Monday, January 17, 2011

The Incredible Chris Mathews

He has Michael Steele and says to him that the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that at the Democrats' convention is that the black guys are all hanging together having a boisterous good time, but when he goes into the Republican convention it is as if the blacks were told not to bunch together. They are there but they are all mixed with whites and aren't in a group.

Now think about that.

Apply the first test of spin: imagine the converse. Imagine that it was at the Republican convention that the blacks were all bunched together and at the Democrats that they are all spread out. What would it mean then? That among Democrats the blacks are accepted as individuals and congregate with their fellow party members not on the basis of skin color but on the basis of interest or region, etc. Among Republicans blacks are forced into social isolation, mere tokens, among but not of the Republican party.

Michael Steele's lame response and Matthew's closing compliment to Steele that had he, Matthews, been there he would have voted for Steele. That is all we need to know about Steele, I think.

Now Axelrod is on saying that businesses are not sitting on 2 trillion in order to make a political statement, passing on Matthew's invitation to echo the administration's previous line that businesses are failing to invest out of some sort of spite. Obama is tacking right with all sails to the wind.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

An ideological hit piece wrapped in a non-story

A non-story about the "suddenly silent" John McCain asks why he has not had a higher profile in the wake of the Arizona shooting. But of course, it is not just that he hasn't been on enough talk shows, it is that he hasn't denounced the hate speech coming from the Right. The "question" of where is McCain is made into a story rather than a straightforward ideological attack from a supposedly neutral journalist by using a quote from a Democratic congressman, Rep. Raul Grijalva:

"It would be helpful for all of us to deal with the question of rhetoric, hyperbole, hate, and anger. McCain has national prominence and prestige and it would be welcome for him to come and help change the tone."

A real thing of beauty, this. You make the issue why McCain isn't denouncing the hateful right-wing rhetoric, implying that right wing rhetoric is the problem and that McCain is somehow complicit in it by not saying anything, and making it all seem like you are motivated by your admiration for the Senator.

Money graph: "Just because he’s been keeping his counsel does not mean, however, that McCain hasn’t been involved."

Now doesn't this give the game away? It turns out that instead of going on a bunch of talk shows he is going to funerals. Now how outrageous is that?

One test you can always apply to a non-story-story is to ask if the person who is the object of the story could have done anything that would have negated the complaint without inviting an opposite complaint? Imagine if he had been on a bunch of talk shows but had not made it to any funerals? The "putting politics above people" story almost writes itself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sheriff missed several chances to stop the murder

The same sheriff that accused right wing talk radio hosts of being responsible for the shootings in his jurisdiction missed several chances to stop Loughner from his department's being called to the house several times to stopping him just three hours before the shooting on a traffic stop. Of course, none of that matters. What matters is the "atmosphere" or the "context" that is creating by using words like "reload" or "target" or "If they bring a knife, we bring a gun." --whoops! Sorry. That was President Obama.

Krauthammer makes the case that there is no causal relationship even as a slight possibility between anything that Palin said and Loughner's actions. But even this is a step backwards in a way. If Loughner had listened to Palin and drew some insane implications from it would that make her responsible? If some nut case had cited President Obama's rhetoric about bringing a gun to a fight as a reason for murdering a Republican would President Obama be somehow responsible? Surely not. How is anyone to held responsible for the behavior of people who can't be held responsible for their own behavior? How long could robust speech survive if the standard were the inferences drawn from your speech?

Sarah and the blood libel

I am watching Chris Mathews and it is just nuts. They are analyzing the use of the term "blood libel". "What could she have meant?" They have come up with every explanation except the most obvious: that they are saying she is responsible for the shooting and murders, for having blood on her hands. She thinks that she does not have blood on her hands, that she is not responsible. Thinking that she is not responsible for these deaths she regards the suggestion that she is as a libel, and given that the matter at hand is a matter of blood she calls it a blood libel.

Now the folks on the Mathews' show are going on about the origins of the term on the assumption that she could not have meant anything that simple. Now Americans use the term the way Sarah Palin does, the same way they use "begs the question" as meaning brings up a topic rather than assuming that which is to be proven. I may not like that, but to pretend that Americans know that "begs the question" is a direct translation of petitio principii is pedantic and pretentious. By doing the same thing with the use of "blood libel" they are not only not making their point they are showing a certain contempt for the typical American. This is unpersuasive and surely politically unwise.

One thing this particularly infuriating is the way the ground of the argument keeps shifting. One moment they say "We aren't saying that she is responsible for the shooting," and then saying, "Why doesn't Palin just apologize?" Apologize for the killing that she didn't cause?