Thursday, May 3, 2012

Anita Moncrief Takes on Eric Holder on Race, ACORN and Voter Fraud (Good piece)


PJ Media ^ | May 3, 2012 | J. Christian Adams




(Legal Editor Note: Not long ago, the Left had a monopoly on rallies and protests. Republicans and conservatives, more enamored with scholars instead of brawlers, shunned displays of political muscle in the streets. That’s all changed. A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder went to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, to announce an aggressive attack on state election integrity measures like Voter ID. This election-year strategy is designed to stoke the leftist base but risks alienating everyone else. To greet Holder that day were hundreds of citizens at a rally sponsored by True the Vote.


I will never forget the disoriented look on Holder’s face as he emerged from the black SUV to the large crowd of people who came out to confront him. “Signs? Bullhorns? Multitudes? And they aren’t here to support me?” — that was the look.


ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief delivered a powerful speech that day, and PJ Media has finally been able to obtain it and publish it.)


Thank you. It’s an honor to be here today and I’m glad to see that there’s so many of you with your video cameras, because after the mainstream media gets hold of this, it will be “an all-white crowd showed up to protest Eric Holder”. So I’m glad we’ll have a little bit of somebody to combat that.
I speak from the heart and I speak plain, so if I offend some of you I’m sorry. But it’s an honor to be here today, especially to be at the LBJ Library, the father of the Great Society, the father of the social programs and the welfare state, and then the dissolution of the black family and our communities.
When LBJ signed in the Voting Rights Act in 1965, he said: “We’ll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 40 years.” And that needs to be said. People need to understand that. That’s the legacy that Holder brings here with him tonight by holding his speech here. It’s not just about coming here to talk about voting rights. It’s to talk about how they’ve taken race and turned it in to something that is unrecognizable.
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the heart of the civil rights movement. I could have walked to the 16th Street Baptist Church that was bombed during the civil rights era. And I have to tell you, the racism that I experienced, the evilness that came at me, it wasn’t from Birmingham, Alabama. It was from when I moved to the liberal north, and I got to see how things really were, and part of that was working with ACORN.
And that’s why I’m here today, to let you know what you guys are up against. This is not just something that has come out recently. This is something that started in the ’90s when Bill Clinton was in office. Not many people realize this, but ACORN helped get Bill Clinton elected, and the National Voter Registration Act was Clinton’s gift to ACORN.
And so for 10 years, ACORN and its sister organization Project Vote were going around the country and forcing Section 7 of the NVRA, which is the part about registering voters in public assistance agencies. They coordinated openly with the Clinton Justice Department during the ’90s, and during that time they had voter registrations coming out of these public assistance offices in the millions. This was their demographic.
Imagine a government, a federal mandate targeting a certain demographic. What if we were to say that by federal law you have to register people in churches and gun stores across the country? You don’t think liberals would lose their mind?
They are targeting their demographic, the people that are getting them elected, and this Obama gravy train has gotten out of control. We have more people on public assistance and welfare and unemployment than ever before, and they are coordinating to get Obama elected.
I have proof that Obama and Project Vote and ACORN were coordinating illegally in 2008 to get Obama elected. Do you not think that they would do the same thing in 2012 to get this man put back in office?
If there is proof that the Department of Justice ignored an ACORN investigation because they knew It would lead right to the White House, do you not think they would try to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests that show collusion between Project Vote, who has been pushing this project for years, and now the DOJ has all of a sudden started back filing lawsuits across the country under Section 7 violations.
This is a coordinated effort by ACORN and its people to push the same agenda that they’ve been doing for 20 years. We have the proof, we can connect the dots. They’ve been contacting the Department of Justice up until 2004 to force them to file lawsuits, even when Bush was in office and Antonio Gonzales was the Attorney General, they were still trying to get them to collude with them and to work.
So now, now, when they publicly acknowledge working with the Department of Justice in those previous administrations, why are they denying it and hiding it now? Could it be because it’s illegal collusion? Could it be because they’re trying to work to get Obama elected?
These are the questions we need to ask. We have — and I say “we” because there are people I’m working with — over 55,000 documents that could indict some of these people from ACORN and Project Vote, the same people that are out there right now meddling around in New York with Occupy Wall Street and across the country.
Why won’t Darrell Issa and his people call for a Congressional investigation of ACORN when there are enough documents to bury these people? Why won’t we get them to take the stand?
We need you guys to step up and do this. I am today calling for two things: one, a Congressional investigation into the activities of ACORN and Project Vote, the Obama administration, and its relation to the Department of Justice in these Section 7 lawsuits across the country; and two, I am calling on you guys to help me with this, to not only call for Holder’s resignation but his impeachment.
I am so tired of race being a dividing factor in our communities. I grew up poor in Birmingham, Alabama, and I will tell you, in the black community they don’t have a lot of opportunities, there’s not a lot of banks, so where are you going to get your check cashed at? The liquor store, or you go to a check cashing place.
You can’t do anything without an ID in the black community. Sometimes they won’t even let you use your debit card unless they can verify you are who you are, because they lose money on fraudulent purchases every year. These are the realities of being poor and being black in America. Why is Sharpton ignoring this? He knows exactly what I’m talking about, but he’s a professional race-baiter. He smells that 8mm camera film and he comes running out there and he pulls out that platinum race card.
I’m tired of the platinum race card, and that’s why I’m here today — to let you know it’s a lie, it’s something they have used to divide this country, and we have got to get together and stop it. And the only way we can do that is to unite our voices and call for these investigations, and to let people know that we are tired of this race card and we’re not going to put up with that in 2012.

Obama Steals Mao's Slogan


The American Spectator ^ | 5.3.12 @ 6:09AM | Jeffrey Lord



Forward!


Comrades, you can't make it up. Can you say "campaign blunder"? Or is it a blunder? Is it deliberate? The socialist mind at work in campaign mode?


The Obama campaign has picked a portion of one of the most infamous socialist slogans of 20th century history to use as its own new campaign slogan.


"Forward" is the new Obama slogan, Team Obama borrowing boldly from none other than the late Communist Party of China leader Chairman Mao.


Mao's slogan? "The Great Leap Forward."

(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...

What do we mean when we say small government, ie, constitutionally limited government?


Jim Robinson



Some of the areas/functions the federal government should not be involved in per the constitution (see enumerated powers of congress and the Bill of Rights, the 9th and 10th amendments, etc):

  1. Health
  2. Education
  3. Welfare
  4. Housing
  5. Mortgages
  6. Student loans
  7. Subsidies
  8. Health insurance
  9. Retirement insurance
  10. Mandating insurance contracts of any kind
  11. Trade unions
  12. Government workers unions (huge conflict of interest)
  13. Jobs (other than not creating an environment that kills them)
  14. Banking/finance
  15. Free markets
  16. The stock market
  17. The economy (other than not overstepping its constitutional bounds and creating havoc)
  18. The working environment
  19. Global warming
  20. Crime in general (other than treason, piracy, counterfeiting, etc)
  21. Marriage (gay or otherwise)
  22. Abortion (other protecting than the constitutional right to life)
  23. Infanticide (ditto)
  24. Euthanasia (ditto)
  25. Judicial activism
  26. Leveling the playing field for minorities
  27. Ditto for immigrants (legal or otherwise)
  28. Ditto for women
  29. Ditto for hispanics
  30. Ditto for gays
  31. Ditto for students
  32. Ditto for seniors
  33. Ditto for the poor
  34. Ditto for the middle class
  35. Ditto for singling out the wealthy for special punishment
  36. Ditto for any other class or special interest group (see equality under the law)
  37. Using the news media as propaganda organ
  38. Using the entertainment industry as propaganda organ
  39. Using educational institutions as socialist indoctrination centers
  40. Conducting war on talk radio
  41. Suppressing freedom of speech
  42. Oppressing freedom of religion
  43. Suppressing inter-state commerce (the commerce clause was intended to keep commerce flowing between the states with no restrictions or tariffs)
  44. Conducting war on coal, oil, gas, energy
  45. Conducting war on farming, fishing, mining, timber, manufacturing, industry
  46. Conducting war on religious freedom
  47. Conducting war on right to freely exercise religion
  48. Conducting war on Christianity
  49. Conducting war on right to keep and bear arms
  50. Conducting war on state powers
  51. Conducting war on liberty itself
  52. etc, etc, etc.
It's a never ending list and rapidly expanding as fast as our now virtually UNLIMITED unconstitutional BIG government is rapidly expanding, regardless of party in power.

Think about the thousands of areas where our federal government has granted itself powers to control and regulate, then compare them to the very short list of enumerated powers:
Section. 8.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

See also:
AMENDMENT IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
AMENDMENT X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Political Kittens



A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the sidewalk in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing FREE KITTENS.
Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a tall, grinning man.
"Hi there little girl, I'm President Obama. ... What do you have in the basket?" he asked.
"Kittens," little Suzy said.
"How old are they?" asked Obama.
Suzy replied, "They're so young, their eyes aren't even open yet."
"And what kind of kittens are they?"
"Democrats," answered Suzy with a smile.
Obama was delighted. As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.
Recognizing the perfect photo op, the two men agreed that the president should return the next day; and in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.
So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the sidewalk with her basket of "FREE KITTENS," when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.
Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Obama got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy.
"Hello, again," he said, "I'd love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you're giving away."
"Yes sir," Suzy said. "They're Republicans."
Taken by surprise, the president stammered, "But...but...yesterday, you told me they were DEMOCRATS."
Little Suzy smiled and said, "I know.
But today, they have their eyes open."

So Will Obama Make Speeches To College Graduates?Wont Have Any Encouraging News This Spring.

When it comes to the economy this spring/summer,Obama is backed into a corner if/when he decides to speak to a few groups of college graduates. What can he possibly tell them as they are assuming they will find work in their field of choice? 


2012 will remain stagnant until Romney wins in November. Obama may as well tell every college graduate of the 2012 class that,I'm sorry, I have failed you,looks like at least half of you will be moving in with your parents,and the other half will be working for McDonald's or making solar panels. Right?

Obamacare will be overturned completely!


Renew America ^ | May 1, 2012 | Michael Gaynor



Total overturn of Obamacare would be a complete vindication of the rule of law and a complete disaster for President Obama (as well as for Long's chief rival, Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior United States Senator, an enthusiastic Obamacare supporter who should have known better than to vote for it).

On April 2, 2012, SILive's Tom Wrobleski reported that a United States Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare is expected soon and "[t]he justices could uphold or overturn the entire law,...strike down the individual mandate only, or strike the mandate along with other provisions" (www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/us_senate_candidate_wendy_long.html).

That's all true, but not news.

Wrobleski further reported that United States Senate candidate Wendy Long said while campaigning in Staten Island on April 27 that Obamacare is unconstitutional and she hopes it will be declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
That's all true, but not news, too.
BUT...Wrobleski quoted Long as saying, "If I were betting, I'd bet on a total overturn."
THAT is huge news.
Long is conservative and highly qualified to predict. She's not one to let her personal views distort her perception of reality or to make baseless predictions or to bet recklessly. snip
Unlike Gillibrand, Long is a constitutional scholar intimately familiar with the workings of the United States Supreme Court and a former United States Supreme Court clerk (to Justice Clarence Thomas).
Additionally, unlike Gillibrand, Long served for years as general counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network (now the Judicial Crisis Network) and skillfully promoted the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
(Excerpt) Read more at renewamerica.com ...

The Handwriting on the Wall (The serial and serious failures of the left.)


National Affairs ^ | Spring 2012 | GEORGE WEIGEL



In recent years, roiled as they have been by a global financial and economic crisis, the phrase "the handwriting is on the wall" has become a staple of the public conversation. It is a metaphor for the general sense of disorientation, unease, and fear for the future that seems epidemic throughout the Western world, and that is having so obvious an effect on the national cast of mind in this election season.

The phrase may be ubiquitous, but how many of those who invoke "the handwriting on the wall" have looked closely at its source — the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible? The story told there is a striking one. Recalling it in full might help us come to grips with whatever is being written on the wall at this moment in our national history, and in the history of the civilization of the West. Reflecting on that story might also help us identify a prophet who, like Daniel, could help us translate "the handwriting on the wall," understand its meaning, and thus know our duty.

The scene is readily set. The place: Babylon. The time: some two and a half millennia ago, in the 6th century before our era. The Kingdom of Judah has been conquered by the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar, who, the Book of Daniel tells us, ordered his chief vizier "to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, handsome and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, competent to serve in the king's palace, and to teach them the letters and language of the Chaldeans." The most impressive of this group of talented young Jews was named Daniel. In addition to the personal qualities specified for royal service by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had the power to interpret the great king's dreams — a skill that led Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge, for a moment at least, that Daniel's God, the God of the people of Israel, was "God of gods and lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries."
Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, was a different matter, however:
King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and silver which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem be brought, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the gold and silver vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
Immediately the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, opposite the lampstead: and the king saw the hand as it wrote...
It was, as we might imagine, an unwelcome interruption of the royal revels. Belshazzar was terrified and promised to make the man who could decipher the writing and its meaning the third ruler in the kingdom. The tenured academics and op-ed writers were stumped. Then the queen had an idea: Call in Daniel. So the king summoned the young Jewish exile and promised him the third position in the kingdom if he could read the handwriting on the wall and explain its meaning. The eponymous book tells the rest of the story:
Then Daniel answered before the king: "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; nevertheless I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation....You have lifted yourself up above the Lord of heaven; and the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.
"Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this was the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
Then Belshazzar commanded, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put about his neck, and proclamation was made concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Belshazzar's feast and its ending in the king's abrupt death is thus a Biblical warning against the lethal effects of blasphemy — the worship of that which is not worthy of worship, which is the negation of worship. In his drunken arrogance, Belshazzar turned sacred vessels intended for true worship into playthings for debauchery, and because of that negation of worship, his claim to sovereignty was annulled. The handwriting on the wall spoke of this. And it spoke truly.
THE EMPTY SHRINE
Is there similar handwriting on the wall in our own time? I think there is. The words are different, and they tend to be written, not telegraphically on walls by mysterious hands, but voluminously, in newspapers and magazines and books and scholarly journals and online. But these words, too, tell of the results of the negation of worship. Or, to put the matter in less dramatically Biblical terms, the words on the wall at this moment in history speak of the results of a negation — a deconstruction — of the deep truths on which the civilization of the West has been built. And one of the main things that the "handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century is telling us is that the secular project is over.
By "secular project," I mean the effort, extending over the past two centuries or more, to erect an empty shrine at the heart of political modernity. This project's symbolic beginning may be dated precisely, to April 4, 1791, when the French National Constituent Assembly ordered that the noble Parisian church of St. Geneviève be transformed into a secular mausoleum, the Panthéon. The secular project accelerated throughout the 19th century as the high culture of Europe was shaped by what Henri de Lubac called "atheistic humanism": the claim, advanced by thinkers as diverse as Comte, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche, that the God of the Bible was the enemy of human maturity and must therefore be rejected in the name of human liberation. After atheistic humanism had produced, among other things, two world wars and the greatest slaughters in recorded history, a softer form of the "empty shrine" project emerged in the 20th century. This softer secularism — of which political science, not political philosophy, was the intellectual engine — focused on the institutional structures and processes of democracy and the market: If one simply got those structures right — powers separated and balanced, markets designed for maximum efficiency — then all one had to do was insert the key into the ignition and let politics and economics run by themselves.
In both its hard and soft forms, the secular project was wrong. Above all, it ignored the deep truth that it takes a certain kind of people, living certain virtues, to make democracy and the free economy work properly. People of that kind do not just happen. They must be formed in the habits of heart and mind, the virtues that enable them to guide the machinery of free politics and free economics so that the net outcome is human flourishing and the promotion of the common good. There is no such formation in the virtues of freedom available at the empty shrine.
A glimpse of what the empty shrine does produce was on offer late last summer in Great Britain, when packs of feral young people rampaged through city after city in an orgy of self-indulgence, theft, and destruction. The truth of what all that was about was most powerfully articulated by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that had been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people...[who are the products of] a tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West, saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
The inability of democratic countries to make rational decisions in the face of impending fiscal disaster gives us another glimpse into the effects of the empty shrine and its inability to nurture and form men and women of democratic virtue — citizens capable of moral and economic responsibility in both their personal and public lives. Whether the venue is Athens or Madison, Wisconsin, the Piazza Venezia in Rome or McPherson Square in Washington, the underlying moral problem is the same: adults who have internalized a sense of entitlement that is wholly disconnected from a sense of responsibility. And once again, it was Lord Sacks who connected the dots here when he wrote that the moral meltdown of the West — the attempt to build a civilization disconnected from the deep truths on which it was founded — had had inevitable economic and financial outcomes: "What has happened morally in the West is what has happened financially as well....[as] people were persuaded that you could spend more than you earn, incur debt at unprecedented levels, and consume the world's resources without thinking about who will pay the bill and when." These linked phenomena — "spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital" — are, Sacks concluded, the inevitable result of a "culture of the free lunch in a world where there are no free lunches."
At the moment, the gravest examples of the moral-cultural disease that is eating away at the vitals of the Western democracies may be found in places like Greece and Italy. There, public irrationality and political irresponsibility have rendered the democratic system so dysfunctional that, under the pressure of the sovereign-debt crisis, the normal processes of democratic governance have been replaced in recent months by the rule of technocratic elites, operating beneath a thin democratic veneer.
But Americans would be foolish if we did not see glimpses of the effects of the empty shrine in our own country. Those results come into view when we note the distinct absence of profiles in courage in our own politics; when entry into public service is essentially a projection of personal ego and self-esteem; when the crude exchange of epithets displaces serious engagement with the issues; when complexities are reduced to sound bites because the talk-radio show must go on; when short-term political risk aversion leads to grave long-term consequences; when trans-generational solidarity is abandoned in the name of immediate gratification; when the question becomes, "What can I get out of the state (and its treasury)?" not "What am I contributing to the common good?"
What these symptoms of democratic dysfunction suggest is that the empty shrine of the secularist project is not, in truth, entirely empty. For while it is true that the atheistic humanism of the 19th century and the democratic functionalism and economic libertarianism of the 20th have drained a lot of the moral energy from both free politics and free economics, the shrine at the heart of Western civilization has become the temple of a new form of worship: the worship of the imperial autonomous Self, which, in 1992, three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court promoted and celebrated as "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
That false worship of the Self — the worship of that which is not worthy of worship — has led to a severe attenuation of the moral sinews of democratic culture: the commitment to reason and truth-telling in debate; the courage to face hard facts squarely; the willingness to concede that others may have something to teach us; the ability to distinguish between prudent compromise and the abandonment of principle; the very idea of the common good, which may demand personal sacrifice.
If "the handwriting on the wall" is telling us that the secular project is over, then one of the lessons of that verdict can be put like this: While there are undoubtedly serious functional problems with Western institutions of governance in the early 21st century, the greatest deficit from which the Western democracies suffer today is a deficit of democratic culture. And a primary cause of that deficit has been the profligate spending-out of the moral-cultural capital built up in the West under the influence of Biblical religion.
What we call "the West" — and the distinctive forms of political and economic life it has generated — did not just happen. Those distinctive forms of politics and economics — democracy and the market — are not solely the product of the continental European Enlightenment. No, the deeper taproots of our civilization lie in cultural soil nurtured by the interaction of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome: Biblical religion, from which the West learned the idea of history as a purposeful journey into the future, not just one damn thing after another; Greek rationality, which taught the West that there are truths embedded in the world and in us, and that we have access to those truths through the arts of reason; and Roman jurisprudence, which taught the West the superiority of the rule of law over the rule of brute force and sheer coercion.
The three pillars of the West — Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome — are all essential, and they reinforce one another in a complex cultural dynamic. That mutual interdependence of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome is another lesson that the handwriting on the wall in the early 21st century is teaching us. If, for example, you throw the God of the Bible over the side, as atheistic humanism demanded, you get two severe problems: one empirical, the other a matter of cultural temperament. Empirically, it seems that when the God of the Bible is abandoned in the name of human maturation and liberation, so is his first commandment, to "be fruitful and multiply"; and then one embarks on the kind of demographic winter that is central to the crisis of the European welfare state. Culturally, upon abandoning the God of the Bible, one begins to lose faith in reason. For, as post-modernism has demonstrated, when reason is detached from belief in the God who imprinted the divine reason on the world — thus making creation intelligible through the Logos, the Word — reason soon turns in on itself. Then radical skepticism about the human capacity to know the truth of anything with clarity begets various forms of soured nihilism. And that lethal cocktail of skepticism and nihilism in turn yields moral relativism and the deterioration of the rule of law, as relativism is imposed on all of society by coercive state power.
Taking a cue from that great philosophical celebrant of irony, Richard Rorty, Colgate University's Robert Kraynak has neatly described the net result of all this as "freeloading atheism": Like Belshazzar's lords, wives, and concubines, those formed by the empty shrine and the worship of the imperial, autonomous Self have been drinking profligately out of sacred vessels, freeloading on moral truths that they do not acknowledge (and in many cases hold in contempt), but which are essential for sustaining democracy and the free economy, which the freeloaders claim to honor. But as Lord Sacks pointed out last summer, that jig is up.
THE EMPTY NARRATIVE
If the death of the secular project is one truth that "the handwriting on the wall" is teaching in our time, then so is the related death of post-modernism, which has been done in by the radical disconnect between "narrative" and reality. In recent years, the notion of "narrative" (which gave birth to that horrible neologism, "narrativizing") has become ubiquitous in our public vocabulary. To "change the narrative" is to gain political advantage; to "narrativize" a problem in a new way is taken as a way to solve it. Yet "changing the narrative" cannot change reality, and anchoring our public life to "narrative" rather than to reality can so warp our perceptions of reality that we end up like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland, believing impossible things before breakfast — and lunch, and dinner.
This has become painfully obvious in Europe, where the public "narrative" of the post-World War II period, and particularly of the post-Cold War period, is the story of the creation of a community of social democracies living in harmony in a world beyond conflict. That narcotic and seductive "narrative" has crashed against reality in recent years, and most painfully in the past year. It has crashed against the consequences of an unprecedented reality in human history: systematic depopulation on a mass scale through deliberate and self-induced infertility. That infertility, in turn, set the stage for the contemporary European fiscal crisis and the crisis of the modern European welfare state. For the simple fact — the reality that no "narrative" can change — is that Europe does not have a sufficient number of taxpaying workers to sustain the social welfare states it has created. As if that were not bad enough, the post-Cold War European "narrative" has also crashed into the reality of spoiled and self-indulgent citizens whose productivity cannot deliver the standard of living their politicians promise — those promises being yet another example of false "narratives."
The ability of false "narrative" to warp our perception of reality is also evident in the claim that China will inevitably rise to become the dominant world power. This Sinophilia has a familiar Oriental ring to it. Twenty years ago, the leading candidate for the title of post-American hegemon was Japan, and an extended narrative of the inevitability of Japan's rise was spun out in bestsellers like Japan as Number One. Today, however, Japan is living through an extended period of economic stagnation compounded by a demographic free fall that makes the very existence of the nation questionable over time. Now, the Asian contender for lead society in a post-American world is China. Yet that narrative, too, is crashing against demographic reality: Thanks to its one-child policy, China will get old before it gets rich, with its population declining after 2020 and aging at a pace that will make it impossible to support growing cadres of retirees. Moreover, as Max Boot has written, "China must also deal with the fundamental illegitimacy of its unelected government, its lack of civil society, pervasive corruption, environmental devastation, and paucity of natural resources." These are facts; this is reality. Yet the "narrative" of China as the inevitable lead society of the future has become so familiar that the facts simply do not register beyond a small band of skeptics.
And then there is the damage that substituting "narrative" for reality has done in our own country — to the Obama administration, to the general health of the public discourse, and to our national security. Evidently, the administration was so taken with the results of the "narrativizing" that worked wonders during the 2008 campaign that it imagines that "narrative" is the very point of government. As the president himself put it in an interview last summer, reflecting on what he might have done differently, "...the more you're in this office the more you have to say to yourself that telling a story to the American people is just as important as the actual policies that you're implementing." Presidents certainly must take seriously what the first President Bush dismissed, likely to his regret, as the "vision thing." But for a president to argue that what fundamentally matters in governance is storytelling is, at the very least, a striking indicator of just how much President Obama is influenced by the intellectual exhaust fumes of post-modernism.
The difficulty, of course, is that ideas, even bad ideas, have consequences. The consequences of this commitment to "narrative" by the administration have certainly falsified domestic reality and made serious problem-solving far more difficult. They have also placed the nation, and the world, in greater jeopardy.
In foreign affairs, the equivalent of the Obama administration's commitment to changing narratives has been the notion of a "new engagement," as if a change of declaratory policy and a less assertive (some would say more cringing) approach to difficult nations and difficult problems would change the problems themselves, perhaps even resolve them. It hasn't.
Three years into recasting the narrative with Russia and China in terms of "re-engagement," both these veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council continue to impede efforts by the United States and others to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions — ambitions that, if realized, would pose an existential threat to Israel (and perhaps several Arab countries) while creating a capacity for lethal terrorism on an unprecedented global scale.
Three years into the administration's "reset" with Russia — famously launched with a toy button that turned out to have the wrong Russian word engraved on it — Vladimir Putin's bullying (and worse) in the Russian "near abroad" has intensified; authoritarianism has increased within Russia itself; and Russia has provided support for such anti-American (and destabilizing) regimes as Bashar al-Assad's Syria and Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. Meanwhile, "resetting" with Russia — "changing the narrative" — led to a betrayal of America's Polish and Czech allies on the question of missile defense. That betrayal, in turn, has encouraged the Putin regime to double down on its paranoid resistance to the emplacement in Europe of American missile-defense facilities of no conceivable threat to Russia.
And then there is Iran. Here, the change of narrative began with an apology for American actions taken more than half a century ago, continued with negotiations that produced no discernible results, and reached their moral nadir when the administration ignored popular discontent with the mullahs' regime and effectively undercut the possibility of the Iranian people shaking off the rule of the apocalyptic clerics and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. As for the results of this attempt to "change the narrative": Iran continues to be a state sponsor of terrorism and, because of that, Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; Iran saber-rattles in the Strait of Hormuz and undertakes assassination plots in Washington; the Iranian nuclear program grinds on. Meanwhile, this attempt to change the "narrative" of America's dealings with Iran has often obscured from public view the reality of the situation, which is that regime change in Tehran is the only path to the reintegration of Iran into the community of responsible nations.
A change of "narrative" cannot change reality. But false narratives can so warp our perceptions of reality that matters are made worse. And matters made worse can, and often do, lead to matters made far more dangerous. That, too, is part of "the handwriting on the wall" in this election year.
A MODERN DANIEL
In the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel, "the handwriting on the wall" bespoke, however cryptically, the imminent demise of King Belshazzar's regime. I am not suggesting that "the handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century bespeaks the demise of the West or of the United States. Like Rabbi Lord Sacks, I can look back in history on moments of social dissolution followed by rapid periods of cultural transformation and profound societal change. In his Wall Street Journal article, Sacks cited the rapid change of early industrial England under the influence of the Wesleyan revolution, which in two generations transformed British society in positive ways. Closer to our own time, we might recall the transformation of American culture, society, and law effected by the classic civil rights movement, another revolution of social change led by churchmen and built on the foundations of Biblical faith.
Any such revolution in the 21st century will have to contend with social acids at least as corrosive as cheap gin in Dickensian London and racism in America, however. It will have to contend with the intellectual detritus of the past two centuries, which has placed the imperial autonomous Self at the center of the Western civilizational project while reducing democracy and the free economy to matters of mechanics. Who is the Daniel who can read this "handwriting on the wall" and point a path, not to the demise of Western democracy, but to its moral and cultural renewal and thus its political transformation?
One possible candidate for that prophetic role is the Bishop of Rome who created the modern papacy, Pope Leo XIII. Born in 1810 into the minor Italian nobility and elected pope in 1878 as a caretaker, he died in 1903 after what was then the second-longest pontificate in recorded history. Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci came to the papacy at one of the lowest points in that ancient office's historic fortunes. On the demise of the Papal States in 1870 and the pope's withdrawal from public view as the "prisoner of the Vatican," the great and good of Europe thought the papacy and the Church a spent force in world-historical terms. Yet over the next quarter-century, Leo XIII would prove to statesmen that he was, as Russell Hittinger put it, "the wiliest pope in centuries."
More to the point for our purposes, Leo XIII, as Professor Hittinger wrote, was also possessed by "a relentless drive to diagnose historical contingencies in the light of first principles." He was, in that sense, a kind of public intellectual. Like his 20th- and 21st-century papal successors, he, too, believed in reading "the signs of the times." But unlike the radical secularists of his time and ours, Leo XIII believed in reading the signs of the times through a lens ground by faith and reason. His passion for understanding the deep currents of history through reason informed by a Biblical vision of the human person and human communities is best remembered today for having launched the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. Yet Leo, who began to disentangle the Church in Europe from the evangelically stifling embrace of the old regimes, was also an acute analyst of the pathologies of political modernity. And it is that aspect of his thought and teaching that makes him a possible Daniel for our time, helping us read "the handwriting on the wall" as the freeloading pagans of modernity continue their carousing.
Leo's analysis of political modernity might be summarized in one phrase: no telos, no justice. Or, if you prefer: no metaphysics, no morals. Or, to leave the technical vocabulary of philosophy: no grounding of politics and economics in the deep truths of the human condition, no society fit for human beings.
What I have called the "empty shrine" at the center of political modernity was, for Leo XIII, the result of a dramatic revolution in European intellectual life in which metaphysics had been displaced from the center of reflection, thinking-about-thinking had replaced thinking-about-truth, and governance had therefore come unstuck from the first principles of justice. Science, which had replaced metaphysics as the most consequential of intellectual disciplines, could provide no answer to the moral question with which all politics, in the Western tradition, begins: How ought we to live together? Worse, when science stepped outside its disciplinary boundaries and tried its hand at social and political prescription, it let loose new demons, such as Social Darwinism, that would prove astonishingly lethal when they shaped the national tempers that made possible the great slaughters of the First World War.
Leo tried to fill the empty shrine at the heart of political modernity with reason, and with the moral truths that reason can discern. This was, to be sure, reason informed by Biblical faith and Christian doctrine. But the genius of Leo XIII, public intellectual, was that he found a vocabulary to address the social, political, and economic problems of his time, and ours, that was genuinely ecumenical and accessible to all — the vocabulary of public reason, drawn from the natural moral law that is embedded in the world and in us. In one of his great encyclicals on political modernity, Immortale Dei, published in 1885, Leo wrote that "the best parent and guardian of liberty amongst men is truth." Unlike the post-modern Pontius Pilates who imagine that the cynical question "What is truth?" ends the argument, Leo XIII understood that this question, which can be asked in a non-cynical and genuinely inquiring way, is the beginning of any serious wrestling with the further question, "How ought we to live together?"
This general orientation to the problem of political modernity then led Leo to pose a cultural challenge to the post-ancien régime public life of the West: a challenge to think more deeply about law, about the nature of freedom, about civil society and its relationship to the state, and about the limits of state power.
Leo XIII's concept of law, drawn from Thomas Aquinas, challenged the legal positivism of his time and ours, according to which the law is what the law says it is, period. That may be true, at a very crude level. But such positivism (which is also shaped by the modern tendency to see civil laws as analogous to the "laws" of nature) empties law of moral content, detaches it from reason, and treats it as a mere expression of human willfulness. Leo challenged political modernity to a nobler concept of law, synthesized by Russell Hittinger, as "a binding precept of reason, promulgated by a competent authority for the common good." Thus law is not mere coercion; law is authoritative prescription grounded in reason. True law reflects moral judgment, and its power comes from its moral persuasiveness. Law appeals to conscience, not just to fear.
Given this understanding of law, it should come as no surprise that Leo challenged political modernity to a nobler concept of freedom. Following Aquinas rather than Ockham (that first of the proto-modern distorters of the idea of freedom), Leo XIII insisted that freedom is not sheer willfulness. Rather, as Leo's successor John Paul II would later put it, freedom is the human capacity to know what is truly good, to choose it freely, and to do so as a matter of habit, or virtue. According to this line of argument, a talent for freedom grows in us; we cut short that learning process if we insist, with the culture of the imperial autonomous Self, that my freedom consists in doing what I want to do, now.
Leo XIII's challenge to political modernity was also a challenge to the omni-competence of the state. Leo was a committed defender of what we would call "civil society," or what were called "voluntary private associations" in his day. Political community, according to Leo XIII, was composed of a richly textured pluralism of associations, of which the state was but one (albeit an important one). These voluntarily entered, free associations (which, to reduce the matter to its simplest form, included everything from the family to business and labor associations to civic groups and religious communities) were not merely barriers against the reach of state power; they were goods in themselves, communities expressing different forms of friendship and human solidarity. Thus the just state would take care to protect these societies, which contributed to the common good in unique ways — and not least by forming the habits of heart and mind that made willful men and women into good citizens. Moreover, Leo proposed, the state's responsibility to provide legal protection for the functioning of free associations ought not to be something conceded out of a sense of largesse or governmental noblesse oblige. That responsibility, too, was a matter of first principles: in this case, the principle of the limited, law-governed state. For the state that can recognize that there are human associations that exist prior to the state, not just as a matter of historical chronology but as a matter of the deep truths of the human condition, is a state that has recognized the boundary markers of its own competence, and thus the limits of its legitimate reach.
In the first papal social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, published in 1891, Leo XIII wrote presciently about many of the debates of our own time; he also anticipated the disputes animating contemporary arguments as seemingly diverse as the definition of marriage, the reach of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the regulatory powers of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The specific form of voluntary association being addressed in Rerum Novarum was the trade union, but the principle Leo articulated applies throughout the rich associational matrix of civil society: "The State should watch over these societies of citizens banded together in accordance with their rights, but it should not thrust itself into their peculiar concerns and their organization, for things move and live by the spirit inspiring them, and may be killed by the rough grasp of a hand from without."
JERUSALEM, ATHENS, ROME, AND WASHINGTON
In 2012, the American people confront many questions in what bids fair to be a defining national election, not unlike 1800, 1828, 1860, 1932, and 1980 in its potential consequences. Will the United States continue to "lead from behind" in world affairs, as the Obama administration describes its strategy, or will it resume its place as the indispensable country "at the point" in confronting threats to world order? Will the United States follow the social model pioneered by post-World War II Western Europe, or will it devise new ways of combining compassion, justice, personal responsibility, and public fiscal discipline? Can the challenges of globalization be met in ways that expand, rather than diminish, the middle class? Will the federal judiciary continue to provide legal ballast for the doomed secular project, or will it permit the normal mechanisms of democratic self-governance to advance a nobler understanding of freedom, and indeed of law itself? Will religious freedom remain the first liberty of these United States, or will religious communities be pushed farther to the margins of public life? Will the legal architecture of America promote a culture of life or a culture of death?
These are all questions of grave import. On first glance they can appear like a broken kaleidoscope that never resolves itself into discernible patterns and connections. Or, to return to the image with which we began: "The handwriting on the wall" can seem indecipherable. Yet with Leo XIII's acute analysis of political modernity as our guide, perhaps we can decipher the writing and discern its meaning. "The handwriting on the wall" at this moment in history is telling us that a political culture detached from the deep truths embedded in the human condition eventually yields traits of selfishness and irresponsibility that ill befit citizens of a democracy. "The handwriting on the wall" is telling us that a democratic politics that ignores those deep truths eventually dissolves into thinly disguised dictatorship — the dictatorship of relativism. And if that is the message, then our duty comes into clearer focus, too.
If the rule of law, the heritage of Rome, is threatened among us, not just by rioting British youth, violent protest, and unfocused fear, but by the transformation of law into coercion in the name of misguided compassion, then we should look to Jerusalem and Athens — to a revival of the Biblical image of humanity and to a rediscovery of the arts of reason — as the means by which to rebuild the foundations of democracy. In Psalm 11, the Biblical poet asks what those who care for justice are to do "if the foundations are destroyed." The beginning of an answer to that poignant question, I suggest, is to disentangle ourselves from the notion that the ratchet of history works in only one direction.
Then, having regained a sense of possibility about the present and purposefulness about the future, we can proceed to rebuild the foundations of the political culture of our country, and of the West, through a deepening of Biblical faith and a reassertion of the prerogatives of reason in the name of a noble concept of law-governed democracy.
George Weigel is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. A version of this essay was delivered as the 11th annual William E. Simon Lecture in Washington on February 7, 2012.

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Republicans Have Bad Brains?


Townhall.com ^ | May 3, 2012 | Jonah Goldberg



"They do that because they were born that way."

If you say that about homosexuals, you are tolerant and realistic. If you say it about blacks, you are racist (unless you're black yourself). If you say it about women, you may or may not be sexist, depending on who is manning (er, womanning) the feminist battle stations. If you say it about men, you just might be a writer for Esquire. But if you say it about conservatives, you're a scientist.

Over the past decade, a new fad has taken hold among academics and liberal journalists: call it the new science of conservative phrenology. No, it doesn't actually involve using calipers to determine intelligence based on the size and shape of people's heads. The measuring devices are better -- MRIs and gene sequencers -- but the conclusions are worse. The gist is this: Conservatives and liberals don't just have different world views or ideas, they have different brains; the right and left are just hard-wired to think differently.

Author Chris Mooney compiles much of this research for his new book The Republican Brain, which purports to show that conservatives are, literally by nature, more closed-minded and resistant to change and facts. His evidence includes the fact that conservatives are less likely to buy into global warming, allegedly proving they are not only "anti-science" but innately anti-fact, as well. "Politicized wrongness today," he writes "is clustered among Republicans, conservatives and especially Tea Partiers."
That's an entirely understandable view for Mooney to hold. He's a soaked-to-the-bone liberal partisan. But he crosses the line into pseudoscientific hogwash by trying to explain every political disagreement as a symptom of bad brains. For instance, Mooney claims Republicans have trouble processing reality because Republicans think "ObamaCare" will raise the deficit. No really, stop laughing.
Of course, Mooney believes he's simply going where the science leads. Consider that one of the more famous studies was conducted by liberal researchers at University of California-Los Angeles and New York University and published in Nature Neuroscience. Subjects were asked to spot the letters M or W on a screen for a fraction of a second. It turns out that self-described liberals did somewhat better on the test than the conservatives.
What does that mean? Well, according to the researchers, it means: "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty." Liberals are also "more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses," NYU says.
Translation: Conservatives literally aren't smart enough to be spell-checkers at an M&M factory because they won't be able to understand quickly enough that the occasional W is just an upside down M.
The data might be correct, but as with Mooney, the conclusions are beyond absurd. London's Guardian newspaper responded to the study by declaring, "Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information." The Los Angeles Times announced in an editorial that the study "suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives" and "might be better judges of the facts."
Huh? The test didn't measure "informational complexity." It measured informational simplicity. As Slate's science columnist William Saletan notes, the study actually excludes complexity and ambiguity. It measured response times to a rudimentary visual acuity test. Almost by definition, conscious thought isn't part of the equation. My hunch is that Socrates would do very poorly hunting and pecking for Ms and Ws on a screen, too.
Now it's probably true that, on average, there are subtle differences between conservatives and liberals when it comes to cognition. But you don't have to be "anti-science" to see how the scientists are wildly overreaching from the data. Indeed, there's a huge definitional problem. Conservatives resist growth of the state, but that's not the same thing as resisting change. After all, capitalism is among the most powerful agents of change in human history, and conservatives are the ones defending it. Meanwhile, liberals are downright reactionary about preserving the Great Society and New Deal.
A famous study asserts that communist revolutionaries Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro were political conservatives because they resisted change once in power. If your algorithmic whirligig spits out the finding that Stalin, the global leader of communism for two decades, and Castro, the global dashboard saint of recrudescent left-wing asininity, are "politically conservative" it's time to take the gadget out to a field and smash it with baseball bats like the printer in the movie "Office Space."
Mooney, who recently explained in a speech that he has given up on the Enlightenment view that we're all open to reason, doesn't seem to realize where he's heading with this nonsense. Never mind that this approach is inherently undemocratic and opens the door to "genetic" explanations for everybody's political views -- blacks, women, gays, etc. -- it is also self-serving bigotry that allows liberals to justify their own closed-mindedness on the grounds that Republicans aren't even worth listening to. After all, they're just born that way.

Occupy's image blown to smithereens [Cleveland OWS would-be terrorist bombers]


The Plain Dealer ^ | May 3, 2012 | Kevin O'Brien



What a lucky, lucky week this has been for Greater Cleveland -- especially for whichever unsuspecting souls were driving across the Ohio 82 bridge across the Cuyahoga Valley while five petty criminals associated with Occupy Cleveland were trying to community organize it.

The Occupiers, authorities tell us, thought they had rigged the span with plastic explosives that would detonate when they punched a code into a cellphone.

The only thing that went up in smoke, though, was their plot. They were working with dummy devices -- fitting -- sold to them by an FBI informant whom they failed to recognize as the Man.

I'm sorry. Your call to anarchist glory cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again. And again. And again.
General Electric was lucky, too. Its lighting plant was to have been the site of an Occupy Cleveland protest about taxbreakssinglepayerAfghanistanenvironmentaldestructioncorporategreedCitizensUnitedjobtrainingstudentloandebtgayrightsdefensespendingteacherpayimmigrationpolicyChinesecurrencyshenanigansIraqGlassSteagallforeclosures.
And, of course, the Occupiers' No. 1 concern: people who live more responsibly and thus have more money than they do.
Once the alleged bomb plotters' arrest became public, the unions and leftist organizations that were going to bring the party favors to the GE May Day demo backed out. In Cleveland, rigging public bridges for destruction is still considered bad form.
So it seems that the "mainstream" Occupy movement -- here, at least -- still sees some value in the good opinion of the 99 percent, which is to say the percentage of Americans who are in no way associated with the Occupy movement.
Hence, the desperate attempt of Occupy Cleveland and its enablers to distance themselves from bomb planters with whom the record shows that they are all too well acquainted.
The would-be bridge busters are getting emphatic down-twinkles from the "real" Occupiers.
(If you don't know what twinkles are, you owe it to yourself to have a look. The 90 seconds you'll spend learning this valuable skill will provide a blazing insight into why the movement's more "energetic" elements are frustrated at the pace of the revolution.)
The arrestees are being dismissed as "fringey," which is downright hilarious, considering who is offering the description. Their self-description as anarchists is being presented as an indication that they're outside of the Occupy "mainstream."
Yeah, right.
Take the anarchists out of an Occupy protest and you're down to half a protest.
More likely, the bomb plotters are just a little ahead of the curve.
The people who proclaim the nonviolence of the Occupy movement are, for the most part, sincere. But they're riding the tiger.
Movements that are destructive in their ends, as Occupy is, have two choices: die when the public is not persuaded or turn to violence to justify continued existence. Our luck in Cleveland, thanks to the FBI, is holding. Other places -- most notably Oakland, where a more militant strain of Occupier has held sway -- haven't been as fortunate.
As the local Occupiers try to regain their stride, we'll hear comparisons to the violence and division supposedly preached by the Tea Party, the movement Occupy was ginned up to counter. We'll hear how Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was really the leading edge of the Tea Party.
Most people, though, will have the sense to recognize the difference.
The Occupy people say the existing social, political and economic order is unjust. They want to blow it up, if you will, and to replace it with . . . well, they'll cross that bridge when they come to it, assuming they haven't blown it up.
The Tea Party people know exactly what they want: a country that operates according to its Constitution. We haven't been there in a long time, but going back will be worth the trip.
Whose approach is more constructive?
Here's an idea that might generate some useful data: Let's have the FBI infiltrate both movements. Ten years from now, if they both last that long, we'll tally up the arrests and see which side has occupied more jail cells.

Obama's Chicago Politics: Thuggery Not Civility


Townhall.com ^ | May 3, 2012 | Michael Barone



It has been reported that the Obama campaign this year, as in 2008, has disabled or chosen not to use AVS in screening contributions made by credit card.

That doesn't sound very important. But it's evidence of a modus operandi that strikes me as thuggish.
AVS stands for Address Verification System. It's the software that checks whether the name of the cardholder matches his or her address.If a campaign doesn't use AVS, it can wind up accepting contributions from phony names or accepting contributions from foreigners, both of which are illegal.

The 2008 Obama campaign pocketed money from "John Galt, 1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch CO 99999" and $174,000 from a woman in Missouri who told reporters she had given nothing and had never been billed. Presumably she would have noticed an extra charge of $174,000.
The Obama campaign is evidently happy to pocket the money. After all, this is the president who, according to political scientist Brendan Doherty, has appeared at more fundraisers in three and a half years than his six predecessors did in 35 years.
Obama has been to at least two fundraisers just in my apartment building. I often see police and Secret Service blocking traffic for a block around Washington's posh Jefferson Hotel at 16th and M Streets.
Obama talks a good game on transparency and openness, but he's ready to flout the law by avoiding AVS and to break his high-minded campaign promises.
In the 2008 campaign cycle, he promised to take public financing for the general election. He broke that promise when it became apparent that he could raise far more money on his own.
During much of this cycle, he's been criticizing Republican super PACs as a perversion of the political process. But when he saw that Republicans might be able to raise as much money as Democrats, he broke that promise too and authorized Cabinet members to appear at fundraisers for the super PAC headed by his former deputy press secretary.
Democrats outraised Republicans in 2004 and 2008. Evidently, Obama considers it grossly unfair that they might not do so this year. That's not how things work in Chicago.
The "campaigner in chief," as The Washington Post's Dana Milbank dubbed him yesterday, also has a nasty habit of denouncing Republican and conservative contributors by name. He's followed lefty bloggers in trying to demonize the Koch brothers.
This coupled with a propensity to make jokes about siccing the Internal Revenue Service on people looks like an attempt to chill opposition political speech. Especially when there are reports that tea party organizations are getting hassled by the IRS.
Obama also indulges often in reckless political rhetoric. He likes to say that Republicans want no regulations at all on financial institutions and businesses.
It would be more politically astute, I think, and would certainly look less thuggish to draw intellectually defensible distinctions between his own regulatory policies and those of the opposition. Attacks like this sound like debates late at night in the dorm.
"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," Obama said during the 2008 cycle. That sounds like something you might hear from a community organizer. Or a Chicago pol.
Chicago, Obama's chosen political venue, helps to explain this behavior. The mayor of Chicago -- the job he once aspired to before greater opportunity beckoned -- is an utterly dominant figure.
Chicago pols assume they can endlessly plunder the local private sector without penalty. And business leaders quickly catch on that it's a good thing to be known as a personal friend of the mayor. Campaign money flows accordingly.
The local rule is "don't back no losers." Those who do are well advised to do business somewhere else. You never know when the assessor is going to raise your assessment. And don't appeal in court unless you hire the lawyer with the right connections.
The mayor is also the one who gets all the credit for all good things that happen on his watch, as Obama is attempting to do on the killing of Osama bin Laden. Even though he opposed the interrogation methods that produced the information that led our special forces to Abbottabad.
Other campaigns have not disabled their AVS systems. But then their candidates are not from Chicago. Obama likes to talk about the need for civility. He just doesn't like to practice it.

The Best Reason to Vote Against Obama: Self-Defense!


Townhall.com ^ | May 3, 2012 | John Ransom



When a U.S. Senator and a sitting governor from your own party won’t say if they support the reelection bid of the incumbent president from their party, well, that’s a political party that is verging into Jimmy Carter territory.


Party-wise that is.

Carter faced an insurgent bid from Hubert Humphrey progressives in his own party while vying for a second term as president. The result was a nasty primary contest that spilled into the Democrat National Convention in 1980.

And while the roles this time are reversed with incumbent Obama playing the part of insurgent progressive against the rest of us, the fissures in the Democrat party are still real enough, even absent a primary threat.

In fact, don’t expect the outcome to be much different than 1980.
Scores of Democrats running for reelection will defect from Obama before the campaign is done. And scores of Democrat voters will reject him too.
Why? The same reason voters will likely vote to kick Obama out of the White House: self-interest, if not outright self-defense.
Democrat Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia has announced that he isn’t sure that he will be supporting Barack Obama for reelection.
“Tomblin said in statement released by his campaign that he was a ‘loyal member of the Democratic Party’ but was concerned by fellow Democrat Obama's ‘misguided policies,” reports the Charleston Daily Mail.
This wasn’t an off the cuff remark, or a canned press release supporting National Candlemakers’ Day. Campaigns put a great deal of thought into even routine statements. They layer nuance on nuance until they get it right.
And when they say “misguided policies,” they are just being polite.
West Virginia’s newest Democrat Senator, Joe Manchin has been a little more direct about his distaste for Obama.
“If that means I have to break with my party to do what's best for the country,” wrote Manchin in an op-ed in the Gazette-Mail, “I will. If it means I take on a sitting president to protect West Virginia interests, I have and I will.”
Manchin’s bow-shot on SS Obama was returned by advisor David Axlerod on CNN’s State of the Union: "I think he was very candid there,” reported the National Journal. “His concern is about his own political well being. He's running for the Senate in that state. We didn't win the state the last time. It's going to be a tough state for us again, and he's making a political judgment about himself."
And Manchin is also grading Obama.
At interest of course is the $3.5 billion in coal revenues dug out of the West Virginia ground every year.
Even before he became president Obama declared war on the coal industry.
“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant,” said candidate Obama, “they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.”
Obama has taken very real steps to make good on the threat.
The EPA has already regulated out of existence any new coal fired plants- the cheapest and most abundant energy resource the U.S. has- has forced the shutdown of other coal plants; and it’s clear they would do much more to hurt coal interests if they could get the fiat power to force change.
While the administration is busy crucifying oil and gas, coal has died upon the cross.
In its place, Obama has offered nothing; nothing for the 30,000 workers who are directly employed in coal mining in West Virginia; nothing to replace the 50 percent of electricity that is currently generated for an electric-hungry country; nothing to replace the dollars that consumers, especially the working poor, will pay for higher electricity rates.
Plunder the rich? Yeah, and then go rape the poor.
Obama has offered us no policy but plunder, pillage, rape and Solyndra.
And if David Axelrod doesn’t get the dynamic that has Democrats breaking with their own party, then let me spell it out for him.
We are all creatures of our own self-interest, generally speaking.
If we won’t think about what is best for ourselves, who is going to do that for us?
Axelrod, Obama?
The “trust us” plan worked out great for the union workers who lost out on the Keystone pipeline jobs. It worked out great for Hispanics, who have been pandered to and used as house servants for the Obama administration. It worked out great for people who were concerned about more foreign entanglements in wars and rumors of war. It worked out great for the troops who are being misused and abused in Afghanistan.
And it’s working great for the people of West Virginia, who Obama likely considers just Electoral College chump change who cling to their coal and their guns and their religion.
Self interest, as our Founding Fathers knew, is a great motive power that is harnessed into lots of other selfs: self-government, self-improvement and, when necessary, self-defense against the selfish who would put themselves above the country.    

Brilliant Vice President behind turning away of senior Chinese defector from consulate in China!


The Washington Free Beacon ^ | May 1, 2012 | Bill Gertz


Vice President Joe Biden overruled State and Justice Department officials in denying the political asylum request of a senior Chinese communist official last February over fears the high-level defection would upset the U.S. visit of China’s vice president, according to U.S. officials.

The defector, Wang Lijun, was turned away after 30 hours inside the U.S. Consulate Chengdu and given over to China’s Ministry of State Security, the political police and intelligence service.

Wang has not been seen since Feb. 7 and remains under investigation. His attempt to flee China set off a major power struggle within the ruling Communist Party and led to the ouster of leftist Politburo member Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife on murder charges.

New disclosures on the handling of the failed defection come as the Obama administration is facing a new test of its relations with Beijing over another defection, the flight to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing of Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist who is believed to be in hiding there.

(Excerpt) Read more at freebeacon.com ...