Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Only Victims You Can Listen To: The Tea Party Bangers

They rock.
They roll.
They scream bloody murders like 3 years old.
They cry on demand and pout.
They threaten the nation of  armed revolt and secession.

They are insanely misinformed.
They seem grassroots enough to look genuine but the bermuda clad old white xenophobic guard
- who claim to have direct access to the Founding Fathers' brains, hearts and every other vital organs -
have this air of deja vu, of old news and fake concerns and cringe-inducing ideological contradictions.

In other words: where have we all seen this before?

Bla, bla, bla - small government - with huge WAR  facilitating created deficit and corporation subsidizing.
Bla, bla, bla - bootstraps for everyone: if you can't have kids, stay with your alcoholic husband and get to church for moral support like everybody else just die already. Where does it say anything about helping anyone in the Constitution?
Bla, bla, bla - Nafta, Free Trade, The Share Holders Pleasure Principles - no need for manufacturing jobs here, they're for losers and Unionists. If the corporation gets richer then the whole country gets richer! Don't you get it? Your share of GDP just gets bigger! Don't you feel the love?
Bla, bla, bla - no taxes but more services! (This one makes my brain explodes. I just can't deal...)
Bla, bla, bla - no immigration reform or else we will have to pay them a decent wage and then where will we be?
Bla, bla, bla - no bank bailout (well, duh! Say thanks to Dubya and Paulson for that one) but no government regulations, meddling or, gasp!, takeover!
Bla, bla, bla - No! To everything! Because I say so!
Bla, bla, bla - no liberal media - but WE own them wouah! ha ha ha!  Own the idiot box, you own the idiots! Viva la vida Fox!
Bla, bla, bla - no activist judge - except our own!
Bla, bla, bla - no unemployment benefit - the more desperate you are, the less you cost. And there's always WalMart.
Bla, bla, bla - no government schools - the slaves didn't know how to read and they made a decent livin'! Stop bitchin' all the time and get to work!
Bla, bla, bla - confederacy - And you thought we'd lost?! Suckers!
Bla, bla, bla - God is on our side. Sucker!
Bla, bla, bla - no national heathcare BUT DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH MY MEDICARE ! (Screeching pitch)

Well, you get the gist of it.
Where, O, where have we seen all of this before??
Wait, it's in the tip of my tongue, white, rotund, male, newt worthy, gone in vacation all the time, war, deficit, lame jokes, no accountability....
Darn! I almost had it....
Where have we seen this before?
And why can't we make them eat those words once and for all?

From the Nation

Tea Party Hypocrisy


February 11, 2010

"Energy. Budget Tax cuts. Lift American spirits." This was the infamous list of talking points scrawled on Sarah Palin's palm when she stood to address the first-ever Tea Party Convention in Nashville. It's fitting, given that the agenda of Palin and the movement for which she has become a tribune is short on details about how to govern the country. "Lift American spirits" is about as substantive a description of their agenda as you're likely to hear.

  • Esther Kaplan on Massey Energy and mine safety; John Nichols on WikiLeaks and collateral murder
Such vagueness has served the movement well, allowing it to claim to be many things it is not. There has arisen in some quarters a quaint and dangerous notion that the tea party movement is an entirely new phenomenon--a bipartisan, organic channeling of broad (and rational) distrust of and disgust with America's main institutions, particularly Wall Street and Washington, which seem to have formed a perfectly closed loop of rent-seeking and self-dealing. According to Tea Party Patriots national board member Mark Meckler, "Although we are conservative in political philosophy, we are nonpartisan in approach. Both parties need to re-dedicate themselves to the principles of our founding fathers and remember that this should be the government of 'We the People' and not of special interest groups or pork-laden politics." While the energy and outrage may be genuine and organic, we should not fool ourselves into seeing this as anything but a right-wing reactionary movement, one whose themes (jingoism, militarism and a cult of victimhood at the hands of sundry nefarious betrayers) are as old as the John Birch Society. And yet, because the details of the tea party's worldview remain obscure, it's startlingly popular with the broader public. Forty-one percent of respondents in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll have a positive opinion of the tea party movement. According to the same poll, the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by only 35 percent. The Republican Party fared even worse with 28 percent.

It is useful for branding purposes that the right-wing organizers and activists draping themselves in nostalgia for the founding fathers not find themselves tied in the public mind to the Republican Party, loathed by a significant minority of the electorate and distrusted by an overwhelming majority. The reason is not hard to divine: over the last decade, the GOP ran the country into the ground. While the party's rhetorical fidelity is to small government and a big military, it has for decades been operationally committed to no philosophy other than perpetual war, upward redistribution of wealth, the defense of corporate power and white Christian identity politics. But despite the tea party's arm's-length stance toward the GOP, these are precisely the values for which it stands.
What's genius about the tea party branding is that it can shift the focus from the governing record of the right wing to a fantasy vision of a Ron Paul- meets-Ayn Rand twenty-first-century insurrection based on principles fuzzy enough to resonate with much of the populace. After all, who doesn't hate the bailouts?
While that's the grassroots message the GOP is stoking and associating itself with, its poobahs are busy laying the groundwork for a restoration of what James Galbraith aptly calls the Predator State. According to a recent New York Times article, the Wall Street titans of finance, who gave unprecedented monetary support to Barack Obama (and have invested heavily in the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party), have had their feelings hurt by the occasional and exceedingly gentle remonstrations from the Obama administration and are funneling more cash to the GOP. Seeing as how not a single Republican voted for the mild financial reform bill in the House, this seems like a marriage with promising prospects.
While the tea partyers bash the bailouts, conservative politicians like John Cornyn skulk around New York hustling to get their hands on some of that bailout-facilitated campaign cash. It's a fresh version of the tried-and-true GOP approach described by Thomas Frank in What's the Matter With Kansas?, though this one is more audacious: rather than using social issues to distract from an economic agenda favoring the plutocracy, rage over bank bailouts provides cover for efforts to raise money from banks and stymie bank regulation.
Rank hypocrisy has never spelled doom for a political party in America, and it won't hurt the tea party so long as its views remain opaque. The easiest way to highlight the contradictions between the vaguely attractive populism of the tea partyers and the decidedly unpopulist governing vision of the party they serve is to attack the banks with a tea party-like zeal and force the GOP to close ranks around its new financial benefactors.

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