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Tags: Arizona Shooting

Team Sarah Points to Even More Recent Uses of ‘Blood Libel’



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As a follow up to yesterday’s post, Rebecca Mansour, communications director for SarahPAC, sends along even more uses of the term “blood libel” in a non-traditional context:

MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle: John Kerry Underwent A “Blood Libel By The Swift Boat People.” “The problem for Kerry here is that two years ago, Joe, he did not talk like that when he was undergoing a blood libel by the Swift Boat people. If he had stood up two years ago, in July of 2004, and looked into the cameras with the same intensity he showed today on this issue and said, Hey, I didn`t see Dick Cheney on the bow of my boat in the Mekong Delta, we might have a different president today. That didn`t happen then, and so he`s playing catch-up in terms of his reputation now.” (“Scarborough Country,” MSNBC, 10/31/06)

Democratic Congresswoman On Accusations Against Al Gore: “I Would Put Them In A Category, Literally, Of Blood Libel.”“Rep. DEUTSCH: Well, again, it–it is ve–a–an incredibly fair and well-run process. But let me respond to the two things you said. First is the Republicans’ allegations over the last 24 or 48 hours, which I consider the most scandalous statements that I probably have heard in my entire life. And I would put them in a category, literally, of blood libel, that Al Gore has conspired to prevent servicemen and women from their votes being counted, which is absolutely not true.” (“Rivera Live,” CNBC, 11/20/00)

Christie Todd Whitman & “Blood Libel” “Think McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden have it tough? During Whitman’s re-election campaign, baseball cards bearing her photo with a daily ‘baby murder count’ were mass-mailed to the ‘base’ by the so-called ‘Christian’ right. The left wing, moreover, has smeared her record relentlessly, blaming her for everything from summertime droughts to the current fiscal crisis. Most egregious has been the blood libel that as EPA administrator she deliberately misled responders at Ground Zero about the air quality, putting their health and even their lives at risk. The fact that she repeatedly advised responders to wear protection goes unmentioned.” (John Farmer Jr., “Why The True Mavericks Can’t Win,” The Star-Ledger, 10/19/08)

Some Democrats View Attacks On Their Patriotism “A Blood Libel.” “What about Bush’s cheap shot attack on Democrats implying they support terrorists? Unfortunately, it’s just the kind of wedge issue many people, maybe most, in whole sections of the country, primarily the South and the West, are all too ready to accept on faith. Democrats, as they see it, are embarrassed by expressions of patriotism or, worse yet, ashamed of them. For a minority of left-wing Democrats that’s all too true; but for most Democrats that’s a blood libel that Republicans have been spreading since the McCarthy era — alas, with some success.” (John Farmer, “Presidential Campaign To Run From The Sewers,” Star-Ledger, 11/24/03)

Salon: Blair Trumpeted “Blood Libel” Against Iran. “You can’t teach an old lapdog new tricks. And Tony Blair was barking up the wrong tree yet again last week in his first major appearance since he skulked ingloriously away from office back in June. Blair seized the opportunity of a New York speech to trumpet the blood libel that Iran is now the embodiment of the entire ‘global ideology’ of Islamic extremism, explicitly conflating the Tehran regime not only with al-Qaida but also with Nazi Germany.” (Chris Floyd, “Blair And Bush Team Up To Sell New War,” Salon.com, 10/24/07)

Washington Monthly Book Reviews Labels Anti-Clinton Book “Awfully Close To A Blood Libel.”  “Losing bin Laden might be thought of as the pilot for a series to be called CSI: Right ‘Wing Conspiracy.’ In the book, British journalist Richard Miniter sifts through eight years’ worth of the Clinton administration’s approach to Osama bin Laden’s terrorism, and lays the blame for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks squarely on — altogethernow, Regnery Publishing buffs! — Bill Clinton. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, Miniter finds a long series of missed opportunities to capture or kill the terrorist. The result is an odd book that manages to raise serious questions and make serious points about the competing pressures and interests that go into creating a foreign policy, but that still overreaches in manipulative and mendacious ways. . . . However, if Miniter had been less interested in leveling what seems awfully close to a blood libel, it would be easier to congratulate him for producing a clear account of the competing policy questions, institutional inertia, bureaucratic competition, and the personality conflicts that thwarted the formulation and execution of a policy to stop bin Laden.” (Jamie Malanowski, “Kill Bill: The Relentless Effort To Blame 9/11 On President Clinton,” Washington Monthly, 11/1/03)

CQ Weekly: “Not Just A Fiction, It Was Very Nearly A Blood Libel.” “In his Oct. 17, 2002, testimony for the joint House and Senate inquiry, CIA Director George J. Tenet conceded no error, acknowledged no miscalculation. Beyond removing ‘the wall’ of legal restrictions on intelligence sharing and increasing his budget, he saw no need for fundamental change. In his view, any suggestion that the CIA was not joined at the hip with the FBI in pursuit of al Qaeda was not just a fiction, it was very nearly a blood libel. ‘One of the most critical alliances in the war against terrorism is that between CIA and FBI,’ Tenet testified.” (“CQ Outlook: Is Homeland Security Keeping America Safe?,” CQ Weekly, 6/13/03)

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist & Author David Halberstam Describes The Movie Pearl Harbor As A “Blood Libel.” “Look at ‘Pearl Harbor.’ ‘Pearl Harbor’ is nearly a blood libel against the event. The people who made that movie should be ashamed of themselves. Then you see ‘Apocalypse’ and you see what real filmmaking really is.” (Jeff Stark, “David Halberstam on ‘Apocalypse Now’,” Salon.com, 8/3/01)

Baltimore Sun: Ellen Sauerbrey Issued “A Political Blood Libel” In 1998. “Post: ‘Take us back to the last election. Do you still think you won that?’ Sauerbrey: ‘I think it’s irrelevant.’ Excuse me? Sauerbrey then vaguely blamed Baltimore City for ‘problems,’ which she said have been addressed by ‘new equipment.’ And then the subject was changed. Well, all denials to the contrary, the last election is not ‘irrelevant.’ What Sauerbrey issued, in its aftermath, was a political blood libel, accusing her opponents of stealing the democratic process. She had all sorts of time to prove her allegations, or drop them, or apologize for them and blame them on the emotions of the moment. Instead, she took them all the way to court — where they were thrown in her face.” (Michael Olesker, “Accusations Hurt Credibility Of Candidate Sauerbrey,” The Baltimore Sun, 7/21/98)

What is the point of all this? For starters, there is little indication that any of these previous uses of the term kicked up much controversy. If someone is bothered by the term stretching beyond its historical context, that’s a legitimate gripe, but that train left the station a long time ago. Even the Anti-Defamation League’s statement was mild in its criticism:

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

Because of the numerous earlier uses of the phrase on both sides of the aisle, with no discernible objection or controversy, it is easy to conclude that voices driven to great outrage by Palin’s use of the term are just looking for any old excuse to be outraged.

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Sarah Palin

Nice Job, Mr. President.



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Today’s Morning Jolt begins by contemplating the speech, and the reaction:

I Doubt I’ll Be Saying This Often, So . . . ‘Kudos, Mr. President.’

Here’s a morning jolt for you: Last night, President Obama actually gave a terrific speech.

Oh, we’ll be able to quibble with a point or two — the venue, in retrospect, was a terrible choice — but the President and his speechwriters actually hit all of the right notes on a tough night in a politically charged atmosphere. Obama has been president for two years, but last night might have been the first time he was indisputably presidential.

The presidency is, thankfully, more than just a political position, a series of appearances urging Americans to support the passage of this bill or confirmation of this nominee or to do this or that. It is also that of a truly national leader, and that means that when it hits the fan, all eyes are on the president. He is the only man in an office that every American votes for, and the expectation is that when the unexpected strikes out of the blue, he will talk us through the triumphs and tragedies and ordeals of the times. Sometimes you get to be president when the first man walks on the moon, or when we celebrate the bicentennial or witness the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sometimes you get 9/11 or the Challenger disaster or Oklahoma City. In the right hands, the presidency can be a strikingly intimate office; think of all the Americans who felt like they knew Ronald Reagan, even though they never met him.

For Obama, the scale of this horrific loss of life was not as great as some others, but supremely morally troubling nonetheless: how do we make sense of this world when the life of a 9-year-old can be randomly, cruelly cut down by a disturbed man obsessed with grammar? How do we overcome despair when one man can inflict so much pain on so many?

The quibbles? Well, for starters, it could have been two-thirds the length and been every bit as powerful. The commentators on Fox News Channel praised the speech, but Chris Wallace noted it was three times as long as Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster and twice as long as Clinton’s after Oklahoma City and Bush’s after 9/11.

As I was appreciating it, I wondered if I was alone in liking it. I wasn’t. Rich: “The pep-rally atmosphere was inappropriate and disconcerting, but President Obama turned in a magnificent performance. This was a non-accusatory, genuinely civil, case for civility, in stark contrast to what we’ve read and heard over the last few days. He subtly rebuked the Left’s finger-pointing, and rose above the rancor of both sides, exactly as a president should. Tonight, he re-captured some of the tone of his famous 2004 convention speech. Well done.”

At Hot Air, Allahpundit notes that perhaps the most significant comments weren’t in the prepared text: “Two noteworthy ad libs to bear in mind before you proceed to the key passages below. First, in the speech’s best moment, he mentioned that Giffords opened her eyes today for the first time. And second, right after the line “it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy,” he punctuated it with “it did not.” He’s not playing the “climate of hate” game here, in other words. On the contrary.” He conducts a quick Twitter-survey and notes, “for what it’s worth, this is playing remarkably well thus far among righties on Twitter: Rich LowryJonah GoldbergJim Geraghty, Andy LevyS.E. CuppPhilip Klein, and Ace’s own co-bloggers Drew and Gabe all thought it was rock solid.”

In addition, Erick Erickson summarized it, “a very good speech by the President with a nice rebuke to his own side for engaging in the blame game.”

Of course, Allahpundit also wondered if liking the president’s speech will become “the new RINO litmus test.”

The Ace of Spades was left deeply disappointed, though: “He doesn’t so much make accusations as continue to pander to deranged leftists who insist that Sarah Palin is an accomplice to murder. But who knows — given that the left is now determined to avenge the shootings via some eliminationist rhetoric and possibly actions of their own, maybe it’s helpful and will save lives. If he wants to make the left understand I mean you too he has to say so though, because of course otherwise they assume they can do no wrong. ‘We cannot use this occasion as one more reason to turn on each other.’ Nice thought, but I sure hope that at some point the word goes out I mean the left too. No… I tried to give him a break, but it’s the heavy implication this was a political attack (why else all the emphasis on disagreeing without being disagreeable?). Yup, trying to run the Bill Clinton 1995 playbook.”

I concur with Brian Preston’s criticism of the behavior of the audience, which ruined the speech for him: “The entire spectacle has been repugnant and unpresidential, more resembling a pep rally or basketball sendoff than a memorial.  I kept expecting people in the crowd to wave giant foam fingers or call for the hot dog vendor.  This event provided no healing, only boisterous cheers drowning out what’s left of public decorum. There was one good moment, when the heroes who saved Rep. Giffords’ life hugged her husband.  But the rest was farcical, off note, inappropriate and grating. Future politicos, please heed this advice.  Never hold a memorial service in a university arena, and never give out T-shirts prior to the event.  Those two choices set the tone for this entire spectacle.  Some will excuse the bizarre atmosphere or blame it entirely on those in the audience to deflect attention from the president.  But the president’s team had the final call on everything.  They could have demanded a more suitable setting, and set a more appropriate tone.  They didn’t.  This gauche spectacle is the Obama administration’s fault.  The tone of the event overshadowed whatever good words of comfort and honor were in his lengthy speech.”

Jedediah Bila reminds us all not to fall in love over one speech, always worthwhile advice: “In 2008, America voted in a President whose speeches impressed them. Don’t judge a man by his speeches. Judge him by his actions.” Indeed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t say, “nice speech.”

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Barack Obama

Why Are We Polling About the Gunman’s Motivations?



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Tim Pawlenty, Peter King, and Pat Sajak all feature in today’s Morning Jolt, but it begins with a look at an odd poll question:

Inconvenient Conclusions Get Surveys Left in the Poll Vault

CBS began Tuesday by telling us, “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.” Ah, how reassuring! A triumph for common sense and known facts! There is hope for the Republic after all!

But CBS must have had some wariness about that result, because by Tuesday night they had released a second set of numbers from the same poll revealing, “Forty-five percent of Americans believe that Jared Loughner’s political views were “probably” a factor in the shootings in Tucson Saturday, a new CBS News poll shows. One in three say they probably were not a factor, while 22 percent say they do not know.”

Er, what were his political views again? The tyranny of the English grammar structure? Me don’t even know how to take a political stance on that. I suppose you could consider an incomprehensible, murderous rage directed at Giffords a political view, but that’s almost a tautology: ‘Do you believe that his desire to kill drove him to kill?’

Is there anyone out there who feels like they really completely understand what was going on in the gunman’s head?* You do? Okay, go please turn yourself in to the FBI immediately.

*You’ll notice I rarely write the gunman’s name. This is deliberate. I remember the Weekly Standard writing an editorial about the Columbine killers back in the 1990s, focusing on the abominable irony that we so often remember the names of the perpetrators of mass murder but rarely recall the names of the victims. At the end, I lamented that the editorial perpetuated the killers’ fame by naming them, only to reread it and find that the writer had artfully avoided mentioning either one. News coverage requires specific names, but afterward, when we digest and analyze, it is good to forget the names of evil men who killed in order to be remembered.

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Polling

What We’ve Learned



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The Arizona shooting has been a disturbingly clarifying moment in our public life.

Keith Olbermann, who once a night declares someone “the Worst Person in the World” — even the daughter of a well-known political figure — really seems to think that he has the credibility and authority to demand Sarah Palin’s “dismissal from politics” over “violent imagery in politics.”

Clarence Dupnik really thinks the best thing for a sheriff with jurisdiction over a crime scene and the duty to secure evidence for the successful prosecution of a horrific massacre is to appear with Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Keith Olbermann, Parker/Spitzer, Megyn Kelly, and who knows how many other television-program hosts by the time the week is out.

Time’s Mark Halperin thinks that now is the moment for conservatives to “turn the other cheek.” (It’s always easier to urge the other guy to do that, huh?)

Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) believes that America needs to criminalize symbols, specifically the “use of ‘language or symbols’ that could be interpreted as inciting violence against a member of Congress.” Threats against lawmakers are already a crime, and the question of who interprets the language or symbols, and what standards represents inciting violence, are to be sorted out later, apparently.

Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) believes he can best be protected by placing himself in the center of a circle with a 1,000-foot radius, that moves with him, in which possession of a firearm is a federal crime. The constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of those within that circle are null and void, apparently.

Rep. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, sees nothing problematic about sending out a letter that begins, “Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, as well as the start of the new Congress, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few words with political friends in Vermont and throughout the country. I also want to thank the very many supporters who have begun contributing online to my 2012 reelection campaign at www.bernie.org.”

Some unnamed Democratic consultant had no problem articulating to Politico what a political opportunity the shooting is.

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Bernie Sanders , Bob Brady , Peter King

Clarence Dupnik, Airwaves Cop!



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From the 1-11-11 edition of the Morning Jolt:

Where’s Sheriff Andy Griffith When We Need Him?

Say this for Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. He may have dropped the ball on numerous red flags and other signs of a potential threat from the Tucson gunman, and he certainly didn’t bother to assign any deputies or other police personnel to the Congress on Your Corner event that turned into a massacre, despite his apparent belief that his state and the community he serves “have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

But when it comes to policing our airwaves, he’s on the case!

ABC News: “The Arizona sheriff investigating the Tucson shooting that left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded had harsh words today for those engaging in political rhetoric, calling conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh ‘irresponsible’ for continuing the vitriol. ‘The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information,’ Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said today. ‘[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences.’ Limbaugh today railed against the media and Dupnik for trying to draw a link between the heated political climate and the shooting rampage, calling the sheriff a ‘fool.’ But Dupnik stood by his assertions. ‘The vitriol affects the [unstable] personality that we are talking about,” he said. ‘You can say, ‘Oh no, it doesn’t,’ but my opinion is that it does.’”

Hey, thanks for your opinion, Clouseau. Dare you interrupt your rewriting of the Constitution and self-appointed duties of National Political Discourse Referee for a little bit of actual police work?

I’m envious of the acidic take from the JammieWearingFool: “I’ve got a new name for Dupnik. Sheriff Nifong. Just a sneaking suspicion, but I think when the fallout clears, Rush Limbaugh will still be broadcasting while this jerk is ushered into retirement, if not the penitentiary (ship him over to Sheriff Joe Arpaio). Until then I hope Rush beefs up security. I wouldn’t want Sheriff Nifong’s incendiary rhetoric to pose any threat to him. I mean, you know how unhinged those lefties can be.”

Pat Dollard thinks this is step one: “This is going to be the Left’s tactic to enforce a clampdown on the Right’s speech: they will push for censorship legislation (aka hate speech legislation) based not on Jared Loughner being a Conservative, because he wasn’t and they can’t, but based on ‘tone’. You will see Leftist propagandists doing ‘mea culpas’, pretending to take blame for being part of the ‘tone problem’ in order to snooker the people into supporting censorship legislation designed to censor the Conservative voice in America.”

But at Hot Air, Allahpundit thinks he’s doing enormous damage to his own argument: “As annoyed as you are at this tool for being a ludicrous political hack and a disgrace to his office, please do understand that he’s inadvertently a huge asset to conservatives. Just watch him answer Diane Sawyer’s question about whether it’s appropriate for an investigator to tie his pet theories about talk radio to this case without any evidence. Answer: ‘Well, that’s my opinion. People can have their own opinions.’ We’re talking about a horrific murder spree here, an international news event, with political tensions between left and right terribly inflamed because of it, and the lead fact-finder on the case is yakking to broadcast news about Rush Limbaugh because ‘that’s my opinion.’ Naturally that’ll make him an instant hero to the left, but I can’t believe there’s a cop anywhere who won’t watch this and cringe all the way through. I’m also trying to imagine the reaction in the county D.A.’s office as this imbecile does his level best to prejudice the trial they’re eventually going to have to conduct. But then, what does a conviction of a mass murderer matter when Diane Sawyer’s sticking a mic in your face?”

I’m sure everyone in Tucson feels safer, knowing he can squeeze in a little police work in between television appearances . . .

Tags: Arizona Shooting

The Controversial Sheriff, Put in Power by His County’s Voters



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Suddenly, 2012 has a new must-watch race: The election of sheriff in Pima County, Arizona.

In 2008, Clarence Drupnik won reelection with 64.6 percent of the vote.

After the shootings, Sheriff Drupnik said of his state and the community he serves, “We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

Pima County is one of the more Democrat-leaning parts of Arizona. In 2008, Barack Obama won the county, 52 percent to 46 percent, while McCain carried the state 53 percent to 45 percent.

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Clarence Drupnik

Gentlemen! You Can’t Fight in Here!



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“I understand the idea that, even if Loughner had no idea who Sharron Angle is and even if he never saw Palin’s infamous cross-hairs map, it still makes sense to encourage political leaders to ditch violent rhetoric,” writes Salon news editor Steve Kornacki at the site’s War Room blog.

The first step in encouraging political leaders to ditch violent rhetoric? Stop calling your blog the WAR ROOM.

Tags: Arizona Shooting

Why Blame Photos of Political Figures Holding Guns?



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Are we really to believe that if a politician poses in a photo, aiming a gun at a target, that they are ipso facto contributing to an atmosphere of hatred and violence?

In that case, are advocates of this argument willing to blame the victim? Because Gabrielle Giffords did the same.

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Of course, Gabrielle Giffords did nothing to contribute to the actions of her attacker. Nor did Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or the Tea Parties or anyone else other than the gunman.

I suspect some of what we’re seeing is the desire to lash out at somebody. The gunman’s been caught. He’ll face a trial soon. But in the interim, everyone else in society, particularly those who admired Giffords, want to do something, to take some action that will satiate their need for justice and/or vengeance. They can’t tackle the gunman. He’s already in custody. They can’t change anything that has already occurred. So they’ll find some other figure they already disliked, assert some implausible connection between a word or a graphic and this horrific act, and do what they can to get the others with “blood on their hands.”

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Gabrielle Giffords , Sarah Palin

Speaking of Violent Images in Politics . . .



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It’s time for politicians to stop using violent imagery in their political rhetoric, holding guns and proclaiming, “I’ll take on Washington and this administration and get the federal government off of our backs!”

The man firing that gun, of course, is West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat. This ad is credited with helping him win last fall’s Senate election.

Tags: Arizona Shooting , Joe Manchin

Self-Censor, for Fear of Triggering Those Whose Motivations Cannot Be Understood?



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There’s nothing funny in today’s Morning Jolt. It’s just that kind of a day.

I don’t want to live in a country where we all have to self-censor for fear that our particular choice of words might be what triggers a madman to go on a shooting spree. Because the key word in that sentence is “madman.” Madness. We on the sane side of the equation can barely understand it.

One more point: we’re starting to hear more reports of people who sensed this man was deeply troubled and potentially dangerous, suggesting another egregious, unforgivable pattern in modern American life. After the Columbine massacre, endless amounts of media coverage declared that sometimes a troubled teen is much more than a troubled teen; sometimes they’re ticking time bombs. In the years after the unparalleled Colorado shooting, students, teachers, and parents were encouraged and constantly reminded that if they saw signs of potentially threatening behavior, to inform the authorities immediately. Fast forward almost a decade, and a particularly troubled Virginia Tech student generated more than his share of red flags: writing in a school assignment that he wanted to “repeat Columbine,” professors describing his behavior as “menacing”, removal from class, at least three stalking incidents, repeated reports to the student affairs office, the dean’s office, and the campus police.

Time and again, students and teachers did what they had been instructed to do — report troubling behavior — and yet the shooter was never seriously impeded from this ultimate murderous act. I suspect it was a combination of bureaucratic inertia, fears of action triggering a lawsuit, and flat-out underestimation and dismissal of the danger the shooter presented.

Do we ever break this cycle?

Tags: Arizona Shooting

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