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A Sunday News Round-Up

January 9, 2011

Map of the interconnectedness of the world blogosphere

This post is cross-posted over at Taylor Marsh where I do a news round-up bright and early every Sunday morning.

I’ll be doing a photo bomb later, so check back if you are so inclined. I’ll also be keeping an eye on Secretary Clinton’s current travel to the Gulf.

Here is a round-up of links of stories in the news:
~Here is a run-down of who will be on the Sunday talk shows.

~By now every single person has heard of the horrific tragedy that took place yesterday in Arizona. There really aren’t words to adequately describe the senselessness of the killing. Hopefully Gabriella Gifford will make a full recovery but there were others who died on the scene, and my thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends.

~We now have a name and a face to go with the shooter, who may not have acted alone- we just don’t know at this point. The Tuscon sheriff perhaps said it best when he said yesterday, with a clear look of frustration and even sadness, that Arizona had become a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

~Taylor wrote about this yesterday, but I think it bears repeating again. The use of violent imagery and rhetoric by the right is unacceptable and has consequences- and those that use the rhetoric know it. Who is responsible for the deaths and injuries yesterday? Jared Lee Loughner. But lets not pretend that the violent symbolism and gun-rhetoric from right-wing politicians is all just a coincidence. Just as the despicable Southern Strategy is like a dog whistle for racists and anti-Semites, the thinly-veiled fear-mongering and use of language such as “overthrow,” “second amendment remedies,” “lock and load” etc. is meant to whip people up into an angry frenzy and we shouldn’t all act shocked, shocked, when someone acts on it.

Exhibit A:

As most know by now, Sarah Palin effectively used Facebook and Twitter to call attention to her political hit list for the 2010 midterm elections (image above). Palin provided a map of the United States with a gun crosshair over each of the states of Democrats that she was targeting. Palin’s use of the words “reload”, “aim” and “fire” on her Facebook page when discussing the above strategy was irresponsible. Palin’s use of the words “reload”, “aim” and “fire” on her Facebook page when discussing the above strategy was irresponsible. Is Palin responsible for the violent acts of others? No, but again, I do not accept that the overheated rhetoric of the right since Obama’s election is totally benign. Lets see who will step up to the plate among the conservative pundits and GOP leadership and call for the rhetoric to be toned down- will it be Boehner? Limbaugh? Beck? Fox and Friends? Or will all of the above simply revert to defensive mode and lambast liberals for daring to point out the obvious? The problem for the far right is that it isn’t just liberals who are asking hard questions right about now.

Ok, other stories in the news:
~The GOP made a bunch of budget promises that they have absolutely no intention of keeping.

~Team Obama hoping to shed their boys-club image with their new press secretary pick? Oh please, they can’t help themselves. Here’s some free advice to Obama- select someone who is a) an adult, b) not thin-skinned, c) doesn’t hate the democratic base and d) actually knows how to deliver a message.

~Along those same lines, Frank Rich is hoping that Obama’s vacation reading of a biography of Ronald Reagan results in Obama learning a few lessons about communicating and governing.

~The U.S. has upped the ante in its battle against WikiLeaks, having reportedly issuing a subpoena for the organization’s Twitter account.

~Southern Sudan’s referendum begins today and spates of violence have broken out in the run-up to the vote.

~Israel’s retiring Mossad chief has turned back the clock on Iran’s nuclear abilities. Trying to predict when Iran will have a nuclear weapon has been something of a political parlor game for almost two decades. For a sobering list of how often US, Israeli and British officials (and others) over the past two decades have predicted Iran is two or three years from full nuclear weapons capability, see here.

~Along those lines, David Ignatius has a more thorough take on how Stuxnet, other sabotage methods and sanctions have slowed Iran’s nuclear progress. This provides a bit of breathing room for Team Obama and other nations who are trying to work out a non-military solution.

~Secretary Gates aims to cut military health spending much to the annoyance of hypocritical deficit hawks on the Hill. Some have read between the lines and noted that Secretary Gates has been playing word games with his “defense cuts” talk, which previously amounted only to a reshuffling of funds from one area of the DoD to another- in other words, they weren’t really “cuts” as the average person understands them. Now with Jacob Lew as head of the OMB, things might get a bit trickier for Gates. Even the NYT has joined in and criticized Gates for not making the defense cuts more substantial.

~Iraq is now a hotbed of fundamentalist Islam. I’m not sure I would define that as “success.”

~The son of the assassinated Punjab Governor, Salmaan Taseer, wrote an op-ed in the NYT yesterday that is worth a read.

~According to a new report, the West German security service knew about the assumed name and whereabouts of Adolf Eichmann, one of Hitler’s key architects of the Final Solution. Apparently they knew about his location almost a decade before he was captured by Israel and put on trial (and sentenced to death). Strangely, Germany did not pass along the information to, well, anyone.

~It’s not just Hamas that was making money (in bribes) off the Gaza blockade.

~Golly gee, no second season for Palin’s reality show? Maybe she just needs some time to beef up on her gun-handling skills before heading back to kill some animals that CLEARLY had it coming. Can I just say that after that episode where she acted like a prima donna and had her father carry her rifle and she generally acted like she had never handled a gun before (“does it kick?”), her show lost a lot of credibility, even among some of her followers.

~One of Blackwater/Xe’s latest iterations has won yet ANOTHER State Dept. contract, which is beyond disappointing. What’s rather unclear to me is why the State Dept. hired them to provide security in the occupied West Bank?

~ The State Dept. is trying not to antagonize the right-wing members of Congress and has shifted course on a bureaucratic change to how it refers to parents. Apparently they had been ready to make a change to using gender-neutral terms instead of “mother” and “father” in an attempt to be more inclusive. That upset the righties because, well, even symbolic progress upsets them.

~Environmentalists are none too pleased with British Prime Minister Cameron. It looks like the new Tory party is a lot like the old Tory party, despite Cameron’s pre-election re-branding efforts.

~The political turmoil in Haiti continues and the State Department has indicated that it might be willing to shift its policy and support an election do-over depending on the findings of investigations looking into allegations of election fraud.

The End.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Seamus permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:44 am

    Thanks for cross-posting, now I don’t have to look through the news- I have it all right here!

    I’m impressed with all your blogging and quite frankly, I don’t know how you do it.

    I’m glad you are doing a photo bomb later- I’ll be back!

    btw- that attack in Arizona has made news even here in N. Ireland. What a tragedy- our thoughts are with your country.

  2. AsherLev permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:53 am

    A view of my homeland from an Arab perspective.

    You’re NYT would never cover this.

    Nice news round-up Stacey, thank you and a belated happy birthday to you and many more.

  3. Thain permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:02 pm

    Awesome round-up Stacy I’m glad you decided to cross-post. Honestly, I don’t know why you haven’t before.

    So, what do you think- is this guy in Arizona a terrorist? Does it matter what color or religion he is and does that play a role in who gets labeled a terrorist? I guess we have to wait and see any information we get about the motive for why he did it. A lot of people are speculating at this point. His Facebook page is a mish-mash of who knows what- among his favorite books is Mein Kampf and a book about Gandhi?

    I look forward to the photo bomb!

    ps. Jets v. Patriots- woo hoo! Patriots will win.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      January 9, 2011 1:02 pm

      As far as the Arizona shooter guy goes, this should be labeled what it is – an act of domestic terrorism. What else do you call it when someone trys to blow away a member of congress, kills a federal judge and five other people including a child and injures twelve people including the congresswoman. If this happened in any other country and we were reading about this morning, we would be reading about “an act of domestic terrorism”.

      That said, I don’t know if, in this country at this time, we can separate terrorism in general from terrorism caused by muslim extremists. I think we’ve forgotten that the word is no Al-Qaeda specific.

      • January 9, 2011 5:16 pm

        Our country has gone so far down the path of associating Muslims with “terrorism” that any arrest of a Muslim is instantly linked with the word terrorism (e.g., those FBI stings), while the media this weekend keeps saying that it is too soon to know this guy’s motive. If his name was Muhammad, the word “terror” would be everywhere, and we all know it.

        This is domestic terrorism regardless of what motivated it. Everyone has motives.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        January 9, 2011 5:46 pm

        @SA – I guess that depends on your definition of terrorist. I think most people associate the word “terrorist” with using violence and threats to intimidate or coerce others for political purposes. Was Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech massacre) a terrorist? Eric Harris and Dylan Kiebold (Columbine)? I think those acts of violence are more analogous to what happened in AZ than, say, detonating a truck bomb in front of a Federal building in OK City. The fact that a politician was killed doesn’t make it perforce an act of political violence. By the way, in high school, Loughner was considered left-leaning.

        • January 9, 2011 5:54 pm

          I’m going to jump in here. Lets pretend this kid was Arab or Muslim but all the other facts were the same- do you think more people would be assuming he was likely some kind of terrorist based on that or do you think people would be willing to take a “wait and see” approach. I think people would be assuming he was a terrorist, facts be damned.

          Now, irrespective of this guys mental state at the time of the murders – I know we can never totally discount that- but if it turns out this kid targeted this Congresswoman because of her politics or because she was Jewish, does he then fall into the definition of a domestic terrorist in that he may have been trying to send a message not only to her, but also to those with her views or other people that are Jewish? I know that’s a lot of “what ifs” there.

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        January 9, 2011 5:57 pm

        If it turns out that this was a targeted attack on the Congresswoman then is it terrorism? And who cares whether hs’s left or right leaning when the subject is that unstable. When the political dialogue is this poisonous, it could spark something in a left leaning or right leaning wacko.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        January 9, 2011 6:30 pm

        @stacy – Although I agree 100% that an Arab shooter would be automatically labeled as a terrorist, I’m not so sure people have been taking a “wait and see” approach with Loughner — most of the coverage I’ve seen, including the Sunday talk shows, seemed to jump to the conclusion that the shooting was
        a) politically motivated and b) related to inflammatory political rhetoric. Heck, even the chief of police said as much! Also, there have been enough incidents involving homegrown terrorists that when the target is a politician or political institution or the shooting appears motivated by political beliefs (murder of staff at an abortion clinic) I think
        people assume domestic terrorism.

  4. HillaryFan permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:33 pm

    Great news round-up Stacy!

    What happened in Arizona was so unnecessary and so tragic.

  5. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:47 pm

    While I certainly agree that the right wing Palinesque Tea Party rhetoric is highly inflammatory (it’s very name evokes an image of armed rebellion in the name of patriotism), I think it’s too soon to say what motivated this disturbed young man. I’ve been reading some of his rants from a few months ago and as best as I can make out, he’d recently flunked a course or two at his local community college and been escorted off campus by college security guards for some — probably very sound — reason. My totally unsubstantiated impression is that if he hadn’t been banned from campus, that may have become the site for anothet Columbine-like massacre. I’m sort of surprised more pundits aren’t asking, “Why, oh why, do we continue to sell guns to mentally ill young people?”
    On a related note, the NRA continues to pursue lawsuits challenging the age-based requirements that “discriminate” [sic] against 18 to 20 year olds with regard to purchasing and owning handguns.

    • stacyx permalink*
      January 9, 2011 1:16 pm

      I think we’ll know more about his motives later, although possibly targeting a member of Congress (assuming this was not totally random) does make one wonder about any political motivations.

      That said, irrespective of what caused this, it provides an opportunity for all degrees on the political spectrum to take a step back and realize that much of the rhetoric is overly-charged and irresponsible. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are particularly irresponsible. I mean, come on, gun cross-hair targets on congressional districts? Second Amendment remedies? Talk of doing whatever is necessary to “take the govt back”- some even talk of overthrow. All this talk of “take aim” and “reload”- it’s very purposeful- all political messaging is. All of it strikes me as irresponsible and I think many of these folks use this language to appeal to, and appease, the most extreme elements of their party. It sort of reminds me of the way the extreme right targets abortion doctors using violent imagery and hit-lists and then disclaims all responsibility when someone responds violently.

      And yes, perhaps this will revive a debate on reasonable restrictions on firearms- the idea that being pro-gun rights means never supporting any restrictions on any firearms, ever, strikes me as extreme. We put restrictions on driving for God’s sake.

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        January 9, 2011 9:36 pm

        I probably just should’ve posted this and left it at that. I have a post about the shooting on my blog. This is a shameless piece of self promotion. You can remove it if you want to, obviously.

  6. January 9, 2011 2:34 pm

    I just saw this but I do understand that at this point, there is a lot of speculation going around:

    Also, it’s interesting that already the GOP is defending their overheated rhetoric and Palin’s political hit list. Why is it so unreasonable for people, irrespective of ideology, to just come out and say “hey, maybe this is an opportunity to tone things down a bit…”? There doesn’t necessarily need to be a DIRECT link between the Tea Party’s violent imagery and a shooting to take a step back and realize that this sort of political discourse is not befitting a nation such as the U.S.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      January 9, 2011 4:04 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly with your basic point about toning down inflammatory political rhetoric but just think we should
      — you should pardon the expression — hold our fire until all the facts are known. Various groups are grasping at slim lines of evidence to support their own pet peeves (some Jewish groups believe his motivations were anti-Semitic bec. he read Mein Kampf; some on the right are blaming the left because he read the Communist manifesto). I’ve focused on what the shooter himself posted to the
      Internet and while much of it is garbled and clearly the product of a disordered mind, the themes that came through were bitterness about having received poor grades at his community college; sone ranting about use of proper grammar (suggesting to me his anger that “lesser” students for whom English is a second language — i.e. immigrants — received better treatment than he; vague anger about some sort of public education policy with which he apparently connected the Congresswoman. The guy is PSYCHOTIC, so “making sense” of his motives is a perilous venture and we are liable to project our own closely held beliefs and biases about what causes violence in general and this man’s wanton acts in particular.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        January 9, 2011 4:16 pm

        I guess I’m imposing my own belief system on these tragic events in saying we need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill!

      • January 9, 2011 4:39 pm

        Points well taken

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        January 9, 2011 5:16 pm

        I agree. Everyone wants to know what his political views were, but when an individual has that loose a grasp on reality, I don’t think their views on politics will have much to do with the issues or make much sense at all.

  7. SirJohn permalink
    January 9, 2011 5:12 pm

    Look, actual leadership on illegal settlements:

    It’s too bad the EU doesn’t have more of a role in Mideast peace negotiations. Of course the reason they don’t is the US doesn’t want them to hurt poor Israel’s feelings with words like “illegal” and “occupation” and things like that. Hillary Clinton would rather use words like “settlements are unhelpful.” Wow. Unhelpful. I wonder how she’d feel if her multimillion dollar homes were bulldozed to make way for people who feel themselves to be genetically and religiously superior to her?

  8. January 9, 2011 5:35 pm

    SA- I agree with that. If he were Arab and/or Muslim he would be assumed a terrorist until proven otherwise.

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