Last summer I took to task liberal journalists and politicians who branded those Americans who disagreed with them about the debt ceiling debate as “terrorists.” It was a particularly low moment in American political discourse, but the worst part of it was not so much the invective as the hypocrisy of those who cried out at what they consider the incivility of Tea Partiers and other conservatives while at the same time attempting to smear their opponents by branding them as being indistinguishable from murderers.
Among those who played this nasty double game was liberal columnist Froma Harrop who, amazingly enough, is also the chair of the National Conference of Editorial Writers civility project. Unfortunately for Harrop, the producers of the “Daily Show” got wind of this contradiction and dispatched John Oliver to interview her about it. The result can only be described as both hysterical and deeply insightful about the blind spot that some liberals have about their right to defame those with whom they disagree in a manner that they would never tolerate when the tables are turned. Enjoy:
This New York Times article by reporter Anthony Shadid unfortunately confirms my worst apprehensions about where Syria is headed–namely toward a civil war. He writes that:
the government [is] losing control over some regions and its authority ebbing in the suburbs of the capital and parts of major cities like Homs and Hama. Even the capital, Damascus, which had remained calm for months, has been carved up with checkpoints and its residents have been frightened by the sounds of gunfire….
In a town about a half-hour drive from Damascus, the police station was recently burned down and in retaliation electricity and water were cut off, diplomats say. For a time, residents drew water in buckets from a well. Some people are too afraid to drive major highways at night.
In Homs, a city that a Lebanese politician called “the Stalingrad of the Syrian revolution,” reports have grown of sectarian cleansing of once-mixed neighborhoods, where some roads have become borders too dangerous for taxis to cross.
Nothing, it seems, gets the left more worked up these days than the specter of growing income inequality, the gap between the income of the poorest quintile and the highest, and, especially, the gap between the incomes of the top one-percent and the rest of us.
The New York Times has one of its usual editorials this morning:
Republicans are indeed in growing trouble as more voters begin to realize how much the party’s policies — dismantling regulations, slashing taxes for the rich, weakening unions — have contributed to inequality and the yawning distance between the middle class and the top end.
One wonders how “slashing taxes for the rich” contributes to income inequality. There are only two ways it could do so, as taxes don’t diminish income, only disposable income. Either the money taxed away would be given to the less-rich, swelling their incomes, or cutting taxes on the rich stimulates the economy, increasing the incomes of the rich (and everyone else). I vote for the latter. I doubt the Times does.
Anyone listening to what’s being said about Iran by the White House and State Department lately could easily be convinced stopping the ayatollah’s nuclear program is one of Washington’s top priorities. But the public “disappointment” being expressed in Israel by senior members of the Netanyahu government tells a different story. While the New York Timeswas reporting a few days ago that American diplomats were going all out to persuade Japan, South Korea and even China to comply with American sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank as part of a prelude to a U.S.-led oil embargo of the Islamist state, the Israelis seem to be reading from a different playbook.
Though Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has registered support for Obama’s sanctions drive, his chief political deputy today contradicted him and denounced the administration’s cautious approach to pressuring Iran. And though the White House issued a statement summarizing a phone conversation between Obama and Netanyahu on Thursday that emphasized U.S.-support for Israeli security, reports out of Israel about the talk lead one to believe the focus of the chat was something else entirely: an American demand that Israel promise not to attack Iran on its own.
Does this serve any practical purpose, beyond a face-saving move for Newt Gingrich? The ad has already been running in South Carolina since Thursday, and even if “Winning Our Future” agrees to take it off TV, it’s still enshrined on the internet for the rest of time. I guess it takes the force out of the charges now that Gingrich is conceding a lot of them are inaccurate – but is it enough to make much of a difference between now and the primary?
On a related note, check out the New York Times’s lede on this story. What’s the chance they would have published a story this sympathetic to Mitt Romney if the ad was put out by “Priorities USA” instead of a pro-Newt group?
In the latest sign that Hamas is serious about mending fences with its Fatah party rivals, the terrorist group announced on Saturday it would give Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas his Gaza villa back. Hamas seized the building during the bloody 2007 coup in which the Islamists seized control of Gaza. But though it isn’t likely Abbas will be sleeping in his Gaza home any time soon, the goodwill gesture is meant to show Hamas is prepared to follow through on the unity pact it signed with Abbas and Fatah last year.
Hamas’s willingness to placate Abbas doesn’t mean however that the two groups have settled all their differences. Though both Fatah and Hamas don’t differ all that much about the question of peace with Israel — Abbas and the “moderates” are no more willing to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state and to live in peace with it than the Hamas extremists — both hope to use the unity pact to solidify their political ascendancy. But so long as they are moving closer toward each other, it is a given that peace with Israel is impossible.
Something seems to be chipping away at Romney’s poll numbers in South Carolina, but right now it’s still anybody’s guess what that is. The anti-Bain ads should be a top suspect, but several media outlets trekked to the South Carolina town that was apparently devastated by Bain’s “vulture capitalism,” and found that most people they talked to barely even remembered the company. The New York Times reports:
In a new barrage of political advertisements and speeches here, three of Mr. Romney’s opponents in South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 have used Gaffney and Bain’s business practices in other communities across the country as a kind of battering ram to portray him as a job-destroying robber baron. …
There is a problem, though. Here in Gaffney, where deeply held Christian beliefs often matter more than jobs, few remember the Holson Burnes photo album plant, let alone the devastation its closing is alleged to have caused back in 1992. …
At The Gaffney Ledger, a newspaper established in 1894 that seems to cover everything from stolen mopeds to the Y.M.C.A. basketball league, the publisher, Cody Sossamon, looked through old microfilm to refresh his memory. He could not find one drop of ink that was spent on the factory closing.
“Nobody here really cares about that. It wasn’t a big deal,” Mr. Sossamon said. “We’re looking for a new school superintendent. That and the economy are what people really care about right now.”
Rick Santorum is hoping the endorsement of a major evangelical group will help put him over the top next weekend in the crucial South Carolina primary. On the third ballot of voting, the leaders of the Family Research Council endorsed Santorum in a vote in which he bested Newt Gingrich by an 85 to 29 vote. Conservative Christians are hoping their backing will send a signal to South Carolinians that those seeking an alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney should choose Santorum. But with the polls in the state still showing the former Pennsylvania senator lagging behind Gingrich and with both trailing Romney, it’s far from clear this will be enough to enable him to duplicate his near-win in Iowa.
The problem for Santorum and his evangelical fans is that Gingrich’s well-financed effort in South Carolina has put him within range of beating Romney himself. The three most recent polls showed Gingrich trailing Romney by two to seven percentage points and Santorum in third some 9 to 15 points out of first. This replicates the same dynamic that has thrust the relatively moderate Romney into a commanding position in the GOP presidential race. So long as conservatives are splitting their votes between Gingrich and Santorum with Rick Perry far behind them with five or six percent of the vote, Romney may well cruise to another victory in a multi-candidate battle.