October 25, 2018

Pipe Bombs Sent to High-Profile Democrats

“Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the targets of suspected package bombs delivered to several high-profile Democrats and CNN, which the FBI said it was investigating as an act of terrorism.”


President Donald Trump condemned the attacks, stating that “acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States.” He “called the suspicious packages ‘despicable’ and said a ‘major federal investigation’ was underway.”

AP News

Both sides are skeptical of claims that this was a “false flag” operation undertaken by a Democrat:

  • “Online speculation is an inevitable result of a breaking news story on the Internet. On Wednesday, #MAGABomber was the top trending topic on Twitter... On the pro-Trump Internet, breaking news speculation has increasingly helped to push the once-fringe idea of politically motivated ‘false flag’ attacks into the mainstream... since Trump’s election in 2016, false-flag fantasies have become almost as regular as the tragedies they are used to discredit.” Washington Post
  • “Now is not the time to break out your tinfoil hats... the sinister notion popping up among corners of the right-wing commentariat that the bombs are a false flag operation designed to garner public sympathy for Democrats is dangerous, deluded, and dumb.” Washington Examiner

See past issues

From the Left

The left condemns the attacks and argues that Trump and his allies’ condemnations ring hollow unless they change their divisive and aggressive rhetoric.

“In the wake of bombs sent to several prominent Democrats, conservative politicians and media outlets are emphasizing the need for civility—but failing to name figures who have legitimized political violence, notably President Donald Trump."

New Republic

“Nobody but the perpetrator is responsible for this attack. And there is plenty of regrettable behavior on both sides. But one man has done the most to create this climate, whipping supporters to fear and desperation with often violent rhetoric...

“[Trump] encouraged supporters to ‘knock the crap out of’ protesters and offered to pay attackers’ legal bills. He expressed his wish to punch a heckler in the face. He urged police not to ‘be too nice’ to suspects. He shared a doctored video of himself attacking CNN in a wrestling match. He suggested supporters could use guns to stop Clinton judicial nominees... This has an effect.”

Washington Post

“In the midst of the 2016 campaign, a bit of punditry was born: Take Trump seriously, not literally. Two years later, Trump has done — or tried to do — everything he literally promised on the campaign trail, and on Wednesday morning, there was more chilling evidence that words matter, and that people listening to the president may be taking him very literally."


Trump “could have used the moment to own up to his own rhetoric, to apologize for the times he’s taken his attacks on his political rivals too far at rallies or in the heat of the moment on Twitter. Trump could have attempted to actually make the unfolding crisis a moment of unity by seeking redemption. But he didn’t. And the final days before the midterms will be a test of whether the moment has changed him much at all."


“Trump’s solemn remarks [in response to the attacks] were a jarring contrast with his typical raucous political rallies, where he regularly whips his supporters into a frenzy by mocking his critics and political opponents... Despite Trump’s sober tone Wednesday, few around him expect him to change fundamentally over the longer term."


Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right condemns the attacks and also condemns attempts by the left to blame the right.

From the Right

The right condemns the attacks and also condemns attempts by the left to blame the right.

“Let’s be clear: No matter who’s doing it — no matter which political party or ideology is [at] the source of it — violence, intimidation and the threat of violence and intimidation have no part to play in polite, civil political society... it’s up to those with strong moral compasses, bold leadership and concern and care for the long-term for our nation to speak out and speak up and put a stop to the madness before it escalates to a point of no return."

Washington Times

“I’m at a loss to understand how the climate is improved by spicing up reports with thinly veiled suggestions that President Trump may have triggered a series of potentially murderous attacks on political opponents. When Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson opened fire on the Republicans he targeted and nearly killed Representative Steve Scalise, I don’t recall much Times speculation about whether he could have been set... off by Democrats."

National Review

Unfortunately, neither party has a monopoly on political violence. “Ricin packages have targeted — thankfully, unsuccessfully — Sens. Ted Cruz and Susan Collins, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and even the president. A Republican congressional candidate was the victim of an attempted stabbing.”

Washington Examiner

“The rush to blame the other side of the political aisle for acts of violence condemned by everyone is actually a demonization technique that makes such attacks more likely. Castigating your political opposition as evil enough to bomb public officials gives heart to people who believe that political opposition must be fought with violence... We’re living in an increasingly ugly time. That ugliness will only be exacerbated, not alleviated, by attempts to point fingers without evidence."

Daily Wire

“If we want to make America less vulnerable to violence, we’d do better to look past the political rhetoric and insist on exacting a higher price from those who choose violence. Those who burn universities because they don’t like the speaker, white supremacists who seek out and engage in brawls, or masked protestors breaking shop windows—they all deserve the full sanction of the law. The priority now is to find the person responsible—and then ensure the offender spends a long time in prison."

Wall Street Journal

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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