Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 15, 2010

A CONFUSED GROUP OF MISLED PEOPLE.... A new New York Times/CBS News poll was released last night, taking a closer look at those who identify with the so-called Tea Party "movement." The results confirm much of what we already know -- this is a confused contingent of conservative white people older than 45 -- but there were a few interesting tidbits.

Tea Partiers are obviously not part of the American mainstream. Its activists are to the right of the Republican Party, they have favorable opinions of George W. Bush, and rely heavily on Fox News. They don't like health care reform, worry about government spending, and think the government does too much to address the problems of the African-American community.

For all the recent talk about Dems and independents connecting with the right-wing movement, Tea Partiers "usually or almost always vote Republican." And for all the hullabaloo about the groups' rallies, only 4% of the general public has "given money or attended a Tea Party event, or both."

But the kicker is the predictable limits of the extreme ideology.

[I]n follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security -- the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on "waste."

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

"That's a conundrum, isn't it?" asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. "I don't know what to say. Maybe I don't want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security." She added, "I didn't look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I've changed my mind."

The point, of course, is not to pick on one confused person who sounded foolish when put on the spot. The point is Jodine White of Rocklin, Calif., is fairly representative of the larger movement.

If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.

These folks claim to be motivated by concerns over taxes, but Tea Partiers tend not to know anything about the subject. They claim to be angry about the Affordable Care Act, but they don't know what's in it. They claim to hate expensive government programs, except for all the expensive government programs that benefit them and their families.

It's inherently challenging to create a lasting, successful political movement predicated on literally nothing more than ignorance and rage. In the case of Tea Partiers, we're talking about a reasonably large group of people who seem to revel in their own ignorance, but nevertheless seek an active role in the process.

Following up on an item from a few weeks ago, this is important to the extent that there are still some who believe the political mainstream should do more to listen to the Tea Party crowd and take its hysterical cries seriously. But how can credible people take nonsense seriously and hope to come up with a meaningful result? How can policymakers actually address substantive challenges while following the advice of angry mobs who reject reason and evidence?

The bottom line seem inescapable: Tea Party activists have no idea what they're talking about. Their sincerity notwithstanding, this is a confused group of misled people.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (76)

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If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.

And if you were to show that Venn Diagram to a Tea Partier, they would have no idea what you're talking about.

Meanwhile, this is precisely what the GOP is hoping for — willful ignorance that can be manipulated easily through the media. The sad fact is that the Tea Partiers are exactly the same as the fundamentalist Christians. They can be made to believe anything as long as it's fed to them through their own specific ideological bendy straw. "God hates fags. The GOP loves God. You hate fags. Vote Republican!" "Taxes pay for things dark-skinned people use. You hate dark-skinned people. The GOP hates taxes. You hate taxes. Vote Republican!"

It's the Southern Strategy all over. Just a new set of idiots. Make a Venn Diagram of Fundies and Tea-baggers and the overlap is the sweet spot where all the donations will come from.

Posted by: chrenson on April 15, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Not just mislead. Ignorant. By choice. They follow Fox like it's gospel. They don't read. They don't research. They take it on biblical faith that Fox is honest and for true.

Yeah, they are mislead. But they like it that way. Which is what makes it that much more disgusting, disheartening, and depressing.

Posted by: MsJoanne on April 15, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of that study some researchers did a few years back, in which they demonstrated that incompetent people are incompetent, in part, because the same set of skills needed for competency are those needed to recognize competency. Hence they regularly overestimated how well they had performed tasks, whereas competent people tended to be fairly accurate in their own self-performance assessments.

I always thought the biggest mystery about that research was: why did a group of presumably well-educated researchers feel the need to conduct a test to demonstrate that clueless people are clueless because, in fact, they have no clue?

Same thing here. Though I suppose they assumed it would be helpful to get it on the record that teabaggers are a bunch of angry old white people who have no idea what they're talking about. No...it's not helpful, because we already knew it, and we're not the ones who need to accept reality. The teabaggers themselves won't believe it, because despite what their lyin' eyes tell them when they look around at teabagger events and see only old, white, angry people, Fox and Rush etc. are telling them they're a majority of voters and are representative of the electorate as a whole. And since that's what they'd prefer to believe, they'll continue to believe it.

Posted by: Jennifer on April 15, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

You have to remember how the "Tea Party" was created. Not by grass roots but a concerted organized campaign of misinformation spawned by Dick Armey and Fox Nooze to bamboozle the uniformed, which sadly makes up a good portion of our population.

Posted by: john R on April 15, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

But the President is black. They are absolutely certain of that.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 15, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.
And if you were to show that Venn Diagram to a Tea Party person, they would have no idea what you're talking about.

But it would be the fault of blacks, not whites.

m, whee!

Posted by: max on April 15, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"The Devil finds work for idle hands." In the case of Teapartiers, the retired and the unemployed.

-Put THAT in your Fundamentalist pipe, and smoke it.

Posted by: DAY on April 15, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Jennifer: No...it's not helpful, because we already knew it, and we're not the ones who need to accept reality.

True. The real irony here is that, at this point even if Rush/Beck/Palin told them they were clueless they would be unable to accept it. Or even recognize that they were being spoken about. They suffer from Selective Hyper Ideological Tone-deafness Syndrome and are unable to hear anything that doesn't already mesh neatly with their limited worldview.

Posted by: chrenson on April 15, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Please don't forget that progressives share TP antagonism to a political system fueled by $$$ that favors large corporate interests over working people and their families. I don't want to go all Bob Somerby on you, but we ought to make an effort to advance a narrative that challenges the Fox/Republican one and offers a vision of a hopeful future, rather than a longing for "good old days" that never really were. We'll never make headway with hardcore racists, of course, but let's face it: the corporate and political elites are not working in our interest, either.

Posted by: BillNRoc on April 15, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

All these years of the Cold War we were worried about a missile gap when we should have been worrying about an education gap!

If I hear one Teabagger uttering a reference to Tom Jefferson, I'm calling bull shit for T.J. noted our democracy wouldn't survive without a collective wisdom, and these Teabaggers don't got it!

It is time to assign the T in the Tea Party to what it is - T stands for Troglodyte! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 15, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

These are the same people who vote against schools on a regular basis. They can't see beyond their own limited horizon. I think we over state when we call these people racists in the traditional way. They are utterly self-centered and myopic. They are still in revolt from their parents--the greatest generation.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 15, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

And one more thing: if Tea Partiers were to look at and acknowledge the fact that they're being royally manipulated by corporate America in direct opposition to their own interests -- they COULDN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Nobody wants to admit they've been dumber than dirt. The more you point it out, the stronger their denial becomes.

Posted by: dalloway on April 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

In no particular order -
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public ...

The Know Nothings 1840s and 1850s (Wiki) empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to US values and controlled by the Pope in Rome .

Father Charles Edward Coughlin

This way to Egress

No doubt many could add off the top of their heads to the hysterical and more cynical movements based on , A big nothing . Aside from the fears of our barons losing power .
The Giant says "Yes completely," in The Princess Bride , to the Man in Black when asked "You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword , and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people ?"
Racial demographic fears are not completely wrong , just the idea of hostility based on a mythological loss is useless .
The idea in the speech at Kerry's nomination back in 2004 given by an obscure neighborhood organiser was the one that had the right idea .
So hows that discouraging hypee and lies ee thingee going for you , hmm ?

Posted by: FRP on April 15, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

As a certain Senator said in August of 2008:
"It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant."

Posted by: josef on April 15, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

I think we Democrats lost a chance with the tea partiers. Many of them are as loathsome as some of us assume all of them to be, but others are just trying to find an outlet for their legitimate fear of an America with no place for them. They partied throughout the 90s, living on their credit cards. They didn't save. Many have lost their homes and are living with their kids. Others are trying to adjust to living on social security and very limited savings.

No, we Democrats lost a chance to represent them. We didn't embrace them. Instead we abandoned them to the wolves who robbed all of us of our future. Our bad as much as theirs.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 15, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Tea Party is as American as Monsanto apple pie...

Posted by: neill on April 15, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think part of the moral of this story is: "big lies work." Often, we wonder how McConnel and/or others can just lie about something through their teeth. The easy answer: because it works. Most people do not devote a large amount of time sifting through policy wonk details to figure stuff out. They catch newspaper headlines and an occasional sound bit on the news, and that's it. Anyone who's ever done any voter canvassing knows how depressing it is that so so very many people are so so very uninformed.

Just last week I had a conversation with a smart, middle of the road, fairly open-minded friendly guy, who happens to be a top-notch (and highly sought after) doctor. He told me that he had his suspicions about any "health care bill" that could only be passed by "ramming it through" with "parliamentary tricks." This doctor isn't angry, and he's pretty intelligent. He just got confused with all the House-Senate dancing and all the lame reporting on it by the media.

Bottom line: bald faced lies work, self righteous anger feels good -- and it's easy to manipulate millions.

Next time you find yourself wondering why a politician would lie so blatantly (e.g., saying that the proposed financial legislation will encourage bailouts, even though it does the opposite) -- here's the answer: because the media does a piss-poor job, and millions of people will believe the lie. It's as simple as that.

Posted by: A DC Wonk on April 15, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated

Let's see "Backers" are .. people who support the effort more than others.
Well Duh.
Since when has any effort, name one, been "Backed" or supported by the poor or poorer using this definition.

It's sort of like waking up one day and realizing that people with money .. donate.

... and newspapermen tend to write more news stories.

Posted by: Neo on April 15, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

With a hat tip to Al Capp, I think we should call them Seniors Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything (S.W.I.N.E.).

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on April 15, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you've done yeoman's work on pointing out the inviable prospect of the TEA phenomenon. Thanks.

Maybe you can start to analyze the political implications for politicians who don't get it?

It would appear that Sen Brown (R-MA) gets it.
But what about Dems who still fear it?
Republicans latching on?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on April 15, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"No, we Democrats lost a chance to represent them. We didn't embrace them. Instead we abandoned them to the wolves who robbed all of us of our future. Our bad as much as theirs."

You can't lose those that you never had a chance of winning over. These are the same people that spent the better part of the 90's convinced that Bill Clinton was the devil. They'll become Democrats on their own personal terms, if ever, and no amount of convincing will do what a personal tragedy/job loss will do in terms of making them realize that they're voting against their own interests. And, even then, they are still highly-susceptible to being convinced that it is all the fault of the Democrats.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on April 15, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

The consistent themes that holds this group together appear to be:

1. Anger

2. Belief that the government is doing too much for poor people.

3. Belief that government has done too much in the past to address the grievances of black people.

Message: The deficit is fine so long as government money doesn't help poor black people.

How much cruder does it have to get? How long do these people get to hide behind the fig leaf of deficit spending?

Posted by: Barbara on April 15, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. The AP wrote about a recent poll they did (which I discussed here), in which they suggested that A THIRD of people are Tea Partiers, though this same poll showed that only 28% knew much about the Tea Party and only 16% "strongly agreed" with it. I suspect the person who wrote the article misread the results they were reporting.

This same article also suggested that Obama and Democrats are in trouble because 75% of Tea Partiers supported Republicans, using the assumption that these were somehow swing voters that would sway the mid-terms towards Republicans unless Obama did something to stop it. The idea that Tea Partiers are inherently hardcore anti-Obama people continues to elude them.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on April 15, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

In this Venn diagram, is "confused about" the same thing as "misinformed about?"

Posted by: bdbd on April 15, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Actually Jodine White sounded remarkably unfoolish for a Tea Partier. She was able to recognize a contradiction in her own thinking when it was pointed out to her, and indicated an ability to change her mind in response to actual facts.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on April 15, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

A third rate educational system produces millions of ignorant, easily manipulated people who when they age become angry at their lot in life and need someone to blame. If that's only 4% of population then maybe we still have a chance.

Posted by: rrk1 on April 15, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Jodine White looks foolish. When faced with the facts, she changes her mind, she doesn't yell "Shut up, that's why!" We have been fed, for thirty, fifty, or more years, whether you want to trace this to Reagan or Nixon or the Know-Nothings, a steady diet of "Waste Fraud and Abuse!", and a larger theme of "all your problems(and taxes) are someone else's fault and can be solved (cut) with no impact on your life".
Not just mislead. Ignorant. By choice. They follow Fox like it's gospel. They don't read. They don't research. They take it on biblical faith that Fox is honest and for true.
What Joanne said. Contra Ron Byers, people like this are offered a choice between the hard truth and what they want to hear. Democrats didn't "lose" these people. They rejected the inconvenient truths.

And as always: The Media. As soon as Obama proposed the Stim Package, Debt and Deficit, virtually unmentioned for eight years, became the great Concern of David Gregory, Candy Crowley, et al. The truly amazing thing is that I think these sort of people are genuinely unaware of the extent to which they dance to a tune called by Roger Ailes

Posted by: Jim on April 15, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter version of Teabagger: "Everything we be ok if the government did NOT use OUR money to support the n*ggers and sp*cs!"

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 15, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Rubes (I was a carney in a previous life), these are the people at the state fairs who would like up to dunk a clown and win a prize.

Posted by: Diane on April 15, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

"...Please don't forget that progressives share TP antagonism to a political system fueled by $$$ that favors large corporate interests over working people and their families..."
Posted by: BillNRoc

It is more complicated than that. Most TP'ers actually don't care about this, hence their complacency during the last administration. It's OK as long as it's Republicans who are in charge of it.

Posted by: Varecia on April 15, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

The icing on the cake is that we're supposed to feel mean for pointing out that they're stupid. It's not their appalling ignorance that's the problem; it's us drawing attention to it.

As to what Jennifer said, no, this sort of study will have no effect whatsoever on the people it polls. I hold out a tiny hope that those in the media not already too far gone -- as well as Blue Dogs prone to unsupportable terrors -- might find this sort of poll useful in properly gauging the actual size and value of the "movement." A girl can dream.

I don't think Jodine White looks foolish. When faced with the facts, she changes her mind, she doesn't yell "Shut up, that's why!"

Yes, laudable. Where will she be today or next week, though? At another teabagger rally or pursuing saner activities?

Posted by: shortstop on April 15, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

"The point, of course, is not to pick on one confused person who sounded foolish when put on the spot. The point is Jodine White of Rocklin, Calif., is fairly representative of the larger movement."

As some others have pointed out, she sounds refreshingly, wonderfully reasonable. And therefore completely UN-representative of a movement that's pretty much dependent upon people's willingness to believe blatant contradictions.

Here's to her. [Clinking sound.]

Posted by: Matt Sandwich on April 15, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Where will she be today or next week, though?

Weelll , if suspecting that a republican bill called the ACA can be denied three times before the cock cries by the eponymous party is any help .

Remember the Alamo !
Remember what you said last week !
Remember one term carpet bagger Mittens Romney , i.e. ,
Wot health care bill ?

Posted by: FRP on April 15, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Where's the Andrew Breitbart of the Left? We need a booth at every Tea Party rally today, where two "tea party tax preparers" offer to compare anyone's 08 and 09 tax returns and print out a massive sign telling everyone how much more they're paying in taxes this year. Of course, the reality is that all participants would be paying LESS in federal taxes this year. But imagine the optics at a tea party rally: Bunch of people walking around with signs that say, "Obama Cut My Taxes by 10% and I'm Mad as Hell!"

Posted by: Mark on April 15, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'd say the confusion is due to the struggle that people are having who are trying to hide their real motivations even from themselves and so are looking in vain for a legitimate issue (like health care or taxes) through which to express their rage.

Their issues are legitimate as far as they go, but they're not really why they are protesting, so the answers they give are invariably confused and contradictory. Until they just throw up their hands and accuse their questioners of hatefullness and intolerance.

It's the same disorder we saw from Southern publicists before the Civil War who tried to come up with a satisfactory theory for why it was OK to enslave an entire race in a nation committed to inalianable individual rights and the equality of all mankind. What they came up with was that Southern slaves were treated better than northern industrial workers, so instead of forming labor unions and turning to socialism in protest, workers should just submit to being the slaves of their bosses. Or something like that.

Even Southerners grew tired after awhile of trying to justify their own nonsense, so they took out their frustrations on Fort Sumter with their cannon. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Another way to think of the Tea Party movement is simply that it is the latest example of the American far right trying to steal political legitimacy it has not fairly won. In a democracy, political legitimacy is earned by winning elections. That basic fact of American civics has no meaning for the Southern-style, Confederate-inspired right wing conservatives who captured Congress and the Republican Party in 1994 and ever since have refused to submit to any regime they do not directly control. Hence, the sudden re-emergence of the rhetoric of secession, nullification and even armed resistance, as well as nostalgia for Civil War and Old South iconography.

To steal back what you have not earned you must first deny that elections won by Democrats have meaning -- that despite overwhelming returns to the contrary, America remains a “center/right nation.”

When that doesn’t quite work out as planned, you must then organize all of those right wing conservatives who’ve abandoned the GOP in droves because they don’t want to be associated with a loser, and you put them in funny hats, hand them signs that harken back to the founding fathers, and declare them the one, true and authentic voice of America.

To drive your point home, you crank up the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh propaganda machine until you get the single result you’re looking for: a poll that shows a plurality of Americans take your side in some dispute. Then you wave that result like a Confederate battle flag as proof that you, and not the Democratic Party that won the last two elections, own the right to speak for America.

In 1998, the radical right almost managed to overturn the result of a national election with its failed impeachment of Bill Clinton. In 2000, a Republican-led Supreme Court stepped in to stop the Florida-court ordered presidential re-count and declared the Republican the winner. And yesterday on Boston Common, a crowd wearing tri-corn hats and calling themselves “American patriots” tried to tell the rest of us we had no right to elect a liberal black man from Illinois as our president.

Posted by: Ted Frier on April 15, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

But how can credible people take nonsense seriously and hope to come up with a meaningful result?

By finding solutions to the root problems:

- Turn the economy around and many, not all, of these Republicans will be too busy to complain.

- Rollback the corporate takeover over government. Even when people had jobs during the last 8 years, prices for health insurance, education, food, gas, etc. rose so fast that people felt like they were falling behind. There were no new taxes, but Exxon, Monsanto, and other large corporations, exercised their monopoly power with impugnity, sometimes with the help of the federal government. We all want our country back.

-Find a way to disseminate the truth deeply and broadly so the likes of Fox News can't manipulate the ignorance of our citizens. Reagan, as great as many of them think he is, increased the debt, more than any other president in last 30 years, with the exception of Bush II. I bet you very few of the Tea Partiers are aware of that. Show them a Venn Diagram of the federal budget and ask them what they will cut and witness the cognitive dissonance when they realize the defense budget is excessive.

Posted by: John Henry on April 15, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think they buried the lead. The Tea Party is only 4% of the population in spite of relentless promotion on Fox News and widespread mainstream press coverage?

If so, why are we even talking about them? Why is this even on the New York Times front page?

Posted by: Greg on April 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I always dig Ted's comments.

Posted by: shortstop on April 15, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite stat: "More than 90 percent of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction..."

I would LOVE to hear what the other nine percent of Tea Party supporters "think."

Posted by: Cooper on April 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

4% of American adults would still be almost TEN MILLION PEOPLE. Even if we assumed that every Teabagger went to exactly one event or gave money to exactly one Teabagger organization and we tallied up all the attendance and donor figures, you'd still be an order of magnitude off.

My point being, polls on this kind of thing are useless, no matter what they say. People don't respond with anything like candor; they respond according to whose ox they most want gored. (This is where we get the "half of Americans don't believe in evolution!!!" stuff, when I guarantee you fully 75% of Americans don't care one way or the other.)

Or do you really think Obama is in a dead heat with Ron Paul for the 2012 race?

Posted by: Matt on April 15, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

npr caught the whole willfull ignorance/confusion angle in one brief passage in a segment yesterday:

"When it comes to taxes, the obama administration has actually cut taxes for 95 percent of americans through a federal income tax credit.

But christen varley, the president of greater boston tea party says she doesn't believe that — no matter what the government says."

Posted by: dj spellchecka on April 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Not wanting to cut social security and medicare is the really interesting part.

Remember: Social Security + Medicare + military spending is *most of the federal budget*! We could actually cut nonmilitary discretionary spending to zero and we'd still be running a budget deficit:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2010_Receipts_%26_Expenditures_Estimates.PNG

When they say they want to cut "waste", they don't really mean that. They don't even know what it means.

Posted by: mcc on April 15, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, I don't think these people were amenable to any pitch from the Dems. These people are clear in their minds that they know what they know. They subconciously reframe everything to their viewpoint.

And that view point is Republican. These people are born again republicans, mentally trying to disavow responsibility for the failure of the Bush policies, while still trying to push those same policies.

It will take a major life crisis to have a chance of pulling each one individually out of their mind set and sometimes not even then. OhNoNotAgain nailed it.

Jodine White sounds like she is asking the questions - but she isn't really. By tomorrow, she'll have thought of another reason (easily proved false) as to why she's right. Given the time, she'll always think of another reason, and she'll never change her mind. And she'll still vote republican.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on April 15, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Where's the Andrew Breitbart of the Left? We need a booth at every Tea Party rally today, where two 'tea party tax preparers' offer to compare anyone's 08 and 09 tax returns and print out a massive sign telling everyone how much more they're paying in taxes this year."

Or recruit people like Jodine White and bill them as "recovering Tea Partiers."

Posted by: navamske on April 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK
They can be made to believe anything as long as it's fed to them through their own specific ideological bendy straw.
I love that. It's the best piece of factually based political snark I've read since "former half-term Governor Sarah Palin." Kudos, chrenson.

Posted by: navamske on April 15, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

This is funny, left wingers calling mainstream Americans confused and misled!

OK, take your Obama Money and apply it to successful Obama Policy like Obama Care. I am sure Obama's "stash" will never run out. Keep complaining about the cost of wars while wasting multiple times the cost on Obama Stimulus packages and Obama Regulatory Reforms under the guise of pulling us out of recession.

If you knew anything about economics, history, politics, or simply understood that socialism is the belief that people do not have souls...well then you would not be a lefty.

Socialist or Sociopath? Can anyone define a difference?

Posted by: DooDooEcon on April 15, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Republican. I am white and I am over 45. Did I like George Bush? NO. Do I watch FOX news? Rarely. Am I right of the right? NO, I'm a moderate.Do I support the Tea Party thoughts? Yes, absolutely. My question to all responders is: "Why aren't you"? Why doesn't it anger you that your education (that you paid for) and your hard work to provide for your family is now taken to be shared by those who don't have the ambition or drive you have? Why does it not anger you that this president rolls over all the issues we, as a majority, say we don't want then forces upon us. I am all for helping thy neighbor, but not to the detriment of my own family. I HAVE READ THE HEALTHCARE BILL! And you know what? A huge percentage of it has nothing to do with healthcare! That's one reason I don't like it. As a healthcare worker, I see the devastation it will cause by forcing a shortage of docs and nurses. The trouble with the far left is that they don't get educated, just like the right wingers you quote above, so they also don't see the fine print in the bill that will bring our medical care in this country to it's knees. I am there people. I am on the front lines of the healthcare industry. Trust me, if it could make my life easier, I would be all for it. There are some good aspects to it, I agree. But most of it is going to hit us down the road, before we know it. I know I am out of your scope, and you have already written me off as a right wing nut, but heed my words. You, like those you proclaim to be uneducated and ignorant, are no different or better, if you have not read the bill yourself. You are doing the same thing- all people hear is 'free health care'. And anyone who is not in agreement must be some kind of demon. Just wait... you will see how much this 'free' healthcare will cost you. I predict by 2015, 5 short years from now, you will be paying upwards of 50% in taxes to pay for this. I'm sure Germany and Italy also had the same thought you did. Now they are at 54% taxes with crummy healthcare. Remember this folks.

Posted by: Shari on April 15, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

My eighty-eight year-old mother is no tea partier, but I think that she shares many of their characteristics. She suffers from vague fears that something's not right, that things are changing in ways she doesn't fully understand. She feels that "they" (the government, those better educated than she, those with more power than she) "don't listen" to people like her. She sees a country that no longer affords the comfortable sense of homogeneity she remembers (rightly or wrongly) from her youth and young adulthood. And she lacks the feeling that she any longer belongs to any group that's any larger than her own family. It's black people who get all the attention. Or "illegal immigrants." Or gays. Or the young, the rich, the "important." Fox News plays on those inchoate fears and allows her to feel less alone. And while Fox exploits her in the name of money and ratings, the non-ditto heads mock and revile her. She's wrong, but still deserves better.
"I don't say he's a great man. Willie Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person."
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

Posted by: wheresthebeef on April 15, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Jodine White sounds like she is asking the questions - but she isn't really. By tomorrow, she'll have thought of another reason (easily proved false) as to why she's right. Given the time, she'll always think of another reason, and she'll never change her mind. And she'll still vote republican.

Bingo. She was amenable to consdering the facts because the interviewer put her on the spot and she didn't have her footing -- but by the time she went to bed last night, she'd re-rationalized her position.

Keep complaining about the cost of wars while wasting multiple times the cost on Obama Stimulus packages and Obama Regulatory Reforms

Nice parody of an alternate reality bagger. You had me going there for a second.

Posted by: shortstop on April 15, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"I am a Republican. I am white and I am over 45. Did I like George Bush? NO. Do I watch FOX news? Rarely. Am I right of the right? NO, I'm a moderate.Do I support the Tea Party thoughts? Yes, absolutely. My question to all responders is: "Why aren't you"? Why doesn't it anger you that your education (that you paid for) and your hard work to provide for your family is now taken to be shared by those who don't have the ambition or drive you have? Why does it not anger you that this president rolls over all the issues we, as a majority, say we don't want then forces upon us. I am all for helping thy neighbor, but not to the detriment of my own family. I HAVE READ THE HEALTHCARE BILL!"
=================
First, thanks for posting here. It's a welcome perspective. I used to be a Republican. I consider myself a centrist. I would hope you can keep an open mind about a few things.

One, very few serving members of Congress could read a piece of legislation and understand what it means or doesn't mean. There's a special expertise to this that doesn't reflect on anyone's intelligence; it's a matter of professional training -- sort of like me reading an EKG.

Two, Congress actually is accountable to the people. 60% of the American public wanted HCR -- more than 10% wanted something considerably more LIBERAL. Congress is in truth very sensitive to things that don't work -- they make fixes all the time in order to keep their jobs. Pretty high stakes actually. If there are shortages in the professions, it may or may not have ANYTHING to do with HCR but I assure you Congress will try to figure it out and fix it. They do stuff like that all the time.

Three, I make a LOT of money by American average standards, but I don't make enough to be subject to "takings" through this HCR. A decent society is based on some amount of security for all people. Asking those making more than $250K to chip in a bit more so that those making less than $90K can afford basic access to private health insurance seems very reasonable and decent to me. Then again, I'm influenced by being related to several middle class people who can't get access today because of pre-existing conditions. And I'm a Christian so the idea of embracing the ideology of Ayn Rand to exult the wealthy and spit upon the middling is kind of repulsive to me. (You know, the whole, "sell your riches, give the money to the poor, pick up your cross and follow me" mumbo-jumbo? I consider that an aspiration...)

Anyway, I hope you'll stay plugged in here. Maybe try to walk a few steps in others' shoes too. (I used to walk in your shoes but found that my feet were calloused.) And please have a little faith that things will work out for the better since they generally have as we've progressed.

Peace...

Posted by: Mark on April 15, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Just a few actual facts for healthcare worker Shari:

According to the WHO:

Italy spends 9% GDP or $2623 per person on healthcare. Life expectancy 78 M, 84 F. WHO rating: #2

Germany spends 11% GDP or $3328 per person on healthcare. Life expectancy 77 M, 82 F. WHO rating: #25

United States spends 16% GDP on healthcare or $6714 per person. Life expectancy 75 M, 80 W. WHO rating : #37

When comparing total tax rates, keep in mind that in European countries a much larger part of "taxes" goes to fund health care than in the US. We call this "premiums" and "copays". And of course virtually everyone in countries like Germany and Italy etc. has access to free or low cost health care, unlike 35 to 45 (depending on how you count it) million Americans.

Posted by: emjay on April 15, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

When I ask teabaggers (do they even know what that means?) what the alternative is to this health care, they all say the same thing: tort reform. When I ask what that has to do with insurance for everyone: everyone could afford insurance if the companies weren't sued. (whaaa???) When I ask what should be done about executives/management/etc. that promote declining insurance payments to get themselves a big bonus: that wouldn't happen if we had tort reform. The government can't run anything so they shouldn't be in the health care business. The government has screwed up Social Security and Medicare and they need to leave it alone.
I'm sorry. I can't deal with that much stupid.

Posted by: Schtick on April 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

That's the point isn't it? If you think your taxes are too high and the government is too big, then stop using and supporting the stuff government does with your money; get off the highways and don't fly, don't visit national parks, get your water from some other source, maybe not so clean, quit whining about e-coli in your big mac, definitely don't support wars, nation building and handing bags of cash to Cheney cronies; if you have relatives on social security or medicare make sure they opt out and have to buy their insurance like the rest of us and move in with you.

Posted by: bcinaz on April 15, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe we should just refer to them all as "Emily Litella". Never mind.

Posted by: Hannah on April 15, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

That's the point isn't it? If you think your taxes are too high and the government is too big, then stop using and supporting the stuff government does with your money

You'd like that, wouldn't you? Sorry, but no way are we going to stop using the services as long as we paid for them. I'm fiscally responsible, I'm not an idiot. When you stop using them, so will I.

At least I'm doing something about government waste by taking my lawn chair out to the park. We will march tirelessly in the streets and never give up. We're just funny that way about protecting our freedoms.

Posted by: Myke K on April 15, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

My husband and I are snowbirds. We don't need this article to tell us that the tea party movement is steeped in hatred and ignorance; We've seen it first hand. I expect it does serve to inform other world citizens that the tea baggers are not deserving of sympathy. It's obvious they'll be crying for it after their "second revolution" in July...which is why we came home early this year :(

Posted by: Mitzy on April 15, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Mr Benen
having finished here I surfed over to the immensely high brow samefacts.com and found that you may have *already* been awarded the coveted samefacts "Best political line of the decade" award.

http://tinyurl.com/y2mtlhj

Congratulations.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on April 15, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

At least they're the only ones out there protesting government handouts to corporations. If more on the "left" were doing so, perhaps you might take different tone.

But of course that would be too "Naderite" wouldn't it for all you new centrists right?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 15, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Two things that struck me right off the bat:
1) that most of them say that, while economy stinks and taxes are crippling and getting worse, *they, themselves* are OK financially and not overtaxed. Reminds me of how people view Congress and exhibit the same dichotomy -- on the whole, it stinks but *my* representative is OK.
2) According to the article these people are better educated than most. I had no idea that the American educational system was bad as that.

Posted by: exlibra on April 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thankful that there are people who are concerned enough about what is going on in our country to stand up and say so...even if it means they will be called "ignorant".

Posted by: Cyndy on April 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

No tea party member here but are most of you who post here out of your minds or what? Let me ask you a simple question...who here as ever been in the housing authority projects all over this great nation. Who has witnessed very capable people who shoudl work but choose not to. Who has witnessed townhouses being built at taxpayers cost of $400K and up? Well let me just state one obvoius thing most of you knuckleheads simply cannot understand...there are mony peopel in this great antion what wanted to see welfare reform be put in place prior to bailouts, universal health care, etc. It is not just teh immigration issue...it is the welafre issue and the lousy welafre state USA has become. You damn liberals will ruin this great nation if left unchecked. Guess what...you are now being checked.

Posted by: ted on April 15, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Personally not a teapartier- There has been TOO MUCH RADICAL SPENDING ! ! PRINTING MONIES TO BAIL OUT CROOKED BANKS ETC. Who do you think will suffer for this frivolity? Our CHILDREN ! ! While our tax dollars go to fuel another trip to "heaven knows where"! Our leader has been in the Oval Office how many times since in office? He's been out rambling around the world instead of 'taking care of business' . This health care bill has just pulled the plug on this Grandma and will many others ! ! May he (HAVE TO BE MANDATORY) he live with the same consequences as the rest of America- On Social Security without a cost of living raise and can't afford to pay all the bills and medication....

Posted by: laditaxi2@aol.com on April 15, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Re Jennifer's reference to the study showing that the very incompetent lack the skills to even recognize their incompetence, a fresh crop of posters barrels in to offer further illustration of the point.

And Sean Scallon, you consistently underwhelm. You've got these fleeting libertarian impulses that can't survive the decidedly non-laissez faire grasp of your religiosity; meanwhile you can't resist rewarding insurrection regardless of how poorly thought out it is. In fact, the more incoherent the political philosophy, the more you applaud it as long as the protesters are noisy enough and wear pretty costumes over their gigantic guts.

The reason we didn't protest the bank or automotive bailouts, genius, is that unlike you can't-see-beyond-the-nose-on-your face crybabies, we know that when the big banks went down, the entire system, including every single midsized and small bank, would have gone down with them, and when the big three went down, an enormous part of the interdependent American economy would follow. You guys walk around thinking that a superbank or automaker failing is as clean and self-contained as a corner grocery going bust. And you call us naive about money and the economy?

What we do protest against -- and if you haven't noticed it, you really, really don't see what you read here and everywhere else -- is lack of meaningful regulatory oversight going along with bailouts. We understand that if we don't correct the gaping holes in the system that allow an arrogant plutocracy to hold the entire U.S. economy hostage to its gambling addiction, we'll be at the same place over and over and over again. But if no one on the left is wasting their time on pointless, posturing shows of pique on city commons, no one's protesting. Grownup governance simply doesn't exist for you.

Posted by: shortstop on April 15, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Intgeresting. A whole string of Liberals debasing a movement they know nothing about, based on one (liberal) uninformed "journalist's" article.

Tea Party advocates are interested in Limited Government (remember? That is the basis of this country, and it's Constitution.)

As far as Social Security, that was a tax I was FORCED to pay during my working career. Had I been able to put that money aside in investments as opposed to handing it to an incompetent Government agency, I would not need it. Now, of course, the Government has managed (like everything else) to bankrupt this program by spending it's monies on "other priorities".

As far as the ridiculous charges that Tea Party members are against "poor" and "blacks", if anyone cares to investigate, it can be easily shown that Government unearned hand-outs to anyone results in development of an attitude of dependency and a total lack of ambition to better oneself. Of course, that is exactly what Liberals want to do. Make everyone dependent on "big brother". That way, they can control everything in society to their liking.

I am against "big Government". I am against wasteful, hurtful, unsuccessful Government programs that simply result in this country becoming a third rate nation. I am against this Government putting my grandsons into bankruptcy before they start school. It seems Liberals can not learn from history, or even current events. China, once a Liberal's Eden of Socialism, is becoming the wealthiest nation on Earth by turning to Capitalism. Britain, once the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth, is a poor shadow of itself since it turned to Socialism. American Liberals would rather have us follow Britain's path rather than the proven successful course, and Constitutionally-mandated "Limited Government" that has made the U.S. the world's leader to date.

Thanks but no thanks. I'll vote for conservatives.

Posted by: M on April 15, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Intgeresting. A whole string of Liberals debasing a movement they know nothing about, based on one (liberal) uninformed "journalist's" article.

Well, no. Poll after Poll shows that Teabagger's don't have the faintest "fucking" idea of the fact's behind what they're Protesting. Awfully "surprising" that you've Missed This.

Posted by: random capital letter, quotation mark and apostrophe guy on April 15, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny how so many liberals on this blog point to a person saying they should keep their social security benefits while saying "Slow down government". There's no confusion here. It's like the person in line at the store paying for something and expecting to take it with them - not confusing to anyone (but the left). They are realists and live life by their values, such as - limiting yourself to having the things you can afford. It's funny how the liberals are so generous when it's someone else's money. They can't seem to separate the idea of limited government and limited spending. We wouldn't have any problem with Social Security had people followed the simple standard of not spending more than you make. Instead the government has spent more than they make (causing them to rob Social Security), and without blinking an eye decided they needed to create another giant unfunded entitlement program paid for "How". Look at the numbers for Medicare - 10 fold more the CBO projected years ago. Now we are going to do the same thing over and over again. Seems to me the Tea Party people have the idea of trying to stop buying what we can't pay for.

Posted by: MJGardner on April 15, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Typical leftist content free rant from steve. If it doesn't fit the template of what the Tea Party Movement is about, Leftists like steve create their favorite straw man.
The Tea Party movement is about preservation of the free market, support for an original view of the Constitution, and fiscal responsibility

Posted by: grumpygresh on April 15, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Brilliant, royalblue_tom!

"These people are born again republicans, mentally trying to disavow responsibility for the failure of the Bush policies, while still trying to push those same policies."

Posted by: Jtool on April 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hater - A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.

Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesnt really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch.

Susan: Wow, the tea party movement is really gaining some momentum. A lot of people must be really unhappy with the direction government is moving.
Hater: Yeah, but they are all a bunch of illiterate, racist buffoons.

It's okay to BLINDLY WORSHIP the cult of personality, but any opposition, especially if it seems strong - read "unnerving" - must be totally idiotic and lacking any solid ideology.

Hypocrites All!

Posted by: null300 on April 15, 2010 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

I am surprised that everyone on this site is just blaming republicans. I blame every politician that has lied to us. I am for the first time in my life under-employed. I do not blame Obama or Bush. I blame all politicians. In I am not an advocate for big government. When I get my social security summary every year they say right on it that I will never collect the benefit that they have stated. I am sure that I am not the only one who gets that summary. I have been paying in for over 40 years. So don't think for one minute I am confused. I have already paid in, whether I agree with the idea of big government or not. Common sense tells me that that Social Security should be fixed before I would trust the government with another program. But for all you that want to call the tea party racist and faggot haters you have not been to many tea parties. Racism in this country mostly exists because the minority leaders never give credit to this country for being less racist than most. Proof, we have a black president. Could not be there without white people voting for him. By the way I am not a Tea Party person. I am happy to see regular citizens getting active in government. We have been through massive spending by the government before. I am sure the result will be the same.

Posted by: Michael Schafer on April 15, 2010 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

So don't think for one minute I am confused.

I think you're confused during all minutes, as shown by your comical inability to comprehend a simple SS summary and your belief that racism wouldn't exist if the subjects of it weren't rude enough to point it out. Dim. Fucking. Wit.

Posted by: Mart on April 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, they DO vote against money for education and heath. They do not seem to realize that maintaining their OWN standard of living DEPENDS on whether other people (of every color) can get/keep good middle class jobs and can take care of themselves, make wise life choices, buy products, be healthy, and pay taxes. And that they themselves will be healthier if the people (of every color) around them are healthy too. Would be interesting to find out whether they tend to have felt so angry and victimized most of their lives or if it is recent.

Posted by: pea on April 16, 2010 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

The lack of competence to understand one's own incompetence is also known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Posted by: Ponds on April 16, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

re: "You have to remember how the "Tea Party" was created."

Yes. That would be with the Ron Paul volunteers back in 2007, NOT Beck or Palin or whatever johnny-come-lately astroturf organizations have tried to ride our wave of activism.

Libertarians certainly know what a Venn diagram is, and they know exactly why they are for smaller government, lower taxes, and not putting more responsibility into the hands of the same gov't who just ran Social Security into negative cash flow five years sooner than they had expected to.

Libertarians DID protest the bank and automotive bailouts, TARP and the PATRIOT ACT, and we see Obama as fulfilling Bush's third term, with the continuation of all that plus the morass of two imperialistic wars that we need to get out of ASAP.

And yes, we have plenty of suggestions for a better way to reform health care. John Mackay published a notable article in the WSJ with a series of suggestions...just to mention one set of ideas that the Dems ignored. BTW: tort reform doesn't just save the cost of large settlements, it also helps reverse the deadly overuse of technology like labor inducers and C-sections, which cost a ton and actually hurt our infant mortality rates when compared to other industrialized countries.

Posted by: Libby on April 17, 2010 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

If you believe the political power is a consumer good, like TV sets and beer, it makes sense to try to accomodate ignorant people, because selling goods is about making the customer happy. But it's not a consumer good--citizenship is a responsibility, a two-way street. Citizens are obliged to be as well-informed as they can be. If not, they deserved to be laughed at and ignored. Feeling angry because nobody is bowing to your ignorant self is not a demand to be empowered, it's a temper tantrum.

Posted by: Linda on April 18, 2010 at 7:18 AM | PERMALINK

libertarian = someone who spent the 8 years of Bush in a comma, ignoring every single anti-libertarian thing he did, and now want to lecture people on "blind worship"

You lost your credibility 7 years ago STFU and let the grownups govern

Posted by: lawnorder on April 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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