Lessons from Norway's Horror

Don't use a tragedy to score partisan points.


Editor's Note: This column is reprinted with permission of the Washington Examiner. Click here to read it at that site.

I've never been a fan of waiting periods for gun purchases, but I'm warming to the idea of a pundit's "Brady Bill." Some political commentators could use a (voluntary) "cooling-off" period before they start using mass murder to score partisan points.

That could have saved Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post's neoconservative blogger, some embarrassment over the weekend.

On Friday, before much was known about the horrific car-bombing and mass-shooting in Norway, she used the tragedy to argue against modest cuts to the Pentagon's budget. Trimming the Defense Department's budget—which accounts for nearly half the world's military spending—would be "very rash … curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world." The slaughter in Norway was, she wrote, "a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists."

Actually, it's a sobering reminder to think before you post. Even if Rubin had been right about who carried out the attacks, her argument was a crashing non sequitur, unless you think the United States needs new aircraft carriers to stop car bombings in Oslo.

As it turned out, the murderer was a native Norwegian, a European nationalist with "fiercely anti-Islamic and pro-Israel views," according to the Jerusalem Post. Whoops!

Yet some of the lefties who ridiculed Rubin this weekend, like the Center for American Progress' Matt Yglesias, had itchy Twitter fingers in the immediate aftermath of Jared Loughner's rampage in Tucson last January. Without the slightest evidence, Yglesias and others pointed to a graphic on Sarah Palin's website—an electoral map with cross hairs—as a possible incitement for Loughner to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

In this case, The New Republic waited three whole days before publishing a piece indicting "the anti-Islamic ideology that has been spreading like a poison throughout European political culture for at least a decade."

At this writing, Norwegian authorities haven't yet ruled out the possibility that Breivik had some collaborators. But whether he's a lone nut or one of several, the dark night of fascism hardly seems likely to descend across Europe because of a "climate of hate" fostered by European voters who have concerns about immigration from Muslim countries.

I haven't yet waded through Breivik's entire 1,500-page online magnum opus (the length itself is a good indication of megalomania—as is the fact that sections of it are cut-and-pasted from the Unabomber's manifesto). The American Conservative's Daniel McCarthy calls it "a plagiarized jumble of nationalism, positivism, Christian symbolism, Unabomber-ism, neoconism, etc. Sound and fury," likely signifying … not much. It's likely that the only worthwhile political lesson to be gleaned from the horror of 7/22 is that Norway ought to consider having a longer maximum prison sentence than 21 years.

In general, invoking the ideological meanderings of psychopaths is a stalking horse for narrowing permissible dissent. Former New York Times columnist Frank Rich provided a classic in the genre with his February 2010 piece "The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged," in which he railed against the dangerous climate of anti-government rhetoric and warned that a "tax protester" who flew a plane into an Internal Revenue Service building in February may be a dark harbinger of Tea Party terrorism to come. (No such luck, Frank.)

But blaming Sarah Palin for Jared Loughner, or Al Gore for the Unabomber makes about as much sense as blaming Martin Scorsese and Jodie Foster for inciting John Hinckley. There's little to be learned from the acts of "the obsessed and deranged." But these incidents ought to teach us not to use tragedy to score partisan points.

Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and author of The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (Cato 2008). He is a columnist at the Washington Examiner, where this article originally appeared. Click here to read it at that site.


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  1. Trimming the Defense Department’s budget?which accounts for nearly half the world’s military spending?would be “very rash … curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.” The slaughter in Norway was, she wrote, “a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.”

    So, the hundreds of billions (or is it trillions?) the U.S. has spent in the past decade on the WOT hasn’t been “enough” to stop jihadists? This sounds just like leftists claiming we need to spend “MOAR!” on social welfare.

    1. It is just like it. The military is a Republican welfare jobs program

      1. Joining an organization where you not only work more hours, but put your life in danger is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the meaning ‘welfare’. Fucking idiot.

        1. Joining an organization that ends up killing (unintentionally) millions of civilians in order to prop up questionable rebels, is not honorable either.

  2. “It would be rash to question the irresponsible way we pay for our nation’s defence, nickel and diming actual war-fighting humans, and pouring billions into contracts that send money back to our home states, usually for programs that bear no relation to our current conflicts, run far over budget, and are often concelled before they ever mature”

    Jennifer Rubin is a @*($@) idiot.

    And a soulless-cunt to boot, piggybacking this kind of B.S. on … a mass shooting of Norweigan teenagers? Is the appropriate guard against that sort of thing a revitalization of the Raptor program? Another aircraft carrier? Advanced cruise missle technology?

    Rot in hell lady.

    1. Jennifer Rubin is a @*($@) idiot. And a soulless-cunt to boot. Rot in hell lady.

      Well. What more can be said?

    2. Just curious: What was the rationale behind self-censoring “@*($@)” but spelling out “cunt”?

      1. My approach to vulgarity is pretty random. Influenced by writers like Mailer and William S Burroughs. I think there’s an appropriate place to put the real thing, and other times you pull your punches. Its a inexplicable style issue. Perhaps one day when I get my English PhD I’ll do a thesis on the relative value of real vs. simulacra vulgarity. Right now I’m still experimenting.

        1. On reflection, there’s two versions of vulgarity that come to mind – qualifiers, like =

          “fucking horrible”

          where all you’re doing is using ‘bad words’ to make regular words more potent…

          versus, using bad words as Nouns, like =

          “Glen Beck is a Cockbreath”

          Very definitive, and specific. The qualifiers can be neutralized… we don’t need to hear ‘fuckin this, fuckin that….shit man, this shit I was fucking dealing with was fucking crazy shit”…. it doesn’t say anything specific.

          Whereas, you call someone a Cunt. You know what you’re saying, and you’re committing to a very specific condemnation that carries weight. Just being vulgar is useless and bad writing. Using the “worst words” well is maybe a hard trick. But its worth looking into.

          Thanks for asking. I had not thought about it that much before. But I do often neutralize the inessential stuff (but not always), and often emphasize the *really bad* as much as possible when I say things. It makes me more self-aware.

  3. He looks a lot like Jummy Fallon.

    1. The blandanity of evil.

    2. I was thinking more like a young Chevy Chase.

    3. This guy may be a mass murderer, but he’s not that evil.

      1. I know it wasn’t murder-murder. It was something else but I don’t believe it was murder-murder.

        1. Whoopi has my eternal contempt for the “rape-rape” comment, so it’s nice to see others remember her amoral comment as well.

    4. You have to admire a genocidal maniac with a good head-shot collection.

      1. BOOM! Headshot!

        Or did you mean something else?

        1. I can dance all day!

    5. No, no, more like that Brit actor, Bruce Payne. There’s another actor I’m thinking of, too, but can’t place his name…damned feeble old memory……..d=0CB8QsAQ

        1. Maybe he thought the campers were runners.

    6. Nope – Julian Sands

  4. Just wanted to say that this article confirmed every belief I already held.

  5. What we should really focus on is how creepy it is to have political summer camps.

    Yeah it sucks that people died, but the really scary part is that there was a Labour Party camp to begin with.

    I’m not blaming the victim or being a tremendous asshole by going through this just days after the murders, just sayin’.

    1. That’s crossed my mind, too. What better way to indoctrinate youth than to put them in a summer camp directed by the ruling Norwegian political party? Really creepy, if you ask me.

      I read they had “anti-racism” courses there. Gee, it’s like the Nords just beg for everyone to see how tolerant, diverse, and “with it” they are.

      1. Nords are notoriously racist. Especially against redguard iirc.

      2. I think you need to adjust your sarcasm detector.

        I was implying that it is terribly asshole-ish to start in on the camps being creepy within days of the massacre, and is every bit as much an attempt at scoring political points as the leftists blaming tea partiers for the AZ shooting, yet that is exactly what so many were doing in the “morning links”.

        1. Cftm:
          You overestimated your audience.

        2. What, you don’t think political party youth camps are creepy? It’s not trying to score points. Nobody is blaming it. It just sounds so alien and 1930s authoritarian chic to Americans. It’s really that simple. I can guarantee you if it was a (euro-style) right wing political youth camp we’d all have the same reaction. Probably even stronger.

          1. I think the whole concept of summer camps is creepy. I went unwillingly to Boy Scout camp for a week one summer, and though I did have some fun (mass king-of-the-hill battles, some canoeing) I could have had just as much fun at home with people I actually liked.

            After I became a parent, I remembered all that and let my son go to Space Camp in Huntsville, but only at his insistence. I never pulled the old “look what a surprise I have for you!” scam like the women that raised me did.

            1. “the women that raised me did.”

              Not to be funny, but were you raised by a lesbian couple?

              1. Nah, just a widowed mother, aunts, and grannies (some more than others). Father died young, in 1962.

        3. I got that right after I posted. Guess he’s right about thinking before you post.

        4. I think your sarcasm detector meter misread his sarcastic reply.

          IOW, he was reiterating what you said. I think. Shit. Perhaps my meters are all calibrated wrong.

          Never mind. Move along.

        5. But still, I’m commenting on something that hasn’t been commented about much at all. The tragedy itself has been reported, viewed, and wept over practically everywhere in the world. It just struck me as odd when I read the island was a political youth camp.

          1. I just went and checked out the Morning Links, and I see what the OP was talking about. You say it hasn’t been commented on much at all, but it really was this morning (here, not in the MSM).

        6. I don’t see how one is supposed to score political points by pointing out that it’s creepy to send your kid to a camp run by a political party.

          Sure, it’s incredibly insensitive, given that a bunch of people died. But if it’s supposed to score political points, it’s not working on me. And I don’t even know whats not working, becuase I just don’t get it all.

          1. Remember, few people are actually libertarians, and think things through using our frame of reference. We can think something is bad and still not oppose people doing it.

            A message which is intended for a mass audience would be structured to make sense to them. And it really sounds like by saying that something is “creepy”, you’re downplaying how awful the shootings were, because they were done against an institution which, in and of itself, is “wrong”.

            Plus, the 9/12 project endorses and assists with “patriot camps”, which are supposed to educate children about the founders, history of the constitution, etc. While not overtly tied to a political party, if GB is the driving force behind the 9/12 project, and it’s that project which is setting up the camps, it’s hard to believe that there wouldn’t be a political bent to the material.

            Sure, it may be a bent a libertarian would be more likely to agree with, but if that’s the comeback (as it is in the comments on a few other sites), then the statement needs to be amended from “political youth camps are creepy” to “liberal political youth camps are creepy, but conservative ones are great”.

        7. Let’s wrap this up: It was way fuckin’ creepy.

      3. Nords are racist against redguard, are they not?

        1. And don’t get me started on the dunmer.

          1. I don’t think they care for Imperials that much, either.

            1. Why would anyone? Their stat bonuses and racial abilities make them blander than their appearance.

              Hey Skyrim, do something about the fact that every person in Cyrodil is HIDEOUS.

            2. Nerds, the lot of you….

            3. My life is so over when Skyrim comes out. I am seriously considering taking a staycation.

              Also, even though I should be most attracted to the Nords as part of my slavish adherence to all things viking related, I can’t help but have way more fun playing Dunmer for some reason.

              1. That’s why I’m avoiding it…I don’t want to lose my wife and my job.

      4. To make matters worse, apparently they had one unarmed security guard on duty there. I also read a story detailing how even the cops there have to keep their guns locked away and unloaded, and that they need permission from supervisors before they can take them out and load them (individuals also need to keep their guns locked away, and there is no concealed carry). Clearly nobody but this psycho is responsible for the rampage, but the incompetent response by law enforcement certainly increased the death toll.

        1. “When seconds count, the cops are only minutes (or, in this case, hours) away.”

        2. Clearly if they had even tighter gun control, this tragedy could not have occurred.

          I hereby propose banning all projectile weaponry, and all things which are sharp, and all things which could be made sharp, as well as blunt things heavy enough to hurt someone.

        3. It’s still somewhat strange. After the Munich Massacre, I thought Europe got its shit together with counter-terrorism special forces. Yet, this happened 20 miles away from Norway’s largest city, and it took them 90 minutes to get there? And it happened a good while after a bombing in Oslo, when they should have assembled such teams to be ready to respond.

          Oh, and apparently part of the problem was that they were rejecting calls not related to the bombing.

          It’s not even like this is a 9/11-type catastrophe, where it’s hard to manage because no one realized something like that could happen. This was just like any other car-bombing or mass shooting.

          Hopefully, before people go overboard in asking which political views caused 68 deaths, they try and figure out what part of it could have been prevented were it not for law enforcement incompetence.

    2. You know who else liked to put young ‘uns in camps…

    3. The people at these camps where in their teens not children. Also: There are tea party summer caps for ages 8-12 in the US.

    4. No, the scary part is that Norwegian political parties have heavily organized “youth wings”.

  6. Even if Rubin had been right about who carried out the attacks, her argument was a crashing non sequitur, unless you think the United States needs new aircraft carriers to stop car bombings in Oslo.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Healey, most neo-cons think that this is so: The US has to have a mighty [pick one: Armada, Army, Air Force] to stop individual and random bombings and killings.

    1. Anywhere in the world (or in outer space).

    2. Which is just friggin’ irrational. The idea that a large army can do anything against random, dispersed attacks planned by individuals or small groups is delusional.

      1. It can incite more of them.

    3. Aircraft carriers are state welfare, that’s all. Just witness the kerfuffle over moving one carrier to Florida for proof of that.

  7. Great bit from the Village Voice that also gets some digs in at Jennifer Rubin:

    It would be sensible for conservatives to point out that, while they and Breivik share some views, they do not support mass murder as a means of promoting them, which is a large difference.


    1. I’m no Team Red shill, but I think it pretty pathetic of the Village Voice to throw “while they and Brevik share some views.” Pretty classless and unnecessary dig, if you ask me.

      I doubt it would be hard for them to find a few views he shares with Team Blue, yet that is conspicuously absent from their narrative.

      Jesus tap-dancing Christ. Even in an article condemning using a tragedy to score cheap political points, the Village Voice goes for a cheap political point. Cocksuckers!

      1. Uh…they’re partisans. Of course they can’t help but do it.

        1. its an opinion piece. the vv doesnt pretend to be anything other than progressive and certainly not “fair n balanced”.

      2. Good thing all those “You know who else…” jokes weren’t ridiculing an actual tendency or anything, in addition to the implied Godwin.

      3. They DO share some views. Gates of Vienna and Atlas Shrugs were totally this guy’s milieu.

      4. All statists should use this opportunity to publicly apoligize for what their fellow statist did here. Failure to do so implies consent.

      5. Not really, a number of famous conservatives–Daniel Pipes and Mark Steyn among them–are specifically credited with warning about the impending Islamification of Europe.

    2. Well, most conservatives do in fact support mass murder so the VV comment is wrong.

  8. What is the difference between the Labor party of today and the Workers party of lore?

    1. Which Workers party? It’s not like there was only ever one.

      1. The one of lore mutherfucker. Lore.

  9. Expecting partisan fucks to stop trying to score political points from tragedies is like expecting them to stop breathing. It’s what they are and what they do. The only up side is that they do it so relentlessly at this point that they cause burnout and no one listens any more.

    1. You can’t be serious.

      1. Are you serious?

    2. Says the “individualist-anarchist” who does not even recognize the branch of philosophy called “politics.”

    3. Hear that, dude? DOUBLEPWND

      1. Forsooth, truly did he suffer greatly at the hands of the anonopwn!

        1. I feel so PWND! I have been put in my place, that’s for sure. I’ll never comment again!

          1. I lied!

            1. Oh, I’ll make sure you stayed PWN’D this time, my pretty!

            2. Remember when I said I would PWN you last?

              1. You lied?

  10. wonder if this psycho had extended mags like loughner ?

    1. I think he got his mags at Great Clips…

      *runs away*

      1. Clips ?!

        1. It’s OK man. He meant stripper clips, like for an SKS.

    2. doesnt matter if he had a crew-serviced, belt-fed MG. they’s all be dead anyway!?

  11. Don’t use a tragedy to score partisan points.

    Well…shit! What’s the fun in THAT?! It’s positively UNAMERICAN NOT to score political points on the back on any tragedy!

    Jesus…get with the program, Healy. Team Red or Team Blue – no mercy, no quarter!! Those are the only choices in this bifurcated world!

    /Victor Hugo

    1. That’s right. In today’s United States politics, you pick your cock and then you suck it.

  12. This is great!

    Little Woman Owns Creepy Elevator Guy…..r-guy.html

    1. What the fuck was he trying to do? Whatever it was, it was highly ineffective.

    2. This one is also fun. Watch the big dude flail around in terror after the BJJ kid takes his back.

    3. Wow. I love when he’s trying to get away, and she drags HIM back into the elevator.

    4. That’s a hard one to understand. Is Little Woman wearing a marshal arts outfit?

      I took an otherwise enjoyable Tai Kwon Do class a few years back. Part of the training involved getting small people to equalize themselves against larger opponents. In a sparing exercise a 5′ gal just kicked me in the nuts before the instructor said ‘go’.

      1. I guess she understood the lesson.

  13. What’s absolutely clear is that people who perpetuate and give the veneer of legitimacy to antigovernment sentiments are in no way responsible for any crazies who take it to heart.

    1. That makes no sense at all when you think about it dude! LOL!

    2. Keep trying, Tony, you may catch one yet.

    3. Certainly no more so than those within government who fuck with people on a regular basis and assume that no one will react with violence.

      1. But it’s never the right people reacting violently in the right way. I mean that. Bad government always brings out the right-wing crazies, whose agents in government are responsible for it working poorly. It’s a vicious cycle of crazy.

        1. So in your opinion the Unabomber was a right-winger?

          1. Let me check my Lenin 8-ball…


        2. Is the government of Norway right-wing?

          1. Yup, he that question coming with his attempt at blaming the other side again. Tony, you’re getting more pathetic every post.

    4. What about anti-government left-wingers, Tony? You know they exist as well.

      Or do you give them a pass when they throw bricks and set shit on fire at G8 summits, or burn down houses or drive railroad spikes into tree trunks?

      This is like when shrike bitches about non-violent groups like Campaign for Liberty, and other organizations that *don’t* belong on SPLC’s shit-list.

      1. Relax, dude. Just point out the fallacy that Tony deploys and move on. Here it’s “guilt by association.”

  14. Here’s my problem with Gene Healy: Everything he says is so clear and clearly reasonable that he leaves little to talk about. Even his grammar, syntax, and composition are perfect.

    Dammit G. Healy, I need something a little more “out there” to protest against. Dance, Monkey!

  15. breevert is a hero to teh christan teapatriers just lik timmy macvay was but gun lawz r bad rihgt he shoold b watreborded lol

    1. -1 spoof plus u left out sodomize the miscreant

  16. Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
    2011 Results

    Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

    – Sue Fondrie

  17. It’s likely that the only worthwhile political lesson to be gleaned from the horror of 7/22 is that Norway ought to consider having a longer maximum prison sentence than 21 years.

    I’ll be surprised if he makes it as far as the first day in jail.

    1. Norway has a maximum sentence of 21 years *at a time*. It can be extended gradually.

  18. Woman framed by former boyfriend. Libertarians blame cops.…


      1. There needs to be a government program to address the shittiness of our trolls, dude. This is out of hand.

        1. Jebus fuck, it’s like a halfway house exploded.

          1. When there is no more room in hell, teh tards will walk the earth.

        2. But…but…they make us dance! They say so! In fact, I think they may even be delusional enough to actually think so.

          Which is pathetically sad. I love it.

          1. Another punk.
            Another cop-out.
            Another notch on my belt.

            1. Another hiker.
              Another blown-out colon.
              Another skull in my cave.

            2. Or GTFO.

  19. “Now is der time on Sprocket ven ve dance.”

    1. Your story grows tiresome.

    2. All the other members of the terror cells are monkeys.

      1. Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Videos.

        1. I’m as happy as a leetle gurrll.

          1. Liebe mein affe-mienke!

  20. George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager, is closing his Quantum fund to outside investors and returning their money.

    Quantum, which will continue to manage about $24.5bn of Soros family money, blamed the decision on new financial regulations requiring hedge funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.…..z1TEvuyazt


    2. Are we sure that “Quantum” isn’t really a gigantic doomsday laser weapon?

    3. I think… I.. just.. saw the funniest thing I’ll ever see. And I… think… I… blew a funny fuse.

    4. Has anyone asked Soros if he thinks his taxes are too low?

      I mean, c’mon, if we confiscate his entire fortune, we could finance the deficit for nearly a week.

      1. Wage taxes are too low. Soros has no control over his investor pool if the riff raff get involved.

      2. George Soros is a wonderful man.

        The Koch brothers, however, are Satan.


      1. Why do you sound so gay, brah?

        1. Dance, Wartie! I pull the strings and you dance!

        2. Back off, Warchild!

    6. 20 minutes since this went up… Whoever runs the shrike sock puppet is really falling down on the job here.

      1. Whoever it is seems to be busy around this time of day. There is rarely any shriek earlier in the day.

  21. John Kerry was introduced at the 2004 Democratic National Convention by Wade Sanders, a retired Navy Captain and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy who served as a Swift Boat officer in Vietnam. Like Kerry, Sanders was the recipient of a Silver Star for gallantry in action. During the 2004 campaign, Sanders functioned as Kerry lead attack dog against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, repeatedly denouncing the veterans on the air as liars and comparing them to Nazi propagandists.

    Wade Sanders is now in Federal prison, serving a 37-month sentence for possessing child pornography. Now the Navy Times reports that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has revoked Sanders’ Silver Star. The highly unusual decision appears unrelated to Sanders’ felony conviction. A Navy spokesman cited “subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself.” John Kerry has to be hoping this doesn’t become a trend.

    As one might imagine, the media has ignored this story. Even the Navy Times declined to post its own article online.….._star.html

    1. For hate’s sake he spits at Kerry 7 years after anybody gives a shit.

      1. Yes:

        This is the greatest picture of Sen. John Kerry ever.…..-more-prob…..l?_r=3&hp;

    2. John Kerry…John Kerry…wasn’t he that kid who fell down a well or something?

    3. kerry was correct about tora bora. and that mistake wasnt rectified until 10 yrs later

      1. Fuck John Kerry. The man no more deserved to be president than Bush, Clinton, or Obama.

        Or Old Man Bush, for that matter.

  22. Just to archive this…
    Apparently the Norway nut was a LaRouchie


  23. I rarely have time to go back and analyze the arguments which may be posted in response to my statements?because there are so many far-right-wing-ultra-conservative Internet sites to be read. In positing the following comment, the only thing I ask is that whether the assertions be mine or others,
    divest yourselves of all pejorative thinking and investigate for yourself to find the truth:

    No, it’s not good partisan politics, but it should remind us where extreme ultra-conservative Fundamentalist Christian radicalism can lead us.

    If you want to be entertained, watch FOX, MSNBC, or CNN. If you want to be informed, watch LinkTV or FreeSpeechTV for real news, analysis, and documentaries.

    1. You only have half the equation. You have to include the extreme ultra-liberals, or it’ll never add up.

      1. Oops, I see you included MSNBC.

  24. If recollecting were forgetting,Then I remember not.And if forgetting, recollecting,How near I had forgot

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