Be the Change You Want to See

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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100 Responses

  1. Kyle Cupp says:

    Thank you for this. It’s a shame we need the reminder, but we do.Report

  2. gregiank says:

    Double thumbs up.

    Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity seems so long ago but his words were just as prescient about what we should aim for.Report

  3. Pat Cahalan says:

    Mr. Thompson, if you’re ever in Pasadena, I’d like to buy you a drink.Report

  4. DensityDuck says:

    I have to say that it’s been funny watching people rush to be the first to not use this as a way to score political points (which, they remind us, their opponents are always just about to do!)Report

  5. trizzlor says:

    Thanks for these couple of posts Mark, they’ve been truly helpful.

    The main feeling I’m left with after this is tremendous embarrassment for the way my side has handled this; I can’t help but flip back and forth between the lefty and righty blogs and see the same well-intentioned but thoughtless agenda pushing. Meanwhile, I’ve talked to a number of people, many personally involved in politics, who are desperately trying to understand why this happened and are genuinely frightened about being politically active and passionate. For them, the news media and even the blogo-sphere has offered nothing if not more fear.Report

    • Pinky in reply to trizzlor says:

      Tom, I’d love to see some actual agenda-pushing. What’s bothered me about all sides’ reactions to the shooting is their belief that they can score points based not on their agendas, but on sympathy and accusations. They believe they can carry the momentum of public support into the budget negotiations. We can take away the power of the madmen and the spin doctors by insisting that both sides actually argue their agendas.Report

  6. Wow, Mark. Bravo for your wonderful words.Report

  7. tom van dyke says:

    I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!

    The above, of course, is a quote from Barack Obama. While president.

    So, am I being uncivil because I’m angry at how the left-Democrats have demagogued this tragedy? Am I being uncivil by resisting the message of this Kumbaya post, Mark, by refusing to accept what I regard as a false equivalency, and a gloss over the actual facts of the past few days?

    Is this a blog where discussion remains open, or is it a violation of its rules to reject what we’re being fed?

    We don’t need to apologize to one another, nor do we need an apology from one another.

    You can’t forgive until somebody stops doing what they’re doing to you. In this case, the slime against the right continues unabated. Doubled down.

    I expect to be disappointed by President Obama tomorrow. I do not expect him to urge “both sides” to “forgive and forget” the rhetorical excesses to date. I do not expect him to ask the left—and the media—to discontinue their current attack: it has not been his style to urge his supporters to stop doing his dirty work for him. We’ll shall see. I’d love to be disappointed, or not disappointed. Oh, you know what I mean.

    Neither do I give an ounce of credibility to these new calls for civility after the rhetorical excesses of the Bush years, and this country was a far bigger rhetorical misery than it is now. Had Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity occurred when Bush’s failures were in the docket instead of Obama’s—and the Democrats weren’t weeks away from getting their ass kicked in the midterms—it would have had meaning, since Stewart is clearly a gentleman of the [center-]left.

    [If “getting their ass kicked” is language too violent for Our New Civility, I do apologize.]

    [Nah, I don’t.]Report

    • samc in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Tom – In all fairness I think your Obama quote is a bit misleading. The “anger” he was talking about there was the anger coming from the right. I see nothing wrong with a president validating the discontent from his opponents. I remember George W Bush being asked to make similar statements about the anti-war crowd of the left who were protesting, and he also refused to say they had no right to be angry. And I have no doubt that President Bush had some pretty angry moments himself when things didn’t go as planned in Iraq. I must admit; however, that while many professional and amateur pundits are weighing in on what the president should say tomorrow, you are the first to review a speech that has yet to be delivered.Report

      • tom van dyke in reply to samc says:

        Samc, thank you for your clear attempt to be fair. We can table this until after the president’s speech. I do hope my expected disappointment is disappointed. To date, he has been a complete weasel about these things.

        If you followed the link to the NYT, I believe my interpretation is accurate. Outrage at high corporate salaries is more a phenomenon of the left than the right. Further, President Obama embraced “anger,” not mere dissent. I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou. I mean, Sam.Report

        • Chris in reply to tom van dyke says:

          Yeah, “anger” is not the problem. There are reasons to be angry. Acknowledging reality is not a fault.

          It’s good to see that you stuck with the “Look at the vitriol on the other side!” tactic, though. In response to this post in particular.Report

        • samc in reply to tom van dyke says:

          Tom: We definitely see things differently. I have never been much for parsing any president’s words in order to score a partisan point. Intent matters. Remember the faux outrage at Bush’s use of the word “crusade”? The diction was unfortunate but by no means malevolent. The truth is presidents are cheap targets for partisans. No matter what the president says in Tucson it will be parsed for partisan gain, and if the exact same words were used by a Republican president, he would be declared brilliant and inspiring. There is something so tedious and banal about all of this. Posters of Bush as Hitler or Obama as Hitler don’t bother me so much because they insult the president, but rather because they insult the memories of the millions of innocents who died at Hitler’s hand. Anyone who would seriously equate the Patriot Act or Health Care Reform with the Holocaust is callous and irresponsible. One thing I know for sure. If we could clone both George W. Bush and Barack Obama and place them as executives in a couple of dozen truly corrupt and failing states, the world would be a hell of a lot better off.Report

    • BAH in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Excellent post and excellent points. Thanks for writing this.Report

  8. ThatPirateGuy says:

    All this talk about the people who say the things quoted in this post made me think of the people that listen.

    The first one I thought of was my dad. So I called him just to talk and I am glad I did. We didn’t talk about anything special just stuff.

    I’m glad I called him instead of typing here in anger.Report

  9. I had a horrible temper as a child and used to get into a lot of fights. After these fights when I was getting lectured by my parents, I would usually logically and rationally argue in my own defense that the other kid had started it and that I was right. My dad, being from a family of litigators, would usually buy my argument, and, if he didn’t, would challenge me to come up with a better one.

    My mother, being from a family of bankers, salespeople, and teachers, would reply every time that it doesn’t matter who’s right. It took me a long time to realize that my mother’s perspective on fighting is better. And this is something which everyone must realize sooner or later.

    The people who have realized it now are content to stand in the middle while assholes on either end of the political spectrum shout at and blame each other, laying waste to everything in between. But such is our American politics, and rapidly this cancer spreads throughout our culture and society. A curse on both your houses.Report

  10. BenSix says:

    Good piece, Mark.

    I don’t see a problem with people being angry – there are terrible things in the world, lots o’ them worth making a fuss about – it’s the style of anger in the U.S. that bewilders me: partisanship rather than solidarity; spite instead of empathy. Not that I’d presume to be a kind and humanistic soul but that seems to be why, instead of targeting injustices, people end up ragging on their neighbours for wearing a different badge to them.Report

  11. steve says:

    Nice piece Mark. I would note a couple of other things. First, the people saying these things to make the other side angry, now make millions of dollars for doing so. They also now do this 24 hours a day. This is relatively new in our politics. With this much money at stake, it is not likely to change. It also means that people stay angrier, longer than in the past. These professionals use polling and get feedback from audiences. They are much better at making us angry than in the past. Anger sells, almost as well as sex.

    As an aside, I assume you have to grips with the fact that being reasonable gets you fewer blog hits and means little chance of TV guest spots?


  12. E.C. Gach says:

    As much as I like Mark’s post, and respect his position, and is unwillingness to feed the chatter frenzy, I feel offended.

    Yea the left says lots of horrible things, lots of stupid things, lots of untrue things, lots of the time. They’re an embarrassing girlfriend that you haven’t broken up with cause you know, for the time being, it’s the only way you’re get’n any.

    So I will not bend over backwards to expunge their derelict record.

    But is there no difference in the rhetoric? Fallows had an interesting post about gun culture. We can argue it on policy grounds, but at the end of the day, I don’t like guns, I don’t like violence, and I don’t like the d-bag jock mentality of many pols who want to be tough about something. Which makes me a wuss.

    But there IS a difference between a side that is made fun of for being PC, tolerant, everyone is special, etc. and a side that loves guns, you’re with us/against us, and being “man” enough, etc. Fine, you like guns, don’t wave them in my face. You feel the country is threatened, fine, but don’t stereotype and foster prejudice. We can have reasonable disagreements over these things, but they are fundamental disagreements between to very different things.

    And this “you,” while it can apply to some specific people who have actually made such statements and acted in such ways, also applies to the larger brands we choose, halfheartedly or not, to associate ourselves with.

    Both brands have their greater and lesser parts. And a more open, respectful, and charitable dialogue is always necessary.

    But I won’t pretend that their are not fundamental differences in the rhetorical tools used. The right bullies and the left cries foul. I imagine two children, the one hits the other to get what it wants while the other than cries melodramatically to have the first sanctioned. The right wants to “man up” and the left wants to bleed its heart out over every misfortune. To say that both sides do this to a similar degree is to say nothing about how both sides do it.

    That this tragedy is so politicized is sad. Really sad. And I hope no one understands me to be endorsing the politicization. But in the rightful push back to this irreverent “he said/she said,” I am unwilling to call both sides equal. They may be equal in their degree and negative contribution. But in fundamentally different ways. Ways that are fundamentally important, at least to me.

    No one should seek to use this event in order to assign blame that fits in neatly to their world view. But no one should run away from what they’ve said in the past, how they acted at certain times, and just pretend this is you say tomato and I say tomAto. Every who has been incendiary should have the courage to apologize for it, rather than being first afraid of what the other side might say.

    I’d love to see Obama apologize for the tone of his party, citing specific examples, and then see Palin, or some icon from the Right, do likewise in uncoordinated reciprocation.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      I don’t think Mark is saying though that there’s no difference. I think he said that his opinion is that one side is worse, but that the debate has little hope of being resolved any time soon, so let’s put it on hold long enough to just acknowledge that, no matter what your political opinions are, you’re likely to find it terrible that a nine-year old girl was shot dead by a stranger.

      It’s a bit like a family wake I went to a few years ago in which a relative got drunk and started badmouthing her brother. It wasn’t that she was wrong- he really is “a sanctimonious, selfish prick”- it’s just that we all wanted a litle time to talk about the fact that my grandfather was a wonderful man and how sad it is to lose a loved one.

      (Obviously, I’m not trying to say that you, or anyone else, is acting like my drunk relative! Just that I think this is where Mark is going in this post.)Report

      • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Sadly, I have read comments where people have justified the shooting. One in particular said that if Giffords was a feminist then she deserved it.

        Know that I don’t expect anyone posting on this blog to have thought anything like that. It is out there though.

        See to see some real low-lights brought out of the sewer to be shown the light of day.

        I have even read someone saying that they didn’t care about Cristina Green being killed because ‘she probably would have grown up to be a liberal.’

        I don’t require anyone to condemn these remarks simple horrified silence is enough to let me know you despise remarks like those.Report

    • The point is not that both sides are equal. The point is that it is unimportant which side is worse right now because none of it is so abhorrent as to justify making that purportedly bad behavior even worth discussing. Especially not right now.

      The point is that there is a lot to life that is far more important than who said what when.Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Except that their are whackos out there, what we say matters, and we need to take responsibility for the environment we help create, maintain and live in.Report

      • Ok fine. So instead of talking about taking responsibility and especially how others need to take responsibility, we just need to take responsibility. Which brings us back to the title of this post.Report

      • Pat Cahalan in reply to E.C. Gach says:

        I don’t think what we say really matters, E.C. Not in cases like this.

        The whackos out there are whackos. They’re not connected to reality in the same way that everyone else is. You don’t incite them to violence. They’re already there.

        Maybe (just maybe) you might “assist” them in target selection, in the sense that they need somewhere to go with their violence and they might just latch on to something you say as it resonates with them. But if you don’t say anything, they’ll latch on to something else. Something *will* resonate with them. A book. A television show. An actress. Hell, the local weatherman might make a bad prediction on the wrong day and that’s all for him.

        To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence whatsoever that violent images, violent language, or violent literature leads to major behavioral change (admittedly, I don’t keep up with the Psych journals, maybe Chris can provide a counter-example). Every study I’ve heard of that has a measurable difference in behavior after environmental stimulus shows a very high dropoff rate as time increases, and not the sort of measurable difference that can even come close to providing a causal link with serious aberrant behavior.Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

        What do you feel you need to take responsibility for Mark?

        By taking responsibility, meant acknowledging that not just what I say myself, but how the national discourse is shaped as well is my responsibility as it is others. And that doing my part includes calling others out when they’ve gotten out of hand.

        I’m urging that we should be less hesitant to call out one another instead more hesitant for fear of being labeled opportunistic, etc.

        If I call someone out for making a bigoted comment, they should explain why what they said wasn’t bigoted, wasn’t intended to be bigoted, or in fact was bigoted and they regret it. Instead I will get labeled as playing the race card and then all discussion ends.

        Sure, a lot on the professional Left may/were being opportunistic, calculating/cynically taking advantage of a bad situation. That doesn’t absolve those who have been main propagators and facilitators of hateful and violent rhetoric though, they, liberal or conservative, at the end of the day, still need to say, actually what I said wasn’t hateful or violent, or yes, it was, and I regret it.

        I’m unwilling to roll back the discourse on this till that happens though. And if I’m a huge ass and this has already happened and I missed it, then someone call me out and I’ll apologize, otherwise I’ll keep on.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          @ EG C

          I think this is, academically, a very sound strategy – but it’s completely ineffective in practice. I’ve yet to see an instance where this kind of in-your-face pressure, particularly coming from an outsider, has caused someone to back down instead of double down. And I’m talking about relatively major politicians who choose their words carefully and have something to lose, not playground bullies.

          Interestingly, that kind of antagonism (for lack of a better word) is often criticized by the realist left when in the realm of foreign policy.Report

        • Koz in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          “I’m urging that we should be less hesitant to call out one another instead more hesitant for fear of being labeled opportunistic, etc.”

          I must have missed this yesterday. In any case, I completely agree, and that’s more or less what I was trying to get at with my comment below. What I didn’t write yesterday, that I probably should have, is that the problem isn’t taking partisan shots in response to the tragedy, it’s taking partisan shots that are weak and inflammatory, imminently after a tragedy or otherwise. So, if the complaint is weak on its merits, it doesn’t get any better for the context of Gabrielle Giffords being shot.

          Among other things, that’s where the whole Sarah Palin thing comes in. I didn’t watch her response video, but we should be able to agree that she is no responsible for Jared Loughner and the fate of Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims. #1, the chain of causality is embarrassingly weak. #2, (and less noted) she is doing things the she has every right to do.

          Not that EGC necessarily follows the Krugman party line wrt Sarah Palin but that has caught a lot of attention recently.Report

        • E.C Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          Am I actually agreeing with Koz? What’s happening to me?

          At least I think I do. I think it’s a complete waste of time to try and causally link specific instances of rhetoric to actions that came after.

          No one but Jared Loughner is responsible for what occurred (at least in a basic sense).

          So I agree, don’t lump me in with the Krug on this one.

          Where we will probably parts ways, no doubt swiftly, is that I find certain rhetoric, from some of the more fringe/outspoken segments of the Tea Party, recent Republican candidates, and Talk radio hosts, etc. to not be responsible, but to coincide with this tragedy.

          Loughner attempted a second amendment remedy to what ever was ailing his deranged mind. Someone prominent in the media uttering that did not cause him to do what he did, but it implicitly condones it.

          To my knowledge no one, especially Angle, has tried to distance themselves from their earlier remarks/actions. They shouldn’t do so because they caused this to happen, but because they are easily interpreted as condoning it if they don’t.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to E.C Gach says:

            One thing about Angle’s rhetoric in particular – it occurs to me that her failure to distance herself from her earlier remarks and actions played no small part in her losing a Senate race that should have been an easy (R) pickup. You could probably say similar things about most of the other prominent Republican candidates who significantly underperformed in November, not to mention Grayson in Florida.

            So even if, as a moral matter, politicians should back away from so-called “eliminationist rhetoric,” their refusal to do so already has pretty noticeable consequences for their own prospects.Report

          • Koz in reply to E.C Gach says:

            “Where we will probably parts ways, no doubt swiftly, is that I find certain rhetoric, from some of the more fringe/outspoken segments of the Tea Party, recent Republican candidates, and Talk radio hosts, etc. to not be responsible, but to coincide with this tragedy.”

            Could be. The link to Loughner is always going to be weak though.

            The other thing I mentioned is going to be more prominent I suspect. Let’s say that some Tea Party enthusiast said this or that. Why are they supposed to stop? The Tea Parties represent the citizens (to some extent) and the citizens are sovereign, or at least are supposed to be.

            Essential activities often carry risk. The idea isn’t to get rid of the risk, it’s to avoid being reckless with it.Report

  13. Steve S. says:

    “The trouble with incivility and complaints about incivility”

    It’s not about civility. Fuck civility. It’s about a pathological obsession with weaponry, violence, and a personal right to resort to violence for reasons other than imminent threat. Irrespective of the Tuscon shooting it’s not too much to ask our politicians and pundits to quit crossing that line. If Rush wants to call me every uncivil name in the book he’s welcome to, just leave the fucking guns locked in the cabinet.Report

    • Scott in reply to Steve S. says:

      Steve S.:

      Who exhibits this “pathological obsession with weaponry, violence, and a personal right to resort to violence for reasons other than imminent threat” that you speak of?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

        You know who else exhibited a pathological obsession with weaponry, violence, and a personal right to resort to violence for reasons other than imminent threat?Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

          No one expects the Palinist Tea Party. Our chief obsession is violence, violence and weaponry. Our two chief obsessions are violence, weaponry, and a personal right to resort to violence or reasons other than imminent threat. Among our chief obsessions are …

          (Although her real obsession is how mean people are to her. Compared to being Sarah Palin, being a Jew in Czarist Russia was, well, a tea party.)Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I did think that Andrew Sullivan’s “Yeah, I compared persecution of gays to blood libel too… BUT THAT WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT” post today.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              Darn it. I started off with one thought and finished with another.

              I enjoyed that post. I thought it was funny.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think the actual post is rather more mature than you made it out to be.

                So I am posting it here for others to decide.

                “Yes many people have used the phrase “blood libel” – including yours truly – but I nodded to the term’s history when I wrote:

                Paladino speaks of “perverts who target our children and seek to destroy their lives.” This is the gay equivalent of the medieval (and Islamist) blood-libel against Jews.

                Not many people use the anti-Semitic meme of Jews sucking others blood about a Jewish financier – but Fox News put it right up there, thanks to Glenn Beck.
                Adam Serwer contends that blood libel “is not wrongfully assigning guilt to an individual for murder, but rather assigning guilt collectively to an entire group of people and then using it to justify violence against them”:

                Jim Geraghty has a list of examples of other people using the term in a political context, but some of them are actually appropriate, others less so. Eugene Robinson’s reference to the Reconstruction Era lie that black men went around raping white women as a form of blood libel fits the above description, Andrew Sullivan’s use of the term to describe anti-gay-rights politicians accusing gays of all being child molesters is similarly appropriate. It’s about using a falsehood to establish collective guilt in order to justify collective punishment, not mean things said about an individual person.

                The phrase used by Palin, if a little off, as Adam notes, does not offend me. The timing of it left my jaw on the carpet. I still wonder who wrote it.”


              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                His actual use of the term. In the original post.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Hey, when *I* used it, I nodded to the term’s history!

                And, anyway, I didn’t object to her use of the term, just boggled at its timing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                But this thread is probably not the one for back and forth.

                (For what it’s worth, I’m sure that if we were all arguing in a room somewhere, we’d all be laughing as we said many of these disagreements rather than sputtering. And ordering pizza and sending someone out on a beer run.)Report

              • Koz in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                I don’t know. It’s pretty clear that Sarah Palin is pretty much historically ignorant of what blood libel has meant. And, her essential character is more or less a drama queen which I for one as finding tiresome.

                On the other hand, whether we call it blood libel or not, the implication from some quarters is that she has blood on her hands which she has every right (almost a duty) to reject. And seriously, we should all be able to agree that she doesn’t.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Koz says:

                Indeed, Koz your final point is something that I, Andrew Sullivan all agree with.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                and you all agree with.

                *I should really check my posts before submitting instead of after.*Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

                I think most people recognize that she had a right to defend herself (though it should be pointed out that by the time she did it was pretty clear that relatively few people were buying the idea that she bore any responsibility, so simply letting the matter drop would have been perfectly acceptable).

                What was off-putting was the callous and self-centered way that she did it, and the grievance politics of it. When I read the transcript of it, I just thought it was pretty weak sauce and inartfully worded if her goal was to try to help move the country forward, but when I actually saw it and the way she delivered it, I realized she really does think that the unfair attacks on her are more important than paying respect to Saturday’s victims. That she placed such emphasis on how quickly the focus was put on her was astonishing – at that point, we had no answers as to what happened, but because of the enormity of what happened, everyone was desperately searching for answers. And the angry tone of her voice – it all reminded me more of Clinton’s speech just after his deposition than anything else, the main difference being that the topic of Clinton’s speech was actually all about him – the only possible victim, if there even was one, was him.

                I hate to agree with Michael Gerson on anything, but he had it exactly right last night on CNN – how do you deliver a speech ostensibly about Saturday without mentioning a single victim by name or even by implication? Any reference to the event itself was solely to show the magnitude of the wrongs against her.

                Obama’s speech, by contrast, was exactly what a lot of us had hoped, even if the atmospherics of it were terrible.Report

              • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                That’s probably right. On the other hand, things look quite a bit different when you don’t follow Palin directly but look at the things alleged about her second and third hand (including here).Report

              • Is there much alleged second and third hand around these parts about Sarah Palin? For my part, I mostly try to ignore her because I don’t think she’s worth talking about. To me, most of the things I do see from her are attempts to create or fuel non-troversy, while most of the things I see written about her are attempts to create or fuel non-troversy. I had skimmed at one point the transcript of her speech yesterday and, as I said, thought it mostly just unremarkable and had no intention to read or see any more about it; but CNN happened to broadcast it while I was watching last night and its tone was just bizarre.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Who knows where this will end up, but I’m basically agreeing with Mark and Koz. The term ‘blood libel’ is not offensive. It’s a bit tacky. It’s tacky in the same way that saying a bad day was like being raped is tacky. People know what you mean, but it’s just a bit tone deaf, because the “blood libel” was more than just slander- it was a particularly gruesome slander about an entire group of people that was used to justify the pogroms. So trivializing the word by applying it to every viciously unfair slander is a bit much. Let’s just assume that the Jews of Medieval Europe were less able to defend themselves from slander than highly paid media figures. Moreover, there’s something tone deaf about using it after a prominent Jewish politician was just shot in the head. Let me put it this way, if in April 1968, Lyndon Johnson had said that he felt like he was being lynched in the media, it would have been tacky. You wouldn’t think it was demogoguing, necesarily, but you’d think he was a self-absorbed dipstick.

                Sullivan, however, seems to be suggesting that Palin knew damn well what she was saying and wanted to enflame anger. I don’t buy it. At this time, if Sarah Palin had been able to deliver an inspiring and moving speech that focused on the victims of the shooting, leaving aside her own plight for a minute, it would have paid her serious political dividends. She failed to do that. Her speech wasn’t offensive- it just sucked. She’s not going to be President. Sorry. All I could think when I saw that was that, if she was President in 2001, her State of the Union Address would briefly mention the 9/11 attacks and then ask the country to come together in mourning for how she was being slandered in the press. I’m sick of hearing about her from her. When you remove the narrative about the lamestream media slandering her, there’s nothing left to her message anymore. The lamestream media is the Joker to her Batman, or vice-versa.

                I think Sullivan needs to let go of his crusade against the powerful demogogue he thinks she is. Could she have become that? Maybe a few years ago. But at some point he has to have faith that the American people know a narcissistic twit when they see one. Seriously. She’s a future Trivial Pursuit question. Let’s let it go.Report

              • Rufus, I just fell in love with you, just this minute.

                > I’m sick of hearing about her from her.

                That’s awesome.

                > But at some point he has to have faith that
                > the American people know a narcissistic
                > twit when they see one. Seriously. She’s
                > a future Trivial Pursuit question.

                And that’s even better.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Also, let me chime in that I’m pretty sure I’ve remained mum about Palin until this ponit because, seriously, up until now I’ve remained a pretty serious Palin agnostic. I just didn’t understand why people like her so much or hate her so much. She seldom rose to the level of interesting for me. I probably still am a Palin agnostic, but that address was lame. The wounded narcissism on display would have embarassed Kanye West.Report

              • The wounded narcissism on display would have embarassed Kanye West.

                Now, now, let’s not say things we can’t take back. [And yeah, I thought this was almost as good as “sick of hearing about her from her.”]Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Yes Rufus, a smart post and if the former governor had followed your advice she’d have scored. The problem, however, is that the Left accused her, the Tea Party, Talk Radio of being the reason a dirt bag opened fire killed six and wounded quite a few.
                I dunno about you but I’d probably be as guilty as the former governor about vociferously defending myself too?Report

              • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I think she’s entitled to defend herself as well, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. What she said wasn’t offensive, or even necessarily in bad taste, but the fact that she didn’t understand the most aggressive rhetorical point in a speech written for her does betray substantial amount of plain ignorance.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I’m not defending her alledged ‘ignorance.’ I do, however, think she was in the rights to defend herself.
                What the ‘left’ had accused her of (her ‘hate’ speech being one of the factors in the murder and wounding of several people) was a calumny of the highest order. All civilized people recognize that, as they recognize the low people who made these baseless charges. Barry, has the obligation to apologize, and of course hasn’t.Report

              • E.C. Gach in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Why, what did he say about her?Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                My point is that Barry, as titular head of the commie-dems outta man up, in the spirit of ‘civility’ he discussed in the ‘memorial’ service, and apoligize of all those nasty boys-girls who falsely charged the innocent ‘right’ with ‘hate’ speech and ‘heated’ rhetoric being the cause of murder and wounding by a nutball.
                Wadda ya say?
                I’d be impressed.Report

              • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Barry has no obligation to apologize for something Paul Krugman wrote, especially if, as those who saw the speech claim, that he repudiated Krugman’s accusation.

                Moreover, we’re not trying to defend her alleged “ignorance”, we’re taking note of her actual ignorance. Which ignorance, let’s be clear, cannot be credibly blamed on any member of the other team.Report

              • Agree with Koz. Barry’s not the Blue Team Captain.Report

        • Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

          O.J. Simpson? Bill Ayers?Report

        • Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

          Jaybird, O
          O.J. Simpson? Bll Ayers? Saddam Hussein? Mumia Abu Jamal?Report

      • Steve S. in reply to Scott says:

        “Who exhibits this ‘pathological obsession…”

        Too numerous to document in a blog comment, but one example would be Sharron Angle suggesting that “Second Amendment remedies” might be needed to “take Harry Reid out.”

        By the way, the Tea Party’s eponymous event involved boarding private vessels and destruction of private property.Report

        • Scott in reply to Steve S. says:

          Steve S.:

          Since when does one comment make a pathology? Come on, if it weren’t for our founders who decided to resort to violence for reasons other than imminent threat, we would not have the country and freedoms that we enjoy today.

          On another note why is there are of this praise for Obama’s speech and scorn for Palin’s . Of course Obama can afford to be gracious considering he wasn’t be blamed for the shooting.Report

          • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Scott says:


            I think it is creepy as heck to talk about second amendment remedies when it comes to elections. It is also creepy to bring signs that say “this time we came unarmed”.

            I don’t assume that anyone I talk to disagrees about this until they defend such actions. For people who do defend bringing signs like that and signs that discuss watering trees of liberty I ask the following.

            How many tics on the following list of grievances are required to justify violence? Which ones are occurring today?


            Then I ask one last question. Do you really want to be seen as the kind of person that says they would shoot someone over politics?

            I wonder what responses I will get.Report

          • Steve S. in reply to Scott says:

            “Since when does one comment make a pathology?”

            Since when does one violent outburst make a pathology? C’mon, give Loughner a chance, so far as we know he’s only done this once. And we all know that thinly-veiled death threats are just a normal part of everyday existence.

            Perhaps there’s reason for optimism. Joe “You Lie” Wilson is disavowing the celebration of his words on a semi-automatic weapon. Maybe you aren’t put off by such mischievous pranks, but then the “you” in “you lie” isn’t you.

            “if it weren’t for our founders who decided to resort to violence for reasons other than imminent threat”

            Noted: occupying armies are not an imminent threat.

            That aside, there is a lengthy set of grievances in the Declaration. How do, for example, Angle’s grievances with Reid compare to those of the Founders?

            “On another note why is there are of this praise for Obama’s speech and scorn for Palin’s .”

            If I’m translating this correctly, hell, you’re right, there is no difference between placid funereal platitudes and claiming to be the victim of a 2000 year genocidal pogrom.

            Of course, Angle didn’t literally mean for Harry Reid to be shot, as she subsequently told us, and Palin didn’t literally mean she was the victim of Blood Libel, as I’m sure she’ll tell us after she looks up what it means. The simplest way to avoid having your violent rhetoric misinterpreted is to not use the rhetoric of violence in the first place, and the simplest way to not look like an idiot for inappropriately using historical analogies is to use them appropriately or not at all. Everybody makes mistakes, but politicians and intellectuals have a special responsibility in this regard.

            Again, this isn’t about civility. This is about using the language of guns and armed rebellion. When the people who eponymously celebrate the destruction of private property are having foreign soldiers quartered in their homes they can give me a call and I might even help them out. Until then they need to lock those firearms up in the gun cabinet.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Steve S. says:

              Dude. Calm down.

              1. There’s a pretty obvious difference between an incredibly ill-advised and even vile comment and a psychopath committing an act of mass murder. One comment is not very good evidence of a pathology, particularly when it’s nearly a year old and the person who said it got enough backlash from it that it largely cost her what should have been a shoo-in election. Most of the other references I’ve seen to the use of rhetoric calling for violent rebellion have pointed to signs at rallies, a practice that is often rightly termed “nutpicking.”

              Scott’s reference to the American Revolution is also appropriate. It would not be right to view the British Army as an “occupying army,” or at least not in the sense that we would consider to be within the mainstream of modern discourse. It was not the American Indians who led the revolt against the British, so the rebelling colonies were “occupied” by the British only in the sense that Washington, DC is today “occupied” by the United States.

              That doesn’t make talk of armed rebellion nowadays justified, although we should probably recognize that as seemingly petty as the grievances felt towards the federal government may be in comparison to the grievances other countries today have against their governments, the grievances that led to the American Revolution were pretty petty for the time as well.

              The other thing is that, although it is inappropriate when it happens and should be called out as such, that the Right may tend to use the language of guns more often than the Left (though by no means does it have a monopoly – witness Congressman Kanjorski’s statement that “someone should shoot” Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott) is not evidence of a pathology, but is instead pretty understandable since there’s so much overlap between gun owners and conservatives. It can be quite difficult to understand gun culture from the outside, but that doesn’t make gun culture inherently violent or inherently callous about violence or anything of that nature.Report

              • E.C. Gach in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Not sure I buy the occupancy argument.

                As far as I remember, one of the repeated points for separating from the mother island was the ocean between and the inability of a distant government to govern fairly or effectively. It’s mentioned several times by Thomas Paine, and I would assume many of the other revolutionary voices (though I may be imagining things).

                Of course maybe they were just trying to incite war and so were making things up.Report

              • I wasn’t trying to suggest that they didn’t think they were occupied, or at least argue that they were, just that the sense in which they were “occupied” was not terribly egregious. Prior to the outbreak of the war, and for a period even after the outbreak of the war (but before the DOI), they still thought of themselves as loyal British subjects.Report

              • Steve S. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                “There’s a pretty obvious difference between an incredibly ill-advised and even vile comment and a psychopath committing an act of mass murder.”

                As I said right from the start, “irrespective of the Tuscon shooting”.

                “One comment is not very good evidence of a pathology”

                I guess we’ll be spending the next little while arguing over whether “ill-advised…vile” comments seemingly made with no self-awareness are pathological. On second thought, you go ahead.

                “signs at rallies”

                I’ve also made clear I’m talking about politicians and mass media pundits, not sign-carriers.

                “Scott’s reference to the American Revolution is also appropriate. It would not be right to view the British Army as an ‘occupying army,’ ”

                He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
                He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power…Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us…He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
                He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people…He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny…He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country.

                But I guess we have to spend the next little while nutpicking over whether “occupation” is an acceptable paraphrase for this.

                “as seemingly petty as the grievances felt towards the federal government may be in comparison to the grievances other countries today have against their governments, the grievances that led to the American Revolution were pretty petty for the time as well.”

                Which is why the Founders, smart men that they were, said that the Crown was waging war, ravaging, plundering, imposing death, destroying lives, and other such petty complaints. The Founders knew that “we’re rebelling because of a disagreement over tax policy” wasn’t quite good enough. I’m going to go out on a limb and posit that warring, ravaging, plundering, and destroying were considered shitty things to do even in the 18th century.

                “it is inappropriate…but is instead pretty understandable since there’s so much overlap between gun owners and conservatives.”

                Next time someone threatens me with a Second Amendment remedy I’ll be sure to point out how inappropriate they are being.

                “It can be quite difficult to understand gun culture from the outside”

                Oh, I understand it perfectly well. You never point a firearm at someone unless you intend to use it. I guess I’m being unreasonable to extend that reasoning to the accompanying rhetoric.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                “That doesn’t make talk of armed rebellion nowadays justified, although we should probably recognize that as seemingly petty as the grievances felt towards the federal government may be in comparison to the grievances other countries today have against their governments, the grievances that led to the American Revolution were pretty petty for the time as well. ”

                Ask the Waco survivors about their ‘petty’ grievances against the federal gummint.
                If the objective is to keep a ‘republic’ then we can all sympathize with those who observe the statist drift. Right now the rise of the Tea Party movement is deflecting pro-republican calls for a restoration. We’ll see what happens.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                When we are done with that we can ask the people of Oklahoma City how they feel about armed rebellion in the name of Waco.

                Besides the real moral of the Waco story is that it is a bad idea to take armed positions during an ATF raid. Also very bad to shoot at them too.

                Sure there was plenty of incompetence to go around regarding the governments actions but simple surrender would have defused the situation entirely.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Davidians who survived the fire acknowledged that other Davidians started the fire. FBI agents witnessed Davidians pouring fuel and igniting a fire, and noted these observations contemporaneously. Lab analysis found accelerants on the clothing of Davidians, and investigators found deliberately punctured fuel cans and a homemade torch at the site. Based on this evidence and testimony, the Special Counsel concluded that the fire was started by the Davidians.


              • Robert Cheeks in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Here’s the FLIR film, I can’t watch it again because of AT&T line problems; let me know what you think.

                You might want to familiarize yourself with the Danforth Commission report. I wouldn’t put much credence in those Davidians who made statements following federal incarceration.Report

              • Scott in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:


                I think Bob’s point was that the authorities could have easily arrested David Koresh during one of his trips into town and avoided a full scale para-military assault on the compound full of heavily armed religious zealots waiting for the end time. I believe any pysch major could have foreseen the outcome.

                Oh and let’s not even get started on the gov’ts murders at Ruby Ridge which have gone unpunished.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Pirate Guy, here, this article’s analysis is probably the best of the lot, indepth, even handed.


                Let me know what you/or anyone thinks!Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Reading the wikipedia entry alone convinced me that there was a whole lot of incompetence ass-covering and flat out lying.

                Still, if they hadn’t decided to set-up for armed rebellion none of this would have happened. Revolutionary talk and arming yourself against the government is just plain stupid.Report

  14. Koz says:

    I’d like to agree with this and at sometime in the past I’m sure I would have, but I don’t any more. Our political-cultural views #1 express our aspirations and #2 are also the source of the filters we use to process information. Furthermore, for the most part we are not exactly Zen master or Buddhist monk experts in the art of self-denial.

    It would be nice if occasions like this would constitute a de facto moratorium on partisan point-scoring, but I don’t think we should scandalize ourselves about it when that doesn’t happen.Report

  15. tom van dyke says:

    Exc speech by the president tonight. I have nothing to add.Report

  16. MFarmer says:

    This is not aimed at you ost Mark, but it’s something I thought about while watching Morning Joe tis morning. Be nice.

    • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

      your post

      My keys are stickingReport

    • Mark Thompson in reply to MFarmer says:

      I would not have taken that as being aimed at me, and I think you’re probably more right than wrong on that, Mike, and it’s pretty consonant with what I’m trying to say here: running around complaining about who is and isn’t “nice” or “civil” is, in and of itself, not terribly “nice” or “civil,” and is a pretty good way of guaranteeing that the person you accuse of being not nice or civil will in fact respond by becoming even less nice or civil. So if you think people need to be nicer and more civil…..just do it and don’t make a show of it.Report