The Un-Americanism of the Tea Party

August 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Conceited, Dysfunctional Politics | 1 Comment
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As a matter of principle, the Tea Party is against compromise.

It therefore seeks to establish an Authoritarian politics.  It seeks to establish the opposite of an open society.  The Tea Party believes that it knows the final truth, and can learn nothing from those holding other views.

But the American experiment is based on the goal of an open society.  That goal is its most fundamental principle, from which flow all of its other goals and principles.

Hence the Tea Party is un-American at its very core.

The line of reasoning above is a syllogism.  The conclusion followed by strict logic.  It is inescapable.

From the Tea Party’s Authoritarianism follows, in particular, that the Tea Party is the antithesis of Libertarianism, which is one of the proposed routes (not necessarily the best) to an open society.

Readers may recall that the same points were made, in a different way, in a post about Grover Norquist, who was a precursor of the Tea Party.

Given the Tea Party’s un-American authoritarianism, allow me to call it the Pee Party.

Grover Norquist’s Un-American Political Philosophy

July 11, 2012 at 9:30 am | Posted in Enemies of Freedom | 1 Comment
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Grover Norquist is chiefly known for what he calls the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

He bullies candidates and elected legislators to sign the pledge, by pointing out that the tea party will punish at the polls anyone who doesn’t sign.

When a legislator who has signed later encounters a real-world situation which can only be solved by raising taxes, Norquist has a “talk” with him or her, much like a mafia enforcer talking with a waverer.  That usually works.

Notice how coercive and inflexible all of this is.  It is authoritarian.  It is the opposite of support for a free and open society.

Contrast Norquist’s coercive “there is only one right way, my way, and it will never need to be changed” attitude to the attitude that James Madison and others embedded into the Constitution.  Madison had carefully studied what had caused earlier democracies to fail, and had engineered into the Constitution correctives for those weaknesses.  Chief among them was the diffusion of power, the checks and balances that provide a diversity of inputs, and adaptability.  These lead to a self-correcting power, the ability to change course without political upheaval – that is the greatest strength of a free and open society.

Norquist opposes adapting to changing circumstances.  He thinks that a meat-ax like rule should be made beforehand, and then should be adhered to, mindlessly.  He wants to make us brittle rather than flexible.  Norquist is the anti-Madison.

Grover Norquist is an Authoritarian – an enemy of freedom, not its defender.

He is an inadvertent – but real – enemy of the American experiment.

On July 4, Grover Norquist should have held his head in shame.

Creepy Ken Cuccinelli

July 2, 2012 at 8:30 am | Posted in Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth | Leave a comment
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Ken Cuccinelli used his position as the Attorney General of Virginia to attempt to harass and intimidate climate scientist Michael E. Mann, and indirectly, other climate scientists.  (See  That is the interpretation of almost all scientists who have looked into the controversy.  Cuccinelli claims a legitimate motivation, namely the investigation of possible fraud, but this seems contrived, especially given his history of denying that the climate is changing because of human activities.

He also petitioned the United States Court of Appeals to try to force the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) to withdraw its assertion that that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human welfare.  The petition claimed that it merely wanted to place a hold on the EPA’s assertion until different evidence could be found.  But the EPA’s assertion had already been based on careful international scientific discussion that had resulted in consensus.  (See the same URL as above.)  So here again Cuccinelli’s justification seems contrived.  His petition smells like an attempt to intimidate the EPA.

Both actions seem to be designed to reduce the influence on policy of scientific conclusions that were based on detailed multi-expert scientific analysis and debate.  Both actions also seem to be attempts to capture the spotlight and pander to  the fact-averse right wing.

Both actions also seem to be disingenuous.  I say this because Cuccinelli is intelligent, and has looked at the studies on the changing climate.   Surely he understands that the climate is indeed changing as a result of human activities.  The mechanism is so simple and clear.  Increasing the atmospheric abundance of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gaseous absorbers of infrared radiation narrows the spectral windows through which heat radiation from the surface and lower atmosphere escapes to space.  It is like tightening the lid on a pressure cooker.  The surface becomes warmer.  (Because one effect is to change the wind pattern, some regions become cooler, but more regions become warmer)*.  The atmospheric heat engine revs up.  The pattern of rainfall changes.  Extreme  temperatures and storms become more frequent and more intense.  Ice melts, sea level rises.  Species become extinct – an irreplacable loss of medically and agriculturally valuable biological diversity.  Fungal diseases that are rampant in the tropics will spread over much of the globe.  These changes are already under way.

So why does Cuccinelli do everything he can to delay governmental response to the present and future changes in the climate?  Delay will make all of the problems more severe.  Delay means your children and grandchildren will suffer more in the future, and will have fewer options for dealing with the changes.

The answer is obvious.  Cuccinelli is driven by political ambition.  The same conclusion was reached by Robert McCartney, writing in the Washington Post (

Cuccinelli’s ostentatious, stagey legal gestures, while attention-getting, mostly concern issues that are strikingly different from those dealt with by the Attorney General of a state.  They are designed for his personal political aggrandizement, not for the welfare of those who he supposedly serves.  His skewed priorities would continue if he were successful in his attempt tp become the Governor of Virginia.  His Governorship would consist primarily of maneuvering to position himself for a run at the Presidency.

Searching back through American history for an analog, I am struck by the similarity of Cuccinelli’s personality and tactics to those of Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.  (See

Ken Cuccinelli’s attempts to delay our response to the changes in the climate make him  an enemy of Planet Earth.

His attempts to suppress scientific analyses and intimidate climate researchers, and his mis-directing of the resources and authority of his elected office away from the interests of the citizens he serves, make him an enemy of Freedom.

Creepy Ken Cuccinelli is evil.

* Note: When the abundance of carbon dioxide increases in the lower atmosphere, it also increases in the upper atmosphere.  The effect of the increase is opposite in the two regions.  The increase in the lower atmosphere warms the lower atmosphere, because the lowest layers are under layers that efficiently absorb infrared radiation.  But the atmosphere becomes rapidly more and more dilute as you go up.  The upper layers don’t have significant infrared absorbing material above them, so the increased carbon dioxide causes the upper layers to radiate more efficiently to space.  Thus the increase causes the lower layers to become warmer, but causes the upper layers (the mid stratoshere and above) to become colder.  That pattern of changes has actually been observed.  It is some of the evidence that the change is being caused by the increased abundance of infrared-absorbing gases.

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