Thursday, September 08, 2011

GOP Debate

Just some quick thoughts after the GOP Debate last night. This is the point of the campaign that some horses will pull away from the pack, and others will fall out of the race. And after last night, it's become clear to me who the top two candidates for the Republican nomination will be.

Michele Bachmann brought nothing but the word "Obama" and hatred for his policies. And that's fine, but people want solutions not just blame. Besides, she's wrong. I'm anti-Obamacare, but it's ludicrous to blame it for the economic crisis we're in since said crisis began well before Obama was elected.

Bachmann is a polarizing figure that had rallied extreme conservatives, and became a nice joke for the Left. For a few weeks, she was Jon Stewart's 2nd favorite person in the world (behind himself, of course) She's a clown though. She makes Katherine Harris seem well-balanced, and Sarah Palin seem well-read.

Ron Paul is a psycho. How can you want the private sector to run the FDA or FAA? How can you be against the existence of FEMA and blame the victims of natural disasters by saying that they "build where they shouldn't be building." Tell that to the people of Vermont who are currently dealing with hurricane induced flooding. What morons those Vermonters. Don't they know that it's Hurricane Alley up there?

Newt Gingrich is nothing more than an embedded Fox News pundit, covering the campaign from within. Even the questions he was asked were about the campaign itself, and not about what Newt would do if he were President.

Rick Santorum was personable, but not exciting. He's honest and nice. As Chris Matthews said, Santorum doesn't "play games." And we all know that the nice guy who doesn't play games is the guy that goes home alone on Saturday night.

Jon Huntsman tried to be worldly, and I'll give him credit for being the most aggressive candidate that also retained dignity. He tried to emphasize his relatively small amount of economic experience. Unfortunately, this is just the wrong campaign at the wrong time for Huntsman.

Herman Cain was my personal favorite. He was like Steve Forbes, only instead of being creepy, he was charismatic, incisive, and concise. You could tell that he's been the CEO of a large company. He was like a PowerPoint presentation. He had clear plans to fix problems, and wasn't just spitting rhetoric. Unfortunately, he's not a politician. He can conceive great, sweeping ideas like his 9-9-9 plan, but I don't think he'd have the political savvy to get them passed and implemented, let alone get elected in the first place.

The Presidency is not like being a CEO. CEOs need direction, drive, and decisiveness. President's need to be able to compromise and convince. I don't think Cain will make it that far. But I kind of wish he would.

Then there's the top two: Romney and Perry. One of these guys will be running for President in 2012. The other will be running for Vice President. Texas and Massachusetts together again, like in 1960.

Rick Perry was the target of the debate. He was the only one who seemed to be getting criticized by the moderators more than by his fellow candidates. He was attacked on health insurance coverage in Texas, education, his book, minimum wage jobs, HPV vaccinations, Social Security. It was relentless.

Perry is correct. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. But it's stupid to say so in a political campaign. That being said, Perry has the strongest personality among these candidates. If George W. Bush was the candidate that John Q. Voter wanted to have a beer with, Rick Perry is the candidate I'd want to have with me if we were trapped in the desert, or the Arctic. I'd also like to go drinking with him.

Mitt Romney is more electable in a general election. Rick Perry is more likely to energize and appeal to Conservatives. I think it's clear that the Right is excited about Rick Perry. Their hearts may be behind Rick, but their brains are with Mitt. At least they should be.

One thing I find ironic is that this party has 8+ candidates, and doesn't seem to have a single, clear leader, yet the GOP seem much more unified than the Democrats. The Democrats don't have that single-voice, they don't all stand together and yell at the moderator of a debate. Hell, Obama doesn't even speak with a single-voice.

These Republicans are all for reduced spending, reduced taxation, an end to Obamacare, the securing of our border. This debate was not a rabble of screaming voices. How often did one candidate interrupt another? How much more often did they interrupt the moderators? How many times did individual candidates point out how unified they all were as a group?

The Left will focus on Rick Perry being "anti-science," on him calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, and nobody in the political Center of the country will care about either issue next November. It's about jobs. It's about the economy. People without jobs want jobs. People with jobs want better jobs. People with good jobs want their kids to get jobs so they move out of their house.

Yet watching MSNBC's post-debate analysis, they focused on how Rick Perry described Social Security. Even going so far as to call it the "key moment" of the debate. Probably because it's their best opportunity to criticize Perry. Then they went on to criticize Ronald Reagan's tax policies, because that's somehow relevant?

In the end, though, America will elect the candidate who they feel will do the best job at getting them jobs. Romney seems to have the brains, Perry seems to engender the confidence. If they could harness and balance those abilities as a team, they'll be a strong challenge to Obama in 2012.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Obama's Afghanistan

On the 6th of August, 30 Americans fighting in Afghanistan died when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents. 17 of them were Navy SEALs. 5 were Navy specialists attached to the SEALs. 3 were Air Force forward air controllers. 5 were the Army crew that flew the helicopter. 8 Afghans (7 soldiers and 1 civilian interpreter) were also killed.

Why? For what purpose? These men trained for years to be the best at what they do. Why were their talents being utilized in eastern Afghanistan? All their hard work, all the expertise of the helicopter crew and the Air Force controllers, all the dedication of the SEALs. It was all blown apart by a rocket propelled grenade. And for what?

These men had meaning, they had purpose. But their lives were lost in an endeavor that no longer has meaning, that has an impossible purpose, and which will soon be abandoned in a gradual withdrawal process. It's been 10 years of toil and death in Afghanistan. We destroyed the Taliban, tried propping up a corrupt government in its place, and allowed the Taliban to be born again.

Who's winning this war? We're certainly not winning. It's hard to say if the Taliban is or isn't. Frankly, it's turned into an Afghan civil war, and it needs to be fought and won/lost by Afghans.

Who's losing? The people doing the dying. The SEALs, the Marines, the Soldiers, the Airmen, they are the ones losing. Obama said that the Chinook crash is a reminder of the "extraordinary sacrifices" of our servicemen. Sacrifices to what end?

It's time to leave Afghanistan. Right fucking now. No gradual withdrawing one unit at a time. Everyone out.

It's hard to blame Obama for a 10 year war, especially since he's only been President for a little over 2 of those years. I can't blame him for strategic failures by Generals, for subpar equipment from the Pentagon's "procurement" people. I can't blame him for some insurgent's lucky shot with an RPG. But I can blame him for our continued presence in this war. I can blame him for being too politically savvy. I can blame him for trying to please and appease everyone at all times.

Obama's policies and philosophy in Afghanistan is a perfect example as to how he's conducted himself as President. He's been bending over backwards to compromise with the very vocal Conservatives, who have in turn been bending him over the barrel. He wants to be everyone's President, not just the Left's. That's commendable, in theory. It's disastrous in practice. And this desire to be loved by all, hated by none, has led to even his base to start criticizing him.

Last summer, Obama announced a surge of troops in Afghanistan. But he also effectively declared an unofficial deadline for operations there to be successful. If not, US troops would be pulled out. It apparently appeased everyone. The Cable News Generals on the Right, and the neo-hippie Lennonite pacifists on the Left. We'd have war for a year, then peace. Even I applauded Obama's shrewdness for putting himself in a seemingly no-lose situation.

But that's been the theme of his Presidency. Compromise, and trying to avoid losing. And it hasn't worked. It hasn't worked in Afghanistan, where Americans are dying because their timetables for withdrawal haven't been finalized on Microsoft Excel. It hasn't worked with the Stimulus Plan, which was compromised down in size thus preventing it from being effective (I don't think it would have been that effective anyway, but it never had a chance once it was reduced). It hasn't worked on taxing the rich and easing taxes on the middle-class. It hasn't worked to create jobs, or reform healthcare, or save the environment, et cetera.

Say what you will about George W. Bush, but when he believed in something, he tried to get it done until he was physically stopped. He stuck to his principles. He bullied Congress to get what he wanted. And now, the Right is bullying Obama for what they want. Even with control of the Senate, Obama is too unwilling to make enemies. A Democratic President, a Democratic Senate, and the Republicans are dictating terms. You can't make compromises with uncompromising people. See: Munich, 1938.

I don't know what Obama's core principles were or are concerning Afghanistan. I know he's compromised his own principles so many times in so many political dogfights that it's hard to call them principles anymore. Principles are strong, and only abandoned as an extreme measure. Obama has platforms and beliefs, not principles.

He's very skilled at not revealing how he truly feels about certain issues. I still have no idea if he smokes cigarettes or not. He's very smooth, very political, and that might be simultaneously his greatest strength and most unfortunate weakness.

Whatever Obama's principles are in Afghanistan, it's time to leave. The argument that a speedy exit would leave that country in chaos suggests that it isn't already a tattered mess over there. The argument that it wouldn't be a dignified exit for our troops makes the absurd suggestion that politicians can do anything to take away dignity from the men and women of our military. Politicians can't steal a Soldier's dignity, only their life.

It is time for that theft of life to stop.

Photo: Reuters

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Been Laden

"We got him." We. That 3rd person plural pronoun that encapsulates 300 million people with two letters. We're typically a we only when something tragic occurs.

In this War on Terror, there are no enemy Divisions to annihilate, no capital cities to take. There's no ground to gain, no head of state to surrender, or kill themselves in a bunker. There are no sunken battleships, no captured tanks, no trophies. Only casualties and confusion.

Until May 1st, 2011.

The War on Terror is not over. Just ask the various agencies now on high alert for a terrorist response. This War will never truly end in the way past wars have ended. There are plenty of terrorist sheep and shepherds from Libya to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Chechnya. They all hate us even more now. We've killed one of their idols. They'll try to destroy us even without Bin Laden.

But Bin Laden was important, in sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy kind of way. He was important because we felt he was important. And because his followers felt he was important. He was the charismatic leader of legions of would-be murderers. He was a spokesman, a PR guy, a recruitment tool. He was a standard to rally around. The anti-Uncle Sam, personified. And maybe our enemies won't have as much focus and direction now that he's been erased.

The closest thing I'd compare Bin Laden to, ironically, is an 11th century Crusader. He was one of the Saudi Arabian aristocracy that applied his material wealth to a fanatic cause instead of simply living a life of lavish extravagance. He wanted to wipe out all threats to his beliefs and wanted to forcibly change the world. He was very much like a Norman nobleman, spending his vast fortune on a quest to "save" the Holy Land through violence. He has more in common with the Crusading infidels than with the likes of anti-Crusade Islamic leaders such as Saladin.

And now he's dead. And it was the much maligned US intelligence community that incited his death. The same intelligence apparatus that failed to warn us of 9/11, that failed to find Bin Laden for 10 years, and that was duped into believing Iraq had WMDs.

It was human intelligence, partially gathered from Guantanimo Bay, which Obama had once wanted to shut down. It was a military operation executed to perfection. No US casualties. No civilian casualties. One body recovered, in near mint condition.

A cruise missile or drone strike might have yielded the same ultimate result, but without the tactile, visible proof of a corpse.

It was a ballsy attack. Obama certainly deserves a great deal of credit for having the stones to give the order. Everyone from he to the CIA to the planners of the operation to the guys who carried it out to the people who knew about it and kept their mouths shut. They all deserve credit.

The circumstances around Osama's hiding spot are beyond sketchy. While top levels of Pakistan's government profess to be "with us" in this War on Terror, it's difficult to fully believe that. Bin Laden moves into a neighborhood of Pakistani Generals, in the biggest house for miles, and nobody knows he's there? Come on.

I don't know everyone who lives in my neighborhood, and generally we all keep to ourselves, but I do know that Ernie Boch Jr. lives in the biggest house in the area. Everyone knows that. Just like before he lived there, a weird commune/cult of 20 people occupied the house, and before that there was a rich old lady. Everyone knows when someone moves into the biggest house on the block.

"If you're not with us, you're against us."

GW Bush got criticized for that polarizing statement. But it has a breath of truth to it. We can see by the various reactions around the world, who is with us, and who is against us. It's difficult to classify Pakistan as being "with us." Then again, they've registered no official complaint about violating sovereign territory of theirs. So who knows. I think they're split as to which side to be on.

But they're in the wrong geographic spot at the wrong moment in history to be split.

There's a long, long way to go. The War on Terror won't be won with Divisional level ground operations like those in Iraq or Afghanistan. Those can topple governments that support Terror, but installing new ones is next to impossible, and a needless waste of life and material.

Even house-to-house operations, road blocks, checkpoints, and border patrols are too cumbersome, too ineffective, and too easily circumvented.

More operations like this one are needed. War Party Tactics, I call them. Like the Pequots of 1635, or the Wampanoags of 1675, or the Apaches of the 1800s. Small, ultra-mobile bands of elite warriors, on short-term missions against small but highly valuable targets. Imagine if Geronimo had helicopters, machine guns, grenades, and an effective intelligence apparatus.

Think about it. After 10 years in Afghanistan, after nearly 1,500 US deaths, 2,400 coalition deaths, over 7,500 Afghan Security Force deaths, and tens of thousands of civilian deaths; it was a 40 minute, 0 casualty, 0 collateral damage operation that was the biggest victory of this War since the Taliban was ousted.

The lesson here is that human intelligence is integral. The US intelligence community can't just sift through millions of e-mails and phone calls, hoping to harvest a crop of valuable facts. There needs to be real, actionable information. Texture to add depth and dimension to the data.

And the US military needs to focus its monstrous power on supporting smaller but intensely focused, laser-like operations. No need for Shock and Awe. No need for entire Divisions of infantry to be deployed against villages and huts.

As we incorporate the sharp, bittersweet joy of Osama's death into our lives, and it seems to fade away, we'll start to politicize these events. Already, pundits are looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential campaign, giving Obama a huge edge because of this. And they're right. Although, the biggest GOP threats to him were Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, which might be threatening if Obama were trying to launch a reality TV show, as opposed to winning an election.

There are already judgmental uberpacifists whining about their fellow citizens celebrating the death of a mass murderer. And while I understand why many feel uncomfortable about enjoying death, it's my right to enjoy his demise. After all, we didn't kill Osama because he was Muslim. We didn't kill him because he hated us. We killed him because he killed our fellow citizens. He made us live with fear. He would have killed more of us if he had the chance.

People like Kai Wright are moaning that The Ability to Kill Bin Laden Does Not Make America Great. I'm seeing Martin Luther King Jr. quotes everywhere. "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars." Edmund Burke perfectly expressed my responding thought to that:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

While even the most ardent of the uberpacifists agrees that Bin Laden should be dead, they still don't understand why the rest of us are celebrating death. I for one am not celebrating out of hatred. I'm celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I think that such a triumph is worth a few frathouse antics in front of the White House, a toast of beer to our troops, I'm even praising Barack Obama.

Evil did not triumph on May 1st, 2011. And I'm happy.

I'm only 26 years old. 9/11 was one of the defining moments of my youth. I was sitting in high school physics class when it happened. I had a free period after and went to a study center to listen to the news on the radio. Hearing descriptions like "the tower just collapsed," and being unable to conjure such a surreal image in my brain.

The whole country changed that day. There was a sense of vulnerability we all realized. We're still vulnerable. But we're also a bit prouder today. It was painful to think that somebody could assault us with impunity. So while the War wages on, while we still take off our shoes at the airport, at least that pain of seeing Osama get away with murder can now dissipate.

May 1st was a great day for Americans, and a great day for America.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Obama

It's funny how much hype leads up to the State of the Union, then how much discussion shortly follows, then how little we'll remember it in a month. It's not known for rousing oratory, or startling surprises. It's so routine that there's a countless variety of drinking games one can play while watching.

We need to revive the economy. "We do big things." That's a good summary of the speech. We do big things and put them down. We do big things and put them down.

Obama started with the need to improve education. Which I completely agree with. At all levels, our country's education is not competitive. And any quality education costs money, whether it's a private middle school, or a top-flight grad school. So in other words, it's not necessarily the best and brightest students who enjoy the benefits of the best education, its the most affluent ones.

Then Obama loses me, when he starts talking about China building solar energy facilities, and how we need to catch up. Is that why China's economy is growing, and ours isn't? Because of solar technology? I don't think so.

While I love the idea of rebuilding our educational system, emphasizing math and science (and basic writing, just read the comments on any YouTube video), and investing in new technologies, why does it always have to be "clean energy?" Is that the ultimate goal of technology? The pinnacle of mankind's achievements? Solar panels?

I think renewable and sustainable energy is a nice idea, but why don't we invest in education and technology, then let the next generation of smart people tell us what the new big thing is going to be. I can't imagine that in a history book 50 years from now, there'll be a sentence that reads "America's economy was saved by wind turbines."

And here's a hint, Liberals: If you want to sell the country on "clean energy," call it something else. CHEAP ENERGY. That gets the consumer excited. It's amazing how environmentally conscientious people will become when it affects the green in their wallets.

Getting back to education, Obama made some excellent points about how non-affordable it is. And Government can help that. I'd rather the Government give out grants (not loans) so students can go to the school of their choice (not just go to a college, but go to the college they choose), regardless of their economic status. There's responsibility and accountability in a program like that. If grades aren't up to snuff, then goodbye. I'd rather give Government money out in that fashion than via standardized entitlement checks.

But there's also a social and cultural problem undermining the quality of our education. College is for partying and passing. "C's get degrees." The people who have the opportunity to go to school take it for granted. Because there are no apparent consequences for failure. They've been brought up in a spoon-fed, coddled, everything-will-be-alright society. And this attitude needs to change. There's not much Government or Politicians can do about it. It's something that individuals need to do on their own. And I think a lot of people my age (mid-20's) are realizing that life is harder than school.

Most of this speech was recycled from previous remarks. Obama thinks that it's 1933 and that the country can be saved by The New Deal. He calls it "investing in infrastructure." But it can also be called "spending on roads."

While our highways and bridges are in dire need of repair, they should be fixed because they're broken, not because the economy is broken. All these projects don't do much to add jobs, and do little to help the economy. They help construction workers, and the contractors that employ them. That's about it.

Obama promised to "pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians." Which is a very smooth, slick thing to say. What does "best for the economy" mean, though? Those construction workers expanding Route 128 might have one idea of what's best for the economy, and I might have another.

Politicians, even if acting under completely noble ideals, cannot "pick" what's best for an economy. The economy has to pick what's best for itself. It's called the free market. The idea of Politicians selecting who gets what, even with the best of intentions, curdles my blood.

Obama is against the tax-cuts given to the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Well, I'd rather that they pay taxes as opposed to me. But ultimately, I'd rather that neither of us have to pay much at all. Because when that wealthy person has more pocket money, they might invest in promoting a concert at Gillette Stadium, and I might get 10 hours of security work because of that. Or at the very least, they might buy a ticket to an existing concert, and part of that money eventually finds its way to me.

One thing's for sure, I trust that rich person to do something economically beneficial with that money more than I'd trust the Government.

Then there's healthcare. What Obama said about that, ironically, made me sick. "Let's fix what needs fixing and let's move forward." That's unimaginably arrogant and dismissive. There's a reason why Nancy Pelosi isn't sitting behind his left shoulder anymore. Many in this country rallied against Obama's healthcare reform. But I guess we should just move on. What's done is done. After all, it's not as if our Constitution allows for the repeal of undesirable laws.

Obama has seemed to respond to the voices calling for a reduction in government spending. But he and the Liberals will resist every cut. And Politicians from both sides will protect pet projects from their home states. They'll lobby for reduced military spending, except when it affects the Air Force base within their borders.

"I'm willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without."

That phrase is an exquisite example of beautifully crafted rhetoric. Persuasion by Agreement. Obama has millions of voices screaming at him to cut the budget. So he agrees with them. But adds the caveat of "whatever we can honestly afford to do without." He wisely omits that it will be he and his Administration that decides what "we" can afford to cut.

It should be against the law for politicians to use the word "honestly."

And I loved his analogy to lightening an airplane by removing one of its engines. Well if the thing is too heavy to sustain flight, what's the point of having 4 engines or 0 engines? Maybe it needs a complete overhaul. Maybe it needs more things removed than "we can honestly afford to do without." Maybe we need a new plane.

We certainly need a new pilot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's Happening After What Happened in Arizona

99.99% of the reaction to the events in Arizona have been understandable, dignified, and entirely appropriate. Politicians have put politics aside. And for the most part, most Americans have been united in shock, as opposed to divided in contention.

When psychos decide to kill people, we clamor for explanations. We're disturbed by the notion that someone can wake up, and decide to end the lives of others, almost at random. 6 people, who were simply at a minor political function, no longer exist. All because some guy named Jared Loughner made a decision. It's unsettling.

We all look for a cause to explain these things. If there is a cause, some sort of underlying reason, or maybe outside influence, then the world remains a sensible and logical place. Cause and effect, right? It even feels a bit safer, as we can convince ourselves that psychos like Loughner can't affect our destinies, not without some separate cause, at least.

After Columbine, for instance, the Right blamed Marilyn Manson, the Left blamed the NRA, and nobody blamed the sentient, self-aware human beings that executed their classmates. They even memorialized the killers alongside their victims! Could you imagine an eternal flame dedicated to Lee Harvey Oswald, sitting alongside the one to JFK?

Now as we examine the shootings in Arizona, we're asking who or what is to blame. And it baffles me that the unanimous choice isn't Jared "I have three names now" Lee Loughner. He bought the gun and ammunition. He concocted the scheme. He even wrote a farewell on his MySpace page. He pulled the trigger. He knew what he was doing and he did it.

He wasn't in a fit of uncontrollable rage, it wasn't spur of the moment. He was even able to get off with a warning after running a red light on his way to the assassination, so he couldn't have been an out of control madman. It seems like Loughner is the cause here. But some people out there believe he and his actions are merely an effect.

The gun control people have begun to chirp, for example.

Which is ironic, since Giffords has been a supporter of gun rights, and owns a Glock handgun (or at least did in 2008, Source).

Guns don't have free will. Human beings do. Guns kill people, but they can't murder. Idealist anti-gun nuts can fantasize about a world without guns, which means that Loughner wouldn't have been able to kill so many, if anyone at all. It also means a world in which everyone who has ever used a gun in self-defense against a physically stronger attacker, would be victims.

Then there's the more abstract cause behind the murders. Can a political atmosphere incite someone to commit murder? According to some, it has.

I can't confirm this, but the word of the day for January 8 on the New York Times desk calendar must have been "vitriolic." I've heard that word more in the last week than I had in the last two decades.

As a writer, I must concede an affinity for that word. It conveys a sense of acidity. It sounds like it means. Even if you've never heard it, you can tell it's not something good.

"The vitriolic political atmosphere" is being held partially responsible for Loughner's actions. You see, Giffords is a Democrat. She fought and won a close election against a Tea Party candidate. And here's a list of all the ties that we've learned Loughner had with the Tea Party:








That's what pisses me off about the insinuation (and occasional accusation) against the Tea Party in this assassination attempt. This isn't a Tea Party person committing a heinous act. This is a completely random, essentially unaffiliated psycho. This guy's rhetoric can't be described as Liberal or Conservative. It's not Moderate either. If nonsensical gibberish had a political party, Loughner would be their candidate for Senate.

He believes 9/11 was a conspiracy, that the world will end in 2012, and that Christianity was conceived in order to help politicians. He didn't vote in the 2010 midterm elections. Most Tea Party people, and Conservatives in general believe 9/11 has been genuinely portrayed, that the world won't end next year, and most are Christians. The same can be said of most Liberals.

He'd say things like "What is government if words have no meaning?" not "Cap and Trade is Crap and Tax." So it's beyond moronic to blame "vitriolic political atmosphere" for what this guy has done. And certainly the finger pointing against the Right is beyond stupid, as this guy wasn't even Conservative.

I don't think the gun control people, or the vitriol control people are trying to take advantage of this incident. They honestly believe that if handguns were harder to get, then psychos like Loughner would get a job at the cement factory and live productive, nonviolent lives. They honestly believe that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin control people, and make them do horrible, unspeakable things.

This guy refused to be a participant of a society, where there are multiple people with different views, cooperating yet competing together. But instead of turning into an introverted hermit, he attempted to inflict his twisted ideas on the rest of us. He didn't believe we had the right to disagree with him. He didn't believe we had the right to have a society without him. He didn't believe that other people have the right to live.

And some Conservatives are pulling the same accusative crap, calling Loughner a "left-wing political radical." And if an Hispanic person had shot a Republican politician in Arizona, you can bet your sweet bippy that there'd be Right Wing voices screaming about the need for immigration reform, and how the atmosphere around SB 1070 fueled the violence.

I'll end with a counter argument/question to all these causality theories about Loughner and the Tea Party. If this "vitriolic atmosphere" is partially responsible for this murder, why is this the one incident? This is such a rare act. Some news outlets have tried to portray this as part of a string of violent acts, alluding to threats against politicians, and vandalizing of offices.

But murder is on another level. And if an "atmosphere" is to blame for one assassination attempt, doesn't it follow that there'd be more than one? Historians often blame the social and economic atmosphere of Weimar Germany for the rise of Hitler. But Hitler wasn't the only Nazi. An entire generation of Germans were angry and psychotic.

Nobody blames political atmosphere for John Hinckley or Lee Harvey Oswald. Even John Wilkes Booth, who had a distinct and clear political vendetta against Lincoln, gets the blame for the assassination, not the "vitriolic political atmosphere" surrounding the Civil War.

Hopefully, Loughner's will remain a singular event. Which is one positive to take from this thing, that we live in a country and a time where political violence is exceedingly rare and almost universally abhorred. Despite the abundance of vitriol.