From an interview with Esquire posted January 11:
I ask a question, and I am attacked from the extreme Left as a quote-unquote birther. I mean, what the hell is that? When you can create a controversy by asking what seems to me still a perfectly commonsense question? It has been used in the extreme Left to create a toxicity that is just unbelievable.
Marc Ambinder makes some good points in his post "In Defense of Double Standards, Sometimes" -- and one big mistake. I'll refer you to his site for the good points rather than attempting to paraphrase them.
Here's the big mistake: Ambinder isn't really defending "double standards."
It does not follow that similar incidents should be treated similarly, particularly if the magnitude of the differences are more significant than the similarities. Double standards are often defensible.
And here's the problem: If "the magnitude of the differences are more significant than the similarities," it isn't a situation where the phrase "double standard" is appropriate.
The phrase "double standard" means that two identical (OK, nearly identical) situations are being treated differently.
It doesn't make any sense to apply the phrase "double standard" to situations that have greater differences than similarities. It's like saying we have a double standard in the way we punish murderers and jay-walkers. Well, no: We have different standards for murderers and for jay-walkers, because they have done vastly different things.
Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking "OK, but isn't this just semantic nit-picking?"
No. When we use the phrase "double standard" in discussing disparate reactions to dissimilar events, we suggest that the events are not dissimilar. We blur the differences -- and, in doing so, we advantage the perpetrator of the greater misdeed.
Take a look at the reason this discussion has come up: Republicans (and many media figures) are saying or suggesting there is a double-standard in the way Democrats and Republicans are treated when they make racially-charged comments. The basic argument is that Republican Sen. Trent Lott lost his job as Majority Leader when he made such a comment, while Democrat Harry Reid has not lost his job. (A variant of the argument: Democrats -- and the media -- were more critical of Lott than Reid, so they have a double-standard for Democrats and Republicans.)
Now, let's review the two situations: Trent Lott suggested America would be a better place had we elected a white segregationist presidential candidate. Harry Reid used archaic language in talking about the black man whose presidential candidacy he supported.
Those are not the same things. They aren't even close to the same things. One is pretty clearly much, much worse than the other. And so the phrase "double standard" does not apply. In using it, rather than describing exactly what each man said, the media blurs the difference between their comments, suggesting they are the same (or, at least, equally bad.) They confuse, rather than clarify.
Like I said: Ambinder makes some good points. But he isn't really defending double-standards. He's defending treating different situations differently. One of the lessons journalists should take from his post is that the danger in habitually describing things as "double-standards" just because one side in a given dispute wants them to.
Tucker Carlson's new web site, The Daily Caller, launched today, featuring a column by The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash:
For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I'll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I'm sorry, that wasn't my intention. I didn't choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I'd have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil' Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.
Funny, isn't it? No? Well, maybe you just don't get it. 'Cause, see, Rachel Maddow is gay. And so, according to Matt Labash, she's really a man. Now do you get it? No? Neither do I.
Oh, and later, Labash calls stop lights with cameras attached to photograph cars that run red lights "Legalized rape."
Tucker sure knows how to pick 'em, doesn't he?
In a January 11 column titled "Ask Matt Labash" posted on Tucker Carlson's newly launched website, The Daily Caller, Labash compares automatic speeding tickets to legalized rape, complete with a reference to Rohypnol. In response to a submitted question "Pick three government programs you would eliminate. Why?", Labash writes:
Legalized rape. What's that you say? Rape isn't sanctioned in this country? Then you must not live in a city with red-light or speed cameras, where it happens every day. Forget for a second that in one-fourth of all automated ticket cases, the ticketed car owner wasn't the one actually driving the vehicle at the time of the infraction (what other crime-fighting technology do we consider reliable that nabs the wrong person 25 percent of the time?) Just as heinous is that every year, more and more municipal governments pretend that they plant these all-seeing menaces in the interest of "safety." Yet every year, their revenues tend to increase from the very same technology. Meaning that the only deterrent effect the technology has is deterring your government from being honest about raping its own citizenry. If you're going to slide me a roofie, Government, at least take me to dinner and a movie first.
According to his Washington Post Writers Group bio, The Washington Journalism Review once named George Will "Best Writer, Any Subject." Seriously? We've documented Will's repeated false statements regarding global warming. We've even documented Will peddling misinformation about his beloved baseball. This Sunday brought another Will column in The Washington Post, which means more colossal twisting of the facts, this time about the causes of California's fiscal crisis.
Will asserted: "California, a laboratory of liberalism, is spiraling downward, driven by a huge budget deficit." He later catalogued the supposed problems with which liberalism has saddled California: "liberalism's redistributive itch" that created the current income tax structure, which causes people to flee from California and "intensifies the effects of business cycles on the state's revenue stream"; "liberalism's mania for micromanaging life with entangling regulations," which caused business to flee; "compassionate liberalism," which made California "an importer of Mexican poverty"; and "servile liberalism," which causes the state to be "run by and for unionized public employees."
That's a lot of name-calling, but shockingly little actual evidence that liberalism caused the problems California faces. So let's clear up a couple of facts for Will. First, about those taxes: California relies heavily on income taxes because of conservatives' actions. In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which enacted a conservative wish list on taxes. It required that all property taxes throughout the state be limited to one percent of property values; it limited yearly increases in property taxes due to rising home values; it required all state tax increases to be passed by a two-thirds majority. So, California's tax structure as well as its inability to raise enough revenue to cover its budget is the result of conservatives getting their way on taxes, not liberalism gone wild.
Another problem with Will's argument that California's problems can all be traced to liberalism: In the time period he is discussing, Republicans controlled the California governor's seat for most of the time. Will quotes statistics from two overlapping time periods: 1990-2007 and 1992-2006. During the 1990-2007 period, Republicans controlled the governorship for all but five years. Indeed, from 1983 to the present, Democrats only controlled the governorship from 1999-2003, when current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) defeated Gray Davis in a recall election.
So, to sum up, Will is blaming liberalism for California's fiscal woes despite the fact that the state's tax structure is shaped by a system conservatives put in place and even though Republicans sat in the governor's chair for almost the whole time period Will is discussing.
From BigJournalism.com, accessed January 11:
Needless to say, this go-around was a little different. Now, producers were interrogating me over at the Fox New Headquarters and I was having my hair and makeup done by professionals. All while watching myself in leather top and giant hoop earrings on multiple television screens, and begging God that I could keep my cool on national television with Glenn Beck.
That was the beginning of a raucous adventure, a whirlwind of a week between Sept 10-16 that'd make any type-A curl up in a ball and beg for mercy, and might've led to my insanity had I allowed myself to get caught up in the chaos it caused. But I was so absorbed in the moment and focused on getting the ACORN videos, and the truth of our story, out to the public that nothing fazed me. Plus, all the new experiences and people were extremely intriguing and I wanted to be sure and soak it all in.
A part of me realized how monumental and life-changing the whole thing was. I mean not just any 20-year old girl runs in and out of FOX studios on a week long media blitz; has the New York Post showing up at her hotel for exclusive front page interviews; can't sleep because of the adrenaline rush that comes with being part of a breaking story that she once-upon-a-time dreamed up on a jog; or hardly communicates to her parents that she's doing all right because of the 24/7 flood of phone calls blowing up her phone. Also, not many young adults have had CNN or Joe Conason come after them, wishing their demise.
Just some more polling data to back up my claim over the weekend that the WSJ's Noonan has no basis to claim that Obama has taken a hit in the polls in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terror attack.
From CNN [emphasis added]:
In the wake of the Christmas day attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner, most Americans remain confident that the Obama administration can protect the country from terrorism, according to a new national poll.
Nearly two-thirds of people questioned in the poll say they have a moderate or great deal of confidence in the administration to protect the public from future terrorist attacks, up 2 points from August.
On January 1st, Politico ran an article by Ben Smith and Carl Lee headlined "Democrats' worst nightmare: Terrorism on their watch." The "nightmare" in question was not, as you might assume, hundreds or even thousands of dead Americans. No, the "nightmare" was the political fallout of such an event -- and Politico thought that nightmare came true with a Christmas Day attempt to down an airplane:
[T]he White House's response to last week's attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit could rank as one of the low points of the new president's first year. Over the course of five days, Obama's Obama' reaction ranged from low-keyed to reassuring to, finally, a vow to find out what went wrong. The episode was a baffling, unforced error in presidential symbolism, hardly a small part of the presidency, and the moment at which yet another of the old political maxims that Obama had sought to transcend - the Democrats' vulnerability on national security - reasserted itself.
It was the perfect Politico article: It focused on style over substance, it reflected the attacks Republicans like Dick Cheney were making on President Obama, and it forecast political struggles for Democrats based not on any actual data, but on outdated assumptions and stereotypes.
Smith and Lee asserted:
[Obama's] response failed to reckon with the intense public interest in a story of repeated government failures and a near-fatal attack.
the listlessness of an initial response remains a puzzle
Explanations of Obama's low-key reaction in the face of a terror attack include the characteristic caution of a president who resists jumping to conclusions and being pushed to action. They also include the White House's belief - disproven repeatedly in 2009 - that it can evade the clichéd rules of politics, which include a suspicion of Democratic leadership on national security. Only Sunday night, when criticism of the system "worked" comment was not going away, did White House aides realize their approach was not working and that they needed to shift course.
Again: the article included not a single poll result or other actual fact indicating the slightest public concern with Obama's handling of terrorism or national security. Not one. It was simply a regurgitation of GOP spin and conventional wisdom: President Obama's handling of national security must be a political weakness, because he is a Democrat.
And, if a new CNN poll is any indication, Politico's basic premise was wrong. Here's Greg Sargent:
Okay, some new polling from CNN just landed in the old in-box, and it appears to suggest that the public isn't buying claims that Obama's handling of the Christmas Day plot was too detached, cool, or weak:
As you know, a man has been charged with attempting to use an explosive device on Christmas Day to blow up a plane that was flying to Detroit. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama has responded to that incident?
No opinion 4%
I'm sure Politico will now run a piece acknowledging that they got it all wrong and apologizing for running such a piece without any actual facts or data to back it up. Yep, I'm sure that's coming any minute now.
From a January 11 report by the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg:
Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel.
The network confirmed that Ms. Palin will appear on the network's programming on a regular basis as part of a multi-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person familiar with the deal said, though she will host an occasional series that will run on the network from time to time. This person would not elaborate, but the network does have a precedent for such a series. Oliver L. North is the host of an occasionally running documentary series on the military called "War Stories."
Many suspected that when Ms. Palin retired as the governor of Alaska last summer she was doing so to pursue some sort of career in television. The Fox News deal, however, would not seem to be all encompassing, and would appear to give her room for other pursuits, as well.