Sarah Palin: Graceless Under Pressure

Sarah Palin finally made a public statement over the Arizona shootings and the criticism directed at her over her part in creating an atmosphere of incivility and outright hostility in the American political discourse.

It wasn’t her finest moment. She included an obscure anti-Semitic referral to “blood libel” in her meandering, nearly eight minutes in length video.

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.

Poor Palin. Even when she tries to get right, she’s STILL wrong. She focused more on defending herself than conveying true sympathy for Rep. Giffords and the other victims. Graceless under pressure.

Writing in the Huffington Post Rabbi Brent Hirschfield explained the meaning behind a “blood libel” and why Jews took offense to Palin’s usage of the phrase.  First let’s be clear about what a blood libel is. In the briefest terms, it is the charge that Jews use the blood of non-Jews, typically that of children, for ritual purposes, especially the making of Passover matzah.

The charge, which originated among medieval Catholics, has also been used by Protestants and more recently by Muslims too, to provoke rage at Jews — rage which on many occasions resulted in violence against Jews, and even their murders. That’s what makes Palin’s use of the term so interesting — for the analogy to work, she must be the Jew!

Palin channeled the Great Communicator when she said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.”

That’s groovy and hip and a sentiment I think most would agree with. Where she gets in trouble with me is in the following line: ” It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Where is Palin’s taking responsibility for the gun sights trained on the districts of Democratic representatives including that of Gabrielle Giffords? Where was Palin’s concession that perhaps “Don’t Retreat–instead RELOAD” might not have been the best way to get her point across?

There was none of that. Just her usual lashing out against her enemies in the press.  When she should rise above the fray once again she gets dragged down by her inability to never overlook a slight. How sadly predictable. How typically Palinesque.

Palin uses loaded words and images and then tries to act surprised when they go off. No, she didn’t pull the trigger in Arizona and I wasn’t expecting her to issue any half-assed apologies, but she could have expressed a little less of the “why is everybody picking on ME?” whining and a lot more of the “let’s set aside our differences and come together as Americans to help the victims and start the healing.”

She could have done that, but she decided to stick to her guns. As usual, it’s all about Sarah. Graceless under pressure.

Somewhere in those eight minutes she and her speechwriters should have referenced an even greater communicator than Reagan and that’s Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

This was a missed opportunity by the ex-governor. She could have used this moment to grow in stature and look as though she had it within her to lead a nation instead of a conservative movement. She chose instead to toss aside the opportunity for statesmanship and lashed out bitterly while throwing red meat to the her base.

In the always churning and swirling political waves, prominent figures both ride the wave and are swept under. But Palin’s arrogance, sense of entitlement and narcissism was on full display in her video message. She wants to be president and she’s shown she can be plenty tough and unyielding in her principles. What she has always shown in her reflexive swagger is a complete lack of humility.

Barack Obama has a swagger. George W. Bush had a swagger and a smirk to go along with it. You have to if you’re going to take the incoming flak from your opponents, but it seems playing defense and issuing smackdowns is all Sarah Palin is about.

These are not qualities I want from someone who would be making critical decisions that weigh on all Americans.

Palin fires back at her detractors

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Hold Your Fire

The dead aren’t even buried yet and already blame is being assigned and the ass-covering has begun.

What a surprise. Only it’s not.

In this 24-hr news cycle where getting it fast often means getting it wrong (Rep. Giffords was shot dead. Oh, wait! She’s still alive! Nevermind) the sound and the fury and the visuals mean more than the facts.

There is no evidence Jared Loughner was a conservative, a right-winger, a Tea Partier, a Palinista or anything other than a twisted little fuck playing out the role of a movie in his own diseased head. None. No FBI and no police reports that he had squirreled away in his home a wank-stained copy of Going Rogue under his bed and the SarahPac “crosshairs” poster of Democrats targeted for defeat last November.

Anyone that knows me knows I’ve got about as much use for Palin as a used Kleenex. But do I really want her political Waterloo to be brought about because one evil bastard with a headful of bad wiring might have misinterpreted a stupidly intemperate remark to, “Don’t Retreat–Instead RELOAD” as a command to shoot a nine-year-old girl in the chest?

I hope Palin has a lot of sleepless nights in her future wondering if there’s any cause-and-effect at work here, but it takes a special kind of hatred to hope there’s a link between her and Loughner.

Soon enough the facts about Loughner will come out in revolting detail. The motivations that are blurry now will come into sharp focus. We will know more about him than we ever wanted or needed to.

Not that there’s any need to wait for that stuff as we choose up sides and trip over each other rushing to be first to say “I told you so.” Why be right when you can be self-righteous?

For anyone hoping for a mea culpa from Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter to cool it with the “violent metaphors” you can hope in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.

It ain’t gonna happen, so why look for an apology they are never going to give and you wouldn’t accept?

For anyone expecting an admission from Nancy Pelosi, Keith Olbermman, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow or Michael Moore that they too have poisoned the well of civility, comity and common decency as much as any right-winger they rail against, you’re waiting for a letter that was never written and even if it had been they lost your address.

No apologies will be forthcoming from any of the usual suspects because they don’t think they owe you one.

Do the people we can’t stand know they are the villains of our private mortality plays? Do they know there’s not enough white hats to go around and they’re gonna have to wear a black one?

Why it’s so important they acknowledge we are right and they are wrong? Who’s keeping score? Who’s ahead on points and what do we have for the winners, Johnny?

Why does it matter so goddamn much? Will knowing who’s to bless and who’s to blame give Judge John Roll, Christina Green, Gabe Zimmerman, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Dorothy Morris one more breath?

One side believes they are on the side of the angels and the other side knows they are.

The only side that matters is the one that cares about neither.

That’s Jared Lee Loughner’s side and he’s the biggest man in America today. And we made him that way. We focus on what keeps us fighting and squabbling among ourselves. We give away our power to him and the weaker we make ourselves the stronger we make the insane little monsters like him.

Sooner rather than later, we will repeat this all over again. Someone will get shot. Experts will pontificate. The wise will speak and write words that will be heard and read, but probably go largely unheeded.

Then we can dance this dance all over again. New steps. Same old music.

This is Jared Lee Loughner.

And he’s laughing at you.

Bullets, Blood and Poisoned Politics

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: victim

This is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic representative from Arizona whom last week began her third term in the House.   She  narrowly won reelection in November.   She was considered an up-and-comer in Democratic politics who might be a future challenger for Republican Senator Jon Kyl or Governor Jan Brewer in 2014.

Christina Greene: victim

This is Carolyn Taylor Greene.   She was nine-years-old and she attended a town hall meeting Rep. Giffords was holding at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. Carolyn was born on September 11, 2001 and was included in Faces of Hope, a photo album of 50 babies that were born on that otherwise grim day.

Carolyn was on the student government of her elementary school and was said to be “excited about the political process.”

Jared Loughner: murder suspect

This is Jared Loughner.  Jared is a 22-year-old resident of Tucson who said in You Tube video, “I can’t trust the current government” and in November he legally purchased a Glock from a Sportsman’s Warehouse.  In another video he says, “You could call me a terrorist.” 

A killer's weapon of choice

This is a 9mm Glock.  It is a semi-automatic pistol  This is the type of gun Loughner used to shoot Rep. Giffords in the head and kill six others including Carolyn Greene and John M. Roll,  the chief U.S. District judge in Arizona who happened to be visiting Giffords at the time.  Loughner shot Giffords at close range and then opened fire on the small crowd that had gathered at the supermarket. 

The Washington Post reported Loughner’s Glock 19 found with a fully loaded magazine that held about 30 bullets.  He had another magazine holding another 30 bullets and two more that held about 15 bullets. Loughner was also carrying a knife.

Catie Parker, a woman in Arizona said on her Twitter feed she attended high school and college with Loughner and was in a band with him.  Parker described his politics as “left-wing, quite liberal and obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”  She added that Loughner had met Giffords before and described Giffords as “stupid and unintelligent.”

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said they were seeking a second man as a “person of interest.”  He is not viewed as a suspect in the actual shooting.  Dupnik said in a news conference, “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital.  We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

President Obama denounced the shooting and urged prayers for Giffords and the other victims.  The president sent FBI Director Robert Mueller to Tucson to personally direct the federal end of the investigation since a member of Congress and a federal judge were involved in the shooting.

SarahPAC's hit list of Democrats in the crosshairs included Giffords

This is a map from Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC website that used an illustration of ten Democratic representatives in the crosshairs to be defeated for their support of health care reform.  Giffords was one of only two Democrats to keep their seats after the Republican victories in November. 

Palin urged her supporters to “take a stand” and as part of that stand to “Don’t Retreat, Instead—RELOAD.”

In an MSNBC interview Giffords spoke about her inclusion on the list and said, “Sarah Palin  has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” 

The image has been removed from the website. 

On Facebook after the shooting, Palin posted, “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.  On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims, and for peace and justice.”

I’m going to take a deep breath, exhale, and pray for the dead, the wounded, and the soul of this country which can be a very sick place at times.  There will be plenty of time to decide where blame should be placed besides Loughner himself.  However, if anywhere in his home or on his computer there is anything that has political implications that politician, party or potential presidential candidate will never be taken seriously again.

If reports of Loughner’s political leanings are true he would seem to be an unlikely supporter of Palin’s conservative beliefs.   It’s best at times like this not to presume too much.    The best thing about the Internet is its immediacy.   The worst thing about the Internet is how it enables people to speculate wildly without possessing all or even most of the facts. 

I’m kind of hoping Sarah Palin had nothing do to with what triggered Jared Laughner’s rampage.  I’m also kind of hoping she sleeps very poorly tonight wondering that same thing herself.

Watching the Ted Williams Reality Show

Ted Williams the way he is...

By now you’ve seen the video.  A wild-haired homeless man with a weather-beaten face stands by a freeway exit hitting up drivers for loose change and a dollar or two.   Ted Williams is 54 and looks ten years older.  He has lost his family, lost his wife, lost his kids and lost pretty much everything else.  But he has one thing left.  A golden voice to offset a face made for radio.

And then Ted became the star of his own reality show.

Williams did not plan to be in a viral video.   He was minding his own business, standing by the side of a freeway exit hitting up strangers for dollars and loose change.   Some guy from the Columbus Dispatch rolled up with a mini-camera and next thing you know Williams is all over the Net and the networks.

And why not?  It’s a GREAT story.  It’s the kind of human interest, touchy-feely, gives you a nice glow kind of story because if Americans love anything it’s a story of a person falling and rising.   No pleas for pity.  No government handout.   No charity.  Just give a guy a chance.

Everybody loves a redemption story.

Who knows what kind of life Williams led before?   The poor and homeless are invisible in this society.  We see them but we pretend we don’t.   We know they are there, but we hurry by and hope they don’t hit us up with some sob story and a dirty, open palm.  If anything, Williams humanizes the down-on-their-luck masses.  He could be an inspiration to the homeless and remind the rest of us that everybody’s got a story and some of them are pretty damn compelling.

Unless someone want to crap all over their turn of fortune.   Huffington Post contributor David Sirota wrote a sour, spiteful rant entitled “Ted Williams and the Triumph of American Dream Propaganda.”

He’s right about the lack of economic mobility for many Americans. He’s wrong to use the story of Ted Williams to make his point. If Williams hadn’t happened along, would Sirota still have his shrill little bitch fest published by the HuffPo?

I don’t think so. If Sirota had gotten off that freeway exit three days ago and seen Williams standing there, would he give him a buck or look the other way?   There was a poll taken a few years ago that showed conservatives gave more to charity than liberals.  Apparently, Sirota likes the poor and homeless as long as they stay that way.  Is this an example of the “left-wing elitism” the Right always likes to ding liberals with?

Sirota is seizing upon the Williams story to use it as the hook to a post that would just be one of many on The Huffington Post.

Title the post, “The Triumph of American Dream Propaganda” and who’s going to click it except the friends and family of David Sirota? Stick Ted Williams name to it, this week’s media delight and the page hits go up exponentially.

...the way he was..

Before I started blogging I was a writer and newspaper editor and I know if you want people to stop and read something you need to give them something to hook them in. Ted Williams is a compelling hook–this week. By next week, everyone will have tired of him and moved on to something newer and fresher.

Two days ago, I could have probably scored an interview with Ted Williams by simply driving a few miles north and offering him a few dollar bills.

But now?   The dude is a bona fide overnight sensation, viral video hero and media sensation. With an agent.

There are so many things coming at Williams.  Job offers and even housing.   Access Hollywood, The David Letterman Show, and even a movie offer to do the voice of Wolfman Jack.   I’m afraid Williams is  now be out of my reach.

On the local news stations Williams was the lead story with footage of him flying off to New York to do The Today Show.  But there was a slight snafu.  He wasn’t allowed to board the plane and depart because he had no I.D.  He had to wait a few hours until he could get a non-driver State I.D.   Williams was sporting his newly trimmed haircut, but he was wearing the same camouflage jacket he’s been sporting in the video and was carrying his possessions in a plastic bag.

Apparently, Williams was whisked off to his numerous media appearances by his agent (who formerly managed The Hues Corporation of “Rock the Boat” fame) that he didn’t have time to see his mother who lives in NYC.  The tender reunion occurred today with cameras filming the son and mother who hadn’t seen each other for over twenty years.

Some people can handle new-found fame and fortune.  Others are overwhelmed by it and left crushed with the spotlight fades.    Which one will Williams be?    When the job offers,  book and film deals, television appearance and interview requests dribble away to nothing (as they inevitably will) what will be left of Ted Williams.   How many homeless people have agents?   Williams doesn’t need an agent.  He needs a job and a chance to get his life straightened out.

But that’s for next week.   Right now, Williams should try to enjoy his 15 minutes of fame.   One day he’s sleeping on the ground in a tent near the freeway and the next he’s chilling in a New York hotel.   He’s reaching his saturation level and by this time next week he will be old news and we’ll be back talking about what mischief Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian are up to.

Our attention spans are short. Our need for fresh “celebrity” meat never satisfied. Feed us new meat.

...and the way he used to be.

Mark Twain gets a P.C. makeover

Is "Huckleberry Finn" too racist to read?

Publisher’s Weekly reports a  Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is being updated for today’s students by removing all references to a potentially troublesome word: nigger.

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

Why is it whenever adults want to engage in politically correctness they grab a kid and use them as a shield. “Hey, I’m just thinking about the kids.” How about thinking about their ability to reason and be exposed to and attempt to understand difficult concepts for a change?

Kids are cruel and “nigger” is a cruel word, but you have to one particularly delicate hothouse flower to be a contemporary American child and never heard, read, or been exposed to that word.  Huckleberry Finn uses the epithet of “nigger” no less than 214 times.   Wow.  Twain must have been some kind of hardcore bigot, huh?

Here’s what Twain had to say about that: “I am quite sure that I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no colour prejudices nor creed prejudices, indeed I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being – that is enough for me. He can’t be any worse.”

I take Twain at his word. He was trying to be better than his time and circumstances. I totally get why someone might take offense at the edgy words, but Twain used “nigger” in a historical content, not as a racial pejorative. Twain was not a bigot.

It’s one thing to change antiquated language to a more contemporary form in order to make it more accessible, but this is tampering with an author’s original work.  Twain was a very intelligent man. He could have used “Negro” or “colored” instead of “nigger” but he chose not to.  “Nigger” has a much more potent sting to it, but perhaps that was Twain’s intent.

At any point, if this is a case where someone doesn’t want to be offended, read another book and problem’s solved. But I read books by James Baldwin and Richard Wright, and they didn’t shy away from using the N-word where they thought it appropriate.

I think it’s sad that someone charged with the responsibility of  would support the altering and bastardization of an American classic due to the misguided fears that someone might be offended by the usage of an objectionable word.

Old Dead White Guy gets one right.

It starts with words and it evolves into concepts. There was a lot of righteous wrath on the Left when the Texas Board of Education started selectively rewriting history books. What makes it so much more acceptable to start altering a book because it contains a word that might upset a few sensitive souls?

Let’s change any book that uses the word, “faggot.” It hurts the feelings of homosexuals.

Let’s change any book where someone is called a “bitch.” It demeans women.

Let’s change any book that describes a character as “fat.” It makes people who are carrying too much weight feel singled out.

In fact, let’s just scrub any book that offends anyone. We can start with the Bible and go from there.

Gribben dismisses criticism that Twain’s work should be read as he wrote it as “textual purists.” What a snobbish, elitist attitude! Because he has a personal anecdote about his daughter having a friend who was offended by Huckleberry Finn that’s a reason to start striking out offending words?

Sorry, but it’s not. The right to take offense does not mean carry with it the provision everything be sanitized so no one is offended.

Huckleberry Finn should be treated like any other book or topic with controversial content. The student should be allowed to “opt out” and read something else instead. My daughter brings home these kinds of papers all the time advising parents material is being covered that might ruffle a few feathers.

Students should be challenged and at times confronted by material that is demanding, difficult, tough and troubling. They don’t need to be protected and sheltered. Let them read about Huck Finn and Jim exactly how Twain wrote it and decide for themselves if this is a “master and slave” relationship.

Any professor worth the title should appreciate the value of encouraging critical thinking in young minds but obviously Gribben doesn’t share that belief. That he would shred and ruin a substantial literary work to soothe his own delicate sensibilities is disgusting. That others would sign off on an ham-fisted attempt at back door censorship is disappointing.

Leave Twain alone.  Instead of shying away from indelicate words and troublesome topics, it’s healthier and a lot smarter to talk about the meanings of Twain’s message.   Scrubbing what appears to be dirty stifles reasoning and comprehension instead of stimulating it.

Classic works should not be tampered with by revisionist goody-goodies and p.c. busy bodies.

Fake is the New Real: 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 180,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 8 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 168 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 391 posts. There were 395 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 40mb. That’s about 1 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was July 2nd with 7,056 views. The most popular post that day was Rebooting Wonder Woman: More Retro than Revolutionary..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, facebook.com, field-negro.blogspot.com, napiszar.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for coco, sarah palin, rape, coco ice t, and pam grier.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Rebooting Wonder Woman: More Retro than Revolutionary. July 2010
174 comments and 116 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Coco: The 8th Wonder of the World? November 2009
3 comments

3

I’m sick of “celebrities.” Get me out of here! June 2009
4 comments

4

Hey Kids! Sex, violence and comic books! April 2009
2 comments

5

Has porn made rape a spectator sport? November 2009
6 comments

If  I take this report from Word Press to heart, I guess I should ditch writing about politics, national and world events, sports, entertainment and whatever else goes on in my boring little life to write about porn, comic books and psuedo-celebrities.

How depressing is that?

What a warm, wonderful thing it is to know it’s not insights or caustic commentary or opinion most of the visitors to this blog want.  It’s rape, comic books and a blonde bimbo with an inflated rack and ass.

Wonder Woman changes her stupid costume and that is what gets 174 comments?   Jesus Frigging Christ.  😦    You’re not exactly inspiring me here, folks.

Well, at least I know now how much I’m spinning my wheels.   Got to give the people what they want.

Enjoy.

Sex: easy to sell and good for the stats.