Patterico's Pontifications

1/13/2011

Obama Didn’t Denounce Leftists Appropriately, Says . . . Kirsten Powers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

Alternate title: “In Which I Reconcile with Stacy McCain.” Be warned: this post has a bit of a rambling style. I told you: I’ve been reading a lot of Ace lately.

Anyway: leave it to KP to recognize the weakness of Obama’s speech last night. Allahpundit, Ed Morrissey, Rich Lowry, Gabe and Drew at Ace’s, Baldilocks, John Nolte, and about a million other conservatives said last night that they thought Obama had somehow denounced the leftists’ “Blame Palin” campaign of lies. Like me (and Ace, and Stacy McCain, and Rush Limbaugh, and Tammy Bruce, and a seemingly small handful of others), Ms. Powers begs to differ:

He did add to his prepared remarks that incivility did not cause this tragedy, but he stopped short of a full rebuke of the complete irresponsibility of those who have been stoking anger at conservatives who—as far as we know—had nothing to do with this.

When the president did lay blame, it was on Americans in general. Among the many odd assertions he made: suggesting that “what a tragedy like this requires” is that “we align our values with our actions.” We were told to “expand our moral imaginations.”

Huh?

A mentally ill gunman opened fire at a Safeway. A lack of “aligning” or “imagination” really wasn’t the problem. Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen.

As I argued earlier, if we’re going to give Obama credit for denouncing the lies, he should first earn our praise by, you know, actually denouncing the lies. Because — and now I’m speaking to all you conservatives who thought Obama was extra tough on the left — I don’t think the left interpreted his words the way you think he did. For example: the New York Times ran an editorial today basically saying, Obama said we should all be civil, and good thing he said that, because that Sarah Palin sure isn’t civil, is she?

Here is the icing on the cake. Remember that the Big Indication that Obama was supposedly denouncing the leftists? Yeah, it was that ad-libbed line that you see in brackets below:

And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy [-- it did not --] but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.

Now, I have been shouting to anyone who will listen that this was very far from a rebuke. But I was assured that these three words had a huge impact on the left, because it was a direct slap to their faces.

Here’s where the Rorschach inkblot comes in, I guess. Because what are we to make of the fact that the New York Times simply left those words out of their editorial?

I heard some conservatives saying it was to hide the rebuke from readers’ view. Yeah, maybe — if you’re inclined to see it as a big rebuke.

Me, I will point out that their quote was lazily taken from the prepared text. (Remember: the Big Three Words were an ad lib.) And I think that, rather than being devious, the editors just . . . hadn’t noticed the ad lib.

See, the point of the conservatives was to say: Wow! When he said “it did not” he sure stuck it to the New York Times!! And I think that those three words had such a huge impact on the New York Times that they . . . forgot he said them.

Which is not to say that they weren’t devious after the omission was noticed. When Ace and a few others went nuts, they snuck the three words back in. (Without a word of acknowledgement, as you do with a significant and embarrassing correction, when you’re a major newspaper and you think we’re all too dumb to notice.)

But the point is: those three words meant nothing to them.

As Ace says:

Those on the right who liked the speech are praising Obama for making these statements which, if you read them carefully enough, seem to caution the left about tearing itself into a red frenzy over this.

Those of us who like the speech less don’t like it because the speech was elliptical enough, vague enough, ambiguous enough that the New York Times could miss the point if they tried hard enough, which in fact they did.

Look, I already said this. When you say a “simple lack of civility” didn’t cause the shooting, the Boehlerts say: right! Evil right-wing rhetoric did! And Obama left that interpretation wide open.

This is why KP says Obama’s so-called rebuke was anything but.

If you’re going to denounce something, denounce it. And if you just can’t do it because, hey, you can’t offend your base, then fine, whatever . . . but why should conservatives give you credit for a Sister Souljah moment that never happened?

That is what continues to frustrate me no end about this speech — and it takes a leftist like KP to articulate it?

Thankfully, there is a small handful of us who are so pissed about the last few days that we are banding together, and saying hell no, we’re not moderating our rhetoric. If anything, this episode has made me far more strident — because I know that’s the opposite of what the liars want.

And somehow, I don’t feel like acceding to the liars’ demands. I’m funny that way.

Stacy McCain and I actually bonded over this on Twitter. (Yeah, I’m on Twitter! Follow me here.) I observed to him that, like him, there was no way I was going to engage in a “new tone” — and I noted that the lying leftists have managed to achieve a certain UNITY!!! among some of us conservatives that I never thought I’d see. I said: “There is something about having a common enemy that draws people together.” McCain responded:

rsmccain @Patterico Good time as any to let bygones be bygones. Now let’s kick some liberals to the curb.

I agreed. And as far as I am concerned, the bygones are indeed bygones. Because what Stacy said is about how I feel at this point. It’s time to stick these lying Krugmans and Koses in a trash can, head down, with their faces ground into the rotting fish heads and their feet flailing in the air, and take them out to the curb — because, after the last few days, it’s looking like trash day, and I hear the truck coming down the street.

No, no: don’t put them in the recyclables container. I want them gone from our public discourse for good.

As a caller observed to Rush Limbaugh today, “civility” is basically the left’s code word for “censorship.” If those are the terms of civility, I’ll pass.

Again: nothing unites like a common enemy. Hell, I’m even enjoying listening to Mark Levin again!

But, you know, I can find common ground with a lefty like KP — as long as she’s willing to agree with me about what a weasel Obama was last night.

KUMBAYA!!!

New York Times Lies?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:38 pm

No way!

Ann Coulter:

In the most bald-faced lie I have ever read in The New York Times — which is saying something — that paper implied Loughner is a pro-life zealot. This is the precise opposite of the truth.

Only because numerous other news outlets, including ABC News and The Associated Press, reported the exact same shocking incident in much greater detail — and with direct quotes — do we know that the Times’ rendition was complete bunk.

ABC News reported: “One Pima Community College student, who had a poetry class with Loughner later in his college career, said he would often act ‘wildly inappropriate.’

“‘One day (Loughner) started making comments about terrorism and laughing about killing the baby,’ classmate Don Coorough told ABC News, referring to a discussion about abortions. ‘The rest of us were looking at him in shock … I thought this young man was troubled.’

“Another classmate, Lydian Ali, recalled the incident as well.

“‘A girl had written a poem about an abortion. It was very emotional and she was teary eyed and he said something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomber,’ Ali said.”

Here’s the Times’ version: “After another student read a poem about getting an abortion, Mr. Loughner compared the young woman to a ‘terrorist for killing the baby.’”

Pretty much the same thing, right?

Via Ace, who, again, is on fire.

Also in the New York Times, Paul Krugman is heeding President Obama’s words and seeking common ground tonight. Example? OK:

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

“The other side,” you see (meaning conservatives), does not believe that “it’s only right for the affluent to help the less fortunate.” According to Krugman. Except that conservatives give about 30 percent more to charity than liberals, even though conservative-headed households tend to make slightly less. So, it turns out that we believe it’s only right for the affluent to help the less fortunate. Krugman, you sanctimonious hypocrite. We just don’t believe in turning over money to an incompetent government in order to do it.

They just lie, and lie, and lie. But oh! so very civilly.

The Hate They Are Not Talking About

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:50 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Okay, we are in for another long one, so buckle up.  What I want to talk about is what many on the left have been doing all week.  But you have to start with history, the story of another American tragedy.

On September 15, 1963, a bomb went off in the 16th St. Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Alabama.  It killed four little girls as they attended Sunday school.  This video from the History Channel provides a nice backgrounder:

People had died before at the hands of the Klan, but that unique combination of young children and dying in the house of God shocked this nation like few other incidents.  But God has a way of wringing good out of evil.  Those are not my words, but the words that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke when standing next to the graves of three of those girls and a boy killed during the unrest that followed.  The eulogy he delivered was in truth a classic funeral oration, which at times clearly hearkened back to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Only where Lincoln suggested that we dedicate ourselves to fighting for the cause those soldiers had died for, Dr. King suggested that we should fight against the thing that killed those little girls.  He said, in pertinent part:

These children—unoffending, innocent, and beautiful—were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. Yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.

And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician [Audience:] (Yeah) who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats (Yeah) and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. (Speak) They have something to say to every Negro (Yeah) who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. (Mmm) They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

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People Falsely Accused of Wishing for Sarah Palin’s Death; UPDATE: Jovan Featured in Fox News Story

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:52 pm

In that video of disgusting death threats against Sarah Palin (Aaron posted screenshots of them here), there were a couple that I think were included by mistake.

Notably, this one:

To me, this is clearly a repudiation of those who blamed Palin. If there were any doubt, the author of the message explains:

Anybody who knows me, has read my books, has read my blog, has read my Tweets, has breathed the same internet air I breathe knows I’m a Reagan-conservative-moving-swiftly-to-libertarian Mormon with a side of objectivism to spice things up.

Thus, it didn’t occur to me that my tweet, made in conversation with someone else, in response to my utter disgust with the immediate blaming of Sarah Palin for Saturday’s shooting of a Congresswoman would be taken as a threat against Palin and/or a wish for her death.

In comments to Aaron’s previous post, some commenters blame the author for allegedly not making her point clear. In fact, I had a hard time seeing it as anything but an attack on those who wished death for Palin. But this could illustrate the power of reading words through a prism. Many people saw her words through the prism of a video that listed numerous death threats. I hadn’t bothered to watch that whole video, and her message came to my attention when I read a post defending her — meaning that the first time I read her message, I knew what she meant. It was very difficult for me even to understand the alternate interpretation, but when commenter Dustin patiently explained it (it appeared to him that she was telling Tea Partiers “you reap what you sow”) I finally got it.

In any event, any ambiguity from the face of the message is certainly cleared up by her explanation, which I wholly accept. I apologize to the author of the message for whatever role this blog had in adding to the negative reaction, although it seems that most people who wrote her to criticize her now understand what she meant.

By the way, the Twitterer and her defender both got pretty angry at people for misinterpreting her message, and issued some broad statements about conservatives or Palin defenders in general. I’d like to think those comments were made in righteous anger and that they would reconsider them. Both of them are utterly contemptuous of the left’s smears of Palin. In other words, their heads are generally in the right place. Give them some space, and I bet they’ll come around.

I haven’t examined every message to see if there are others that aren’t really threats, but there is one that leapt out at me as being questionable:

If you follow that link, you’ll find it goes to a ridiculous post that is exactly what the Twitterer described. I have seen him explaining it as such in subsequent messages and I am inclined to believe him.

Aaron pointed both of these out, but I thought it was worth a new post. I think what happened to these two Twitterers is, in micro form, similar to what happened to Palin and Michele Bachmann: perfectly legitimate sentiments were taken out of context and made into something they weren’t. They deserve to have this pointed out prominently — to be defended, in vigorous fashion, against a smear (albeit an unintentional one) . . . just as we would defend (and have defended) Bachmann and Palin against smears made against them.

The irony is that this illustrates that, like the makers of the video, some on the left might have actually believed Palin and Bachmann were calling for violence. Having viewed the awful Tea Partiers’ rhetoric through the prism of their certainty that Tea Partiers are violent bigots, they may not (all) have been cynically exploiting rhetoric they knew was innocent. This is a point I heard Rush Limbaugh make today: there are people who actually believe he and Palin incited this shooting (which bizarrely makes the death wishes for Palin more understandable).

I don’t credit the Krugmans and Boehlerts of the world with being honest suckers, by the way. They are simply exploiting those who are.

As for the other people who said those awful things about Palin: I don’t necessarily think they should be hounded and have their bosses notified and that sort of thing . . . but I don’t really have a problem with figuring out who they are, publicizing that, and contacting them to ask if they stand by their statements. When you make statements on the Internet, you own them, and need to stand by them.

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Jovan tells me that she was mentioned in a Fox News article. Luckily, the article was accurate and quoted her defense, so she was not further smeared.

Comedy Gold: Sharpton’s Blood Libel Fail!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:15 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Of course you remember over here when Patterico mocked Sharpton and the Washington Post for running an op-ed by Sharpton entitled In MLK’s honor, let’s strive for dialogue that’s passionate but not poisonous.  Again, this is Al Sharpton saying this.  And for extra comedy purposes, this is next to a libelous cartoon:

By the way, you should read about this exchange between Frank Strategies and the author of that cartoon.  It’s priceless.

But anyway, Al Sharpton was repeating this blood libel on his radio show, when one of his callers came in and basically urinated on the whole theory:

My favorite part was when he mentioned talk show hosts. Gee, which radio talk show host were you thinking of, sir?

Anyway, you can read more, here.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Pete King’s Proposed Gun Ban to Prevent Additional Safeway Massacres (and to Address the Danger of Trucks Falling on Rafts)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:39 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

One of the irritating things that occurs in politics is that every time something bad happens, someone thinks it is time to change the law.  For instance, in the wake of the Enron scandals we saw people in congress proposing new regulations on business supposedly to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future.  I remember saying to colleagues at the time, “Why?  Isn’t what they did already illegal?”  But we have thousands and thousands of pages of laws and guidelines concerning the punishment or liability faced when the law is broken, something that fundamentally assumes that whatever the penalty is, there will still be people who break the law.  I called it There-aughtta-be-a-law syndrome, which was appropriately sent up in this classic Onion bit:

So Representative Pete King is proposing a law to prohibit carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of various high officials, including Congresspersons.  You know, I generally like and admire King, but what an idiotic proposal.  He compared it to the Gun-Free School Act, which is dubious constitutionally (given that the last version of this law was struck down).

So first, this imposes a duty to know where your congressperson is at all times.  Now of course the Gun-Free Schools Act does the same with schools, but schools are at a fixed location.  They don’t move around very much and when they do, you generally know it.  By comparison, very often politicians don’t want you to know exactly where they are.

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Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am

Ace:

MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Stop making it all about you!!! This is about the people who were shot!!!

To which I would add:

MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Why are you so defensive?

And:

MEDIA: Sarah Palin directly and knowingly caused the murders of six innocent human beings.  She is suspiciously silent.  Will she ever address this?

PALIN: No, I didn’t.

MEDIA: Too soon.

Meanwhile, the media is eating up Obama’s speech. Why, he remained above the partisan fray! He showed the courage to deny that “a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy.” And even though that is a completely meaningless statement — even though I can hear Eric Boehlert saying: “True enough! It was that extreme right-wing rhetoric that caused it!” — still, the amazing courage it took for Obama to burn that strawman down . . . it brings tears to my eyes.

Ace is seemingly about the only blogger I follow who shares my view of last night’s pep rally memorial. (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!)

If, like me, you were just thinking, “Hey, he’s keeping the focus on the victims, that’s good” (and by good I mean awful, because they were real living people, once), brace yourself, he’s about to turn bad.

He doesn’t so much make accusations as continue to pander to deranged leftists who insist that Sarah Palin is an accomplice to murder. But who knows — given that the left is now determined to avenge the shootings via some eliminationist rhetoric and possibly actions of their own, maybe it’s helpful and will save lives.

If he wants to make the left understand I mean you too he has to say so though, because of course otherwise they assume they can do no wrong.

“We cannot use this occasion as one more reason to turn on each other.” Nice thought, but I sure hope that at some point the word goes out I mean the left too.

No… I tried to give him a break, but it’s the heavy implication this was a political attack (why else all the emphasis on disagreeing without being disagreeable?).

Yup, trying to run the Bill Clinton 1995 playbook.

No, Ace. I am assured by every other conservative on Earth that his speech was pitch-perfect. The smug looks? Icing on the cake.

Look. Kirsten Powers (yes, Kirsten Powers) nailed this on Twitter: “Not surprising that O gave an inspiring speech but all the pleas for civility etc didn’t make sense unless u think that’s what caused this.” (u have to abbreviate on Twitter b/c of 140 char limit.) It’s all part of an effort to shut down effective Republican rhetoric — and at its worst and most cynical, even to delay our legislative priorities.

Obama won’t stop that. Why should we praise him for pretending to, when he didn’t?

Ace has been on fire lately, by the way. I can’t do his posts justice. Just keep scrolling.


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