Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spinning Out of Control

(note: this post was begun Tuesday, January 11, 2011)

Yesterday, Facebook, and the Internet in generally, fairly buzzed with opinions, thoughts and ramblings on the tragic shooting in Tucson on Saturday. I (may have) made the mistake of entering the fray. I commented on a friend's post, reiterating what I had written on Saturday, while the blood was still fresh on the Safeway parking lot:

Personally, I think Mrs. Palin should be arrested as an accessory before the fact. You don't get to yell "fire" in a movie theater and not face the consequences.

I stand by my words, by the way.

Well, someone decided to respond to me:

Geez, Barry why be so polite in your vindictiveness? Your blog is a perfect example of the inane ramblings of political vitriol. Where is one word of compassion for the victims of a deranged individuals actions? I thought so, none. You're more interested in keeping the pot of dissent boiling to promote your personal agenda called a blog. You're doing an admirable job of it, so keep up the good work, pal.

I prefer to believe that I call them as I see them. And what I have seen, read and heard, since Saturday only reinforces my "inane ramblings."

First off, let me say, that my compassion goes without saying. One cannot be liberal and be dispassionate, or so I believe. Nobody, and I mean nobody deserves to be wounded or killed by an assassin's bullet. Not George Wallace nor Ronald Reagan. Not John Kennedy nor Lee Harvey Oswald. Nothing is ever resolved through violence. As for the victims of Saturday's massacre–and I don't know what else one calls an incident where 6 people were killed and 13 wounded. I have not read a negative word about Gabrielle Giffords (except, I should point out, from the right). She is sounds like a fighter and is already doing the miraculous, although still in critical condition. Randy Rhodes described the nine-year-old, born on 9/11, who was fatally shot in the chest as having a "bookended life." Between the tragic day she was born and the untimely tragedy of her death was a short life filled with love.

In the heat of the moment, people say things that they may at some point regret. And then, there are those who are so thick-headed, filled with hate and even the word du jour, vitriol, that they neither have a reflective or introspective cell in their diseased brains.

Take, for example, "Robert M," who is the author of the website, "Patriot Action Network." The headline on the website Sunday read, "Thank the Lord... HE'S A LIB-NUT!!" His exclamations, not mine. He goes on, "Assassin's politics lean 'left wing, quite liberal'-- 'Communist Manifesto,' 'Mein Kampf,' listed as alleged gunman's favorite reads... "

And then there's Tammy Bruce.

Tammy Bruce, with "Snuffy"

According to The Atlantic website, "Sarah Palin new media aide Rebecca Mansour sought to deflect attention from an electoral map Palin posted on her Facebook page last March in an appearance on Tammy Bruce's radio show Saturday. The images long described as crosshairs or rifle sights were actually just surveyor's symbols, Mansour said."

Not quite. As you can see, Ms. Mansour never said that the crosshairs were surveyors' symbols. Ms. Bruce fed her that little bit of disingenuous nonsense:

MANSOUR: I just want to clarify again, and maybe it wasn't done on the record enough by us when this came out, the graphic, is just, it's basically -- we never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights. It was simply crosshairs like you see on maps.

BRUCE: Well, it's a surveyor's symbol. It's a surveyor's symbol.

MANSOUR: It's a surveyor's symbol. I just want to say this, Tammy, if I can. This graphic was done, not even done in house -- we had a political graphics professional who did this for us.

All that's missing from that little discourse is Ms. Mansour mimicking SNL's Jon Lovitz as the world's greatest liar... "yeah, that's the ticket."

Surveyors' symbols, my ass.

I know Tammy. She had been to our house in Los Angeles. She adopted a cat from my wife, who I assume is "Snoopy," who is referred to on Ms. Bruce's website-- clearly, not to be confused with "Snuffy," the .38 snub-nose she is seen holding on the masthead of same website. Tammy is, among other things, a bright and articulate woman. I mean, who else could have come up with the surveyors' symbol defense off the top of her head? She is a published author, a USC grad and former head of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW. I really can't fault her for trying to explain away the incendiary graphic on the Sarah Pac website. It was a valiant effort.

Let's give Ms. Bruce the (patently absurd) benefit of the doubt here. Let's say Mrs. Palin was "surveying" the opponents of candidates on the right. No, let's not stop there. Let's say Mrs. Palin didn't even know someone on her staff put the map on the site, removing all complicity on her part. Continuing to play devil's advocate, let's say, she didn't know the meaning of the phrase, "Don't retreat. Reload." Maybe it was just a speechwriter's line and she thoughtlessly read it from her palm. For that matter, maybe she's been shooting blanks on every episode of her now ended television saga, Sarah Palin's Alaska on TLC. I love that one-- Sarah Palin on the Learning Channel. Maybe the wolves, elk and moose and God know what else she leveled and aimed at were trained circus animals, taught to play dead at the sound of her mini-Howitzer.

Sarah Palin, huntress of the Yukon

But let's not stop with Mrs. Palin, who, for all intents and purposes, would have remained unknown had John McCain not plucked her from Wasila to be his running mate. We'll always have John to thank for that.

When Joyce Kaufman, an outspoken South Florida conservative radio talk show host on WFTL-850 AM, who garnered national attention after newly elected U.S. Rep. Allen West hired her as his chief of staff a week after the Nov. 2, 2010, election, said that "if ballots don't work, bullets will," at a Tea Party rally that she was speaking, uh, figuratively. And maybe the members in the audience clapped because they misunderstood her.

Funny, no one seemed to have misunderstood Malcolm X when he said, "if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to have to cast a bullet. It's either a ballot or a bullet." We all know how that ended.

Let's say that Gabrielle Giffords' opponent, Jesse Kelly, had not really meant you could shoot a fully loaded M16 to help "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office." I don't know what else he could have meant, but let's just say...

... and let's just say that Lee Harvey Oswald was, as he said, just a patsy.

* * *

The point is not the tragedy in Tucson nor questioning the sanity of Jared Lee Loughner. It is not the debate over whether those symbols on the map were crosshairs or surveyors' marks. The point is, as the gentleman so accurately stated on Facebook, but misdirected toward me. The point is the culture of vitriol, of "us vs. them" -- the utter lack of civility between the parties and supporters of each side of the aisle. We are both to blame.

And maybe Mick Jagger was right, when he answered the question, "Who killed the Kennedeys?" with, "well after all, it was you and me."

I never thought I'd agree with Roger Alles, but I did yesterday, when he implored the commentators on Fox News to "shut up, tone it down."

’nuff said. Time to move on...

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