Monday, January 10, 2011

Let the Spin Games Begin!

Not even forty-eight hours after the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of five others, we have assorted pundits on the Right, as well as their lackeys, and enablers- not to mention even some of the esteemed mainstream media, trying to play the false equivalency game. This won't wash and this blog will deal with why it won't wash.

First, let's look at today's Financial Times Editorial today (‘America Reels after Atrocity in Arizona’ ) which was a huge disappointment in buying into false objectivity by exploiting false balance. The editorial notes in part (after conceding that Sarah Palin did indeed put rifle cross-hairs over Giffords' district:

"Deplorable as such imagery may be, in truth violent rhetoric in U.S. politics is not confined to one side. Although gun-toting methaphors have been most popular on the Right, acitivists in both parties routinely couch their attacks on opponents in the most furious language. The leaders of both parties have consistently failed to repudiate this. Quite the opposite, 'firing up the base' is considered standard operating procedure on both sides".

But this glib comparison mixes chalk and cheese. A democratic (even "furiously") referring to the destitution of a family as a result of catastrophic health care expenses and policies (by insurance companies) can in no way be remotely compared with placing rifle cross-hairs on the districts of an opponent, in a map. And we KNOW this happened to Giffords - as she herself makes known in a youtube video after noting Palin's targeting of her district (pay attention here, 'ted.h.'- who proferred a rambling comment about me being 'hypocritical'):


Nor can caustic remarks by Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow - ABOUT Bill O'Reilly targeting San Franciscans, be put in the same league as O'Reilly actually endorsing an attack (by a radioactive bomb) on San Franciscans! To say the two are equivalent is to betray one's lack of common sense as well as intelligence! It also shows the degree to which this country has failed miserably in its ability to discriminate the impacts of differing sources, as well as name the true culprits responsible for our decline in civility.

Further, no where and in no place have liberals, progressives, or Democrats done anything remotely analogous to appearing at a Palin, Boehner or Glenn Beck rally bearing rifles, or holding signs asserting the “tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants from time to time” or regurgitating the noxious Barry Goldwater saying “Extremism in pursuit of liberty is no vice”. Nor have any Dem leaders or spokespersons (before the midterms last November) displayed maps of the U.S. highlighting rifle scope cross-hairs over Republican congressional districts as Palin did to Giffords’ Dem district.

So, those who play this false equivalency game are only showing themselves to be part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.

It's even more incomprehensible coming from the FT, given their content on page 3 of the same edition with their editorial! According to their headline story, 'Enemies Unite to Condemn Attack') they quote Gabrielle Giffords' father, Spencer- who when asked if Gabrielle had any enemies, replied: "Yeah! The whole Tea Party!"

Further down in an associated story ('Relaxed Laws of Concealed Firearms Come Under Scrutiny') they document that:

"Ms. Giffords had been threatened before the shooting. Her office in Tucson was vandalized last year after she voted to support Barack Obama's healthcare reform bill".

Then further:

"Guns loomed large in November's election, when Ms. Giffords won re-election to her Tucson district following a tightly fought contest with Jesse Kelley, a candidate from the Tea Party anti-tax movement. Mr. Kelley, an ex-Marine, whose campaign was endorsed by Sarah Palin, hosted campaign events where guns were present.

'Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelley' was how one event was promoted"

Then the same article went on to observe:

"There was little sign of the Tea Party toning down its rhetoric in the aftermath of the attacks. Allyson Miller, a founder of the 500-member Tea Party Patriots condemned the shooting but said there was no need to moderate the organization's message. 'Anytime you start suppressing freedom of speech, it's wrong' she said."

However, in other nations (such as Canada and Germany) when speech can be used to incite violence, it's prohibited. Neither of those nations regards itself as any less "free" than the U.S. and both have murder rates hundreds of times less.

Now, as to the claim that a "lone psycho" did it and there were no political affiliations or overtones, this has already been torpedoed. Reports in today's Washington Post note that the FBI opened a safe in Mr. Loughner's parents' home and recovered a letter from Giffords, on congressional stationary. Indeed, the FBI's evidence is that Loughner had been obsessed with and tracking Giffords for some time, even appearing at several of her events and asking lamo questions. (Such as one concerning the meaning of words).

In the end, we don't know what precisely motivated Loughner to fire a bullet into Gabrielle Giffords' brain, but what seems to be clear is that fertile soil was already in place for him to act- irrespective of his exact motives at the time. A clue on this comes from a Dr. Jerrold Post, quoted in the original FT article. Dr. Post is a Director of Political Psychology at George Washington University, also the author of Political Paranoia, and had worked on political violence at the CIA.

According to Dr. Post, quoted in the FT, "violence could be triggered by the broader atmosphere of heightened rhetoric and those Tea Party activists who carried weapons at rallies to show their literal adherence to the second amendment defense of gun rights."

Dr. Post is quoted further:

"Although the acts and the costumes, including carrying weapons, is meant to be symbolic, ...the audience is very heterogeneous. And within that audience is going to be some who can be incited to carry out that act, particularly if their own life is falling apart".

In other words, even if Loughner wasn't a crazed Right wing extremist or Teepee zealot himself, he could be influenced to action if the atmosphere was over heated enough, and we knew it was in Arizona - what with the immigrant round up edict of Gov. Jan Brewer (merely hauling people away and locking them up if they had no ID), not to mention pulling funding for those who needed heart, lung transplants and letting them die (in the wake of the overall health reform zeitgeist).

Since we know, from what the FBI has compiled thus far, Loughner's life was indeed falling apart, it makes sense he'd by vulnerable to precipitous action. Add in the evidence that he'd been stalking Giffords for some time, including going to her events and writing her, and you have a plausible political component as well - though unravelling it from the morass of his colliding mental issues would likely take ten of the best psychiatrists at least a year.

So no, we aren’t saying that Palin or any of the extreme - gun toting, over the top Tea Partyers (especially the ones who carried rifles to Obama health care events) assisted Loughner in his Tucson shooting or pulled any triggers, but rather that their words and antics created and sowed the fertile landscape by which an unstable mind could be induced to precipitously act.

As for 'ted h's' complaint that my depiction of JFK alongside Giffords was over the top, no - because the intent wasn't to portray Giffords as a JFK clone or redux, only to show that the same hateful dynamic (from the Right- including the John Birchers, the political ancestors of the Tea Party) was present at that time. Those same words, threats and over the top rants ("treason") were present then, and in many astute political observers' minds were the agent that triggered the 60s assassinations, including of JFK, but also of his brother, Bobby, and Martin Luther King - as well a Malcolm X.

Let's hope that we get the Right's vitriol under containment now, before it's too late! Kowtowing to their howling and indignant screeching in response to justly laying blame for their rhetoric and actions preceding the Giffords incident, is no better than a teacher who punishes an entire class for the bullying of small, delinquent clique. In the end, the bullying delinquents will continue to do what they do while the innocent will be even more reluctant to point them out. And again, to any wayward teepees, including the clueless commenter 'ted h.' - if you can't handle what's being blogged about here, go elsewhere! It's very simple! I'm sure there are plenty of blogs that will echo what you want to hear or see!


Caleb Shay said...

Again, thanks for getting this blog out there to counter this false balance crap that's now spreading. Before you know it, no one will be able to recognize who did or said what to cause the atmosphere of hate in this country.

The FT editorial is ridiculous given what they already published blaming the right. What, don't their editors actually read what they publish in their own paper?

The CIA guy's take was very illuminating and makes sense and I'd take his word before anyone else's. I also enjoyed the Youtube link where Giffords actually says 'We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list'

What more do people want? Or can't they see? Or maybe they just don't want to see. They don't want to admit that one side of the political espectrum is responsible for all the hate and violence.

The fact that this character wrote to Giffords is also of interest and I can't wait to see what else comes out of the wash so to speak. As for ted h. the guy who wrote you my advice is to just use your spam button or delete. Why use up valuable blog space with garbage?

Copernicus said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I agree that the CIA expert's take is probably the most salient. And, if so, it doesn't matter what Laughner was: a Teepee zealot, a crazed and disaffected lib (ted.h. stated - with NO evidence or sources- he was a 'leftie' enraged at Giffords' absence of fire for liberal legislation) or a Martian human impersonator.

In the end, it was the *climate* of hate and over the top vitrio that provoked the attack. And this *climate* was created and fueled by none other than the RIGHT!

I also agree the FT's take was incongruous with its editorial. I mean, they already provided all the evidence and ancillary material to lay the blame for the hostile political atmosphere on the Right.

As for ted.h. solving that problem merely requires re-setting the blog comments facility for exclusive blog members. In a way it's a pain in the butt, because you cut out comments you might otherwise want. But it does keep the nuisance factor down!

My problem with commentators like ted.h. is they have the whole vast and diverse internet where they can find assorted niches where they can find resonance with their views, but opt to come here and waste my time and theirs. As I've said before, if you're going to come here and contradict me, or pooh-pooh a blog that's fine - but do have the grace, intelligence and sense to at least provide sources to support your contentions. Else, I will eliminate your drivel at the drop of a hat.

Better yet, save your drivel for a site more conducive to your abject nonsense or 'garbage' as you put it, because it won't get a hearing here. The internet is now so balkanized that one can find a site anywhere to resonate with his views. So there's no need to come onto a site or blog which is diametrically opposed to them (and one knows that ab initio) and make a nuisance of yourself with nuisance comments. That's why I have no patience with these folks!

Copernicus said...

Btw, Caleb, you have to see (to believe) the latest horse shit idiotcy from this 'ted h.'character:

He scribbles:

"You still remain an uneducated idiot, and don't know what your talking about. Most radicals, bombers, and assassins are hard leftist liberals, communists, atheists, and basically spout the same rubbish as you do. I guess you weren't around in the 60s when hard left radicals such as the Black Panthers, led by Bobby Seale, and Huey Newton, or the Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, the Weathermen, and Youth International Party, led by leftist radicals such as Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, terrorized this country. Let's not forget Obama's hang around friend Bill Ayers who participated in 'The Days of Rage" riot in Chicago in 69. Yeah you have good company with these radicals who went around bombing military, federal, and police buildings throughout parts of the U.S. These were your so called educated types who took their grievences one step further, using terror and killing as their method of strength. It's uneducated simpletons like yourself who know nothing of what's going on in this country, past or present. You still refuse to see where this hate your talking about is really coming from. I guess you also never saw the Black Panthers standing outside the voting precinct in Philadelphia, dressed in full regalia with clubs in hand, threatening those coming in with chants of "kill the white babies, kill, kill. What world do you live in buddy? Are you totally blind to what is happening in this country. Not to mention the Obama administration then protected these radicals from prosecution and told his investigators not to persue them. You call this a fair administration? Justice for all? Had they been the KKK or Nazi Party they would have been immediately arrested and prosecuted by the federal government. You remain the typical, clueless, liberal, leftist type, that IS the trouble in this country today as it was in the past. Get some history lessons, you need them."

Seems this officious little moron has neatly forgotten about Rightist Timothy McVeigh who slaughtered 168 people by setting off a truck bomb near the Federal Bldg. in OK city. He has the temerity and utter ignorance to compare this monstrous act with the minor demonstrations of the SDS of the 60s, most of which were carried out on empty bldgs. or which backfired and injured the perps!

And to even tangentially compare Bill Ayers' deeds or misdeeds to those of McVeigh is the epitome of historical revisionism and ignorance.

This is what I mean when I say the nincompoops on the Right are incapable of discriminating levels of magnitude and difference. This also explains why they stupidly call Obama "Nazi" and "Socialist" in the same breath when the two had nothing in common and indeed, the Nazis persecuted the Socialists!

Another reason I plan to reset the blog. There's little really that can be done for the anti-Obama crowd and teepee set. Hell, this ted h. bozo is probably one of those who also thinks Obama has no legitimate right to be president because "born in Kenya" or some malarkey.


Copernicus said...

I should also have added that the Black Panthers that he gets his panties in a snit over, were nearly entirely infiltrated by Hoover's FBI by the end of the 60s. Indeed, Hoover's troops infiltrated all then left organizations (e.g. SDS, etc.) in order to destabilize them.

The operation under Hoover's direction was known as COINTELPRO and anyone with half a brain can google it. The basics are pretty straightforward: dozens of protest groups were infiltrated over the period 1956-1971, and many acts blamed on them were actually committed by agents provocateurs in the COINTELPRO constellation.

The commitment of the FBI to undermine and destroy those popular movements was fed largely by Hoover's communist paranoia. Most amazing as this report notes:

no links to Soviet Russia or commies were uncovered in any of the social movements disrupted by the FBI During the entire COINTELPRO period.

As with everything else, and like all other tea baggers I've had the displeasure of encountering, this character is totally clueless. And then he tries to pull me up on being historically defective.

Caleb Shay said...

Wow! That pretty well ices it! The guy is a whackjob. Anyone who goes after atheists and communists in the same breath as he rages at the left for some reputed history of troublemaking is already in kooksville. This nut rants about the Weathermen and Black Panthers but easily forgets how the Right extremists killed and lynched hundreds of blacks in the south even as they tortured and killed people under the Aryan Nations banner later. The Southern Poverty Law conference has listed over 9,000 Right hate groups across the country since 2008 and Obama’s election and fools like this ted h. want us all to believe they aren’t responsible?

These people have made it abundantly clear they want an armed revolution. What do you think ‘don't retreat reload’ is supposed to mean?

How about “if you can't change it with a ballot, change it with a bullet” as reportedly coming from the lips of one Allan West (R, FLA)?

These people know exactly what they’re saying, and it’s disingenuous of people like this whacko you quoted to try and convince people otherwise. They dream of an armed revolution here in the US which overthrows Obama and the ‘socialists’. THEY are the ones to blame not the left. We on the left are victims and always have been.

Did you know extreme conservatives are holding parties of celebration all over the US over this shooting, and there are forums all over the internet with people openly talking about staging similar shootings?

This is just the beginning, and if Obama somehow wins the next election, I expect these people will take to the street armed and shooting, they already dream of it. Good again you brought this to light and glad you have applied filters on your blog to keep the tea party idiots out!