Voter Frustration Is Understandable but Misdirected

It’s easy to understand why so many Americans are dissatisfied with the political process. The recent squabbling over tax cuts is a prime example of election-year posturing by Democrats and Republicans. Both sides seem less concerned with the public good than with hurting the other party in the November election. (See “White House, Dems see tax cut vote after election,” )
Unfortunately, voters’ frustrations and fears are being manipulated by groups who support the neoconservative policies that drove many moderates (including me) from the Republican party. The Tea Party movement, which includes some well-intentioned people with legitimate concerns about fiscal policy, has been hijacked by right-wing shills like Glenn Beck.

Republicans Moving Backward

The cornerstones of congressional Republicans’ “Pledge to America” are to repeal President Obama’s health care reforms, to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place, and to roll back non-discretionary spending to 2008 levels before TARP and stimulus.

In other words, they want to take us back to the policies that were in place in 2008, at the worst point in the recession.

Economists say that recovery has begun (see below), and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office credits the stimulus package with lowering the unemployment rate.

Signs of recovery:

CBO Report (August 2010)

The economic recovery has been frustratingly slow, but Obama’s policies are moving us in the right direction. The Republicans want to move backward.

Emancipation Proclamation

Today is the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Let's remember the importance of freedom and equal rights for everyone in this country.

Restoring Sanity

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert recently announced their plans to hold a “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington D.C. on Oct. 30. I applaud Stewart’s rejection of extremism from either the far left or far right, and I hope his message to “take it down a notch” will resonate in American politics.

You may wish to dismiss Stewart and Colbert as mere comedians, but humor and satire can have a powerful influence on political thought. From Aristophanes to Jonathan Swift to Mark Twain to Mike Royko, satirists can present issues in a new light and encourage critical thinking.

I encourage you to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity if you are able, but above all I hope we can all remember that people can disagree wirhout being enemies.

Tea Party: Long on Emotion but Short on Truth

The problem with the Tea Party movement is that it is fueled by emotion (chiefly fear and anger) rather than reason. The majority of people supporting the movement simply do not have facts to support their opinions. Consider the results of an April 2010 poll of Tea Party Supporters:

Nearly half say the main goal of the movement is to reduce the role of the federal government, far outdistancing any other consideration.

An overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters, 84 percent, say the views of the Tea Party movement reflect the views of most Americans. But Americans overall disagree: Just 25 percent say the Tea Party movement reflects their beliefs, while 36 percent say it does not.

Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don't know. Twenty percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born in the United States.

Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama's performance on the job. … Asked to volunteer what they don't like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him.

Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration.

From: Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe

Commenting on the lack of logic and introspection behind the Tea Partiers’ opinions, Ben Adler for Newsweek wrote:
[An Associated Press reporter] dutifully quotes their[Tea Partiers’] antipathy toward government, taxes, and deficit spending, and their horror at the accusation that they are motivated by racial animus. But the reporter seems never to have posed any serious questions about what tradeoffs they would make to achieve their stated goals.

There are only two ways to balance a budget in the red: raising taxes, which Tea Partiers vehemently oppose, and cutting spending. But what spending should be cut? Defense and veterans spending, which accounts for 54 percent of the federal budget? … Discretionary domestic spending is the favorite target of fiscal conservatives. But when it comes to specifics, suddenly every program seems worthier than when demonized in the collective abstract. …

Likewise, a University of Washington poll found Tea Partiers to be roughly twice as likely to have negative attitudes about African-Americans and immigrants as the general population. Might it be possible that the Tea Partiers who profess no racial motivation are, let's say, not entirely aware of their own visceral motivations? …

The closer you look, the more the Tea Party just looks like any other right-wing populist movement: it is motivated by fear of immigration, fear of new religious modes of expression, racial resentments, opposition to gay rights, and claims about taxes and spending that often don't add up under scrutiny.

I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with my opinions—and I welcome your comments if you disagree with some of my blog posts—but I have a huge problem with people who loudly voice their views (and cast their votes) when they are ignorant of the facts.

Further reading:
10 fictitious Tea Party beliefs

Sept. 11

I hope you’ll follow the link below to a great article titled “9/11 Father: 'I Don't Understand All of This Hate.'” It’s about Lee Ielpi, a retired NYC firefighter whose son, also a firefighter, died trying to save lives in the World Trade Center 9 years ago.

Pastors Should Preach Love, Not Hate

Florida pastor Terry Jones is planning a Quran burning ceremony on Sept. 11. ( If you are a Christian and you agree with this pastor’s views, I hope you will reflect on these Bible verses:

1 John 4:20—If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

Matthew 5:43-44—You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you.

Luke 6:28—Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

These second two verses are the words of Christ himself. Too often, we Christians fail to follow his teaching and his example.

If you believe in prayer, I encourage you to join me in praying that this pastor will have a change of heart and demonstrate love, not hate.

Stephen Hawking: Not as Smart as He Thinks

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says in his new book that he does not believe God exists. He wrote, "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."

In contrast to Hawking’s statement, Aristotle made the point that there had to be some “uncaused cause” in creation. Hawking’s views are also at odds with those of Newton ("The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion on an intelligent and powerful Being") and Einstein (“I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings”).

But since we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God , the opinions of these scientists on the subject are no more valid than yours or mine. Believing that the universe “just happened” takes as much faith as believing in a creator of some sort.

Scientists are beginning to understand how the universe came into existence, but it is the realm of philosophers and theologians to consider why. Just as we should not have preachers telling us what to put in our science textbooks, we should not concern ourselves with Hawking’s theological opinions.

Happy Labor Day

July 4th is the day Americans celebrate our independence from England, and Labor Day is the day when we celebrate our independence from the extra “u” in words like “labor” and “color.” Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Skepticism vs. Denial

I enjoyed the article below about a well-known climate change skeptic who, in light of the ever-growing evidence of climate change, has publically changed his stance. Skeptics will not believe something until they see convincing evidence; deniers refuse to believe the truth if it conflicts with their beliefs or desires.

With scientific data piling up showing that the world has reached its hottest-ever point in recorded history, global-warming skeptics are facing a high-profile defection from their ranks. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the influential tract "The Skeptical Environmentalist," has reversed course on the urgency of global warming, and is now calling for action on "a challenge humanity must confront."

Full article:;_ylt=Aq98gM0HwjVo8v6.qNS.LhWs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTUxdjRwdG9rBGFzc2V0A3libG9nX3Vwc2hvdC8yMDEwMDgzMS9ub3RlZC1hbnRpLWdsb2JhbC13YXJtaW5nLXNjaWVudGlzdC1yZXZlcnNlcy1jb3Vyc2UEY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwM0BHBvcwMxBHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5faGVhZGxpbmVfbGlzdARzbGsDbm90ZWRhbnRpLWds