Friendly fire (updated with video - mystery solved)

Thomas Lifson
James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal's opinionjournal.com site today criticizes my blog post of three days ago. I trust he enjoyed a restful weekend.

A frequent refrain of our readers was also sounded by Thomas Lifson of American Thinker:

We have to take these efforts to discredit us [referring to press  charges of ‘angry mobs at McCain-Palin rallies - TL] seriously. Agents provocateurs cannot be ruled out. We know that leftists infiltrate GOP rallies with intent to harm. The sneering left has outed itself on Kos and Mother Jones, by publishing a picture of a leftist infiltrator, who carefully placed herself to be picked up by cameras. The green arrow was added by the lefties.

Weirdly, the photo Lifson uses as evidence of "infiltrators," originally posted by Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, does not appear to illustrate anything of the sort. It depicts actor Jon Voight, who supports McCain, with a man holding a microphone in front of his face. In the background are two anti-Palin signs. We were unable to ascertain the provenance of the photo, but it looks to us as if Voight is not participating in a McCain-Palin rally but giving a television interview while standing in front of an anti-Palin demonstration (perhaps a counterdemonstration outside a McCain rally).

Here is the picture for readers to judge, something Taranto's format does not permit.:

saboteurs

Notice that Voight is obviously standing on a platform or some other device elevating him above the sign-holders. If it is not the stage for a rally, what is it? Is it likely that Voight would be allowed on stage at an anti-Palin demonstration? It appears to me that the signs are carefully positioned to be photographed behind a speaker on a platform.

Taranto is of course free to surmise as he wishes, but since he does not lay out his logic in assuming the photo is not at a McCain-Palin rally, I find the sneering title of the piece. "The Search for Intelligent Life", not very well substantiated. Taranto bizarrely uses intelligent design to illustrate a logical fallacy, and that has something to do with the title, I am sure. But why bring up an unrelated topic?

All I did was warn that saboteurs "cannot be ruled out." Taranto actually agrees with this position, in this language:

To be sure, even paranoids have enemies, and the "agent provocateur" theory is possible, which is to say that believing it does not entail any logical contradictions and it would not violate the laws of physics for it to be true. Yet while we cannot disprove it, it strikes us as highly implausible.

I am puzzled by this attack. My purpose was to warn people to watch for provocateurs. Since they can't be ruled out, and since the press is out to portray McCain-Palin supporters as thugs, what harm is there in vigilance at rallies? Apparently in some conservative circles, it is just not nice to be aware that unscrupulous enemies use tactics like this.

Doesn't Taranto remember
Dick Tuck, who is still lionized on the left as a "prankster." Does Taranto think that politics has become more civil in the last few decades? On what basis does he bandy about the term paranoia? If Dick Tuck remains a hero to the left, why is it paranoid to suspect he has imitators today?

A rather disappointing performance by Taranto, who has been responsible for a lot of good journalism in his day. 

Update: The Obama campaign has already engaged in dirty tricks, such as inciting via email the jamming of phone lines at WGN Radio, to prevent legitimate callers from speaking to Stanley Kurtz, discussing his review of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge archives. So I have to wonder why Taranto thinks it so implausible that agents provocateurs might be at work at rallies.

Update: Lee Cary writes:

The pro-Palin rally where the photo was taken was in Carson, CA.  Watch it below. The Palin folks wore the red caps with a star (not the flag of Alaska). The dweebs holding up the anti-Palin signs had no caps. The reaction of the crowd to what Voight says confirms they're are pro-Palin.  It took me 9 minutes to find this. Taranto illustrates the pure laziness of the old big media, regardless of who they write for or their political persuasion.




Update: J.R. Dunn writes:
Here's an exhibit "B" for Taranto, from an interview with Tammy Bruce concerning lefty activity at Palin rallies. (In the second paragraph, bolding added):


BRUCE: Well, already we've learned through these campaigns that the issue of race is treated much more seriously than misogyny is. That's an education that we've got to deal with. John McCain and Sarah Palin will be the beneficiaries of people who reject this kind of dynamic.


And the truth is, you know, w got an issue here, even with when I was on the left, and you had a screamer or two even at Palin rallies and McCain rallies yelling a derogatory word about Barack Obama, calling him a terrorist, we would plant people in rallies in that regard to shout things to set a tone. I think this Democratic campaign is the worst we've ever seen, and is a feminist. It appalls me and this is just going to push more Hillary supporters over to John McCain as it should

Update: This is not quite the same as inserting people into McCain-Palin rallies, but it is a related provocateur technique. From the site Video Done Right: (hat tip: Ann Coulter) 

A Barack Obama supporter in Ohio with deep roots in Democratic politics - and a 2001 sex-related felony conviction to his name - is behind two new confrontational videos that bait ignorant people into calling Barack Obama a terrorist.

The first video was released Wednesday and has gone viral. It currently has more than 1.1 million views on YouTube. Part II went online a day later and is well on its way to viral status, with more than 145,000 views.

The John McCain and Sarah Palin supporters in the videos are characterized as "The McCain-Palin Mob." The videos selectively feature voters who, upon being asked antagonistic questions, make some outrageous statements about Obama.

One voter said, "I think he's a one-man terrorist cell." Another said the Democratic presidential nominee has "the bloodlines" to be a terrorist because of his Arab names, and a third called Obama "a domestic terrorist."






James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal's opinionjournal.com site today criticizes my blog post of three days ago. I trust he enjoyed a restful weekend.

A frequent refrain of our readers was also sounded by Thomas Lifson of American Thinker:

We have to take these efforts to discredit us [referring to press  charges of ‘angry mobs at McCain-Palin rallies - TL] seriously. Agents provocateurs cannot be ruled out. We know that leftists infiltrate GOP rallies with intent to harm. The sneering left has outed itself on Kos and Mother Jones, by publishing a picture of a leftist infiltrator, who carefully placed herself to be picked up by cameras. The green arrow was added by the lefties.

Weirdly, the photo Lifson uses as evidence of "infiltrators," originally posted by Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, does not appear to illustrate anything of the sort. It depicts actor Jon Voight, who supports McCain, with a man holding a microphone in front of his face. In the background are two anti-Palin signs. We were unable to ascertain the provenance of the photo, but it looks to us as if Voight is not participating in a McCain-Palin rally but giving a television interview while standing in front of an anti-Palin demonstration (perhaps a counterdemonstration outside a McCain rally).

Here is the picture for readers to judge, something Taranto's format does not permit.:

saboteurs

Notice that Voight is obviously standing on a platform or some other device elevating him above the sign-holders. If it is not the stage for a rally, what is it? Is it likely that Voight would be allowed on stage at an anti-Palin demonstration? It appears to me that the signs are carefully positioned to be photographed behind a speaker on a platform.

Taranto is of course free to surmise as he wishes, but since he does not lay out his logic in assuming the photo is not at a McCain-Palin rally, I find the sneering title of the piece. "The Search for Intelligent Life", not very well substantiated. Taranto bizarrely uses intelligent design to illustrate a logical fallacy, and that has something to do with the title, I am sure. But why bring up an unrelated topic?

All I did was warn that saboteurs "cannot be ruled out." Taranto actually agrees with this position, in this language:

To be sure, even paranoids have enemies, and the "agent provocateur" theory is possible, which is to say that believing it does not entail any logical contradictions and it would not violate the laws of physics for it to be true. Yet while we cannot disprove it, it strikes us as highly implausible.

I am puzzled by this attack. My purpose was to warn people to watch for provocateurs. Since they can't be ruled out, and since the press is out to portray McCain-Palin supporters as thugs, what harm is there in vigilance at rallies? Apparently in some conservative circles, it is just not nice to be aware that unscrupulous enemies use tactics like this.

Doesn't Taranto remember
Dick Tuck, who is still lionized on the left as a "prankster." Does Taranto think that politics has become more civil in the last few decades? On what basis does he bandy about the term paranoia? If Dick Tuck remains a hero to the left, why is it paranoid to suspect he has imitators today?

A rather disappointing performance by Taranto, who has been responsible for a lot of good journalism in his day. 

Update: The Obama campaign has already engaged in dirty tricks, such as inciting via email the jamming of phone lines at WGN Radio, to prevent legitimate callers from speaking to Stanley Kurtz, discussing his review of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge archives. So I have to wonder why Taranto thinks it so implausible that agents provocateurs might be at work at rallies.

Update: Lee Cary writes:

The pro-Palin rally where the photo was taken was in Carson, CA.  Watch it below. The Palin folks wore the red caps with a star (not the flag of Alaska). The dweebs holding up the anti-Palin signs had no caps. The reaction of the crowd to what Voight says confirms they're are pro-Palin.  It took me 9 minutes to find this. Taranto illustrates the pure laziness of the old big media, regardless of who they write for or their political persuasion.




Update: J.R. Dunn writes:
Here's an exhibit "B" for Taranto, from an interview with Tammy Bruce concerning lefty activity at Palin rallies. (In the second paragraph, bolding added):


BRUCE: Well, already we've learned through these campaigns that the issue of race is treated much more seriously than misogyny is. That's an education that we've got to deal with. John McCain and Sarah Palin will be the beneficiaries of people who reject this kind of dynamic.


And the truth is, you know, w got an issue here, even with when I was on the left, and you had a screamer or two even at Palin rallies and McCain rallies yelling a derogatory word about Barack Obama, calling him a terrorist, we would plant people in rallies in that regard to shout things to set a tone. I think this Democratic campaign is the worst we've ever seen, and is a feminist. It appalls me and this is just going to push more Hillary supporters over to John McCain as it should

Update: This is not quite the same as inserting people into McCain-Palin rallies, but it is a related provocateur technique. From the site Video Done Right: (hat tip: Ann Coulter) 

A Barack Obama supporter in Ohio with deep roots in Democratic politics - and a 2001 sex-related felony conviction to his name - is behind two new confrontational videos that bait ignorant people into calling Barack Obama a terrorist.

The first video was released Wednesday and has gone viral. It currently has more than 1.1 million views on YouTube. Part II went online a day later and is well on its way to viral status, with more than 145,000 views.

The John McCain and Sarah Palin supporters in the videos are characterized as "The McCain-Palin Mob." The videos selectively feature voters who, upon being asked antagonistic questions, make some outrageous statements about Obama.

One voter said, "I think he's a one-man terrorist cell." Another said the Democratic presidential nominee has "the bloodlines" to be a terrorist because of his Arab names, and a third called Obama "a domestic terrorist."