"We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress," wrote Bob Herbert in his New York Times column the other day. A Democrat friend of mine from Rochester, NY forwarded me the Herbert piece, entitled "An Absence of Class," about the alleged ugly incidents in the aftermath of the US House's healthcare vote. She accompanied the link with this single sentence: "You would never ever defend this." The following is how I responded.
If you think I would defend it, then you completely missed the point I was trying to make before. I don't defend the things Bob Herbert describes--if they really happened (I am completely open to the possibility that they didn't actually happen as described, or that they were grossly exaggerated, or that Democratic members of Congress and their lackeys would make up or even stage such incidents in order to achieve exactly what the incidents have achieved: a smear against thousands of people).
But let's assume that it all did happen exactly as reported. I say, So what?
Any time you gather thousands of people together, no matter what the cause they're gathering to demonstrate for, you can take it as virtually guaranteed that some of them aren't going to be nice or well-behaved people. The vast majority of humans, of any political stripe, aren't exactly saints. Obviously, in any gathering of large size, you'll have a bell-curve distribution on the civility spectrum, and at one end of the curve you'll have bad apples.
This method of gathering an unruly mob to make a political point in the streets, by chanting and waving signs (as opposed to making the points on the pages of a newspaper or at the debate lectern or in some other measured and intellectual manner) has been a favored practice of the Left for decades; seeing the same tactic on the other side is a fairly novel thing.
You wouldn't seriously assert that nothing vile ever took place at any of the demonstrations in support of causes dear to the Left, over all the decades? I've seen a little bit of it myself. For example, sometimes I'd walk out of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California by its Franklin St. gate, during the height of the Iraq War, to find an anti-war mob with signs at the bottom of the hill, and some of them would jeer at me and call me things like "Nazi"--people who didn't know anything about me except that I sported a military-looking haircut. But you know...so what?
It wasn't unusual for acts of mob violence--looting, arson, etc.--to happen where MLK made a public appearance, even though King explicitly decried any such activity. Things got pretty ugly right there in your town, if I'm not mistaken. Should we paint all members of the civil rights movement with the brush of a few thuggish individuals who made the event a pretext to behave in a vile manner? Everyone who favors desegragation is is a thieving incendiary...if YOU favor desegregation then YOU're on the side of looting and arson...yeah, okay...strong argument, huh?
Herbert says, "We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here." Oh really? We can't allow it? How short his memory is, because he and his ilk were perfectly happy to keep quiet and allow it just a few years ago, when protesters were saying and doing things at least as vile against the previous administration. I doubt if any president has received the amount of abuse that Bush did. And I don't care about that. He's a big boy and he wasn't drafted into the job of president, and having a thick skin is part of the job. So what?
Why is this Herbert article even worth serious consideration? His chosen method of decrying a lone idiot who spat on some politician is to spit on tens of thousands of people with vile statements like these: "For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness...." "This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry."
What is this? Fight fire with fire? This is Herbert's own commitment to hatred and bigotry on display.
The whole article is nothing but an ad hominem. He's not critiquing the Tea Party's central message--he's trying to turn people off to that message with guilt-by-association. "If you are tempted to favor shockingly radical, fringy ideas like...oh, let's say, a limited government that is accountable to the people and stays within the bounds of the Constitution...then you're in the company of bigots, and therefore a bigot yourself." That's what he's saying. This is just the latest flavor of McCarthyism.
I've been called a racist and a Nazi for criticizing Obama about issues that have nothing to do with race--those names were hurled at me based on nothing other than the ethnicity of the target of my criticism, as though the only thing that keeps me from cheering him for his policies is that he's not pure Anglo-Saxon. Apparently nobody is allowed to criticize a public official on any grounds, if the official happens to be a minority. That's about the level of Herbert's argument here.
I don't care. They can call me whatever they like. All they're doing is revealing the Orwellian inversion of language that infects their thought: If I am color-blind, applying the same standards of criticism to a black man that I would to a white man, then I'm a racist It's no longer prejudice and racial double standard, but the absence of prejudice and racial double standard, that makes you a racist. If I'm for limited government and against the kind of centralization of economic decision-making that Nazis and other varieties of socialists espouse, that makes me a Nazi. Opposing socialism makes you a National Socialist. Up is down, black is white.
('76 Editor) "Avatar" with its leftist plotline, where capitalism and America are villains, is amusingly debunked by Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen today. Reviews in National Review, Weekly Standard, and Commentary did likewise. I'll be skipping this overhyped dud.
After posting the above on Twitter and Facebook a short time ago, I was informed by one Victoria Livingston on FB that: "Americans have had a history of being bullies; it started with overrunning the Indians before the 'settlers' were Americans." To which I then replied:
America a bully at times, Victoria? Of course, what did you expect? Strong nations, like strong individuals, may be tempted to use their strength irresponsibly. That's not confined to our country - it's the human condition, the tragic flaw, original sin, fallenness. But show me another country that has been half as earnest and noble as America in trying to atone for that irresponsibility in the past and to prevent its recurrence in the future.
With "Avatar," James Cameron - like so many others in entertainment and mass media - has bitten the hand that feeds him with liberty and opportunity, affluence and indulgence, privilege and prestige. Ingrates one and all. Fie upon them.
('76 Editor) You have to read closely to see it, so elegant are the euphemisms, but the company that owns the company that owns the Denver Post is taking bankruptcy to get out from under $1 billion in loans it can't repay. ("Pact lets Post's owner cut debt," Jan. 16.)
I note this with sadness, not any sort of pleasure, because Denver and Colorado need the Post -- all the more so after we lost the Rocky Mountain News a year ago -- and because I admire press lord Dean Singleton, whose MediaNews Group is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher in terms of circulation and who is one of the world's true visionaries about where journalism is going in the digital age.
As today's story explains, MediaNews is in relatively better shape than most other struggling or bankrupt newspaper owners, and given Singleton's proven virtuosity there is reason to think he can pilot the company through current storms into sustainability when industry trends smooth out. For Colorado's sake and in the interest of informed self-government, let's hope so.
Disclosure: I am a Denver Post columnist.
('76 Contributor) Harry Reid is not racist and Republican calls for his resignation are misguided. There I said it.
The senate majority leader has recently come under fire for remarks attributed to him in the new book “Game Change.” Authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say that in 2008 Reid described then candidate Obama as a " 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.'” The comments have been seen by some as being racially insensitive.
Reid’s defenders argue that he was merely making the point that Americans were ready to elect a black president (or at least a light- skinned black president. Baby steps.) DNC chair Tim Kaine insisted that Reid’s remarks were offered in the context of saying something positive about the Obama candidacy and why his candidacy would be strong.
What remains unclear is why we weren’t treated to an equal amount of gushing about Obama’s vast executive experience and his readiness to lead. Instead, these titans of liberalism were most impressed that Obama was Black but not too black and well spoken enough not to offend the racial sensibilities of voters. It was also a plus that he was able to turn on a “negro dialect” when speaking to Black audiences. (Actually the same could have been said of Hillary Clinton. She is also light skinned with a habit of turning on a “Black dialect” when speaking before black audiences. Recall her chicken necking as she quoted lyrics from an old “negro” spiritual: “I ain’t no ways tired.” Really Hillary? But I digress.)
I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the racial sensibilities Reid and company were concerned with offending were those of liberals. Reid was not mentally tallying the votes of Republicans, but Democrats!
Certainly Senator Reid is behind the times. Who uses the word “negro” anymore? The accepted term is “people of color,” which, for what it’s worth, sounds way to close too colored people for my tastes. But do Reid’s comments really rise to occasion GOP outrage, which, let’s be honest is a bit contrived?
Is there a double standard? Absolutely! There is also a growing sensitivity to public speech that has corrupted our sense of proportion. If one must resign for speaking the truth – Obama is light skinned, well spoken and does have a habit of turning on the “flava” when he speaks before Black audiences – what is the penalty for saying something truly outrageous? Calling for the head of Harry Reid only succeeds in making legitimate liberal outrage over the similarly innocuous uttering’s by others. If we continue down this path I fear we will end up a nation unable to govern itself because we will be unable to speak lest we offend someone…somewhere.
Moreover, these displays of outrage miss the real substance of Reid’s intimations.
What is now clear for all to see is the new left's political calculation vis a vis race. For the left there can be no post racial America because for the new left race is a chief weapon in their arsenal. Their use of race and racism is premeditated; it is a commodity to be traded in the political market. THAT should be the focus of GOP outrage; that should be what the media is talking about; that should be the cause of our national indignation.
There was another interesting bit of “dish” found in “Game Change.” In an effort to gain the endorsement of Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy for his wife, former President Bill Clinton reportedly said to the liberal icon about Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” According to the book, Kennedy was offended by the remarks and ultimately gave his support to Obama. In a subsequent conversation Clinton griped, “The only reason you are endorsing him is because he is black. Let’s just be clear.”
According to Harry Reid and Tim Kaine Clinton was quite correct; were it not for his light skin and his ability to speak like a “negro” when he has to he would still be a junior senator from Illinois and not the President of the United States. 2+2=4.
Denver native Joseph C. Phillips is a veteran TV and film actor, national columnist, campus lecturer for Young America's Foundation, and the author of He Talk Like a White Boy.
Kid-glove treatment by the Denver Post on Gov. Bill Ritter's decision not to run again, makes me miss the Rocky Mountain News as never before. And it increases my gratitude for the feisty skepticism still alive and well in talk radio and the blogosphere.
In three days of coverage on the Ritter story by the Post, Monday night to Wednesday morning, online and in print, I haven't seen a single mention of the Governor's ethical and legal exposure over close aide Stephanie Villafuerte changing her story on the 2006 campaign controversy over leniency to illegal aliens.
Doubly odd since the Post itself, with suddenly-invisible reporter Karen Crummy in the lead, doggedly drove this issue and forced Villafuerte to pull her nomination for US Attorney. Triply odd since reputable news organizations such as Examiner.com have reported on the growing talk of possible impropriety in her personal relationship with Ritter.
The Post, last man standing among Denver's major daily papers, owes the public extra vigilance in that role. Instead, for some reason, it has morphed from watchdog to lapdog in this latest chapter of the Ritter melodrama.
Thankfully, Peter Boyles of KHOW in the morning has stayed on the Villafuerte angle. Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman, KHOW in the afternoon, have a different but equally probing take, speculating there was a Ken Salazar / Barack Obama coup to force the vulnerable Ritter out and hand the nomination to Salazar. Jon Caldara observed in an email this morning that sometimes "family priority" is code for a straying spouse trying to make things right. But not a hint in the Colorado's print journal of record, the Post, on any of these plausible and relevant possibilities.
Did Bill Ritter really jump by his own volition, as a sympathetic Lynn Bartels piece in today's Post has it? Or was he pushed -- by powerful Democrats here and in Washington, or by looming revelations of scandal? A truly free and independent press needs to be asking those questions.
"Don't wet on my leg and call it rain," LBJ used to say when someone tried to gull him in obvious fashion. (Actually he said it in more earthy terms.) Politicians try to do that all the time, of course, to each other and to us. They can't help themselves. That's where the First Amendment and the watchdog media come in. If there's no entity left in Colorado to do that with ink and paper in l'affaire Ritter, at least we're fortunate that some in the new and alternative media are staying in the hunt.
('76 Editor) Tom James of People's Press Collective.com was at CCU to film the Nov. 10 senatorial forum as well as the Nov. 3 gubernatorial forum. Below are the links for both video files. PPC, as they call themselves, will partner with Centennial Institute to sponsor an all-day boot camp on "Blogging Right," Dec. 5 at the Beckman Center on our campus. Email us at email@example.com for details.
Here's the Senate forum video.
Here's the Governor's forum video.
Less than two hours after the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11 FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that his investigators were “definitely not discussing terrorism”. Soon after President Obama urged Americans “not to jump to conclusions”. When reporters asked what the President meant by that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had no coherent answer. The initial stories by both the New York Times and the Associated Press gave great prominence to reports that the killer had been “harassed because he was a Muslim”, that he was “dismayed” by U.S. Policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he was “upset” about the “terrible things” he heard from soldiers returning from the war zone. On the afternoon of the tragedy Americans channel surfing for updates on the massacre found an odd mix of reportage. Chris Matthews of MSNBC offered an impassioned monologue on the “horrible costs of war”. Other commentators amplified this theme of “the soldier as victim”. Shepherd Smith of the much reviled Fox News obtained a live interview with Army Colonial Terry Lee who knew the killer from his time at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. Colonel Lee related how the killer “seemed pleased” when a Muslim had shot and killed a U.S. Soldier in front of an Army recruiting office in Arkansas, and had also likened Muslim suicide bombers to those soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies. Colonel Lee also stated that any harassment the killer experienced was not because of his Muslim faith but due to expressing these kind of view in the presence of men who had seen friends and fellow soldiers killed in combat. Apparently no other news outlet had been able to find Colonel Lee or any similar purveyors of “an inconvenient truth”. On Friday when it was confirmed that before commencing his slaughter, the killer jumped on a table and shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) the media story line began to shift, but not too much. As soon as they learned that the killer was still alive various commentators began to pose the following weighty questions: “Why was the killer moved from a civilian to a military hospital?” or “Would wide spread prejudice make it difficult for the killer to obtain a fair trial or adequate legal counsel”? or “In light of Guantanamo, should the killer be tried in a civilian or military court? “ or“could a possible death sentence create a martyr and inflame the Muslim world” or “ does the fact that the killer purchased his handguns legally mean we need tougher gun control?” or “Was the Army culpable in failing to prevent this” Perhaps the most bizarre line of inquiry was the assertion that if the killer acted alone and not as part of a conspiracy then the massacre cannot be viewed as an act of terrorism (See, Director Mueller was right!) but rather a case of a “stressed” or “demented” individaul who just “snapped”. This rampant political correctness and willful blindness too facts is not just coming from the loony left like the Huffington Post which initially denied the killer was a Muslim or The Nationwhich denounced any mention of his religion or ethnicity as “Homophobia”, but from mainstream media and public officials who are responsible for the nation's safety. Days after the massacre the N.Y. Times and the Washington Post still insisted the killers“ motives were unclear”. Even when it was known that the killer had praised suicide bombers, declared himself a Palestinian, sought to proselytize his patients, and carefully prepared for his atrocity- even giving away his possession- a Denver Post heading read “Clues Elusive in Killing”, and not a single public official from President Obama on down uttered the word “terrorist” or traitor or made the obvious connection to jihadist fanaticism- the preferred terms offered being “shooter” and “act of violence”. In keeping with the summons and prediction of Obama bin Laden a Muslim fanatic perpetrated the worst act of domestic terrorism since 9/11 but our political leaders abetted by a craven media don't want you to know it, say it or even think it, and if you do “jump to conclusions”-however obvious- you will be called ignorant and bigoted. If the next home grown jihadist gets hold of a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon, and kills thousands, will the reaction or story line be any different? How many Americans must die before our people in their righteous anger decide its time for a new story line and new leaders to honestly pursue it.
William Moloney is a Centennial Fellow and former Colorado Education Commissioner. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, U.S.A. Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun , Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post.
('76 Editor) Beyond Vail, beyond Durango, all the way to the Oregon woods and the West Virginia coalfields, Americans with an appetite for politics got the word about Centennial Institute's forum for Colorado gubernatorial candidates one year ahead of Election 2010. Search-engine maven Jonathan Watters of the CCU University Communications office compiled the following sampler of media coverage:http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13708744http://www.kjct8.com/Global/story.asp?S=11438579http://durangoherald.com/sections/News/2009/11/04/GOP_gubernatorial_candidates_square_off_in_Lakewood/http://www.businessword.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/2954/http://image.examiner.com/a-2302418~GOP_rivals_debate_in_governor_s_primary.htmlhttp://www.vaildaily.com/article/20091103/NEWS/911039950/1078&ParentProfile=1062http://www.wkrg.com/raw_news/article/gop_rivals_debate_debates_in_governors_primary/502331/Nov-03-2009_10-28-pm/http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=126242&catid=222http://www.gazette.com/articles/gop-64764-one-penry.htmlhttp://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=delawareonline&sParam=31963235.storyhttp://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/politics-13/1257308419262060.xml&storylist=politicshttp://www.krdo.com/Global/story.asp?S=11431742http://wvgazette.com/ap/ApPolitics/200911030232
The next great reckoning for the media is their response to Obama’s imminent failure. They will have to choose between their ideology, to support Obama, or fecklessly go with the good story.
The answer is obvious given a media which can sell out its integrity so easily. Headline: Barack thrown under bus by mainstream media. Film at eleven.
Entertainer Bill Maher commented this week that America is a stupid nation. Of course he is correct: any nation that pays well for this type of comedy is stupid. But this gives reasonable observers a real insight into the liberal mindset. An aphorism I often use is, "liberals are sure they are smarter than we, conservatives are sure they are more moral than we." The former is obviously not true and the latter is for a different discussion. But Maher illustrates the former in action.
Viewing the video does Maher's comments more justice than my paraphrase can. But when he was asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, whether Sarah Palin had a chance at becoming president he responded, "I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country." Blitzer then continues saying that "people are already complaining..." At the word complaining, the left side of Maher's mouth raises slightly in consternation that people are complaining about an obvious truth. At least that is the way I read his body language.
Blitzer then gives Maher a chance to "clarify." Maher seems to be thinking of an answer, but says, "I don"t need to clarify, it is." The absolutely deadpan delivery of "I don't need to clarify" may be a practiced comedian's delivery; if so, he is good. But I suspect it is rather the insouciant reaction of an elite to the masses. Blitzer then asks why he believes we are a stupid county and Maher responds, "Because Sarah Plain could be president.... I mean please, do I have to expand on that anymore?" He finishes with "just because they [the American people] elected a bright guy doesn’t mean they [the American people] are bright."
Two thoughts come out of this: We elected Barack Obama because he was bright and, Maher does not understand the concept of circular reasoning, claiming something is true by repeating the "truth." This fallacy is closely associated with the false authority fallacy. Here, we accept an argument because a certain type of person says it is so. The cult of celebrity, evidenced by Michael Jackson's death, allows for us to believe that celebrities like Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Barbara Streisand are authorities. Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham wrote an excellent book on the subject, Shut Up and Sing.
Electing a president because he is bright is an old liberal canard. An old Saturday Night Live skit has Jon Lovitz playing Michael Dukakis and the brilliant Dana Carvey playing G.H.W. Bush. Carvey is babbling on and the camera goes to Lovitz who looks pleadingly into the camera, "How can I be losing to this guy?" Jimmy Carter was a nuclear physicist, and Clinton was a Rhodes scholar. Did these presidents govern better because they were smart?
Make no mistake, liberalistas believe they have a secular, are opposed to a divine right, to rule because they are educated. The problem is it is a modern, as opposed to a classical education. Classical education was dedicated to finding man's highest purpose, what was the ultimate good. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ultimate good is freedom. This freedom is of a certain type. In Aristotle's words, freedom is doing something for its own sake. It is what man does in his leisure time, after we have secured our freedom in material senses: secured our borders and secured ourselves economically. Education, then, was the development of the arts, as opposed to the sciences of freedom, war and economics.
The modern idea of freedom comes after Thomas Hobbes's argument that, as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, there is no there there. There is no highest good only the baddest bad, i.e., life without an overarching authority to keep us in line. Education then is dedicated to the preservation of life, the expansion of physical comfort and the avoidance of death.
Modern education then becomes, at least in comparative terms, anti-intellectual. Education is a means to power, to expand our power and control over the universe. Thus, modern education is merely a means to power, willing one's way to power. Once in power this educated class forces their conception of freedom upon us.
In a recent column for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan commented, "We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let's call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next. Mr. Obama's own choice for surgeon general has come under criticism as too heavy. Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you."
The deciding question to this logic is in fact simple: has any intelligent president actually made a better president because he is smart? Jimmy Carter, probably America's worst president if you combine his activities in and out of office, would seem to refute that. Is there even one incident in which Bill Clinton's degrees have made the political situation better?
The reverse should also be true. Have "stupid" presidents made things worse? Bush derangement syndrome in which one must hate for hate's sake needs no proof for true believers. FDR has been described as an intellectual lightweight by scholar Bruce Kuklick. Harry Truman did not go to college. JFK graduated from Harvard with Honors because his thesis, later turned into the book Why England Slept, was completed with the assistance of Kennedy's father's staff while Joseph P. Kennedy was Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Young John had a solid gentleman's C while an undergraduate. LBJ graduated from Southwest Teachers College in Texas. And we are back to Carter.
The result of this trip down memory lane actually indicates the opposite of the elite liberal contention: the most successful Democratic presidents have been of average education and intelligence. How 'bout them apples?