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Daily Affirmations 5/6

1. Ed Kilgore examines the spate of state "sovereignty resolutions" sweeping through red America:

While these resolutions obviously aren't going to be enforced, they squarely assert the power of states to unilaterally define the powers of the federal government and to order said government to "cease and desist" in exercising them. That is nullification.

And what's the justification for going all John C. Calhoun at present? Here's [Texas Governor Rick] Perry:

"'Millions of Texans are tired of Washington, D.C. trying to come down here to tell us how to run Texas,' Perry said in a speech supporting House Concurrent Resolution

"'I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,' he continued. 'That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm states' rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"'I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union,' he said."

In other words, Rick Perry doesn't like "liberal" legislation, and now that his party is no longer in power in Washington, he's asserting the right to ignore any laws that don't comport with his own view of "the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution" or what's "oppressive" or "undue."

Good point, Ed Kilgore!

2. Matthew Yglesias, whose foreign policy arguments I usually don't agree with, makes a pretty solid point: either Israel's nuclear capability is a valuable deterrent against Iran or it isn't:

Specifically on the Israeli front, I think the idea that there should be no swapping of concessions whatsoever with the Iranians highlights a certain schizophrenia in the Israel view of these matters. The Iranian nuclear program, we’re supposed to believe, is an overwhelming existential threat to Israel’s existence and yet it’s not worth considering any form of Israeli concessions whatsoever in order to achieve any goals whatsoever on the Iranian front? Really? And at the same time, Israel’s nuclear deterrent is so overwhelmingly important that it can’t be bargained about for any purpose, and yet its existence gives the Israelis no confidence whatsoever that a nuclear Iran could be deterred. Again, really? If I were Israel, I wouldn’t want to swap my nukes for empty promises from Iran. But if I were Israel I also wouldn’t be ruling any sort of deal whatsoever off the table in advance.

Good point, Matthew Yglesias!

3. It's a strange paradox that the most vocal proponents of "American exceptionalism" seem least interested in America acting in an exceptional way. But Mark Thompson makes a nice, subtle defense of American exceptionalism and holding our country to a high standard:

Compromises sometimes really must be made if the shining city is to retain any shine whatseover.  But the proud citizen will recognize that this tradeoff is being made and will lament it; he will not pretend that the city’s shine will be unaffected, only argue that the shine will lessen more if the tradeoff is not made.  He will not begrudge his fellow citizens their opposition to the tradeoff but will instead seek to convince them, as friends and neighbors, that the tradeoff is truly necessary.   Perhaps most importantly, the truly proud citizen will not do anything to dull the city’s shine without the approval of his fellow proud citizens. ...

If you think the United States is just another country, or even just another Western country, then the moral issues of whether waterboarding is torture, or whether it was a war crime to drop the atomic bomb, can and perhaps should be either irrelevant or only of minor significance compared to whether those actions saved more lives than they cost.  But if you are a true believer in American exceptionalism, then you must accept that maintaining that exceptionalism comes with costs, perhaps sometimes in human lives.

Good point, Mark Thompson!

--Jonathan Chait