Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sarah Palin: Winning The Future..WTF!

“Well, speaking of last night, that was a tough speech to sit through and try to stomach because the president is so off base in his ideas in how it is he believes government is going to create jobs. Obviously, government growth won’t create any jobs. It’s the private sector that can create the jobs. His theme last night in the State of the Union was the WTF, you know, “Winning the Future,” and I thought OK, that acronym, spot on. There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech.”

See also:

A Presidency to Nowhere

No Sale

On Selling Change When Trust is Gone

The Speech

We’re broke.

The President says the deficit is the GOP’s problem now

No-bend Obama

Hymowitz: Sarah Palin and the Battle for Feminism

Sarah Palin and the Battle for Feminism

by Kay S. Hymowitz    City Journal Winter 2011 v21, no.1
The ex-governor and her Mama Grizzlies argue that the real women’s issue is our country’s fiscal future.

When Sarah Palin took the podium in St. Paul to accept her nomination for the vice presidency in September 2008, calm and collected feminists might have recalled the old saw: Be careful what you wish for. Here she was, an ambitious political woman with the sort of egalitarian marriage that would put the Swedes to shame. Here she was, a charismatic, working-class heroine who oozed folksy provincialism with the naturalness of Lyndon Johnson in the same breath as she cheered her Hillary Clintonesque assault on the “glass ceiling.” Yes, here she was—clinging to her guns, her religion, and her babies, and saying, and apparently believing, all the wrong things.

But “calm and collected” are not the words that come to mind to describe the feminist response to the governor from Alaska. The young feminist Jessica Grose, writing on the popular website Jezebel just after the Republican convention, was—well, we’ll let her describe it: “When Palin spoke on Wednesday night, my head almost exploded from the incandescent anger boiling in my skull. . . . What I feel for her privately could be described as violent, nay, murderous, rage.” Grose’s readers left more than 700 comments, according to the late New York Sun, including one from a reader who wanted to “vomit with rage.” Other haters damned Palin as a traitor to her sex or an “insult to women,” as Judith Warner spat in the New York Times. “Turncoat bitch!” the comedian Sandra Bernhard railed in a performance caught on YouTube. “You whore in your cheap fucking . . . cheap-ass plastic glasses and your hair up!” Writing on a Washington Post blog, Wendy Doniger, a Hinduism specialist at the University of Chicago Divinity School, topped them all: Palin’s “greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman.”

However excessive their frothing, feminists had good reason to be in panic mode. Palin may have lost her bid to become vice president; she may have failed to appeal to such prominent conservatives as Peggy Noonan, George Will, and Karl Rove, as well as to lesser right-of-center mortals like this writer; but by leading a wave of new conservative women into the fray, she has changed feminism forever. In fact, this new generation of conservative politicas—having caught, skinned, and gutted liberal feminism as if it were one of Palin’s Alaskan salmon—is transforming the very meaning of a women’s movement.

Not that the new crowd of right-wing women were ever explicitly hostile to feminism. On the contrary, they often embraced it, and for liberal feminists, that was precisely the problem. Breaking ranks with most of the conservative female political players who had come before, Palin eagerly paid homage to the movement. She gave thanks for being able to “stand . . . on the shoulders of women who had won hard-fought battles for things like equal pay and equal access.” The failed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell called Gloria Steinem one of her inspirations. Sometimes the Palinistas even indulged in some gentle male-bashing: “For a long time people have seen the parties as good-ole’-boy, male-run institutions,” said Rebecca Wales of Smart Girl Politics, a conservative women’s group, according to Slate’s Hanna Rosin. “In the Tea Party, women have finally found their voice.”

It’s easy to see why liberal feminists were miffed. Because of their efforts, conservative women were now hurrying down congressional corridors. But where were these newcomers back when the struggle was on? They were making Hillary Clinton’s life hell when she declined to discard her maiden name and refused to bake cookies. They were sneering while activists undertook the work, the planning, and the endless organizing to pass antidiscrimination laws and to fight assumptions of female inferiority. Yet now the naysayers and laggards were singing “Kumbaya” with Gloria Steinem. When Rachel Campos-Duffy, wife of Republican congressman-elect Sean Duffy, praised the Capitol’s designated nursing room, where she was able to breast-feed her seven-month-old daughter during new-member festivities, one writer on Slate grumbled that it was “a progressive Democratic woman,” Nancy Pelosi, who “took the initiative to use government funds to better accommodate new mothers and transform Congress into a more family-friendly work environment.” Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican women!

But liberal feminists were troubled by much more than conservative women’s wanting to crash the party. What threatened feminism as we knew it was the Palinites’ fundamental beliefs about the nature of the American social contract.

To understand the gap between the two sides, we need to recall some not-so-distant history. The second-wave feminists of the 1960s and 1970s who revived the moribund suffragette movement came of age during and after World War II, a time when confidence in Washington was high. Modeling their aspirations on the civil rights movement, they saw government as the vehicle they would ride to their liberation. America’s powerful strain of don’t-tread-on-me libertarianism was largely quiescent, and Great Society liberalism was the default mode for the young and educated. Bringing legal complaints before judges and lobbying legislators, bureaucrats, and civil servants to take action on a multitude of “women’s issues”—that is, barriers standing in the way of female advancement—seemed the only way to go.

Over time, the list of women’s issues got longer: workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence, parental leave, child care, the feminization of poverty, abortion, access to contraception, comprehensive sex education, child support, sexist media representations of women, and—depending on which feminist you asked—sex workers, gay rights, pornography, and the beauty industry. As the list grew, so did the demands for government action. Even as feminists won major congressional reforms like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title IX, as well as a host of court cases ranging from minor to transformational, it became clear that from their perspective, a woman’s policy work was never done.

Starting in the 1970s, feminists put enormous energy into increasing the number of women in political life, in part because it was only fair—since women represented half of the population—but also because they believed that women would advance their agenda. They built organizations, many still in existence today, for electing female candidates and lobbying for women’s issues. As luck would have it, they also had access to a powerful media bullhorn. In The Feminist Promise, Christine Stansell notes that New York–based activists joined forces with the already large number of Gotham women working in print and television journalism. Female journalists—liberal, educated, and career-minded—were a natural constituency for feminist ideas. And the professional ghettoization that confined them to covering women’s stories made them mad as hell, ironically working to the advantage of the women’s movement.

The combination of a strong media presence and organizational heft gave feminists the power to define women’s issues in the political sphere. Of course, they had conservative female opponents, some of them formidable. In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly, a preternaturally energetic mother of six, almost single-handedly blocked the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. “She drove the pro-ERA forces crazy,” Gail Collins writes in When Everything Changed, her history of the women’s movement. “They were used to thinking of themselves as the voice of American women, allied against the enemy: chauvinistic men.” Polls suggested that this presumed feminist mandate was a myth, but that didn’t stop feminists from portraying their conservative opponents as “anti-women” brainwashed by the patriarchy. Feminist media strength ensured that these accusations would not receive the public skepticism that they deserved.

The established feminist infrastructure had begun to sway long before 2008, but the arrival of Palin and friends crystallized the movement’s conflicts. For one thing, the Palinites had little interest in women’s issues, conventionally understood. Feminists like to say that they’re a diverse group, and it’s true that there have been areas of dispute in the past (on the subjects of lesbianism and pornography, for example), but overall, it was usually easy to separate those who supported “women’s issues” from those who didn’t. The newcomers, however, weren’t talking about child care, parental leave, equal-pay initiatives, or any other issue on the familiar agenda. They were talking about government debt and patronage, about TARP and bailouts and excessive regulation. In March 2010, a Quinnipiac poll found that 55 percent of Tea Party members were women—including five of the nine national coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots and 15 of the 25 state coordinators. A few months later, veteran newscaster Lesley Stahl probably spoke for a lot of media women during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I wanted to ask all the gurus here why so many of the Tea Partiers are women,” she said. “I find that just intriguing and don’t quite understand why that has happened.” Indeed. For Stahl and her ilk, real women care about day care, not deficits.

Policy aside, the arrivistes were incomprehensible to liberals for cultural reasons. The old guard, consisting mostly of lawyers, writers, journalists, and other media types, tended to cluster on the coasts. The new crowd came from the South, the Midwest, and the West, and a number of them were businesswomen—not surprisingly, given that women are now majority or equal owners in nearly half of American businesses. Some were techies, such as Tea Party organizers Jenny Beth Martin of Georgia, a computer programmer, and Michelle Moore of Missouri, who ran a technology consulting firm. Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s newly elected governor, was an accountant in her previous life. The new congresswoman from South Dakota, Kristi Noem, runs the cattle ranch that she inherited from her family. Tech geeks, businesswomen, and ranchers: not Lesley Stahl feminism, that’s for sure.

Further unsettling the feminist framework was the vigorous maternalism of the newcomers. Many heartland women had seen in feminism’s enthusiastic careerism, as well as its resentment of men and domesticity, an implicit criticism of their own lives. Hence their rejection of the feminist label even as they joined the workforce and lived lives that looked, in many respects, consistent with the movement’s principles. Now there appeared on the scene a new model of female success, one in which maternalism and even housewifery were not at odds with wielding power on the public stage. Palin’s name for the female midterm candidates was telling: “Mama Grizzlies.” Dana Loesch, a homeschooling mother of two, “mommy blogger,” and columnist, cofounded the St. Louis Tea Party. Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who won reelection in November, has taken in 23 foster children over the years. Before the election, some had predicted that 2010 would be another Year of the Woman; it would be closer to the truth to call it the Year of the Mom.

Actually, maternal feminism is nothing new. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, temperance fighters—and, to a lesser extent, suffragettes—viewed their role as wives and mothers as the source of their moral authority in public debates. But something important sets today’s maternal feminism apart from the earlier strain: it casts budgeting and governance as maternal issues. “From first-hand experience, [women] know you cannot spend your way out of debt at home and they know that philosophy translates to businesses and to the government,” Martin told Politico. Palin put her fiscal conservatism in the homey rhetoric of a PTA president: “I think a whole lot of moms . . . are concerned about government handing our kids the bill.”

The Palinites, then, have introduced an unfamiliar thought into American politics: maybe a trillion-dollar deficit is a woman’s issue. But where does that leave expensive, bureaucracy-heavy initiatives like universal pre-K, child care, and parental leave? Consider a recent feminist initiative, the Paycheck Fairness Act, passed in the House but scuttled in November by a few Republican Senate votes. Feminist supporters, saying that it would close loopholes in previous antidiscrimination legislation, didn’t worry about how redundant or bureaucratically tortured it might be or how many lawsuits it might unleash. But chances are that the Grizzlies, in keeping with their frontiersy individualism and their fears about ballooning deficits, would see in the act government run amok. After all, it would come on top of the 1963 Equal Pay Act; Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans employment discrimination; the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; innumerable state and local laws and regulations; and a crowd of watchdogs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

How are liberal feminists to understand the kind of soi-disant feminist who would vote against a Paycheck Fairness Act? Gloria Steinem has tried this hoary explanation: “Any group of people that has been subordinate absorbs the idea of their own subordination . . . and comes to think that the only way to survive is to identify with the powerful.” That charge is so thoroughly inadequate for describing women like Michelle Moore and Sarah Palin that it only makes Steinem look clueless. But there were liberal feminists who understood that the Grizzlies’ arrival confronted them with a question that they needed to take seriously: What is feminism?

Some clung to the implicit definition that had evolved over the past 40 years. Here is the novelist Amy Bloom writing in a Slate powwow on the question:

If Sarah Palin explicitly supports equal pay for equal work, subsidized day care, Title IX, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, she’s a feminist. If she understands that she is a product of feminism and is prepared to pursue its goals, I can give her a pass on abortion because there are, apparently, honest-to-God feminists who believe that abortion is murder and even though I think that that’s not true, I have to respect that (I guess). But there is no such thing as free market/anti-legislation/I’ve-got-mine feminism.

That definition, of course, would exclude most of the Palinites, who would surely call themselves free marketeers. Other feminists defined their movement in such meaningless generalities as to surrender to the conservatives at the gate. “Feminism to me means equality for all women and regard for women’s choices,” the legal journalist Dahlia Lithwick ventured in the Slate forum. Elsewhere, phrases like “women’s progress,” “women’s interests,” “policies that move women forward,” and “goals that benefit women” also appeared in the public discussion about the meaning of feminism.

But the Palinites have drawn big question marks around language like this. What does “equality” mean? Is it equal opportunity, as the newcomers would probably say? Or equal results, as many feminists appear to believe? Does it mean women’s choosing how to run their lives, just as men do? (Grizzlies.) Or does it refer to absolute parity between men and women? (Liberals.) How can both sides claim the feminist mantle with such different understandings of government’s function and of women’s progress?

And these divisions don’t begin to address the biggest bone of contention of all: abortion. The writer and movie director Nora Ephron answered the what-is-feminism quiz simply by announcing: “You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.” Many liberals agree. Yet most Grizzlies oppose abortion; Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who lost in November, even rejected it in the cases of rape and incest. Palin has praised young women who carry unintended pregnancies to term as “strong,” “smart,” and “capable.” It seems unlikely that the Grizzlies can successfully recast feminism as antiabortion, but surveys suggest that women have been growing less sympathetic to the proabortion position—so who knows?

None of this is proof, of course, that the Palinites “speak for women” any more than feminists do. The midterm election reveals an ambiguous picture about women’s politics. There are a record number of new Republican women in the House of Representatives, in governors’ mansions, and in state legislatures. For the first time since exit polls have been taken, slightly more women voted for Republicans than for Democrats in the congressional election. Nevertheless, according to the Center for American Women in Politics, men were still 7 percentage points likelier than women to vote for a Republican House candidate in 2010. That gender gap is the same size as the one we saw in the 2008 presidential election. To make matters more confusing, a marriage gap also exists: married women were far more likely to vote Republican than single women in 2010. More evidence that feminism is up for grabs.

Kay S. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of the forthcoming Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys

Cognitive Dissonance and the Liberal Disorder

Damn Yankees: The Tucson Shootings and Anti-Americanism

By “Publius”, January 20, 2011.

When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, the American Left promptly blamed the American Right. The American Right returned the compliment by fingering the gunman as a Left-wing loner. So far, so predictable. The American political and media markets are highly competitive. When a political figure is shot, there is an almost instinctive response to blame the proponents of political Brand Y, since no sensible adherent to Brand X would ever do something so crazy. We see the enemy where we want to see him.

For much of the Canadian MSM, especially in its more Leftish precincts, the culprit was clear: It was America. Not a particular American. Not some group of Americans. It was Uncle Sam himself taking shots at Congresswoman Giffords. The evil that is the United States of America was just expressing itself. Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s Warren Kinsella:

Why do these things happen? Because, in some ways, America’s heart is sick, too. Because – unlike up here – Americans make guns far more available than they should. And they make guns more readily available to sick young men such as Loughner.

That, mostly, is why these things keep happening.

Let’s re-read that quote above, and replace the word America with Nigeria and American with Nigerian. The statement is much more accurate in describing an unstable third-world hell hole like Nigeria, than the United States of America. Most of the world is far, far more violent than the United States. Is most of the world sick too?

American murder rates are conspicuous higher than those of most advanced western liberal democracies. The bulk of these “excess” murders occur not among gun toting rednecks, but in urban ghettoes during drug related turf wars. The typical American, who is not a resident of a housing project, or involved in the hard drug trade, is about as safe as any Canadian. America’s blighted inner cities are about as indicative of America, as Canada’s aboriginal reserves are indicative of this country.

The American media projects a distorted and violent image of America to the world, which the world gladly laps up. The idea of Americans as gun-toting crazies is actually very comforting. Sure, American capitalism (even after the 2008 financial crisis) bestrides the world. Yes, American science and technology continues to break new ground. No doubt, even with an appeasement minded Democrat at the helm, the world’s tin pot dictators think twice about too openly attacking a nation with eleven aircraft carriers, and thousands of nuclear warheads.

But despite all that power, wealth and success, they’re really just a bunch of slack-jawed hicks who solve their problems with sawed off shotguns? It’s like high school dorks reassuring themselves that the quarterbacks can’t do calculus, or are covert drunks. Canadian statists, who elegantly combine our national neuroses with a standard issue hatred of capitalism, have no problem reaching for the America is sick metaphor whenever some loony goes on a shooting spree. If it fits the patterns….

Dr Kinsella is not alone in pronouncing the patient beyond hope. Here’s the Globe:

At the same time as blame can be laid at the door of Fox News, it is essential to recognize that the style of Fox News is a hit. The channel easily beats CNN and MSNBC in the ratings. So many American TV viewers get exactly what they want and enjoy on Fox News. So while blaming Fox we have to admit that the Fox News channel’s success is rooted in Fox’s intuitive recognition of the inherent aggressiveness of the American political culture, an aggressiveness that is itself anchored in a public that’s fearful of change and hostile to opposing viewpoints.

That sound you hear coming from Toronto’s Necropolis is George Brown spinning in his grave.

The American public is “fearful of change,” eh? This would be the same American public that eagerly adopts new technologies (millions of iPads sold), and is by far the most mobile (horizontally and vertically) work force on earth. A nation that generates more new companies than all of Europe combined?

Americans are “hostile to opposing viewpoints?” Ever tried questioning the value of Medicare at a Toronto cocktail party? Or fourth-year humanities seminar? Or over a water cooler? It’s been a generation since Canada has any serious public debate on abortion. Who’s afraid of opposing viewpoints?

When not inclined to attack Americans directly, some ripping of the American gun culture will do as well. Here is Linda McQuaig:

Giffords’ office door was smashed after she voted for Obama’s health-care plan, and her Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, urged voters to “help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office: Shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly.”

It’s easy to imagine how a deranged youth might act out a real-life variation of the Republican suggestion to “shoot a fully automatic M-16” to “help remove Gabrielle Giffords.”

Incidentally, here’s Congresswoman Giffords posing with an assault rifle.

So maybe the Asskicker is right? They’re all gun mad nuts. Or maybe it’s just a different lifestyle choice. A different culture we should learn to appreciate for the diversity it brings to the world. A single point of light in the constellation of humanity! Or does such relativism only apply to non-western cultures?

Michael Ignatieff avoided making any crass anti-American remarks over the Tucson shootings, instead opting for self-serving remarks in favour of gun control:

Speaking publicly for the first time about the shooting incident in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and a congresswoman fighting for her life, Ignatieff said he’s even more determined to fight Conservative efforts to abolish the long-gun registry.

“Tucson tells me that Canada needs to maintain, enhance, protect and defend an integrated gun registry,” Ignatieff told reporters Wednesday. “Nothing can be solved with a gun, any time, anywhere.”

So, why did you advocate for the American-led invasion of Iraq? Let’s be kind to Lord Iggy and assume he did not mean to include professional armies. They work for the government, so it’s OK that they carry guns. People who work for the government never do anything crazy, irrational or unjust.

Quite a few things can be solved by a gun, like killing dangerous wild animals and violent human beings. As is now standard in these situations, let me remind our readers that had an armed and well trained citizen been in the audience with Congresswoman Giffords, this all might have been avoided.

The Leader of the Opposition’s hosannas for the long-gun registry are misplaced. The Liberals – and much of the MSM – ascribes magical powers to the registry. It is not a government policy, it is a talisman – not unlike Medicare – used to ward off evil spirits. It’s practical value is close to nil.

A mad man – a fair description of Jared Lee Loughner – has not the slightest intention of adhering to something as trivial as gun registration. Men willing to kill for no rational reason are not going to be restrained by bits of red tape. Nor would the registry have done anything to warn Congresswoman Giffords – or the victims of the Montreal Massacre – of their attackers approach. A gun registry tells you where the owner of a gun lives, not where the owner, or the gun, is at all times.

The obsession with registration and control by the Left, on both sides of the 49th, manifests both a vast ambition and dangerous naivety. Rather than confront an uncertain world, – where illness, unemployment and all manner of injustice lurk – with a sober eye and cautious attitude, the Left calls for the abolition of uncertainty. Such a thing is impossible.

People will be become sick and require medical attention. Passing a law, and establishing a government bureaucracy, does not guarantee that the medical attention offered will be either prompt or of good quality. Some among us will always be poor – for whatever reason – and no government in history has ever, or will ever solve the “problem” of relative poverty. A few in every neighbourhood – even in big government loving Canada – will suffer injustice, at the hands of friend, family or employer. The law can provide some remedy and some deterrence, it cannot outlaw human evil and callousness.

The Leftist urge to regulate life’s ups and downs is an adolescent fantasy. No law, no regulation and no government – even a totalitarian one – can prevent a mad man from finding or making a weapon. The deranged can even turn something as innocuous as a snowplow into a killing machine. Barring good fortune, no government can stop a mad man from using a weapon on the innocent.

Hot Air: Quotes of the Day

posted at 10:30 pm on January 17, 2011 by Allahpundit

“‘I would like to tender my sincerest apologies to Mr. (Trent) Humphries for my misplaced outrage on Saturday at the St. Odelia’s town meeting,’ Fuller said in the statement. ‘It was not in the spirit of our allegiance and warm feelings to each other as citizens of our great country.’

“Fuller, 63, was involuntarily committed to a county mental health facility after he photographed Tucson Tea Party founder Humphries and said, ‘You are dead’ when Humphries began speaking at the event.

“Fuller ‘is apologetic and very sad’ about his outburst, DeRuyter said. ‘He wishes he could go back and do things differently,’ she said.”

“Imagine what the media would be doing today if there had been the slightest shred of evidence that Loughner was a Rush Limbaugh fan, or belonged to a Tea Party group. The Climate of Hate narrative would be pushed even more forcefully, though it would be no less ridiculous… just as it would be absurd to hold Gabrielle Giffords responsible for the actions of her devoted follower, Eric Fuller.

Do you truly desire a more civil tone to our energetic discourse? If so, you must honestly confront what you’ve seen this week: a carefully designed and packaged narrative, whose goal was to silence conservatives by smearing them as accomplices to murder. The people responsible for producing and sustaining that narrative are hatemongers – there is no more appropriate word – and they are liberals. They had a hundred chances to back off, and they did not. They deliberate injected one of the most divisive toxins ever formulated into our national bloodstream.”

“I continue to believe that Sarah Palin is not yet qualified to be president, but my admiration for her continues to grow. Her interview with Sean Hannity, just aired, was almost pitch-perfect. It was dignified. It was well-modulated. It was strong. And it was thoughtful. She kept her composure even as Hannity put on the screen some of the vilest, most vicious attacks against her — the sorts of things that were so bad that if they were said about me they might shake me to my core. She explained her thought process after hearing about the shooting in Tucson, and explained the timing of her videotaped message, and explained her use of the term ‘blood libel.’ She insisted, rightly, that strong and honest — but respectful — political debate should not be stifled, and noted that it only seems like the right is asked to stifle its views. She was correct on all counts.

“The truth is, there is almost nothing this lady has ever done or said that merits the sorts of venomous vitriol to which she has been subjected. Her rhetoric is sharp but not hateful. Her views — and even more, her actual record — are mainstream conservative, not extremist. And her story of a plucky, self-made rise from unlikely (for a politician) origins, on the basis of hard work and gumption, is remarkably admirable. And, frankly, whom has she hurt along the way? The feelings of those who are appalled that she wouldn’t abort her Downs Syndrome baby? The ideology of those who thought she should force her daughter to get an abortion? The corrupt old-boy network who plagued (and effectively robbed) Alaska, whom she defeated in fair-and-square elections? The self-important worldview of those who believe that women who aren’t liberal are illegitimate political actors? Go ahead: Show where Sarah Palin has been mean-spirited, abusive, or hateful? Can’t do it. She hasn’t been.”

Hannity/Palin interview I

Hannity/Palin interview II

Hannity/Palin interview III

Taranto, WSJ: The Authoritarian Media

By JAMES TARANTO Wall Stret Journal:Opinion Journal January 11, 2011

After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.

Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”

The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line.

Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.

That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal. . . .

Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.

To describe the Tucson massacre as an act of “political violence” is, quite simply, a lie. It is as if, two days after the Columbine massacre, a conservative newspaper of the Times’s stature had described that atrocious crime as an act of “educational violence” and used it as an occasion to denounce teachers unions. Such an editorial would be shameful and indecent even if the arguments it made were meritorious.

The New York Times has seized on a madman’s act of wanton violence as an excuse to instigate a witch hunt against those it regards as its domestic foes. “Instigate” is not too strong a word here: As we noted yesterday, one of the first to point an accusatory finger at the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin was the Times’s star columnist, Paul Krugman. Less than two hours after the news of the shooting broke, he opined on the Times website: “We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.”

This was speculative fantasy, irresponsible but perhaps forgivable had Krugman walked it back when the facts proved contrary to his prejudices. He did not. His Monday column evinced the same damn-the-facts attitude as the editorial did.

In the column, Krugman blames the massacre on “eliminationist rhetoric,” which he defines as “suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.” He rightly asserts that “there isn’t any place” for such rhetoric. But he falsely asserts that it is “coming, overwhelmingly, from the right.”

He provides exactly one example: Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, “urging constituents to be ‘armed and dangerous.’ ” Such a statement does seem problematic, although in the absence of context, and given what former Times public editor Daniel Okrent has described as Krugman’s “disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults”–an observation that surely applies to nonnumeric facts as well–we are disinclined to trust Krugman’s interpretation of Bachmann’s statement.

In any case, the evidence Krugman offers is insufficient to establish even the existence of “eliminationist rhetoric” on the right. To be sure, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Such rhetoric does exist on the right, and we join Krugman in deploring it.

But Krugman’s assertion that such rhetoric comes “overwhelmingly from the right” is at best wilfully ignorant. National Review’s Jay Nordlinger runs down some examples on the left:

Even before [George W.] Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started. When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words “SNIPERS WANTED.” Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, “You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.” (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, “Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.” (This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, “Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they’re to shoot Quayle.”) Also in 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.”

One example Nordlinger misses: Just this past October, then-Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania told the Times-Tribune of Scranton: “That [Rick] Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida. Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.” Kanjorski was defeated for re-election the following month, but he turns up today on the op-ed page of–oh, yes–the New York Times:

The House speaker, John Boehner, spoke for everyone who has been in Congress when he said that an attack against one of us is an attack against all who serve. It is also an attack against all Americans.

Does that include Gov. Rick Scott, Mr. Kanjorski?

Left-wing eliminationist rhetoric has occasionally made its way into the very pages of the Times. Here are the jaunty opening paragraphs of a news story dated Dec. 26, 1995:

As the Rev. Al Sharpton strode through Harlem toward Sylvia’s restaurant and a meeting with the boxing promoter Don King last week, the greetings of passers-by followed him down Lenox Avenue.

“Hey, Reverend Al, you going to kill Giuliani?” one man shouted, in a joking reference to the latest confrontation between Mr. Sharpton and the Mayor. Mr. Sharpton waved silently and walked on.

“Giuliani,” he said, “is the best press agent I ever had.”

The next paragraph puts this eliminationist rhetoric into context:

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and others have accused Mr. Sharpton of using racially charged language that contributed to the emotional pitch of a dispute between a Jewish clothing store owner and the black owner of a record shop. They have suggested he had a responsibility to defuse the tensions that rose until a gunman set Freddy’s clothing store afire Dec. 8, killing himself and seven others.

(As an aside, it is no credit to our colleagues at Fox News Channel that Sharpton is a frequent guest on their programs.)

Another bit of eliminationist rhetoric appeared as the lead sentence of an article on the Times op-ed page in December 2009: “A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy.” The author: Paul Krugman.

A March 2010 profile of Krugman in The New Yorker featured this related detail:

Once Obama won the primary, Krugman supported him. Obviously, any Democrat was better than John McCain.

“I was nervous until they finally called it on Election Night,” Krugman says. “We had an Election Night party at our house, thirty or forty people.”

“The econ department, the finance department, the Woodrow Wilson school,” [Robin] Wells [Krugman's wife] says. “They were all very nervous, so they were grateful we were having the party, because they didn’t want to be alone. We had two or three TVs set up and we had a little portable outside fire pit and we let people throw in an effigy or whatever they wanted to get rid of for the past eight years.”

“One of our Italian colleagues threw in an effigy of Berlusconi.”

Burning an effigy, like burning an American flag, is constitutionally protected symbolic speech. It is also about as eliminationist as speech can get, short of a true threat or incitement. To Krugman, it is a fun party activity. It is shockingly hypocritical for such a man to deliver a pious lecture about the dangers of eliminationist rhetoric.

The Times is far from alone in responding to the Tucson massacre with false accusations and inflammatory innuendoes against its foes. We focus on the Times because it is the leader–the most authoritative voice of the left-liberal media, or what used to be called the “mainstream” media.

What accounts for this descent into madness? We think the key lies in this sentence from yesterday’s Times editorial: “But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible . . .”

Particularly their supporters in the media. This echoes a comment House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer made on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday:

One of the things that you and I have discussed, Bob [Schieffer, the host], when–when you and I grew up, we grew up listening to a set of three major news outlets–NBC, ABC, and, of course, CBS. Most of the people like Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid, Huntley-Brinkley and they saw their job as to inform us of the facts and we would make a conclusion. Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting–of inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral.

The campaign of vilification against the right, led by the New York Times, is really about competition in the media industry–not commercial competition but competition for authority. When Bob Schieffer and Steny Hoyer were growing up, the New York Times had unrivaled authority to set the media’s agenda, with the three major TV networks following its lead.

The ensuing decades have seen a proliferation of alternative media outlets, most notably talk radio and Fox News Channel, and a corresponding diminution of the so-called mainstream media’s ability to set the boundaries of political debate.

Its authority dwindling, the New York Times is resorting to authoritarian tactics–slandering its competitors in the hope of tearing them down. Hoyer is right. Too many news outlets are busy “inciting people . . . to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral.” The worst offender, because it is the leader, is the New York Times. Decent people of whatever political stripe must say enough is enough.

Post Arizona: America’s Enduring Strength

What a real American class act looks and sounds like…

by Sarah Palin on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 at 03:52

Please click here to view the video of this statement.

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

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. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.

- Sarah Palin