B12 Solipsism

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Sarah Palin is The GOP Standard Bearer

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dreidel dreidel

I’ve been pretty successful at ignoring Sarah Palin for a while,1 in the vain hope that she would stop being the GOP standard bearer if nobody paid attention to her, but Palin’s latest hateful egocentrism was too much. Since I’m not a paid pundint (sic), I couldn’t bear to watch her entire seven minute hate, so have instead relied upon professionals who have more intestinal fortitude to parse her half-truths and slanders.

Such as:

so let’s just lead off with Sarah Palin’s video response to critics who alleged that her crosshairs map and no-holds-barred rhetoric contributed to a political climate that may have helped lead to the Arizona massacre:

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength” from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

A few quick things to note. First, the obvious care that went into making this video — the pre-written script is over seven minutes long; she clearly rehearsed the reading at some length; and the backdrop includes an American flag on the right flank — demonstrate once again that Palin and her advisers knew this was a potential make-or-break moment. Palin, of course, has long taken her case directly to supporters via Twitter and Facebook, while not permitting herself to be exposed to any journalistic cross-examination. Utilizing a pre-taped video message is a new twist on that strategy, and a reflection of how high the stakes have become.

Second, her core accusation on the video, the one that was clearly selected with an intent to drive headlines, not only accuses critics of “blood libel,” but actually accuses them of expressing concern and outrage about the shooting in bad faith, as if they are doing so in an effort to do nothing more than damage her politically:

(click to continue reading The Plum Line – Sarah Palin and `blood libel’.)

I don’t know if Palin’s teleprompter told her to slip in the phrase “blood libel” to discuss Arizona’s only Jewish Congressperson, or if Palin freelanced it, but since the 7 minute hate was obviously not an off-the-cuff production, perhaps someone might have done a bit of research:

Blood libel (also blood accusation) refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, usually Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays.

Historically, these claims have–alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration–been a major theme in European persecution of Jews.

The libels typically allege that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover. The accusations often assert that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted, and, historically, blood libel claims have often been made to account for otherwise unexplained deaths of children. In some cases, the alleged victim of human sacrifice has become venerated as a martyr, a holy figure around whom a martyr cult might arise. A few of these have been even canonized as saints, like Gavriil Belostoksky.

In Jewish lore, blood libels were the impetus for the creation in the 16th century of the Golem of Prague by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel. Many popes have either directly or indirectly condemned the blood accusation, and no pope has ever sanctioned it.

These libels have persisted among some segments of Christians to the present time.

(click to continue reading Blood libel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

I’m a firm believer in free speech, even for maggots festering on the political body such as Sarah Palin, but enjoying free speech doesn’t preclude others from criticizing your words if they are as inflammatory as Palin’s.

“Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others,” said David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in a statement. “This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries — and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”

“The term ‘blood libel’ is not a synonym for ‘false accusation,’ ” said Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice. “It refers to a specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries, a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the term is totally out of line.”

U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head Saturday and remained in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said “it was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder. Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.

“Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood libel’ in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.”

(click to continue reading Blood libel: Jewish leaders object to Palin’s ‘blood libel’ charge – chicagotribune.com.)

And contrasting Barack Obama’s speech, Halmark-esque as it was, with Palin’s vitriol reminded a lot of folks why Obama won the election.

Wednesday was bookended by two remarkable — and remarkably different — political performances that demonstrated the vast expanse of America’s political landscape.

The day opened at 5 a.m. with Sarah Palin, whose seven-and-a-half minute video statement captured with precision the bubbling anger and resentment that is an undercurrent of the national conversation about our public discourse.

Sarah Palin issued a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video statement posted to her Facebook page. It ended with President Obama, whose plea for civility, love and compassion — for us to all be not just better citizens but better people — exposed for the first time the emotions of a leader who has spent two years staying cool and controlled for a nation beset by difficult times.

The tone of the two speeches could not have been more different. The venues were a world apart — the smallness of a rectangular video on a computer screen and the vastness of an echo-filled basketball arena.

And they both served as a reminder of the political clash to come when the 2012 presidential campaign gets underway in earnest next year.

(click to continue reading Obama and Palin, a Tale of Two Speeches – NYTimes.com.)

Or:

In the span of a single news cycle, Republicans got a jarring reminder of two forces that could prevent them from retaking the presidency next year.

At sunrise in the east on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest—or capacity—in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the west, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.

Palin was defiant, making the case in a taped speech she posted online why the nation’s heated political debate should continue unabated even after Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson. And, seeming to follow her own advice, she swung back at her opponents, deeming the inflammatory notion that she was in any way responsible for the shootings a “blood libel.”

Obama, speaking at a memorial service at the University of Arizona, summoned the country to honor the victims, and especially nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, by treating one another with more respect. “I want America to be as good as Christina imaged it,” he said.

It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast.

 

(click to continue reading Barack Obama takes opportunity Sarah Palin missed – Jonathan Martin – POLITICO.com.)

Can we all take a vow to ignore Sarah Palin for a while now? At least until she announces she is running for president in 2012?

Footnotes:
  1. Since 9/2010 on my blog []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 13th, 2011 at 9:32 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Balancing Both Sides Against the Middle

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Self Sacrifice Zealot

The political journalism canard that if both left and right are complaining about your coverage, you are doing something right is punctured, again, by Eric Alterman:1

This journalistic calculus is partly why so much of our political discourse is artificially colored by he said, she said reporting that is of little use to our democracy. Why it rarely weighs facts, draws conclusions and exposes the dissemblers, prevaricators and liars. Why it more often than not resembles a referee, yes, but one at a pro wrestling match, purporting to be a fair watchdog but completely ineffectual and easily rolled (if not totally in on the joke) when faced with a party who simply refuses to play by the rules. Why a supposedly preeminent member of the Washington press corps like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank could write the following five years ago:

[A 2004 survey] found that 75 percent of Bush voters believed that Iraq either gave al Qaeda ‘substantial support’ or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…

This is not to pick on Bush followers. Many on the left harbor their own fantasies that they consider fact—about how Bush knew of 9/11 in advance, or how he was coached during one of the presidential debates via a transmitter between his shoulder blades.

I’ll set aside any confusion possibly caused by this inconvenient memo to state unequivocally that I’m no crazy 9/11 truther. Nevertheless, it’s still amazing that, in Dana Milbank’s mind as well as his editors, an erroneous belief held by 46.5 million Bush voters, one of whom at the time of the survey was also our Vice President, constitutes as big a threat to democratic discourse as a minority of fringe conspiracy theorists on the left, none of whom have ever gained so much as a toehold within legitimately respected circles of intellectual or political discourse.

In fact, it took an astute reader to later corner Milbank on his baldly false equivalence in a subsequent Post webchat, where Milbank’s response cast aside his righteous anger at so much political spin and instead became an object lesson about Nietzsche’s abyss: “Let’s for now leave aside the question of the % on each side that believe a falsehood. I think the examples cited are actually quite similar.” Wow, wholly abandoning any attempt to defend the logic behind one’s assertion while at the same time confidently re-asserting its veracity.  Ari Fleischer, eat your heart out.

(click to continue reading Our Editor-in-Chief President | Eric Alterman – The Nation.)

President Obama has seemingly been subsumed by this same adage, asserting that since both liberals and Tea Baggers don’t like the Give Millionaires Tax Breaks They Don’t Need policy, the tax policy must be good. Uhh, no. Guess again!

Jerk City

Ari Berman writes:

In his press conference yesterday2 , President Obama testily defended his tax cut deal with Republicans and labeled Democratic opponents of the plan “sanctimonious” and “purist.”

So do Obama supporters agree with the president’s assessment that this was the best compromise he could get and he did all he could to fight for middle-class tax cuts and not those for the wealthy?

The answer seems to be a pretty resounding no. A poll commissioned by MoveOn.org yesterday found that 74 percent of Obama volunteers or financial backers in ’08 oppose the deal. More than half said they’d be less likely to support Democrats in 2012 who back the compromise and would be less likely to donate to Obama’s re-election campaign. Pretty sobering statistics for the president and his team.

(click to continue reading Obama Supporters ‘Dismayed, Betrayed, Insulted’ by Tax Deal | The Nation.)

Footnotes:
  1. or someone sitting in for him. Who is Reed? []
  2. December 7,2010 []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 9th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Posted in politics

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Bush Still Doesn’t Like McCain

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Not sure if this changes anything, but amusing nonetheless:

Bush-McCain-celebrate Katrina.png

George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.

The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”

Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.

(click to continue reading Bush: “I probably won’t even vote for McCain” | Westminster Blog: The latest on UK politics | FT.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 10th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Posted in politics

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Fox News gets subpoena power via its client

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CLTV Truck

Fox News gets subpoena power via its client, the Republican Party. Oh, how lovely.

Fox News figures are telling the incoming Republican House majority how to use its investigative authority, compiling a growing list of targets in the Obama administration.

 

Fox Nation highlights “GOP’s First 4 Potential Investigations of Obama.” Fox Nation trumpeted a November 3 BusinessInsider.com article that discusses four possible House investigations into “criticisms of administration officials and their decisions,” including the phony New Black Panthers scandal, conversations between the White House and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) leading up to his Democratic Senate primary, funding of ACORN and its successor groups, and the administration’s response to the BP oil spill.  Many of these investigations are based on phony scandals that have been aggressively promoted by Fox News.

(click to continue reading Fox News gets subpoena power | Media Matters for America.)

Fist Bumps

In other words, the next two years are going to be devoted to fake scandals, played out in the conservative media and echo chamber, and not to doing the people’s business. Can’t wait.

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 9th, 2010 at 7:45 am

Never Ending War For What Purpose

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Bob Herbert, on the never-ending slog in Afghanistan:

Graceland Cemetery Crematorium

Time described the mental-health issue as “the U.S. Army’s third front,” with the reporter, Mark Thompson, writing: “While its combat troops fight two wars, its mental-health professionals are waging a battle to save soldiers’ sanity when they come back, one that will cost billions long after combat ends in Baghdad and Kabul.”

In addition to the terrible physical toll, the ultimate economic costs of these two wars, as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleague Linda Bilmes have pointed out, will run to more than $3 trillion.

I get a headache when I hear supporters of this endless warfare complaining about the federal budget deficits. They’re like arsonists complaining about the smell of smoke in the neighborhood.

There is no silver lining to this nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Poll after poll has shown that it no longer has the support of most Americans. And yet we fight on, feeding troops into the meat-grinder year after tragic year — to what end?

(click to continue reading Bob Herbert – We Owe the Troops an Exit – NYTimes.com.)

He’s right, what exactly is the end goal in Afghanistan? How many more need to be killed before the nebulous goal is reached? Leave now, and don’t look back.

Try Harder

Quoting an unnamed adviser to the president, Mr. Baker wrote that Mr. Obama sees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as “problems that need managing” while he pursues his mission of transforming the nation. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking on the record, said, “He’s got a very full plate of very big issues, and I think he does not want to create the impression that he’s so preoccupied with these two wars that he’s not addressing the domestic issues that are uppermost in people’s minds.”

Wars are not problems that need managing, which suggests that they will always be with us. They are catastrophes that need to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. Wars consume lives by the thousands (in Iraq, by the scores of thousands) and sometimes, as in World War II, by the millions. The goal when fighting any war should be peace, not a permanent simmer of nonstop maiming and killing. Wars are meant to be won — if they have to be fought at all — not endlessly looked after.

One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 30th, 2010 at 9:02 pm

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Kochtopus

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We’ve mentioned The Koch brothers a few times previously. They obviously have too much money, and anything related to their machinations should be noted and publicly discussed.

Pump it

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

(click to continue reading The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama : The New Yorker.)

Long Cycle of Redemption

And even though we mocked this factoid previously, it bears repeating

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

and one more factoid I couldn’t let pass in this excellent albeit long, and infuriating article:

During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans. During the Bush years, Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies enjoyed remarkable prosperity. The 2005 energy bill, which Hillary Clinton dubbed the Dick Cheney Lobbyist Energy Bill, offered enormous subsidies and tax breaks for energy companies. The Kochs have cast themselves as deficit hawks, but, according to a study by Media Matters, their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 23rd, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Posted in politics

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Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty

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David Corn interviews an extremely conservative, long serving Republican Congressman, Bob Inglis, who lost in his South Carolina primary to a tea-party ideologue. Interesting reading.

I am so curious as to what will happen in a general election between a tea party nutjub and and a strong Democrat. Will the general population and low-information voters be swayed by Tea Bagger racism and demagoguery?

Hupeh Wingnut

During his primary campaign, Inglis repeatedly encountered enraged conservatives whom he couldn’t—or wouldn’t—satisfy. Shortly before the runoff primary election, Inglis met with about a dozen tea party activists at the modest ranch-style home of one of them. Here’s what took place:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!” And I said, “Please forgive me. I’m just ignorant of these things.” And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in. Wow.

(click to continue reading Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty | Mother Jones.)

re: calling President Obama a Socialist:

Obama 2008 - Pilsen Paletero

I refused to use the word because I have this view that the Ninth Commandment must mean something. I remember one year Bill Clinton—the guy I was out to get [when serving on the House judiciary committee in the 1990s]—at the National Prayer Breakfast said something that was one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from anybody at a gathering like that. He said, “The most violated commandment in Washington, DC”—everybody leaned in; do tell, Mr. President—”is, ‘Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'” I thought, “He’s right. That is the most violated commandment in Washington.” For me to go around saying that Barack Obama is a socialist is a violation of the Ninth Commandment. He is a liberal fellow. I’m conservative. We disagree…But I don’t need to call him a socialist, and I hurt the country by doing so. The country has to come together to find a solution to these challenges or else we go over the cliff.

and a possible reason that the Tea Baggers are so opposed to doing anything about global climate change:

As an example of both the GOP pandering to right-wing voters and conservative talk show hosts undercutting sensible policymaking, Inglis points to climate change. Fossil fuels, he notes, get a free ride because they’re “negative externalities”—that is, pollution and the effects of climate change—”are not recognized” in the market. Sitting in front of a wall-sized poster touting clean technology centers in South Carolina, Inglis says that conservatives “should be the ones screaming. This is a conservative concept: accountability. This is biblical law: you cannot do on your property what harms your neighbor’s property.” Which is why he supports placing a price on carbon—and forcing polluters to cover it.

Asked why conservatives and Republicans have demonized the issue of climate change and clean energy, Inglis replies, “I wish I knew; then maybe I wouldn’t have lost my election.” He points out that some conservatives believe that any issue affecting the Earth is “the province of God and will not be affected by human activity. If you talk about the challenge of sustainability of the Earth’s systems, it’s an affront to that theological view.”

Written by Seth Anderson

August 10th, 2010 at 3:53 am