Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2011


QOTD: Ace of Spades Edition

This is part of a very long post regarding the meme being shaped by the left:

If even a left-winger can’t resist Rush Limbaugh’s commands to kill when he doesn’t even hear them, what possible chance is there that the 60% of the Tea Party which is primed to murder will resist his call when they do hear it?

As they say, RTWT.


Say “no” to Rep. King’s proposed gun law

Well the usual over-reaction is under way after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords.  I’ve mentioned the silly nonsense about a bill to ban “crosshairs” in political speech (which begs the question, what part of “Congress shall make no law” concerning political speech as laid out in the First Amendment).  But Rep. Pete King, a NY Republican, has decided that a “gun control” measure is what is necessary.  His solution?

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman’s intentions.

Why is it the propensity of these folks to restrict the freedoms of others instead of doing something to increase their own security?  Mostly because they can. Look, I can understand the fear this sort of a situation brings, but I’m sorry, restricting the freedom of law abiding citizens because of your fear is not what this country is all about – not if freedom is the fundamental idea upon which it is founded.

Consider this scenario in light of King’s nonsense – a legal possessor of a concealed carry permit is in a diner with his firearm on his hip sipping his morning coffee and minding his own business.  Some “government official” drops in unannounced to do a little per-election glad-handing.  The man with his legal firearm is now a inadvertent but prosecutable law breaker.

So what’s King going to do – make every government official wear a sign around their neck so those who might be carrying legal firearms can give them a 1,000 foot wide berth?  Why not just put – dare I say it – crosshairs on them?  Because if this is to become the law then it is incumbent upon “government officials” to ensure that those who might inadvertently break the law otherwise, are fully aware of when “government officials” are in the area.

Secondly, I hate to break it to King, but as with all laws, those who have a criminal agenda will not obey it or even give it a passing thought.  Essentially it will only ensnare those who most likely are innocently doing their own business.   Guys like Loughner won’t change their plans one iota because King and Congress pass some law about 1,000 feet of space.  It will only become another after-the-fact charge, another law broken, to add to the charge sheet.  But won’t stop a thing.

It is one thing to say you can’t bring a firearm to within 1,000 feet of a school or government building.  They don’t move and they’re easily identifiable.  Not so with “government officials”.

Bad idea and would make a bad law – as simple as that.  Oh – and when Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes out enthusiastically for this restriction on our freedom, you should automatically know it’s a bad idea, Rep. King.

Don’t make laws in emotional haste after the fact – they almost always end up being bad laws that further restrict our freedoms.  And this one would be no exception.

~McQ


Challenging the media narrative and the results of the challenge

Bains, a long time commenter here at QandO, and someone who I enjoy reading, put out a rather lengthy comment on the post about the CBS News poll that showed the majority rejected the narrative that heated political rhetoric caused the Tucson shooting.  I thought I’d give the bains comment some further visibility because it has some tasty parts that I think deserve discussion.  Here’s the comment in its entirety:

I’m noticing something else at play here. A theory of mine that recent events support, perhaps even validate. This will be long so please bear with me.

In 2008 I was in an argument with my father. I was lamenting that if only the media did its job, the nation might have a better idea of just who Barack Obama was, and where he wanted to take this nation. As with many of my friends, and evidently a good number of voters, he would have none of my criticism. Pop was, and still is, mired in a hatred of George W Bush. As such, he entirely missed the point I was trying to make. When news media becomes an advocate for a person, or a position, or a policy, we can not trust that media. It is not just that they are no longer ‘objective’; no, they have become willing disseminators of propaganda. Most here know this.

In a fit, I said that his reliance upon the MSM would come back to bite. All the blowback to the partisan blame-naming that we have seen over the past several days is a good indication of that “bite”.

No, it is not that the MSM is heavily biased leftward (they are). Rather, that those who have studiously ignored, and many have denied, this bent have seriously damaged their own cause. When one agrees with an author, or commenter, or pundit’s point of view, it is quite easy not to call them out on the inaccuracies they use in promoting their cause. And for forty years, the major media outlets have rarely been taken to task for their inaccuracies. That the narrative was acceptable was/is all that is important – facts be damned. And for a long time, this worked: Bork was Borked, Gingrich shut down the government, Limbaugh was responsible for the OKCity bombing, Reagan and Bush’s support of Israel caused 9-11, Humans cause global warming, and evil corporations (supported entirely and only by the right) caused all of our economic woes.

Instead of saying “wait a minute MSM, what proof do you have to make that statement” far too many folks nodded in agreement. Not because of a compelling argument, but because of an overwhelming agreement with how the conclusion could change the course of politics. Bork et al were/are bad solely because their views were/are in opposition to the enlightened, and therefore, brilliant judgments of the political “vanguard” – the Left.

Now what this has led to is a media, and the political left ill-suited to make compelling arguments. All this time, they have been living in an intellectually cloistered tabernacle, only hearing praise for all their illogical and un-provable prognostications. All their “brilliant” arguments are merely juvenile and facile, applauded only because they “proved” the proper position (approved by the ‘right’ cocktail circuits in the ‘right’ locations with the ‘right’ dignitaries approving).

Pundits of this ilk, say Paul Krugman and many others, have been living in a world of masturbatory bliss. Egos massaged, they willingly shelve any intellectual acumen for further gratification. They proudly spout the approved line, support the approved policy, advocate the approved politician,  fighting evil in the name of (party approved) decency and Nobility.  Hell, a Nobel Prize proves they must be brilliant (and Noble)! But therein lies the (nasty sandpaper) rub. There will come a time when they will not be able to hide their intellectual inadequacies behind a screaming choir.

This is why we see, I surmise, Krugman, his hosting broadsheet, and so many others, going off the deep end regarding the shooting in Tucson. They are loosing their grip on the narrative, and are petulantly lashing out at those who are more and more willing to reject not just the politically motivated narrative, but also those who mindlessly foist that narrative.

Bains’ theory is similar to the thoughts I’ve had (although I’d hesitate to call mine a theory, so ill formed are those thoughts at this moment) about the state of the media.  I think bains raises some interesting points.  As my brother has said to me, the internet’s democratization of publishing and commentary is as “important as Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type”.  The more I observe what is happening, the more I agree.  Bains takes that a step further to point out the impact and implications that “invention” is having.

Gutenberg took the Bible away from those who controlled it’s narrative at the time – the Church.   It was the beginning of the end of the Church’s power.  No longer were they the sole possessors of the written word or the narrative.   Now many, many more could directly possess what only the wealthy church could previously possess (since Bibles at the time were all hand made and hideously expensive) and they were also able to offer their own (and competing) interpretations as well.

For a few centuries, the “media” has been – in some form or another – pretty much the sole provider of “news”.  It chose the topics, it chose how they were treated and it chose how they were presented, followed up and talked about.  Or, as bains points out, they controlled the narrative.

That’s big power.  And for the most part, they had no competition except within their own industry.  So people like Krugman, et al, became used to having their opinion accepted as “the” opinion and were able to push whatever narrative their ideology demanded as the “common wisdom”.

But there was a true revolution brewing that they missed completely.  As Al Gore’s internet stood up in the mid to late ‘90s a challenge developed to the “official narratives” that were then considered conventional wisdom.   No longer were the keepers of the narrative unchallenged.  The first thing I remember – and this was before blogs or just as blogs were beginning to develop – was the “Tailwind” scandal where CNN’s Peter Arness was brought down over a lie that US troops used poison gas in Cambodia (I believe – this is from memory).

Then came Rathergate, when blogs came into their own and destroyed the story a major news organization was pushing as true and accurate.  It wasn’t.  

Since then and with the rise of the democratized press, bains theory seems to describe well what has and is happening.  Krugman seems to me to be the perfect example of the establishment media’s reaction to the situation.  

Certainly there have been vast changes in the media itself.  The rise of radio then television.  The death of “appointment TV” with the rise of cable news. Etc.  But all of those still had an insular media in charge of the narrative and able, for the most part, to do what bains describes.

Not anymore – with the bar to entry lowered so that anyone with an internet account can challenge the big boys and their narrative the monopoly on information deemed “news” is over.   The decision as to what is or isn’t “news” is not something the traditional media can dictate anymore.   Proof of that are the many stories essentially ignored by the traditional media, kept alive in the blogosphere and finally and reluctantly covered by the MSM.

Anyway, seemed a great topic for discussion – go for it.

~McQ


Beware of those who would trade freedom for security

The most recent example of that is Rep. James Clyburn who thinks it is time the concept of free speech is rethought in the wake of the Tucson shooting:

The shooting is cause for the country to rethink parameters on free speech, Clyburn said from his office, just blocks from the South Carolina Statehouse. He wants standards put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage with a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, in addition to calling on elected officials and media pundits to use ‘better judgment.’

‘Free speech is as free speech does,’ he said. ‘You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.’

“Free speech is as free speech does?”  Does that sort of Gumpian nonsense pass for wisdom now?  Of course you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater – unless there’s a fire, of course.  But comparing what politicians (and others) have said to that, I find nothing of relevance (and yes, that includes “crosshairs”) that compares. 

However those who would restrict your freedoms for their perceived safety don’t see it that way.  And facts are simply an inconvenience to be ignored as they try to move their argument along.  Clyburn again:

Clyburn used as an example a comment made by Sharron Angle, an unsuccessful U.S. senatorial candidate in Nevada, who said the frustrated public may consider turning to ‘Second Amendment remedies’ for political disputes unless Congress changed course.

Clyburn said the man accused of shooting Giffords did just that.

‘He saw a Second Amendment remedy and that’s what occurred here and there is no way not to make that connection,’ Clyburn said.

Despite Clyburn’s position, law enforcement has not yet revealed any motives in the shooting.

In fact, and as Clyburn must know even as he uttered those words, there appears to be no real political motive for the shooting in Tucson.  But that doesn’t change the narrative does it? 

More control of speech (in an effort to better control the opposition’s speech) has been an goal of the left for decades.  Political correctness, birthed among academics from the left (and most evident on campuses today) ,is a speech code that has successfully limited and suppressed free speech.  And there are other attempts being made.  But the Clyburns of the world would, if they could and you would give them the okay, limit your speech despite the fact that the words “Congress shall make no law” appear in the amendment limiting government’s ability to do just that.

After all, It’s only the Constitution and we all know that it is followed by Congress only when it is convenient for Congress to do so.

~McQ


‘No sale’ on the ‘hateful’ rhetoric/Tucson shooting connection

According to a CBS New poll It appears the American public isn’t buying the attempt to connect what is termed “hateful” rhetoric and the Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords:

Overall, 57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did. Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated – 69 percent said rhetoric was not to blame; 19 percent said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue – 49 percent saw no connection; 42 percent said there was.

Independents more closely reflected the overall breakdown – 56 percent said rhetoric had nothing to do with the attack; 33 percent felt it did.

So a note to the left trying to make political hay with this incident – the meme is not resonating.  And, as usual, you’ve underestimated the good sense of the American people and their ability to separate political nonsense from the truth.  I think we can reasonably call the attempt to establish the “hateful rhetoric caused the shooting” a “FAIL.”

~McQ


Political opportunism never lets a crisis go to waste

I continue to be incredulous of the blatant political opportunism this shooting of Rep. Giffords has unleashed on the left. OK, not really. But in a way, it is the Paul Wellstone memorial all over again on a national level.

First, all of this angst over political rhetoric is so overwrought and overblown as to be laughable.  There has never been a time in the history of this land that the language hasn’t been rough or partisan.  Never.  Pretending this is the worst it has ever been is simply historically inaccurate.  It may be more obvious now because of mass communications and the democratization of opinion, but it isn’t at all any different than it ever has been.  Folks, do a little digging in the history books.  Hell, use Google. I’m not going to do you homework for you, but trust me on this – this era isn’t any better or worse than the vast majority of the rest of them.

Secondly, the entire premise of those calling for the toning down of the rhetoric originally was that it was the cause on the attack on Giffords.  Now it is becoming more and more apparent that isn’t the case.  But it provides such an opportunity for the left to demonize the right that the talking heads and political advisors continue to make that point even while they walk it back a little with a disclaimer about this guy being a nut.   It now goes something like “we must ratchet the vitriol and rhetoric down, even if this guy wasn’t a right wing nut influenced by it”.

Really? 

Why?

Right now the only reason they can come up with is “it could happen”.  When they first started harping on this nonsense, soon after the shooting, you got the impression that the left was 99.9% sure this guy was a right-wing militia member or something.  As it turns out he was the .01% loon instead.  But that hasn’t slowed down the messaging has it?

And, as I mentioned in another post, political strategists see this as a golden opportunity for the president to speak out on something that didn’t occur.  Oh, forget the last part of that – we’ll pretend it did to give Obama’s forthcoming words some sort of foundation of relevance.  One of those political strategists who are enamored with the opportunity is the odious Paul Begala:

Paul Begala, one of Clinton’s top political advisers during the 1990s, thinks Obama has a genuine opportunity to re-define the nation’s political debate – a promise he first made in his breakout 2004 speech to the Democratic convention —and reclaim moral high ground lost during the last two years of intense partisan combat.

“One of the things I learned from Oklahoma City is not to rush to judgment…We don’t know this Arizona animal’s motive,” said Begala.

But almost irrespective of that, it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to tone things down a bit – myself included. If the President uses this tragedy to challenge us all to move to higher ground, it would be a welcome message. And if the right tries to demonize him for doing that, they will look small and petty and extreme.” [emphasis mine]

Begala learned “not to rush to judgment” in the OK City tragedy?  Did he really?  So why is he doing it now by attempting to tie political rhetoric (“tone things down a bit”) to the shooting in Tucson (the reason for any speech Obama might make)? 

Well in reality I guess he doesn’t.  Note the “but almost irrespective of that” phrase.  He’s saying, hey it really doesn’t matter if the dream scenario didn’t play out (right winger shoots left wing pol), this is still a great opportunity for the President to pull a Bill Clinton and demonize the right (although he doesn’t say that specifically, that’s precisely what Clinton did – Limbaugh and the militias were the bad guys then) and connect with the people (which he sorely needs to do).  And, of course, if the right fights back, well “they will look small and petty”?

What if the right fights back by throwing the facts of the case (loon, not right winger, shot Giffords not because of rhetoric, but because he’s a loon) in the President’s face and standing firmly on 1st Amendment grounds to resist the call to curb political speech, Mr. Begala?  Who’ll look rather diminished then, sir?

Begala’s not the only operative salivating on the chance to capitalize on this tragedy:

Veteran Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein said the crisis “really plays to Obama’s strengths as consensus-builder” and gives him the opportunity to build a deeper emotional connection with the people he governs.

“He’ll be active, but also very careful not to appear like he’s blaming or politicizing,” Gerstein predicted.

Since when has Obama yet demonstrated he is a “consensus-builder?”  On what?  And when in his last two years hasn’t he “blamed” or “politicized” just about everything?  If I hear anything more about his “predecessor” or about what he “inherited” I’ll puke.   If Gerstein is Obama’s consultant, it isn’t at all difficult to understand why Obama is in trouble.  Gerstein obviously has Obama mixed up with someone else.

Gerstein goes on:

“The biggest question about him is strength – can he be a strong leader? This tragedy will give him an opportunity to answer that question and build a closer emotional connection with the middle of the electorate that sees this as a reflection of something disturbing about our politics.”

I can answer that question – making a speech about a shooting and calling for toned down rhetoric and less partisanship (while having use heated rhetoric, blaming and blatant partisanship) does not make someone a leader, Mr. Gerstein.  It doesn’t make him a strong leader or a weak leader or even a mediocre leader.  Leadership is about action, decisions and consequences.   It isn’t a passive word as folks like Gerstein seem to think.

Will it help him “connect” with the middle of the electorate?  Have his speeches in the past done so?  Sure, when he was a total unknown, his words were pretty, inspiring and hopeful.  But now the “middle of the electorate” know him much better and he has an actual record of 2 years.  Pretty and high-minded speeches aren’t going to impress anyone anymore.

The rest of the POLITICO article discusses the similarities and differences between Tucson and Oklahoma City as well as the differences between Clinton and Obama.  But here is the nut of the premise that the left is trying to lay on the right at the moment:

And Clinton has made clear he believes that the trend he identified in the 1990s – the connection between radical speech and violent deeds – still exists.

Even though Timothy McVeigh explicitly cited Waco as his reason for bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, this premise continues to exist as if it has been proven.  Yet, again, when the violence is cited and radical speech blamed, we find little to convince us that there’s any connection.  The nutcase that shot Giffords dreamed up his own reasons for going after her it seems, independent of anyone else’s rhetoric.

How inconvenient for those who would love to shut us up.

Clinton said in an oped during the time of the OK City bombing:

“Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy,”

I don’t think any reasoning person on the right disagrees with that statement.  What they will disagree with is what constitutes “advocacy” for violence.

Well, here’s a clue – it’s not crosshairs on a political map.  If one can reasonably deduce what that means in context with a political campaign, you understand without a second thought that it is a metaphorical device.  So are may other terms.  But the left is attacking that in the normal contextless and disingenuous way they do their business:

A key ally, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), for example, explicitly called out Palin for injecting gun imagery into politics, arguing that her use of crosshairs over districts – including Giffords’ — in an email pitch to SarahPAC supporters incited violence.

“We live in a world of violent images … the phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload’ — putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets … they invite the unstable,” Durbin told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Our political speech should not be held hostage by the “unstable”.  And this latest nut is a perfect example of the point.  It appears he was not swayed by anything to do with political speech by anyone but Giffords.  He was obsessed with her and for all we know, he got his orders to shoot her from the chicken pot pie he ate the night before.

Durbin’s nonsense notwithstanding, we cannot and must not make ourselves hostages to what could happen if some nut decides to take something literally.   There is a difference between a random nutball deciding for whatever reason to do something and a movement that advocates violence as a solution to political problem.  We must not bow to the pressure to accommodate the former by denying our free speech and we must not accept the latter as a solution to anything.  But what we can’t do is lump the former with the latter and just curb our speech “in case” it might set one of the nuts off.  That’s precisely what Durbin and his ilk are suggesting.

Yeah, I know, what, 4 posts in and around the subject?  Can you tell it hacks me off?  I’m disgusted by the cold-blooded opportunism, I’m aghast at the concerted attempt to limit speech and I’m just pissed that anyone would calculate any sort of political win out of an obvious tragedy.

But then, I’m talking about the left here and nothing they do surprises me anymore.

~McQ


Giffords shooting prompts proposed limits to freedom and hypocritical recriminations

Well, as you can imagine, the Giffords shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of just about every other subject. And, as you can probably further imagine, the "let’s make a law" crowd is busily at work trying to again limit our freedoms in the name of "security".

We have a representative from PA who wants to outlaw "crosshairs" in political advertising. I have to wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law" in the 1st Amendment and political speech he doesn’t understand? Perhaps the word "no" as in none, zip, zero, nada?

The typical overreaction is underway.   As is the inevitable.  Gun control pops its ugly head up again as a New York Congresswoman prepares to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips. 

And then there’s Paul Krugman.  The historically blind and deaf Paul Krugman.  Check out these opening two paragraphs in a piece entitled “Climate of Hate”:

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Notice anything missing in his trip down memory lane?  Yeah, 8 years of inflammatory rhetoric and what he now labels as “hate” directed at George Bush and the right.  I’m sure you’re not surprised – this sort of memory loss is endemic on the left.  The memory hole, which they seem unable to acknowledge, is why most on the right take the likes of Paul Krugman and their hate claims with the grain of salt they deserve.  When their rhetoric was pointed out to them, their retort was “dissention is patriotism”.

Note too that the economist turned political hack continues to insist, in the face of almost conclusive evidence to the contrary, that the violence visited on Rep. Giffords was the result of the “hatred” from the right.  And he uses the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s report (hidden in the just as discredited Homeland Security report) as “proof” of his claims.

Krugman must have sensed he’s on thin ice because a few paragraphs in he throws this out:

It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.

Holy Mars and Venus, Batman – is this guy living on the same planet we’re living on?  Of course it can be an “isolated event” and it certainly can have nothing to do with the so-called “national climate”.  The guy was a loon.  A nutcase.  He has serious mental problems.  He’s a yahoo who became fixated on Rep. Giffords for no apparent logical reason other than she was a local politician.  Trying to warp this into something it isn’t, however, is suddenly becoming the pastime of the left.  Well, much of it anyway (there are indeed islands of sanity out there, but they’re becoming less prevalent).

Krugman then attempts to whitewash the left’s very recent past by claiming you’ll mostly hear only caustic remarks and mocking at worst. Michelle Malkin neatly disposes of that myth.

He concludes:

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.

What then, as evidence continues to mount supporting it, if it was indeed a “mere act of a deranged individual” Mr. Krugman.  Will we get an Emily Litella like “never mind” from you?

This is the latest in a long line of efforts by the left to shut its opposition up.  Political correctness has finally begun to wear thin as most have now recognized it for what it is – an attempt to control speech.  This effort is nothing less than that.  It is the claim that speech must be modified because others who are deranged might act on it, even out of context. But that lack of memory about their own toxic speech and their spirited defense of it (again, see Malkin’s listing of the left’s happy talk about George Bush) smacks of such hypocrisy that the word is almost insufficient to define them at this point.

Freedom and democracy demand risk to work.  They must not be held prisoner to speech codes and “security”.  We must not let the priorities that underpin freedom be chipped away or removed by a bunch of scared rabbits.  If Congress wants to beef up security around its members, I can understand that.  However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  Restricting the freedoms of the rest of us because of some nut is just flat unacceptable.

And by the way, Mr. Krugman – go see a doctor.  I’m told the  type of memory loss you’re suffering is the first sign of senile dementia.  Have it checked out, will you?

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 09 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Gabby Giffords shooting and the response to it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Fools rush in to define Giffords tragedy politically

Even before the blood had dried in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, both sides and the media were attempting to paint the tragedy of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and other innocent bystanders in a way that boosted (or defended) whatever agenda talking point they wished to advance.

Politicization of an event – any event – that political advocates, activists or politicians see as useful is almost instant anymore. And make no mistake about it – what has been done from the beginning is to politicize this shooting (and that includes the Sheriff of Pima County AZ). Doing so has almost become standard operating procedure. Well that and demanding the event not be politicized. And then, in the post mortem, arguing about which side politicized it first.

Any long time observer of politics, especially in this day of mass communication, knows the speed by which information and opinion move. They also know that those who try to shape opinion have learned they must move quickly in order to see information shaped as they’d prefer to see it.

Of course, in the case of Rep. Giffords, one meme immediately surfaced – "vitriol" as a generic reason was cited as the cause – as in "political vitriol". The unstated (for the most part, at least immediately) source of that vitriol was supposed to be understood by knowing the political party of the victim. Reports were sure to stress "Democratic" Representative Giffords as the one shot.

This before the shooter had even been identified. And I can promise you, cold-blooded political strategists were sizing up the "opportunity" to see how much political throw-weight it had for their issue, agenda or politician.

For example:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

Note that this operative couldn’t care less if it really was "overheated rhetoric" or the fault of the Tea Party. That’s the farthest thing from his mind. It is a political opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy to "deftly pin" something outrageous on a political enemy.  He, or she, obviously counsels taking advantage of the opportunity.

And:

Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”

This Democrat said that the time had come to insist that Republicans stand up when, for example, a figure such as Fox News commentator Glenn Beck says something incendiary.

So very quickly, without any proof, this became the equivalent of the Oklahoma City tragedy (something which has yet to be proven to have anything to do with virulent rhetoric – McVeigh said it was because of Waco) and it is the job of Republicans to stop it.  Just as Rush Limbaugh was named as a cause of Oklahoma City, the new bête noir of the left, Glenn Beck, is automatically fingered as the reason for this tragedy.  Right out of the playbook.

Finally:

“Today we have seen the results” of “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric,” former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote on Huffington Post. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage.”

Nonsense.  There was absolutely no proof at the time Hart wrote his piece that the shooter was motivated by “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric”.  In fact, I’d suggest the most irresponsible rhetoric I saw was from those such as Gary Hart who immediately jumped to that conclusion without knowing much at all about the shooter.  Obviously there are responsibilities for those “with a megaphone.”  Ironically Hart most expertly demonstrates how not to fulfill those responsibilities and be exactly what he denounced – irresponsible.

Everyone needs to calm down and quit trying to pin the blame on the other side and take the time to find out the real motivation of the shooter before going off half cocked.  To paraphrase a famous quote about cigars, sometimes a nut is just a nut.  In the future I’d like to see us take a moment, let the information develop and then make conclusions based in fact vs. this new and continuing tendency to jump into something driven by ideology and immediately try to shape the argument to fit the agenda.

It makes those  who do that look like the fools they are.

~McQ


Nut job attempts to assassinate AZ Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

One of the reasons I find libertarianism satisfying to my inner philosophical self is it eschews and condemns the use of coercion and force.

That doesn’t make me a pacifist or someone who won’t use force defensively.  But that’s not what happened today in a Safeway parking lot in Arizona.  What happened today was cold-blooded murder of innocent bystanders and the attempted murder of a Congressional Representative.  It was an attempt to coercively change what has been decided democratically. I may not agree with Rep. Giffords or her leanings, but I will defend unto death her right to stand in any parking lot in this country and say what it is she wishes to say without some jerk shooting her.

What happened today was wrong and it should be condemned – period. No matter what the leanings or ideology of the person targeted and no matter the ideology and leanings of the fool who did this, there is no excuse for this at all.

Prepare yourself for an onslaught of the two sides attempting to find a way to work this to their advantage.  Already I’ve seen Sarah Palin blamed.  Expect all the blogospheric loons to try to torturously spin whatever is found about this asshat who shot Rep. Giffords into something that hurts the other side.  It is as predictable as night and day.  The online equivalents of the National Enquirer will do what they always do.

As for those who are going to try to proclaim this guy a hero striking a blow for freedom, you’ve got a hell of a job in front of you selling that.   He no more struck a blow for freedom than did James Earl Ray.   The guy is a coward who shoots at unarmed women and kills children.  If that’s the type of murderous clown you want to tie your revolutionary wagon too, good luck with that.

It appears Rep. Giffords has survived the surgery and doctors are very optimistic about her recovery.  That’s good news, but we all know how difficult it is to fully recover from a bad brain injury.   As for the jackwagon that shot her, there’s a maximum security prison in Colorado which has a cell with his name on it.  Put him in there and throw away the key.  Solitary confinement for the rest of his life.  Let Glenn Greenwald whine about that.

And yes, I’m pissed.

~McQ