Meetup with Philadelphia Jewish Voice Writers At LimmudPhilly

If you are planning on attending Limmud Philly this weekend, be sure to stop by the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s table this Sunday, April 29 any time between 11am and 3pm. You’ll get a chance to meet our Living Judaism editor Rabbi Goldie Milgram, our Kosher Table editor Ronit Treatman, myself and other members of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice community. There will be free bumper stickers, books and mitzvah cards available for purchase, and you’ll be able to see what herbs Ronit has growing in her garden.

If you weren’t thinking of attending Limmud Philly 2012, please do. Click here for details about this year’s Limmud, and see our coverage of

Please come. We would love to meet you.

  • Location: Friends Select School, 17th & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA
  • Time: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 11am-3pm.

Independents: Might 2012 be the Year of the 3rd Party Candidate?

Two-Party System— Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

The current winner take all system for U.S. Presidential elections certainly encourages a two-party system. Candidate from smaller parties do run, along with independent candidates, but their vote totals are usually a small footnote in the records of history.

Might this coming election be one of the occasions where a third-party candidate or independent candidate can make a major splash, affect the election or even win? According to Politico:

The public has had it with Washington and conventional politics. It has lost trust and respect in the conventional governing class. There is mounting evidence voters don’t see President Barack Obama or the current crop of GOP candidates as the clear and easy solution. As Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg argues, it seems likely if not inevitable an atmosphere this toxic and destabilized will produce an independent presidential candidate who could shake the political system.

Polito suggests six possible independent candidates and invites readers to nominate their own.

I see three kinds of candidates who might be motivated to run for President:

  • Far Left,
  • Right, and
  • Far Right.

Right

Their is a heated battle for the soul of the Republican party between establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman which represent its corporate base, and Tea party candidates with a lot of grassroots momentum behind them.

If a tea party candidate like Rick Perry,  Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain wins the Republican Nomination and the economy continues to show weakness, many experts would see an opportunity for a third-party to seize the center. One possibility is Mayor Michael Bloomberg (NY). He was a registered Democrat until he ran for Mayor of New York City in 2001 as a Republican, and has been an independent since 2007. He has a net worth of over $18 billion, so he could easily get in late and still run a self-finance (Perot-style) campaign.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) has had a peculiar performance at the Republican Presidential debates often criticizing the Republican party as a whole for its backwards stands on issues from global warming, evolution and homosexuality. This does not sound like a good strategy for winning the Republican nomination, but it does lay the ground for a possible third-party bid next year.

Similarly, more “moderate” candidates like Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Mayor Rudy Giulliani (R-NY), and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) refused to run in a race in which they would be more moderate than the majority of Republican primary and caucus goers. Similarly, Gov. Tim Pawlenty performed anemically and had to drop out. However, they may be willing to try their luck to pick up a plurality of the vote against President Obama and a tea party candidate especially if the economy continues to show weakness.

Far Right

Mitt Romney is the current leader in the Republican primary. He is polling around 25%, has considerable money behind him and the prediction market inTrade gives him a 55.8% chance of getting the nomination. However, most Tea Party supporters can not tolerate moderate positions which Romney holds (or at least once held when he was Governor of Massachusetts). For example, some of them equate abortion to murder and consider Romney to be insufficiently pro-Life. They would consider opposing Romney to be a moral imperative and could jump behind a third-party candidate on the extreme right.

Perhaps Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is waiting for just such an opportunity. We could also see current Republican party candidates such as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) or Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) willing to jump ship and run as an independent against Romney. Other people mentioned in the past like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Donald Trump could or have considered running as an independent.

With all these possible candidates being discussed, how much of an impact will they make. Will they pass by unnoticed? Will they be kingmakers? Do they have any chance to win? Prediction market inTrade shows a 2.7% chance of a successful Presidential bid by a third-party or independent candidate, so I guess “the market has spoken”. A win by a third-party or independent candidate is not totally out of the question.

Keep your eyes and ears open. This may be an election which will make history yet again.

More after the jump.
Far Left

Some supporters of Obama in 2008 are unhappy Obama’s willingness to compromise with Republicans, but getting nothing in return. They are upset that the Defense of Marriage Act has not been repealed, the Bush tax cuts were extended, no cap has been placed on carbon emissions, we did not get a single payer health care system, and we have not pulled out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanimo.

Perennial candidate Ralph Nader will surely run again. Perhaps he will be joined by film-maker Michael Moore, or Democracy for America founder, former DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), or Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Already, Nader is planning “to run a slate of six primary “challengers” to the president, with each focusing on issues of ideological concern. The point of this initiative is not so much to displace the president as it is to move Obama and the party toward the left — an in so doing to provide the themes and the energy to excite the Democratic base and draw new voters to the polls in 2012.”

Even candidates with small amounts of support can affect to overall result of the election. For example, the “official result” of the 2000 race between Al Gore, Jr. and George W. Bush hinged on a 537 vote margin in the State of Florida. This margin was dwarfed not only by the vote count of the 3rd party candidate Ralph Nader (Green Party, 97,488 votes) but also by

  • 4th place Pat Buchanan (Reform Party, 17,484 votes),
  • 5th place Harry Browne (Libertarian, 16,415 votes),
  • 6th place John Hagelin (Natural Law/Reform Party, 2,281 votes)
  • 7th place Monica Moorehead (Workers World Party, 1,804 votes),
  • 8th place Howard Phillips (Constitution Party, 1,371 votes),
  • 9th place David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA 622 votes),
  • and even 10th place James E. Harris, Jr. (Florida Socialist Workers Party, 562 votes).

History of Third-Party and Independent Presidential Campaigns

Sometimes third-party candidates achieve stronger results. These are the candidates since the Civil War which gathered double-digit support on election day:

  • 1992: Businessman Ross Perot ran as an independent. He got 18.9% of popular vote, and came in second place in Maine (ahead of George H. W. Bush) and Utah (ahead of Bill Clinton).

  • 1968: Former Gov. George Wallace ran on the American Independent Party line. He got 13.5% of the popular vote, winning 5 states totally 46 electoral votes (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA).

  • 1924: Sen. Robert M. La Follette (WI) ran as a progressive, splitting the Democratic vote, leading to the reelection of Republican incumbant President Calvin Coolidge. He got 16.6% of the popular vote and won his home state of Wisconsin (13 electoral votes).

  • 1912: Theodore Roosevelt ran as the Bull Moose Party candidate hoping to return to the White House. He finished with 27.4% of the popular vote (winning 6 states totaling 88 EV). He bettered the incumbent William Howard Tart (23.0% of popular vote, 8 EV) but in the end he lost of the Democrat Woodrow Wilson (42.0% of popular vote, 435 EV).

  • 1860: Abraham Lincoln (R-IL) won in a 4-way race with 39.8% of the popular vote, carrying 18 states which gave him a majority in the Electoral College (180 electoral votes). John C. Breckinridge (Southern Democrat-KY) took 18.1% of the popular vote during 11 southern states (72 electoral votes). John Bell (Constitutional Union-TN) took 12.6% of the popular vote carrying his home state of Tennessee as well as Virginia and Kentucky (39 electoral votes). Finally, Stephen Douglas (D-IL) took 29.5% of the popular vote but only carried Missouri (and splitting New Jersey with Lincoln).

Republicans In Harrisburg Trying To Run Out The Clock for Redistricting

If politics were sports, someone would call a delay of game penalty on the Republicans for illegally trying to run out the clock while they are ahead.

What is happening?

Every ten years, the United States takes a census of its population, and the states must then redraw their Congressional and State Legislative Districts to take into account shifts in population over the last ten years. Since politicians are drawing their own districts, this process is rife with conflicts of interest as politicians choose their constituents most likely to reelect them into office.

In Pennsylvania, the Republicans have a clear advantage in the redistricting process since they control the governorship, both chambers of the legislature and the Supreme Court. The only limits on their power is recourse to courts by groups disenfranchised via violations to the Federal Voting Rights Act. However, the GOP seeks to close this window of opportunity.

Paragraph (c) of Section 17 of Article II of the Pennsylvania Constitution lays out the calendar for how redistricting is supposed to work:

No later than ninety days after either the commission has been duly certified or the population data for the Commonwealth as determined by the Federal decennial census are available, whichever is later in time, the commission shall file a preliminary reapportionment plan with such elections officer. The commission shall have thirty days after filling the preliminary plan to make corrections in the plan. Any person aggrieved by the preliminary plan shall have the same thirty-day period to file exceptions with the commission in which case the commission shall thirty days after the date the exceptions were filled to prepare and file with such elections officer a revised reapportionment plan. If no exceptions are filled within thirty days, or if filed and acted upon, the commission’s plan shall be final and have the force of law.

The Census Bureau released the data for Pennsylvania on March 11, but the Legislative Reapportionment Commission delayed choosing their 5th and final member until the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped in and named Judge Stephen McEwen (R) on April 19.

According to a plain reading of the Pennsylvania Constitution:

  • the LRC then had a 90-day deadline and had to prepare a preliminary plan by July 18.
  • There would then be 30 days for “corrections” and hearings, leading a final plan by August 17.
  • Any appeals to that plan would have to be filed within 30 days or by September 16.

This schedule is designed to give plenty of time for potential candidates to plan before filing to run in next year’s elections.

However, the Republicans on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission have their own unique calendar. According to them, Pennsylvania does not have census data until they say that Pennsylvania has census data. Last Wednesday, August 17, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission held its first public meeting and they certified their approval of the United States Census data for Pennsylvania, and declare that this would start the 90-day clock.

By a stroke of the pen, the Republicans have bought themselves four months of time, instead of being already beyond the deadline, they can “deliberate” until November 15. They can then issue “corrections” and hold “hearings” until December 15. In theory, the citizens of Pennsylvania can then file any appeals in hopes of restoring their right to equitable representation. However, in practice the courts will have their back against the wall as candidates are already starting their campaigns including preparing the petitions (due February 14, 2012) to qualify for the April primary.

The Republican legislators hope to carve Pennsylvania in districts according to their political calculus, and run out the clock to avoid any potential challenges to their fait accompli.

More after the jump.
Why doesn’t the Democratic Minority raise a hue and cry about this outrage? Perhaps they are afraid to make waves and ended up being excised from the district which they represent. Or perhaps they are content to see the Republicans districts being fortified, knowing that all those unwanted Democratic voters will end up getting tossed into Democratic districts. The Pennsylvania citizen is the real loser here since redistricting is being used as a tool to protect incumbants. As a result less incumbants than necessary will have to worry about their reelection, and some politicians may be less responsive to their constituents as a result.

What can be done about this?

A Lesson in Sustainability from the Makers of Notre Dame

— Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

My writing has been scarce recently because of a family vacation to France for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. However, an important lesson occurred to me yesterday while cruising down the Seine on a charming bateau mouche.

First, I was reminded that the Cathedral Notre Dame took nearly 200 years to construct (1163-1345 CE). Building such an enormous edifice without modern technology is a monument to the dedication and vision of the people and the church at that time.  Bishop de Sully devoted most of his life and his wealth to a project whose fruition he would never witness. However, the logic of time inspired people to attain immortality by devoting themselves to works of timeless grandeur.

Today, consumers demand immediate satisfaction for their desires. CEOs look no further than the balance sheet on their next quarterly report. And politicians are concerned only with the upcoming election (as well as the quarter-to-quarter fundraising battle and the daily poll tracking numbers associated with it).

More after the jump.
Conservationists warn that the world may already have hit peak oil production, but business interests counter that this problem may still be 30 or 40 years out.  They conclude that we do not have to worry about it. How short-sighted is that? Even if we had enough oil to cope with exponentially growing consumption over the next 200 years, then what? How egotistical would it be for us to conclude that we do not have to prepare for a post-fossil fuel economy.

Those who have faith in the invisible hand as conceived by Adam Smith are doomed to waste our resources and our environment with little concern for future generations. In my article, Every Economic Cloud Has A Silver Lining, I explained how narrow-minded profit maximization leads us to destroy resources unless their sustainable yield is superior to the interest rate. How foolish is it for us to tie fate of our planet’s bounty to the interest rates set by Central Banks!

It is taken as axiomatic that the economy is suffering if our consumption does not increase 5% year upon year. Yet who truly believes that our current level of consumer demand is sustainable? Where will our planet be in 200 years?

Upon returning to the port, we saw the iconic Eiffel Tower and learned that Gustav Eiffel only had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years. The tower had been built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (the World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution), and it was intended to be demolished around the turn of the century.  However, those plans were set aside and the building stood as the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built in New York City. Today, the Eiffel Tower still dominates the Paris skyline. Such a feat in our era of planned negligence is unheard of. Who today would bother designing a structure capable of weathering the elements for over 120 years when he only had a 20-year permit!

According to Annie Leonard:

What percentage of total material flow through our system is still in product or in use six months after being sold in North America? 50 percent? 20 percent? NO. One percent.
One! In other words, 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport-99 percent of the stuff we run through this
system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a planet with that rate of waste.


Tinkerers and pot-menders are long gone as simple devices make way for more complicated appliances which are no longer designed to be repaired and replaced, but rather to be thrown out and replaced. Replacement is an accomplishment for those who venerate the GDP, but an eye-sore and a health hazard for those concerned by our environment.

Win Up To $9,000 in Prizes from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice will be giving away a fabulous commitment ceremony/wedding package and other prizes this month! For a chance to win, simply join our free mailing list or update your registration. You can register online at http://www.pjvoice.com/subscribe.htm or sign up in person at the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s table at the Philadelphia Pride Parade this Sunday, June 12 from noon to 6pm on Penn’s Landing.

The grand prize is transferable, so even if you are not personally planning on tying the knot, this prize is a terrific present to celebrate the union of your friends.

Prizes:

  • Grand Prize: Commitment Ceremony Package ($9,000+ value) including:
    • Commitment Ritual conducted by Philadelphia Jewish Voice Living Judaism editor Rabbi Goldie Milgram.
    • Preparation Sessions Six free hour-long planning sessions with Rabbi Milgram for the couple (and wedding planners, musicians, garment, food and invitation designers, etc. if desired), in person or phone/Skype/webcam depending on availability. Rabbi Milgram will facilitate creation of custom-designed ritual, vows and contract of spiritual commitment to complement your legal documents. These sessions will include spiritual support for your relationship which can be an open non-religion-specific spirituality or Jewish.
    • Wedding Cake designed and donated by Ciao Bella Cakes.
    • $1,000 in Flowers provided by Vandergrift Floral.
    • Dress or Accessories. $150 gift certificate to Paris Chic Bridal Boutique.
    • Honeymoon. One night stay at The Lippincott House Bed & Breakfast.
    • Cocktails for rehearsal party (up to 10 people) by Foodwerx.
    • Hair, Make-up and/or Hot Lather Shave (on-site) courtesy of Jacen Bowman.
    • Pillows engineered for your body weight and size by Pittman Pillows.
    • Photography with images on DVD by Kim Volcy Photography.
    • Five Hours of Party Service to staff your party courtesy of Beth’s Party Service.
    • Entertainment Services for your wedding with DJ and Karoke for five hours from Two Sisters Entertainment.
    • And More…. Additional details will be announced on the Philadelphia Jewish Voice as they become available.
  • Second Prize: Free Yoga lesson from Philadelphia Jewish Voice Art & Culture editor Lisa Grunberger.
  • Third Prize: Two free tickets to Theatre Ariel’s performance of ten 10-minute never-before-produced plays, 7pm this Sunday evening, June 12 at the Bristol Riverside Theatre. This prize will be awarded at the Pride Parade. Please indicate your cell phone number so we can notify you if you win.
  • Consolation Prizes: All subscribers who enter their complete address will be mailing an I read the Philadelphia Jewish Voice” bumper sticker, so that you can show your support of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Details follow the jump.


Rules:

  • Deadline: June 30, 2011
  • Eligibility: Limit one entry per person. Multiple entries will disqualify you. No purchase required. Staff and board members of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and the Deal Monitor and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Commitment Ceremony:
    • The couple must obtain their own attorney and execute any relevant legal documents to secure the flow of your estate and health-care rights under the jurisdiction where they reside. If their marriage is legal where this ritual will take place, then they will need to register accordingly prior to this ritual.
    • If the couple is Jewish, then Rabbi Goldie Milgram must approve or provide the Hebrew language that will appear in your ketubah (marriage contract). The couple must pay and secure their own artist to illustrate their ketubah.
    • The couple is responsible for the cost of Rabbi Milgram’s lodging, meals and transport for the weekend of your ritual from wherever she happens to be in the world at that time to wherever her next assignment happens to be.
    • Rabbi Milgram does not co-officiate with other clergy.

Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Creating beautiful, meaningful, spiritually authentic rites of passage, including Commitment Ceremonies has long been an important part of Rabbi Goldie Milgram’s life as a clergy person and we are fortunate to be able to share her experience with you.
Secularly, Dr. Goldie Milgram has long been a gender-rights activist. She also travels internationally as a teacher of spiritual health and non-profit leadership. She received the American Cancer Society Most Distinguished Couple Award for her work in publication education during a previous marriage where she anchored and invented the first public health talk television for NBC TV 40. She has offered programs under the auspices of the United Nations, Esalen, Rancho La Puerta, the New York Open Center, 92Y, universities and communities world-wide.  Wearing her Jewish hat, “Reb Goldie” as her students affectionately call her, holds a doctorate from New York Theological Seminary and is a twice ordained rabbi – a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and she also holds the private smichah (ordination) of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal. Dr. Milgram directs, ReclaimingJudaism.org and is author of numerous works including the first fully gender-inclusive work on Jewish ritual: Living Jewish Life Cycle: How to Create Meaningful Jewish Rites of Passage at Every Stage of Life (Jewish Lights Publishing).
Rabbi Goldie Milgram can be contacted at judaism@pjvoice.com.

Good luck.

Today’s “To Do” List

  • Pay your fair share of the cost of providing for our nation’s common defence and other important government services to protect and preserve the freedom’s which we enjoy in our great nation. (IRS forms must be postmarked today.)
  • Burn the chametz collected last night.
  • Help your youngest child practice the Mah Nishtana.
  • Scout out good locations to hide the Afikomen.
  • Set the table for the seder.
  • Prepare the haroset, salt water, egg and shank bone.
  • Set a wine cup for Elijah the prophet, and a water goblet for Miriam the prophetess.
  • Open up your doors and your hearts by inviting someone in need to join you at the seder table.
  • Wonder why companies like Exxon-Mobil, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron, Boeing, Valero, Goldman-Sachs, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips and Carnival are not paying their fair share to keeping our nation strong.

Chametz: The Boardgame the whole family can enjoy.

Purim is over and we are started to prepare for Passover. Cleaning the house, preparing the seders and of course activities to keep the kids engaged.

Hazakah has just come out with a great new Passover-themed board game which the whole family will enjoy &mdash Chametz: The Search is On! I play tested the game with my children ages 4 to 19, and they kept asking to play more. This game would make a great gift or afikomen ransom.

Inspired by the classical board game Clue, but instead of trying identify a murder suspect and murder weapon, we are trying to determine which character left an item of chametz in which room. Here is the premise:

It’s a month before Passover and Colonel Moti invites Rabbi Greenberg to give a Passover lecture or shiur in his home. A variety of snack are served. During the course of the evening, one of the members of the congregation inadvertently leaves an item of chametz somewhere in the house. Who left what, and where did they leave it?

More after the jump. [Read more…]

Sarah Palin Confuses “Blood Libel” with “Libel”

Sarah Palin was recently interviewed by Sean Hannity, another host on Fox News. Hannity asked her if she knew the meaning of the term “Blood Libel” which she used to describe efforts to link conservative rhetoric with the shooting of Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson:

Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused.

According to Google:

Blood libels are false and sensationalized allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of the victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism. The alleged victims are often children.

whereas Google defines “libel” as

a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person.

A Day of Memorials: To Blame or Not to Blame

— Dan Loeb

Today the world’s attention is focused on Tucson, Arizona where President Barack Obama will be speaking at a memorial in honor of the shooting victims of the shooting. (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords herself is recovering at the Tucson University Medical Center. In the photo to the left, her husband Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly is holding her hand.)

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength”.

Many people, including Sarah Palin in this video, urge us to rise above politics and not look to lay blame for this attack any further than the gunman himself, using the epithet “blood libel” to describe the writings of her critics.

Again and again I have been told this.

However, I disagree.

During the summer of 2009, gun-rights activists started showing up at rallies and townhalls were Obama was speaking. One showed up in New Hampshire with a legal loaded handgun and a large sign reading “It is time to water the tree of Liberty” which is a reference to the following quote from Thomas Jefferson “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Someone else at the same town hall meeting was arrested for carrying an unlicensed pistol.

On August 18, 2009, CNN Reporter Ed Henry spotted two protesters with assault rifles at an event in Phoenix, Arizona where Obama was speaking at a pro-Healthcare rally. Why asked why he needed a rifle, the protestor responded “Because I can do it. In Arizona, I still have some freedoms.”

As Hal Masonberg said,

nothing spells true freedom like the ability to blow a man down in his tracks. Or to cause the President to fear that his life may be in danger. Or the lives of peaceful demonstrators at a rally.

No, nothing says freedom like physical intimidation.

And I was told to rise above politics and respect the first and second amendment rights of these protesters.

On March 24, 2010, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Tucson, Arizona district office and Rep. Louise Slaughter’s Niagara Falls, New York district office were attacked amidst death threats to a number of other Congressman involved in the passage of Health insurance reform. And I was told to rise above politics and not lay blame for these attacks.

Around the same time, Sarah Palin was hunting people figuratively. Gov. Palin created a website “Take back the 20” showing a map of the United States with cross-hairs targeting the 20 House districts won by McCain in 2008 but controlled by Democratic Representatives who voted for health insurance reform. The red cross-hair show targets already eliminated (legislators who were not seeking reelection). The exhortation “17 more to go” and the tweet “Dont’ Retreat, Instead – RELOAD” certainly invoke a threat of violence if necessary to turn the other cross-hairs red as well.

On June 12, 2010, Gifford’s challenger and tea-party supporter Jesse Kelly organized a fundraiser where his supporters could donate money in order to have a chance to symbolically “remove Gabrielle Giffords from office” by shooting a “fully automatic M16” at her effigy. And I was told to rise above politics and ignore these provocations.

The on June 17, Senate Candidate Sharron Angle said that the “Second Amendment in there for a good reason and … it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years…. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” And I was told to rise above politics and ignore these threats.

How long must I “rise above politics” and how many people must die before I can begin attributing blame?

Benyamin Korn who runs the group “Jews for Sarah” says Palin is not to blame since the “shooter’s animus [against Ref. Gabrielle Giffords] pre-dates Palin’s prominence.” However, I do not accuse Palin and her allies of driving Loughner insane.

Instead, I fear that there have always and will always be deranged people out there with dangerous ideas like Jared Lee Loughner had. The difference is that the rhetoric used by the right can validate the ideas already bouncing around in the head of a border-line personality like Loughner.

I do not think that Palin and her allies wanted Giffords dead. They did however want their own day in the sun, and the use of over-the-top rhetoric and images certainly accomplishes that in a way that calm and logic never can.

Moreover, these repeated tacit threats of violence create a chilling affect on our democracy, discouraging Democrats from speaking out, and limiting any real communication between politicians and their constituents.

If that is their goal, then whether Giffords survives or not, they have already won.