Why Roger Koopman’s TAB Scores Don’t Work

by Dr. Ed Berry

EXB150Roger Koopman developed his TAB scores to help define a true Republican. While many Republicans suspect there is something wrong with TAB scores, no one so far has been able to identify the problem.

Hey, all pioneers take arrows, so I am not going to fault Roger for making a good first try.

Here, I will show you exactly why TAB scores fail to define a true Republican. Then I will show you the real definition of a true Republican and who discovered it.

TAB scores have caused problems.

TAB score’s inaccurate definition of a true Republican has led some self-proclaimed, rightwing “freedom heroes” to call “RINOs” any Republicans they disagree with on any issue. This is, of course, irrational.

Self-appointed RINO hunters associate “RINO” or “Republican-In-Name-Only” with Republicans whose TAB score is less than 33 percent.

The truth is these self-proclaimed “freedom heroes” are further left than the Republicans they call RINOs … because they do not understand the proper definition of a true Republican.

Just what are TAB scores? Koopman explains:

In developing our TAB reports, we ask one fundamental question in all cases: Does this bill increase or decrease the presence of government in our lives? The resulting analysis of legislator voting habits is the most thorough and objective conservative “scorecard” available to Montana citizens.

A comment on PolyMontana claims a TAB score of 100 means voting 100 percent for our Constitution and zero means voting totally against our Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth.

TAB scores do a good job of defining a good Democrat but that does not mean they do a good job of defining a good Republican. Surely there are bills that both Democrats and Republicans should rightfully support or reject. Yet TAB scores require a Republican to always vote against the Democrats in order for the Republican to get a good score. TAB scores allow no overlap. TAB scores are therefore unrealistic.

Koopman’s TAB scores define true Republicans as those who always vote to “decrease the presence of government in our lives.” While Koopman’s definition may be a good start, it is not the correct definition of a true Republican.

The correct definition of a true Republican

Dinesh D’Souza defines the clear difference between Republicans and Democrats in his book “America” and in the movie with the same title produced by Gerald Molen:

A Republican works to build up America. A Democrat works to tear down America.

“Build up” and “tear down” have very clear definitions not only in our everyday language but also in physics and engineering:

The “build up” versus “tear down” definition relates to the concept of entropy in physics and its inverse, information theory, in engineering. Read the 1948 classic book “Cybernetics” by MIT mathematics professor Norbert Wiener that formulated the basis for information transfer on our Internet.

Inadvertently perhaps, unless D’Souza studied physics, D’Souza discovered the “entropy” definition of a true Republican. The goal is to reduce entropy.

Here’s a simple view of “build up” and “tear down”.

When you organize stuff or information, build a house, create useful software or products, grow a garden, build a sand castle, or clean your house, you “build up” something (decrease entropy).

When you burn down a house, destroy useful software or a product, pour poison on a garden, smash a sand castle, or mess up your house, you “tear down” something (increase entropy).

Koopman’s definition misses the mark because the simple act to “decrease the presence of government in our lives” may work to either “build up” or “tear down” America, Montana, and your life.

There are worthwhile government expenses and power over our lives. This, after all, is why we created government.

For example, do we want to dismiss our military, our border patrol, our fire fighters, our sheriff and police so we can “decrease the presence of government in our lives”? Do we want to let anyone walk across our borders?

But TAB scores require we shut down most of government so we can get a good score.

Was our space program a good expenditure of money? Obviously, yes.

Was Johnson’s War on Poverty a good expenditure of money? Obviously, no.

Koopman’s definition fails and it causes a distortion of Republican politics.

We can create wealth out of nothing but our hard work.

D’Souza shows Obama’s Democrats incorrectly believe we cannot create wealth except by “stealing” it from others. They believe planet Earth was endowed with a fixed supply of wealth. Therefore, they conclude America stole all its wealth from others. As a consequence, Obama’s Democrats believe it is their duty to “tear down” America because America deserves to be torn down.

Isn’t it strange that Obama’s Democrats think they are so ethical when they are so wrong and do so much damage?

Isn’t it equally strange that rightwing radicals also think they are so ethical when they are so wrong and do so much damage?

By contrast, Republicans correctly believe we can create wealth without stealing anything from others. We do it with our ingenuity and hard work. Not only common sense but also physics and engineering prove Republicans are correct and Democrats are wrong. This also proves Republicans are good and Democrats are bad.

Yet rightwing radicals claim there is no fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. These radicals are absolute morons because they do not understand or care that their works “tear down” America.

Who’s a RINO and who’s worse than a RINO?

TAB scores don’t answer this question. The definition of a true Republican does.

Republicans work to build up America and support our ability to create wealth from nothing. In this proper context, who’s a RINO and who’s worse than a RINO?

Republicans whom RINO hunters call “RINOs”, vote Republican. By contrast RINO hunters who do not support Republican candidates duly nominated in our primary elections help elect Democrats. Therefore, these RINO hunters are worse than those they call RINOs. Shall I name names?

The ultimate in rightwing radical stupidity was their recent action of the Flathead County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC), which they now control, wherein they voted to “censure” Senator Bruce Tutvedt by (a) claiming he illegally accepted campaign money, which he did not, and (b) holding a kangaroo court trial without even notifying Tutvedt so he could attend and defend himself against his accusers. And these people believe they speak for truth and freedom?

Sandy Welch wrote two excellent articles that explain to any common sense person how the FCRCC action was wrong and irrational. Sandy’s second article is a thorough rebuttal of Jim White’s article. Yet the self-proclaimed “freedom fighters” rally in support of the FCRCC’s action.

Use the proper definition of a true Republican.

True Republicans build up America, and their states and counties. Sometimes this requires spending your tax dollars and sometimes it does not. Sometimes the issues are complex and cannot be summarized in a sound bite.

A good example is the northwest Montana water compact. It is complex. Tutvedt supports the compact. Rightwing radicals do not. That does not make Tutvedt a RINO. Maybe Tutvedt is right.

I have no position on the water compact because, frankly, at this time I do not understand it well enough. But I must say those who oppose the compact have not made their case.

The alarmist case against the water compact is as irrational as the alarmist case against carbon dioxide. Yet, the rightwing radicals rally in opposition to the water compact as if they were experts on the subject, which they clearly are not.

Calling water compact supporters “RINOs” does not make their case. Claiming the water compact is a plan by the feds to move people out of Flathead County does not make their case. Speeches by people who believe the feds are poisoning us with “chem-trails” are not convincing. Alarmism makes no case for anything.

So while I wait for those who oppose the water compact to produce a valid explanation of why we should reject it, let’s all start using the true and proper definition of a Republican and stop using attack words like “RINO” when we disagree with a Republican.

11 thoughts on “Why Roger Koopman’s TAB Scores Don’t Work”

  1. Thank you Dr. Ed. Your article opens up an excellent discussion. Let me add that as we all go into 2015 and 2016 I would hope we get over calling anyone any names within the GOP. Let's drop the term "RINO" period and work to unify, and energize our Party. Our goals now should be to re-elect Ryan Zinke, keep the majority in both houses, win the governor's race and the other state offices. We should remember that the largest group of voters in Montana is the independent group. Most of them are conservative and vote with the Republicans. We should all focus on the goals in a positive way and move forward. Let's not be distracted or step backwards. The midterm election showed all of us that the Republicans clobbered the Democrats nationwide. That can be done again. Thanks Ed.

  2. Dr. Ed; What you are saying sounds very good. My problem is I look at the long time history. In 1933, President Roosevelt kick out Adam Smith's free market economy, and replaced if with Keynesianism, under Keynesianism government could spend it's way to prosperity , and for the last 80 years it has been a failure. He created many jobs during the depression , but they were all federal employee jobs, the private sector was taxed at a rate of 90% to pay for all these great things. The private sector could not afford to create jobs. In 1990 the budgets for Montana' state government, county gov., city gov., an all school was 3.2 billion dollars for the two year period. I try counting all the budgets now, and it almost impossible. I have seen the democrats and and republicans ( democrats have been in power much longer then the republicans) spend money on doing nothing, except building government. I think it is the job of Republicans to say no to these expenditures. The city of Kalispell keep on more land to the city and building more homes. The trouble is taxes keep on going up, reason , for every dollar though in ,in taxes, it cost 1.40 for services. Every time our legislators create a new law, it also creates more government employees, and taxes go up. New legislators do not the history on why taxes are so high.
    This country is 125 trillion dollars in debt, and our infrastructure is falling a part.There are 60,000 bridges in bad shape. If we not solve these problems, this country will go bankrupt. The new Republicans must stop this government and eliminate some of the 77 million government ( federal, state, county, cities, and all school districts) .Especially if foreign countries drop the dollar as there reserve.

  3. Things I forgot to say, the family. There is no one home rearing children. The birth rate is down to 1.3 children per family. Government employees out numbers those working in the private sector, paying all the taxes. Women out number men in the workforce. 70 percent of Americas workforce are in the service sector, selling things made in other countries. In 1970 America was the greatest industrial nation on the face of the earth, with a workforce of 70 million people( 80 % men) we imported very little, we built every thing we needed. The workforce has double to 140 million people and we build nothing. Fathers need jobs ,children need mothers staying home.

  4. Dear Dr. Ed,

    I have a complaint with your logic…..First to make your bold statement of "who builds up and who tears down America" we need to define America. What is America to you, to me or Barack Obama? What is America to Sandy Welch, Jim White or Chuck Baldwin.
    This analysis of yours only makes sense if you use unified definitions. Otherwise you are trapping yourself in an unscientific debate and using emotions and illogical opinions.
    First define America, Conservative, RINO and Liberal. Define these terms then we can understand what it is to tear them down and to build them up.
    Otherwise it's a smoke-n-mirrors, emotional series of debates that lead us NO WHERE!
    What is America? Seriously! Are we talking Geography, politics, what?
    What does America mean to you Dr. Ed? Is it an idea, reality to be or has been?
    Is it the America of 1776? 1784? 1848? 1866? 1905? 1913? 1932? 1941? 1963? 1972? 1980? 1991? 1994? 2001? 2008? 2014?
    The America as defined by a communist is differently defined by a Military Veteran, right? Is there one America or many versions?
    How is America Made? Made of what and for what?
    Get the point. Just stabbing in the air hoping you strike the tender heart is useless if your eyes are closed!

  5. @4 Dear Mind Farmer, have you read D'Souza's book, America? or carefully watched his movie? If so, then you will know what I mean by America. Given that definition of America, my logic is solid. I rest my case.

  6. The mind farmer has a point Dr. Berry.. Does he not? While you offer your facts as based on D'Souza's book, no facts have been entered that "prove" statements in the book. The build-up or tear-down analogy can be used for any political opinion. IE: it would be wise for us to tear-down the unlawful "rules" that have been so numerous during the last 6 years…. This in effect would tear down parts of the government. This would not be anti-Republican because most sane Republicans would recognize that the federal administration has "built-up" a huge web of power. Conversely, it might be wise to "tear-down" the current water compact and "build-up" the property rights of those whose livelihoods depend on unfettered access to water for their "Republican" goal of "building-up" their businesses. I find your analogy a little flawed. To base your opinion about what "Republicanism" is on D'Souza's book is like basing the argument about man-made global warming on the original IPCC report. That Sandy Welch has made fine points in her rebuttals also need to be taken into consideration that she herself has been scrutinized by the state for questionable political practices. Or do you read the newspapers anymore? Food for thought all.

  7. I agree the TAB score is not the measure of a true Republican, nor is it a measure of whether one adheres to the U.S. and Montana Constitutions, or to Holy Scripture. TAB is a valuable indicator of one's political philosophy concerning how much government is needed, but nothing more.

    I would submit the best measure of a Montana Republican legislator is the degree to which they adhere to the Montana Republican Party Platform, the document drafted and ratified in convention by Republican delegates representing every community in Montana from the grass roots to the U.S. Senate. Here is the authoritative doctrine of what Montana Republicans believe: http://www.mtgop.org/index.php/about/party-platfo

  8. Ed:

    I think you may have misunderstood the goal of the TAB scores, and therefore inadvertently set up a strawman.

    For example you write, "Surely there are bills that both Democrats and Republicans should rightfully support or reject. Yet TAB scores require a Republican to always vote against the Democrats in order for the Republican to get a good score."

    That is simply not true. I know something about the TAB scores since I helped develop the methodology when I was president of the Montana Conservatives. Fundamentally, TAB provides a scale of how lawmakers vote on expanding or shrinking the size of government. Ambiguous votes such as those you identify are excluded from the index.

    Moreover, it ALWAYS has been understood that one doesn't have to get a 100% score to be a good Republican. In fact, Roger didn't get 100% when he was in the legislature, and neither would I have.

    What TAB provides is useful guidance by identifying the outliers. If one Republican gets a 95% and another gets an 80%, that doesn't tell us much. But if a Republican logs, say, 40% or less, as some do (which means he votes for bigger government 60+ percent of the time), that suggests to me at least that he's in the wrong party. (However, each user can choose his own cut-off score.)

    Voter indices are common and all have some flaws. What is unique about the TAB index are the clarity of the criterion and the very large number of votes tabulated: TAB includes far, far more votes than any other index in Montana. This makes it the most accurate voting index in the state and much less subject to fair challenge or manipulation.

    One last point: Colorado (where I currently reside) has a very similar index. The Montana and Colorado indices show that Montana and Colorado Democrats get comparable scores. They also show that many Montana Republican lawmakers are far more liberal than their counterparts in Colorado (or in most states, for that matter).

    And those indices show that because it happens to be true.

    Rob Natelson

  9. @6 Dear Glenn, You have a good comment and question. The answer is that I must provide a better explanation of entropy, which then will explain what I (and D’Souza) mean by “build up” vs “tear down.” The definition of entropy comes from physics. It is accurately defined and it applies to virtually everything in our lives. It is important that we understand entropy but few people in America do, unfortunately.

    Once you understand entropy it is like taking off blinders and seeing a whole new world of reality.

    I was hoping we would not have to get into this detail, but it appears inevitable.

    Someday, get your boys and girls together and invite me to give a one to four hour talk on entropy. It would definitely be worth your while.

    To start with fundamentals, which I hope does not lose my audience, let’s begin with what will seem a diversion.


    Energy is defined as the ability to do work. Work means actually doing something, not just pressing your hand against a wall. Lift a weight and you do work. (E.g., by their “works” we shall know them.)

    However, all energy is not available to do work. Entropy is a measure of the energy not available to do work. Here’s a simple example used in introductory physics:

    You have a bottle of hot water and a bottle of cold water in an insulated box. The temperature differences allow you to extract work from the bottles of hot and cold water (if you are a good engineer).

    For example, the reason your car engine can produce energy is because it burns fuel at a high temperature and dumps the heat into the cooler air via your radiator. In the process, your engine extracts energy by using the temperature difference of burning fuel and the cooler air.

    However, when the temperature difference between the bottles of water decreases, your ability to do work from these sources decreases. When the temperature difference is zero, you cannot extract any more work.

    But no energy is lost when heat simply flows from the hot bottle to the cold bottle. Heck, you could mix the water and produce an intermediate temperature body of water. When the water temperatures are equal, they have exactly the same amount of total energy as when they began.

    So what changed if energy did not change?

    Answer: Entropy changed.

    As heat flowed from the hot bottle to the cold bottle the total entropy went up. The increase in entropy is a measure of the loss of ability to do work. There are exact mathematical formulas to calculate the increase in entropy.

    Moral: if you want to increase your ability to do work you want the temperature differences to be as large as possible.

    End of diversion.

    OK, I know your next question: What the hell do water bottles in an insulated box have to do with the real world, especially politics?

    Answer: Everything.

    Physics and math have proved there are many equivalents to hot and cold temperature sources. Anytime we organize something, we lower its entropy.

    Design and build an automobile and we have lowered the entropy of all the material in the automobile. It is now a tool that allows us to do work.

    To lower entropy of a system is to “build up” a system. And vice-versa. If we blow up the car, we increase the entropy of all of its materials because they no longer have the ability to do work.

    This is what I and D’Souza mean when we say “build up” America. “Build up” means the collective effort of all of us to reduce the entropy in America.

    Look what it takes to extract oil and gas from the ground. If you and I drug our asses out to a plot that contained extractable oil and gas, what would we need to extract that oil and gas?

    Answer: Lots and lots of organized tools, software, knowledge, finances, and a functioning business for starters. Pulling all these things together takes resources, ingenuity, and work. When we are done putting these things together, we have lowered the entropy of everything we have put into our system, or business.

    A low entropy system is valuable because it can do work and provide benefits for people. Successful businesses are low entropy systems. Our military is a low entropy system although we wish its entropy were even lower.

    Relation to politics

    To use your examples, the build-up and tear-down analogy cannot be used to support any political system. If political decisions were made on the basis of how to best lower entropy, there would be a lot more agreement than we have now. The remaining disagreement would not come from the goal to reduce entropy but in how to best achieve this goal … because the real world is complicated.

    However, and entropy expert (like me) would be valuable to help elected officials better understand how their decisions can better reduce entropy.

    The Water Compact is difficult because the disagreement is about its effects. In this case, we must first understand its effects before we can make a decision. If it organizes the management of water without producing unacceptable harm then it would reduce entropy and be a good solution.

    Let’s go further to help you understand the entropy effect.

    Anytime we complicate our operational system, we increase its entropy. The complexity of IRS and Montana income tax rules raises the system entropy because it complicates decision making. A simple tax structure would help a lot even though accountants would lose business.

    Anytime we can simplify the laws that we must live by, we reduce entropy.
    Illegal immigration? Allowing illegals to flood into America increases America’s entropy.

    Shutting down our coal-electric plant increases America’s entropy.

    The Keystone Pipeline would lower America’s entropy.

    Enforcing English as our national language would decrease entropy.

    High taxes and welfare programs increase entropy.

    Crime increases entropy.

    Corruption increases entropy.

    Basically, if you get the picture, virtually everything Obama and Democrats do increases entropy, and most of what Republicans try to do is to decrease entropy.

    Is a war necessary? Only if we can realize an outcome that has a lower entropy than if we do not go to war.


    Glenn, I believe if you understand the concept of entropy, it will answer all your questions.

    On your last comment about Sandy, you have made a logical error and Aristotle, if he were here, would shake his finger at you. Sandy’s points stand by themselves independent of any allegations made against her. It is fundamental that arguments are separate from the messenger. An argument must be judged on its facts and logic. The conclusion should be no different if the messenger were Al Capone, Obama, Mother Teresa, or the Pope.

    PS: This is such a long comment, I may have to put it in a new post to make it more readable.

    PPS: If you want to read a much more complete explanation of entropy, here is an excellent book you can get on Kindle for $12.49.

  10. @7 Dear Jennifer, Thank you for providing the link to the Montana Republican Party Platform. I read through it again just to be sure my following comment is accurate:

    The Montana Republican Party Platform is a valuable target because all its goals lower the entropy of Montana. (See my long explanation of entropy in @9.)

    Therefore, it supports my thesis that we should try to vote in a manner that will best reduce entropy. When voting on bills that are not addressed in the Platform, a good goal would be to try to reduce entropy.

  11. @8 Dear Rob, Thank you for your explanation of TAB scores. I agree with what you wrote.

    I believe, however, that my main point remains unchallenged, namely, that voting for smaller government is not the same as voting to reduce entropy, and that, to the extent it is possible, it is better to vote to achieve lower entropy than to achieve smaller government.

    Please see some of the examples I provide in my @9 reply to Glenn Wehe.

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