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Death Note politician invokes 'blood libel' in defensive communique issued from Osama Bin Laden-esque isolation.

[added later]

Warning: comments on CBC website are comments on CBC website.

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Open mouth, insert foot.

I've been speculating that the Republican establishment will use this whole episode to let Palin have enough rope to hang herself, on the assumption that they want her well away from a run at the presidency: she seems to be playing up (or down) to expectations.

There's a lot of thought in Democratic circles that this is exactly what's happening. The East Coast financial Republicans don't want her anywhere near a presidential run.

Palin put their party in a real bind. If they criticize her, the teabaggers and assorted allies go apeshit. If they don't, she enhances her own standing among the Republican base (and probably her own delusions of grandeur) which would be a disaster when the 2012 election campaign really kicks off later this year.

Seriously, can you imagine her in a debate with Obama? The only question would be how polite he'd be in determining how much of a fool to make her look like.


Amputate both legs at waist with chain saw and no anaesthetic, then open mouth and insert.

That would imply that Palin fans would ever consider anything she did to be self-destructive.

If she wants to run for president, she'll have to convince people other than her fans to vote for her.

This gaffe may be red meat to her base, but she's just used a form of phrasing guaranteed to piss off every Jew in the United States, for starters.

I'm sure there are some jewish republicans that would just close their eyes and think of tax cuts...


Death Panel, meet Blood Libel. May you be happy together.

the use of that phrase made me wonder if the script writer isn't an 'inside man' intending to take down Palin once and for all - like the guy who took the screws out of the balustrade on Bob Dole's podium.

Life as a Neil Stephenson novel (Interface)

speaking of sabotaged politicians

There were rumours back in the day that Kim Campbell was deliberately sabotaged by elements within her own party, like Campbell didn't inherit a difficult enough task for the 1993 election. If so, I doubt they expected the success they got.

Re: speaking of sabotaged politicians

"I doubt they expected the success they got."

Would that depend on whether the elements in her party who were responsible were looking forward to the emergence of the Reform/Alliance/CPC (non-communist) Party with its fundamentalist, pro-American roots? In which case the, bit to the right middle of the road, PC party was an abomination to be destroyed so the far right could be in the driver's seat.

Re: speaking of sabotaged politicians

No. Her Campaign manager was John Tory, who is (in the Canadian political parlance) a "Red Tory" -- for all you non-Canadians, that's sort of like a "moderate Republican", only moreso, or something like a Liberal Democrat in the UK, except within the Conservative Party (imagine the current governing coalition as a single party of some vintage).

So, as the saying goes, "never attribute to malice, that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


Surely she's watching for such people?

That would require an ability to spot such people.

Her problem is politics is a skill, you might come with some innate raw talent, but there are very few who can take that forward without a team of seriously, seriously capable people to handle everything. The impression I've got is that she's comfortably far enough along the Dunning-Kruger line that she really doesn't think she needs them, or if she does she hires people without the skill.

Either way, this kind of thing is the result.

If she'd come out and said, "this is a tragedy, my heart goes out to the victims and blah blah. This looks to be the actions of a single madmen, but it's a fact that the politics of personality in this country is a part of it. I, for one, will be doing what I can to step back from this and urge my supporters and the rest of the political establishment and the media, left and right to do the same. We are a great country and there is even more greatness to come and no individual can take that away. God Bless blah blah blah...", then she'd have looked like a statesperson.


Couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Pretty much by definition.

Nah, Willplant, her scriptwriters are as stupid as she is -- the main one was a recruit from her Facebook Fandom.

How many of her supporters will know the reference, or care once it's pointed out to them?

Yeah, I think among non-Jews "blood libel" has often become just a more intense synonym for "something really nasty somebody said"; they've forgotten the specific referent.

The more I think about it, the more I think it's deliberate - painting herself as a victim is half of her schtick, and this is her way of claiming the she is the victim here too. It's a "dog whistle" to her supporters.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way Rush Limbaugh uses thinly coded racial rhetoric.

People talk a lot about dog whistles, which are designed to sound innocuous to the larger culture but insinuate something specific to supporters. But Limbaugh does something that is almost the reverse, related to the gaming of the ad hominem fallacy that I talked about on my LJ a while ago. Over and over, he says stuff that the people who loathe him will immediately recognize as coded racism, while his supporters, who by and large don't think of themselves as racists and are more inclined to interpret statements by white guys as non-racist, can rationalize the statements as just good sense in the face of political correctness gone mad.

The result is that liberals get het up about it and point out that this guy is a repeat offender, and his supporters just see crazy liberals once again flinging around those wild accusations of racism at everyone they disagree with, which reinforces their general impression of a world of PC gone mad in which Rush Limbaugh is a rare center of sanity.

Something like that might be going on here.

Now someone has to coin a phrase for the kind of reverse dog-whistle Matt is describing.

What Matt is describing is exactly what I've seen being called dog-whistles, actually.

Picking fights to make his opponents look more insane to his supporters than they really are?


It's a kind of trolling.

I don't think this is what, say, Glenn Beck is primarily doing. Ann Coulter, some. But Limbaugh definitely.

But once the "crazy liberals" make known those "wild accusations," the demographic that Limbaugh et al. appeal to should, at least momentarily, realize the problem. At some point during rationalization, you'd think there would be a few people saying, "It's a misunderstanding, it just sounds like racism but isn't, and here's why." Instead, there are immediate denials of racism (or whatever bigotry is going on at the time) without a single blogger or pundit entertaining the idea that there was some unfortunate wording creating a misunderstanding.

I suppose it could be explained away easily as an example of how this particular political demographic goes so quickly into victim mode, and their reluctance to admit responsibility, even accidental or unintentional.

Overall, though, I can't help but think that Palin's alleged slip-up today was no slip-up at all. She is already obviously playing the victim (with the support of Glenn Beck), claiming she will be the victim of violence. Now, after a Jewish politician was shot, Palin makes her "blood libel" comment which specifically and directly relates to an antisemitic belief. Sounds like the standard right wingnut "we're the victims of Jews and liberals" gambit to me.

once the "crazy liberals" make known those "wild accusations," the demographic that Limbaugh et al. appeal to should, at least momentarily, realize the problem.

That implies a contact with reality that Teabaggers are, by definition, incapable of making.

As I have a friend who is (sigh) a libertarian tea-bagger-type (he's sane in most other ways, and is actually pretty socially liberal), I can say that the response to being called on it was basically, "Oh come on, all of these left liberals use 'blood libel' (link provided, which I did not follow), and nobody called them on it, so it can't mean what you say it does"

Also the old "liberals are the real antisemites", beloved of neocons, the evangelical right and Likud supporters.

Augh, that one has been coming up a ton on Datalounge lately. Someone keeps repeating it, and most of the forum's population is so young that they haven't heard it before. The "you libs hate Jews!" troll keeps trying to tell them it's been this way for decades, and everyone else is like "Huh? DL has only been around for 15 years, and we're not particularly antisemitic around here..."

Perhaps political discourse online is futile! It's a thought!

I first heard this suggested for the "teabagger" thing. When the "teabaggers" self-designation was initially getting pundit-promulgated, I remember someone explaining that it's not an accident but a well-established strategy. When they start being made fun of for it, the strategists will spin it as "look at those sexually depraved liberals".

I meant not pundits, but whoever does that on behalf of the Koch brothers' social engineering people from inside the "movement".

'Prolly. There's also the fact that the Republicans ceased being a real force for governance some time ago - the parasite left that diseased hulk some time ago and is now riding a fresh host - the Democratic party. What's left now is just a bogey man. Something the Very Serious People can point to and say that if you don't for us the Republicans Win. Then Obama, the DNC, etc. go ahead and enact the policies the real powers have instructed them to pursue.

So on that level, no, Sarah Palin is way too useful to throw away. The natural aging process will cause her to fade with time, same with Ann of the Apple, but not much else.

I'm no fan of Sarah Palin, but this wasn't actually that bad. Aside from the highly unfortunate invocation of the "blood libel," she says the things that she needs to be on record saying and makes a few reasonable, if fairly obvious, points. She also goes in for some hypocrisy, especially towards the end, as when she suggests that it is the Right in this country that have been defending personal liberties against terrorist-inspired security theater -- but, well, politician is hypocritical in public statement, dog bites man.

Not one of the great examples of political speaking in the U.S., and I expect an aide to issue a testy clarification in the next twenty-four hours that "blood libel" doesn't actually mean what it means; but IMO this speech is nothing to get too worked up about.

"Aside from the highly unfortunate invocation of the 'blood libel'" is where you went off the rails.

It's not a "highly unfortunate invocation." It's her attempt to turn herself into a victim (in a shooting where six people actually died, and Sarah Palin was nowhere near it), by reference to a lie used for a thousand years to justify anti-Semitism, pogroms, and the Holocaust.

In her mind, harsh verbal criticism is equivalent to genocide.

This is not "highly unfortunate." It's just plain disgusting.

Aside from the highly unfortunate invocation of the "blood libel,"

Yeah, no, you don't get to say "aside" from that.

The Blood Libel has been used for thousands of years, by Christians, to justify the attempted genocide of Jews. Claiming that "people don't like what I say" is the same as "the attempts me and mine have ben making for centuries to murder all Jews"? Does not get to be ignored as "unfortunate".

I expect an aide to issue a testy clarification in the next twenty-four hours that "blood libel" doesn't actually mean what it means

Nah, her public defenders have already googled around for other misuses of the phrase, found one or two, and are touting that as proof. Of something.

I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

... did she just try to portray herself as a victim like unto the jews who were vilified leading up to the Holocaust?

Re: I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

Of course not! And only a communist, antisemite liberal would dare accuse her of that.

Re: I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

oh whew... good. for a second there, I was scared that she might have actually said something note-worthy and important.

Re: I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...

Oh no, totally false alarm.

For those surprised by the use of the term "blood libel", which I agree is being used incorrectly, note that the phrase is all over the right-wing blogosphere in connection with recent criticism of Palin.

Glenn Reynolds who blogs as "Instapundit" published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal two days ago titled "The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel" and subtitled "Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don't help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder."

You can read the piece here:

"Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don't help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder."

Shorter Glenn Reynolds:

"Both sides are just as bad each other, though I have to fundamentally redefine a major element of ashkenazi jewish history to make that true."

Because apparently the blood libel was that one time when jews talked very loudly about how they ought to go around drinking the blood of christian babies, and then when a jew drank the blood of a christian baby this one time, the christians suggested that maybe the jewish culture of loudly talking about how jews should drink the blood of christian babies might be somewhat to blame, and therefore ruined the chance of a rabbi becoming tzar of russia and thereby forcing that rabbi's ignorant and backward beliefs upon the russian populace.

Obviously, that whole thing where the blood libel involves the false accusation that jews had drank the blood of christian babies? That was bullshit because a jew really did drink the blood of christian babies and jews frequently advocate the drinking of christian babies' blood, according to glenn reynolds.

Because the only way, the only way, that using the blood libel in this ironic* way doesn't inadvertantly imply that the blood libel wasn't actually libel is if someone hadn't just shot Gabrielle Giffords in the head with the intent to kill her. As the whole point of the blood libel is that it is a thing that implies that something has happened when in reality it had not happened, when in this case something has happened and it is being implied that something else that involves the advocation of that other thing happening... also happened.

After all, this isn't a british libel court, there are rules.

* Note that I put that "ironic" into quotation marks at first, then realised that the use was actually ironic in this case, though not in that "hipster irony" sense of the word "ironic" that calls for quotation marks over the word "ironic" when it is being used as an adjective.

So we can take some small comfort in Glenn Reynolds' words because he has officially broken ironic quotation marks.

(Deleted comment)
These things come in cycles. There was a crest in the early to mid-1990s that ended in the domestic terrorism wave of 1995-96. Not all of those guys were right-wing militia types, but the resulting backlash (followed by the relative comfort of total Republican dominance) did sober up the more violently inclined bits of the fringe right up until Obama started running for president.

...And, note, the Republicans weren't hurt by it for very long.

I was a kid in conservative Utah while Clinton was president. There were a number of adult males belonging to militias and a number of folks passing around Bo Gritz's manifestos and tying it back to Mormon prophecies about how the Constitution would be hanging by a thread. Enough that it was fairly mainstream where I lived. My friend's dad belonged to a miltia whose password was "Ruby Ridge."

I'd hoped that generation had petered out, but no, they all came crawling out of the woodwork when Obama got elected. :(

Nah, Carter was also a target for militia types. I know - my dad was and is one one of those militia men, subvariant millenarist.

I'd love to arrange to send L'Palin and each of her supporters a copy of R. Po-chia Hsia's The Myth of Ritual Murder so they could, perhaps, understand what blood libel really is and what it is like to be a victimized minority in a overly religious society.

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