Arizona shootings and the perfidy of the Left [UPDATED]

The recent shooting tragedy in Arizona made the Left propaganda machine and the MSM establishment (OK, I am repeating myself) show their true colors again.

Via Insty:

MARK HALPERIN IN TIME: Maybe a horrendous act of violence will kill hundreds, even thousands, of Americans and thereby brighten Obama’s political future. “No one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe. But when a struggling Bill Clinton was faced with the Oklahoma City bombing and a floundering George W. Bush was confronted by 9/11, they found their voices and a route to political revival.”

And indeed, they are desperately looking for a way, any way, to link the shooter to the Tea Party. Ed Driscoll has a roundupJames Delingpole in the Daily Telegraph gives it big time to his American colleagues. At Legal Insurrection, Professor Jacobson sees “Two Sicknesses On Display In Arizona”.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen this type of reaction. The meme that opponents of Obama are crazy and dangerous has been an explicit Democratic Party campaign strategy for over two years. Here is just a partial list of events in which the left-wing and Democratic Party media operation has immediately blamed right-wing rhetoric, only to be proven wrong when the facts finally came out: Bill Sparkman, Amy Bishop, The Fort Hood Shooter, The IRS Plane Crasher, The Cabbie Stabbing, and The Pentagon Shooter. The facts will come out about the shooting and murder by Loughner. Until then, we’ll be subjected to the sickness of people who seek to use the crime to their political advantage and who will worry about the facts later on, if ever.”

Ed Morrissey tries to lay bare the shame of CNN, which is futile, as Contemptible News Network has neither shame nor decency.

The assistant DA blogging as “Patterico” sees the media in a fact-free frenzy to somehow, somehow blame the shooting on Sarah Palin. He counters talk of Palin’s use of “target” metaphors for electoral campaigns with multiple similar examples on the Democrat side. (In fact, managers use military metaphors for all sorts of campaigns all the time.)

As for the shooter, Jared Loughner, himself: do you know any Conservatives or Tea Partiers who would post videos of themselves burning an American flag?! His classmates remember him as a radical leftist, although frankly, whatever passes for his political belief system is best described as Nucking Futs. The psychiatrist and retired NASA flight surgeon who blogs as “Dr. Sanity”, based on the scribblings and videos of the shooter as well as testimony by classmates, put in a preliminary diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Sometimes a nutcase is just a nutcase, full stop.

To make things even more complicated, the congresswoman targeted (may she recover speedily) was not a bete noire of the Right, being well into “Blue Dog Democrat” territory.

Fox News at one point posted a hastily written law enforcement memo claiming he was affiliated with an “antisemitic white supremacist” group called “American Renaissance” [sic], and that Gabrielle Giffords was targeted as the “first Jewish woman so prominent”. Now the actual AmRen is an organization which almost all conservatives consider beyond the pale, and which may be fairly described as racialist or “morbidly obsessed with race” — but which even SPLC [!!] absolved of antisemitism today. I won’t link to the rebuttal press release by AmRen’s Jared Taylor (quoted in part at the Politico link before): suffice to say that he vehemently denies Loughner ever  was a member or even subscribed to its magazine, cites his own record of repudiating antisemitism, points out that Rep. Giffords was never even discussed in the magazine, and brings up the minor inconvenient detail that

Gabrielle Giffords is not the “first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government.” Barbara Boxer has represented California in the Senate from 1993, and Diane Feinstein has done so since 1992. There are at least six Jewish congresswomen listed by Wikipedia as currently serving in the House.

If this is the level of fact-checking that goes into law enforcement reports, G-d help the USA. Meet the Keystone Kops of the Internet Age. [UPDATE: according to sources compiled in Wikipedia (caveat lector) Rep. Giffords has a Jewish father and an Xian Scientist mother. She is, BTW, a second cousin of actress Gwyneth Paltrow on her father’s side.]

Insty has a powerful column in today’s  WSJ: The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel. “Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don’t help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.”

Shortly after November’s electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn [UPDATE: more on Penn here]  appeared on Chris Matthews’s TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to Saturday’s tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner’s killing spree might fill the bill.

With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s words, a “climate of hate.”

The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—”lock and load”—and talked about “targeting” opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district on a list of congressional districts “bullseyed” for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama’s famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”—it’s just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.

There’s a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn’t derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

American journalists know how to be exquisitely sensitive when they want to be. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York pointed out on Sunday, after Major Nidal Hasan shot up Fort Hood while shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” the press was full of cautions about not drawing premature conclusions about a connection to Islamist terrorism. “Where,” asked Mr. York, “was that caution after the shootings in Arizona?”

Set aside as inconvenient, apparently. There was no waiting for the facts on Saturday. Likewise, last May New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CBS anchor Katie Couric speculated, without any evidence, that the Times Square bomber might be a tea partier upset with the ObamaCare bill.

So as the usual talking heads begin their “have you no decency?” routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel?

[…] I understand the desperation that Democrats must feel after taking a historic beating in the midterm elections and seeing the popularity of ObamaCare plummet while voters flee the party in droves. But those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America’s political well-being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.

Where is the decency in that?

Indeed.

UPDATE: Roger Kimball: “How to turn a tragedy into an emetic“.

And while some whackjob wondered at one point whether the shooter was a veteran (in fact, he tried to join the army but was turned away as psychiatrically unfit), an actual vet tackled the shooter. (While we’re lauding unsung heroes, Rep. Giffords may actually owe her life to an intern who joined her campaign five days ago.)

UPDATE 2: at the Daily Kotz, a post by a leftist declaring “Giffords is dead to me” (for voting against Nancy Peelousy) has been memory-holed.

UPDATE 3: James Taranto has a lot more.

Official: DHS has not determined any possible ties between Arizona shooter and right wing group. And WSJ: suspect fixated on Giffords for long time, predating Sarah Palin’s appearance on the national scene. See also Don Surber.

Yet the collapsing narrative won’t stop Deemocratic group from using Arizona shootings for fundraiser.

UPDATE 4: Jeebus cripes (via Correspondence Committee).

UPDATE 5:

  • did sheriff Dupnik’s office drop the ball on AZ shooter? plenty of sign guy was dangerous nutcase http://j.mp/dY9ts5
  • AZ shooter was registered Independent. How is the Deemocrat propaganda machine going to spin this? http://bit.ly/e66fTm
  • Nobel Prize for chutzpah nomination: MoveOn launches campaign against vitriolic language — despite sordid history of using vitriolic language http://bit.ly/dNFjQG
  • Nobel Prize for jackassery nomination: Clyburn: reading constitution provoked AZ murder spree or something http://j.mp/eim0nN

UPDATE 6:

Patterico finds lots of evidence that Sheriff Dupnik had known for years something was off with the guy, but that he discouraged any action, for fear of embarrassing Loughner’s mother who works for the Parks Service. Much more here. Dan Riehl also weighs in.

Marc Thiessen, in the Washington Post, calls upon pundits to stop blaming the Tea Party.

Clayton Cramer and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Helen Smith (a.k.a. Mrs. Instapundit) blame deinstitutionalization and the way in which excessive concern for the rights of the mentally ill makes it very difficult to take preventive action against somebody likely to become violent (cfr. the Virginia Tech massacre). Benjamin Kerstein tells of his own struggles with a much milder form of mental illness (the kind we used to call “cyclothymia” in an older generation, and which the great Winston Churchill referred to as “my black dog”) and how, despite all the “shrinks” in the USA, he only got proper help after he moved to another country.

Book: “Mad as hell: how the Tea Party movement is fundamentally remaking our two-party system” by Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen

I am currently (during my commutes) reading this book on my iPad.

The main author, pollster Scott Rasmussen of rasmussenreports.com, actually strikes a similar note as Angelo Codevilla in his seminal essay “The ruling class” (an expanded version of which is now available in book and eBook form). That is, of a large group of Middle America that feels ever more alienated from a political class (Democrats and establishment Republicans alike) that is both more internally homogenous than ever and more out of touch with the rest of the country in every way.

Rasmussen reiterates time and again that: (a) the Tea Party includes a substantial number of Independents and ex-Democrats alike; (b) the fact that it is likely to support Republican candidates over Democrats in elections is essentially on a “they both suck, but the elephant sucks less than the donk” basis; (c) that the GOP would be sorely mistaken to take Tea Party support for granted. Establishment Beltway GOP types know this, which explains much of their ambivalence towards the movement.

While Rasmussen does not skirt some shady and ugly things/characters that have hitched their wagon to the Tea Party train, he points out time and again that these are unrepresentative and that it in fact expresses the all-too-real concerns of a large swath of Middle America.

Rasmussen extensively quotes sources that nobody would think of as Tea Party or even small-government sympathies (such as Frank Rich [!] or Glenn Greenwald [?!?]) expressing sentiments surprisingly similar to what one can hear from some Tea Partiers.

The book appears to have been rushed into press (commercially a very smart move, as the subject matter could not be timelier), and it shows here and there in poor editing. Yet I warmly recommend it for Tea Party advocates and detractors alike — in fact, for anybody seeking to understand what is going on in American politics these days.

Hopefully, I will be able to update this mini-review once I shall be finished with the book.
And on that note, I wish my Jewish readers a spiritually fulfilling Yom Kippur and an easy fast.

Is “we suck less” enough of a GOP strategy?

Some reflections from the Lone Star State.

Sure enough, at the rate the Dems and BHOzo are shooting themselves in the foot (and  turning erstwhile supporters into foes) the best way you can do is to interfere with that as little as possible. Even the “last argument of the [naked] king”, the race/bigotry card, is losing its sway over the people.

But is “we suck less than the other guys” really a winning strategy?

The Tea Party movement seems to be a leaderless movement based around a few general principles (a return to limited government, throw out Democrat and “Dem-lite” incumbents alike, …) This is its strength and its weakness alike.

The GOP establishment, for that matter, seems to be running around like a headless chicken. Some see the Tea Party as a threat to their own personal perks: Dan Riehl on many occasions expressed his frustration with professional politicians who are not necessarily unhappy with the GOP being in the minority as long as they enjoy perks and easy money. (Nor, shall I add, is the phenomenon of “America’s Ruling Class” limited to the Dems. I am sure some “Country Club Republicans” would rather see the GOP lose than “the wrong kind of people” being catapulted into office.)

Others realize (rightly) that any GOP insider involvement with the Tea Party movement would just be messing up a good thing, and decide that when they can neither lead nor follow it is best to stay out of the way.

Yet others seem to be in the following mode: “Let’s see what we have to work with in November, then we’ll come up with a plan”. This is too close for comfort to the “1. Make Internet startup company. 2. ?  3. Profit!” strategy. It is also quite unlike the November 1994 takeover of Congress, fueled not just by voter discontent but also by a clear message (Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America”). The closest the GOP has to a Gingrich (regardless of the man’s personal flaws) this time around is Paul Ryan, and his message is at best half-hearted.

Don’t get cocky, guys. Any victory that is less than crushing will be spun away by the Dems and the lamestream media (88% of whose campaign contributions went to 0bama in 2008). We don’t just have to win: we have to win so big that they can’t ignore it. And this, I am afraid, will require more than just saying “we suck less”.

The Tea Party as a “social justice” movement?!

Via Insty I found this intriguing article by one “Timothy Dalrymple” (presumably not related to Theodore Dalrymple, which is itself a pen name) that tries to explain the Tea Party movement as a “social justice” movement.

What I witnessed in the Tea Partiers […] were a moral, sensible, and patriotic people who had a justified concern that their representatives have grown disconnected from those they represent, and are perpetuating a dysfunctional political culture that will thrust our country back to the precipice of economic collapse. Washington cannot pour rivers of money we do not possess into thousands of programs we do not need, in exchange for the mountains of votes that will keep them in power, and complain when the taxpayers get upset. The Tea Partiers are not objecting [to Washington’s profligate spending] because they would rather leave the poor to rot than surrender a little more of their money; polls show (as I will discuss in the next part of this series) that Tea Partiers are perfectly willing to accept the need for moderate taxation and social services. Rather, Tea Partiers are objecting because they fear that Washington is caught in a vicious circle of reckless spending and political payback that will cripple our economy and harm all Americans, rich and poor.This led to the question on my mind that morning. Since it is intent on the formation of a more accountable and more restrained government that will better serve the interest of all Americans: Is the Tea Party movement a social justice movement?

[…This] obviously depends on how the term is defined. The irony is that one cannot exclude the Tea Party from the social justice category without betraying that “social justice” is a partisan political theory.Defining social justice is no simple task. The term first gained some measure of literary solidity in the mid-19th century in the writings of the Sicilian Jesuit, Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, and it was passed down by various Catholic popes and theologians. Father Coughlin popularized the term in the Roosevelt era through his enormously popular weekly radio broadcasts. First he saw social justice as a way of charting a course for worker’s rights between the Scylla and Charybdis of godless communism and heartless capitalism. Never afraid to claim the favor of God for one political party over another, Coughlin coined the phrase, “The New Deal is Christ’s Deal,” and once reported to Congress that, “God is directing President Roosevelt.” From there, his vision of social justice careened into more radical political territory, and eventually his popularity dissolved in a flurry of fascist sympathies and antisemitic paranoia. […] Although Coughlin was an ardent critic of Marxism, his vision of social justice centered on the advocacy of what we would consider liberal policies on behalf of workers and the poor. He rejected Roosevelt when he believed the latter had fallen in bed with Jewish Wall Street capitalists, and his National Union for Social Justice [!!] advocated dramatic redistributions of wealth through taxation of the wealthy, government seizure of property for the greater good, and the nationalization of crucial industries.

A radically different kind of socialist, David Ben-Gurion, shared with Coughlin (y”sh) his loathing for Marxism if basically nothing else. (He had the left-wing  Mapam party placed under surveillance by the Shin Bet domestic security service.) Ben-Gurion used to refer to his own (rather pragmatic) doctrine as tzedek chevrati, which literally translates as “social justice”, and used to say that his ideas derived from the Hebrew prophets rather than from any socialist or social-democratic  theoretician. (Israel owes its birth in no small measure to the single-mindedness and charismatic leadership of Ben-Gurion, but had the country not thrown the socialist albatross off its neck, it would never have become the economic powerhouse it is now.)

When Glenn Beck condemned social justice as a “code word” for liberal political activism, the question that was presented to progressive activists like Jim Wallis was whether social justice is the sole province of left-wing political agitators. With apologies to Albert Einstein, we distinguish between general and special theories of social justice. The general theory is that “social justice is in fact a personal commitment to serve the poor and to attack the conditions that lead to poverty.” That is how Jim Wallis defined the term in a Washington Post column. The special theory, by contrast, asserts that social justice is when one attacks “the conditions that lead to poverty” by advocating specifically the policies that liberals prefer. In other words, on the special theory, it is not enough to fight for the conditions that would allow the poor to prosper; one must do so through redistributionist policies, or living wage movements, or stronger unions, or etc.

In other words, as I always argue, this meaning of “social justice” is basically code-speak for “equality-of-outcome policies”.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must acknowledge that I know Jim Wallis and I promise I will elaborate in the next post in this series, in which I will respond to an article in which Wallis argues that the Tea Party movement is un-Christian. What is important presently is that when Wallis is pressed on whether he is merely anointing his own political preferences in religious rhetoric, he retreats to the general theory of social justice. People all over the spectrum, he says, are social justice Christians; what is important is simply “to stand up for the poor, even against wealth and power when necessary.”

I would say that standing up against the Chicago Machine, against crony capitalism, against a bloated government apparatus that arranges for itself ever greater benefits and job security at the expense of the rest of us, and against billionaires advocating liberal causes that are no skin off their bones (but for which the middle class ends up holding the bag)  would count as “standing up against wealth and power when necessary”.

Wallis cites Martin Luther King, Jr., as the prototypical “social justice Christian,” and frequently refers to social justice not only in relation to poverty but also to issues of race, immigration, health care, and the environment.

The Catholic theologian Michael Novak also offers a universal definition of social justice. After noting all the ambiguities in its history and meaning, Novak suggests that social justice is a joint, cooperative action (thus “social” in its form) for the good of the whole of society (and thus “social” in its end). By this definition, social justice is not an “ideological marker,” but is “ideologically neutral.” Social justice “is practiced both by those on the left and those on the right” because there is “more than one way to imagine the future good of society.”

If we adopt Novak’s definition, or Wallis’ universal definition, then the Tea Party movement is in fact a social justice movement. The great majority of those attending the rallies would tell you that the policies they advocate are for the common good of all, including the poor. On the conservative way of seeing things, the interests of the haves and the have-nots are not as easily divisible as Wallis portrays them. Much though it may strain the credulity of the trained progressive, Tea Partiers sincerely believe that taking more and more money away from society’s most productive citizens, and thus disincentivizing productivity and diminishing the resources for private investment; spending more and more in Washington, and thus making economic decisions on political criteria and expanding a federal government that is rife with self-serving inefficiency and corruption; and giving more and more through government distribution, fostering a culture of dependency and vote-buying, is poisonous to our national character and economy and will adversely affect everyone, the poor most of all.

Furthermore, the Tea Partiers would tell you that they are “standing up” against powerful media and political (and even religious) establishments that would mock, slander, and squelch their movement. In his beloved image of “speaking truth to power,” Jim Wallis is no longer the one speaking. He is the one spoken to.

Yet Wallis does not actually hold to the universal theory of social justice. When Wallis actually uses social justice language amongst his supporters, it clearly means pressing for the systemic changes that Wallis and other leaders of “the faith community” prefer. I have never seen Wallis refer to a movement pressing for conservative policies, even when those policies are overtly intended to serve the poor and needy, as a social justice action.

One might respond that movements must press for a biblical vision of justice in order to qualify for the social justice category, and that conservative policies are simply not oriented toward the biblical ideal. To which the answer must be: According to whom? Countless thousands of conservative Christians vote the way they do, and press for the policies they do, precisely because they believe that they fulfill the biblical ideal of justice.

Or one might say that conservatives are really motivated by selfishness and not concern for the poor. Yet this is simply a failure of imagination, a failure to comprehend how conservatives quite genuinely believe that their policy preferences are for the betterment of all society and not only for themselves. Just because conservatives have a different vision of the just society does not mean that they do not care to bring justice to the poor and needy.

Thus one must adopt the general, ideologically neutral theory of social justice, and then accept that all sorts of activities from soup kitchens to living wage demonstrations to, yes, Tea Party rallies, can count as social justice movements — or else one must adopt the special, partisan theory of social justice and accept that Glenn Beck had a point. I leave it to my liberal friends to determine which is the more painful.

Heh.

Cathy Young: Tea Partiers Racist? Not So Fast

In RealClearPolitics, Cathy Young of Reason Magazine [h/t: one of the fine denizens at C2] looks at surveys that ‘prove’ that the charge that Tea Partiers are raaaaacist, and basically finds: ‘no more or less than the general population’.

Ever since the “Tea Parties” gained national attention, the debate has raged on whether they are a grass-roots protest movement in the proud tradition of American dissent, or a hysterical mob driven by fear, intolerance and selfishness. Recently, two much-discussed surveys — a CBS/New York Times poll and a multi-state University of Washington poll — have been bandied about as proof that the leftist caricatures of the Tea Partiers as mean-spirited rich white bigots are accurate. Yet a look at the data suggests that this interpretation is highly skewed by political bias.

In a Salon.com article titled “The Tea Partiers’ racial paranoia,” editor Joan Walsh notes that in the University of Washington poll, only 35% of pro-Tea Party whites regarded blacks as “hard-working,” 45% as “intelligent,” and 41% as “trustworthy.” Walsh scoffs, “And Tea Party supporters don’t like it when anyone notices the racists in their midst?”

Not so fast. The respondents in the UW poll were asked to rate on a 1-7 scale how intelligent, hardworking, and trustworthy they perceived “almost all” blacks (and, in separate questions, whites, Latinos, and Asians) to be. Whether the findings expose Tea Party bigotry hinges on two things: how the “Tea Partiers'” opinions of blacks compare to their views of other groups, and how their answers compare to those of other, non-Tea-Partying Americans.

The UW researchers’ initial analysis compared only whites who were strongly pro-Tea Party and strongly anti-Tea Party, concluding that the latter held a much more positive view of blacks. These data are no longer on the UW website; instead, there are tables for other race-related questions (such as “Over the past few years blacks have gotten less than they deserve”), with separate results for whites who were either neutral toward the Tea Party movement or had never heard of it, as well as for all whites.

But what about the racial stereotyping items? The lead investigator, political science professor Christopher Parker, graciously provided me with the fuller data — which strongly contradict the notion of the Tea Parties as a unique hotbed of racism.

Thus, while only 35% of strong Tea Party supporters rated blacks as hardworking, only 49% described whites as such. While the gap is evident, these responses are close to those for all whites (blacks are rated as “hardworking” by 40%, whites by 52%). While whites who are strongly anti-Tea Party seem free of bias on this item — blacks and whites are rated as “hardworking” by 55% and 56%, respectively – this is not true for intelligence and trustworthiness. Whites in every group are less likely to rate blacks than whites as “intelligent” by similar margins: 14 points for Tea Party supporters (45% vs. 59%), 13 points for all whites (49% vs. 62%), 10 points for Tea Party opponents (59% vs. 69%). On “trustworthy,” the gap is smaller in the pro-Tea Party group (41% vs. 49%) than in the anti-Tea Party group (57% vs. 72%). One could write headlines about the “racial paranoia” of white liberals who consider blacks less trustworthy than whites!

The endurance of racial stereotypes in this day and age is disturbing; but Tea Party supporters differ little in this regard from mainstream Americans.  (It is also worth noting that, as in many other surveys, Asian-Americans in the UW poll are rated much more positively than whites.)

Compared to middle-of-the-road whites, Tea Party supporters show far more agreement with the statement that blacks should work their way up “without special favors” the way other minorities such as Italians and Jews did, or that blacks would be as well off as whites if they worked harder. The standard left-of-center view, shared by the UW researchers, is that such attitudes represent a subtler form of racism, or “racial resentment.” In some cases, that is surely true. Yet these sentiments may also reflect a genuinely race-neutral belief in self-reliance and self-help — or the view, shared by many black commentators, that the black community’s problems are partly rooted in damaging behavioral and cultural patterns.

John McWhorter, a noted black scholar and author whose works include the 2000 book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, says that “the idea that ‘racism’ is behind the Tea Partiers is based on a lazy and vain extension of the term ‘racism’ to meaning ‘that which many black people would not approve of.'” According to McWhorter, “The position that the government does too much to help black people is not necessarily one based in inherent bias against people with black skin — it can be argued as a reasonable proposition based on the spotty record of social programs since the 1960s.”

The other charge against Tea Partiers is that they are not “the people” but the privileged defending their privilege. Walsh gleefully points out that in the Times/CBS poll, 12% of Tea Party sympathizers had an annual income over $250,000 — forgetting to mention that so did 11% of all Americans. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asserts that “Tea Party enthusiasts … side with the better-off against the poor”: 73% of them, versus 38% of all Americans, say that “providing government benefits to poor people encourages them to remain poor.” (Of course, they couldn’t possibly be sincere in the belief that poor people are often harmed more than helped by government programs.)

What, then, do the new polls tell us about the Tea Partiers — or, at least, Tea Party sympathizers? (In the Times/CBS poll, only one in five self-identified Tea Party supporters reported actual involvement in Tea Party activities.) They are mostly white and more likely to be male (59%); three-quarters are 45 and older, compared to half of all Americans. They are more religious than average, though not dramatically so: 39% are evangelical Christians and 38% attend church every week, while the figures for all Americans are 28% and 27%.

Not surprisingly, the Tea Partiers are disproportionately Republican and right-wing: 39% consider themselves “very conservative” and 34% “somewhat conservative” (compared to 12% and 24%, respectively, of the general population).[…] In other words, the Tea Party movement is mainly conservative — which is hardly the stuff of headlines. That does not make it a haven for racists.

Read the rest.

Zombie: crashing the Tea Party crashers

Various attempts were made to organize ‘Tea Party crashing’ by Moby‘s, i.e., leftist infiltrators posing (in this case) as Tea Parties carrying racist, conspiracy nut,… signs in order to embarrass the legitimate demonstrators (and provide the 0bama water carriersMSM with ammunition with which to delegitimize the Tea Party movement).

As we now know, the Tea Partiers took some rather creative countermeasures, such as a security force “armed” with colored signs with arrows and messages like “Imposter”, “Troll”, “Infiltrator”.

My blog ancestor and favorite undead person, Zombie, has a photoreportage up on Tea Party crashers and countercrashers, followed by a roundup of similar coverage elsewhere. Highly amusing reading.

Senate votes 85-13 against VAT

VAT trial balloon just deflated big time? (H/t: C2)  Senate Votes 85-13 to Condemn Value-Added Tax Sure, it’s only a “nonbinding resolution”, which expresses the “sense of the Senate”, but still: 85-13? (Roll call vote.) Two senators [Nelson and Warner] abstained. One RINO [Voinovich] voted against: the other votes against were all Democrats. Independent Joe Lieberman voted in favor.

Speaking of taxes, some places to go for coverage of yesterday’s Tax Day Tea Parties:

And meanwhile, courtesy of this article, here is a map of 0bama popularity/impopularity ratings (deep blue means a popularity index of  10% or higher, deep red of -10% or lower)

CNN reaching out to conservatives? Some reflections

Flying pigs abound: CNN (Contemptible News Network) sent a reporter to a Tea Party, and he actually does a good piece on it. Michelle Malkin, Newsbusters, and Dan Riehl all note that CNN is actually trying to promote its piece to conservative journalists and opinionmakers. Michelle Malkin sees this as a desperation move for ratings by a tanking network. Dan Riehl is more sanguine, notes that CNN also hired Erick Erickson of Redstate.org, and says that any attempt by a liberal news organization to become a bit more ideologically diverse should be applauded and encouraged.

The inveterate cynic in me wonders, however, if something “deeper” is going on? Has the Axelrod-Emanuel machine concluded that the marginalization strategy is not working (as the Tea Party has just grown too big and diverse) and that they should try to co-opt it instead? Even if they can peel off 15-20% of the Tea Partiers by feigning interest in their concerns, that could pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them in the next election.

Not to mention, if the water carriers of the 0bama administration in the MSM could build up some tea Partier as a third-party candidate…

ClimateGate redux+Strange new respect for the Tea Party

Today’s Best of the Web has lots of good stuf: let’s just quote two items.

Scientific M.O.
London’s Daily Telegraph reports on the latest global-warming scandal, “a scheme to claim $60 billion in carbon credits for keeping intact a large chunk of the Amazon rainforest which is not under any threat”:

The architects of this imaginative project are the environmental campaigners of the WWF and their close ally the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.

Last week a letter to this newspaper from Woods Hole’s CEO, William Brown, averred that it was not, as I had said, an “environmental advocacy group” but a “widely respected scientific institution.” This is precisely the claim which has been dismissed by, among others, the renowned atmospheric physicist Professor Richard Lindzen, who has more than once emphasised that the Woods Hole Research Center is “an environmental advocacy center, not to be confused with the far better known Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,” a genuinely respected scientific body.

Meanwhile another advocacy organization, Greenpeace, is urging “mass civil disobedience” to intimidate those who are skeptical about global warming:

If you’re one of those who believe that this is not just necessary but also possible, speak to us. Let’s talk about what that mass civil disobedience is going to look like.

If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:

We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.

And we be many, but you be few.

That be politics. It sound like incitement, though threat not be imminent, so probably it be protected by First Amendment. But definitely it not be science.

Strange New Respect

There was a time, oh, a week or two ago, when the mainstream media portrayed the tea-party movement as an assortment of crazed angry extremist redneck racist idiots. What changed?

The headline we’ve given this column is a phrase coined by the conservative writer Tom Bethell to refer to the media’s attitude toward conservatives who veer leftward. What we’re about to describe is a bit different: more an epiphany on the media’s part than a change in the object of coverage. It seems unlikely that the tea-partiers have suddenly become mainstream.

Yet that’s what you’d think from reading some of the recent coverage. The Christian Science Monitor, which a month ago baselessly labeled Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell a “right-wing extremist,” begins a Saturday story by rehearsing the stereotypes but then cautions that “political experts say that many such criticisms are near-sighted, if not outright inappropriate–and ultimately may miss the point”:

Indeed, polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men.

What’s more, the release this week of the top three planks of the “crowd-sourced” Contract From America project, to some activists, shows a maturation from sign-wielding protesters to a political reform movement grounded in ideas.

The top three vote-getters among 360,000 respondents on the Contract From America website: Calling for an enumerated powers act to force lawmakers to check the constitionality [sic] of new laws; requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for any tax hike; and a legislative backstop to prevent the EPA from “backdoor regulating.”

CNN–which became notorious a year ago for its hostile coverage of the movement, including the use of antigay slurs–carries a report titled “Disgruntled Democrats Join the Tea Party”:

Some Americans who say they have been sympathetic to Democratic causes in the past — some even voted for Democratic candidates–are angry with President Obama and his party. They say they are now supporting the Tea Party–a movement that champions less government, lower taxes and the defeat of Democrats even though it’s not formally aligned with the Republican Party.

To be sure, the number of Democrats in the Tea Party movement is small. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that while 96 percent of Tea Party activists identify themselves as either Republican or Independent, only 4 percent say they are Democrats.

Another poll, however, suggests this is less of a dog-bites-man story than CNN makes it out to be. “Four in 10 Tea Party members are either Democrats or Independents, according to a new national survey,” reports the Hill:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Kristen Soltis of the Winston Group notes another important point:

What truly sets the Tea Party apart from even Republicans or conservatives broadly is its commitment to economic conservatism. Tea Party members, like voters overall, are very focused on the economy and jobs; some 36 percent say it is their top issue. Yet while only 6 percent of voters overall say that the national deficit and spending are their top issues, that number spikes to 21 percent among Tea Party members.

The Tea Party is a movement defined by its preference for fiscal restraint and low taxes. Presented with two competing proposals to create jobs, over four out of five Tea Party members say tax cuts for small business will create more jobs than increased government spending on infrastructure. When the options were expanded, tax cuts still were chosen as the top job creator, but are closely followed by “expanding development of all energy resources.” Interestingly enough, the next runner up–“cracking down on illegal immigration”–was not more popular among Tea Party members (19 percent) than voters overall (16 percent).

When it comes down to it, the Tea Party does not appear to be focused on economic conservatism as an end in and of itself. When asked in the January survey if they favored “reducing unemployment to 5 percent” or balancing the budget, 63 percent chose reducing unemployment–a negligible difference from the 64% of voters overall who agree. Jobs are the goal–items like tax cuts and balanced budgets are a means to achieve that goal.

It all adds up to a remarkably broad-based and nonideological movement–one that has gained strength as the Democrats who currently run Washington have proved themselves to be narrow and ideological. Had President Obama governed from the center–above all, had he heeded public opinion and abandoned his grandiose plans to transform America, he might well have held the allegiance of many of the people who now sympathize with the tea party.

How is it that the media’s approach has changed so dramatically in just the past couple of weeks? Perhaps the Democrats simply went too far when they claimed that tea-party protesters had shouted racial slurs at black congressmen during the ObamaCare weekend. The media, of course, repeated these claims, but no evidence has surfaced to corroborate them, and Andrew Breitbart makes a very good case for skepticism:

The proof that the N-word wasn’t said once, let alone 15 times, as Rep. Andre Carson claimed, is that soon thereafter–even though the press dutifully reported it as truth–Nancy Pelosi followed the alleged hate fest, which allegedly included someone spitting, by walking through the crowd with a gavel in hand and a sh—eating grin on her face. Had the incidents reported by the Congressional Black Caucus actually occurred the Capitol Police would have been negligent to allow the least popular person to that crowd–the Speaker–to put herself in harm’s way.

Reader Taylor Dinerman notes: “Part of the function of a political media operation is to make the other side despair, lose hope, feel bad, etc. It’s one of the reasons I gave up reading the New York Times. In one of Isaac Asimov’s Empire series, he describes a drug called ‘desperance’ whose function is to make whoever takes it despair and be ready to kill or commit suicide. The bad guys feed it to someone they intend to use to murder the galactic emperor.”

Tales of tea-party racism could have been calculated to demoralize America’s anti-ObamaCare majority by presenting them with an ugly choice: accept the fate the Democrats have imposed upon us, or side with (as the Christian Science Monitor puts it) “neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies.” The strange new respect for the tea-party movement suggests that this approach is too invidiously partisan even for the mainstream media.

Zombie: A tale of two rallies

My blog-ancestor compares the faces of Tea Party and far-left rallies. , and finds a stark “right”-“left” divide. It’s a study in opposites in every respect (political and social), really — but not in the way the legacy media would let you believe. Go and see for yourself.

Zombie, who made a career out of chronicling the insanity of the extremist left and of the “useful idiots” of Islamofascism,  states not to be affiliated with either the right or the left: in practice, judging from online writings, Zombie is a small-l libertarian who opposes both social conservatism and liberal nanny-statism. (S)he also holds up a mocking mirror to political lunacy and intellectual dishonesty: it is however most often the “left” which finds itself skewered, not only because there is so much more loonbattery on today’s “left”,  but also because Zombie is located in one of its hotbeds. The blogosphere would be much poorer without him/her.

Who really invented ‘Moby’ trolling? Alinsky

In blogosphere slang, a ‘Moby‘ is a particular kind of troll, namely a left-winger who posts right-wing extremist material on right-wing sites in order to discredit them. (This is somewhat distinct from a ‘concern troll‘, who seeks to sow dissension by posing as a concerned supporter.)
The ‘Moby’ species of troll is named after the eponymous electronic music producer, who in February 2004 proposed this tactic and is supposed to have invented it.

James Taranto, however, reminds us the tactic is anything but original.

Food for thought comes from this passage from a Saul Alinsky biography, quoted by David Horowitz:”

College student activists in the 1960s and 1970s sought out Alinsky for advice about tactics and strategy. On one such occasion in the spring of 1972 at Tulane University’s annual week-long series of events featuring leading public figures, students asked Alinsky to help plan a protest of a scheduled speech by George Bush, then U.S. representative to the United Nations, a speech likely to be a defense of the Nixon Administration’s Vietnam War policies The students told Alinsky that they were thinking about picketing or disrupting Bush’s address. That’s the wrong approach, he rejoined–not very creative and besides, causing a disruption might get them thrown out of school.
“He told them, instead, to go hear the speech dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan, and whenever Bush said something in defense of the Vietnam War, they should cheer and wave placards, reading “The K.K.K. supports Bush.” And that is what the students did with very successful, attention-getting results.

Keep that in mind if you see/hear/read reports of racial slurs and calls for violence on the part of alleged “Tea Partiers”. Verily, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

UPDATE: Welcome Althouse readers, and thanks for the link!

Coffee Party: LeftCoastRebel doing the digging CNN won’t do

LeftCoastRebel has been doing the digging CNN can’t/won’t do on the weak-tea ‘Coffee Party’, and within an hour of Googling found all sorts of stuff. File ‘coffee party’ under: ‘astroturf’, ‘Soros’,… More here, here, and (heh) here.

UPDATE: In St. Louis, a Tea Party event expecting 600 people saw over 2,000 show up. The competing Coffee Party event saw… 30 people. Including people already at the restaurant and Tea Party infiltrators, GatewayPundit wonders?

UPDATE 2: Search for hashtag “#coffeepartyrules” on Twitter. Bwaahaahaa!

Weak tea and real astroturf from “Coffee Party”

[Catchup post after very long plane trip for work.] Hot Air describes the soft-focus fluff reporting by the legacy media (particularly the NYT) on a new “Coffee Party” billing itself as a ‘regressiveprogressive’ answer to the Tea Party movement. An Instapundit reader points out that the lead organizer of this weak tea, in fact, bills herself on her LinkedIn profile as a former “strategy analyst” for the… NYT. The profile has meanwhile gone down the memory hole but a screenshot was cached here:

Dan Riehl details this woman’s prior activity in the “Nutroots”. Confederate Yankee talks of false flag recruiting: “A possibly fake Tea Party candidate may be looking to help Harry Reid, and a blatantly Astroturfed ‘Coffee Party’ gets a smattering of attention.”  Tom Maguire and William Jacobson. “It is very clear from Park’s background, and her own Tweets, that the Coffee Party simply is part of the perpetual Obama campaign, a means by which to subvert the real grassroots Tea Party movement by co-opting part of the message, but in a way which supports keeping Obama in power.” From the comments there: “This strikes me as little more than a construct to enable the media to have a Tea Party counterweight.”