Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 28, 2010

MOVEMENTS ARE ABOUT SOMETHING REAL…. I tried to keep up on today's festivities at the Lincoln Memorial, but as the dust settles, I find myself confused.

For a year and a half, we've seen rallies and town-hall shouting and attack ads and Fox News special reports. But I still haven't the foggiest idea what these folks actually want, other than to see like-minded Republicans winning elections. To be sure, I admire their passion, and I applaud their willingness to get involved in public affairs. If more Americans chose to take a more active role in the political process, the country would be better off and our democracy would be more vibrant.

But that doesn't actually tell us what these throngs of Americans are fighting for, exactly. I'm not oblivious to their cries; I'm at a loss to appreciate those cries on anything more than a superficial level.

This is about "freedom."

Well, I'm certainly pro-freedom, and as far as I can tell, the anti-freedom crowd struggles to win votes on Election Day. But can they be a little more specific? How about the freedom for same-sex couples to get married? No, we're told, not that kind of freedom.

This is about a fight for American "liberties."

That sounds great, too. Who's against American "liberties"? But I'm still looking for some details. Might this include law-abiding American Muslims exercising their liberties and converting a closed-down clothing store into a community center? No, we're told, not those kinds of liberties.

This is about giving Americans who work hard and play by the rules more opportunities.

I'm all for that, too. But would these opportunities include the chance for hard-working Americans to bring their kids to the doctor if they get sick, even if the family can't afford insurance? No, we're told, not those kinds of opportunities.

This is about the values of the Founding Fathers.

I'm a big fan of the framers' generation, who created an extraordinary nation. But if we're honoring their values, would this include their steadfast commitment to the separation of church and state? No, we're told, not those values.

This is about patriotic Americans willing to make sacrifices for the good of their country.

That sounds reasonable; sacrifices can be honorable. But if we're talking about patriots willing to sacrifice, does that mean millionaires and billionaires can go back to paying '90s-era tax rates (you know, when the economy was strong)? No, we're told, not those kinds of sacrifices.

This is about a public that, at long last, wants to hear the truth from those who speak in their name.

What a great idea. Maybe that means we can hear the truth about global warming? About the fact that health care reform wasn't a socialized government takeover? About Social Security not going bankrupt? About how every court ruling conservatives don't like doesn't necessarily constitute "liberal judicial activism"? No, we're told, not those truths.

Movements -- real movements that make a difference and stand the test of time -- are about more than buzz words, television personalities, and self-aggrandizement. Change -- transformational change that sets nations on new courses -- is more than vague, shallow promises about "freedom."

Labor unions created a movement. Women's suffrage was a movement. The fight for civil rights is a movement. The ongoing struggle for equality for gays and lesbians is a movement. In each case, the grievance was as clear as the solution. There was no mystery as to what these patriots were fighting for. Their struggles and successes made the nation stronger, better, and more perfect.

The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about something. The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn't a good sign.

Steve Benen 7:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (96)

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Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on August 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

What hath surrealism wrought?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on August 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Movements without specific grievances are often just whipped-up hysteria in search of an overarching political pretext. In this case, the Right's paranoia is the starting point. It focuses on some Other's danger and bloviates about ridding the world of its evil. Demagogues and hucksters know this about us: that we are suckers for an explanation that oversimplifies through demonization.

We'll never be done with politics because it concerns real things, their costs and benefits. But paranoiacs want to short-circuit this arduous process because they're convinced Eden was the absence of complexity. Extremists ultimately want a world without compromise and partial successes. That's why these people are children. They don't want a functional polity so much as a magical kingdom.

Posted by: walt on August 28, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's about momma bears and gold and two flights down from MLK and why aren't white racists in charge of anything but the Supreme Court?

Posted by: nuttylittlenutnut on August 28, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, hell of a good and pointed post! Well, I watched NBC NN tonight, and they basically softballed the whole thing. They said, it was mostly about religion, not much politics. Really? Where can we peruse a transcript and make up our own minds? And if those teapartiers are evangelicals, how can they tolerate a "cult" religious counterfeit like Mormonism, which Glenn Beck belongs to? Mormons don't have the same basic idea of God and Jesus, etc., and add new scriptures in violation of fundamentalist perspective and teaching. But few care about fluff like major contradictions.

BTW I saw signs to audit or get rid of Federal Reserve. Whew, if the plutocrats ever feel threatened by populist elements of the teapottiers, it will be brought down fast.

Posted by: neil b on August 28, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's about someone else, "the other", getting something that I should have gotten because I'm not one of "them".

Posted by: peej on August 28, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo, I couldn't figure out what they were talking about. Take America Back ... back to what ... back from what?


Posted by: Joe Shaw on August 28, 2010 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

If the piece at FDL about the Koch brothers is true, then all this is about nothing but a couple of rich guys manipulating the sheeple to buy into destroying the protections put in place over decades of progressive work so they act even more freely to do whatever the hell they want, anytime they want, wherever they want.

These rally are just a smoke screen to accomplish those ends.

But, with your permission Steve, I would LOVE to do this post as a stump speech...

Posted by: r_m on August 28, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Civil War, Southerners say, was not about slavery; it was about states' rights. True, but the states' right that they felt was threatened was the right to own slaves.

In the same way, I think, this is about freedom--not any old freedom, like religion or speech. Not those freedoms. What exactly is that freedom that they feel is threatened?

My take is that this country is committed to both freedom and equality, and those twin commitments are not only not exactly compatible but often downright contradictory. So, our history, in a sense, has been a balancing act between the two. The tea partiers, IMO, sense that their freedom to be the superior majority is endangered. With the election of a black president, the twig has been bent way too far in the direction of equality for their comfort. So they sense their freedom is endangered. True, and it is precisely the freedom to comfortably, without challenge, be the majority in power and act accordingly.

They want their country back. And they feel limited, bound, in ways that they were not when they were in the majority. That's why, IMO, they felt no threat from Bush. Bush circumscribed American freedom in all kinds of ways, but not in a way that seemed to elevate minorities to equality. That's why they had no problem with Bush. That's the freedom they want back.

Posted by: Raenelle on August 28, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

You know, OUR Liberty, OUR Freedom, OUR Values. NOT YOURS!
UP YOURS, you N****R-loving Boshevik, FemiNazi, Communist, Socialist, Fascist, Atheistic Muslim!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 28, 2010 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking that they want the original constitution with appointed Senators and no votes for the landless. The Civil War was partly about states rights, most of the the south favored fugitive slave laws that overran a states right to ban slavery.

Posted by: Jamie on August 28, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

I like the post mostly, but I do not agree that there is anything to "admire" (passion? ugh).

Posted by: andyvillager on August 28, 2010 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK
About how every court ruling conservatives doesn't constitute "liberal government activism"?

Missing something here after the word "conservatives"?

Posted by: noncarborundum on August 28, 2010 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

I love this post Steve. Its the best thing I've read in a long time. Hurry up and write something else.

I still need to know who took the country.

I got a laugh at people gathering with bull horns walking down the street hollering "Freedom". They are free. This is funny they don't know what they want.


Posted by: Claudia on August 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

These people are freedom fighters. They are fighting for their freedom to be irrationally resentful and to whine about stupid sh*t. Don't Tread On Me--You Might Hurt My Feelings.

Posted by: Jimbo on August 28, 2010 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Did you SEE those people, Steve? They were just delighted to get out of the house and meet other people just like themselves. They may be angry, but they're lonelier than they are angry.
These are the same people who are continually warned about letting scam artists into their house as home improvement contractors by their local TV stations.
Nice people (most of 'em), old people (almost all of 'em), easy marks (all of 'em).

Posted by: JMG on August 28, 2010 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

There's lots of talk about the Koch brothers funding the teapartiers (I have to quit saying the TPM since it confuses and smears the cafe!), but the Kochtopus has infiltrated the DLC as well:

Posted by: neil b on August 28, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

They want the freedom to watch while the Republicans drive the country into the ground with the pedal to the metal. Wouldn't take long, either.

Posted by: Mark on August 28, 2010 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

The idiocy of Herr Beck and $arah Payme is so overwhelming that it becomes stultifying. The dumbness of it all saps the strength out of me. Do these fucking idiots realize that it takes absolutely no courage at all to stand up on behalf of values and/or ideas that practically everyone already agrees with???? I mean, it's just mind-boggling, the monolithic stupidity of these people. I long ago lost patience and my toleration is wearing so thin that it really isn't there. Had I been at this event, I might have assaulted someone, that's how far gone I am right now. Liberals everywhere need to start howling, and I mean loudly, that these wingnut douchebags had NOTHING to do with the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s save trying everything to prevent it from happening!!

*sigh* Bob is tired now..... (rip, FZ)

Posted by: Timpanist on August 28, 2010 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

I missed the entire day; no TeeVee, no internets, no opinions of any sort.

I was at a 'historic working farm' in the Poconos, watching a mixture of mostly citified Americans looking at sheep and draft horses and bread baking. Sort of like Williamsburg, without the hokiness.

Kids in strollers, old people with canes. Plump, complacent middle class and mostly white people, doing what probably a hundred million like souls were devoting their Saturday to.

Nobody was shouting or waving signs, and the only TV camera in sight was the local community cable guy, and he was shooting the kids and the bunnies.

Sleep well. America is in safe hands, no matter what the Axe To Grind people tell you. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 28, 2010 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Beck & Co represent "Old America".

Posted by: Michael on August 28, 2010 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Years ago, it was the late 90's, I heard a particularly nasty old bitch call into Rush Limbaugh's show while he was lambasting gays. He let the hatefull old thing go on and on until she said with all sincerity, "They think we shouldn't be able to hurt them anymore."

That's the freedom they're talking about. These people have been stewing since the 60's and they won't be happy until the niggers and spics and fags are put firmly in their place.

WE put George Bush and his cronies in power TWICE. WE did that. This country did that. And now we're poised on the brink of putting far more dangerous characters in control. Look at that crowd today. That is what this country is right now. That's us. Its something to be really prod of isn't it?

These people aren't confused. They're not having their fears preyed upon. They're not fearful, they're furious. They're fuled by hatred, and that needs to be recognized and called out relentlessly. Excusing them as "fearful" or "confused" is playing a very dangerous game.

Posted by: SaintZak on August 28, 2010 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

walt: Extremists ultimately want a world without compromise and partial successes. That's why these people are children. They don't want a functional polity so much as a magical kingdom.


Posted by: cr on August 28, 2010 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Steve. Thanks.

47 years from now nobody's going to remember Glenn Beck and his "rally."

Posted by: puravida on August 28, 2010 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think the "freedom" these folks are interested in is freedom from government run by Democrats. That is all.

Posted by: ArlingtonRob on August 28, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

These teabagger gatherings amount to nothing so much as a series of public tantrums by people furious that they didn't get their way.

Probably the best response to all future gatherings of the type is to meet it with signs saying, "We get it. You lost and you're not happy about it. We don't really care - grow up."

Posted by: Jennifer on August 28, 2010 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Today's snake-oil sales event was political theater at its best. Beck gives his "I Have a Scheme" speech. Simple Sarah gives her "I Have a Meme" speech. Nothing new there. Then the whole useless exercise was gift-wrapped with bagpipers, patriotic songs delivered by untalented country-Western singers and the rest of the sappy Lawrence Welk-type entertainment.

Beck is a gifted showman a la P.T. Barnum. He knows his audience and fleeces them at every opportunity. The saddest thing is that his "BeckerHeads" are too stupid, myopic or biased to even know that they have been had.

Beck's self-promoting spectacle will fade in the national memory for everyone except him and those poor dependent souls who are entirely dependent on rant-jockies like him to define their world view.

Posted by: Tom on August 28, 2010 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Great post. Perhaps what they want "freedom" from is responsibility for whatever is wrong in their lives. Pathetic, really.

Posted by: R on August 28, 2010 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

I was taking my daughter back to college (Was that divine intervention, or what???) and didn't get to see the festivities. Neither did a number of my friends, who were out canvassing Dems and leaning Dems for Gerry Connolly. They said the response was very good. That's nice to hear, in that I live in a part of Gerry's district that has lots of crazies in it.

I've noticed a number of big, black, ominous-looking signs in yards in the area that say, "November is Coming." Underneath, in smaller letters, it says, "Prosperity for America." Are they trying to scare me?

Posted by: pol on August 28, 2010 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell do tea partiers mean by "Don't tread on me!"? Obama passes health care reform while insurance companies drop people who are sick. Obama fights for clean energy incentives while BP pollutes the Gulf. Obama fights for wall street reform while investment executives bilk clients out of millions. Obama fights for a consumer protection agency while egg companies knowlingly sell salmonella-tainted eggs. Obama supports the rights of local jurisdictions and religions groups to build community centers as they see fit while anti-Muslim racists slit Muslim cabbies' throats. Obama fights to reduce the deficit while the millionaires Bush's tax cuts created sail their yachts up and down the coast.

Just who is treading on whom? It's as if anything done by government is bad, even when the things being done by the private sector are 100 times worse or at a minimum exacerbate the problems we face.

If the criticisms the Becks, Palins and Bachmans make of Obama can't explain what's happening then they aren't valid.

In my opinion Obama has done a great deal to restore the honor America lost under George Bush.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on August 28, 2010 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, I missed the complete idiot rally?

Posted by: Trollop on August 28, 2010 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

If the CEOs of some of the big banks had been forced to walk the plank the way the Presidents of GM and Crysler were and if the new banking rules hadn't been written by the Summers and Geithner on behalf of their bank clients maybe Obama would be able to pull the country together. They weren't and he can't.

The tea party movement is nothing more than a Republican diversion from the sad fact that bunch of wall street banksters have taken charge of this country and they aren't going to take their boots off our throats.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2010 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

they are constantly told their liberties, values, freedom, religion are under attack and the solutions are smaller govt, less taxes and deregulation.

its no wonder they are confused imo. they keep seeking out enemies that dont really exist outside of their party when its their party getting them to work against their interests.

Posted by: Kill Bill on August 28, 2010 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

They don't know what they want because they are by and large too ignorant and stupid to actually think things through for themselves. That's why it's so easy to manipulate them.

They know nothing about the world outside the US, know nothing about how the government and economy actually function, and have mediocre math skills to boot, thus making them easy to fool with numbers.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 28, 2010 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

I admire their passion...

Yeah for real. Meanwhile the left seems to just sit around and takes pot shots at Obama.
Whining this way and that way, panties all up in a bunch...
And of course most of you out there dutifully pay your cable bill and help fund Murdoch.
Way to go guys...
The Aussie and his Chinese wife need the dough...
Who cares if he fucks your country into a civil war...

I say: Shame on you...
And Matt Tiabbi over at Rolling Stone says: Shame on you too.
His Tea Party Rocks Primaries is an absolute must read.
Here is his closing paragraph:

I'm beginning to wonder why effective boycotts against these hate-media channels, and particularly Fox, haven’t been organized yet. Why not just pick out one Fox advertiser at random and make an example out of it? How about Subaru and their unintentionally comic “Love” slogan? I actually like their cars, but what the fuck? How about Pep Boys and that annoying logo of theirs? Just to prove that it can be done, I’d like to see at least one firm get blown out of business as a consequence of financially supporting the network that is telling America that its black president wants to kill white babies. Isn't that at least the first move here? It's beginning to strike me that sitting by and doing nothing about this madness is not a terribly responsible way to behave.

The real question is:
How long are you going to sit there and take this Murdoch shit?
Had enough yet?
Or does he have to spank you in the face with his old man cum?

Posted by: koreyel on August 28, 2010 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

scanlon gave the game away years ago. get the wackos [his words not mine] to vote on or obstruct something so complex legislation [by lobbyists] can be slid under the peoples nose.

so they incite them, get them out to townhalls, have some cameras there, let them rant, then exaggerate the numbers, then the politicians use this as rational. see look the people dont want this. or look the people want this.

and they are doing the same for votes today.

Posted by: Kill Bill on August 28, 2010 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

what a stunningly beautiful post. perfectly said.

Posted by: Alli on August 28, 2010 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

To be sure, I admire their passion, and I applaud their willingness to get involved in public affairs. If more Americans chose to take a more active role in the political process, the country would be better off and our democracy would be more vibrant.

I agree to a point. To participate in our system (or any system) it is necessary to take time to listen and learn. Talking in the early stages of participation doesn't help unless it is to ask questions to try to clarify things.

Today we have people just shouting what they want and not listening to anyone else. The media only provides a megaphone to those shouting and ignores people talking about ideas because they don't make a spectacle of themselves (and face it, ideas are a lot more boring than watching someone bloviate on topic after irrelevant topic).

Over the years I have learned a hard lesson: You cannot help those who only want things their way. The Tea Partiers are such folks; they want things their way and won't settle for anything else. They couch their wants in grand words like "Freedom" and "Liberty" but when those wants are examined they come down to "what's in it for me?".

When it comes down to it the Tea Party is really the Party of the Afraid. They don't necessarily know what it is they are afraid of but they don't like the changes that are happening. The piece of information they are missing is that the only thing that stays the same is change. Change will come whether you like it or not. If you participate in things you can try to make sure the change will be beneficial to you or at least minimize its effect. The cost and how we will pay for health care will change. Everyone will be affected by that. The progressives pushed to make sure that people would still be able to get health care while those afraid of change could not understand that without the ACA health care would shortly be out of most people's reach. The Party of the Afraid only saw change without understanding why that particular change was necessary.

Getting through to the willfully ignorant is a hard task. The mainstream media only makes it harder. Beck, Limbaugh, and company simply feed the herd the BS that keeps them ignorant. Will reality or ignorance prevail? It's scary to watch.

Posted by: nerd on August 28, 2010 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

It is ambigous because their frenzy is being whipped up by clowns who are making big bucks off of them. Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, et al., are using a thin veneer of belief with big dollops of hucksterism to enrich themselves via a media story. It is really no different than any other "entertainer" - except they dress theirs in a cynical socio-political realm.

Posted by: bigtuna on August 28, 2010 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

This is an unusually good post

Posted by: steve on August 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Dolchstosslegende wasn't anything real, either, but the men using it as a springboard to power certainly got a lot out of it.

The imagined grievances of the Seething Right could be equally dangerous.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 28, 2010 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

As an Australian, I couldn't agree more with koreyel's post above.

Murdoch's slime machine has now tampered with the politics of at least three "free" countries . . . it's a disgrace, and it seems that the rest of Sarah's "lamestream media" is too gutless to report on Fox's blatant abuse of the system.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on August 29, 2010 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK


I think it possible that two different major factors are at work here. First was a revitalization movement by conservatives who felt that the anti-war pro-free-love anything goes DFH's were taking their society away from them. The anti-segregation movement was also threatening to remove them from the pinnacle of American society which has been dominated by White people since the beginning. Then the DFH's conducted a coup against Nixon. So their society had ceased to be stable. Then the inflation and severe disruption of the oil markets along with the takeover of Iran and the hostage crisis made things even more uncertain, financially, socially and in terms of international security. That revitalization movement started to gain steam right after Nixon resigned, So we got Reagan.

The problem is that people find that society is not responding according to their values and beliefs, so they cease to feel that society is safe for them. A revitalization movement occurs either when there is severe social disruption or when the economic times get bad. The 70's were both.

The second part, though, is that the wealthy conservatives like the Koch brothers funded the movement and created the CATO Institute, the Heritage Institute and so on. They also funded the conservative Republican elections. The money from these conservative wealthy people has goose-started and kept the conservative movement rolling forward so that they were horribly shocked when Clinton won, and worse when they were unable to conduct a counter-coup by impeaching him. But they did get Bush/Cheney into office.

The social conservative haven't gotten much out of political action anyway. They were ready to quit in the late 90's, but the nomination of the born-again Bush brought them back in in 2000. The collapse of the Federal government after Katrina also frightened the conservatives, and the collapse of Wall Street effectively destroyed the conservatives nationally. But the conservative money is still out there, so they have funded the astro-turf teabaggers. Just check and see who funded the buses that brought all the Beckian teabaggers to Washington. Today has been largely astro-turn designed to sway the media just before the election. Which brings us up to today.

What do the conservatives and teabaggers want? They want to go back in time to before all the social and economic disruption occurred. It's not a conscious goal. It's fear of all the changes and fear of the loss of control over the society they used to feel comfortable in. Part of that includes getting another white male protestant President they can trust.

It's also fear of economic collapse. And they aren't economists. It isn't Bush era economics that caused the collapse, it's all the social change they have no control over.

Then, besides the Koch brothers and others like them like Bob Perry of Texas who funded the Swift Boat ads, it's also Wall Street which is being attacked by the Wall Street reform and it's the oil companies who are scared out of their minds of what the legislation following the Gulf blowout will be. They are funneling as much money as they can to Republicans right now. So are the insurance companies.

FOX and News Corp has, I suspect, put themselves into that flow of money to get as much of it as they can. And FOX is stoking that fear as hard as possible to try to build up their advertising base. That's why I think they have gone full tilt towards the Republicans.

That's what I think is happening, anyway. That I think is the answer to your question about what the conservatives/teabaggers want.

Posted by: Rick B on August 29, 2010 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

How sad that you have no idea what those people were concerned about. I suspect you will have a better idea on November 3 but I am probably too optimistic.

Posted by: Mike K on August 29, 2010 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Bread. Circuses. The sleight of hand as someone grabs your wallet. Conservatives have masted the Jerry Seinfeld art of nothing. The frenzies are farcical because needs are palpable. The deception allows space for nothing to happen. No progress on the economy. No progress on human rights. No progress on tolerance. No progress on infrastructure. Platitudes serve the greater good of conservatism by pushing us to anarchy. Sad. But Obama's lack of energy pushing back at these liars and cheats is his major failure in office thus far. He is shadow boxing fictitious issues. A racist taking the mantle of Martin Luther King is a whole other level of outrage. It is past time to fight back. We need to take down the Fox facade.

Posted by: Sparko on August 29, 2010 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K. Yeah. No idea. They are all about the Koch brothers without even knowing it--we struggle to get them to fight for what they need to succeed, and they rally to racism, fascism and tax cuts for the soulless manipulators. You are a black-souled son of a gun.

Posted by: Sparko on August 29, 2010 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K -- the stupidest sap of them all. Stay under your rock.

I would also not use the word "passion." "Passion" is fueled by positive emotions or processes, such as love or creativity. The stench of fear from the teabaggers us pervasive and tangible.

Posted by: DJ on August 29, 2010 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Well... According to the NYT, Beck's "I Have a Scheme" Lie-a-palooza today was all about taking USA back to Jesus. At least.. that's what I take the "religious rebirth" to mean, since that crowd -- sure as sure -- is very picky abut *which* religion matters/is the shinng beacon:

Posted by: exlibra on August 29, 2010 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

"The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn't a good sign."

Seems pretty clear to me what they want: for all the liberals, progressives, atheists, Muslims, gays, and non-whites in America to be silenced and driven away from America. By penury and humiliation if possible. By force if necessary.

They really aren't trying to hide that fact. It's right up front.

Posted by: s9 on August 29, 2010 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

"The Aussie and his Chinese wife need the dough. Who cares if he fucks your country"

I don't like the dude's ambitions either, but what does their nationality have to do with anything?

Patriotism sucks, IMO.

Posted by: flubber on August 29, 2010 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

From the NYT:

“The federal government is only to offer us protection from our enemies and help us when we need it,” said Ron Sears, 65, who came on a caravan of three buses from Corbin, Ky. “The states are supposed to control education and everything having to do with their citizens, except when they need federal help.”

Shorter Ron Sears, 65: "We don't want your help, until we want your help!"

-these folks are seriously confused. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 29, 2010 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

How many of the confused, racist fucks were there?

Posted by: bob h on August 29, 2010 at 6:37 AM | PERMALINK

I've written this countless times, but here I go again.

Having a black man in the White House makes many Americans uncomfortable and paranoid. That's because they translate this as meaning that more welfare queens will get more government assistance to purchase Cadillacs and flat-screen TVs. They interpret healthcare reform as meaning that these same welfare queens and their children will be placed in line to receive healthcare before they do. At the same time, they mistakenly believe that Obama wants to take away their guns.

These folks can talk all they want about patriotism and restoring America, but this paranoid and untrue fear about where their tax dollars are going under a black president is their chief concern.

Posted by: billyjoe on August 29, 2010 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

Gotta agree with you, billyjoe, because that is exactly what Americans said to this non-American, like a otherwise normal guy who told me that Obama as president would mean that more 15 year-old black girls would be having second and third children out of wedlock, etc.

Luckily, American right wing paranioa cannot make it even half a mile across the border. I am very sorry reasonable Americans have to be inflicted with this nonsense.

Posted by: Bob M on August 29, 2010 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

Raenelle hits it on the head, I think. She says they want freedom, but not equality. They want thefreedom to be dominant. I would phrase it slightly defferently.

The Constitution has two powers it distributes: the right to rule and the protection of rights. Phrased differently, it provides for majority rule while protecting minority rights. The teabaggers like the first prong, and that is all they like. They are afraid of minorities, and fear minorities will infringe on their power. So their enemies are the brown people, the immigrant, the gay, feminists, a Supreme Court that would empower these people, and a federal government that would protect them.

There is a misconception of these people that the majority of white people in America are entitled to unbridled power. I think we see another major failure of our education system. The schools have evidently either confused lessons of civic with flag waving patriotism, or they have neglected to teach the basic principles of our government altogether.

Posted by: candideinnc on August 29, 2010 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

Just as long as right wing Americans live in a liberal democratic culture that embraces values like freedom, liberty and individual dignity the right wing will have to pay lip service to those liberal ideals. Even better, the right wing will try to claim those values for their own in order to make liberalism seem even more esoteric and alien, as Beck did yesterday when he tried to turn the message of MLK on its head and hijack the civil rights movement for white, Christain conservatives. And given the appalling historical ignoranc of the American people, who's to stop him?

The right cannot speak openly about what it really wants -- a society controlled by the wealthy, by the white majority, by Christians, and by those approved authorities who subscribe to conservative beliefs -- so it's rhetoric by necessity must be highly abstract, evasive and most of the time incomprehensible in order to advance this agenda without anyone really knowing what they want.

But this far right, anti-democratic agenda is what the right really means when they accuse the mainstream media of "liberal bias." They don't mean the bias of a professional press that tends to vote Democratic and tends to be sympathetic to a progressive agenda that cares for the weak and sick and protects society from the rapacity of corporate titans like the Koch Brothers. They mean a "liberal bias" that subscribes to the liberal, democratic promise that produced the Enlightenment and the American Republic -- that supports human reason over conformity to the revealed truths of religion, democracy over rule by approved traditional elites, and a press that sees as its mission to challenge the established orders on behalf of the public, not act as stenographers for the interests of the already rich and powerful.

None of that can be spoken about openly. Yet. But in the modern communications apparatus the far right has found a means to free itself from its democratic chains. They can now create their own reality, invent any facts they want, and be sure that there is no one in America anymore with the credibility of a Walter Cronkite to challenge their lies and deceptions by telling America how it really is. So why should the far right oligarchy abide by the Grand Democratic Bargain when they have the means at their disposal to attack American democracy when the results of elections go against their interests.

30 years ago the right produced learned white papers by acknoweldged scholars and experts to make their case with the public why capitalism was superior to welfare state politics. But then they discovered they could achieve far more bang for the buck manipulating public opinion rather than trying to educate it instead.

The whole point of the 30 year effort by right wing's massive communication campaign (part of which Jane Mayer wrote about this month in her feature on the Koch brothers) to change the definition of American values like freedom and liberty in order to change America's modern, secular culture is to create an environment in which the right wing can speak openly about the kind of traditionalist, feudal society it really wants.

Posted by: Ted Frier on August 29, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

its not all that easy to openly have a movement built upon 'we hate having a black President'.

Posted by: pluege on August 29, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about something. The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn't a good sign.

There is an old joke about a guy visiting heaven and being shown around by St. Peter. He passes room after room of happy, friendly people who come from all denominations, but as they approach one big room with the door closed St. Peter shushes him and they tip-toe past. When they get past the man asks St. Peter what that was all about and he replies: "That's where we keep the Catholics, we don't like to upset them - they think they're the only ones up here."

And that is what Beck's little gathering was about yesterday. A large gathering of Catholics of American politics. A huge group of people who think they are right about everything and everyone else is evil. As a side note, living in the DC metro area I dropped by to see the crowd for myself. I've walked past previous tea party events in the past and expected something similar but this one was dramatically different. As I walked around the periphery there were none of the strangely dressed oddball with signage that verged on the obscene. Only a few wacko T-shirts, but mostly well-behaved, well-dressed, seemingly rational people (till you started listening to what they had to say). It was sort of like going "Clean for Gene" back in 1968. Now, that scares me.

Posted by: majun on August 29, 2010 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

real movements that make a difference and stand the test of time -- are about more than buzz words, television personalities, and self-aggrandizement.

you're living in the past. In today's easily manipulated media messaging, we're already standing with two feet firmly in the grave of 1984. If people don't realize it and constantly fight the seduction of ignorance messaging, freedom as we knew it will be buried.

Posted by: gak on August 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

A lot of old white people fighting for their social security, financed by a group that wants to destroy social security.

Posted by: JS on August 29, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Gak, they were asked to leave the signs at home or risk the charity status of the event. Still, the impulse to wear tee shirts with messages on them showed their true colors.

Posted by: pol on August 29, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

The two-tiered answer: if you watch Fox News or listen to neocon radio regularly, you're told Democrats are, simply, The Enemy. Dems want to take your money, your guns and your "freedoms" and give it to those who they REALLY work for, and that entity is some other Enemy. And the more isolated you are from interacting with Dems - by choice or by geography - the more you're inclined to believe it.

As a result, even when Dems embrace GOP ideas (cap and trade) or seek compromise (health care waterdown, needless tax cuts in the stimulus), it's still Wrong. Bad. Part of a Plot to Give America to the Others. If a Den is for it, they must be agin' it and "fight" to get the embedded enemy that is the Democratic Party out of power.

That's the first tier. Simple, naive and misguided, like duped often are. They don't realize they're being played anymore than those who reply to emails from exiled Nigerian billionaires. That these people are often racists too is part coincidence, part convenience and part of the duping process (dems try to help minorities, so they're part of the problem).

Posted by: slappy magoo on August 29, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Connect the dots. For the past two or three weeks leading up to this Glenn Beck ego trip the nation has been consumed with a ferocious debate about the building of an Islamic cultural center two blocks from where 3,000 people were killed by 19 fanatics acting in Allah's name.

Serious conservative commentators like Ross Douthat of the NYT have used the controversy to talk about the "Two Americas" that have been evident throughout our history -- the "Constitutional" America based on universal ideals like freedom of speech and religion and the "Cultural" America that disputes Abraham Lincoln's belief that America was "dedicated to a proposition" and sees America instead as a homogeneous, demographically coherent society instead.

And it was this "cultural America" that showed up at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday to flex it's muscles and to hijack for an exclusively white, Christian and conservative community the welcoming and inclusive message that was spoken on those steps 47 years ago on behalf of a "Constutional America" that sees the country united around inspiring and universal ideals instead of blood and soil.

Posted by: Ted Frier on August 29, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The two-tiered answer: if you watch Fox News or listen to neocon radio regularly, you're told Democrats are, simply, The Enemy. Dems want to take your money, your guns and your "freedoms" and give it to those who they REALLY work for, and that entity is some other Enemy. And the more isolated you are from interacting with Dems - by choice or by geography - the more you're inclined to believe it.

As a result, even when Dems embrace GOP ideas (cap and trade) or seek compromise (health care waterdown, needless tax cuts in the stimulus), it's still Wrong. Bad. Part of a Plot to Give America to the Others. If a Den is for it, they must be agin' it and "fight" to get the embedded enemy that is the Democratic Party out of power.

That's the first tier. Simple, naive and misguided, like duped often are. They don't realize they're being played anymore than those who reply to emails from exiled Nigerian billionaires. That these people are often racists too is part coincidence, part convenience (convenient for them to not have to hide what they really think about minorities, even powerful ones like Obama) and part of the duping process (dems try to help minorities, so they're part of the problem).

The second tier is where their freak flag really flies. That's where you see what they'd be for if they ever got the power or a likeminded person in power. The irony that many of their ideas are by definition anti American is not an issue to them.

Posted by: slappy magoo on August 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: pol on August 29, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

pol, are you always completely off the mark when you comment on someone else's comment? my comment had nothing to do with signs, or the political nature of beck's rally. The comment is on Benen's belief's about movements which are not true today.

Posted by: gak on August 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I will add my voice to those calling for more coordinated action against FNN sponsors. A limited example of what can be achieved is Target's reaction to consumer outrage over their political contributions.

If a campaign was launched against FNN's 10 largest sponsors, what would happen? I'de be interested to find out and gladly participate.

On a separate note, this must be like the 3rd or 4th "event" the right-wing has held in DC and each time it receives unwarranted and excessive media coverage. Yet liberals and progressives have yet to stage a rally that counters the false perception of a large right-wing movement.

At some point, we're going to have to get out of our chairs, hop in a car (or in my case, buy a plane ticket) and assemble in large numbers to show the world that right-wing extremists DO NOT RUN THIS COUNTRY. It would also serve to generate some synergy on our side.

Unfortunately, that's an effort that probably should have started in the early spring. Is it too late?

Posted by: bdop4 on August 29, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

You missed the movement that the Tea Party Movement most closely resembles. The Bowel Movement. Their end products are remarkably similar.

Posted by: Tim H on August 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

They want a return to an America without a black President. Simple as that.

Posted by: Baldrick on August 29, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Benen has posted so many interesting posts this morning, it's hard to keep up. This one was particularly good. Lots of excellent comments, too. I would like to add that we must never forget that economic inequality is at its highest point in a century. That is having tremendous consequences throughout the culture.

Raenelle, upthread, mentioned that the US is founded on twin principles of freedom and equality. I suspect that most Americans, if asked, would visualize "equality" as a person with a dark skin, maybe even MLK. Because of our tragic history of slavery, the beautiful principle of equality has been framed in a particular, limited way, as ensuring that people of color have equality with whites. I don't want to knock that still elusive dream, but when the wealth of America has been handed over to the richest of the rich, we need to remember that the bottom 90-95% of the population are scrapping over a smaller piece of the pie. We cannot have freedom without equality, but if "equality" is defined as a zero-sum game between blacks and whites, we should not be surprised that conservative whites are insisting on freedom without equality.

By freedom, the Palinbeckians seem to mean primarily, freedom from government; they believe that government will take away their wealth and give it to the undeserving. We call them racist because they imagine these "undeserving" are poor black people rather than as filthy rich Wall Street bankers and oil and insurance industry executives. Our challenge is to persuade people who are so mistaken and fearful that they are better off siding with the poor black people against the oligarchs. They also afraid that government will stifle the group identity that they achieve through religion. We call them ignorant because...well, because the conviction that the Bible IS inerrant is ignorant. Our challenge is to persuade the fundamentalist Christians that even liberals and non-Christians share those Christian precepts that infused our founding documents with principles of equality, compassion for the marginalized, and justice.

Instead of condemning the conservative movement as racists, I think we would do much better to recognize that the bottom 95% of the American citizens are poorer now than they were when Ronald Reagan's conservative movement started running things in 1980. A good class war would do wonders for America. A proper progressive income tax would do wonders for America. The challenge is to achieve these goals when the oligarchs own the medium of communication and lie in bed with our politicians and judges.

And yes to everyone on this thread who has said that we liberals need to start getting out on the streets as well.

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 29, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Hal Chasman on August 29, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to think we should all put aside our principles and get in on the scam. Flood the market with bizarre far-right conspiracy theories, and have conventions (awards for the greatest number of far-right nutcases paying for paranoid fantasy, the highest dollar amount scammed from an individual far-right lunatic, etc.) -- and scream constantly at the LAME STREAM MEDIA (screaming in all caps, natch) FOR NOT GIVING GENEROUSLY APPROVING COVERAGE to whatever bullshit we come up with.


No punctuation allowed.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on August 29, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Can't help but think of Father Coughlin and his incoherent, bilious demagogery. His followers were whackos, rubes, and bigots too. His economic populist campaign centered on some very similar nutty ideas - like eliminating the Federal Reserve - and also involved self-aggrandizing political rallies. He created his own reformist party, the National Union of Social Justice, which also was rather vague about what it stood for. Mostly what it stood for was opposition (if not implacable hatred) toward the president (FDR).

One way to undermine the demagogues of today is to talk about the demagogues of the past. When I've taught segments on Father Coughlin in history courses in years past, the students have always been stunned to see what has gone on in their grandparents' day and very quick to draw unflattering comparisons to current-day rabble rousers.

Posted by: smintheus on August 29, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. All I can say is wow. Reading comments here, on the NY Times opinion page and the WSJ the absolutely hateful, venomous vitriol directed toward the Tea Party protesters and those that attended the event on the Mall is overwhelming. Particulalry if you actually compare what was said at these events.

The negativity and name calling seem to be on the left by a margin of like 9 to 1. Perhaps what we are seeing is projection - that there is absolute outrage that anyone would dare to oppose the great expansion of the state under the Democraticly controlled Congress and Presidency.

Sorry all, I was proud to call myself a liberal democrat for many years becore becoming more Libertarian in my views. The bile and vitriol spewed here are the antithesis of tolerance and open mindedness. Could it be that some of the rebellion we are seeing among independents leeching support from Democrats ahead of the november election is actually inflamed by this type of hateful name calling?

Posted by: Mack on August 29, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

smintheus, when you've "taught segments on Father Coughlin in history courses in years past," did you bother to tell your students that Coughlin attacked FDR from his left?

Posted by: Masturbatin' Pete on August 29, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"My take is that this country is committed to both freedom and equality, and those twin commitments are not only not exactly compatible but often downright contradictory."

Freedom and equality are exactly compatible but only if you realize equality is equality of opportunity or equal treatment under the law not an equality of outcome. Any other concept of equality is not compatible with freedom and is, in fact, a tyranny.


Posted by: Servius on August 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK


Oh please. Get a life. The leader of a divisive movement like the Conservative Movement and Tea Party (don't forget the Manhattan Mosque) attacking its enemies for its divisiveness is the oldest trick in the book

You want hatefullness, just try on these Glenn Beck Greatest Hits when he's not trying to launder himself as a love and peace unifier:

• “We are a country that is headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.”

• “There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America… done through the guise of an election.”

• “The president is a Marxist... who is setting up a class system.”

• “The government is a heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state."

• “The health-care bill is reparations. It's the beginning of reparations."

• “I believe this guy is a racist” with “a deep-seated hatred of white people.”

Posted by: Ted Frier on August 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I tried to keep up on today's festivities at the Lincoln Memorial, but as the dust settles, I find myself confused."

Well, then you're a moron. But I'm going to allow you to continue to be nonplussed, because as long as you're bewildered, you can't put up an effective defense. That's probably why the left has decided that the best response is to call everyone who ever attended a Tea Party a racist. It's the knee-jerk reaction of someone with no answers.

Posted by: Masturbatin' Pete on August 29, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Definitive proof, if any were needed, that you and your fellows do not perceive the objective Universe. You have a little database in your heads full of preconceptions; external stimuli are "hashed" to return either one of those or a null.

How if I make it simple for you?

We. Want. You. To. Go. Away.

You aren't smarter than we are. You are "better educated", placed in sneer quotes because your education has produced airtight theories that not only don't work, they invariably produce poverty, misery, and death. Your sneering assumption of moral and ethical superiority is out of place in America; it would sit much better on a courtier fawning upon Louis XV. Whatever your intentions -- we do not grant that they are benign -- the policies and procedures you demand, many of which have been put into place, will clearly have the result of beggaring us, reducing us to serfs whose tug o'the forelock you may condescendingly acknowledge as you ride grandly by.

The "you" in that indictment is plural. It includes virtually all the people you know, plus most of your University classmates, the majority of people whose philosophies you can tolerate, much less accept, and all of the politicians you admire.

We know that your ambition is to browbeat us into accepting your pretentious assumptions and elite status, and that your accusations of violent behavior against us are projections of your own willingness to send unlimited numbers of armed goons to support your ambitions. (Whoever said he saw "the next Timothy McVeigh" in the Restoring Honor crowd was seeing his own soul, not ours.) We have no such desires. We don't want to kill or hurt you, or even turf you out of your comfortable existence -- although that last may happen as a byproduct if we succeed in wresting the levers of power from your incompetent hands. We just want you to go away, so that we may renew and rebuild the institutions you have smashed in your childish, selfish snit.

Clear enough?


Posted by: Ric Locke on August 29, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ric, pretty sure your message will be received as a null value by many on this string. Not me.

Well said brother. Well said.

Posted by: Larry on August 29, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Mack to some extent. It is clear that the writer of this article does not have a clue as to what is happening in our country. As I review the comments, I am amazed at the shear lack of knowledge about issues and the lack of ability to see facts before their eyes.

Lets take health care. Our health care used to be the best in the world. Then our government decided to change that. This began in the 80's and both parties have contributed to the fall. With Obamacare we have the final stroke. This is not about people having the opportunity to see a doctor, at least not before the bill was passed. It is about the free enterprise system that we had before being killed by the government and the substitution is British style care. That is like saying you want to replace a Rolls with a VW as the VW seems better. Our health care system had flaws, but the replacement is going to be so bad that it is hard to describe in the short time here. I know as I have first hand knowledge of our government system.

Then there are the taxes, and taxes and regulations and rules and interference by the Federal government. We have had enough. It the electorial process does not restore the country, then there will be efforts of a different nature.

Posted by: David on August 29, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Pete, Father Coughlin was all over the map in the '30s; both friend and foe of FDR; and consistently incoherent, paranoid, bigoted, and demagogic. I showed my students that. I didn't try to convince them that Coughlin was a lefty because (a) he wasn't (he was a "populist") and (b) I'm not an ideologue with an ax to grind.

Posted by: smintheus on August 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Smithenus, that's great, but you didn't actually answer my question. Did you or did you not teach your students that when Coughlin attacked FDR, he was doing so from FDR's left?

I do appreciate, though, that you taught that Coughlin was "incoherent, paranoid, bigoted, and demagogic" at the time that he was a friend of FDR.

As for not having an ideological ax to grind, well, I can't look into your heart. But it's a little odd for someone who isn't a partisan hack to draw any kind of comparison between a hard-left populist like Coughlin and the Tea Parties generally or Beck in particular. (The evidence for Beck's alleged racism is particularly laughable.) Comparing anyone on the right to Coughlin is much like the left's abuse of the term "fascist": it just means "I hate this guy."

Posted by: Masturbatin' Pete on August 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

David, Pretty fun for you to be complaining about others' "shear lack of knowledge about issues and the lack of ability to see facts before their eyes"...when you go on to show exactly what you lament.

The US began to replace free-enterprise health care in the '80s?? Obamacare will institute a UK-style NHS?? Both "facts" are utterly wrong. There's been almost no reform of HC since Medicare was introduced. Obamacare retains the same for-profit health insurance and for-profit health providers that your fellow citizens have been getting fed up with for over two generations. All it does is subsidize and (slightly) regulate for-profit HC. Obama's proposal was more right-wing and business-friendly than even what Richard Nixon proposed back in the day. So you're not just wrong, you're way wrong.

And taxes are out of control?? Taxes under Obama are at their lowest rate since forever. Way wrong, again.

Restore the country? To what exactly? Given how grossly misinformed you are about basic policy and trends in government, it would be truly enlightening to hear about your plans to "restore" some no doubt mythically pristine past.

Posted by: smintheus on August 29, 2010 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Pete, I did answer your question, you just didn't want to hear it. Coughlin attacked FDR from every which angle, left and right. And speaking of fascism, he dabbled in that as well. It was about personal aggrandizement, as with all demagogues. So just like Beck and our current crop, he didn't really care whether he was being consistent or rational. Trying to portray Father Coughlin as a "hard-left populist" tells us a lot more about you than it does about Coughlin.

Posted by: smintheus on August 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Examples, please, of Coughlin attacking FDR from the right.

Posted by: Masturbatin' Pete on August 29, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's proposal was more right-wing and business-friendly than even what Richard Nixon proposed back in the day.

What's the point of this Nixon comparison? Seriously, what's the conclusion that you're want us to draw here? Are you trying to argue that an Obama proposal is good because it's not as far left as a a proposal from an economically liberal Republican president forty years ago? If that's not the argument, please explain.

Obamacare retains the same for-profit health insurance and for-profit health providers that your fellow citizens have been getting fed up with for over two generations.

Except that the law requires everyone to buy insurance, indirectly fixes the rates that can be charged, and doesn't permit insurers to turn down anyone for pre-existing conditions. It's single-payer, administered by private companies. I have to hand it to the Democrats. It's freaking brilliant, actually. Obamacare is going to suck, but since it's run by hyper-regulated private-in-name-only insurance companies, those insurance companies, and not the government, are going to get the blame for the problems.

Posted by: Masturbatin' Pete on August 29, 2010 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Once our politicians and government employees get everyone free health care the country will see how correct our approach is. Freedom is code for oppression.

Posted by: Moab-S on August 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

They should've called it "Hoodstock", as in, these people normally wear them

3 days of hate, bigotry and jingoism.

Posted by: sarah fail'in on August 29, 2010 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's been noted that many tea partiers say they haven't ever been involved in politics before.

I would speculate that this isn't really a political movement at all; rather, it's a fad, worked up by demagogues, among people suffering low-grade mental illness, the kind that makes people vaguely dissatisfied with their lives.

The demagogues--Murdoch, Beck, Limbaugh, the Koch brothers, Gingrich et al--are trying to use this phony "movement" to accomplish political goals. They may be successful. But the "grassroots" here are not themselves part of a real political movement. Just something that *looks* like a political movement on TV.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on August 30, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Alex, I'll take "Hoodstock" for a thousand.

Also, great post, Steve!

Posted by: chrenson on August 30, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ric Locke,

You know what's weird about your post? I haven't the slightest idea which side you are on. Or who you want to "go away."

I assume you're coming from the Tea Party camp since you talk about "elites" and whatnot. And you sound more belligerent and upset and pompous than most liberals I know. But the basic gist could be me talking to my ultra-right-wing next-door neighbor. Or vice versa.

How curious.

Posted by: chrenson on August 30, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Ric Locke's comment is actually very illuminating, though perhaps not in the way he intended. It is nearly pure eliminationism. He claims:

We don't want to kill or hurt you ... we just want you to go away
-- but go away to *where*? And *how*?

Ric is also illuminating in that he's clearly very deeply afraid and resentful of a pseudo-aristocratic upper class. He doesn't seem to realize that Benen also angry at the rapacious upper class -- but Benen sees a class defined by wealth, not just education. Most of the points Ric makes are made by leftists, too, but the people we're angry with include:

- Rupert Murdoch
- the Koch brothers
- Sam Walton's descendents
- the deVos family (includes Erik Prince of Xe/Blackwater)

People like this are the *actual* aristocratic rulers of America, who want the rest of us to be forelock-tuggers, cowed and grateful.

I can't tell if Ric is angry at the "elites of education" because he doesn't even recognize that the elites of wealth are the ones actually destroying our society, or if he's angry that anyone *except* the wealthiest think they can run things. That is, is he angry because he thinks the educationed-elite is trying to be an aristocracy, and he doesn't even see that we already have an aristocracy of wealth? Or is he angry because he likes having an aristocracy of wealth, goddammit, no replacement aristocracies need apply?

Posted by: Doctor Science on August 30, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

The bile and vitriol spewed here are the antithesis of tolerance and open mindedness.

Concern troll is concerned.

(Unless, of course, you want to put your money where your mouth is and cite three examples of the "bile and vitriol" that has your ruggedly individualist feelings hurt.)

Posted by: Gregory on August 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

It is not about Republicans or Democrats anymore. It is about the values of Liberty and Justice equally for all in this great country, It is about the people in Washington listening to the American people and striving to do what the American people want them to do to give them some sense of happiness that is not showing at all in this present atmosphere.There or two poles,happy or angry and the majority of America is at the angry pole and this has to be reversed. November will tell the tale if we start to move toward the happy pole or not. If so we win. If not we lose. Think about it.

Posted by: joecarrsr on August 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

That is, is he angry because he thinks the educationed-elite is trying to be an aristocracy, and he doesn't even see that we already have an aristocracy of wealth? Or is he angry because he likes having an aristocracy of wealth, goddammit, no replacement aristocracies need apply?

The existing aristocracy happens to sit on the left side of the aisle and legislates according to (and with the help of) the golden rule.

How else might one explain why so many limousine liberals, who are said to embrace tax hikes for the "wealthy" are so happy to take deductions on their returns and in some cases, appear to dodge taxes?
The most recent example
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was docking his family's new $7 million yacht in neighboring Rhode Island, allowing him to avoid paying roughly $500,000 in taxes to the cash-strapped Bay State.
Oldies but goodies
The Clintons took deductions on the donation of used underwear to charity. (They also registered for gifts upon the end of his term, but I digress)
Tim Geitner owed 34,000 in Social Security taxes, despite being given money by his employer for that purpose and signing a document swearing he understood it was his responsibility to do so 4 years in a row.
The Kennedy family has dodged estate tax laws for generations now with the help of an offshore trust.
Tom Daschle took deductions for contributions to organizations which did not qualify and "forgot" to include that a contributor furnished him w/ a car and driver.

Democrats also need not play by the rules when it comes to union help and global warming
Al Gore-we all know he has one of the biggest carbon footprints ever.
Nancy Pelosi-union grapepickers and service personnel need no apply at her vineyard and hotel.

The idea is very simple. The rules apply to everyone, the fewer rules, the less oversight, the less power of the overseer, the more freedom to the people.

Posted by: Kate on August 30, 2010 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kate, when you say:

The existing aristocracy happens to sit on the left side of the aisle and legislates according to (and with the help of) the golden rule.

do you mean that Murdoch, the Kochs, the Waltons, the deVoses, etc, *aren't* part of the aristocracy?

My point is that the aristocracy of wealth in the US is not limited to a single party. Indeed, there's a pretty strong assumption in lefty circles that *both* major political parties are owned by the plutocracy -- the large corporations and wealthy families who dictate the rules.

Are you saying that you don't think we have an aristocracy of wealth in the US? Or are you saying that it isn't a bad thing that we do?

Posted by: Doctor Science on August 30, 2010 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
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