“What a Brownback!”

November 29, 2011

There’s an old saying about public figures attacking newspapers who say things they don’t like: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

Well, it seems we need to update that for the 21st century: “Never pick a fight with a teenager who has a Twitter account.”

It’s a lesson Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) learned the hard way:

It’s not every day someone turns your name into a noun. But welcome to the big leagues, Kansas Gov. (and former Sen.) Sam Brownback, and all because you trained the state’s resources on an 18-year-old senior at Shawnee Mission East High School who tweeted something mean about you.

Recall the ancient history of last week, when Emma Sullivan boasted on Twitter that she said a “mean comment” to the governor during a Youth in Government event in Topeka where Brownback was speaking. She ended the tweet with the hashtag “heblowsalot.” Team Brownback declared war on the teen and told on her to Shawnee Mission East High School principal Karl Krawitz. Krawitz called Sullivan into the office and demanded she apologize. She refused. Brownback apologized Monday.

Now Brownback faces the wrath of the Twitterverse, including this tweet from @MildlyRelevant: “Gov. Brownback’s office tattled on a high school girl who tweeted ‘#heblowsalot.’ I’m tattling on them for being a colossal Brownback.” There you have it: a proper noun.

Was Emma Sullivan a mouthy jerk? Sure. Just as I’m sure you’re all shocked someone in high school would do something like that. In fact, that a teenager would say something stupid and immature when showing off for friends (and followers) is so unusual and outrageous that it left a state governor and former US senator no choice but to crush her like an insolent bug:

Mr Brownback’s office contacted the school and complained about the tweet.

The following day Emma wound up in the principal’s office, NBC Action News reports.

She said: ‘He laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment.

‘He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it … and now he had to do damage control.’

She said she was told to write a formal apology to the governor, which so far she hasn’t done.

Emma said: ‘I don’t agree with a majority of the things that he is trying to pass.

‘I believe that it is my right to state my opinion.’

The school’s principal said: ‘This is not about political views since none were given in the tweet – it’s about being respectful with a public official whether we agree or disagree with their viewpoints.’

Yeah, right. I imagine what this was really about was the phone call the principal got from Topeka and vague hints of future “career advancement difficulties” if he didn’t force Miss Sullivan to GROVEL BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY GOVERNOR!!

I doubt the principal was all that concerned about the principle.

Not that I’m defending Sullivan’s behavior; she was a smart-alecky, immature jerk of a not-uncommon variety, and maybe her parents should have had a word with her about “respectful disagreement.” But she’s a jerk who also happens to have a right to free political speech, even if said speech is expressed in a manner more befitting an 8-year old, not an 18-year old legal adult with the right to vote.

But if Emma Sullivan was a jerk, then Governor Sam Brownback was a jackass who tried to punish someone for exercising their right to free speech (a right he swore to protect as senator and which is guaranteed under the Kansas constitution) and in the process punched so far under his class that, like President Obama attacking a radio host, he made himself look like a fool.

Or, to use the new buzzword, a “Brownback.”

The real lesson here, I think, is the illustration of the arrogance career politicians of all parties are prone to, where they think they’re protected by some form of law against lese majeste. Far from it; if you’re a politician in a democracy, you have to live with the reality that some people are going to say mean things about you.

And if Governor Brownback can’t handle that and keeps acting like a Brownback, then perhaps the voters of Kansas should give him a lesson in democratic humility at the next election.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#AskObama on Twitter!

July 6, 2011

Here’s your chance to ask the President the questions you’ve always wanted to ask him. He’s holding a town hall on Twitter today at 11AM PST, and questions can be submitted via the service using the hashtag #AskObama. (Just remember you’re limited to 140 characters.)

A lot of us have been having fun with silly or satirical questions, but you can toss serious ones in, too. We know he won’t answer ours, but it’s fun to bug whatever White House flunky is assigned the task of going through them all. 

The question of the day has to be this one, though. Consider the source.

My full list of questions.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Of speeches and tweets: thoughts on yesterday

January 13, 2011

Yesterday saw the memorial service for the victims of Saturday’s mass-murder in Tucson. I didn’t watch, for reasons I gave elsewhere, but I did follow the commentary on Twitter while working on other things and that prompted some reflections, which I now inflict on you. (Hey! Where are you going?)

First, from almost all I could see, Obama did a good job last night in his speech: he said the right things, set the right tone (apparently in spite of his audience), and did what we’ve expected of our Chief of State to do at least since Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg — to speak for the nation in memorializing and honoring the dead. Regardless of his sincerity or cynicism (I saw speculations on both last night), he played his role well and deserves credit for that.

The other big speech was Sarah Palin’s. I wrote about it yesterday and stand by what I said: it was also a good address  from a potential president. That evening on Twitter I had an exchange with an acquaintance, a strong conservative and political junkie, who also liked her speech, but thought Obama had, as he put it, “lapped her,” that his performance had diminished hers, making her speech sound “off” in retrospect. He thought that having her speech on the same day as his had worked to her disadvantage.

Perhaps; it will certainly figure in the 2012 calculus, at least for a while. In the end, though, I think that matters less than that Sarah Palin, like Barack Obama, did what she had to do and did it well. Since Saturday afternoon, she had been slagged mercilessly by a left-liberal press and online punditry that was determined to lay blame for the Tucson massacre on her and her “inflamed rhetoric,” in spite of all evidence and logic to the contrary. She responded with plain-spoken eloquence: criticizing those who insulted her and conservatives in general, defending vigorous and free political speech, and sympathizing with the victims.  Like Obama, she deserves credit.

Then there was the running Greek Chorus on Twitter, in which I noticed two strong trends.

First, when Obama actually does something right, there are some conservatives and libertarians who almost fall all over themselves to show how big-minded and generous they can be. Acknowledging a good speech is sufficient; drooling on one’s own shoes with something like “Thank you SIR!!” makes my eyes roll. It’s just a speech, people; I’ll freely grant he did a good job, but let’s wait to see what does in the days and months to come to live up to those words before we proclaim a new Era of Good Feelings.

Perhaps I’m just too crusty and cynical.

On the other hand, some people were absolutely out of line with snarky criticism of the event. The standout among those I saw was radio host Tammy Bruce. I usually like her opinions quite a bit, but her running commentary was just embarrassing and churlish. While I might agree with her (and to some degree, I do), this was not the time to hurl snark. It wasn’t just inappropriate, she beclowned herself. In fact, it was downright rude and classless, and she owes her audience some contrition. It was no better than the people in the audience who were treating the memorial like a pep rally.

Is it too much to ask people to act like adults?

when Obama does something right, there are some conservatives and libertarians who almost fall all over themselves to show how big-minded and generous they can be. Acknowledging a good speech is sufficient; drooling on one’s own shoes with something like “Thank you SIR!!” made my eyes roll. It’s just a speech, which I’ll grant is important to his role as Chief of State; but let’s wait to see what does before we lie down with the lambs.

Twitter users wish death on Sarah Palin — Updated

January 11, 2011

Because, as we all know, the Left is all about reasoned, dispassionate discourse and never engages in “hate speech.”

Foul language warning:

via The Jawa Report

UPDATE 1/12/2011: Apparently embarrassed by their own rampant immaturity, one or more of the persons who posted those death wishes against Sarah Palin has complained to YouTube that their “privacy” has been violated. (By screen-capping a public post on Twitter??) In case the video link above ceases to work, you can see another copy at Big Journalism, along with a discussion of this Stalinist attempt to airbrush the record.


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