The recent shootings in Arizona came after some very heated and ugly rhetoric from the extreme ends of the political spectrum.

Do these folks understand the environment their words create?

Perhaps a checklist might be useful for those who might not be aware of what the impact of their inappropriate language is on the public.

The people driving our political discourse and policy debate should use the following checklist before giving your next speech, airing your political advertisements, even before your next Tweet! It will improve your communications, and be good for the country!


The Speaker is:
❒ Elected Official
❒ Political Candidate
❒ Radio Pundit
❒ Blogger
❒ Anonymous Troll

Kind of Rhetoric:
❒ Eloquent Statesmanship
❒ Inspirational Poetry
❒ Malicious Libel
❒ Incitement to Violence
❒ 4th Grade English

Dominant emotional appeal:
❒ Prideful Nationalism
❒ Fear & Confusion
❒ Resignation, Despair
❒ Blind Rage
❒ Please make it stop . . .

Underlying Message:
❒ “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
❒ “I Have A Dream”
❒ “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ”
❒ “Duty, Honor, Country”
❒ “Reload”

Expected Public Reaction
❒ Intelligent Debate
❒ Collective Sacrifice
❒ Reach for Greatness
❒ Mindless repetition
❒ Blind Obedience

Intended Effects
❒ A Call to action
❒ The Demonization of Opponents
❒ Brand Recognition
❒ Coalition Building
❒ A Reality TV Series Deal

In an ideal world, the speech would generate:
❒ Civil discourse
❒ Respect for political process and opponents
❒ Factually accurate debate
❒ Peace in our time
❒ The End of the World as we know it . . .”

Category: Humor, Philosophy, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

45 Responses to “Checklist for Pundits”

  1. Did I miss any broad checklist topics?

  2. mathman says:

    Kunstler’s take on the shooting (ties in issues of finance, government and the trajectory of today’s adolescents):

  3. I think this should also go under the ‘humor’ category.

    Also, under ‘In an ideal world, the speech would generate:’

    you might want to have:

    The end of the world as we know it

    As your last selection :)


    BR: Done and Done!

  4. The irony is that the checklist could actually be used for its intended purposes.

    That is when you know you have achieved perfect satire

  5. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    Those who would inflame already know, precisely, what they are doing. Highly educated (or receiving funding and/or counsel from the highly educated), well-connected, upper crust individuals speaking to those with 4th grade mentalities and values (the Koch’s and the Tea Party, for example). They already have your checklist (it’s internalized) and they divide the sheep from the goats by appealing to the base instincts and ideologies of those too stupid, or too sick, or too malleable to question their own beliefs, attitudes, and biases. When the shit hits the fan and the connection between the manipulator(s) and the manipulated becomes undeniable, the manipulators ostensibly find Jesus and condemn the acts they themselves suggested (witness the backpedaling by the “conservatives” this weekend), or, who suddenly finding themselves cornered and liable, ratchet up their rhetoric.

    The Christian right is a good example of the dynamic. On the one hand, we have the fundamentalists: Those who act opposite to the teachings of their “god” — intellectually unable or politically unwilling to read or comprehend the simple message contained in his creed or to hold those twisting that message to their personal political or economic benefit accountable. On the other hand, we have the malleable Catholic laity — never breaking ranks with their leadership (despite being relatively highly-educated), while blatant child molestation (of their own kids, nonetheless), on an institutional basis, goes uncorrected.

    You are spitting into the wind.

  6. Frank Tobin says:

    “The recent shootings in Arizona came after some very heated and ugly rhetoric from the extreme ends of the political spectrum.”
    I’m not sure “extreme ends” should be plural; I see an imbalance.

  7. doug says:

    under “Intended Effects”, you may wish to add “Take this blog down”.
    Jeez, that was my laugh of the weekend….

  8. whatever says:

    Intended effect:
    Trigger an FBI investigation

  9. markd says:

    humor? not so much.

  10. jack says:

    i think the punditry jumped to conclusions too quickly on this one. information is still coming in on who this guy was and what drove him. from what i have read so far, he was worried about the currency and government control:
    “Mistrust of government was Loughner’s defining conviction, the friends said. He believed the U.S. government was behind 9/11, and worried that governments were maneuvering to create a unified monetary system (“a New World Order currency” one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world.”

    this is the mind of a well read paranoid, not a fourth grade education.

    “On his YouTube page, he listed among his favorite books “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World” — two novels about how authorities control the masses. Other books in the wide-ranging list included “Mein Kampf,” ‘’The Communist Manifesto,” ‘’Peter Pan” and Aesop’s Fables.”

    so he liked Marx and Orwell, he was an atheist, he had a substance abuse problem, he was a truther, and he thought that killing innocent people was a way to resolve his issues. seems like an overall nut job, not a strictly right wing idealogue.

    i am not a fan of palin’s, but i have not seen any proof that her website was cited in any of his background so far. it may show up eventually, but i haven’t seen it yet. he seems to have been driven by other demons.

  11. RW says:

    Jack’s comment above is right but the topic of BR’s post was eliminationist rhetoric and overheated political climate and the folks who exploit it generally rather than anyone in particular; i.e., Palin certainly contributes to the high temperature and incipient violence of that climate but so do a hell of a lot of other people.

    The purpose of that however is not simply to influence people and win elections, it is fundraising; making money. So I’d add (or replace) a check mark in the last sub-list, “In an ideal world, the speech would generate:” Funds (or funds and fans)

    NB: Palin is actually more honest about this than most of the hot-air specialists IMO; she stated from the get-go that her position as Governor was a headache and not where the real money was.

  12. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    Interesting that he shot Democrats at a Democratic constituents’ rally — not a random shooting at a mall or other “random” place. Palin named Giffords and used crosshairs and the words “target list” and “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” If her words didn’t influence Loughner, perhaps the correlation of random event with Palin’s words and symbols will make her STFU with her violent rhetoric.

  13. Tarkus says:

    I rate a speech it by how much it stimulates my limbic system and if it makes me want to eat raw meat.

  14. zot23 says:

    I agree with Frank Tobin above, “extreme ends”? Can anyone provide a coherent example of a left leaning news organization or major politician calling for the assassination of a political opponent, of them inciting fear or anger to the point of violence?

    Obama saying, “they bring a knife, you bring a gun” is not valid. He was quoting from a well known movie, and the context (for him and the movie) was Chicago politics. Had he then turned and fired a loaded glock into a photo of McCain, we could talk, in reality he’s spent 2 years kissing Republican’s asses as President. If anything, he’s incited left wing hate against himself…

  15. RugbyD says:


    Democrats “guilty” of the same stuff in 2004. No biggie.

    More evidence that this is a problem of crazy and not partisan and intellectually lazy political yammering.

  16. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    “Democrats “guilty” of the same stuff in 2004. No biggie.”

    This is not the “same stuff,” in that the graphic names no one, does not call out people by name — in fact, the blurb at the bottom clearly states what “target” means, in political terms. You seem to be grasping at straws.


    read your list. Really?

  17. dss says:

    Let the back pedaling begin.

    It is unfathomable to me that just because Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Fox news, Sharon Engel, 2nd Amendment solution etc. aren’t specifically mentioned in his screeds (the ones that have been released to the public) that this is evidence that there was no correlation or that he wasn’t influenced by the drum beat of a continued call to “lock and load”, “target liberals”, “take out Harry Reid”, rhetoric.

    No one knows what kind of influences he was subjected to in the home, i.e., anyone who has been fed a constant diet of Fox News, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Sharon Engle and the likes of Gifford’s opponent, Jesse Kelly inviting people to shoot an automatic M16 to “help” remove Gifford from office will be influenced.

    Imagine having a political commercial endlessly running In Tucson this past election season with Jesse and his M16 would do to a man who was already disturbed. I dunno, I think I might have noticed the newly purchased Glock and 100 rounds of ammo (where did he get the money to buy these things?) if they were in my home.

    To suggest that all of those influences had no effect on him would be news to the people who buy advertising time and run crazy political commercials with an M16 on radio, tv, and the internet.

    Also the ridiculous notion that because someone is crazy means that he could not be influenced by the “us against them, take them out” gun metaphors delegitimizes the entire Tea Party, as crazy was on display at every rally, along with the guns for a reason, it brings in other crazies.

    The fact that he targeted the Democrat Giffords and not the cranky old bastard McCain (surely as big of a symbol of a government official out of control as anyone) is telling. Lock and load, let’s take them out, Kelly Places The Crosshairs on Giffords, (taken from his campaign website). Jesse Kelly For Congress – Kelly Places The Crosshairs on Giffords

    So the mighty right wing Wurlizter is cranked up and the echo chamber locked and loaded so that the right wing brainwashing can begin! He’s a liberal! Cross Hairs on Democrats are map points! He’s a Commie! He’s a Nazi! He loves Fairy Tales! Dressing like GI Joe and waving your M16 at a campaign rally is fun!

    Nothing to see here, move along now.

  18. jb.mcmunn says:

    People are reading too much into this. Whenever a random tragedies like these occur we naturally seek to identify causes and thereby ways to prevent them, but just because A followed B it does not mean that A caused B. Just because a nut case blew a fuse after a round of political “sturm und drang” doesn’t mean there was a causal relationship.

    Political discourse in this country has always been ugly yet very few people (a handful out of many millions) have been so inflamed as to assassinate politicians. Check out the mudslinging of the John Quincy Adams – Andrew Jackson election of 1828.

    The shooter shows obvious signs of clinical psychosis, i.e., paranoid schizophrenia. These folks can become very angry in their delusional state. Maybe he picked this particular person based on what Palin posted, but even if she hadn’t put up her stupid targets, this guy would have done something similar somewhere else.

    Toning down political discussion will have as much effect on violent psychotic people as it would have had on John Hinckley:

    “Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you, whether it be in total obscurity or whatever. ” Hinckley

    Please recall that prior to Reagan, Hinckley stalked Jimmy Carter in 1979.

    Charles J. Guiteau, the man who shot James Garfield, was also a lonely loser with a screw loose. During his trial he gave testimony in the form of poetry, asked people in the courtroom for legal advice, and publicly criticized his lawyers. He shot Garfield because he was denied a political appointment that he thought he deserved.

    Arthur Bremer, who tried to kill George Wallace, kept a diary in which he discussed his hatred of Nixon. Wallace was not really his main target for his hatred. He also fantasized about killing people who had angered him, or randomly opening fire on a street corner. Bremer was the inspiration for the character Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” – a movie Hinckley saw over a dozen times. Maybe we need to stop making movies about disturbed people.

  19. DCinLBV says:

    BR, I hate to disagree with you on this one, but I think you have made the mistake you are often accusing other media and economists of making, chosing facts to support your ideology and not analyzing the situation agnosticly and letting the data lead the results.

    As someone with a sociology background, I look at the situation and see an attack that was not a political strike, but a personal one. Political and religious attacks are normally focused on “hard” targets and any innocent bystanders are considers incidental victims of a “greater cause”. The attackers consider themselves nobel rebels against an evil empire (think Star Wars). Their warped ideology may cause them to identify hard targets that do not make sense to a normal person, but their attacks are analytical and controlled. This attack was just another person with emotional problems who just happened to chose a political target this time. Yes, he had a hard target in the Congresswoman, but then he turned around and randomly targetted innocent civilians in pure rage. This was purely personal and any polical part was just an excuse for his outburst.

    I do not way to make any excuses for any of the nut jobs out there, but the freedom of speach is nothing more than the right to be offensive. Our forefathers understood that after 10,000 years of arguments being settled with war, that it was worth trying to fight them with words instead. As soon as you try to limit peoples right to say what they think, no matter how offensive, you force them to look into other (normally violent) ways to express their views. It’s the old saying “Daylight is the best disinfectant”.

    Let’s also not forget that the Congressional approval rating is the lowest in history. I have heard several people go on and on about the horrors and tragedy of the situation, but then say some snippet like “but maybe Congress will start listening to the people again”. I personally cannot stand pill-popping Limbaugh, or gold-whoring Glenn Beck, and a couple years ago, I was almost thrown out of my brother-in-laws home on Thankgsgiving day for my loathing distaste of the Palins. But, I think of all the articles right here on TBP about the corruption between Wall Street and Washington, (the bailouts and back-door dealings of a Congress that puts Wall Street ahead of Main Street), and I don’t see how they are any less inflamatory than the stuff you are accusing the right wing wackos of saying. Some of that may be because I try not to listen to those wackos, but still it is easy to see that people accross the spectrum feel like Congress no longer listens to them. That perceived lack of listening is really no different that limiting people’s free speach, which will lead to the afore-mentioned escelation, and is why the exteme views have become louder. I do not think this was a politcal attack, but I do fear there will be greater risks for them in the future as this problem grows. But, the radical rhetoric is not the cause of this, it is simply another symptom of the same problem.

    Sorry for the rambling, but I just want to try to raise the discussion beyond the emotions of the newscasts and show there are a lot more issues involved than way is being portrayed. The level of emotional reaction to the shooting shows that there are deeper issues here.

  20. Fred C Dobbs says:

    Words can’t describe how saddened I am to find a reputable financial blogger inviting, if not inciting, readers to vent irrational, factually-unsupported opinions about the mass shooting in Arizona. 6 were killed, 14 wounded, and many more would have been had not the shooter prevented from re-loading his clip. There is no evidence that the shooter ever read anything written for or against any political principal or person. It unlikely that his political thoughts were anything other than completely disordered, neither Democrat nor Republican nor any other particular party at all. There is indisputable evidence that he was just plain crazy, and federal and state laws contributed to his being free to walk the streets, buy guns and shoot people. See, for example, Legislators and judges feel it is better that error on the side of leaving crazy people go free until they commit a harm or kill someone, even though others may die. It is analogous to the argument it is better that probable criminals go free rather than convict one possibly innocent person. Those that reason from the remote possibility that this crazy, immature kid might have read any specific statement to the conclusion that this is what made him shoot 20 people, and possibly 20 more, are just as crazy as he and just as capable of shooting 20 people as he did. I hope none do and hope none ever serve on any jury in our wonderful country. In general this is a very good financial blog, and I am surprised to find out that some who read this blog find it difficult to control their emotions and engage in civil debate. Maybe it appeals to the wrong audience.

  21. alnval says:

    Wonderful stuff. As per the comment of the Common Man the social scientist in me wants to give the list to a graduate student to encode a variety of speeches. That way you would refine the list (eliminate the overlap) and establish whether it really can separate one kind of speech from another. Great doctoral dissertation. Not enough theory for some but a grand exercise in inductive thinking.

    As to Loughlan’s well-planned, methodical paranoia one might want to take a look at the movie “Proof” to see what the writing of a careful, methodical paranoid schizophrenic can really look like. Or even “A Beautiful Mind.” I haven’t seen anything yet in the media about Loughlan that comes even close. From the limited stuff I have seen reported; the emotional lability in class, the social isolation, the fragmented character of his writing (thinking), all speak to the presence of poor behavioral controls, i.e, a high potential for impulsive acting out.

  22. TomL says:

    Somewhat tangential to this topic:
    How will this tragedy affect retail politics as practiced in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries next year?
    Gladhanding citizen-voters and kissing babies at small community meetings may be a thing of the past.
    Political rallies may look a lot more like the security theater at US airports with vetted guest lists, metal detectors and backpack checks.

    And it may be a lot more difficult for underfunded pols to breakout from the pack because the US taxpayer is not going to foot the bill for unlimited security in these 2 states.

  23. jaymaster says:

    Underlying message: “If you don’t agree with me, you are an idiot.”

    That’s about 80% of blogosphere political debate.

  24. dss says:

    Funny how that list just happened to show up at the Freeper Website.

    Boy, they must really be scared because all of the big guns are coming out, excuse the pun.

    What the right’s strategy now is to muddy the water, confusing the easily led sheeple, desperately trying prove that the Loughner is not one of them, and nah, nah, nah, the left is just the same!

    If the right wing rhetoric is so innocuous, so unable to influence anyone, why have they used it for so long, and conversely why is every single gun reference and killing metaphor being scrubbed from every single website?

    After all, according to their logic, Loughner wasn’t influenced by the rhetoric that we have just spent millions to produce and promote, but those old slogans need to be erased, you know, because they were just so ineffective and innocent!

    This is going to be one of their biggest con jobs in their sorry history.

  25. Kort says:

    He shot a Democrat at a Democratic rally because that’s his local Congress person and somebody he has talked to/stalked for YEARS, way back in time when Palin was still fighting Russians at her border and nobody ever heard of Palin. As for being a Democrat, she’s a blue dog–in favor of gun rights and tougher border, etc, and even was part of the contingent to read the Constitution last week.

    As for the shooter–a “left-wing pothead” based upon people that actually know him.

    But, whatever.

  26. Lariat1 says:

    I remember years ago , Clinton’s first presidential run, being up in Burlington, VT. at the waterfront park when Al Gore showed up for a meet and greet. I just happened to be there and was first time ever being that close to Secret Service agents. I remember thinking yea, someone could be here that wants to shoot him but it NEVER dawned on me to be concerned for myself. This adds a whole new element to bringing your kids to meet their government leaders.

  27. Low Budget Dave says:

    When people on the right wing describe Democrats and liberals as “traitors”, they are targeting the message to people who are fragile, scared, and ignorant. Then, when something like this happens, they have to review the suspect’s facebook page to document that it was not their “reload” message that finally sent the shooter over the edge. Then Fox News issues a quick denial that blames “an athiest” (i.e. “a Democrat”) for the violence.

    Free Republic has called Obama a “traitor” in print repeatedly, but they are hardly alone. American Jihad, Savage Nation and dozens of others describe healthcare reform in language so dire that even normal people are scared that government troopers are going to come knock down their doors to brainwash innocent children.

    People with average defense mechanisms ignore the rhetoric, but the messages were not targeted at them, they were targeted at people who were paranoid to start with.

    Most politicians realize that 1% to 2% of their audience is not technically sane. They tone down their campaigns to avoid this sort of thing. Talk radio does the opposite. They feed on the energy of people who are easily misdirected. Jonah Goldberg sells them books, Glenn Beck sells them gold coins, while Limbaugh and Palin sell them simple solutions to all of America’s problems.

    There is no one on the left trying to stir mental patients up into a frenzy. This is inherent to the far right wing of American Politics, because lies and hatred are the only way to sell their agenda. It is the symptom of an empire in decline.

    America will not survive this. No country ever has.

  28. krice2001 says:

    While I appreciate those who want to see this as completely disconnected from current political discourse. It might be, but it might not be.

    Threats to elected officials at the Federal level are up significantly in the last few years. Since there has been little time for genetic changes in humans, one has to assume another cause. Perhaps there”s a connection to rhetoric directed against officials reaching such a high pitch? It’s hard to see how that particual form of acting out (threats to govenrment officials) would be growing significantly if that wasn’t the case. IMHO, it’s a fairly logical cause and effect.

    It also appears to be the case from statistics I’ve read that the majority of the threats are against Democrats. So either there is something particularly bad or evil about Democrats (Liberals?) that’s causing a lopsided reaction or the Republicans (Conservatives) are doing a much better job inciting their followers. Again, logic points me in a certain direction.

    I don’t know (no one yet does) what motivated this person, but to say rhetoric is never to blame is ridiculous. Rhetoric is intended to have impact and in many cases to incite. Sometimes it goes further than you expect. And with the profits to be made from political heat and divisiveness, there’s been increasing energy on the net and the cable/airwaves. Many threats are probably stopped due to better law enforcement and intelligence tchniques – so we don’t really know how rare real threats really are.

  29. Rescission says:

    For any independent thinkers out there, here are a few factual quotes. If you want truth.

    1. Kill Bush signs at rallies across America.
    Look at these pictures. It’s horrible and disgusting.

    2. Joy Behar: “Sharon Angle is going to hell”
    3. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on the air: “We ought to rip out Dick Cheney’s heart and kick it around and stuff it back in him.” and “We hope he goes and shoots someone else in the face.”
    4. Chris Matthews: “Rush Limbaugh, at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. We’ll be there to watch.”
    5. Mike Malloy on the air: “Maybe Beck will do the honorable thing and blow his brains out.” and “Maybe Limbaugh will do the right thing and gobble up enough Viagra and become completely rigid, and keel over dead.”
    and “Maybe O’Reilly will drink a vat of poison and choke to death.”
    6. Madonna: Threatens Sarah Palin by saying she will “kick her ass”.

    These are all direct threats of violence and harm to people. I must have missed the blog post on these.


    BR: I expect more from our Presidential candidates than I do from Rock stars. Do you really fail to see a distinction between the two?

  30. Joe formerly of Brooklyn says:

    The problem is not Sarah Palin, or Rush, or Harry of Nevada or Nancy Pelosi — or Clinton, Newt Gingrich, or any of them.

    In my opinion, the problem is Democracy.

    It just doesn’t work very well. There are a lot of problems with it, more than you’d wish to count. “Rhetoric” certainly is one of them, but it’s not on top of the list (might not be in the Top 50 Problems, even).

    - – - –

    One of the problems is: Crazy people can come out of the woodwork and shoot the people we elect.

    See: Teddy Roosevelt (shot but survived), McKinley, JFK, RFK, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford (she missed) . . . and more. I don’t count Mr. King or Malcolm X, b/c they were not elected.

    But the above list has 7 people at/near the top — shot at in the past 110 years.

    No one has yet shot Mugabe. We had to invade a whole country to take down Saddam.

    Combine this with the way the Chinese are making their stupid top-down, command-and-control system work these days . . . and you start to think . . . doncha?

  31. Bill W says:

    We’re all adults here. Certainly, we should act like adults, but we’re also mature enough to here some adult language now and then. Did politicians create the climate for violence? I don’t think so. Although, they certainly did not create the climate for productive discussion. I don’t doubt that unstable individuals can listen to angry rhetoric, and feal motivated to commit violence, but we don’t structure society for the lowest common denominator. We structure society for grown ups to live freely. Nasty languate and vitriol is part of the political process that we should condemn, but let’s be careful about who we accuse of having bloody hands.

  32. Greg0658 says:

    AZ shooters web-blog was on MySpace (parent NewsCorp) … and BR & TBP editors – do you have any insight into whether he visited here? .. I would like to see the list of music / videos (on his bookshelves) and websites he found interesting (on his computer) … sorry I’m on threadT and offT

  33. RugbyD says:

    @Petey Wheatstraw

    The term “Behind Enemy Lines” used at the bottom of the graphic carries with it an unquestionable association with violence and warfare. No straws to be grasped for here.

  34. Trevor says:

    I agree with much of what Petey said.

    I feel it important, however, to point out how Barry’s post, itself, is an example of the very question he asks: “Do these folks understand the environment their words create?” Note how Barry uses the words “the impact of their inappropriate language …on the public,” instead of “the effect of their inappropriate language …on the public.” ‘Impact’ (to strike another thing) has been so misused by the media and others (one supposes for dramatic, attention- and advertising-getting reasons), and for so long, that the vast majority of society is unaware of its misuse when they encounter it. Media hyperbole has become engrained in our culture to the point that we no longer understand that it is present.

    So, I feel obliged to ask: does Barry understand the environment his word creates? ;-)

  35. Andy T says:

    Here’s the problemo Barry and the other people that were so extremely quick to “insinuate” that the Palin/Beck/TeaPartiers were somehow to blame for this…

    If we find out that there was no connection whatsoever between Loughner and Palin/etc, then you, and others, will have unwittingly turned Sarah Palin into a “sympathetic” figure. I didn’t think that was even possible!

    That’s why you don’t “rush to judge” without the facts….

    Because, now, the right wingers will be able to have a field day with the “reaction” from the left…

    Who knows what really motivated this lunatic. I guess we’ll find out in the fullness of time.

  36. Sarge says:

    ” BR: I expect more from our Presidential candidates than I do from Rock stars. Do you really fail to see a distinction between the two? ”

    Who doesn’t but that isn’t what you stated in your post and I quote: “The people driving our political discourse…”

    Doesn’t that include pundits as well as candidates? Was the political discourse what drove this insane young man to kill?

    There’s plenty of blame to spread on both sides of the aisle. The political discourse now is nothing if not just as unsavory than what has gone before as jb.mcmunn said above.

  37. dss says:


    Madonna and the Dixie chicks, vs. 24/7 365 days a year of right wing agiprop.

  38. Julia Chestnut says:

    You know, I’m glad that I’m not the only one concerned about “leaders” who believe that hastening the “end times” is a good thing. People who not only believe that an omnipotent God needs them to be in on His enforcement agenda, but who are actively jonesing for the end of days. Seriously, seriously creepy.

  39. Rescission says:


    Good point. I certainly see a distinction between rock stars and Presidential candidates, for sure.

    If you truly believe that Gov. Palin was inciting violence by using crosshairs and the words “taking aim” to target certain districts to take back for her party, then I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, respectfully. Palin may be a lot of things, but I can’t bring myself to believe she supports violence. She has never said she would kick anybody’s ass, nor has she ever said or inferred that someone should die. In all fairness, I don’t see any politicians on either side doing that. She certainly must have a higher opinion of the intelligence of those viewing her website than you do I guess. Neither was Obama suggesting any violence when he used the phrase about bringing a knife and a gun. The words “battleground”, “fight”, “targets”, are used all the time by all parties on both sides, and it is a real stretch to suggest that this incites any violence. At the end of the day, people must be responsible for their own actions.

    As for the other violent quotes I posted, they aren’t rock stars, they are hosts of shows on news networks. I find it despicable.


    BR: I believe she was being irresponsible, as was Madonna, Olberman, Beck, Limbaugh, and those insane protesters.

    I don’t know about you, but I hold Presidential; aspirants to a higher standard of conduct . . .

  40. river says:

    I wonder how Brad DeLong’s blog post would respond to this checksheet:

    “Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva are both Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Arizona. On Tuesday January 4 the number of hits on the “Gabrielle Giffords” page on Wikipedia began to rise. The number of hits on the “Raul Grijalva” page did not. By Friday January 7 more than three times as many people were looking at Gabrielle Giffords’s Wikipedia page than had done so in a normal day in the previous month and a half.

    On Saturday January 8, of course, six people were murdered in the course of the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords.

    Please give me an explanation of this so that I can stop being a nutbar conspiracy theorist…”

  41. jessica says:

    Yes, there has been irresponsibility on both sides. Yes, “both sides do it”. But if we make the jump from there to “both sides are the same”, this has the unintended reverse effect of absolving each side from the responsibility of doing its best to rein in its own extremists. And also the unintended reverse effect of making it impossible for any of us to distinguish between “playing hard” and “playing dirty”.

  42. V says:

    I also wonder how much gun and military related rhetoric at least in part is a reflection on a society that embraces it as some part of its culture. (maybe embrace is too strong a word)

    I remember on the campaign trail when senator Clinton spoke about her arrival in Bosnia under sniper fire.

    In many parts of the world that would be seen as a baldfaced lie, whereas in the US she became Secretary of State.
    Again maybe lie is too strong of a word, however at the very least she was playing to her audience.
    But rather than own up she claimed to have misspoke, which has to be an emerging Google trend.

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