Green Tea

Thanks to John McNight for bringing this to my attention:

tea party studyFrom the story:

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

Who could have guessed that?

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Tea Party Tongues

The jobs numbers are out for June and it is becoming clear that the Tea Party has paralyzed not only the government, but it has gone a long way toward freezing in place a weak recovery.

Oh, I know the right-wing is proud of its achievements.  After all, they have managed to bring Democrats to the budget-cutting table; they have all politicians now talking in Tea Party tongues; they have managed to change the debate from what to do about the struggling economy and jobs to how much to cut entitlement programs and other staples in the Democratic Party and American diet, like, say, education.

They have done a lot those teapartiers. But they certainly can be most proud of contributing significantly to stagnating economic growth and keeping unemployment high—both of which just happen to be politically deadly for Barack Obama in 2012—and they show little sign of relenting.

Their continued opposition to government stimulus—in any form—and their continued insistence that we can cut our way to prosperity, including cutting taxes even further than the government-starving ratios in place now, is the most significant contributing factor in our inability to escape the black hole of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate has now crept up to 9.2% and job growth has been essentially flat the last two months.  But the worst of the news is summarized in this sentence from CNN:

So far, the nation has only gained back about a fifth of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the recession.

And while Tea Party Republicans in Congress have spent a good deal of time fretting over Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio and other non-jobs concerns, they have managed to do what many of them said they wanted to do when they ran for office. From Bloomberg:

Employment in government continued to trend down over the month (-39,000). Federal employment declined by 14,000 in June. Employment in both state government and local government continued to trend down over the month and has been falling since the second half of 2008.

Yep, they can be proud of this accomplishment, as thousands upon thousands of teachers and other “government” workers join the millions of other victims of the kind of Republican economics that ruled the day not so long ago and a kind of economics that will—if Mr. Obama is defeated in 2012 because of the bad jobs numbers this year—rule our tomorrow.

Ayn Rand Would Laugh At Him

Eric Burlison, a state legislator from Springfield, Mo., spoke at Saturday’s Joplin Tea Party rally.  During his speech he mentioned that he couldn’t wait to see the new movie, Atlas Shrugged, which was released last Friday.

As most of you know, Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, the pro-choice atheist philosopher whose childishly tidy philosophy argues that selfishness is a virtue and altruism is a weakness, a deadly weakness. 

I can’t be the only one who finds irony in the fact that a man like Eric Burlison—a “pro-life” Christian who advertises that he gives back to the community by “serving” and “volunteering“—is behind a podium at a Tea Party event extolling the philosophy of a godless “baby-killer,” who would openly ridicule and scorn Mr. Burlison’s work on behalf of Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Ronald McDonald House.

Except that when you think about it, what is the Tea Party movement about, if not essentially about selfishness?  At the Joplin Tea Party event, the crowd was mostly made up of older folks, many of them, no doubt, on Social Security and Medicare, who nevertheless enthusiastically applauded speaker after speaker who spoke about a too-large government, a government that takes too much and redistributes it to those who don’t deserve it.  These folks essentially epitomize a version of Randian selfishness philosophy:  They’ve got theirs and to hell with everyone else.

Isn’t that what is happening in Tea Party America?

Just look at the Tea Party’s favorite candidate these days.  Donald Trump, the Ugly American, is riding high on a wave of paranoia, perverse pride, and petty grievances.  His appearance this past weekend at a Florida Tea Party event was both clownish and vicious, both absurd and revealing.

What Trump’s well-received appearance in Florida—as well as his other public statements that have impressed teapartiers—reveals is a disturbing development in American politics. That there are people who take this egotistical, uninformed fool seriously says more about America than I care to acknowledge.  The fact that he is cheered as he denigrates America and brags about his intelligence and his business acumen—despite much contrary evidence—is symptomatic of how far a significant slice of the American electorate has fallen into a sort of Randian trance, where all but the self-described “producers” are leeches who deserve an ill fate.

And here in Joplin I watched a conservative Republican from Springfield, a man who boasts of his volunteer spirit and his “pro-life” credentials, a man who claims he shows “humility and humbleness in an open setting,” salivate over the release of a movie based on the philosophy of a woman who would mock him and his Christian beliefs.

As I said, absurd and revealing.

While We Were Away, Republicans Were Trying to Kill The Economy

While the mess in Wisconsin drags on, the economic recovery remains fragile and anemic.

And the Republicans in Congress—almost unnoticed—are doing everything they can to exacerbate its fragility and deprive it of much-needed iron—government spending.

Most every economist this side of Rush Limbaugh understands that there is a deficiency in demand in our economy.  That’s one reason (but not the only one) why American businesses are sitting on a Chris Christie-size pile of cash.   But what to do about the demand problem is the issue.

The Republican answer is austerity.  Crippling austerity, it turns out.  Last week, Speaker Boehner famously said he doesn’t much care (“so be it”) if the GOP spending cuts kill jobs, because they would be government jobs.

But yesterday, the Financial Times published a story indicating that it won’t just be government workers who take a hit from Republican budget-cutting hysteria. The headline was:

Goldman sees danger in US budget cuts

The story began:

The Republican plan to slash government spending by $61bn in 2011 could reduce US economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of the year, a Goldman Sachs economist has warned.

Even if—to avoid a government shutdown—Democrats managed to whittle down the budget cuts in a compromise deal with Republicans, say, to $25 billion, that will still “lead to a smaller drag on growth of 1 percentage point in the second quarter.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and former John McCain campaign adviser, concurs:

The betting is that we’ll see cuts somewhere close to $25-, $30 billion that take affect beginning in the second quarter of this year. And that could shave growth by as much as a percentage point. So it would weigh on growth. It would have longer lasting affects, but near-term it would be a negative.

Kudos to at least one Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, who said,

This nonpartisan study proves that the House Republicans’ proposal is a recipe for a double-dip recession. Just as the economy is beginning to pick up a little steam, the Republican budget would snuff out any chance of recovery. This analysis puts a dagger through the heart of their ‘cut-and-grow’ fantasy.

Unfortunately, the cut-and-grow fantasy is not that easy to kill.

Paul Krugman, wrote a few days ago:

It’s amazing how this whole crisis has been fiscalized; deficits, which are overwhelmingly the result of the crisis, have been retroactively deemed its cause. And at the same time, influential people around the world have seized on the idea of expansionary austerity, becoming ever more adamant about it as the alleged historical evidence has collapsed.

Since the fall of 2008, there has emerged two diametrically opposed approaches to solving our (and the world’s) economic predicament:

(1) Stimulate the economy through government (deficit) spending until consumer demand picks up sufficiently to sustain a strong recovery

(2) Drastically cut government spending because deficits are a drag on the economy

It appears to me that the balance of economic opinion—from real economists—agrees with (1).  But Republicans—energized by anti-government deficit-phobes in the Tea Party movement—have successfully changed the debate from nurturing the economy back to health and creating jobs to killing labor unions, dismantling government programs, and making draconian cuts in government spending.

It’s fair to ask: What does killing Big Bird and collective bargaining have to do with lowering the unemployment rate?

Mark Thoma, Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon, wrote in The Economist:

Policymakers are not taking proper account of the risk of an extended period of stagnation. We should be pursuing additional fiscal stimulus along with quantitative easing as insurance against a stagnant economy that persists into the future, in fact this should have happened months ago.

He wrote that in October of 2010.

But Thoma is a real economist.  He doesn’t just play one on TV or radio.  And as Krugman said,

From where I sit, it looks as if the ascendant doctrines in our policy/political debate are coming precisely from people who don’t know and don’t care about technical economics. The revival of goldbuggy sentiment, the fear of hyperinflation in the face of high unemployment, the continuing force of the notion that tax cuts don’t increase the deficit, aren’t coming from some subtle battle among mathematical modelers; they’re coming from the same people who reject evolution, climate science, and more. They don’t need no stinking technical analysis. The truth is that the economics profession is proving far less relevant to public debate, even in the face of economic crisis, than was dreamed of in our philosophy.

Now, whether you think it good or ill that professional economists have lost their clout, the fact remains that in their place have come fiscal and monetary policy geniuses like Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck and, God forbid, Ozark Billy Long.  People like these three have more to do with how we are fighting this crisis than those who have spent a lifetime studying economics.

And if that doesn’t scare you, then you must be a wealthy Republican.

[J.S. Applewhite / AP (left, center); Cliff Owen / AP]

Gays, God, And The GOP

There is a war coming among Tea Party folks.

Those of us on the outside of the Tea Party movement have marveled at the way religious crusaders like the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Stone Age conservatives like Jim DeMint have managed to not only get their noses under the Tea Party tent, but actually have become the ringmasters, directing the show.

But DeMint’s comments last week about gay teachers and single women illuminate the trouble that is brewing within the movement.  Here is a statement released on Tuesday from GOProud, a counter-intuitive organization of gay and lesbian and transgendered conservatives:

On Friday, United States Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) told a crowd in South Carolina that he supports barring openly gay teachers, as well as sexually active unmarried female teachers, from the school system. “Jim DeMint’s comments can only be described as outrageous and bizarre. The idea that someone who says they believe in limited government would support the government weeding out gay teachers and unmarried sexually active female teachers simply defies logic,” said Christopher R. Barron, Chairman of the GOProud Board. “Jim DeMint is doing his best to make Alvin Greene look sane.”

Mr. Barron, a Tea Party true believer, told Lawrence O’Donnell this:

The energy in the conservative movement is around the Tea Party, which is about limiting the size and scope of government—I mean Jim DeMint calls himself a limited government conservative, yet his idea of a limited government is one large enough to be policing the sex lives of our public school teachers. I mean, the idea is completely and totally insane and it completely flies in the face of what the Tea Party movement stands for…this movement is not about gay marriage, it isn’t about gay teachers or sexually active, unmarried women teachers or any of these social issues.

Want to bet?  Mr. Barron may just now be getting his head out of his fiscally conservative ass, but the truth about the Tea Party movement has been apparent for months now.  The movement has not only been financed by big-money Republicans, it has been hijacked by white Christian conservatives, who see the movement as a way to bring America back to its “Christian roots.” 

And DeMint’s comments only serve to reveal the enormous crack between those who erroneously think they are fighting to restore constitutional government and those who naively think they are fighting to restore American Christendom.

Gay Americans like Christopher Barron desperately want the Republican Party to be an inclusive and happy family of fiscally conservative, Hayek-toting libertarians.  Nope. The party is quickly becoming the property of fiscally conservative, Bible-toting zealots.

And the Bible says that the way Christopher Barron and his gay friends “choose” to have sex is an abomination to the Lord.

Just ask Jim DeMint.

Here is Christopher Barron’s appearance on The Last Word last night:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A “Crap-Wrapped And Crap-Riddled Piece Of Loathsome And Offensive And Truth-Despising Tea Party Propaganda”

Pardon me, but I want to share with you something that I believe is a new low point not only for the Fox “News” Channel—and there have been plenty of low points—but also for the Tea Party ‘movement,” whose fiery members no doubt consider themselves to be a part of the “loyal” opposition to the Obama administration, but many of whom are in reality disloyal to the principles of democracy, especially our republican form.

Last week on Fox “News” Channel’s, “Huckabee,” while Introducing Jon Voight’s “special message for the people of America,” the host, Mike Huckabee, who pretends to be just an “ah shucks,” country-preacher from Arkansas, said this to Mr. Voight about Mr. Voight:  

I believe you have been gifted with extraordinary wisdom and insight into this nation’s particular predicament right now.* 

With that, off we went into the most outrageous, disgusting, bigoted, racially-tinged attack on Obama I have ever heard on Fox “News” or anywhere else on “mainstream media” for that matter, considering this piece of garbage was not spoken extemporaneously by some publicity-seeking Obama-hater on a fringe right-wing radio station. 

This was spoken by a famous actor on a popular Fox “News” show, reading from a prepared text, in the presence of a Man of God and former governor of one of our United States—without a peep of protest.  

All I can say is that Huckabee and Fox “News” should, but won’t, be ashamed of themselves. 

Although I have included the video of this shameful moment in American broadcasting history, you should first read the words, which I transcribed as follows:    

In one year the American people are witnessing the greatest lie, that is cleverly orchestrated by President Obama and his whole administration. The lie is a potent aggression that feeds the needs of people, who either have not educated themselves enough to understand the assault upon us all, or the very poor needy, who live to be taken care of.   

President Obama feeds these people poison, giving them the idea that they are entitled to take from the wealthier, who have lived and worked in a democracy that understands that capitalism is the only truth that keeps the nation healthy and fed.   

Now, the lie goes very deep, and President Obama has been cleverly trained in the Alinsky method.  And it would be very important that every American knows what that method is: it is a socialistic, Marxist teaching, and with it, little by little, he rapes this nation, taking down our defenses, making new language for the Islamic extremists.    

The world, who looked up to us a symbol for hope and prosperity, now wonders what will become of the entire world, if America is losing its power. 

The American people who understand exactly what is taking place, have come together in the thousands, vowing to try to stay together as a unit of love and freedom for all men and women, from all walks of life, shivering to think that this once-great nation will be a third world company—country.   

This will be the first president to ever weaken the United States of America. President Obama uses his aggression and arrogance for his own agenda against the will of the American people, when he should be using his will and aggression against our enemies.   

Every loving American for peace and truth and the security of our nation, must come out and join the Tea Parties in their states. The opposition will continue their tactics, their lies, and plant their own bullies amongst us. Everyone must pay close attention to who stands next to them.  We can weed out the liars and agitators. 

Let us all stay in God’s light. Let no man put asunder. We can and we will prevail.  God bless us all.   

If you still have the stomach to watch the actual delivery of this crap-wrapped and crap-riddled piece of loathsome and offensive and truth-despising Tea Party propaganda, here it is:   

Vodpod videos no longer available.

*In September of last year, Voight appeared on Huckabee’s show and also made outrageous and disreputable comments, so Huckabee’s judgment about Voight here ipso facto includes those comments, which Rod Dreher—a conservative from the Dallas Morning News—reported this way:

Last weekend, I tuned into a Fox program hosted by the avuncular former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, of whom I am a fan. There sat actor Jon Voight, staring gravely at the host, who praised the thespian’s “courage.”

“We’re witnessing a slow and steady takeover of our true freedoms,” Voight scowled. “We’re becoming a socialist nation, and Obama is causing civil unrest in this country. … I say that they’re taking away God’s first gift to man: our free will.”

Voight then accused the president of trying to depose God and deify himself — as, according to the Book of Revelation, the Antichrist will do. It may sound ridiculous — after all, who looks to celebrities for political wisdom? — but it’s deadly serious to millions of Americans.

To his great discredit, Huckabee, a pastor, let this crazy talk pass unchallenged.

It’s As Obvious As A Hitler Mustache At A Tea Bagger’s Placard Painting Party

Naturally, some folks don’t want to hear that much of the Tea Party “movement” is not what it purports to be.  I understand that. Committed to the issues that allegedly animate the organizers, they don’t want to believe that the core of the movement is really about fear, fear of a strange black man from Kenya Hawaii, who now leads our country.  

Someone by the name of Captain Obvious, whom I have now officially busted to Lieutenant Oblivious, complained about my analysis of the Winston Group findings on the composition and motivation of the Teapartiers. He wrote,

I have never seen such a worthless string of simplistic speculation and voluminous bloviation based upon nothing more than a personal assumption of mala-fides.

At first I thought he was commenting on the Rush Limbaugh Show, but then he clarified:

Even if in bizarro world Democrats were noble saviours out to repel the Republican scourge, it isn’t sufficient for you that tea partiers could just be “wrong.” No, using your psychic “intention detector” you KNOW it’s all racism.

No, Lieutenant, it’s not all racism.  And, of course, no one has said such a thing.  We all understand that many people, in both parties, are concerned about the deficit and the national debt.  It’s just that most people don’t dust off their 18th-century Sunday best and hustle down to the town square and make fools of themselves degrading our democratically-elected leader, calling him silly names while holding grammatically-challenged signs.

So,while acknowledging that there is much public angst about our long-term fiscal health, some of us wonder just what the Tea Party movement is really about, since most of the worried public does not identify itself with it.  The reason we wonder is because of the dissonance between the alleged concerns of the movement and its rather selective timing of the expression, as well as the target,  of those concerns.

As fellow blogger Juan Don pointed out in a comment:

Squawking about President Obama’s reckless spending is much more fun when you’re not attached to the previous administration’s strange homage to “fiscal conservatism”. Of course, it’s purely coincidental that deficit hawks flex their feathery outrage only after their party is out of power.

And as Jim Stone, another blogger pointed out in his comment:

Leading up to the present, Democrats (every President) have IMPROVED our situation regarding this issue. Eisenhower’s administration is the ONLY Republican administration which reduced the debt.

Here are a couple of simple charts to illustrate Juan’s and Jim’s point (click on for a better view):

 

So, given the fact there is objective, historical evidence that under Republican governance the things that allegedly bother Teapartiers so much—worries about the size of government, deficit spending, mounting debt—have grown much worse under Republican control, we have a right to ask about the Teapartiers, Why? Why now? and, Why are they so angry at President Obama?

Why, beginning shortly after Obama was inaugurated (but with roots going back to before the election), did a group of almost exclusively white folks decide to get together with misspelled placards, misplaced rhetoric, disingenuous and anachronistic use of the Founder’s words—not to mention the caricatures of Obama that had racist overtones—and decide to start a “movement” whose alleged concerns were the size of government, its spending increases, and its debt, when Republicans have been the demonstrable cause of those concerns for years?

The truth is that at the core of the Tea Party movement is a group of disgruntled and fearful white conservatives and Republican sympathizers, whose fears are not as much about the deficit, debt, or the size of government as much as they are about Barack Hussein Obama, the “exotic” black man, who some on the right think is the anti-Christ, who many on the right think is a Muslim, and who most on the right think is a socialist—if not a Communist bent on destroying America.

That fact is as obvious as a Hitler mustache at a teabagger’s placard painting party.

Tea Party Movement Is Largely People Who Feel Threatened By Our Pigmented President

The Winston Group, whose founder, David Winston, is a former fellow of the Heritage Foundation and who also worked for Newt Gingrich, has released a new report” that purports to examine the composition and motivation of the Tea Party movement. 

Using three national surveys of 1000 registered voters (over three months), the Winston Group “captured a subgroup of respondents identifying themselves as part of the ‘Tea Party’ movement.”

It turns out that the “subgroup” of people who self-identified as Teapartiers amounted to 511 folks, a mere 17% of the total.  

As for the findings: Surprise! Teapartiers tend to be older, conservative, and Republican.  Wow!  I couldn’t have guessed that.

Oh, by the way, the study also found, 

…almost three out of four Tea Party members anticipate that they will vote for a Republican candidate for Congress.

I’m shocked!  75% will vote for a Republican? What a stunning finding!  Next we will find out that Teapartiers are mostly white!

The most telling question asked in the survey was what Teapartiers think of Barack Obama. The results will probably shock you, but, guess what? Teabaggers don’t like him

Obama Job Approval      Tea Party (Feb 2010)   Overall (Feb 2010)Approve                                             17                                   49

Disapprove                                       81                                   44

So, what we have in the Tea Party movement, to no one’s real surprise, is essentially a “We Hate Obama” movement. 

Sure, the study makes a valiant effort to demonstrate that the movement is all about the “economy and jobs” and the “national deficit and spending,” and, no doubt, there are honest Teapartiers who have a genuine concern over our economic future.

But the truth is that at the core of the Tea Party movement is a group of older, white, conservative Republicans who feel culturally threatened by our pigmented president.

How else do you explain the public displays of handwringing and fretting over fiscal issues and the simultaneous admission that in the upcoming election Teapartiers are going to vote for Republicans? 

Republicans!—the same party that has brought us to our fiscal knees in terms of the national debt and nearly wrecked the entire economy when they were last in power.

Look. Suppose you asked me what my biggest fear was, and I answered: “I am afraid my son will get involved in drugs.”  Fine, you say. That is a legitimate concern these days. 

But then you ask me what I’m going to do to help ensure he won’t get involved in drugs in the future, and I say: “I’m going to encourage him to befriend the neighborhood drug dealer.”  You then have a legitimate right to question whether my concerns about his involvement in drugs is legitimate.

Such is the state of the Tea Party movement in these challenging times. The nasty placards, the spitting, the hurling of epithets—regular components of Tea Party gatherings—may actually say more about the movement than the Winston Group’s survey could ever say.

The Logic Of “Government Is Evil” Talk

Joseph Stack, the man who flew his plane into a government building, is to the anti-government movement what Scott Roeder, the man who killed Dr. George Tiller, is to the anti-abortion movement. 

The mantra of the strident anti-choicers—that abortion is murder—leads to the most extreme and unstable believers in that cause to do things like kill or maim abortion providers.  The mantra of the strident anti-government movement—that government is evil—inevitably leads to the most extreme and unstable believers in that cause to do things like fly airplanes into citadels of “the enemy.”

Scott Roeder has his supporters in the anti-abortion movement, despite widespread condemnation among most mainstream groups, who while rightly condemning the murder of George Tiller are wrongly providing the Scott Roeders of the world with the logic of such action.

No doubt, Joseph Stack has his supporters, too.  Facebook has already removed some pages quickly created to show support for the anti-government, anti-patriot.  I found the following on a website called “NewsWithViews,” written by a “pastor” named Chuck Baldwin. He posted this today:

After carefully reading Stack’s manifesto, I am quite convinced that he was not crazy, and he was not a “terrorist.” However, he was angry.

A lot of us are angry–and for many of the same reasons that Mr. Stack was angry! While I would certainly take exception to some of the things Stack says in his manifesto, he said things that many of us are feeling.

I think it’s important to know how far some—read: some—of those angry, frustrated people out there—whose “mainstream” fellow-travellers have become the darlings of the Republican Party—are willing to go to defend such actions by the most unhinged among them.  

So, I will quote at some length from the man of God, Pastor Baldwin, as he goes on to approvingly cite passages from Stack’s rambling rhetoric. Referencing Stack, Baldwin writes:

He goes on to say, “Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble [principles] represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was ‘no taxation with representation’ . . . These days anyone who really stands up for that [principle] is promptly labeled a ‘crackpot,’ traitor and worse.”

For the most part, he’s right about that, of course. It has been a long time since the average hardworking American has been represented in Washington, D.C….

Obviously, Mr. Stack had long felt the frustration of being ignored by these pimps in Washington that we know as congressmen. He wrote, “While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.”

I suppose that just about every American could say the same thing.

Pastor Baldwin ended his little paean to the things that made Stack tick with this:

My heart goes out to Joe Stack! The sentiments expressed above are shared by millions of Americans who are also fed up with Big Brother. We are fed up with our country being turned into a burgeoning police state, under the rubric of “national security.” We are fed up with the harassments of the IRS. We know the “war on drugs” is merely the government’s way of cutting out the competition (this is exactly what more than one retired federal law enforcement agent–employed in the drug war–told me). We know the “war on terror” is nothing but an excuse to trample our constitutional liberties. We are fed up with the voracious vampires known as the Federal Reserve sucking the lifeblood out of the veins of America’s hardworking Middle Class. We are tired of the CFR, CIA, and America’s State Department manufacturing perpetual wars that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives for the benefit of the global elite. We are fed up with an arrogant and oppressive federal government that is strangling the life and freedom out of our states. We all share Joe Stack’s pain!

I really wish Joe Stack had not killed himself, however. We need each other. By taking his life, he reduced our strength. The global elites delight in our demise. As we grow weaker, they grow stronger.

But the fight is not over; the battle is not lost! Rumblings of freedom’s revival can be felt across the length and breadth of this nation. The clanging of liberty’s resolve can be heard in hamlets and villages from Montana to South Carolina. There are still millions of us–from virtually every walk of life–who will not surrender our liberties without a fight! And we have not yet begun to fight!

I advise all to go to the website, NewsWithViews, which posted Pastor Baldwin’s nonsense.  The link to the article is here and the website itself is here.  While certainly the site is more extreme than most government-hating sites, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and Fox “News,” it is not a qualitative difference.  It’s only a matter of how far one is willing to follow the logic of government-is-evil philosophy, which is the foundation of the tea party movement and of contemporary conservatism.

[IRS Building photo: AP, KVUE-TV; Joseph Stack photo: Billy Eli website]

Here’s What’s Wrong With The Tea Party

Stuart Whatley has nailed it.

In a piece titled, “The Tea Party Movement Is a National Embarrassment,” he puts the teabagging phenomenon in its proper context. Outlining what he called the “history of successful social and political movements” in the United States, including the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, Whatley said this: 

At its core, the Tea Party movement is rife with contradiction, incoherence and a willful contempt for facts or reason. It is but a parody of the legitimate movements for which American democracy has historically been held in such high regard. It is, in fact, the latest installment in quite another American tradition: the exploitation of frustrated, desperate, and susceptible people by monied interests and profiteers. 

The incoherence is partly demonstrated, he said, by teapartiers demanding tax cuts from a president (Obama) and a party (Democratic) that gave us at least “one of the biggest tax cuts ever.”  

The stimulus bill passed last year, which has caused such consternation among many misinformed folks and has revealed much Republican hypocrisy, contained a $282 billion cut in taxes, bigger than the first Bush tax cut in 2001 ($174 billion) and the second round of Bush tax cuts  in 2004 and 2005 ($231 billion) over the same two-year period.

To compound the incoherence, Whatley remarked, teabaggers demand tax cuts and deficit reduction simultaneously.  Not even the most zealous supply-siders in the Republican Party have a plan for making that a reality, nor do they even pretend they do, as far as I know.

Whatley also pointed out the fact that while the Tea Party movement claims to be a grassroots group, with “no defined leadership,” it does have “public figures and entities” who act as leaders. This situation, he continues,

has led to perhaps its greatest irony: a portion of the American populace who carries a populist banner against the coddling of greedy bankers is led by some of the country’s most cynical and base profiteers.

Those “cynical and base profiteers” include Dick Armey of Freedom Works and Fox “News” Channel, which has made a lot of money creating and promoting teabagger anxieties and then “covering” their “movement” as “news.”

Whatley discusses the authoritarian nature of the movement in its reliance on “emotion and instinct in decision-making,” its black and white worldview, its resentment of “confusion or ambiguity in the social order,” which explains the movement’s fear of “gays and immigrants,” who they believe are a threat to our social order.  He reminds us that Tom Tancredo’s bigoted speech at the Tea Party Convention last week was “well received.”

Whatley’s piece ended with a somewhat depressing observation, applicable to those around Southwest Missouri and beyond, who reflexively support the Tea Party movement but rely on “big government” for needed assistance:

While the Tea Party may alienate some who see it for the profit-machine that it is, others who share the fearful, intolerant authoritarian worldview that it is increasingly coalescing around will be lured in and pitted against the very people in power who could actually help them.

Sad, but true.

 

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