Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Joseph McCarthy, the 2008 version - um, versions

Often in the blog world, you will see people like Louis Gray and Duncan Riley talking about the reach of their blogs, buttressed by statistical data and anecdotal observations (for example, Riley's comments about how his traffic received a spike because of the Bigfoot thingie).

You might have noticed that I don't speak about my statistics all that often.

As Spanish Mike would say, "con razón." You see, my reach is slightly less than the reach of Gray and Riley. (Buy the t-shirt.) For example, the current Technorati rank of this blog (my most popular blog by far) is 114,601. Not quite at the levels of some others.

And a piece of anecdotal evidence supports this lack of relative reach. I figure that if I say something entirely obvious and logical about the 2008 U.S. election, everyone would come to their senses and stop bad behavior. And they'd certainly do it if I said it twice.

You'd think.

On Sunday at 5:45 pm, I posted something in this blog that discussed, among many other things, the equation of Sarah Palin's suspected membership in the Alaskan Independence Party with treason. And if they weren't quite ready to throw Palin into prison for saying nice things to the Party, they were certainly agreed that this alone disqualified her from holding national office.

So I said, in passing,

...as people continue to ask Palin, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party?"...

It subsequently occurred to me that some of my readers may not realize the significance of the phrase that I used above. Perhaps this will illustrate the original use of the phrase:

[Ring Lardner Jr. was a] member of the Hollywood Ten, that intrepid band of screenwriters and directors who were subpoenaed in 1947 to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify as to their political beliefs....

By the time Lardner testified, the committee's chairman, J. Parnell Thomas, was pounding with his gavel and stating: ''It is a very simple question. . . . Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?''

Lardner leaned toward the microphone and drawled, ''It depends on the circumstances. I could answer it, but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning.'' Enraged, Thomas ejected him from the hearing. ''The triumph of reason was going to take a little longer than I had imagined,'' Lardner writes.

The Ten were cited for contempt for refusing to testify....[B]y May 1950 the Supreme Court had refused to review the case, and the Ten were sent off to various prisons to serve their terms.

More here. Frankly, when people bandy about words like "treason," you begin to see the similarities. Even if people don't necessarily want to throw Palin into prison, they certainly want to remove her from the public discourse.

Not content to leave this on my own blog, I added a comment to Sharon Cobb's post "Sarah Palin And Her Husband Support UnAmerican Organization." (Hmm..."UnAmerican"; presumably Cobb chose her words with care). In my comment I said, in passing,

...you have to look at enforced silencing of unpopular political views. Sometimes it's done unofficially, when modern McCarthyites run around and ask, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Alaskan Independence Party?"

Needless to say, conservatives have gone after the left for this whole thing. Hollywood Grind:

Information that was coming out at the time of this article was false, and originated from liberal media sources. The fact is, Sarah has never been part of the Alaska Independence Party. This lie was published by liberal media sources in an attempt to hurt Sarah Palin.

And it turns out that I'm not the first person to use the phrase above. Tom Forbes at redcounty.com:

I hope women voters, and everyone else for that matter, take note of the tactics that have been employed by the Democrats and their allies in the media. They are disgustingly similar to those of McCarthyism, e.g., "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party?"

In 2006, former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled "Liberal McCarthyism"...

Obviously, liberal Democrats and bloggers have learned nothing but the Machiavellian lessons that being out of power sucks and the end justifies the means.

So at this point, the conservatives can smile with smug satisfaction, knowing that the loony liberals have been caught in their attempt to suppress freedom.


...wait a minute...

...it turns out that the loony right-wing wackos have their own anti-Constitutional litmus tests.

True Discernment links to Israel National News:

Obama's childhood religious practice and its influence in his formative years is being repeatedly raised as an issue due to a question over whether he might buckle under pressure exerted by the Muslim and Arab world when it comes to foreign policy decisions relating to the State of Israel....

Obama in fact slipped during a nationally-televised ABC interview on Sunday by referring to "my Muslim faith" while accusing the Republicans of suggesting he has Muslim connections.

Which, of course, raises this modern-day McCarthy question:

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Muslim faith?

Unfortunately, even if Obama were a Muslim (and you'd think the Jeremiah Wright stuff would have put an end to that), there's one teeny little thing in the way of people claiming that Obama is unqualified for the Presidency. It's called the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, despite how much the limitationists on left and right would love to shut some voices out, the fact remains that if an Alaskan Muslim woman ran for the Presidency on the platform of having Alaska secede from the United States and form an independent nation under Sharia law, there's nothing that any election official or court could do to stop her.

Well, at least until the Republicans and Democrats succeed in repealing the First Amendment. It's caused so much trouble...

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