The National Catholic Review

Normally, the charge of lunacy is a bit ad hominem for these pages. But, what if the charge of lunacy is actually exculpatory, like a plea of temporary insanity at a murder trial? I raise the issue because a large number of Tea Party folk, who descended upon Washington yesterday to commemorate tax day, are either a little bit looney or they are a whole lot evil. You be the judge.

On Chris Matthews’ "Hardball" last night, Chris interviewed two leaders of the movement, one younger and the other older, both articulate about their concerns and points of view. In fact, there was one point where Matthews seemed to think he had one of them cornered. In discussing health care reform, the Tea Party spokesman objected to the mandate, saying it was constitutional to tax but it was unconstitutional to mandate that a citizen buy what he deemed "a consumer good." Matthews went in for the kill, asking if he would support a single payer system in which the government would collect tax dollars and pay for all health care. The Tea Party spokesman saw the trap and responded coolly that while the a single payer system avoided that particular constitutional issue, it raised other concerns. Very measured. Very thoughtful.

And, then Chris asked about the President birth certificate and a new New York Times poll that showed 30 percent of Tea Party folk said they did not believe President Obama was born in the United States and another 29 percent said they did not know. The man said that he was not himself a birther, that he thought there were more important things to be discussing, but he couldn’t quite finish without adding that the White House could have cleared all this up by releasing the documents for which people were asking. Busted: This man is a birther. The state of Hawaii has shown Obama’s birth certificate. The press unearthed a notice in the local newspaper announcing baby Obama’s birth at the time. If that does not satisfy someone, they are willfully in error, be the root of that error mere craziness or mere evil.

"I just feel he’s getting away from what America is," Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville told the Times. "He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him." This has a different, dare we say a darker, tone to it than is the norm in political debate.

This darker perspective has begun to extend to a view of Obama’s policies. Jerry Johnson, a 58-year old lawyer from Berryville, Va., told the Washington Post: "We can’t run our households like the government’s running the country. That, and the idea of people [sitting] around on their butts. Fifty percent of the people collecting a check are paying no taxes, while the other 50 pull the wagon." Apart from being factually untrue – if someone collects a check, they are paying payroll taxes on the very first dollar – there is a resentment here, not of the rich, but of poor folk, not the "deserving poor" who these fine Christians know they should support with their charity, but the "undeserving poor." If you are old enough to recall Ronald Reagan’s invocation of "welfare queens," as if anyone living on welfare actually lived like royalty, you can recognize such sentiments for the simple stoking of racial hatred they entail.

In some ways, Tea Partyers are just like the rest of us. They are opposed to more government spending, but they do not support cutting Social Security or Medicare, the two entitlements that are causing the lion’s share of projected government debt. They are opposed to the health care bill, although cutting the overall cost of what the nation spends on health care is the only way to solve the government’s fiscal woes. And, they feel that they are not represented in Washington, which sounds to me like a recognition that they lost the last election.

I am looking forward to the comments, to the justification for the Tea Party crowd, to the attempts to cloak their arguments with legitimacy and their hatreds with the kind of context that makes it less repulsive. But, a word to the wise on the right: Conservatism is better than this. If American politics is to remain healthy, it needs a healthy conservative voice. This is not it. This is the John Birch Society updated for a new century. The most important thing the conservative movement – and the Republican Party – needs is someone with the courage to take on the Tea Partyers. The Democratic Party was tainted by its association with Jim Crow until Harry Truman took on the racist wing of his own party and, in a moment of political courage, let the Dixiecrats walk out of the Democratic National Convention. George H. W. Bush took on the free market idolators in his own party and passed a tax reform bill that helped shore up the nation’s finances for more than a decade. Someone in the Republican Party needs to have the courage of his or her convictions and call out the hatefulness that is driving too many of the Tea Partyers.


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Anonymous | 4/18/2010 - 12:36am
Mr. Kopacz,
You make a lot of points and I cannot possibly answer them all.  But you are assuming a lot of things which I personally do not hold.  First of all I am a believer in the free market but obviously it has to be monitored to make sure it is not abused.  There are no examples of managed economies ever succeeding to any great extent.  Those who think it can be done are fools.
The mortgage market was extremely abused in the 2004-2007 period with incredibly poor lending practices.  And some of the rosy view of the economy was fueled by these bad practices but certainly not all.  A lot was going on besides investing in houses.  It is too complicated to list all the factors and yes, greed on Wall Street was a major factor but not the only one.  I have no love for Wall Street and feel a lot of them should be in jail.  The creation of many of the CDO's (Collateralized debt obligations) were intended to deceive and thus, criminal.  Without the bad lending practices there would not had been any collapse because there would not have been any bad bonds but without the bad lending practices there would not have been as much housing built or economic activity.  We should be wary of any future bubbles but they are hard to recognize when you are in one.  Very few on Wall Street thought that housing prices would decline just as in 1999 people thought the DOW would go to 20,000 in a couple years.  There may be another bubble going on right now but it hard to know it is till well on its way.
I am not in any way against the environment but the environmentalist have often gone to extremes with very negative consequences.  Because of Rachel Carson's lies fifty years ago over 30 million are dead in poorer areas of the world from malaria.  Hardly social justice.  And several hundred thousand are currently out of work in California because of concern for a small fish.  Again not social justice.  Did you know that Obama bought the votes for health care of a couple house representatives from the valley by promising to raise their water allowance from 5% of normal to 25% of normal?  Incredible cynicism.
All I said was that manufacturing will come back to the US but it will be automated.  That will prevent a lot of US money from going over seas and will create millions of jobs in the US but not traditional manufacturing jobs.  It will also eliminate a lot of jobs in Third World countries who depend upon exports to the US.  Somehow I am being attacked for being the messenger here.
Some short answers to some of your points:  I am well aware of the origin of the internet.  It started from the monitoring of nuclear explosions from around the world.  I suggest you get a copy of the book, ''The Department of Mad Scientists'' which is about DARPA.  They also did all the work for developing artificial limbs.  I am not against inspecting a much higher percentage of container shipments. The 40 million jobs created by new businesses in the 25 years from 1980 to 2005 is a fact.  Established businesses essentially created no new jobs.  Some did but others lost jobs so the net was zero.  If we want to employ all the currently unemployed and new high school and college graduates, this is the only tried and true way to do it.  Government jobs really don't produce much and that's why countries like Greece, Spain, Argentina etc are having problems.  Too many civil servants shuffling paper.  You must employ people outside the government to be a viable economy.  I am optimistic about the future that there will be new technologies that will create millions of jobs if people are just encouraged to do it.  Fifteen years ago few heard of the internet and now it employs several million people in various ways.  Alternative fuel sources could be a huge new business.
I am certainly not an expert on money but it is a system based on trust and belief.  In the Mass the Credo means I believe and then we say what we believe in the Nicene Creed.  The word credit has the same root.  It means belief that something will happen.  I believe or trust you will repay me.  What happened on September 18th, 2008 was that people stopped believing that others were going to pay them back so they stopped lending money.  That was still a major issue till recently.
Stanley Kopacz | 4/17/2010 - 10:42pm
My comments did not make it so I’ll try again.
Mr. Cosgrove,
That was a very impressive dissertation with percentages and some handwaving at the end to connect this all with the free market and the invisible hand. 
The employment of a few years ago was built on the basis of a real estate bubble.  This finally ended after the machinations of the Great Ones of Wall Street exploded.  The government was definitely out of the way on that one.  Perhaps a new bubble can be created in order that the mirage of a healthy economy can be restored.
You still have not answered the problem of the security risk that container shipments constitute.  I suppose you can dismiss that with a wave of the hand, as well.  No problem, well, because it would cost money to do something about it.
The government, by the way, does more to promote new technologies than gets in the way.  Before there was an internet, there was a DARPANET.
Your statements about the creation of new jobs, I find too optimistic.  Your statements about programmers for robots reflects that naïve and unfounded hope.  The programmers will be in Hyderabad.  Also, gall bladder removals in several years will be performed by teleorobots  operated by cheap foreign doctors.  This is all economically nice, but it’s goodbye to more domestic expertise.
I’m afraid that to compete in the free market with the third world countries, we will have to become one.  We are on the way, large gap between the rich and the poor included.
You dismiss environmental concerns.  For one who wraps himself in the cloak of reason, I ask, is it reasonable to assume that all that makes money, at least as the status quo dictates, automatically in tune with the health of the environment or human beings?  There IS an environment, we DO depend on it, and if we destroy it, we are sawing off the limb we are sitting on.  Carbon Dioxide IS a greenhouse gas.  It does absorb far infrared energy and convert it into heat due to vibrational modes  in the molecule.  It also acidifies the ocean.  Things are going to change.  Will 6,000,000,000 people be able to survive the changes?  I suppose it won’t matter if Wall Street is still booming.  And, for the ones left, it very well could be booming. The rest of us can work for $150/month.
I am not an economist.  I am not even sure what money is. Is it anything but a game?  The whole thing may be a big Ponzi scheme.  But we live in a real world with real physical constraints.  We ignore them at our peril and to do so is to throw ourselves off a tower, expecting the angels to bear us up.  And that is a sin.
Gabriel Marcella | 4/17/2010 - 8:14pm
Kudos to JR Cosgrove for such compelling points. It must be some challenge to write interesting, provocative, rigorous, and timely blogs and do it with the regularity demanded by readers and the magazine in order to maintain interest. This does not rank as one of MSW's finest pieces. His better writings tend to deal with ecclesiology, rather than American politics and the economy. As another product of Jesuit education, I hope that such lightweight analysis is not accepted at the 30 plus Jesuit universities and colleges across the nation. The Jebbies I have known in the US, Latin America, and Europe have been models of intellectual rigor and honesty.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/17/2010 - 7:48pm
JR should start his own blog; very good writing, excellent reasoning.
Final point I'd make on this general topic is that we shouldn't forget about the legacy of Envy.  It is a deadly sin, not much talked about when it comes to the rich, and I think it underlies much of the impetus to take what they have.  The vast majority of the wealthy have earned their money, and the vast majority are privately generous.  Forced "charity" through confiscatory taxation is not charity and it's not Christian.  
Anonymous | 4/17/2010 - 7:24pm
Mr. Kopacz,
The whole discussion is getting very emotional.  Protectionism is a dead end with no one benefiting.  There are all sorts of economic treatises that support free trade as a win win situation.  People act like it is their right to be given a good job instead of working for it.  Protectionism is just a populist appeal and while it sounds good, only a small minority ever reap any sustainable benefits.  It is also an anti Catholic position.  The technician in Bangalore or Mumbai, the farmer in Bolivia, the worker in Mozambique are all God's Children and why should you or I be protected from their ability to provide a product and make a living.  That is one of the inconsistencies for those who espouse social justice and then endorse something like protectionism.  The Democrat Party is full of interest groups that want very favorable treatment for them and them alone and be damn for the others.  That is what unions have become in this country.  I am watching public sector unions now cut people loose from their ranks while they demand raises for those that remain.  It is happening right now in New York State and I am sure it is happening all over the country.
As far as employment, it was only a few short years ago, 2-3 at most, when we were at full employment and businesses could not find enough people to full their work needs.  There were not enough technically trained individuals to do the work.  Where I live there were several thousands illegal aliens who were here because of the lack of people to do physical work.  Most of them were getting 20-25 dollars an hour to do jobs others wouldn't.  We have had a national discussion about such people and what is right.  How should they be treated?
Just over a hundred years ago most of the people in this country lived on a farm or a rural area servicing farms.  Now less than 3-4% are so employed.  As people were freed from the farms because of efficiencies others developed new areas of employment.  As I said above it has been entrepreneurs who have produced the jobs in the last 30 years (40 million) and if you are worried about the future than you should be out there promoting small business and making sure there are few restrictions on those who are smart enough and energetic enough to start a new business.  That is what the government should be doing instead of wasting nearly a trillion dollars on a politically oriented pork bill and then calling it an economic stimulus or wasting 8 months on dubious health care regulation which nearly 60% of the country opposes while those who support it haven't a clue what is in it.  They are making it more and more difficult for those who want to start a business.  That is why the long term job prospects are so glum.
The sad thing is that this site is one supported by the Jesuits who are supposed to be rational thinkers while looking out for the good of everyone.  The twaddle that Mr. Winters spits out is not even sophomoric.  It does not rise to that level.  It wouldn't be worth responding to except that Jesuits support it.  I was taught by Jesuits and what I read here is embarrassing as a Catholic and one educated by them.  Last week my wife and I were on our way to New Hampshire and passed Holy Cross in Worcester.   She asked if it was a Jesuit school and I said yes and that probably over half the Catholic universities in the US are run by the Jesuits.  She cringed asking if what is on this site is what the Jesuits are teaching these days.  I said yes and it is sad that this site probably represents a sample of what gets taught in their schools.  Very little critical thinking by the content of many of the opinion pieces.  That is not what I remember from years ago.
Stanley Kopacz | 4/17/2010 - 4:18pm
No, it's not a good thing.
Not in a culture that only values you as a work unit.  It amazes me how Republicans castigate people for being lazy and not working, when the work is simply not there or, at any rate, not here.
Problem is, robots build cars.  They don't buy cars.
Stanley Kopacz | 4/17/2010 - 1:41pm
Mr Cosgrove,
Just a few comments.
Programming jobs are easily farmed out to India via the internet.  They already have been.  High tech jobs won't save us, even SIlicon Valley is moving solar cell fabrication to China.
I think we should pull jobs into this country while they last.
People sometimes have fun doing their jobs, machines never do.
Is this problem even soluble?  I remember a technical manager wondering that if we keep getting more and more productive (via automation or whatever), doesn't that mean less jobs?  And how much stuff do we need?
I would rather have my environment, thanks to the Democrats, than China's.  Remember the smog during the Olympics?
Don't worry.  Nobody is screwing the evil capitalists.  We have the best politicians money can buy, Republican and Democrat.  They have the money and money talks.
Anonymous | 4/17/2010 - 12:26pm
 ''Yes, the word is ''protectionism''
This is playing with fire and getting little in return.  We export more than we import.  Hard to believe.  Well, yes if you exclude petroleum it is true.  So by protecting us from all these imports we are risking over a trillion dollars we export every year.  Do you know how many jobs that would lose if countries retaliated?  Or do people on this site care?
Manufacturing jobs will mostly return to the US in another 15-20 years but it will not be in the way one expects.  In the next 20-30 years most manufacturing will be done by computers and robotics.  There will not be this tremendous influx of manufacturing jobs for hands on assembly but instead jobs for computer people as they program and operate these factories of the future.
In the mean time union pressures are preventing some of this from happening.  The most advanced automobile assembly plant in the world is in Brazil and owned by Ford.  We can not bring this technology here because the UAW won't allow it.
I was recently in Brazil and they laugh at how backwards the United States is in many areas dealing with cars.  The car I was driven in has two fuel systems, gasoline and LPG.  The driver could switch from one to the other depending on which was cheaper.  And the gasoline system could be run on 100% gasoline or 100% ethanol or any percentage in between.  And their ethanol is more effective because it is made from sugar, not corn like ours.  We are not allowed to use ethanol from sugar in the US.  Meanwhile we have close to 40% unemployment in the San Joaquin valley in order to protect a small fish.
So while this site supports the Democrat party and its unions, tort lawyers, environmentalists which are killing this country, the other parts of the world are catching up and in some areas leaving us behind.  All in the name of a so called social justice which appears to be a very mis-guided philosophy that sticks it to the poor just so some can feel good because they are screwing the ''evil'' capitalists.
david power | 4/17/2010 - 11:18am
Forget birthers,what about a theory on who wrote this blog entry?.I said it before and in agreement with Jeff Landry find it a real puzzle how the insightful Winters who comments on non-political issues can turn into a poor polemicist when tackling ROD.The guy who writes on GOD is capable of convincing and changing minds and of mastering facts and showing compassion.The guy who does ROD(Republicans,Obama,Democrats)is capable of none of the above.Is it the same guy?I promise you that while many may link to Winters on God nobody will do so on ROD.Most of the comments left by readers reflect the level of argument in the blog or surpass it.The comments are limited by the limitations of the initial argument. Republicans may be nasty people but there are better people to take them on than MSW,his gift is writing about God and especially the one ,true ,holy etc etc.  
Stanley Kopacz | 4/17/2010 - 11:10am
I don't think LTC Lakin has a leg to stand on in this but I wish him all the luck.  If he could prove Obama's from Mars, it would give all the US military the ability to opt out of the Afghanistan fiasco.  If it would end the war, great.  Obama's birthright would be a small sacrifice for such a great good.
But well, we know that's too good to be true becasue that's not how it would play out.  Still, it's a wonderful thought.
Stanley Kopacz | 4/17/2010 - 9:45am
Perhaps the entire talk about taxes is off the mark.  What about tariffs?  Reagan cut tariffs in half.  Republicrat Clinton got rid of the other half.   Thus the bleeding of jobs to China ($150/month salary).  With the percentage of the economy due to manufacturing presently at 11%, how is it that anyone can earn an honest living?  At the same time, we have thousands of containers coming into this country without inspection.  This is the biggest hole in homeland security.  Before getting on a plane, I have to endure everything but a full cavity search.  Shouldn't every container coming into this country be emptied and fully searched for NBC weapons and/or components and the charge for the examination passed on to the shipper?  Furthermore, they should be searched before they reach the mainland at a safe distance from our population.
What kind of country have we become without manufacturing?  A silly country full of silly people playing silly financial games.  It's time to plug the hole in the bottom of the boat and this will require tariffs.  Yes, the word is "protectionism".
Michael Cremin | 4/17/2010 - 5:56am
Kevin, I agree with you 100%. Military spending is completely out of control, and needs to be dramatically reduced. We have been on a war footing since 1942. Militarism has become deeply entwined with our overall economy. What needs to happen is less money going in, and less spending coming out, of Washington, for all programs, at all levels. No sane person advocates for complete disarmament, and no sane person advocates for the abolition of a social safety net...but things in DC are simply out of control, nonsustainable,and ultimately self-defeating.
Paul Smith | 4/16/2010 - 11:17pm
Lt. Col. Lakin is a surgeon who questions Obama's Presidential eligibility and, therefore, the lawfulness of his orders.  LTC Lakin has refused to report for deployment to Afghanistan.  He is putting his honorable, 18 year military career on the line for his principles.  His defense through the Supreme Court will be expensive.58% of Americans want to see Obama's birth certificate.  I don't often donate to causes but I am one of those 58% and I just donated $5 to LTC Lakin's defense fund.  If all 58% did the same, it would a.) easily cover Lakin's defense fund and, b.) send a powerful message to Washington!  Put that idea on Facebook and all the other social networks.  Get it on the blogs.  Make it happen!Lt. Col. Lakin’s defense fund can be found at:
Domingo Garcia | 4/16/2010 - 10:41pm
Kevin, you said it all right there.  Whole thing about being a good Christian is you can't sit there an worry about what someone else does.  But you can worry about what you do.  Why get uptight over social spending even if it's imperfect (as most government programs tend to be) but not say anything about the other forms of wasting money that is somehow more acceptable.  The hole tea partiers movement and the act put on by my party is appalling.  I would like to see less partisanship and more compromise.
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 10:02pm
How then does one account for the increased number of Americans living in poverty, the growth in income and wealth disparity to historically unprecedented levels, and the stagnant real wages (adjusted for inflation) of the typical worker-all during the Bush years?  The rich do pay most of the income tax-because they have most of the income (and wealth).  I would be interested in any actual evidence that the rich (and I mean the top 1% and especially the top .1%) are in any way suffering or losing their incentive to work because of current tax rates. 
The wealthiest Americans are doing just fine.  I'm genuinely puzzled by the overflow of sympathy for the rich, and the notion that asking the rich to pay taxes to support the country that has made their wealth possible is somehow "socking it to them."  I'm puzzled why taxpayers complain about paying for health care and retirement benefits  but cheerfully accept a defense budget over over $600 billion when our only real enemies are terrorists who have no army, navy, or airforce, and cannot effectively be fought by the expensive weapon systems we spend billions on.  If we cannot afford health care for our citizens or libraries and schools, why are we so cheerful about supporting more than 800 military bases on foreign soil around the world.  Why do we think that laws designed to protect the rights of workers or the viability of our environment are abrogations of our freedom while accepting laws that allow the government to wiretap our conversations and read our e-mails?  Right now powerful corporations count for more than workers and ordinary citizens with both parties.  It is a puzzlement.  I can see the Tea Party being angry with Democrats, but why are they not more angry at the Republicans, who, after all, have collaborated with the Democrats over the last 30 years in increasing deficits and the national debt, and who are now trying to prevent even timid reforms of the finance industry that nearly destroyed our economy.  And if one thinks it unChristian to sock it to the rich, I suggest re-reading some of the things Jesus says about the wealthy.  What would happen to a leader today who said "Woe to you who are rich" or claimed that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.  He'd probably be called lots of names-and be lucky if nothing worse happened.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 8:56pm
Meant to add JR to that also.  Those two posts sum it up perfectly.  There is nothing Christian about socking it to the wealthy, it just hurts the poor.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 8:38pm
@Michael.  Exactly.  Very well said.
Michael Cremin | 4/16/2010 - 7:56pm
I read today that nearly half of all Americans have no federal income liability at the end of the year. Many of these folks-under the Earned Income Credit-actually get a rebate! This is utter insanity.
The Tea Party certainly has its share of nuts...but so do the Democrats. I remember watching an interview taped during an anti-war protest in 2003. The women being interviewed, when asked what she thought of Saddam Hussein's atrocious human rights violations-said, "At least he gives his people health care." There are ill-informed, uninformed, and misinformed people in every political party. The Tea Party movement, despite its faults, is drawing attention to the fact that our current levels of government spending and entitlement programs are unsustainable. Talk about scaring some people! Talk about fearing change! We can not stay on this trajectory...and that terrifies the American Left.
There are, broadly speaking, two different visions of America out there. One looks to the government for everything, from housing to medical care to education, while the other looks to the individual for self-reliance and personal responsibility. The former is new, and has only been a part of our nation's psyche since the Great Depression. The later is a part of our national character, and has been since our founding. We have drifted far from our roots, often times with the best of intentions. It's time to go back, or we will end up like Greece...only with more guns.  
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 7:34pm
Father Malloy has just made the case for lowering the taxes on the rich.  The rich pay most of the taxes as of today and the last 10-15 years.  When their taxes were lowered by Ronald Reagan, their incomes sky rocketed and they then ended up paying a lot more taxes then when the tax rates were higher.  In fact their taxes grew so much that Congress was able to exempt more and more people from paying any income tax.  After George Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 the rich paid a higher share of the taxes and revenue increased dramatically.  He too lowered the income tax burden on the poor.  So if you want to raise revenue for the government, lower the tax rates on the rich.  Thirty five years ago the rich with high tax rates paid a lot less of the taxes in the country and tax revenues were much, much lower.
At the same time the incomes from these rich people were rising they were fueling job growth for the not so rich as they invested their money and created new businesses which hired millions of people at good salaries.  Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less and most of them were owned by rich people.  That is about 40 million jobs and essentially it means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.  So by punishing the rich by taxing them at high rates, you will end up killing good jobs for the rest of us.  I think there is an expression that sums this up.  To cut off your nose to spite your face.
So if Father Malloy is interested in social justice and helping the poor, he will recommend cutting the taxes on the rich.  If he wants to hurt the poor and stifle the economy, tax the rich.

KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 7:29pm
Perhaps  the Tea Party will be more inclusive-that would be a good thing.  And perhaps the Republicans will as well-also a good thing.  But right now there are no Black Republicans in Congress, House or Senate, as far as I know.  There is no reason why the Democratic party, with all its flaws, should enjoy the automatic votes of Blacks or any other group of voters.  But do the scarcity of Black elected Republicans, and the failure of the Republicans to capture much of the Black vote not suggest that there might be some issues that the party has to grapple with?  Might there not be some aspects of Republican rhetoric and principles that are unattrative to Blacks?
Jim McCrea | 4/16/2010 - 7:23pm
Crazy or Evil?
That's easy - Yes to both!
They could easily be mistaken as Catholic ecclesiastics of the Burke/Pell/Chaput/Bruskewitz ilk.
Stephen Griffin | 4/16/2010 - 7:04pm
Regarding the comments by Michael Bindner:Citizenship laws in 1961 required that in order for a baby born overseas to have U.S. citizenship passed to him/her automatically, one parent must be a U.S. citizen, must have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, and 5 of those years must have been after the age of 16.  Stanley Ann Dunham (Obama's mother) was 18, which means should could not automatically pass U.S. citizenship to her child, IF, he was born overseas.  You can verify this at several sites:
Or, you can go to the US Customs and Immigration Service website below, download the PDF for determing your citizenship, and answer the questions as they applied to Barack Obama  on Aug. 4, 1961.  The result appears after the hypertext link.  Start with the link on the first page, under the second major heading, second subheading which says, ''Determining if You are a U.S. Citizen.''
If your U.S. citizen parent does not have the required residence or physical presence in the United States before you were born, then you did not automatically derive citizenship at birth from your parent.
For information on how to apply for evidence of citizenship, click here.
In the PDF line shown above, if you click on ''here'', it tells you what must be done to establish citizenship.  The parent could have filed a form by a certain age or the child could have done so by a certain age, and apparently neither happened with Obama.McCain was born to two U.S. citizens on a U.S. military post, and both met the above requirements.  This was vetted by Congress, but Congress took no interest in vetting Obama's citizenship status.  Wonder why they would question the citizenship of a man who spent 5.5 years as a POW, but not a man whose biggest accomplishments at thw time was the fact he had already written two autobiographies?Regardless of all that, he claims his father was Barack Obama, Sr., a Kenyan.  Barack Sr's Kenyan mother claims Jr. as her grandchild. And Barack Sr. at the time, was a subject of the British Empire.  This means even if born in the U.S., he had dual citizenship which the founding fathers specifically stated was forbidden for a leader of our country and the CinC of our armed forces.  They wanted to be sure that the POTUS had no problems with allegiance to another country, and his/her only allegiance was to the U.S.  So it really boils down to a simple fact which is already shown on, where it states his father was a Kenyan.  Case closed.
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 6:48pm
''I do not and would not suggest that all or most of the folks who identify with the Tea Party are racist.  It might well be a tiny minority.''
Some of the organizers of the Tea Parties are black.  How many, I do not know.  The master of ceremonies for the New York City Tea Party rally last year was black and there were other blacks as part of the organizing group.  This year's organizer was also black and I do not know if it was the same person.  There was an interview today with one of the organizers of the Tennessee Tea Party group and he was black.  There must be others so if the Tea Party people are racist, it is mostly in the minds of the liberals.  The left is running scared at the moment of this phenomena as evidenced by Mr. Winter's absurd opinion piece and some of the comments here and elsewhere on the internet.  What will happen is anybody's guess but it should result in lots of new faces in Congress next year unless something dramatic happens between now and November.
I am sure this is a conscious effort to make the Tea Party movement more inclusive.  The Republicans are recruiting blacks from all over the country to run for office.  I doubt if many Republicans would have had a problem with Condalezza Rice if she had decided to run for anything.  If the Democrat Party should ever lose its hold on black voters, it is done.  Without black votes in 2008 McCain would have won in a landslide.  Without black votes in 2004 Bush would have beaten Kerry by 13 million votes and won all but 3-4 states.  Republicans are aware of this and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years.  Blacks are so imbued with an identity with the Democrat Party that it may not happen soon or at all.
Rick Malloy | 4/16/2010 - 6:45pm
EXCERPTS from a New York Times article  , April 13, 2010
Yes, 47% of Households Owe No Taxes. Look Closer.

Forty-seven percent.
That’s the portion of American households that owe no income tax for 2009. The number is up from 38 percent in 2007, and it has become a popular talking point on cable television and talk radio. With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.
Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.  ...
The answer is that tax rates almost certainly have to rise more on the affluent than on other groups. Over the last 30 years, rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.
So a much greater share of income is now concentrated at the top of distribution, while each dollar there is taxed less than it once was. It’s true that raising taxes on the rich alone can’t come close to solving the long-term budget problem. The deficit is simply too big. But if taxes are not increased for the wealthy, the country will be left with two options.
It will have to raise taxes even more than it otherwise would on everybody else. Or it will have to find deep cuts in Medicare, Social Security, military spending and the other large (generally popular) federal programs.
All the attention being showered on “47 percent” is ultimately a distraction from that reality. ...
But the modifiers here — federal and income — are important. Income taxes aren’t the only kind of federal taxes that people pay. There are also payroll taxes and investment taxes, among others. And, of course, people pay state and local taxes, too.
Even if the discussion is restricted to federal taxes (for which the statistics are better), a vast majority of households end up paying federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. The number 10 is obviously a lot smaller than 47.  ...
If anything, the government numbers I’m using here exaggerate how much of the tax burden falls on the wealthy. These numbers fail to account for the income that is hidden from tax collectors — a practice, research shows, that is more common among affluent families. “Because higher-income people are understating their income,” Joel Slemrod, a tax scholar at the University of Michigan, says, “We’ve been overstating their average tax rates.”
State and local taxes, meanwhile, may actually be regressive. That is, middle-class and poor families may face higher tax rates than the wealthy. As Kim Rueben of the Tax Policy Center notes, state and local income taxes and property taxes are less progressive than federal taxes, while sales taxes end up being regressive. The typical family pays a lot of state and local taxes, too — almost half as much as in federal taxes.
There is no question that the wealthy pay a higher overall tax rate than any other group. That is an American tradition. But there is also no question that their tax rates have fallen more than any other group’s over the last three decades. The only reason they are paying more taxes than in the past is that their pretax incomes have risen so rapidly — which hardly seems a great rationale for a further tax cut.
So why are those radio and television talk show hosts spending so much time arguing that today’s wealthy are unfairly burdened? Well, it’s hard not to notice that the talk show hosts themselves tend to be among the very wealthy.
No doubt, like the rest of us, they don’t particularly enjoy paying taxes. They are happy with the tax cuts they have received lately. They would prefer if other people had to pick up the bill for Medicare, Social Security and the military — people like, say, firefighters, preschool teachers, computer support specialists, farmers, members of the clergy, mail carriers, secretaries and truck drivers.


KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 6:26pm
Granted that there is anti-white racism (though I don't know enough about ACORN to know if they are guilty of racism).  Consider this difference, however: since whites have enjoyed more power in this country than Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, etc., one could say White racism has a far greater impact in most areas and cases (there are of course exceptions).  The anger and resentment of the (relatively) more powerful is more dangerous and perhaps more worthy of comment than the anger and resentment of the (relatively) weak.
That is of couse an oversimplification.  Race in our country is always complicated by issues of class and gender as well.  But we talk more about white racism because it has generally had more of an impact on the economic, social, and political status of Blacks than any Black racism has had on the status of Whites.  I'd agree with analysts who suggest that powerful whites (in the south and elsewhere) have managed an effective strategy of making economically underprivileged whites blame their problems on Blacks (or immigrants) when in fact both poor blacks and whites suffer at the hands of the more economically powerful.  I'd personally like to see those at the lower end of the economic ladder make common cause for fair treatment in wages, working conditions, and tax rates.
Michael Curren | 4/16/2010 - 6:22pm
what a shame- you just lost all credibility with are using Chris Mathews as a standard for political balance???....the most partisan article I have seen on these pages. I am not and will not be associated with the Tea Party movement, but if you think calling people with whom you don’t agree derogatory names is responsible journalism, you have embarrassed yourself, and you have stooped to what is the level of political discourse in this very polarized country of ours- don’t respect people with other opinions, just assassinate their character- it is faster and mush easier.  Is this what passes for good journalism in Jesuit colleges as well???? I would think a Jesuit magazine would be interested in healing the country's wounds, not aggravating them. Do you think this movement is going away any time soon???? "Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen,....don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin, ..for the times they are a changin". ( Dylan said that)
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 6:01pm
That is true in many ways.  But there are plenty of anti-white racists out there also, in groups like Acorn, and that is never discussed.  
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 5:09pm
I do not and would not suggest that all or most of the folks who identify with the Tea Party are racist.  It might well be a tiny minority.  But that some are motivated in least at part by racial resentment or anxiety seems a legitmate inference from the nature of some of the nastier slogans and signs exhibited by some, though certainly not all membesr of the movement.  And given the long history of racism in our country, that of course neither began nor ended with Selma, this really shouldn't be surprising.  Americans, like all people, are prone to sin, and hating and fearing others is pretty endemic to all humans.
For example, consider the criticism currently leveled at Pope Benedict, on these pages and elsewhere.  Much of this clearly comes from people who deeply love the Church, who are horrified at the abuses perpetrated on children and adolescents for decades, and who hold Benedict, rightly or wrongly, at fault for deficiencies of leadership.  But some of the criticism comes from those who disdain Catholics and the Church and who are taking some delight in the scandal (e.g. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins).  Some are clearly biased against Christianity and religion in general.  And again this is not surprising.  The secular left has had its share or more of anti-religious prejudice.  One can, in both instances-critics of the Pope and critics of Obama-make a distinction between those who criticize in a principled and temperate way, and those who succumb to bitterness and rage.  I don't suggest an exact parallel by any means, but simply that critics of any person or belief can express their dissent in a charitable or uncharitable way, and that all parties, left, right, and center, face the temptation to rage and prejudice and need to resist it.
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 4:17pm
I suggest you look up the slang use of the word teabagger on the internet.  It is an extremely derogatory term and has been used by liberals to denigrate those in the Tea Party movement by design.
Beth Cioffoletti | 4/16/2010 - 4:08pm
from comments #13 and #19:
"''I don't think that the TeaBaggers are crazy or evil, I think that they are scared. '' I don't know if you know it or not but you just made a derogatory sexuaL slur at the Tea Party movement."
Huh?  How so?
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 3:17pm
The Tea Party movement started on February 19, 2009 when Rick Santelli did his rant on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.  It went round the internet and resonated with a lot of people.  He used the term Tea Party.
Helena Loflin | 4/16/2010 - 3:07pm
Some helpful information for those who have contact with "birthers":
The Honolulu newspapers that published Obama's birth announcement received their info about the newborn directly from the state which received it directly from the Honolulu hospital where Obama was born.  The parents had nothing to do with the publication of the birth announcements other than giving birth to the newborn Obama.
I mention this because desperate "birthers," being such dense conspiracy theorists, would like to believe that the family somehow planted the Obama birth announcements knowing that the announcements would come in handy someday.  No.  Sorry.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 2:54pm
Oh and now comes the ad hominem sniping.  How typical and childish.
Michael Appleton | 4/16/2010 - 2:51pm
Jeff S., I can see that you are not particularly given to the thoughtful exchange of ideas, so I won't bother to give you my thoughts on racism in 2010 America. I will merely observe that criticism and ad hominem vitriol are not synonymous.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 2:45pm
Nonsense.  All you guys do on the left is cry "racism" when anyone dares criticize Obama.  It's silly and tiresome.  You want to re-live Selma all the time.  There may be some racists in the group, but there are just as many anti-white racists in Acorn.  Give it a rest.
Michael Appleton | 4/16/2010 - 2:32pm
The Tea Party movement is grounded in fear. That fear in turn is based on a combination of fact and myth. The fact is the substantial increase in debt necessitated by the financial collapse in 2008. A majority of economists agree that government spending was critical to minimizing its impact. Indeed, many economists continue to argue that government should be spending a great deal more to rebuild the economy. This is a classic policy debate.
The myths behind the movement are largely the product of forces seeking to use fear as a campaign tool. That is the reason that much of the financing has come from various organizations funded by wealthy Republican conservatives. The myths include the rumors regarding the President's origins and religion, the claims of creeping socialism and even communism, the false assertions about "death panels," "relocation camps" and the elimination of private gun ownership, and a great deal of nonsense about how the tax burden is shared in this country.
With all of the misinformation coming at them from all directions, it is hardly surprising that Tea Party participants have difficulty articulating their fears. For the same reason it is not surprising that the movement itself is frequently incoherent and internally inconsistent.
Does racism pay a role in all of this? You bet it does. Appeals to racism were rampant during the presidential election campaign. The Tea Party train left the station almost before the last inaugural bleacher had been disassembled. The combination of fear of change, economic insecurity, racism and rather vicious lies creates a mob mentality, short on ideas but big on histrionics. But sound and fury is not a policy.
Colin Donovan | 4/16/2010 - 1:50pm
This blog entry has the appearance to be nothing more than an effort to demonize the Tea Party movement in the same way that Winters accuses them of demonizing Obama. I don't know how closely he has looked at the left, but I doubt the number of nuts on the left is less as a percentage than in the Tea Parties (Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Fr. Phlegger, Chris, ''Tingle up my leg'' Mathews etc.). That some Tea Partiers have crazy ideas, or even malice, may be true, but lets argue the issues on their merits.
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 1:42pm
"I never said that the Tea Parters cared about Bush on Iraq. They were the ones who voted for McCain. The problem was, no one else did. The people who once voted for Bush and later voted for Obama, however, did not do so because of the deficit. They did so because of Iraq and how Rumsfeld and Cheney handled it. In other words, the GOP did not lose power because of the Tea Party's main concern and they won't get it back by raising this as an issue. Am I being clear enough now?"
Actually, no.  I can't tell what you're arguing, other than blaming Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.  I agree with you that Iraq was a major issue in the 2006 midterms & 2008 Presidential election, but I don't get how jump from that to saying the TP Movement is delusional.  
And you keep saying GOP won NJ & VA races because Obama voters stayed home.  That is patently FALSE.  THey won in part because normal voting patterns returned (i.e. the young stayed home) but also because the independents swung away from Obama.  
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 1:35pm
I see your point, though the post I responded to seemed to state the increase as an accomplished fact, not a projection.  And the numbers I quoted are higher because of including something called intragovernmental holdings.  Note however that Obama will not be in office after 2016 (even assuming that he wins re-election), so that debt accrued from 2017 to 2019 would not actually be on his watch, though he might certainly bear some responsibility.
I've not seen the specific report from the Council of Economic Advisors, so I wonder if it might be a worst case scenario-e.g. no economic growth and increased revenue to offset the spending, and no cuts in future spending (which Obama has indicated he plans).  Projections are tricky.  At the end of the Clnton administration some were projecting significant reductions in the debt.  That didn't happen, and we can't be sure of these projections either, though they are sobering.
Anonymous | 4/16/2010 - 1:32pm
Couple things:
The tax reductions under Bush actually increased revenue intake as in stimulated the economy along with fiscal policy.  Tax cuts have worked this way four times.  First, immediately after WWII, then Johnson introduced lower taxes that Kennedy was advocating, when Reagan reduced taxes in the 80's and then when Bush reduced them in 2001 and 2003.
The balanced budget of Clinton was due to reduced spending constraints by the Republican Congress, some adjustment to the tax laws by both Clinton and the Republican Congress, a sharp reduction of defense spending by Clinton, and the large tax revenues that resulted from the Dot Com bubble and the cashing out of the stock gains that resulted from this bubble.
The budget deficits after Clinton left office were due to recession that resulted from the Dot Com bubble crash in 2000, the further restrictions of the economy due to 9/11 and finally to the increased expenditures to fight the war on terror including Afghanistan, Iraq and other efforts.  Despite these increased military expenditures the budget deficit was headed to zero till the sub prime problem.
If one wants a visual demonstration of the budget deficit problem, look at the following video.  It is quite dramatic and shows just what a problem it represents to reduce it.
James Lindsay | 4/16/2010 - 1:31pm
Jeff, the 5.8 is Debt Held by the Public. 10.5 at the same time is total debt. If you are one of the 53% of the American public who pays federal income taxes, the difference represents funds set aside to pay for baby boomer retirement. These bonds cannot be repatriated by doing anything to entitlements, since they are owed to entitlement programs. Sin taxes and tarrifs won't cover this amount either. That leaves funding by raising federal income taxes. Raising taxes on the poor and middle class will slow the economy. There is only one group left to pay about 4.7 trillion dollars over the next 20 years. Guess who that is?
James Lindsay | 4/16/2010 - 1:25pm
You can also cite the fact that much of the new debt is asset backed rather than backed by taxpayers. The numbers will be even better when GM is sold to investors, AIG is liquidated, the bad paper is sold at a profit and the Bush Tax Cuts expire.

What I wonder about is whether the sudden concern about those who pay no income tax is a shot across the bow on tax reform - meaning that the GOP will attempt to block the Baucus portion of the Bush tax cuts that went to poor and middle class families in order to protect Tea Party funders who want the taxes on the wealthy (including heirs) to be reduced as well. A 60th vote is necessary to overcome a budget act point of order to preserve the cuts the President favors while letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Will the GOP do the right thing? I doubt it. They are playing with fire, however, since their spin machine will blame the GOP for holding most of the country hostage for the selfish few.

Catholics, by the way, pretty much must support the President on this issue if they put their faith before their politics. This is one of those times when they must speak out to their Republican legislators if they truly believe in the Church's teaching Magisterium, which is fairly clear about the option for the poor - and has been for almost 150 years.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 1:16pm
@Kevin:  I think it is accurate on a forward looking basis based on the health care law and other new spending, i.e., "The public national debt–$5.8 trillion as of 2008–is projected to double by 2012 and nearly triple by 2019. Thus, America would accumulate more government debt under President Obama than under every President in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush combined."  The source is the Council of Economic Advisers.  
James Lindsay | 4/16/2010 - 1:11pm
I never said that the Tea Parters cared about Bush on Iraq. They were the ones who voted for McCain. The problem was, no one else did. The people who once voted for Bush and later voted for Obama, however, did not do so because of the deficit. They did so because of Iraq and how Rumsfeld and Cheney handled it. In other words, the GOP did not lose power because of the Tea Party's main concern and they won't get it back by raising this as an issue. Am I being clear enough now?
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 1:07pm
Jeff S,
Are you sure of your numbers.  I just checked a treasury department site, and according to that site, the national debt was about $10.7 trillion just before Obama took office and is now about $12.8 trillion.  That's a big increase, but does not seem to be more than all previous presidents combined (since we were $10.7 trillion in the hole before he was inaugarated).  And just before Bush took office the debt appears to have been $5.6 trillion, which suggests an increase of about $5 trillion on his watch.  Obama's off to a fast start (though he had a financial meltdown and recession, plus two wars to deal with), but he's not yet topped all previous presidents by what I can find.  I welcome correction by folks better with numbers.
Jeff Bagnell | 4/16/2010 - 12:52pm
"We can see November from our houses."  I don't think the Tea Party spends any time thinking about Bush or the last election, or Iraq, or Rumsfeld or any of that.  They are gravely concerned that this president is spending us into oblivion.  Indeed, he has increased the national debt more than all previous presidents combined.  He also has stated that he does not care if higher tax rates reduce revenues to the Treasury.  This is the mark of an ideologue and someone who does not understand the private sector at all.  
Jim Lein | 4/16/2010 - 12:40pm
Re Kevin Mulcahy (#14):  Well said.  My thoughts almost exactly.  It is very much like the Yankees complaining about the Washington Nationals. 
I'm old enough to remember Joe McCarthy in my home state of Wisconsin. He and the Korean War were two of the things I encountered when I first started reading the paper at age 10 or so.  Those were the good old days of communism as the evil.  Socialism was harmless, inconsequential.  Now, with the TP folks, it has become the equivalent of 1950's communism.  Much of the TP rhetoric reminds me of McCarthy folks back then.      
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/16/2010 - 12:34pm
JR makes a fair point about the deficit, which should be a concern to us all.  But remember that we went from surpluses under Clinton (with the help of a Republican congress in some terms) to exploding deficits under Bush.  His great mistake, to my way of thinking, was to cut taxes while fighting what has proved to be a long lasting and very expensive pair of wars.  And he basically ran those wars on credit-now coming due.  That left us in a hole when the financial sector fell apart.  Obama is aware of the deficit concerns, but he argues that short-term spending to help us escape the recession is sensible.  Paying too much attention to the deficit now might be alike a home-owner on a tight budget refusing to repair the roof after a tree fell on it.  We have to spend some now, and then tighten up once the roof is fixed.
Some suggestions: cut defense spending by reducing our commitment to weapons systems designed to fight enemies who no longer exist; gradually raise the retirement age for social security and raise the cap on the amount of wages subject to social security taxes; cut subsidies to profitable industries (including farm subsidies to agri-business while maintaining subsidies for family farms); roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest while trying to maintain lower levels for working and middle class families (there is no evidence that the really really wealthy are hurting from over taxation); demand real accountability from businesses working with the government (e.g. the defense and pharmaceutical industries) and demand genuinely competitive bidding for government contractrs to make the market work for us.
James Lindsay | 4/16/2010 - 12:30pm
They are angry because they lost and they are in denial because they think it was about the deficit and not about how Cheney and Rumsfeld messed up on Iraq. In 2004, they convinced enough voters in Ohio that Bush was better on national security. Events proved embarrassing and those swing voters went for Democrats in large numbers. None of the people who gave Bush his 2004 majority (over and above the GOP core) are in the Tea Party.

What also ticks off the TPers is that Obama won by expanding the electorate to people who had been psyched out of voting and to the young (including some of their own kids). The only reason the GOP picked up governorships last year is because these new voters stayed home.
Andrew Strada | 4/16/2010 - 12:30pm
Mr. Winters might consider revisiting the Bishops' statement on Civility in Media:
"Among the behaviors that demonstrate a lack of civility are

Elevating rumor to fact
Distorting the words or opinions of others, in particular by taking them out of context or putting them into a context for which they were not intended
Presuming deceitful and mendacious motives on the part of others
Engaging in personal attacks that not only belittle or defame the individuals involved but also risk spreading scandal, confusion, and doubt."

There are those who would say that "Crazy or Evil" is designed, with malice aforethought, to "belittle and defame".  In fact, this article would make a fine case study to demonstrate exactly what the Bishops were talking about.
Then, of course, we have the words of Matthew 7:3,   "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"


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