Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Giffords shooting prompts proposed limits to freedom and hypocritical recriminations

Well, as you can imagine, the Giffords shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of just about every other subject. And, as you can probably further imagine, the "let’s make a law" crowd is busily at work trying to again limit our freedoms in the name of "security".

We have a representative from PA who wants to outlaw "crosshairs" in political advertising. I have to wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law" in the 1st Amendment and political speech he doesn’t understand? Perhaps the word "no" as in none, zip, zero, nada?

The typical overreaction is underway.   As is the inevitable.  Gun control pops its ugly head up again as a New York Congresswoman prepares to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips. 

And then there’s Paul Krugman.  The historically blind and deaf Paul Krugman.  Check out these opening two paragraphs in a piece entitled “Climate of Hate”:

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Notice anything missing in his trip down memory lane?  Yeah, 8 years of inflammatory rhetoric and what he now labels as “hate” directed at George Bush and the right.  I’m sure you’re not surprised – this sort of memory loss is endemic on the left.  The memory hole, which they seem unable to acknowledge, is why most on the right take the likes of Paul Krugman and their hate claims with the grain of salt they deserve.  When their rhetoric was pointed out to them, their retort was “dissention is patriotism”.

Note too that the economist turned political hack continues to insist, in the face of almost conclusive evidence to the contrary, that the violence visited on Rep. Giffords was the result of the “hatred” from the right.  And he uses the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s report (hidden in the just as discredited Homeland Security report) as “proof” of his claims.

Krugman must have sensed he’s on thin ice because a few paragraphs in he throws this out:

It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.

Holy Mars and Venus, Batman – is this guy living on the same planet we’re living on?  Of course it can be an “isolated event” and it certainly can have nothing to do with the so-called “national climate”.  The guy was a loon.  A nutcase.  He has serious mental problems.  He’s a yahoo who became fixated on Rep. Giffords for no apparent logical reason other than she was a local politician.  Trying to warp this into something it isn’t, however, is suddenly becoming the pastime of the left.  Well, much of it anyway (there are indeed islands of sanity out there, but they’re becoming less prevalent).

Krugman then attempts to whitewash the left’s very recent past by claiming you’ll mostly hear only caustic remarks and mocking at worst. Michelle Malkin neatly disposes of that myth.

He concludes:

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.

What then, as evidence continues to mount supporting it, if it was indeed a “mere act of a deranged individual” Mr. Krugman.  Will we get an Emily Litella like “never mind” from you?

This is the latest in a long line of efforts by the left to shut its opposition up.  Political correctness has finally begun to wear thin as most have now recognized it for what it is – an attempt to control speech.  This effort is nothing less than that.  It is the claim that speech must be modified because others who are deranged might act on it, even out of context. But that lack of memory about their own toxic speech and their spirited defense of it (again, see Malkin’s listing of the left’s happy talk about George Bush) smacks of such hypocrisy that the word is almost insufficient to define them at this point.

Freedom and democracy demand risk to work.  They must not be held prisoner to speech codes and “security”.  We must not let the priorities that underpin freedom be chipped away or removed by a bunch of scared rabbits.  If Congress wants to beef up security around its members, I can understand that.  However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  Restricting the freedoms of the rest of us because of some nut is just flat unacceptable.

And by the way, Mr. Krugman – go see a doctor.  I’m told the  type of memory loss you’re suffering is the first sign of senile dementia.  Have it checked out, will you?

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 09 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Gabby Giffords shooting and the response to it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Fools rush in to define Giffords tragedy politically

Even before the blood had dried in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, both sides and the media were attempting to paint the tragedy of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and other innocent bystanders in a way that boosted (or defended) whatever agenda talking point they wished to advance.

Politicization of an event – any event – that political advocates, activists or politicians see as useful is almost instant anymore. And make no mistake about it – what has been done from the beginning is to politicize this shooting (and that includes the Sheriff of Pima County AZ). Doing so has almost become standard operating procedure. Well that and demanding the event not be politicized. And then, in the post mortem, arguing about which side politicized it first.

Any long time observer of politics, especially in this day of mass communication, knows the speed by which information and opinion move. They also know that those who try to shape opinion have learned they must move quickly in order to see information shaped as they’d prefer to see it.

Of course, in the case of Rep. Giffords, one meme immediately surfaced – "vitriol" as a generic reason was cited as the cause – as in "political vitriol". The unstated (for the most part, at least immediately) source of that vitriol was supposed to be understood by knowing the political party of the victim. Reports were sure to stress "Democratic" Representative Giffords as the one shot.

This before the shooter had even been identified. And I can promise you, cold-blooded political strategists were sizing up the "opportunity" to see how much political throw-weight it had for their issue, agenda or politician.

For example:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

Note that this operative couldn’t care less if it really was "overheated rhetoric" or the fault of the Tea Party. That’s the farthest thing from his mind. It is a political opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy to "deftly pin" something outrageous on a political enemy.  He, or she, obviously counsels taking advantage of the opportunity.

And:

Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”

This Democrat said that the time had come to insist that Republicans stand up when, for example, a figure such as Fox News commentator Glenn Beck says something incendiary.

So very quickly, without any proof, this became the equivalent of the Oklahoma City tragedy (something which has yet to be proven to have anything to do with virulent rhetoric – McVeigh said it was because of Waco) and it is the job of Republicans to stop it.  Just as Rush Limbaugh was named as a cause of Oklahoma City, the new bête noir of the left, Glenn Beck, is automatically fingered as the reason for this tragedy.  Right out of the playbook.

Finally:

“Today we have seen the results” of “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric,” former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote on Huffington Post. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage.”

Nonsense.  There was absolutely no proof at the time Hart wrote his piece that the shooter was motivated by “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric”.  In fact, I’d suggest the most irresponsible rhetoric I saw was from those such as Gary Hart who immediately jumped to that conclusion without knowing much at all about the shooter.  Obviously there are responsibilities for those “with a megaphone.”  Ironically Hart most expertly demonstrates how not to fulfill those responsibilities and be exactly what he denounced – irresponsible.

Everyone needs to calm down and quit trying to pin the blame on the other side and take the time to find out the real motivation of the shooter before going off half cocked.  To paraphrase a famous quote about cigars, sometimes a nut is just a nut.  In the future I’d like to see us take a moment, let the information develop and then make conclusions based in fact vs. this new and continuing tendency to jump into something driven by ideology and immediately try to shape the argument to fit the agenda.

It makes those  who do that look like the fools they are.

~McQ

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Nut job attempts to assassinate AZ Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

One of the reasons I find libertarianism satisfying to my inner philosophical self is it eschews and condemns the use of coercion and force.

That doesn’t make me a pacifist or someone who won’t use force defensively.  But that’s not what happened today in a Safeway parking lot in Arizona.  What happened today was cold-blooded murder of innocent bystanders and the attempted murder of a Congressional Representative.  It was an attempt to coercively change what has been decided democratically. I may not agree with Rep. Giffords or her leanings, but I will defend unto death her right to stand in any parking lot in this country and say what it is she wishes to say without some jerk shooting her.

What happened today was wrong and it should be condemned – period. No matter what the leanings or ideology of the person targeted and no matter the ideology and leanings of the fool who did this, there is no excuse for this at all.

Prepare yourself for an onslaught of the two sides attempting to find a way to work this to their advantage.  Already I’ve seen Sarah Palin blamed.  Expect all the blogospheric loons to try to torturously spin whatever is found about this asshat who shot Rep. Giffords into something that hurts the other side.  It is as predictable as night and day.  The online equivalents of the National Enquirer will do what they always do.

As for those who are going to try to proclaim this guy a hero striking a blow for freedom, you’ve got a hell of a job in front of you selling that.   He no more struck a blow for freedom than did James Earl Ray.   The guy is a coward who shoots at unarmed women and kills children.  If that’s the type of murderous clown you want to tie your revolutionary wagon too, good luck with that.

It appears Rep. Giffords has survived the surgery and doctors are very optimistic about her recovery.  That’s good news, but we all know how difficult it is to fully recover from a bad brain injury.   As for the jackwagon that shot her, there’s a maximum security prison in Colorado which has a cell with his name on it.  Put him in there and throw away the key.  Solitary confinement for the rest of his life.  Let Glenn Greenwald whine about that.

And yes, I’m pissed.

~McQ

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December Unemployment

The employment numbers from this morning are no cause for any sighs of relief, yet.  The number of persons employed increased faster than the increase in population–which seems to be unusually small compared to recent months.

In any event, according to my calculation method, this is where we stand (all numbers in thousands):

DECEMBER 2010
Civilian Non-Institutional Adult Population:
238,889
Average Labor Force Participation Rate: 66.2%
Proper Labor Force Size: 158,145
Actually employed: 139,206

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 13.6%

The labor force participation rate continues to decline, coming in at 64.3% this month, a 30-year low.  The actual size of the labor force was 153,690.  Using the historical average participation rate of 66.2%, that means the current labor force is running with about 4.45 million fewer workers than it should.

This month’s non-farm payroll increase of 103k new jobs is really just a drop in the bucket. We would need 11 million jobs created to get the unemployment rate back to 5%.  Even if there were no increase in population at all, we would need to create 300k new jobs per month for 37 months to get those 11 million jobs back. The only possible bright spot is that, this year, the first of the baby boomers hit 65 and begin retiring. So maybe the actual labor force participation rate is due to naturally drop, as is the size of the labor force.

All we have to do, then, is figure out how to pay social security to more retirees with a shrinking labor force.  That should be fun.

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House Judiciary Committee to investigate DoJ issues surrounding New Black Panther voter intimidation case

Jennifer Rubin reports that the House Judiciary Committee under new Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has issued its first oversight letter to the Department of Justice.  Subject?  The New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case as race based enforcement guidelines within the DoJ.

To quote the letter:

"Allegations that the Civil Rights Division has engaged in a practice of race-biased enforcement of voting rights law must be investigated by the Committee."

Indeed.  He gives Holder and DoJ until the 21st to respond to a list of questions including whether Julie Fernandez of DoJ "explicitly or implicitly direct Voting Section staff not to enforce any section of any federal rights statute" or "not to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act."   This question stems from the claim by J. Christian Adams that Fernandez  directed DoJ attorneys "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."

With an all Democratic Congress, DoJ was able to weather the storm these revelations brought as Democrats successfully blocked any attempts to look into the matter officially.  That has obviously changed.

Rubin makes some observations about the letter:

The letter is noteworthy on a number of levels. First, administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing. But as Smith has correctly discerned, the issue of enforcement or non-enforcement of civil rights laws based on a non-colorblind view of those laws is serious and a potentially explosive issue for this administration. Second, Holder’s strategy of stonewalling during the first two years of Obama’s term may have backfired. Had he been forthcoming while Democrats were in the majority, he might have been able to soften the blows; Smith is not about to pull his punches. And finally, Smith is demonstrating the sort of restraint and big-picture focus that is essential for the Republicans if they are to remain credible and demonstrate their capacity for governance.

Bingo on all three.  A worthy issue to investigate, a worthy reason to investigate and it will indeed play to the benefit of Republicans and detriment of Democrats – particularly Holder – but also those who tried to wave it away as “no big deal”.

~McQ

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GOP plans on reining in the EPA

Between screaming birthers, edited Constitutions and not-yet members of the House voting, the House of Representatives under GOP rule got off with some fits and starts.

However, there was something of note besides the mostly symbolic attempt to repeal ObamaCare  (something that the CBO says would “cost” us about 230 billion  – well at least until they further revise it down to nothing after it fails), something of actual importance seems to be emerging:

Dozens of Republicans used the opening day of the new Congress on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.

48 Republicans and one Democrat (Boren- OK) are co-sponsoring the effort (that one Democrat makes it a “bi-partisan” effort under the definition of the term last Congressional session /sarc).    Read the next part carefully:

The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to declare that greenhouse gases are not subject to the law, according to a brief description in the Congressional Record.

What that’s not saying is “greenhouse gases are not subject to the law” – it is saying greenhouse gases are not something that the Clean Air act has the jurisdiction to legislate.  What Congress is trying to say to the EPA is “you stay out of the greenhouse gas business until we pass a law authorizing you to be in it”.

This is actually good news for the taxpayer.  If passed it will prevent EPA from unilaterally imposing emissions standards and defacto taxes on emitters via fines and fees.  The EPA’s primary targets would have been large emitters like power companies.  And any “fees” charged would have gone directly to power customers.  Effect?  It would have hit those who can afford it least the hardest.

Of course, the other good news is the incoming GOP majority is less enthralled with the pseudo-science of climate change and thus less likely to impose economic penalties than was the former Congress.  So we should see some backing away from the former trend of trying to tie energy and climate change together.  Or as the Hill notes:

While GOP leadership’s specific legislative approach to attacking EPA remains to be seen, the quick introduction signals that blocking climate rules is plainly on the agenda for the new GOP majority.

That gets a hearty “good” from me.

This also signals – or at least I hope it does – some intent on the part of the House to do some regulatory oversight.  You know, actually make the bureaucrats justify their regulations and their existence.  If you want an area that is fat for reduction, many of the bureaucracies are a wonderful place to start.

~McQ

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Howard Dean endorses Daley and smacks outgoing Obama staff

The Sarah Palin of the Democratic party – Howard Dean – has endorsed a product of the Chicago Machine’s favorite family as Obama’s chief of staff.   He feels William Daley would be a “huge plus” for the Obama  because he is someone “who knows Washington, but he also is not of Washington."

Yeah, that’s kinda the point – he’s from Chicago.  Just like the guy in the Oval office who supposedly “knows Washington” but isn’t of there.

That’s worked out real well so far hasn’t it?  In fact, it appears we’re going to see them shuffle one set of Chicagoans out while another comes in.

Dean also took a shot at the departing members of Obama’s staff for being contemptuous of the “professional left” – i.e. the liberal left:

Noting that many officials are "either out of the White House or going," Dean blasted Obama’s current officials who he says have treated the left wing of the Democratic Party with "contempt."

"As they say, don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out," Dean said.

That is mostly pointed at Axelrod and Gibbs.  That said, and Daley endorsed, Dean then even complained a bit about Daley (John Podesta was Dean’s first choice) not being left enough for him:

Dean acknowledged that he has big differences with Daley, who according to Dean has "been moving to the right over the last five to 10 years," but he said that Daley is "a grown-up who doesn’t treat people like they don’t know anything and you know everything."

Dean claims, however, that Daley will bring an “adult” mindset to the White House, a shot at the administration, saying that such a mindset hasn’t existed thus far, at least in the minds of the “professional left”(of which Howard Dean is a charter member).

It is fairly common for administrations to shuffle their staff after an electoral loss.  In the days of Bush, Rumsfeld was the big news, but other changes also happened.  That’s really not the point.   Watch the appointments carefully to try to discern how the administration is trying to set itself up for the next two years.  Hardliners or compromisers?  “Liberal” or, as Dean claims of William Daley, more to the “right” (I think that’s a very relative term in this case)? Etc.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who Obama names to take probably the most visible spot being vacated, that of Bagdad Bob Gibbs.  Like it or not the Press Secretary sets the tone for the administration and is its daily face.   I think more can be discerned from that pick than just about any other (other than at department secretary level).

Meanwhile it is useful to note Dean’s remarks only because they quickly tune you in to the feelings of the “professional left” on most subjects.  My guess he’s spot on in his condemnation of the staff leaving (as far as its dealing with the more liberal wing).  I’d further guess that the criticism won’t stop with the incoming staff either – none of them will ever be left enough for the Howard Dean/Firedoglakes of this world.

~McQ

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Constitutional cites, NYT and “fundamentalism”

The New York Times editorial board wasted little time in attempting to attack the new Republican led House in the way smug elitists usually do … by invoking “fundamentalism”.   In this case the fundamentalism is an apparent attempt by a party to refocus the legislation it plans on debating and passing on the “fundamental” legal document of the land.

That just won’t do:

In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation.

Really?  Is that what it means?  If that were the case, I’d suggest no cite would be necessary – they’d simply do as Democrats have done for four years and pass whatever they wanted to with the implicit assumption that it is Constitutional.  Frankly, I see the move as one that says exactly the opposite of what the editors of the Times claim.  I see it as a bow to the fact that much of what has been passed lately has no relation to those powers granted Congress and the “assumption” that they do is simply unfounded.   It is a check on the validity of the legislation before it ever arrives on the floor of the House.

So what is this nonsense from the Times then?  Well it is an obvious attempt – at least to me – to lobby for business as usual because if the requirement to cite Constitutional authority for legislation were really honestly applied, I’d guess about 75% of the garbage that has been run through the place would never have been passed. 

And notice the word they choose – not “interpretation”, but “reinterpretation”.  We all know what interpretation means and it isn’t at all the same thing as reinterpretation.  One implies clarifying the original intent of the document/law/writer.  The other means making it up as you go along and as you see fit.

So it comes as no surprise that the NYT finds this “fundamentalism” both egregious and horribly inconvenient.  ”My goodness … if they really do this why, ObamaCare and …oh my!” 

Can’t have that can we?

Instead we get a catty editorial that takes cheap shots at everyone and raises the scare word of which the left is so fond.

Fundamentalist.

The Republicans’ antics are a ghastly waste of time at a moment when the nation is expecting real leadership from Congress, and suggest that the new House leadership is still unable to make tough choices. Voters, no less than drama critics, prefer substance to overblown theatrics.

The same editorial board watched the previous Congress toss trillions of dollars up into the wind of a financial storm half of it to land who knows where and then ignore the critical employment concerns of the voters and the economic crisis in general in order to pass their ideological agenda and the Times takes issue, on the first day of the new Congress, with “Republican’s antics”?

Good lord I am tickled to death that someone woke the editorial board up in time to dash this bit trash off and throw it out there.  Welcome back!  

And here’s a poser for the board -  why do you suppose the “nation is expecting real leadership from Congress” as you state?

Could it be because the last one exhibited none?   They totally ignored the wishes of the American people to instead focus selfishly on their own legislative wants.  Where was the NYT during those “antics”?  Silent as a tomb.

You have to wonder if the thought ever entered the heads of the editorial writers that perhaps the “ghastly” waste of time these “antics” take is something the American people desperately want to see – a visible return to fundamentals, to reason, and to responsibility instead of the absurdity that was Congress for the past 4 years?  Maybe these antics are a comforting demonstration that the incoming Congress “gets it” — something the NYT editorial board rarely achieves as this editorial demonstrates.

I think they might be surprised by an entirely different attitude outside the ivory tower about what they find to be “ghastly … overblown theatrics”. 

But it is always nice to see the editors, who are clueless as usual, have retained their fighting edge when in comes to being petty, smug, dismissive and ignorant.  Wouldn’t be the old Grey Lady if that wasn’t so.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day–Nancy Pelosi’s final lie edition

Seriously, this is just a shameless lie.  Nancy Pelosi at her final news conference as Speaker of the House summing up the House’s priorities under he leadership:

"Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go."

No. It hasn’t.

When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. The last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership on December 22, 2010 the national debt was $13,858,529,371,601.09 – a roughly $5.2 trillion increase in just four years. Furthermore, the year over year federal deficit has roughly quadrupled during Pelosi’s four years as speaker, from $342 billion in fiscal year 2007 to an estimated $1.6 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2010.

~McQ

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