Appeasement

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

Inigio Montoya, the Princess Bride

Speaking in Israel earlier this week, Bush likened Obama to Neville Chamberlin:

“Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the
words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world
must not repeat in the 21st century. Some seem to believe that we
should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious
argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have
heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland
in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have
talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an
obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement,
which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)”

Bush (as you already know if you are reading this, is an idiot).  Appeasement is not talking to your enemies.  Appeasement is giving into their demands.  I know Bush is not good with nuance, but please!  Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler was giving him everything he wanted in the Munich agreement, not the fact that we talked with him.  How dumb do Bush (and McCain) think we are?  Obama hit back quite forcefully with his response

I'm not generally a big fan of Chris Matthews or Hardball, but this video I originally found over at TPM is brilliant.  It's a right-wing radio host going on and on about appeasement while clearly having no idea what he's talking about and Matthews calls him on it.  Great stuff, enjoy…

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Immigrant assimilation

I do get tired of all the anti-immigrant folks complaining about immigrants ruining American culture by not assimilating.  Xenophobes had the same complaints about Italians, Polish, etc., not speaking our language or adapting to our culture back when they immigrated to this country in large numbers.  And now, we've got a study that shows just how wrong these views are:

Immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the
United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations,
according to a study released today…

The study, sponsored by the Manhattan Institute,
a New York think tank, used census and other data to devise an
assimilation index to measure the degree of similarity between the
United States' foreign-born and native-born populations. These included
civic factors, such as rates of U.S. citizenship and service in the
military; economic factors, such as earnings and rates of
homeownership; and cultural factors, such as English ability and degree
of intermarriage with U.S. citizens. The higher the number on a
100-point index, the more an immigrant resembled a U.S. citizen.

In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the
more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on,
said Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor at Duke University
and author of the study. During periods of intense immigration, such as
from 1870 to 1920, or during the immigration wave that began in the
1970s, new arrivals tend to drag down the average assimilation index of
the foreign-born population as a whole.

The report found, however, that the speed with which new arrivals
take on native-born traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result,
even though the foreign population doubled during that period, the
newcomers did not drive down the overall assimilation index of the
foreign-born population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990
to 2006.

“This is something unprecedented in U.S. history,” Vigdor said. “It
shows that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is
strong.”

So, next time you hear these complaints, remember that they don't actually have any validity.

Hillary and sexism

I
love it when readers actually request that I blog on a particular topic (in part, because it means people actually read this), so here's my thoughts on this absurd op-ed by Marie Cocco in today's Post.  First, a sampling:

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan
“Bros before Hos.” The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary
Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary
Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her
legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't
miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty
item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called
Clinton a “big [expletive] whore” and said the same about former vice
presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an
event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of
appreciative Obama supporters — one of whom had promoted the evening
on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one,
told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: “Obama did great in
February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now
Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?”
Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette…

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing
doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out
precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared
Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude
references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest,
some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the
groundswell for “change.” But for all Clinton's political blemishes,
the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is
accepted as a part of our culture.

You know what, I'm no big fan of misogyny, and Hillary has certainly been a victim of such, but I did not find this column in the least bit persuasive.  T-shirts “widely sold on the internet” which I've never seen in real life, Republican nuts forming a obviously non-serious political group for the purposes of its acronym, and a magician making sexist comments and getting rebuked for it are not exactly the hallmarks of a pervasive culture of misogyny in my book.  The truth is, when people have negative things to say about a woman, the term b*tch is quite commonly used (probably even by many a feminist).  That does not inherently imply misogyny.  It seems to me, the terms for a disliked male, are often far cruder and generally, one just does not use those terms with women.  The fact that we use different negative words to describe men and women does not mean its sexist. 

Anyway, Cocoo probably has some very fair points.  Many of the things that fly under the radar as gender-based offenses would not if they were race-based.  And certainly, a fair share of animosity towards Hillary Clinton is based on her gender (and in fairness, a fair share of her support is likewise based on her gender).  But to come up with these generally weak examples to suggest we are a hopelessly misogynistic society does not impress me. 

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