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12 minutes ago
Looking at the social and political world today through my sociological and artistic imagination
"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. [And it took her three days for her scriptwriters to come up with something for her to say to undo her first, unscripted remarks and to counter the blow-back from Glenn Beck's reading of purported emails from her] 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." [Unfortunately, while he did say these words, the context was that he was arguing against providing any social services to the inner cities] 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, [Although the left does not use maps with gun sights accompanied by her favorite slogan, "Don't retreat--reload"] 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. [And just because something is legal means of course, that it is the right thing to do]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. [well, not exactly] In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power [?!? transition of power? sorry hon, just the House, so not really a 'true' 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. [Which I have abused by telling lies] 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. [What is reprehensible is using a term 'blood libel' that has a very specific history in Judaism and is offensive when the primary victim on Saturday, Congresswoman Giffords, is Jewish. And manufacture? Just the word is incendiary in itself, connoting as it does conspiracy on the part of (whom?) to stir things up] [And once again, she contradicts herself in the same paragraph. First, the crime stands on its own, then somehow, speech can 'incite blood libel?']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. [So you have no desire for an ideal world? If so, you would have stopped the hateful comments shouted out during your campaign rallies as John McCain did, or at least noted their inappropriateness in civil, albeit heated, political debate. And this level of rhetoric? It is unique as never before have we had a television station devoted 24/7 to promulgating lies in aid of a political party and ideology. You clearly do not believe your own words, that the crime stands on its own as you regularly claimed that then Senator Obama "palled around with terrorists" and tried (and still do) to claim guilt by association for all your opponents]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." [Funny, this was when your gunsight map generated controversy and Congresswoman Giffords went on MSNBC to tell you that words have consequences. Just sayin] 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. [Oh wow. This, from the Queen of Thin Skin! But I forgot, in Sarahworld, the 1st Amendment is about protecting her and political figures FROM the press, so muzzling the voices that call her to account is okay, but limiting hate speech is not?]
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 [No Sarah. It is not 'sacred.' This is a secular country and our founding documents are not 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. [Hmmm. Where were you when all the members of your party sat on their hands as Bush and Cheney raped the Constitution?]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. [Would that it were mindless] 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"
"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
"You know, what I'd like to see-because I do believe that setting the 2011 deadline did cause significant damage to the effort, in terms of convincing people that we're committed to be there to win-I'd like to see the president repudiate it. I'd like to see him say, "Just let's be clear: We are going to make our decisions based on conditions on the ground, not based on dates we set back here in Washington."
What is interesting, is that although I personally would prefer that the President bring the troops home, I understand that he is trying to clean up your father's messes. Typical of the extremist right, you have just plucked words out of the air to create an argument, the support for your argument, and the necessary actions to reach a satisfactory conclusion."...It's important for the Pakistanis to hear that as well, so that they understand it is not in their interest at all to help to support, provide safe havens to the extent that the Taliban has safe havens in Pakistan. That message is a critically important one, and I'd like to see the president say "conditions-based," not just "deadline set."
Discussing the additional troops that he was sending, he said: [emphasis added]"... next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: This transition will begin-because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's."
I think most of us would like all of the troops to come home, and the money that is being spent instead go to restore social programs here in this country and pay back the debt incurred by your father and George W. But, your father wanted war and along with W, ignored Bin Laden to go settle a grudge and start a war that had been planned since the early 1990's. Then, realizing their mistake, moved into Afghanistan and tried to solve the problems that we created. So you don't like how things are going? Neither do I. But next time, pay attention before opening your mouth. You look foolish."...these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground."
"Take her anti-obesity thing that she’s on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And..and..and I know I’m going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track."What is amusing, is that while governor, she was not entirely useless. Probably little more than a talking head, as she was when she claimed to be a journalist, in her State of the State speech in 2009, Sarah Palin said: [emphasis added]
"Protecting good health is largely a matter of personal responsibility, but government policy can help."Chef Kurt Michael Friese responded to the exchange with one of the best comments that I've heard:
"You see, Mrs. Palin, contrary to what President Reagan once said, government is not the problem, nor is it the solution. Government is a tool, like a hammer. And like a hammer it can be used by people to build things up or tear things down. I would choose the former, and you would choose to throw the hammer out the window."Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?”
"Not only is Wikileaks is hosted in Sweden where, I feel duty bound to point out, the President of the US does not have sovereignty as of yet and where it is impossible to commit treason against this country unless one is a US citizen residing in Sweden, but also, as Ms Palin must be aware (given her recent claim to a journalism degree that qualified her to discredit all American media save Fox News) there’s that pesky Pentagon Papers ruling"[sic]
"We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.”
"Ms Palin is charging the Obama administration with neglecting national security on purpose, implying that he is anti-American, as she did during the 2008 campaign. And that must sting the President, coming as it does from a person married to a once-registered secessionist..."
I've been working on several things today unrelated to news and politics, but I kept TweetDeck open all day and popped in and out when something caught my eye. Everyone has written about this issue, most weighing in on whether or not they agreed with the release of the documents. Most of the discussion seems to be about the damage that may or may not have been done, and the next dump which is reputed to be bank information. The cluelessness of Sarah Palin puts an amusing coda on the subject, but also is very frightening. Although in the middle of the piece, this paragraph from Ms. Jones piece, is I believe, the most important point: (emphasis added)It isn’t that she doesn’t know the law, it’s that she doesn’t care to know the law. It isn’t that she assumes dictator like powers as President, it’s that she has already proven in Alaska that she governs with reckless abandon for the law. This is the person quoted as saying to the Wasilla City Council leader, “’I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”
thanks for stopping by. Come back soon."And this is where the real trouble begins. Are we to believe that in Ms Palin’s America, she would assume the right to shut down any blog, paper, or freedom of information act organization she disliked by claiming they were a threat to national security (and the troops)? Would it be asking too much for American citizens to get more information on Ms Palin’s understanding of the fine tightrope between transparency and security, court precedent and a general understanding of the balance of power inherent in our government? Does Ms Palin think Americans are entitled to hear her discuss these complicated issues on a regular news outlet at some point, as the rest of our lawmakers and leaders do?"
"Americans are often misinformed, occasionally downright dumb, and easily misled by juicy-sounding rumors. But while the right wing is taking full advantage of this reality, the Left worries that calling out lies is "rude."
"Remember when Congressman Joe Wilson stood up during Obama’s State of the Union address and shouted “You lie”? He was chastised soundly by the pundit class. But mostly he drew heat for being impolite, and was compared to Kanye West and other famous interrupters."
"Revisiting Wilson's foolish tirade underscores the state of our upside-down political world. Wilson shouted “you lie” in the face of truth, but President Obama is hesitant to speak up when he’s being slandered with bald, glaring untruths...It feels like no one with a loud enough megaphone has the courage to call a spade a spade, or more accurately a lie a lie."[...]
"The scary thing is, these kinds of rumors have a way of taking root in the popular consciousness. Just as the election season began heating up earlier this year, Newsweek published a list of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” While some of them are garden-variety lunacy, a surprising number are lies that were fed to Americans by our leaders on the far-Right. This demonstrates that media-fed lies can easily become ingrained in the collective memory if they’re not countered quickly and surely. Newsweek’s list included the following 12 statistics taken from recent and semi-recent polls and surveys. The first half are directly related to right-wing rumormongering."
“...by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”[...]
"Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum."
"But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters. Folks on our end have to counter the lies with well-told, unabashed unironic, truth-telling. And we have to demand that our media, and our politicians, call out the other side. As Perlstein notes, “When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes 'uncivil' to call out liars, lying becomes free.”
"Even worse, once lies begin to spread, they become more than rumors--they become permanent beliefs."
"Anyone who is surprised by this has not been paying attention. Sarah Palin is the great divider, a lowest common denominator among an already low-brow movement of proud to be ignorant, pseudo-rebellious anarchists who are super angry about the democratic process which renounced them in 2008."Jones discusses how Palin has been talking about Reverend Wright, the supposed lack of qualifications of Obama, and other issues that have been thoroughly put to rest by anyone but her.
"None of these strategies worked in 2008 and beating these dusty memes only makes Palin look like the emotional retrograde she is, still clinging to her wounds from 2008 and sure that if enough people hear her, they will denounce Obama. Ms Palin is unaware that in real America, blatant racism doesn’t play well. And she is also unaware that our President and his family are too self-disciplined to even acknowledge her embarrassingly juvenile attempts to engage them."[...]
"...Palin will not know what hit her because she is still stuck in 2008, seething with jealousy and outrage that she lost to a black man.Palin is the ultimate martyr and victim flashing a bit of thigh, appealing to the KKK type crowd.
And this is why race will be her “issue”.
Palin is going to run for President, and this is how she will do it. Why? Because she has nothing else..."
"So Sarah Palin’s campaign has already begun and it will consist of trashy, unspeakable things that will hurt your soul, pain your heart and make you question the sanity of your country. And when no one pushes back hard enough against her outrageous claims (they will debunk the lie, but fail to expose the projection), you will find yourself curling up into a ball of horror at what your country has become."She limits herself to venues that are supportive, and reporters that let her set the tone, not believing that no one will let her get away with that should she run for President in 2012. She claims that being on Fox everyday gives her "exposure" not realizing that:
"Exposure is what celebrities do. It is not the same thing as taking questions and talking policy, in other words, interacting in live time with the fourth estate. Neither Facebook nor Twitter nor Fox are vehicles for the fourth estate to do their job. As a supposed journalism major (in spite of the fact that no one at her last college remembers her and we have not been gifted with proof of her degree), Palin should have at least cursory knowledge of the job of a reporter. Not many on Fox PAC will ever be accused of being a reporter. Twitter is not a reporter. Facebook is not a reporter."Providing some well-earned criticism to the mainstream media, Jones notes that:
"While they will still miss the larger points, they’ve had time to get to know Palin’s reputation for lies and they will not want to be humiliated again. The press scrutiny of the VP candidate is nothing compared to the scrutiny she will face as the top of the ticket. If Sarah Palin thought the media was cruel to her when they asked her what she read, wait until they ask her why she lied about not having healthcare, about Troopergate, about the AIP connections, about Death Panels, the people who died under her administration or about her belief that Iraq bordered America"
"And that’s not even the juicy bits. Welcome to 2012, Ms Palin. If you insist upon bringing your scourge of hate upon this country, don’t think we’re going to sit back and take it like we did in 2008. Buckle up, sweetie. The spotlight is on you, where you’ve always wanted it, but I’m not sure you’re going to like it. Your dreams of stardom may well turn into a nightmare. You are about to learn what it feels like to be attacked for real."Please do read the entire post here.