Saturday, January 15, 2011

Must Reads

Alex Pareene: Watering the Tree of Liberty

Steve Benen: False Equivalency Watch

Paul Krugman: Climate of Hate

David Frum: What Palin Needed to Say After Giffords’ Shooting

Marty Kaplan: The "Lock and Load" Rhetoric of American Politics Isn't Just a Metaphor

John Dickerson: Palin Fails the Test - Sarah Palin's response to the Tucson shooting is defensive, illogical, distracting—and late.

William Saletan: Sarah Palin, Blood-Libel Hypocrite

Nicholas D. Kristof: Why Not Regulate Guns as Seriously as Toys?

E.J. Dionne: Violent Talk Blocks Sane Gun Laws

The Rude Pundit: Palin, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly Are Angry; Pie Still Yummy

JHW22 recommends...
David Badash: The End Of A Sarah Palin Presidency


Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain issued high praise for President Obama's Wednesday address that honored victims of the Arizona shootings.
..."Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so," McCain writes. "It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities."
In all seriousness, I am glad that someone in a leadership position* in the Republican party actually came out to praise President Obama's address in Tucson. After hearing some positive response from the right regarding memorial service speech, most of them immediately went into their usual tones, completely missing the message.

While that was expected, it's good to see not only a prominent Republican, but the one man who has seemed the most bitter and contrarian after his 2008 presidential defeat, be the one to openly join the President in his message of civility.

(* When I say leadership position, I mean someone of seniority and stature, not an official position. Especially after seeing the newly elected Speaker of the House reject the notion that he can tell Birthers within his party occupying House seats to knock off the nonsense.)

President Obama's Weekly Address - January 15, 2011

Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where's The Most Liberal County In America?

According to former Republican House Leader and current convicted money launderer Tom Delay, it's in Texas. TEXAS! I know! It was a shock to me too!

"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas; indeed, in the United States," DeLay said on NBC's "Today" Show. "This is a political campaign."
Yes, it's witch hunt!

President Obama's Arizona Memorial Speech

In case you missed it.

“Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.”

S#*! Sarah Palin Says ("Blood Libel" Edition)

Soon after the tragedy at Tucson, Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page to express her condolences to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the victims of the Safeway shooting, while her commenters raged about the shooter, who thought to blame Nancy Pelosi, the "negro abortion" problem, and someone who assumed it was an illegal alien and wanted more border security long before we ever heard the name Jared Loughner. Conservative David Frum was less than impressed at Palin's statement.
"Palin’s post-shooting message was about Palin, not about Giffords. It was defensive, not inspiring. And it was petty at a moment when Palin had been handed perhaps her last clear chance to show herself presidentially magnanimous."
And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, after five days of silence, Palin decides to release a pre-recorded 7½ minute speech, also released on Facebook and with the help of a teleprompter, in which she is the victim on the designated day for a Tucson victims memorial.  She had five days, and neither she nor her speech writer could figure out that the term "blood libel" is probably not the best turn of phrase.

But ultimately, how did Palin respond to the criticism leveled at her vitriolic political rhetoric which some partly blame for the senseless shooting that occurred? She quoted Ronald Reagan (that's becoming a staple for her), invoked 9/11 and doubled down on the rhetoric.
"No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good."
Who is embracing evil and calling it good, Sarah? Care to be more specific? And her fans/commenters were overjoyed. Funny how there never seems to be any negative comments on Sarah's Facebook page.
Richard Clark: Sarah, you must be doing something right, the Liberal Media hates you. Keep up the good work, you're awesome 
Yes, the liberal media hates Palin. All three of them.
Lena Kins: If Jared had been MUSLIN, Obama would see that the MEDIA was "somewhat quiet as possible" not much of a big deal about this tragic massacre of innocent people. Sarah we need LEADERS like you in the White House.
"Muslin"? Seriously?
Al Holloway: Thank God, Dipshit Obama finally stopped talking, it makes me sick how he always says that we need to start speaking to one another in a way that brings us together. As if all of the violent & hateful rhetoric is not coming from Democrats.
All the violent rhetoric is coming from Democrats. Got it.

That last quote was written after President Obama spoke at the Tucson Memorial service. I guess he misunderstood the message.  And Sarah showed she didn't get it either in her feeble attempt to preempt the President's speech in Tucson. Andrew Sullivan put it best in his latest post:
"Palin does not possess the self-awareness, responsibility or composure to respond to crises like this with grace. This message - even at a time of national crisis - was a base-rousing rallying cry, perpetuating her own victimhood and alleged bloodthirstiness of her opponents. moderate that tone, to acknowledge that one can make an error, to defend oneself from unfair accusations while acknowledging the need for a calmer discourse in future - this is beyond her."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My son is four


I just told my son, after I watched Obama's Tucson Memorial speech, that I love his President. My son said, "He's not my President. He's everyone's President because everyone likes him in the whole world. The world is like a ball."

Why Does Anyone Take This Man Seriously Anymore?

Rush Limbaugh: "What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He's sitting there in jail. He knows what's going on, he knows that...the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he's just a victim. He's the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America...this guy clearly understands he's getting all the attention and he understands he's got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he's not convicted of murder - but something lesser."

False Equivalency Equals Faulty Equation


Equivalency means two things being almost equal if not exact. Therefore, if I say an apple is fruit and a banana is fruit, I am making a correct equivalency. However, if I say a Red Delicious apple is the same as a banana some could argue a false equivalency because a Red Delicious apple is red, whereas a banana is yellow. Someone else may say, yes, but they are still fruit. Then someone else could say some apples are yellow and bananas are yellow and they are both fruit so they are the same. Then someone else could say, yes but bananas are only yellow when they aren’t green or brown.

See, when it comes to fruit, you can’t have a discussion without someone having an alternate version that isn’t false but which is different from the opponent’s position.

If I say that trees are green someone can say, not all are green and not all green trees are green all the time.

If I say boys are more active than girls someone will provide examples of hyper-active girls and sedate boys.

If I say clouds are all the same someone will point out the various types.

So when I say that some people on the left have used vitriolic language, I should not be accused of making a false equivalency because it’s a far more nuanced issue than fruit. Hell, even that statement could be argued as a false equivalency.

Now, if I point out 3 instances of when the left has used questionable hyperbole while I also point out 30 cases where the right has done it, I should not be accused of making a false equivalency. I have not said 3 = 30. I have said they each share a digit, they are each numbers. There are many similarities between 3 and 30 but they are not equal and pointing out the similarities is not a statement that they are equal.

I have been a part of and have witnessed two conversations since the tragedy in Tucson. I am going to paraphrase both conversations and show why I think the “false equivalency” argument is a waste of real opportunity to get everyone, regardless of their party’s eagerness or opposition to use vitriol in the debate, to stop using it – period.

Conversation A:

Republican: “Sarah Palin did not incite hate. If you think she did, what do you have to say about the time Obama said, ‘Don’t take a knife to a gunfight’, huh?”

Democrat: “Looking back, I’d have to say I wish he hadn’t used that line. Even though it’s an old cliché, I wish we weren’t using any language that implies aggression or violence. I pledge not to use that language and to reject it if anyone in my party uses it. Now, do YOU reject that language used in your party?”

Republican: “Yes, I reject that language in my party.”

Conversation B:

Republican: “Sarah Palin did not incite hate. If you think she did, what do you have to say about the time Obama said, ‘Don’t take a knife to a gunfight’, huh?”

Democrat: “There is no comparison between the left and the right here. The right has had far more vitriol and has created this atmosphere since a black man became President. So, no, there is nothing vitriolic about his statement. No one in MY party has called for shootings or ‘second amendment remedies’ or for people to ‘reload’ or be ‘armed and dangerous’. So no, MY party isn’t part of the problem.”

Republican: “Oh, I see. MY party is racist and violent because we’re white and want to protect our rights and hate the way the government is destroying our country. Your party can say whatever it wants and use whatever words and images it wants because you when you use it it doesn’t mean anything. But when MY party uses it, we’re telling crazy people to kill people. Only crazy people are on the right, is that what you’re saying?”

Democrat: “No, there are crazy people on the left but our crazies don’t take guns to speeches and don’t kill people.”

Republican: “Well this guy was a liberal. Look at the books he read.”

Democrat: “What he read doesn’t mean he was a liberal. He shot a Democrat who Sarah Palin put a target on in campaign rhetoric.”

Republican: “Two of the victims who died were Republicans.”

Democrat: “The shooter couldn’t have known that.”

Republican: “And Sarah Palin couldn’t have known some crazy would misconstrue what she meant.”

Democrat: “We warned of this. She could have known because we raised this point over and over.”

Republican: “See, you wanted this to happen just so you could say, ‘I told you so’.”

In Conversation A, the Democrat acknowledged the FRACTION of poor choices by the Democratic party and the conversation moved forward.

In Conversation B, the Democrat decided that acknowledging a fraction was conceding a false equivalency. That conversation is still spiraling into an abyss of nothing.

EDIT: Here is the transcript from Obama's Tucson Memorial speech. All he said is what I meant to say.

Well, duh!


So the current response to the "tone down the rhetoric" common sense is "but, but, but... the guy was crazy" Well, no shit! That's who we have said WOULD be the wrong person to hear the violent rhetoric. I don't recall anyone saying, over the last two years, that we need to be careful what we say because some SANE person might decide to react with violence. Um, DUH!

(BTW, I am avoiding using the name of the shooter/terrorist/assassin so as not to give him one more search result.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

"...I’m not blaming Sarah Palin for 20 people being shot – six of them dying from their injuries. I’m blaming Sarah Palin for taking down her “take down” map sans comment. I’m not blaming her for throwing bombs. I am blaming her for not uttering remorse when they explode.
Palin wants her followers to “stand up?”
Her first."
~ Tina Dupuy

Who's Politicizing the Arizona Shooting?

There seems to be a lot of umbrage at Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and his opinion that the heightened political rhetoric is partly to blame for the Safeway shooting that targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others. That somehow he was polticizing the event.

Well, who's politicizing now?

In the wake of Saturday's tragic shooting in Arizona, Gateway Pundit and Breitbart blogger Jim Hoft has been on a one man mission to prove that the deranged shooter was a "typical leftist nut." This morning, Hoft posted what he seems to think is bulletproof evidence supporting this thesis, but, as is usually the case with him, it is merely evidence that someone as hackishly irresponsible as Hoft should have no role in our national political discourse.
...That Hoft would reprint the outrageous assertion that Loughner idolized Obama - based on a random commenter on a fringe message board that provided no evidence for his assertion - says a lot about his complete lack of journalistic integrity.

Reloading, Surveyor's Symbols and Gun Rights

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was one of the House members targeted in Sarah Palin's infamous "Take Back the 20" SarahPAC map. I'm not going to blame Palin for the shooting, but I will blame her for the lack of foresight in not understanding what the affect can be in the incendiary rhetoric she's been peddling since she came on the scene.

And she's not the only one who has gone a little too far with the metaphors. With phrases like "pallin' around with terrorists," "don't retreat, reload," Sharron Angle's "Second Amendment remedies" and Michele Bachmann's "armed and dangerous," it was only a matter of time before someone mentally unstable person took the matter into their own hands. There have been other violent attacks. The Richard Poplawski incident in Pittsburgh immediately comes to mind. But this is the first time there has been an attack on a political official. And I can't believe that the angry Republican anti-government rhetoric has nothing to do with it.

While a definitive motive hasn't been established for Jared Loughner's attack on the ironically named Safeway, anti-government sentiment has been an issue in his online writings. Is he disturbed and unstable? Looks that way, which is why prominent politicians and pundits have to realize that their message doesn't just go out to rational people who understand that bullseyes, targets and vitriol isn't literal.

And while we are all familiar with her lack of foresight, Ms. Mama Grizzly Reality TV Caribou Hunter isn't doing herself any favors by surrounding herself with people who aren't the sharpest tools in the shed either, the latest example being a radio interview by a Palin spokesperson trying to explain away the crosshairs in the SarahPac map.

...this exchange between Palin aide Rebecca Mansour and Palin-supporting radio host Tammy Bruce is completely absurd. Bruce begins by describing the map of SarahPAC's 20 midterm election targets -- members of Congress in districts that went for McCain/Palin in 2008 who voted for health care reform -- and referring to the targets on the map as "surveyor's symbols." Mansour points out that "targeted districts" are part of political parlance -- obviously true -- and says this. (It starts at around 11:40 in the clip.)
MANSOUR: I just want to clarify again, and maybe it wasn't done on the record enough by us when this came out, the graphic, is just, it's basically -- we never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights. It was simply crosshairs like you see on maps.
BRUCE: Well, it's a surveyor's symbol. It's a surveyor's symbol.
MANSOUR: It's a surveyor's symbol. I just want to say this, Tammy, if I can. This graphic was done, not even done in house -- we had a political graphics professional who did this for us.
Right wingers are now pointing to an old Daily Kos diary by Markos Moulitsas in an attempt to equate and diffuse in which Moulitsas uses the terms, "target" and "bullseye." But their attempt at their tried and true revisionist history falls short this time. While some can justifiably point to vitriol on both sides that needs to be toned down, in my opinion this comparison is apples and oranges, if only for the visual aids of targets on the districts the SarahPAC map wanted to "take back." That coupled with Palin's usual rhetoric, gun metaphors and especially the audience that she's trying to reach, in my opinion makes all the difference.  No one said a word about the Kos article when it came out. But there was a definite reaction to Palin's map with crosshairs, one of those being Gifford's. For Palin supporters to go back two years to search for something remotely similar on the liberal side is disingenuous.

My final point in all of the chaos of this past weekend was my realization of the lack of dialogue regarding guns and gun rights. I don't personally own a gun. But I don't begrudge anyone else owning one. You have a right to own one. But does that right preclude stricter gun laws for the sake of safety? Is there any legitimate reason to be against gun control? I say again, any legitimate reason. I have no problem with someone wanting to purchase a gun, but shouldn't there be certain procedures in place to prevent mentally unstable people from gun ownership?  It has come to light that Loughner attempted to join the military and was rejected. If the reason was due to mental instability, shouldn't there be information pipelines in place so that the FBI (whose background check Loughner supposedly passed before his gun purchase) received that info? Yet, I haven't heard a word from the mainstream media in regards to this issue. No one has even broached the subject. Maybe politicians will think twice about gun control laws now that it's hit so close to home, but I'm not holding my breath.

ADDING... I hope we as a collective group take more seriously the next instance of someone bringing a gun or an assault rifle to a political rally in which the President is present, or more closely scrutinize a gun toter looking to "water the tree of liberty."