Friday, August 19, 2011

And Why Am I Not Surprised?

Recent Op/Ed in the New York Times cited the update of an original 2006 study of political attitudes by David Campbell and Robert Putman of Notre Dame University. The pair “returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we ca look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five ears later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously – isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant.”

Among their findings: The Tea Party’s “origin story,” is fake. They were portrayed as “non partisan political neophytes,” when, in reality, they were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born,” and,write the authors, “. . . past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.”

Further discoveries: Tea Party members weren’t created as a reaction to the Great Recession. While many Americans suffered from financial problems, “they were no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party.” And a wish for smaller government and balanced budgets weren’t a predictor either.

Note the authos, “So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

“More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 – opposing abortion, f or example – and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek ‘deeply religious’ elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.”

Which makes the Tea Party’s professed reverence for the Founders (and the wearing of tricorn hats and the dragging around of muskets) while yakking about following the constitution hilarious. The founding fathers were clear on that: Separation of church and state and no religious tests for officeholders.

As for the racial dog whistle music, well, that comes as no surprise. That was present from day one. (As was the fake “grass roots” “origin story” which was, in reality, funded and fueled by huge infusions of cash from Dick Armey’s Republican PAC, among other conservative donors, Fox TV personalities, and “think tanks.” Nothing “grass-rootsy” about any of it.)

What may come as a surprise are the authors’ conclusions: “Given how much sway the Tea Party has among Republicans in Congress and those seeing the Republican presidential nomination, one might think the Tea Party is redefining mainstream American politics.

“But in fact, the Tea Party is increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion; among most Americans, even before the furor over the debt limit, its brand was becoming toxic. To embrace the Tea Party carries great political risk for Republicans . . .” because “On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans.”

And, irony, irony, the authors go on to point out that the there are parallels with “the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party – repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.”

As someone who thinks the Republicans now running the Congress have proven themselves unfit to govern, the crash ‘n burn of a party that’s driven itself off the cliff can’t come soon enough.

I mean, Michelle Bachman? Rick “Yosemite Sam” Perry? Really?

Oh, Give It Up Already

Matt Fountain had an article in this week’s New Times on a proposed medical marijuana facility for Oceano. “On May 25, Grover Beach resident Tammy Murray applied with the county’s Department of Planning and Building to open a facility in unincorporated Oceano, she said, because despite several attempts by others, local qualified patients by and large remain without a place to get their medicine.

“According to Murray’s minor use permit application, the 5,500-square f-foot facility would be located in an industrial area on the 1400 block of South Fourth Street in northern Oceano, fitted with security cameras and staffed by a full-time guard.”

Oh, Dear. Poor Ms. Murray will now be subjected to the following:

1. Various public officials and politicians, including the Board of Supervisors, will chest pound about how they’re four-square in favor of “compassionate” use of “medical marijuana,” that nobody is more compassionate than they are, blah, blah, blah.

2. Various planning commissioners will scrunch their brows and earnestly pour over the submitted plans, niggling, snipping, adding, and forcing the applicant through all kinds of expensive hoops.

3. The sheriff will piously state that he will follow the law as written.

4. At public hearings, half the audience will stand up to tell horror stories about suffering people who can only get relief with medical marijuana while the other half will stand up to decry the evil weed and start screeching about SAVE THE CHILDREN!

5. When the matter finally comes before the Board of Supervisors, they will restate their profound compassion. Indeed they’ll vie with one another as to how much more compassionate they are than the other guy, then, with a huge sigh and crocodile tears flowing down the aisles, will, reluctantly vote the matter down.

6. IF by some miracle the dispensary does get voted into being, within a few months, the sheriff will head up a posse of federal agents who will raid the place, slap the owner into federal custody, drag him/her down to L.A. for trial, bankrupt him/her to pay for legal counsel, then he’ll/she’ll be found guilty under federal law and be slapped in prison for years.

Then everybody will go home, smugly satisfied that while, yes, yes, it’s unfortunate, that people suffering from cancer will have to suffer more, the community will be protected from the awful prospect that somebody somewhere might be getting high on “medical” marijuana.

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