Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sad Defense of Sarah Palin’s Botched History

-E.D. Kain


Various Sarah Palin defenders have come out of the woodwork to defend her mangling of that most American of tales, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
The crux of their defense is an obscure letter that Revere wrote in 1789 that has been preserved by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Here’s the key bit:
I observed a Wood at a Small distance, & made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back,and orderd me to dismount;-one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from,& what my Name Was? I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if  I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and  aded, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up. He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.
Setting aside the likelihood that this is a letter Palin has actually read, the fact still remains that the story of Paul Revere that Americans know and love is one of Revere riding across the countryside alerting the colonists that the redcoats were coming.
This is one of the key stories of the American Revolution, as much legend as history at this point. Nobody references Paul Revere being waylaid by British soldiers and warning them that the Americans were coming. If you answer a question about Paul Revere you talk about his ride, you recite Longfellow. You don’t babble incoherently about warning the British unless you happen to be a half-term former governor of Alaska who simply can’t be bothered to learn a little bit of American history.
I mean, surely Palin could have hired a few tutors between the 2008 debacle and now, right? Does she really honestly think she can just scrape by without spending any time off the publicity circuit? Maybe a course at Khan Academy, or a few hours in a library?
In any case, nobody needs yes men. At least no serious candidate. Maybe her supporters should stop defending her every foible and help her with her education instead.
It sure couldn’t hurt.
P.S. Just to clarify, my broader point is that Palin neither described the famous legend of Paul Revere as told in Longfellow’s poem, or the actual historical events. She mangled the facts (and mangled the syntax much more ferociously) and now her defenders are digging up an obscure story not even relevant to the history itself and holding it up as though Palin knew exactly what she was talking about. This is ludicrous.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Blood Libel" Remark from Palin Sparks Controversy

Posted by Stephanie Condon


Sarah Palin responded in a video this morning to the criticism she has received in the wake of the Tucson shooting, but many people today have been more interested in her choice language than the actual substance of her video response.
"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 that they purport to condemn," Palin said in the video.
She was referring to the criticism she received over her use of images of crosshairs to "target" certain lawmakers during the midterm election cycle.
As the New York Times' Michael Shear explained, "By using the term 'blood libel' to describe the criticism about political rhetoric after the shootings, Ms. Palin was inventing a new definition for an emotionally laden phrase. Blood libel is typically used to describe the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. The term has been used for centuries as the pretext for anti-Semitism and violent pogroms against Jews."
The use of that phrase sparked some commotion in the Jewish community and spurred others to come to Palin's defense. While the term has deep connotations, there are other examples of its use in a modern political context.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the left-leaning Jewish political group J Street released a statement saying he was "saddened" by Palin's use of the term "blood libel."
The term, he said, "brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds. When Governor Palin learns that many Jews are pained by and take offense at the use of the term, we are sure that she will choose to retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words."
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement that in part defended Palin, saying she had "every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks." However, the group said, "we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history."
Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition's board of directors, did not address Palin's use of the phrase "blood libel," but said, "It it would have been even better if she simply rose above the accusations about her map and focused entirely on the bigger message of loss, tragedy and the greatness of our country.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who often comments on Israeli affairs, came to Palin's defense, saying that the term has "taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse." Dershowitz said he has used the term himself to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. He added, "There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim."
Ben Smith of Politico also points out that the phrase has been used in a political context before. For instance, the New York Post used it in a 1999 headline "after Hillary Clinton stood by as Suha Arafat accused the Israelis of 'daily and intensive use of poison gas' against Palestinian women and children," Smith reports.
Conservative pundit Glenn Reynolds used the phrase in a Wall Street Journal op-ed just two days ago.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Palin's Korea Mixup: "We Gotta Stand With Our North Korean Allies"

KTLA News
12:39 p.m. PSTNovember 24, 2010

Palin was asked during an interview with how she would handle the current situation between North and South Korea.

NEW YORK -- Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accidentally mixed up North and South Korea during a radio interview Wednesday.

Palin was asked during an interview with Glenn Beck how she would handle the current situation between North and South Korea.

"Obviously we gotta stand with our North Korean allies," she said. "We are bound to treaties."

A few moments earlier Palin had correctly identified North Korea as an adversary, not an ally.

"We aren't having a lot of faith that the White House is gonna come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is gonna do."

Debate about the nation's policy in Korea has been fueled by North Korea's recent barrage on the island of Yeonpyeong that killed two South Korean civilians, two marines and wounded 18 others in what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called one of the "gravest incidents" since the Korean War.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Donald Trump considers taking on Palin in presidential bid

11/18/10 - USA Today
By Evan Agostini, AP

Donald Trump is getting more serious about his run for the presidency in 2012.

"I am thinking about things," he told George Stephanopolous in an interview on Good Morning America this morning. "I love what I'm doing, but it could be fun because I'd like to see some positive things happen for the country. ... We cannot let the rest of the wrold beat us up. We're like a whipping post right now."

Trump, who said last month he was considering running, launched a website - shouldtrumprun.com - on Friday to gauge interest in him as a candidate. He said on GMA he is a Republican and would run as a Republican.

What about Sarah Palin? "She's very interesting. Don't underestimate her," he said. So, he'd be running against her? "If I ran, I would have no choice. I'd take her on. I like her, but I'd take her on." Trump said he will make a decision by June.

Sarah Palin: I Could Beat President Obama in 2012

November 18, 2010 | Poll Vault


Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been named one of Barbara Walter's 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010. During the special, set to air December 9, Palin said she has a shot at becoming the first female US President.
"I'm looking at the lay of the land now," Palin said. "Trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing."
When asked by Walters if she could beat President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, Palin replied, "I believe so."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sarah Palin, the Truth Called. It Wants Its Books Back

John Shore
Award-winning author and blogger

Being honest is a good starting point in building trust. - Sarah Palin

On a Barnes & Noble display table I came across yesterday, a short stack of the paperback edition of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.

(You know how at a Barnes and Noble, or at any big bookstore, they have all those books displayed on tables? No one who works at the store decided to put those books where they are. Book publishers pay a great deal of money to have their books so displayed. The closer the table is to the front of the store, the more it costs. Rather than honest recommendations, those books represent paid advertising space. Isn't that... special?)

I've never before looked at Palin's book. But in passing it yesterday, I noticed that on its cover, following Palin's name, there was no "with" or "and."

You know, as in "with Lynn Vincent," or "and Lynn Vincent." As in acknowledging Lynn Vincent, who was Palin's co-author on the book.

Everyone in the book business knows that Lynn Vincent had a great deal to do with writing Going Rogue. And few if any of them at all sweat that; they all know that it's practically unheard of for Famous People to write their own books. Writing is, after all, exceedingly difficult -- so difficult, in fact, that it's a given that no one has time to master writing and do whatever they did to make themselves famous enough for a publisher to gamble that they can make a lot of money from a book with their name and face on its cover.

Besides, who really cares about the writing of a book? That's a detail handled readily enough. You can always hire someone (like me, actually) to tend to that for you.

Though a book's denoted author and publisher might naturally enough care to downplay the fact that it had a co-author, they always at least acknowledge that co-author. You see it on the cover of countless books: [Famous Person -- in big type] with or and [person you've never heard of -- in small type]. (By the way, there's a world of difference between that with and and. But... too much detail, I'm sure.)

If a publisher and author really want to hide a co-author's involvement with a book, they can include the co-author's name nowhere on the book besides its copyright page. But that's the bare minimum acknowledgment. Outside of using invisible ink, there's no lesser way to include a co-author's name.

Lynn Vincent -- who, again, was, shall we say, extremely instrumental in the writing of Going Rogue -- didn't even get that. Her name's most definitely not on the book's cover -- and on the book's copyright page (which you can view right here) it says nothing but "Copyright, 2009, Sarah Palin."

That's it. One author listed. (And that is the author's call, by the way. If Palin wanted Lynn Vincent's name on the cover or copyright page of her book, you can trust it would be there.)

It's no secret that Lynn Vincent's writing was literally indispensable to Going Rogue. While Vincent was working on that book, she and I were both on the "faculty" of a Christian writer's conference. She was the full-on rock star of that conference: she was collaborating on Sarah Palin's much-awaited book!

She actually knew Sarah Palin! In fact, she had actually left being holed up with Palin to attend the conference! Sarah Palin was actually waiting for her to get back!

Can you imagine what that's like to a bunch of would-be (Christian) authors? People were positively swooning around Ms. Vincent, who seemed a nice person. Very sweet.

She did, however, tell us in no uncertain terms that she wasn't free to say much if anything about Going Rogue. She intimated that its publisher had made it very clear she'd be in hot water if she did.

Here is Lynn Vincent's personal Web site, which she uses to promote her services as a co-author.

The most famous book she's ever worked on -- one of the best-selling books in the country -- isn't even listed.

I'm no particular fan of Sarah Palin's; I think she's no more suited for public office than I am to being a prison guard. And if she ever gets elected to anything more than winkin' slogan-slinger, I'd be very happy to be proven wrong about that.

But this is a woman who sells herself on how forthright, and morally upstanding she is. And yet, she's very clearly done virtually all she can to take full credit for a book she didn't even write -- one that's all about her.

Palin has a new book out next month: America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. It "celebrates the enduring strengths and virtues that have made this country great."

Though acknowledging that America by Heart will have a collaborating writer, this time around HarperCollins (who also did Going Rogue) is keeping entirely mum about that writer's identity.

They do, however, assure us that the book is written in Palin's "own refreshingly candid voice."

[Update: I've just learned that Lynn Vincent's name does appear in Going Rogue. At the end of the book, under Acknowledgments, in the middle of the fourth paragraph down (after Palin has thanked thirty-seven other people -- and a few sentences down from "I appreciate the opportunity to write a book!"), we read, "Thanks as well to Lynn Vincent for her indispensable help in getting the words on paper." I'm actually astounded more by such a buried, cursory, and calculatingly dismissive reference to the book's ghostwriter (what a difference there is between writing and helping to "get the words on paper"), than I was to think that Palin had chosen to simply ignore Vincent altogether.]

Watch Sarah Palin Desecrate a Flag


A Guardian reporter interviewed Sarah Palin while she was giving autographs to her fans. Sarah put her Sharpie marker on a book, a hat, and an American flag. The latter of which is against the law!

Salon blogger Emma Mustich caught the flag desecration at 1:35 in the below video. Palin autographs a star-spangled banner, then waves it and smiles.







According to extant law, "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature." Rallying against flag desecration is a perennial right-wing rabble-rousing technique, but I have it on good authority that Sarah Palin—who once wrote a book about "family, faith, and flag"—had her fingers crossed when she did this, so it's probably fine. Just stand in front of a mirror at midnight and chant "Bloody Hussein Obama" three times, and all sins against state will disappear.