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S.H.I.T. Open Thread


I’m a little too old to get excited about this movie. The G.I Joe I remember had “kung-fu grip” and fought Nazis.

I’m sure happy it’s Thursday. What’s on your mind?

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Live Blog: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings, Day Four

From C-Span:

On Day Four of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Sen. Judiciary Cmte. completes the second round of questions. Following that, the Cmte. calls the first panel of witnesses.

Watch SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings on-line here.

Memorable moments from yesterday’s hearings:

Senator Al Franken questions SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor about abortion rights and privacy.

Senator Al Franken reminisces with Sonia Sotomayor about Perry Mason.


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Who sez?

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So I’m reading this Huff&Puff piece by Peter Daou about Sarah Palin and I see this line:

More recently, she had the audacity to allow her camp to take on a teenage boy while decrying attacks against her own family.

That sentence links to this piece by Greg Sargent:

You may have heard that Sarah Palin’s spokesperson launched a brutal hit today on 19-year-old Levi Johnston, the former fiancee of Palin daughter Bristol, because he committed the sin of claiming he’d heard Palin say she’s hoping to cash in on a book deal. “It is interesting to learn Levi is working on a piece of fiction while honing his acting skills,’ Palin family spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said.

Sorry to go all tabloid, but haven’t Palin and her spokesperson repeatedly said attacking kids is off limits? Haven’t they repeatedly insisted that attacks on her kids are proof that everyone from the media to the White House is conspiring to make Palin the victim of a cosmically unfair double standard?

Palin spokesperson Stapleton has repeatedly attacked Levi in the harshest of terms. And we don’t particularly care about that. But Palin recently complained that her kids should be off limits, and griped that her kids are constantly targeted, even though the Obama children were left alone. It’s a constant refrain from the Palin camp.

Brutal hit?  What’s so brutal about it?  That’s about the nicest way I’ve ever heard someone get called a liar.

Sargent links to this NY Daily News piece for evidence of “harshest of terms” attacks. I clicked over expecting to see something like “He’s a low-life trailer trash piece of shit” but here’s what I found:

“It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well-being of the child,” said a statement from a Palin family representative yesterday.

[…]

Sarah Palin countered that the high school dropout is just trying to extend his 15 minutes of fame at Bristol’s expense.

“We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration and even distortion of their relationship,” said the statement.

Am I missing something here?

First of all, Levi Johnston (aka “Ricky Hollywood”) is a 19 year-old man.  The “teenage boy” line makes it sound like he is still a child.  He may not be old enough to drink alcohol but by law he is an adult.  He can vote, enlist in the military (if they would take him without a high school diploma) sign contracts and get married without anyone’s permission.  If convicted of a crime he would face jail or prison.

Secondly, the part about “attacking kids is off limits” is in reference to attacks on the children of candidates/politicians as third-parties.  No one deserves to get trashed merely because they are related to a politician.

Levi Johnston lost third-party status when he chose to go on national television and dish dirt on the Palin family.  If the Palins were issuing defamatory statements (true or not) just because Levi and Bristol Palin had split up that would be one thing.  It was bad enough when he went on the Tyra Banks show to discuss the intimate details of his relationship with Bristol, but Levi recently held a press conference to make allegations about the reason for Sarah’s resignation.

At this point Levi’s status is essentially no different from any other former insider.  If a former aide or campaign staffer was making the same allegations would the media have their panties twisted because Sarah issued a statement calling the allegations “flat out lies?”

This brings me to another issue – who says politicians can’t complain or push back against the things being said about them?  Where did that whole idea originate?

Part of it comes from the old “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” idea that words are harmless.  But if they are so harmless then why is responding with words “harsh” and “brutal?”  The truth is words can cause tremendous damage to self-esteem, reputations and careers.

The idea that we should never respond to things being said about us is tailor-made for bullies.  Physical violence is only one aspect of bullying.  Verbal abuse, character assassination and spreading malicious rumors in workplace bullying is up to 1,600 times more common than violence.

If someone is talking trash and spreading lies about me I have the right to defend myself.  Whether I choose to exercise that right is up to me.  Appropriate responses might include denials, retorts or even legal action for defamation.  The wisdom of responding is dependent on the situation.  Obviously, not everything is worth the effort.

Like Sarah Palin, Bill and Hillary Clinton were often attacked with outrageously untrue allegations.  The media conventional wisdom (then and now) was that they should ignore the allegations.  Of course it was often the media that was attacking them, and regardless of who made the attacks they were always carried by the media.

With the media against them they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.  If they ignored the attacks the public might think the allegations are true and vote accordingly.  If they responded they were either accused of “whining,” “playing the victim card,” or “engaging in the politics of personal destruction.”

Ask Michael Dukakis what happens when you ignore the attacks made against you.  He blew a 17 point lead against Poppy Bush and was blown out on election day.

Ever wonder where Bill and Hillary got the reputation of being ruthless campaigners?  In 1992 Betsey Wright ran Bill Clinton’s “rapid response system” answering personal attacks made against him. Part of what she did was digging up dirt on the accusers to show that they were liars.  Libby Holden (Kathy Bates) in the movie Primary Colors was based on Wright.

Last year Barack Obama ran a negative campaign against Hillary.  His campaign pushed every smear that came down the pike, including the “race card” stuff, Tuzla Airport and the RFK assassination fauxrage.  The media didn’t just let him, they actively assisted in concealing his role.  But anytime Hillary’s campaign said anything (even in her defense) the media made sure everyone knew where it was coming from.

So now we have Sarah Palin getting the same treatment.  Look at the way the media responded to the the sexist comments by David Letterman – somehow Sarah was “taking advantage” of the situation.  Compare that to the media’s reaction to Hillary’s complaint about David Shuster’s “pimped out” remarks.

When Sarah announced her resignation, blogger/radio personality Shannyn Moore started spreading false rumors that the FBI was about to arrest Palin.  When Palin’s attorney threatened to take legal action for defamation, Moore claimed that Palin was trying to “muzzle” her and called Palin a “coward and a bully.”  Pot, meet kettle.

Personally, I hope Sarah hits back hard at her critics.  Bullies hate it when their victims fight back.


UPDATE:

Jeebus, I barely hit “publish” and I find this from the WSJ:

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced her resignation two weeks ago it was after a series of strange, petty bouts with her detractors. Many “frivolous ethics violations” had been alleged against her, she noted. David Letterman had told an ugly joke about her daughter. A blogger had posted something that was probably not true. Someone had photoshopped a radio talker’s face onto a picture of her baby — a “malicious desecration” of the image, in the words of Ms. Palin’s spokeswoman.

Team Palin got duly indignant at each of these. They took special, detailed offense. They issued statements magnifying their wounds. And, finally, the governor resigned her office, a good woman cruelly wronged.

The culture’s fantastically unfair treatment of middle Americans is the main lesson that many will no doubt take away from Ms. Palin’s time in the national spotlight. In fact, it may be the only lesson. We don’t really know where the former vice presidential candidate stands on most issues. We know only that she is constantly being maligned, that when we turn on the TV and see her fair face beaming, we are about to hear that some liberal someone has slurred this noble lady yet again.

Indeed, if political figures stand for ideas, victimization is what Ms. Palin is all about. It is her brand, her myth. Ronald Reagan stood tall. John McCain was about service. Barack Obama has hope. Sarah Palin is a collector of grievances. She runs for high office by griping.

This is no small thing, mind you. The piling-up of petty complaints is an important aspect of conservative movement culture. For those who believe that American life consists of the trampling of Middle America by the “elites” — that our culture is one big insult to the pious and the patriotic and the traditional — Sarah Palin’s long list of unfair and disrespectful treatment is one of her most attractive features. Like Oliver North, Robert Bork, and Clarence Thomas, she is known not for her ideas but as a martyr, a symbol of the culture-war crimes of the left.

To become a symbol of this stature Ms. Palin has had to do the opposite of most public figures. Where others learn to take hostility in stride, she and her fans have developed the thinnest of skins. They find offense in the most harmless remarks and diabolical calculation in the inflections of the anchorman’s voice. They take insults out of context to make them seem even more insulting. They pay close attention to voices that are ordinarily ignored, relishing every blogger’s sneer, every celebrity’s slight, every crazy Internet rumor.

Damned if you do . . .


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Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Browsing at Nini’s Corner

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

In your mind’s eye, join me for a leisurely morning browse through the Nini’s Corner newstand in Harvard Square. Before the internet, it was great place to find local, national, and international newspapers and periodicals. For now the monsoons have stopped and Harvard Square is warm, sunny, and welcoming. We can buy a selection of newspapers, grab a cup of coffee and a muffin, and find a comfortable place to sit outdoors and catch up on what’s happening in the world. Many thanks to MABlue for sending along some recommended links.

Sotomayor Confimation Hearings

Legal experts’ views on the Sotomayor hearing

At Stake in Hearings Are Post-Sotomayor Nominations

After three days of testimony, Judge Sotomayor appeared to have made no major mistakes that would jeopardize her confirmation in a Senate dominated by Democrats. So both sides are trying to use the Judiciary Committee hearings to define the parameters of an acceptable nomination in case another seat opens up during Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Charlie Savage is such a good reporter–a real throwback.

Franken Stumps Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was breezing through her third day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was tripped up by, of all people, the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The comedian, in his second week on the job, noted that Sotomayor had, earlier in the day, said she was inspired to become a prosecutor by watching “Perry Mason,” who, in all his TV episodes, lost only one case to the nefarious Hamilton Burger. Franken’s question was deft and devastating: “What was the one case in ‘Perry Mason’ that Burger won?”

For the first time all week, the future justice was stumped.

[….]

“Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?” he asked with incredulity.

I remember that case. But I think Perry Mason won it on appeal.

Coburn might have some “splaining to do”

Of Pride and Prejudice: Latinos celebrate a milestone that Judge Sotomayor’s critics struggle to understand (h/t MABlue) Continue reading