Right-wing violence

Over at Chait’s blog, James Downey had a nice piece on the fact that even if Loughner was not driven to violence by right-wing views and rhetoric, other persons clearly have been:

Yet mostly absent from the debate have been far easier cases to connect to conservative rhetoric (via the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence):

July 27, 2008—Jim Adkisson shoots and kills two people at a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee, wounding two. Adkisson calls it “a symbolic killing” because he really “wanted to kill…every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book,” but was unable to gain access to them.

December 23, 2009—Warren “Gator” Taylor takes three people hostage at a federal post office in Wytheville, Virginia. He is armed with four guns, including a .40-caliber Glock pistol, despite a criminal record that includes convictions for lewd and lascivious beheavior with a 13 year-old and attempted second-degree murder (Taylor shot his ex-wife three times in a parking lot in 1993). Taylor fires at least three rounds before the stand-off ends, including one at the station’s fleeing postmaster. One of Taylor’s hostages reports that he was angry about taxes and “the government taking over the right to bear arms.”

July 11, 2010Supporters of Tea Party candidate Joe Miller openly carry assault rifles and handguns during a community parade in Eagle River and Chugiak, Alaska, while young children march alongside them. Miller, who is running against Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who described him as a “true Commonsense Constitutional Conservative.”

July 18, 2010—California Highway Patrol officers arrest Byron Williams, 45, after a shootout on I-580 in which more than 60 rounds are fired. Officers had pulled Williams over in his pick-up for speeding and weaving in and out of traffic when he opened fire on them with a handgun and a long gun. Williams, a convicted felon, is shot several times, but survives because he is wearing body armor. Williams, a convicted felon, reveals that he was on his way to San Francisco to “start a revolution” by killing employees of the ACLU and Tides Foundation. Williams’ mother says her son was angry at “Left-wing politicians” and upset by “the way Congress was railroading through all these Left-wing agenda items.”

If Loughner is circumstantial evidence (at best), then these are DNA matches.

I’m guessing it would be hard to find similar incidents inspired by Rachel Maddow or Keith Olberman.

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Corporations are people, too!

Nice satire based on Citizens United


Why we don’t govern with public opinion, part deux

Via Kevin Drum:

Here’s an….interesting….poll result from Ipsos Public Affairs:

Damn!  I’m pretty much sure even the most conservative economists are of the opinion it would be an economic disaster for us to not raise the debt ceiling and thereby default on our debt.  What’s especially dispiriting about this poll is that actually explaining the consequences (though, from what I’ve read, it kind of understates them, or at least makes them a bit jargony for the average American) does nothing to move the public from their bull-headed ignorance.

Is Palin toast?

I still like her chances for the Republican nomination, but the LA Times’ Doyle McManus makes the case that she’s done herself in with her incredibly tone deaf response to the Giffords shooting.  One could not have a more clear contrast in good and bad political leadership than Obama’s speech in Tuscon and Palin’s absurd “blood libel” video response.  McManus:

Sarah Palin had a chance with her statement on the Tucson tragedy to show voters she’s equal to the demands of the presidency. But her video reflected her chosen role as lightning rod of the right.

Sarah Palin wasn’t responsible for the shooting of Rep.Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) last weekend — not directly, not indirectly. She’s not even responsible for the ugly rhetoric used by others on the right who try to turn ordinary policy debates into clashes between Americanism and socialism. She hasn’t tried very hard to curb the excesses of her allies, and that’s a serious failing, but it’s far from unique.
Still, the Arizona shootings and their aftermath will probably be remembered as the end of Palin’s chances of being taken seriously as a Republican presidential candidate. She had an opportunity to rise to an occasion, and she whiffed…
Palin had a chance with her statement on the Tucson tragedy to show voters she’s equal to the demands of the presidency. Instead, the eight-minute video she released Wednesday reflected her chosen role as lightning rod of the right. Rather than rise to the occasion, she continued the partisan slugfest.

Noting that heated rhetoric was nothing new in an America where politicians used to resort to dueling with pistols, she went on to defend vigorous disagreement. “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.”

It would have been good if she had stopped there. But then, with characteristic passion, she turned to what she knew would be her most memorable line: a charge that her critics are the ones guilty of fomenting violence.

“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,” she said. “That is reprehensible.”

By “blood libel,” Palin was referring, of course, to the charge that her own rhetoric had somehow increased the likelihood that a mentally disturbed young man would shoot people. And on the substance, she was right: There’s no evidence that her words — or anyone else’s —contributed to Saturday’s tragedy.

But her statement also confirmed something that should disqualify the former Alaska governor from ever seeking higher office: She has no sense of proportion.

A “blood libel” isn’t just a groundless charge that something sparked bloodshed. It is used primarily to refer to the monstrous anti-Semitic charge that Jews kidnapped and killed Christian infants for ritual use, a falsehood that provided a twisted justification for pogroms.

Palin was justified in accusing her critics of unfairness in using the tragedy as a talking point and in pointing a finger at her. But she went much further than that: She asserted that their argument “serves only to incite … violence.”

Consider that assertion for a moment: Palin says her words could not possibly have created a climate of violence, but claims her opponents’ words are certain to.

Slate’s John Dickerson makes a remarkably similar case:

Palin, who is so expert in capturing the feelings, frustrations and hopes of a certain segment of the population, demonstrated no range. She offered nothing to meet this moment. Her remarks were defensive, illogical, and distracting.

Palin’s statement gives her no such benefit. In fact, as a political matter it may even give critics within her own party evidence in the case they want to build against her. They’d never argue that this shooting had anything to do with her (though potential challenger Tim Pawlenty says he never would have used the targeting symbols Palin used). But they would argue, and now can, that when under pressure, she didn’t meet her moment—something a candidate and president needs to be able to do.

Both men make excellent cases that Palin is ultimately a very narrow and unimaginative politician.  That said, I’ve seen no evidence that such a conclusion is a strike against you in the Republican primaries.

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