Tea Party: Crazy or Evil?

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.

 

James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
You are confusing the Tea Party with a movement in its own right. While one of the goals is likely to attract a few Libertarians and some of the remaining conservative Democrats, it is mainly designed to whip up Republican Party activists to keep the money flowing until the next election. It is a craven attempt to keep energy levels high. It is an attempt to harness the energy of those who opposed Obama rather vocally in 2008 and refuse to accept that they lost so badly. It is neither crazy or evil, as such - just pathetic.

There is a bit of denial implicit in the movement, which seeks to advance the silly notion that Bush, McCain and the congressional Republicans were repudiated over fiscal policy rather than their bungling of the War in Iraq. You can see this in their attempt to link Obama to the deficits Bush created and to claim that Obama's Iraq strategy is simply Bush warmed over. The latter is only partly true. Secretary Gates and General Patreus effectively rescued George W. Bush from the tragedy by scuttling the Cheney/Rumsfeld strategy on Iraq and installing something that made sense. However, that change came after the GOP was repudiated at the ballot box and after Cheney and the neocons were kicked out of the room.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 3 months ago
Mr Cosgrove:
Thanks for your balanced and measured response.
I really have no problem with capitalism or even people being rich, as long as that is not predatory and at the expense of worker's rights and safety.  I have no argument that the establishment of new small businesses creates jobs.  Nevertheless, if the government does not do its job of regulating and overseeing this system, it becomes the proverbial wild west scenario.
I would trust capitalists a lot more if they didn't interfere in the legislative and election processes with huge amounts of money.  This has now been exacerbated by the recent Supreme Court decision.
There is , no doubt, large amounts of waste in the government.  But then again, no one ever talks about reforming the system.  Managers are put in place by a top down selection system, as in the RC Church, with similar problems.  Perhaps some sort of external review system manned by competent private citizens could work.  Government does have an important role to play for this system to work at all.
And though money is "trusted", as you say, there are people who are motivated by more than money.  There is such a thing as enough.  Beyond that, and before it, there is pride in one's work and the respect of peers.  I consider this to be the primary motivation for scientists and engineers.  Thankfully, enough money goes along with it.  Yes, some strike out to establish businesses and make lots of money, but the desire to do new things is still very important, and probably primary.  There are rich entrepreneurs who strike out and try to do new things, cool things.  I can't help but love these guys.  But those who work in a pure financial environment can lose their sense of reality.  We saw this happen in Wall Street with the conjuring (I am reluctant to use the word "fabrication", which I respect) of derivatives and such.  To trust the financial entities in this country (as you say, "credo"), I think they must keep it simple.  I don't like creativity in finance any more than creativity in accounting.
I think the system will work a lot better if the controls established by the first and second Roosevelts were re-established after being so joyfully torn down in the name of free market capitalism.  That was my main hope in voting for Obama.  We'll see if that hope is fulfilled.
7 years 3 months ago
Wow; I go away for a bachelor party & the posts on this blog explode!
 
In 2003, as a young Jesuit-educated student, I remember trying to decide whether I was a Republican or Democrat.  I vividly remember at the time reading the comments from readers on the NY Times website.  I was shocked that some of the (supposedly) most educated and self-professed tolerant people in the world could write such vitriol about President Bush & conservatives in general.  At the same time I began reading conservatives like George Will & the young Ramesh Ponnuru & remember being struck by the contrast; their columns never failed to enlighten and challenge, even their own side sometimes.  It was a formative experience in my life contrasting the 2 styles.  I see so much of the same in Winters' posts, at least the political ones, as well as in Dowd, Krugman - routinely carping and make snide comments aimed I think at only rousing anger (yeah, there's anger on BOTH sides Pres. Clinton).  This style is in contrast to people like David Brooks & Ross Douthat whom I never fail to read without coming away enlightened.  The comments on this post also betray the same patterns.  Angry, sniping, sarcasm from the left, patient, even plodding, reasoning on the right.
 
Oh, and if Winters issues a challenge to his readers in his post, it would sure be nice for him to respond, esp. when he gets over 70 responses. 
7 years 3 months ago
Mr. Landry,
 
If you want to read some of the best written conservative points of view, go to City Journal and poke through their archives.
 
http://www.city-journal.org/
 
Also read Myron Magnet's ''The Dream and the Nightmare'' about the effects of welfare and the policies of the secular left.  Also you should read David Carlin's book ''Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?'' written by a liberal Catholic politician.  Each will give you some views of people who are very familiar with the liberal left.
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
Jeff (74),
 
Are you perhaps over generalizing?  I know that I've certainly tried to make calm and reasoned positions without demonizing others, and I think others coming from the left side of the spectrum commenting here do the same.  Personally I think it would be fair to say that both left and right have lots of angry voices, sometimes generating more heat than light. I'd actually like to campaign for understatement as a more effective argumentative technique.  Something along the lines of "That turns out not to be the case" instead of "You moron you're wrong!"  Better for reasoned discourse and probably for the blood pressure.
 
I confess that I've come to think of Maureen Dowd as sort of an indiscriminate machine gun firing in every direction.  Just as I've learned to skip her column when she writes about Benedict or the Church, I learned to skip her column whenever she mentions one of the Clintons-she has a visceral hatred for them that complicates her normal identification as a liberal (which she most certainly is on "lifestyle" issues).
 
Peace
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
If there were any extant law that said dual citizens could not be President, Clinton would have used it. The fact remains, Obama was born in the 50th state and even if born in Kenya, her mother was a legal resident of that state. The 14th Amendment also clearly applies and Obama is native born by being born in the USA. Any linkage he has to Kenya is weak - indeed, he met his father once in his adulthood.

Ultimately, this is a resolved political question. Congress counts the votes and it is unlikely that the votes will be extant to even consider the question in January of 2013. Of course, if they raise it for a second term President, that does not invalidate the electoral votes - it simply makes Joe Biden the POTUS.

The main driver of economic growth in both the 80s and the 2000s was the accumulation of a large national debt. Keynes explains it all. Keynes also explains how in the 90s, taxes on the wealthy were increased which allowed revenue to go up and the debt to go down at the same time. Money was shifted from the savings sector to the consumption sector, which fueled investment in plant and equipment to meet the requirement to build facilities for consumer demand. This fortuitous trend was stopped when Clinton got caught with his pants down and signed a capital gains tax cut, which made it more profitable to buy other companies and invest in the tech bubble than actually build products that people buy. The Housing Boom came about because the Bush tax cuts left too much money in the hands of the wealthy (since the Chinese were buying much of the debt). If most of that money had gone into debt reduction instead, Wall Street would not have had too many dollars chaseing too few non-junk investments. Most of that paper wealth evaporated. It would have been better to have been taxed away instead.
7 years 3 months ago
"The main driver of economic growth in both the 80s and the 2000s was the accumulation of a large national debt. Keynes explains it all. Keynes also explains how in the 90s, taxes on the wealthy were increased which allowed revenue to go up and the debt to go down at the same time."
 
Since Keynes dies in 1946, do you mind explaining how, exactly, he "explained" economic realities some 40 plus years later?
 
"The Housing Boom came about because the Bush tax cuts left too much money..."
 
I think its also been demonstrated that at least another major cause of the housing bust were liberal policies pushing lending to lower income persons and lax oversight of Frannie & Freddie.  In fact, when conservatives argued in the late 90s that Frannie & Freddie needed reform, liberal dems accused them of racism and being too hard on the poor.  
 
@KEvin Mulcahy; yes, of course I'm over-generalizing.  But it is my experience, nonetheless, that I find the political discourse among conservative intellectuals (NOT including Limbaugh, et. al. in that group) to be more stimulating than liberals. And I have yet to find any conservative media outlet with the kind of dirty comments left by NY Times readers.
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
Jeff,
 
I think you might well be right about dirty (scatalogical or sexual) language on the left being more common.  I expect that many conservatives have cleaner mouths.  They are, however, somewhat prone to brand people as communists and socialists who would be denounced by any real socialist or communist party as enemies of the people.  One of the problems with that particular kind of exaggeration (by either left or right) is that it exhausts your vocabulary and then when an actual socialist (or fascist) shows up, you have to call him the same name that you called somebody a great deal more moderate and sensible.  It almost provides cover for the real McCoy.
 
And the current right might be a bit more prone to violent rhetoric (e.g. the lock and load, take our guns to Washington and reclaim the republic kind of stuff).  That's one of the things some of us find frightening about some of the more extreme members of the Tea Party, and I suspect something totally lacking from the more thoughtful conservatives you admire.  As I said in an earlier post, it's probably wise for all of us to dial back the rhetoric a bit.  A long time ago I worked as a faculty member supervising student housing at a college.  We had some training in handling minor crises, and the trainer told us "If someone is shouting, you can either try to outshout him, or to talk very quietly."  Sometimes when you talk softly, the other person finally realizes that he is shouting, and starts to speak in a normal tone.  And then you can have a conversation.
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
Keynesian theory,Jeff. If Wall Street had not been demanding more securities to invest in, there would have been much more dilligence. The only reason there was such a market for mortgage backed securities was the amount of money people wanted to invest in them for higher and higher return. If that money had been taxed away, there would have been no push to move liar loans through the system. Without liar loans, the Street would have found some other junk bubble to inflate. Its a classic case of too much money chasing too few goods. Taxation would have prevented this bubble nicely.
7 years 3 months ago
There was investment because there was demand, demand driven in part by people like Maxine Waters barking about "affordable" housing and pushing liberalizing loan policies, all while conservatives objected to the already un-tenable financial condition of Freddie & Fannie.  I noticed you conveniently ignored these facts in your response.  And I can't help but chuckle at the "we can tax our way out of any problem" argument.
7 years 3 months ago
Keynesian economics has generally been a failure though one aspect of it has been very successful.  Keynesian economics is an attempt to control the economy through fiscal policy.  Fiscal policy is an attempt to control revenues or expenditures to/by the government through either spending or taxation.  The one aspect that has generally been a complete failure is government spending.  It failed tremendously in the 1930's under Roosevelt where it extended the depression to after Roosevelt was dead.  After he died, he could not affect economic policy any more and Congress said no to Harry Truman who tried to implement even more of Roosevelt's ideas.  It also failed spectacularly in the late1960's and 1970's under Johnson, Nixon and Carter when we had the term called ''stagflation'' as part of the national lexicon during Carter's years.
 
 
Now the aspect of Keynesian economics that has worked was taxes.  Four times in the last 65 years the government has applied tax cuts and the economy has jumped in response.  The first was just after World War II after Roosevelt was dead and his draconian tax policy was ameliorated especially for businesses and his grand schemes for government programs thrown in the trash heap.  There was large scale economic expansion.  This was a Democrat program with Republican support.  In the 1960's Kennedy recommended reducing taxes and when Johnson became president he made it happen.  Again economic expansion.  But the cuts were not large enough and did not affect the key group, namely the investing class.  Then in 1980's and in 2001 and 2003 under Reagan and Bush there were additional tax cuts followed by economic expansion which did affect everyone but especially the entrepreneurs who then invested it creating long term jobs.
 
 
So fiscal policy works when it is in the form of tax cuts but not government spending but tax cuts have to be aimed at the right people who will create business expansion.  Why?  Because tax cuts affect every one and gives them more money to chose what they want but especially the investors or those who want to be rich and create the new business that provide sustainable employment.  Government spending can never do this because they pick the winners while tax cuts go to those who win the race.  Government spending never creates sustainable employment.  After the expenditure is done, it is done and unless it continues to keep people on the dole for non economic reasons.  So Government spending is a formula for disaster except in those sustainable areas deemed necessary for the society such as defense and law enforcement, some entitlements, basic research, recreation efforts and infrastructure projects.  However, some government projects are best handled locally such as education, road construction etc.
 
 
But the main source of economic control that has also proved the most fruitful is monetary control, or control of the money supply through interest rates.  This is why we owe our prosperity to Milton Friedman and not to John Maynard Keynes. Cheap loans like tax cuts will also let the efficient and the effective win the race by allowing them to create small businesses that people want which is the real engine of the economic well being.  If anyone thinks Keynesian spending leads to anything good then they should cite examples.  I can cite all sorts of failures especially the policies of the Great Depression.  Read Robert Samuelson's book
 
 
''The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence''
 
 
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
Perhaps a gentler way to express the idea is that many of these folks are so afraid of change that they have allowed their fear to paralyze their minds.  I agree with Mr. Winter that genuine conservatism is much better than the Tea Party, which really is a frightened and angry reactionary movement.  There is a need for thoughtful discussion of the real limits of what government can and should do, but we are not getting that from the Tea Party.  I hope the genuine conservatives will start to speak up and reclaim the conversation.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
You have got to be joking.  The heading of this post could be changed to any number of variations which would reveal more clearly the lack of charity and contempt oozing from this piece.  How about:  "Michael Sean Winters:  Crazy or Evil?", or "America Magazine:  Crazy or Evil?"
66% of Americans feel very strongly that we are overtaxed.  Are they all crazy or evil?  Afraid of "change"?  This is what passes for serious liberal thought these days.  
 
 
 
7 years 3 months ago
As someone who has been to a Tea Party event and has followed the movement over the last year, my assessment is that they are neither evil or crazy.  The ones I met were cordial actually very friendly, well behaved and appeared intelligent.  
 
There are many reasons for supporting what they are doing, the main one is for  fiscal sanity and a healthy economy.  If one wants to follow what is happening at Tea Party events go to Glenn Reynolds' site, Instapundit.
 
http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/
 
Mr. Winters is a flame thrower and likes to hurl all sorts of ad hominems at anyone who does not tow his narrow party line.  What do we have here, crazy, looney, evil, hatefulness.  All wrong Mr. Winters.  They are very sane, above average intelligence and probably show more love for others than those who have supported the Democrat Party,
 
I will comment on the heath care bill in another post since what has just passed in the eyes of many here was a legislative debacle.
7 years 3 months ago
This is purely ad hominem attack.  I attended a few anti-war rallies during the Bush administration.  I can guarantee you that I could find 10 left-wing loonies who would say outlandish things (say, for example, that the Bush family was bribed by Saudi Arabia to keep American dependent upon foreign oil & was thereby duty bound to invade Iraq) that people would find deplorable.  The Tea Party Movement is the same thing.  While a conservative, I am uneasy about the TP's rhetoric.  BUT that doesn't mean they don't have a point.  The last few years have seen an enormous expansion of the role and scope of government (as George Will says, "billion" now is a rounding error in my legislation).  Why is it "fear" or "hate" or whatever other thing you want to tell yourself it is when people take the streets to make themselves heard.  
 
By the way, it sure would be nice if America bloggers responded to comments like bloggers on other posts.  
7 years 3 months ago
I have to say it is MADDENING reading you sometimes.  You are brilliant on the sexual abuse stuff, even on political theory.  But when you get to bread and butter politics its like some evil twin comes out where you put your brain in your pocket and rather hurl rhetorical bombs and look for the worse in the people you disagree with.  YES, the conservative movement IS better than SOME of the tea party movement, so IGNORE the tea party and respond to the conservatives.  I have mentioned more than once Paul Ryan's fiscal roadmap which has garnered attention (from Pres. Obama for one).  He's a Catholic Republican.  Yet NOT ONCE have you said ANYTHING about that conservative plan.  I need to stop writing because I am so incensed at this blather, but I will say that America Magazine can do better than this garbage.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
Calling the tea party participants "Birchers" is like calling MSW a communist because he so clearly favors punitive taxation of the most productive and successful members of our society, and redistribution of the wealth they have accumulated to the 47% of americans who pay no taxes.  
7 years 3 months ago
I've never been to a Tea Party, I'm not a "birther," but I think I understand the contempt the Tea Party people have for the government.

1. With respect to Obama's place of birth - Having witnessed the fake Democrat-created documents about George Bush's military service that were "unearthed" by esteemed reporter Dan Rather, what is so far fetched about the idea of a faked birth certificate and a fake newspaper report? What can we trust in anymore?

2. With respect to Medicaire and Social Security: If I could have all of the money that I pumped into these programs back in my bank account, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Yes, I could have better prepared for my older age (or squandered away the money) without the assistance if the federal government.


With all due respect and sympathy for the underprivileged, the greatness and power of the United States over all other nations is rooted in getting the government out of the way of the people, not in the government taking care of its people. The United States has never been about a guarantee of a good quality of life; on the contrary, it has always been about the opportunity to attempt to make one's fortune, unfettered by the government taking from those who have and giving to those who have not. It is a country built on greed, power, competition, and aggression. Liberal, government-controlled schooling since the 1960s has taught us a different story; that we are a nation of pacifism and of empathy; that the government has an obligation to take care of us. There are countries like that now; countries whose very existence is possible because the United States is not like them.

You might not like the Tea Partier's resistance to the leftist turn that the country seems to be taking; you might think they're crazy and evil. But they're really just looking back to what the country has been for most of its history, and at what made the country so unique, powerful and the greatest force of peace the world has ever known (notwithstanding the poverty of its own citizens).
7 years 3 months ago
I am a graduate of Stanford University and recently received a notice from the University about a forum on the recent Health Care legislation.  After watching it I was appalled.  None of the nationally recognized experts addressed the two main things driving the cost increases, though a couple talked around it by referring to ''fee for service'' as the basic reason for cost increases.
 
There are two main factors that have led to the continual increases in medical cost and as a recent cancer patient who has witnessed the medical system up close for the last three years can attest to both.  The first is
 
The constant increase in available options for treating any illness.  Anyone who is seriously ill wants the best treatment possible.  These new procedures and medicines are expensive but who is going to deny anyone hope for recovery so all the resources are thrown at every patient and they are expensive.  A cousin of mine told me about the new MRI machines that will be coming on line soon and how they will make any machine currently available obsolete.  No hospital will be able to do without one and they won't come cheap.  Multiply that by a hundred other tests and procedures and you get the picture, rapidly rising expenditures at hospitals and other medical facilities.  At the end of the Stanford discussion the head of the Stanford Hospital talked about how they were completely modernizing their health care delivery to be the best.  And I am sure very expensive.  The local hospital system here in suburban New York demanded higher fees from the insurance companies because they just spent $100 million modernizing their four hospitals.
 
The second cost driver that was not addressed by the Stanford experts was the Tort System that awards large settlements to lawyers who sue over bad medical outcomes.  I have seen this figure as $20-$30 billion or referred to as a drop in the bucket of over $2.5 trillion dollars spent on health care each year.  Yes it is, but a significant portion of the $2.5 trillion is defensive medical practice by doctors to avoid the suits they so desperately want to avoid.  In the last few years several of my friends and myself have all pointed to each one of us or our families who saw this played out in various ways by doctors. Just this small group could point to over $100,000 of unnecessary medical costs all covered by insurance.  One person felt chest pains and $16,000 later it was diagnosed as probably indigestion.
 
The Stanford people did make a point that competition is a major cost reducer and this bill does not address this.  They also talked about the accounting gimmicks that were used to make the bill look lest costly than it will end up being.
 
So many can trump what a great achievement the health care bill is, but there will be no cost reductions unless care is rationed because the cost drivers are still in work full force.  And that will restrict employment as business struggle to contain these costs by reducing employment or consumers have less to spend on non-medical areas thus essentially reducing demand for products and consequently, less jobs.  
 
Who will be hurt the most, the poor and less educated.  And to me that is not social justice which is the magic word here.
 
William Kurtz
7 years 3 months ago
I suspect that I don't agree with David Smith about much, but his comment raises a valid point. I'm reminded of certain political figures (Richard J. Daley and Barry Goldwater are two who come to mind) whose admirers were angry when they felt their heroes had been quoted out of context.
"Print what he means, not what he says," they would urge reporters.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
JR makes good points, but I have to challenge the tried and true method of blaming trial lawyers for the nation's woes.  The primary cause of large malpractice verdicts is horrendous medical malpractice.  You have the occasional case of a doctor amputating the wrong limb and leaving surgical staples and sponges inside patients. If the medical profession did a better job of policing the malefactors within its ranks, very few malpractice suits would go anywhere.  As it is, the lawsuit is the most effective deterrent to more widespread medical malpractice. 
7 years 3 months ago
The TP defenders are up in arms here. I say not evil and not stupid. They are angry about the White House/Congress loss. In baseball you call that loss, a four game  sweep.  . At a retired managers luncheon the vast concensus was health care reform  blasted as a Government take-over. I mentioned that 'everyone here is on Medicare'.....the only answers I got were 'it's not the way we look at it' and 'we already paid for that'. As for birthers, it's short hand for newbie Obama is illegitimate in birth, class, race, and American culture. This was said too about Kennedy by upscale WASPs.."he's not our kind'. Even Harvard does not 'makeover' a backround. And there is even resentment that these kinds of Harvard  "makeovers" were even attempted.  
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 3 months ago
I don't think that the TeaBaggers are crazy or evil, I think that they are scared.  The days of white, privileged rule in this country are coming to an end.  They're in the same pot as everyone else now.
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
Responding to Mike in #8.  One difference between the Bush documents and the Obama birth certificate is that once the false documents were discovered in the Bush case, Rather was fired (or at least eased out the door), and the story went away.  Obama's birth certificate  is easily viewable on the web, but that story lives.  Oddly, the only presidential birth certificate I've ever seen is Obama's.
And the trick with Social Security and Medicare is this: if a thirty-five year old with dependent children dies, his family gets SS benefits (over and above whatever insurance he might have).  Also, if one had plowed all his retirement money into Enron and Lehman Brothers, for example, he or she might have a difficult retirement.
From a historical perspective, it's hard to see the US as taking a leftist turn.  In fact, Ronald Reagan was so persuasive, for good or ill as you judge, that the political discourse of the whole country has moved far to the right, and Obama can be seen as making a slight adjustment back to the left.  It's ironic that many folks who celebrate Reagan actually underestimate just how effective he was in changing the political map.  What passes in the US now for crazed leftism would have been seen as moderate thrirty years ago.  If one actually wants to find socialists with any power, you'd have to go to Latin America or Europe.  Conservative fury is puzzling simply because they have been so successful in the U.S. forcing the liberals to be much more timid on economic issues than ever before (issues like abortion and gay rights are ones where liberals have been much more successful).  It's kind of like the Yankees complaining about the Washington Nationals.
I understand the longing for less government, but let me offer a quick analogy.  If you live in a rural area, you can probably get by with minimal traffic regulations.  If you live in Manhattan, you need lights and parking rules, etc.  We might be too large, complex, and interdependent a society to get by without a fair measure of regulation and government intervention.  Otherwise how do the air and water stay clean, how are bridges and roads maintained, how do we educate citizens and workers?
Peace.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
@Kevin, the problem is that Obama has not released, for whatever reason, his original "long form" birth certificate, which contains the name of the doctor who delivered him and the name of the hospital.  What you've seen is a certification of live birth, which is a different document.  This is why the controversy continues in some quarters, though I agree that it's not a productive use of time.
7 years 3 months ago
''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.  
 
If they are scared, it is for the future of the country and the inability to sustain the deficit spending forecast.  As far as deficits under George W. Bush, the budget was headed towards being balanced till the sub prime mess hit.  It was close to $100 billion in 2007, the last year of Republican controlled budgets.  And as far as the deficits in the last two years of Bush administration, the budgets are set by Congress and President Obama as a senator voted for each one of them that were authored by his party.  For a picture of the deficits and projected deficits see
 
http://blog.heritage.org/2009/03/24/bush-deficit-vs-obama-deficit-in-pictures/
 
Some people here have a hard time dealing with truth.
7 years 3 months ago
"There is a bit of denial implicit in the movement, which seeks to advance the silly notion that Bush, McCain and the congressional Republicans were repudiated over fiscal policy rather than their bungling of the War in Iraq."
 
I know of no one in the TP Movement attempting to scapegoat Bush for anything.  They are just as angry about the Prescription Drug entitlement as anything Obama has done.  ANd I don't think most of them give 2 hoots about where Obama was born.
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
A short form hospital birth certificate is different than the official Birth Record issued by the State of birth. Indeed, my official birth certificate is now at an Iowa DMV office or destroyed because my little brother tried to get a drivers license with it and did not take it with him when they demanded further proof of identity (or did not give it back to him). The birth record is adequate for all legal purposes. We are not a fascist regime where everyone is required to have their papers in order from birth.

Where the birthers really err, however, is in not acknowledging that even if everything they say is true about Obama being born abroad, it does not matter since his mother is naturally born. This makes him naturally born, no matter what location he was born in. If this were not the case, John McCain would not be a citizen, since he was born in the Canal Zone when his family was deployed.

This whole question is why stupidity and evil are not so good an option as pathos.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
7 years 3 months ago
True that the short form is different from the long form. In Obama's case, he has released the short form, which proves he was born in Hawaii, but the State of Hawaii has sealed the long form.

The long form is no one's business. In most (all?) states, the long form contains additional information, including whether the child was a twin or triplet, and, if so, was s/he born first, second, third, etc.
Andrew Strada
7 years 3 months ago
Mr. Winters might consider revisiting the Bishops' statement on Civility in Media:
http://www.usccb.org/comm/civility.shtml
"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?"
 
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
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.
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
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.
Jim Lein
7 years 3 months ago
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.      
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
"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.  
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
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.
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
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?
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
@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
7 years 3 months ago
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.
James Lindsay
7 years 3 months ago
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?
7 years 3 months ago
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.
 
http://wimp.com./budgetcuts/
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 3 months ago
Jeff,
 
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.
 
 
7 years 3 months ago
"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.  
Colin Donovan
7 years 3 months ago
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.
Michael Appleton
7 years 3 months ago
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.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
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
7 years 3 months ago
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
7 years 3 months ago
Oh and now comes the ad hominem sniping.  How typical and childish.
Helena Loflin
7 years 3 months ago
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.
7 years 3 months ago
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.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 3 months ago
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?
 
 

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