Monday, January 31, 2011

Obama Embarrasses and Instructs the Media on Reagan

Newsbusters' has a tribute to Ronald Reagan which details some of the biased political attacks and personal meanness directed at him in the media from 1983 to 2009.

But, now Reagan is President Obama's go-to president. Not FDR, JFK, LBJ or Clinton, but Reagan. Who would have guessed that TIME magazine would photoshop the two together in an admiring, affectionate stance? And with the headline that Obama (hearts) Reagan? How embarrassing for all those media snipers (not to mention the presidential historians who still can't bring themselves to say an encouraging word about the greatness of Ronald Reagan). Well, the "intellectual" president has put the dunce cap on them.

The Media Research Center has a more complete version up of media attacks on Reagan "with PDF), including 22 video clips and matching MP3 audio". Take a stroll with them down memory lane. Actually, these are some of the more civil things that were said about Reagan.

RDS (Reagan Derangement Syndrome) held sway long before BDS (Bush) or PDS (Palin). Newsbusters' Tim Graham rightly points out the crushing atmosphere Reagan faced:
"Think of everything Reagan did, and then add: He did it all before Fox News. He did it all before the Rush Limbaugh phenomenon. He did it all before the instant battle cry of his defenders could hit the Internet. He did it all before C-SPAN caught on and people could enjoy the game of watching entire speeches and debates and then observing how the network tricksters discombobulated them into liberal hatchet jobs. He did it all when the only conservative regular on the big networks was ABC’s George Will, who appeared once weekly as a panelist on This Week with David Brinkley."
Thankfully, the bias and hypocrisy in media treatment of Reagan have been exposed indirectly by President Obama's embrace of Reagan. Just comeuppance that a media hero would unravel the media narrative. Unfortunately this has not generated embarrassment sufficient to change media behavior. But the embarrassment itself is worth something.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson on Egypt

Victor Davis Hanson again makes sense when most other commentators are spinning to find any sort of solidity in the chaos.
"So what’s the matter with Egypt? The same thing that is the matter with most of the modern Middle East: in the post-industrial world, its hundreds of millions now are vicariously exposed to the affluence and freedom of the West via satellite television, cell phones, the Internet, DVDs, and social networks.

"And they become angry that, in contrast to what they see and hear from abroad, their own lives are unusually miserable in the most elemental sense. Of course, there is no introspective Socrates on hand and walking about to remind the Cairo or Amman Street that their corrupt government is in some part a reification of themselves, who in their daily lives see the world in terms of gender apartheid, tribalism, religious intolerance, conspiracies, fundamentalism, and statism that are incompatible with a modern, successful, capitalist democracy."
. . .
"All this has been true for forty years, but, again, instant global communications have brought the reality home to the miserable of the Middle East in a way state-run newspapers and state-censored television never could even had they wished."
. . .
"So what is the matter with Egypt? Why cannot the above mess just keep on keeping on? A number of newer twists.

"1) We are not so sure that Mubarak’s “it is us or the jihadists” is quite operative any more, given the defeat of jihadists in Iraq and the downward spiral in approval of bin Laden. . . . Thus in the last week we have gone from Biden’s Mubarak “not a dictator” to an “evolving,” finger-in-the-wind stance — in hopes that the Shah-Banisadr-Khomeini formula is not inevitable (yet in this regard, remember that 160,000 U.S. troops played quite a role in stopping the Iraq possible cycle of Saddam-Allawi-Zarqawi).

"2) Iraq changed things . . . . When Saddam was routed (had a Middle Eastern thug ever been put on trial?), and the insurrection mostly crushed, and a consensual government in power in Baghdad survived for seven years amid the most unlikely chances for survival, then the Middle East (as the Saudis rightly knew and double-dealed as a result) was not quite the same.

"Iran is desperate to strangle a free Iraq, since its nearby free media has a tendency to encourage things like the 2009 uprising across the border. Yet to suggest that Bush unleashed in 2003 a revolutionary chain of events is heretical. In our twisted political calculus, Bush is demonic for speaking out for human rights and removing Saddam, Obama is progressive for ignoring human rights protestors in the streets of Khomeinist Iran."
. . .
"4) What’s next? “Finger-in-the-wind” diplomacy may work for a while, but it requires deftness that follows conditions on the street in a nanosecond to avoid appearing purely cynical (a skill beyond Hillary, Biden, and Obama). I think in this bad/worse choice scenario we might as well as support supposedly democratic reformers, with the expectation that they could either fail in removing Mubarak or be nudged out by those far worse than Mubarak."

46% of Palin Voters May Go Third Party

Rasmussen reports that supporters of Governor Sarah Palin are very loyal to her candidacy.
"Nearly half of the Republican Primary voters who support Sarah Palin say they are at least somewhat likely to vote for a third-party candidate if she does not win the GOP presidential nomination."
Palin is not the only candidate inspiring intense loyalty, but she has a big edge on her main competitors. Percentage of supporters who say "they are at least somewhat likely to vote third-party":

46% of those who back Palin (with 22% very likely)
35% of those who favor Huckabee (with 13% very likely)
31% of Romney supporters (with 9% very likely)

Palin supporters, the biggest group of possible third party jumpers, are also the most active and enthusiastic. That's what makes 10,000+ rallies a pick up game for Sarah Palin and almost unattainable for any other Republican candidate. As the saying goes, Palin's supporters would crawl through broken glass to vote for her. Huckabee and Romney supporters--not so much.

Whether these voters do go third party, stay home, or vote Republican holding their nose, a key factor is going to be enthusiasm. The hordes who were out for George W. Bush in 2004 are unlikely to be out for anyone but Palin, not to mention for the still unknown, dull, gray candidate some pundits are calling for. Boots on the ground and fundraising will be crucial in 2012 against charismatic Barack Obama.

A further complicating factor is the candidate bashing that has been directed at Governor Palin. These unusual pre-candidacy attacks by the Republican Party establishment and beltway insiders have alienated many Palin supporters from the GOP. Sarah Palin may be the only candidate able to bring them back into the party.

Voters are not game pieces that can be moved around the board at will. Sarah Palin inspires one of the highest levels of personal commitment among voters of any political candidate in modern times. Pundits and strategists hyping the conventional wisdom that Governor Palin can't win had better go back to the drawing board. More likely Palin is the only Republican candidate who can win.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Most People Do Believe It Is the "Lamestream" Media

Sometimes it's a bit comical for some conservative commentators class to "cringe" when Sarah Palin uses the term "lamestream" media.

What would be a better designation when 57% of Americans say that the media does not report the news "fully, accurately and fairly"? The "not trustworthy" media? "Not trustworthy" would be more blunt, but not catchy.

Then there are the 75% who "continue to express near-record-low confidence in newspapers and television news". Maybe "low confidence" media?

Or, taking a page out of Charles Krauthammer's book, we could call it the "calumny" media.
"There was not a shred of evidence of, and why did [Sarah Palin's] name come up? Those who brought it up are the ones who have to answer to that. That was a calumny, and it was unwarranted. I am waiting for apologies from those who raised that name from the beginning."
Lamestream is probably the nicest term around.

post updated

post updated

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slow Beltway Wisdom: Sam Donaldson Admits He Underestimated Reagan

In an interesting tribute to Ronald Reagan Sam Donaldson admits that he initially underestimated Reagan's presidential abilities.
"Ronald Reagan's longtime friends said people constantly underestimated this former Hollywood actor, and I must admit that when he came to the presidency, I was one of them.

"You see, political reporters come to understand how the system works and what personal traits appear to shape a 'player's' ability to work it. Reagan wasted no time working the system."
[emphasis added]
But at the time Donaldson did not think Reagan was competent or knew how to work the system. Donaldson thought Reagan said dumb things.
"Shortly after coming to the Oval Office, Reagan summoned reporters to explain how he had asked the Treasury Department to stack up thousand-dollar bills and then multiply the stack by the size of the national debt.

"'Sixty-three miles high,' the president announced triumphantly. Huh?

"And then there was the day that Bob Michel, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, went to meet with Reagan. The president referred to him as 'Congressman Michelle.' Though Michel was clearly not wearing a dress.

"When Reagan's infrequent press conferences would end, his aides would scurry after reporters in an attempt to correct their boss' misstatements: 'What he meant to say was 'this.' You understand on 'that' he was speaking metaphorically and knows that what he said was not literally true.' But of course.

"So it became easy for some to dismiss Reagan, as the late Democratic presidential adviser Clark Clifford did in calling him 'an amiable dunce.' But having a front-row seat to the Reagan presidency certainly changed how I viewed this nation's Great Communicator, and I came to believe Clifford was only half right. Amiable, yes; dunce, most certainly not."
[emphasis added]
Donaldson never says exactly when he came to see Reagan's ability and greatness. But, his description of why he initially believed Reagan fell short of presidential standards is enlightening. First of all there's his description of Reagan as a "former Hollywood actor". Pedigree matters. Two terms as governor of California had slid into oblivion for Donaldson.

Donaldson also saw incompetence in misstatements, analogies and mispronouncing a congressman's name (though Reagan obviously got the gender right with "congressman"). Ability and greatness are assumed to come in the mastery of details. Thus, the continuing prevalence of "gotcha" questions in the media and obsession with supposedly flawed answers.

True greatness, however, is in understanding how to respond to crucial issues and inspire the nation to needed action. But, reporters, pundits and establishment insiders too often look for someone who inspires them. Since they show their ability through mastery of detail, they think that's how presidential leadership works too. So, they get blindsided with the likes of Reagan, Andy Jackson, Abe Lincoln, and Harry Truman.

When greatness shows up, you take it in the package it comes in. Too many inside the beltway learn that too late to be of value.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WaPo's Cillizza: Palin is the only true star of the Republican field

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza says Sarah Palin is the most important Republican presidential candidate. Cillizza tries to blunt the impact of specifically refusing fellow WaPo writer Dana Milbank's call for a February Palin news boycott, but Cillizza doesn't buy Milbank's line that Palin is not really important.
"Like it or not (and lots of people don't like it), Palin is the prime mover in the 2012 presidential field."
. . .
"She isn't [as important as Charles Krauthammer]. But, she is the person that every candidate mulling a 2012 bid of their own wonders about, gossips about and worries about.

"Because, the simple truth is that Palin is the only true star of the Republican field. She is the only person -- and every strategist in every other presidential campaign will privately acknowledge this -- who could draw 10,000 people in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina at an event."
. . .
"In conversations with neutral Republican operatives, there is a widespread belief that she begins every primary or caucus with between 20 percent and 30 percent, a vote share that in a crowded field could well be enough to deliver her wins in places like the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary.

"(Remember that in 2008 former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won Iowa with 34 percent of the vote and Arizona Sen. John McCain won South Carolina with 33 percent.)"
. . .
"But, she is a force -- of considerable power -- within the Republican party thanks to the devotion of her followers, followers who are generally those conservative voters who have an outsized hand in deciding the identity of the party's presidential nominee."
Along the way Cillizza makes a couple of strange assertions. The first, in trying to keep Ross Douthat from looking clueless, is that Charles Krauthammer is a more important conservative voice than Palin. Krauthammer could be more important if you don't count ability to change existing or proposed legislation (e.g., who had more impact on actual content of the Obamacare bill and reaction to it, Palin or Krauthammer?). Krauthammer might also win the "important" badge if getting candidates elected or getting yourself elected to high office isn't included. But that's like saying that announcer Joe Buck is more important to football than quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Each helps football, but there wouldn't be a game without the player.

The second strange comment comes after noting that Palin easily draws crowds of 10,000. Cillizza then tells us that not everyone in the crowd will vote for Palin. Duh! I wonder how many times he made that observation about the crowds Barack Obama drew in 2008. Unless crowds are angry (e.g., townhall meetings in 2009), drawing big crowds is a sign of popular support whether or not every person in the crowd ends up voting for the candidate. In the 2008 campaign Palin's crowds were always enthusiastic and the vast majority of those interviewed clearly said they would vote for her.

It's always fun to see pundits whose credibility lies more in accuracy (Cillizza) than mere opinion (Milbank, Douthat), politely school colleagues about political realities.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fox: CNN Reports. You decide.

UPDATE: Last night Fox lost viewership compared to CNN and even MSNBC's ratings election night 2010. Election night 2010 Fox had 6.957M. Last night down 20% to 5.444M. CNN up 24% from 2.423M election night 2010 to 3.01M last night. And even MSNBC up 20% from 1.957M election night to 2.357M last night.

Fox News hurt themselves by not running Rep. Michele Bachmann's response for the Tea Party live. Greta Van Susteren did run it later on her show, but sandwiched it in without any real commentary or analysis.

CNN treated it as a serious political news event by running it live and with serious commentary.

Good choice for CNN to treat a major political movement as important and their viewers as deserving commentary on it. The Tea Party may be a deciding force in the 2012 election as it was in the 2010 election.

Bad choice for Fox to take on the role of gatekeeper as to what is and is not serious news and a serious political movement. A conservative gatekeeper is no more attractive than a liberal one.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mapes' Mild Digs at Allen Alley

The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes notes that new Oregon Republican chair Allen Alley called Mitch Daniels "my governor" in his recent address to Oregon Republican party leaders.

In a mild dig at Alley's preference for Daniels rather than Kitzhaber, Mapes compares Oregon with Indiana in terms of the central issue in both states: jobs, jobs, jobs.
"Just for fun, I looked at how Oregon and Indiana have done over the last year when it comes to the No. 1 issue: jobs.

"From November, 2009 to November, 2010 (the latest numbers I could find at the Bureau of Labor Statistics), Indiana's unemployment rate has stayed about flat at 9.8 percent. So has Oregon, although at a higher rate of 10.6 percent.

"But Oregon has had a much larger growth in the overall labor force over the last year - whether through in-migration or more people starting to look for jobs.

"And both states have had almost an identical increase in job growth over the last year, of about 1 percent. Turns out, the two states have something in common."
An indirect dig was posting the video of Daniels' 2011 State of the State speech. Content is good, but it's a snoozer. I wonder how many who clicked on it stayed to the finish. This is an area Daniels needs to work on to be a stronger player on the national scene. However, Daniels has the hard part down: policy wisdom.

Just for fun, here's a link to the video of Kitzhaber's inaugural address (starting near the 1:03:00 mark).

All Good Answers from Steele

This is the closest I've come to wanting to watch Parker-Spitzer:
Steele is scheduled to appear on Parker Spitzer on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.

President Obama will give his State of The Union address on Tuesday. If you could slip one or two sentences into his Teleprompter, what would you have him say?

"Big Government and big spending is not the solution, smaller government and small businesses are."

What is the #1 piece of strategic advice you would give to a Republican candidate who thinks that he or she can beat Obama in the next election?

Do not be afraid to engage the president on his ideas and philosophy. They have defined his policies and it is his policies that will be your greatest weapon.

You coined the phrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” at the 2008 RNC Convention in Minnesota. The charge, of course, was later used effectively by Sarah Palin. How far do you see her going in politics?

The strength of Sarah Palin is she is her own person, connected to grassroots America in a unique way. She will be a voice and force for some time to come. [cf. Victor Davis Hanson]

What accomplishment are you proudest of as chair of the RNC chair?

We helped make the party relevant again. No more "endangered species" symbols hanging around our necks. We won in '09 and '10 because we reaffirmed principles and listened to the people.

As a young man, you were preparing to become a priest. What tipped the decision to pursue a law degree?

Part of any vocation story is discovering how and what God is calling you to do. My vocation journey has always been anchored in the idea of servant leadership. My time in the Augustinian Order was not picking law or politics over the Church, but rather discerning the true nature of God's call for me and how I could be of the greatest service to my community.
H/T checktothepower

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Media/Mt. Everest Power of Palin

Richard Adams of the Guardian notes the 34x spike (should we call it the Mt. Everest effect?) in his blog Facebook shares when he mentions Palin.
"The Guardian is no better than any other branches of media in its Palintology. I wrote a brief, innocuous piece on Palin mixing up North and South Korea and it got shared a whopping 34,000 times on Facebook (when a typical article is doing well to get 1,000 Facebook shares). Palin has been tagged 1,100 times in Guardian articles, and probably mentioned in many more, all since 2008. (Joe Biden, in contrast, has been tagged just 250 times.)"
That's why, though a dangerous trend, the Washington Post's and Dana Milbank's "just for fun" boycott of a major political figure won't work out. The reader's market has already given its evaluation of sidelining Governor Palin.

H/T checktothepower

Media Boycotts of Palin

Professor William Jacobson at Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion weighs in on the Washington Post's backing of a call to boycott mention of Sarah Palin in the month of February. Columnist Dana Milbank is leading the charge.
"If this were just another case of Palin Derangement Syndrome, it probably would not be worth a post[.]

"But as documented at Big Journalism (h/t Instapundit) WaPo is using its pages to promote Milbank's other brilliant idea, a mainstream media boycott of Palin going beyond Milbank's column. WaPo has used its Twitter account and has run online polls in support of Milbank's boycott."
This is serious in the same way the White House attempt to keep Fox News out of the White House pool was serious.

If the White House or media heavyweights can de facto deprive people of First Amendment rights (free press and free speech in terms of barring not for legitimate content issues but for who says it), that is a body blow to American democracy.

The only thing that makes this a "light" issue is that the White House bid failed, and WaPo's bid will too. Otherwise the implications are chilling.

If media heavyweights could have forced Sarah Palin off the stage, they would have done it long ago without a "just for fun" upfront campaign. But Governor Palin has created direct access links to the public on a level not only far greater than columnists like Milbank, but equal to The New York Times or CBS.

As I have commented before, conservative writers like Ross Douthat and Matt Labash have also expressed their desire for widespread ignoring of Palin. (Milbank directly mentions Douthat as someone on the Right sympathetic to a boycott.) So, one can't say that only those in the media Left have these "I wish the people I don't like would disappear" moments.

The spillover to Republican politics is clear. Professor Jacobson:
But since she is "not electable" because of this media bias, we should throw Palin overboard and demand she not run and not be taken seriously by Republican voters, right?
Conservatives (and Republicans) endanger themselves as well as minorities when they treat this "totalitarianism light" as merely cute or a joke--even when the attempts to block a news organization or a major political figure turn out to be toothless because of the target. It is a window into the soul of a strand of modern political thought that too many in the elite media share on the Right as well as the Left.

I couldn't pass this up.

A Psalm for Those Falsely Attacked and Maligned

Psalm 124
A song of ascents. Of David.

1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Friday, January 21, 2011

When Will Oregon Get Serious About Life-Taking and Life-Threatening Surgeries?

I couldn't say it better, so I'm not going to try. NW Republican:
What kind of government on earth would have turned a blind eye to this kind of horror for more than 20 years?

The case against abortionist Kermit Gosnell and nine associates, including his wife, is so revolting that seemingly nothing could further shock the reader: eight charges of murder, including --according to the grand jury report--"seven specific incidents in which Gosnell or one of his employees severed the spine of a viable baby born alive."

But the second-day stories also paint a picture of "what amounts to a scathing denunciation of state regulatory officials and, to a much lesser degree, the city's public health department," according to Marie McCullough's very thorough story in the Philadelphia Inquirer. ..

Adding to the horror is the sheer brutality and indifference on display and the hapless women whom Gosnell preyed upon...

Instead they "stumbled upon a stench-filled clinic with bags and bottles of aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building," the AP reported. "Gosnell also kept jars of severed feet on his shelves, Williams said. Gosnell also had a taste for macabre jokes, once muttering that a nearly six-pound baby born alive to a 17-year-old who was 7 1/2 months pregnant could 'walk me to the bus stop,' the report said."

According to the grand jury report {which can be read at, Gosnell's staff testified about "scores of gruesome killings" of infants born alive. "These killings became so routine that no one could put an exact number on them," the grand jury report said.
. . .
Under Oregon law the Health Department has no authority to enter an abortion facility.

In Pennsylvania it was POLITICS that allowed this kind of horror to continue.

“Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro,” the grand jury report said.

When the Governor’s office changed hands from pro-life Bob Casey Sr. to “pro-choice” Tom Ridge, according to the grand jury, health officials suddenly concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.

Will Oregon, this session, adopt a law that will allow health officials authority and oversight on abortion clinics?

I mean COME ON don't some issues rise above politics?
Coyote is right. Not only allow oversight, but require it.

Deteriorating Definitions: Civility, Betrayal of Trust, Standards for Anonymous Sources

What is the definition of "civility"? The media's current emphasis on words with a possible violent or military imagery strangely undercuts the true meaning of "civilized conduct, especially courtesy; politeness".

Charles Krauthammer yesterday pointed to media hypocrisy in calling for civility in political discourse after finding nothing wrong with previous incivility:
"CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think it's a bogus issue that was concocted, particularly after the Tucson shooting. It's a continuation, what we heard from Cohen and Jackson Lee is a continuation of the liberal hypocrisy on this.

"The worst in uncivil discourse that we have had in the last decade occurred in the Bush years when the President was vilified, attacked, he was demonized, compared to Nazis. He was called Hitler. There was an article in the New Republic, a leading liberal magazine, which began, it was by an editor, "I hate George Bush. There I've said it" closed quote.

"Howard Dean, a not insignificant Democrat, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, said openly, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for." That is literally hate speech. I do not remember the Times or the mainstream media all of a sudden wagging a finger and pulling a chin about the rise of uncivil discourse at the time. So I don't take any of this seriously.

"There was an attempt by liberals, an obscene attempt to link conservatives with the Tucson shooting through this accusation of civil discourse, and I'm not surprised that uncivil discourse is quite prominent on the Left as we saw today."
[emphasis added]
But, the real issue, as Dr. Krauthammer says, the true obscenity and incivility, is less about words than actions. He is one of the few commentators who remain incensed at the media's linking of innocent people to a crime--a "blood libel" to use Glenn Reynolds' and Sarah Palin's terminology. It's a strange definition when civility means monitoring words but not "false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone" otherwise known as calumny.

There are other, lesser, deteriorating definitions swirling. Blogger William Jacobson points to the strange framing Real Clear Politics did in a story on a Palin friend exploring possibilities in Iowa. RCP's Scott Conroy reports:
"A top official in the Iowa Tea Party who insisted on anonymity to avoid betraying Palin's trust told RealClearPolitics that a friend of SarahPAC met with him in person in Des Moines late last year and prodded him for suggestions on how Palin might mount a grassroots campaign in the state."
Jacobson notes that the betrayal of trust already happened: "Actually, you already have betrayed her trust, she just doesn't know who you are yet." That wasn't the only betrayal.

Journalistic ethics used to demand a named source for information except when the source might be personally endangered or subject to criminal prosecution.

The reason for not using anonymous sources is people are more likely to tell the truth if they are personally linked to their statements. It's easy to throw out theories, half-truths and even lies behind the mask of anonymity. Having to stand behind your words is a strong incentive to only tell the truth.

Journalistic standards have slowly morphed from granting anonymity because of possible personal danger to granting it to those who might be negatively impacted economically or in career advancement. Too many news reports have more anonymous sources than named sources.

Apparently the new standard has morphed even further into granting anonymity to those who "might be embarrassed" by their statements. What's the substantive difference between that and gossip?

The media’s deteriorating moral and journalistic standards are a cancer eating away at the First Amendment and our political system.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Makers of Ancient Strategy (Victor Davis Hanson, editor)

Makers of Ancient Strategy: from the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome
edited by Victor Davis Hanson
Princeton University Press
278 pages
available in printed and ebook format (though there's not the price break there should be for the ebook version considering it has no material costs)

I just finished reading the ten essays in this book edited by Dr. Hanson.

The majority of the essays not only cover their classical antiquity subject but attempt to relate the subject matter to modern society and warfare. I highly recommend it.

Some highlights:

Pericles, Thucydides, and the Defense of Empire, by Donald Kagan
Points out that the growth of the Athenian empire was due in part to the fact that other participating city states preferred to send money to Athens to develop weapons and mount armies rather than develop their own weapons and send their own men to fight. Then they complained about the growing Athenian dominance and that they had less and less say in the direction the confederation took. Parallels to European dependence on the U.S. for defense.

Epaminondas the Theban and the Doctrine of Preemptive War, by Victor Davis Hanson
After being attacked by Sparta again and again in previous warring, Thebes struck first at Sparta’s homeland to avert further attacks. They also tried to set up new democratic city states to surround Sparta with democracies (e.g., Manitineia, Megalopolis and Messene). It didn't work out so well. Parallels to nation/democracy building in Iraq.

Alexander the Great, Nation Building, and the Creation and Maintenance of Empire, by Ian Worthington
Alexander kept expanding his empire to include very diverse peoples and cultures. He tried some strategies to solidify his empire, but holding it together was a secondary concern to continuing expansion. Results: the break up of the empire after his death.

Urban Warfare in the Classical Greek World, by John W. I. Lee
Traces the use of walls both to keep enemies out or to trap and confuse them when they got in. Parallels to urban warfare in Iraq.

Slave Wars of Greece and Rome, by Barry Strauss
Good overview of the strengths and weaknesses in slave revolts of the time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson: Palin, Reagan and the Fears of Elites (liberal and conservative)

Victor Davis Hanson in The War Against Palin Goes On and On and . . . spends the lion's share of the column skewering the "media elite" who claim to know what presidential talk sounds like.
"Is the problem with Palin that she uses inflammatory language far too loosely given her position of responsibility? Of course, evocation of 'enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to backseat, knives, guns, getting angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, and tearing up' does not suit a national public figure and former vice presidential candidate. Oops, those allusions were Barack Obama’s, not Sarah Palin’s."
. . .
"Fine, but she thought people in Austria speak some weird language called “Austrian” and she pronounces 'corpsmen''corpse-men' as if soldiers were some sort of walking dead, and she thinks there are 57 states, and she … sorry, all that and much more was Barack Obama’s, and they were slips after a weary day’s work, not 'deep' reflections of reality."
Dr. Hanson ends with a bit of mockery at "sober and judicious conservative thinkers" who say Palin cannot be elected president.
"But could [Sarah Palin] ever win a presidency? The conventional wisdom is no. I say conventional wisdom in the sense of sober and judicious conservative thinkers who raise eyebrows at her exuberance and suspect in an hour meeting they could stump her, in Couric-like fashion, on everything from Balkan fault lines to the work of Edmund Burke.

"Someone like a President Palin could really blow it with a hickish bow to a Saudi Arabian autocrat or a rambling apology about American sins in Turkey of all places, or nominate some nut who would have a Truther past or resort to racism or a yokel who would brag about her hero Mao.

"But more germanely, Palin need not run for the presidency in 2012 in the manner commentator and newly elected governor Reagan did not until 1968, and did not successfully until 1980 — all the while establishing a populist conservative persona as hated — and successful — during his near two-decade pre-presidential career as a younger Palin might be in the two decades ahead.
Lots of conservative ears must be burning out there. With not a lot to swing back with at someone like Dr. Hanson who makes their intellectual background, not to mention wisdom, rather scant and gray in comparison.

It's interesting that Hanson mentions Reagan's 1968 presidential run, less than two years into Reagan's governorship. Neither running and losing in 1968 nor 1976 damaged Reagan. They made him stronger for his 1980 successful run.

It sounds like Hanson might prefer that Palin not run in 2012, and one can see how sitting out this election might help her. Imagine all that stored up scorn on the elite/establishment right and hate on the left having no place to go but to the hapless Republicans who do run. The extreme criticism genie is already out of the bottle for the 2012 election. It might be entertaining to see all the smashing about (except to the families and friends of the soon to be crushed second tier conservative candidates).

But, does anyone seriously think that Palin's sitting out the 2012 election will turn conservative and liberal media elite cross-hairs off her? No.

They know what Dr. Hanson and you and I know. It isn't the presidency that makes Sarah Palin dangerous to them. It's her effective championing of a deep constitutional conservatism. Imagine! Living by our principles! Eek! That's why even the "real" conservatives among her critics hope she will withdraw to the role of fundraising (RNC chair!) and campaigning for Republican candidates. They can't stand the thought that Governor Palin will continue to drive and define the conservative agenda. Dr. Hanson:
"Palin is scary not so much in 2012, but that she could be around — and be around in an evolving way — for a long time to come."
By God's grace in protecting her life, this woman will not go away as a major power in American political life for a long, long time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Governor Palin Should Run for President

1. Continuing high favorability among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents. Palin has a 73% strongly favorable/favorable rating.

Gallup Poll published January 10, 2011

2. Palin is the only Republican candidate who has been part of a national campaign, and the only one to be fully vetted/"targeted". Despite extreme negativity by Democrats (not to mention establishment Republicans and pundits), Republicans and Republican-leaning independents remain impressed with her.

3. Even more telling, the majority of Americans say they agree more with Governor Palin than with President Obama--the sure Democratic nominee for 2012. This shows Palin's effectiveness in communicating her beliefs in the face of the withering media opposition which always dogs Republican candidates.

4. Palin's supporters would crawl through broken glass to get her elected. No other candidate inspires that kind of commitment, and given the popular disillusionment with politics, pundits and the media, it's unlikely that any other probable candidate could do the same.

5. Palin was a key factor in keeping the Tea Party within Republican ranks in 2010. Her candidacy would have the best chance of keeping them within Republican ranks in 2012 as well.

6. Palin already has a great donor and blogger base, and if the number of people who stood out in the freezing cold for hours to get an autograph is any indication, she will have a great volunteer base as well.

7. Palin is the only national level political figure to understand and effectively use internet social and communication networks. She's the first 21st century politician. Though her critics mock her use of Twitter and Facebook, no one uses those resources better in the political realm or has leveraged them to be equal to mainstream media access.

8. This is the time to strike--as it was for Reagan in 1976. Even if Palin doesn't win, she will have set up and done a trial run of the national network necessary for a second run. It's interesting that those who see a run and loss as a dead end didn't pay attention to the 2008 primaries. Romney is considered a front-runner as is Huckabee despite losing in 2008. And even Giuliani, who lost bad, is not counted out because of his 2008 loss.

9. Palin is right on the money on her policy positions, and, even more importantly, has been the major (only?) Republican figure to drive the political debate both when Republicans and conservatives were in the wilderness (2008-2009) and in times of heady success (2010). No Republican leader better embodies the public opposition to Obamacare rationing (death panels), need for energy independence (drill, baby, drill), or need for economic responsibility and a strong dollar than Palin.

10. Finally, and most importantly, the nation needs someone who can lead the American people to the sort of greatness and sacrifice necessary to turn the nation around. This will take a commitment to personal responsibility as well as understanding the national dangers in out of control government spending, increased regulation, and the national debt. This cannot be effectively addressed with a few pieces of legislation, a policy wonk, or even an able administrator. It will take a transformation in the public's commitment to personal (e.g., entitlements) and governmental change. Other than Barack Obama, Sarah Palin is the only current American political figure who has shown the ability to reach into people's hearts and souls and inspire that sort of commitment to action.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stanley Fish New York Times Review of America by Heart

Stanley Fish on the central point of America by Heart:
"Palin is thus on firm ground when she links “the understanding that we are an exceptional nation” with the observation, made by de Tocqueville, that in America 'the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom [are] intimately united.' 'The Founders,' she declares, 'deliberately and self-consciously constructed a government based on the belief that religion was at the root of the personal and public virtues necessary to sustain freedom.'

"In her view, we are free and equal because as children of God we have an inherent dignity that is inviolate: 'We are free as a consequence of being made in the image of God.' In statements like this, Palin brings together her argument for a certain form of politics ('to govern ourselves locally without waiting for any central authority to show us the way'), her claim of American exceptionalism ('we have managed to be, for the most part, the moral and upright people that our Founders hoped we would be'), her grounding of democracy in religion (the equality of men and women follows from their status as God’s children) and her admiration for Jefferson Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and Frank Capra."
[emphasis added]
He notes Governor Palin's humility:
"There is then a unity to the book, but it is not one Palin proclaims or works out discursively. Rather, the unity is conveyed by the quotations that carry the argument, long (sometimes two-page) quotations from an impressive variety of authors, quotations that are strong in isolation and even stronger when they are laid next to one another. The book is really an anthology. The author does not present herself as controlling or magisterial; she gives her authorities space and then she gets out of the way. Her performance mimes the book’s lesson: rather than acting as a central authority, she lets individual voices speak for themselves. Humility is not something Palin is usually credited with, but here she enacts it by yielding the stage as others proclaims the truths she wants us to carry away."
[emphasis added]
Weaknesses in the book.
"Two other strains in the book seem out of place. One is a series of family reminiscences that might more properly be found on Palin’s reality show. The other is an intermittent attack on the Obama administration that might more properly be found in a campaign tract. There is, to be sure, a rationale for this attack: in Palin’s view, Obama gets exceptionalism wrong. 'We have a president,' she complains, who believes 'that America is not the greatest earthly force for good the world has known.' And the references to her family do connect up with the themes of faith and virtue she stresses. But the book would have stronger had she resisted the temptations of sentimentality and partisanship."
Review summary.
"Still, as an account of one woman’s love for her country, it is strong enough, and to read it is to understand the appeal she has for so many, an appeal that may have been clouded, but has not been eclipsed, by what happened in Arizona."
[emphasis added]
Fish underlines the central philosophy of America by Heart, and his is the best review of it I've seen. Nice that it's in the New York Times after their scurrilous calumnies against Palin in the past week which Fish alludes to in his penultimate paragraph.

That paragraph because it only vaguely mentions the sickening media spectacle without comment and the final paragraph in which Fish tries to end upbeat and jocular are the weak links in this review. Stanley Fish is a better man than to ignore abhorrent behavior. But, ignore he does.

H/T Check to the Power

Douthat, Palin and the Twitter Meter

What is it about conservative thirty-something writer/columnists?

First, Matt Labash says he ain't gonna watch Palin anymore, no way, no how--but only after inflicting a 2,000 word essay on his feelings about watching her.

Now, Ross Douthat, takes the media (including himself) to task for paying so much attention to Palin and declares:
"If the press (including this columnist!) and Sarah Palin can’t quit each other, you can still quit us."
Only after inflicting a whole column of his thoughts about Palin on his readers does Douthat imply Palin won't have him tagging along after her any more. One can only hope that this means we won't have to endure more of Douthat on Palin any time soon.

Of course, the problem is not Douthat's will power. It's that Palin continues to have political impact whether Douthat likes it or not. But, Douthat assures us Palin is not and will not be important.
"To the media: Cover Sarah Palin if you want, but stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America. Stop pretending that she has a plausible path to the presidency in 2012. (She doesn’t.) Stop suggesting that she’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination. (She isn’t.)"
If you're wondering about Douthat's ability to give accurate political predictions on 2012 and beyond, not to worry. He has a fool proof method: the Twitter meter.
"And every time you’re tempted to parse her tweets for some secret code or crucial dog whistle, stop and think, this woman has fewer Twitter followers than Ben Stiller, and then go write about something else instead."
According to Douthat's Twitter meter method, Republicans with the best chance of winning the 2012 nomination are in order:

1. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (except for the Constitutional thing)
2. Sen. John McCain
3. Newt Gingrich

Except for Gingrich all the other major mentions for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are dwarfed by Palin in Twitter followers. Maybe Douthat needs a better crystal ball than Twitter.

In any case, here's hoping that we won't have any more foot stomping by Douthat on Palin. And that Douthat quits himself if he feels the telltale tremor when his fingers start to write on Palin. Probably too much to hope from a man clutching the Twitter meter.

H/T Check to the Power

Paganini for Gordon

Along with OregonGuy, I have a suggestion for you, Gordon. I recently finished listening to a Teaching Company course on The Concerto. One of the pleasing surprises was the introduction it gave me to Paganini's violin concerti. Jaw dropping. If it can be done with the violin, Paganini did it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Political Greatness of Sarah Palin

What constitutes American political greatness?

One of the measures is seeing the greatness of America itself.

With Abraham Lincoln it centered on two understandings. The first was that the nation could not "endure, permanently half slave and half free". The second was the critical importance of preserving the Union as "the last best hope of earth".

With Franklin Roosevelt it was the centrality of the United States as the "great arsenal of democracy" and her role in the "total elimination of German and Japanese war power".

With Ronald Reagan it was the truth of America's continuing greatness and the necessity of defeating, rather than just co-existing with, the Soviet empire.

Greatness is founded on seeing the central issue in dilemmas facing America when other political leaders are confused or chasing after compromises or specific issues that are symptoms rather than at the heart of the problem. Greatness is capped by effectively communicating practical answers to the dilemma.

While others supported various compromises on slavery and keeping the Union together, Lincoln understood the necessity of maintaining the Union, stopping the expansion of slavery, and finally of immediate and complete emancipation.

While others were seeking peace through compromise or isolation in letting Europe and Asia solve their own problems, FDR proclaimed the need to arm the nation and its allies and insisted on unconditional surrender in order to completely defeat the Axis powers.

While others foresaw an ongoing conflict with the Soviet Union and a balance of power or mutual assured destruction strategy as the best response, Reagan thought that complete victory and an end to the Cold War had to be the goal. He believed it was achievable through peaceful economic means and soon rather than decades away.

Sarah Palin has zeroed in on the central issue of our day: American greatness (or exceptionalism). What is it? How do we maintain it?

Her current book, America by Heart, is an extended treatment of American exceptionalism and traces major political and practical underpinnings needed to sustain American democracy.

While others point to health care, debt, immigration, energy, the war in Afghanistan or Islamic radicalism, as the major danger the United States faces, Governor Palin sees these as important issues, but not the heart of the problem.

The heart of the problem is confusion about who we are, where our strength comes from, and how we build on that strength.

Who are we? Sarah Palin comes down on the side of a "shining city on a hill" rather than just another big nation.1

Where does our strength come from? Governor Palin affirms that it comes from our national belief that individuals have God-given unalienable rights. This creates a boundary (underlined in the Bill of Rights) limiting government power over the individual and leans us as a nation toward religious belief as well as individual freedom. 2

How do we build on that strength? Palin says by protecting individual freedom, expanding economic freedom, and encouraging strong families, religious commitment and personal effort and responsibility.3

This is the key issue of our time. This is the stuff of political greatness..

1America by Heart, p. 64 ff.
2 Ibid., pp. 10-11, 37, 72 ff.
3 Ibid., pp. 72-75, 107-112, 169-177, 182-195, 211-214, 264-268.

Charles Krauthammer Censures the Media

Transcript from

"CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think the President actually put an end to that malicious and scurrilous innuendo that was started in the mainstream press, particularly by the New York Times and Obama’s allies on the left, who claimed from the beginning without a shred of evidence that this attack was a consequence of supposedly a climate of hate created by the political right. The President refuted that, as he should have, which I think was healthy, but I think it is a scandal what happened in the four days between the attack and the President's speech of these unwarranted, unsupported, and now obviously discredited attacks from on the left, which essentially made people like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and others accessories to a murder, a series of murders, of which they had nothing to do.

"SHIELDS: And comforter in chief?

"KRAUTHAMMER: He did that as well, but I think it was important to stop the malice and the in-civil discourse that had characterized all the days leading up until the service.

"SHIELDS: Nina Totenberg?

"NINA TOTENBERG: So we can’t even have a two-minute conversation here without a little bit of finger-pointing, but…

"KRAUTHAMMER: You don't think it was merited?"
. . .
"SHIELDS: Pundits, bloggers, and TV talkers had a lot to say about Sarah Palin this week. She released a video on Facebook to comment on the Tucson shootings. Did Sarah Palin unintentionally make the story about herself and not Tucson? Charles Krauthammer?

"KRAUTHAMMER: She didn’t make it about herself. Within hours of the shooting, of which there was no connection to her whatsoever, her name was linked in the AP, New York Times, by all over the airwaves, linking her and linking other conservatives with the shooting. This is a speech that should never have had to be made. There was never a shred of evidence about any connection, and in fact, by midweek, we learned from a friend of the shooter, of Loughner, he didn’t listen to political radio, he didn’t watch TV news, he wasn’t interested in the news, he wasn’t in politics, he wasn’t of left or right. This was the act of a probably paranoid schizophrenic. There’s no question he was acting under mental illness. There was not a shred of evidence of, and why did her name come up? Those who brought it up are the ones who have to answer to that. That was a calumny, and it was unwarranted. I am waiting for apologies from those who raised that name from the beginning."
[emphasis added]

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Is It with Women from Alaska Who Can See Critical Issues Others Can't?

Liberal Kirsten Powers (from Alaska):
"True, as always, [President Obama] delivered as “Healer-in-Chief” and provided inspiration. This was Job 1 for the speech.

"But there was another job: shutting down the nonsense about how Sarah Palin or right-wing talkers caused the shooting. This matters not only because it’s important to tell the truth, but also because it would set the stage to move on to really examining the true causes of this nightmare massacre."
. . .
"When the president did lay blame, it was on Americans in general. Among the many odd assertions he made: suggesting that “what a tragedy like this requires” is that “we align our values with our actions.” We were told to “expand our moral imaginations.”


"A mentally ill gunman opened fire at a Safeway. A lack of “aligning” or “imagination” really wasn’t the problem. Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen. He said, “We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”

"Now if Obama isn’t talking about political discourse here, I don’t know what he’s talking about. Certainly he can’t be suggesting that how you treat the mailman or your mother is at issue.

"Let’s be clear: How we “treat each other” also is not what caused this shooting. Mental illness combined with a gun and a 33-round high-capacity magazine collided to produce a tragedy. This may not have been the venue to discuss this in such pointed terms, but it also should not have been used as an opportunity to push further into the media bloodstream the lie that hostile rhetoric or incivility even played a role in this, let alone caused it."
[emphasis added]
Does it take an intelligent, insightful woman from Alaska to get to the center of the issue? Seems so.

UPDATE: Maybe Powers' argument is one that only a liberal could make without sounding sour grapes or as always carping at the president even when he does something positive. (Powers' first point.) Thus, conservative/Republican praise for the speech shows civility and gentlemanly-ness, more than insightful analysis.

Freedom of Speech in Books, Movies and Politics

Do you recall the outcry that always goes up whenever violence or pornography in books, movies, video games, etc., is suggested as a cause for growing violence in American society?

Even explicit representations of murder against political figures is considered "edgy" and "artistic" and wins major awards.

But now, somehow, putting crosshairs (or bulls eyes, if you're a Democrat) on a campaign map incites mass murder. Or quoting Thomas Jefferson on the need for revolution is questionable, maybe even disturbing, "[i]n the context of the debate over whether such political rhetoric played any role in encouraging the shooter [in Arizona]". (By the way, if Thomas Jefferson's political philosophy is the problem, one should at least have the intellectual courage to take on Jefferson himself instead of someone quoting him.)

Do they really believe that rather mild political symbolism influences action but hyperventilating "art" or violent video games do not? Or that quoting Thomas Jefferson incites violent action but airing the ravings of a mass murder does not?

The heart of the issue is that our political system can only continue if we have free speech and expression up to the point where inciting to violence or criminal activity can be proved in a court of law.

Our democracy requires open, intense, and yes, sometimes edgy debate if violence is not to be the only way to make government responsive to the will of the people. Sarah Palin spoke out on this central truth this week when no other major American political figure had the insight or courage to do the same.
As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

"No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.
Yesterday I noted Jonah Goldberg's observation:
Palin’s statement yesterday was actually the most robust, unapologetic defense of vigorous democratic debate and the American system we’ve heard from any politician since Saturday, and that goes for President Obama’s speech as well.
Sarah Palin has greatness in her to see and speak to the central issue in the midst of clouds of political confusion when others are either silent or unseeing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jonah Goldberg on Palin's Robust Defense of Democratic Debate

National Review's Jonah Goldberg:
"Lost in all of the squabbling about the use of the term “blood libel” is an under-appreciated fact. Palin’s statement yesterday was actually the most robust, unapologetic defense of vigorous democratic debate and the American system we’ve heard from any politician since Saturday, and that goes for President Obama’s speech as well. I don’t fault Obama by saying this. Obama was speaking at a memorial service (or at least that was his plan).

"Palin did exactly what her detractors claimed she both must do and couldn’t do: give a grown up, mature statement. The timing was arguably ill-considered, given that it was bound to be overshadowed by the president’s remarks last night. But such criticism is hard to take from people who demanded that she speak up and then denounced her for doing exactly that. Likewise, the objections that she “injected herself into the story” are hard to take seriously from the same people who insisted she was the cause of the story in the first place. If she had waited a day and released her statement today, she would have been twice as vilified for re-opening the “wound” Obama the Healer had mended."
[emphasis added]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin: America's Enduring Strength

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Daniel Foster of National Review:
"My two cents: She starts off a little shaky but really comes into her own here. Palin in gravitas mode like we’ve never seen her. Of course, it’s a video that should not have had to be made."
The text of Governor Palin's speech:
Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They 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, 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.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, 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 they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mapes' Loose Links

The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes is known for good political reporting. That can be seen in articles like this published last month on why Rep. Dave Hunt, House Speaker in the last legislative session, is not the Democrats' choice to repeat as their co-speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives this session.

But, every so often Mapes wanders into a sort of stream of consciousness reporting.

Just two days ago Mapes wrote that the Arizona shooting makes him wonder about an interview between Lars Larson and former Nevada senatorial candidate Sharon Angle broadcast a year ago.
"The horrible shooting in Arizona is putting new attention on an interview Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle gave Portland talk show host Lars Larson a year ago.

"Angle, who was defeated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November, said that if Congress - then dominated by Democratic majorities in both houses - kept going in the same direction, people may resort to 'Second Amendment remedies.'"
Why is a Nevada candidate's position important to Oregonians? Especially one who lost the election and who Mapes never interviewed in the first place? No disrespect to Lars Larson, but shouldn't the source for in-depth understanding of Angle's views, be Angle herself?

The connection of this with Oregon politics or the actual shooting in Arizona is never made clear. No evidence is presented that Jared Loughner ever heard of Lars Larson, let alone listened to this interview. And since Angle was a candidate in Nevada, and no Oregonian ran as an Angle-endorsed candidate, the link with Oregon politics is less than sketchy.

One guesses that Larson's broadcasting on an Oregon station and that a gun was used in Arizona were sufficient links for Mapes.

Free association of ideas is intriguing for parlor games, but not a bedrock of political analysis or reporting.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Daily Kos Two Days Ago on Rep. Giffords: My CongressWOMAN Voted Against Nancy Pelosi! And Is Now Dead to Me!

Yep. The same Markos Moulitsas now blaming Sarah Palin for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is founder of the site which only two days ago had a posting headlining that Giffords was "dead" to the post's author. (The unfortunate post was removed from the Daily Kos today for obvious reasons.)

Sheya has laid out the case against Moulitsas as well as pointed out that blaming an unbalanced shooter's killing spree on standard political rhetoric is both stupid and reprehensible.

In 2008 Moulitsas himself targeted Giffords in the 2010 elections by putting a "bullseye" on her and her district for having "sold out the constitution".
"Who to primary? Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week. I've bolded members of the Blue Dogs for added emphasis."
. . .
"Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)
Edwards, Chet (TX-17)
Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08)
Emanuel, Rahm (IL-05)
Engel, Elliot (NY-17)
Etheridge, Bob (NC-02)
Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ-08)
Gillibrand, Kirsten (NY-20)
Gordon, Bart (TN-06)

Green, AL (TX-09)
Green, Gene (TX-29)
Gutierrez, Luis (IL-04)"
. . .
"Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district."
[all bolding is original; emphasis added in bolded italics]
Moulitsas and his site have done a great deal more to incite personal opposition to Rep. Giffords than any of her political opponents--especially those who don't live or vote in Arizona. Unfortunately it's clear from Moulitsas' tweet today, he hasn't learned a thing about living in a glass house and throwing stones.

UPDATE: Verum Serum on Democratic "targeting" of Republicans way back in 2004 (not to mention in 2009 and 2010).

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Media Advertising Up in 2010--Except for Newspapers

More bad news for local newspapers like the Oregonian.

Kantar Media reports that the first nine months of 2010 showed a growth in media advertising in all sectors except newspapers.

Though national newspapers ("primarily from gains at the Wall Street Journal") showed a 6.8% increase in advertising and Spanish language newspapers a 2% increase, local newspapers pulled the average down with its -4.4% decrease.

This is the 20th consecutive quarter in which spending on local newspaper advertising has declined.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Peggy Noonan: Ow! That Hurts!

Peggy Noonan - November 28, 2010
Last Sunday Peggy Noonan made a very revealing statement.

She was a panelist on NBC's Meet the Press. Others in the discussion were centrist Tom Brokaw with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Bob Woodward leaning liberal. Only Noonan was on the conservative side. Here's what she said (full transcript below*):
"MS. NOONAN: I got to tell you, I'm one of those who thinks Palin will not run, and I happen to think if she runs, it will not work. Her people love her, support her, watch her on TV, read her books, love to cheer her. They especially love to defend her when people like us criticize her. They will not vote.... They won't vote for her for president."
[emphasis added]
First, there's the strange idea that people "love to defend" a major political figure they wouldn't vote for. When's the last time you heard of that? I'm an activist, and I can't remember the last political figure I vigorously defended who I wouldn't vote for. I would defend someone with opposing views, but probably not vigorously enough for a pundit to notice. Certainly not in a manner to be described as loving to defend the political figure. That's just strange analysis.

What's also interesting is the second part of the emphasized text: "when people like us criticize her."

What Noonan meant was "when people like me criticize her." I'd be surprised if Bob Woodward, Doris Kearns Goodwin or Tom Brokaw get much static, let alone vitriol, for criticizing Palin. Certainly not from their base. They more likely get cheers.

But, Peggy Noonan doesn't get cheers from her base when she criticizes Governor Palin. Unfortunately for Noonan, it turned out that she was the only one of the four who implied that Palin was not "[a] credible alternative, a serious man or woman, someone with experience and some weight and heft who can get through Iowa and South Carolina."

Opinions like that get Noonan on liberal-leaning talk shows and give her spikes in page views of her Wall Street Journal columns. Her normal page view volume is a fourth or even an eighth of what her anti-Palin columns draw. To gin up interest, Noonan usually has to say something controversial, but the overall effect of that has been to further cut her off from the conservative base.

Noonan is no longer admired as a woman of gently persuasive opinions. That's what happens when you talk about "patriotic grace" on the one hand and yet call people "nincompoops" on the other. The two don't mesh. So, she no longer gets invited on the major audience conservative shows.

I and many others only read her column when she says something boorish or silly that grabs headlines. Poor Peggy Noonan. How the mighty have fallen, and it hurts enough that she can't help thinking that even the liberal panelists must feel the pain of criticizing Sarah Palin.

But they don't. Instead they lure Peggy into doing the criticism (notice Bob Woodward's leading below). Even if they did criticize Palin themselves, their natural base agrees with them. Brokaw, Goodwin and Woodward are spared the ire of conservatives. But, Peggy Noonan is not.

Now if Noonan had David Brooks and George Will with her, they could all feel the pain. But who would watch them? Well, maybe Kathleen Parker. (I wonder if any of them watch Parker's show?)

Update: Post edited for clarity by extending initial quotation.

*MS. NOONAN: Gosh, what do the, the Republicans need to beat Obama? A credible alternative, a serious man or woman, someone with experience and some weight and heft who can get through Iowa and South Carolina.

MR. WOODWARD: And so, not Sarah Palin, you're saying, is that right?

MS. NOONAN: Thank you, Bob, so much...

MR. WOODWARD: Yeah, yeah.

MS. NOONAN: ...for clarifying that.


MS. NOONAN: I got to tell you, I'm one of those who thinks Palin will not run, and I happen to think if she runs, it will not work. Her people love her, support her, watch her on TV, read her books, love to cheer her. They especially love to defend her when people like us criticize her. They will not vote...

MR. GREGORY: But it almost, as a matter of fact, I mean, she...

MS. NOONAN: I'm telling you, they will vote for her.

MR. GREGORY: ...she could run without running. She could be a factor without running.

MS. NOONAN: They won't vote for her for president.


MS. NOONAN: What I think she'll do is sit back. She's a realist, she'll know she's not going to--this isn't going to work. And so she will sacrifice herself and support somebody else...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

To Win Palin Only Needs to Be as Good as George H. W. Bush

Ian Lazaran:
"Some people think it’s a stretch to claim that Governor Palin can comeback against Barack Obama in the same way Ronald Reagan came back against Jimmy Carter because Reagan is an once-in-a-lifetime political talent. What some of these people don’t recognize is that Palin doesn’t need to be as great as Reagan to comeback against Barack Obama. All she needs to be is as good as George H.W. Bush.

"What a lot of people don’t remember about the 1988 presidential contest between Vice President Bush and Michael Dukakis is that Dukakis led Bush by huge margins at a late stage in the election. Dukakis even led by Bush by 10 in Texas in the summer of 1988! (By contrast, Palin leads Obama by 15 in Texas)

"Under the logic that some employ against Palin, George H.W. Bush should have been toast. After all, he was a completely known figure as Vice-President just as Palin is now. People had allegedly already formed their opinions on Bush. And yet, Bush came back to defeat Dukakis handily despite the fact that Bush never possessed anything close to Reagan’s political talent.

"The point of this post is that those arguing that Palin is not as politically talented as Reagan are arguing against a straw man. She doesn’t need to be as good as Reagan to win. All she needs to be is as good as George H.W. Bush and nobody would ever mistake Bush for an incredible political talent."
Good point, Ian. And Palin is a phenomenal political talent. Only she and Barack Obama can generate enthusiastic crowds in the tens of thousands.