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Liberals Don’t Know What Politicization Is

May 15, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Media

imageTwo recent events—the Benghazi coverup and the IRS scandal—provide an object lesson in how liberals and conservatives view “politicization.”

Conservatives’ definition of politicization is: liberals treating them unfairly for partisan reasons.  Liberals’ definition of politicization is: conservatives pointing out something they did wrong.

Consider: When conservatives highlighted the Obama administration’s incompetent, deceitful, disastrous handling of the terrorist attack on our Benghazi embassy, Democrats dismissed the affair as no big deal and accused Republicans of politicizing it.

Actually, politicizing Benghazi would have involved, say, a Presidential candidate who pressed the issue during his foreign policy debate with Obama, or who mentioned it in campaign commercials leading up to the election.  Instead, Mitt Romney decided it would be more Presidential to bring it up once and then never, ever mention it again.

When evidence of their malfeasance becomes too overwhelming, liberals simply switch tactics and claim that, OK, sometimes they politicize their faults by downplaying them, but the other side is just as bad.

Thus, The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd recently confessed, “The administration’s behavior before and during the attack in Benghazi was unworthy of the greatest power on earth…  The State Department’s minimum security requirements were not met, requests for more security were rejected…  Obama aides wanted to promote the mythology that the president who killed Osama was vanquishing terror.  So they deemed it problematic to mention any possible Qaeda involvement.”

Nonetheless, Dowd ludicrously titled her piece “When Myths Collide in the Capital” and claimed that both sides are politicizing Benghazi.  She wrote, “Welcome to a glorious spring weekend of accusation and obfuscation as Hillaryland goes up against Foxworld…  Truth is the first casualty here when competing fiefs protect their mythologies.”

Except that it’s not a mythology if it’s the truth.  Exactly which part of the Republicans’ Benghazi charges has proven unworthy of investigation?  Did ABC News recently join the feifdom of Fox News?

And The New Yorker’s Alex Koppelman had to admit, “It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the [administration’s] talking points went through…  The mere existence of the edits seriously undermines the White House’s credibility on this issue.”

Yet Koppelman felt compelled to add, “For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession.  But now there is something to it.”  No—there always was something to it; the left was just too blinded by partisanship to see it.  It isn’t bipartisan partisanship when liberals finally start admitting what conservatives have been saying all along.

Meanwhile, conservatives actually are the objects of politicization.  Witness the IRS’s recent admission that it targeted dozens of conservative and Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny during the 2012 Presidential election, solely on the basis of having words like “patriot” in their names instead of “progress,” action,” or “organizing.”  The IRS was warned about its improper filtering criteria back in 2010 and briefly stopped using them, then started using slightly different ones in 2012.  Congress learned about the IRS harassment last spring, but, as with Benghazi, didn’t address it until after the election.  Last Friday the IRS lied and said its actions were carried out by only a few low-level employees, a claim it has since retracted.

How has politicization affected free-speech rights as a result of the scandal?  Numerous conservative and Tea Party groups had their tax-exempt status delayed for months or even years, some until after the 2012 election.  Some are still waiting for approval.  Many eventually had their requests granted only because the American Center for Law and Justice stepped in and helped fight their case.  And how many conservative grass-roots activists will be intimidated into staying out of politics for fear of government harassment or bankrupting fines?

Naturally, liberals’ response to these charges has been to accuse Republicans of politicizing them.

The right is also the target of politicization in the form of persistent media bias.  At least since the 1960s, mainstream journalists have reliably voted for and donated to Democratic over Republican candidates by an order of magnitude.

Conservatives know what it’s like to have their actions politicized; they experience it in the form of a constant stream of harassment from supposedly neutral organizations like the mainstream media and the IRS.  Politicization for conservatives means an endless maelstrom of invective and staggering odds against getting their unfiltered message out to anyone outside their base.

If media-coddled liberals ever faced any actual politicization, it would crush them.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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Christopher Dorner, Left-Wing Martyr

February 13, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

LAPD-Cop-Killer-Christopher-Dorner-is-A-HEROWhat’s the difference between Christopher Dorner’s L.A. cop-killing spree that ended on Tuesday and the numerous acts of violence falsely attributed to conservatives and Tea Partiers over the last four years?

No, it’s not that those acts were carried out by conservatives.  Those acts were all carried out by leftists, too.

Dorner was the first case in which the perpetrator outlined his left-wing affiliations up front, and a significant portion of the left supported him.

In all of the other political acts of violence attributed to conservatives since Obama became President, the evidence that the perpetrator sympathized with the left was abundant, yet the media never bothered to piece it together, or insisted that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions (except the conclusion that the suspect was right-leaning).

Meanwhile, the media papered over the content of Dorner’s 11,000-word manifesto explaining his motives and outlining his ideological heroes.  The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, and BBC all failed to mention Dorner’s leftist sympathies in their lead stories.

Dorner praised left-wingers like Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mia Farrow, and Barack and Michelle Obama.  (“Off the record, I love your new bangs, Mrs. Obama.”)  He expressed drooling admiration for Piers Morgan, Chris Matthews, Soledad O’Brien, Tavis Smiley, Anderson Cooper, Jeffrey Toobin, Walter Cronkite, and hacking group Anonymous.  He cursed Wayne LaPierre and his family, Mitt Romney and his family, George W. Bush, and George Zimmerman.

Sounding like a Hollywood liberal, Dorner wrote of gun control, “The time is now to reinstitute a ban that will save lives.  Why does any sportsman need a 30 round magazine for hunting?”  Dorner then parted ways with bodyguard-hiring, filmic violence-glorifying celebrities by openly admitting his hypocrisy: “All the firearms utilized in my activities are registered to me and were legally purchased at gun stores and private party transfers…  [S]hould I be able to purchase these class III weapons…  NO.”

Though the left didn’t report on any of this, they certainly ate it up when they thought America wasn’t looking.  Peruse the abundance of comments on Facebook and left-leaning political sites supporting cop-killer Dorner.  On Twitter the hash tags #WeAreAllChrisDorner and #GoDornerGo were trending before his death.

Dorner’s supporters—who accepted uncritically his flimsy allegations of racism experienced while on the police force—were presumably tickled that he tied up hundreds of LAPD cops for weeks trying to find him, and that 50 officers and their terrified families were under 24-hour police protection.  They were also probably thrilled that Dorner diverted resources from border patrol agents and U.S. Marshals.  (Dorner no doubt lost points for being a former U.S. Navy Reservist.)

Contrast Dorner supporters’ fawning sentiments with the vitriol heaped on American hero Chris Kyle last week when a psychologically disturbed veteran shot him at a gun range.  The left—and Ron Paul—denounced Kyle as a psychotic bitter-clinger.  Liberals were more upset about Kyle’s killing of 150 Iraqi freedom fighters than they were about Dorner’s murder of black victim Keith Lawrence and his fiancée Monica Quan, daughter of former Police Chief Randall Quan, and his other innocent victims.

The left claimed, not that Dorner was a deranged lunatic whose complaints about the LAPD didn’t justify his killing rampage, but that—as the New York Times winked—many could sympathize with his motives.  Dorner was fired in 2008 after filing what was determined, after multiple levels of review and testimony of three eyewitnesses, to be a false allegation of police brutality.  Dorner then swore to carry out “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against racist, corrupt LAPD officers in revenge.

The Daily Kos linked to Dorner’s essay and glowed, “[T]he manifesto does highlight the problem of police brutality, which has plagued police departments all over the country for decades…  [P]olice brutality is an ongoing problem and Christopher Dorner is very articulate and powerful in his arguments.”  (Did they really just call an African-American mass murderer “articulate”?)

So is there any substance to Dorner’s charges?  Dorner cited one dubious event in which he attacked two officers for an allegedly racist incident.  After believing that he had heard a fellow officer use the n-word during a ride in a noisy passenger van, Dorner wrote that he “jumped over my front passenger seat and two other officers where I placed my hands around Burdios’ neck and squeezed…  What I should have done, was put a Winchester Ranger SXT 9mm 147 grain bullet in his skull and Officer Magana’s skull.”

But Dorner dismissed the LAPD’s allegations that he was a bully.  He actually listed every city he had ever lived in and encouraged journalists to confirm his pacific nature with his former classmates.  He claimed that being a roughneck was “not in my DNA,” then hedged, “[A]ny instances where I was disciplined for fighting was in response to fellow students provoking common childhood schoolyard fights, or calling me a nigger or other derogatory racial names.”  I never beat anyone up—but if I did, it was because they deserved it!

Throughout his rambling manifesto, Dorner revealed himself to be a serial grudge-holder who defensively strung together unrelated charges against everyone he had ever known, insisting that everything he had ever been accused of was Not His Fault.  (No wonder the left loved him!)  He accused lesbian officers of wielding too much power.  He scolded Asian cops for not stepping in to defend him against officers with whom he was quarreling.  He blamed the LAPD for costing him his naval career and his relationships with his mother, his sister, and his friends.

Dorner accused one officer of having “delusions of grandeur,” then wrote, “You have misjudged a sleeping giant.  There is no conventional threat assessment for me.  JAM, New Ba’ath party, 1920 rev BGE, ACM, AAF, AQAP, AQIM and AQIZ have nothing on me…  I am a walking exigent circumstance with no OFF or reset button.”  (Dorner made Obama seem humble and retiring.)

What is the state of the modern American left?  When a mass murderer declared his leftist sympathies and named specific journalists and politicians who had provided him with inspiration and courage, conservatives were tactful enough to remind the public that liberals weren’t responsible for the actions of a deranged lunatic.  Then the left, showing their true colors, preempted that sentiment by expressing their solidarity with the killer.

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Cutting Waste and Fraud Is Not a Medicare Reform Proposal

August 22, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Health Care

A candidate who promises to preserve, protect, and defend Medicare, save it from going bankrupt, implement his plan for only those under 55, and let you keep your benefits exactly as they are now if you don’t like his changes: this is the candidate Democrats are portraying as a faceless monster diabolically wheeling Grandma off a cliff.

We’ve reached the apotheosis of the Democratic Party’s political strategy: take the Republican who’s most likely to do it the favor of justifying, rescuing, and strengthening its bloated, big-government welfare programs, and then smear him as their callous, murderous destroyer.

Ten days after Mitt Romney’s Vice-Presidential nomination announcement, liberals are still spreading the meme that Paul Ryan was a suicidal choice, because he dared come up with a serious Medicare reform proposal—gradually turn the program into a voucher-supported private system—and include it in two House-passed federal budgets.  The left waited about five minutes after the VP pick, then cried, “See—Romney didn’t get a Ryan bounce.  He screwed up!”

Wait till Americans hear Paul Ryan debate Joe Biden and field questions from a smarmy, economically illiterate press.  Then they won’t be crowing that Romney committed political hari-kari.

Back in 2010, the left claimed that Tea Party candidates would hurt the GOP in the midterm elections, because Americans wouldn’t tolerate their extremist, far-right views.  Then Republicans won a historic landslide, picking up 63 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate, 6 governorships, and 680 state legislature seats.

The left claimed that Marco Rubio would terrify seniors in Florida with his support for privatizing Social Security and his signing a pledge that labeled the program “generational theft.”  Then Rubio returned from 20 points behind to crush his opponents in a three-way senatorial election.

The left claimed that wishy-washy compromiser John McCain was the contender most likely to deliver a knockout blow to Obama in the 2008 presidential election.  Then McCain embarrassed Republicans by offering a tepid, watered-down alternative to Obama’s platform and lost the election.

Pundits imply that Romney should have picked a VP candidate with no strong positions on Medicare—or any other issue of substance—lest he alienate independents.  In fact, if any voters truly are undecided, they’re going to be blown away by what Ryan has to say on Medicare and every other budgetary topic he addresses in his upcoming campaign appearances, because it’s so much bolder and more honest than what almost any other politician has said to date.

Ryan is one of the rare political candidates who’s even more impressive in enemy territory than he is on friendly turf.

Since they don’t like the Big Bad Wolf’s proposal, what are Democrats’ plans for shoring up Medicare?

They have none.  They don’t even think there is a problem.

The New Yorker’s John Cassidy, for example, argues that Medicare is doing just fine, that the only reason costs are out of control is the large number of retiring Baby Boomers.

It doesn’t matter what the cause of Medicare’s looming insolvency is.  The increase in retirees just lays bare the Ponzi-scheme structure of Medicare and other federal unfunded liabilities.

Contrary to some Democrats’ claims, the Medicare problem is not going to solve itself.  Medicare is not, as they argue, more cost-effective than private health insurance.  The federal government prohibits the sale of private health insurance across state lines, which cripples the private insurance industry’s ability to compete and innovate.  No such hindrance exists for Medicare.

Medicare is not more cost-effective than health maintenance organizations.  The IRS hamstrings HMOs by virtually forcing private health insurance plans to be tied to employers rather than employees, which reduces flexibility and competitiveness.  No such obstacle exists for Medicare.

Medicare could never survive on its own, not without sponging off of the much larger private insurance industry.  If Medicare has such a bright future, more doctors wouldn’t be refusing to accept Medicare patients with each passing year.

The irony is that Democrats warn Republicans that Ryan’s nomination will make the Medicare issue unavoidable for them.  In fact, it’s taken Ryan’s nomination to force Democrats to finally stop avoiding the Medicare issue.

What is Obama’s proposal to address Medicare’s imminent bankruptcy?  He reassures us that we don’t need to cut benefits, that we can keep the program solvent simply by reducing fraud and waste.  In his words, “My plan saves money in Medicare by cracking down on fraud, and waste and insurance company subsidies…  My plan’s already extended the life of Medicare by nearly a decade.”

Please.  Every politician who wants to preserve the status quo claims that gobs of money can be saved from a federal program just by reducing fraud and waste.  Everyone wants to reduce fraud and waste.  John Gambino wants to reduce fraud and waste.

Obama also claims he can save hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing subsidies to insurance companies and hospitals—as if they’re going to just altruistically pony up the difference, rather than cutting services or finding some other way to pass the cost on to customers.

Democrats show no interest in acknowledging the fact that Medicare is going broke, that benefits are going to have to be cut—and soon.  They live in a fantasy land where—at best—they pretend they can save hundreds of billions of dollars via rosy projections of improved Medicare cost-efficiency that will take place just a few years down the road, after the next couple of election cycles, by which time voters will have forgotten about their unfulfillable promises.

At worst, they ignore the problem and demonize Republicans for proposing actual solutions.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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Gun-Makers Didn’t Murder Theatergoers—Somebody Else Made That Happen

July 25, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Gun Control

Let’s not politicize the mass shooting at the Aurora, Colorado midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises last week—unless it’s to blame the Tea Party or renew the push for nationwide gun control!

Based on circumstantial evidence, it is infinitely more likely that gunman James Holmes was an Occupy Wall Street sympathizer than a Tea Party supporter.  In addition to stockpiling rifles, ammunition, and gas canisters, and possibly being connected to anarchist group Black Bloc, Holmes intricately booby-trapped his apartment to kill or maim police and emergency responders.  (I could have it backwards, but I think it’s Occupy and not the Tea Party that slanders the police as heavy-handed, fascist tools of the state.)

Also, Tea Partiers invariably leave their protest areas cleaner than when they arrived, whereas Occupy crowds leave behind mayhem, so there’s that.

As soon as their premature Tea Party smears were falsified, liberals predictably turned to the next step in their playbook: clamoring for more gun control.  Making a guest appearance in The New York Times, criminologist Roger Ebert offered the following pithy advice to the little people who arm themselves because they feel threatened in their own neighborhoods: “It would be safer if you moved.”

This is not only a condescending but a head-scratching suggestion, given that 41 states besides Colorado allow the purchase of assault rifles, and 3 others regulate but otherwise allow the weapons.  (We always knew liberals secretly loathed every state except California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.)

In 2010, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Colorado 27 out of 50 in its list of states with the strongest laws regulating firearms.  So Colorado is right in the middle of the list in terms of strictness of state gun control laws, not near the bottom, as you might expect from liberal ranting.

In fact, a review of all mass shootings in school and non-school settings over the past decade reveals that virtually all occurred in states with relatively strict gun control laws.  For example:

  • In 2002, Ronald Popadich killed 2 and injured 24 in a crime spree in New Jersey (#2 on the Law Center’s list) and Manhattan
  • In 2004, Chia Vang killed 8 on a hunting trip in Wisconsin (#17)
  • In 2005, Jeff Weise killed 9 at an Indian reservation high school in Minnesota (#15)
  • In 2006, Kyle Huff killed 6 at a rave in Seattle, Washington (#14)
  • In 2006, Charles Roberts killed 5 at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania (#11)
  • In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 on the campus of Virginia Tech (#16)
  • In 2008, Steven Kazmierczak killed 5 and injured 21 at Northern Illinois University (#6)
  • In 2009, Jiverly Wong killed 13 at an immigration center in Binghamton, New York (#8)
  • In 2011, Scott Dekraai killed 8 at a hair salon in California (#1)

The only mass shooting in the past decade to occur in a state in the bottom third of the country by restrictiveness of gun laws was Jared Lee Loughner’s 2011 killing of 6 in Arizona (#50).  That shooting differs from the others in that Loughner specifically targeted a local public figure, Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords.

Apparently it needs to be explained ad infinitum to pro-gun control liberals: It’s the individual criminal who kills, not permissive gun laws, NRA members, or Smith and Wesson employees.  As Obama might say if he were pro-gun rights: Assault rifle manufacturers didn’t murder Aurora theatergoers—somebody else made that happen.

Although Colorado passed a statewide concealed-carry law in 2003, there are plenty of public facilities in the state that prohibit guns on their premises.  The theater chain Cinemark—owner of the Century 16 theater where the Colorado shooting took place—bans firearms, as indicated on multiple signs posted throughout its facilities.  Somehow this legal restriction didn’t factor into Holmes’ calculations.

In his gun control Times essay, Ebert declared, “In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself.  Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended.”  Yes, the theory will still be defended, because all of the law-abiding citizens in the theater were following the cinema chain’s policy and were unarmed, despite Colorado’s concealed-carry law.  The only person in the theater who was armed was the one breaking the law by murdering people.

Any simpleton can see that an armed populace is better able to protect itself from criminals than an unarmed one.  If someone in the Aurora theater—or in the lecture hall at Virginia Tech, or at the rave in Seattle, or at the immigration center in Binghamton—had been carrying a concealed weapon, these ordeals would have resulted in fewer deaths and less survivor trauma.  Gun control advocates not only have no confidence in private citizens’ ability to protect themselves and others from armed bandits, their emotionally-laden ignorance leaves them with the blood of unarmed victims on their hands.

As gun-rights scholar John Lott noted, virtually every mass shooting in modern American history has occurred in a so-called “gun-free” zone.  Mass murderers may be psychotic, but they’re not stupid.  They don’t implement their killing sprees at Hell’s Angels gatherings or NASCAR races.  How long would James Holmes’ shooting rampage have lasted at a Texas rodeo?

When guns are outlawed, only the Comic Book Guy will have guns.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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NATO Protesters Try to Recapture That Rancid Occupy Magic

May 23, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

Far-right conservatives don’t protest far-left institutions the way leftists protest even center-left institutions.

Witness liberals’ uproar over the NATO summit held in Chicago earlier this week, at which protester turnout was augmented by Occupy Chicago sympathizers seeking to recapture the rancid magic of last fall’s anti-Wall Street movement.

What’s puzzling about the left’s agitation over the summit is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not exactly the John Birch Society.  The topics on the agenda this year included: removing international troops from Afghanistan by 2013, not intervening militarily in Syria, and rolling back austerity measures in France—all stances you’d think the protestors would be in love with.  Yet leftists marched and rioted and looted all weekend as though Mitt Romney had established Mormonism as the state religion of Illinois.

What is it about leftists and protesting?

Conservatives certainly protest a thing or two, now and then; witness the vigorous and effective Tea Party movement of the past three years.  But note the differences in how conservatives and leftists make their views known:

Raised voices and signs warning of abridged liberties and financial ruin are about as extreme as conservatives get.  In contrast, leftists fancy cop-bashing, firebombing, destroying property, blowing up bridges, threatening public safety, and generally hastening the decline of civilization.

Conservatives target government officials who rack up trillions of dollars in debt.  Leftists target Starbucks patrons, Walgreens shoppers, and elderly diners at family restaurants.

Conservatives hope to send career politicians home to their districts for an early retirement.  Leftists end up sending innocent people to the hospital.

Conservatives obtain protest permits, provide sanitation facilities, buy liability insurance, hire security personnel, and bring portable defibrillators.  Leftists occupy space that isn’t theirs, pee in the streets, defecate on police cars, offer safe haven for junkies, and spread new diseases.

Conservatives protest in their everyday garb, notwithstanding an occasional Ben Franklin impersonator or tricorner hat.  Leftists sport masks, scarves, bandanas, and hoods, dress as zombies and clowns, and splash red paint on their bodies to fake police-induced injuries.

Conservatives label themselves Constitutionalists, neoclassical liberals, and libertarians.  Leftists call themselves anarchists.

Conservatives’ weapons include words, arguments, and quotes, from the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, and references to Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Ayn Rand.  Leftists’ weapons include cyber attacks, hammers, batons, Molotov cocktails, and assault rifles.

The mainstream media cover for leftist protestors by minimizing the severity of their crimes, blowing out of proportion minor indignities they bear during their uncooperative arrests, and implying moral equivalency between ruffians and cops.  According to the media, for example, leftist protestors don’t wreak havoc; police don’t try to restore order.  Rather, protestors and police “clash,” as if they were the Crips and the Bloods.

The media skim over injuries suffered by the police, but wail over the “safety” of short-sighted protestors who don’t bring enough water to drink.  They smear undercover cops’ efforts to prevent imminent attacks as infiltration, subterfuge, and entrapment.  They approvingly quote protestors who complain that cops are trying to “frighten people,” “diminish the size of the demonstrations,” and spread “fear and intimidation.”

By MSNBC’s reckoning, the noble NATO protestors’ biggest weakness isn’t that their message is incoherent, but that they have “too many messages” to absorb.  Yes, the beleaguered public just can’t keep up with the comprehensive brilliance of The Occupation Diaries of 2012.

Leftists and a complicit media demand ludicrous double standards that permit protestors to dress any way they want without being criticized, disrupt police efforts to control them, and abandon the law in order to save it.  The media remain neutral while leftists turn urban spaces into war zones and harass police squadrons defending the city from their assaults.

The domestic terrorists whose work was on display over the weekend are the ideological descendants of Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and the Weather Underground.  These thugs view the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention as their movement’s crowning historical achievement.

And their techniques are becoming more extreme.  One anarchist group called the Black Bloc recently held training sessions on how to use “improvised explosives, swords, hunting bows, throwing stars and brass knuckles.”  Palestinian brutes in the West Bank throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers are more civilized than these barbarians.

Except that Palestinian militants don’t generally attack their own side for not being militant enough.  The hacking group Anonymous recently tried to shut down the website for the city of Chicago—arguably the most generous, profligate, left-wing dispenser of taxpayer-funded largesse in the U.S. outside of the federal government—because it has a police department that won’t let them rampage with abandon.  Three NATO protestors were charged over the weekend with plotting to attack Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and the Obama 2012 reelection headquarters.

What does it says about the left that they are more likely to violently protest insufficiently liberal institutions than conservatives are to do the same for far-left causes?  It says either that leftists are so intolerant of dissenting views that they can’t stand the existence of entities who slightly disagree with them, or that they hold society in such contempt that they get their kicks trying to tear it down.

Neither possibility is particularly flattering to their movement.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics


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Dear Newt: Please Stick Around as Long as You Like

February 01, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2012

Much has been written about 2012 GOP presidential primary frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich’s weaknesses as candidates.

Less has been written about how they stand up next to each other, and whom the comparison favors.  A close look at their records makes it clear that Romney can only benefit from Gingrich staying in the race as long as possible.

Gingrich will likely help Romney in two ways: first, by making Romney seem more conservative to hesitant members of the Tea Party wing of the GOP.  This will happen via Gingrich’s patchwork quilt of liberal positions on such issues as Romney’s role at Bain Capital (“Exploitive!”), Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity (“Right-wing social engineering!”), and Nancy Pelosi’s cap-and-trade bill (“Bipartisan!”).

Second, Gingrich may push Romney to the right on some issues, nudging his competitor to come out more forcefully for the conservative aspects of his platform and commit to them more unwaveringly as campaign promises.

(This is in contrast to the advantage Romney gains by Ron Paul staying in the race, which is for Paul to make Romney seem like a spring chicken with a manly laugh instead of an old goat with a girlish giggle.)

Newt’s attacks on Romney from the left will help Romney develop defenses against the charges the Obama campaign will inevitably fling at him in the general election.

And positions on which Gingrich is good—for example, his promise to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office—may spur Romney to take ever bolder stances.  If you have any doubts about Romney fulfilling his oath to issue a 50-state executive waiver, Newt’s upping the ante on Obamacare will make it harder for Romney to back down.  Newt’s grandiosity, however annoying and impracticable, will prod Romney to promise and act bigger.

(Give Newt credit, I guess, for proposing too many ideas rather than too few.  It’s just that voters get suspicious when the ideas include things like giving the moon statehood.)

Newt’s arrogance and intemperance will make Romney seem even-handed and statesmanlike.  Take Newt’s petulant refusal to debate Obama in the general election if the events are moderated by “the media.”  And they say Newt won’t help build party unity!

What of Newt’s endless, reckless assaults on Romney?  Won’t they hurt Romney in voters’ eyes?  I doubt it.  Being called fickle by Newt is like being called a blowhard by Al Sharpton.

But it’s not only Newt’s venomous attacks on Romney that will drive voters to side with the former Massachusetts governor.  Newt’s pathetic justifications for his dips in the polls and poor recent debate performances belie his claim that Romney is the forked-tongue prevaricator in the race.  My favorite Newt excuse, on his Tampa debate with Romney last week, is: “I stood there thinking, ‘How can you say these things you know are falsehoods?’  That’s why I was quiet, because there was no civil way to call him out on what was in fact a series of falsehoods that were astonishing.”  Because if there’s one thing we know about Newt, it’s that he’d rather be quiet than uncivil!

Or consider this half-baked zinger, which Gingrich offered as a rationalization for why Romney would win the Florida primary: “He can bury me for a very short amount of time with four or five or six times as much money, most of it raised in Wall Street from the guys who got bailouts from the government.”

Let’s unpack this obfuscating, run-on defense, which sounds like something a Democrat would say.  Under normal circumstances, we tend to accept that candidates who raise lots of cash have many passionate supporters.  Gingrich himself has been bragging about how much cash he raised after his unexpected South Carolina victory.  Now suddenly campaign cash is bad?

“A very short amount of time” implies that Romney will best Gingrich in the polls for just a few days, maybe a few weeks—a mere blip in the unstoppable wave of his opponent’s gathering momentum.  Um, wait—doesn’t that precisely describe Gingrich’s standing?

As for Wall Street: Which former GOP Speaker of the House supported the September 2008 bank bailout?  Why, that’s right—Newt Gingrich!

Gingrich has threatened to stay in the race until the 2012 Republican National Convention in August.  I say bring it on.

Romney doesn’t give the GOP exactly what it wants as a candidate, but what he gives us is better than what any of the remaining candidates gives us—and Newt’s presence in the race makes Romney an especially appealing contrast.  Rick Santorum obsesses over social issues and is an unreliable fiscal conservative.  Ron Paul is terrible on foreign policy.  But Newt is in a category of his own: erratic and reckless, bombastic and bloviating, he alienates independents, many conservatives, and probably his own dog.

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Top 10 Conservatives of 2011

November 30, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

Top 10 Conservatives of 2011

Image by Scott Spiegel via Flickr

10. Andrew Cuomo – Yes, really.  As I wrote earlier this year, “When Democrats cut spending and refuse to raise taxes, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has—i.e. when they abandon their party’s core philosophy and govern like conservatives—they enjoy skyrocketing popularity ratings and set their constituents on a path to financial solvency.”  Cuomo’s late-career, probably temporary, but remarkable conversion followed the example set by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who also stood up to public sector unions, slashed spending, and held down taxes.

9. Darrell Issa – California Representative Darrell Issa held hearings this summer on the Justice Department’s botched, scandalous Operation Fast and Furious gun-trafficking sting operation, including gripping testimony from ATF officials from Phoenix and Mexico.  Recently Attorney General Eric Holder was forced to admit that Fast and Furious was “flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution”—kind of like his boss’s presidency.  Along with the Treasury Department’s pursuit of the administration’s tainted $535 million loan to solar energy company Solyndra, Issa’s persistent work erased the laughable notion that the corrupt Obama tenure has remained blissfully transgression-free.

8. Peter King – New York Representative Peter King bucked controversy by holding hearings on whether Muslim Americans were becoming radicalized and linking with terrorist groups to plot attacks on home soil.  From my column “Liberals’ Game of Cat-and-Muslim”: “[King] held a hearing on whether al-Qaeda is trying to recruit young Muslims in the U.S. and whether Muslim Americans are sufficiently cooperating with federal officials…  [H]undreds of willfully naïve, politically correct New Yorkers gathered in Times Square, steps from where [Faisal] Shahzad tried to kill hundreds of New Yorkers, to protest King’s hearing as racist and Islamophobic.”

7. Mitch Daniels – Second-term Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels navigated such juvenile obstructions as Democratic legislators walking out to protest Republicans’ agenda, and ultimately got the bulk of long-stalled GOP legislation passed in the state.  Daniels wowed CPAC with a speech on fiscal austerity that included such zingers as “Our morbidly obese federal government needs, not just behavior modification, but bariatric surgery” and his reference to federal debt as “the new red menace.”  One of the only feasible GOP presidential candidates both conservative and articulate, Daniels declined to run this year despite widespread pressure to do so.

6. Pat Toomey – The deficit reduction supercommittee boasted only one reliable fiscal conservative: Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.  All five other GOP members voted for the boneheaded budget bill in August that unnecessarily raised the debt ceiling.  Without Toomey, Republican supercommittee members might have caved to Democratic pressure to raise tax rates on high-income earners.  The committee failed—which, given Democratic intransigence, is the best outcome we could have hoped for.  Toomey’s first year in office after dispensing with Joe Sestak in hostile blue-state territory in the 2010 midterms was a resounding success.

5. Rick Perry – Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry held the distinction of leading the state that oversaw 40% of all new U.S. jobs created since the recovery began, triple the number of the next-closest competitor New York, with over 1 million added since he took office.  Texas’s jobs boom resulted not just from rising oil prices—private sector industries such as construction, hospitality, and professional services also saw growth—but also Perry’s understanding of the hindrance excessive regulation places on incentives to invest and hire.  Perry offered a more conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, thus helping push the GOP front-runner to the right.

4. Herman Cain – Businessman, radio host, rocket scientist, and presidential candidate Herman Cain spent the year touting his 9-9-9 flat tax plan, which would gut the federal tax code and replace it with a 9% federal income tax, 9% corporate tax, and 9% national sales tax.  Rick Perry produced a copycat plan, and Newt Gingrich revived his old plan, and suddenly the nation began seriously debating the merits of flat tax plans for the first time since Steve Forbes’ last run.  And did you know that, back in the day, as president-elect of the National Restaurant Association, Cain was one of the most vocal critics of Hillarycare?

3. Ann Coulter – The left-wing, Obama-endorsed Occupy Wall Street movement that seeped into the national consciousness like a whiff of raw sewage had no concrete antagonists, just the sorry spectacle of a bunch of hippy retreads and trust fund brats battling hypothermia and body lice in tent cities around the country.  Ann Coulter was the conservative who foretold it best, in her bestseller Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America.  From the book jacket: “The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs—it is the mob.”

2. Scott Walker – From “Wisconsin’s Government Cheese Revolution”: “Governor Scott Walker… proposed a bill that would… prevent [public sector] unions from forcing members to pay dues, require annual secret ballots on whether to remain unionized, and ask members to contribute a pittance toward their lavish pensions and health care plans.”  Walker’s courage in standing his ground in the face of protestors calling him Hitler and Hosni Mubarak, and Democratic legislators fleeing the state to avoid voting on the bill, presaged the guts that mayors around the country didn’t have in dealing with Occupy Wall Street.

1. Michele Bachmann – Minnesota Representative and Tea Party leader Bachmann embodied the best combination of conservative/articulate out of all the 2012 GOP presidential nominees; it’s inexplicable that she isn’t doing better in the polls.  From my column “CDC Prepares for Outbreak of Bachmann Derangement Syndrome”: “Bachmann has labeled herself a ‘constitutional conservative’—precisely the correct label to use in this bizarre era of pay czars, light bulb bans, and trillion-dollar deficits…  Bachmann [took] leadership roles on… repealing [Dodd-Frank] and replacing ObamaCare with free market reforms.”  Here’s hoping she can at least snag the VP slot.

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Occupy Wall Street: Abandoning the Law to Save It

October 19, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

fawkes

Last week a concerned reader took issue with my negative comparison of the Occupy Wall Street protests to the Tea Party rallies—in particular my statement that “Tea Party rallies have been amazingly peaceful, with not a single arrest… across hundreds of cities and thousands of events…”  The reader was correct—there were in fact Tea Party arrests I had overlooked.

In March of 2011, Jim Canelos was arrested in Mohave County, Arizona for wearing a flag hat at a county supervisors’ meeting that prohibited wearing hats.

In February of 2010, Mervin Fried was arrested in Kingman, Arizona for bringing a symbolic pitchfork to a protest in a county administration building.  Fried argued that the county already allowed citizens to carry guns—a more dangerous weapon—into government buildings, and was later acquitted.

Most notably, in November of 2009, ten protestors angry over ObamaCare were arrested for engaging in disorderly conduct outside Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, D.C.  The ralliers were discovered to have been organized by rabid anti-abortion activist and Democrat Randall Terry of Operation Rescue.

That’s it!  A dozen Tea Party arrests in two-and-a-half years, most tied to anti-abortion protestors.  Given the media’s left-wing slant, you can be sure that every arrest ever made at a Tea Party rally in the tiniest hamlet in the country has been thoroughly documented.

Now that we’ve gotten that straight, let’s examine the arrest record of Occupy Wall Street, which just hit its one-month anniversary:

•    Several weeks ago in New York, over 700 protesters were arrested for marching into the vehicular lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge against police orders and cutting off traffic;

•    Last Tuesday 129 protestors were arrested in Boston and 6 in D.C. for trespassing and disorderly conduct;

•    On Saturday 92 protestors were arrested in New York for occupying a branch of Citibank, knocking down police barriers, and other offenses;

•    Also on Saturday, 53 protestors in Tucson, 24 in Denver, and 19 in Raleigh were arrested for occupying public parks after closing time;

•    On Sunday 175 protestors in Chicago were arrested for setting up a tent city and occupying Congress Plaza near Grant Park;

•    Also on Sunday, 46 protestors were arrested in Phoenix for refusing to evacuate a public park at closing time

This is just a partial list and includes only roundups at the most high-profile rallies in the biggest cities.

Let’s not forget the recent riots abroad, mostly in Western Europe, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests.  In Rome on Saturday, police arrested protestors for breaking windows, destroying statues, spraying graffiti on churches, vandalizing bank lobbies and ATM machines, smashing police cruisers, and setting dumpsters, cars, and military depots on fire; attacking police with batons, rocks, bottles, fire extinguishers, and bombs; injuring hundreds of innocents, mostly police officers; and causing millions in damage to public property and untold damage to private property.

(In one delicious footnote, Roman protestors expressed indignation that police hadn’t made more arrests of their most violent compatriots early on, so that the whole group wouldn’t be discredited.  Damned if you enforce the law, damned if you don’t.)

So let’s examine the totals: 12 arrests for the Tea Party rallies, which have been going on for 30 months; and 1200 arrests for the Occupy Wall Street mobs, which have been going on for 30 days.

It’s awfully close, but I’m going to have to suggest that Occupy Wall Street is less law-abiding than the Tea Party.  Yet to hear the mainstream media present it, Occupy Wall Street is every bit as peaceful and legitimate as the Tea Party.

The disparate treatment given to these wildly uneven tallies reflects the double standard set by the left-leaning media: One Tea Partier raising his fist in anger over intrusive government is as alarming as one thousand Occupy Wall Street protestors clashing with police.

Some commentators have noted that Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party both began out of anger over the nation’s largest banks being bailed out.  Though the sources of their grievances overlap, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have used vastly different tactics to get across their messages.  Ironically, the Tea Party, which is more suspicious of government, has been following the letter of the law.  Occupy Wall Street, which favors more government regulation, has been trampling all over the law.

This irony is easily explainable: The Tea Party believes the government has legitimate, limited functions, such as the power of the police and courts to protect people from the initiation of force and violation of property rights.  In contrast, Occupy Wall Street believes legitimate functions of government include providing universal healthcare, free college education, and a living wage; naturally, they see its policing functions as rather superfluous and heavy-handed, if not downright militaristic.

Thus, we have the spectacle of defense lawyers representing over 800 defendants in Manhattan’s criminal court system demanding that all charges be dropped for the protestors, and threatening individual trials for the miscreants, thus further clogging the system’s already overstuffed caseload.  (Prepare for agitators to crow that their struggle was victorious and their motives vindicated after overburdened prosecutors inevitably throw in the towel.)

Just before the fall 2008 bank bailout, which most Democrats supported and most Republicans opposed, President Bush infamously observed that he had “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

The members of a protest movement that claims to be concerned with justice have been wildly indiscriminate in their violation of the law.  Occupy Wall Street protestors apparently believe they must abandon our civilized system of government in order to save it.

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The Tea Party vs. the Pot Party

October 12, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

OWS

The only similarity Tea Party rallies and the Occupy Wall Street protests share is that both involve humans gathered in public spaces.  Other than that they have about as much in common as a Rolling Stones concert does with a public stoning.

The UK Daily Mail featured a story on the unsavory conditions at the OWS protestors’ home base in Manhattan, Zuccotti Park, including photos of one flannel-clad agitator squatting and defecating against a police car.  Hmm, I think the last time that happened at a Tea Party rally was… never.

Having destroyed the park over the past three weeks by filling it with patchouli ashes and feces, the protestors traipsed north on Saturday to turn another great New York gathering space, Washington Square Park, into a public urinal.

The glaring differences between OWS and the Tea Party rallies are obvious to anyone with a functioning pair of eyes (and nostrils).

The Tea Party movement, which began around the start of Barack Obama’s presidency and built momentum during the year-long national healthcare debate, was a grassroots uprising.  Across the country, people who had never been active in politics networked and gathered with concerned, like-minded citizens to demand a curb on the intrusion of federal government into our lives.

In contrast, OWS, which is a fraction of the size of the Tea Party, was instigated by an anti-consumerist Canadian magazine called Adbusters, and has seen its numbers swell via conspicuous throngs of bused-in union members, bored trust fund brats cruising for easy sex, disheveled homeless people looking for free food, and savvy criminals on the lam who understand that a crowd of ragtag bums is the perfect hiding spot for them.

Despite their heated rhetoric, Tea Party rallies have been amazingly peaceful, with hardly any arrests and not a single incidence of violence—except for those committed by union members against the ralliers—across hundreds of cities and thousands of events attended by millions of people over the past two-and-a-half years.

In contrast, OWS has rudely disrupted its host cities, with over 700 arrests in just one day in one city (New York) and tens of millions of dollars in policing costs only a few weeks into the movement.  Commuters and municipal officials have complained about the invaders’ lack of respect for residents just trying to go about their business.

Tea Party rallies have been antiseptically clean, to such a degree that public works employees have gushed about how attendees leave the protest areas cleaner than when they arrived.

In contrast, the OWS occupation has been sickeningly unsanitary, with widespread public urination and defecation, hordes of unwashed louts mating in filthy sleeping bags, mounting piles of rotting trash, and an omnipresent odor of raw sewage.

The Tea Party has been well-organized and influential, having achieved earth-shattering electoral results in special and off-year gubernatorial and senatorial elections, and a historic landslide in the Congressional midterms.

In contrast, OWS has been ineffectual and impotent, with no one—including the protestors—having any idea what they want, let alone how they hope to achieve it by playing hacky sack and painting their bodies like tribesmen.

Most Tea Partiers took time out of their busy days to attend the rallies, which were almost always held in the evenings, after work, or on weekends.

In contrast, most OWS protestors appear to have no jobs, homes, or responsibilities to attend to, and seem to be looking to the rallies to provide them with shelter, food, and a purpose in life.

And those are just the superficial differences!

On a deeper level, the Tea Partiers want government to leave them alone and allow them to be productive citizens and decide how to spend their money.  In contrast, OWS protestors wish to tear down the capitalist system while forcing society to give them free college, universal healthcare, and guaranteed home ownership.

The Tea Party’s heroes have included our nation’s Founding Fathers, and 20th-century political and philosophical leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Friedrich Hayek, and Ayn Rand.  In contrast, OWS has thrown its support to the likes of cop-killer Troy Davis and al-Qaeda conspirator Tarek Mehanna.

Tea Partiers have been reading and debating the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.  OWS leaders have been teaching protestors how to pick open handcuffs with hairpins.

Tea Party organizers have been handing out miniature flags; OWS leaders have been distributing condoms.

As anyone who’s been watching knows, the Tea Party increased its influence the larger it grew and the more it pervaded our culture.  Given the public revulsion over the Wall Street protests, the longer these embarrassing displays continue, the bigger the anti-Democratic tsunami will be in 2012.

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Occupy First; Ask Questions Later

October 05, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

zombies

What the hell are the Wall Street occupiers protesting?  Do they even know?

The “Occupy Wall Street” hoodlums have been occupying Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Plaza) near Manhattan’s financial district for almost three weeks, with no signs of leaving.  They have literally been occupying the park—demonstrating without a police permit and setting up living quarters, complete with their own sleeping area, kitchen, and “library.”  They have been clogging neighboring streets and bridges.  They have pledged to occupy the area through the coming winter.

Demonstrators are trying to boost the legitimacy of their operation by passing out hundreds of thousands of copies of their self-published, four-page diatribe, “The Occupied Wall Street Journal.”

The self-described occupiers are, of course, long-haired, hippie-ish, slovenly, litter-strewing, profanity-spewing, Marxism-spouting, law-and-order-despising, ill-informed, inarticulate, slack-jawed, and unfocused—in other words, your typical left-wing mob.

(You knew the mob just had to be leftist before you even heard what it was about.  From what other portion of the political spectrum could activists organize so many thousands of unemployed people to do nothing but sit around in the street and chant all day?  Contrast the Wall Street occupation with Tea Party rallies, which always take place in the evening or on weekends, outside of work hours.)

The highlight of the movement so far came when New York City police arrested 700 thugs who unlawfully marched into the traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday evening, cutting off traffic for hours.

Not ashamed in the slightest at their disruptive, feral behavior, the picketers have been screaming “police brutality” over their supposedly shocking mistreatment.  Such brutality has included police telling marchers that they would be arrested if they blocked the Brooklyn Bridge, then arresting marchers when they blocked the Brooklyn Bridge.  Dissenters were lined up in neat, orderly rows in plastic handcuffs and then escorted away in vans—or, in protestors’ minds, tortured and abused by sadistic Gestapo officers.

Dreadlocked hooligans have set up tent cities in support of the Wall Street protestors in Boston, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle.

On Monday the protestors held a “corporate zombie” march, with participants dressed like zombie bankers stuffing Monopoly money in their mouths.

Celebrity lefties such as Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Roseanne “Robespierre” Barr have made guest appearances to support the protestors.

So what exactly are the protestors protesting?

The Associated Press characterizes the activists’ grievances as “corporate greed and other issues.”  That’s about as specific and succinct a description as you’re likely to find anywhere, including in the protestors’ own literature.

The “other issues” protestors have railed against include—and this is far from an exhaustive list: bank bailouts, home foreclosures, high unemployment, global warming, destruction of the ecosystem, poverty, food modification, excessive health care company profits, Islamophobia, Jewish control of the economy, social inequality, the execution of Troy Davis, and the inclusion of American Indian-abuser Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

One movement leader narrated a video in which he states that the marchers are protesting the following evils: “corporatism, fascism, crony capitalism, a police state, an American empire, [too many] military bases, dead bodies in Iraq, a ‘welfare warfare’ state, and ‘Republi-crats.’”  The site hosting the video explains that protestors’ strategy “was inspired by recent uprisings in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and Tunisia”—as though the causes of the austerity protests in Western Europe were remotely related to the causes of the democracy protests in the Middle East.

Perhaps this is a clue: The demonstrators have held many of their rallies in front of Federal Reserve buildings around the country.  Does that mean they’re protesting the existence of the Federal Reserve?  Are they opposed to its manipulation of the U.S. currency, including the Obama administration’s quantitative easing programs?  Are they calling for a return to the gold standard?

Why no, actually, those are demands being made by attendees at Tea Party rallies.  In fact, those are thoughtful demands I could actually get behind.

In contrast, the Occupy Wall Street protestors are less focused in their goals.

Thus, in one video, we get such contradictory statements as the following musings, separated by mere minutes:

“It’s about, like, people making things happen, rather than expecting, like, someone else to take care [of you].”

“It’s a process of educating people… that we have to be first and foremost altruistic, and care for the collective before caring for ourselves.”

Whereas the Tea Party’s message is razor sharp and crystal clear—limit the size and scope of the federal government and restore individual liberty—the occupiers’ message is fuzzy and incoherent, a miasma of unfocused, seething rage.

Even the über-liberal The Nation, which recently featured a helpful FAQ section on the movement, groaned, “Ugh—the zillion-dollar question” in response to an honest query on what the demands of the protestors are.  They elaborated: “The General Assembly [Occupy Wall Street’s organizing body] is currently in the midst of determining how it will come to consensus about unifying demands.  It’s a really messy and interesting discussion.  But don’t hold your breath.”

Riot first; self-reflect later.  The motto of the radical left.

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