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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 01/10/2011

Morning Bits

By Jennifer Rubin

Juan Williams shows why he was much too reasonable to have worked at NPR. "Now, to get to the quick summations that people are rushing to here -- and I think it's important to say this as someone who's left of center -- is that, you know, you can't just blame this on some kind of right-wing rhetoric. I mean, clearly, I think this kid was unstable. . . .So I think that there is a temptation to say, oh, this is the result of right-wing attacks. But, you know, my sense is that, let's wait a second, and let's make sure about any kind of connections. . . .I would hope that people aren't so base as to make this into a political debate at this moment." Oh, but they are.

An unnamed Democratic operative shows why Juan Williams's hope for decency is misplaced. "'They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,' said the Democrat. 'Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.'" If you are going to be "deft," it's best not to reveal your sleaziness.

A Democratic congressman shows why Congress should read the Constitution. Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) is planning to introduce a bill banning bull's-eye and crosshairs images. (Does Target know about this?) Next time, there should be a quiz after the reading.

Glenn Reynolds, Tea Party-chronicler, shows us how ludicrous is the blame game. "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. . . . To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the 'rhetoric' of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the 'rhetoric' and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?"

Daniel Hernandez shows us what grace and courage under fire look like. The president and Congress should honor him, rather than rail at political rhetoric or dwell on the crazed murderer.

Delay in the Iranian nuclear program shows why espionage and targeted assasination are useful weapons against a revolutionary Islamic state. It saves lives and delays war, as David Ignatius argues: "Officials won't discuss the clandestine program of cyberattack and other sabotage being waged against the Iranian nuclear program. Yet we see the effects -- in crashing centrifuges and reduced operations of the Iranian enrichment facility at Natanz -- but don't understand the causes. That's the way covert action is supposed to work." That's exactly what I had in mind.

Jack Shafer shows what cogent analysis looks like. "For as long as I've been alive, crosshairs and bull's-eyes have been an accepted part of the graphical lexicon when it comes to political debates. Such 'inflammatory' words as targeting, attacking, destroying, blasting, crushing, burying, knee-capping, and others have similarly guided political thought and action. Not once have the use of these images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill. . . . Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification--and, yes, violent imagery--is a good thing. Better that angry people unload their fury in public than let it fester and turn septic in private. The wicked direction the American debate often takes is not a sign of danger but of freedom." Read the whole thing.

Both sides show some class. "The shooting in Arizona continues to have impact on the political conversation in Washington. Organizing for America, the political arm of President Obama and the Democratic National Committee, on Sunday announced that it was postponing plans to fight back against the Republican efforts to repeal health care legislation. On Saturday, Republicans in the House announced they would delay the repeal efforts that had been scheduled for this coming week."

Benjamin Wittes shows how the New York Times editorial board makes stuff up. "Once again, the Times is clearly alleging that detention without trial is unlawful -- contrary both to 'basic constitutional protections' and international law. And once again, it is doing so either without reference to or by grossly mischaracterizing a large and growing body of case law that stands for precisely the opposite proposition-the proposition that detention without trial for counterterrorism suspects can be lawful under the [congressional authorization of force] and, indeed, is an inherent incident of the power to wage war."

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 10, 2011; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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I'm not sure that the left's attempt to turn this tragedy into an attack on conservatives/libertarians and right wing media is going to work. The Internet is a great equalizer. It's not 1995, guys.

We all can see how BOTH sides of the political debate engage in bomb throwing, hateful dialogue sometimes (Palin is a particular object of it by the left), and weapon imagery and wording in political debates and campaigns.

Posted by: jmpickett | January 10, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton was able to slime job center-right conservatives after the Oklahoma because of the dominant influence of the MSM. This is fortunately no longer the case. The majority of Americans now rely on the alternative media and Internet postings by sensible people.

Posted by: DavidThomson | January 10, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

JM and David: As usual your comments are spot on. I just hope the conservative spokesmen stand up to the despicable rhetoric and spin being vomited out by kos kooks and their collaborators at MSNBC and elsewhere.

The hypocrisy of the Left is amazing and, as you rightly point out, in the past their spin would dominate. No longer, as Jennifer's post re: Glenn Reynolds illustrates.

Let's be clear: the Left is not responsible for this madman's actions; however, they are playing with fire if they think they can get away with blaming conservatives, the right, etc. They will get burned. If, as it seems likely, this guy was a leftwing pot head, the Left's logic will come back on them.

One more point: It is typical for many on the Left to blame others, external events (e.g., society, poverty, racism), etc., for an individual's actions. In this case, this tendency to blame society or whomever for evil behavior complements very nicely the horrible inclination to use the tragedy for political ends.

Posted by: DocC1 | January 10, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"That's the way covert action is supposed to work." That's exactly what I had in mind."

No, it isn't!

The above is being done successfully by Israel. You wanted OUR nation to do this, a huge difference. Here's the direct quote from the link you provided above:

"Second, we should continue and enhance espionage and sabotage of the Iranian nuclear program. Every nuclear scientist who has a "car accident" and every computer virus buys us time, setting back the timeline for Iran's nuclear capability, while exacting a price for those who cooperate with the nuclear program. Think of it as the ultimate targeted sanction."

The title of that column is "Time to Reset Policy". You were talking about US policy not Israeli.

This would make you the ONLY person I have read so far, even in the conservative camp, that favors assasination of Iranian scientists by the CIA.

That limb is getting very shaky Jennifer.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 10, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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