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Tag Archive: Sarah Palin

She delivered a devastating indictment of the entire U.S. political establishment

Posted: Friday, September 9, 2011 (11:29 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Friday, September 9th, 2011:

Anand Giridharadas, writing in the NY Times on Sarah Palin’s speech at a TEA Party event in Iowa last week:

Let us begin by confessing that, if Sarah Palin surfaced to say something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition, many of us would fail to hear it.

That is not how we’re primed to see Ms. Palin. A pugnacious Tea Partyer? Sure. A woman of the people? Yup. A Mama Grizzly? You betcha.

But something curious happened when Ms. Palin strode onto the stage last weekend at a Tea Party event in Indianola, Iowa. Along with her familiar and predictable swipes at President Barack Obama and the “far left,” she delivered a devastating indictment of the entire U.S. political establishment — left, right and center — and pointed toward a way of transcending the presently unbridgeable political divide.

[…]

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

I don’t know whether to be encouraged that someone publishing through one of the publishing heavyweights of the limousine liberal establishment finally looked past the left’s cartoonish caricature of Palin to actually listen to her ideas for a few minutes, or to be outraged at how the paper has played the mock-the-bimbo game all this time, only to turn around now and say “she did just get more interesting”, when in fact this speech in no way represented a departure from what she has been saying all along – at least since the end of the McCain campaign. Give me a break, pal. I’m not as stupid as you’d like to think.

Vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 (7:47 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 12th, 2011:

New York Times columnist David Brooks, in a too-rare moment of lucidity, commenting Monday on the despicable liberal media spin on the Giffords shooting:

Keith Olbermann demanded a Palin repudiation and the founder of the Daily Kos wrote on Twitter: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin.” Others argued that the killing was fostered by a political climate of hate.

These accusations — that political actors contributed to the murder of 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl — are extremely grave. … They were vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness.

Yet such is the state of things. … We have a news media with a strong distaste for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, and this seemed like a golden opportunity to tarnish them. …

I have no love for Sarah Palin, and I like to think I’m committed to civil discourse. But the political opportunism occasioned by this tragedy has ranged from the completely irrelevant to the shamelessly irresponsible.

I think Brooks misses the Left’s sly assault via this tragedy on the 1st Amendment, but I have to give him credit for bucking the mob of his fellows, and doing it early, before the backlash from an offended public – if this was published in the grey lady Monday, it must have been written no later than Sunday night. Besides, the aspect he instead focuses on is at least equally important, and he hits the nail on the head in terms of the viciousness involved. I don’t know how some of these people sleep at night…

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

Sarah Palin as Cultural Metaphor

Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 (11:52 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the day for Tuesday, December 7th, 2010:

Timothy Dalrymple, posting at Patheos yesterday on the meaning and underlying cause of what he calls “Palin Enragement Syndrome”:

[M]uch of the opposition to Palin is not political. It is deeply and thoroughly cultural. Sarah Palin is Miss Jesusland, the living emblem and foremost representative of an America that progressive elites had hoped had been swept into the dustbin of history. One definition of culture is “the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.” Palin represents the values, tastes, and institutions, the attitudes and behaviors, that are shared by one American sub-culture and despised by another. Hugh Hewitt had it right over a year ago, when he said that Palin is “the opposite of every choice that lefty elites have ever made . . . the antithesis of everything that liberal urban elites are.”

In a very peculiar sort of way, then, Sarah Palin herself has become the latest contested territory in America’s ongoing culture war. The fight over Sarah Palin is a proxy battle over cultural issues and over the meaning of America: not only Democrats and Republicans but low culture versus high culture, conservative Christianity versus progressive religion, pro-life versus pro-choice, traditional family versus modern family, rural versus urban, the wisdom and goodness of the people versus the technocracy of the elite. It’s a proxy battle over which culture — which set of values, attitudes, and behaviors — ought to pervade and guide our nation and its government.

It was obvious in the summer of 2008 that Sarah Palin had instantly touched a venomous nerve in progressive circles. It was not entirely clear why. I thought some of it could be chalked up as a reaction to the energized thrill with which the more conservative elements of the electorate met her ascension to McCain’s Presidential ticket – I know for my part, I’d fully expected McCain to select a middle-of-the-road running mate, even someone pro-abortion, and I was delightfully surprised that he selected a social conservative, and I doubt I was alone in that surprise any more than I was in that delight.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of social conservatives out there, and while they do get trashed by the liberal press on principle, they don’t get trashed like Sarah Palin gets trashed. I agree with Dalrymple that she is more symbol than human being to the left, but that still doesn’t explain why she became such a lightning rod, rather than any of the many other people, including women, who generally share her views. And as a national figure, she is almost purely a product of the left’s obsession with her. They call her stupid(of course), but she’s dumb like a fox, and has proven herself to be one of the more prescient members of the chattering class, which I think is changing her perception among non-progressive elites.

In the end, I think Dalrymple overstates this somewhat, because even though he is correct about Palin being a flaming icon of the broader cultural conflict to the left, I think the moderates and more conservative folks are seeing her as more of an effective conservative political figure, especially as time goes on. She’s more about results than ideological grandstanding – even if she is not prone to compromising principles. Pure populist, yes, but she’s turning into a genuine movement leader, not just a token of a broader idea. I suppose that’s why the left turned her into a celebrity: by definition, you can’t take celebrities seriously… Good luck with that.

Victory & Grace: A Contrast in both Style & Substance

Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2010 (11:25 pm), by John W Gillis


There are lots of good reasons why lots of good people deeply dislike long-time U.S. Congressman Barney Frank; so many that exposing his victory speech this Tuesday night seems a bit like piling on. Yet, there it stands: a testimony to his character. Sore losers can be embarrassing enough, but what to make of such a sore winner?

Here is Frank in full Barney mode: self-serving, self-pitying, self-absorbed, self-righteous; with nothing better to say after being elected to a 16th term (if my math is right) representing the people of Massachusetts than to take pot shots at his political adversaries, and turn the screws of partisan division with whatever facts or fables might be at hand.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this to me is the fact that he was opposed by a candidate who conducted himself as a gentleman – just a solid, decent guy. Sean Bielat focused the campaign on Frank, to be sure, but he stayed focused on the legitimate issue of Frank’s recklessness and ideological blindness in his comically poor oversight of Fannie May and Freddie Mac just before their notorious collapse – as well as on his long-standing support for the misguided social engineering policies that predictably produced the massive mortgage defaults at the low end of the housing market which finally drove the economy over the edge three years ago. I guess Frank considers being held accountable for the consequences of one’s public acts & policies to comprise a smear campaign. Unfortunately, too many voters in MA-4 must, too.

As for the “tone” of the overall campaign atmosphere created by the rest of the Republicans in Massachusetts, maybe I don’t frequent the same places Barney does, but I, after having been pretty well plugged in to the process for the past two years, have no idea what he is talking about. Granted, I don’t watch much TV, but the only candidate I saw that was really skewered by the Republicans was independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill – a relentless negative ad campaign underwritten by the RGA (not the Republican candidate, for all that’s worth) that I think ultimately undermined Charlie Baker’s campaign by both focusing on the wrong problem, and making Baker look mean. But the real smear campaigns, as far as I can see, were run by the Democrats! The only real “beneath the dignity” smear campaigns I came across were nasty ad hominem attacks against attorney Bill Hudak, who ran for Congress in MA-6; Sandwich State Representative Jeff Perry, who ran for Congress in MA-10; and (with slightly less vitriol involved) Framingham’s Mary Z. Connaughton, who ran for State Auditor. All three ran as Republicans.

Regardless of what had transpired, if our civics are going to be conducted in at all a civil manner, legitimate election outcomes need to be accepted with a certain amount of graciousness – especially victories, for crying out loud. The cantankerous old man with the forked tongue could take some lessons in personal behavior from the young man who just won election to the U.S. Senate from Florida: Marco Rubio. I see Rubio as one of the real bright lights emerging from the conservative wing of the Republican party, along with folks like Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, newcomer Congressman-elect Allen West from FL-22, and maybe even Sarah Palin – though she’s pretty heavily damaged goods politically because of the “dumb bimbo” narrative applied to her, yet she’s still very effective at producing the results she wants – the big dummy!

Anyway, here is Rubio’s victory speech Tuesday night. You could hardly construct a more polar contrast to Frank’s contemptuous screed. He begins by graciously acknowledging his adversaries – with some particularly kind words for the Democrat challenger – and then he goes on to humbly call his constituents – not just his circle of supporters! – to a united common cause of committing our society to its future generations. Barney Frank, I pray you’re taking notes:

But then again, perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect a man whose values include explicit support for the legalized killing of inconvenient children to take seriously an invitation to build a society ordered toward the well-being of children…

RNC Night 3: Sarah Barracuda Night

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 (5:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Watching the Republican convention last night, I was struck by how poorly some of the speeches were delivered. I’m not saying this to pick on the Republicans – this seems to be a general malaise in our political system. Admittedly, I tuned in and out early the evening, but I was not impressed with what I heard.

I couldn’t even listen to GOPAC chairman Michael Steele, who’s supposed to be good at this kind of thing. Then, the ranting guy who looked so much like Mitt Romney – well, I’m not sure what was up with him. But the worst of the night might have been Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. She was brutal – pausing for grudgingly offered applause after almost every sentence. It was tedious.

Fortunately, the bigger lights performed well. I could listen to Mike Huckabee anytime. And Rudy Giuliani: as much as I might dislike his cross-over politics, he is certainly a master of the microphone. I really wish I could like that guy more.

The night, of course, belonged to Sarah Palin. And while she lacks the stage charisma of Giuliani, she has a disarming grace about her that exudes a rare combination of confidence, competence, and earthy approachability. She certainly had her audience in the palm of her hand. Even while staying away from the social issues that really would have had the house rocking, there was an excitement evident that I haven’t seen in the GOP since I don’t know when.

The more I think about this appointment, the more brilliant I think it was. Palin brings to the McCain candidacy the one thing it was lacking most: passion. It’s not so much her age, or her gender, or her good looks, or her “Sarah Barracuda” reputation – all of these elements play a role, but there is a magnetism about her (not unlike Barack Obama) that just makes her very easy to like. . . a lot.

That was McCain’s political weakness, as I see it. He’s respected, he’s trusted, but nobody was excited about him. I’d see poll after poll showing, in so many words or less, how much more supportive Obama’s supporters were of him. I tried to think it wouldn’t much matter, as McCain’s supporters – even the lukewarm ones – would eventually end up voting for him. But I did have nagging doubts as to whether too many of the more or less conservative folks would stay home, while the Obama wave crested.

But I think the game is altogether changed, now. The conservative base is thoroughly energized by this woman, and some other folks are seeing the Republican party in a whole new light.

Who would have thought that the future of the GOP would be a “hockey mom” from the tundra? But she just might be. . . and if I were Joe Biden, I would not be looking forward to October 2nd – although I sure am!

McCain/Palin ’08? I Can Live With That

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2008 (11:44 am), by John W Gillis


Sarah Palin? Even if I had known who she was, I don’t think I would have seen that coming. I had been hearing the whispers of Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman as possibilities, and saw how McCain’s logic might have steered him toward them. He’s never really been conservative, and has always been ready to play the maverick, and I could see how he might consider the constituency-broadening appeal of a pro-choice running mate. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the prospect of a pro-choice VP would have concerned McCain. And it would have built bridges into new voting constituencies that would have made him very hard to beat this year.

Of course, the social conservatives would have been furious, but what could they do? They still would have voted for McCain (this year) – the alternative would be an Obama presidency (enough said). I could really see McCain doing this – it seemed like a move that would be right down his alley. It would have worked in 2008, but very possibly could have fractured the Republican base for years to come. It would have marked a potential parting of ways of the pro-life movement and the Republican party – a marriage that is more circumstantial that intrinsic to Republicanism, anyway.

I think there are a lot of Republicans who would like to be rid of true conservatism – much of what they consider the kooky religious right of the party – in order to pursue unmitigated Republicanism – which is really good old fashioned liberalism, as confusing as that may be to moderns who don’t have a grasp of European history over the last, say, 350 years. Some might argue that Libertarianism already offers that option – which is a pretty good argument, but I think most modern Republicans are looking for a greater level of social conservatism than Libertarianism embraces, even those who could do without the religious framework.

Anyway, so I got to wondering whether the Republican party or the pro-life movement (and traditionalism in general) would fare worse in such a split, if it were to turn radical. I wondered if the social conservative movement was coherent enough, apart from the Republican party, to pull together a political force that could compete for serious political office in this country. I’m not sure it is, but I do think such a scenario would have provided an opportunity to put a political platform together that was not so beholden to economic liberalism as the Republican party is. The idea that the corporate consequence of unmitigated personal greed and self-interest will somehow produce the common good is a rather idolatrous proposal, after all. I also wondered if it might provide an opportunity for the “religious right” to divest itself of the statism particular to political conservatism, which tends toward slavish subservience in the face of any form of state-sponsored violence, and seems incapable of honest, objective evaluations of judgment criteria such as just war theory.

So I saw a potential opportunity for social conservatism in the U.S. to cleanse itself of some dubious bedmates. More specifically, I saw a potential opportunity for the development of a political force that was rooted in Christian values that cut across the lines of modern liberalism and conservatism.

Since I know more than a few of them – including some very dear to me – I often wonder what it would take to get Christians out of the Democratic party, with its unabashed commitment to the destruction of innocent human life, its open hostility to marriage and the family, and its infatuation with using state power to achieve its ends – in a nutshell: with its relentless misanthropy. Honestly, I don’t know what it would take, because they usually think they are taking the moral high ground themselves, standing up for the little guy (as long as the guys aren’t too little I suppose, but we won’t go there, since many of these folks try very hard not to think about that much). Still, to offer them a political alternative that was not wedded to economic Darwinism might be enough to open the eyes of many of them to the innate misanthropy of the Democratic platform.

But all this may have been wishful thinking. It’s entirely possible that a Republican party divorced from its Christian conscience would only join forces with the Democrats in fostering a more and more radically progressive and intolerant form of political liberalism, hostile to any kind of religious values in the public square, and effectively outlawing Christianity as anything more than a privately held neurosis. Given the political vibrancy of the “values” constituency in the U.S., this might seem far-fetched, but one doesn’t need to look far to see its manifestations in countries not too different from the U.S. Making the outrageous claim that marriage is a covenantal bond between a man and a woman just might get you hauled before a Human Rights Commission on hate crime charges in Canada, and convincing a pregnant woman not to subject her baby to a brutal death in an abortion clinic will now apparently get you two years in prison in Great Britain. It’s a brave new world out there…

All of this is moot now, however – at least for the time being. McCain managed to make the kind of reach-across gesture I imagined him doing, but he did it without courting the pro-abortion vote. In fact, in picking a mother of a Down’s Syndrome baby, he picked the anti-Obama, a woman who could be the poster model for true human decency, respect, and dignity. You don’t build a bright new future by killing it one baby at a time, Mr. Obama. I don’t know much about Governor Palin yet, but I really like what I’ve seen so far, and I think this may have been a master stroke of political genius by McCain – a man I didn’t really expect that from. Before she’s done, Sarah Palin may be the first woman president of the United States. I can sure think of worse fates.