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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’
Michael Lind has an interesting political analysis up at Salon.com on the three fundamentalisms that nowadays mark the Republican right: Biblical fundamentalism, constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism. I think this is a way of putting things that is largely correct. The Republican Party is now so far removed from any other political party in the Western world that it can only be described in these terms.
It does not explain, however, the seeming contradictions in this fundamentalist philosophy; for example, how can you adhere to a hardcore market fundamentalism along the lines of Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand, and at the same time claim to be a Bible-following Christian? After all, the teachings of Christ have nothing to do with considering selfishness a virtue. Rand, who along with God and the Founding Fathers is always named the greatest inspiration for every Republican presidential candidate, herself proclaimed to be anti-Christian in her ‘thinking’.
Lind also shows how the intellectual project of re-constituting a moderate conservatism as a political ideology in the 1960s led, by and large propelled by the rise of evangelical Protestantism and the presidency of Ronald Reagan, to the extremist fundamentalism that nowadays marks the Republican Party. All of the hallmarks of Biblical, constitutional and market fundamentalism can be found, for example, in the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.
What I’m worried about (as if the adherence to a triple fundamentalism by one of the world’s two most important political parties is not frightening enough) is the emergence of a similar kind of orthodoxy emerging in the Netherlands today. Whereas the Dutch polity used to be marked by agreement across the political spectrum on such issues as the multicultural society (in hindsight perhaps a bit too much consensus in that respect), political equality, tolerance for differences and care for weaker groups in society, the governing coalition nowadays seems to converge ideologically to adherence to a monocultural society, treating people with non-Dutch backgrounds as second-class citizens, and implementing a by European standards pretty hardcore market fundamentalism.
In other words: rightwing orthodoxy in Europe, at least in the Netherlands, is intensifying and growing more extreme just like it has in the US. The question is how those still believing in political equality, a rights-based citizenship, and a market tempered by government interference can defend themselves in an increasingly hostile climate, in which such very basic and once universally accepted notions are painted ‘elitist’.
Anyway, here’s Lind’s piece:
In contradiction to the hostility to Darwinism shared by many of its constituents, the American right is evolving rapidly before our eyes. The project of creating an American version of Burkean conservatism has collapsed. What has replaced it is best described as triple fundamentalism — a synthesis of Biblical fundamentalism, constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism.
Following World War II, the American right was a miscellany of marginal, embittered subcultures — anti-New Dealers, isolationists, paranoid anticommunists, anti-semites and white supremacists. Russell Kirk and others associated with William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review sought to Americanize a version of high-toned British Burkean conservatism. While the eighteenth century British parliamentarian was embraced by conservatives for his opposition to the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, a champion of the rights of Britain’s Indian, Irish and American subjects, could also be claimed by liberals like Yale Law School’s Alexander Bickel, who preferred gradual, cautious reform to radical social experimentation. In its liberal as in its conservative forms, Burkeanism disdains reaction and radicalism alike, and favors change in lesser things when necessary to maintain the continuity of more fundamental institutions and values.
The religious equivalent of Burkean politics is orthodoxy, not fundamentalism. Orthodoxy means the continuity of a tradition, as interpreted by an authoritative body of experts, such as priests, rabbis or mullahs. The term “fundamentalism” originated in the early twentieth century as a description of reactionary evangelical Protestants in the U.S. who rejected liberal Protestantism and modern evolutionary science and insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible. The phrase is nowadays applied indiscriminately and often inaccurately to various religious movements, some of which, in the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim traditions are better described as ultra-orthodox.
The increasingly-Southernized American Right has transferred the fundamentalist Protestant mentality from the sphere of religion to the spheres of law and the economy. Protestant fundamentalism is now joined by constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism.
In all three cases, the pattern is the same. There is the eternal Truth that never varies — the will of God, the principles of the Founding Fathers, the so-called laws of the free market. There are the scriptures which explain the eternal truths — the King James Bible, in the case of religious fundamentalism, the Constitution or the Federalist Papers, in the case of constitutional fundamentalism, and Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom in the case of market fundamentalism (The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand can be substituted for Hayek, on request).
“There’s only one book you ever need to read,” a Bible-believin’ Texan Baptist once assured me. He was two books short of a populist conservative bookshelf. But in the age of post-intellectual, fundamentalist conservatism, three books are sufficient to make anyone the equal of the most erudite intellectual. The books need not actually be read, and for the most part probably are not; it is enough, in argument, to thump the Bible, and to thump “The Road to Serfdom” and “Atlas Shrugged,” too.
Modern American market fundamentalism, too, is recognizably modeled on the fundamentalist Protestant version of church history, even though market fundamentalists need not be Christian conservatives. Ignoring the long history of tariffs, land grants, military procurement and mixed public-private corporations in the United States, the market fundamentalists pretend that the U.S. was governed by the laws of the market until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal replaced capitalism with socialism (or statism, or fascism, or whatever Amity Shlaes or Jonah Goldberg want to call it). Russell Kirk wrote that any true conservative would be a socialist before he would be a libertarian. But then he was a Burkean High Church conservative.
The rise of triple fundamentalism on the American right creates a crisis of political discourse in the United States. Back when conservatism was orthodox and traditional, rather than fundamentalist and counter-revolutionary, conservatives could engage in friendly debates with liberals, and minds on both sides could now and then be changed. But if your sect alone understands the True Religion and the True Constitution and the Laws of the Market, then there is no point in debate. All those who disagree with you are heretics, to be defeated, whether or not they are converted.
For their part, progressives have no idea of how to respond to the emergent right’s triple fundamentalism. Today it is the left, not the right, that is Burkean in America. Modern American liberalism is disillusioned, to the point of defeatism, by the frustration of the utopian hopes of 1960s liberalism in the Age of Reagan that followed and has not yet ended. Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who tend to be cautious and incremental and skeptical to a fault about the prospects for reform, while it is the right that wants to blow up the U.S. economy and start all over, on the basis of the doctrines of two Austrian professors and a Russian émigré novelist.
She probably means the emissions of her own vanity and megalomania.
Sarah Palin’s ride through Washington on a Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) motorcycle yesterday as part of the Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” put her back in the national spotlight as the race for the Republican presidential nomination is revving up.
The former Alaska governor joined about 400,000 bikers for the annual ride, which coincided with the first leg of a bus tour that is renewing speculation about her 2012 White House ambitions.
Palin, who had no official speaking role at the event, arrived wearing a helmet and rode on the back of a Harley from the Pentagon toward the Vietnam War Memorial. Rolling Thunder, which began in 1988, was established by Vietnam veterans to draw attention to missing service members and prisoners of war. Palin’s husband, Todd, and daughters Piper and Bristol also took part in the ride.
In a posting on her political action committee website, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate said Rolling Thunder, through the roar of tens of thousands of bike engines, keeps alive the Memorial Day spirit of honoring veterans.
“I love that smell of emissions,” Palin told Fox News at yesterday’s rally.
Palin’s campaign-style “One Nation Tour” by bus from Washington through New England could be a prelude to a bid for the Republican nomination — or an effort to command the spotlight as the competition heats up.
“Is this bus tour a trial run for a planned race, or is it an attempt to remain visible and relevant?” asked Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. “You can count all the people who really know what Sarah Palin is thinking and planning on one hand.”
Gaat Sarah Palin zich mengen in de strijd om de Republikeinse nominatie voor het presidentschap? Met die vraag worstelen politieke commentatoren en kiezers al maanden, zoniet jaren. Na haar gooi naar het vice-presidentschap in 2008, heeft Palin zich vooral geprofileerd als talking head bij conservatieve media en als jagende, vissende en houthakkende hockey mom van vier in Alaska. Haar PAC (Political Action Committee: officiële organisatie die campagnegeld ophaalt) is al ruim twee jaar bezig met het verzamelen van campagnegeld, maar het duurt nu wel erg lang voordat Palin zich officieel als kandidaat presenteert. Omdat ze zo lang op zich liet wachten begon het gemeengoed te worden dat ze uiteindelijk niet zou gaan voor een presidential run, want ze verdiende immers miljoenen met haar werk als spreker, politiek commentator en televisiemaker en zou het risico niet willen lopen. Een enkeling ging nog uit van een kandidaatschap. Gisteren kwam er echter nieuws naar buiten dat er sterk op wijst dat ze toch mee gaat doen.
Het blijkt namelijk dat ze al maanden, samen met regisseur Stepen K. Bannon, stiekem aan het werk is aan een documentaire. Deze 1 miljoen dollar kostende rolprent gaat over haar inmiddels neergelegde werk als gouverneur van de staat Alaska, een gevoelig onderwerp waarop ze recentelijk hard is aangevallen door haar politieke tegenstanders. Met deze docu wil ze laten zien dat ze echt wel een goede gouverneur was, hoor, en dat ze dus heel serieus genomen kan worden als ambtsdrager. Waarom besteed je een miljoen dollar aan zo’n documentaire? Juist… omdat je niet kan schrijven en toch president wil worden. Of haar ego moet zo groot zijn dat ze ten kosten van alles en zonder enig doel een smetteloze reputatie nastreeft. Het lijkt er in ieder geval sterk op dat ze expres lang gewacht heeft met het aankondigen van haar kandidaatschap om er vervolgens in een later stadium hard in te komen, met deze documentaire, genaamd The Undefeated, dus.
Ze gaat runnen. Maar gaat ze ook winnen? Blijkt na de primary in South Carolina dat ze de Republikeinse kandidaat wordt en verslaat ze daarna Obama in november? Waarschijnlijk niet. Palin is nog steeds maar bij een minderheid van het Republikeinse electoraat populair (35%) en haar favorability onder alle Amerikaanse kiezers is nog een stukje lager (31-32%). Ter vergelijking, Obama scoort op dit moment 44% en dat is al erg laag, en Palin’s belangrijkste tegenstander Mitt Romney scoort 45%. Of een zelfgeproduceerde en ingesproken documentaire daar iets aan zal veranderen is de vraag. Dat moet dan een documentaire worden met de overredingskracht van 10 keer Michael Moore. Onder het Tea Party-volk is ze nog steeds populair. Maar om straks een meerderheid van alle Amerikanen achter zich te krijgen heeft ze nog wel erg veel werk te verzetten. Het zal vooral neerkomen op de indruk die ze achterlaat tijdens de grote televisiedebatten. Als ze zich daar kan neerzetten als meer dan een goedlachse, oneliner-uitspuwende, krijsende moeder en ook als een inhoudelijk sterke en representatieve ambtsdrager, dan zou ze misschien op bredere steun kunnen rekenen.
Haar optredens tijdens interviews en debatten in de aanloop naar de verkiezingen in 2008 voorspellen voor haar wat dat betreft helaas weinig goeds. De McCain-campagne kwam meerdere malen voor vervelende verrassingen te staan als Palin weer iets doms had gezegd. Zelfs Roger Ailes, de directeur van Fox News, noemt haar tegenwoordig een “idiot”. Haar campagne zal meer in de traditie liggen van die van Donald Trump: een belachelijk circus, dat zorgt voor veel media exposure voor de “kandidaat”, dat journalisten doet handenwrijven vanwege een gestage stroom aan gaffes, rellen en malle oneliners, maar waar Obama uiteindelijk zijn schouders voor zal ophalen. De race om het presidentschap is een serieuze zaak voor serieuze mensen en niet bestemd voor clowns. Het Amerikaanse volk, hoewel (net als andere volken) erg gevoelig voor populisten en andere raddraaiers, zal uiteindelijk eieren voor haar geld kiezen en stemmen op een geloofwaardige kandidaat.
Sinds het prille begin van Light Sound Dimension doen wij verslag van ontwikkelingen in de Amerikaanse politiek. Ruim 250 van de 1673 posts die we sinds januari 2010 op je beeldscherm toverden waren gewijd aan het politieke circus in “the greatest nation”. De meeste van deze posts waren in het Engels (want dan wordt je nog eens opgepikt door de grote Amerikaanse blogs). We zien onszelf zeker niet als experts, maar na jarenlang vooral via de Amerikaanse online media de Amerikaanse politiek redelijk intensief te hebben gevolgd, en stages te hebben gedaan bij belangengroepen in Washington en een bekende tv-journalist te New York, denken we dat we hierover inmiddels misschien wel iets zinnigs te melden hebben.
In de aanloop naar de presidentiële verkiezingen van 2012 valt op dat de Nederlandse media weer eens achterblijven. Behalve bij de heren van De Jaap en het soloproject van Frans Verhagen is er nog erg weinig serieuze Nederlandse verslaggeving. Gebruikelijke MSM als NOS Nieuws, Nieuwsuur en de dode bomen zullen binnenkort ook wel weer komen, maar die beginnen hun verslaggeving meestal pas als de primaries losbarsten. 2008 en ook de mid-terms hebben ons verder geleerd dat het volgen van de Nederlandse media bij lange na niet toereikend was om een volledig beeld te krijgen. NOVA deed het goed (de uitzending vanaf de Democratische conventie met Prem Radhakishun vergeten we maar even), de NOS redelijk (behalve natuurlijk de verkiezingsuitzending op het moment suprême, die om te huilen was), maar vooral de dagbladen lieten het afweten. Verwacht daarom de komende tijd meer posts over de Amerikaanse politiek in het Nederlands op LSD. Dit betekent overigens niet dat er niets meer in het Engels verschijnt. Het wordt een bilinguaal feestje!
Goed, dan nu tijd voor wat tussentijdse “duiding”. Hoe staat het hele gebeuren er inmiddels voor? Wie gaat vanaf januari 2013 Amerika voor de economische ondergang behoeden? Mag Obama het nog eens vier jaar proberen of maakt de GOP een wonderbaarlijke comeback? Het nieuws van de week is in ieder geval dat Mike Huckabee eruit ligt. Een opmerkelijke wending, omdat Huckabee werd gezien als één van de weinige serieuze kandidaten in een Republikeins veld vol Tea Party-idioten en Birther-gekkies. Huckabee stond zelfs bovenaan in de meeste polls. De belangrijke vraag is nu: wie gaat er met de evangelical voters aan de haal? De ex-pastoor Huckabee stond vooral sterk door brede steun vanuit dat Zuidelijke kamp.
Clown Donald Trump gooit vandaag de handdoek in de ring. Na een stortvloed van gaffes en omfg-momenten, en een stevig staaltje stand-up van Obama en Seth Meyers, was de populariteit van de zakenman tot een dieptepunt gedaald. De campagne van Trump, die hij waarschijnlijk puur voor de show begon, komt dus zoals verwacht voortijdig ten einde. De Trumpster kan nu zijn wonden gaan likken. Zowel zijn reputatie als zijn (malafide) zakenimperium lijken niet veel beter te zijn geworden van zijn showtje.
Wie zijn er nog over aan Republikeinse kant? Het ligt allemaal nog redelijk open. Mitt Romney staat nog steeds sterk, hoewel de evangelicals hem waarschijnlijk niet motten. Sarah Palin heeft nog niets van zich laten horen en hoe dichter we bij de primaries komen, hoe minder kans er lijkt te zijn dat ze daadwerkelijk gaat runnen (hoewel bloggerkoning Andrew Sullivan nog van een surprise move uitgaat). Michele Bachmann, een soort tweede Palin maar dan nog gestoorder en dommer, lijkt wel aan een poging te denken. Serieuzere kandidaten zijn Tim Pawlenty en Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is een zwaargewicht binnen de Republikeinse partij. Het probleem daarvan is dat veel mensen de GOP flink beu zijn, waaronder veel Tea Party voters. Tim Pawlenty is de voormalig gouverneur van Minnesota. Zowel Pawlenty als Gingrich worden gezien als serieuze kandidaten. Het zijn mannen waarvan je je kunt voorstellen dat ze eventueel het ambt van president op een geloofwaardige manier zouden kunnen vervullen, en dat kun je van de meeste Republikeinse kandidaten niet zeggen. De vraag is of de kiezer dat ook vindt. Er zijn nogal wat hobbels op de weg voor ze.
Outsiders zijn Rick Santorum, de relatief onbekende gouverneur Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman (steunde ooit Sarah Palin), grassroots-lieveling Ron Paul en Herman Cain. En er zullen ongetwijfeld de komende tijd nog een aantal nieuwe namen opduiken en weer verdwijnen. Eén ding staat bijna vast: de kandidaat die de primary in South Carolina wint zal waarschijnlijk ook de kandidaat worden. Het eerste officiële (en dunbezette) Republikeinse kandidatendebat werd daar niet voor niets gehouden.
Tot slot dan nog iets over Obama. Over hope, change en de Nobelprijs gaat het allang niet meer. Over onvervulde beloftes, de eindeloze War on Terror, Millennial voters, en de dood van Osama bin Laden wel. Dat laatste wapenfeit heeft hem weer een boost in de polls gegeven. Of hij dat momentum kan vasthouden zal voor het grootste deel afhangen van hoe hij zal omgaan met de Amerikaanse schuldenlast en of hij de economie verder op de rails krijgt. Over ongeveer 17 maanden zullen we het weten. Tot die tijd, stay tuned…
According to insiders Newt Gingrich will run for President in 2012. There have been rumours about this for months and now it seems he has made up his mind. Less than two years before the next presidential election the campaigns are slowly starting. Palin has been gathering funds for over a year. Giuliani says he is ‘more likely’ to run if Palin will run. President Obama is also starting up his campaign, which will be based in Chicago.
Huffpost on Gingrich:
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has told insiders that he plans to run for president in 2012, with Georgia as his base, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
According to the report, Gingrich has reached out to several prominent Republicans in his former home state in the last 24 hours, stating he intends on a 2012 presidential run.
However, a spokesman for Gingrich, Rick Tyler, denies that the former House Speaker has made a decision on 2012. Tyler states: “His plans are to decide on whether to create an exploratory committee in late February, and make a decision about his candidacy in March.”
Gingrich, 67, is registered to vote in Virginia but has spent most of his adult life in Georgia and served as a congressman in Atlanta from 1979 to 1999. He toyed with the idea of a 2008 presidential bid before ultimately deciding against it.
Gingrich recently called President Obama’s staff a “third term of the Clintons.”
Sarah Palin does a very, very good job in not putting new oil on the fire, by saying that those who criticize her violent rhetoric are committing “blood libel”.
So she is now taking everything to a whole other level…
Very presidential too.
This is blood libel:
Blood libel (also blood accusation) refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, almost always 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.
Sarah Palin, who had been silent for days, on Wednesday issued a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video statement that accused pundits and journalists of “blood libel” in their rush to blame heated political rhetoric for the shootings in Arizona.
“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said in a video posted to her Facebook page. “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 that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
Ms. Palin’s use last year of a map with crosshairs hovering over a number of swing districts, including that of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, had increasingly become a symbol of that overheated rhetoric. In an interview with The Caucus on Monday, Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 rival and the former Republican governor of Minnesota, said he would not have produced such a map.
But in the video, Ms. Palin rejected criticism of the map, casting it as a broader indictment of the basic political rights of free speech exercised by people of all political persuasions.
She said acts like the shootings in Arizona “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,” she added. “Not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle. Not with law abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their first amendment rights at campaign rallies. Not with those who proudly voted in the last election.”
By using the term “blood libel” to describe the criticism about political rhetoric after the shootings, Ms. Palin was inventing a new definition for an emotionally laden phrase. Blood libel is typically used to describe the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. The term has been used for centuries as the pretext for anti-Semitism and violent pogroms against Jews.
In the seven-and-a-half minute video, filmed in front of a fireplace and an American flag, Ms. Palin looked directly at the camera as she condemned the shooting and talked about the “irresponsible statements” made since it happened.
A day and a half ago, I predicted that sooner or later, the assault on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by a gunman would be attributed to his alleged marihuana use. And lo and behold:
Yes people: smoking pot will turn you into a mindless killer! It has been proven again!
Now, increasingly it seems that Jared Lee Loughner was a legit “madman”. I don’t like that term, so let’s say someone with a personality disorder, or schizophrenia. A disturbed and troubled person. This is indicated by reports about his behaviour in classroom, stories from his friends, as well as of course his YouTube videos.
Although all media on the right vehemently refuse to discuss the possibility, it seems the extent to which Tea Party and Palin militant and violence-drenched rhetoric about socialist tyrannical government and the right of people to turn to ‘Second Amendment remedies’ has been a contextual influence on Loughner pulling the trigger is still an open question.
At the same time, it is true that some medical research lately seems to point towards marihuana use possibly exacerbating schizophrenic disorders in patients. That is: if you are somebody with a disposition for or history of schizophrenia, it might be the case that marihuana use is bad for you. Although this blog has consistently been in favour of marihuana legalization, this is a topic that needs to be addressed. One thing that should be clear is that marihuana does not cause schizophrenia. That idea should immediately be done away with. But it seems that people who have a disposition for schizophrenia are more prone to smoke marihuana, which may then trigger the disease earlier and exacerbate it. On the other hand, other research indicates that smoking marihuana actually may have beneficial effects on schizophrenic patients. So in addition to being a chicken-egg question, medical results are pretty unclear. But it’s probably not a good idea to recommend these people to smoke a lot of pot; nor drink a lot of alcohol; nor recommend this to anyone.
But what’s the most unfortunate thing about this whole affair is that arguments about the context and causes of a political murder attempt now become fodder in the political culture wars themselves. According to ‘the right’, Loughner was a Communist Manifesto reading left-wing anarchist pothead; according to ‘the left’, he was a Tea Party inspired violent gun-toting paramilitary. Although it’s absurd to leave the political context out of this issue – since this was a plot to murder a political figure – and portray this as a lone gunman situation, maybe every position shouldn’t be driven to the extremes.
Because one fact is that left and right wing paranoid anti-authoritarianism are lying close together, and Loughner seems to be someone who doesn’t necessarily lean towards either one, but picked up pieces from both strands. And another fact is that in the hyperbole of both sides in the debate about what caused this, some truth may reside. Yes, smoking a lot of marihuana is bad for people with a disposition for psychotic disorders. Yes, swamping the airwaves with talk about ‘aiming’ and ‘reloading’, and painting political disagreement as Armageddon, and delegitimizing the democratic process is reckless and irresponsible, as it might drive people who have difficulty separating rhetoric from reality to crazy deeds.
So maybe at a minimum, that can be admitted. And maybe then everybody can behave civil again and engage each other in normal debate about the future course of the country.
Now that the dust from yesterday’s assault has more or less settled, it’s time for reflection. The NYT has a number of good analyses, although they suffer a bit from attempting to be even-handed in assigning the roots of the vitriol and polarization in American political debate to both sides of the spectrum.
The problem here doesn’t lie with the activists like most of those who populate the Tea Parties, ordinary citizens who are doing what citizens are supposed to do — engaging in a conversation about the direction of the country. Rather, the problem would seem to rest with the political leaders who pander to the margins of the margins, employing whatever words seem likely to win them contributions or TV time, with little regard for the consequences.
Consider the comments of Sharron Angle, the Tea Party favorite who unsuccessfully ran against Harry Reid for the Senate in Nevada last year. She talked about “domestic enemies” in the Congress and said, “I hope we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.” Then there’s Rick Barber, a Republican who lost his primary in a Congressional race in Alabama, but not before airing an ad in which someone dressed as George Washington listened to an attack on the Obama agenda and gravely proclaimed, “Gather your armies.”
Currently, it’s unclear whether the gunman, rejected military recruit Jared Lee Loughner (22), was motivated in any way by Tea Party propaganda about government takeover, ‘socialism’ and ‘tyranny’, or by the militant and violent rhetoric of someone like Sarah Palin, with her crosshair map and talk about ‘aiming’ and ‘reloading’.
Looking at Loughner’s ramblings on YouTube, he seems to be more of a ‘general’ paranoid conspiracy theory-believing, anti-government anarchist than either a left-wing or right-wing activist; although it is noticeable that ideas about ‘currency’ (the gold standard) and ‘mind control’ seem to be prominent in his incoherent babble. This may indicate some infatuation with Tea Party topics.
His favorite book list is actually rather good, I must say, featuring Orwell’s Animal Farm, Huxley’s Brave New World, Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Hesse’s Siddharta (as well as Marx’ The Communist Manifesto and Hitler’s Mein Kampf). While these are all masterpieces, they have in common that they deal with the topic of reality perception being controlled by higher powers, as well as the possibility of alternate realities. Loughner in his YouTube videos writes about ‘conscience dreams’, and his MySpace is called ‘fallen asleep’. His talk of grammar being controlled by the government calls to mind Foucault. The inclusion of The Communist Manifesto on this list has been cited by some as proof that Loughner could not be a Tea Party activist, but since the Manifesto deals with the topic of organized revolution more than it does with imposing a state-controlled economy, I find its appearance on the list not so strange.
It also seems that Loughner had came in contact with (campus) police a couple of times, so a picture more or less emerges of a troubled adolescent, who reads stuff that’s maybe a few levels too complex for him. But these are exactly the people that you shouldn’t expose to the sort of militant, violent political rhetoric that since Obama’s presidency has been employed by the Tea Party and the Republican right. Because let’s face it: the whole imagery of the Tea Party, and of those politicians who’ve embraced them, is about violent revolution, 18th-century style. They wave around with banners from the Revolutionary War, saying ‘Don’t tread on me’, they bring guns to town hall meetings (and vigorously defend their Second Amendment right to do so), and they talk about ‘tyranny’ and ‘socialism’, about ‘taking their country back’. Sarah Palin talks about electoral battles in terms of ‘aiming’ and ‘reloading’, and continuously revels in the use of guns. Above the crosshair map Palin wrote ‘We’ve diagnosed the problem… Help us prescribe the solution’ – a dimly veiled threat. All because of political disagreement with Democrats! All because of a healthcare law that aims to provide uninsured people with basic necessities.
The problem with the American hard right these days is that they paint political differences in terms of doomsday’s and Armageddons. They don’t debate their political opponents; they deny them the right to exist. For Tea Partiers a Democratic presidency is something that’s inherently illegitimate, and not the outcome of a democratic process. That is why they cast their political language in terms that hark back to the foundation of the American polity: the Revolutionary War. But by doing so, they damage what was the result of this struggle: a democratic republic in which political differences are solved through peaceful procedure. And, in addition, they vindicate twisted individuals like Jared Lee Loughner, who lives in his own reality, in which ‘conscience’ is but a dream, to take matters into their own hand, and start using guns.
That is why it is not at all far-fetched, or an attempt at politicization, to cross-connect Tea Party and Republican right political rhetoric, and yesterday’s gunman act. Even if it turns out that Loughner had nothing to do with the Tea Party or their discourse (which I doubt, particularly the latter), it must still be admitted that with the very rhetoric they use, they enable people who have trouble taking rhetoric for just text to start taking things literally, and start their own little one-man violent revolution.
- Edit: I’d also like to say that one of these days, someone is going to point at Loughner’s marihuana use, and find the cause for everything in that. This will then be used as another argument in hysteric anti-drug arguments. Of course this will completely ignore the bigger causes and context of Loughner’s act, but it will happen.
- Edit 2: See How A Political Assault Becomes The Subject Of Culture Wars for a follow-up to this post.
- Update: The shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube channel indicates one or two things about his mental sanity.
- Update: It seems that Ms. Giffords has survived the assault. From the trauma surgeon:
“The congresswoman is not deceased … I am very optimistic about recovery.” “Following commands.”
- Update: Giffords warned for this:
They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. when people do that, you gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”
This happened earlier:
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was not actually holding a town hall when her gun incident occurred. She was conducting a “Congress on Your Corner” at the Douglas Safeway — a simple event where people line up to get help with things like Social Security or documentation. But the health care protests have spread way beyond actual meetings about health care, and a handful of irritated conservatives have been following Giffords around almost everywhere.
“When you represent a district — the home of the O.K. Corral and Tombstone, the town too tough to die, nothing’s a surprise,” she told a reporter later, showing a commendable ability to respond to any crisis by throwing in a plug for local tourist attractions. Rudy Ruiz, the father of one of Giffords’s college interns, saw the gun hit the floor. “It was an older gentleman, 65 or so. Basically, he was one of the ones holding up a banner saying ‘Don’t Tread on Me,’ ” said Ruiz. “He bent over, and it fell out of the holster is what it did. It bounced. That concerned me. I just thought what would happen if it had gone off? Could my daughter have gotten hurt?”
- Update: The shooter is identified as one Jared Lee Loughner.
- Update: A federal judge was among the dead. TPM:
We have confirmed with a federal law enforcement official that a federal judge was among those shot at the shooting this morning in Tucson.
- Update: New York Post:
Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, was rushing to the hospital when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies.
“Yeah,” he told The Post. “The whole tea party.”
- Update: President Obama’s statement:
This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers
- Update: Sarah Palin has removed this chart from her website.
SarahPac.com has now been taken down.
Campaign notices from Gifford’s opponent, Tea Partier Jesse Kelly this summer:
When a congresswoman is shot in the head in the very act of democracy, we should all pause. This is fundamentally not a partisan issue and should not be. Acts of violence against political figures destroy democracy itself, for both parties. We don’t know who killed congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and we should be very cautious in drawing any conclusions yet about why. But we can know that, whoever killed her and for whatever reason, political rhetoric involving words like “target” and “gun-sights” is inherently irresponsible.
For a public figure who has appeared on a national ticket and who commands a cult-like following, the irresponsibility is even more profound. And so one reads the following sentences from the Arizona Wildcat last September with the blood draining from one’s face:
Palin Reloads; Aims For Giffords
Earlier this year, Palin drew sharp criticism for featuring a map on her web page riddled with crosshairs targeting Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts. Tucson’s Gabrielle Giffords is among the 20 Democratic incumbents whom Palin intends to use for target practice.
Giffords was one of twenty members of Congress placed within metaphorical “gun-sights” in SarahPac’s graphic. That is not the same thing as placing a gun-sight over someone’s face or person. No one can possibly believe – or should – that Sarah Palin is anything but horrified by what has taken place. But it remains the kind of rhetorical excess which was warned about at the time, and which loners can use to dreadful purposes. It is compounded by the kind of language used by the Arizona Wildcat as well. Maybe “Palin Reloads; Aims For Giffords” is good copy as a headline. But next time, an editor should surely pause before enabling forces whose capacity for violence is real.
Frank Rich, in a NYT column from last October:
And it kept getting hotter. In June 2009, still just six months into the Obama presidency, the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith broke with his own network’s party line to lament a rise in “amped up” Americans “taking the extra step and getting the gun out.” He viewed the killing of a guard by a neo-Nazi Obama hater at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington as the apotheosis of the “more and more frightening” post-election e-mail surging into Fox.
The moment passed. Glenn Beck, also on Fox, spoke for most on the right when he dismissed the shooter as a “lone gunman nutjob.” Those who showed up with assault rifles at presidential health care rallies that summer were similarly minimized as either solitary oddballs or overzealous Second Amendment patriots. Few cared when The Boston Globe reported last fall that the Secret Service was overwhelmed by death threats against the president as well as a rise in racist hate groups and antigovernment fervor. It’s no better now. In a cover article last month, Barton Gellman wrote in Time that the magazine’s six-month investigation found that “the threat level against the president and other government targets” is at its highest since the antigovernment frenzy that preceded Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Here’s another reason why a Sarah Palin victory in 2012 is not at all unthinkable. The latest Nielsen ratings are out, and Fox News absolutely destroys every other cable channel. At this point, they don’t have any real competitors anymore on U.S. cable television.
Frightening how one media outlet can pretty much take over the entire journalistic landscape in one country.
Fox News 1,128,000 (-5%)
2. CNN 433,000 (-29%)
3. MSNBC 399,000 (0%)
4. HLN 276,000 (-10%)
Total Day 25-54-Year-Olds
1. Fox News 299,000 (-6%)
2. MSNBC 141,000 (-4%)
3. CNN 133,000 (-27%)
4. HLN 120,000 (-14%)
1. Fox News 2,024,000 (-7%)
2. MSNBC 764,000 (-5%)
3. CNN 591,000 (-34%)
4. HLN 444,000 (-21%)
1. Fox News 497,000 (-8%)
2. MSNBC 250,000 (-9%)
3. CNN 173,000 (-34%)
4. HLN 143,000 (-33%)
The Top 5 Cable News Programs in Average Total Viewers
1. The O’Reilly Factor: 3,191,000
2. Hannity: 2,294,000
3. Glenn Beck: 2,248,000
4. Special Report with Bret Baier: 2,111,000
5. On the Record: 1,889,000
Top 5 Cable News Programs Among 25-to-54-Year-Olds
1. The O’Reilly Factor: 781,000
2. Hannity: 585,000
3. Glenn Beck: 572,000
4. On the Record: 481,000
5. The O’Reilly Factor (repeat): 447,000
Whatever you think of Democrats, President Obama, or first lady Michelle Obama, who could oppose an initiative to fight obesity among American children? Regardless of political preference, why would you denounce a plan that tries to make the 1/3 of American children that is overweight more healthy. Who would be against an attempt to reduce diabetes among children and young adults? You would have to be either insane or plain evil. Well, guess who does just that, Sarah Palin! Sarah Palin has made some derogatory remarks about Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” initiative, which encourages better diets and sufficient excercise among American kids. According to Huffpost:
But Palin has maintained that Obama’s effort to combat child obesity — which was recently aided by the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — is one that seeks to take away “God-given rights to make our own decisions.” Some have since slammed that comment as Palin’s demanding that Americans cling to their “God-Given right to be fat.”
She even went as far as delivering cookies to a Pennsylvania School last month! She wanted to show her disapproval of Obama’s plan by giving the school kids cookies. She justified this action with a completely inappropriate appeal to god-given American rights and too much government interference. Does the initiative ban children from eating cookies at home or at school? No, it doesn’t. It simply stimulates excercise and a balanced diet among children, that’s all. And this sunday in her reality show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” she said while searching for “s’mores” ingredients on a family camping trip:
Where are the s’mores ingredients? This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”
S’mores is a disgusting dessert with cookies, melted marshallows and chocolate by the way, which seems to come straight from This Is Why Your Fat:
More on Huffpost.
(Dutch readers, check this piece on Michelle Obama and Palin in VN)
Yugh. And it gives her a “great feeling of accomplishment”.
Monday on Larry King Live grandpa and grandma Bush were asked about their thoughts on the 2012 elections. They clearly support Mitt Romney. George H. W. Bush:
He’s a reasonable guy. He’s a conservative fellow, that’s good. But no, I think he’d be a good president, a very good president. If you asked me, who will the nominee be, I couldn’t tell you. We like Mitt Romney. We know him well and like him very much.
They were not so positive about Sarah Palin. Barbara Bush:
I sat next to her once. Thought she was beautiful. And she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.
Ouch. Why is this important? Because it says something about how the party establishment thinks about Palin. She’s going to have a hard time gathering funds and therefore also to become the Republican candidate. People like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are very concerned about Palin as well, according to this report on Politico. The struggle will be between the party establishment on the one side, which is backing safer candidates like Newt Gingrich, Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney, and the media activists like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on the other. Then there are also other contenders like Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Rep. Paul Ryan.
It’s going to be an exciting race. Palin’s chances are getting slimmer though. Not only does she have to deal with her low favorability ratings among the American voters, but also with the averseness of the party establishment. Even the ratings of her show Sarah Palin’s Alaska are plummeting!
It was a good day for porn in Red America this week. According to a new study published in this month’s Evolution and Human Behaviour, online searches for porn increase significantly in those areas of a country in which a nationally winning political party is also the one most voted for in that region.
It’s a good day for porn in the red states of America. According to a new study in this month’s Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers expect a significant increase in Google search terms like “xvideo,” “tits,” and “boobs” in states in that voted Republican in yesterday’s midterm elections—and a significant decrease in those that voted Democrat.* This phenomenon is likely because victory increases testosterone levels, creating a biological impulse to go out and spread one’s seed.
This isn’t just true for the participants in competitions, but for spectators as well. Evolutionarily, in response to winning a competition testosterone increases in a way that encourages reproductive behaviour, including wanting a variety of sexual partners. Not everyone can run around inseminating all the maidens in the village though, and in this modern era viewing online pornography is one way that this impulse can express itself.
So if elections leave some voters feeling victorious, then we would expect to see this behavior dominate in regions where the majority were rooting for the winning side. According to this research, that is exactly what we have seen in the past three major elections in the U.S. In the week following the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Google searches for pornography increased above the average for the year in red states and fell in blue states. After the midterm elections in 2006, when the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Google search terms for porn increased in blue states—and fell (rather dramatically) in red states. And in the week following the 2008 presidential election, porn searches were up again in the blue states and down again in the red states.
Now, it is the red states’ turn to celebrate, and what better way to do it than look at boobs online?
Prepare for a lot of more of this the coming years.
On a personal note, I think I never felt a resentment for a politician as great as I feel for Palin. Not even George Bush, Dick Cheney or any Dutch politician. Her voice alone makes me nauseous.
Yglesias thinks what I think too. If Sarah Palin gets the nomination for Republican presidential candidate, she has a very, very decent chance at winning. I put the odds at 50 percent. The idea that Obama will easily defeat her deeply underestimates (or overestimates) the American electorate. If a one-term black senator with “Hussein” for a middle name could win, why not Palin?
You better prepare your shelter, gather non-perishable food, etc.
John McCain was a widely admired war hero with a reputation for moderation who had favorable ratings well over 50 percent on Election Day and he lost to a first-term senator with a black nationalist spiritual mentor. Palin isn’t the most formidable candidate out there, and in a very close election her flaws could easily deny the GOP the White House. And very close elections do happen—think how important the 2000 presidential election was in retrospect. But most elections aren’t that close, and if the fundamentals are strongly against Obama—which they may be—Palin will beat him.