January 9, 2011

Piling On: Reuters Dispatch Wants to Tame ‘Tough Political Rhetoric’ (All From the Right, of Course), Recycles Long-Disproven Myths

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” must be the motto at Reuters, or at least of the wire service’s Richard Cowan, three other contributors, and Editor Jackie Frank.

Cowan’s late Sunday afternoon dispatch (HT to an e-mailer) is caricature-driven collection of cliches, half-truth, outright myths, and totally predictable oversights. There’s the racial slurs before the heath care vote fabrication. There’s an attempt to declare Sarah Palin unfit for the presidency.

And of course, there’s the deliberately avoided recall of rhetoric from President Obama (here and here, for warm-ups) that could certainly be interpreted by unstable people as a call to violence, as well as total omission of the left’s anger just days ago over Gabrielle Giffords’s refusal to back Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader and the leftist inclinations of  deeply troubled accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.

But that stuff’s not important when there are disliked right-wingers to pile onto while the piling-on opportunity is there:

Protesters parade an altered photo of President Barack Obama sporting an Adolf Hitler-like mustache. [1] A candidate for the Senate muses about gun “remedies” if election results don’t go the right way. [2] Members of Congress are spat on and taunted with racial epithets before casting votes for a healthcare reform bill. [3]

Welcome to politics American-style.

For the past few years, some public officeholders and pundits have warned that the political rhetoric has gotten a little too overheated in a country known for its loose gun laws and history of presidential assassinations.

Now, in the aftermath of Saturday’s Arizona shooting rampage that left a congresswoman in critical condition from a gunshot to the head, six people dead and 13 others wounded, some are saying it’s time to reset the tone of America’s political discourse.

… An angry America is no doubt the result of economic woes underscored by an unemployment rate that has been stuck at nearly 10 percent for a prolonged period.

The Tea Party movement — a loose union of conservatives who have mostly supported Republican candidates or have run as Republicans — has capitalized on the uncertain times, winning dozens of seats in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Some Tea Party “town hall meetings” have included angry confrontations with incumbent members of Congress. [4]

… On a Facebook site in early 2010, (Sarah) Palin posted a map of the United States with cross hairs over 20 congressional districts held by Democrats she hoped would be thrown out of office. It included the seat held by Giffords. “It’s time to take a stand,” the posting said.

“That’s going to be hard for her to overcome,” (chairman of the political science department at Youngstown State University Paul) Sracic said, adding, “With this, she comes across as irresponsible. It has damaged her chances as a nominee” for president. [5]

Notes:

[1] — I guess Cowan doesn’t realize that probably the best-known Obama-Hitler mustache poster carrier was Rachel Brown, a Lyndon LaRouche supporter who confronted Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank at a town hall meeting and challenged him in the Democratic (that’s right, Democratic) primary last year. Cowan also seems to have “forgotten” how a different Democratic Congresswoman’s supporters “participated in a Palin-as-Hitler rally” in September 2010. How convenient.

[2] — Cowan is referring to a Sharron Angle statement last year. Here’s what I wrote in the fall, after AP reporter Calvin Woodward erroneously described what Angle said as a “call to arms”:

The “Second Amendment solutions” audio with Lars Larson is here. The quote involved is: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around?”

When I hear “Second Amendment solutions,” I think of so many people who have told me that they have felt the need to arm themselves and learn how to use a gun in case civil order breaks down. God forbid if that should ever happen, but if it does, it will largely be because Congress spends the next few years, as Angle said, “going the way it is” and destroying the country’s economic and legal foundations.

[3] — The “racial slurs were uttered before the health care bill” lie has been so thoroughly discredited that it’s somewhat amazing that Mr. Cowan would attempt to resurrect it. But since he has, here’s the video documenting that there is no record of any such thing ever occurring when it was alleged to have occurred.

[4] — So “angry confrontations at town hall meetings” are the same as incitements to murder? What is amazing is how, to the leftist press, raised voices on the right are incitements to violence, while raised voices on the left are either not worthy of comment or even occasionally noble expressions of passion.

[5] — Of all the “experts” Mr. Cowan could have gone to for commentary on Sarah Palin’s civility and presidential prospects, the Reuters reporter picked a Youngstown State University PoliSci Chair who seems more than a little enamored of the late Surpreme Court Justice Hugo Black. That’s right, Hugo Black, the FDR appointee with the initials “KKK” embedded firmly in his background. In a book review, Sracic is more than willing to forgive Black for this involvement, essentially considering it a necessary resume enhancement in the old South, without any thought as to how many cross-burnings and perhaps more violent activities Black’s involvement might have entailed. Black also wrote the Supreme Court opinion upholding the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. Yet it’s Sarah Palin who is apparently beyond the pale. You can’t make this stuff up.

Cowan and his collaborators’ unsupported, poorly-sourced crabbing would be laughed out of a well-run ninth-grade social studies class. Too bad that the standards at Reuters aren’t even that high.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Michael Ledeen on the Left and the Establishment Press (Being Redundant) Losing It (UPDATES: Ariz. Dem Politician Accused of Feeding the False Narrative; Comparing Ft. Hood Coverage)

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:31 am

At his Pajamas Media blog:

The political anger comes from people who can’t win an honest debate, and whose view of the world is demonstrably false. If they want to throw their intellectual weight around, the easy way is to attack their opponents in a very personal and nasty way (the hard way is to rethink their view of the world).

Eagerly lining up to prove Ledeen’s hypothesis in the immediate circumstances of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and related murders: CNN, Paul Krugman, CBS, Jane Fonda, and the Associated Press.

In the recent past, I also recall someone likening his opponents to kidnappers who are on the verge of harming their hostages (HT BlogProf):

At one point, he appeared to liken Republican lawmakers insisting on tax cuts for the wealthy to terrorists.

“I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. In this case the hostage is the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed,” he said.

Who could that be? Well, he works in an Oval Office.

____________________________________________________

UPDATE: Alleged at HillBuzz (HT Temple of Mut) —

Arizona state representative Lopez was a high profile driving force behind the immediate effort on the Left to blame the Tea Party for the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the murder of 6 bystanders yesterday (with scores more injured). Without having a single piece of information, Lopez took to the airwaves condemning the Tea Party and conservatives for the murder spree.

Jared Lee Loughner, the would-be assassin, is a confirmed Leftist Democrat upset with Congresswoman Giffords for being a conservative Democrat who was not Leftist enough for his tastes.

The evidence is at Blackfive. At about 4:10 in the vid at the link, Ms. Lopez starts the guilt-by-association trip with the Tea Party supporters of Giffords’s opponent in the 2010 election.

UPDATE 2: Sad to say, media guilt-by-association is a nearly five-decade tradition (at least). In November 1963, until they learned that Communist Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter of John F. Kennedy, network TV made a point of showing a few protestors holding “Yankee Go Home” signs along JFK’s Dallas motorcade route.

Even after Oswald’s arrest, some still obsess over the strong dislike for Kennedy that some in Dallas had — as if it matters, which it doesn’t. It doesn’t take a lot of searching to find someone in a supposedly responsible position who still hasn’t gotten over the fact that it wasn’t the far right that assassinated Kennedy. Note that the linked column doesn’t even mention Oswald.

UPDATE 3: Byron York at the Washington Examiner

On November 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at a troop readiness center in Ft. Hood, Texas, killing 13 people. Within hours of the killings, the world knew that Hasan reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before he began shooting, visited websites associated with Islamist violence, wrote Internet postings justifying Muslim suicide bombings, considered U.S. forces his enemy, opposed American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars on Islam, and told a neighbor shortly before the shootings that he was going “to do good work for God.” There was ample evidence, in other words, that the Ft. Hood attack was an act of Islamist violence.

Nevertheless, public officials, journalists, and commentators were quick to caution that the public should not “jump to conclusions” about Hasan’s motive. CNN, in particular, became a forum for repeated warnings that the subject should be discussed with particular care.

“The important thing is for everyone not to jump to conclusions,” said retired Gen. Wesley Clark on CNN the night of the shootings.

… Fast forward a little more than a year, to January 8, 2011. In Tucson, Arizona, a 22 year-old man named Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a political event, gravely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killing a federal judge and five others, and wounding 18. In the hours after the attack, little was known about Loughner beyond some bizarre and largely incomprehensible YouTube postings that, if anything, suggested he was mentally ill. Yet the network that had shown such caution in discussing the Ft. Hood shootings openly discussed the possibility that Loughner was inspired to violence by…Sarah Palin. Although there is no evidence that Loughner was in any way influenced by Palin, CNN was filled with speculation about the former Alaska governor.

UPDATE 4: At NewsBusters — “ABC Interviews Friend of Giffords Shooter, Ignores Her Claim He’s Liberal.” The friend’s tweets saying just that are at the link.

UPDATE 5: A New York Times snippet

Another former high school classmate said that Mr. Loughner may have met Representative Giffords, who was shot in the head outside the Safeway supermarket, several years ago.

“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” the former classmate, Caitie Parker, wrote in a series of Twitter feeds Saturday. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”

“He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent,’ ” she wrote.

Instapundit’s Insta-snark: ““Quite liberal,” and didn’t like Giffords in 2007, before anyone had heard of Sarah Palin or the Tea Party. But it’s their fault.”

UPDATE 6: Michelle Malkin writes on “the 6 innocents.”

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas on ‘Inside Washington’: ObamaCare, ‘As It’s Been Practiced, It’s Failed’

Okay, who slipped truth serum into Evan Thomas’s coffee?

On Friday, Newsweek’s “Editor at Large” (according to his bio here) appeared on “Inside Washington” (link to entire show is here; transcript not yet available). After being cued up with a softball from host Gordon Peterson about how supposedly great Friday’s news about the drop in the national unemployment rate was (uh, not exactly, Gordon), Thomas segued into a somewhat surprising comment about how ObamaCare’s implementation is going as it meets the real world. In a word (Thomas’s), it’s a disaster (HT Daily Caller via Instapundit):

GORDON PETERSON: A minute ago we heard a Congressman talking about repealing the, quote, “job-killing affordable health care law act.” “Job-killing” is now attached to everything the Democrats love, apparently. But on Friday we learned that the unemployment rate had dropped to 9.4%. Uh, that’s good news for Democrats, not so perhaps such good news for people who talk about job-killing legislation.

EVAN THOMAS: Because of Congress. I mean, y’know, the unemployment will go down a little bit, but the game in Washington, it will still be this unreal game. On health care though, I gotta say that’s one place where the Republicans are right. Uh, the health care bill is, is a disaster, we’re sort of slowly learning that. It’s not working. It’s interesting, that through implementing it, and it’s not working out at all as people anticipated. There’s also wildly wrong projections. People aren’t — As it’s been practiced, it’s failed.

In discussing the “good news” about the unemployment rate drop, Peterson “somehow” forgot that about half of the reason why it occurred is that over a quarter-million of the unemployed stopped looking for work. An Investors Business Daily editorial noted: “Today, the labor force is actually smaller than it was when the recession began. President Obama’s economic program is driving people out of the work force faster than it’s bringing them in. Some progress.”

Apparently assuming that no one in the panel’s viewing audience could possibly be interested in learning some of the details of the ObamaCare failure Thomas cited, Peterson quickly changed the subject to how new Majority Leader John Boehner is supposedly breaking a fall campaign promise by not allowing debate or amendments on an anticipated up-or-down vote to repeal ObamaCare. This was a real hot button for fellow panelist Mark Shields, who could barely contain himself before weighing in with his faux “gotcha.”

Geez, one of the core promises in the GOP’s Pledge to America is to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety (from Page 6 of the Plan; large PDF):

Of course, Americans remember that President Obama argued his government takeover of health care was the single most important thing we could do to address our growing debt crisis. This notion has since been thoroughly discredited: we now know the new health care law will mean more financial pain for seniors, families, and the federal government. We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.

Hello, Gordon and Mark? The Pledge promises full repeal, not a piecemeal mush. Allowing any kind of water-down would be the real promise-breaker.

As to Thomas’s comments on ObamaCare, don’t wait by your computer for follow-up reports from anyone, including Thomas himself, identifying the specific ways in which ObamaCare has failed thus far.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Australia’s bid to wipe out dengue fever

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Queensland, Australia:

January 3, 2011 – 11:49AM

Tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year by a groundbreaking Australian scheme to wipe out dengue fever.

Scientists have developed a bacterium that acts as a vaccine for mosquitoes, which could in turn stop the disease spreading in humans.

Professor Scott O’Neill, from the University of Queensland, says he is “incredibly excited” as a 12-week field trial starts in the Cairns suburbs of Yorkeys Knob and Gordonvale.

With up to 100 million people – largely from developing countries – being infected with dengue fever each year, a global solution was long overdue, he said.

Up to 40,000 people die, because families in poorer nations are unable to seek health care.

Prof O’Neill said his project could become the safest and most cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for environmentally harmful insecticides.

“By April we should know if we are on the right track or not, in our bid to stop the Aedes aegypti mosquito from being able to transmit the dengue virus between people,” he told AAP on Monday.

The field trial, beginning on Tuesday, involves introducing strains of a naturally occurring bacterium called Wolbachia into the mosquito population.

Laboratory research has shown that Wolbachia acts like a vaccine for the mosquito, by monopolising resources needed by the dengue virus. …

Go here for the rest of the story.