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There Are Good Remedies to the Kavanaugh Problem

Introduction

As we head towards conclusion of the Kavanaugh hearings, both Republicans and Democrats are in a titanic battle that is completely political in nature. Whether Kavanaugh is confirmed or not, there are good remedies most citizens are unaware of that will probably satisfy sixty-five percent of the American voting population. What are these remedies? Well, some are short-term fixes and some are longer-term.

General Overview

The state of Maryland where Kavanaugh went to school has no Statute of Limitations on certain sexual crimes committed:

“No time limit for prosecution of any felony sexual offenses (Smallwood v. State, 51 Md.App. at 468, 443 A.2d at 1006, (in this State a prosecution for a felony “may be instituted anytime during the life of the offender.”))

There is no “bye your leave or stay out of jail card” just because time has elapsed.

If Kavanaugh is appointed, his confirmation can be rescinded because, whether a U. S. Supreme Court justice or not, no one in a democracy is above the law. Republicans more than Democrats are in a “Catch-Twenty-Two” situation where they are damned if they confirm him, and damned if they don’t. Why? Because a blue wave is coming baby and it’s more powerful than a 100 foot wave tsunami and Hurricane Florence combined.

As it looks today Democrats are, in the mid-term elections, going to retake the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and several governorships in previously red states. When the Democrats come into office in January there are several legislative actions they can take despite what the Republicans do in September. However, in the months ahead remaining Republicans will get a new lame-duck president (Mike Pense) once Donald Trump is impeached by the new Democratic majority in Congress.

It won’t be till 2020 that major judicial reforms regarding the U.S. Supreme Court should come about.

Why? Because the U.S. Constitution only allows presidents to bring forth nominations for the United States Supreme Court. Also, presidents cannot appoint nominees directly because the U.S. Constitution requires the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

An amendment to the U. S. Constitution would be needed to let Congress bring forth nominees but currently legislators cannot do that. The Congress could set in motion a Constitutional Amendment but that would be a lengthy process that could take years to complete. Therefore, some of my recommendations ahead relate to short-term fixes and others that are more long-term.

Short-Term Proposed Remedies

One of the first acts of the new congress, following the mid-term elections (meaning January 2019) should be to have the FBI conduct a thorough investigation of any and all allegations made against Kavanaugh. If it is found that Kavanaugh committed crime(s) he should be immediately prosecuted and removed from any judgeship.

One of the most important acts of the new Congress will be to impeach President Donald Trump. The safety, sanity and authenticity of a real democracy in the United States is currently in peril. Once removed from office Trump, who is a traitor to his country, needs to experience total asset forfeiture of all his holdings, and he should be given a new wardrobe—A large orange jumpsuit.

Long-Term Proposed Remedies

When Roosevelt was reelected in 1936 he had to deal with a Supreme Court that wouldn’t pass his New Deal legislation. He did this by getting passed the 1937 Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. What this bill did was to require all justices on the court to retire at age 70.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how many justices can compose the court. The number of justices we have now is simply based on prior arbitrary decisions of the U.S. government. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily have to be composed of just 9 justices.

Roosevelt’s “packing the court plan” worked and a host of New Deal legislation was subsequently approved by the highest court. One could argue that Roosevelt’s political interference to subvert the highest court in the land isn’t any different than current Republican attempts to pack the court with ultra-conservative tainted judges. They’ve done everything they can to subvert an honest process by having no real investigation done by the FBI, hiding Kavanaugh documents during his time with the Bush administration, and only half-heartedly, if at all, showing respect toward witnesses and victims of sexual battery, lewd licentious behavior, and attempted rape.

One could ultimately argue that since justices themselves tend to tailor their decisions based on societal value judgments that are couched and hidden in sophisticated legal analysis and jargon; by effect, it creates an analytical subterfuge which belies the fact that U.S. Supreme Court justices are supposed to be defenders of facts, the law, legal precedent, and the United States Constitution.

A previous blog of mine explored the faulty analysis (by conservatives and those who promote a strict literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution) because they have failed to understand what the original founders said themselves about how to interpret their new constitution by future generations of Americans. The founders recognized the need for flexibility of legal opinions over time in accordance with the needs of a changing country and a changing citizenship.

Most sociologists today explain that differences in human societal collective actions, including legal ones, are caused by differing social values. Said another way, rightly or wrongly, values rule society and all its actions. And change in values leads to tension among the people. Let’s be honest, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative, change is always difficult and anxiety provoking.

Psychologists also contribute to our understanding of social behavior. Currently they have been able to detect highly individual and internal processes that have led to how our current President manifests psychiatric, sociopathic and dementia symptoms. There is nothing more dangerous than a sociopathic amoral president with power. Either academic perspective explains very well why the country and our democracy has been corrupted and perverted by some Russian stooge in the White House since January 20, 2017.

My recommendation in the long-term category is that before a new version of the 1937 Judicial Reform law is passed, we first need to elect a democratic president because, based on the U.S. Constitution, only presidents can nominate justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On a personal note I think an arbitrary, yet useful number of Supreme Court justices, should number 13 rather than 9. The transition, when justices retire, might be less fraught with conflict and anxiety particularly during confirmation hearings of a new nominee. Then again maybe I’m just too optimistic an individual. Maybe 21 justices is a better number to put on the U. S. Supreme Court. What would be your ideas on this issue?

Final Comments

The major reason the United States is on a perilous path to self-destruction actually goes back to 1994 when a gaggle of conservative Republicans tried to high-jack the country with its “Contract with America.” At the time President Clinton referred to their proposal as more like a “Contract on America.”

The lasting signature of the Republican Party, then as now, is to pass very little legislation that helps people; they oppose all efforts to control “the good old white boy network.” They did pass one piece of legislation granting tax benefits. But the new taxes really benefited large corporations and already wealthy individuals and essentially accomplished nothing in all other social/economic areas. “Trickle-Down Economic Theory” was disproved decades ago.

The Republican political party is the party of “no.” The Tea Party members of 2010 and the Freedom Caucus of today deserve to be booted from Congress during the next 4 years. Senators like Grassley, McConnell and Hatch are at the top of the list of people who need to be removed from political office.

I’ve said to my friends many times over the years that conservatism is nothing to be proud of, but nevertheless there is nothing wrong with having moderately conservative political views; after all, no one is perfect.

Now that there are at least three women bringing sexual allegations against Kavanaugh I’d like to recommend, that any senator who votes to confirm Kavanaugh in the days ahead, should be voted out of the Senate come their reelection day.

These days Republicans are more recalcitrant or obstreperous than ever. Now that they’ve reached a new all-time low for lack of decency and moral character, Republicans have earned a new description worthy of a plaque. Not only is conservatism nothing to be proud of it, now it is something to be truly ashamed of.

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Beliefs about Human Evolution

and Conservatism as Mental Illness

 

Introduction

     The attitude of the American people never ceases to amaze me. This month I want to share with my cyberspace audience survey data from the Pew Research Center. I hope what you learn will help you to refine how you are going to vote in the national mid-term elections in November, 2014. 

Public’s Views on Human Evolution

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.

About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

These are some of the key findings from a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted on landlines and cellphones in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.0 percentage points.

Differences by Religious Group

A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea.

Those saying that humans have evolved over time also were asked for their views on the processes responsible for evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today,” while about a third (32%) say that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection.”

Just as religious groups differ in their views about evolution in general, they also tend to differ in their views on the processes responsible for human evolution. For instance, while fully 78% of white mainline Protestants say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, the group is divided over whether evolution is due to natural processes or whether it was guided by a supreme being (36% each). White non-Hispanic Catholics also are divided equally on the question (33% each). The religiously unaffiliated predominantly hold the view that evolution stems from natural processes (57%), while 13% of this group says evolution was guided by a supreme being. Of the white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants who believe that humans have evolved over time, most believe that a supreme being guided evolution.

Views about Evolution by Party Affiliation

There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).

The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained about the same.

Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution. Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account.

Views about Evolution by Demographic Group

The 2013 Pew Research survey varied the exact wording of the question about evolution to better understand public views on the issue. A random group of respondents was asked about the evolution of “humans and other living things” while others were asked about the evolution of “animals and other living things.”1 The survey found that the wording focus on animals vs. humans made little difference in beliefs.

Beliefs about human and animal evolution tend to vary by gender, age and education. Men are somewhat more inclined than women to say that humans and animals have evolved over time. Younger adults are more likely than older generations to believe that living things have evolved over time. And those with more years of formal schooling are more likely than those with less education to say that humans and animals have evolved over time.

About the Survey

This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, among a national sample of 1,983 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (1,017 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 966 were interviewed on a cell phone). Interviews were completed in English and Spanish by live, professionally trained interviewing staff under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

A combination of landline and cell random digit dial (RDD) samples were used to reach a representative sample of all adults in the United States who have access to either a landline or cell phone. Both samples were disproportionately stratified to increase the incidence of African-American and Hispanic respondents. Within each stratum phone numbers were drawn with equal probabilities. The landline samples were list-assisted and drawn from active blocks containing three or more residential listings, while the cell samples were not list-assisted but were drawn through a systematic sampling from dedicated wireless 100-blocks and shared service 100-blocks with no directory-listed landline numbers. Both the landline and cell RDD samples were disproportionately stratified by county based on estimated incidences of African-American and Hispanic respondents.

The survey questionnaire included a split-form design whereby an additional 2,023 adults were asked a different set of questions, including the questions on animal evolution reported above. The total number of interviews conducted was 4,006. Thus, the data collection involved two simultaneous surveys; where the same question was asked on each form, the results of the two forms can be combined to yield a representative survey of U.S. adults with the full 4,006 respondents.

Several stages of statistical adjustment or weighting are used to account for the complex nature of the sample design. The weights account for numerous factors, including (1) the different, disproportionate probabilities of selection in each stratum, (2) the overlap of the landline and cell RDD sample frames, and (3) differential non-response associated with sample demographics. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies, including disproportionate stratification of the sample.

The survey’s margin of error is the largest 95% confidence interval for any estimated proportion based on the total sample – the one around 50%. For example, the margin of error for the entire sample is +/-3.0 percentage points. This means that in 95 out of every 100 samples drawn using the same methodology, estimated proportions based on the entire sample will be no more than 3.0 percentage points away from their true values in the population. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance used in this report take into account the effect of weighting. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

  1. Most analysis in this report is based on respondents asked about human evolution (N=1,983). An additional 2,023 respondents were asked questions about animal evolution. The margin of error for those asked about animal evolution is +/- 2.9 percentage points.

 

     In 2012 an article written by Barry X. Kuhle, an assistant  professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, appeared in Psychology Today. It questioned the mental health (or preponderance of psychiatric symptoms) of conservatives and republicans. Some of this is written tongue-in-cheek, and some is dead serious.

Conservatism as a Mental Illness

Republican pols have recently exhibited 10 telltale signs of mental illness.

Published on June 12, 2012 by Professor Barry X. Kuhle, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Entertainment

     “In Creationism as a Mental Illness, Robert Rowland Smith argues that creationists exhibit several signs of mental illness including denial, psychosis, and inability to grasp irony.

The specter of mental illness does indeed loom large over creationists, but they are not alone. Signs of psychopathology can also be seen among their political bedfellows, conservative politicians, especially when you consider a wide range of illness indicators. In his award-winning 2005 book, Dr. James Whitney Hicks discusses 50 signs of mental illness including denial, delusion, hallucination, disordered thinking, anger, anti-social behavior, sexual preoccupation, grandiosity, general oddness, and paranoia. Now I’m no clinician, but in my (admittedly biased brown) eyes it seems that prominent Republicans have evidenced each of these ten telltale signs of mental illness over the past year:

What’s Your Political Persuasion?

Liberals and conservatives do see the world differently.

1) Denial: humans did not evolve;  Obama is not a native-born American Christian

2) Delusion: climate is not changing

3) Hallucination: God ordained me to be President

4) Disordered Thinking: being for small government that’s huge in the bedroom;  being anti-contraception and anti-abortion

5) Anger: Newt Gingrich’s perpetual scowl

6) Anti-social Behaviortoward women, gays, minorities, anyone without an umbilical cord or trust fund

7) Sexual Preoccupation: a fervent compulsion to control when we can mate, with whom we can mate, and precisely how we are allowed to mate (which I lampoon in Why Do Politicians Want to Police Dick and Jane’s Private Parts?)

8) Grandiosity: even Rick Santorum recognizes Gingrich’s “over the moon” grandiosity

9) General Oddness: Ron Paul

10) Paranoiapretty much all of them, all of the time

Even (the not necessarily dumb) Pope Francis appears to recognize that “it is a serious illness, this of ideological [conservative] Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Regrettably, the Republican who least exhibits anti-science stances is the only one who (tongue-in-cheek) acknowledges his mental illness:

Until Jon Huntsman becomes the sane voice of his insane party, maybe “Republican Syndrome” should be added to the DSM-V so that crazy conservative pols can receive the mental health treatment they need. I bet “Obamacare” would even cover it.”

Post Script

With 33% of the population believing humans didn’t evolve (without a shred of evidence to support their position), it is very clear the rest of us have our work cut out for us. Perhaps the best we can all do is support mental health/psychiatric services for conservatives and Republicans. And yes, this last statement is not at all tongue-in-cheek.

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The Tea Party in America:

Political Lunatic Fringe or New Face of the Republican Party?

 

Introduction

Historians will one day write about one of the greatest crises to face the United States Government. That crisis occurred within just a few days ago when the country was on a catastrophic train wreck to oblivion. What happened was this: the government began to go into a tailspin with a partial shutdown of the U.S. government which included a catastrophic threat of financial default and ruin of the country’s credit status. In addition, there was a threat that the nation’s debt limit was not going to be extended beyond October 17, 2013.  This chaos, in turn, would directly prevent the U.S. government from paying its bills and meeting its financial obligations.

The following is an edited version of an Associated Press article:

“Standard & Poor’s estimated the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy, and the Fitch credit rating agency had warned that it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for a possible downgrade.

President Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill were the decisive victors in the fight, which was sparked by Tea Party Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. They prevailed upon skeptical GOP leaders to use a normally routine short-term funding bill in an attempt to “defund” the 2010 Affordable Health Care Law known as ‘Obama care.’

‘We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,’ House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded. He was given positive reviews from Republicans for his handling of the crisis, though it again exposed the tenuous grasp he holds over the fractious House GOP conference. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said the American people disapproved of how Republicans, and also Democrats and the president, handled the budget gridlock.

‘Hopefully, the lesson is to stop this foolish childishness,’ McCain said Thursday on CNN. The shutdown sent approval of the GOP plummeting in opinion polls and exasperated veteran lawmakers who saw it as folly. ‘It’s time to restore some sanity to this place,’ House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said before the vote.’[i]

Who Created the Economic Crisis?

The instigators of this crisis were a minority of congressmen in the House of Representatives representing just one political faction of the Republican Party. This political faction is known as the Tea Party.

Public polls during the crisis overwhelmingly condemned the Republican Party in general for holding the country hostage. But the Tea Party, as instigators, was blamed even more for their reckless, irresponsible, failed and ill-conceived plan, that in15 days into the shutdown had already hurt a million+ people nationwide.

Initially, it was their plan to use the shutdown as a bargaining chip in their desire to force concessions on the Affordable Care Act, and to cut federal spending. And this misguided extremism via extortion was attempted as a strategy in lieu of the normal legislative process. Such a deleterious plan, approved and executed by the Tea Party, gives the distinct impression that Tea Party members are “not-too-bright.”

It’s fair to say that Tea Party ultraconservatives are, as a result of their failure to implement a destructive financial meltdown and default of the United States government, earned the scorn of the American people, but are now the laughing stock of the nation. Because of Tea Party actions, the United States, at the very least, was embarrassed before the international community and our allies.

Now that the dust has settled (at least for a while in Washington D.C.) it’s important to learn more about what the Tea Party is really all about. Are they dangerous individuals who need to be tried for treason? Are they right-wing ideologues representing the values of the most extremist conservative viewpoints giving a great portrayal of a lunatic fringe? Do they actually represent a threat to the American people?

And finally, should people who cavalierly took the nation to the near brink of financial ruin, harming millions of people in their wake, be held accountable and charged with criminal acts and eventually punished accordingly? These questions should now be asked by people in government, the FBI, and the United States Department of Justice.

But first it is important to ask a set of less dire questions to get a correct picture of who these people are, including those currently (but perhaps temporarily) holding office in the House of Representatives. Ultimately, one needs to assess the facts by asking a set of simple questions:

 

  • What is the Tea Party?
  • What do they want?
  • What are their Demographics?
  • What’s Public Opinion of the Tea Party?
  • Who is Funding the Tea Party?

 

What is the Tea Party?

The Tea Party movement is an American decentralized political movement that is primarily known for advocating a reduction in the U.S. National debt and federal budget deficit by reducing U.S. government spending and taxes. The movement has been called partly conservative, partly libertarian, and partly populist. It has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009.

The name is derived from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, an iconic event in American history.  Anti-tax protesters in the United States have often referred to the original Boston Tea Party for inspiration.  References to the Boston Tea Party were part of Tax Day protests held throughout the 1990s and earlier. By 2001, a custom had developed among some conservative activists of mailing tea bags to legislators and other officials as a symbolic act.

 

What do they want?

 

The Tea Party does not have a single uniform agenda. The Tea Party generally focuses on government reform. Among its goals are limiting the size of the federal government, reducing government spending, lowering the national debt and opposing tax increases. To this end, Tea Party groups have protested the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), stimulus programs such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act), cap and trade, health care reform such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known simply as the Affordable Care Act or “Obama care”) and perceived attacks by the federal government on their 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th Amendment rights.

The decentralized character of the Tea Party, with its lack of formal structure or hierarchy, allows each autonomous group to set its own priorities and goals. Goals may conflict, and priorities will often differ between groups. Many Tea Party organizers see this as strength rather than a weakness, as decentralization has helped to immunize the Tea Party against co-opting by outside entities and corruption from within.

The Tea Party has generally sought to avoid placing too much emphasis on traditional conservative social issues. National Tea Party organizations, such as the Tea Party Patriots and Freedom Works, have expressed concern that engaging in social issues would be divisive. Instead, they have sought to have activists focus their efforts away from social issues and focus on economic and limited government issues. Still, many groups like Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Tea Parties, TeaParty.org, the Iowa Tea Party and Delaware Patriot Organizations do act on social issues such as abortion, gun control, prayer in schools, and illegal immigration.

Tea Party groups have also voiced support for right to work legislation as well as tighter border security, and opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants. After the Republican Party lost seats in Congress and the Presidency in the 2012 elections, they began to work at the state level to nullify the healthcare reform law.

They have also protested the IRS for controversial treatment of groups with “tea party” in their names. They have formed Super Pac’s to support candidates sympathetic to their goals, and have opposed what they call the “Republican establishment” candidates.

Even though the groups have a wide range of goals, the Tea Party places the Constitution at the center of its reform agenda. It urges the return of government as intended by the Founding Fathers.

It also seeks to teach its view of the Constitution and other founding documents. Scholars have described its interpretation variously as originalist, popular, or a unique combination of the two. However, their reliance on the Constitution is selective and inconsistent. Adherents cite it, yet do so more as a cultural reference rather than out of commitment to the text, which they seek to alter.

Several constitutional amendments have been targeted by some in the movement for full or partial repeal, including the 14th, 16th, and 17th. There has also been support for a proposed Repeal Amendment, which would enable a two-thirds majority of the states to repeal federal laws, and a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would limit deficit spending. Had the United States had such an amendment during World War II, the U.S. would have lost that war.

One attempt at forming a list of what Tea Partiers wanted Congress to do was the basis of the Contract from America. It was a legislative agenda created by conservative activist Ryan Hecker with the assistance of Dick Armey of Freedom Works. Armey had co-written the previous Contract with America released by the Republican Party during the 1994 midterm elections.

One thousand agenda ideas that had been submitted were narrowed down to twenty-one non-social issues. Participants then voted in an online campaign in which they were asked to select their favorite policy planks. The results were released as a ten-point Tea Party platform. The Contract from America was met with some support within the Republican Party, but it was not broadly embraced by GOP leadership, which released its own ‘Pledge to America.’

 

What Are Their Demographics?

The vast majority of the Tea Party Caucus comes from the West and the South. Whether by accident or design, the public faces of the Tea Party in the House of Representatives are Midwesterners.

But while there may be Tea Party sympathizers throughout the country in the House of Representatives, the Tea Party faction alone used the debt ceiling issue to plunge the nation into crisis. Overwhelmingly this faction is Southern in its origins.

Sam Stein of the Washington Post wrote an interesting article called: Tea Party Survey: Old, Conservative, Hate Obama, and Like Fox News.

According to Sam Stein:

“The individuals who make up the Tea Party movement are largely conservative and get their news from Fox; they’re generally old and of moderate to low income; and they’re fairly convinced that their taxes are going to rise in the next few years, even though they likely won’t.

Those conclusions are part of a new study put together by The Winston Group, a conservative-leaning polling and strategy firm run by the former director of planning for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And they provide a telling new window on the political force that has revamped the Republican Party and altered the landscape of the 2010 elections.

In the course of conducting three national surveys of 1,000 registered voters, Winston was able to peg the percentage of the public that identifies itself with the Tea Party at roughly 17 percent. The group pledges that it is independent of any particular party (indeed 28 percent of Tea Party respondents in the Winston survey labeled their affiliation as such). But on pretty much every defining political or demographic issue, the movement lines up with the GOP or conservative alternatives.

Sixty-five percent of Tea Party respondents called themselves ‘conservative’ compared to the 33 percent of all respondents who did the same. Just eight percent of Tea Party respondents said they were ‘liberal.’”

Forty-seven percent of Tea Party respondents said that Fox News was either the top or second source of news they turn to, compared with 19 percent of the overall public who said the same thing.

More than 80 percent (81 percent) of Tea Party respondents expressed very little approval of Barack Obama’s job as President, which exceeded disapproval levels held even by Republicans (77%) and conservatives (79%).

All these data points suggest that the Tea Party crowd is comprised predominantly of conservatives. And, not surprisingly, the demographics of the movement seemingly align with those who traditionally vote for the conservative candidate as well. Fifty-six percent of Tea Party respondents are male; 22 percent are over the age of 65 (compared with just 14 percent who are between the ages of 18 and 34); and 23 percent fall in the income range of $50,000 and $75,000.

In another survey, Tea Party supporters are likely to be older, white and male. Forty percent are age 55 and over, compared with 32 percent of all poll respondents; just 22 percent are under the age of 35, 79 percent are white, and 61 percent are men. Many are also Christian fundamentalists, with 44 percent identifying themselves as “born-again,” compared with 33 percent of all respondents.”

The Tea Party Members in Congress

     Fiery Republicans known as the Tea Party Caucus are at the center of the debate over which version of a plan – if any   – to cut spending and raise the debt limit should be adopted in Congress.These conservatives, many of whom were swept into office during the 2010 midterm elections, have made it their mission to rein in spending and shrink the size of government, even if it meant taking the country to the edge of default.

Here is the full list of the official Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, with the freshman representatives in BOLD:

Sandy Adams (FL-24)
Robert Aderholt (AL-04)
Todd Akin (MO-02)
Rodney Alexander (LA-05)
Michele Bachmann (MN-06)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06)
Joe Barton (TX-06)
Rob Bishop (UT-01)
Gus Bilirakis (FL-09)
Diane Black (TN-06)
Paul Broun (GA-10)
Michael Burgess (TX-26)
Dan Burton (IN-05)
John Carter (TX-31)
Bill Cassidy (LA-06)
Howard Coble (NC-06)
Mike Coffman (CO-06)
Ander Crenshaw (FL-04)
John Culberson (TX-07)
Jeff Duncan (SC-03)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Stephen Lee Fincher (TN-08)
John Fleming (LA-04)
Trent Franks (AZ-02)
Phil Gingrey (GA-11)
Louie Gohmert (TX-01)
Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
Wally Herger (CA-02)
Tim Huelskamp (KS-01)
Lynn Jenkins (KS-02)
Steve King (IA-05)
Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
Jeff Landry (LA-03)
Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-09)
Kenny Marchant (TX-24)
Tom McClintock (CA-04)
David McKinley (WV-01)
Gary Miller (CA-42)
Mick Mulvaney (SC-05)
Randy Neugebauer (TX-19)
Rich Nugent (FL-05)
Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Mike Pence (IN-06)
Ted Poe (TX-02)
Tom Price (GA-06)
Denny Rehberg (MT-At large)
David Roe (TN-01)
Dennis Ross (FL-12)
Edward Royce (CA-40)
Steve Scalise (LA-01)
Pete Sessions (TX-32)
Adrian Smith (NE-03)
Lamar Smith (TX-21)
Cliff Stearns (FL-06)
Tim Walberg (MI-07)
Joe Walsh (IL-08)
Allen West (FL-22)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)
Joe Wilson (SC-02)

What’s Public Opinion of the Tea Party?

The Tea Party is more unpopular than ever before, according to a Rasmussen poll recently released, with just three in 10 voters holding favorable views of the movement. Half of respondents said they view the party unfavorably. The Rasmussen survey used automated phone calls to survey 1,000 likely voters back in January..

The numbers obtained in the survey represented a considerable dive in support since the Tea Party’s heyday in 2009, when a majority of voters rated it favorably.

Many of the Senate challengers with Tea Party backing were defeated in 2012, and the movement suffered another PR blow after a falling out among the leadership of the Tea Party group, Freedom Works.

Although most members of the House’s Tea Party Caucus were reelected in November, the group had some high-profile losses, including the defeats of former Reps. Joe Walsh and Allen West. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, barely retained her seat.

The movement is now widely seen by the public as declining, according to the Rasmussen poll — 56 percent of voters said the Tea Party became less influential over the past year, and just 8 percent said they identified as part of the Tea Party movement.

Other polling conducted since the election has found similar results when looking at the Tea Party’s popularity, but with a larger number of people saying they agreed with or were part of the movement. A CNN/ORC poll conducted in November last year found that half of Americans viewed the Tea Party unfavorably, actually a modest improvement from the movement’s standing in late 2011.

A December poll from Politico/GWU found that 21 percent of likely voters identified with or considered themselves part of the Tea Party movement. Polls from CNBC in November both found that about 20 percent of adults were supporters of the movement.

In an article by Carol Forsloff titled, “Tea Party Demographics: White, Republican, Older Male with Money” reported,

“Several polls are now out, assessing the demographics of the Tea Party Movement that largely agree the majority of its members are Republican, largely white, above the mean in age and income and voted for John McCain.

So do Tea Party people reflect the average American as they represent themselves? Not usually if you are a middle-aged woman of Hispanic background, an African-American male or a union member in New England just scraping by, according to the polls.”

A conservative blogger examined this analysis of Tea Party members, citing CNN statistics declaring they are predominantly male, more college educated and higher earners than the general population at large, but not necessarily older or just from the South. A progressive blogger on ThinkProgress looked at the CNN statistics and relayed the same information as the conservative fellow, stating the following:

“Turns out that the ‘tea party’ movement sweeping the nation is disproportionately composed of individuals who have higher-than-average incomes. It’s also disproportionately composed of men. And disproportionately composed of white people. And disproportionately composed of self-identified conservatives. And disproportionately composed of self-identified Republicans.

In other words, well-to-do conservative white men don’t much care for Barack Obama’s policies. Which, of course, is something we already knew from the exit polls back in November 2008.”

Who is Funding the Tea Party?

In an August 30, 2010, article in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer said that the billionaire brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch and Koch Industries are providing financial and organizational support to the Tea Party movement through Americans for Prosperity, which David founded. The AFP’s “Hot Air Tour” was organized to fight against taxes on carbon use and the activation of a cap and trade program.

In 1984, David Koch also founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, part of which became Freedom Works in a 2004 split, another group that organized and supports the movement.

Koch Industries issued a press release stating that the Kochs have “no ties to and have never given money to Freedom Works”. Former ambassador Christopher Meyer wrote in the Daily Mail that the Tea Party movement is a mix of “grassroots populism, professional conservative politics, and big money”, the last supplied in part by the Kochs. Mayer says that the Koch brothers’ political involvement with the Tea Party has been so secretive that she labels it “covert”.

Post Script

     Many organizations in society, including political organizations, engage in what is called sub-optimizing behavior. That’s when stated goals are not the real goals; they are simply stated goals.

The real goals of organizations, political groups, or individuals are often hidden and not stated publicly. Words from politicians often disguise their real motives. Beliefs and values dominate all our lives. And the Tea Party is no exception, especially when backed by Big Business and the Billionaire Koch Brothers and Koch Industries.

Based on the behavior of Tea Party members in Congress, my assumption these last few weeks is that the Tea Party in America is a lunatic fringe and is the new face of the Republican Party.

     Currently only 8% of Americans identify themselves as Tea Party members. And, it appears the Tea Party in Congress has a stranglehold on other Republicans. It’s okay for people to cling to their values and beliefs. But when such values and beliefs threaten the United States with financial disaster and ruin, then it’s time for other stronger forces to counter such attacks on the integrity of the United States and its people.

     As much as I’d like to see it, it’s unlikely these congressional reprobates will ever be tried for treason or brought up on criminal charges by the U.S. Department of Justice. The best thing the people can do is toss the Tea Party members out of Congress in the next election. Another option is to petition their immediate recall from office.

  

The Ongoing Problem of Gridlock     

The vast majority of Americans are moderate “Middle-of-the-Road” Independents, Democrats and Republicans. When one has different values from their fellow citizens, it naturally creates tension, suspicion, distrust, and polarization. Since 2008 we’ve witnessed the worst of these political differences acting out as irreconcilable gridlock when it comes to carrying out the various duties of the government (passing a budget on time, passing legislation to help our citizens, properly defending the country, etc.). For several years now gridlock  has created and prevented very little from being accomplished.

          Politics has always been called, “the Art of Compromise.” This is an old saying that no longer appears applicable in modern day politics.

The primary function of politicians should be to honestly represent their constituency. But at the same time politicians need to make prudent, critical choices in the handling of scarce resources (taxpayer dollars). That latter function is an awesome responsibility that needs careful attention to detail. But the overriding responsibility of those in Congress today should be to help their fellow citizens live better, more prosperous lives.

Unfortunately, the legacy of conservatism or radical conservatism has never aligned itself with helping people. During the last 160 years, conservatives were opposed to the abolition of slavery, fought against giving women the right to vote, fought against integration, desegregation and later busing, opposed the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s, opposed the Social Security Act in 1935 and later, minimum wage laws. They were a major voice against the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and were responsible for promoting racism and Jim Crow, particularly in the old South. During the 1970s conservatives also opposed affirmative action.

In more recent years, conservatives have opposed amnesty for illegal aliens. They also want to cut entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, and now their strident attitude is to oppose the President’s Affordable Care Act that promotes universal healthcare. One way of characterizing all this political history is that, if legislation was going to help a lot people and improve their lives, conservatives were “hell-bent” to oppose it.

At this point in history the Tea Party has been at the center of Washington’s gridlock. The only real option for Americans in the 2014 and 2016 national elections is to terminate Tea Party conservatives and most Republicans from holding office in the United States Congress.

This doesn’t mean that creating jobs, cutting spending or raising or lowering taxes aren’t important issues; they certainly are. But Tea Party members who take a simplistic ideological viewpoint of how the economy works lack insight into the complexities of the economy and its business cycles.

     Just remember these statistics from my last Blog:

“Since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures. Democrats hold the edge though they occupied the Oval Office for 23 years since Kennedy’s inauguration, compared with 28 for the Republicans. In addition, over the past 50 years, Republican administrations oversaw the largest decline in wages as measured as a percentage of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

If you really care about data and facts (not just value judgments), then it should be very clear to you who to vote for during the 2014 and 2016 elections.”


1 Associated Press Writers:  Alan Fram, Jessica Gresko, and Connie Cass. “Government open again, Obama bemoans Damage”, October 17, 2013

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