Blood libel? Death panels?

Sarah Palin issued a statement which responds to critics who assigned various degrees of responsibility to her for the shootings in Arizona. Here is her video:

The full statement is here. I want to focus on these words:

If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
When I first heard her describe the accusations against her as a “blood libel,” I cringed because the term historically relates to a horrendous anti-Semitic accusation that Jews kill Christian children for their blood. Not surprising to me, a controversy has arisen over her use of the term. Just a bit ago, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement condemning the use of the phrase.

It is unfortunate that the tragedy in Tucson continues to stimulate a political blame game.  Rather than step back and reflect on the lessons to be learned from this tragedy, both parties have reverted to political partisanship and finger-pointing at a time when the American people are looking for leadership, not more vitriol.  In response to this tragedy we need to rise above partisanship, incivility, heated rhetoric, and the business-as-usual approaches that are corroding our political system and tainting the atmosphere in Washington and across the country.

It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder.  Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.

Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase “blood-libel” in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term “blood-libel” has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.

I agree with the ADL on this matter. Rep. Giffords is Jewish and it is insensitive at best for evangelical Palin to use a term which is offensive to Jews in this situation. Not only is it insensitive, the use of the term obscures the expressions of sympathy and the accurate aspects of her analysis. 

Another consequence is that the judgment by which she judges will now be used to judge her rhetoric. For instance, Sarah Palin and the far right have invoked the term “death panels” as a way of accusing supporters of the health care bill of favoring the deaths of older people in order to cut costs. This would be a kind of blood libel, wouldn’t it? Accusing someone of creating a means to bring death to old people via legislation is a serious allegation and one that is simply false. In light of the currently toxic public square, evangelicals and social conservatives should just speak in plain and descriptive language rather than invent defamatory terms to describe ideological opponents.

Gov. Sarah Palin to resign?

That’s what Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin at Politico are reporting.

What can it all mean? Not running for re-election, one could understand if indeed she wanted to seek the GOP nod in 2012 but why quit now?

Much of the negative said about Palin during the election was not accurate (as I documented). Since the election, she is often mentioned as a contender for 2012. However, I wonder how an early departure from Alaska will effect those plans.

Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.
1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.
2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.
3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.
4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.
5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.
6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.
7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.
8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.
9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.
10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.
I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)
Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments and page views – 2008

Time to wrap up 2008 with a review of the stories told and topics covered. I also will give the top ten posts based on page views.
By far the election was the broad topic which generated the most page views. Aside from the Berg vs. Obama thread, readers prefer to comment on the sexual identity related posts. As in past years, I will pick out my top ten themes in a later post.
Top ten by number of comments (fluctuation should be minimal since most of these threads are quiet now)
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1 (796)
2. New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory (460)
3. Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy (282)
4. New Direction for Exodus? (277)
5. Day of the Golden Rule? (264)
6. Sally Kern: What should she do? (248)
7. Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation (239)
8. Multiple factors involved in sexual orientation, part 2 (221)
9. Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible? (219)
10. 60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation: An update from the mother of twins (217)
Top ten by page views are:
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1
2. Hey Florida, is this ok with you?
3. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth
4. Berg vs. Obama: Update and current status
5. Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too
6. Donofrio vs. Wells: NJ Obama citizenship case slated for SCOTUS conference
7. What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade, Part two
8. Some light on Sarah Palin’s church affiliation
9. Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?
10. Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University
The top post has been viewed over 15,000 times with the other posts gradually decreasing from there. These numbers are constantly changing.

Fundraiser for Sarah Palin's destroyed church

Wasila Bible Church was virtually destroyed by a suspicious fire last week. Via Michelle Malkin, Team Sarah provides a way to help out.

Due to arson, Sarah’s home church has suffered $1 million in damage.
I have gotten numerous emails asking for how to help and make donations, so here is how we can show the church and Gov. Palin that Team Sarah members are here to support them in their time of need.
1. Please make your check payable to: Wasilla Bible Church
2. Mail your check to:
Wasilla Bible Church
1651 W. Nicola Avenue
Wasilla, Alaska 99654

Palin policy speech today on special needs families

I wish I could have heard it but just down the road in Pittsburgh, Sarah Palin delivered a policy speech, on the topic of special needs and disabilities.
Her full remarks are here with video.
She has been much maligned for her special needs record. However, claims of cutting programs that I have researched have been false with most programs for special needs families receiving increases from her Alaska budgets.

Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too

UPDATE: 11/6/08 – Tiffany Wilson has the scoop on Michelle Obama’s election night outfit; prob about 12k. Bet the MSM are preparing stories about it right now.
Actually the whole clothing ruckus involving Sarah Palin is silly and being driven for political purposes. One of the media arms of the Obama campaign, Huffington Post admits as much here:

Beyond the political tit-for-tat, however, the revelation of the clothing expenditures offers what some Democrats see as a chance not just to win several news cycles during the campaign’s waning days but to severely damage Palin’s image as a small-town, ‘Joe Six-Pack’ American.
“It shows that Palin ain’t like the rest of us,” Tom Matzzie, a Democratic strategist told the Huffington Post, when asked how the party would or could use the issue. “It can help deflate her cultural populism with the Republican base. The plumber’s wife doesn’t go to Nieman’s or Saks.”

The footnote to this story that is not being widely reported is the clothes do not belong to Palin and will be given to charity who will probably get thousands in post-election auctions. Furthermore, some news reports suggest that hair styling and make up may be a part of the tab. Palin is under constant scrutiny and probably had little in the way of stylish clothes prior to taking on the VP nomination.
It turns out that Michelle Obama likes pricey clothes as well and has her own favorite designer. One of the dresses Mrs. Obama wore during the Democratic National Convention listed for around $900 and another for about $1500. And of course, Cindy McCain gets the prize with six-figure outfits.
I am aware that Michelle Obama has worn dresses during the campaign costing about $150, but then again Sarah Palin used to shop second-hand.
With dresses costing over $1000 a pop, with accessories and makeup and all that, a six-figure budget might in the ball park for Mrs. O. Where is the big time press scrutiny over that vital tidbit of information?
And I can’t believe this is even relevant to the national press.
If we are going to get into fitness for office based on money spent for appearances and stagecraft, let’s talk how much it cost to rent those Greek columns, etc. for the Obama’s acceptance speech.

CNN refuses to acknowledge mistake in Palin interview

Big media deal today; CNN’s Drew Griffin misquoted a National Review article as follows:

He seems to have misinterpreted Byron York’s statements on Palin. York said:

Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or – well, all of the above.

York was referring to press coverage of Palin and not offering a negative assessment.
Watching Greta Van Susteren tonight, I see that CNN has not offered a correction. O’Reilly says he asked CNN how they were going to handle it and he got nothing from them. Van Susteren was pretty miffed about it and said so on her blog.

Shelly Mandell, head of LA chapter of National Organization for Women endorses McCain-Palin

Imagine Jim Dobson or Rick Warren endorsing Barack Obama. Imagine the headlines and news stories which would derive from such an endorsement.
Now imagine a major Democratic operative, who is heads one of the largest chapters of the National Organization for Women endorsing John McCain and Sarah Palin, primarily due to Sarah Palin’s place on the ticket.
Both would be big news, right?
One would think either scenario would be reported widely. However, when Ms. Shelly Mandell endorsed Sarah Palin in Carson CA, on Saturday October 4, it was not reported widely. Thus far, the stunning news has garnered one story that I can find in the mainstream press (two if you include Greta Van Susteren’s blog post).
The news that has been of interest to mainstream reporters is Palin’s comments about Barack Obama and William Ayers, and her quote of Madelyn Albright. You would think an endorsement from a major feminist leader would get a sentence or two.
You can watch the speech by Ms. Mandell here:

Mandell says she disagrees with Palin on some issues, probably life, but she believes Palin cares about fairness to women and will shake things up in Washington. Mandell is a former supporter of Hillary Clinton.
Why would mainstream media not report this?
UPDATE: Because I did not have the proper spelling of Ms. Mandell’s name, I missed some references, including this one in the LA Times blog. However, the only reporting I can find on this story is the MSNBC post and the local Southern California press. More interest has been given to Sarah Palin’s slight misquote of Madeleine Albright.

Palin versus Biden – Where were the gaffes?

The gaffes didn’t materialize in tonight’s VP debate. Most commentary had Palin winning the debate but Biden and Palin both did well without major problems.
Palin had the most to lose and probably on that basis could be perceived the winner.
Drudge has a poll with over 100,000 votes at this point with Palin over Biden about 75-25.
In a conference call after the debate, Senator Rick Santorum of PA said Palin really connected with voters in ways that she has not since the Republican convention. Santorum said her personal story will connect with social and religious conservatives.
UPDATE: Ace of Spades has a list of 14 errors he asserts were made by Biden in the debate.
Here is the video where Obama said he would meet with Ahmadinejad without precondition.