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Author Topic: The Irresponsibility at the core of the Tea Party Movement
Greg Davidson
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I apologize for the stridency of this essay, I would rather not be so divisive but I have strong feelings that I wish to express, and I am interested in your comments. I'm not making the case that the Obama Administration can't be criticized, I'm discussing how some of those who voted for Bush in 2000 and/or 2004 are not accepting responsibility for their actions, and hypothesizing how that might shape the nature of their political discourse.

Our votes are the foundation of democracy. Voting is a meaningful personal action, because without our votes, no candidate gets elected. This means that when each of us vote, we take a very real responsibility for the consequences of our act. Or at least we should. But much of the political opposition of 2010 is about irresponsibility. We are seeing the anger of citizens who have much of the responsibility for what happened to America over the past decade but who dodge accountability for the choices that brought us here.

Over 50 million Americans voted to make George W. Bush our President in 2000 and over 62 million voted for him in 2004. By most measures, this choice was a disaster for America: an inherited budget surplus turned into huge deficits, the worst job growth in more than 20 years even before the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, the embarrassing FEMA response to Katrina, a foreign policy that had the Administration bogged down in two wars that dragged on longer than World War II while leaving American influence in the world at historically low levels. Al Gore and John Kerry represented a significantly different choice from George W. Bush, and it was by the 112 million votes cast in 2000 and 2004 that we were governed by Republican Administrations.

The Tea Party movement is composed primarily by Americans who voted for George Bush, but who wish to dodge responsibility for those acts and the profound damage that occurred. Following the precedent set by Bush himself, most of those who elected him do not acknowledge responsibility for their errors. We get unfocused attacks on "government" rather than taking responsibility for the poor management by a Republican Administration that they had chosen. This is a consistent pattern over the past 30 years. Republican Administrations govern incompetently and then attack the incoming Democratic Administration based on citizen resentment of government incompetence. FEMA provides an excellent example of this cycle. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 demonstrated that Bush I had destroyed FEMA, there was clear evidence that FEMA was revitalized under Clinton, and then Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the Republicans had once against eviscerated FEMA.

The Boston Tea Party was not about taxation, it was about taxation without representation. the members of the modern Tea Party had representation - in fact, it was their votes that led us on the disastrous path of the last decade. But if anything shows the extremism of the Tea Party movement, it is their inability to consider their own responsibility for our predicament, or the possibility that the alternative choice may have been better. And you can see that extremist rejection of fact throughout the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement. Why is a movement called "Taxed Enough Already" unable to acknowledge the fact that federal taxes went down for over 90% of their members in 2009? Why are the Democrats labeled as socialist even when advancing policies that most of these same citizens supported when they were advanced by Republicans?

The answer has everything to do with the inability to accept personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Expressing regret is not enough, there needs to be recognition of why they made the wrong choice in 2000 and/or 2004, and how they would choose differently in the future to avoid such mistakes. Until the Tea Party members who voted for Bush can take personal responsibility for their actions as citizens in a democracy, they will continue to focus their anger in every direction except the one that counts most - on themselves and the votes that they cast.

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Doug64
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First, I didn't vote for Bush, ever. But there are two problems with your essay that I noticed off the top of my head.

First, the assumption that the Obama administration's foreign policy has improved American influence in the world. IMHO, it's made it worse thanks to giving the back of our hand to our allies while kowtowing to rivals and enemies.

Second, your implicit assumption that either Gore or Kerry would have been more fiscally responsible than Bush. Considering that Clinton's balanced budgets were put in place because of Republican Congresses and made possible through reductions in military spending, I find this very unlikely.

I would guess that a large proportion of the members of the Tea Parties are Republicans that didn't care for how their party behaved under Bush but are appalled at how the Democrats have made the Republican Party look like sober-minded misers. (What kind of idiot takes out a loan on a brand-new house when he's struggling to make the payment on houses he already owns? Oh, that's right, the person taking out the loan isn't the one that will have to come up with the payments, somehow.) Or many are Independents that used to be Republicans but left the party because of the way it was acting.

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Greg Davidson
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I thank you for not having voted for George W. Bush. I do disagree with the subsequent points that you make:

Foreign Policy influence - did you note the recent nuclear proliferation concessions that were achieved - things the United States had pursued unsuccessfully for a decade? Or polling around the globe showing an reduction in animosity towards the United States? Or by ceasing talk of axis of evil we stopped uniting the Iranian people around opposition to the United States, resulting in the natural fault lines in that society rising to the surface? I'll agree that the question of influence is not a 100% reversal, but certainly there are strong, positive signs of change.

Fiscal conservatism - The most fiscally irresponsible Administrations in recent history have been Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Your hypothesis that the fiscal achievements of the Clinton Administration are due to Republican leadership in Congress is directly refuted by the dramatic erosion in fiscal health immediately after Clinton was gone and the Republicans retained Congress.

quote:
Republicans that didn't care for how their party behaved under Bush but are appalled at how the Democrats have made the Republican Party look like sober-minded misers
The Republicans used tricks like "emergency" supplemental appropriations to hide the cost of the foreign wars from the budget - that does not seem like a sober-minded miser to me. That's how at the end of 8 years we were $5 trillion dollars deeper in debt and plummeting further down-ward - I don't remember sober-minded discussions along the way about taking on that level of debt. In contrast, the Obama Administration insisted on clean budgeting that took into account all of the expenditures of the federal budget. And when Obama proposed a major change in health care, he set as a ground-rule that it would not increase the debt (in contrast, the much larger Bush prescription drug benefit bill made no such promise, and in fact the Republicans dodged all issues of fiscal responsibility during the discussion of that bill). So there may be a perception among Republicans that the Democrats are more fiscally irresponsible, but there is a substantial body of facts that argue in the opposite direction.
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RickyB
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Doug, you mean to say you voted for Gore and Kerry, or you stayed home? [Smile]
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Gaoics79
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quote:
By most measures, this choice was a disaster for America: an inherited budget surplus turned into huge deficits, the worst job growth in more than 20 years even before the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, the embarrassing FEMA response to Katrina, a foreign policy that had the Administration bogged down in two wars that dragged on longer than World War II while leaving American influence in the world at historically low levels. Al Gore and John Kerry represented a significantly different choice from George W. Bush, and it was by the 112 million votes cast in 2000 and 2004 that we were governed by Republican Administrations.
While I understand the concept that a President is "responsible" for what happens on his watch in some sense, I think one can take this concept too far at times. I am not convinced that Bush caused the economic collapse of 2008, nor do I agree that at least one of the two wars you are currently involved in was something that could have been avoided had Gore won the election.

I am not even convinced that FEMA's poor response to Katrina had much of anything to do with who happened to be sitting in the oval office.

Not that I'm a huge fan of Bush...

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
I am not even convinced that FEMA's poor response to Katrina had much of anything to do with who happened to be sitting in the oval office.
Really? You don't think that the wave of unqualified appointees who got jobs because of personal connections with Bush or his staff had anything to do with the organization's poor response?

(Not that I have anything against personal connections leading to jobs in the abstract - it's only when it's for people who are completely unqualified. [Smile] )

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Greg Davidson
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jasonr, can you explain your position on what determines Presidential responsibility? If you think Bush can avoid responsibility for all of those adverse outcomes, what sorts of things do you hold President's responsible for?

And as for the "unavoidable" war (presumably Afghanistan and not Iraq), my point included the relevant fact that we have been fighting in Afghanistan for longer than we fought in WW II, a fact that I believe was caused by strategic military decisions including troop levels and objectives in Afghanistan and our policy towards pakistan..

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PSRT
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quote:
I am not convinced that Bush caused the economic collapse of 2008,
Cause? No. Set policy that made the collapse, when it came, worse than it would have been? Absolutely.

I wonder what percentage of the tea partiers supported the war in Iraq, and were enthusiastic about it? That war will end up costing American taxpayers far more than the health care bill, and will have had a far larger negative impact on our debt levels.

Greg's right. They aren't really protesting a principle. They are protesting money being spent in ways they disagree with... not exactly a new or exciting position to stake out. But the way the tea partiers are framing the issue is destructive.

[ April 17, 2010, 07:42 PM: Message edited by: PSRT ]

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Doug64
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Foreign Policy influence - did you note the recent nuclear proliferation concessions that were achieved - things the United States had pursued unsuccessfully for a decade? Or polling around the globe showing an reduction in animosity towards the United States? Or by ceasing talk of axis of evil we stopped uniting the Iranian people around opposition to the United States, resulting in the natural fault lines in that society rising to the surface? I'll agree that the question of influence is not a 100% reversal, but certainly there are strong, positive signs of change.

Actually, the fall-off in animosity could well be a bad sign - depends on who likes us more now. There are times when having certain people dislike you is a badge of honor. Nor does that necessarily the same as saying the Obama administration has increased the effectiveness of US foreign policy. Personally, I suspect there's a number of governments in Europe at the least (certainly eastern Europe but even in the west) that find themselves missing George Bush II, as well as others around the world: As Traditional Allies Refuse To Attend Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, Widening Rifts Are Exposed, Obama's policy of slapping allies. Not to mention, what ObamaCare is going to do to our long-term foreign influence if it isn't repealed - if I was European, ObamaCare would scare me splitless.
quote:
Fiscal conservatism - The most fiscally irresponsible Administrations in recent history have been Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Your hypothesis that the fiscal achievements of the Clinton Administration are due to Republican leadership in Congress is directly refuted by the dramatic erosion in fiscal health immediately after Clinton was gone and the Republicans retained Congress.
First, on investigation it turns out that Clinton didn't actually ever produce a surplus: The Myth of the Clinton Surplus. Second, part of the reason for the Bush deficits (though certainly not the only one) was the resumption of military spending without a concurrent reduction in domestic spending.
quote:
The Republicans used tricks like "emergency" supplemental appropriations to hide the cost of the foreign wars from the budget - that does not seem like a sober-minded miser to me. That's how at the end of 8 years we were $5 trillion dollars deeper in debt and plummeting further down-ward - I don't remember sober-minded discussions along the way about taking on that level of debt.
I didn't say that the Republicans was fiscally responsible, I said the Democrats' behavior since taking office make them look that way by comparison.
quote:
In contrast, the Obama Administration insisted on clean budgeting that took into account all of the expenditures of the federal budget. And when Obama proposed a major change in health care, he set as a ground-rule that it would not increase the debt (in contrast, the much larger Bush prescription drug benefit bill made no such promise, and in fact the Republicans dodged all issues of fiscal responsibility during the discussion of that bill). So there may be a perception among Republicans that the Democrats are more fiscally irresponsible, but there is a substantial body of facts that argue in the opposite direction.
I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. The smoke and mirrors the Democrats used to get a prediction of zero deficits from the CBO are one of the finest examples of GIGO that I know of. For instance, do you really think that the Democrats are really going to not pass the doctor fix like they do every year, or going to actually pay for it when they do pass it? But they couldn't include it in the ObamaCare law, it would have made producing that balanced CBO report impossible.
quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Doug, you mean to say you voted for Gore and Kerry, or you stayed home? [Smile]

No, I've never stayed home. Instead, to date I've always voted Libertarian when I could. That party's platform is actually closer to my own views, though there are a few major differences - once I went through the Libertarian Party platform and rated each plank on a scale of 0 to 5 from lowest agreement to highest. I scored around 80% agreement, and that's after some years of slippage on foreign policy.

Unfortunately, thanks to the nature of both ObamaCare itself and the way the Democrats passed it, I'm through voting Libertarian for the foreseeable future. I've actually joined the Republican Party (the first time I've officially joined any party) so I can vote in primary caucuses and will be voting for Republicans. Right now, better a less than good Republican than the finest Democrat.

Edited to add: domestically, I didn't care for Bush at all - he proved himself a Big Business Republican rather than a Free Enterprise Republican.

[ April 17, 2010, 08:03 PM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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Funean
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I always come out strongly libertarian on those matrix tests, but somehow the Libertarian Party candidates available for voting here are always dreadfully defective in some way.
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PSRT
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quote:
Unfortunately, thanks to the nature of both ObamaCare itself and the way the Democrats passed it, I'm through voting Libertarian for the foreseeable future. I've actually joined the Republican Party
You are aware of how the Republican Party passed legislation over the last 20 years, yes? Because if how the health care bill passed is repugnant enough for you to change how you vote, you should not vote for Republicans.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I apologize for the stridency of this essay, I would rather not be so divisive but I have strong feelings that I wish to express, and I am interested in your comments. I'm not making the case that the Obama Administration can't be criticized, I'm discussing how some of those who voted for Bush in 2000 and/or 2004 are not accepting responsibility for their actions, and hypothesizing how that might shape the nature of their political discourse.

Wow, talk about not accepting responsibility. G2 apologizes for the stridency of this response, G2 would rather not be so divisive but G2 has strong feelings that G2 wishes to express Greg, are you aware that the Democrats have controlled Congress for over 46 of the last 56 years? You think they had no control or say at all during that time or what? You know that Congress controls the purse string not the President right? How about you take a little responsibility before asking it of others. [Roll Eyes]
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Doug64
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quote:
Originally posted by Funean:
I always come out strongly libertarian on those matrix tests, but somehow the Libertarian Party candidates available for voting here are always dreadfully defective in some way.

True, but voting Libertarian has the advantage that the chances of having your candidate actually win is pretty much nil - it's a way of voting "none of the above" while making an ideological statement.

For how I come out in those tests, it depends on whether the test focuses purely on political/economic views or mixes in moral views - for the first, I come out hard libertarian while for the second I tend to come out as a moderate.
quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
You are aware of how the Republican Party passed legislation over the last 20 years, yes? Because if how the health care bill passed is repugnant enough for you to change how you vote, you should not vote for Republicans.

Unfortunately, the choice has come down to a possibly corrupt party that will mostly favor policies I agree v. a definitely corrupt party pushing policies I believe are a disaster for this country and the world.

[ April 17, 2010, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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hobsen
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While I voted for Gore and Kerry, I agree with jasonr that many of their actions might have resembled those of Bush had they been elected. Bush must take sole responsibility for invading Iraq, which was the single worst thing to happen during his time in office, but not for everything else which happened to take place.

As for the Tea Parties, they bring together many people who are upset in one way or another with the directions the country is taking. But I think supporters are angry about different things, and often favor directly opposing policies for improving them. Their influence may make it somewhat harder for incumbents to retain their offices in 2010 and 2012. Otherwise their effect may be hard to measure.

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noel
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Greg,

"I'm not making the case that the Obama Administration can't be criticized, I'm discussing how some of those who voted for Bush in 2000 and/or 2004 are not accepting responsibility for their actions, and hypothesizing how that might shape the nature of their political discourse."... As in all but one of the presidential elections which I participated in, my first choice among "conservative" contenders did not make the final cut. In 2000, Steve Forbes, or even Alan Keyes, were vastly superior to Bush II. Like his father before him, I was more than a little disturbed that he felt a need for the "compassionate" qualifier to his conservativism, which generally did translate into budget busting extravagance. Other than his Supreme Court appointments, Harriet Miers excepted, the only other good things that he did of a major nature were the attacks upon Afghanistan, and Iraq... but once again, he blew it by following Colin Powell's advice to engage in subsequent nation building. "Accountability" in these situations is pretty much limited to registering objections, not regretting that I did not select Gore in the alternative.

quote:
But much of the political opposition of 2010 is about irresponsibility. We are seeing the anger of citizens who have much of the responsibility for what happened to America over the past decade but who dodge accountability for the choices that brought us here.
quote:
The Tea Party movement is composed primarily by Americans who voted for George Bush, but who wish to dodge responsibility for those acts and the profound damage that occurred.
Review this poll;

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/Tea-Partiers-Fairly-Mainstream-Demographics.aspx

Among the things you can conclude is that independent voters, who were critical to Obama's election, constitute a nearly equal percentage of Tea Party attendees. As a group, they are now currently splitting 75% anti Obama... not good news for Progressives this coming November.

quote:
The Boston Tea Party was not about taxation, it was about taxation without representation. the members of the modern Tea Party had representation - in fact, it was their votes that led us on the disastrous path of the last decade.
What is the qualitative distinction between non-representation, and misrepresentation? We all know how Obama distanced himself from Reverend Wright's racist liberation theology, in claiming that somehow he just missed the offending sermons. Bill Ayers was likewise dismissed as merely a neighbor with interests in child education.

Do you have any justification for Obama's minimization of this mentor...?;

http://www.aim.org/aim-column/obamas-communist-mentor/

While it would go a long way to explaining the hope, and change, we have been experiencing over the last sixteen months, it is not something that would have enhanced his election prospects. Some, like me, might even suggest that Obama is an opportunistic political chameleon. Many of us knew that in 2008, but you can hardly blame independents for not noticing the problem... after all, a large portion of the electorate genuinely wanted to see a black man that spoke in normal english, and "smelled clean", be president.

They were blinded by hope, but that will be corrected in November 2010, and 2012. It is the "responsible" thing to do.

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stayne
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Greg, it's well written, but I don't follow your logic at all. Most of the Tea Party's anger seems to be directed at the fact that the representatives they vote for do not represent them.

I don't understand what you think they should do. Vote for and support Democrats? Why would they do that if they don't support their views?

The Tea Party is a group of people who think the entire government, not just one party, is broken. The #1 point on the 'Contract from America' post is: "Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does."

IMO, there is a growing view that the parties are just a shell game. They play the populace, keeping them angry with one another, distracting them from taking any action to reign in a government that has grown beyond the bounds of the contract that empowers it, i.e. the Constitution. The Tea Party is but one group with this view. There is an effort to revive the Whig party, too. These groups are still growing and finding their actual voice. It is only reasonable that they sound a bit confused. They represent a realignment of political alliances.

Hear me: one in five of your countrymen are telling you they are mightily pissed off about how things are going, that they are not being heard, not being represented, and that they fear the government is moving toward tyranny. Oddly enough, it was about the same percentage of Texans who thought secession was a good idea. I told people here at the time that they were being foolish to simply laugh it off. Now we have states voting to use the militia to defend against the Federal Government. Would you call that progress?

I was taught in school that 1/3 of the population is a magic number: if that many people are very angry with the government, then rebellion is not far off. That's uncomfortably close, even without the numbers being understated, which I believe they are. The 18% is just the Tea Party. They do not encompass all of the people who feel as they do.

If you wish to call people to task for being irresponsible, I suggest you start at a more obvious point: who or what is responsible for a jaw dropping 20 percent of the nation feeling like they are no longer your fellow countrymen? Is ridiculing them or vilifying them a solution, or is it part of the problem that has alienated them in the first place?

I, for one, believe it is vital that we start giving these people the respect they deserve as our fellow countrymen, before they decide the time for words is truly past. We will not convince anyone to adhere to the social contract if we insist on despising them as fools, evil men, or hypocrites. We will only further alienate them.

Don't say it can't happen here. Half the reason people are becoming more worried about these movements is because they know they could turn violent. We MUST stop treating our countrymen as our enemies, or they will at some point BECOME our enemies.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The Tea Party is a group of people who think the entire government, not just one party, is broken.
I think this is an absurdly false premise, given the co-option of the entire movement by the Republican Party. Tea Party members who believe it have, from the very first, not been paying attention. Frankly, though, I suspect only the very stupidest members of the "party" do.

----------------

quote:
The smoke and mirrors the Democrats used to get a prediction of zero deficits from the CBO are one of the finest examples of GIGO that I know of.
GIGO that you know about is, frankly, not the GIGO that should bother you. [Smile]

----------------

quote:
I, for one, believe it is vital that we start giving these people the respect they deserve as our fellow countrymen, before they decide the time for words is truly past.
I respect them exactly as much as they deserve.
GIGO that you know about is, in a nutshell, not the GIGO that should bother you. [Wink]

[ April 17, 2010, 11:44 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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stayne
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quote:
I think this is an absurdly false premise, given the co-option of the entire movement by the Republican Party. Tea Party members who believe it have, from the very first, not been paying attention. Frankly, though, I suspect only the very stupidest members of the "party" do.

Case in point. The people who disagree with you are just stupid, and by extension, _I_ am stupid, because I believe it. Nice backhanded personal attack, there. Not that the accusation of being called stupid by the king of one liners and gotcha games matters much to me, but the management here takes issue with it. [Razz]

Why'd you lose your cool, man? You're usually much better at this. You throw a little chum, lay a little trap, and occasionally catch a rube. What, you figure it won't work on me so you might as well just throw a punch?

It's funny how people get hostile when they start thinking their words won't get them anywhere. I was just talking about that. Are you sure you're not a closet Tea Party member?

Seriously, though, you can't really be surprised the Reps are courting them. A big chunk of them are runaways who are pissed off at the Republicans. If you dropped a hundred dollar bill, you'd go looking for it, too. No conspiracy here.

quote:

I respect them exactly as much as they deserve.

Which is to say "Not at all". They're stupid and evil, they're your enemies, right? They're unworthy of respect. Sounds like war propaganda to me.

quote:

GIGO that you know about is, in a nutshell, not the GIGO that should bother you. [Wink]

This makes no sense to me. Are you freakin' drunk, Tom? Hrm, maybe not such a bad idea. My nerves are freakin' shot worrying about this crap. I just made a batch of some really good beer.

I'm just jerking your chain a little, Tom, so don't get mad. You jerk mine often enough. [Big Grin]

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug64
Not to mention, what ObamaCare is going to do to our long-term foreign influence if it isn't repealed - if I was European, ObamaCare would scare me splitless.

Huh? I have no idea how HCR influences our foreign policy. Much less how any affect would negatively impact Europeans. Could you please explain this.
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Doug64
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quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
quote:
Originally posted by Doug64
Not to mention, what ObamaCare is going to do to our long-term foreign influence if it isn't repealed - if I was European, ObamaCare would scare me splitless.

Huh? I have no idea how HCR influences our foreign policy. Much less how any affect would negatively impact Europeans. Could you please explain this.
Simple enough. One thing that is going to be as sure as the sun rises is that ObamaCare is going to be expensive, and we can't continue to run deficits or we're going to seriously break our country. That means higher taxes and cutting spending, and where do you thing the spending is going to be cut? The military. Which means that we stop being the world's policeman, and who takes over that role if we give it up? Nobody I can think of, which means the world becomes a much more chaotic, dangerous place.

[ April 18, 2010, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Seriously, though, you can't really be surprised the Reps are courting them.
The Reps aren't courting them. The Reps own them. If you aren't aware of the financial involvement of Republican donors with the Tea Party, you've been hiding under a rock.

quote:
Which is to say "Not at all". They're stupid and evil, they're your enemies, right? They're unworthy of respect.
Nope. I respect them as much as I respect any other American citizen who's bone-stupid, which is to say, "not much." Certainly not enough to, say, dehumanize or kill 'em, which is the intent of war propaganda. Tea Partiers are perfectly capable of being intelligent people; they've just learned to suppress that ability.

quote:
This makes no sense to me.
To clarify the point: if you are saying that you are worried or upset about dishonest accounting, keep in mind that the accounting you're upset about is clumsily dishonest enough that you (or, rather, Doug), someone who is completely uninvolved with the government and economics and the plans being funded, know about it. Which almost certainly, in the modern era, means that you've read some article on it. Which almost certainly, in the modern era, means that someone told a writer about it.

There is, no doubt, dishonest accounting happening all the time that is not being communicated by interested parties to journalists. That is, I submit, the dishonest accounting we should be really worried about, because it won't percolate into our consciousness until the next administration gets to leak what it considers convenient.

[ April 18, 2010, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by stayne:

If you wish to call people to task for being irresponsible, I suggest you start at a more obvious point: who or what is responsible for a jaw dropping 20 percent of the nation feeling like they are no longer your fellow countrymen? Is ridiculing them or vilifying them a solution, or is it part of the problem that has alienated them in the first place?

I, for one, believe it is vital that we start giving these people the respect they deserve as our fellow countrymen, before they decide the time for words is truly past. We will not convince anyone to adhere to the social contract if we insist on despising them as fools, evil men, or hypocrites. We will only further alienate them.

Don't say it can't happen here. Half the reason people are becoming more worried about these movements is because they know they could turn violent. We MUST stop treating our countrymen as our enemies, or they will at some point BECOME our enemies.

I think the 24 hour sensationalized, polarized media is to blame for the large number of Americans who are so angry. Most of Obama's policies have been continuation of Bush policies or centrist (HCR is pretty similar to the 1994 Republican plan and Romney's HCR in Mass.). The stimulus was the only other big piece of legislation and 1/3 of that was tax cuts, 1/3 was given to states and the last 1/3 is being spent on various projects.

However both branches of the media (left and right) sensationalize conflict and either over hype or vilify everything that happens. Their goal is to increase ratings. Who is really going to watch the news if the anchor sits down and says nothing much happened today? So every little conflict, every inconsequential scandal, every unseemly legislative procedure, and every consequence of every bill has been sensationalized and used to drive ratings. The liberal media (MSNBC) share some responsibility with the conservative media in this respect. The liberal media over hypes the accomplishments of Obama making them seem more significant than they really are. The conservative media (Fox News/Rush) makes everything seem more sinister than it really is.

When the media repeats every night the same tune about sweeping reforms or radical agendas that are taking away liberty then it isn't surprising when a large number of people get angry.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug64:
quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
quote:
Originally posted by Doug64
Not to mention, what ObamaCare is going to do to our long-term foreign influence if it isn't repealed - if I was European, ObamaCare would scare me splitless.

Huh? I have no idea how HCR influences our foreign policy. Much less how any affect would negatively impact Europeans. Could you please explain this.
Simple enough. One thing that is going to be as sure as the sun rises is that ObamaCare is going to be expensive, and we can't continue to run deficits or we're going to seriously break our country. That means higher taxes and cutting spending, and where do you thing the spending is going to be cut? The military. Which means that we stop being the world's policeman, and who takes over that role if we give it up? Nobody I can think of, which means the world becomes a much more chaotic, dangerous place.
Ok, honestly that was going to happen with or without HCR. The looming SS and Medicare obligations along with ridiculously high military expenditures were already going to force cuts. You are correct in asserting that no one will take over the role of world policeman but regional powers will step up and mostly keep the peace in their regions. Europe can take care of itself, India, China, Japan and Brazil will become a more prominent regional powers. The only regions likely to be chaotic are likely to be the already chaotic regions (the Middle East and Africa).

I see no reason for Europeans to be afraid if America steps back a little, they are plenty capable of providing a stable Europe.

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stayne
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
[QB]
quote:
Seriously, though, you can't really be surprised the Reps are courting them.
The Reps aren't courting them. The Reps own them. If you aren't aware of the financial involvement of Republican donors with the Tea Party, you've been hiding under a rock.

Or, conversely, I've been working, taking care of my family, and frankly don't give a damn because I don't see at all how it changes anything. Let's note for the record you don't offer anything but innuendo here. WHAT, specifically, is being bought? If you can't point to that, you have no point, you're just churning up FUD, and you're not even making the effort to connect the dots yourself. Are you hoping someone else will do it for you because you don't want to look like a conspiracy theorist, or do you actually have something you want to put out for discussion?

quote:

Nope. I respect them as much as I respect any other American citizen who's bone-stupid, which is to say, "not much."
Certainly not enough to, say, dehumanize or kill 'em, which is the intent of war propaganda. Tea Partiers are perfectly capable of being intelligent people; they've just learned to suppress that ability.

Sure, they're stupid and you're smart. They're a huge group who are pissed off and might turn violent, and you think the best way to deal with them is to insult them and shout them down. Yeah, that's REAL smart. Not.

THAT is half of what they are pissed off about in the first place, Tom. Stupid or not is debatable, but you're asserting it as a forgone conclusion, which is about as prejudiced as you can get. But let's say you're right and most of them are dumb as a bag of hammers. Here's truth, man: a dog is dumb as hell, but if he's riled and you kick him, he's likely to bite you. A stupid man is MORE likely to kill you precisely because he might lack the vision to appreciate the far reaching consequences of his actions.

Now do you genuinely disagree with that? Because if you say yes, I guess I am going to have to revise my estimates on YOUR intelligence, too, and we'll be two morons arguing if 2+2 is 3 or 5.

I have no idea what you're trying to say in regard to accounting. My point has nothing to do with accounting, unless you count 'settling scores' to be in that category. My point is very simply this: there are a LOT of very pissed off people in the country right now. It DOES NOT MATTER if you or I think they are right or wrong. At the core of the Tea Party movement is a very real rage regarding politics as usual.

You don't see it because it doesn't fit with how you see the world. You seem to think that only people who have 'credentials' and are good at expressing themselves, at being slick and selling their point, are capable of determining the course of the nation. You reek of disdain for common people, people who may not have all their facts straight but who have a fairly decent idea of what's going on, what they want, and what they are willing to trade to get it. You dismiss them as fools, and they have grown tired of it.

Do you really not understand that this is EXACTLY what is driving these people? Their anger is directed at the very mindset you espouse: that they are know nothings, that they should be despised because they are common, because they reject 'nuance', and largely see it as sophistry, as a con to confuse them or silence them.

Did you ever see Fight Club? That's who these people are: common people who have been marginalized to the point that they see the very system as the problem. They are the people we draw our fighting forces and police from, our infrastructure workers, our farmers and tradesmen and mechanics.

Every time you spit on those people and call them fools, their fellows who have already drawn their own conclusions say, "See, they think you're a fool, an ape with no say in things." And their numbers grow.

If it makes you and those who agree with you sleep well at night to pooh pooh it, I can only shrug at your claims of superior intellect. I don't sleep so well myself, lately.

I am very, very worried that we are on the brink of disaster. How can we not be when it is so chic to hate our fellow countrymen and despise them as dolts?

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stayne
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Yossarian, I agree with you completely. I do not see the Tea Party and its ilk as being provoked by the Obama administration. Rather, I see it as Obama having inspired a lot of people enough to give him a chance, to make real changes, and the fact that everything is business as usual is simply the last straw.

For me, it was easy to see how messed up the Democrats were in the Bush years, so I thought they were the only problem. They were vicious and unfair. But it was only when Obama came into power that I could see the same on the right. Hannity et all seemed very reasonable to me when they were defending Bush. They criticized the Democrats for their horrid behavior. And yet, they turned around and did the same thing to Obama. It became clear to me that they never gave a damn about the right thing, they only cared about winning. Obama could ****ing walk on water and the Republicans would say it was because he couldn't swim.

I think that happened to a lot of people.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Let's note for the record you don't offer anything but innuendo here.
You're keeping a record, then? [Wink]
Out of interest, do you think George Soros plays any role in Democratic Party affairs?

quote:
Stupid or not is debatable, but you're asserting it as a forgone conclusion, which is about as prejudiced as you can get.
No. I understand entirely what they're saying. I understand, moreover, exactly what they think they're advocating. And knowing these things, I say they're incredibly stupid.

I'm not just rolling my eyes and saying, "Oh, look! A bunch of easily misled hicks!" As you'll know from other conversations on this topic, I'm actually pretty sensitive to the whole "deep cynicism about government" thing. I just think it's a ridiculous shame that the "masses" making up the Tea Party have only now managed to muster up some cynicism, at least eight years too late. I mean, seriously, these people missed the boat. They had a decade to figure out that the government wasn't working in their best interest, and a smirk from underneath a cowboy hat was all it took for them to extend to him the benefit of the doubt while he constructed a temple to executive power. And now that we've got a black guy in the office who, as far as we can tell, intends to govern just like the other guy, now we're going to get fed up with government?

Well, hell, that ship has sailed. The line formed on the left, y'know? It's around the block by now. They don't get to rush to the front of the line and pretend they're all about defending our freedoms when the only thing that's got their panties in a bunch is that it's the wrong guy doing it.

Because that's the problem with the Tea Party. Half of them don't actually have any problem with federalism at all, except when Democrats run the game. The other half have heard about "states' rights" and think they're a good idea because it'd keep the Supreme Court from forcing them to stop feeding minced-up atheists to gay schoolchildren.

There's no room for me in that conversation, and it infuriates me because I'd love to have a conversation that includes a sane discussion about the role of the federal government, etc. The problem is, the rabble -- and I do not speak from ignorance when I call these people "rabble," mind you -- has been wound up and aimed at a target that most of them can't even see, and moreover aren't aware that they've been wound up in the first place.

When they decide to act like grownups, they'll find me patiently waiting for them eight years ago, when the nation sure could have used a bunch of angry people who gave lip service to freedom.

quote:
You seem to think that only people who have 'credentials' and are good at expressing themselves, at being slick and selling their point, are capable of determining the course of the nation.
I think having credentials and being good at expressing yourself certainly helps, yeah. But I'm not writing off the Tea Partiers because they're incapable of stringing two words together. In fact, some of 'em are quite "slick," indeed.

quote:
Do you really not understand that this is EXACTLY what is driving these people? Their anger is directed at the very mindset you espouse: that they are know nothings, that they should be despised because they are common, because they reject 'nuance'
Except that's not why I reject and despise them.

quote:
Did you ever see Fight Club? That's who these people are: common people who have been marginalized...
I think you've got your demographics wrong, there. That's certainly what they like to claim their demographics are, though, because it makes it a lot easier to seem noble and oppressed if you can claim to be the little people.

quote:
I am very, very worried that we are on the brink of disaster. How can we not be when it is so chic to hate our fellow countrymen and despise them as dolts?
Remember those pictures of Obama as the Joker? I don't remember those keeping you up at night. Why do you only complain about it when someone points out that a group you sympathize with is mostly made up of dolts?

[ April 18, 2010, 01:56 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Greg Davidson
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Thanks for a lot of interesting comments, this gives me much to think about.

Doug64,

With respect to the calculation of budget deficit/surplus, there are several ways of characterizing the situation, and no matter which standard you use, the facts are clear that Reagan, Bush I and Bush II were less fiscally responsible than Democratic Administrations (Clinton and Carter). And using the same accounting standards, the fiscal performance experienced during the Clinton Administration was better than predicted by the Clinton Administration (and far, far better than was predicted by Republicans who used a lot of "smoke and mirrors" comments similar to yours today and they made a lot of assertions that Democrats always bust the budget, and they were all proven very wrong by the actual results).

noel,

The flaw with your poll is that the population of independent voters has changed since the 2008 election. My thesis is that Republican voters want to dodge accountability for the consequences of their votes for George W. Bush. Many of those voters are now labeling themselves as "independents". If I am correct in my assertion that the Tea Party movement is filled with Bush voters who do not want to take responsibility for the damage that they caused with their votes, then many of these "independent" voters are merely former Republicans dodging accountability.

stayne,

quote:
Most of the Tea Party's anger seems to be directed at the fact that the representatives they vote for do not represent them.
Tea party members have a profound misunderstanding of democracy if they believe that they are not represented when the majority of voters choose candidates who don't hold their views.

quote:
I suggest you start at a more obvious point: who or what is responsible for a jaw dropping 20 percent of the nation feeling like they are no longer your fellow countrymen?
My whole thesis is that a large portion of the Tea Party movement are Bush voters who don't want to take responsibility for the degree to which their votes have damaged the country. In fact, a large number of Republicans treated any dissent from Bush Administration policy as an anti-American act ("you're either with us or against us", campaign ads morphing Democratic candidates to Osama bin Laden). My jaw doesn't drop at the thought that some fraction of the people who vigorously supported this kind of extreme behavior will feel disenfranchised when their deeply held beliefs are rejected by the majority of the population. Now, when you talk about who is responsible for Tea party members feeling disaffected, there might be a way to answer that question. A recent CBS/NYT poll looked at the 18% of the population who favor the Tea Party movement, and beyond obvious factors (more Republican, wealthier, whiter, and older than the rest of the population), they found one stark demographic difference between Tea Party members and the other 82% of the American population. Most Americans don't have any opinion about Glenn Beck, and of those who do (outside of the Tea Party movement), only 18% have a favorable opinion. For Tea Party members, 59% have a favorable opinion of Glenn Beck. If you assert that a key characteristic of the Tea Party faction is their level of alienation, and a demonstrated characteristic of Tea party members is favoring Glenn Beck, I could argue that the causality comes from the response of a disaffected population being swayed by a hostile propagandist.
========================================

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stayne
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Tom, I'll cut it short because I'm up far too late. Couple of quick points and we'll tangle more tomorrow if you like.

Soros: He's interested in Soros. What he does with his money can help shape opinion, or at least get word out, but in the end, men make their own choices. Soros doesn't own the Democrats.

Obama as Joker, and any other number of disrespectful things directed at him: they are wrong, and perpetuate the sort of vicious politics that are taken as the norm. I am pretty sure I have talked about it on Ornery, too.

I dig what you're saying, man. I don't think you're an idiot, and I absolutely have seen in many of your posts a healthy cynicism for the government.

I DO have some sympathy for the Tea Party. That goes without saying. I submit that that you might, as well, if you take a look at what BOTH sides have become. As I note in my post to Yossarian, I didn't see it on the right until after Obama was elected. I firmly believe now that both parties have worked very hard to establish a meme of infighting that keeps them in power.

But I am also fearful of what their movement might mean in the long run if people dismiss their concerns with the same tactics they have been using against one another in the established parties. Tom, I swear to you, man, this seems different to me. It's not politics as usual. The anger is real, and we're seeing things this country hasn't seen in a long time. I have children I want to be ok. I don't want them to have to suffer what may occur if people don't stop hating each other and see reason.

If we're as smart as we like to think, we should be using our brains to come up with a way to defuse what looks to me to be a powderkeg.

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Greg Davidson
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Wow, a lot of comments were posted while I was posting my last one.
quote:
My point is very simply this: there are a LOT of very pissed off people in the country right now. It DOES NOT MATTER if you or I think they are right or wrong. At the core of the Tea Party movement is a very real rage regarding politics as usual.
I have parented teenagers. Just because someone is angry, that doesn't mean they should get their way. In fact, I believe this pathological strand of the American culture emerged on the Left in the 1960's and 1970's where it grew to become ridiculous, and now it has migrated to the Right. It is combining with the level of anger that always occurs when there is a poor economic environment. Where this anger boils over into domestic terrorism, it is a real threat that should be addressed. But beyond that threat, it is not unique.
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Funean
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Why, Tom--when you save up for a multisentence rant, you really do it up proud.

For what it's worth you've nicely summed up my current dismay with the political environment.

I've actually been upset about many of the same issues the Tea Party is agitating about...but for a decade or more now. I'm amazed and furious that all this political vitality is being spent on things like the health care bill. Where were all these guys when the Patriot Act was hurried through Congress like Britney Spears being rushed past the paparazzi? And if we're talking money, not "liberty," how about all the wildly mispent and unaccounted for dollars spent in the first couple of years of the Iraq war?

And I'm simply baffled that anyone thinks Obama is governing in any way other than that he promised to do. He was painted as a pie-eyed liberal by his opposition during the campaign, but why anyone believed that is beyond me. It was always very clear to me, anyway, that he was dead center politically, with an ambitious (read expensive) domestic agenda and little to no intention of dramatically altering the overall course of action in either theater of war.

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Greg Davidson
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Is it possible that delayed outrage against extreme actions taken by the Bush Administration is being translated into greater outrage at lesser acts by the Obama Administration? For example, the evidence is pretty compelling that the Bush Administration broke the law with FISA. That's a pretty big story, the President breaks a law that was established specifically to limit the power of the Presidency. But rather than confront the reality of big government illegality by a Republican, the outrage on the right was strangely muted. That is, until a Democrat was in office, when suddenly Constitutional questions emerged on legislative matters than had not been widely questioned for a century.

When the Bush II Administration was generating $5 trillion of debt (and passing a medicare prescription drug law that will increase the debt by further trillions in the future), the reaction on the right was strangely muted. But when the Obama Administration comes forward with a plan that is judged by the CBO to be debt neutral, suddenly incredible outrage hits (even if you want to argue that CBO estimate is wrong, which is debatable, the Obama plan is clearly closer to debt neutral than the prior actions of the Bush Administration which escaped the same vitriol).

I disagree with hobsen that it would not have mattered if Gore or Kerry had won instead; Bush was a remarkably bad President who led the country in the wrong direction. I think that the conflict between a sense of how bad things were, combined with an unwillingness to take responsibility, has led to the incredible Republican claims after a year in office that it was somehow wrong to attribute some of our current difficulties to the previous 8 years of misrule (in contrast, the case for Reagan's economic success requires attributing Regan's first 2.5 years of poor economic performance to Jimmy Carter - if not, the record shows that economic growth was higher under Carter than Reagan).


These examples are consistent with the idea that it is the inability to confront one's own responsibility for the damage inflicted on the country by the Bush Administration that is driving some of the Tea Party outrage. It doesn't matter if they might have preferred a different Republican before voting for Bush. By their actions, this man was our President, and so they are responsible. And until they recognize their culpability, I expect they will instead continue to focus their anger outward rather than on where it belongs.

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noel
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Greg,

quote:
The flaw with your poll is that the population of independent voters has changed since the 2008 election. My thesis is that Republican voters want to dodge accountability for the consequences of their votes for George W. Bush. Many of those voters are now labeling themselves as "independents". If I am correct in my assertion that the Tea Party movement is filled with Bush voters who do not want to take responsibility for the damage that they caused with their votes, then many of these "independent" voters are merely former Republicans dodging accountability.
This is an interesting thesis. Do you have any hard data for the proposition that the "independent" demographic has drawn primarily from responsibility-evading Bush voters since 2008?

quote:
When the Bush II Administration was generating $5 trillion of debt (and passing a medicare prescription drug law that will increase the debt by further trillions in the future), the reaction on the right was strangely muted.
There was nothing "muted" about the contemporaneous reaction of conservatives to this stunt(s). I have often speculated that Bush's tendency to curry approval from political opponents stems from his college cheer-leading days. He did the same thing in Texas while Governor.

quote:
Tea party members have a profound misunderstanding of democracy if they believe that they are not represented when the majority of voters choose candidates who don't hold their views.
Greg, I have found you to be a thoughtful liberal. I am not a Tea Party member, and am unaware if it is something you can formally "join". The CBS link which you provided does not characterize these people as ignorant. I doubt that they are confused about what it means to live within a constitutional republic (not a pure democracy). I think your comment betrays a lack of understanding of what conservatives believe, and possibly how our government is actually supposed to function.
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Greg Davidson
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Thanks for the questions, noel

Support for my thesis:
quote:
87 percent say they would vote for the GOP candidate in their congressional district if there were no third-party candidate endorsed by the Tea Party,
Item 2
quote:
There was nothing "muted" about the contemporaneous reaction of conservatives to this stunt(s).
Were there Tea Party rallies? How many "no" votes by Republicans on legislation at the time? After all, there are unanimous "no" votes by Republicans on these sorts of issues now that Obama is President.

Item 3

Yes, you are right, "membership" in the Tea Party movement is not necessarily a formal thing, and so probably better wording would be supporters of the Tea Party movement. I want to make clear that I am not assuming that people on Ornery are necessarily members of the Tea Party movement based on their views, and in fact, I am describing what I believe to be a majority of Tea Party followers (voted for Bush, now in the Tea Party), but I am also sure that there are some (primarily libertarians) sho support the Tea Party movement who also opposed Bush. The "profound misunderstanding" (not "ignorance") comes from people who want "to take our country back" - they haven't lost their country just because the guy they voted for lost. Otherwise, up to half the population will have "lost their country" after every election. It is all our country regardless of election outcome - that's what it means to live in a democracy.

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Mariner
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Tom, Greg, etc, have any of you actually attended a Tea Party? My guess is no.

For starters, Tom's assertion that the Tea Party is a wing of the Republican party completely misses several key points. Sure, the Republican party wants to co-opt it. Why wouldn't they? Yes, it's funded by conservative groups. Why wouldn't they fund it?

And yet, the Tea Party still answers to no one, as is obvious by the fractional, grass roots nature of the process. Yes, there's the National Tea Party Convention and the Tea Party Express and the like. But for the average person, they have no connection to these national groups. There is no leader, except a general understanding that Sarah Palin is an unofficial figurehead. There are no marching orders. There are no groups to swear allegiance to.

Yes, it is true that the Tea Party is going to be voting heavily Republican. But to assume that means we support the Republican party, or that we are the Republican party in disguise, is absurd, especially when you look at what's happening on the ground. See, despite this shaky alliance, the Tea Party truly does believe that both parties are corrupt. But because Greg and Tom seem to think that the Republican party is some monolithic army of Bush clones, they miss the point.

How long has the Libertarian party been around? How much have they accomplished? Absolutely nothing? Pretty much. Well, I take that back. There's a libertarian revival now. Distrust of the Federal Reserve is at an all time high. How did that happen? Well, the financial collapse helped, but Ron Paul certainly played a huge part in it. Ron Paul... the Republican. The Libertarians have been saying this for years, but no one listened. Ron Paul ran in the Republican party, and his views gained a foothold. He may have lost, but his ideas now live on because he was willing to work within the two party system. Daruma's a typical Paul supporter. Is he a monolithic Bush clone Republican? Please.

But Daruma refuses to get involved with the two party system. The Tea Party, on the other hand, took the lesson of Paul to heart, and are willing to work within the two party system to get real change rather than shout from the sidelines. This means that one of the parties has to be coopted by the Tea Party movement. Naturally, we chose the Republican party due to being slightly more limited government than the Democrats. So how is that a monolithic Bush clone army?

And the evidence is plain to see, despite what Tom says:
- Arlen Spector, endorsed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) ran away from the Republican party with his tail in between his legs at the thought of facing a primary with a limited government challenger
- George Voinovich retired, guessing (correctly) that his reelection chances were somewhere between slim and none
- The Tea Party abandoned liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in droves in 2009
- NRSC-sponsored Charlie Crist has no chance of winning the Republican nomination in Florida
- The NRSC pressured Jim Bunning to retire to make way for Trey Grayson in Kentucky, and now Rand Paul, the son of His Loopiness himself, is the front runner
- NRSC-sponsored front runner Jane Norton is in a tough primary in Colorado against the Tea Party candidate Ken Buck
- NRSC-touted candidate Dan Coats in Indiana is going over like a lead zeppelin (the actual dirigible, not the slightly more successful band [Smile] ), with really lackluster funding and no good poll numbers
- Establishment Republican Ethan Hastert, son of a former Speaker of the House, could not win his primary in Illinois for his daddy's old seat
- Despite a splitting Tea Party support for the Illinois governorship with Adam Andrzejewski, the conservative Bill Brady still squeaked out a victory over establishment candidate (former party chairman!) Andy McKenna
- Incumbent Utah Senator Bob Benning is almost certainly not going to get the nomination at his party's convention, and stands a very good chance of losing the primary
- <b>John Freaking McCain</b> is in danger of losing a primary to a Tea Party activist a mere two years after winning a presidential primary!

And those are just the big ones!

And this is getting noticed. Greg seems to think that because Bush was a big-government Republican, then all future Republicans will be just the same. And yet, it is plain to see that this is an absurd assumption. See, the Tea Party is full of political neophytes. There are plenty of folks in the movement who didn't care much about politics a few years ago, and probably mindlessly supported one party or the other without thinking about it. Nobody was active in primaries, nobody put pressure on their representatives. And with relative economic abundance and the image of 3000 Americans dying a horrific death still burning in our minds, the deficit and unprecedented expansion of federal power wasn't on people's minds. But the war in Iraq is winding down, and the crashing economy has put our domestic considerations and financial security squarely in the front. And now that people are seriously looking at these issues for the first time, people are waking up. And people want to stop it. And now Greg says we're not allowed to because of prior mistakes? Seems kinda silly to me (by the way, for the record, I never voted for Bush).

See Indiana's and New Jersey's governors for example. Mitch Daniels was a OMB director under the dreaded Bu****ler. Chris Christie was a US Attorney appointed by the same spawn of Satan. Were they monolithic Bush clones? Corzine certainly ran his campaign as if Christie was Bush. And yet Christie still won. And what did he do as soon as he got into office? Started a massive expansion of education spending like his clone? Nope, quite the opposite. In his first few months, he has been trying to whip NJ's dreadful budget into shape, and he hasn't cared who's toes he steps on. Same with Daniels. Mitch took a deficit created by his (Democratic) predecessor and turned it into a surplus without raising taxes. He started shrinking the state's payroll. Due to his actions, Indiana has weathered the economic downturn better than her neighbors. Two people who got where they are thanks to the big government Republican George Bush. Yet two people who understood that that is not what the people wanted. And thus Mitch Daniels turned into the most popular politician in a state that went for a Dem president for the first time since WWII, and Chris Christie won election and has reasonably popular numbers in a deep blue state like New Jersey.

How does that fit into Greg's thesis?

Next, I'm getting sick of people like Greg and Obama insulting the Tea Party's intelligence with this whole "you silly rubes, we've lowered taxes!" schtick. We're not stupid. Federal taxes have barely changed so far. Some have been raised, some have been lowered. That's not what the Tea Party is about. In case you haven't noticed, there's a recession on. And with that recession, irresponsible state governments (like, almost all of them) are finding themselves with massive budget deficits. And how are most of these states dealing with the problem? Laying off their bloated workforce? Forcing pay cuts and benefit cuts so that they become in line with the private workforce? Or by... raising taxes? I know what Michigan's doing. To his credit, the Democratic leader of the State House proposed a plan that would save hundreds of millions if not billions by reining in the excesses of the Teachers Union. His reward for thinking outside the box was to be pilloried by his party, and the plan was dropped. Now we're hearing whispers of taxing service, which ought to really help out our unemployment rate...

The Bush tax cuts are set to expire this year. If they do (as seems quite a possibility), then taxes will raise dramatically, far more than the piddling cuts in the stimulus bill. The Tea Party knows this. The constant bailouts, the huge stimulus package, the dramatic increase in the baseline federal spending, and, yes, the health care bill as well, are putting a huge whole in our deficit. And that's going to be rectified someday. The Tea Party knows that the Dem plan for this is not to cut spending. That means taxes. The Tea Party has heard the whispers of the value-added tax echoing around Washington. The Tea Party knows that a Dem-based energy bill means a de facto tax on energy.

We're not stupid! We know the endgame. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it will (on the federal level at least; the Tea Parties I've visited directed almost as much anger towards the state governments as toward Washington).

Finally, Funean, I'm rather disturbed that you equate "ambitious (read expensive) domestic agenda" with "dead center politically". That's exactly the philosophy the Tea Party is fighting against.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Greg seems to think that because Bush was a big-government Republican, then all future Republicans will be just the same. And yet, it is plain to see that this is an absurd assumption.
No, I explicitly said that Republican Presidents are more fiscally irresponsible than Democratic ones, and I cited Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Any assertions that we make regarding the tendencies of Democratic or Republican Administrations should be consistent with those facts. The evidence indicates that Republican Presidents are more fiscally irresponsible.

quote:
And now that people are seriously looking at these issues for the first time, people are waking up. And people want to stop it. And now Greg says we're not allowed to because of prior mistakes?
I don't say any such thing. What I am targeting is all of those Bush voters (few of them on this forum, apparently) who have responsibility for what happened based on their votes and are not acknowledging their responsibility, and then coming back with redoubled outrage focused on the current Administration. If there is legitimate case for rage, it should be proportionate to the responsibility for causing the situation. To focus rage on the Obama Administration (that inherited a $1.5T 2009 deficit and an economy in the worst free-fall since the Great Depression) as the root cause of the $12T debt is wrong. Tea Party followers who voted for Bush need to accept their own share of responsibility for where we are. That's my main point, I think they are dodging responsibility, and if anything, the inability to confront their own role in creating this mess may be energizing their level of anger.

quote:
Tom, Greg, etc, have any of you actually attended a Tea Party? My guess is no.
You are correct, I have not attended a Tea Party rally. But I am presuming that political leanings are more important than attendance at rallies. If we were trying to judge what causes most strongly motivate the largest number of American citizens based on the number of people who have attended public rallies, we would be focused on immigration reform and not the Tea Party movement. But there isn't the equivalent of the right-wing media and think tank establishment promoting the immigration rights movement, so the larger crowds for those events get significantly less coverage than the Tea Party movement.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Next, I'm getting sick of people like Greg and Obama insulting the Tea Party's intelligence with this whole "you silly rubes, we've lowered taxes!" schtick. We're not stupid. Federal taxes have barely changed so far. Some have been raised, some have been lowered.
I am getting a little tired of this "insult my intelligence" accusation. It is a fact that federal taxes for 95% of Americans have gone down since Obama was elected. The demographics of the Tea Party movement are slightly different from that of the general population (older, wealthier) so maybe the percentage is not quite as high, but the facts are in stark contrast to the perception of the followers of the Tea Party movement that their taxes have gone up. Even if taxes have "barely changed", if that change is in the direction that the Tea Party movement favors, I would hope that they would acknowledge that a positive step has been taken even if they believe that it is not far enough. But instead of "Obama has cut taxes farther than Bush, but not enough and he may raise them later", we get extremist rhetoric from speakers Tea Party rallies calling Obama a socialist and worse. It is this out-of-proportion anger, in conspicuous contradiction to the behavior of the Bush voters when Bush was in office, that is at the heart of this thread.
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noel
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Greg,

quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
87 percent say they would vote for the GOP candidate in their congressional district if there were no third-party candidate endorsed by the Tea Party, ...

This describes me fairly well. How many, like me, would not show up on Tea Party polling? The GOP has a dominate faction that was known at one time as the "Rockefeller Republicans". It was manifest in 2008 in John McCain. He was the Democratic choice for the Republican nomination judging by the media coverage. We conservatives held our nose, and voted, just as we did for Ford, and Dole. The choice was between bad, and worse. Responsibility dictated we choose the lesser of incompetents.

What you are seeing now is qualitatively different. The anger directed against Obama is dual-layered.

First; Conservatives believed from the beginning of his appearance on the national stage that he methodically, and consistently, misrepresented who he was. We were dumbfounded that the nation was unaware, or unconcerned, with his Marxist inclinations.

Second; We see his policies as successful, thus far, in realizing a socialist agenda in defiance of constitutional principles.

In American politics, those are conditions for war.

We will fight with our votes for legislative victory, and with lawsuits for judicial vindication. In the end, where law itself fails to protect liberty, and tyranny prevails, things like Boston Harbor, circa 1773, happen.

quote:
Were there Tea Party rallies? How many "no" votes by Republicans on legislation at the time? After all, there are unanimous "no" votes by Republicans on these sorts of issues now that Obama is President.
The lack of Republican congressional "no" votes is the precise problem. Why do you think the conservatives do not identify themselves primarily as Republican? If Bush II had taken things to the length that Obama has, you would have been sure to see Tea Parties. Barry makes George look like a piker with respect to government social spending, and is considerably less honest about his intentions.

quote:
The "profound misunderstanding" (not "ignorance") comes from people who want "to take our country back" - they haven't lost their country just because the guy they voted for lost.
On this I agree. It bothers me as much when the conservative rank-in-file use this wording, as when the chairman of the DNC, Howard Dean, used it at campaign rallies.

Obama, and his followers, are a part of America... just as 1773 Royalists were. It is a little known fact that a mere 25% of the colonial population supported severance of ties to England.

[ April 18, 2010, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: noel ]

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noel
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quote:
we get extremist rhetoric from speakers Tea Party rallies calling Obama a socialist and worse.
Would it bother you if you came to believe that Obama is a socialist?

How do you define socialism?

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Mariner
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That's my main point, I think they are dodging responsibility

The problem, Greg, is that I disagree with your assertion that the Tea Party is not taking responsibility for prior actions. Your main support for this statement is that the Tea Party is still willing to vote Republican. However, as I previously pointed out, just because we vote Republican doesn't mean we blindly follow the Republicans.

I gave a huge list, primarily in Senatorial races, where the Tea Party is "cleaning house" in the Republican party. Big government incumbents like Bob Benning and Johnny Mac are in danger of losing their primaries, others like Arlen Spector and George Voinovich have been railroaded out, and would-be big government front-runners like Charlie Crist and Dan Coats are finding themselves with difficult or impossible chances of winning their primaries. And with Dede Scozzafava, the Tea Party has proved that we will not vote Republican if the candidate is awful enough.

How is that not taking responsibility? Just what do you want them to do to take responsibility? Mindlessly bash Bush as if they were on Huffington Post? Slavishly praise Obama?

I am getting a little tired of this "insult my intelligence" accusation.
And I'm getting a little tired of you sticking with the talking points rather than seeing what I wrote. You admit you haven't been to a Tea Party, yet you presume to know how we think. As I wrote above, it's not about the current taxation. It's about the massive increase in spending. It's about the increasing intrusion of the federal government in all aspects of life, choking off growth and ingenuity. We know that the tax increases are in the pipeline, so to speak, and thus the piddling tax breaks so far are irrelevant. We know that state governments are already raising taxes or talking of raising taxes rather than making the hard choices to determine what's really necessary.

And yet you keep saying that the only thing that matters to the Tea Party is (or should be) the amount of federal taxes right now compared to 18 months in the past. That's just not true.

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Funean
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quote:
Finally, Funean, I'm rather disturbed that you equate "ambitious (read expensive) domestic agenda" with "dead center politically". That's exactly the philosophy the Tea Party is fighting against.
"Being fought against by the Tea Party movement" =/= "liberal." Did Bush II's ambitious (expensive) military agenda mean something about whether he was conservative or liberal? Spending a bunch of money doesn't seem to line up just with "liberal political philosophy" anymore. I believe that Obama's core approach owes as much to the left as it does to the right (he's a huge corporatist, for example, something the traditional leftist liberal abhores, and a big government guy, something the traditional [not recent] right conservative abhores), and there are still distinctions to be made between social, economic, foreign policy and role-of-government philosophies. I don't think we've had any political leaders who were consistently "liberal" or "conservative" across all those spectra in quite some time. So, yes, I stand by my assessment of Obama as an overall centrist.
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