meant to put his wife ahead of all the rest of womankind. So, if defending her shows her honor and makes her happy -- as it does in this case -- he ought to do it. A man who serves a lady out of love becomes a better man by it. Indeed, in the Senator's case, it is the one thing left about him that I like and can admire.

We may nevertheless set aside his objection, and carry on criticizing her anyway. Naturally she deserves what she gets, and of course she can take care of herself.

Still, he has only done what a husband ought to do. He should always be on her side, and put her interests above those of other women. He may be a husband as well as a Senator; or even, if elected, as well as a President.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 03:57 PM

I wonder why Michelle was taken off the campaign so suddenly? She's being muzzled. Gee, I wonder why.

Posted by: Stephanie at July 18, 2008 05:54 PM

A husband is meant to put his wife ahead of all the rest of womankind.

That doesn't translate to how Obama was deriving political, not personal, support from his wife's comments.

While you're dealing with what should happen, I'm dealing with what has happened. And they conflict, in this instance.

A man who serves a lady out of love becomes a better man by it.

A man does not become a better person by following a woman's demands that chaos, oppression, and cruel methods be used to achieve power and then using that power to spread such methods across the face of the world.

It doesn't matter whether the man loves the woman or not. If you do not love justice and hate injustice, you are not a virtuous man or woman. And in those terms, "honor" has no meaning since you cannot honor the good while also doing evil.

Unless you are willing to consider honor, love, and devotion to be subjective criteria that has nothing to do with objective reality or the consequences to other people's lives. I'm not willing to make that jump, however. It's too tribal and too much amoral familism.

Still, he has only done what a husband ought to do.

If it is okay for a husband to conduct vices to satisfy duty, then I suppose that is what a husband ought to do. But by those standards, it would make it no more different than amoral familism as a standard for what "ought" to be done.

And that's a rather sad way to conduct affairs in this world.

In the end, I won't ever believe that a husband ought to attack the character of his political opponents in order to gain political power, in the guise of defending his wife from other women or men.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 18, 2008 08:25 PM

The political campaign Obama and Michelle are on may not seem like a war to you, Grim, but that belies their actions and the consequences thereof to both peace and those fighting in wars.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 18, 2008 08:27 PM

Aristotle's ethics have a great deal to say about philia, Ymar, but not much at all to say about eros. In fact, Aristotle is largely credited with inventing our conception of 'dispassionate, virtuous love' of this sort, the kind of love that a man can have for a friend or an ideal.

For the deep, passionate forms of love, the Greeks had other ideas. You might want to read Plato's Symposium. Socrates, at least, appears to have believed that passionate love was a font of justice. That love is unjust, according to Aristotle's dictum that we treat all similar cases alike: rather, strongly passionate love (and a good marriage) creates an exception to all normal rules.

Yet we have seen that such love does create better men. Certainly, it has made me better; I don't doubt that others here who have had occasion to enjoy such an opportunity for love will assent that this is true for themselves also. It ennobles the spirit; and by teaching it to value one thing to the uttermost, raises its threshhold of understanding for love and beauty.

Though Aristotle does not speak much of eros, he does say quite a bit about beauty. I wrote something about it not long ago: Aristotle and the Ten Second Problem.

It may not make Sen. Obama a man I can support, but loving makes him a better man. It makes him a more noble opponent, if nothing else: but a true knight values that as well.

As for the concept that politics is war: if it comes to that, you'll see more from me than pieces of philosophy. This is not war. If you want an analogy to hostility, it is somewhat like litigation -- but it is very much not war.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2008 08:43 PM

"We may nevertheless set aside his objection, and carry on criticizing her anyway. Naturally she deserves what she gets, and of course she can take care of herself."

Have to go this route, or else he needs to have her stop campaigning on her own for him.

I think I disagreed with his actions because he didn't defend her by defending her words in terms of what they both believe. Standing together, as it were.

Instead, he treated it as if it were a personal attack on a wife who had not been campaigning for him on her own and not acting as part of his campaign. This was particularly clear when Mrs. Obama was compared to Mrs. McCain. That's really an unfair tactic, IMO. Either she is capable of speaking on her own, with Sen. Obama speaking up for her based on what she says or she should step back and not campaign. The more tradtional role of "wife of" is the one that merits his protests, not the other.

Posted by: Maggie100 at July 19, 2008 12:51 AM

My take is that Michelle told Barry he'd *better* jump in or the contractor would be adding a bedroom to the doghouse -- for the dog that Barry *didn't* want to get, BTW...

Posted by: BillT at July 19, 2008 04:31 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Q9hb3uLI8

Posted by: steve at July 19, 2008 06:02 AM

Maggie100 has stated succinctly what are my objection to Barry's "leave my wife alone" statements.

No one is drawing pictures of her that emphasize her overbite, no one is talking about her in personal terms, even Stephen Colbert stepped back, apparently sensing that he was in deep weeds when interviewing her, since she has no obvious sense of humor.

She has said insulting, stupid, rude, elitist and wrong things that deserve ridicule and rebuke.

She mocked the $600 stimulus check, saying (paraphrased) it wasn't good for anything except to buy a pair of earrings. She is speaking to many people who are working nights to make ends meet, and $600 means a lot to such people. She should be ashamed of being so out of touch with those whom she wishes to mislead.

She tells people to eschew the same education she got, thought it has brought her wealth and position and power. Is she the only one who deserves upward mobility?

She says that America has gotten progressively worse throughout her life. She is just stupid if she really believes that! Even the "poor" have cell phones, flat screen TVs, cable, cars, and financial aid that was unthinkable when she was born.

And she has said all of this to large gatherings of people as a representative of her husband.

She is fair game.

If she doesn't want to be criticized, she should just be a bauble on her husband's arm, and shut her mouth.

Posted by: MathMom at July 19, 2008 11:47 AM

Well, I guess that puts Michelle in good company, wouldn't you say Steve?

Or are the comments of a presidential candidate's wife somehow, you know, more, um different than when a presidential candidate says he "didn't really love America until...."

Take your time, my friend

Posted by: Becca at July 19, 2008 12:16 PM

Ferchristsakes, MathMon, take a chill pill.

At least, Michelle Obama, isn't a former drug addict, who stole drugs from the charity she worked for, and had an affair with a married man. You would have liked that wouldn't you? That would be the perfect icing on your myopic, angry, little Republican vanilla *cake*

Posted by: Herbie at July 19, 2008 12:35 PM

It makes him a more noble opponent, if nothing else: but a true knight values that as well.

Since Michelle isn't the kind of person that utilizes other people's love for her for the good and since Obama isn't a knight, true or fallen, it is rather irrelevant in a sense.

But let's speak of what is relevant. In the link you provided, Grim, you quoted some analysis of the Nicomachean Ethics concerning disharmony. I would argue that Michelle Obama has a big chip on her shoulder concerning relative wealth, how her own wealth is so much more than other blacks or even whites, and how all this means America is something that she needs to be shameful of because she can't be shameful of her own actions and her own status or prosperity.

That's not harmony. And loving a person that is so flawed may or may not make yourself better. It really depends on if you have similar flaws or not. If you don't have similar flaws, then you might be able to offset such weak spots with your own strengths. But Obama often has just the same kind of disharmonious elements in his life as his wife, if not even worse because his father abandoned him and he was raised by a indoctrinated fake liberal.

That is not a standard of beauty nor a standard of the good, Grim. If Obama was rising to a new level in standard, then maybe he could improve, although that's unlikely, but certainly not impossible. But I cannot buy the belief that if he defends his wife on a superficial basis, that all of a sudden this means he will benefit from it the same way that other husbands have.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 01:34 PM

Socrates, at least, appears to have believed that passionate love was a font of justice.

Given that Socrates loved the laws of Athens so much he prefered to accept their unjust decrees rather than escape with Plato from Athens, that's not too surprising. But then again, not many people are able to love greater things than themselves, like Socrates. Most people love themselves and often find it hard to place abstract values over themselves or a person they care about.

So, no, Socrates' idealized form of passionate love does not apply to Michelle or Obama's behavior.

If it did, it might be a different story, but it doesn't.

Yet we have seen that such love does create better men. Certainly, it has made me better

Unless you're willing to psychoanalyze the feelings and emotions and priorities of Obama or Michelle, it is quite unlikely you know what kind of "love" they have for each other. I go by behavior, not the subjective criteria of how much love, what kind of love, or etc..

It is also a false logic to say that because love has made you a better men, that it has or will do the same to Obama on the assumtion that Obama loves his wife the same way that you do yours, Grim. Too many assumptions are here without verified justifications. The logic can be broken in too many places.

This is not war.

War to me is conflict, hot or cold, physical or verbal, legal or illegal, that pits two mutually exclusive sides in a position that cannot be resolved by words or cooperation.

Love, however, is more about cooperation than competition, and thus it values the cooperating partner over the competition since the value of a cooperating partner exceeds the value gained from competing with others.

Given those things to choose from, I don't believe Obama falls in the latter category given his record, choices, morality, and self-chosen ethical standards.

To Michelle, certainly, if not Obama, they are engaged in war and politics are only utilized because it is less expensive and more potentially rewarding than making the war an open and official thing.

Just as America does not declare war on pirates and terrorists, since that would legitimize them and it would of course never end, so is the same with Michelle Obama's deepest philosophical beliefs.

Can we be proud of an enemy in war? Why, of course we can be. Can we utilize their beliefs for our side? That's true too. But it is still a state of war. And even if one side, our side, prefers not to have war, it still doesn't the fact that wars only need one side to start it. If they believe, and they do, that the values of Republicans or political opponents are mutually exclusive with what they see as the "good", then they have no other alternative. Especially since they believe that the system is corrupt, that it favors corporations, Haliburton type big businesses, and plutocrats like Bush. Since the system is corrupt, they need a strong man to come in and change things to make them better. Not all that different from the viewpoint of Russians after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

*Forgot this was in another spot*

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 01:35 PM

"We may nevertheless set aside his objection, and carry on criticizing her anyway. Naturally she deserves what she gets, and of course she can take care of herself."

As John likes to say, we are in violent agreement on this score, but what we don't agree about is why if Michelle should take responsibility for the consequences of her own actions, then how come Obama cannot take responsibility for his own actions towards his wife and the American nation, solely because you say his duty as a husband is to defend his wife?

If Michelle doesn't have an excuse to duck her responsibility for what she caused to occur, not even one link removed from the primary causal event, then why does Obama for his actions simply because he wants to have it both ways as a husband and Presidential contender?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 01:38 PM

Well, I guess that puts Michelle in good company, wouldn't you say Steve?

That's interesting. McCain said that he didn't love and appreciate what he had until he had lost it.

Michelle thought that the first time she was proud of America... was when America gave her husband the possibility of the power of life and death over the poor and other people inferior to her. All 300 million of them.

That was what she was proud of. She wasn't deprived of what she already had. She didn't become poor and then said this is the first time she was proud of America because she realized how much gratitude she owed to America and the white Founding Fathers. She didn't say, she didn't think that.

That doesn't put McCain in Michelle's company at all. And only someone unable to parse logic and the differences in context could think that it is equivalent.


At least, Michelle Obama,... That would be the perfect icing on your myopic, angry, little Republican vanilla *cake*

The way the Left defends people is by tearing others down. The way the Left builds things to the highest height is by first blowing up the creations of those better than they. The way the Left feels pride is by tearing down the traditions, sacrifices, and character of those who have something truly to be proud of.

The jack off fantasies of the Left are not something that is very pleasant to see all in all.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 01:47 PM

Argumentum ad hominem = chumming for Ymar

Posted by: BillT at July 19, 2008 02:19 PM

That's interesting. McCain said that he didn't love and appreciate what he had until he had lost it.

SO, IOW, if McCain hadn't been shot down, and hadn't been held captive as POW, he might never realize he loved America? Now that's interesting explanation with which we can all identify. LOL

Um, how old was he when he was shot down? How long had been wearing the uniform of the United States military?

Nice try, man.

BTW, are you getting paid by the word, or something?

Posted by: Herbie at July 19, 2008 02:30 PM

McCain's quote is just one variation on a theme common to anyone who's been to Third World Garden Spots: "We don't know how well off we are in America until we see it from the outside looking in."

McCain was just looking at it from farther away -- and through bars.

Posted by: BillT at July 19, 2008 02:45 PM

McCain's quote is just one variation on a theme common to anyone who's been to Third World Garden Spots: "We don't know how well off we are in America until we see it from the outside looking in."
Indeed Mr. Bill... You have that dead to right.

Posted by: bthun at July 19, 2008 03:01 PM

Unless you're willing to psychoanalyze...

As I've said before, I'm willing to apply my judgment to human behavior. I'm just not willing to pretend I have a system that offers 'scientific' results.

It's an art, not a science, and that's OK: so is philosophy. The bad thing about psychoanalysis is that it pretends to be something it isn't; and has thereby gained power it doesn't deserve.

War to me is conflict, hot or cold, physical or verbal, legal or illegal, that pits two mutually exclusive sides in a position that cannot be resolved by words or cooperation.

This is an odd disjunct. On the one hand, I've argued at length that society, law, and so forth are all forms of violence -- they rest on police, courts, and other forms of violent coercion. That has consequences, even when "words or cooperation" can resolve difficulties.

On the other, I do draw a distinction between those "forms of violence" and war. The distinction is this: in peace, the only legitimate use of that violence is to maintain the peace against malefactors. In war, you can use violence also to achieve your ends.

Thus, even if I can't ever hope to convince Sen. Obama to compromise with me (and I am not convinced that I can't; the more I see of him, the less I am impressed with the strength of either his mind or his principles, and the easier I think it therefore will be to deal with him), I would not think of taking up arms against him. If this were war, I would not mind in the slightest.

There are good reasons to maintain the distinction.

...then how come Obama cannot take responsibility for his own actions towards his wife and the American nation, solely because you say his duty as a husband is to defend his wife?

"To love virtue and hate vice" is the quote you started with, so I'll return to it for a moment. In marrying, Obama swore an oath to "love, honor, and cherish" -- I presume the words were close to that, in any event.

Is Obama meant to "love the virtue" of Republicans mocking his wife from coast to coast? Or is he meant to love his wife enough to protest?

It seems to me that we can honorably debate whether or not it is a "virtue" to treat Ms. Obama in the precise way she has been treated: personally, I don't see anything wrong with it, but I can imagine that there are people who wouldn't consider it a virtue at all. So, I would say there is room for him to honorably decide not to "love" this particular virtue.

On the other hand, his obligation to love his wife is sworn. There is no room for maneuver. He might express his love differently; another man might show his love by not getting involved, and letting his wife show the world how strong she was.

Another part of the usual marriage oath is to -- "forsake all others in favor of her." So, again, if his words cause problems for everyone else, but are supportive of her... well, that's just what he swore he would do.

I've no brief for the man, and have passed from considering him a virtuous but wrongheaded opponent to considering him a despicable coward. That said, sometimes a man can have just one virtue: but he deserves praise even for that one. If we are to "love virtue," then love this one. Say: "He is wrong about absolutely everything else, but at least he clearly loves and honors his wife."

Posted by: Grim at July 19, 2008 04:28 PM

"He is wrong about absolutely everything else, but at least he clearly loves and honors his wife."

If he does, would he have permitted her to use the campaign podium to make the assertions she did, knowing full well that they -- and she -- would draw fire?

Or did he cynically use her to draw fire so that he could appear gallant in her defense?

Posted by: BillT at July 19, 2008 04:44 PM

Well, maybe he loves her in part because she's such an advantage to him. I don't suppose the marriage vows require every aspect of your love for your partner to be selfless.

Posted by: Grim at July 19, 2008 04:49 PM

*grinnnn*

Posted by: BillT at July 19, 2008 05:06 PM

Well, maybe he loves her in part because she's such an advantage to him. I don't suppose the marriage vows require every aspect of your love for your partner to be selfless.Posted by: Grim at July 19, 2008 04:49 PM

I'm way overdue in saying this Grim but I *heart* you. You have an unique ability to diffuse an argument without resorting to the usual sarcasm or bullying while at the same time encourage your readers to step back and think anew. Even when we disagree. Particuarly when we disagree.

The commenters and posters here could learn a thing or two by adopting your level of measured and thoughtful responses. I know I have from reading yours. Thank you.

Posted by: Ingrid at July 19, 2008 05:56 PM

You're certainly welcome, ma'am. :)

Posted by: Grim at July 19, 2008 06:48 PM

Well, maybe he loves her in part because she's such an advantage to him. I don't suppose the marriage vows require every aspect of your love for your partner to be selfless.

I mentioned amoral familism before, Grim. If you recognize that marriages can be seen and used as convenient business deals or tools for power, then why do you persist in trying to elevate husbands and wives and their duty to each over into some higher and more ideal plane of existence?

But that's theoretical. The real is this. If you recognize the potential deal between Michelle and Obama, but you still persist in arguing that something noble can come from it if they maintain their business mutual interest association at the cost of everybody else, then how does happiness and virtue come from willingly exploiting power over other people? That can never be described as virtue, no matter what the superficials are, for that is a vice. That is an extreme act that tilts things so far outside of moderation, that it allows for a person to even make use of his own loved ones for his own ambition. Virtue would be in reversing this trend. Virtue would be using your power, not to attack or control others like your political opponents by utilizing the media's support of you. Virtue would be using your power to moderate your excesses and the excesses of those that you should be cherishing.

In the end, Obama's actions simply only promote Michelle's sense of invulnerability and excesses. How can that ever be a good thing for a woman you are supposed to love and protect? And how can that be a good thing for your own character and soul, to promote vices in your wife? Vices that will inevitably lead to self-destruction and a Fall.

On the other, I do draw a distinction between those "forms of violence" and war. The distinction is this: in peace, the only legitimate use of that violence is to maintain the peace against malefactors. In war, you can use violence also to achieve your ends.

Which is why many people would be foolish to trade a stable, secure, and prosperous peace for slim pickings from war.

Yet Obama's political connections or philosophy is not an indication that such a trade off, to him, would be foolish.

If he sees it as advantageous to use violence to achieve his ends, or the ends of his political supporters like Ayers, then who are we to disagree with him?

Is Obama meant to "love the virtue" of Republicans mocking his wife from coast to coast? Or is he meant to love his wife enough to protest?

Does protesting also justify lying and committing what would otherwise be a dueling offense in Olden Times? This is rather anachronistic since Michelle seems more like the one that wishes to fight duels or what not, but still. I'm not sure an honorable man or woman can protect the life or character of another or themselves via lying about the basic justifications or truth of the accussations/attacks they are defending against.

I say it doesn't justify it. I say when you conduct such things, you have stepped beyond "protest" and "defense" to an independent attack for your own reasons.

If we are to "love virtue," then love this one.

If I was convinced that his actions were a virtue, then I wouldn't have a problem with that path, Grim. But I am not convinced. And it isn't because of an issue of whether he loves enough or does not love enough or what people deserve or don't deserve. This is not justice, after all, but virtue we are describing. And virtues are a moderated set of behaviors that bring out the best in an individual, since the best is what produces happiness.

Given that I do not see much good in Obama's behavior, even if I am looking at things from his perspective, I cannot really say his actions were virtuous as applied to himself, let alone to anyone else.

Say: "He is wrong about absolutely everything else, but at least he clearly loves and honors his wife."

I don't have enough of a template or knowledge base to analyze his feelings, emotions, and thoughts on these issues. Since I don't know whether he loves her or not, it is rather hard for me to believe that what he did was virtuous given your references to love and marriage vows, Grim.

Aside from Obama's political actions, there is not much personal anecdotal evidence, like from say dinner parties or what not, concerning the going on of the Obama personal house hold. And the media have some very good personal reasons to keep it that way, in addition to Presidential precedent, which was kind of frayed by Bush's treatment in 2003-4.

But of course, my comments about what Obama is doing to promote Michelle's vices, when a husband should be attempting to strenghten his wife, would still apply even if the issue of Obama's love was indisputable.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 10:06 PM

It's an art, not a science, and that's OK: so is philosophy.

Does that mean you are okay with psychoanalysts if they accept the limitations of their art, Grim?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 10:11 PM

Is Obama meant to "love the virtue" of Republicans mocking his wife from coast to coast?

I comprehend why families and tribes don't prefer to accept foreign interference in their business.

Families and tribes are often the best suited to know what the potential solutions are.

However, there is often a need for a third party that isn't beholden to family or tribal ties, if two tribes or family members can't resolve an issue and want a neutral third party arbitrator.

Family ties and prejudices and the insularity that results, while a logical result of human self-survival, often prevents real resolutions from being crafted and sealed.

So, I'm actually arguing that Obama should stand aside while Republicans or what not criticize his wife. It is just that your defense of Obama doesn't make sense given that this issue isn't an internal Obama family matter that Republicans have "butted" in. They made the issue that affected and included Republicans. To then say that all the fault and blame and character villainry is on the Republicans for responding to Michelle's words as if they were something serious politically speaking, is like attacking a village and then telling the envoys from that village that they have "no right to come here and challenge our rights or my duties to my wife or etc."

I've heard of amoral familism and tribal practices that emphasize cohesion and keeping the internal dirty laundry from prying foreigner, and potential threatening, eyes, but this is a bit too much all in all.


It's infuriating, but it's not surprising, because let's face it: What happened was that the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk—went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way...and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans. And I've said this before: I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do it. Because essentially, spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this. They're supporting their spouse. So it took a toll. If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives.

Everybody who knows Michelle knows how extraordinary she is. She's ironically the most quintessentially American woman I know. She grew up in a "Leave it to Beaver" family. She is the best mother I know. And our kids are a testimony to that, because she's really had to raise them, oftentimes without me being there. She's the most honest person I know, she's smart, she's funny, so yeah, it infuriates me. And I think that it is an example of the erosion of civility in our political culture that she's been subjected to these attacks, and my attitude is that the people who have attacked her in the ways that they have...if they've got a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her.

Obama knows exactly the ambiguous and alternative interpretations of his words mean. Your defense of Obama's action, not actions mind you, may apply to when Obama made such glowing praise of his wife... but not much after that or before that, dontcha think.

In a sense, Republicans are already debating Obama when they make ads about Michelle. For if Michelle is Obama's representative... then why should we assume Michelle's opinions are not also her husband's opinions? Obama would not be justified in throwing Michelle under the bus by claiming "Michelle wasn't Michelle I knew", could he, Grim? So he has to defend her, but he didn't defend what she said. Which made him a liar when he said "debate me", cause that's not what he intended nor is that what he plans to do.


Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 10:28 PM

So, I'm actually arguing that Obama should stand aside while Republicans or what not criticize his wife.

That should be, I am not actually arguing.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 10:28 PM

chumming for Ymar

Do you mean "chimming", Bill? ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 19, 2008 10:31 PM

Ymar:

It seems to me that you are raising three separate complaints. You're charging that Obama is engaged in something you're calling "amoral familism," and wondering why -- if I can see it -- I would imagine that something noble might come of it.

The reason is that love of family is not amoral. The argument against nepotism is that it is immoral: but that argument never gets very far, because it runs directly counter to human nature. Of course you want your children to prosper: of course you favor them over other children. You would be a poor parent if you did not.

Just as capitalism benefits society-as-a-whole through the individual pursuing his own interest, so too does love of family -- of wife, in this case -- give rise to many good things. Love of tribe, in places where no other welfare systems exist, takes care of widow and orphan. The tribal virtue of liberality (which Aristotle broke into two virtuese, generosity and magnificence) takes care of the poor.

These are intensely moral systems. You may argue they are immoral, though you will argue directly against human nature if you do; but they are certainly not amoral.

Does that mean you are okay with psychoanalysts if they accept the limitations of their art, Grim?

Absolutely. There's nothing wrong with a person wanting to help other people. So long as it is absolutely voluntary, and they accept that their art should have no place in the law, in courts, in hiring or firing practices, or any of the other formalities it has moved into as 'science' -- I've got no problem with people being psychoanalysts.

If you find it helpful in working out your problems, go to it and good luck. I feel the same way about Feng Shui: it's got quite a history to it, which means that quite a few people have found it helpful over the years. It's just not a science, and we don't strip people of Constitutional rights because of a Feng Shui Master's reading of their Earth energy.

Posted by: Grim at July 19, 2008 10:50 PM

Do you mean "chimming", Bill?

Nope -- I would have capitalized it.

Ever go shark fishing?

Posted by: BillT at July 20, 2008 02:58 AM

The argument against nepotism is that it is immoral: but that argument never gets very far, because it runs directly counter to human nature. Of course you want your children to prosper: of course you favor them over other children.

No, the argument's not that it's immoral, but that it's unethical, in that it gives one's relatives an unfair advantage in what *should* be an objective hiring process. It obviously doesn't apply when you're apprenticing your child to take over the family business, but it obviously *does* apply when your job is in the public sector and the positions for which you are the deciding authority are supposed to be open to all qualified individuals. Now you have an ethical obligation to "the People" that transcends your moral obligation to care for your children.

Posted by: BillT at July 20, 2008 04:14 AM

Love of tribe, in places where no other welfare systems exist, takes care of widow and orphan. The tribal virtue of liberality ... takes care of the poor.

Another term (which Aristotle would have delighted in) for that is "enlightened self-interest" -- if the tribe's male population is reduced through war or some other natural cause, it is in the tribe's interest to care for *all* its members, or the tribe per se will vanish after a single generation because it will not replenish its numbers. Individual bloodlines will continue to exist, but the tribe itself will go extinct unless it adopts outsiders into the tribe.

Posted by: BillT at July 20, 2008 04:38 AM

Quite right.

As for this:

It obviously doesn't apply when you're apprenticing your child to take over the family business, but it obviously *does* apply when your job is in the public sector and the positions for which you are the deciding authority are supposed to be open to all qualified individuals. Now you have an ethical obligation to "the People" that transcends your moral obligation to care for your children.

I'm not sure to what degree people really believe in the ethical obligation to "the People" at the point of the nuclear family. We all got angry with Bush when he put Harriet Miers or Julie Myers up for offices they clearly didn't deserve, due to their crony-like connections to him personally.

On the other hand, when George Herbert Walker Bush helped his son line up to run for President, the outrage was hardly insufficient to keep him from winning. Or getting re-elected. A few people made snide remarks about it, but it affected the outcome of the election in no serious way: although it's really the core fact about the reason GWB became president, or was ever in a position to become president.

I think the ethical objection kicks in when people push out to levels beyond what Americans have come to feel is 'real' family. We idealize the nuclear family, and so for us, it's OK to look after a son (even for a public job, even President), or a daughter, or a wife; but not for a cousin or the daughter of a friend.

So: yes, there's a sense that hiring processes should be fair and disinterested. However, there's also a strong sense that it's perfectly OK to look after at least your nuclear family. In the tribal areas of the world, that sense extends beyond the nuclear family because they think of "family" in a broader way.

To digress a moment: that's one reason the debates we're having as a society about the family are important. If people think the governor gave a fat contract to his gay lover, that's a serious matter that may result in the governor stepping down; but if it was to his "husband," well, who would he trust more to execute the contract in good faith?

Meanwhile, statists have a strong interest -- as Marxist practitioners have always understood -- in undermining the sense that the family is a legitimate source of authority and support. The sense that you owe something to "the People" isn't always employed for healthy purposes: the family serves as a strong check on the worst impulses of tyrants of many ideological stripes, but especially statism. That is another way that the special love of man for wife, or parent for child, protects the basic moral foundations.

Posted by: Grim at July 20, 2008 09:04 AM

That is another way that the special love of man for wife, or parent for child, protects the basic moral foundations.

Absolutely. The kicker comes when Father (or Mother) hires one of the progeny for a *public service* job if said progeny is either unqualified for it or said progeny was given the nod over another who was better-qualified to do it. In the same vein, a governor giving a no-bid contract to a POTSOOSSLQ is, at the very least, giving the *appearance* of impropriety or showing favoritism -- and if the POTSOOSSLQ is unqualified or inexperienced in contractual obligations, it compounds the issue, even if the gov's POTSOOSSLQ had the best intentions in the world of executing it properly. In either of those instances, society's moral foundation is undercut, not protected.

In the tribal areas of the world, that sense extends beyond the nuclear family because they think of "family" in a broader way.

Boy, do they ever. I'm still trying to sort out how being the second cousin to the brother-in-law of the sister's oldest great-nephew's step-mother etc...

Posted by: BillT at July 20, 2008 09:50 AM

*waiting patiently for Cassie to finish chewing her nails over the meaning of POTSOOSSLQ and threaten to wring my scrawny ne*

*awk!*

*coff!* *a-huk!*

Posted by: BillT at July 20, 2008 09:55 AM

In either of those instances, society's moral foundation is undercut, not protected.

As it is if, say, a Senator's wife is suddenly given a massive raise, and shortly thereafter the public institution that employs her gets a huge cash payment from public monies administered by the Congress.

It's just another area -- like capitalism, which usually works to the public good, but requires some laws to enforce contracts -- where we are better to have a few spheres of power in competition, rather than one power with mastery. That's why I say: let the Senator defend his wife as a husband; and yet we can still critique her statements as citizens. That way, we honor both functions, and preserve the best qualities of both. The husband is free to love and cherish one above all; the citizen is free to criticize foolish statements made in the course of a political campaign.

Posted by: Grim at July 20, 2008 12:39 PM

The reason is that love of family is not amoral.

It seems to me that you are raising three separate complaints.

Everytime I respond or divert to a new argument when replying to a comment that I bolded from you, they tend to be independent of each other. Even though the themes might inter-mesh in some fashion with what I have said before. They go different ways depending on which arguments you have presented, so the branching tries specifically to address the issues you have raised or have framed or reframed.

As for love of family, amoral familism is the type of family behavior that conducts itself according to something akin to Godfather or Mafia esque beliefs. In which the primary goal in life, the primary and maximum good in life, is the economic prosperity of the family. All else is secondary for money brings in the best and the max happiness.

Tribal families can be tribal, but not necessarily amoral in this fashion. Amoral means that this family believes in nothing else but their own wealth, regardless of who has to die or suffer in the process, so long as they are not family, then it is okay and justified.

For Obama, it doesn't have to be particularly limited to wealth, since power accomplishes the same ends and more so in fact.

I bring that subject up because amoral familism uses what would otherwise be virtues of loyalty, honor, or duty to family members and makes it into something rather horrible to behold. Which is central to one of the other arguments I have presented.

The argument against nepotism is that it is immoral: but that argument never gets very far

Many tribes in Arabia or Africa are nepotistic in one fashion or another. Especially royal or leadership lines. But, I wouldn't have called it amoral familism if nepotism was what I was warning against. Simply because nepotism is not inherently amoral. It may not be moral all the time, but it also isn't amoral all the time.

So long as it is absolutely voluntary, and they accept that their art should have no place in the law, in courts, in hiring or firing practices, or any of the other formalities it has moved into as 'science' --

Concerning this separate issue, what do you see for the psychologist's book that describes the various objective traits concerning mental illnesses then, like schizophrenic paranoia or various other things like PTSD? They are, essentially, labeled and advertised as mental diseases that have objective critieria for diagnosis.

While I don't like the government deciding things for an individual solely because they don't like the way they think or behave, it is still true that for large segments of America's population, releasing mentally ill patients into the populace solely because the funny farms were deemed ineffficient or cruel by the government, has had a rather negative effect on society's general health and welfare.

I think the ethical objection kicks in when people push out to levels beyond what Americans have come to feel is 'real' family. We idealize the nuclear family, and so for us, it's OK to look after a son (even for a public job, even President), or a daughter, or a wife; but not for a cousin or the daughter of a friend.

And that can be said to be more twisted, in a sense, than even the original tribalism of humanity.

that's a serious matter that may result in the governor stepping down; but if it was to his "husband," well, who would he trust more to execute the contract in good faith?

The problem with that is that justice and civilization requires a person's horizons and filia love to extend beyond and to more people. 300 million is a lot of people but they are still united by a derivation of filia love, patriotism for their nation and country. What you have described, Grim, is a shrinking down of people's horizons to a smaller subset than even a tribal family.

That's really not a good thing in the long term, even if it might work a few instances for certain select individuals at times.

That is another way that the special love of man for wife, or parent for child, protects the basic moral foundations.

That would be true if a man is treating strangers, just because they are Americans, with the same kind of kindness that he treats his family with. It doesn't have to be the same kind of thing to the same degree, but it still has to be the same kind. Meaning, love your son more than love your cousin, but regardless, it is still love.

If that kind of love is extended and spread across a nation or a geographic polity, then good things can result. But that's not what is happening. People are becoming more insular. They prefer to give special treatment to people they know, while exploiting people that they don't. Obama's support of Ayers and Reza's cruel land lordism is only two incidences of such.

The husband is free to love and cherish one above all; the citizen is free to criticize foolish statements made in the course of a political campaign.

That puts us in a catch 22, when you phrase it like that. For how can we honor Obama's wishes or actions, when we are violating both the letter and spirit of what he wants us to do?

That makes no sense. If we are to ignore Obama and continue to talk about Michelle's actions or words, then how much value are we really placing on Obama's "good" actions? If we think it is good, are we not beholden to the concept of the beautiful to preserve or respect or obey such models of virtuous behavior?

After all, we cannot pay our respects to Obama by saying we think it is a noble or virtuous thing he has done to defend his wife, then continue to tear her political positions to pieces in contravention of Obama's public commands. That's a bit too much, don't you think.


Bill,

That makes much more sense now.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 20, 2008 01:11 PM

No doubt she's no victim: she's one of the most successful people on the planet, as judged by personal wealth, social status, salary (did you see the size of the raise you get when your husband becomes a Senator? Wow!)

One of the primary or fundamental reasons why I made a big bone about disagreeing with what you said vis a vis Obama's actions is that if I accepted the validity of your arguments, I would also have to accept the validity of Obama's defense of his wife.

Obama would, via the ways you have framed things, Grim, be beholden to defend his wife against such charges. I cannot both make such charges, concerning Michelle and what not, and also publicly declare that Obama's words and such are valid and noble and virtuous. These things are mutually exclusive to me.

Since Obama says she is a victim, in one fashion or another, and I say she isn't... we are at an empasse, for I cannot recognize Obama's "virtues" while at the same time calling him a liar for "lying" is only a virtue if honesty would result in bad things happening.

Would bad things truly happen if Obama defended his wife on her own merits instead of make believe illusion, especially the illusion that was crafted from his own actions towards her salary and what not?

If I debate Obama directly, as he would like, then I couldn't bring up Michelle's relationship and benefits because that would "make his wife a primary issue for (rest was garbled by Obama's eloquence)".

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 20, 2008 01:24 PM

SO, IOW, if McCain hadn't been shot down, and hadn't been held captive as POW, he might never realize he loved America?

Love comes from cherishing and valuing something more than your own life or happiness.

When you live in America's bosom and all anybody ever talks about is your happiness and welfare.... then yes, you will often go through your entire life without loving America.

Nice try, man.

I never try in such affairs. I strike, and successfully at that.

Indeed Mr. Bill... You have that dead to right.

Bill has a lot of things dead to right. Hopefully they will never realize it in time.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 20, 2008 01:58 PM

Look. Ms. O is the distaff side of the house. She is there to speak to 'us,' the homemakers and career women who severed the chains to our EZ Bake ovens. Or who are still bound and gagged by family ties.

Now, as the candidate's wife, she is all of a sudden untouchable? Hillary Clinton said a couple of times that if her husband was elected, she was going to be a co-president, that the American people were getting a 'two-fer' 'blue plate special.' In my book that made her fair game for any issue or platform she had in her part of her husband's campaign.

Then she insulted my choice to stay home and raise my family by fobbing her nasty recipes off on to a still unsuspecting public.

The Clintons portrayed themselves as moderates and that bait-and-switch worked; I think the Obama campaign is hoping for no less than that.

Which is why Michelle is off limits. Of course her husband has to be prepared to debate the issues FORMALLY in that venue, but when little Michelle opens her mouth, it is somehow wrong for her to be challenged on what she says?

Sorry. Politics is dirty business and it is open season on them, especially if she takes her husband's stand and preaches his gospel.

But that is me and I hear the light bulb in my oven going off.

*trips over a cat*

Posted by: Cricket at July 20, 2008 02:53 PM

As for love of family, amoral familism is the type of family behavior that conducts itself according to something akin to Godfather or Mafia-esque beliefs...

I understood what you meant by it. My point is that you're wrong to think of it as "amoral." It is, rather, an alternative morality -- an older one, in fact, a fully formed and functional one. It has understood duties, obligations, codes of honor and of shame, values, vices, rewards and punishments. In some ways it is directly opposed to American-style legalist approaches to justice, loyalty, and problem-solving (though I am no fan of his, Jonah Goldberg did once write a good piece on this topic -- skip to "Paul Rahe" and go from there).

It is certainly not amoral, however, and that misunderstanding has consequences. I've heard a number of military officers, even generals, liken Iraqi tribal society to the mafia. If you mean that they have their own sense of morality, right and wrong, and you'd better understand it and how to work with it, that's right. If you mean they're amoral, you're so wrong that you're going to wreck what you are supposed to be fixing.

The military obviously got it, of course; the military itself has a culture of honor that allows them some insight to the older forms, and some experience living in two worlds with two different values systems (military honor v. civilian American... er, self-interest and legalism).

It's important -- given your self-proclaimed interest in being able to see into other people's heads -- that you also understand the distinction. This is not amorality. It is a fully-formed morality. It just isn't ours; but we can, and in many cases have to, work with it.

Posted by: Grim at July 20, 2008 05:37 PM

One of the primary or fundamental reasons why I made a big bone about disagreeing with what you said vis a vis Obama's actions is that if I accepted the validity of your arguments, I would also have to accept the validity of Obama's defense of his wife.

No, you don't. You have only to accept that he has a right to defend her. You're free to continue to criticize her. It would take this form:

"I am impressed by the Senator's spirited and noble defense of his wife. He clearly loves her, and I respect that and think it is a noble thing. However, because it made the papers and therefore entered the public debate, I do feel that we must address her comment that..."

In this way, you can do honor to both of the questions: the importance and worthiness of the family as an alternative source of loyalty and ethics; but also a citizen's duty and right to free debate on political questions.

Posted by: Grim at July 20, 2008 05:40 PM

It's important -- given your self-proclaimed interest in being able to see into other people's heads -- that you also understand the distinction. This is not amorality. It is a fully-formed morality. It just isn't ours; but we can, and in many cases have to, work with it.

I have already made the distinction. You simply will not accept that amoral familism and tribalism are not always the same thing as I have described.

Thus when I speak of amoral familism, you directly go towards Iraqi tribalism to defend it. But not all issues of a tribe, Iraqi or not, requires amoral familism to work or even survive.

Morality, right and wrong as pertaining to you or your loved ones, is often more of a relativistic framework than ethics, which focuses more on the ideal and the objective. The things that always work, rather than the things that only sometimes work for particular individuals in particular situations.

In a society or climate that Iraq is in, where everyone acts the way they do, tribalism makes sense.

In a society and civilization like the United States, where most people do not act as if the best interests of their family requires the sacrifice of other people's lives and the inflicting of agony on them in order to please and reassure their loved ones, then you're amoral if you apply such practices that might be justified in Iraq, where everyone does it, to America, where almost nobody does it (at least not openly or legally). You don't need them here in America. So either you are amoral, because you don't care about our standards or about the best solution for your family, or you are immoral. You are purposefully choosing wrong moral standards and engaging in jihad and mass murder in America in the name of what is "right" to your standards.

I've heard a number of military officers, even generals, liken Iraqi tribal society to the mafia.

The last time I checked, we are speaking of Obama in America, not the Iraqis in Iraq. That fundamental difference has more ramifications than you may suspect.

Morality is all about choices and alternatives. If you have no choice except this one, then doing it is not evil, it is just the lesser evil, or the "right" thing to do. Often a person never has just one choice, but they always have one choice that is better than the others. Not the perfect thing to do or choose, but the right choice to make because it is the only feasible choice available.

If you have no such alternatives in Iraq, then you become justified or "moral" when you act to save your family by acting as your enemies do. You preserve your family in the way you do because other people will preserve their families and leave yours to rot. Thus justifying and requiring you to do the same thing, if you wish to survive. (it may even be termed ethical or at least not unethical, since ethics deals with free will and if you don't have the free will to choose what is ethical... then it is cannot be said that you did the ethically wrong thing, if your free will was not your own)

But, when someone comes in and offers you an alternative, and you refuse to choose it, then you are immoral if that alternative is better. You made things worse for your family because you refused to do the right thing, for whatever reasons.

Amoral means you don't even care about right or wrong. You don't even care that the actions you are doing is harming or benefiting people, not even whether it is rewarding to your blood relatives or not. I'll address why loyalty to blood relatives as a moral standard doesn't apply to Obama later.

A moral person, when given a better alternative that doesn't have to sacrifice others or make war on others or to hurt others in order to survive, would take it, Grim.

(A moral person with the right ethical values, that is),

Ethics may speak of the "ideal" or the objective, but the subjective situation of many Iraqis were predicated upon survival, pure and simple, not ideals.

Both immoral and amoral people would refuse to take the better alternative. The immoral person because he just can't stop hurting other people or doing the wrong things, since he has taken a liking to doing the wrong things. He has fallen into vice and evil, and has adopted the morality of such a one. He truly believes he is dong what is right by doing evil. Amoral people don't particularly care what alternatives are available, so long as they don't get caught and so forth.

Serial killers are amoral. Regardless of what society has given them, regardless of what opportunities their family members were provided with, they do what they want to do without regard for other people or their "laws". A serial killers can be a compassionate and helping neighbor and midnight stalker and killer all in the same day. Why? Cause he doesn't really care about morality. He can even have a family, but that wouldn't change anything.

Even the immoral person is doing what he sees as the right thing because of a greater/different societal or cultural network. He may choose to refuse the Coalition's better alternative in the belief that the "old ways" are the best ways. He may be unethical to do so, since it will eventually hurt his own people, but such a person still recognizes the concept and limitations of morality and standards and boundaries.

Amoral people couldn't care less about boundaries other people put on them. They don't work like that. It's not a matter of survival, it's not a matter of living it good or living it badly, it's just a matter of whim. Of preference, of doing what they want to do. And in the case of amoral familism, what they want to do is to usually get rich.

You, Grim, say that this love of family and the need to wish them a good life is a fundamental aspect of human nature and morality.

But morality isn't about love, it's about choices. It's about, when faced with a decision to do two or more things, whether you choose the right decision or the wrong decision or whether you just don't care so long as the immediate results benefit what you want to benefit.

I would never call honor killings "amoral". They are in fact, a result of society's moral teachings. Their society, yes, which means it is immoral to us and moral to them. Relative frameworks, even if on the ethical standard, honor killings are always wrong.

Given Obama's ability to change things to whatever suits his purposes, you, Grim, will have a hard time arguing for how Obama's family obeys moral values, that they even have moral values of their own.

Talking about Iraqis and their behavior, their vices or virtues, will not justify Obama's behavior. That will never happen, Grim. The only thing that matters is whether Obama obeys the morality of America. If he does not, then he is either immoral or amoral. And given his preference to change positions on whatever he feels the need to, I say it's amoral, not immoral.

Given the Left's focus on multiculturalism and the fake liberal's belief that we do not owe loyalty or love to the nation that succored and protected us, amorality is becoming easier and easier to adopt these days.

My point is that you're wrong to think of it as "amoral." It is, rather, an alternative morality -- an older one, in fact, a fully formed and functional one.

When Al Anbar got tired of killing Americans and being killed by their so called 'liberators', what choice did they make for the best interests of their family, even if it meant giving up their own lives and the lives of their sons?

Obama would have made a different choice, depending on his whims, or he would have made the same choice, depending on his whims. Would he have cared what the consequences of his actions were, so long as it was what he wanted? I do not believe he would have cared.

The ultimate damning admission for this situation would be admitting that Iraqi tribes are more moral and even more ethical than our own politicians, especially one politician.

The reasons why Obama, at the least, if not his family, is amoral are two fold.

One, he was given a choice that allowed him to prosper and survive and reap many benefits without resorting to exploiting others. He chose to continue exploiting people with less power and wealth than him.

Two, for Obama to be immoral, he would have to value some kind of ethical or personal standard/framework from which to decide things, if only to violate other people's morality. Obama obviously doesn't value American society's standards. So that leaves personal standards or philosophies. Given the person we are talking about is Obama, 'personal standards' are rather rare if not totally non-existent to begin with. Fake liberal multiculturalism and moral relativism, that there is no right and wrong in the world, supports amoralism. Since moral relativism doesn't apply to itself, what you get is a "morality" that consists of "whatever you want it to consist of". So Obama's not immoral or moral, by any standard of morality, even filial love ones.

There are more examples I could provide or illustrate, but that should be enough for now.

that you also understand the distinction.

There are always more I could provide if you wish to challenge that distinction.

He has a right to defend her. He just doesn't have a right to lie about it, or to sacrifice other people so he could 'defend' her actions.

Rights should be about personal liberty aspects, not about you have the right to use power to strip other people of their rights. Nor does it mean that just because you have the right to defend someone, that it means you are allowed to just unjust means to do so.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 20, 2008 07:14 PM

...then you're amoral if you apply such practices...

No, you're not. You might be immoral. The tribal is certainly not amoral -- as, for example, a movie star might be, one who is simply not interested in questions of right or wrong. Tribal cultures (Iraqi or otherwise) have keen ideas about right and wrong, honor and shame, and are highly interested in them.

Amoral is not a code word. It doesn't mean "someone who doesn't agree with the usual morality." It means only "someone who doesn't believe in morality exists." There are amoral actors in the world -- and especially in the prosperous parts of the world -- but the family-oriented and tribal actors are not among them. They are of a different morality, not amoral. In America, you may wish to argue that their morality is in some sense immoral because it doesn't comply with the mores of the culture. It is still, though, not amorality.

As for Obama, American society includes a large place for the family as a source of authority. This is a highly valuable fortification against statism, and one that is under a great deal of pressure from what is commonly called the Nanny State.

If anything, we should try to buttress such alternative sources to authority. The last thing we want is the state to lay claim to being the sole authority for "what is best for you," or even, "for the children," or "for the ill," or "for the old." Nothing good lies that way.

Two, for Obama to be immoral, he would have to value some kind of ethical or personal standard/framework from which to decide things, if only to violate other people's morality. Obama obviously doesn't value American society's standards. So that leaves personal standards or philosophies. Given the person we are talking about is Obama, 'personal standards' are rather rare if not totally non-existent to begin with. Fake liberal multiculturalism and moral relativism, that there is no right and wrong in the world, supports amoralism.

OK; If your only point is that you think Obama personally is amoral, that's fine. I was under the impression that you were trying to define a category for philosophical purposes: "Amoral tribalism" or "amoral familism."

Amorality is amorality. It is a moral philosophy of a sort, but because its only tenet is that there can be no other moral tenets, it does not admit to division or modification. "Amoral tribalism" is an oxymoron, because it includes both "has no moral structure" and then a term that denotes a moral structure.

Posted by: Grim at July 20, 2008 08:14 PM

Amoral tribalism" is an oxymoron

Indeed it is an oxymoron, which is why I used amoral familism, since what I was dealing with was what I saw as amoral actions framed in a family setting by you.

To literally mean that they are being amoral while pursuing what you see as their family duties.

Whether they contradict each other may not even be material, given that human beings can have contradictory behavior if they wish to.

Obama is perfectly capable of conducting family matters via some kind of moral standard and he's also capable of being amoral. Those things are not mutually exclusive to me. I say that you cannot be immoral and amoral at the same time, concerning the same subject. That's true at least. No one incident in time and space can be the same without overlapping it each other.

Since morality is rather relative in the first place, a person that can choose to discard morality if it fits him, can do so when it suits him. And then take it back up again, when it is convenient. I don't say that's impossible, nor do I say that that's one way or another.

The tribal is certainly not amoral -- as, for example, a movie star might be, one who is simply not interested in questions of right or wrong.

Obama is not a tribe. At best, he is a nuclear family.

Why you are conflating the two as if they are the same thing being talked about at the same time, is unclear to me.

Amoral is not a code word. It doesn't mean "someone who doesn't agree with the usual morality."

I have already explained why moral and immoral are relative standards of right and wrong to me, depending on culture and what not. How can you have missed that?

There is no point in taking up space arguing about something that we don't disagree on. What is the benefit of that?

If anything, we should try to buttress such alternative sources to authority.

Obama's family virtues or lack there of will not buttress anti-statist factions if he becomes President, Grim. This is rather irrelevant.

The same principle has always applied. What is true for you, definitely, and what is true for other families, does not make Obama the same as you all logically speaking. You have to provide something a bit more.

Goering had a family he doted on, but that didn't prevent him from excesses of a bad kind. If I were to make an apples to oranges comparison about him, it would not work. And it should not work.

Whether Obama is a Goering or not is also immaterial, for Obama is Obama, you is you, and Goering is Goering and none of them, just because A is A, means Obama's situation is theirs as well.

I don't say it is impossible, I do say your logic is implausible, however.

"Amoral tribalism" is an oxymoron, because it includes both "has no moral structure" and then a term that denotes a moral structure.

Since the quality of being amoral is neither immorality or morality, since morality and immorality both requires stable or at least consistent moral standards of one sort or another, then does being amoral mean you must never hold to somebody's moral standards?

Regardless of whether amoral familism is an oxymoron or not, the reality is that amoral people can be whatever they want to be. Good, bad, evil. It doesn't particularly matter, if they find that it suits them. That is what amorality provides, freedom. Freedom to never be beholden to a single moral standard, not unless you wished to.

The reason why amoral familism exists is because it is a paradox, but it is a paradox that works. Amoral people just don't go through life not adhering to any morals. What they do is just pick them up one by one if it suits and then discards them, if it suits them. Multiculturailsm and moral relativism justifies this with its own particular brand of "relativity".

If an amoral person wished to benefit his family, at this particular time, does that make him moral? No. Because He can ditch his family, if it suits him, and he can ditch his Pastor, who he saw as part of the family, when it suits him. And he did. And he will, when it suits him.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 20, 2008 11:47 PM

Hey Cass, nice blog. I love the name as well as the graphic.

Ymarsakar, I used to think that Grim was wordy, but I now feel like I'm in the presence of periphrastic royalty!

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 21, 2008 01:50 AM

Grim prefers to focus on a limited number of subjects, namely 2 to 5, although five is rather rare and I've never seen it actually happen.

I prefer a more thorough presentation on issues, but even when that is limited by a high precision in the person's response to me, I can and will still launch off a basic issue and go elsewhere with it.

For example, what might appear as 3 different issues or 5 different issues is actually just one or two issues that was multiplied fractally.

Amoral familism may seem like an entirely different issue I was bringing up, but in the end, it is simply the same issue concerning Obama's actions concerning his wife.

I don't prefer to speak or write on more than 3 separate topics, either. But, I do prefer to branch out from a basic foundation and then collapse it all into a singular subject. Not often possible, but certainly ideal.

Various articles of Grim's concerning, say, "On the Virtues of Killing Children" seemed unnecessarily harsh to people or they had questions or they were wondering about certain aspects. To me, it was crystal clear. It was just one issue, reflected or projected through fractal means, and then collapsed down into a conclusion that was inherently present at the beginning. The title said it all, the rest was just clarification and illustrations to get people to think in the correct fashion.

Whether this is because it's an issue I've dealt with concerning civilian deaths or what not, shouldn't have mattered, since people reading Blackfive already should have considered the issue of civilian casualties and ROE restrictions and their effects over these long years.
**************
The only alternative to correcting misunderstandings that exist, if you don't prefer the use of words, Jeffrey, is violence. That or arbitrary decisions imposed by a superior in the chain of command or a social hierarchy.

Btw, Grim, I said I would search for your posts about psychologists and I did, but your site is not exactly search friendly and I couldn't really find anything via google either.

These issues, whether of psychoanalysis or what not, is going to come up sometime in the future one way or another. Might as well take care of them now. That's a reference to Jeffrey, not you, Grim.

Cassandra prefers not to continue these arguments for too long. My preferences are slightly different, though I cannot say much what Grim's preferences are.

I can say that these involved deliberations are sometimes fatigue inducing and they do take time, in one fashion or another. But they are also very challenging and takes a lot of thought, much like chess, and you will always carry the conclusions and the improvements in your thought with you for the rest of your life. Assuming you don't go senile or have Alzheimer's.

Since I am not all that intensely emotionally involved in winning or losing such arguments, it is hard for me to take personal offense at the arguments Grim has made. This extends the time of endurance for these talks of ours, which, like all things, must end sooner or later. I like winning as much as any other person, but sharpening your ability to think will ensure more victories and enlightenment in the future than taking a short cut now.

Grim's very sharp, and he catches flaws that many others would not. By the time we had switched to morality and its standards, I had already perceived that "amoral familism" had an internal contradiction or oxymoronic trait within it, which could be exploited to weaken my arguments in one fashion or another. Most people would never have seen it, but Grim did it.

It feels different to analyze issues with an individual that can notice such things even as I start to notice them. It's much different than arguing with a Leftist or even a Democrat. Although technically Grim still calls himself a Democrat.

While Grim and I do not disagree about any core fundamentals, we often divide on the details or the devils in the details.

And if you're wondering how I branched out unto this subject from your words concerning periphrastic, then simply read what I said at the beginning of this comment. It is all of one piece, in one fashion or another, at the end of it all.


Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 21, 2008 03:20 AM

It's true that I'm a writer whose chief editing involves removing unnecessary words. Naturally, with blogging, you don't get the benefit of much editing. :)

That's another reason to do it under a pen name. If I had to put my own name to it, I'd want to edit things thoroughly; run them by friends and trusted thinkers for comments and feedback; and only then publish them.

Well, this way I can just throw things out there, and I get the feedback from folks who are interested. You do have to suffer the wordiness, though. Well, you don't really: you could go do something else with your time. :)

Posted by: Grim at July 21, 2008 04:44 AM

The reason I prefer to limit the number of issues in contention at once is to be thorough. If we take on one issue and work it through carefully, we can dispose of it and then move on to the next. We'll get through each in turn.

If you raise ten at once, the formatting makes it impossible to keep the discussion straight. The only means of organizing the discussion we have are things like the bold tag; but if you have two objections to my one comment, that's two bold tags; and if I respond to both of them, and you raise two objections, four the next time; and so forth.

It's very easy for things to get lost in the cloud of text. :)

...I saw as amoral actions framed in a family setting by you.

See, I was reading your "amoral *-ism" in the way that "-ism" is commonly used: to connote a school of philosophy ("Marxism," etc). What you apparently meant to say was something like, 'I don't think he's being moral according to family mores; I think he's an amoral actor who is hiding behind them.'

That's a more sensible proposition. I don't think I agree: Obama seems genuinely to value his wife and children. I am not sure if he has any other firm moral center, but I don't think he is amoral toward his wife.

Of course, I've been wrong about Obama before; I took him at his word when he said he could never disown his old teacher the Rev. Mr. Wright, or his church. Obviously he could do both. Therefore, I conceed the possibility that he is amoral even here: but I don't in fact believe that to be the case.

Obama's family virtues or lack there of will not buttress anti-statist factions if he becomes President, Grim. This is rather irrelevant.

No, it isn't. This is like the example of 'giving the Devil the benefit of the law' from A Man For All Seasons. If you want to buttress the authority of the family, you have to honor actions taken out of that authority.

If you cut down the right of a husband to defend his family to get at Obama, the right won't be there to defend the next man. If we believe that husbands ought to be free to defend their wives -- even when it puts the wife's interests ahead of others' -- then we must accord that to Obama as well as other husbands.

Whether or not he is elected, that will buttress the authority of the family. It sets a good precedent, as Cassandra would say; and it shows that the value is genuine, because you will accord it even when it is against your interests. A value accorded only to your allies, or when convenient, is no value at all.

Posted by: Grim at July 21, 2008 05:00 AM

If I had to put my own name to it, I'd want to edit things thoroughly; run them by friends and trusted thinkers for comments and feedback...

I do and I do -- then I post, because that's how I get comments and feedback, usually in the form of questions. That said, I don't write Think Pieces (they're technically Oral History) but they're independently verifiable, and I write with a view more toward making the story interesting as well as instructive.

If one of them triggers a discussion, that's a plus.

Posted by: BillT at July 21, 2008 05:15 AM

If you want to buttress the authority of the family, you have to honor actions taken out of that authority.

Going back to the original source of things, that just means you take a public stand, mouth some pleasantries, whether you mean it or not, and then just follow the form of things according to public sentiment or a code of honor or both.

And by form, I mean the section you wrote about how to appreciate Obama's actions towards his wife in the face of public criticism while at the same time speaking more of such criticism.

I perfectly understand that if you demand that people sacrifice their family interests or lives for the "greater good", i.e. your good, that this destroys the fundamental basis of a society, the family.

I also understand that this is no justification for acting out or acting wrongly. And while you can and should defend your family, there are limitations you should adhere to. And if you don't adhere to those limitations, then how exactly are you going to conduct real defense.

Real defense ideally consists of the truth. And while Obama certainly would like to say the truth about his wife, that has nothing particularly to do with defending his wife from political criticism. Since Michelle Obama's character, good or bad, doesn't particularly make her political views necessarily good or bad. Defending her character, saying she is a good mother or wife, is one thing. I can tolerate such things for the reasons you have described, Grim, regardless of whether I disagree with the factual nature of any such defense.

But, and there is always a but, when people start making stuff up and start calling their actions 'defense', I can't tolerate such things. And if I can't tolerate it, I can't mouth the usual pleasantries, follow the formalities, and let things go as they currently stand.

As for the subject of thoroughness, I prefer to think you focus on specialization and focusing. It's slightly different than the way I use the word "thorough". To me, that means exploring every avenue or crevice available, or at least every course that inspires a need to seek it out.

It's a difference between a plan and an impulsive act. THe difference between rigid structure and flexible adaptation.

Like Neo-Neocon, you might prefer to plan things out ahead of time, such as what you wish to write if only as a topic, and then you start writing it with perhaps a specific conclusion in mind. For me, I don't have plans for what I am ultimately going to write. Either I am inspired to write something via the muse or I am not. There is no inbetween and if I wait for the muse to go away, it won't usually ever come back on the same subject.

I can still revise and revision still improves my meaning and clarity of my words, but it's not something I prioritize. I'd rather put higher priority on getting things right, the first time, since usually that's the only time.

Neo-Neocon writes her posts in segments. I could never do. By the time I'm on the second attempt, I'd have forgotten what I was going to write and lost all interest.

So, given such aspects, I see thoroughness as taking the subject I am given or the subject I am specifically reacting to, and exploring the branch offs derived from that subject.

Arguments in the written form have allowed me to learn to ignore extraneous things, but my natural instinct was to always respond to them, line by line.

John of Arrrggg kind of found that out the 'surprise' way when I mirrored his sentiments on Air Power vs COIN. I mirrored his comments by saying the same thing he said more or less, except I had stopped reading about a paragraph or two before he actually wrote it down.

I'll whittle down subjects that I'll respond to if I see that my responses, after the fact, are leading to nowhere particular. Particularly cohesive that is. But that's usually after the fact.

Before the fact, I'll pick something and see where it leads me. Usually it surprises me as much as anyone else.

I took him at his word when he said he could never disown his old teacher the Rev. Mr. Wright, or his church.

I'm not sure whether Obama thought he did disown his old teacher. I mean, words have different meanings to different people, and people like Obama almost has a different dictionary than the rest of us. (People take words differently because the brain hears what it wants to hear or expects to hear. Not exactly the same thing as what the words were supposed to mean.)

Part of the appeal of multiculturalism and moral relativism, which says that all cultures are equal thus you don't particularly have to be beholden to any one nation, culture, or societal standard for behavior, is that if the real world has some bad things in it, multiculturalism allows you to get rid of it: superficially, at least.

Don't like a particular moral standard? Well, all standards are even, so that means you don't have to worry about it, either way. You don't have to follow it if it doesn't suit you and you don't have to pay attention to it forever if it does suit you. In that kind of thinking, words also change their meanings, for if you can't change reality by wishes, you certainly can affect reality by changing the meaning of words.

Words may not have a physical impact or existence, but the humans that make, create, and utter them, do.

I don't think he's being moral according to family mores; I think he's an amoral actor who is hiding behind them.'

Well, that is what I tried to hint at with my narration of morality vs immorality, after all ; )

To communicate what I meant or saw as amoral, I had to also define moral and immoral.

Therefore, I conceed the possibility that he is amoral even here: but I don't in fact believe that to be the case.

Given that information on Obama's personality and real values are hidden, if only because obama's never been really tested like George Bush or McCain, there's still enough room for new information to change people's views. Whether yours or mine.

People can always argue about what people feel or thought or planned to do about Oil for Food or Blood for Oil or whatever. What people can never justifiably argue about is what people have done. Oh, they can try, but it doesn't work nearly as well. Once a person does something, causality kind of demands that the consequences and the record be etched in eternal history. Look at Blood for Oil compared to Oil for Food. The former was not done but the latter was. Yet which one got the more arguments about? The one that wasn't done by evil for evil.

If I had to put my own name to it, I'd want to edit things thoroughly; run them by friends and trusted thinkers for comments and feedback; and only then publish them.

The editing process for books is always fascinating.

As for other people's qualities, I've always believed that if you just let them be themselves, they will show you what they are through words or deeds. Probe them if you must, to answer a specific question or contention, but usually people will just outright tell you what they want.

And a person can show much by what they ask for. Just as much as by what they don't ask for. Just like Cass mentioned that you wouldn't believe the number of people that have commented about VC's header ; ) And perhaps even requests as for its origin, as I believe Cass once mentioned, if only indirectly.

If one of them triggers a discussion, that's a plus.

Like that 'discussion' over at John's place concerning the sufficient use of Air Power? ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 21, 2008 06:43 AM

Actually, the article was a thinly disguised paean to Air Power -- it went down the "Air Power defeated the Serbian Army in Kosovo!" rabbit hole, but with ME terminology.

The "discussion" ran more toward the view of UAVs as Transcendental Observer cum Omniscient Sniper, but ry's function was to keep the comments rolling in that instance, not to work toward an eventual resolution. He did a pretty good job of tap-dancing, too...

Posted by: BillT at July 21, 2008 07:35 AM

.... Just to summarize up to this point;

The VRC has determined that Michelle will not be left alone as long as she stands before microphones, news widgets, crowds - nae throngs of swooning progressives -foreign or domestic- and makes controversial statements.

Further, BO and his proxy will be expected to make statements demanding that everyone layoff, afford slack to, or pay no attention to the woman the campaign so desperately wants to detain behind the curtain.

Expectations shall be thus, else we should think less of BO, though how that could be possible is certainly open for more discussion.

So say we all? Wait, where did that dragon get off to?

P.S. Grim, nice touch, citing Sir Thomas More's if-then-else.

Posted by: J. Edgar Hubris at July 21, 2008 08:50 AM

If we believe that husbands ought to be free to defend their wives -- even when it puts the wife's interests ahead of others' -- then we must accord that to Obama as well as other husbands.

Yup. When you can't defend what your wife has to say, fall back on defending her person.

Don't bother with the virgin, I had a big lunch...

Posted by: BillT at July 21, 2008 09:21 AM

"Don't bother with the virgin, I had a big lunch..."
Just as well... Progressive virgins of legal majority are, according to my sources in the Comm Wire-tap, Surveillance & All Purpose BlackBag Department, in short supply.

Posted by: J. Edgar Hubris at July 21, 2008 09:45 AM

Uh-oh. Another candidate for the Engendered Species List.

Wonder if they taste like Spotted Owls...

Posted by: BillT at July 21, 2008 09:56 AM

Tastes like chicken... Or so I'm told by some of the brothers in the Illuminati and Fraternal Order of Brothers of the Oppressors of the Downtrodden.

If you can trust what they say.

Posted by: J. Edgar Hubris at July 21, 2008 10:58 AM

Ymarsakar, it doesn't have to be a choice of words or violence. Oftentimes its just a matter of choosing better words.

Posted by: Jeffrey at July 21, 2008 11:31 AM

Ymarsakar, it doesn't have to be a choice of words or violence. Oftentimes its just a matter of choosing better words.

I did mention arbitrary commandments from on high along with words and violence. That should cover the field pretty much.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 21, 2008 01:01 PM

One of the primary things air power is good for is psychological damage and logistical destruction.

In that sense, they are like strategic nukes. You don't want to use more of them if you can't find good places to use them on.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 21, 2008 06:29 PM

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