Monday, January 31, 2011

Time to End Lawless City Policies

Would you want to live in a lawless city? Never heard of 'lawless cities'? Well, you have heard of 'sanctuary cities', the self-description of cities that have decided to forbid their police and courts from enforcing immigration law.

Here is a consequence of such policies, described here:

In December 2007, a woman was savagely raped in a Queens park by four Mexican illegals. Once arrested, they were found to have long rap sheets and a long record of missed court appearances, which made them deportable. The Times did not report their illegal status, referring to them merely as “homeless men.” Nor did it connect the dots back to New York City’s sanctuary policies, which protected three of the four from deportation for offenses such as assault, attempted robbery, criminal trespass, illegal gun possession, and drug offenses.
The above stary was embedded in an article about the bias of the New York Times in its immigration reporting: Failing to tell the whole story in cases like these, and cheerleading for policies that undermine immigration law. The article notes:
Around this time, however, the Times hailed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reversal of a proposal that city workers check identities of illegals, declaring that doing so would “deny privacy rights for immigrants” and that “at the end of the day mandatory status disclosure would hurt everyone’s public safety” by “chilling illegals from coming forward to report crime and abuse.”
The very term 'sanctuary city' needs to be reconsidered. When you have deportable criminal aliens out on the streets and creating victims, as the above story shows, that's a lawless city, and a sanctuary only for lawbreakers. "Sanctuary city" policies are prescirptions for lawless cities. This issue is a top priority in the current legislative session, and hopefully we will see a bill that ends flawed policies, such as Houston's, that forbids cops from determining immigration status of arrestees.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winning the Future

Obama's latest slogan creates an apropos TLA. One reaction to this graphic: LOL.

Meanwhile ... can we be the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history, with a deficit that is 10% of GDP? Yes, we can.

Travis GOP backs single-member districts for Austin

Piling on to other recently-announced support for single-member districts, the Travis County Republican Party has put out a press release applauding Mayor's Backing of City Council Districts, and praising State Senator Wentworth's Single-Member District Legislation. Here it is:

Austin, Texas — The Travis County Republican Party (TCRP) applauds
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell's new backing of single-member city
council districts, and endorses legislation by state Senator Jeff
Wentworth that would require single-member district representation on
the Austin City Council.

Currently, Austinites are represented by six city council members who
serve in an "at-large" capacity. They each represent the entire
population of Austin and are all elected by the same city-wide
constituency. The mayor, too, is elected by the city as a whole. The
latter is quite the norm; the former is highly unusual, and greatly
ineffective. With the city limits serving as a single at-large
district, multiple people are serving a single district. Invariably,
this setup leads to vast geographic areas of the community being
under-represented, or all together un-represented. Multiple-member
districts also diminish accountability by any one council member to
any group of voters, discourage citizen participation in local
governance, and suppress voter turnout in municipal elections.

"Austin is simply too large — and growing far too quickly — to not
have single-member city council districts," said TCRP Chair Rosemary
Edwards. "Austinites deserve to have direct representation on their
city council with a representative who they can go to with their
concerns and vote out if they want change, just as they do in the
state Legislature and in Congress."

Mayor Leffingwell is advocating a board in which six members represent
six individual districts, and two more members serve, like himself, at
large. He is charging a committee with preparing this and other
proposed changes to the city charter for voters next year.

In the Texas Senate, Sen. Jeff Wentworth is advancing legislation that
would require single-member districts for Austin. Senate Bill 380

requires that "The governing body of a municipality with a population
of 500,000 or more must consist of a mayor elected at large and at
least six members elected from single-member districts. A member must
reside in the district the member represents." If passed by a
two-thirds majority in the state House and Senate, Sen. Wentworth's
bill could take effect this year; if passed with a simple majority,
the act would apply to the 2012 elections.

"I'm encouraged by the growing support for single-member districts,"
Edwards said. "Our country was founded on the principles of direct
localized representation, and the voters deserve a direct voice in
their government in the capital city of Texas."

Wentworth's bill requiring single-member districts for Austin

H/T from ChangeAustin, they have asked their members to support and lobby for a bill authored by Sen Wentworth, which calls on large cities - like Austin - to have single-member districts for their city council, with an at-large elected Mayor. Here is the text of the bill. It is well worth supporting.

By: Wentworth S.B. No. 380


relating to the election of the governing body of certain
SECTION 1. Subchapter C, Chapter 26, Local Government Code,
is amended by adding Section 26.048 to read as follows:
governing body of a municipality with a population of 500,000 or
more must consist of a mayor elected at large and at least six
members elected from single-member districts. A member must reside
in the district the member represents.
(b) The municipality may provide for the staggering of the
terms of the members of the municipality's governing body.
(c) A single-member district must be compact and consist of
contiguous territory. To the extent practicable, all single-member
districts must be of equal population.
(d) This section does not prevent a municipality from having
additional members elected to the governing body from the
municipality at large.
(e) A municipality must comply with this section beginning
with the first general election of members to the municipality's
governing body that occurs after the year in which the federal
decennial census indicates that the municipality meets the
population requirements of Subsection (a).
SECTION 2. A municipality to which Section 26.048, Local
Government Code, as added by this Act, applies on the effective date
of this Act must comply with the requirements of that section
beginning with the first general election of members to the
municipality's governing body that occurs after December 31, 2011.
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2011.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

March for LIfe

I was trying to find video of the March for Life in Washington DC on Monday, but I haven’t found any that does a good job of showing the size of the crowd. I have heard estimates of 200,000 to 400,000 marchers and it took 4 hours for the marchers to get past the Supreme Court building.

One of the problems is the major networks seem to have ignored the March for Life. I did find a video on the ABC News site, and Fox News had a report also. Even the Fox News report did a poor job of show the size of the crowd and that this is not a political issue, but an issue of allowing the slaughter of innocent babies to continue in our Nation. Monday, CBS Evening News had a report about the 12,500 people killed by gunfire each year. They did not mention that 100 times as many people die each year by abortion. Over 50 million babies executed in the last 38 years.

The following is part of a letter I sent to one of the local TV news department.
I was very disappointed in your report Saturday night on the Rally for Life event in Austin. The sonogram bill is making sure women understand what happens in an abortion, makes sure a woman understands she is going to stop the heartbeat of her child. One would think Planned Parenthood would support true informed consent, but then it did seem as if their spokeswoman does not really want women to know the truth. What greater good can the government do than to help stop the killing of innocent babies?

The truth is: birth is just a change of environment for a human being, not a change to becoming a human being. The truth is: over 50 million humans have been executed in the country’s abortion facilities since Roe vs Wade was ruled on. The truth is: about 90 % of women change their mind about abortion once they see the sonogram and hear the heartbeat of their own child. It makes one wonder if a large corporation like Planned Parenthood really cares about women or if they are just afraid of losing customers and hurting their profits.

I invite news organizations to find out more about alternatives to abortion. The truth is: Pro-Life supporters do much more than just hold rallies. There are over 200 Pregnancy Resource Centers in Texas not only helping women in crisis pregnancies, but helping them with diapers, clothes, food and at some of the centers, life skills after the baby is born. These centers do not charge for their services, but continue to support moms and their children. They depend on the donations of Pro-Life supporters, as not many, if any get government funds. In my journalism classes, I was taught the job of the Fourth Estate was to seek out the truth, I hope things haven’t changed over the last 35 years.

Obama's Full Speed Ahead on High Speed Rail is Premature

President Obama in his SOTU address tonight touted High Speed Rail (HSR) as a viable means to address transportation issues. Not sure if he has read the TxDOT Restructure Council's assessment of HSR so I've made it available to him here on this blog.

Please read, Mr. President and consider that Texas is leading the nation in job creation, in large part because of our common sense and conservative leadership.
High Speed Rail in Texas: Proceed With Caution

When it comes to the development of high speed rail (HSR) in Texas, financial wariness might be the most responsible approach.

The concept of high speed rail has gathered a lot of public momentum in the U.S. in recent years, and until the recent elections, a surprising level of support in Washington as well. Recent change in control of the U.S. House of Representatives might complicate the Administration’s HSR agenda. For Texans convinced that it is the transportation idea whose time has come, a few facts might be helpful.

Without question, some European and Asian countries have developed advanced and successful HSR lines. HSR speeds clearly provide valuable travel time savings, although often at a premium cost to passengers. HSR safety records are excellent. In some cases, HSR might even free up capacity in other modes (roads and air) and improve overall transportation system efficiencies. But as intriguing as it might be, there is good reason to tread very cautiously when it comes to the financial viability of HSR in the U.S.

There are only around 50 high speed rail lines around the world today. Virtually all were developed as replacements or enhancements of existing conventional rail systems, with established, pre-existing ridership that migrated and expanded naturally from an existing service to a new and more attractive service. No such established ridership base exists in Texas.

Also, the demographic and economic conditions that support the financial viability of HSR are rare, and in the U.S. they might not yet exist. Ridership levels on successful single HSR lines in Asia and Europe ranges from 83 million passengers per year to 20 million passengers per year. In contrast, the combined ridership of all Amtrak lines throughout the U.S. was 28.7 million passengers in FY 2010; AMTRAK's Northeast Corridor connecting Washington DC, New York and Boston, which some believe represents the most viable U.S. corridor for HSR, carried just 10.4 million passengers in fiscal year 2010. Overall financial performance of HSR depends directly on whether enough people choose to pay a premium cost to choose HSR over of alternative modes; even with an existing conventional rail ridership base, HSR projects have rarely met their full ridership forecasts, and in some cases have fallen far short.

As for cost, depending on the complexity of the engineering work required, the degree of urbanization along the route and the necessary rolling stock capacity, construction and rolling stock capital costs typically range from $56 million to $112 million per mile (mileage between Houston and Dallas: 225). Also, it is not unusual for HSR projects to take over a decade to complete, creating the need for significant capital outlays before there is any cash flow. If debt is involved, delays in construction or passenger ramp-up, or shortfalls in ridership yield, can create significant financial stress. Over time most lines seem to recover operating and maintenance costs, but few fully recover the capital costs from passenger revenue alone. Governments contemplating the possible benefits of HSR, whether through public, private or public-private partnership structures, should assume a near certainty of need for continuing financial support.

It is easy to envision a future Texas in which efforts to add needed capacity to existing intercity corridors such as I-10, I-35 and I-45 are overwhelmed by prohibitive costs, lack of resources, environmental constraints and public/political resistance. At that point, supplemental capacity represented by HSR might make sense and prove even more attractive than the development of alternative highway corridors. In light of the long lead time required to plan, design and develop HSR, the immediate challenge is clearly and objectively assessing whether such a system might make sense for Texas, and if so what is the most responsible, incremental path to that future. First steps in that direction might best include analysis, planning, design and development of corridors and conventional rail strategies, from which someday an even more advanced HSR technology than exists today might emerge as a viable option for Texas.
Source: TxDOT Restructure Council Final Report

Monday, January 24, 2011

8 reasons why 2012 will not be 1996

History doesn't always repeat itself, and 2012 will not be 1996.

Mayor Calls for single-member districts for Austin City Council

Mayor Leffingwell gets it right. He is calling for a review of single-member based districts. More specifically, he wants a 9 member city council, with 6 single-member districts and 3 at-large.

I have felt for sometime that Austin is ill-served by the at-large city council. Who represents the needs of a specific neighborhood? Some members, like Mike Martinez, have been banging that drum for some time, and he's quoted as saying "Our city has outgrown its governing system."

Exactly so. We are now one of the largest cities in the nation, in the top 20. City council elections are expensive and unwieldy, and they end up getting elected by a tiny slice of the city electorate due to the small turnout. I would prefer 7 single-member districts and two at-large, but the Mayor's 6-3 district / at-large split is just a proposal.

Now, I am not a big fan of some of Mayor Leffingwell's moves, and he's a bete noir to our northwest neighborhood for giving us the shaft, literally and figuratively. The story there is this: The AWU plans a water transmission line from the water treatment plant near Lake Travis to a water tower on NcNeil and 183. Their plans have included an intrusive shaft that would impact the neighborhoods near Canyon Vista Middle school. The parks and recreation board didn't go along with the AWU request for the (ab)use of city parkland required for putting a shaft in our neighborhood, back in October, and decided to wait on further reports on environmental and safety impact. Impatiently, the city manager and council bypassed the process and rammed the approval through the city council on a 4-3 vote. Now, Save-our-Springs coalition is readying a lawsuit over this possible violation of Chapter 26 process.

One takeaway from this and other city council interactions is that for any given neighborhood, anyone and NO-ONE on city council really goes to bat for you.

Austin has indeed outgrown the at-large city council system; it's time for single-member districts.

Should Lobbyists Hold Elected Office?

The headline "Moderate Republican Brings Criticism On State Board of Education in Texas" I thought was going to be about one of the usual suspects talking trash about SBOE conservatives. Rather, the trash-talking is over new SBOE board member Thomas Ratliff, criticized for keeping his lobbyist business while on the State Board.

Ratliff claims:
Ratliff said he sees no problem with wearing two hats in Austin. He said when he calls members of the Legislature on lobbying matters he doesn't use his position on the board to get in the door faster.
He claims there is no problem, yet the Statesman notes that he already recused himself on one vote and has asked the state AG to 'look into' possible conflicts of interest. If there is no problem, why the need for these precautions? This is about as safe a combination as a chain smoker in an oil refinery. Something may combust.

Here's a better precaution. Understand that it's the self-pocket-lining business that give politics a bad rap and simply don't mix lobbying and elected office. Not only should lobbyists not be elected officials, they shouldn't even run for office. And we need a bar from former elected officials jumping into the lobbyist business pronto. Some of the recent resignations-to-lobbyist conversions have been unseemly at best. I would be all for a 2-year bar from when someone leaves office to becoming a lobbyist. And serving and lobbying at the same time? That's RIGHT OUT.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." - Matthew 6:24

Saturday, January 22, 2011

MSNBC's win for Civility

Olberman loses his MSNBC gig as the worst cable-show talking-point ranter in the world. Speculation on why he was canned: Office politics was to blame.

Replacing Olbie will be a man who has auditioned multiple times for unhinged ranting, Laurence O'Donnell, so the progressives will still get their fill of HateRighty rhetoric and sides of Palin-sneering. But with Comcast coming to run things, who knows what else will be afoot. I for one, welcome MSNBC's new Insect Overlords.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam ....

In honor of spam-comment weeding just undertaken on this blog, we present the Monty Python Spam skit. It comes complete with Japanese sub-titles, which seems more than appropriate given the unusually large number of spam comments here that were in Japanese:

... and the punchline? The latest comments on YouTube page for the Monty Python Spam skit say: "This has been flagged as spam."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Painting The Texas Map Red

Picture that tells the story of what November changed in the Texas statehouse. State Rep party affiliations by district, before November (blue=Dem, red=GOP)...

And after ...

The massive Republican win in November in the Texas statehouse that raised (with 2 additional defections since the election) the number of Republicans from 76 to 101, has reduced Democrats to their core liberal-Democratic districts in the urban counties and the border.

Texas Republicans put Voter ID Bill on Fast Track

The RPT is touting fast movement in the Texas Lege on the Voter ID, a sharp contrast to the train-wreck in the House in the last session:

On Monday, the Texas Senate is expected to meet as a Committee of the Whole to consider Senate Bill 14, legislation that would require a voter to present proof of identification when voting. Earlier this week, Governor Rick Perry declared the Voter ID legislation as an emergency item and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst immediately informed state senators that the bill will be considered next week.

All 19 Republican State Senators have signed on as co-authors to this important piece of legislation.

Bully for them. They have bills 'in the can' from the last session which will get overwhelming support and should be dealt with quickly. Get 'er done.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Republican Spending Cut Plan

Now the Republicans have their answer to the snarky question "So, you say tou want to cut spending, what will you cut?" Here are 100 programs the RSC will cut to get to $2.5 trillion in savings in 10 years. Also, "$2.3 trillion of the $2.5 trillion in savings from the Republican Study Committee's Spending Reduction Act would come from cutting non-defense discretionary spending to 2006 and freezing that spending through 2021."

Good plan. There is another good thing about it. The Texas Republicans can adopt the same concept and themselves get to the point of eliminating the shortfall ... just roll back to the 2005-2006 budget and the shortfall would be eliminated.

Some heat on the matter of light

Compact fluoresecents not the brightest bulbs, says someone who does not like those CFLs. And why not? They look funny, they sometimes make noise or otherwise misbehave, and the light sometimes can flicker or be annoyingly off-color...

The good news is that CFLs will not be bugging us for long. I predict that LED-based lighting will, within 5-10 years, be a very cost-effective replacement for all other forms of light. Here's why: LED lights last for 50,000 hours, about 8 times as long as CFLs (6,000 hours). LEDs can now get over 120 lumens/watt instead of 60 lumens/watt for CFLs and about 15 lumens/watt for old fashioned incandescents. CFLs have topped out, but LEDs have room for improvement and will get to 200 lumens/watt in the next 5 years. So a single LED light bulb that replaces the 60 watt traditional will need only 4 watts and will last as long as 50 traditional light bulbs. In about 5 years, these will cost around $4 each, and such an LED light bulb will save money over the other forms. In the meantime, LEDs will be finding plenty of uses where the longevity, low energy use, and flexibility are paramount.

ObamaCare Repeal Passes House

On the one year anniversary of Senator Scott Brown's stunning upset victory in a U.S.Senate race, and just three weeks after being sworn in, the new Republican House majority passed a bill to completely repeal ObamaCare. The vote was 245 - 189, a stinging and stunning rebuke of the House Democrats who passed this bill by the narrowest of margins just 9 month ago.

Claims that this vote are symbolic are empty claims - this is a very important vote that signals that the ObamaCare debate is far from over. The Unconstitutional Mandate cannot stand, and more than half of all states are suing to escape the mandates. Also, Doctors know the bill will harm their patients, their ability to do their jobs, and their income, in a survey 65% said it would worsen care. The taxes embedded in the bill, needed to pay for the trillions in extra spending the new Obamacare entitlements create, are job-destroying (the Democrats insisted that 'job-killing' was too graphic apparently, so the Republicans came back with a new way to say the same thing - job-destroying).

Then the inherent corruption that comes from political control of a large slice of the economy:

Gohmert, who brought a copy of the health care law with him to the event, made some jabs, accusing the administration of "crony capitalism" through the granting of health care waivers. "If you're a friend of the administration, you get a waiver, and it will cut your costs dramatically," Gohmert said. "If you're not a friend, you don't get the waiver. You won't compete with the friends of Obama. You'll go out of business. Government shouldn't have that kind of power. ... Crony capitalism has got to stop."

Obamacare is an over-reaching, unaffordable, unconstitutional mess. We desperately need to repeal this bad bill and start over.

Eric Cantor is right to insist on the Senate taking up this bill and having a vote:
“If Harry Reid is so confident that the repeal vote should die in the Senate then he should bring it up for a vote if he’s so confident he’s got the votes,” Cantor said Tuesday.
What is Senator Harry Reid afraid of, the will of the people? Reid will attempt to block a vote in the Senate, but Senator Mitch McConnell has promised a vote and he's got 47 other Republicans who can help fight to make it happen.

The Baghdad Bob's of the Democrat party can keep insisting that ObamaCare is a 'done deal', but they are wrong - Resistance is Inevitable. They say this because they have paid a stiff political price for doing something the American people rejected and they don't this
Crown jewel of socialism to be undone.

The Republicans need to not give up the fight on this. They need to continue to make the case about how and why ObamaCare is wrong for America, how is harms our economy, robs our freedom, takes away important choices, makes healthcare less - not more - affordable, and bankrupts state and Federal treasuries. And it doesn't hurt to have a debate that ends up making Democrats spout off ignorantly about the Constitution.

Here's what the Republican can and will do: Demand a Senate repeal vote; de-fund ObamaCare regulation write-ups and agencies; repeal the individual mandates; repeal the taxes in ObamaCare - the tanning salon, medical device, payroll taxes, etc.; free states who want to opt out. And on the committee front, investigate the political interference in Obamacare waivers. Rep Cantor has said Republicans would “do everything we can to delay and defund the provisions of the bill.” With $2.5 trillion in spending rollbacks coming down the pike, a lot will be 'on the table' and Obama cannot expect to get all he wants. There will also be bipartisan offers to 'fix' parts of the bill that are just egregious - like the infamous 1099 provisions. Abortion 'restrictions' that are phony and undermined the Hyde Amendment are going to get real in HR3, the no taxpayer funding for abortion act.

Eventually, Obamacare will be dismantled, and we can have confidence in that prediction because the bill and program is fundamentally flawed and unworkable. Obamacare is the biggest and most intrusive bill passed in our time and is based on the flawed controlling and corrupt mindset that believes Government action is superior to market behavior. It represents the dying gasp of socialistic thinking, thinking which has failed economy after economy in country after country.

You cannot control healthcare costs by doing things that harm cost-saving market-based actions and innovations; you cannot improve coverage by robbing $500 billion from medicare; you cannot reduce the deficit with trillions in new entitlement spending; you cannot keep our finances sound by imposing huge costs on states and on businesses and individuals.

All that is required for us to prevail in this fight is to continue to persist. This vote gives us confidence that the Republican leaders "get it" and will persist in overturning the ObamaCare monstrosity.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Travis GOP overwhelmingly passes resolution against TSA naked body scanners

Whereas the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has expressed an intention to deploy full body scanners at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) that will use millimeter-wave radiation sometime in 2011,

Whereas the TSA has not published any of the technical specifications, details on the scanners’ operation and construction, nor any other data that is necessary to conclude an independent review of the health safety of these devices,

Whereas notable authorities, including the Los Alamos Center for Nonlinear Studies have reported that millimeter-wave (also known as TeraHertz) radiation unzips DNA molecules, which causes problems with gene expression and DNA self-repair and adversely impacts human health,

Whereas nations like Israel with outstanding security records have rejected x-ray machines as ineffective and the wrong approach to preventing terrorism and as "one more obsolete technology that does not provide any more security" in the words of Israeli security expert Rafi Sela,

Whereas the Allied Pilots Association  and TSA employees  have formally objected to the use of these full body scanners,

Whereas the use of these scanners to generate and store a naked image of your body represents an unwarranted search under the 4th Amendment that violates every U.S. citizen’s right to be secure in their person,

Whereas the Austin Airport Advisory Commission unanimously passed a resolution opposing the introduction of full body scanners and  aggressive “pat downs” by TSA at ABIA,

Be it resolved that as the operating authority controlling ABIA and permitting the TSA to provide security services there, the City of Austin should take necessary steps to prevent the installation of these scanners at the airport.

John Bird-dogs worthless Chinese stocks

I found this article of local interest: Austin investor John Bird uncovered fraud in some US-listed Chinese stocks, and he went about shorting the stocks and telling others to expose the fraud. Interesting story.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting To Civility

In our 24/7 instant reaction media cycle, we often see observers draw generalizations or to jump to conclusions well before the facts are in. The recent Tuscon shooting tragedy devolved into a travesty of finger-pointing and name-calling, after many political observers on the left falsely accused those on the right of inciting the violent shooting. In the end, the perp, Jared Loughner turned out to have vaguely leftist political views (hated GW Bush), and was a drug user and mentally unstable individual who had threatened others in the past.

Now, if violence-infused rhetoric were responsible, then we would have to ask about how much these statements influenced us away from 'civility':

* “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Barack Obama in July 2008

* “I want you to argue with them and get in their face!” Barack Obama, September 2008

* “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger.” Barack Obama on banks, March 2009

* “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!” Barack Obama on ACORN Mobs, March 2010

* “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.” Barack Obama on the private sector, June 2010

* “A Republican majority in Congress would mean ‘hand-to-hand combat’ on Capitol Hill for the next two years, threatening policies Democrats have enacted to stabilize the economy.” Barack Obama, October 6, 2010

* “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” Barack Obama to Latinos, October 2010

It has been curious to see the left spout off on this and other events, exposing their own prejudices and double standards along the way, by accusing the right of doing things that the left does to a greater extent. Michelle Malkin's The Progressive Climate of Hate was a definitive retort to the bogus claims about right-wing rhetoric. The 'progressive' activists spout not just violent rhetoric, but we observe vile death threats, calls and desires to see conservatives dead, violent attacks on military recruiting stations, violence at 'immigration rights' marches, attacks by progressives on political enemies, campus assaults by progressives at conservative speakers. The list goes depressingly on and on.

In an ironic twist, one of the victims of the shooting, Eric Fuller, is himself in trouble for making death threats to a Tea Party member. Apparently, he's a liberal of the "I demand civility and I'll kill anyone who disagrees with me" form of PC police.

Did President Obama's fine speech in Tucson get us to civility? Alas, it failed to acknowledge a few key truths, leaving allegations that are unfounded 'out there'. For one, the left and the Democrats are incapable of owning up to the fact that their political rhetoric, even President Obama's himself, is as violence-tinged ("we bring a gun") as anyone on the right. Such rhetorical devices are out there. Targets on maps? Used by both sides. Slanders and slurs and demeaning personal insults degrade our politics, and yet that seems to be the 'meat' of what MSNBC serves up these days. Nobody has been subjected to such attacks more than Gov Sarah Palin. Will more attacks on Palin get us to civility? Hardly.

Getting to 'civility' starts with a recognition of a few central facts: First, the rhetorical devices that involve metaphors of violence are practiced by both sides, and both sides 'fight' for their issues; second, that neither side has a monopoly on virtue or vice; third, that those responsible for actual violence are those who engage in it, and nobody else. Most important, using these 'calls for civility' as cynical political ploys to smear your opponents is itself uncivil and wrong.

Police your own, heal thyself and look to your OWN actions first. Actions always speak louder than words. On this score, we should be not that impressed with a President calling on others to be civil, and I will be far more impressed if and when he starts taking his own advice.

We have had the most divisive leadership in Washington in a long time. Will Obama, Reid and Pelosi change their ways? Sittting down with Republicans on how to rollback and repeal part of the widely unpopular Obamacare bill, and Senator Reid actually allowing a vote in the U.S. Senate on it would be a step towards civility in DC. Recognizing that the Tea party is and should be a legitimate voice in the political arena would be a step forward. Declaring an end to the political of personal destruction would help. Actions always speak louder than words, and it is the actions - not the speeches - of our leaders that will build up or tear down our civil discourse.