Wednesday, May 18, 2011

From Fu*k Tea to Throwing Grandma off a Cliff: Meet “moralist” Progressive with an Agenda, Erica Payne



I just saw a nauseating interview with Neal Cavuto and an oh-so civilized Prog-Dem operative, Erica Payne, currently “Editor-in-Chief” of the Agenda Project. She was there, with her sugary sweet voice and ladylike demeanor, to defend her Mediscare ad, which throws granny off a cliff (cause that’s what the eeevil Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to do to the elderly, dontcha know). They  call the ad “America the Beautiful”.  Did I mention she repeatedly informed us that she created the ad in the interest of “morality”?":


With pretty boy Paul Ryan's draconian and savage cuts to Medicare in his budget proposal, we have to ask ourselves: Is America still beautiful without Medicare?

Description at YouTube: With pretty boy Paul Ryan's draconian and savage cuts to Medicare in his budget proposal, we have to ask ourselves: Is America still beautiful without Medicare?

Pretty Boy? Oh how clever! Presumably we’re meant to think of notorious gangster Pretty Boy Floyd.  Or John Edwards? But I digress.  Neal repeatedly asked her if this was the best way to begin a debate on the state of Medicare  (set to run out of money in 2024).  She kept bringing up her 96 year old grandmother to give her the requisite moral authority to speak on this issue, but never came close to answering his question. She just continued to speak in treacly tones to  Cavuto, whom she repeatedly called “Neal” like they were dear friends.  (I hope to find a video to post later….)

But there’s more! Erica Payne, who for all appearances could be a Southern Belle president of the Junior League, serving tea and cucumber sandwiches to debutantes and elegant matrons, is also responsible for a charming initiative called “fu*k Tea” (H/T Liberty Chick of Big Government who has lots more stuff on Erica at the link):


This is “progress” we’re told, “continuous improvement”. I know you’re all anxious to purchase this fabulous prog merchandise so here’s the link for ya at f*ck tea dot com. And I’m sure you don’t want to miss the ad she prepared for this “moral” project so I’ve posted that for you too. There’s a really sweet song that goes with this video. Are you ready to sing these lyrics?: F*ck You, F*ck You Very, Very Much, Cause We Hate What You do and we hate you, so F*ck you.



F*ck You, F*ck You very, very much, cause we hate what you do and we hate you, so F*ck you.


You’ll have to watch the video to get the catchy melody. I’ll be sure to put it to memory so I can belt this out the next time someone calls me a “hater”.  Although, I have to say that Erica Payne is not nearly as clever as Cee-Lo Green.  Not by a longshot.

UDATE: Here’s the Cavuto interview with sweet little Erica.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FLAP as Foreign Language Assistance Program makes Arabic studies mandatory at some Texas schools

CBS News/DFW Reports that some parents are outraged that a mandatory Arabic studies program was instituted at their school, and this occurred without advance notice or discussion. Funding for this $1.3 million program is made possible by you and me – taxpayers who fund the Department of Education’s “FLAP” program. FLAP is an acronym for Foreign Language Assistance Program.

Behold the FAQ sheet created by the Mansfield school bureaucrats:

Why Arabic?
The Arabic language is listed by the federal government as a “critical language.” This means that our country has a shortage of Arabic speakers and in order to maintain a presence in the Middle East, we need people who not only are proficient in the Arabic language, but also possess knowledge about Arabic cultures and traditions. We are given a unique opportunity to provide students the opportunity to learn Arabic so they can pursue careers in diplomacy and international business.

So far so good. No doubt Arabic speakers are in demand (although this does not mention the obvious fact that we need also them to translate jihadist websites). But then we come to this explanation, which immediately begins to take on politically-correct overtones for those of us who are alert to these insidious influences:

Why Cross Timbers?
Cross Timbers Intermediate School has the highest percentage of native Arabic speakers in the district. The cultural knowledge that our Arabic students possess will be of great assistance to the development of this program.

Since when is that a prerequisite? Is French and Spanish taught largely in districts with high proportions of native French or Spanish speakers?  And if this district already has a high percentage of native Arabic speakers, wouldn’t it make more sense to give this grant money to districts who don’t?

What does the 100 minutes per week look like?
Students will receive an average of 20 minutes per day of Arabic language and culture through social studies classes, advisory once a week and intermittently in electives such as technology applications, art and P.E. This grant provides for 100 minutes each week out of 1875 total instructional minutes. They will also have access to Arabic literature in Language Arts, as well as having opportunities for language acquisition through the use of Rosetta Stone and iPod Touches before and after school as well as during the school day.

P.E.?!  How will this work exactly? Will they discuss how Israeli tennis players can’t participate in tournaments in Dubai because of threats to their security?  Will they be taught about gender segregation at athletic facilities and gyms, common in the Arab/Islamic world?  Will the girls compare the Burkini with the bikini?  I’d be in favor of these discussions, but I suspect that the integration of Arabic into P.E. will be limited to learning how to say, on your mark, get set, go.  As for the blend of language arts and social studies, will books like Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel be among the books studied by these students?   Will they study modern day slavery in the Sudan? Will they be familiarized with the history of the Muslim Brotherhood?  The daily carnage unleashed by the so-called Religion of Peace – a religion whose cultural and political influence on the Arab world is impossible to ignore?  Will they be taught about the persecution of Christians in the Arab world? Or will they be force fed Obama’s Cairo speech?

Will every student be studying Arabic?
Every student will have the opportunity to participate in the program.

Really? How very Orwellian.  Mandatory participation is magically transformed into an “opportunity” to participate. Then we get to this odd item:

What are the benefits to participating?
This allows students to be prepared to compete globally for jobs that are not in existence yet.

You’ll forgive me if I’m stymied by this benefit.  Maybe I need an Arabic translator to understand it.  Moving on we have the usual bromides:

• This project supports the diversity within MISD.

And this unusual benefit:

• This project allows students and teachers to learn about the Arab impact on our country.

“Impact” could be a poor choice of words, what with the impact of various jets on 9/11.  Meanwhile I have to ask - Will students learn about the attitudes of, say, Egyptians toward justice as revealed by this recent Pew poll, and what impact these attitudes could have on this country among Arab immigrants?:


What assurances do Texans (and the rest of us taxpayers who fund this FLAP) have that Arab culture will be taught without whitewashing the stark differences between Arab and American cultures?   At this point I remain unconvinced, what with never ending concerns about ‘sensitivities’.   While I acknowledge that it is preferable to learn languages at the earliest possible age, I don’t see how it’s possible to teach an unbiased course in Arabic and Arabic culture which also omits the dark side of the crescent moon.  Until these questions can be satisfactorily answered, I can’t help but conclude that this sort of curriculum is better geared towards older students who are (theoretically at least) capable of a higher degree of critical thinking and objectivity and less susceptible to the manipulation of propagandists posing as “educators”.


-I was all set to hit publish when I saw  this from the Mansfield school district. The school district takes issue with reports that these courses were “mandatory”:

Recent concerns have been raised by parents concerning plans for the curriculum. We are working with parents and staff for the language curriculum development.

  • Mansfield ISD has slowed the process of implementation to get parent input for curriculum creation.
  • There are no “mandatory Arabic classes” as being falsely reported in the media.
  • As part of language acquisition and development, the early grades would have elements of Arabic language within the framework of the state-mandated curriculum.

I’m not clear at all what this latter point means, but I have an image of them learning to say the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.

-Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s blog weighs in here with his reliably incisive comments and wit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pelosi’s Capitol Hill composting program gets tossed in the dumpster

Another day, another green program fail. From Ben Pershing of WaPo:

Amid all the changes Pelosi helped institute when Democrats took over the chamber in 2007 -- including installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs and weaning the Capitol power plant off coal -- the one that might have sparked the most debate among House denizens, particularly during lunch hour, was the introduction of compostable utensils and takeout trays in House eateries. The program was designed to reduce waste, eliminating Styrofoam containers and plastic silverware that would clog landfills for eternity.

The problem, staffers from both parties have grumbled, is that the forks break, the spoons melt and the knives don't cut much more than a soft piece of bread. And the trash cans were replaced with a bewildering array of recycling bins that few have mastered.

That's not why Lungren ended the program, though. He concluded that, in addition to costing $475,000 per year, it "also increased the House's energy consumption through the use of additional electricity for the pulping process and the increased hauling distance to the composting facility." And according to the House Inspector General, the "the program has only achieved carbon reductions equivalent to removing one car from the road each year."

This is a perfect metaphor for green energy initiatives which fleece taxpayers and do real harm to the economy.  Ethanol may be the single worst example right now because of the sheer magnitude of this idiotic program, but I suspect that (in addition to growing consumer dissatisfaction with the CFL lightbulbspricey electric cars like the taxpayer subsidized Chevy Volt will also prove to be a failure with consumers.  Electricity costs are necessarily skyrocketing thanks in part to the administration’s War on Coal which potentially makes them even less attractive than their sticker price alone.  And then there are pesky issues like this:

  • First responders need to be aware that the Volt uses 360 volts and must be approached with caution. The 12 volt electrical system needs to be disabled before the EMTs can cut into the vehicle. There are also special precautions to take in case of fire.

Do these vehicles contain come with a warning label? And then there’s this:

  • A normal household outlet is 110 volt, 15 amps and can take about eight to 12 hours to recharge an electric car. The older the battery is, the longer it will take to recharge it.
  • If you want to replace the lithium-ion batteries with longer lasting (up to ten years) NiMH batteries, it will cost you about $20,000 - $30,000 but they will supposedly double the range of the car.

Equally troubling, while some junior mining operations like Molycorp are gearing up in the U.S., the bulk of rare earth minerals needed to manufacture green cars (and so many other green products!) are controlled by China. I don’t recall any mention of breaking this monopoly when Hu was feted last week at a State Dinner, but maybe I missed it.

How important are rare earth minerals? Let’s see what MIT’s Technology Review has to say:

…China now produces nearly all of the world's supply of rare earths, which are crucial for a wide range of technologies, including hard drives, solar panels, and motors for hybrid vehicles.

Rare earths are comprised of 17 elements, such as terbium, which is used to make green phosphors for flat-panel TVs, lasers, and high-efficiency fluorescent lamps. Neodymium is key to the permanent magnets used to make high-efficiency electric motors. Although well over 90 percent of the minerals are produced in China, they are found in many places around the world, and, in spite of their name, are actually abundant in the earth's crust (the name is a hold-over from a 19th-century convention). In recent years, low-cost Chinese production and environmental concerns have caused suppliers outside of China to shut down operations.

Oh well, as President Obama likes to say, “Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect”.

UPDATE (2/14):

Ed Morrissey links to an op ed in the Los Angeles Times on the end of Pelosi’s green utopia and comments:

Along with the program, the “didactic” signage, according to Charlotte Allen in the Los Angeles Times, has also disappeared.  Pelosi’s project installed all sorts of lecturing signs, assuring consumers at the cafeteria that the hamburger was “humanely raised,” and that eggs were “cage-free.”  The menu also featured “turkey escubeche,” which left eaters wondering exactly what the cafeteria served — and the prices seemed to increase along with the syllables of the menu items.

Eating has returned now to its previous purpose of feeding people rather than lecturing them on tastes and energy policy, and costs have returned to normal as well.  But the exercise did have its value.  It showed that far from looking to deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy resources, the “green” movement instead exists to lecture people not just on energy consumption but on a wide range of lifestyle choices.  It is much more efficient at distributing condescension than actual energy, and hypocrisy over tangible results.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Young Communists struggle to deal with global cooling


Despite Saturday’s subfreezing temperatures and chilling winds, several hundred demonstrators, organized by the “Defend Ohio Campaign” gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus, while Kasich spoke inside to supporters…

They chanted slogans and carried signs protesting the governor-elect’s call for repeal of the state’s collective bargaining law for public employees, his plans to raise tuition at colleges and universities, his abandonment of the 3-C (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati) passenger rail project and his proposals to privatize state prisons.

The day was so cold that the bullhorns would not function. Deb Steele from Columbus Jobs with Justice charged Kasich’s policies are “an attack on the middle class, on every Ohio family. We’re not going to sit idly by while our state gets sold to corporate interests.”

Hopefully their Red School bus tour will bring better weather. Or they might have to throw Al Gore under the bus.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Aided and Abetted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York Times targets Glenn Beck with silencer

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. – Saul Alinsky

John Hinderaker of Powerline has a very smart piece preparing us for the Tuscon Strategy: Stage Two.  It begins (emphasis mine throughout):

The Left's attempt to link the Tucson shootings to angry rhetoric (not theirs, of course) was stage one of a broader strategy--what both military men and political strategists refer to as preparing the battlefield. The movement to feign nonpartisanship at the State of the Union address by seating Republicans and Democrats together is another aspect of this stage. At the same time, the Left is moving on to stage two--an effort to cash in on battlefield preparation by attacking specific figures on the right and trying to shut down speech that the Left finds inconvenient.

At the moment, the second most-read article at the New York Times site is this one: "Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats."

Conservatives immediately recognized that the point of these slanders and the accompanying noises about civility was to intimidate political opponents into silence. Among those media outlets who behaved “shamefully”  (in Ed Morrissey’s words) at the onset was the New York Times.  As Powerline goes on to note in detail, the New York Times soldiers on again, this time targeting  Glenn Beck for censure and censorship. John Hinderaker cites these paragraphs (and ably explains in his piece how preposterous yet ominous their argument is):

Never mind that Ms. Piven's radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck's "false accusations" about Ms. Piven.

"Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response," the group wrote. ...

Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. ...

The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven's columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the "concerted campaign" against her.

One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back." (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)

That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior. ...

The Center for Constitutional Rights said it took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.

"We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment," the center said in its letter to Fox. "However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response." Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.

Another must read is New York Times Whitewashes Marxist Revolutionary Frances Fox Piven by Donald Douglas, which points to the Times’ pathetic propagandist attempts to downplay her recent contributions to civil discourse and the new tone. I almost feel sorry for The Nation. While Ms. Piven did famously write for them 45 years ago, they obscure the significance of the entry dated  December 22, 2010.  Sure The Nation was prominent in the last century, but what an insult not to recognize that they are still active agents in the simmering stew of mass uprisings.

Beyond all the above, there are some salient points that were not covered which deserve mention. First, it’s important to take note of the agenda of the Center for Constitutional Rights who are so valiantly coming to the aid of Frances Fox Piven in her battles with the evil antagonist Glenn Beck. They are judicial activists, for whom it seems no villain is too despicable to rescue.  At Discover the Networks we learn:

David Horowitz and Peter Collier, in their book Destructive Generation, state that all four CCR founders "had long histories of public support for communist causes," and that by "representing such paramilitary groups as the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Black Liberation Army," they "had attempted to justify terrorist acts and criminal violence by indicting America and its democratic allies as partners in a system of economic oppression and social injustice."

CCR characterizes itself as an organization that "uses litigation proactively to advance the law in a positive direction, to guarantee the rights of those with the fewest protections and least access to legal resources." In pursuit of these ends, CCR only defends clients whose political views it supports, among the more notable of whom have been Tom Hayden, the Black Liberation Movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, Women’s Strike for Peace, the Communist Party, the Black Panther Party, the Catonsville Nine, and the Chicago Seven (in a case handled by Kunstler and co-counsel Leonard Weinglass). The organization also took up the cause of Leonard Peltier, an American Indian rights activist who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975, a crime for which he is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

Lest one protest that this (like the ancient history of Piven’s early radical activism) is also so last century, there’s plenty of current activity of which to take note.  Like Wiki’s report about their jumping to represent Al Qaeda terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki. Indeed, so disturbing is their latest venture into “social justice” one of their own board members sounded alarms:

On November 15, 2010, Karima Bennoune, a member of the board of trustees of CCR as well as an international law professor and human rights lawyer of Muslim heritage, criticized CCR's decision to represent pro bono the interests of al-Awlaki in the lawsuit.

While referring to the U.S. policy as a violation of international law, and saying she opposed it, she noted that al-Awlaki himself is calling for assassinations as he is at large. Of the belief that it is wrong to defend the principle that assassinations are wrong "by standing silently next to an advocate of assassinations", she urged CCR to find other ways to challenge the policy without associating with al-Awlaki.[7] The director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was approached by the CCR for advice on al-Awlaki, said:

I have considerable respect for CCR. But in this case they have made a serious error of ethical judgment. Does a highly respected organisation, founded in the midst of historic struggles for civil rights and racial justice, now wish to be perceived by some as al-Qaida's legal team? Can you fight extra-judicial assassinations by standing alongside someone who advocates extra-judicial assassinations?

Next, If the meme that we should dismiss what Beck presents because this all happened  “45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler” so why are we talking about it?’ sounds familiar, you’re right. A nearly identical argument was used to excuse the fact that Barack Obama served on numerous boards with notorious domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, and even launched his first political campaign chez lui.  Recall this talking point from his “Fight the Smears” campaign website:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

To be clear, no one ever accused Obama as being an accessory to their crimes; sensible questions were asked about the company he kept.  But this “he was only a child” argument ignored the fact that while Barack was at Columbia University (1981-1983) the war on America was not yet over for some in the Weather Underground, particularly for Cathy Boudin (whose child Ayers and Dorhn adopted). It must have been hard not to notice the headlines when a Brinks driver was assassinated for their cause in Rockland County, NY.  Anyone with the most elementary dot connecting skills would have to conclude that it’s absurd  to believe that Obama struck up a friendship with Ayers (and Dorhn) but knew nothing about their violent history, or events which followed decades later. 

The Times is not alone in promoting the propagandist’s take that it happened 45 years ago so why all the fuss? Mediaite helpfully chimes in here:

CUNY sociology professor Frances Fox Piven has found herself in the midst of a political crossfire for a work she published 45 years ago. Piven, along with husband Richard Cloward published a work in the 1960s that now forms the crux of the attacks on the Obama administration from The Glenn Beck Program, and now Piven is speaking out against Glenn Beck and Fox News for death threats she has received via email since becoming a major character in Beck’s narrative.

Again, her recent pot stirring at The Nation is ignored.

Be sure to read Powerline and Donald Douglas in full. It’s important to be reminded  not only of Ms. Piven’s history but also of the violent riots in Greece and the U.K. (videos at the link) which Ms. Piven so cavalierly suggests the unemployed here in the U.S. should emulate.

And be on the alert for advances in the Tuscon Strategy, Stage Two.  It’s not going to be in the least bit civil.


-I missed this blatantly false statement from the New York Times:

Mr. Beck generally does not have guests on his hourlong Fox program, and Ms. Piven has not been invited to defend herself on the program. Neither Mr. Beck nor any of his producers have ever contacted her, she said.

Anyone who actually watches Glenn’s program would know that he frequently has guests on his show, and as such this is a really stupid unforced error on their part. That being said, I have no way of knowing whether Beck’s producers extended an invitation to Ms. Piven to “defend herself”.  I do know that Beck issued invites to George Soros in the past.

- Must read from Stanley Kurtz: Frances Fox Piven’s Violent Agenda. A snippet:

It is extraordinary that conservatives should be charged with stirring up violence at a moment when Piven, in an editorial in The Nation, has called for an American movement of “strikes and riots” on the model of the one recently seen in Greece. The anonymous threats against Piven are reprehensible. I condemn them in the strongest terms. Yet it is not conservatives but Piven and The Nation who advocate violence. Neither Piven nor The Nation should be forcibly silenced, but they certainly ought to be criticized. Instead, The Nation is leading the effort to silence those who have rightly condemned Piven’s call for rioting in America.

-James Taranto weighs in. This made me laugh:

In a Saturday news story, the New York Times reported that "her name has become a kind of shorthand for 'enemy' on Mr. Beck's Fox News Channel program."

A three-part, 15-letter, five-syllable name is "shorthand" for a five-letter word? As we shall see, that isn't the only thing the Times got backward about this story.

And Taranto wisely observes:

She did, however, cross a moral line. In the past few weeks we've heard a lot, especially from the Times, about the dangers of violent rhetoric. Most examples of such "rhetoric" consist of innocuous metaphors: a political action committee's map of districts whose congressmen are targeted for defeat, or a representative's urging her constituents to be "armed" with information. Piven's statement that "protesters need targets," taken on its own, would fall into this category. But her endorsement of European-style riots constitutes actual violent rhetoric.

The Times, however, inverts the story. In the paper's telling, Piven, the advocate of violence, is the victim; Beck, her critic, is the villain. The headline reads: "Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats."

-Beck responds here. More on CCR here from NGO monitor. Their summary conclusion:

Despite CCR’s claimed commitment to strengthening international human rights, a review of the NGO’s work suggests otherwise. Although there are certain areas in which CCR has followed its mandate, the disproportionate criticism of Israel and disregard for the context of terror severely detracts from the organization’s integrity. It is particularly disturbing that for an organization committed to legal frameworks and protecting human rights, in the case of Israel, CCR consistently applies double standards, ignoring the abuses committed against Israeli civilians.  By doing so, CCR promotes injustice, undermines international law, contributes to a culture of impunity by groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and advances the demonization of Israel.

Rah Rah!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How church groups jumped the gun after the Tucson, Arizona shootings

By now we are all familiar with how various media and political figures (including the Sheriff of Pima County) used the murderous acts of one Jared Lee Loughner to slander everyone from Sarah Palin, to the Tea Party, to broad swaths of conservatives and the “right-wing”. Implicit in these slanders was that we were accessories to mass murder; that our political discourse created a ‘climate of hate’ which incited Loughner to act, targeting Rep. Gabriel Giffords in particular.   Less discussed has been how some church groups raced to assign blame, jumping the gun  with nary a fact in hand (Lest there be any doubt: I use that phrase intentionally to illustrate how silly it is to try to censor political speech in the name of civility).
Let’s start with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), who describe their mission this way:
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.
Here’s a portion of the AFSC response to the Arizona shootings:
Today’s strident political atmosphere escalates tension and helps to set the stage for incidents like this one. Our world is increasingly swept up in a tide of intolerance. We are all too accepting when political and spiritual leaders use rhetoric that demonizes those with different beliefs; when those who should call us to higher purpose, instead, contribute to an atmosphere that provokes the most vulnerable, disturbed among us to acts of vandalism, violence, and assassination. We all must take responsibility for correcting a political climate that has become so polarized and vitriolic.
They then proceed to do exactly what they warn against, namely “demonize those with different beliefs” thus adding to the “polarized” and “vitriolic” political climate they claim to decry:
It is not an accident that this tragic shooting took place in Arizona, where punitive laws and anti-immigrant scapegoating have only resulted in misunderstanding and divisiveness in our borderlands. These laws have brought us no closer to creating humane, workable policies that respect the rights and needs of those living on either side of the border. This is one of many examples that show how our nation’s political conversation is counterproductive to developing solutions that address our society’s fundamental needs.
So there you have it!  Without a single fact in their possession to determine Jared Loughner’s motives, the AFSC deduced that these shootings occurred because of “anti-immigrant scapegoating”.  AFSC goes on to say:
The American Friends Service Committee urges our elected officials, spiritual leaders and community leaders to commit now to act with civility and common purpose to heal our society. Real healing goes beyond civil words and tamped-down rhetoric and looks to the root causes of violence in our society, the conditions of inequality and injustice.  A political culture devoted to honestly and reasonably addressing those conditions would be a healthier one for all of us.
We call on national, state, and local leaders to respond with compassion to the needs and aspirations of those who have been disenfranchised by the political system and excluded from the economic recovery. This is a time to fulfill the promise of “justice for all.” This is a time for leadership towards “a more perfect union.”
Really? Was Jared Loughner “ living in conditions of inequality and injustice” , “disenfranchised from our political system” and “excluded from economic recovery”?   I look forward to hearing his lawyers use this defense at trial.   Okay, he might have been “excluded from economic recovery” (i.e. without a job) but even if one were to stipulate that that were true, to what extent was that a motive for his mad acts?  Should we live in fear of all the unemployed now?

Ironically, the legislative organ of the Quakers, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) was somewhat more circumspect in their assessment  and they make some sensible statements about mental illness. (The fact that the Quakers have a lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. makes it appear that they are more of a political than a religious organization, but I digress). Alas, included in the common sense is another attack on “metaphors”:
The shooting rampage appears to have been the act of a single disturbed person. His actions take place, however, in a culture where violence and demonization of those with whom we disagree appear to prevail. When violent metaphors permeate our society's discourse, we risk making violence more acceptable. Verbal violence, even if used without ill intent, may sow the seeds of hate and physical violence.
The shooting rampage in Tucson may point to the woeful state of mental health care across the United States. News reports indicate that many people were concerned that Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old charged in this attack, was mentally unstable and that he might become violent. Mental illness does not justify or excuse this heinous crime, but it may help us to understand why the congresswoman was attacked. We wonder whether proper treatment could have prevented the attack.
Moving on, we have the National Council of Churches:
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.
Here is their response to the Arizona shooting (where they presume to speak for 45 million people):
"It's hard to assess the tragedy in any way that makes sense," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. "Clearly the overheated political climate in this country is provocative and unhealthy. The constant use of guns and ammo metaphors in political rhetoric may lead an unbalanced person to think it's okay to bring guns to public meetings."
The Rev. should have stopped at “It’s hard to assess the tragedy in any way that makes sense” instead of drawing foolish, nonsensical conclusions which first blames “metaphors” and proceeds to assert that Loughner must not have known that it’s not okay to bring guns to a public meeting (as if that were the extent of the crime).  I’m actually a bit surprised Kinnamon didn’t go on to say we need to spend gazillions of dollars on education for the “unbalanced” so they would know what the guidelines are, and not make an error in etiquette. 

Eventually  Kinnamon blames the NRA and implies that they are an Ungodly organization:
The NRA "is known across the country as the best place to go to learn how to use guns safely for hunting and sport," Kinnamon said. "It's hard to understand how a rational safety program can coexist with lobbying for the right of people to own semi-automatic concealed weapons that can carry more than 30 rounds in a clip. It doesn't make sense, nor is it consistent with the gospel."
I’m not a Biblical Scholar, so I have to ask:  Is there anything in the gospel which specifies exactly how many rounds one may carry in a clip?  How about references to semi-automatic unconcealed weapons? 
The NCC goes on to provide reactions from members of America’s religious hierarchy, some more restrained and thoughtful than others.  Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas (Catholic) was in Jerusalem at the time and we learn:
After news of the shooting broke, Kicanas said Catholics in Jericho asked how to prevent further brutality. "I wish I knew the answer," the bishop said.
"But as the world continues to seek an answer to that question, we can, each in our own way, strive to respect others, speak with civility, try to understand one another and to find healthy ways to resolve our conflicts."
Fine. But this presumes that the perpetrator is sane and capable of responding to conflict resolution.

A brief, welcome note of sanity:
Religious leaders across the country offered similar sentiments on Monday, balancing lamentations about the dire state of political dialogue in the U.S. with cautions that Loughner's motives remain murky.
After that respite we’re soon back to making stuff up:
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said a lack of respect for human dignity -- political opponents included -- underlies society's incivility problem. "It's a failure to understand, from the perspective of the Abrahamic faiths, that we are all made in God's image," Gutow said. "There is a real problem in our society when things like that happen."
It’s a problem of “incivility”; no mention of the possibility that this could be the result of “insanity”. Another Rabbi speaks, and begins by blaming  a “culture of violence” in “political discourse”:
Even though the accused shooter's intentions are unknown, Americans cannot ignore the country's increasing culture of violence, particularly in political discourse, said Rabbi David Saperstein, whose Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has worked closely with Giffords.
I see scant evidence that political discourse itself is violent.  Innocent people are mowed down everyday in criminal acts that have nothing at all to do with politics (say, in the course of committing a robbery, because of gang wars, and so forth) while political assassinations are very rare, and few of those politicians who are assassinated are the victims of sane people motivated exclusively by political differences. 

Finally!  The issue of the “mentally ill” comes up but that gets lumped in with the “ideologically extreme”.  Who gets to define “extreme”?  Liberal members of the church establishment? Is it not fair to say that one man’s mainstream conservative is an other man’s “extremist? :
"Dehumanizing language and images of violence are regularly used to express differences of opinion on political issues," Saperstein said. "Such language is too often heard by others, including those who may be mentally ill or ideologically extreme, to justify the actual use of violence."
Sheesh. Unless people are talking to themselves, language is usually heard by others.  Buehler? As for evidence to back up claims about the ‘regular use’ of violent images in political discourse, very few examples of images have been unearthed. To whit, we have Palin’s “crosshairs”; a DLC map with bull's-eyes targeting districts Circa Bush era, and a few other innocuous examples (and of course it’s preposterous to claim these examples “justify the use of violence”).   Other than commonly accepted phrases like “battleground states” (which few would categorize as “dehumanizing”), I’m at a loss .  Perhaps Rabbi Saperstein is referring to language used in private homes and not in the public square?  Do people whip out maps with bulls-eyes on them while sitting around the dinner table, thereby inciting family members and friends to go out and shoot innocents? I think not.

Finally we come to a statement which I cannot find fault with!:
"While we as bishops are also concerned about the wider implications of the Tucson incident, we caution against drawing any hasty conclusions about the motives of the assailant until we know more from law enforcement authorities," said New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Alas, next we then get hints about conservatives being culpable:
Giffords, a member of a Reform Jewish congregation in Tucson, is a moderate Democrat who supported the health care reform bill and opposed Arizona's new illegal immigration law, both stances that drew heat from conservatives.
But then this analysis has a refreshing moment of clarity:
It is unclear, though, whether Loughner was motivated by partisan politics. In a video posted on YouTube, the 22-year-old rails against government conspiracies to brainwash Americans through grammar and rants nonsensically about currency. Loughner's former philosophy professor described him to Slate magazine as "someone whose brains were scrambled."
Sadly, in the end they return to the same finger-pointing meme:
A number of religious scholars and leaders urged politicians to weigh their words carefully and recognize the potential consequences of using violent imagery. "No one questions the power of well-chosen words and images to sell automobiles or beer or pharmaceuticals," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a good-government group based in Washington, and former general secretary of the NCC.  "Surely we should acknowledge that when poorly chosen they can provoke despicable acts like those we've now witnessed in Tucson."
Surely Judeo-Christian groups who are grounded in Biblical principles should lead by example, hold their fire, and wait for the facts to come out before rushing to judgment.  Surely those whose cause is “justice” should not unjustly allege others are essentially complicit in the slaughter of innocents.  Surely those whose cause is “peace” should not make statements which divide us and disturb our domestic tranquility.  Surely churches should not isolate their own congregants who have principled differences (on, say, immigration reform) and scapegoat them for their political positions.  Surely this is not what the gospel teaches.