Monday, July 23, 2012

Welcome back, dear friends. I wish I could say the time away has left me rested and refreshed. Alas it has not.

While Atticus debates whether he aligns with the Tea Party and whether he will support its candidates, I will ask the question of, ‘Why the Tea Party?’ ‘What relevance does it have?’ and ‘Why now?’ Is it a populist movement? Or is it a revival? Is it the awakening or the dying breath of a great Muse. Let us hope we find more answers than questions.


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tea Party Beliefs

One of the more appealing and also destructive parts of the tea party movement is it's lack of central organization.

Think you like the tea party then start up your own organization in the basement. Any wacky, half cooked line of reasoning will suffice.

The California wing of the tea party movement appears to be at The Tea Party has "15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs", to wit:

1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
     And illegal drugs are taken illegally. Exceeding the speed limit is driving illegally. And this is one shoddy core belief. It saddens me that number one on the list of core belief is a statement of the obvious and not a belief at all.

2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
     Indispensable to what? I'll agree that jobs are important, but the age of isolationism is gone and never to return.

3. A strong military is essential.
     Again, essential to what? Just to have lying around. Of course, it is a form of pro-domestic employment. Until we ship them overseas and then I get confused.

4. Special interests must be eliminated.
     And replaced with not so special interests. Everybody is a special interest. Some just have money and organization. Come to think of it, wouldn't the tea party be a special interest group that is especially interested in these 15 oversimplified core "beliefs".

5. Gun ownership is sacred.
     I'm an athiest and even I'm offended.

6. Government must be downsized.
     Agreed. Maybe. Does this mean no more funding for roads, parks, museums? Is there no part of government that's worthy...oh yes, the military.

7. The national budget must be balanced.
     Agreed again. We are on a roll now. Of course, I was saying this back when everyone was saying that the deficits were sustainable at the level of GDP percentage. Those were Republicans with a Republican in the White House wanting to spend money on their pet projects. Suddenly the Republicans are all cost conscious when the Democrats are in charge.

8. Deficit spending must end.
     Didn't you just say that. (See #7) I wouldn't have minded had there only been 14 core beliefs. Really, 14 is just fine.

9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
     Credit for not stating the obvious. Of course, Congress does make the laws and so I guess Congress decides whether bailouts are legal. Congress voted for the bailout, ergo, bailouts are legal. And before you get testy about it, the Supreme Court decides whether the legal act of bailing out is constitutional.

10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
     My income taxes really aren't that bad. Could you do something about Social Security and Medicare taxes, though.

11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
      I've sung this song already, but mandatory for what? For increasing business profits that can go to investing in business expansion and higher dividends? that what you are trying to tell me. I don't understand how this can be non-negotiable when you are not even telling me what you mean. How many more of these are there?

12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
     I'm a bit of snob. I don't want average citizens. The American average is a low, low bar.

13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
     Amen! (Wait...I'm athiest.)

14. English as our core language is required.
     It would make things way more convenient for me since I only really speak English. I dabble in Spanish, though, because god fearing, English speaking Americans won't work for a company with 19,000 domestic jobs, full benefits, pensions, profit sharing, an average salary that twice minimum wage but Spanish speaking, legal immigrants will.

15. Traditional family values are encouraged.
     Finally, encouragement. Not much for a non-negotiable core belief when it's just encouraging, but there it is. If only I knew what a traditional family value was. 

And that is why I don't like the Tea Party.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is the Tea Party my cup?

On the face of it I should be a tea partier.

Constitutional originalism, small government, low taxes, balanced budgets ... what's not to like?

Personalities. Tone. Single mindedness.

At it's grass roots core, I'm all there. When it's upset the establishment apple cart, again, I'm there. When it makes a stand for what is, in its view, right - yes, sir - all in.

And as a populist political movement, the tea party makes sense. But not it's candidates.

I don't care for the subtle hyprocrisy of the tea party endorsed candidates. Why would someone whose views inform them that government is bad then spend so much time and money to be part of government? To reduce their power and influence? To render meaningless all that ambition and work?

The superstars of the tea party movement are riding on the wave of a populist movement and like in any form of populism, the people lose. An elite few funnel the rage of the downtrodden many into personal gain and nothing changes but the names on the office door.

I fear that the tea party is no more and no less than the established parties - it is populated by candidates saying what needs to be said to get elected and stay elected. Power above all else. Winning a race, winning a vote and winning the news cycle being the object, not making America and Americans better.

In short, I think the people that make up the tea party are being duped by the candidates that they endorse and the big money operating behind the scenes.

And I think Deb Fischer is part of it. I think she's an extreme partisan that traded and withheld votes to get what she wanted. She played to win. Born and raised in Lincoln and returning there over and over again to go to school or to be in the Legislature, the story we are told is she's a rancher from Valentine. Her husband was a rancher from Valentine. She's a politician from Lincoln.

Deb Fischer is also the Republican candidate for Nebraska's open Senate seat. She rode the tea party movement to the doors of the Senate. Does she really care about Nebraskans? Does she really care about the future of this country? Or does she simply care about winning? I don't know.

My gut says I shouldn't like her. My gut says that anyone endorsed by Sarah Palin is instantly disqualified. My gut says it is all branding and marketing and I want no part of her or the tea party.


Next up, a look at "Core Beliefs" of one tea party group.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Time to Start Again

We started this blog a long time back to discuss the political topics of the day, but life got in the way as it so often does.

I may not have any more time now than I did then, but presidential politics is churning again and I'm starting to think it's time to fire up the engine of debate.

Over the weekend I uttered the words, "I don't agree with the Tea Party," as I made cause for voting against Deb Fischer for Senate. Later, I wondered why I don't. And that has brought me back here.

Soon enough I'll explore whether I truly dislike Deb Fischer, the Tea Party or both.

- Atticus

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