Abusing the Bible: The Religious Left’s Favorite Pastime

I’ve been seeing quite a few misguided protest signs around the net lately, so I feel it may be time to re-publish an essay I wrote in 2008 regarding the use and abuse of Jesus’ teachings.

The Personal vs. the Collective Jesus
Originally Written in July, 2008

Years ago, an individual who is no longer on my friends list for reasons that will become clear claimed that Jesus would want us all to be liberal Democrats and announced her intention to write a book detailing her stunning insight. I never got around to writing up my violently opposing view, but tooling around on conservative (paleo- and neo-) blogs where the anti-Christian viewpoint is criticized quite frequently (e.g. Vox Day) has reminded me that I have a few thoughts of my own on the subject.

Let us refer to my ex-friend’s argument as the Hypocrisy Claim – or, perhaps, Jesus Collectively Applied. It works like this: “Jesus said when you are struck, you should turn the other cheek. So if you claim to be a Christian, you should oppose war and the death penalty and support rehabilitation instead of punishment for criminals – or you’re a hypocrite.” “Jesus said it is easier for a goat to be threaded through the eye of a needle that it is for a rich man to get into heaven and that we all have a duty to care for the ‘least’ among us. So if you claim to be a Christian, you should support welfare for the poor and punitive taxes for the rich – i.e. redistribution of wealth – or you’re a hypocrite.” Or: “You are against abortion but for the death penalty? How does that make sense? Does human life only matter before birth?” (That last one is a rephrasing of a comment from one of Day’s perennial attackers.)

Leaving aside the fact that yelling “hypocrite!” – in essence, rejecting the possibility of nuance – is a childish way to argue, the assumption beneath many of these statements is fundamentally flawed. The notion that Jesus meant his sermons to be prescriptions for state behavior is not, in fact, supported by the scripture; indeed, quite the opposite would seem to be case, as Jesus also advised his followers to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” (A doctrine, by the way, that has allowed Christianity, after some struggle, to coexist peacefully with secular governments.) No – as has been understood for centuries, Jesus taught rules for personal behavior, not national behavior; we are commanded to be personally charitable, personally peaceful, and personally humble. When we are wronged in our daily lives, we are commanded to forgive; there is no such command in place for governments. In our daily lives, we are commanded to be giving; there is no evidence that Jesus wished civil institutions to take by force what should be given with a compassionate and Christian spirit. Granted, the longevity of an understanding is no instant validation of said understanding; after all, slavery was accepted by the whole of humankind for most of the history of human civilization (until, interestingly enough, Christianity gave us the tools to understand why slavery is, in actuality, an offense against God). But I am more inclined to believe our Christian predecessors, many of them thoughtful philosophers, actually did know what they were talking about than I am to believe that modern man has, in the last few centuries, stumbled upon “the real truth.” Why? Because a collective understanding of Jesus’s message leads to injustice on a massive scale.

First, as is evidenced by my ex-friend’s first general claim, Jesus Collectively Applied recognizes neither the possibility of a just war nor the necessity of retribution (which I should note is different from revenge; retribution as I am using it is punishment prescribed by societal agreement according to widely understood codes of conduct that is applied after guilt has been established by just means; revenge is someone taking matters into their own hands for the express purpose of making the wrongdoer suffer). History, on the other hand, recognizes both. Surely my leftist ex-friend doesn’t mean to suggest that we should’ve “turned the other cheek” while Hitler was running roughshod over Europe burning Jews to cinders (after torturing and gassing them, of course). Surely she doesn’t mean to suggest that the Civil War should never have been fought, slavery or no. And as for the societal value of retribution, the evidence is in and it is overwhelming: in places where leniency-disguised-as-mercy has become the norm, decent human beings live in fear for their property and their lives. As Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed, American women used to be able walk alone out of doors without fear; now, in too many places, we need concealed weapons to secure such a privilege. In some places in Europe, meanwhile, “understanding” and “compassion” have left our counterparts vulnerable to gang rape (among other abuses), and uncivilized hooligans are permitted to prowl the streets accosting innocents with virtually no threat of consequences. Thank goodness we have not yet descended quite so far – we still try, at least, to incarcerate our hooligans, despite the concerted efforts of people like my ex-friend. As a Catholic, I believe in the possibility of redemption, which is why my feelings on the death penalty are mixed. But as I have continually emphasized in other posts, I believe that redemption has to be earned. That’s where retribution comes in.

(Speaking of the death penalty, my aforementioned mixed feelings, as you’ve probably already deciphered, have nothing to do with a desire to stay “consistent.” The anti-abortion and pro-death penalty positions can actually coexist quite comfortably together without hypocrisy once the perfectly valid distinction between innocent and non-innocent human life is drawn. A fetus is arguably among the ‘least’ of Jesus’s formulation and is utterly innocent. A murderer, on the other hand, has violated one of God’s high commandments; a Christian supporter of the death penalty is not necessarily in the wrong when he or she asserts that said murderer has thus forfeited his place in human society. One can argue that death is too final a sentence for a state to hand down. One can argue that my basic prerequisite for retributive justice – that guilt be determined in a fair manner – has been violated too frequently for death to be a punitive option. One can argue that death should only be God’s purview. But the Hypocrisy Claim is not persuasive to my mind. In truth, I think the distinction between innocent and non-innocent human life makes infinitely more sense than the modern secular distinctions between (supposedly) “conscious” and “unconscious,” “born” and “unborn.”)

Secondly, Jesus Applied Collectively, if the history of popular revolution is any indication, sanctions vengeance and jealousy, violations of another of God’s high commandments. Collective Christianity assumes that because rich men will, according to Jesus, have difficulty getting into heaven, that stands as evidence that rich men are, to a man, irretrievably corrupt and must be brought low. Nothing could be further from the truth; if rich men were irredeemable, there would be no such thing as philanthropy – no such thing as noblesse oblige. Rich men must work harder to gain access to the kingdom because they have more reason to remain attached to the world. Think about it this way: If you had a mansion, six sports cars, a private jet, and the ear of the powerful, how inclined would you be to surrender to God’s will? I don’t know, but I think most of us, if we were that well-off, would tend to think we are doing quite all right on our own, thanks, and therefore have no need of God and his meddling. This is precisely the attitude Jesus wished us to abandon. Really, it’s no wonder he advised us to get rid of our earthly possessions – that’s the easier, safer course because it is less tempting. The poor – the ‘least’ of us – live closer to the true “wretchedness” of fallen mankind, and are thus closer to surrendering; the rich have further to go because they are comfortable, not because they are evil. It is socialist heresy, not Jesus’s doctrine, to say that the poor must concern themselves with the affairs of the world and take what is “rightfully theirs” from the rich by force of state or revolution. According to Jesus, no one “deserves” wealth and worldly goods. NO ONE. According to Jesus, we would all be better off without them.

No, there’s no reason to believe Jesus would support the Democratic Party over the Republican Party – or vice versa, for that matter, though as a conservative, I believe the right is closer to correct than the left.

Media Bias in Climate Change Debate: Not Just the Press

If you think that the bias in reporting on global warming is coming exclusively from the news media’s reaction to the opinions of scientists on this contentious issue…think again.

Kerry Emanuel Urges Media to Sway Public Opinion

As glaciers melt and island populations retreat from their coastlines to escape rising seas, many scientists remain baffled as to why the global research consensus on human-induced climate change remains contentious in the U.S.

The frustration revealed itself during a handful of sessions at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, coming to a peak during a Friday session, “Science without Borders and Media Unbounded”.

Near the forum’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association and the National Research Council, along with the national academies of more than two dozen countries.

“You haven’t persuaded the public,” replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, “No, you haven’t.” Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, “That’s right. Kerry said it.”

I provided the important text so you wouldn’t have to read this idiotic rant more than you need to. The point is…when scientists see a crowd of unconvinced Americans who think they’re being sold a lie when it comes to climate change, their response is to assume that the Americans are just too stupid to get it and tell the press to convince them.

Just what the heck kind of world do we live in? I thought the scientists’ job was to objectively seek out truth and report what they find and the media was supposed to objectively report on events, not spin the public opinion? But I’m being unspeakably naive (intentionally for argument’s sake) of course…no one truly believes the media is reporting the truth objectively.

This is reaching levels of obscenity, however, in the scientific community, that I cannot tolerate. First you have Trenberth claiming in a recent (PUBLISHED!) article in GRL that the burden of proof should be shifted to climate skeptics since their case has been made and discredited…now you’ve got Kerry Emanuel urging the media to report the same sense of consensus to the people, whether it’s real or not, to motivate them to take on the task of remediating climate change. This is OUTRAGEOUS.

Especially when the objective polls of hard scientists would suggest that there IS no consensus on climate change and a careful review of the opinions on any of the major key issues surrounding climate science reveals disagreement about…well…EVERYTHING!

Do yourselves a favor, Americans…turn off your TV during the local news and stop reading the newspaper…it’s all lies and spin. Go straight to the web and read a variety of sources to stay informed.

Interesting Group of Posts at NRO on Public Employee Compensation

Jim Manzi kicks things off with the following article:

Are Wisconsin Public Employees Underpaid?

Ezra Klein and a variety of other thoughtful liberal bloggers have been pointing to an Economic Policy Institute analysis that they claim demonstrates that Wisconsin’s public employees, even after adjusting for benefits and hours worked, face a “compensation penalty of 5% for choosing to work in the public sector.” Unfortunately, when you get under the hood, the study shows no such thing.

Klein links to an executive summary to support his claim, but reading the actual paper by Jeffrey H. Keefe is instructive.

Keefe is considering almost any full-time employee in Wisconsin with the identical years of education, race, gender, etc., as providing labor of equivalent market value, whether they are theoretical physicists, police officers, retail-store managers, accountants, salespeople, or anything else. Whether they work in Milwaukee, Madison, or a small town with a much lower cost of living. Whether their job is high-stress or low-stress. Whether they face a constant, realistic risk of being laid off any given year, or close to lifetime employment. Whether their years of education for the job are in molecular biology or the sociology of dance. Whether they do unpredictable shift work in a factory, or 9–5 desk work in an office with the option to telecommute one day per week.

Keefe claims — without adjusting for an all-but-infinite number of such relevant potential differences between the weight-average public-sector worker and the weight-average private-sector worker — that his analysis is precise enough to ascribe a 5 percent difference in compensation to a public-sector-compensation “penalty.”

Kevin Williamson agrees:

As anybody who has ever met a high-school vice principal can attest, not all masters’ degrees are created equal. (The study controls for lots of things, like sex and ethnicity, but not the ones I’d be interested in, like I.Q. or standardized test scores. It also doesn’t control for such niggling factors as whether those government workers work, which strikes me as something that would be useful to know.)

This is basically what I was trying to explain in my long post a few days ago. Salaries are determined, first and foremost, by the public’s estimation of your worth, not by some cosmic judge who decides who “deserves” more (and a college degree is certainly no magic charm either). That’s why popular actors and professional athletes (who often drop out of school to pursue their careers) earn millions: because we’ve indicated that we’re willing to pay them that much. That may seem outrageous to you, but the alternative is to create an all-powerful government body to calculate the salaries of every single worker in America. I’m sure most reasonable people would agree that such a plan would place an unacceptable amount of power in the hands of a few bureaucrats. Again, if you want to be paid more, you need to demonstrate to the public that you’ve earned it.

Reihan Salam makes good points as well:

I don’t want to put words in Jim’s mouth, here’s what I consider a slightly more Manzian take: the problem with public sector compensation is that there is often very little clarity in terms of whether or not taxpayers are getting a good deal. One of the big reasons right-wingers are so hot for merit pay, based on my limited experience, is that they’re generally pretty comfortable with the idea of at least some public workers making much more than they are making now, provided other workers who’d be willing to work for less because they’re not likely to attract better offers are either paid less or fired.

Yes, exactly. As I said a few days ago, I’m definitely willing to pay the Mr. W’s of the world much more. But not everyone in the public sector is a Mr. W. As a resident of Northern Virginia, I’ve heard plenty of gripes about slack-jawed federal workers who spend their days surfing the internet instead of doing their jobs. As a matter of fact, a close friend of mine (who works in the federal government) wrote a play about one manager’s struggle to fire an incompetent government employee, and it’s been a hit at the Capital Fringe Festival for the past few years.

Moreover, as my co-author pointed out in his post on the bureaucratic redundancy at the NOAA, there’s quite a bit of dead weight in our federal and state governments, and that’s going to reduce the public’s perception of a public sector worker’s market value. I think we could afford to pay public sector workers more if our governments were leaner and meaner. You have a choice: Pay five guys $40,000 to do the exact same thing five times over, or pay one especially competent guy six figures to do it once. I know which option I would choose.

Still Think Palin is Presidential Material?

I hate to do this to ya, Steph…but…this is just pathetic:

Sarah Palin’s Secret Facebook Account

I haven’t detected a significant political bias on Failblog or its affiliated sites, though I do suspect they lean slightly left and are more apt to make fun of a right winger than a left-winger. But this is all fact-checked and the blogosphere seems to confirm it.

Why would she feel the need to pull a stunt like that? What is she trying to prove?

It’s stuff like that…stuff that makes the Tea Party easy pickings for the left-biased media…that prevents me from supporting her as a presidential candidate. I sincerely hope we choose someone more serious.

A Misnomer: "Democrat" Party


(Hat tip to the folks at Hillbuzz for this manip.)

Apparently, fleeing the legislature to prevent a quorum is now the new “in” thing among loser Democrats. As the Indiannapolis Star reports:

House Democrats are leaving the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation, The Indianapolis Star has learned.

A source said Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House came into session this morning, with only two of the 40 Democrats present. Those two were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business.

The union-funded Democrat Party believes in democracy only when Democrats win. Democrats are friends of the “little people” only when the little people put them into office. Now that the electorate has handed the Democrats their asses in a historic landslide, their true loathing for us peons has been revealed in all its glory. Remember this in 2012, America.

Not All Degrees Are Created Equal

I don’t hate teachers. To prove this, allow me to sing the praises of one public school teacher in particular to whom I give a great deal of credit for my better-than-average math literacy: Mr. W.

I don’t remember now why I happened to be in Mr. W’s computer lab that day towards the end of my freshman year of high school. What I do remember are the particulars of our first – and fateful – meeting. Mr. W asked me if I had enrolled in his tenth grade computer math course. I replied that I hadn’t because I had not received the requisite recommendation letter. “Which math course are you taking right now?” he asked. I told him I was on the Calculus track and was currently taking Geometry. “And what’s your average?” “97%.” The requirement for computer math was a B in first year algebra, so Mr. W’s response was immediate: “Well, let me go fix that right now.” Thus began our three year relationship.

My clients at work usually react with shocked surprise when I tell them the number of M&T courses I took in high school. In addition to the standard courses – Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II/Trigonometry, Functions/Analytic Geometry, and AP Calculus BC – I also took Computer Math, AP Computer Science, Discrete Mathematics, Elementary Statistics, and AP Statistics. I received 4’s on both the AP Calculus BC and AP Computer Science exams and a 5 on the AP Statistics exam. And why was I such an extraordinary math geek? Mr. W. It did help that he had such a funny personality, but I think it’s more important to point out that the man knew his stuff. Mr. W kindled within me a love for mathematics because he explained mathematical concepts in a way that was fascinating and eminently understandable. I’m not surprised that he was named Teacher of the Year just before his recent retirement.

Where did Mr. W get his vast store of mathematical knowledge, and how was he able to communicate that knowledge to the teens under his charge? He was a career-switcher. Before becoming a public school teacher in Virginia, Mr. W was an Army man. (Ah, the fond memories I have of teasing him on the days before the Army/Navy game! I used to write “Go Navy!” on the top of my test papers just to see how he’d respond.) As a soldier, Mr. W was called to use math, science, and technology on a daily basis. In other words, as a soldier, Mr. W received content-oriented training in the aforementioned subjects. And that made all the difference in the world.

The tale of Mr. W brings me to the central point of this post. One complaint I frequently hear from those who support Walker’s opponents in Wisconsin is that teachers earn less than others in the state who have college degrees and work in the private sector. Believe it or not, I do believe quality teachers should be rewarded with decent pay; indeed, if the state of Virginia had decided to pay Mr. W $100,000 per year plus benefits, I would’ve supported that move. But here’s the catch: I don’t believe most teachers currently receive the kind of training that warrants pay on par with the compensation college graduates receive in the private sector.

The left believes that if we just increase teacher pay, the quality candidates will flock to the school-house doors. But that does nothing to address the pervasive and damaging lack of rigor in our teacher education programs. So far, in my tenure as a private sector tutor, I have helped two elementary teacher candidates prepare for the Praxis — and in both cases, I discovered that their understanding of basic mathematical concepts was severely deficient. If you yourself don’t comprehend place value in the base-ten number system, how can you possibly teach it to twenty third graders? Granted, the plural of anecdote is not data. But quite a few studies back up my experiences on the ground. Such studies have found that, for example, teacher candidates seeking mathematics certification are held to standards that are wildly variant. The very best programs do teach content, but that is certainly not the norm.

One recent report noted, for example, that America’s prospective middle school math teachers spend an average of 40% of their training time on the actual study of mathematics, while the remaining 60% was devoted to general pedagogy and math-focused teaching methods. (In high performing countries, 50% of the curriculum is focused on the study of mathematics and 30% is devoted to studying how children learn math.) Moreover, this same study discovered that only 66% of middle school math teacher candidates take linear algebra, and only 55% take basic calculus. (In high performing countries, the figure is 90% or more.) “So what?” you may reply. “Middle school teachers aren’t going to be asked to teach calculus, so why should they be expected to learn it?” Because you need to know what’s coming next in order to adequately prepare your students for math courses they will take down the road.

If teachers really want to be treated like professionals, they shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. They should demand that they be held to standards comparable to those faced by other professionals before they demand professional pay. I initially wanted to go to medical school, so after I graduated from the College of William and Mary, I took the MCAT. The MCAT, for those of you who have never experienced it, is an all day test in which medical school applicants must demonstrate that they are proficient in reading, writing, physical science, and life science (and my overall score was competitive, by the way, though I was disappointed in my physical science sub-score). Now, I don’t think we have to go that far when it comes to education school admissions tests, but we should have something, and it should be designed to decisively weed out the idiots. Moreover, once teacher candidates clear the admissions hurdle, they should be offered a curriculum that is at least 50% content-based, and the classwork should be challenging. Let’s not waste our time with courses on how teachers can advance the cause of “social justice.”

Do you know what much of the public concludes when they hear Wisconsin teachers demonizing their duly elected governor as the second coming of Adolph Hitler? They conclude that Wisconsin’s teachers are historically illiterate — and given what goes on in our ed schools, such a determination is probably not that far off the mark. Teachers: You are not as educated as you think you are, and that’s why people resent it when you demand more compensation. No one is entitled to great pay simply because he or she has decided to work in the schools. You need to earn professional status the way doctors and lawyers earn it: through years of exhaustive study in demanding professional schools.

Responding to Annoying Liberal Remarks on Facebook, VI

One of my repeat offenders has struck again. This time, he is claiming that Virginia and the four other states who have disallowed collective bargaining for teachers also hover at the bottom of the pack when it comes to SAT scores. But the College Board’s position on state-by-state comparisons is pretty damned clear:

“The SAT is a strong indicator of trends in the college-bound population, but it should never be used alone for such comparisons because demographics and other nonschool factors can have a strong effect on scores.”

And indeed, when you look at each state’s report, you see significant differences in the testing population from state to state. Let’s look at the 2010 data for Wisconsin first:

Mean score: 1778 (R/W/M)
Number of test takers: 3,002
Ethnicity: 87% White or Asian
ESOL percentage: 8%
Percent with family income below $40 K: 11%
Percent who have a parent with a bachelor’s or higher: 83%

Now let’s look at the 2010 data for Virginia:

Mean score: 1521 (R/W/M)
Number of test takers: 59,031
Ethnicity: 67% White or Asian
ESOL percentage: 6% (Here in NOVA, I’m sure that percent is much higher.)
Percent with family income below $40 K: 19%
Percent who have a parent with a bachelor’s or higher: 61%

Virginia’s sample is 1866% larger than Wisconsin’s — and it is a documented fact that average SAT scores are inversely proportional to the number of students who are taking the test. Virginia’s students are also poorer, and their parents are less educated. And let’s not shrink from the reality that the achievement gap between white students and African-American students is going to have more of an impact on Virginia’s average score. Comparing Virginia’s test population to Wisconsin’s is not even comparing apples to oranges — it’s comparing apples to pianos. The College Board is right to declare such comparisons invalid.

Wisconsin: Three Leftist Myths vs. Reality

Yeah, I know – you’re probably sick of hearing about the protests in Wisconsin by now. But I can’t help myself — leftists on Live Journal and Facebook are driving me absolutely batty. Thus, I give you my responses to three pernicious memes I’ve seen floating around the ‘net:

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Myth #1: Walker manufactured the budget crisis by awarding tax cuts to his cronies!

Debunked by Politifact (which calls both Democrats and Republicans on their misleading statements, exaggerations, etc.):

We re-read the fiscal bureau memo, talked to Lang, consulted reporter Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel’s Madison Bureau, read various news accounts and examined the issue in detail.

Our conclusion: Maddow and the others are wrong.

There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.

More on that second point in a bit.

The confusion, it appears, stems from a section in Lang’s memo that — read on its own — does project a $121 million surplus in the state’s general fund as of June 30, 2011.

But the remainder of the routine memo — consider it the fine print — outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.

The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.

Meanwhile, what about Maddow’s claim — also repeated across the liberal blogosphere — that Walker’s tax-cut bills approved in January are responsible for the $137 million deficit?

Lang’s fiscal bureau report and news accounts addressed that issue as well.

The tax cuts will cost the state a projected $140 million in tax revenue — but not until the next two-year budget, from July 2011 to June 2013. The cuts are not even in effect yet, so they cannot be part of the current problem.

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Myth #2: Walker threatened to sic the Wisconsin National Guard on the protestors!

Also debunked at Politifact:

When he spoke later that day to Journal Sentinel reporters and editors, Walker used the example of the National Guard helping run state prisons in the event of a strike by corrections workers.

In an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie wrote: “In the unlikely event that core government services are disrupted the Guard would be used just to continue those services. That’s what the National Guard does.”

Indeed, demonstrations over Walker’s proposals were held in Madison and elsewhere in Wisconsin on Feb. 14 and 15, with thousands of people showing up, but the National Guard was not summoned.

And on Feb. 15, the Guard issued a news release saying it “has not been mobilized for state active duty” and “we remain in our normal state of readiness.”

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Myth #3: The Wisconsin protesters are exercising their rights just like the Tea Partiers did!

At best, this is a half-truth. The pro-union protesters in Wisconsin are largely peaceful, as were the Tea Partiers in 2009-2010. And yes, both the Wisconsin protesters and the Tea Partiers have the right to stage political demonstrations to ensure that their voices are heard. But there are significant differences between the two groups.

First of all, no Tea Party group full-on occupied the Capital for days on end before the Obamacare vote. Tea Partiers raised loud objections to Obamacare at many townhall meetings, and there were several spirited Tea Party protests held in DC and elsewhere, but once the Tea Partiers had said their piece, they went home. They didn’t shirk their jobs to stick around — and they didn’t encourage Congressional Republicans to run away from their duties either.

(Again, don’t believe it when Wisconsin’s protesting teachers claim that they are doing it “for the children.” In staging their sick-out, they have denied thousands of children their right to an education. “For the children” my ass.)

Secondly, to my knowledge, no official RNC organ had a hand in organizing any Tea Party events. Indeed, the relationship between the GOP and the Tea Party is lukewarm at best. On the other hand, Organizing for America, the wing of the DNC that helped to get Barack Obama elected in 2008, has definitely played an active role in keeping the protests alive in Wisconsin.

Third, the Tea Partiers always picked up their trash. The Wisconsin protesters have sometimes failed to do this. This may seem like such a little thing to harp on, but I think the trash issue speaks volumes about the very different attitudes of the two groups. One group believes in personal responsibility. The other group believes in government. The fact that I prefer groups which champion the former does not make me a hypocrite.


The National Mall after the 9/12 rally.

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Hope this post helps in your arguments with left-leaning friends and relatives!