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The man who thought he could fly

January 12, 2011

I should have waited a few days to write about the decline of journalism because this past weekend provided a perfect example of the profession’s endemic ignorance, hypocrisy, and bias.

The ignorance

On Saturday, within hours of a tragic shooting spree in Arizona that left six people dead and Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically injured, the media was enthusiastically blaming Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, conservative talk radio, and inflammatory (rightwing) political rhetoric.

Any day now they’ll decide it was partly Bush’s fault, too.
“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. [Giffords'] father says that ‘the whole Tea Party’ was her enemy… And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘crosshairs’ list.” –Paul Krugman, New York Times
Never mind the lack of any evidence that the shooter was a Tea Partier, listened to conservative talk radio, or paid attention to political rhetoric. And never mind awkward facts like the shooter being a fan of The Communist Manifesto, attending Democrat political rallies, being considered a “left-wing pothead” by classmates, registering to vote as an Independent, and being so mentally ill he thinks he can fly. Who cares about facts?

Heck, the Associated Press didn’t even bother to spell the shooter’s name correctly. Welcome to journalism in the 21st century.
“It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats…” –New York Times editorial
As for Mrs. Palin, I guess they figure Sarah has enough range on her Vulcan mind meld to reach Arizona from Alaska and mentally control a paranoid schizophrenic. That’s mighty impressive, ‘cause Spock needed to touch somebody to make it work.

I suppose anything’s possible. After watching a Star Trek episode back in the 1990’s I tried to mind meld with my dog, Jack, just to see if I could do it. He seemed unimpressed, but I came out of it with a lifelong hatred for Siamese cats.
“Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin!” -Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder

When Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a flaming liberal nutbag who is desperately trying to distract everybody from the fact that he knew about the shooter’s threats for months and failed to act, suggested that increasingly overwrought political rhetoric might be responsible for the shooting, the media swarmed around the notion like fruit flies on a rotten peach… proving once again that public schools are failing to educate.
“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital… The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.” –Sheriff Dupnik

“The Pima County Sheriff is not [timid]. He is speaking out, and too few others have because they're worried about retribution.” –Tom Brokaw
Somebody send a history book to the press room for crying out loud, and another one to this nincompoop sheriff.

Anybody who thinks modern political rhetoric is over-the-top will be surprised to learn what they were saying back in the days of our Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, was accused of having children by his slaves and selling them: “The moral character of Jefferson was repulsive. Continually puling about liberty, equality and the degrading curse of slavery, he brought his own children to the hammer, and made money of his debaucheries,” said Alexander Hamilton.

John Adams (who called Hamilton the “bastard brat of a Scotch peddler”) was accused of… um, well, being less than manly: “[Adams is a] hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” said Jefferson, and if you think Palin “targeting” Giffords for defeat smacks of violence, Adams’ reply to the insult was, “Are you prepared to see your dwellings in flames … female chastity violated … children writhing on the pike?”

And speaking of violence, Aaron Burr got so mad at Alexander Hamilton for perceived insults to his character that he challenged Hamilton to a duel and killed him. Yep, right here in the “nice United States.” (Duels were not unusual for the habitually abrasive Hamilton. The one that ended his life was his tenth or eleventh. Even cats know better than to stretch their luck past nine.)

Compared to other times and other places, our current political dialogue is fairly boring. The case that Sheriff Dipstick… er, Sheriff Dupnik and the media are trying to make is just plain false. If anything, we need to show a little more passion in our political discourse. C’mon, political dialogue is supposed to be passionate. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. After all, this is about the clash of ideas – important ideas.

For example, I wouldn’t mind watching somebody call Nancy Pelosi the Wicked Witch of the West on the floor of the House. It’s overdue. (Maybe even splash a little water in her face to see if she melts.)

Have you ever watched the British prime minister address parliament? They scream insults at the poor sap almost non-stop – it looks more like a seventh-grade social studies class with a substitute teacher than the birthplace of the Magna Carta. Give the Brits credit for creativity though – their political insults lean toward subtle and clever.

Benjamin Disraeli on his rival, William Gladstone: “He has not a single redeeming defect.”

Winston Churchill on his rival Clement Attlee: “A modest man with much to be modest about.” (My favorite British political insult of all time, also by Churchill about Attlee, was previously related here.)

And Lord St John of Fawsley on Margaret Thatcher: “When she speaks without thinking, she says what she thinks.”
“If Glenn Beck... and Bill O'Reilly... do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death fantasies and the dreams of blood lust, for ever having provided just the oxygen for those deep in madness for whom violence is an acceptable solution then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers and listeners, by all politicians who would appear on their programs - including President Obama and his planned interview with Fox on Super Bowl Sunday, and repudiated by the sponsors and by the networks that employ them.” –Keith Olberman, hissy-fitter-in-chief for MSNBC
The hypocrisy

Slightly more than a year ago, when a jihad-loving Muslim traitor named Nidal Hasan walked into a Fort Hood medical center shouting “Allahu Akbar!" and gunned down 43 American military personnel, the mainstream media and liberal establishment was adamant that nobody should jump to conclusions and blame Islam.

“It’s premature to reach conclusions about what motivated Hasan…” pontificated Senator Joe Lieberman. “This did not, obviously, represent the Muslim faith,” opined Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. “We don't know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,” said President Obama, the man who jumped to conclusions about the arrest of Henry Gates.

What part of jihad-loving Muslim yelling “Allahu Akbar!" while he kills American soldiers do these people find inconslusive?

Here’s what the New York Times editorialized back then:
“In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East. President Obama was right when he told Americans, ‘we don’t know all the answers yet’ and cautioned everyone against ‘jumping to conclusions.’”
Uh huh, sure. Compare those words to this week’s editorial, quoted earlier, which points the finger at Republicans and Tea Partiers for what this crazy stoner did in Tuscon.

The bias

Even if you accept the silly idea that political rhetoric is responsible for violence, why does the media blame conservatives? We have a Democrat in the White House who decided not to prosecute Black Muslims who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008 threatening white voters… and that happened just a few months after he campaigned in the same city saying, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun! Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl!”

Hey, guess they were listening, Mr. President. Good job.

And guess who said this: “That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida, instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”

Answer: former Democrat congressman Paul Kanjorski. He said it three months ago, while he was running for reelection. (He lost, thank goodness.) On Monday, the New York Times ran an opinion piece written by Kanjorksi, in which he piously says, “…it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.”

Is he kidding?

The Times, like most of the mainstream media, is so blinded by bias, so thoroughly camped on the left side of the political spectrum, they can’t see how silly it is to have Paul Kanjorski writing a column about civility.

What’s next? An editorial about marital fidelity by Bill Clinton? Advice about dieting from Michael Moore? Tax tips from Charlie Rangel?

I know: how about an essay on journalism ethics by Dan Rather?

From Reno, Nevada, USA

January 13, 2011 - The libbies have taken a real beating over their disgusting reaction to the shootings, as they should. But even now some of them refuse to abandon their position. Even last night, four days after the event, I was watching liberals on television continue to attempt to blame Republicans and conservative talk radio. - Larry, Nevada

January 12, 2011 - Yep, just as soon as they get tired of blaming Palin and Rush. - Mike B., Michigan

January 12, 2011 - It's obvious that for anyone to do what this young man did they would have to have severe mental illnesses. The ignorance of the press would be laughable on this matter if it were not so sad. It's as if they want people to believe that political rhetoric somehow made this young man ill, and that if it weren't for the speech that he was hearing on the radio he would never have reached this point. The real unfortunate part is that there are many citizens in our country who will believe them, and in their ill-fated efforts to create a perfectly sterile environment within which everyone can live they'll not only believe it, but try to do something about it. There will be more calls for monitoring and limiting of such speech, and calls for stricter gun laws. - Matt, Minnesota

January 12, 2010 - That was a really good piece. Actually it makes me think of Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Of course, I'm also one of those nut-jobs who believes that satan had more power over this guy than Sarah Palin : ) - Samantha, Michigan
J.P. replies: I don't think that makes you a nut-job. It makes you a politically incorrect Bible-clutching rube, but who cares? Better to be right than acclaimed by man.

January 12, 2011 - That sheriff is pretty bad. The more we learn, the more we find out that the sheriff department dropped the ball. Today I read that they had contact with this creep half a dozen times but did nothing. No wonder the guy is hysterically pointing the finger at Rush Limbaugh. - Ken C., West Virginia

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