Monthly Archives: January 2011

Some Thoughts On Violence, Insanity & Politics

Now that tempers are cooling a bit, and the slanderous narrative promulgated by far-left media sources in the wake of the Giffords shooting has largely been rejected by the American public, perhaps we should reflect upon the role of violence in our history, culture, and political disputes.

Among the many perfectly reasonable points made by Sarah Palin when she addressed the blood libel manufactured against her by the media was that there is no time in history we can compare the present one to in the vain hope of finding  a more peaceful, less violent political tone. Andrew Jackson fought in 13 duels and even killed a man in one of them. He was far from the only US politician to engage in them.

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The President’s Speech

I did not watch President Obama’s speech last night, nor any of the memorial service turned pep rally, but I have read the transcript.  After reading through it I have to concur with the majority sentiment that this was a very good if not excellent speech. In fact this is perhaps the best one the President has given, granted that is a pretty low bar.  President Obama’s speeches can most charitably be described as vague, but this one contained a very clear message and was very appropriate for the occasion.  I was struck in particular by this passage:

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations, to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized  at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do  it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, ‘when I looked for light, then came darkness.’ Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

Naturally there’s been some blowback by some conservatives horrified at the notion that anything President Obama has done or said could ever garner praise by fellow conservatives.  For example, just read the comments to any number of blog postings on the Corner last night.  Almost all of the NRO contributors praised the speech, drawing the ire of a large band of followers (though not all, certainly).  I’m not really sure what more the President could have said.  If there’s any criticism due this speech it is that it does seem a bit over-long.  It’s almost like one of those homilies where it feels like the Priest is vamping in order to hit some pre-conceived notion of how long the talk should be.  But it is foolish to have  expected the President to have delivered a full-blown attack on leftists who engaged in any “blood libel.”  The tenor of his remarks were certainly appropriate for the occasion.

I don’t think that President Obama’s political career is suddenly going to be rejuvenated because some right-wing pundits like one speech that he gave.  If this wasn’t your cup of tea, fine.  I’ve found myself disliking many an Obama oration that others have drooled over, so opinions may vary.  But to me this was a speech well worth the praise it has received.

Giant Crabs: Just What the Economy Needs!

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From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Personally, I am waiting for trained flying monkey servants to do the jobs homo sapiens do not want to do.  It is only a rumor that Governor Quinn of Illinois is attempting to land a contract for the construction of a Giant Crab hatchery on the lake shore of Chicago.

The Wages of Sin Is… Higher Taxes?

A few months ago I wrote this reflection on the idea that bad leadership can be seen as a punishment or consequence of sin, and how the ethical and fiscal train wreck that is Illinois state government might serve as an example of this concept.

Now we are seeing further evidence of this concept. In the waning hours of their own lame-duck session, the Illinois General Assembly early this morning passed one of the most drastic tax hikes in state history.

The measure raises the individual income tax rate from 3 to 5 percent (thereby increasing each individual’s total tax liability by 66 percent) and the corporate tax rate from 4.8 to 7 percent. Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign the tax hike into law as soon as possible.

The corporate income tax, combined with an existing 2.5 percent tax that replaced an old personal property tax, means corporations in Illinois will be taxed at a total basic rate (not accounting for any exemptions or deductions) of 9.5 percent, the fourth highest rate in the nation. Although the tax hikes are supposed to be in effect only for the next four years, most residents expect all or part of the increases to end up being permanent.

The reason for this action is the state’s cataclysmic $15 billion-and-mounting budget shortfall. The growing deficit threatened to lower Illinois’ bond rating to junk status, possibly within days. In response, lame duck legislators in the last 12 hours of their term voted to approve the tax hike. A loose spending cap was approved along with the tax hike, but no specific or significant budget cuts accompanied this legislation.

Needless to say, the impending tax hike has many residents angry and feeling betrayed yet again by their elected officials.  Gov. Quinn, elected to a full term by a very narrow margin, had said prior to the election that he would not approve of raising the income tax for individuals beyond 4 percent. However,  this measure goes a full percentage point higher. Many predict a significant loss of jobs and residents as a result.

But what does this have to do with the “wages of sin” spoken of by St. Paul?

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Yes, It Is A Libel, And It Is Bloody

Let’s make this short.

Sarah Palin uses the phrase “blood libel” in her response to the round-the-clock assertions that she was directly responsible for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords.

Everyone accuses Sarah Palin of insensitivity and even in some extreme cases, anti-Semitism.

Every leftist or left-leaning publication declares – once again – that Sarah Palin’s presidential chances are ruined.

Are you bored yet?

Sarah Palin WAS the target of some kind of “blood libel”, for two reasons.

First, what else do you call it when one of the first articles to come out in a major publication is titled “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ blood is on Sarah Palin’s hands after putting cross hair over district?” That was Michael Daly of the NY Daily News. And our old friends Krugman and Olbermann, not to mention dozens of other left-wing commentators, kept the libel going over the next few days.

No one thought that using the word “blood” while actually engaging in libel would be combined as “blood libel” because no one was thinking at all when they made these morally repugnant and shameless accusations. As everyone on the left is forced in the most begrudging manner to admit, Palin was probably only borrowing the phrase from earlier conservative commentators such as Glenn Reynolds.

Secondly, scores of leftists have expressed their desire to murder Sarah Palin in the most vicious ways, to spill her blood. This video contains graphic and vulgar language – it is a reel of tweets that display of the sort demonic rage and hate that Palin inspires in many leftists, who sound as if they really might not mind using her blood to bake a cake.

I think Palin’s response was about as rational as one can be under this sort of constant attack. The level of psychopathic dishonesty it takes to a) first make the shooting entirely about Palin and then b) criticize Palin for making her response mostly “about her” is unfathomable. It takes reserves of bad-will and malice that I am glad I wouldn’t know how to muster if I wanted to.

Whether or not I would support her as a presidential candidate, I have to say, on this matter, I am firmly with Sarah Palin. Sometimes you can just judge a person’s worth by the nature of those who hate her the most.

Would Repealing ObamaCare Break the Budget

One of the priorities of the new Republican majority in the House is to repeal ObamaCare — though this would in effect be a purely sympolic move since a repeal would have no chance of passing the Senate, much less surviving an Obama veto. Nonetheless, pundits are having their say over the matter, and one of the odder arguments being advanced is that repealing ObamaCare would result in increasing the budget deficit. This has allowed Democrats to accuse Republicans of not only wanting sick people to go without treatment, but of wanting to spend more money than it would cost to insure them. How exactly does this math work?

As Ruth Marcus points out in the Washington Post, there’s a lot of funny math going into the CBO projection that repealing ObamaCare would increase the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the health care law, if implemented as promised, would save $230 billion over the next decade. There are two important words in that sentence: projects and if.
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Civil Litigation: The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

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Well, even the New York Times is reporting what a dismal choice law school tends to be for so many would be attorneys these days.  Read all about it here.

My favorite passage in this story is this quote from a jobless law school grad who owes 250k :

“It’s a prestige thing,” he says. “I’m an attorney. All of my friends see me as a person they look up to. They understand I’m in a lot of debt, but I’ve done something they feel they could never do and the respect and admiration is important.”

I had a root canal done yesterday and I really appreciated the roar of laughter that paragraph elicited from me.

I have written several posts in the hopes of giving people thinking of law school some idea of the debt ice berg they are probably sailing towards.   This is the start of a series to give some idea of what the practice of law tends to be in reality, rather than in theory as set forth in law schools.  ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

On the Transformative Power of Hate

Midway through college, I found myself (in part, I am sure, through my own fault) sucked into one of those interpersonal dramas of the sort that can only take place in an environment where lots of young adults with much time and little sense are living with each other in a small residential college 24/7. I had a falling out with my roommate, and since the room had become a rather difficult place to live, I arranged with the residence director to move into another room in the dorm. This was almost but not quite the end of it. For a few weeks longer there were random knocks on my door, anything I put on my bulletin board was slashed to ribbons, milkshakes had a way of happening to get spilled on my car, etc. And then all was forgotten.

But during that brief period during which the strife could not be let go, I developed a reflexive reaction to everything about the former roommate. Seeing a car on the highway the same color and model as his would make me angry. Just hearing the roommate’s name would cause a tightening feeling in my stomach. Even if one would be glad to be done with it all, being hated by someone else is something which cannot help but cause significant changes in you. Hatred is never a one-way relationship.

I think of this at the moment because our country looks increasingly like two camps that would really like to be warring, except for the fact that actual civil wars cut into work hours more than blogging does. When Representative Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured, and six bystanders were killed, by a gunman who was seriously disturbed, to say the least, it could have been a moment for the country to pull together in a sense of common sympathy for the dead and injured and outrage that violence had been brought into our civic life, where it has no place.

House Speaker John Boehner stepped forward and delivered standard unifying rhetoric for such occasions, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society… This is a sad day for our country.”
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An Analysis of the 2010 House Elections

I’m a bit late with this post, but it seems appropriate now as a sort of follow-up to my previous post regarding the House of Representatives.  When someone is both a political junkie and a stats nerd like I am, it’s hard to resist the temptation to delve into the numbers of any election.  So I am going to take a closer look at some of the more interesting figures from last November’s election results for the U.S. House of Representatives. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Feeling Cranky

I brought back my old blog, at a slightly different address, and addressed the Arizona shooting.  Hopefully this will be the last word I speak on what has been some rank opportunism.

First Amendment? What First Amendment?

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The above video is a stirring rendition of a campaign song for Abraham Lincoln in 1860:  Lincoln and Liberty Too, probably the most effective campaign ditty in American political history.  It was sung everywhere by Republicans in 1860, from huge campaign rallies to small gatherings of Lincoln supporters.  Lincoln Wide Awakes would hold torch light processions throughout the North singing the song at the top of their lungs.  The type of enthusiasm generated by the song helped give Lincoln a popular vote plurality in 1860 and an electoral landslide. 

I think the song would probably be illegal under legislation proposed by Congressman Robert Brady (D.Pa). 

“Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” 

Critics originally took Palin to task for the apparent use of the crosshairs of guns to identify the districts. The controversy re-ignited Saturday after the shooting, since Giffords’s district was included on the map.  

Brady singled out the map as the type of rhetoric he opposed. 

“You can’t put bull’s-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official,” he said. 

However, a Palin spokeswoman denied Sunday that the image was intended to depict gun sights. Palin offered condolences to the Giffords family and other victims of the shooting on her Facebook page Saturday. 

 Here is the ad from SarahPac that has Congressman Brady so worked up:  

   

   

   

 

   

The crosshairs on the map indicated members of Congress targeted for defeat by SarahPac.  Such targeting imagery of course is commonplace in political campaigns.  Only a moron, or a partisan hack, would think that violence in any way was implied by the use of this image.  As far as American political speech goes, this was pretty tepid stuff.  ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

I Will Not Be Silenced

I will not tone down my rhetoric.

I will not apologize for my political views.

I will not give up my guns, or my right to purchase more.

I will not give up my right to free speech.

I will not take responsibility for the actions of a dope-smoking, devil-worshiping, Marx and Hitler-loving psychopath.

I will not take seriously anyone who blames an old political ad posted on Facebook for those actions.

I will reject as the contemptible hypocrites and cowards that they are those who refuse to acknowledge the hate and violence in the rhetoric of the left, including the violent phrases and metaphors used repeatedly by Barack Hussien Obama.

I will not listen to lectures on violence by anyone who supports increasing the coercive power of the state over the lives of American citizens, families, and communities.

I will not listen to lectures on violence by anyone who is a sycophantic apologist for the party that escalated the Vietnam War or cheered the bombing of Serbia.

I will not listen to lectures on violence and a “climate of hate” from people who have made the most horrible, violent, and threatening statements imaginable regarding Sarah Palin and her family. There is no hatred more intense in this country than the hate that leftists have for Sarah Palin.

I will not listen to lectures on violence by anyone who supports the “right” to violently dismember innocent unborn children in their mother’s wombs.

I will never again listen to calls not to “rush to judgment” when a Muslim fanatic murders American citizens from anyone on the left.

I will not trade God-given, constitutionally-protected liberties for a false and futile sense of security.

I will not accept the idiotic belief that more laws, more regulations, and more police can solve problems of the human soul.

I will continue to advocate for limited government, state’s rights, popular sovereignty, free markets, individual and family rights, religious liberty, and a Culture of Life.

I will not be silenced.

Who’s with me?

Former Planned Parenthood director tells her story.

Next Tuesday, January 11th, Ignatius Press will launch a new book by former Planned Parenthood director and 2008 “employee of the year” Abby Johnson.

Unplanned is a behind-closed-doors expose of one of the biggest providers in the abortion industry, and a testimony of how Mrs. Johnson went from directing an abortion facility to working for the prolife cause. (And not just any abortion facility but the place at which the first 40 Days for Life campaign was launched in 2004).

As expected, Planned Parenthood isn’t taking this lightly. They filed a lawsuit to shut her up — but had their case dismissed.

Get all the details here, and purchase Unplanned from Ignatius Press at 35% off. You can also read the first chapter of Abby’s story in its entirety.

Abby also blogs at: http://www.abbyjohnson.org/.

Please join her prayer campaign for the conversion of Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the most experienced second & third trimester abortion providers.

Just Thought I Would Share…

Michelle Malkin has done the work I wish I could do more efficiently, and provided a post that highlights dozens of examples of violent hate speech and images put out by the left.

All I will say here is that it is ironic that Sarah Palin is being blamed for a “violent” political mood when few public figures (or their families) have had more hatred, contempt, and violent/sexist insults slung at them.

Increasing the Size of Congress: Would It Work?

One of the main objections that critics of the Constitution had was that the proposed U.S. House of Representatives would be too small.  Article I, Section 2 decreed that the number of representatives should not exceed one for every thirty thousand.  Critics feared that such an enumeration would mean that the districts would be far too large, and the representatives would not be close enough to the people they represent.  State ratifying convention offered up several amendments to this plan, and the first Congress included a revision to this section as one of the twelve original amendments to the Constitution.  In fact, if it had been ratified it would have been the first amendment, and it so read:

Article the first … After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

As it turned out, this was only of the original twelve never to be ratified by the states.  Ten were immediately ratified and became known collectively as the Bill of Rights, and an 11th – dealing with Congressional pay raises – was ratified in 1992 and became the 27th Amendment.

If critics were outraged at congressional districts of 30,000, imagine their horror at today’s apportionment.  After the 2000 census the average size of a congressional district jumped to 646,952, a number that has swelled to just over 700,000 in light of the recent census.  In other words, Congressional districts are roughly 23 times larger than originally planned.

So if the states ever got around to ratifying what would have been the first amendment, Congress would increase about fifteen-fold, or to 6,525, as opposed to the current total of 435.   And if we went with the original number prescribed in the Constitution, there would be just over 10,000 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Yee-haw!

It’s probably safe to assume that we will not be increasing the number of representatives by that margin anytime soon.  But as something of a fun little thought experiment, what would happen if we “merely” increased the House by triple it current size? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Left and the Political Blood Libel

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As indicated by the video above, many people on the Left have been relentless, since news broke of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims, on trying to blame conservatives somehow for the actions of one crazed lunatic.  There is no evidence that the gunman was motivated by anything other than the severe mental illness that he seems to be afflicted with.  However, those on the Left seeking to demonize those they politically oppose will not let a little thing like the truth stand in their way.  Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, takes a look at all this today in a column in the Wall Street Journal:

Shortly after November’s electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews’s TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to Saturday’s tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner’s killing spree might fill the bill.

With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s words, a “climate of hate.”

The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—”lock and load”—and talked about “targeting” opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district on a list of congressional districts “bullseyed” for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama’s famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”—it’s just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.

There’s a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn’t derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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