RIP Andrew Breitbart: He had vision and he skated on rollerblades

Woke up yesterday to the news of Andrew Breitbart’s death. There’s been a lot written and a lot of it is memorable. I remember seeing this speech not long after it was given at CPAC. A true warrior! Here, after facing down the Occupy crowd outside CPAC who were busy hassling people entering the convention, Breitbart relates his recent dinner with ex-domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers (the Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson had won a dinner with them and invited him along) and his greater vision regarding the far and hard left’s agenda of intolerance and tyranny (they call it “revolution”). I think Breitbart was an ex-leftist himself and knew them well. Once, he skated over on rollerblades to the site of an Occupy Wallstreet demo and ended up taking them all out to Appleby’s. No doubt, they still disagreed, but apparently, the intrepid Occupiers were charmed, and — for once, opposing sides met as people with disagreements and ideas, instead of as cartoon opponents. He was funny, fearless and passionate — and he knew the stakes are high.

Breitbart at CPAC 2012

Other bloggers have amazing links and testimony on knowing him or seeing him work, here from Pamela Geller: BREITBART: BIG, BIGGER THAN LIFE

Here, neo-neocon: Devasting news: Andrew Breitbart dead at 43

And, from The National Review, Here from Michael Walsh:

“In the war against the institutional Left, Andrew Breitbart was the Right’s Achilles; the bravest of all the warriors, now fallen on the plain. There was no combat in which he would not engage, no battle — however small — he would not join with glee, and no outcome acceptable except total victory. His unexpected death last night at the young age of 43 is not the end of his crusade, but its beginning.

No figure on our side was more despised in the whited sepulchers of the media/academic/political Left, and Breitbart wore their loathing as a daily badge of honor. His refusal to grant even a glimmer of moral absolution constantly enraged them, and his very existence was an affront to their carefully constructed — to use one of Andrew’s favorite words — “narrative” of moral superiority. Naturally, they are already dancing on his grave, with the manic joy of being suddenly and miraculously delivered from one of their most potent enemies.

Breitbart’s death is a tragedy, not only for those who delighted in following him into battle but for those who cheered him on as well. Andrew was larger than life, a charismatic natural leader, a big man in every way — physically, spiritually, and intellectually. He would meet a total stranger and immediately try to enlist him or her into his army, railing against the Left’s mendacity and misdeeds. He would practically pick you up by the lapels and shake you in order to make you understand the furious, urgent necessity of his fight.

Confrontation was his métier, and he routinely and gleefully waded into groups of lefties to challenge them face to face. Puckish humor was his stock-in-trade, and he would often disarm opponents with his boyish, goofy side. He was a virtuoso of the Twitterverse, a master of multi-tasking, and would think nothing of having a meeting with colleagues in his Westwood home while talking on the phone to someone else and working his Twitter feed. He joked that he had ADD, but what he really had was an outsized heart, fueled by courage and passion and, as the title of his recent book had it, by Righteous Indignation.

That indignation came to Breitbart in mid-life. A bluff Irishman who had been adopted as a baby by a Jewish couple in Brentwood (one of L.A.’s tonier neighborhoods), he moved to the right in college, at Tulane University in New Orleans, and crossed over completely with the Clarence Thomas hearings, which fueled his rage against the Left for their hypocritical treatment of American blacks. I can personally attest that no cause fired his righteous indignation more than the Left’s plantation attitude toward African-Americans. ”

From here: Goodbye Andrew

And, here, about Breitbart’s quest to create “punk rock” Republicans…

“The left is smart enough to understand that the way to change a political system is through its cultural systems,” he told The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead in 2010. “So you look at the conservative movement — working the levers of power, creating think tanks, and trying to get people elected in different places — while the left is taking over Hollywood, the music industry, the churches.”

His project was to take that cultural space back for free market conservatives. To make his brand of economic freedom cool.

He was often disheveled, unshaven, and looked more like a wild eyed provocateur than a button down and mild mannered conservative. He wanted more conservative (classic liberal) artists and writers who had edge and who understood pop culture. He was supportive of gay and lesbian people being invited into the larger tent of conservatism and supported the inclusion of GOProud at CPAC. Here:

Breitbart, who had joined the advisory board of GOProud in January 2011, hosted a party for the organization at CPAC that year.

When the presence of GOProud at CPAC in 2011 was questioned by some on the right, it was Breitbart who told Metro Weekly, “If being conservative means rejecting gay conservatives because they are gay, then fine, I’m not a conservative.”

He will be missed, but his example leads all of us with similar values and principals onward. In my own quest to find and embody the spirit of — “Punk Rock Republicans”, I guess I can start by stepping out a bit more on the ledge that he loved to dance on. I did some battle on FB with a post on his death, and in the ensuing dialogue I ended up inadvertently and with some specific intent — coming out! Coming out on FB. And, people actually go there in larger quantity than here (most unfortunately). I guess, that is the most fitting tribute I could begin to give.

Obamacare dictating FREE anything is weird — and election observations

The recent brouhaha around birth control and Catholic institutions appears to be dying down, although the “solution” that Obama has come up with strikes me as entirely insane. I mean, he is now telling insurance companies, by presidential fiat, to provide a product FREE of charge to certain types of institutions? There must be some outcry about this. Not because it is or is not birth control, but because — since when can the President of the United States determine what an insurance provider charges for anything? Anything at all?

I sense that this Obamacare, while not being out-and-out “socialized” medicine, certainly is similar to that looming behemoth. The insurance companies now appear to be mere utilities to the government. The government sets so much of the cost and risk and charges under Obamacare — that they are no longer independent, free market, competing entities. Here, from Charles Krauthammer, he says it better than me:

From – The Obamacare Trifecta
Where is the opposition’s argument against government health-care control?
By Charles Krauthammer

“Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim.

Third, the assault on individual autonomy. Every citizen without insurance is ordered to buy it, again under penalty of law. This so-called individual mandate is now before the Supreme Court — because never before has the already-inflated Commerce Clause been used to compel a citizen to enter into a private contract with a private company by mere fact of his existence.

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies, and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.”

Obamacare Trifecta

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And, yes, religious institutions should be allowed to not have anything to do with providing birth control or “morning after” pills to their employees. Not even “free” (and nothing is ever truly free, somewhere the price will be raised to cover the cost) birth control! Why? The first amendment keeps the government from dictating to religious institutions what they should do in matters of personal morality or belief. Unless of course, a church or temple wants to sacrifice babies to Odin, and then, we might have an issue. There are certainly restrictions on religious institutions doing criminal activities. In any event, this whole mess strikes me as being not about women’s health, but as a power grab by the government. It must be unconstitutional and I would hope that it is challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

I support women’s perogative (not a “right” since the government strictly speaking does not give “rights” in the US, but a perogative) — to obtain birth control and even, an abortion within the first trimester — but certainly, religious institutions that provide care, often for poor women and children, or homeless men, like the Catholic church through its Catholic hospitals – deserve to have their right of conscience respected. It is in the First Amendment, it is that simple and straightforward.

The media, which is often driven by progressive or at least, Democratic party bias, keeps focusing on this controversy as a sign that the right “hates women”. Of course, Santorum, plays into this meme with his personal beliefs about birth control being unacceptable. Although I actually don’t believe that all people who think birth control is wrong, also hate women. That’s like saying that people who support abortion, hate children. What is interesting about Santorum however, is that he does support the government ponying up for birth control when it is not being done by a religious institution. He did support the Federal government providing birth control through Title X. Yes, he actually supported giving Federal money to Family planning clinics for poor people here:

Title X Family Planning
” History of Title X
The Title X Family Planning program [“Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs” (Public Law 91-572)], was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only Federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

That’s from the HHS page on Title X.
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So there is more to Santorum than meets the eye. Santorum is more of a populist, and less of a fiscal conservative than he appears. He is a stalwart social conservative yes, but as Ann Coulter observed, “Santorum is not a conservative, he’s a Catholic.” Here from her column “IOWA SHOWS REPUBLICANS DETERMINED TO BEAT OBAMA”
January 4, 2012:

“Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest. He is more of a Catholic than a conservative, which means he’s good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs. He’d be Ted Kennedy if he didn’t believe in God.

Santorum may not be a big spender as far as professional politicians go, but he is still a professional politician. In 2005, one of his former aides described him as “a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.”

The Catholic missionary was fantastic on issues like partial-birth abortion, but more like a Catholic bishop in his support for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug entitlement program (now costing taxpayers more than $60 billion a year), and a highway bill with a Christmas tree of earmarks, including the famous “bridge to nowhere.”

Santorum cites his father’s admonition to put any extra money in the poor box at church to explain his wanting to use the federal government to help the poor. ”

Read the whole thing here: Coulter on Santorum and Iowa Caucus
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I am not in the bag for Santorum. He is waaaay too mouthy about his social conservatism for me. I prefer those beliefs to be more understated. I certainly agree that it is preferable that people marry before they have children (how can this be controversial?) but I also am in favor of people living their lives as they see fit. In this country, we do have a measure of personal freedom and choice and I like that. In Santorum, I sense an authoritarian streak just beneath the surface. And, he exhibits a tangible disdain for gay and lesbian people. That distaste alone, which feels palpable, makes me uncomfortable. However, I will say that once I heard him through an entire speech, sat and listened all the way through — I also sensed a nearly earnest sincerity. A boyish Eagle Scout streak that felt a bit guileless in a politician, and — I realized that in spite of our very serious disagreements, Santorum is actually a good man. I believe he is strongly mistaken in some of his beliefs, but he is a good man nonetheless. In other words, when he is not exhorting homosexuals or homosexuality as inferior and sinful, Santorum is actually kind of likable. But, no. I am still in the corner for Gingrich and I will accept Romney. In fact, Romney is starting to look better all the time. He is not an extremist, he is a fiscal conservative, he is competent, he gets it on Iran (though they all appear to) and his moderation is appealing to more voters than Santorum’s bona fide social conservatism which feels, in this day and age, shrill and extreme.

I am watching everything in the election very closely now. Time will tell! My favorite, Newt, may yet pull something out of his hat. He can get things done (budget balancing, welfare reform), he’s fearless, he’s smart and — he’s sharp and angry enough to take on Obama’s smooth-talking sleight of hand, his large and hollow rhetorical flotsam. He means business. So, I do hope…

But I digress… what I really meant to write about was this strange new directive of Obamacare, telling an insurance company to provide something for FREE. Dictating a price to a private entity. So, is an insurance company then still an independent private company — or an arm of the state?

Seems like those “crazy” Tea Partiers screaming about “socialized medicine being Obamacare” were not so far off after all. I think they were downright prescient.

The Vindication of Clarence Thomas

I’m easing back into blogging, and just had to note the new perceptions of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that are appearing in the wider media. I cite two below. I especially enjoyed Thomas’s assessment of “the elites”. He is an anti-snob who received an Ivy League education and who remains especially suspicious of the elite Ivys and their audacity and monopoly on opinion in the media and (especially) the judiciary. I really gained a new respect from him from the sources I cite below (Jeffrey Toobin and Walter Russell Mead’s article on Toobin), enjoy if you haven’t already read about this new take on the man.

I also agree with Justice Thomas that Affirmative Action tends to negate the prestige of an individual’s accomplishment since it is forever cast under a veil of suspicion as to its authenticity. I mean, I’m half American Indian and half Hispanic (Sephardic New Mexico roots) and have often been told that “I must have gotten (x or y or z) because of Affirmative Action. I am always shocked and always protest that this is not the case, as I was usually at the top of my class in test scores and often in the gifted classes – but, of course, one can never defend oneself enough and the taint remains. Apparently, Judge Thomas knows this also from hard experience.

As most people are aware, Clarence Thomas has been an embattled and often belittled Supreme Court Justice from his nomination to the present day. Most people I know think he is a mute idiot and a token African American Justice chosen by George H.W. Bush to give him some kind of credibility regarding “diversity” while also shoring up the extreme constitutional conservatism of Scalia on the bench. He’s widely regarded as a mere intellectual follower of Scalia and widely derided by lefties of all stripes from mild and moderate to extreme as being a dummy. Well, apparently, it is becoming apparent even to constitutional scholars who are left wing and ideological foes, and who have held a scornfully low opinion of him, that actually Thomas is brilliant and that he knows exactly what he is doing and is following no one, first from a blog post by Walter Russell Mead commenting on Toobin’s article in the New Yorker:


If Toobin’s revionist take is correct, (and I defer to his knowledge of the direction of modern constitutional thought) it means that liberal America has spent a generation mocking a Black man as an ignorant fool, even as constitutional scholars stand in growing amazement at the intellectual audacity, philosophical coherence and historical reflection embedded in his judicial work.

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Thomas may get the last laugh, and apparently, he is a man with a razor sharp intellect and strongly felt opinions who despises those he calls “the elites”. That is, the graduates from Harvard, Columbia and other Ivy League schools that tend to be the only people selected for important judgeships. While he is also himself a graduate of Yale, he refuses to do speaking engagements at Ivy league schools, and is the only Supreme Court Justice to select law clerks from schools that are not Ivy League, here from Toobin’s article in the New Yorker :

“We talk about diversity. The real problem of our Court is that it’s all Ivy League,” Thomas said. Currently, all nine Justices attended law school at either Harvard or Yale. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are other law schools out there,” he said. Alone among his colleagues, Thomas usually selects at least some of his law clerks from less prominent schools. In recent years, his clerks have included graduates of the law schools of Creighton University, in Nebraska; Rutgers; George Mason; and the University of Utah.”

He has a low regard for his own education at Yale feeling that Affirmative Action sullied the brand saying: “When he recently received an honorary doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law, in Gulfport, Florida, he said, “Thank you for a law degree that I can put up on my wall.” The audience greeted the remark with polite laughter, but Thomas’s sentiment has a long history. Thomas graduated from Yale Law School in 1974, and he maintains a rich and public loathing for the institution. In his autobiography, published in 2007, he wrote, “As a symbol of my disillusionment, I peeled a fifteen-cent sticker off a package of cigars and stuck it on the frame of my law degree to remind myself of the mistake I’d made by going to Yale. I never did change my mind about its value.” Thomas has refused entreaties from a series of deans at Yale to sit for a portrait for the school…”

Read more Toobin article

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Finally, Toobin testifies that Thomas may well soon have a chance to nullify many of the structures of the modern progressive (post New Deal) state, giving a new credence to the 10th amendment just as in the recent past, the 2nd amendment came to be viewed in a different light — giving new weight to the idea that the 2nd amendment protects individual gun owners’ rights and not simply the right of states to have an armed militia. I’m just getting clear with all of this right now, but I found this article very informative and surprising since I had also been boondoggled into seeing Thomas as at the least, a mediocre Justice. Apparently, once again, I have had to rethink this received and formerly unquestioned opinion. Soon, he may have a chance to declare Obama’s mandate to purchase health insurance unconstitutional, and this could have broad implications for other instances of the Federal government mandating policy to the states. And, Toobin, BTW is not a booster of conservative views apparently, but a liberal himself. He writes this in warning.

More here, directly from Jeffrey Toobin:

“These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

The conventional view of Thomas takes his lack of participation at oral argument as a kind of metaphor. The silent Justice is said to be an intellectual nonentity, a cipher for his similarly conservative colleague, Antonin Scalia. But those who follow the Court closely find this stereotype wrong in every particular. Thomas has long been a favorite of conservatives, but they admire the Justice for how he gives voice to their cause, not just because he votes their way. “Of the nine Justices presently on the Court, he is the one whose opinions I enjoy reading the most,” Steve Calabresi, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law and a co-founder of the Federalist Society, said. “They are very scholarly, with lots of historical sources, and his views are the most principled, even among the conservatives. He has staked out some bold positions, and then the Court has set out and moved in his direction.”

Thomas’s intellect and his influence have also been recognized by those who generally disagree with his views. According to Akhil Reed Amar, a professor at Yale Law School, Thomas’s career resembles that of Hugo Black, the former Alabama senator who served from 1937 to 1971 and is today universally regarded as a major figure in the Court’s history. “Both were Southerners who came to the Court young and with very little judicial experience,” Amar said. (Thomas is from Georgia.) “Early in their careers, they were often in dissent, sometimes by themselves, but they were content to go their own way. But once Earl Warren became Chief Justice the Court started to come to Black. It’s the same with Thomas and the Roberts Court. Thomas’s views are now being followed by a majority of the Court in case after case.”

The implications of Thomas’s leadership for the Court, and for the country, are profound. Thomas is probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties. More than virtually any of his colleagues, he has a fully wrought judicial philosophy that, if realized, would transform much of American government and society. Thomas’s views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement, which his wife has helped lead almost since its inception. The Tea Party is a diffuse operation, and it can be difficult to pin down its stand on any given issue. Still, the Tea Party is unusual among American political movements in its commitment to a specific view of the Constitution—one that accords, with great precision, with Thomas’s own approach. For decades, various branches of the conservative movement have called for a reduction in the size of the federal government, but for the Tea Party, and for Thomas, small government is a constitutional command.

In his jurisprudence, Thomas may be best known for his belief in a “color-blind Constitution”; that is, one that forbids any form of racial preference or affirmative action. But color blind, for Thomas, is not blind to race. Thomas finds a racial angle on a broad array of issues, including those which appear to be scarcely related to traditional civil rights, like campaign finance or gun control. In Thomas’s view, the Constitution imposes an ideal of racial self-sufficiency, an extreme version of the philosophy associated with Booker T. Washington, whose portrait hangs in his chambers. (This personal gallery also includes Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.)

In recent weeks, two federal courts of appeals have reached opposing conclusions about the constitutionality of the 2010 health-care law; the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, upheld it, while the Eleventh Circuit, in Atlanta, struck down its requirement that all Americans buy health insurance. This conflict means that the Supreme Court will almost certainly agree to review the case this fall, with a decision expected by June of next year. It is likely to be the most important case for the Justices since Bush v. Gore, and it will certainly be the clearest test yet of Thomas’s ascendancy at the Court. Thomas’s entire career as a judge has been building toward the moment when he would be able to declare that law unconstitutional. It would be not only a victory for his approach to the Constitution but also, it seems, a defeat for the enemies who have pursued him for so long: liberals, law professors, journalists—the group that Thomas refers to collectively as “the élites.” ”


Read more more Toobin on Thomas

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I recommend everyone read the article! Quite an eye opener. Yes, Toobin talks about Anita Hill. Whether or not Thomas has a potty mouth and a weakness for bad sexual politics in the office is not historically clear, although I have always tended to believe Hill — but now that issue is not of great importance. Not when Clarence Thomas is poised to help make history. Apparently, Judge Thomas has more brains than he has been given credit for and finally, he may be able to vindicate himself and his views on a larger historical stage.

Juan Williams on NPR’s elitist Executives and their blinding conceit

Juan Williams says it best, and this could apply to so many on the left, but here he speaks in particular about the self-appointed elites at NPR recently caught on tape wanting to take an anonymous donation from two men disguised as members of a Muslim Brotherhood organization. I love Juan’s expression here of wide-eyed incredulity, like me, he’s beginning to see things in a very different way, after being treated to his shock, like dirt. His expression is priceless:

And, a witty and spot on article here from William Tucker about the embarrassing take down of NPR Sr. VP of Development and President of NPR Foundation Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of Institutional Giving, by conservative activists disguised as Muslim Brotherhood front men. They accuse the media of being run by Zionists (Ron Schiller doesn’t miss a beat on pronouncing that of course, the newspapers are in fact, run by Jews and that there is a bias toward Israel but that his NPR is of course, sometimes referred to as National Palestinian Radio ), here the article:

“The question that hangs in my mind, though, is this: How could people who think of themselves as so intelligent be such suckers? How could they be taken in by an American black and a bushy-bearded “Muslim” talking in a grade-B Hollywood accent and really believe they were being offered $5 million? After all, these are people who define themselves as being intelligent. They’re the “educated elite” of whom we supposedly don’t have enough of in this country. And yet they were no more alert than a bunch of high school dropouts sitting around a shabby ACORN office in Baltimore. How do you explain that?

Well, I think it is possible to offer an explanation. Here’s an attempt.

First, liberals can be suckered precisely because they think they are the only intelligent people in America. This smug confidence insulates them from having to pay attention to what anybody else is saying. The conventional wisdom among liberals is that people disagree with them only because they are stupid, uneducated, or have been bought off by the sinister forces of American capitalism. (The New York Times’current obsession with the Koch brothers is a case in point. Conservatives have the same mania over George Soros but they only resent Soros’s funding of liberal projects; they do not dismiss any liberal intellectual working in one of his organizations as being “bought off” by his money.)

You cannot find a liberal intellectual anywhere who can give you an honest, objective accounting of conservative positions on major issues. All they know is that conservatives are “stupid,” racist” and “scary” — boilerplate terms but unfortunately the exact words employed by Schiller on the tape. Practically the only liberal around who has ever been able to give a recognizable presentation of a conservative position is Barack Obama, who was always very good at repeating everybody’s argument before choosing the most liberal point of view. For that we elected him President.

By assuming they are smarter than everybody else, liberals leave themselves utterly vulnerable to anyone who plays on their sense of superiority. It’s a classic Italian Renaissance comedy — the wily servant who, with cajoling and flattery, outwits his master. It’s been going on for centuries. Liberal intellectuals could write you an unintelligible paper on the subject for the Modern Language Association, but they can never see it happening to themselves!

Second, for liberal intellectuals, race is the key to everything (alright, the holy trinity of race, class and gender, I’m abbreviating). If you get on the right side of the fence on race, everything else falls into place. It was an absolute stroke of genius for O’Keefe to send in an American black to tell Schiller he could have $5 million if only he could be a little more balanced in his coverage of Hamas and Hezbollah. Could it have possibly crossed Schiller’s mind, “I wonder if this guy is putting me on?” Never! His whole body would rise up in anguish to banish the thought. That would be racist! Besides, blacks are on our side! All American blacks are beholden to liberals because they support affirmative action and genuflect to Kwanzaa and therefore how could a good-hearted African American possibly be deceiving? Instead, one must only assume the proper patronizing tone, as Schiller did throughout…”

And, here more:

“So how could the nation’s “educated elite” possibly be played for such suckers? The answer is simple. They live in a bubble. Everybody says the same things and thinks the same things and anybody who is any different is to be marveled at as an exotic flower rather than engaged in serious conversation. Last Sunday’s New York Times ran a long profile, for instance, on Wayne Barrett, the longtime Village Voice investigative reporter who after 37 years has been unceremoniously fired, apparently for budget reasons. During the decade of the 1980s, according to the Times, Barrett’s greatest scoop was to reveal Cardinal John J. Conner, head of the New York Archdioceses, was…are you ready for this?… a Republican!”

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Ah, yes, a REPUBLICAN!!!! Wowzer. What a shock the Cardinal was a Republican… Heh.

Read the whole thing, though it was so good I quoted most of it.

It’s the same with all the riffraff out there. Tea Party people are easy to identify. They are the industrial parts salesman you meet on an airplane in the Midwest or the local real estate agent who’ll give you the rundown on what people are buying these days. They know nothing about semiology and wouldn’t be able to discuss the hockey stick graph but they are intelligent people nonetheless who understand business and know how the world works.

I have noticed this painful tendency and I think I once indulged in it myself – oh shame. Yeah, I think I said it more than once, in so many words – ‘All those right wingers are just plain dumb, that’s why they believe as they do!’ The rubes! Hah.

I’m glad I got out of my bubble. Once your eyes are open, certain self-deceptions are not as easy to maintain and life becomes all the richer for it.

smoke a cigar for liberty

Save liberty — smoke a cigar!

Apparently, cigarettes or cigars are being rubbed out in the UK from photographs of Winston Churchill, The Beatles, and FDR. No cigarette holder set firmly, squarely between the teeth of an attentive looking FDR – no. That would influence someone to take up the deadly cancer sticks. Possibly, your children could be removed from your home for seeing you smoke, if they haven’t already been removed for being fat, at least in the UK.

The UK and all of Europe is ahead of us in this niggling yet fiery war against improper offensive speech and dangerous unhealthy imagery, but since so many people I know want the USA to be just like Europe, this may change soon. In fact, it is already changing. Speech codes proliferate on campus. Young people, at least “well-educated” ones tend to take for granted the idea that speech should be censored and expression pulled through a wire mesh of politicized ideology to sift it down to its least offensive, most palatable — pap.

Here, Dennis Prager, a conservative who actually understands the difference between transsexuals and transgender people, as shown here in an interesting column on the “T” in GLBT and why it is not always the same as “transsexual”, writes about the growing list of words and phrases considered too offensive or dangerous to write or say or apparently, think…

First, his column on transsexuals and transgendered people, which particularly impressed me. You don’t find many people out there who begin to understand the difference. While “transgender” has been used as an umbrella term, and I try not to niggle too much about language, the fact remains that transsexual people are actually quite different in many respects from many who would consider themselves “transgender”. Prager appears to understand this:
Here:
And few people, conservative or liberal, have any trouble accepting a transsexual, i.e., someone who has surgically changed his or her sex.

But what does any of this have to do with the transgendered, i.e., people who do not psychologically identify themselves with their biological sex, who act as if they were a member of the opposite sex, and who have not changed their biology? Why does the Left include the transgendered in its activism on behalf of gays?

Why activists connect men in dresses to same sex marriage

While we may not agree on his opinions in that column regarding same sex marriage, (I believe in it strictly from the perspective of liberty), Prager is absolutely right that the left believes that differences between the sexes are socially constructed and therefore actually part of a greater paradigm of power and powerlessness; everything, even biology, is seen through a mesh of oppression/oppressor. Transsexuals are actually not necessarily interested in destroying binary gender — as it’s called, but this is often conveniently ignored.

And, since the world is viewed by the left as a veritable booby trap of sensitivities and oppressions, language is examined first from the perspective of who it might offend or harm.

Here, in a more recent column, Prager notes the left’s growing attack on speech. And, remember, an attack on speech is ultimately, an attack on — thought.

Dennis Prager writes:

“Graphic torture and frontal nudity may be shown on screen, but smoking cigars or cigarettes may not. A Churchill museum in London has removed the cigars from wartime Churchill photographs, FDR has had his ubiquitous cigarette holder removed from his photographs, and the cigarettes have been removed from the Beatles’ hands in the famous photo of them crossing Abbey Road.

The list of forbidden words and behaviors due to Leftist activism is quite extensive.
The latest example is the left’s war on any words or imagery that come from the worlds of war or guns.

Already, “crusade” has been removed from Americans’ vocabulary — lest it offend Muslims. Overnight, the left effectively banned the use of a perfectly legitimate word that usually described an admirable preoccupation with doing good — “that newspaper is on an anti-corruption crusade.”

Now, the left has announced that words such as “target” and “cross hairs” are offensive — on the idiotic pretense that such imagery causes people to murder. If I were the CEO of Target stores, I would be concerned — will my company be sued because of its name and logo?”

From this article:
Put left-wing speech control in the cross hairs

And, yes, I know it is old news by now, but I was particularly impressed by Palin’s spirited defense of free speech in her post-Arizona shooting speech. I don’t think I have ever heard an American politician speak with such fervor and clarity about speech and why it is important that it remain free.

Caroline Glick had some interesting comments in this regard, even noting that Palin is a “revolutionary leader”, and that the Tea Party movement is also “revolutionary” in its fierce and unapologetic call for more liberty.

“In certain ways, Palin is a revolutionary leader and the Tea Party movement is a revolutionary movement. For nearly a hundred years, the Left in its various permutations has captured Western policy by controlling the elite discourse from New York and Los Angeles to London to Paris to Tel Aviv. By making it “politically incorrect,” to assert claims of Western, Judeo-Christian morality or advocate robust political, economic and military policies, the Left has made it socially and professionally costly for people to think freely and believe in their countries.

What distinguishes Palin from other conservative leaders in the US and makes her an important figure worldwide is her indifference to the views of the Left’s opinion makers. Her capacity to steer debate in the US in a way no other conservative politician can owes entirely to the fact that she does not seek to win over Leftist elites. She seeks to unseat them.

The same can be said of the Tea Party. The reason it frightens the Left, and the Republican leaders who owe their positions to their willingness to accept the Left’s basic agenda, is because it does not accept the Left’s policy agenda. “

From here:
The Aim of Blood Libels

I’m playing catchup here folks, but I did want to note these articles and ideas

Why Palin and the Tea Party had nothing to do with Arizona

The Arizona shooting on Saturday was heartbreaking. I’ve cried a few tears over the death of the 9 year old girl, Christina Taylor Green, who was born on 9/11, as well as others who were killed, and have sent out my own silent wishes and prayers for the recovery of Representative Giffords and all the people shot that day. And, let’s not forget the judge who was shot and killed, Judge Roll, a largely conservative Federal judge by all counts.

However, from everything I can see, Sarah Palin had as much to do with this as she had to do with the assassination of John Lennon. Apparently, the shooter had an obsession with Representative Giffords that went back to at least 2007, before Palin was even in the national spotlight. Politically, he appears to be a strange mixture of elements, being equally fascinated by Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto , which is actually not surprising at all since both are extremist statist propaganda. The guy was mentally ill, psychotic, end of story. Any one who has viewed the YouTubes he put up can easily see this, and trying to make political hay with this tragedy by blaming the Tea Party or Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck is wrong. Jared Loughner never mentions Palin, Tea Parties or Beck in any of his rants and if anything, as the left-oriented blog Talk left believes, he is an anti-government anarchist. I have met a few of these and at least one who melted in and out of psychotic states and who babbled a lot like the shooter, without the violent intentions. But I’m not trying to place the blame on anarchists, but on mental illness — this guy was nuts and violent and like the man who shot John Lennon he got some kind of weird obsession with Giffords going and acted out. Giffords, while voting for Obamacare, was a blue dog Democrat and had been Republican earlier in life. She was a moderate and supportive of strong borders as well as a gun rights supporter.

Jeralyn at Talk Left writes:
Loughner was considered pretty normal by those who knew him until 2006 when he dropped out of high school after his junior year. That’s when he started to change. That’s when he became obsessed with lucid dreaming. As Loughner’s interest in dream life grew, his interest in reality decreased.

According to a female friend who was interviewed on the show, it was during this time, in 2007, that he met Rep. Giffords, and asked her the question. “What is Government if words have no meaning.” When Rep. Giffords didn’t give him a satisfactory answer, he decided she was a fake, and his grudge against her began.

Nightline then showed Mark Chapman being interviewed in prison in 1992 by Barbara Walters. In discussing why he killed John Lennon, he tells her he had decided John Lennon was a phony.

And, really now, let’s get real. How many signs in past San Francisco anti-war demonstrations have I seen that depict George Bush decapitated, or that show murderous intent in very graphic language toward Palin or Condoleeza Rice or any number of right wing figures? Let’s not be coy lefties, you know what I mean. Sarah Bernhard “joked” not so long ago that she wanted Palin to be “raped by her black brothers” if she visited New York. There have been cartoons of Palin being socked in the jaw by a male fist, she was hung in effigy in West Hollywood for Halloween in 2008, and it goes on.

Michelle Malkin has an exhaustive list of these threats and violent innuendos directed against the right:

I. PALIN HATE
Flashback — pointing a fake gun at the head of a Sarah Palin likeness sitting next to a cardboard cutout of her daughter in a museum display:

But what about the fact that Palin famously created that map with what many believe are gunsights on a list of names of congress targeted by the Tea Party for removal from office at election time? While some in Palin’s camp are stating that these are not gunsights but surveyor’s symbols, I honestly don’t think it matters. After all, as
Glenn Reynolds writes in the Wall Street Journal, politicians often use gun or shooting or target metaphors since politics is a kind of war, after all. Reynolds reminds us of the fact, now conveniently forgotten, that even President Obama has used gun metaphors politically, stating during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”. He writes here:

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

Pima County, AZ Sheriff Clarence Dupnik held a press conference during which he blamed vitriolic political rhetoric for provoking the mentally unstable, and lamented Arizona’s becoming the “mecca of prejudice and bigotry.” Video courtesy of AFP.

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

This onslaught of convenient blaming of the Tea Party, Palin and even Glenn Beck is simply another attempt to muzzle free speech, particularly non-left speech, and end open edgy debate. Politics is nasty and there will always be nuts around who might act out on their fantasies or in this case, on their lucid dreams. There’s always a psychotic pineapple in the bunch. That’s what we have law enforcement for, to watch out for these roving loons.

And, about Palin finally… One of the reasons I have always loved Sarah Palin, in spite of some disagreement with her (gay marriage, abortion), is because she is so provocative. While she is certainly a politician, as politicians go – she does not pander. From the beginning, she was larger than life, marching like Wonder Woman on to the stage at the GOP convention to make her first national speech accepting the VP nomination, saying all the things about Barack Obama that no one else, even most Republicans, could quite bring themselves to say. She appeared to me to be fearless. She talked about the fake columns at the Democratic National Convention, those tacky columns that when taken down would reveal that Obama was all flash and no substance. She was unabashedly pro-American, pro-liberty and well, she just was — who she is, a gun toting, caribou killing mother of five from Alaska who was outspoken and unapologetic. The left just could not deal with that, not one. little. bit. And, for that – ya gotta love the woman. She was the real thing, an anti-statist and the anti-Obama, the antidote to the Obamabot chorus of empty, saccharine promises of “hope and change”. And, for that, she is hated by lefties like few other public figures.

So, I hope she doesnt’ tamp it down. I hope she keeps on being herself and being provocative. This guy was a lunatic, a nut, not even necessarily a right winger, or a left winger for that matter- although there are reports that he was a left wing — at least not long ago in high school. He was, unstable, crazy, loony tunes. He borrowed from the political rhetoric of both sides and let it fuel his rage and indiscriminate paranoia and odd fixation on Giffords. The left should not make hay with this tragedy, to do is political opportunism of the worst kind.