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Tilting at Windmills

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April 1, 2009

TAKING UP ARMS IN SUPPORT OF WATER POLLUTION.... There's usually little point in scrutinizing far-right blog posts, but given the recent right-wing talk about "revolution," "Tea Parties," "going Galt," and the GOP emulating the Taliban, I found this item from RedState's Erick Erickson pretty interesting. The headline reads, "At What Point Do People Revolt?"

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

At some point soon, it will happen. It'll be over an innocuous issue. But the rage is building. [...]

Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation.

That's quite a bit of talk about literal violence, including violence against elected government officials.

And what was it that prompted Erickson to write about beating state lawmakers, rage, coming riots, and gun preparation?

Adam Serwer explained, "In the interest of reducing water pollution, Washington state, among other states, has instituted a ban on phosphates, making dishes much harder to clean if you clean your dishes in a dishwasher. While phosphates were banned from laundry detergent years ago -- similar complaints followed then -- states have only recently begun banning them from dishwasher detergent."

Yes, Erick Erickson is recommending residents of Washington state prepare for mob violence in the streets because state lawmakers are prohibiting dishwasher detergents that contribute to water pollution.

Let's also not forget that Erickson is not a fringe, obscure right-wing blogger, but a prominent conservative voice and a writer popular in the Bush White House.

It seems like a long time ago, but in 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign ran television ads encouraging people to vote Republicans because Democrats had given into excessive anger. One ad accused John Kerry of having the support of a "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed," and concluded, "This is not a time for pessimism and rage." Another ad, called, "Angry Democrats," featured denunciations of Bush from Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, and others. It asked the viewer, "Tired of pessimism and angry protest? Tired of negative attacks? You have a choice."

Just two months into Obama's presidency, prominent conservative voices and elected Republican officials have become the kind of "coalition of the wild-eyed" that most Democrats never even dreamed of.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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I, for one, welcome our new wild-eyed overlords.

Well, maybe not,
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on April 1, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am contemplating pulling wedgies on the entire state legislature for mandating children's birthday candles be non-toxic. If I want a bunch of crumb snatchers to die a horrible death before ice cream is served it's my own damned business!!

Posted by: steve duncan on April 1, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't realize that real men (the kind that would beat their state legislator to a bloody pulp) did the dishes.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on April 1, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Uh...it's okay to incite violence if you're a Republican?

Posted by: Run Up The Score on April 1, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The initial violence in violent revolutionary situations breaks out when social conservatives sense an opening for inciting mob violence they can hide behind.

Consider the social conservative personalities at work in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace just prior to the French Revolution.

Everyone involved was a classic social conservative whining baby mental case except perhaps their victim, Marie Antoinette.

Posted by: alan on April 1, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Lunatic and felonious. He's clearly threatening government workers. This is Trenchcoat Mafia stuff.

Posted by: Bob M on April 1, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Erickson the Stupid,

The solution to your dirty-dish problem is to (a) install a water-softener, and (b) scrape the damned food off the dishes before throwing them headlong into the machine. Now, I realize that the knuckledraggers who normally read your amazingly-shallow, cat-dung of a rag blog would have to actually stand erect to do this---which means, of course, that they would have to stop being knuckledraggers for a few extra minutes each day---and that, of course, would mean that they might actually see blue skies and sunshine over the mountain of neoblathering excrement that you dish out each day---but this is America, where all things are possible....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 1, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Washington state. I don't see much sign of rebellion brewing. maybe after the legislature finsihes the budget--the cuts are gong to be painful! But the revolt, if it comes won't be over dishwashing detergent. More likely over college tuition going up and funding for schools going down.

SInce some of our budget difficulty is down to rightwing assualts on our tax bases i hoe the people with pitchforks will head straight to their local Rzepublican party haedquarters.

Posted by: wonkie on April 1, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, a poster over there named candoo2 - apparently a right-leaning person - gives a fairly reasoned response.

Then the other commenters start in with the name-calling and even one apparent threat of violence against the person who dares to question the idea that violence is the answer.

Yikes. I've heard about the Republican Party purging any intelligent or reasonable people from their ranks. I hadnt ever seen in in nigh-real-time before. I mean, one thing candoo2 actually says is "More brains, less stupid." The response seems to be "NO! We insist upon less brains and MORE stupid!!!!"

Posted by: TG Chicago on April 1, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dave Neiwert et al have done a lot of great writing on the subject of rightwingers' predilection for violence.


...and now for the comedy.

Yes, Erick Erickson is recommending residents of Washington state prepare for mob violence in the streets because state lawmakers are prohibiting dishwasher detergents that contribute to water pollution.

[glennbeck] Detergents are cleaning agents, so how can they pollute water? Stupid liberals. [/glennbeck]

Posted by: Monty on April 1, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this type of writing actionable? Or at least worthy of further investigation by the F.B.I.?

Posted by: Vertigo on April 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose except your dishpan hands!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

I personally will take up arms in defense of my incandescent bulbs.

Posted by: Arachnae on April 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

oh, ha ha, that silly prankster Erik got me on this one. yeah, yeah, April Fools to you, too Erik.

no?

ok, Steve, then you surely must be punking us. You had me going there.

no?

really? are you sure?

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 1, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

As I've noted elsewhere, I strongly suspect that what we're currently seeing from the GOP isn't politics, but rather performance art. If you look at him like that, Michael Steele is actually a *brilliant* long-form comedian.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on April 1, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

At what point does Erick Erickson revolt? Well, personally, I've found him to be revolting for quite some time.

Posted by: retr2327 on April 1, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't realize that real men (the kind that would beat their state legislator to a bloody pulp) did the dishes.

Please. I doubt Erickson could find the dishwasher in his house even if you left it running, much less tell you what kind of soap it uses.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 1, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jack D Ripper has got nothing on these crazees.

Posted by: Former Dan on April 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've looked at the WA law, after having a conversation about this with a friend of mine. A nice fellow, a bit of a wild-eyed libertarian, but generally a good guy. His argument was that he didn't want to have the government dictating things like what detergent to buy, and that he could read, figure out whether he thought that phosphate-free detergent was worth the cost and how effective it was at cleaning, and then make a logical decision. However, he was willing to agree, at least, that lots of people wouldn't go to the trouble.

Personally, I think that the WA law was a strategic mistake on the part of environmentalists. They needed to do something like they did with CF lightbulbs. Make the case that phosphate pollution costs X dollars to clean up, reflected by Y dollars in the average water bill. Thus, by using phosphate-free detergent, you're helping your own wallet. It's a little more abstract than the case for CFL's, because water pollution is something where the costs are spread throughout the population (your virtue helps not only you, but also the guy next door who's polluting the water supply), but between that, education, and pressure against the companies that make the detergents, I think they'd have a popular campaign that would get somewhere.

Making a factually informed, but easily ridiculed, law is a good way to piss people off and damage the long term goal. It's a tool for when there's not enough time for education.

Posted by: Diogenes on April 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I personally will take up arms in defense of my incandescent bulbs.

So will my husband. He despises nothing more than compact fluorescent bulbs.

Hopefully one of these days they'll come out with a practical LED replacement for incandescents, because otherwise the government stormtroopers are going to have to kick in our door to pull the incandescents from his cold, dead hands.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 1, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Erick Erickson is not just some fucking idiot. He is a rising star among Republican fucking idiots.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 1, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Let's also not forget that Erickson is not a fringe, obscure right-wing blogger, but a prominent conservative voice and a writer popular in the Bush White House."

It is time for "liberals" to espouse the "moral clarity" so dear to the hearts of "conservatives".

To be clear, Erick Erickson is evil. He is a vile, despicable, and evil individual, and so are his fellow "conservative" corporate mouthpieces.

Not "crazy". Not "wrong". Evil.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 1, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

The dinosaurs smeared phosphates on each other to protect themselves from mosquitos. And they lived for millions of years! And they didn't even have dishes! Well, maybe some crude sporks, but still.......

Posted by: John Shimkus on April 1, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Diogenes: "Make the case that phosphate pollution costs X dollars to clean up, reflected by Y dollars in the average water bill. Thus, by using phosphate-free detergent, you're helping your own wallet."

Sure. And let's replace laws against murder with an argument that it is not cost-effective.

Exactly how much poison do you believe you have the right to put into my drinking water?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 1, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

"But the rage is building."

It might look that way if the only people you ever talk to are a bunch of paranoid assholes. I'm sure Erickson's rage is building up plenty, but where does he get the idea that he speaks for any significant percentage of "the people"?

These wingnuts have so thoroughly internalized the idea that they speak for all true Americans that they seem incapable of noticing how sparsely attended their protests have been. Maybe they imagine they're the only ones who haven't been intimidated into silence by Obama's jackbooted thugs.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on April 1, 2009 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Damn these people are ill informed...

"States and localities began banning or tightly restricting phosphates in laundry detergents in the early 1970s. By the mid-1990s, manufacturers had gotten the hint and voluntarily phased them out of their U.S. products."

(http://www.emilygertz.com/apartmentecology/2008/06/of-phosphates-frogs-and-homema.html)

But this has not applied to dishwasher detergents ... so he wants to raise a revolution about a subatance which has already been mostly removed...

Man, how ill informed can one get ...

Posted by: Kurt on April 1, 2009 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

He's not advocating violence. He's just telling people they should think about the government coming to get them while they've got a gun in their hands. That's all it is......

Posted by: cjenk415 on April 1, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

'...protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation....'


'government apparatchiks ', you mean Police or DEA agents ?
Are they trying to take your crack away from you ?

Didn't we have this kind of talk just before Timothy McVay bombed the Oaklahoma City Federal Building ?

Time for another round of the 'Turner Diaries'??

I think G Gordon Liddy was advising patriots to 'aim for the head' when confronted by Federal agents
He was afraid patiots would waste their ammunition

Plus ca change.......

Posted by: MSierra, SF on April 1, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

i hoe the people with pitchforks will head straight to their local Rzepublican party headquarters. -- wonkie, @14:21

I do realise that these are just typos but, unless you speak Polish, you can have no idea just how appropriate (almost Freudian) they are! "Rzepa", in Polish, means "turnip". In the context of "Turnip party", even the hoe fits just right (not to mention that it's a tool almost as handy as a pitchfork).

Posted by: exlibra on April 1, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Phosphate pollution can't really be cleaned up. Phosphates act as a fertilizer, allowing algae to proliferate out of control and turning clear lakes full of trout into green slimy stinky pits (how do you spell eutrification?). As strange as it may sound to environment hating conservatives, a lot of people in Washington state actually like the salmon and support laws to protect clean water. I for one could support beating to a bloody pulp (at least figuratively) any jerk that wants to pollute our water and kill our wild fish just so his wife doesn’t have to scrape the dishes.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on April 1, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I strongly suspect that what we're currently seeing from the GOP isn't politics, but rather performance art.
Posted by: Zorro

So it's Vaudeville, is it? Well then, the typical crowd reaction amongst pathetically stupid, poor-performance Vaudevillians was to throw things at them---preferably spoiled eggs, decaying vegetables, and rotten fruit.

I throw a really mean frostbitten tomato, y'know---still green; ice cold; rock hard but turns to brown mush before it ever has a chance to ripen....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 1, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's becoming quite clear that for the sore losers the only way to protect their perceived right to destroy the world is to lock up and torture the vast majority of Americans who disagree with them.

Posted by: bcinaz on April 1, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

incandescent lightbulbs and plasma tvs are two seemingly inconsequential things id be up in arms about.

bad health care reform (ie: mass. style) and a lack of financial system reform are consequential issues that would put me in a fighting mood.

while revolting over phosphates in dishwashing detergent is silly. the problem of governmental overreach and its disconnect with average people is real and not a simple right/left issue. the political class has failed us for a generation. there is a tipping point and i hate to state the obvious but rage is building and it's not limited to the right.

Posted by: pindar on April 1, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

they can take our lives, but they'll never take our Electrosol, just doesn't have the same ring now, does it?

Posted by: northzax on April 1, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I've run into this type of thinking countless times.

"If I want to chuck my used batteries in the lake after I go fishing it's my own damn business, a little mercury never hurt anyone. Only a braindead liberal would think humans can effect the environment on a macro level and if government is going to tell me where I can throw my toxic waste then fuck them..."

It's an American phenomenon that is hard to make sense of.

Posted by: grinning cat on April 1, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous electoral fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of bubbles . . .

Posted by: rea on April 1, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele is actually a *brilliant* long-form comedian. -Zorro

I think Steele is actually the punchline and the GOP is the joke. And we all know, punchlines come at the end of the joke. Joke's over, GOP.

...even the hoe fits just right... -exlibra

Haha, I hope you appreciate the irony of making a rather appropriate typo while pointing out the appropriateness of another commenter's typo. Pure gold.

Posted by: doubtful on April 1, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

Clean air and water are entitlements that need to be reformed, we would be better off as a country if clean air and water were privatized. After all who better to give Americans entitlements like clean air and clean water than private industry. Support corporate control of clean air and water don't let Washington bureaucrats tell us how to breath and drink!

Posted by: grinning cat on April 1, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

there is a tipping point and i hate to state the obvious but rage is building and it's not limited to the right.

I don't see anyone on the left near the tipping point regarding governmental overreach, not even most of those on the right for that matter. In fact, polls show the public wants the government more involved in matters such as healthcare and oversight of the markets.
Don't project rightwing craziness onto everyone else when it doesn't exist.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on April 1, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

grinning cat wrote: "Clean air and water are entitlements that need to be reformed, we would be better off as a country if clean air and water were privatized."

Thanks, I've seen the light.

You know, the reason that poor people suffer so much is that no one owns them. So no one has any incentive to take care of them. If poor people were private property, then their owners would naturally want to protect the value of their property, and that would give them an incentive to take good care of the poor people that they owned. So the solution to poverty is to privatize the poor.

I'll alert the Inheritance Foundation so they can start promoting this great idea.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 1, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

This all sounds very familiar. In fact, it's exactly the sort of overheated rhetoric that was flying in 1995, just before Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people, the worst terrorist act on American soil prior to 9/11.

Anti terrorism, anyone? The Republican promise that only they can protect us from it is sounding more and more like a Mafia protection racket.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 1, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

How totally cool that my typo "Rzpublicans" turned out to be Polish for "Turnip heads". I wishh I could depend on myslef to type "Repulcian" like that everytime, but I don't think I can.

Posted by: wonkie on April 1, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Phosphate pollution can't really be cleaned up. Phosphates act as a fertilizer, allowing algae to proliferate out of control and turning clear lakes full of trout into green slimy stinky pits (how do you spell eutrification?). As strange as it may sound to environment hating conservatives, a lot of people in Washington state actually like the salmon and support laws to protect clean water.

So Erickson basically wants to kill the salmon and fishing industry dead?

Posted by: gwangung on April 1, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

So Erickson basically wants to kill the salmon and fishing industry dead?

No, he just really hates fish.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on April 1, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's an American phenomenon that is hard to make sense of.

It's called arrested emotional development. Most people grow out of the reflexively contrary stage when they leave adolescence behind. These people never leave adolescence behind.

Posted by: shortstop on April 1, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Or he really loves green slime.

Posted by: Squid Vicious on April 1, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

So Erickson basically wants to kill the salmon and fishing industry dead?

Everyone knows it's only those pansy-ass liberals who enjoy fishing. Conservatives buy their farm-bred salmon at the grocery store like real men.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 1, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I propose the Erick Erickson Act of 2009: If you threaten or incite violence to settle policy differences, you lose protection under the law against assault up to and inclusive of whatever remedy you've suggested. E.g. if someone went up to Erickson, cited this post, and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him, a jury would not be allowed to convict.

And I'm only half kidding here. Years of listening to right wing tough guys run their mouths about how they're going to rise up and teach us liberal pussies a lesson have left my patience seriously frayed.

Posted by: Toast on April 1, 2009 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Some people posting on the wing-nut blogs are talking about having to CROSS STATE LINES to buy dishwasher detergent...soon we'll have radical right wing dish soap cartels armed with out-of-state squirt guns controlling key interstate corridors. It's going to get ugly.

Posted by: Varecia on April 1, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

As Kurt pointed out above, phosphates have been mostly removed from all detergents. Not last week - a considerable time ago. That's good, because phosphates in soap did incredibly disproportionate environmental damage.

And as other posters touched on, suggestion in print that you were considering violence against an elected official was good enough to buy you a visit from the Feds under Bush, and maybe even a free ride in a police car. If Erickson were a student, and the word "teacher" or "student" appeared in his online rant, he'd likely be starting school in a new district next term, or maybe in a youth detention facility. What makes this different? Is he supposed to be an adult, or something?

Dream on, Republicans, that you still swing enough weight to mobilize a wave of pitchfork-and-torch bearers. You remind me of that crowd of nutty cult wannabes in "Dude, Where's My Car?" Zoltan!!!! Losers.

Posted by: Mark on April 1, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

One disagreement and one comment:
1. Erickson may not be exactly obscure, if you're a blogger, but he's every bit as unhinged as Glenn Beck or any of the other lunatic rightwingers with any prominence at all.
2. Rightwingers are about nothing if they're not about projecting their personalities onto their enemies. It's an essential part of their sociopathic pysche. IOW, it's a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: digitusmedius on April 1, 2009 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas Jefferson would be monitored 24/7 and possibly rendered to Egypt today.

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/96oct/obrien/blood.htm

...what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure.

Posted by: Luther on April 1, 2009 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas Jefferson doubtless did not envision the citizens of his country taking up arms and spilling blood in defense of a detergent additive that kills aquatic life, and has been largely eliminated without a great deal of prodding. I imagine the tree of liberty expects to have its roots refreshed when patriots triumph over a genuine threat to liberty. I understand the temptation to project today's causes on the words of late great statesmen - Bush used to do it frequently, when he compared himself to Lincoln and Churchill, or had his shills do it for him. But sometimes you have to think about what the author meant, not just what he said. If you meant it as a joke, it's damned funny.

Posted by: Mark on April 1, 2009 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas Jefferson would be monitored 24/7 and possibly rendered to Egypt today.

Thomas Jefferson was pretty enthusiastic about revolutions until the Terror began in France. After 40,000 people were executed in the name of "freedom," he lost quite a bit of his love of violent revolution.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 1, 2009 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Diogenes: "Make the case that phosphate pollution costs X dollars to clean up, reflected by Y dollars in the average water bill. Thus, by using phosphate-free detergent, you're helping your own wallet."

Sure. And let's replace laws against murder with an argument that it is not cost-effective.

Exactly how much poison do you believe you have the right to put into my drinking water?
Posted by: SecularAnimist

Nice straw man, there. Really. Beckian in it's simplicity and elegance. My point was that by engaging someone on common ground, and putting the argument in terms that they can be persuaded by, you have a greater chance for success. You might even change someone's mind. I didn't say that I disagreed with the law or its goal. What I said was that it was more useful to mount a campaign explaining the issue carefully and completely to people using an argument that speaks to their concerns. But, if it makes you feel better to immediately demonize those who disagree only with the method, not the message, well, good for you. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Diogenes on April 2, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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