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Tea Party and Right Wing Rage

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Many consider tea party as a neo-fascist political organization ("right wing rage").  For example in the discussion at Economist's View Vintage Krugman Stating the Obvious (although Second Best probably mixes neo-fascism with neoliberalism, both being a forms of corporatism, but one is a brutal dictatorship, while another relying of Inverted Totalitarism ):

Second Best said...

As the march down the road of neo-fascism was continued in its heyday by the Karl Rove brain of Dubya's dull mind, there were two forks ahead. One went to outright fascism which is blocked by the Constitution. The other went to neo-fascism which is the indirect takeover of the economy by private corporations and the super rich that manifests in several ways.

This secures neo-fascism based on economic exploitation through market power combined with government control rather than explicit fascism. It raises dramatically the cost of essential goods and services while at the same time constructing a parallel contradiction that they cannot possibly be affordable absent funding through unsustainable debt.

The only solution offered therefore is to save the military at the expense of health care and Social Security in the short run, then save the latter two by privatizing them as well in the long run.

The critical flaw is the claimed trade-off of lower total economic cost for less debt. This is the big lie of neo-fascism, setting up a highly inefficient economy designed to redistribute unearned income and wealth upwards at the same time it kills growth, then blaming the result on excess debt rather than excess cost.

Specifically, 'excess cost' is only recognized when it materializes as 'excess debt', otherwise it is ignored as the monster of excess cost it is in areas like health care and finance. Then in areas like Social Security where costs could not get any lower, an artificial cost monster is created to justify privatizing it as well in order to join the club of true cost monsters.

And none of this is necessarily driven by boom and bust cycles, albeit this particular bust has certainly opened the door wide for protecting the private cost monsters while starving the public ones as debt beasts of burden. It's still the long run goal as well strived for by the neo-fascists.

Bu the level of antimosity runs really high, not that different from Notional Socilaist Party in its heyday. For example in his column in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman (who generally loves tea party) complained that: 

"I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left," he wrote. "But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination."

"What Richard Hofstadter called "the paranoid style in American politics" but in reality is Modus operandi of neo-fascist parties. Kurt Andersen in New York Magazine addresses this issue in the following way:

The tea-party movement takes its name from the mob of angry people in Boston who, in 1773, committed a zany criminal stunt as a protest against taxes and the distant, out-of-touch government that imposed them. Two years later, the revolution was under way and—voilà!—democracy was born out of a wild moment of populist insurrection.

Except not, because in 1787 several dozen coolheaded members of the American Establishment had to meet and debate and horse-trade for four months to do the real work of creating an apparatus to make self-government practicable—that is, to write the Constitution. And what those thoughtful, educated, well-off, well-regarded gentlemen did was invent a democracy sufficiently undemocratic to function and endure. They wanted a government run by an American elite like themselves, as James Madison wrote, "whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." They wanted to make sure the mass of ordinary citizens, too easily "stimulated by some irregular passion … or misled by the artful misrepresentations" and thus prone to hysteria—like, say, the rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor—be kept in check. That’s why they created a Senate and a Supreme Court and didn’t allow voters to elect senators or presidents directly. By the people and for the people, definitely; of the people, not so much.

So now we have a country absolutely teeming with irregular passions and artful misrepresentations, whipped up to an unprecedented pitch and volume by the fundamentally new means of 24/7 cable and the hyperdemocratic web. And instead of a calm club of like-minded wise men (and women) in Washington compromising and legislating, we have a Republican Establishment almost entirely unwilling to defy or at least gracefully ignore its angriest, most intemperate and frenzied faction—the way Reagan did with his right wing in the eighties and the way Obama is doing with his unhappy left wing now. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and their compatriots are ideologues who default to uncivil, unbudging, sky-is-falling recalcitrance, as Keith Olbermann does on the left. Fine; in free-speech America, that’s the way we roll. But the tea-party citizens are under the misapprehension that democratic governing is supposed to be the same as democratic discourse, that elected officials are virtuous to the extent that they too default to unbudging, sky-is-falling recalcitrance and refusal. And the elected officials, as never before, are indulging that populist fantasy.

The framers worried about democratic government working in a country as large as this one, and it’s possible that we’ve finally reached the unmanageable tipping point they feared: Maybe our republic’s constitutional operating system simply can’t scale up to deal satisfactorily with a heterogeneous population of 310 million.

When the Constitution was written and the Senate created, there were around 4 million people in America, or about one senator for every 150,000 people. For Congress to be as representative as it was in 1789, we’d need to elect 2,000 senators and 5,000 House members. And so I wonder, as I watch Senate leaders irresponsibly playing to the noisiest, angriest parts of the peanut gallery, if the current, possibly suicidal spectacle of anti-government "populism" in Washington isn’t connected to our bloated people-to-Congresspeople ratios. As the institution grows ever more unrepresentative, more numerically elite, members of Congress may feel irresistible pressure to act like wild and crazy small-d democrats.

Read more: Kurt Andersen on Why American Democracy Has Gotten Too Democratic -- New York Magazine

I think it's fair to name the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Christian Right, etc. to be constituent parts of a potential neo-fascist movement in the United States. Their words and actions too often encourage attacks on people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks, and anyone they don't see as legitimate members of US society (Neo-Nazis:  'Tea Parties' Are the White Revolution We've Been Waiting For)

It is east to marginalize any protest movement by selectively focusing on its craziest fringes, but the "Tea Party" movement is all fringe and represents grievances of small merchants, individual proprietors and others who typically are most receptive to National Socialist ideology (especially white supremacists). In addition to the White Supremacists, the Tax Day Tea Parties include opportunistic elements involved in GOP leadership, Fox, and various corporate think tanks, who co-opted this nutty libertarian thing to make it a generalized protest against everything Obama.

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[Oct 20, 2013] 'Polarization'

"What would we call such a society? A banana republic"
October 19, 2013 | Economist's View
Comments on this post from Dan Little?:

Polarization: Suppose a country had come to the brink of financial catastrophe because the two parties in its legislature were unable to find compromises in the public interest. Suppose further that the discourse in that country had evolved towards a highly toxic and hateful stream of anathemas by one party against the other. And suppose that one party projects an unprecedented amount of vitriol and hatred towards the leader of the other party, the president of the country. How would we describe this state of affairs? And what hypotheses might we consider to explain how this state of affairs came to be?

First, description. This seems like a society on the brink of political breakdown. It is riven by hard hatreds, with almost no strands of civility and shared values to hold it together. One side portrays the other in extreme terms, with few voices that insist on the basic decency of the other party. (There is one maverick voice, perhaps, who breaks ranks with the extremists of his party, and who expresses a decent respect for his political foes. He is accused of being too soft -- perhaps a secret ally of the opposition.)

Here is how the point is put in a recent piece in the Washington Post:

Today there is a New Confederacy, an insurgent political force that has captured the Republican Party and is taking up where the Old Confederacy left off in its efforts to bring down the federal government. (link)
Consider this map of the distribution and density of slaveholding in the South that Abraham Lincoln found very useful in the run-up to the Civil War; link


Compare this to a map created by Richard Florida in the Atlantic link:


There is a pretty strong alignment between the two maps.

So where does the extremism come from? There is a fairly direct hypothesis that comes to mind: racism and racial resentment. We are facing a real inversion of the white-black power relation that this country has so often embraced. Perhaps this is just very hard for the president's opponents to accept. Perhaps it creates a curdling sense of resentment that is difficult to handle. This is certainly the impression created by the recent incident involving the waving of a confederate flag in front of the White House, an act not so different from a cross-burning in front of the home of a black family. And in fact, there is a pretty striking correlation between the heart of this anti-government activism and the distribution of slaveholding in the United States before the Civil War that is revealed in the two maps above.

Another possibility is that it's really and truly about ideology. The right really hates the president because they think he advocates an extreme left set of policies. The problem with this idea is that the President is in fact quite moderate and centrist. The health care reforms he spearheaded were themselves advocated by conservative think tanks only a few years earlier; the President's agenda has not given much attention to poverty; and the President has avoided serious efforts at redistribution through more progressive taxation. So in fact the President represents the center, not the left, on most economic policies.

So where do these trends seem to be taking us? I used the word "polarization" to describe the situation, but perhaps that is not quite accurate. The percentage of the electorate represented by the extremist faction is small -- nothing like a plurality, let alone majority, of the population. So the extremism in our politics is being driven by a fairly small segment of our society. Because of the extreme degree of gerrymandering that exists in many Congressional districts, though, these legislators are secure in their home districts. So we can't have a lot of hope in the idea that their own electorates will turn them out.

Maybe this society will cycle back to a more moderate set of voices and values. Maybe the public will express its displeasure with the extremist voices, and like good political entrepreneurs they will adapt. Maybe. But we don't seem to see the signs of thaw yet.

Michael Pettengill said in reply to Joe Smith...

Obama has driven Republicans further to the right than ever by failing to occupy the ideological space that black radicals are supposed to occupy, whether the carpetbagger or the Black Panther Self Defense militia carrying hunting rifles for protection or the MLK opposing war and calling for anti-poverty programs that destroy the economy of the South based on sharecropping.

Instead, Obama is Reagan all over again. Conservatives weren't happy about how Reagan turned out, but for Obama being Reagan requires the Republicans be as far to the right of Reagan and Obama as conservatives have created the myth of the leftist liberal Democrats again the myth of Reagan from two decades of Soviet style rewriting of history.

I just love to point to Reagan's words on signing a 125% tax hike to fund stimulus job creation Jan 6, 1983:

Three months later, he hiked taxes to enshrine forever FDR's Social Security, Apr 20:

Can you imagine the attacks from Republicans if Obama said the following? Which Republican alive today, even out of the political game, would say this? Would Alan Greenspan admit he was involved in "saving" Social Security?

"This bill demonstrates for all time our nation's ironclad commitment to social security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.

And this bill assures us of one more thing that is equally important. It's a clear and dramatic demonstration that our system can still work when men and women of good will join together to make it work.

Just a few months ago, there was legitimate alarm that social security would soon run out of money. On both sides of the political aisle, there were dark suspicions that opponents from the other party were more interested in playing politics than in solving the problem. But in the eleventh hour, a distinguished bipartisan commission appointed by House Speaker O'Neill, by Senate Majority Leader Baker, and by me began, to find a solution that could be enacted into law.

Political leaders of both parties set aside their passions and joined in that search. The result of these labors in the Commission and the Congress are now before us, ready to be signed into law, a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.

Today, all of us can look each other square in the eye and say, ``We kept our promises.'' We promised that we would protect the financial integrity of social security. We have. We promised that we would protect beneficiaries against any loss in current benefits. We have. And we promised to attend to the needs of those still working, not only those Americans nearing retirement but young people just entering the labor force. And we've done that, too.

None of us here today would pretend that this bill is perfect. Each of us had to compromise one way or another. But the essence of bipartisanship is to give up a little in order to get a lot. And, my fellow Americans, I think we've gotten a very great deal.

A tumultuous debate about social security has raged for more than two decades in this country; but there has been one point that has won universal agreement: The social security system must be preserved. And rescuing the system has meant reexamining its original intent, purposes, and practical limits.

The amendments embodied in this legislation recognize that social security cannot do as much for us as we might have hoped when the trust funds were overflowing. Time and again, benefits were increased far beyond the taxes and wages that were supposed to support them. In this compromise we have struck the best possible balance between the taxes we pay and the benefits paid back. Any more in taxes would be an unfair burden on working Americans and could seriously weaken our economy. Any less would threaten the commitment already made to this generation of retirees and to their children.

We're entering an age when average Americans will live longer and live more productive lives. And these amendments adjust to that progress. The changes in this legislation will allow social security to age as gracefully as all of us hope to do ourselves, without becoming an overwhelming burden on generations still to come.

So, today we see an issue that once divided and frightened so many people now uniting us. Our elderly need no longer fear that the checks they depend on will be stopped or reduced. These amendments protect them. Americans of middle age need no longer worry whether their career-long investment will pay off. These amendments guarantee it. And younger people can feel confident that social security will still be around when they need it to cushion their retirement.

These amendments reaffirm the commitment of our government to the performance and stability of social security. It was nearly 50 years ago when, under the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American people reached a great turning point, setting up the social security system. F. D. R. spoke then of an era of startling industrial changes that tended more and more to make life insecure. It was his belief that the system can furnish only a base upon which each one of our citizens may build his individual security through his own individual efforts. Today we reaffirm Franklin Roosevelt's commitment that social security must always provide a secure and stable base so that older Americans may live in dignity.

And now before I sign this legislation, may I pause for a moment and recognize just a few of the people here who've done so much to make this moment possible. There are so many deserving people here today -- leaders of the Congress, all members of the Ways and Means and Finance Committees, and members of the Commission, up in front here, but it would be impossible to recognize them all. But, first, can I ask Alan Greenspan and members of the Commission -- I was going to say to stand -- [laughter] -- but there are others that are also standing here -- but the other members of the Commission to stand so that we can recognize them. Thank you. And their Chairman, Alan Greenspan.

And, now, as a special treat, I would like to ask two of our leaders from Congress -- first to step forward for a few words, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Tip O'Neill."

Lee A. Arnold said...

This broaches a huge discussion that we are going to be having for the next several months. I want to note a couple of baby steps:

A) Remember that this is how the Republican Party was born: on the brink of a polarized political-economic catastrophe. At that time, the question was whether new states admitted into the Union should be slave or free. The Democrats were almost entirely pro-slavery. Slave states meant more job opportunities for free white labor. The Whigs were divided on the issue, and they broke up. The new Republicans wanted free states, and Lincoln was the first new Repub president. We all know what happened next.

B) This time, it is NOT racist (though it certainly encourages racists).

C) All the parts of this new disaster were there already, in the GOP's astonishingly hateful reaction to Clinton. Most people now seem to forget the insane, toxic atmosphere that the Repubs created at that time.

D) It is a two- or three-part problem, a double- or triple-bind, that is going on. Be patient and try to wrap your mind around how this is working synergetically, because it is a doozy:

(1) The Repubs preach Thatcher-Reagan neoliberalism (e.g. "gov't is always inefficient," "tax cuts pay for themselves and cause growth," "gov't debt is dangerous," etc.) This is their religious mantra. Of course this stuff is nonsense (though many if not most Dems blabber it, too -- encouraged by the large number of economists who think Milton Friedman is a god -- but the Dems are more willing to entertain the thoughts of either gov't or market solutions, on an empirical basis.) However, the Repubs have no other rhetorical strategies, indeed they may not be able to exist as a political party without these simple tropes.

(2) Not all Repubs may believe it absolutely, but since Reagan they have been preaching it to their most reliable voters, who are now mostly called the Teas, and who take it as true religion. Of course they have become a faction with power in the House, and so this is causing a split in the party, as Reaganomics runs into reality, (because tax cuts haven't been working, and because a bigger welfare state is unavoidable,) and the moderate Repub leaders are getting caught between the Teas, and governing responsibly.

(3) On top of this is something newly rediscovered in studies of climate change denialism (search-phrase "climate change communication"): There appears to be a social-group version of "cognitive bias" as developed by Kahneman & Tversky. This social version is similarly a growing area of empirical study. The key search-phrases are "motivated social cognition" and "cultural cognition". It is absolutely necessary to become a little familiar with this empirical literature. It is a real thing, and as a scientific result it is fascinating, and then frightening to consider: The basic idea of it is that people who feel their values are under attack will revert to their own insider-group beliefs, to fight the resulting systemic uncertainty and existential fear. Further, as people learn more, they do not correct themselves with the better knowledge: instead, they use the new knowledge to support their old beliefs. We see it in economists themselves, who recommend solutions for the economic crisis based on prior beliefs, then use their "science" to argue for their point of view. Of course both leftwing and rightwing are capable of falling prey to it, and now it has engulfed the GOP.

Put it together synergetically: the Repubs are pushing themselves further into something like a "social cognitive bias" to uphold inaccurate economic beliefs, while they cause two splits: one is within their own party, and another is between their party and scientific reality.

The fact that this scientific reality includes climate change may make this a global catastrophe.

Now, this doesn't doesn't mean that the Repubs won't do well in the next election, although they may appear to have temporarily botched it for themselves. Current demographics and gerrymandiering looks very good for them. Watch where the GOP takes it next: Into a full-court press to prevent Obamacare sign-ups. This is already happening in different ways at the state level, and the hacker websites are now predicting security breaches of the alternative national website. One of the two outcomes, i.e. whether Obamacare is publicly considered to be a qualified success, or an unmitigated failure, may decide control of both House and Senate.

Lee A. Arnold said in reply to Peter K....

Well, Charlie Cook said that 14 more House seats are now in play for the election, due to the shutdown debacle, and this makes it possible for the Dems to win the House.

But it's still a year away, and voters don't have much memory beyond 3 months.

Demographics favors the Repubs this midterm, because younger voters tend not to vote in midterms, which also helped in 2010. Older voters don't realize that the Repubs don't intend to deliver upon the promises of smaller gov't, because the next spending cuts to support tax cuts for the rich would have to be spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare, or Defense.

Alex Blaze said...

I don't really see the correlation between the two maps. Note:

-The Black Belt's districts didn't sign the letter
-Virginia, which had a huge number of slaves, didn't have a single district sign the letter
-Along the Mississippi River, there are quite a few districts that didn't sign the letter
-Even the coastal areas of SC were less likely to sign the letter
-The Appalachian mid-South was more likely to sign the letter, but had a lower density of slaves

Other than that the South, generally, had more slaves, and the South, generally, is more likely to oppose the ACA, I really don't see the correlation. Getting down to the district level actually makes it apparent that the correlation isn't all the simple, probably because many of the descendents of those slaves voted for Obama and support the ACA.

What Little's post sounds like is a typical 2004 liberal rant about how every position on the right comes down to racism. Want to privatize SS? Must be because black people receive SS benefits. Picking fights with teachers' unions? schools? Because lots of teachers are black. The GOP wants more security at airports? Most likely to hassle racial minorities. Etc.

I'm not saying racism doesn't exist or that it doesn't motivate political thinking. It's just that there's a type of white liberal who doesn't really know how to argue in favor of these programs and against bad ideas so they instead make everything about racism because it's easier than actually knowing anything.

There are many possibilities why the right has gotten so extreme, and racism is high among them. There's also their general hatred of progressivism and downward redistribution (I don't remember the GOP welcoming Clinton's health care reform with open arms). There's political tribalism (i.e., anything Dems want is bad because they have to lose this game).

And the most obvious: income inequality. The rich are richer now than several decades ago, they control lots of media, enough to create a cocoon for their shock troops, and these folks live in a bubble where they actually believe that Obama is a leftist enacting leftist policy. I don't doubt the sincerity of many on the right; I just think they're wrong.

Little's choices are limited: 1) wrong because racism, and 2) right. Is it possible that they're just wrong and that that wrongness isn't 100% a result of racism? Because

Matt Young said in reply to Matt Young...

But I cheat, not only looking at the data, but comparing it with the population mean center and the distribution of stimulus, as I remember it.

It looks like a full 65% of the Tea Party folks are east of the population center,(Texas Couny, Missouri), and they mostly surround DC, and they are mostly the same distribution that got stimulus, and they are likely small or medium states.

We are seeing the 30 Little Hoover states, and they just had a mini civil war with the Texas Republicans. Issue? The Little Hoovers thrive on discretionary spending, it is their multiplier greater than one. The main beak with Obamacare was crowding out discretionary spending.

The deal we got was simple, if you want peace, then the US Senate of Little Hoovers is now in charge.

Matt Young said in reply to Matt Young...

I even counted them up. I have about 29 from the north and 33 from the south, and a few from old territories and middle states. So, clearly the maps are not related. No one on this blog will notice that fact, however. They will pick the key semantics and spin doonesbury fables for another 100 posts. Some stranger will come along and read my comment, and think we are delusional. Only on Thoma's blog do we get such humor.

EMichael said in reply to Matt Young...

How many do you see north of the Mason Dixon Line that signed the letter.? I have four north of DC and west to Ohio.

And somehow you are shocked that the area around DC had a lot that signed the letter. Did you know Virginia was in the Confederacy?

Maybe you should hit the link cause your eyes ain't working too well:

"Half are in the South, and a quarter are in the Midwest. Not a single one is in the Northeast or the along the Pacific coast. All voted for Romney over Obama. As Lizza points out, using data from Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, the average district in this "suicide caucus" was three-quarters white, compared to 63 percent white in the average House district."

I won't even bother to ask you to prove your "where the stimulus went inanity" came.

You make almost no sense every time you speak.

Matt Young said in reply to EMichael...

The stimulus dots came from Jared. He posted how distributed the stimulus projects. Of course I, being from the colony, immedtaitely pulled up the population distribution. The dots yet again matched. I noted this at the time. The feeling among progressives is evidently to ignore the effects of mal democracy in the senate. The facts are facts; the tea party and the 30 little hoovers are the same faction. They did not derived from some ignoramous doonesbury fairy tale for simple minded progressives.

EMichael said in reply to Matt Young...

I do not know who Jared is, and I really do not care to know.

Your rants about the Senate, as valid as they are, have absolutely no meaning under the Constitution and will never be changed in our lifetimes, and probably never in the history of the US. They are a total waste of time in terms of commenting on anything.

EMichael said in reply to Matt Young...

And while you state " I read the data" it is clear you did not in other ways, focusing on Lincoln's map.

" To underscore how different the Tea Party base is, my colleague Charlotta Mellander at the Martin Prosperity Institute ran a simple correlation analysis looking at the share of a state's congressional delegation that had signed the August letter to Boehner (and thereby made it into Lizza's "suicide caucus") and key economic and demographic characteristics of the state. As usual, we point out that this is only a preliminary analysis, and that correlation does not equal causation. But a number of interesting patterns appear, in light of both the maps in this post and what others have written about these diehard anti-Obamacare Republicans in the past few weeks.

First off, Mellander found states with higher shares of suicide caucus districts to be less advantaged, less affluent, and less educated. The percentage of suicide caucus districts was negatively correlated with wages (-.30), incomes (-.33) and college graduates (-.36). States with higher shares of suicide-caucus districts were also less diverse – both in terms of immigrant and gay and lesbian shares of the populations (with correlations of -.33 and -.32 respectively). States with more suicide caucus district are also markedly less urban. The correlation between the share of members in the suicide caucus and levels of urbanization was significantly negative (-.5). Mellander also found a positive correlation between the share of uninsured residents and proportion of suicide cause districts, a fact that National Journal's Ron Brownstein has noted.

Next, compare Lizza's map to the ones that Brownstein put together before last fall's election. These maps (below) chart the creative class vote (including scientists and technologists, business and management professionals, and arts, design, entertainment and media workers) by county in the 2008 Obama-McCain contest. (Keep in mind these maps use older data, gathered before the Tea Party even became a major force in American politics and they chart counties, not congressional districts).

Still, the basic pattern is clear. Notice how much of eastern Tennessee – a block of Tea Party dark red on Lizza's map – shows up in the bottom third of counties for creative class membership. Tea Party areas like those in southern Missouri and northern Indiana also show up in pockets of red on the bottom map of low creative-class density. And some of the darker red regions that appear on the first map below, representing the nearly 43 percent of high creative-class counties that went for McCain, tend not to overlap with the 79 members of Lizza's "suicide caucus" – through Nebraska and the Dakotas especially......

Now compare Lizza's map to the next map (below), which shows the share of Obama and Romney votes by metro area. The deep red metros are largely in oil and gas-dependent metros of Texas, though places like Salt Lake City unsurprisingly make the list as well. Apart from these larger Energy Belt metros, comparing this map to Lizza's shows how the Tea Party caucus represents the less urban, less dense places – the metros (and in general places that don't even meet the definition of a metro) that are well below the densities required for innovation and real economic growth."

EMichael said in reply to Alex Blaze...

Ever read Kevin Phillips on the topic?

Welfare queens driving cadillacs ring a bell?

States rights?

Been to any Tea Party events?

You are right though, it is certainly not just the South(but they got an awful lot more control there) and all Republicans are not racist.

But all racists are Republicans.

ken melvin said...

We're talking about a group of people who hated Lincoln for 100 yrs and still chant 'the south will rise again'. These are the original 'my way or the highway' lot. Why? Whence these beliefs, behavior? And, how are they passed along from generation to generation? Was the suspension of reason part and parcel rationalizing slavery. Was it a wired part of their Scot/Irish roots?

The west? Much of the now west was confederate during the Civil War and, later, states like Arizona saw many southerners resettle within their pre-statehood boundaries. Here too, the attitude persists.

Over the years, my friendships with various members of the Sioux tribe have led me to wonder if traditions aren't often passed along at grandmother's knee. Is something similar going on with the cracker/t-party types of today? If the psyche is formed by 5 yrs old, what process is being employed to transfer this value set? Is it merely emulation common to children. Do they see and hear what it is that they are supposed to believe and come
to believe? Is there a conscious effort on the part of southern parents to instill these 'values' in their offspring?

Religion? How much a role does fundamental religion and its associated disdain for science and religion play a role?

anne said...

October 18, 2013

Dirty Antebellum Secrets in Ivory Towers

In "Ebony and Ivy," an M.I.T. historian looks at the role of slavery in the growth of America's earliest universities.

Perplexed said...

The missing piece to this "puzzle" has a name & a long history, its called Anarchism, and it appears as a "strange, unfamiliar ideology" to those who are unfamiliar with this history (as in world history as opposed to "American History").

-"freedom to pursue life's goals without state interference"

This is the foundation of the "Anarchists Movement." We have renamed it here on the island to hide the origins. The Americanized version is called "Libertarianism" but those who actually study history might well recognize it and know that Anarchism and Democracy cannot coexist; its a paradox, a choice must be made. Most Americans are virtually clueless about the differences and somehow believe its possible to govern & not govern simultaneously. It would indeed be a first if it ever worked.

The "freedom" Anarchists speak of is freedom from you, the majority, governing them, "the free." Freedom is just a catch-all so everyone can have a conversation using their own definitions while no-one really knows what's really being said by the other participants. We can all agree on "loving freedom" without ever realizing what's actually be said, proposed, and accomplished.

Since so few Americans have ever learned the history, they tend to "blur" together very different definitions (and meanings) of anarchism and anarchists, and fail to discern how these differing definitions impede the understanding of what the Anarchists were, and are, really about (see here, the distinctions are highly relevant The Anarchists are really not about "anarchy" in the sense of 1b ("b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority"), or 2b ("b : absence of order : disorder ( society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government). These are the distinctions that make Anarchism incompatible with democracy. Democracy is a form of rule, a form of government. Anarchists deny that its helpful, or necessary, to have a "governing body." They believe that any attempts to govern are destructive to society. In their "utopian society" of "free individuals," there would be no need for a small "minority" of people to govern (any of this sounding familiar Randians?) To Anarchists (or Libertarians or whatever other label you choose), "liberty" means "liberty from "authority," from "being governed," from you, the majority, "governing," or "restricting in any way" their "freedoms." So democracy (rule by the majority) is entirely incompatible with Anarchy ("denial of any authority or established order"), and its also incompatible with "we are all in this together" and that some "authority" should intervene to prevent unjust results. In an Anarchistic utopia, unjust results don't happen, and "free individuals" will mobilize and come to the aid of victims of disease or disasters without any "authority" intervening to see that it gets done. This is what gets mixed into the "Randian cool-aid."

Bakunin laid it all out before Ayn Rand was even born; its not even very long ago, but Americans are so insular they refuse to even read it so they can maintain their illusion and continue to believe that it was "invented" here, see: And read this for a quick summary of some of the "flavors" of Russian Anarchism (from the Black Banner (Chernoye Znamya) group to the non-violent, non-resistant Tolstoyism:

While Ayn Rand might provide some entertaining fiction, if you really want to understand the Paul Ryan's, Eric Cantor's, Ron & Rand Paul's, and Mitch McConnell's of the world, you need to understand Bakunin, Tolstoy, Znamya, Kropotkin, Proudhon, Malatesta and Reclus Do you really think Greenspan's "shock" when he discovered that financial markets really do need to be regulated was a result of his extensive training in economics? And if you want to understand either McConnell's legislative strategy or Paul Ryan's budget calculations, you need to understand Machiavelli as well.

Under the ruse of the "Randian" philosophy, Anarchism in the U.S. has already had much greater political success and impact than it ever did in Russia. "Shrinking government," "drowning the government," and "starving the beast" are all Anarchist objectives. Greenspan was the chairman of the FED, McConnell, Ryan, Cantor, and both Pauls are elected members of Congress, Mitt Romney came dangerously close to being elected President. Isn't it about time we at least brought this out into the open so Americans can decide if what they really want is Anarchism? Would Americans really be voting for "Tea Party Conservatives" if they understood that they were voting for Anarchism INSTEAD of Democracy? Maybe it should be a conscious choice instead of a deception? Our ability to govern democratically has been brought to a practical standstill; is it just a coincidence that this is the primary objective of Anarchists? If you believe that, you don't understand what you're up against.

Its actually more than a bit amazing just how a ruse like this can go on for so long when there is so much written about it and published (already translated into the English language).

Ultimately its Loser liberalism at its finest. Everyone runs and hides when the Anarchists shout "socialist" even though the definition doesn't fit, but they can't even identify an Anarchist when they're standing right in front of them shouting "socialist" whenever they try to govern democratically.

DrDick said in reply to John Cummings...

Yeah, anarchism and libertarianism are where the left wing and right wing meet in the lunatic fringe. While there are a number of similarities there are also equally important differences.

Roger Gathman said in reply to Perplexed...

The anarchists were ever into cooperatives. I don't see this as being a very big issue for tea party types, who don't, for instance, want to pull down corporations. Anarchists of course took corporations and absentee ownership as the hallmark of baleful statelike power, power guaranteed by the state.

On the other hand, I do look at the dots and think savings and loans, the most enduring anarchist-like institution we have. And I think that many of those people who hate the government (and I, too, hate it) are the descendents of people who did understand cooperatives and did build savings and loans. There's a muddy echo of that in the anti-Wall street bailout theme that sometimes crops up among them.

Fred. C. Dobbs said...

This is more of an Existential Issue for Republicans than for the USA, I think/hope.

They will not Go Gentle Into that Good Night. What'd you expect?

Peter K. said in reply to Fred. C. Dobbs...

Yes after they lose in 2014 and 2016, the careerists will think "wtf?" and the nervous breakdown will begin in earnest.

Joe Smith said...

" ... in the GOP's astonishingly hateful reaction to Clinton. Most people now seem to forget the insane, toxic atmosphere ..."

And a Republican judiciary became complicit in attempts to cripple the Clinton presidency.

EMichael said in reply to Joe Smith...

Don't forget, Democrats give things to those people.

You don't have to be black to be hated and despised, it just makes it easier.

cj150 said...

There is not polarization nor shared fault, it comes down to a group of fanatical extremists who are not able to win in the free democratic play and want to impose their "vision of the world" by force and the blackmail.

Main Street Muse said in reply to EMichael...

Let's see if Typepad lets these words fly. Here's a quote from the NY Times story:

"The words [Lee Atwater] uses are not ones I would normally use in this blog, or anywhere in the opinion pages of the Times, but the quotes require them. [what follows are transcripts from the Lee Atwater interview - i.e. Lee Atwater's words as transcribed by the NYTimes]:

'You start in 1954 by saying 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'Nigger.' That hurts you. It backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states rights and all that stuff and you get so abstract. Now you talk about cutting taxes and these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that's part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. Obviously sitting around saying we want to cut taxes and we want this, is a lot more abstract than even the busing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger nigger. So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.'"

Thus spoke Lee Atwater in 1981 when Reagan was rising...

Tom in MN said...

I can't help but think that had Romney run in 2008, he could have run on his MA health care plan and had he won, implemented it without these attacks from the right. In addition, there would have been fiscal stimulus with no regard for the debt to get any GOP president reelected in 2012.

I still don't like calling it Obamacare based on the posters of him as a witch doctor on which it first appeared.

Concluding it's racially motivated sadly seems to be the only explanation that fits.

bakho said...

President Clinton was treated the same way, or perhaps worse than Obama. Racism does not explain it that well. A sense of entitlement does and a fear that changing demographics will change culture for the worse.

The TeaParty has plenty of racists, but they are a coalition including libertarians and others who want less bureaucracy and special interest entitlements. They feel entitled to the government benefits that THEY receive but dismiss benefits that OTHERS receive as unearned. Many of these people live in low tax no service areas. They pay taxes, on property and income, but they don't get benefits. This is the product of years of the GOP cutting taxes for the wealthy, shifting the tax burden to the Middle Class and slashing benefits. The Malefactors of Great Wealth have been steadily eroding benefits to the point where too few get them to win support (in many areas).

The program of cutting government benefits and shifting tax burden from the wealthy to the Middle Class has been the main program of the GOP since the 1960s. It is finally producing the anti-government, anti-tax revolt the Malefactors have desired. The only problem is that the Malefactors are dependent on the Government for much of their wealth.

DrDick said in reply to bakho...

I agree that it is not just about racism, but race has a lot to do with it. There is a reason why the the GOP has been running on the Southern Strategy since Nixon. There is also a reason for the current geography of party affiliation. Clinton was also seen as strongly aligned with African Americans (some people called him America's "first black President").

Dan Kervick said...

Well, as long as we are indulging invidious tropes, let's trot out the old "stab in the back" one, shall we?

These old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains are nothing new, but they are intensified by economic stresses. Forty years of neoliberal economics - a creed that, sadly, has been warmly embraced by Democratic policy elites and their Wall Street backers - has helped to hollow out the US middle class, create obscene Gilded Age inequality, commercialize all human relationships, promote financialization and money-class exploitation of honest work, divided people along cultural and class lines, and given us a new philistine culture that is nasty, insecure, corrupt, shallow and cruel.

Even now, neoliberals continue to plow forward post-2008 as though nothing has happened, proposing little as a positive agenda beyond artificial asset value inflation via financial sector monetary injections and supply side giveaways to corporate rent-seekers, while working with billionaires like Pete Peterson to extend plutocratic stagnation. They are able to succeed in holding onto the center because they are so obsequiously obliging to all of the stakeholders in the existing rot. No wonder millions and millions of America feel like a hopeful future is slipping away from them.

kievite said in reply to Dan Kervick...


==== quote ===
These old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains are nothing new, but they are intensified by economic stresses. Forty years of neoliberal economics - a creed that, sadly, has been warmly embraced by Democratic policy elites and their Wall Street backers - has helped to hollow out the US middle class, create obscene Gilded Age inequality, commercialize all human relationships, promote financialization and money-class exploitation of honest work, divided people along cultural and class lines, and given us a new philistine culture that is nasty, insecure, corrupt, shallow and cruel.
=== end of quote ===
That's a real insight. I also think that economic stress is the major driver of Tea Party. The country experiences the same intensification of "old ethnic, regional and paranoid strains" that happened in Weimar Germany.

It will be interesting to see how early adopters of national-socialist ideas (predominantly small business owners) correlate with Tea Party membership (also predominantly small business owners). Although neoliberalism corrupted Tea Party program the similarity of demands is difficult to ignore:

1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
3. A strong military is essential.
4. Special interests must be eliminated.
5. Gun ownership is sacred.
6. Government must be downsized.
7. The national budget must be balanced.
8. Deficit spending must end.
9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
14. English as our core language is required.
15. Traditional family values are encouraged.

Compare with :

==== quote ====

16.We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

and from Austrian program:

. . the German National Socialist Workers' Party is not a party exclusively for labourers; it stands for the interests of every decent and honest enterprise. It is a liberal (freiheitlich) and strictly folkic (volkisch) party fighting against all reactionary efforts, clerical, feudal, and capitalistic privileges; but, before all, against the increasing influence of the Jewish commercial mentality which encroaches on public life. . . .

== end of quote ===

I think that there is an anti Wall Street component in the program of Tea Party too.

Juan H. said...

'' How would we describe this state of affairs? And what hypotheses might we consider to explain how this state of affairs came to be?'

Without having read comments [but intend to] --

A quasi civil war based on rise - and tensions - between//within interest groups [vertical] rather than classes [horizontal] plus poorly organized Leftist organizations which are rarely arm and arm with rank and file workers much less militarizing. The variety and number of interest groups may be the primary deterrent to a pre-revolutionary condition even as political legitimacy has been deteriorating.

Changer in form of organization from national and international to multinational to trans-national, which has also been a change in form of trade and employment - and, we can day, expansion of an urban peasantry.

So we hear about growth, naturally when the contrary has been the case for many decades -

''Post World War II economic history can be thought of as evolving within two
distinct political-economic regimes. The high growth Golden Age was based on socially or politically 'embedded' domestic markets, government responsibility for aggregate demand growth, and state control over cross-border economic activity. It lasted until the early 1970s, to be replaced, after a decade of turbulence, by the Neoliberal Regime, built on deregulation, liberalization, privatization, and ever-tighter global integration...

Unfortunately, Neoliberalism's promised benefits have yet to materialize, at least not for the majority of the world's people. Global income growth has slowed, productivity growth has deteriorated, real wage growth has declined, inequality has risen in most countries, the less developed nations outside East Asia have fallen even further behind the advanced, and average unemployment is higher.

Real global GDP growth averaged 4.9% a year in the Golden Age years from 1950 through 1973, but dropped to 3.4% annually in the unstable period between 1974 and 1979.

Dissatisfied with the instability, inflation, low profits and falling financial asset prices of the 1970s, advanced country elites pushed hard for a switch to a more business friendly political-economic system; global Neoliberalism was the result.

World GDP growth averaged 3.3% a year in the early Neoliberal period of the 1980s, then slowed dramatically to 2.3% from 1990-99 as Neoliberalism strengthened, making the 1990s by far the slowest growth decade of the post war era.2''

Structural Contradictions of the Global Neoliberal Regime
James Crotty

kievite said in reply to Juan H....


=== quote ===
Unfortunately, Neoliberalism's promised benefits have yet to materialize, at least not for the majority of the world's people. Global income growth has slowed, productivity growth has deteriorated, real wage growth has declined, inequality has risen in most countries, the less developed nations outside East Asia have fallen even further behind the advanced, and average unemployment is higher.
=== end of quote ==

That the real economic base of the rise of Tea Party in the USA. Predominantly white, the USA middle class is falling behind, and, especially in lower, less educated, middle class, you can almost physically feel the huge level of rage. And readiness to support an extremist agenda. That what drives the Tea Party.

[May 20, 2013] Vintage Krugman Stating the Obvious

Economist's View



In 2003 the T-Party (T for Troglodyte) was just an inkling in the eye of the Plutocrat Class. I.e., something "nice to have".

Well, by means of persistent manipulation of our somewhat crude democratic process, they have managed to accomplish just that objective. They figure that control of the HofR by means of T-Party cohorts is "a nice thing to have". And since it maintains the status-quo, it is also a "nice thing to keep".

One might assimilate this occurrence with the rise of Plutocrat Arrogance or Ignorance, take your pick. Because the phenomenon is beyond the confines of cogent opinion. It defies all sense of appropriateness or logic or even common sense.

That in a time of insufficient Demand that constrains job-creation, we should want to restrain government spending. It is countercurrent to most accepted economic thinking.

And yet the notion of budget-austerity prevails in much of the political leadership in both the US and Europe. Or prevailed in Europe, because some massive public demonstrations have repeatedly shown the impatience and disgust of political constituencies in major European countries. Demonstrations of a force unlike that seen in the US since the Vietnam War controversy decades ago.

Meaning what? Meaning the American public is still obvious either ignorant of the facts or still divided about what avenue to pursue. On the one hand, in the last election it voted a Left-of-Center PotUS back into the White House, but kept the Right-of-Center Replicants in charge of the HofR.


Americans are used to splitting the votes between two of the three branches of government. But seem to be oblivious to the suffering that this protracted "recession" has caused on many fellow citizens.

Because, obviously, if most voters felt the hurt that unemployment poverty entailed and a very large part of the population (perhaps as much as 15%), surely they would have not voted for continued government budget-austerity.

Is that not so? Or, were they inconsiderately oblivious to the fact?

Go figure ...


The teapublicans have taken the "dumb-bell" approach, at one end they emphasize socially conservative values to poor rural americans, who-- thanks to our system and the electoral college -- get two senators and about 1.2 votes in every election, and at the other end, they support Wall Street greed. Poor rural folks would lynch NY bankers for the nefarious things that they do. They survive by keeping one group away from the other, and in the middle is the ta-dah, middle class, which is getting hammered.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Lafayette...

The 'modern' Tea Party traces its birth to the inauguration of President Obama, further inspired by the latter-day bailouts of the Bush Jr administration. For some reason, though, they just don't like Obama. Go figure.

Winslow R. said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

I suspect their start has more to do with the dismantling of the big 3's dealer networks.

Dealer network reduction was the first really big hit to the top 15% that got them mobilized. Too cheap to fund their own movement, their message was co-opted. Think of it as the air-traffic controller's strike by Reagan against labor followed by 30 years of decline in the power of labor.

In this case, a Democratic President struck at the 15%, and continues to do so without helping labor. Yet the 1% flourish under his reign.

EMichael said in reply to Winslow R....

A couple thousand auto dealer had this impact? Financially struggling(for the most part) dealerships? When the Big 3 had spent a couple of decades reducing their dealer base?

I find that impossible to believe.

Occam's Razor.

A black man in the WH made it incredibly easy for the Kochs of the world to whip up the far right wing.

EMichael said in reply to Lafayette...

Comic Tea Party relief

ilsm said...

Tax cuts in the face of fighting a small war with big war platinum plated weapons.

While they cut the take from the economy they took more than 5% of the economy for phoney wars, put on the national family credit cards (aka overseas contingency operations' funds), while buying super weapons when the enemy is a nationless terrist, or the sovereign bankers in Shanghai.

anne said in reply to ilsm...

Tax cuts in the face of fighting a small war with big war platinum plated weapons.

[ Nice passage, though wars are always fought with platinum plated weapons, but the wars in Irag and Afghanistan were the only wars America ever fought while lowering taxes as money was being borrowed to fight the wars. Joseph Stiglitz has pointed this out a number of times but been generaly ignored on the matter. ]

[Mar 04, 2013] Is The Republican Party The Beginning of a New Confederacy By Harvey Gold

April 5, 2012

As a native of a historically significant Civil War city in the southern United States, as well as an economist, I have often had the feeling that by electing its first black President, the normal U.S. partisan politics were going to take on a completely new and intensified atmosphere. Not to make a direct comparison, but the secession of the southern states that resulted in America's Civil War was immediately preceded by the election of Abraham Lincoln. I have had the uneasy feeling that the Republican Party, and the Tea Party which was absorbed by it so quickly and seamlessly after President Obama's election, would be resurrecting not only sociological remembrances of my childhood but the economic remembrances as well.

... ... ...

I have inexorably become overwhelmed by the partisan nastiness which has become the daily staple of cable and broadcast news, and I keep coming back to a nagging question.

Just what the hell is the function supposed to be of the United States of America, and by extension, its government?

... ... ...

The most common answer I got to my self-imposed question above, regardless of area code, whether they were a university graduate, an out-of-work blue collar worker, or a high school teacher, was this: To help me get rich of course(or some variation thereof).

Out of 2500 responses, this response was the RANDOM answer (not multiple choice) of 60% of those who chose to answer the one question that I asked. That is an astounding percentage given a lack of choices from which to choose. Not to raise a family, not to obtain a more comfortable life for their loved ones, not to get a world-class education. To get rich….OF COURSE. OF COURSE!

Although it didn't particularly surprise me as I was slogging through the daily grind of making all those calls, it was a bit shocking to me as that one column of tick marks continued to grow. I suppose for most people born after the Viet Nam War era, the world has been shaped by Ronald Reagan's redefining of government's relationship with the private sector's interests. His was a vision of lower taxes, less regulation, and maximum economic latitude for those at the top, or the now (in)famous "trickle-down, supply-side"economics. In Reagan's (or his advisers') view, the pursuit of wealth is the only thing worth pursuing in America; everything else is just fine, if its foundation stemmed from that single meme.

Out of 2500 responses, this response was the RANDOM answer (not multiple choice) of 60% of those who chose to answer the one question that I asked. That is an astounding percentage given a lack of choices from which to choose. Not to raise a family, not to obtain a more comfortable life for their loved ones, not to get a world-class education. To get rich….OF COURSE. OF COURSE!

Although it didn't particularly surprise me as I was slogging through the daily grind of making all those calls, it was a bit shocking to me as that one column of tick marks continued to grow. I suppose for most people born after the Viet Nam War era, the world has been shaped by Ronald Reagan's redefining of government's relationship with the private sector's interests. His was a vision of lower taxes, less regulation, and maximum economic latitude for those at the top, or the now (in)famous "trickle-down, supply-side"economics. In Reagan's (or his advisers') view, the pursuit of wealth is the only thing worth pursuing in America; everything else is just fine, if its foundation stemmed from that single meme.

... ... ...

I think it's worth remembering that the failure of the Articles of Confederation, whose principles (weak government, unfettered capitalism, inability to collect taxes, the lack of ability to conduct foreign affairs, among others),were constructed while still at war with Britain. The Founding Fathers were divided between those seeking a powerful, centralized national government, and those seeking a loosely structured one. Jealously guarding their new independence, members of the Continental Congress arrived at a compromise solution dividing sovereignty between the states and the central government, with a unicameral legislature that protected the liberty of the individual states.

However, while calling on Congress to regulate military and monetary affairs, for example, the Articles of Confederation provided no mechanism with which to compel the States to comply with requests for either troops or revenue. At times, this left the military without adequate funding, supplies or even food. The Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended hostilities with Great Britain, languished in Congress for months because several state representatives failed to attend sessions of the national legislature to ratify it.

But Congress had no power to enforce attendance. In September 1783, George Washington complained that Congress was paralyzed(sound familiar?). Many revolutionaries had gone to their respective home states after the war, and local government and self-rule seemed quite satisfactory and preferable to them. Ultimately, the Confederation's lack of cohesive power reduced the likelihood for profit to be made by political means, thus potential rulers were uninspired to seek power, and the new Constitution was ratified by all thirteen colonies. But the objections of Statists have apparently never subsided.

For the past three decades, the return to State-ism seems to me to be the preferences under which the "conservative", right-wing zealots have been trying desperately to steer the U.S. towards once again. But those Articles of Confederation were eventually rejected in favor of the Constitution, which is now twisted and contorted by those same Statists in an effort to magically transform the Constitution back into that rejected, first document.

I find it oddly curious that no one has equated the supporters of those State-ist principles set fort in the Articles of Confederation with the name of the group of states that tried to secede from the Union into the Confederate States of America, or simply The Confederacy. You know, the ones who promulgate that the Civil War was NOT about slavery at all….it was about states rights; too much governmental control; and yes, the feeling that 1% have every right to be the beneficiaries of the efforts 99% for a pittance! Perhaps the Republican Party could adopt the name Confederates Party so that the return to those policies held in such high esteem could enjoy a historical reference point with which it is so alarmingly similar.

How Has That Worked Out for You?

Even judged by its own inherently flawed measurements, the "trickle-down" approach to economics has failed miserably. Rather than everyone getting an improved monetary, sociological status, rather than improving the quality of life for the majority or Americans, rather than being the salvation and backbone upon which we can proudly point to a wildly successful and prosperous middle class…we have been slowly impoverishing ourselves. The Republicans seem determined to convince the silent majority of Americans that it is really they who have our best interest at heart in much the same way that plantation slaves in the pre-Civil War era came to believe that their masters really had their best interest at heart as well, despite obvious and plentiful facts to the contrary.

Perhaps The Confederacy Will Rise again

While incomes at the very top of the scale have sky-rocketed to levels beyond any imagination even a generation ago, the average inflation-adjusted income of the bottom 90 percent of earners was lower in 2008 than it was back in 1973!

The Republicans routinely try to undermine our public schools system in order to render the majority ignorant and therefore more pliable. The propaganda machine of right-wing radio, Fox News, Republican Governors, et al, have, since President Obama took office, succeeded in suppressing the vote, subjecting women to second-class status, and forcing laws upon 99% of us that do not apply to themselves. They've taken laws to such extremes that in states with Republican governors and lawmakers, women cannot even choose what is best for themselves and their bodies. All subjects that the unsuspecting in America thought were judged unacceptable just a few decades ago.

Since 2000, the median income of 99% of Americans has actually eroded. If this one factor alone does not prove that tax cuts for the rich do not create general prosperity, what in heaven's name would it take to do so?

Today, more and more of the middle class does not have enough money to live on unless they go into either unwanted or otherwise unnecessary debt. For every dollar of equity individuals added via their home values from 1980 to 2006, they borrowed two dollars! And even if an equitable share of that is attributable to simple lousy decision making, that would leave a preponderant share to blame on the extreme challenge of merely making ends meet due to said erosion of their equity.

How soon we forget that 401(k)s were devastated in 2008. That hard-working, law-abiding, do everything right Americans were left homeless, retirement income-less, and damn near hope-less, at the hands of Wall St . excesses with other people's money. And the Republicans answer? LET'S DE-REGULATE THEM EVEN MORE!! HELL YEAH, THERE ARE A FEW MIDDLE-CLASS AMERICANS STILL SURVIVING!!! AND WE'LL BLAME THE REGULATORS…..AMERICANS WILL BELIEVE IT…THEY BELIEVE ANYTHING IF YOU SAY IT OFTEN ENOUGH!!

Our entire economy has been re-calibrated, primarily through bad tax policy, due to a Congressional obsession with their own re-election rather than service to the country. "Just take a little more from the poor and the middle class in order to give to the very richest of the rich. That will fix everything, I promise."

And to my utter shock and complete dismay, the presumed Republican candidate, Willard Mitt Romney, even has the gall to utter the same phrase that STARTED this downward slide……"Trickle-Down"! My Gawd people, are we really so completely and utterly ignorant to believe this?

In 2000, people making between $50,000 and $75,000 paid the same share of their income to the federal government as those making more than $87 million, and that those making between $100,000 and $200,000 were taxed more heavily than those making $10 million.

Thanks to "trickle-down" economic policies, we have encouraged the once-competitive industries such as oil or car manufacturing, and yes, even the news media to morph into unhindered oligopolies. We have slashed the ranks of the auditors and investigators who were meant to keep securities, food, drugs, medicine and industry competing honestly, and have so overworked the remaining few that they are ineffective at best, but more likely simply resigned to "doing what they can" and saying thy hell with it.

Republicans have convinced a large portion of America that bankers would self-regulate despite the massive destruction left byEnron WorldCom The Savings & Loan collapse, and the Real Estate collapse. If you want to see the mastermind in common, follow the history of Phil Gramm(R), Texas.

What used to be a laughable notion has become the fundamental nature of the Republican theory of effective government policy. The results were as predictable as if we removed all gun laws on the theory that most gun owners are responsible, or simply removed all traffic lights under the assumption that drivers will act with courtesy, restraint, and responsibility to all others on the roads.

Come to think of it, we actually have let the NRA convince Congress that AK-47s are necessary for hunting naked, defenseless animals, while the rate of crime continues to rise despite more and more guns on every street in every corner of the country.

One by one, election after election, we sit and watch as our leaders strive to convince the average American that the fundamentals of our economy are strong but can be stronger if we would just take down a few more traffic lights that slow down those IPOs, or runaway Investment Banks, or whatever. What will it take for Americans to realize that despite coat after coat of new paint on our walls, termites are eating away at the foundation of our economic house and the walls of our hard-fought victories of equality.

I had personally hoped that there would be a coming of stark realization after 2008. I hoped that the economic crisis of 2008 would help all of America finally see the obvious causes of corruption, the hyper-partisanship, the inane repetitive finger-pointing, and that it would give way to new growth and good old principles of right and wrong.

Capitalism, The Correct Way

Moreover, I hoped that with the last collapse it would become obvious that Capitalism is great, but Capitalism unrestrained and unchecked is a recipe for outright disaster. As a student of economic theory for 25 years, I felt sure that American citizens would realize that we are only strong if we pull this wagon together.

The ONLY way a team of the most majestic Clydesdale horses will be able to pull even a small wagon is if they are pulling in the same direction! Otherwise, they will go nowhere until they inevitably pull each other from life and limb, or die. Except by pulling together, in the same direction, with the same purpose, they are forever broken in spirit and a mere shadow of what they could have been.

As I have stated before, Capitalism ONLY works if greed and avarice are offset by laws and regulations to prevent fraudulent and deceptive practices. Otherwise, the snake oil salesmen and Bernie Madoffs of the world will steal it all from those of us who actually want the best that be had for EVERY American. When the media televises more Romney speeches, take a few minutes and look out into the crowd. Do the crowds really represent all of America? Of do they look more like old photos from the 1860s?

Free Markets are not created by profiteers who have been afforded the advantage of removing the inherent risks that promote the risk vs reward formula that evolve naturally. Free Markets do not flourish by simply removing the "risk" aspect by deceptive or fraudulent acts. And Free Markets do not flourish by subsidizing the favored business of the elected representatives who glean contributions from their lobbies. Flexibility and creativity is the hallmark and the cornerstone of capitalism's longevity. Its main claim to success is its propensity to change in response to what ails it at any given time…but with safeguards to protect the consumers from abusive and corrupt practices.

By overturning Glass-Steagall with Gramm Bliley Leach, by passing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, by the Supreme Court's abysmal record of activism with rulings like Citizens United, we have opened more and more avenues of opportunity to those with the means and desire to abuse the freedoms of our economic system. There IS NO one-size-fits-all solution to economic theory. Economic policy has to meet the conditions of the times and circumstances…not vice versa.

Change is not easy, and the cost of cleaning up the mess that remains from the 2008 real estate / Wall St. debacle will be a huge drag on the economy in the near term. But we are at a tipping point; we have a real chance to end the socialism for the rich at the expense of the middle class that put us into this hole.

Rewriting tax laws and financial de-regulations that have been the principal vehicle for turning government into a subsidy system for the rich and well-connected is a good beginning. Republicans wail and bandy about when speaking of welfare and food stamps for individuals, but heap subsidies on any business whose lobbyist will provide them with a free meal or political contribution. As elemental as this may sound, by definition, there can be no "free market" as long as a single business subsidy exists.

President Obama admittedly tried entirely too hard to play fair in his first two years and it may end up being his political demise and the countries' economic demise. The Affordable Care Act is a perfect example. There is a working, proven effective model for the very plan being adjudicated by the less-than-Supreme Court. Ironically, it is in the very state from which the President's eventual opponent will come and who implemented it. But now it is simply unacceptable to Republicans because President Obama's name has been forever amalgamated to it. The State-ists proclaim that it's fine for a state to mandate whatever they want, but not the country!

How clever. The Republicans clearly plan to defeat those that oppose them state-by-state because they've been unable to do so for the entire country.

Mostly, the Presidents proposals have amounted to minor changes around the edges of the economy due to its continuing fragility, not the kind of serious total restructuring that President Reagan, undertook. He will also need a more receptive Congress (could it be any less receptive than the past three years?), assuming he can withstand the vast and powerful propaganda machine working against him.

And last but certainly not least, the Democrats should grow a pair of balls and give him their best and complete support before it is too late and the Confederacy from within rises to enslave the middle class and the poor.

If re-elected, he can give the healing a good defibrillator shock by eliminating some of the most spectacular tax giveaways (i.e., like the one Democrats tried again to eliminate last week with the attempt to end the $4 billion-a-year subsidy to oil companies) and move on to doable, efficient steps toward shoring up our biggest asset…our rapidly disappearing middle class.

If he is not re-elected, and if Congress is not removed from the stranglehold under which the Republican House of Representatives has placed it, we will need more than "fiscal therapy" in order to survive the next four years.

Related articles


For me, this essay goes beyond politics and economic policy. It touches me at a deep level. By the time I got to "Individual enrichment is a *product* of American society for sure, but not its guiding purpose." I was shouting superlative affirmations to myself out loud.

Yes, I believe you're right. There is a fundamental question that we as a nation must answer:
"Just what the hell is the function supposed to be of the United States of America, and by extension, its government?"

I like the historical perspective; I guess this question goes back to before the ratification of the U.S. constitution.

I'm not sure how reliable your survey was (do those who agreed to respond form an unbiased representative sample?), but nonetheless, I found the fact that you found so many people who say the basic function of the U.S. govt. is "to help me get rich" shocking. That response never would have crossed my mind. It sounds like a joke.

You speak of how congress and the Supreme Court have become dysfunctional. It might be worse than that. I might be the whole society. I've seen it said that the troubles in modern American society are more psychological than political. We have to rise above this! It reminds me of an article I read on entitled "Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional Family: But There Are Ways to Regain Our Well-Being"

tbcuz :

The Neo-Confederate movement really took off in 1994 when Trent Lott, Dick Armey, Tom Delay and other southern white men took over the GOP.

That's how long some of us have been screaming about this. The Republican triumvirate…big business, big religion and Neo-Confederates (all eleven Confederate states that voted Bush TWICE) came together under Reagan and have since been fighting for control of the party.

The evangelicals came out to vote in 2004. They saw a GOP Congress and White House in place but not much done towards their agenda. So, they stayed home in 2008.

But…the newly energised Confederate / Tea Party came out in 2010.

These are the nastiest of the coalition. At heart, racists who think like racists in all aspects of politics…basically, lazy thinkers. People who profile and stereotype to avoid the work of thinking, therefore…the thugs or "brownshirt" Republicans.

These are the people who now control the GOP. The atmosphere they create is exactly how things came to a head in 1859 with a southern congressman attacking a northern congressman with his cane…and of course… eventually, civil war.

Still…the conservatives can be divided and fractured enough to bring in a progressive morning in America if the DNC and liberal persuaders just understood that economics is the true central issue between the parties and one side has no clue how to challenge the perception that Republicans are somehow better for the economy (according to polls) regardless that their "trickle-down" supply side nonsense has NEVER worked EVER.

If people truly studied history, there might not be a conservative movement or a GOP. Since…three times in the past three generations the conservative Republicans collapsed the banking system…1929…1989…2009…and the economy with it. After each eight to twelve years of GOP conservative administration, the treasury gets gutted. Progressives or Democrats have never exploited this fact.

To divide the conservative voter base, there must be an idea as easily digested as "small government, low taxes". And there is.

There is an economic plan that would change the so-called American capitalist system to create a true capitalist society. The "Single Tax".

The "Single Tax" was a major plank on the Progressive Party platform in 1910. It was the true intention of the founder's conception of tax based on property (wealth assets). If you own the property, you pay the taxes…ALL of the taxes…not sixty percent like the rich gripe about now.

The second part of the equation is to ban all other taxes, especially income taxes. "Tax assets, not income, let hard work and diligence flourish"…not a bad economic mantra. Imagine the progressive movement pushing for ZERO income taxes and an end to the IRS. Conservatives would be divided for decades. Their false wedge issues like banning gay rights might fall by the wayside.

The nation's property and assets are used to create wealth and jobs. Taxing assets forces those in control to innovate, build, work, hire people and manage those assets in order to RECOUP those taxes or lose those assets through taxation…to give someone else a chance. Currently, business and the wealthy have zero incentive to do anything but hoard.

The Single Tax wholly supports private property but puts the burden of all expenditure on those who actually control the means to produce wealth. This plan is the fastest route to economic justice and would stop the conservative agenda of turning the USA into a South American plutocracy or equally bad, a Confederate "Jim Crow" nation.



** After each eight to twelve years of GOP conservative administration, the treasury gets gutted. Progressives or Democrats have never exploited this fact. **
Your comment is right on.

And your proposal, the single tax, is interesting.

I'm not sure I agree with it; I have to think about it some. But it reminds me of some of the other proposals I've seen on this site in that it is an authentic original idea not based on some spam you see coming out of the politicians and the talking heads on tv. The other ones that come to mind are HG's One-Penny-Solution which I especially like, and also The Tune Up America article by Seth Barber.

Those are the kind of thoughtful articles I like to see here.

The Republican Party Has Become the New Confederate States of America Trusted. by Donald B Ardell

11/29/2009 | MD Network

The secrets of happiness, spirituality and REAL wellness are revealed once again - the Republican Party is a menace to the United States of America

The American Civil War came about because the people living in northern and eleven southern states believed, after years of failed attempts to resolve differences, that their interests, passions and values were irreconcilable. The war resulted because there seemed no recourse shy of wholesale killing each other. There were many causes for that war, but mutually exclusive ideas about what constituted a decent value system was at the top of the list for both sides. And so, on April 12, 1861, the cannons went off and the fighting began. The slaughter and maiming lasted four years.

Robert E. Lee's surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. While this event is recognized as the end of the Civil War, there were Rebel forces fighting in the field until June 23rd. (The true end came only when Confederate General Stand Watie surrendered at Doaksville, near Fort Towson, Oklahoma.) Reconstruction and reconciliation got underway.

Today, 144 years on, a new version of the south has risen again. Now the Confederacy is the Republican Party. Lincoln would not recognize nor want any part of today's Republicans. Republicans have devolved into a party of Radical Right, loud, angry and uncivil tea party activists, plus religious fundamentalists and Know-Nothing morons whose leaders are certified airheads - part demigods and part ignoramuses (e.g., Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh). The GOP or God's Own Party goes rogue against science, reason, separation of church and state, equitable taxation and policies of moderation. During eight years in power with George Bush and their own Congress, they loosened restraints on Wall Street, started two wars and subsidized the pharmaceutical industry with drugs for seniors (no discounts allowed) - and paid for none of it - and now they scream at the Democrats for growing deficits.

This version of rebel ideology carried 22 states in the last presidential election, oddly twice the number of states in the original confederacy. Of course, there are 50 states now as opposed to 34 then, and the new Confederacy of red states in 2008 were concentrated in the center of the nation, as well as the original southern stalwarts minus Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Today, the radical rebels are well represented in every state.

The problems facing the nation are at least as destructive as those extant in 1861. Slavery is off the table, but other perils to decency, peace, harmony, prosperity and tranquility must be faced, such as::

In this context, the near-unanimous voting block of Republican/New Confederates oppose every attempt by the Obama Administration to enact reforms - and in so doing damage the union as much as the cannonballs aimed at Fort Sumter 148 years ago. This time, the Rebels or contemporary Confederates are not led by individuals of stature and respect, such, as Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Samuel Cooper, Judah Benjamin, James Seddon, Joseph Johnston or Jefferson Davis. Today's rebels, or maybe rogues, are small-minded, mean-spirited bitter little people. (You can read a profile on some of them here.)

Contemporary Rebel targets include the secular Republic of states once united. The Founders would be dismayed to observe what has happened to their noble experiment of government for and by the people. Turns out the people are not what they used to be. They are not the measure of 21st century challenges. This time, unlike in 1861, more than four years may be required to reform or defeat the worse elements. Nothing less is needed if we are to recover what we had, and pursue that more perfect union we're ever been. Only a genuine and new greatest generation can manage the myriad, epic problems only partially enumerated.

We should not discount a real possibility that, even united (which we clearly are not), these problems will prove intractable. If that is the case, then America's best days as a nation have passed. Keep your passports current.

For now, it seems the Republican Confederates have declared war on the Republic. Since the new Confederacy enthusiasts and sympathizers are everywhere (though clustered in the Red State heartland and south), we Unionists of this era must live amongst these modern Rebels.

Let us continue our cheerful and positive ways, but be vigilant. The Republican Confederates are armed, dangerous and deeply demented and they do not take kindly to Democrats large or small case.

Be well.

[Mar 04, 2013] Tea party vision closer to Articles of Confederation, not Constitution by Jonathan Mercantini

September 16, 2011 |

Many who associate themselves with the tea party movement say their beliefs are rooted in the original principles of the Constitution. Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann describes herself a "constitutional conservative."

Few have asked precisely what that means. A close inspection of Bachmann's views, however, reveals a vision of government closer to the Articles of Confederation than the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation created an extremely limited central government during and just after the Revolution. Under the Articles, the federal government had no power to tax, no national currency, no executive branch - hence, little real authority. The result was a government with extremely limited revenues and, therefore, with little power or relevance. The power to levy taxes was reserved to the states.

The Articles of Confederation made sense in the context of the American Revolution. It was exactly the type of government you would create in the midst of a revolt against a distant, external authority perceived as too powerful and out of touch.

Yet the Articles proved to be woefully deficient. Foreign creditors were unwilling to loan money to the fledgling nation - they could see that the government, lacking the authority to tax and dependent on contributions from the states, would struggle to pay back those loans.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered by many to be the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has emphasized his refusal to accept federal money for some purposes, most notably education. His position highlights the perceived conflict between state and federal authority and the resurgent belief in returning power to the states. Fear of federal power was a key argument used by the Anti-Federalists who opposed ratification of the Constitution, preferring the weak national government of the Articles.

Fewer than four years after the end of the Revolution, a group of concerned founders met in Philadelphia, ostensibly to discuss ways to amend and improve the Articles of Confederation. Yet several delegates, chief among them James Madison of Virginia, recognized that the Articles were inadequate to the task of governing the new nation. The result of that convention in 1787 was, of course, the Constitution. It created an entirely new form of government intended to cure the ills of the Articles of Confederation. And chief among the cures was the power to levy taxes, not just on imports but internal taxes as well.

As Alexander Hamilton would later emphasize in the Federalist Papers - the famous series of essays held up by so many tea party members as the true embodiment of the Constitution - taxation was perhaps the most necessary power to be wielded by the new government in order for the United States to succeed.

During the first domestic crisis under the new Constitution, President George Washington led federal troops to the back country of Pennsylvania when farmers there refused to pay new excise taxes on whiskey. While today, the tea party crowd seeks every opportunity to "starve the beast," Washington, the most famous founder of all, was willing to use the threat of force to compel citizens to pay their taxes, not just for defense, but for all of government's costs.

As my eighth-grade social studies teacher taught us, the most important legacy of the Articles of Confederation is that it showed how not to run a government. Washington and the other founders quickly recognized that a government without revenue is no government at all. They knew from experience that a strong central government was essential for the new nation to survive and flourish.

While the debate over the appropriate role for the federal government has grown contentious, we would be wise to recall the failure of Articles of Confederation.

Jonathan Mercantini is a fellow at the Kean University Center for History, Politics and Policy.

The Philosopher Politicians Reappear at the New York Times Beat the Press

written by Chris Engel, March 02, 2013 7:16

I've seen others trying to push the "loophole=tax expenditure=government spending" discussion, but it doesn't seem to take hold, especially not with "conservatives".

No matter how they see it, if loopholes are closed and more taxes are being paid, "the base" of the GOP (teahadists) will be up in arms about 'big government' and 'taxation is theft', even if it's mostly serving the plutocrats.

Another howler from the NYT
written by Mark Brucker, March 02, 2013 11:49

What about the bizarre claim that the Republicans are trying to maximize individual liberty? That might in some way make sense if they were talking about the freedom of the 1% and the 0.1% to buy power and do whatever they want to a great degree. But even that would be seriously wrong if those people are gay and want to marry, want their kids to be free to do so, etc.

Or just saying no to Obama
written by Greg, March 02, 2013 1:49

In terms of just the short-term, just the sequester, there may be a simpler explanation, merely that the Republicans are determined not to give another victory to Obama. This particularly makes sense if you look at Boehner's incentives. Any compromise probably would cost him his speakership, so he has a very strong incentive to refuse any deal.

housing subsidy
written by Dean, March 02, 2013 3:32

It is a little off topic but people need a subsidy of some kind given the outrageous prices they pay for these popsicle stick houses that disintegrate in moderate tornadic winds. If government withdraws the subsidy for buying a house it should withdraw the subsidy to bankers, realtors & local government by refusing to guarantee loans on houses that appreciate in value.

If houses depreciated in value as they age, like cars, the 2007 collapse wouldn't have happened. California's proposition 13 wouldn't have happened either.

If government subsides houses, it shouldn't guarantee loans on houses that can't withstand 250 mph winds; or that appreciate in value, unless there is a significant addition to the house or the neighborhood goes commercial. There are builders who can make a 250 mph requirement affordable. The rest will follow.

+1 Well, yes
written by Tim Worstall, March 02, 2013 5:36

Of course the mortgage deduction should go. And Dean is right about those who defend or oppose it.

My native UK did it 25 years ago: and it was a Tory (read, Republican) government that did it.

So obviously sensible that when it was actually proposed everyone went, "well, yeah, clearly".

no subsidy...price will adjust...
written by pete, March 02, 2013 5:37

Silly notion that the mortgage deduction is a subsidy. It simply raises the price of the house. If the subsidy is withdrawn housing prices will decline, ceterus paribus.

Regarding philosophy, both dems and republicans over the last 40 years have put in place policies that have kept the real wage constant while productivity has soared. Monetary expansion and government regulations lead to rents which are captured by capital. There is no philosophical difference, there is only one party, one philosophy, provide the rich what they want and get reelected. Once in a while you get a Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders, who don't buy in. But they aren't part of the one party system.

So, we bribe the poor to play along, as Keynes said was a good idea, rather than have them revolt. Just enough to keep them quiet. Horrible polices, lousy outcomes.

Tea Party/Occupy folks had a sense of what was happening, but they of course got co-opted, much as the strong anti-government left was co-opted in the 70s by the dems. The republicans try to sweet talk the libertarians, but typically fail miserably when they start talking about gay marriage, drug policy, and immigration.

Hi, Tim :)
written by Chris Naden, March 03, 2013 5:37

to Tim Worstall: nice to see you here :)

Regarding the Tory == Republican analogue; while I understand it, I think it's seriously misleading for Americans who don't know the UK.

Caveat: I don't much like the Tory party, and my opinions are on average well to the 'left' of the entire UK Overton window, with certain exceptions. However, the Tories not like the GOP, certainly not as it has existed since the 112th Congress.

They've got some wingnuts, but those wingnut extreme-right Tories would sit quite happily in a caucus with Ben Nelson and the rest of the Blue Dogs. Most of the Tory party is not that far right of Obama and other mainstream Democrats. The Tory party as I see it doesn't have anything like the Tea Party (they've got UKIP instead, who are similar but different), and certainly doesn't have the narrow-party witchhunt culture which has bunched the entire GOP up into a little ball on the far right.

I would say that from a US perspective, mainstream British politics happens on a spectrum from the Blue Dogs and a couple of remnant RINOs like Olympia Snowe (Tory) to the moderate Dems and 'mainstream liberal' Dems (New Labour and the LibDem Orange Book faction), with the few liberal LibDems that survive being the equivalent of the much-ignored 'liberal' Democrats (that sentence got weird). There's then a very few outliers (Caroline Lucas?) who are to the left of any 'serious' US politicians.

And while I'm here:
written by Chris Naden, March 03, 2013 6:46

To Pete @ 5.37

You equate Occupy with the Tea-Party. I think you might want to re-think that.

Item: the Occupy movement was actually bottom-up, organised using consensus governance structures derived from the experience of Climate Camp and the Anonymous internet campaigning meme. The TEA-Party is, and has been from its first few weeks, funded, directed and provided with its goals by the Koch brothers, Limbaugh and their plutocratic ilk. There simply are no equivalent figures in Occupy, then or now. Therefore, to the extent your comment is accurate at all, Occupy remain independent and the TEA-Party came pre-captured by establishment interests.

Item: The TEA-Party continues to enjoy mass media support, vast funding and has elected many national politicians. The Occupy movement was savagely stamped out in a long series of hideously violent, vengeful police actions co-ordinated by the FBI in conjunction with business lobbies. That is not what co-option looks like, is it? And it is certainly nothing like the TEA-Party.

The two movements are totally dissimilar, largely because Occupy actualy were what the TEA-Party spun themselves as; a popular movement in the interests of the commonality. That's why the TEA-Party got funded by rich people and Occupy got tear-gassed and stuck in jail.
+2 I gather Chris is an occupier?
written by pete, March 03, 2013 3:52

Tea party was most definitely co-opted. When a few of their chosen won a couple of elections, the leaders like Mitch Mcconnel figured out how to bring them in without pissing them off. Same thing happened to the Occupiers. Where is the outrage when Jack Lew is treasurer...only the few who have not been brought in Like Bernie Sanders and a few republicans stand out. Why arent the occupiers occupying the treasury demaning the stopping of the revolving door?

Occupiers have their Soros and friends, and hollywood.

Basically stated goals were the same until they were co-opted, and that is exactly the point. BOth were originally anti-government. Some folks still are, but many are co-opted and think we just need "better" regulation, not less. Fools. That's the beginning of capture.

Pete: I most certainly am not!
written by Chris Naden, March 04, 2013 4:42

Tea party was most definitely co-opted.

I disagree; the evidence I have seen (Ezra Klein did a good post on this, and there were long pieces in both Rolling Stone and the WaPo over the last couple of years) says that the TEA-Party was captured by the Koch/AEI/Heritage/Chik-fil-A wing of the GOP before it started. Koch and AEI money and 'consultants' were there from the very first days of the movement, and only became more involved over time.

Occupiers have their Soros and friends, and hollywood.

Backers, as in supporters. Not as in money-men, and not as in bosses. I have never seen a single report of Soros actually doing a damn thing for Occupy, beyond saying they had a point. That's the difference. You never saw Occupy getting talking-points updates from House Democrats, but you saw the TEA-Party message being shaped directly by Heritage and ALEC. The TEA-Party have never been anti-government; they were anti-Obama, anti-black guy winning an election, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, but not anti-government. Think about it; how can a movement dominated by retirees collecting Social Security ever be seriously anti-government? Compare and contrast with the original Zuccotti Park Occupation, and its followers; the vast majority of people there were people who had directly suffered from the greed of the Great Moderation, and genuinely wanted somthing to change. Now if they'd ever been able to agree on what, they might have got somewhere ;)

At the intellectual level, the TEA-Party has and has always had clear, pre-defined remedies and outcomes it campaigns for (lower taxes on the rich; get the black guy out of the White House; we hate Mexicans, etc.) It just has absolutely nothing close to a good argument for why they should be adopted. The Occupy movement had a very solid case underpinning it's campaign, but never quite managed to arrive at any remedies or policy proposals that were anything other than hand-wavey. Which of those sounds like a movement captured and run by Beltway professionals?

Basically stated goals were the same until they were co-opted

Not even remotely close to true. The stated goals of the TEA-Party are; Barack Obama should achieve nothing. Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim communist. Barack Obama should not be elected. Barack Obama was not elected. Rich people should not be taxed. The poor are immoral, and the South shall Rise Again! Lynching chairs and rattlesnake talk-radio hucksters.

Occupy had a very different narrative, and a very different set of goals (or rather, goal; try to prevent the triumph of another Guilded Age, and claw back some of the obscene fortunes made by the Robber Barons who broke the global economy. They failed.) You can see very, very clearly the difference between the two, and the extent to which each is a captive of the Establishment: how often were TEA-party rallies tear-gassed, assaulted with batons, shoved in jail without heart or asthma medication for up to two days, fined, harrassed, surrveilled, bugged, and in a number of cases spuriously accused of terrorism?

The Washington Establishment (GOP brand) has made damn sure the TEA-Party are protected at every stage. The Washington Establishment (both parties) helped co-ordinate with Wall Street to violently crush Occupy. Which of those sounds like a captured movement to you?

I'm not an Occupier. I'm sympathetic to their original goals, and I loved the poli-sci natural experiement in governance strategies, but they never got from shouting to planning or negotiating. They never made the step up from protest to politics, and have now effectively dissappeared from the map. Had they managed to survive the beatings and harrassments and keep finding new civil-disobedience methods, what you might call the Gandhi or MLK model, then I might have become an Occupier; but the closest thing to an Occupy movement now is a crowd-sourced campaign to provide debt relief to suffering mortgage-holders. They are effectively a movement of the past; but what happened is still what happened.

Suggesting that the TEA-Party and Occupy are two sides of the same political expression is both disingenuous and aggressively misleading; as classic an example as one can find of 'false equivalence' reporting.

[Jan 08, 2013] Chuck Todd admits FOX News created and hypes the Tea Party Movement by John Amato

January 24, 2010 | Crooks and Liars

Chuck Todd actually gets this right on Meet The Press. Gregory played a clip of Dick Armey trying to say that the teabaggers represent the "center" of American politics as bizarre as that may sound and it was Chuck Todd who corrected that lie. FOX News grabbed them, promoted them, sent their hosts to caress and nurture them and were the first network in the history of broadcasting to become true political activists that worked to undermine a newly elected president.

FOX News is the Ministry of Propaganda for the GOP.

Meet The Press:

MR. GREGORY: There's also the issue of the sort of opposition that the president faces. Where is the Republican Party? We talked a little bit about that. Again, part of the conversation we've had outside the hour today in some outside interviews includes one with Dick Armey, a former congressman who's now part of FreedomWorks, who is part of this tea party movement that was influential in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Here's what he said about the center of American politics.

(Videotape)FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): This is the broad center of American politics. Look at the polling data. Right now the tea party polls higher than the Republicans and the Democrats. And it is becoming increasingly clear to the electorate out there, and they're expressing their understanding, it is the Democrat majority in Congress and the president that's on the liberal fringe and we are on the center. There's no doubt about it.

TODD: I don't know they are in the center. I mean when we did our own polling on this it's clear that the tea party gets a big benefit because there is one news organization that gives them a huge bump all the time. I mean they are favorable among Fox viewers is through the roof and the rest of the country sort of doesn't know a lot about these folks. But the message of the tea party sort of saying the government doesn't work, these institutions and we've got to shrink the size of government, is tapping into what we were just discussing before which is this -- not disgust but sort of this distrust of all institutions that are out there. Government included.

But I think that, I want to go to something E.J. said about the Republican Party. I think the most striking thing about the minority party today is that a Republican can't go home and it's mostly because of this tea party crap cannot go home and sell a piece of pork that they got from Washington. It's now when you bring home something, saying hey, "I brought federal dollars to this," you're on the defensive now. And so that does make the president's challenge -- it's not as if he can trade, you know, go and have these trades with a Susan Collins or an Olympia Snowe or let's say a Lamar -- let's move over to more of the conservative center right -- Lamar Alexander or something like this because they're not getting a benefit at home of bringing something back because we have like destroyed this idea that somehow anything from government that comes through is bad.

The tea party crowd is a hyper-extension of the conservative movement. Sure, it's attracting some hard working Americans who are fed up with the state of the country that the Bush administration left us in, but the base of that movement are the militia, white supremacist, Gold standard, black helicopter, Gospel of Hate movements that FOX News has been trying to main stream into American politics.

When will the media elites (The Villagers) not be afraid to expose this very dangerous precedent that FOX News has set in the media?

The Tea Party The Beginning of a New Nazi Party

Intense Cogitation

Greetings, fellow people who read this blog. This time, I have decided to return to a political commentary, and talk about the Tea Party Movement in the US. Recently, this movement has begun to gather attention with its recent primary wins in preparation for the 2010 Congressional mid-term elections. As well, one of its key figureheads, Glenn Beck, has hosted a "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C., on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, where he and fellow Tea Party leader Sarah Palin called on America to concentrate "on the good things of America", which were defined as God and the military. This supposedly represents a tidal shift in American public opinion, where all Americans, regardless of previous political allegiances, are flocking to the Tea Party Banner. However, I see it more as a disturbing sign of a rising American fascist movement.

The reason I say this is because for an anti-government movement, the Tea Party sure gets a lot of media attention. I mean, anti-war groups who oppose Obama's decision to escalate the Afghan War (and maybe even Pakistan) get the privilege of having their homes raided by the FBI; in marked contrast, the Tea Party gets wall-to-wall 24 hour coverage on American and international media. For a movement that purports itself to oppose the current social order, including the "liberal" media, it is hard to believe that they are under threat when they can successfully win primaries in establishment political parties; historically, anyone who opposes an Establishment consensus in both mainstream parties gets marginalized or is treated like a lunatic. What can account for the Tea Party's freedom to express their dissent?

One factor could be that the Tea Party's anti-government agenda is giving it lots of support from wealthy interests who also oppose Obama's "socialism". It is curious why they oppose this, since he hasn't done anything revolutionary in any sense of the word; he talks the leftist talk, but doesn't walk the leftist walk. Nevertheless, the New York Times reported that conservative billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and David Koch were funding the Tea Party movement. This right there is a sign that something's wrong. Historically, no genuine resistance movement against the Powers-that-Be ever got funding from the wealthy segment of society, as they were quite content to maintain the status quo where they were all rich.

So how can we take a movement that essentially screams "More Power to the Aristocracy!" seriously? To answer this, it would be useful to compare the Tea Party's current support from the upper class to that of the Nazi Party in the late 1920′s-early 1930′s. During the 1920′s, Germany was ruled by a Social Democratic coalition in what was known as the Wiemar Republic. This coalition was opposed by a large number of right-wingers, mainly because they accused the Social Democrats of 'stabbing Germany in the back' for ousting the Kaiser and agreeing to the shameful terms of the Versailles Treaty. However, it was also feared by the middle and upper classes for its ideology, which they feared would take away their incomes. In his book The Coming of the Third Reich, historian Richard J. Evans writes that "[the German judicial apparatus], and the majority of their middle- and upper-class supporters, never accepted the Social Democrats as a legitimate political movement." (Evans, 15) This distrust can date back to 1848, when conservative princes smashed a liberal effort to unite the various realms of the ancient Holy Roman Empire into a German nation, yet it does not change the fact that the German elites never had much loyalty for their first democratic regime. This made it easy for Hitler to gain their support, going so far as to declare to an audience of businessmen that "democracy was incompatible with business interests, and Marxism had to be crushed." (Evans, 325) This speech, delivered during the Great Depression and looming fears of a Communist takeover of Germany, persuaded the industrialists of Germany to deliver "fresh resources, notably the radio, [which] were brought to bear on the Nazis' behalf, [and] with a fighting fund vastly bigger than before, [Nazi propaganda chief Joseph] Goebbels really could saturate the electorate." (Ibid.) If you're wondering why the Tea Party's message can get spread loud and clear throughout America, now you know.

A second reason that the Tea Party can be considered a heir to the Nazi Party is its love of the military. Although it calls itself a low-spending movement, the Tea Party surprisingly refuses to consider cuts to "defense" spending. This was made clear in Sarah Palin's manifesto for the Tea Party movement. Furthermore, Palin also blasts President Obama for refusing to believe that America is an exceptional country. This support for militarism can be found in Tea Party sites such as this one, this one, and this one. This position for supporting the troops' mission in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as Israel) is in stark contrast to known libertarians such as Ron Paul, who consistently opposed the Iraq invasion from day one, before that, and to this day. What makes this even more bizarre is that for a cost-cutting movement, the Tea Party is showing great reluctance to cut one of the largest costs on the federal US budget: defense spending. This high cost has reached a position where US military expenditures are approaching 50% of global defense expenditures. This attitude towards the military bears a striking resemblance to the pro-war attitude that gripped the German right wing, and eventually the Nazis, during the 1920′s. In the immediate aftermath of the Second Reich's collapse, Germany was hit with a wave of communist insurrections. To help put them down, the Wiemar government asked a group of ex-German soldiers called the Free Corps to put them down. The members of this group, ironically, hated the Wiemar republic for supposedly stabbing them in the back during the Great War. In addition, they were held together by the martial bonds of military brotherhood, which made the adjustment to peacetime much more difficult for them. Evans includes one account of a soldier returning from the front (Evans, 70):

I shall never forget the scene when a comrade without an arm came into the room and threw himself on his bed crying. The [Communist] rabble, which had never heard a bullet whistle, had assaulted him and torn off his all his insignia and medals. We screamed with rage. For this kind of Germany we had sacrificed our blood and our health, and braved all the torments of hell and a world of enemies for years.

This account helps illustrate the effect of the supposed "defeat" of the Germans had on the soldiers. The effect was mostly not one of acceptance, but of disbelief; for one thing, the Allies never actually occupied German soil. This fueled the widespread desire for a new war with the Allies, especially after the French and Belgians occupied the Ruhr Valley and seized vital German industries, which made the hyperinflation crisis the Germans were facing even worse. This act empowered German right-wing nationalists to truly seek war as an answer to Germany's problems. This was made clear by the German men who became Nazi stormtroopers in the SA and it successor, the SS.

They were motivated by an almost fanatical devotion to Hitler's ideals, and their feeling of helplessness at Germany's situation, which was soon filled by Hitler's appeals for a Greater German Reich. The resemblance between Hitler appealing to their emotions to join him for a Greater Germany with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin's call to "restore honour", with militarism a key factor for both calls, is quite shocking. It is important to note that America has its own 'stab-in-the-back' mythology when it comes to the Vietnam War, with the rumour going that if only President Johnson had listened to the military, all would have been well. Such a myth is dangerous for the health of a nation, for it reduces the task of citizenship to killing foreigners.

When one mentions the Nazi Party, usually everyone thinks that they're implying that someone or something will cause the deaths of millions. However, there is more to Nazism than just the Holocaust; it came out as a vehicle of hope for many impoverished Germans who thought the world had screwed them, and they wanted revenge. As the horrors of the Third Reich became clearer, they tried to forget about this, all to no avail. It is my fear that should the Tea Party get in power, a repeat of the Nazi mentality will emerge in North America, and will cause new horrors the likes of which we have heard from our history books, but cannot possibly understand what they are.


Extreme political ideals, both left and right, become more popular when the economy is bad. It's important to keep an eye on this to be sure, and attempt to moderate it. However, comparing every right-wing movement with Naziism is about as helpful as comparing every left wing movement with Communism. Sure, you can draw paralells, but I find it's mostly fear-mongering and it therefore only exacerbates the underlying problem.

Having said that, I thought this was well-written and, and though I have the aforementioned problems re: your conclusion, you were pretty specific with your comparison of the two political situations and I found that interesting and informative.

I'm sorry, I sound like a stuffy professor. XP Good job!


Do these points ring true for you?

Tea Party Check List Nazi Party

1. Funded by super rich check
2. Uses intimidation politically check
3. Wants to outlaw unions check
4. Longs for a glorious mythical past check
5. Claims moral superiority check
6. Membership armed in public check
7. Scapegoats ethnic minorities check
8. Wants war without justification check
9. Government serves pet industries check
10. No respect for elections check

The Tea Party Movement might just be introducing neo-fascism by manipulating electoral politics in this country via sophisticated focus group technology, exploiting and fueling anger and hatred, and outright fixing elections via unaccountable voting machines. What do you think?


Hey Floyd,

I'd have to answer your list like this:

1. Check
2. Check
3. Check
4. Check (replace "mythical" with "imagined"
5. Check (make that "superiority in general")
6. Check
7. Not check (are quite proud to show minorities who share their way of thinking)
8. Not check (at this time, they are proposing to cut Pentagon spending)
9. Not check (Government serves money, not industry: see outsourcing jobs to China)
10. Not check (No respect for elections that don't go their way)

The Daily Bell - Rolling Stone and Taibbi's Dilemma

Tea & Crackers ... How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster ... It's taken three trips to Kentucky, but I'm finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you'd expect: at a Sarah Palin rally. The red-hot mama of American exceptionalism has flown in to speak at something called the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, a gospel-music hoedown in a giant convention center filled with thousands of elderly white Southerners. Palin - who earlier this morning held a closed-door fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion running for the U.S. Senate - is railing against a GOP establishment that has just seen Tea Partiers oust entrenched Republican hacks in Delaware and New York. The dingbat revolution, it seems, is nigh ... The bad news is that the Tea Party's political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that those interests mostly have us by the balls anyway, no matter who wins on Election Day. That's the reality; the rest of this is just noise. It's just that it's a lot of noise, and there's no telling when it's ever going to end. – Matt Taibbi/Rolling Stone

Dominant Social Theme: The Tea Party is a joke and along with me you're in on the gag.

Free-Market Analysis: Human beings, above all, are metaphorical creatures and here at the Bell we are no exception to this rule. Thus it is, we sometimes see certain cultural excrescences as symbolic of larger economic and sociopolitical trends. Matt Taibbi, bless him, is one such working metaphor. Sub dominant social theme: "The Crackers are crazy and the rest of it doesn't compute."

[Nov 06, 2011] The Problem With Flat-Tax Fever

Economist's View
There's nothing particularly new here, but it's still worth emphasizing that a flat tax doesn't have the magical properties that supporters claim, and that its distributional consequences are tilted heavily in favor of the wealthy:
The Problem With Flat-Tax Fever, by Robert Frank, Commentary, NY Times: Close watchers of presidential politics weren't surprised to see many of this year's Republican hopefuls proposing ... a flat tax. Such plans reliably surface every four years...

Yet none will be adopted, for at least two reasons. One is that a flat tax would do nothing to make filing tax returns any simpler. But, more important, it would greatly exacerbate longstanding growth in income inequality. ...

The contention that a flat tax would be simpler because it involves only a single rate is flatly wrong. The complexity of the current system has nothing to do with its multiple income brackets.

The hard step in figuring your tax bill is to compute your adjusted gross income - roughly, the amount you earn, less the myriad exemptions, deductions and various other offsets described in the 3.4-million-word code of the Internal Revenue Service. You'd also have to calculate your adjusted gross income under a flat tax. But once you've completed that step under either system, you consult the tax tables to see how much you owe..., so this step is no harder than it would be under the tables for a flat tax.

The much more serious concern is that a flat tax would reinforce the trends toward greater income inequality that have been seen over the last several decades. ...

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Mr. Cain's proposal would increase the annual tax bill of a typical family of four earning $50,000 a year by more than $4,000, but would reduce the taxes owed by a similar family earning between $500,000 and $1 million by almost $60,000. The center also estimated that families in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of households would enjoy an average annual tax reduction of nearly $1.4 million... Similar distributional effects are common under all flat-tax plans, not just Mr. Cain's. ...

For the time being, then, our best bet is to do all we can to reduce the gratuitous complexity of our progressive income tax.


The America fantasy is "You can rise, without education, without contacts, without health care, without infrastructure." Why should the worthy pay for the shiftless? any work that needs doing can be done by temporary workers that can be deported without social contracts. Maybe that's why Haliburton (Cheney's alma mater) moved to Dubai "There are no sexual harassment laws here!" beamed an executive on the move. Good for him.

The purpose of Government is to take from "them" and give to "us". The fantasyfor us is "we' can be "them" by upward mobility and then deserve the perks since the best always triumph.

In truth, upward mobility is easier in Europe due to social contracts concerning education etc.

Americans need to clear the puritan "Gawd gives wealth to the deserving" from one of the waves of American emigration. Lets act in our own best interests

Looking Forward to the History of the Tea Party Logos by Joseph Lowndes

The Right's dream of demolishing the modern welfare state is as old as the New Deal itself. [1] A "Conservative Manifesto," drafted in 1937 by a coalition of conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats in the Senate called for a balanced budget, tax reductions, the curtailing of union power, and an end to "unnecessary" government competition with private enterprise. Although FDR bowed that year to budget-balance pressures from the right, conservative assaults on progressive taxation, public works, and unions in the name of austerity still lacked broad, popular support. Indeed, when a draft of the Manifesto was leaked to the press, Senate Minority Leader Charles McNary from Oregon declared that "anyone who signs that thing is going to have a Liberty League tag put on him," referring to a far right organization discredited by even Republicans for its extreme positions, such as an adamant commitment to a minimal state and its charge that FDR was a socialist. Indeed, because of the negative attention the Manifesto received, even conservative senators who had a hand in drafting the document denied any association with it.[2]

Today, of course, such discourse is conventional in both major parties, but it took many decades for this to come about. The challenge conservatives faced in achieving ideological hegemony was how to fashion a political identity through which they could equate unfettered private accumulation with a greater national good. The Right was ultimately able to generate a populist conservatism by claiming to stand for honest, hardworking whites who were beset by an alliance of liberal establishment elites above and disruptive, parasitic blacks below. With the election of a black Democratic president, conservative populist anger has moved beyond the demonization of people of color to the demonization of the public realm as such. To be sure, this is precisely the direction FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and other wealthy, corporate entities associated with the Tea Party movement have attempted to steer it. Their vision is neither populist, national, nor racial, but rather directed toward seizing ever greater state resources while radically reducing what remains of democratic rule. Yet while these economic libertarians want to avoid cultural questions in their quest to dismantle the welfare state in its entirety, they still require a language of nation or community to advance their political aims. As they seek to defend the very rich and demand austerity measures for an increasingly vulnerable populace, this becomes increasingly difficult to do.

The Tea Party and the Racial Legacy of Antistatist Populism

The alliance between southern segregationists and economic conservatives signaled by the Conservative Manifesto continued to develop over the 1940s and 1950s, given voice in the Dixiecrat Revolt 1948, in southern organizing drives of the Eisenhower campaigns, and in the pages of National Review Magazine, among other places.[3] With unified southern support, conservatives finally took control of the national GOP in 1964 and built the party afterward by framing conservative imperatives in the language of racial nationalism. Opposition to redistributive and egalitarian state imperatives gained popularity in the white electorate as it was linked to school desegregation and busing, welfare, crime, fair employment, open housing, affirmative action, and antidiscrimination law and policy. This period from the 1960s through the 1980s (Goldwater to Atwater), which we might call Republican era of high racism, cemented conservatism's centrality in American political culture. Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign marked the first national attempt to wed racism to fiscal conservatism, when the Arizona senator's opposition to civil rights gave him enough southern delegate votes for a conservative capture of the Republican nomination that year. Nationally though he won only his home state and five more in the Deep South. Conservatives had thus extended their base by embracing racial politics, but were still associated with wealthy interests.

The emergent relationship between race and conservatism, however, opened opportunities for popular embrace, however. Alabama Governor George Wallace, running in the 1964 Democratic primaries, and then in an independent presidential run in 1968, forged a politics that framed both racism and antistatist conservatism within an older producerist rhetoric, defining his battle as one of productive members of society against parasitic elites and subversive protesters. He counterposed "pointy-headed intellectuals," "bearded bureaucrats," "rioters," and "law-breakers" to "this man in the textile mill, this man in the steel mill, this barber, the beautician, the policeman on the beat." Such themes proved popular not just in the white south, but among white working and middle-class voters in cities like Gary, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.[4]

In the 1968 presidential campaign, Nixon drew on Wallaceite populism and began using the terms "silent majority," "forgotten Americans" and "middle America" to describe an aggrieved white majority squeezed by both the unruly poor below and government elites above. After the election Kevin Phillips, then a Nixon advisor, wrote a book called the Emerging Republican Majority, describing a budding political demographic that "spoke clearly…for a shift away from the sociological jurisprudence, moral permissiveness, experimental residential, welfare and educational programming and massive federal spending by which the Liberal establishment sought to propagate liberal institutions and ideology." Nixon worked to expand this identity over the course of his presidency, even forming a "Middle American Working Group" in the White House and asking the Budget Bureau to find ways to better serve "forgotten Americans," (a group that the Bureau eventually claimed was more of a concept than an empirical demographic). This political identity was revived in Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign through his simultaneous demonization of government and "welfare queens."[5] State was increasingly split from nation in this politics, allowing Reagan himself to be iconographic of (white) America even as he continually disparaged the state.

The Tea Party movement is the latest reincarnation of antigovernment populist rage, triggered by Obama's election and given shape and content by Seattle blogger Keli Carender's "porkulus package" demonstration, NBC business news editor Rick Santelli's rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and other protests against anti-recessionary spending, most of which were organized by FreedomWorks and given ample coverage on Fox News. The nascent movement solidified over the summer of 2009 through the public spectacle of protests at town hall meetings across the country where elected officials at public fora discussed federal health care reform legislation. The movement soon took on the Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag, an icon that at, like the Boston Tea Party itself, evokes both patriotism and antigovernment dissent.[6] The contemporary Tea Party movement has evinced the thundering antistatist fury of its forebears in its attacks on the stimulus package, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the auto industry bailout, healthcare reform, public sector workers, and deficit spending.

Part of the anti-statism of the Tea Party reflects a growing libertarian movement that has had an important impact on it. This pro-market, individualist antipathy to government has grown since 2008, and has thus been well placed to have an influence. The libertarian Students For Liberty now has over 400 groups on college campuses. The cable channel Fox Business News has two libertarian shows: Freedom Watch and the Stossel Show. Ron Paul was a visible presence in the 2008 GOP primaries and continues to be a more prominent public figure. The fervent devotion of Ron Paul supporters gave the initial spark and organizational basis for Rand Paul's successful run for the Kentucky senate as a Tea Party candidate. Most important, perhaps, libertarian zeal for privatization and antipathy toward regulation dovetails with the political and economic desires of the Koch Brothers' American s for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and other ultra-wealthy individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Race and the Tea Party Movement

While Tea Party spokespeople claim that the movement is purely fiscal, it is inconceivable that such antistatist rage is unconnected to the racism that fueled it in prior decades. Indeed, the unprecedented electoral division between racial conservatives and racial liberals in the 2008 presidential race were prologue to the Tea Party's appearance.[7] Obama has been portrayed as both a figure of racial abjection and a symbol of totalitarian control on Tea Party placards and in supporters' rhetoric. Evidence of racial rage was on national display in March, 2010 when Representatives André Carson of Indiana, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and John Lewis of Georgia, all black, were subjected to racial epithets and spitting as they walked to the Capitol by Tea Partiers who were there to protest the passage of federal health care reform.[8] Veteran hate group monitors Devon Burghart and Leonard Zeskin issued a report soon after that provided ample evidence of participation of racists in the Tea Party at both the national and local level. [9]

Yet although there is much to suggest that there are powerful racial motivations in the movement, race does not signify for modern conservatism as it did during its ascent in the 1960s and '70s. Indeed conservatives today claim not only colorblindness but often an emphatic embrace or appropriation of the civil rights movement. More complicated still is the fact that conservatives today must disavow any racial intent. This is a defining paradox of the political moment: even as the conservative movement has lurched rightward, racial appeal – indeed even racial coding – has become discredited as a form of political address. While Tea Party leaders loudly denounced the NAACP after that organization called on Tea Party groups to expunge racists from their ranks, more openly bigoted figures such as Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams were promptly ousted from the movement, and racially-charged signs quickly disappeared from Tea Party rallies.[10]

Indeed Tea Party organizations and spokespeople have adamantly refuted claims of racism in a manner distinct from the era of the rise of the Right, when conservatives would code language but the issues themselves had transparent racial referents, such as crime, busing, welfare and affirmative action. Tea Party leader Michael Patrick Leahy, responding to a University of Washington survey demonstrating higher levels of racial resentment among Tea Partiers, wrote: "The Tea Party movement has rejected the discussion of social issues as an unwanted distraction that will hurt the movement's ability to accomplish its constitutional and fiscal objectives. I know this because I helped start the movement, and I have participated in hundreds of conferences calls where this position has been deliberated and confirmed – both publicly and privately – innumerable times." The quote is revealing for the emphasis Tea Party leaders have placed on avoiding racial issues, but also for the essential admission that racial identification run so deep that the effort required deliberation over "hundreds of conference calls."[11] In his campaign memoir, Tea Party-backed Kentucky senator Rand Paul spends pages defending himself from charges of racism. Referring to the Tea Party's focus on issues of spending and debt, he writes, "The Tea Party doesn't see politics in black and white, but black and red." Such refutations of racial intent are common staples of "colorblind" rhetoric of contemporary conservatives, requiring a denial of the myriad forms of race-based inequality built into US political, economic, and social institutions. And yet the repeated, vehement repudiation of racism speaks to the changed landscape of US politics, where race-baiting cannot be openly achieved. Tea Partiers are perhaps particularly sensitive to the charge of racism. FreedomWorks campaign director Brendan Steinhauser, who counts civil rights leader Bayard Rustin as one of his inspirations, starkly put the matter, "Being a racist is one of the worst things you can be in this society. No one wants to be labeled this."[12]

To dismiss Tea Party disavowals of racism as merely colorblind window-dressing would be to underestimate complex changes afoot. How does one account for the high-profile Tea Party-associated black, Latino and Asian-American politicians, such as Rep. Allen West and governor Marco Rubio from Florida; and Nikki Haley and Tim Scott from South Carolina – the latter who defeated one of Strom Thurmond's (white) children for the Republican nomination? They are not evidence of an embrace of Tea Party politics by significant numbers of voters of color, as the Republican base of each of these candidates is largely white. But their successful candidacies do perhaps speak to a strong desire for racial innocence, a notion that Lawrie Balfour, following James Baldwin, explains as an expressed affirmation of racial equality that nevertheless disavows the very historical conditions and contemporary practices that continue to reproduce racial stratification.[13]

More than just disavowal, Tea Partiers often affirm innocence through appropriation. "We want to put a young, edgier face on this movement," said FreedomWorks' Steinhauser about a decision to feature a rapper named Hi-Caliber at 9/12 events. "This isn't a bunch of boring people who just listen to one kind of music. Don't get me wrong. I love country music, but we have an edge, too." Steinhauser's affection for country music is meant to affirm the Tea Party's conservative cultural basis even as he explains his desire to breathe new life into this identity in a black idiom – which, as Toni Morrison has argued, has been used to signal what is modern, hip and urbane in the white American imagination.[14] Glenn Beck, taking it a step further, described himself and his allies as "the inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement." He said he "wouldn't be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn't be surprised," he went on, "if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn't be surprised if some of us go to jail - just like Martin Luther King did - on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming."[15] Where colorblind conservatives de-racialize King to make him into one of them, here Beck almost racializes conservatives to make them more like King.

The current US right is not being built directly in opposition to a developing black freedom movement as it was in the era from the late 1950s through the 1970s. In the post-civil rights era however, such appeals have far less affective power, and people of color have become celebrated national figures not just in sports and entertainment, but in politics. Yet the same period has seen the further isolation and targeting of the black poor through the simultaneous processes of neoliberal deindustrialization, dismantling of the welfare state, and the massive expansion of the prison system. The combination of symbolic victories and political defeats of the civil rights movement has produced a context that constrains the right from deploying racial affect, robs it of the political resistance against which it was constructed, and yet offers new possibilities for racial appropriation.

Socialist Obama and the Demonized State

It remains to be seen whether the Tea Party movement will endure, but for now racial affect has made the movement successful even in the absence of an active civil rights movement to stoke it. This returns us to Obama, whose office-taking coincided with the emergence of the Tea Party movement. Obama was inaugurated in the midst of the mortgage crisis and subsequent great recession, sharply increased nativist anxieties about immigration from Mexico, and within the long shadow of 9/11. For his racial opponents he represents a notion of blackness linked to irresponsible welfare spending; foreignness linked to nativist anxieties; and Islam, depicted as violent fanaticism. Racism has remained still a key element in the populist affect of the Tea Party movement that has pushed national politics rightward through its incessant pressure on the Republican party.

While Obama represents a violation of white national identity for those who could not bear the election of a black president, for libertarian conservatives he represents a violation of an unencumbered marketplace. These two representations, though sometimes in tension, come together and indeed magnify each other in the Tea Party imaginary. As animus toward Obama built in the battle over health care reform, the president increasingly became labeled by Tea Partiers not as a liberal, but as a socialist. This extraordinary claim, which would in no way have been credible even for conservatives prior to Obama's election, has far greater purchase now. TARP, the Stimulus Package, and Health Care Reform, all of which were restrained state responses to a historic economic crisis, (TARP being actually the product of the Bush administration), were rendered dangerous, threatening expressions of socialism when associated with a black president. For an antistatist populism that contrasts a virtuous white middle against black dependents below and controlling elites above, Obama represents both poles.

The most widely circulated symbol associating Obama with socialism among Tea Partiers was a poster that began circulating in early 2009 depicting Obama as the Joker from the film Batman: The Dark Knight above the caption: "Socialism." By summer, tens of thousands of reproductions of the image with the caption Socialism were wheat-pasted across the Los Angeles area. As the Tea Party opposition to health care reform developed over the summer of 2009, the Obama/Joker poster was omnipresent. Defenders of the image claimed that there was nothing identifiably racial in the otherwise demonic image, and that the message, Socialism is a clear political statement unconnected to race.

Those who assert that the image is racist, however, have rightly pointed to the minstrelsy connotations of his painted face and the symbolism of the Joker as a figure of uncontrolled urban violence and nihilism. But it is not merely that a racially demonized image of Obama got juxtaposed to the political charge of socialism in the text below it. Indeed, the Socialism caption points not away from race, as its defenders would have it, but towards it. The modern conservative movement in the United States from the late 1940s onward linked the advance of black civil rights with the threat of a totalitarian state, and of socialism specifically. The modern Right, as argued earlier, continually depicted an unholy alliance of invasive state elites above and criminal, parasitic blacks below against a virtuous middle of hardworking white Americans. As a form of political address, there is nothing muddled about the Socialism poster. Image and text refer to each other along an already well-developed chain of associations.

But the Obama/Joker image also demonstrates how the symbolic relationship between race and the state has changed in the current political context. The last significant instance of the right's deployment of a menacing black face for political purposes was Lee Atwater's use of convicted rapist William Horton ("Willie" was Atwater's invented nickname) in the 1988 Bush campaign.[16] There as here, blackness was linked to criminality to discredit a Democratic opponent. The difference is that in the 1988 Bush campaign "liberalism" was meant to evoke fears of a white president, unleashing black criminals on a vulnerable nation. For contemporary Tea Partiers, "socialism" is meant to evoke fears of a black president unleashing a criminal state on a vulnerable nation. In the former, the state enabled unchecked black aggression, whereas in the latter blackness enables unchecked state aggression. Without black social unrest as a political issue (or even recent memory), assaults on the modern right's virtuous middle come from above, not below.

What does it mean politically that the Tea Party expresses a conservative politics directed less at people of color than at the redistributive state more generally? The successes of the modern Right were achieved through the refashioning of political identities of working and middle-class whites away from the Democratic liberalism and toward conservative Republicanism. This meant splitting off and racializing the poor as welfare dependents and criminals. But welfare has been largely dismantled, and the prison industrial complex fully realized. Indeed, as noted above, the issue of crime is mostly absent for Tea Partiers even as the disproportionally black and latino poor continue to be subject to violence, coercion and incarceration.

Racial affect for the Tea Party circulates most powerfully in attacks on Obama, but as such these lack substantive policy targets around which to rally. The birther issue, for instance, has fired the countersubversive imagination, but does not translate directly into more punitive crime legislation, or further attacks on affirmative action. Thus hatred of Obama is translated into assaults on taxation, social programs, public sector unions, and deficit spending. Unspoken racial rage against Obama as signifier for the state may continue to sustain this trend for those who would continue to transfer wealth ever upward.

What now?

The challenges we now face in reversing contemporary political tides are formidable. Looking back, the widely discredited Liberty League of the New Deal era looks nearly identical to the very influential Tea Party today.[17] And the Tea Party is merely the most visible manifestation of the assault on equality, freedom, and democratic rule. The Democratic Party has also shifted dramatically rightward in the last 30 years, echoing the turn away from commitments to democracy and economic equality. The Supreme Court's 2010 elimination of campaign finance reform in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission exacerbates this trend, as both parties now will require even more staggering amounts of money to run campaigns. Indeed, Obama campaign suggests that the 2012 reelection effort will exceed a billion dollars. Such sums, of course, are most easily attainable on Wall Street, which is one indicator of the direction in which the Obama administration is likely to continue to lean.

As devastating in some ways as the historic dismantling of the New Deal is, it is a mistake to seek merely to defend the welfare state. Such rearguard actions cannot alter the contemporary terms of debate, challenge the extraordinary power asymmetries we now face, nor, most importantly inspire broad-based political action. Record unemployment, crumbling schools, bankrupt municipalities and counties, collapsing infrastructure, widespread poverty and homelessness-in this context, assaults on redistributive aspects of the state (slashed social programs and entitlements, weakened wage and benefit security for large sectors of the workforce, and preserved tax breaks for the very rich) strain populist credulity. How long can a such a movement sustain itself without an idea of res publica that it seeks to defend? If we are all Black Americans now, as Melissa Lacewell-Perry recently suggested, than populist political cleavages can be reconfigured.[18] For all of its funding by wealthy patrons and exposure on Fox News, the social movement success of the Tea Party movement nevertheless has been made possible in part because participants saw themselves as civic actors advancing autonomous political ends – much as the New Left once did. Those who wish to reverse this political tide must come to inhabit political identities that are oppositional, and framed within in our own populist language of liberty.


[1] I would like to thank Kevin Bruyneel and Jacob Slichter for their insights and suggestions on this essay.

[2] See John Robert Moore, "Senator Josiah W. Bailey and the 'Conservative Manifesto' of 1937," Journal of Southern His- tory, 31, no. 1 (February 1965), pp. 21–39; 75th Congress, 2nd sess., Congressional Record (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 20, 1937), 1934–40. The Liberty League was a proto-fascist conspiratorial organization set up to overthrow Roosevelt in the early 1930s.

[3] Lowndes, Joseph. From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism. New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008.

[4] Mary C. Brennan, Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), p. 12; Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) Lowndes, pp 45-76; Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. New York, Hill and Wang, 2001.

[5] Lowndes, pp 106-139; Kevin Phillips in The Emerging Republican Majority New Rochelle, N.Y.: Ar-lington House, 1968)

[6] Zerneke, Kate. Boiling Mad: Inside the Tea Party Movement, New York Times Books, Henry Holt. 2010.

[7] Tesler, Michael and David O. Sears. Obama's Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2010.

[8] Pear, Robert. "Spitting and Slurs Directed at Lawmakers." March 20, 2010. New York Times. (Last accessed May 24, 2011).

[9] Burghart and Zeskind, Tea Party Nationalism.

[10] Delong, Matt. "Tea Party Leader Expelled Over Slavery Letter." Washington Post, July 18, 2010. (Last accessed May 24, 2011)

[11] Leahy, Michael Patrick. "Bruce Bartlett's Intellectually Dishonest Smear of the Tea Party Movement." American Thinker, May 23, 2011 (last accessed may 24, 2011)

[12] Gardner, Amy and Thompson, Issah. "Tea Party Groups Battle Perception of Racism." Washington Post, May 5, 2010. (Last accessed May 24, 2011)

[13] Balfour, Lawrie. The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy. Ithica. Cornell University Press, 2001.

[14] Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness in the American Literary Imagination. New York. Vintage. 1993.

[15] Herbert, Bob. "America is Better Than This." New York Times, August 27, 2010. (last accessed May 24, 2011)

[16] Mendelberg, Tali. The Race Card: Campaign Messages, Implicit Strategies, and the Norm of Equality. Princeton, Prienceton University Press, 2001.

[17] See David Woolner, "The Tea Party Movement: Successor to the Liberty League?" (Last accessed August 4, 2011)

[18] Lacewell-Perry, Melissa. "Are We All Black Americans Now?" The Nation, April 18, 2011.

Washington Chain Saw Massacre - by MAUREEN DOWD

August 2, 2011 | NYT
Even before Emanuel Cleaver, the Democratic congressman from Missouri, called the debt deal "a sugar-coated Satan sandwich" and Nancy Pelosi tossed in a side of "Satan fries," the whiff of sulfur was rising from the Capitol.

The gory, Gothic melodrama on the Potomac is a summer horror blockbuster - without the catharsis.

Most of the audience staggered away from this slasher flick still shuddering. We continue to be paranoid, gripped by fear of the unknown, shocked by our own helplessness, stunned by how swiftly one world can turn into a darker one where everything can seem familiar yet foreign.

"Rosemary's Tea Party," an online commenter called it.

If the scariest thing in the world is something you can't understand, then Americans are scared out of their minds about what is happening in America.

As William Friedkin, the director of "The Exorcist," observed 27 years after Linda Blair's head spun 360°, horror movies, like Hitler, pose a chilling, unanswerable question: "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

The horror director Brian De Palma once described the simple essence of his genre: "There is just something about a woman and a knife." But, in this case, it was the president - and the federal government - being chased through dim corridors by a maniacal gang with big knives held high. Like Dracula's castle, the majestic Capitol suddenly seemed forbidding, befogged not with dry ice but with the stressed-out Speaker John Boehner's smoking. Like all great horror movies, this one existed in that surreal zone between fantasy and reality, as the Tea Party zealots created their own reality in midnight meetings.

Just as horror films moved from niche to mainstream in the late-'70s, with successes like "Halloween" and "Alien," the Tea Party moved from niche to mainstream.

Tea Party budget-slashers didn't sport the black capes with blood-red lining beloved by the campy Vincent Price or wield the tinglers deployed by William Castle. But in their feral attack on Washington, in their talent for raising goose bumps from Wall Street to Westminster, this strange, compelling and uncompromising new force epitomized "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and evoked comparisons to our most mythic creatures of the night.

They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country's reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, Boehner and President Obama. They were like the metallic beasts in "Alien" flashing mouths of teeth inside other mouths of teeth, bursting out of Boehner's stomach every time he came to a bouquet of microphones. (Conjuring that last image on Monday, Vladimir Putin described America as "a parasite.")

As Jason Zinoman writes in his new book on horror films, "Shock Value," "The monster has traditionally been a stand-in for some anxiety, political, social, or cultural." The monsters of '70s films channeled grievances similar to the Tea Party's about, as Zinoman wrote, "government power and mocking nihilism." Audiences sometimes sympathized with the monsters, as Marilyn Monroe did in "The Seven Year Itch" with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who, she said, "just craved a little affection."

The influential horror writer H. P. Lovecraft knew better than to be too literal in his description of monsters.

In the short story "The Outsider," Lovecraft's narrator offers a description that matches how some alarmed Democrats view Tea Partiers:

"I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity and desolation; the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation; the awful baring of that which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world."

I didn't think I had anything in common with Lady Gaga until I read in a magazine profile of her that she likes to fall asleep watching horror movies. Growing up, my brothers were obsessed with Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and the Mummy. (There was no model of the Invisible Man.) I have an old picture of my brother Kevin and me as children sitting rapt on a bed in our underwear watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

Kevin spent his free time meticulously building and painting models of monsters, which he still keeps in a spare bedroom, half a century later. For their second date, he took the woman who would become his wife to a triple feature of horror movies.

If Obama were more of a horror-movie connoisseur, he would know that he was cast as the mild-mannered everyman David Mann (get it?), the driver in the Steven Spielberg classic "Duel," caught in a road-rage episode with a faceless trucker on the highway who "challenges the protagonist's masculinity," as Zinoman put it.

Unfortunately, Obama cowered under his seat during the D.C. horror movie and now plans to try to hide behind his Supercommittee. But the Tea Party slashers roaming the corridors of the Capitol have feasted without resistance on delicious victims and will only grow bolder.

In other words, the president is going to need a bigger boat.

g_by says:

January 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

There's a lot of backpedalling going on over this.

One is in George Washington's blog linked above. In it, he says "Denninger says that the original intent of that group was to peacefully protest the big banks ruining the economy, and to call for criminal fraud by the banksters to be prosecuted." However, I remember them as entirely and absolutely anti-tax, and only anti-tax. Hence, the evocation of the Boston Tea Party. Sort of mass-movement on Grover Norquist's plan for the GOP.

The political violence came as the summer when on. Tea Party groups were bussed into congressional town halls about the health bill where they inevitably used organized chanting to shout down opponents, the members of Congress, the press, and anyone. They basically shut down the process. Acts of individual violence, the bit-off pinky, sucker punching old women in Arizona, etc., followed.

I suppose accurate history is political. Orwell's 1984 was fiction only in form.

Anyway, what's the equivalent group on the center? Or the left? I realize that beliefs are entirely internal, but this is a view of the objective world.

There's a lot of new-found innocence going on here, and more will be discovered soon. Thanks again for stating a position rather than attacking a person.

Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane (Paperback)

A timely analysis of the Radical Right in the US, June 2, 2010 By A. Bruce Miller "Bruce Miller" (Oakland, CA USA) - See all my reviews

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Dave Neiwert and John Amato in this book give us a great look at the Republican Party's mass mobilization of 2009 against the Obama administration, with lots of details about the Tea Party movement. Two things about this book strike me as particularly notable. One is that it shows, as clearly as I've seen done yet, how the Tea Party movement is both a normal part of the Republican Party but also a new phase in the long-term radicalization of the Party. The other is that it gives readers not familiar with the sometimes strange and even cult-like way of talking about politics among rightwing "populist" conservatives a good introduction to that language.

Regular readers of John Amato's "Crooks and Liars" blog, of which Dave Neiwert is the editor, will have seen a lot of the particular events described in real time. Dave is a genuine journalistic expert on the Radical Right and writes about it regularly. But even for those who have followed the Radical Right at "Crooks and Liars" and other news sources, there's real value in seeing a book length description of various events and personalities, which allows the writers to focus at some length on major themes while also making the chronological narrative clear.

In the chapter called "Bloodying the Shirt", they offer some insight into a favorite habit of conservatives, especially of the far right, that can often be disconcerting to those not familiar with it. They tell the story of anti-abortion fanatic and Christian terrorist Scott Roeder who murdered Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider on May 31, 2009. Bill O'Reilly had run reports on Tiller and framed them in inflammatory terms. But, of course, when Roeder struck, O'Reilly indignently tried to distance himself from any kind responsibility for contributing to the atmosphere that encouraged a Christian terrorist like Roeder.

Amato and Neiwert talk about the reverse accusations that people like O'Reilly often make when confronted with such challenges: they make the critics into the problem, not their own actions or incitement. Amato and Neiwert explain this by Southern whining in the late 19th century about the "bloody shirt" tactic. Citing historian Stephan Budiansky, they explain that pro-Reconstruction Congressman Ben Butler made an issue out of a Northerner whipped on the back by Ku Klux Klan thugs, and legend arose that he had waved a bloody shirt of the man's on the House floor.

Though there is no evidence for Butler ever having made that particularly dramatic gesture, conservative white Southerners made "waving the bloody shirt" a favorite slogan to use against any criticism of violence and lawlessness committed by anti-Reconstruction whites. The idea is to frame the criticism itself as reprehensible, rather than the actual heinous acts being criticized. We see Republican conservatives using a variation of this tactic today, and not only in response to criticism of violent acts. As the authors point out, Republican pundits used it to fend off criticism of the Tea Party.

The book traces the rise of the Tea Party with heavy support from Republican Party front groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and the de facto Party channel, FOX News. It's tricky to characterize a relatively amorphous "movement". But there has been extensive media coverage and well as a good deal of opinion polling probing the ideas and perspectives of those who identify with the Tea Party. It's hard to see how one reasonably interprets this available information in any other way than to see the Tea Party movement as a Republican Party mobilization of its base.

But the fact that the movement was ginned up by the Republican Party does not mean that it is nothing but Party astroturf (fake grass roots). Dave Neiwert and other close observers of the Radical Right have been pointing out from the beginning of the Tea Party that far-right activists from the Patriot Militia, xenophobic anti-immigrant, and other militant fringe groups have used the Tea Party to raise their own profiles and to mainstream more of their own ideology. In their chapter, "The Brakes Fail", they detail some of the ways in which Tea Party activists have proved to be something a loose cannon for the Party in some instances.

The Republican Party has undergone an extended process of radicalization. From whenever one dates its beginning, anyone capable of recognizing the radicalization can see that by the time the Party made torture one of its core values, the radicalization process was quite far along. The reporting and analysis put together in "Over the Cliff" show how the Tea Party can represent both an intensification of the radicalization process and at the same time be not some nonpartisan political insurgency, but rather the face of the Republican Party out of power.

I would pick nits with a couple of historical points. They write that the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 "was when the craziness reached depths previously unseen in American politics." But we haven't yet reached nearly the level of craziness of the South in the run-up to the Civil War. I'm not sure some of the far right hysteria during the early years of the Franklin Roosevelt administration or during the period of McCarthyism wasn't worse than now.

And I did a big double-take at a quote they include from Chip Berlet on the ideology of "producerism", which is the description they apply to the Tea Party brand of "populism" that tries to rally working people to oppose Big Government and unfavored races (African-Americans and Latinos in the Tea Party case), while defending Big Business and the very wealthy doing what they want, the public interest be damned. They quote Berlet saying, "Producerism begins in the U.S. with the Jacksonians, who wove together intra-elite factionalism and lower-class Whites' double-edged resentments." This is a very misleading, ahistorical characterization of Jacksonian democracy and the Jacksonian movement. In fact, the group that the late historian Richard Hofstadter and others agree was the first significant element to promote the "paranoid style" in US politics, aka, crackpot extremism, did arise during the Jacksonian era. It was the Anti-Masonic Party and was bitterly opposed to Jackson and his reforms. That claim of Berlet's is a real whopper.

But those are sidelines in Amato's and Neiwert's analysis of the contemporary right wing in the United States. Now that primary results are rolling in and Rand Paul has become a star of sorts among our leading pundits with his Bircher-theocratic brand of "libertarianism", Over the Cliff is a valuable resource for understanding daily politics in the US at the moment.

[Nov 04, 2010] Tea Party Takeaways by Richard Kim (a senior editor at The Nation)

The Nation

In the first and signal victory speech of election night, Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul took to the podium and declared himself the leading edge of a "Tea Party tidal wave." That wave, Paul made clear, is poised to crash down on the very idea of government itself. In his compact, loaded address, Paul pilloried government on at least ten occasions while zipping through the Tea Party's trigger words: Constitution, individual liberty, freedom, entrepreneurship, capitalism, balanced budgets and an end to the slavery of debt. But there was one word conspicuously missing from his remarks: "Republican."

On a night when Republicans pulled off the largest shift in party power since 1938, converting at least sixty seats in the House, they also seemed, paradoxically, to be an endangered species. In absurd remarks coming from a ten-term incumbent, incoming House speaker John Boehner pointedly declined to acknowledge this elephant in the room, pledging instead to take "a new approach that hasn't been tried before in Washington-by either party." And when the R-word was uttered, it was usually in a bizarre ritual of self-flagellation. As victorious Florida Tea Partyer Marco Rubio bluntly declared, it would be "a grave mistake" to believe that "these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party."

If the GOP didn't win-according to the GOP-then just who the hell did? The expedient answer for a party that still can't shake off the stink of George W. Bush's crony capitalism and profligate wars is the Tea Party. As a branding technique, it allows the right to sell a narrative of rediscovered conservatism, a story of how a movement of libertarian true believers got lost in the corridors of Halliburton and the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq but found their way again thanks to an uprising of "the people" awakened by Obama's government takeover. A lot of inconvenient truths and players get dropped along the way (pro-war security hawks; Astroturf-seeding billionaires; the Christian right, whose definition of individual liberty doesn't extend to women and gays; Bush's Wall Street bailout), but obviously historical and factual integrity isn't really the point. It makes a good slogan, and along the way it ups the rhetorical ante. Reagan's small-government revolution now sounds like a full-fledged no-government revolt; not since the British Redcoats has an army come to Washington with so explicit an intent to burn it to the ground.

Underneath the "Tea Party Triumphs" headlines, however, lies a fractured, incoherent party whose short-term strategy for electoral success is every bit as dicey as the formula for New Coke. Paul's, Rubio's and Pat Toomey's wins were more than offset by defeats for Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, John Raese, Ken Buck and, most likely, Joe Miller. Likewise in the House, Tea Party candidates picked up victories in Arizona, Arkansas and Florida, but in Pennsylvania, a hotbed of local Tea Party activism, they went 0 for 2 in races in play while non–Tea Party Republicans went a perfect 5 for 5. Although you wouldn't know it from the media coverage, ordinary Republicans constitute the majority of the new GOP class. Moreover, a number of successful candidates are only nominally or opportunistically associated with the Tea Party; these TINOs (Tea in Name Only) include Ron Johnson, who knocked off Russ Feingold in Wisconsin but whose success was largely driven by his personal wealth, and Steve Chabot of Ohio, who rebranded himself early on as a Tea Partyer in order to reclaim a seat he first won in 1994.

So far, the Tea Party zealots haven't forced most of these TINOs and non-Tea Republicans to take the purity test, as they did with Mike Castle in Delaware, to disastrous effect. But if firebrands like Paul and Rubio get their way in crafting legislation, all bets are off. Ask newly elected moderate Republican Nan Hayworth of New York's 19th District how she feels about privatizing Social Security or eliminating the Department of Education. Then ask Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe how they feel about their new colleague Toomey, who thinks it's cool to jail doctors for performing abortions. The possibilities for wedge issues that highlight the antigovernment extremism of the Tea Party (as well as its religious right tendencies) are ample, and Democrats should have no qualms about exploiting them-if the Tea Party doesn't go there on its own.

But there's a bigger lesson for Democrats than just divide and conquer. As much as the Tea Party's "throw the bums out" mentality represents a scary, anti-intellectual nihilism-there's an undeniably refreshing zing to its claim that Washington needs new faces. Sure, there's tons of hypocrisy and insincerity when folks like Boehner mouth these anti-establishment lines. But at least he had the smarts to ape the mood and in some cases actually accommodate it. The Republican Party wrestled this past year-often bloodily and clumsily (just ask Lisa M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I)-to co-opt, absorb and redirect the new energy on their side. This intraparty fight resulted in considerable blowback, though on the whole it produced not just net gains in Congress but the perception (and sometimes reality) that the Republicans were the party most willing to create a place at the table for outsiders. Meanwhile, Democrats, who just two years ago put a greenhorn at the top of the ticket, doubled down this time on the familiar-rallying around Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas (who subsequently went down to a 20-point defeat) and funneling late money to Blue Dogs (who dropped from fifty-four to twenty-six members). For the better part of Obama's administration, staffers like Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs were busy tossing off insults and elbows to the few insurgents on the left. And look where that got us.

Americans Are Exceptional: Rick Santelli and the Birth of the Tea Party by Aaron Task

Nov 02, 2010 | Yahoo! Finance

Even before the votes are counted, the Tea Party has emerged as a big winner of the 2010 Midterm elections. Tea Party candidates beat "establishment" Republicans in a number of primaries, including Utah, Delaware, Kentucky and Alaska, and several appear poised for victory in Tuesday's general election. (See The Upshot for a breakdown of races to watch.)

CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli has been credited with kick-starting the Tea Party movement with his (now) famous rant on Feb. 19, 2009. But "the people on the ground deserve all the credit," Santelli says. "The credit is to all the Americans involved; creating movements in less than two years is no small task."

Indeed not, and the decentralized nature of the Tea Party has allowed some extreme elements to emerge and (rightfully or not) be characterized as having co-opted the movement.

Santelli concedes the evolution of the party has been "far from perfect," but doesn't claim the right to judge who does or doesn't belong.

"The parts of the movement that I'm proud of are grounded in fiscal conservatism, the power of the individual and the notion that Americans are exceptional," Santelli says. "There's nothing wrong with saying it, feeling it and even bragging about it: Americans are exceptional."

Social issues aside, Tea Party candidates are intensely focused on the deficit and Santelli hopes the movement has refocused the GOP on financial conservatism after it "slowly but surely morphed into just as much spending as any of the other political powers that be."

Going forward, the big question is whether Tea Party members can both maintain their principles and work with more-establishment Republicans, much less the Democrats, as discussed here with The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza.

"The Tea Party Isn't About Economic Insecurity"

Busy today trying to catch up on grading and get ready for a talk later this week, so let me toss this out for comment. Blue Texan observes:

All Together, Now: The Tea Party Isn't About Economic Insecurity, by Blue Texan: In his op-ed today, the normally razor sharp Frank Rich makes the same mistake I keep seeing over and over from the chattering classes.

Don't expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day - no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis.


Anyone who thinks the Teabaggers' unhinged "anger and bitterness" will subside in the face of an improving economy really needs to take a closer look at objective polling on the Teabaggers and review the 1990s.

The '90s was a time of economic prosperity, but because there was a Democrat in the White House, the far-right was in full freakout mode. Back then, Clinton/Gore's black helicopters were coming for their guns and right-wing "patriots" like Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph roamed the countryside.

But they weren't called the "Tea Party." They were the Angry White Men.

These angry white men are one legion in a grassroots movement that has rewritten the political equation of the 1990s, and in the process helped to transform the Republican Party … An army of conservative grassroots groups has mobilized middle-class discontent with government into a militant political force, reaching for an idealized past with the tools of the onrushing future: fax machines, computer bulletin boards, and the shrill buzz of talk radio. They have forged alliances with the Gingrich generation of conservatives and strengthened their hand as the dominant voice within the GOP family.

Sounds familiar, yes? It's the same crowd.

Polls have shown that Teabaggers are lilly white and well off. They're not the people getting kicked out of their houses by the banksters. They're not unemployed. They're not bearing the brunt of the Great Recession. They're just doing what they do when Democrats are in charge. Obama's death panels and FEMA camps have replaced Clinton's black helicopters.

And of course, the fact that this president's middle name is Hussein and he's Muslim and black, well, that's just a few extra scoops of nuts on the wingnut sundae.

These are John Birch Society types, and the crashing of the global economy - a direct result of the plutocratic "free market" [sic] orgy they helped usher in - is just a convenient excuse to act out.

That's all it is.

I think this is true to an extent, but not the whole story. There are various flavors of populism out there right now, and this is true for the most prominent, tea-flavored. But I also think that there is dissatisfaction with economic prospects for the future among other groups that is very real. Even when there are "Angry White Men" dominating the discourse, it can still be the case that "it's the economy, stupid."


Blue Texan: "Sounds familiar, yes? It's the same crowd."

Really? I expect that a lot of the angry old white men of the 90s have joined the Tea Party. OTOH, a lot of them are dead. But that does not mean that it is all same-same.

Mark Thoma: "Even when there are "Angry White Men" dominating the discourse, it can still be the case that "it's the economy, stupid."

Right. I think that the economy swung the voters in Obama's favor. But then he did not take the message fully to heart. Summers told him that a stimulus that would avoid disaster but not provide recovery was good enough. Obama should have made the economic recovery top priority. Perhaps that would have meant no health insurance bill by now, but it would have generated a lot of good will for the mid-term elections.


Min... I think BT is missing the point.

While the Tea Party may not have any good ideas for the economy, it really doesn't matter what the Tea Party promote. They are the alternative to an administration and Democratic Congress that failed to deliver jobs.

There are a lot of voters that know very little about economic policy. They only know that unemployment is high, finding a job or a raise in pay is difficult. If Obama would have paid more attention to unemployment, these swing voters would vote for the economic improvement. Since unemployment remains high, they think that what we have now is not working and will "Vote the bums out".

If Democrats cannot deliver jobs, what good are they?

What is unbelievable is that Democrats fail to "get it".


bakho... As Clinton demonstrated, it's not about jobs. Clinton delivered jobs, and he was impeached while these guys egged the Republicans on. It's about a particular world view in which white men are considered superior and not getting enough respect. Remember, these are the angry white men who voted in Ronald Reagan who did everything he could at the time to cut their wages and get rid of what Clinton would later call family wage jobs.

It isn't about jobs at all. You could use these guys 24/7 as door mats and kick them every time you walk by, as long as you paid lip service to their superiority and treated women, black snd gays even worse.


kaleberg... it's 2007 and i'm talking w/ a german tourist at a friend's birthday party.

GERMAN: america is rich & smart. i don't understand why you can't solve these problems that everyone else has finished with.

AMERICAN: i could tell you, but you are not going to believe it..

GERMAN: why? what is the problem?

AMERICAN: anti-communism.

he grew up w/ the wall, and he looked at me like i was from mars....


bakho... "If Democrats cannot deliver jobs, what good are they?

"What is unbelievable is that Democrats fail to "get it".

I dunno. Does it come down to the decline of the labor movement?

Too many textbook theorists:

The teabaggers won't amount to much.

If they started minting their own currency with gold and silver coins and started dropping out of the tax system that could create issues.


The Tea Party is "Old Whine in New Bottles" as Mother Jones put it:

This stuff's been going one since FDR for crying out loud.

One more Democrat president and we'll be able to talk about a historical conspiracy like National Treasure, the Holcroft Covenant or The Boys from Brazil!


Francois... Its is the same sort of movement as the know nothings of the 1850s and the KKK of the 1920s (more opposed to immigrants catholics and jews than blacks).

This sort of movement happens when society changes more than a group of people feel comfortable with. They say stop give me my country back as it was. Actually one even sees hints of this during the Monroe admin. The us is not the country it was in the 1950s and these folks don't like that.

carping demon

Lyle... That is it in a nutshell. They already feel that they've nothing more to lose, even while they have so much more than they ever imagined they would have.

Fred C. Dobbs

If they're not elected, they'll just get worse, so they only thing to do is vote them in, I suppose. Frank Rich is warning us that won't work either, dang it.

Today was the day that the NYT was telling the faithful, and anyone else who cares, to go to the polls and vote for Democrats, already, because it's not too late for another couple weeks.

Expect more reminders til November 2.

Richard H. Serlin

Yeah, but you will really isolate and marginalize the Tea-Baggers if the economy booms for a while, from the other 80 or 90 percent, and that will make them a lot less harmful.

And basically because they're so old, there's honestly just going to be a lot less of them in 10 and 20 years if the economy does well so few new members join -- millennials are certainly extremely different and far more community and government oriented.


Richard H. Serlin... "there's honestly just going to be a lot less of them in 10 and 20 years if the economy does well so few new members join"

Yes, but I think you should be looking at the current time frame as a "recruitment drive." The core teabag crowd is indeed older, and they would be dying out in about 10-20 years or so.

Enough time to bag Social Security, of course, but they want to set the terms for the next few decades as well. Look at how much governmental policy infrastructure the Reaganites were able to install in just eight years. And total domination of the Supreme Court would be the ultimate prize; not that they don't have predominance there already.


JM... Go to a Ron Paul rally. Not many old people there.

Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures and young people are more likely to go for a novel solution.

Corporatism and welfare are not novel.


Worker... The tea party will eventually falter on generational split.

If you think there is a sense of aggrievement now, wait until baby boomer driven entitlement spending and public sector pensions come due.

On one hand, the baby boomers will say, "I have mine" and crowd out other spending. On the other hand, younger people (and more austere rightists) will push to scale back entitlements generally. It's a coming pincer move on the welfare state.

There will be cities and states (mostly blue) where you effectively can't own a home, but have to rent it from the state workers pension fund paying 3/4+% of the value in property taxes every year.

Of course this dynamic doesn't see that supporting a leftist welfare state.


"the tea party isn't about economic insecurity" -- and it isn't the tea partiers who think 8% headline unemployment is ok for a new normal.

George E.

The Taxed Enough Already movement raises the bar on the old Democratic-Progressive-Socialist movement by challenging the entrenched system.

They also challenge the Red Staters by chastizing their divorce of their conservative bridesmaid during George W.'s Presidency.

Caving to Dems on the domestic front for War support didn't work out so well.

But the true rebellion lies in Governments cozy relationships with Wall Street, and "too big to fail." Using sophmoric slurs to characterize people of opposing ideas is nothing more than intellectual bigotry. I'm no TEA partier, but they have SOME good ideas we should approach with optimism. They are conservatives who feel abandoned - for the most part.


George E.... "...they have SOME good ideas..."

Name some, please.


Angry white men always dominate the discourse. The new part is more that angry white men have to deal with other groups that challenge their control.

The men part is already gone in my generation, but power is largely concentrated in the hands of at least 50 years. That's a generation where angry white men still dominate everything.

The Tea party is just a small sub group of angry white men. Theres no reason to think they are more right or wrong because they are angry white men, just like every other political powerfull group.


Why Liberals Don't Get the Tea Party Movement

"Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear.

Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives.

In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.

But far from reflecting a recurring pathology in our politics or the losing side in the debate over the Constitution, the devotion to limited government lies at the heart of the American experiment in liberal democracy.


Whether members have read much or little of The Federalist, the tea party movement's focus on keeping government within bounds and answerable to the people reflects the devotion to limited government embodied in the Constitution. One reason this is poorly understood among our best educated citizens is that American politics is poorly taught at the universities that credentialed them. Indeed, even as the tea party calls for the return to constitutional basics, our universities neglect The Federalist and its classic exposition of constitutional principles.

For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs.


Those who doubt that the failings of higher education in America have political consequences need only reflect on the quality of progressive commentary on the tea party movement.


Chris... plus we laugh at the sincere truthful promises of a free pony

Extinct Species

Chris... The reason so many people (not just liberals) don't get the Tea Party movement is because the only way to get to what they claim to want is to raise taxes and/or gut Social Security, Medicare and/or defense spending none of which the non getters believe the Tea Party is willing to do.

They may be more well off but on the whole they will not be on board with having their Social Security and Medicare gutted.

Despite their complaints, Tea Partiers are not against socialism as long as they are on the receiving end. They are only against socialism when the "unworthy" of society get the benefits.

You are right about the failure of our education system. The Tea Partiers demonstrate it on a regular basis. Large portions of them are against socialism but for Medicare. Large portions of them think the Federal budget could be balanced through the elimination of waste and foreign aid. And large portions of them, despite the principles this nation was founded on, which they claim to champion, would restrict the religious freedom of Muslims in America (in ways they would never condone against Christians).

Tea Partiers are a whirlwind of contradictions. What's to get? That they're clueless? That they're hypocrites? That they are a facade?


Extinct Species... I'm glad you agree the education system has been a failure.

As far as the rest of your message...

1. Wrong, the Tea Party people are not against "religious freedom of Muslims".

2. People already paid into Social Security and Medicare so they should get what they were promised, but as for me I'll take a refund with interest and never want to pay it again.

3. Defense spending, I think a lot of Tea Party supporters (at least ones that I know) would support less defense spending as long as significant reductions in other government programs were made.

4. "Tea Partiers are a whirlwind of contradictions." Sometimes, but it's not a political party with a set platform, it's more of a protest movement in favor of less corruption, no bailouts and limited government. Besides that, they often have divergent views on how best to achieve those goals.



{it's more of a protest movement in favor of less corruption, no bailouts and limited government. }

Been there, done that -- what we got was lead-head's INEPT "less-government" market oversight that ultimately caused the Great Recession as well as an increase in total budget expenditures (to fight two concurrent wars) along with a tax giveaway. The mind boggles at such incompetent governance.

And because of the Replicants what we are left with, in terms of Health Care, is a palliative solution that will in no way reduce government funding on expensive private insurance and thus continue to widen the budget deficit chasm.

Why in heaven's name should anyone in their right mind vote for such negligent governance? No market oversight would be better?

How's that, pray tell.



1) I have yet to see a TPer support the right of a Muslim group to build a community center two blocks from Ground Zero. I have yet to see a TPer oppose the burning of the Koran. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in my observations the only "religious freedom of Muslims" that your typical TPer seems to support is the freedom to convert to Christianity.

2) You see, you don't understand how SS works. When SS was established, seniors immediately started receiving benefits. It's a transfer program from those of working age to the elderly and disabled. It would add trillions to the deficit if we chose to both honor promises to those receiving payouts AND refund money to everybody who has paid in but not yet received payouts. You can't have it both ways, but as usual that's what TPers want.

3) If the TP came out in support of reduced defense spending, they would earn a LOT of respect in my eyes (and many others who see their positions as contradictory). But TPers describe themselves as "true conservatives", and reducing defense spending has never been a "true conservative" value. Maybe TPers need to explain a little better that they're "true conservative" except when it comes to defense spending.

4) If the TP was offering multiple paths to achieve their goals, each one making some amount of sense on its own but not necessarily consistent of the other paths, then your defense would be valid. But I have yet to hear a single coherent proposal come from the TP crowd. Lower taxes and balanced budgets simply aren't both possible right now. Pick one. To bring the budgets into balance at our current levels of tax collection would require shutting down both the military and Medicare, and we know those ain't gonna happen. So pick something that you stand for. Stop sounding like little children who refuse to make a choice between two contradictory options.



1. I can't reply for all TPs but there is a difference between having a Constitutional or legal right to do something, and whether TPs or myself want to support it. Unfortunately liberals tend to conflate the two because they think everything should be a law. You can certainly support a person's legal right to do something, while personally not wanting to see them do that.

2. I understand how Social Security works, it's a pyramid scheme based on force. Eventually it all comes crashing down when the revenues can't meet the benefit expectations. I am aware that I can't opt out for a refund, I was being somewhat facetious on that (I'm not actually expecting a refund), but in any event it's going to have to be "fixed" anytime soon, I'm not aware of there being one stance on that among the TP.

3. I listed a url below about Robert Gates getting support cutting military from the TP.

4. "But I have yet to hear a single coherent proposal come from the TP crowd." There are proposals out there but there isn't one from one unified Tea Party, because that doesn't exist, it's not a political party like Democrats and Republicans. It's a protest movement made of different groups (sometimes with different ideals on other issues) who join in the protest. See, you and most liberals are clueless in understanding that very important point. It doesn't have an organized party platform addressing every possible issue like Democrats and Republicans. There are a bunch of different groups. They have a few common end-goals which I listed already, and join in the protest against bailouts, corruption, expanding government and support candidates that I agree with those goals. That's all it is.


Extinct Species... re: "defense spending none of which the non getters believe the Tea Party is willing to do."

Robert Gates may get lift from tea parties

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates takes on General Electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other "powerful people" in seeking cuts to major weapons programs, he may get help from an unexpected ally - the tea party movement.

Key tea party players, on and off Capitol Hill, are expressing a willingness to put the Pentagon budget on the chopping block if it will help rein in federal spending and eliminate a projected trillion-dollar-plus budget deficit.

Although generally hawkish and conservative with a libertarian streak - "we're for strong defense" is an oft-repeated mantra in the movement - tea party leaders and allies contacted by POLITICO said that both fairness and common sense dictate that the military budget be scrutinized for such cuts, a view that puts them in sync with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and some of the most liberal members of Congress.

"Everything is on the table," insisted Mark Meckler, a national coordinator with the group Tea Party Patriots. "I have yet to hear anyone say, 'We can't touch defense spending,' or any other issue. ... Any tea partier who says something else lacks integrity."



If one must point the finger of blame -- and given the negligence and therefore crime, then one must -- here is where to look for the culprits:

The SubPrime Mess was:

  1. Bred on Main Street by banks and credit institutions that wanted to securitize (resell) non-credit-worthy loans,
  2. Packaged by Wall Street which, according to the article cited above, knew full well that the debt instruments they were packaging for resale were Toxic Caste,
  3. But given anyway Triple-A ratings, when the Credit Rating Agencies should have known that the packaged loans/mortgages were faulty (since they were negligent in their duty to inspect the underlying nature of the debtors),
  4. Whereupon the Wall Street Golden Boys foisted the Toxic Waste upon global investors as "Bona-fide Realty Backed Debt Instruments"; which, when the market finally understood the underlying toxicity,
  5. Caused seizure of the banking Credit Mechanism that could have done very grievous damage to the economy if not attended to (and therefore caused TARP),
  6. But nonetheless reduced consumer Demand for goods and services, because Americans feared losing their jobs in the menacing economic crunch,
  7. Which indeed happened nonetheless and caused the Great Recession, the most severe economic contractions since the 1930s. And, lest we forget,
  8. Such recessions in the past have rarely taken less than two or three years to be finally overcome.

May the perpetrators be caught, prosecuted and jailed. Zero Tolerance in order to prevent such greedy and callous negligence to ever reoccur.


But, in the meantime, the American people will stop any real reform of the American economy and government by, in the mid-term elections, voting back into possession of Congress the Party of which the ineptitude in office originally caused the SubPrime Mess.

That is the party that thought markets were self-regulating and therefore market oversight agencies were allowed to follow a policy of lax market surveillance.

Meaning, Americans who have shown Zero Tolerance for the Banksters will demonstrate Great Tolerance for the Republican Party.

Go figure ...


The tea baggers are almost solely about continuing to free ride. Red states, in which the teabaggers are concentrated, consistently get more federal money than they give. And when it is a red + agricultural state, we are talking about food price supports that have kept the economy alive since the depression.

The tea bag candidates are, I think, representative. Like Senator to be Paul of Kentucky, they have devoted their entire lives to milking the government - in Paul's case, Medicare - because this is how they grow rich. But they have, in the past, learned that they could grow even more rich by making the demand to pay lower taxes.

The Bush era could be seen as, in many ways, the golden age of free rider conservatism - the government expanded enormously as it at the same time privatized functions and cut taxes on the wealthy - who, of course, benefitted the most from the government expansion in health (the pharma industry, doctors, hospitals) and the Pentagon. It is a good deal.

You know, if you are some doctor in South carolina or lawyer in Alaska, that there is really not going to be a cut in such entitlements as social security, and that the money will continue to flow into private hands from a government too pussilanimous to, for instance, seize the private medical sphere it massively supports. And you know that the Dems will roll over on taxes. So you get a much bigger benefit. However, the problem is that this appropriation of government generated wealth by the upper middle and upper class, combined with the tax cuts (and such amazingly regressive tax breaks as that for the 401k) has led to a broken system. The Pauls of the world figure that they can get another taste of blood from a tax cut and devise things so that they can continue to free ride on government expenditures. But it seems to me that the great era of free riding (also called the Great Moderation) is over.

And the next bite might really affect the upper middle and lower rich. Because their policies, which are devised to make the state the sucker who pays for the speculative sprees, the lifestyle expenses, the client one can always milk, might really lead to something they say they want: "free enterprise" - that is, a stock market that really reflects the true nature of the economy, not one amped up by the Fed; a medical system in which their insurance rates reflect the insane price of medicine in the U.S.; an end to farm supports (although I'd predict that the sky is going to fall before this happens - still, they might be cut); and even cuts in military spending (spending 1.6 trillion on this every two years might not be, uh, possible).

The free riders tragedy is to get what he wants. And after the GOP takeover in Nov., we will see just what that means.


roger... I have to wonder if some of the hard-right conservatives haven't thought this through more thoroughly than we give them credit for. If they succeed in wrecking society, who benefits?

Well, the handful of individuals who have enriched themselves massively and can support themselves indefinitely with their savings. They can hire private security forces, domestic labor, and anything else they need to ensure their comfort and security. Indeed, hiring people for these purposes will be much cheaper once there's no longer a massive middle class with ample economic opportunity.

When the great mass of humanity must do the bidding of the ultra-wealthy or starve, then these individuals can enjoy the power they truly crave. What's the point of great wealth if you can't exercise god-like control over your fellow man?

Clearly, today's wealthy elite have grown tired of simply amassing more stuff, and want to return to the good ol' days when they can amass true, unfettered power.

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party - By FRANK RICH

August 28, 2010
Vive la révolution!

There's just one element missing from these snapshots of America's ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the "death panel" warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You've heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs' banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch's, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate's unchecked anger and the Obama White House's unfocused political strategy, they might.

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled "Invisible Hands" in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League's crusade against the New Deal "socialism" of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our "socialist" president.

Only the fat cats change - not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government "handouts" to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont's portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers' father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society's top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of "a takeover" of America in which Communists would "infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us." That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

Last week the Kochs were shoved unwillingly into the spotlight by the most comprehensive journalistic portrait of them yet, written by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. Her article caused a stir among those in Manhattan's liberal elite who didn't know that David Koch, widely celebrated for his cultural philanthropy, is not merely another rich conservative Republican but the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which, as Mayer writes with some understatement, "has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement's inception." To New Yorkers who associate the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet, it's startling to learn that the Texas branch of that foundation's political arm, known simply as Americans for Prosperity, gave its Blogger of the Year Award to an activist who had called President Obama "cokehead in chief."

The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, which, like Americans for Prosperity, is promoting events in Washington this weekend. Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations. Using tax records, Mayer found that Koch-controlled foundations gave out $196 million from 1998 to 2008, much of it to conservative causes and institutions. That figure doesn't include $50 million in Koch Industries lobbying and $4.8 million in campaign contributions by its political action committee, putting it first among energy company peers like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Since tax law permits anonymous personal donations to nonprofit political groups, these figures may understate the case. The Kochs surely match the in-kind donations the Tea Party receives in free promotion 24/7 from Murdoch's Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll.

The New Yorker article stirred up the right, too. Some of Mayer's blogging detractors unwittingly upheld the premise of her article (titled "Covert Operations") by conceding that they have been Koch grantees. None of them found any factual errors in her 10,000 words. Many of them tried to change the subject to George Soros, the billionaire backer of liberal causes. But Soros is a publicity hound who is transparent about where he shovels his money. And like many liberals - selflessly or foolishly, depending on your point of view - he supports causes that are unrelated to his business interests and that, if anything, raise his taxes.

This is hardly true of the Kochs. When David Koch ran to the right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (it polled 1 percent), his campaign called for the abolition not just of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies and welfare but also of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools - in other words, any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes. He hasn't changed. As Mayer details, Koch-supported lobbyists, foundations and political operatives are at the center of climate-science denial - a cause that forestalls threats to Koch Industries' vast fossil fuel business. While Koch foundations donate to cancer hospitals like Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, Koch Industries has been lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying another product important to its bottom line, formaldehyde, as a "known carcinogen" in humans (which it is).

Tea Partiers may share the Kochs' detestation of taxes, big government and Obama. But there's a difference between mainstream conservatism and a fringe agenda that tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly.

Yet inexorably the Koch agenda is morphing into the G.O.P. agenda, as articulated by current Republican members of Congress, including the putative next speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Tea Party Senate candidates like Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and the new kid on the block, Alaska's anti-Medicaid, anti-unemployment insurance Palin protégé, Joe Miller. Their program opposes a federal deficit, but has no objection to running up trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich; apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a "slush fund"; opposes the extension of unemployment benefits; and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been outrageous.

The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests. And surely Murdoch is snickering at those protesting the "ground zero mosque." Last week on "Fox and Friends," the Bush administration flacks Dan Senor and Dana Perino attacked a supposedly terrorism-tainted Saudi prince whose foundation might contribute to the Islamic center. But as "The Daily Show" keeps pointing out, these Fox bloviators never acknowledge that the evil prince they're bashing, Walid bin Talal, is not only the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox News's parent company (he owns 7 percent of News Corporation) and the recipient of Murdoch mammoth investments in Saudi Arabia but also the subject of lionization elsewhere on Fox.

No less a Murdoch factotum than Neil Cavuto slobbered over bin Talal in a Fox Business Channel interview as recently as January, with nary a question about his supposed terrorist ties. Instead, bin Talal praised Obama's stance on terrorism and even endorsed the Democrats' goal of universal health insurance. Do any of the Fox-watching protestors at the "ground zero mosque" know that Fox's profits are flowing to a Obama-sympathizing Saudi billionaire in bed with Murdoch? As Jon Stewart summed it up, the protestors who want "to cut off funding to the 'terror mosque' " are aiding that funding by watching Fox and enhancing bin Talal's News Corp. holdings.

When wolves of Murdoch's ingenuity and the Kochs' stealth have been at the door of our democracy in the past, Democrats have fought back fiercely. Franklin Roosevelt's triumphant 1936 re-election campaign pummeled the Liberty League as a Republican ally eager to "squeeze the worker dry in his old age and cast him like an orange rind into the refuse pail." When John Kennedy's patriotism was assailed by Birchers calling for impeachment, he gave a major speech denouncing their "crusades of suspicion."

And Obama? So far, sadly, this question answers itself.

Sheldon Bunin

The Freedom and Liberty crowd are hawking their ideas. Are we ready for First Class Citizens whom the Constitution protects and a class which it does not? Are you ready to repair our government by destroying the Constitution? Big Money finances and drives the Tea Party movement, whose snake oil salesman like Palin and Beck are peddling a habit forming kind of sugar coated poison for the ultimate benefit billionaires and the multi-billionaires, long dissatisfied with the system of government that allowed them to prosper.

So what do these billionaires and multi-billionaires on the far right want. They want Freedom and Liberty; but it is more like freedom from and liberty to. They want freedom from paying taxes for anything that does not directly benefit them. They want freedom from having to pay for anyone else's retirement, disability or health care, freedom from paying for public education or for the operation of any part of government which is not involved with protecting their physical security, freedom from minimum wage laws and wages and hours and safety laws, freedom from having to obey the same laws as everyone else. They also want liberty to do whatever they want, to treat people anyway they want, to have their own private security forces with the authority of law enforcement and arrest and deploy to protect their interests, as we see in the Gulf region and of course liberty to take and use the nation's natural resources as their own property and to despoil the environment.

Now they want to market and quantify liberty, to slice it and sell it to the highest bidder. Inside this area you are free, outside there is shooting. Wear this lapel button and the cops salute. They want First Class Citizens and Second Class Citizens, like holders of non-voting corporate shares. What do they want? Turn back the clock to the late 1970's and 1980's. Think Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile, Argentine juntas and Brazil's slum cities with walled mansions for the rich. That is what they want and they will accept no less.

Ordinary people might not even know the actual names of those who exported their jobs, stole their pensions, are working hard to destroy their safety nets and safety protections in factories and mines and braking their unions. These are the same people who have polluted their air, poisoned their water and stole natural resources. The despoilers deny that these resources belong to all Americans. Thanks to corrupt politicians, mostly Republicans and some Democrats too, who they helped to elect, the believe that their cash entitles to them to treat the nations resources as their own private property, bought at the bargain price political bribes and fraudulent promises of honest stewardship.

These are the people have waged a stealth class war and won it and now are throwing it in our faces. We now read news reports the ideas of rich people with un-American ideas, now running directly for high public office and of multi-billionaires like the Koch brothers who have worked for years to undermine democratic government as most people understand it. This has happened before in other countries. The result is always despotism. If these people take power here, invest in companies who build and operate privatized internment camps.


Okay, now we have the names and the antecedents and the influence all very well described and we have the final clinching line. The real question seems to be why do the Kochs and their kin hate government so much? I think the answer to that lies in history that extends as far back as 1776 and I don't think you can create government in the USA that serves to assist its population when the historical culture has always been that we the people neither desire nor encourage government assistance and since we can no longer move away from government we must ensure that government stay away from us. That's a wild west philosophy and it runs through the majority of Americans who distrust government and only want to get rich (no pun intended) At the same time the USA prides itself as a Christian nation and offers precious little help to the poorer brothers within it. The conservatives in Britain demonstrated that paternalism could help them win elections but the conservatives in the USA lack that kind of social conscience. The divide is growing wider and the conservatives will win because Americans celebrate the individual and not the collective and it is too much a part of the culture to disappear.


Although it really shouldn't be the case, given the very different circumstances, the political-emotional situation faced by Obama now is eerily parallel to that faced by Nelson Mandela in South Africa and dramatized eloquently in the recent film Invictus. Mandela understood that by supporting--brilliantly--the traditionally white (though by then they had one black player) South African national rugby team, he could give the minority white population and former masters of the country a stake in the new South Africa. In this he had to counter the understandably vengeful tendencies among the political supporters who got him elected.

I once spent several hours sitting next to Mandela during a university degree granting ceremony at which he was a speaker. We did not talk much, but I observed him intently.

What characterizes his every utterance and even body language is careful consderation, moderation, and self restraint. He speaks carefully and conveys strength raising his voice or emotional temperature. Intense but cool. He is very tall, and even at age 80 moves gracefully and economically, like the athlete he was in his youth. He looks like a man who never loses his temper.

I think Obama has some similar qualities, and is following a similar script. And I don't think it is an accident that the movie about Mandela and the rugby team was released this year--there are some smart people in the movie industry.

In his column today, Frank Rich poked Obama for lack of responsiveness in his column. Obama and his team DO have to push back against the Neo-Confederate Party (which is truly what they are, believe me, I live in Tennessee, and I know), but they have to do so with graceful jiu-jitsu, with drama but without visible anger.


Thank you, Mr. Rich. The Koch Industries website outlines how this company became the largest privately held corporation in the world. I wonder if they had any influence over the Roberts' Supreme Court ruling that allows businesses and corporations to fund any political campaign they want with as much money as they want. See the website, one of their first enterprises in the 1920s and 1930s involved helping "the former Soviet Union." with a refinery. It seems the Koch brothers true roots are actually Communist. I wonder if Glen Beck knows this. As for Beck Inc., well, each person answers to their source of Divine Power in the most heart-felt and genuine way that their own heritage, experience, and contemplation bring about. God calls each American, each human, into the Divine realm, on God's terms. Each soul is saved as a unique human being; every sheep in the flock is as precious, important and unique as the lost sheep in the parable. The founding fathers understood this. Lincoln understood this. Read his second Inaugural Address that is etched inside the same memorial Beck spoke at today. And King's Dream was inspired by it. It makes me very uncomfortable to see these Koch-funded politicians incite and foment fear and bigotry -- for a one-size-fits-all-religion-for-America -- knowing that the cynical and sinister motivation behind it is financial greed and lust for political power. I hope enough Americans will be able to see through this. But the televsion medium, especially Fox News, has become a powerful propaganda tool, especially for many who don't have time or patience to read very much.

Recommend Recommended by 46 Readers 5.sssilbersteinnevadaAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThe traditionalists of the GOP have been captured by the far-right element of the party. They are being swallowed whole by the perpetual fear-mongering of the Axis of Evil - Fox News, the NY Post and the editorial section of the Wall Street Journal - and the dominance of conservative talk radio. They have the audience and the momentum. The short-term fearful herd mentality is taking hold, and for millions of those who have lost their homes and jobs, for good reason. The economy is being sucked into a whirlpool of negativity, and more and more are being fooled by the misrepresentations, lies and finger pointing.

Obama needs to take control. He has to reduce uncertainty and inspire confidence. He should formulate and communicate a clear vision and strategic direction that will be focused, understandable, inspirational and beneficial for business and individuals. He should detail a 10 year strategic plan indicating targeted short-term and long-term objectives and needed actions with a focus on each of the following:

1. Growing jobs and the economy 2. Reducing the deficit and debt 3. Improving/building infrastructure with targeted investments 4. Weaning the U.S. away from foreign oil and into renewable energy 5. Blowing up the current tax code and introducing a Fair (Consumption) Tax or Flat Tax system, or a combination of both

When the rate of change outside is moving faster than the rate of change inside, the end is in sight - that is what the Dems are now facing.

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 6.Joe-yongeTorontoAugust 29th, 20109:20 amMy jaw has dropped. This sort of information has been dug out and published in books and academic journals going way back. The news seemed to stay away from it like the plague. I had given up seeing any public discussion in mainstream media. Why it might be getting attention just now is not quite clear, but better late than never. Thanks so much for your own contribution here!!!! Very good essay.

I might add that the right wing foundations and think tanks are organized like a corporate conglomerate machine of interacting parts. This is not just a matter of throwing money into political campaigns.

It is tempting to focus on Koch and Murdoch, Dupont, etc. And it is important to bring this to a mainstream readership. But there have been other big money players behind the funding and coordination of the Foundations, Think-tanks, and training programs.

They set up training programs in law and journalism and political science and groom young leaders and hold discussion meetings to work out positions and lay out objectives and devise public relations and legal and political strategies. They network, network, network with each other. They court, they lobby, they have seasoned teams that help recruit and put their strategies into action. Very wealthy people have been spending vast amounts of money quite strategically for decades. As I recall there is a veery nice paper on this by Professor Ellen Messer-Davidow "Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education." Social Text 36 (Fall 1993): 40-80

Doubtless those at the top of the right wing power pyramid have had several motives. But one theme stressed by FORMER top Republican strategist Kevin Phillips in books reporting his research has been to roll back the changes in American society brought about by the new deal. They saw a flow of wealth and power from the upper classes to the middle and lower classes. The aim was to reverse this trend and undo this fact. Phillips showed that in fact the flow of wealth had been away from the middle and lower classes and up to the wealthy classes from at least the 1980s.

There is too much known information to try to sketch briefly here. But I want at least to say to say thanks and keep digging. You are on the right track in this essay. Follow the money.Follow the money.Follow the money. Follow the money.

Recommend Recommended by 95 Readers 7.Elizabeth FullerPeterborough, NHAugust 29th, 20109:20 amI really wish we could have an intelligent, thoughtful dialog that sheds a little more light on what is happening in this country. It is just too easy to lump Murdoch and the Koch brothers together into some vast right-wing conspiracy out to take over the world. We call them names and wring our hands because that does, in fact, seem to be their strategy. But what is the truth, really? Is it really a concerted effort on the part of all the monied class to wipe out the poor and middle classes? When and where are their secret meetings held? Is there really a cadre of evildoers bent on taking the powerless down? Did they actually go out and recruit Roberts and Scalia and the rest to hand down decisions in their favor? Are well-educated, thoughtful judges really that venal? If not, we need to try harder to find out what, besides money, drives them.

We have focused on what makes people without much money vote against their own best interests, and a lot of us have concluded it's ignorance, fed by Murdoch's propaganda machine. What I'd like to know is what drives Murdoch and his ilk? Is it really just money? I have to think that after a point it simply can't be. How many yachts, helicopters, and expensive cars can one person really keep track of? What really goes on in their minds? Can we ever find out if no one speaks with an authentic voice anymore? When have we last heard people on either side really speak from their hearts instead of in carefully calibrated sound bites? Can it be that if Murdoch did speak from his heart we would find he is truly Machiavellian, with a Hitlerian vision of a world full of supermen like him? If he really is a megalomaniac motivated to create a super race, then he ought to be exposed. If he isn't, can he please rationally and seriously rebut the arguments that reveal that so much of what he stands for is divisive not just economically but in every other way? Why do people like him defend as an intellectual property right, for instance, the refusal to reveal the content of the liquid used in hydraulic fracturing that may be polluting ground water? Is it because the supermen are not hurt by it, and the extinction of those of us who aren't super is considered a good thing? If that isn't the case, then please tell us why having information that might (or might not) save people's lives and protect our water table is a bad thing. Is it that knowledge is no longer power, and money is, and power is the greatest aphrodisiac of all? Is it really, in the end, as Mad Men might have us believe, all about sex? It doesn't even feel that advanced. We're more like children in a giant playground yelling, "Did not," "Did too," at each other.

We're not living in a film where people can be identified as being good or bad by the color of their hats, and we ought to start admitting that. My fear is that, as in "The Informant," we, all of us, even the supermen, maybe most especially the supermen, even the whistle-blowers among us, are short-sighted and selfish, and have given up on the idea of nobility. Could it be that it is not a conspiracy, but a moral vacuum that has gotten us to this point? Might it be that increasingly our wars are about religion because of that vacuum? I don't know the answer, but I do think that if we don't want to go back to an age of unenlightenment, we need to stop calling names and arm ourselves with information.

Recommend Recommended by 16 Readers 8.RCWmidwestAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThank you, Mr. Rich. The Koch Industries website outlines how this company became the largest privately held corporation in the world. I wonder if they had any influence over the Roberts' Supreme Court ruling that allows businesses and corporations to fund any political campaign they want with as much money as they want. See the website, one of their first enterprises in the 1920s and 1930s involved helping "the former Soviet Union." with a refinery. It seems the Koch brothers true roots are actually Communist. I wonder if Glen Beck knows this. As for Beck Inc., well, each person answers to their source of Divine Power in the most heart-felt and genuine way that their own heritage, experience, and contemplation bring about. God calls each American, each human, into the Divine realm, on God's terms. Each soul is saved as a unique human being; every sheep in the flock is as precious, important and unique as the lost sheep in the parable. The founding fathers understood this. Lincoln understood this. Read his second Inaugural Address that is etched inside the same memorial Beck spoke at today. And King's Dream was inspired by it. It makes me very uncomfortable to see these Koch-funded politicians incite and foment fear and bigotry -- for a one-size-fits-all-religion-for-America -- knowing that the cynical and sinister motivation behind it is financial greed and lust for political power. I hope enough Americans will be able to see through this. But the televsion medium, especially Fox News, has become a powerful propaganda tool, especially for many who don't have time or patience to read very much. Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 9.BenBrooklynAugust 29th, 20109:20 amWant to enable candidates who aren't either rich themselves or need to raise money from, and therefore at least somewhat cater to the interests of, big money players? It's very simple--publicly finance our elections, so that candidates who demonstrate support from a sufficient number of constituents, and want to focus on doing what's best for their constituents and the country, have enough money to run their campaigns and compete against those who want to be shills for corporations and the rich. There's no getting around the fact that candidates need a certain level of funding to run a campaign, and if we want our representatives to represent us, we need to give them a way to have that funding without being indebted to big money players who expect something for their money.

I read the Times' editorials and comments regularly, and I see plenty of pertinent and important analysis, observation and criticism of our politics, but almost no ideas on improving the way it works. At some point complaining has to lead to ideas about how to fix problems, or it's really just a pointless hobby. Give a good think to publicly financing our elections as a long term solution, and ending or altering the filibuster as a near term one, if you're interested in changing things rather than just lamenting them... Recommend Recommended by 19 Readers 10.MichaelFloridaAugust 29th, 20109:20 amToo many Americans are just not going to see the truth until this economic collapse becomes truly calamitous. If you've read quotes from the teabaggers on the Mall, you know they blame Obama and his efforts to mitigate the Great Recession for that recession, acting completely oblivious to all that the previous administration did to precipitate it. Moreover, they attribute to Obama the one thing Bush did to save the monetary system, i.e., TARP, and blame it for their troubles rather than admitting it probably saved our entire financial mechanism. They condemn the stimulus as unwarranted deficit spending and an immoral "redistribution of wealth," nevermind that it saved the jobs of millions in both the public and private sectors. In fact, they believe that our major problem is deficit spending and not unemployment. Of course, please ignore all the deficit spending on needless wars of aggression by the previous administration. That was patriotism. They condemn saving our auto industry and about 3 million jobs attached to it. This remnant of our heavy industry should have been allowed to go extinct, apparently, along with all the major banks they wanted to see fail. Would they still want the banks to fail if there were no FDIC, one of those "socialist" programs created by FDR? I guess they'd willingly lose their entire life savings to prove a point of political philosophy, eh? They also take issue with the government distributing unemployment compensation. Another free handout they claim. Nevermind that workers paid into unemployment insurance from every paycheck. Just another "socialist" program propping up deadbeats they claim.

What this country needs is a really catastrophic economic collapse at least as bad as the Great Depression to make an impression on the acolytes of the Right. This is what they want, and perhaps this is what they should get in order to wake them up to reality. They'll come begging for government "interference" when the monetary system collapses and their dollars are worth nothing, when they have no jobs to even bring in chickens in barter, and when all government services disappear along with the tax base. Too many Americans are actually praying for this. I think they deserve it. Let them see their own folly and that of the charlatans, like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, whom they religiously follow.

It would seem that there is no chance for recovery for Obama and the Democrats. They are going down in flames in 2010 and 2012. The money and media influence of the vast wealth behind the scenes that you describe in your article, Frank, have seen to that. The Republican party (and many conservative Democrats) have been bought and paid for, and they deliver the goods to their patrons. The Republicans, along with traitors to human decency like Ben Nelson, Blanch Lincoln and Joe Lieberman, have mastered the filibuster like a fine musical instrument, while at the same time convincing the American people that the Democrats are responsible for all the problems with the legislation they have passed or by virtue of the legislation they have been unable to pass. The GOP washes its hands of all responsibility while obstructing at every turn, and then crowing that the Democrats have the 60 votes they need in the Senate, so everything is all their fault. Balderdash, they had those 60 votes for an interval of about a month or two. Both before Franken was finally seated and after Brown was elected they filibustered everything, often with the help of those ConservaDems I already mentioned. With everything now decided by filibuster, the Democrats really had little chance to pass an effective agenda with their "mere" 59 votes. We'll see how the Republicans like having every one of their bills filibustered in the next congress, assuming the Democrats have the guts to obstruct the way Republicans do with such massive impunity. The Republicans have ensured that our federal government has simply devolved into madness, not out of any real philosophical differences (because many of the bills Democrats passed or advanced were, in fact, Republican plans--like the healthcare reform bill--which they voted against simply to obstruct the Dems) but simply as a convenient device by which to hoodwink the public and retake power. Once they realise that power, I hope it falls on them like a collapsing house of bricks, that the public shares their pain--intensely--and finally wakes up to what a bunch of power-hungry money grubbers these jackals are in their hearts and souls. Recommend Recommended by 35 Readers 11.Christopher BollasLondon, EnglandAugust 29th, 20109:20 amMr. Rich reminds us that the far right is bank rolled by the wealthy, recalls that FDR and JFK confronted extremist challenges to their policies, and laments Obama's apparent passivity in the face of an onslaught of right wing cant.

But unlike the days of FDR and JFK the extreme right has now become a legitimate part of the American political scene. When JFK confronted the John Birch Society he tuned in to deep American anxieties about far right thinking. Those anxieties do not appear to be around.

Instead non-extremist members of the electorate seem curiously detached from what should be anxiety provoking.

There are many ways to look at the current situation but if we think of the issue as, in part, a social-psychological one, then we could begin to analyze why moderates are not confronting extremists. But is this true, that moderates are silent? Is it true that Obama has failed to confront the right?

I don't think so. He has been criticized for doing so on daily television talk shows or in his own TV broadcasts. He has been criticized for not rising above right wing cant.

What does one do, however, if the real world is subjected to a semi-dramatic rendering, turning it into a daily soap opera? Fox News or MSNBC are unconcealed reality TV "shows" that regularly invite politicians of all stripes into almost ironic self degeneration. Serious issues are made into amusing topics with John Stewart and others--real legit comics--competing with the regular pundits for the presentation of serious thought.

How do we understand this curious remove from real confrontation into an altered consciousness, one that portrays conflict but in another world: in the amusing realm of reality TV? We may understand this as a form of dissociation, a typical action of an individual or a group that is inside a truamatizing situation that renders the self or the group helpless. As the American right has become more extreme, as it has become seemingly more mainstream, moderate citizens have felt increasingly helpless in the face of this mass psychology. That is not so surprising. Obama has certainly tried to confront the right but he has simply become part of the "show". That is, if he says anything he cannot remove himself from showtime, from the collective defense against dealing with the reality of our world.

Although there is a long standing paranoid tradition in American politics, and although paranoids and the paranoid processes do paralyze non psychotic people, one solution to the problem is to create a discourse that examines the psychology of trauma. That would mean looking at the far right not as simply a group of loonies, but of understanding why so many people would develop such extreme views about being, for example, "over regulated by government." Why is this such an attractive idea? Why does the far right gain such currency with the fiction that we are the victims of a left wing conspiracy that aims to take away our freedom and turn us into something like the walking dead?

Paranoids project. The very claims they make about Obama or the so-called left are the parts of their own personalities that are active. The fear of over-regulation is dominant because the more disinhibited the right becomes, the less responsible or self-regulating it becomes, the more it projects the need for regulation into others. In this case the left.

But why the loss of self regulation? Why give in to rather nutty ideas? If a large part of the American population feel helpless and live close to the poverty line--and we know millions of Americans live such lives--then one is less in charge of one's own fate. The members of the Tea Party I know are middle income to lower income individuals who are genuinely anxious about surviving and as their anxiety increases they become less and less able to control their own anxieties, they become more angry, they become more paranoid. The fear of being over regulated is an unconscious wish for such regulation to arrive. The hatred of those who are imagined to be "socialists" is unconscious hate directed at the part of the self's loss of self-regulation and unconscious hunger for mass regulation and provision.

At any moment in time, people who feel helpless will join up with the paranoid process in American politics and indeed prove a challenge to anyone who would want to restore people to saner processes of thought. To do so is not impossible. But it does ask of the moderate electorate what we might think of as a psychological mindedness that sees in the extremist an ordinary person who needs a different type of engagement than vilification. To help ourselves through the dilemmas posed by psychotic processes operating on a national scale, we are going to have to become more willing to look into human psychology to develop a different form of political engagement than "showtime." Recommend Recommended by 12 Readers 12.kcbobKansas City, MOAugust 29th, 20109:20 amLest we forget, a major player in the demise of the middle class was Ronald Reagan who was the union buster in chief and enabler of the tax-averse wealthy. He also began the march to, "Starve the Beast!" - the Republican conservatives title for their plan to burden the federal government with so much debt it became a pauper and had to cut back on spending.

We're 13 trillion in the hole and counting due to the pretend-then-borrow-then spend-then-defend tactics of the Republicans. They pretend tax cuts self-finance. They borrow on the promise it will all work out, swearing, "Deficits don't matter!" They spend money on wars, on Medicare, on privatizing, on tax cuts. Then the defend their fiscal mess by blame Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, Harry Ried and Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Tim Geitner.

In Kansas, the home state of the Koch brothers, the public schools had to sue the legislature to demand they follow the state constitution and supply "appropriate funding". The "conservatives" financed a myriad of tax breaks for corporations and property tax cuts by underfunding the state pension system and raising sales taxes. Now they decry the "largess" of the benefits they gave workers instead of pay raises. And they pretend public employees are essentially evil - sucking dry the government, bad teachers, lazy workers, union stooges. Meanwhile, the Kansas Public Employee Retirement Fund is noted as one of two states with less than 60 percent funding. The other is Illinois. Odd company for Kansas conservatives to share!

And so the old battle goes on. Conservatives tell us there is massive waste, fraud and abuse that they will root out. They never do. Conservatives tell us private enterprise works better than government. But they never recall that 19 of 20 businesses fail in their first five years. And they never discuss the corporate profit that must be squeezed from running things like schools. Or the transport systems in war zones. Or the collection section of the IRS. They don't do the jobs any better - often worse. So why privatize?

Republicans worship money. They have no problem impoverishing working Americans so long as it brings higher profits for their corporations. And they enlist the victims to do their bidding by stoking their anger at and hatred toward their fellow victims.

Lincoln knew you can fool all the people some of the time. But even Abe might have wondered how long, "some of the time," can last. Recommend Recommended by 56 Readers 13.DavidNew YorkAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThough it will compromise both parties backers, and backers of all causes good, bad and ugly-we must restore a tax system in which the rich (especially billionares) pay more than the rest of us. It is morally wrong that they do not. The Kochs, Buffet, Gates, Oprah, Soros, Bloomberg etc. can get by in life on a few hundred million. No one person (or family) should have so much wealth that they can determine what happens to the rest of us. Our political, cultural and social institutions are undermined when they must go begging to a single individual with an agenda-even when the agenda is well meaning. Truth is lost behind the amplification of lies these enormous sums can buy. Transparency, full disclosure, reform, merit-none of what we need in our government will come about before we have progressive taxation like we did under that great Republican Eisenhower. (0 % for the uber-wealthy-because they're worth it. Recommend Recommended by 23 Readers 14.eemCambridge, MAAugust 29th, 20109:20 amyes, you are right. American politics always have and possibly always will be influenced by special interests. And there will always be right-wing billionaires funding anti-government groups. This is why Obama's idea of bipartisanship is so misplaced. Either a US-president goes with the flow and accepts the role of special interest, or, alternatively, fights them teeth and claw. There is no middle-ground. Unfortunately, Obama has realized this too late (if he has realized it at all). And this why he almost certainly won't be the great president that liberals hoped he would be.

On a different note, New Yorkers and Americans at large should finally get that big oil philanthropy is not *necessarily* good for the arts. Yes, New York's cultural institutions are very good but the *state-funded* museums, theatres, opera houses and philharmonics in "old Europe" are more numerous and at least as good, if not better. This is because culture is hilariously cheap in the larger scheme of things. It would be far more beneficial for society if billionaires had to pay 60% income tax. This would create incentives to reinvest in their companies (and their employees) and help fund unspectacular but vital services such as infrastructure. If the Kochs would pay the taxes they owe society (rich people profit the most from the services that any state provides) we could have their ballet companies, hospital wings *and* a few more decent public schools and paved roads. And yes, we wouldn't see the integrity of the Smithsonian compromised, which now whitewashes man-made climate change after taking Koch money on an exhibit on the subject. Recommend Recommended by 21 Readers 15.lorenzo212bronxbronxAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThe liberals have had it their way for so long it is major shock for them to realize that conservatives spend money also, and that so many "common folk" agree with the conservatives. The advent of the Obama Presidency, and a Democratic congress, never realized hopes of a national embrace because of the egos that rule the Democratic nest in the Senate - all want to be King, and none could control their prideful selves and bloated egos that have gotten fat at the public trough. Yes, conservatives do want to stop rampant government spending, and liberals always make it as if conservatives want to starve the masses. The liberals have since Roosevelt increased the public entitlements to the point of cracking the country's foundation, and every special liberal interest, from government union employees (our fellow citizens who work for us somehow have unions to protect themselves from us) to educational elites, all have been drawing at the well and the well is dry. The day of "Atlas Shrugged" has arrived, and all the house of entitlement cards will collapse and will only be rebuilt on the backs of free commerce and business. Liberals have spent money on their agendas for years, and liberal media has shilled for them. Now, when conservatives spend money, the same media always has disparaging comments and pronouncements, like Mr. Rich makes today about the Koch brothers. It is America, remember? It is Koch money, and they can spend it as they like. It is both pathetic and humorous to hear the voice of liberals who raise their egos in alarm. The nation is on a path to revising the agenda of the country, as people take back the power they have too long allowed Washington to abuse, and perhaps many departments can be eliminated or consolidated, and the idea of individual enterprise will again flourish in America, replacing the moribund liberal agenda. Pity. Where will all these so-wise elitists do for work when the public trough is gone? That is what really worries these wise voices about conservatives - that the conservatives expect people to work and earn a valid living, instead of the government supplying a neverending trough for all who disparage the American historical record and the real American way of life in the land outside DC or New York. The liberal agenda has run its course and is now on a fast downward spiral into oblivion. America will recover, because commerce will once again be freed from government intervention and the market will control the economy. In other words, Truth will reign, and alas, that is something that liberals cannot stand because Truth is as clear as an unmuddied lake, while liberals speak with not only forked tongues, but more tongues than a Pentacostal revival service, liberals do not want Truth or clarity, for then the people will realize the liberal agenda is a smokescreen for living off the public trough. Recommend Recommended by 19 Readers 16.Mark GoldesSebastopol, CAAugust 29th, 20109:20 amObama would be wasting words to talk about these dangerous devotees of destruction.

The Great Depression ended when the U.S. mobilized to fight the Second World War. Unemployment fell to 2%.

This Second Great Depression can end by mobilizing to supersede fossil fuels in time to avoid what seems like increasingly life threatening Global Warming.

See the analysis pro and con concerning the threat of a possible climate Tipping Point at

The paid scientists supported by Koch (and companies like Exxon-Mobile) may one day awaken to the damage they have done to themselves, their families and their country.

We need a worldwide effort to leave fossil fuels behind much faster than conventional wisdom would believe is possible.

It can be done! Revolutionary breakthrough technologies are being born. Hard as they are to believe, as independent laboratories validate the work, surprising new systems can supplement those truly effective carbon free systems already available.

See Moving Beyond Oil and Running on Water on the Aesop Institute website.

Ford completed a bomber every 59 minutes at the Willow Run factory within a few months after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

That same kind of enthusiastic 24/7 effort and dedication can produce surprising results and dramatically reduce unemployment.

It will inherently require and produce the missing additional economic stimulus.

Ironically, this approach will have found a way to regain real economic health that, once the threat is widely understood, can enjoy strong White House and Congressional support.

Insuring reasonable odds for the survival of our children and grandchildren has the potential to provide an emotional force that can drive widespread latent leadership.

There is a huge job waiting to begin. And we better do it fast. Propaganda has been all too effective in putting people to sleep. It is past time to wake up.

Recommend Recommended by 15 Readers 17.FredJKNYAugust 29th, 20109:20 amIt has been pretty obvious to anyone who has not fallen prey to these deceptions exactly what is going on here. People are voting against their better interests. The corporate-owned Tea Party and the Republican Party that is trying its utmost to absorb them are fighting to end unions and all of the employee protections that have been fought for over the last century by them, they are trying to cut taxes on the wealthiest and make the divide between rich and poor as wide as possible, while killing off the middle class. They are trying to gut education, they want willing drones to buy their products, not educated and environmentally aware consumers. They use religion to gather people in abundance, preying on their fears to prod them in the "right" direction. If the Republicans win majorities in the House and Senate in November, at least President Obama will be there for two more years to try to forestall the train wreck...which will, of course, be blamed on Obama. Then, when the next Republican president comes in with legislative majorities backing him (or her), the roadmap to oblivion will be free and clear. We are but a small push over the cliff towards becoming a well-armed banana republic. When that happens, no place on Earth will be safe for the sane among us to escape to. Recommend Recommended by 25 Readers 18.Jeremy Horne, Ph.D.Alamogordo, NMAugust 29th, 20109:20 amMr. Rich, you bring forth an extremely critical point that a lot of people miss in their analyses of what is happening in the U.S. You say quite rightly, "But there's a difference between mainstream conservatism and a fringe agenda that tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly. " To re-phrase, there is a major difference (and divide, for that matter) between the corporatists, the work-a-day reactionary in the street, and the victims of corporatism: small entrepreneurs and petty bourgeoisie. The former are the ones really owning and controlling the major means of production (industries and services) and systems of distribution, while the latter are isolated and localized, often doing the bidding of and at the mercy of the large corporations. Government, for its part, is the handmaiden of the corporation. Although under corporatism (Italian fascism being its forerunner), the means of production are privately owned and government controlled, the governmental power usually is actually that of the corporation. (Obviously, this is simplified, as we have the managerial class, CEOs, boards of directors, etc., but the essence is the same - the will of the corporation is dominant.)

We cannot forget what happened in Germany, where the socio-economic turmoil in the latter 1920s was essentially a petty bourgeois and worker phenomenon. It was only when the National Socialist Party began to gain an indomitable foothold that the large corporations lent it support.

Thanks, Mr. Rich, for your column. Recommend Recommended by 12 Readers 19.rmarcalbany nyAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThere is a big difference between the Americans of 1936 and today. The pharmaceutical industry has been so successful at expanded its line of "control medications" that many Americans simply cannot see the perfidy of men like the Koch brothers or the Australian citizen, Rupert Murdoch. (I am sure all of these wealthy captains of industry have tons of stock in drug companies that peddle mind altering compounds) Many other Americans are addled by drugs like Valium, Adderall and Prozac and many more minds are befuddled by illegal drugs and alcohol. They simply cannot see through the fog who or what is driving and financing todays array of deceitful, political charlatans. On top of all this we now have the proliferation of gadgets and electronic paraphernalia that have so distracted us and inundated our society with mind numbing minutia that our ability and energy to analyze and and sift through the misinformation, lies and half truths of the 24 hour media frenzy has been severely compromised. We are now so busy worrying about Lindsay Lohan and other louche American celebrities that we cannot become aroused or infuriated by dark political plots. Many of these sinister conspiracies are being concocted by self-serving billionaires like Murdoch and the Koch Brothers and millionaires like Limbaugh, Beck, Scaife and the latest Fox News millionaire newcomer in their midst, Sarah Palin. These sociopathic tycoons care not a wit for democracy or any of the values enshrined in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. They will spare no lies or any of their filthy lucre to make themselves even more obscenely wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans, the elderly or the poor. They are without scruples, ethics or sentient feelings but simply are obsessed with gaining power and controlling our ongoing experiment with self governance. Because of one simple fact they will not be easily stopped in their quest for superiority and control. These individuals have, over the years, engineered the election of a series of Presidents who have placed men on the Supreme Court that share most if not all of their manic hatred for the rule of law that has allowed the USA to become one of the most progressive and moderately egalitarian societies on the face of the earth. All of that is about to change abruptly with dire and far reaching consequences after the next two election cycles driven by Tea Party madness! The United States is rapidly becoming a banana republic like any number of South American oligarchies with a few billionaires and the rest of us barely able to eke out a modest financial survival. Recommend Recommended by 18 Readers 20.grimesjamesRoseville, MIAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThe Messiahs rally today appeals to many disenfranchised Americans, along with the clueless right. This country is run by an Oligarchy, that controls both parties. And their greed is destroying this country, and both parties are nothing more than Wall Street lackeys.

The economy can't recover without restoring our manufacturing base creating millions of American Private Sector jobs and stabilize the global economy, paving the way for a budding global consumer base provided by parity wages globally.


This the only method to save the American economy and congress better act now, before it's too late.

The Grimes Plan will restart global commerce with a graduated surcharge over 48 months (possibly longer) on all manufactured imports and out-sourced services. This plan will have little effect on trade with economies that pay livable wages by most G-20 standards.

The surcharge is a two way street. All countries may and should impose a surcharge: i.e., China, India, et al can impose an equal surcharge on all imports, allowing for an orderly transition and global stabilization as international commerce is redefined.

The fulcrum is this: trade imbalance. We import far more than we export. The surcharge on all imports will begin at 5% to 10% for the first 12 months, with a 1% monthly increase over the next 36 months.

General Motors, Ford and Cerberus can still manufacture cars in foreign countries. Now they'll have to produce what the indigenous labor markets can afford to purchase or pay the surcharge. This applies to all industries, not just automotive.

Foreign companies (such as Toyota) are more than welcome to sell in the USA, as long as they manufacture their products in the USA and pay livable wages.

China and other slave labor markets will have to concentrate on manufacturing products for internal consumption that their indigenous labor force can afford to purchase. And China is beginning to get the message!

Every sovereign nation has to develop its own economy with manufacturing dependent primarily on internal consumption and the United States is no exception.

The revenue generated by the surcharge will fund absolutely essential social programs and provide lost cost loans for start up private sector manufacturing companies to rebuild our manufacturing base, putting Americans back to work.

Mark Twain:there is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress.

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 21.SuseFloridaAugust 29th, 20109:20 amHypothetical questions, and no, I am not naive, I'm just posing the questions.

What do these billionaire and multi-millionaire people want to happen in this country ?

What is their vision ? How do they view this country if everything they want actually takes place ?

Let's assume that all social programs are eliminated.

No more social security or medicare, resulting in millions of seniors becoming indigent. Where do they go ? LIve on the streets and then, when they cannot do that anymore because they're too sick from old age, to some kind of euthanasia program like the death panels that some of you invented to try to kill the healthcare legislation ?

No more welfare (AFDC), which is supposed to be only for children, even if the program has been significantly abused, and no more medicaid, resulting in millions of already lower-income people becoming totally broke and unable to get any health services. Where do they live ? On the street ? And, if they get sick are they turned away from the emergency rooms at the local hospitals ?

Let's assume that there is a change in power in Congress and the new Congress, including incumbent GOP members formerly deaf, dumb and blind about the deficit, and the new Congress absolutely refuses to add to the deficit and insists on balancing the budget.

An anti-deficit platform, at the same time that fighting wars and paying, in the aggregate, trillions of dollars for drones and fighter planes and bombs and cyber-security and every possible military "necessity."

No health care reform (just repeal it). No government regulation of financial institutions (just repeal it). No government regulation of business if it means any barriers to amassing wealth. Death of unionization. No restriction on ownership of handguns, hunting guns or assault weapons. No abortions, but no aid to families with dependent children. No federal funding for any states, for any reason. If social security must survive, then privatize it, so that millions of people can be forced to make investment decisions that they have no desire or capacity to handle, and the government forces them to invest in something, even a money market fund, benefitting Wall Street ?

That's what they want ? That's what will make their lives more wonderful and their bank accounts more bountiful ? That's what will make their vision of America come true ?

With all of their money, why don't they leave, instead of trying so hard to eliminate every single protection and support system that exists to maintain a system that has multiple economic classes ? Seriously. Just several islands or take over a small country that has no defenses and no working government and and build your own perfect society. Why not ? Why spend so much money trying to change an entire country when you can so easily go live elsewhere or build a country elsewhere that has the system you so desire ?

Yes, I know. Power. Not a good enough answer.

The rich have always needed the poor and powerless to help them get rich and stay rich. Be careful what you wish for, because with a true 16-20% unemployment rate, and an aging population, and absolutely no control over illegal workers, you already have poor and powerless.....and, eventually you will have poor and powerless and angry and violent. That's called a revolution. And, you will not win that war. There's too few of you, and too many of us.

Recommend Recommended by 33 Readers 22.St PaulMinnesotaAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThat the Tea Party has a wizard has been obvious from the very beginning. It has a guiding hand or three as you point out. But the analysis and proof "should" have come long ago. I have the impression that these extremist forces can play almost at will with their opposition, by their near puppet master like control of average Americans through a constant circus of provocation.

Anger does not make people behave rationally, duh, and can be directed by the media towards targets that have little to do with its causes. The right has done a great job of using anger at Wall Street for their political ends while somehow avoiding responsibility for destroying our economy. Someone like Ronald Reagan could have taken this anger and made it work for him for 8 years to put reforms through, but Obama chose not to do this.

Democrats don't seem to be able to match the planning of Karl Rove and his like, nor the radical right that has such power today. Analyses such as your column today are required to penetrate the toxic effects of extremists. To wit, do 30% of Americans really believe that Obama is not an American? Or is this claim really a game of insult played by the right to destroy respect for the President and harm his ability to govern? The media takes these things at face value, but shouldn't unless they're merely sending in their work in for a pay check. Polls only say what they ask. They asked for people to demonstrate their hatred of a Black man in high office by showing disrespect by choosing to join in a massive prank, lie, political stunt. But in time, maybe they do believe what their anger and fear leads them to. The imperative is to find and apply the appropriate analyses before the lies gel. The racist analysis was one such example and really hurt the Tea Party Movement, but you cannot expect a powerful wizard to give up after receiving a first blow.

I have to think of tumultuous Weimar.

Recommend Recommended by 8 Readers 23.Paul L. Whiteley Sr.Louisville, KentuckyAugust 29th, 20109:20 amAmerica is a pathetic example of a democracy when millionaires and billionaires can sway elections so that the results favor the contributors' selfish self-interests. When those with the gold make the rules, we call that type of government a plutocracy--government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Plutocrats run roughshod over the majority middle class and poor.

Individual/Corporate greed and money in politics are killing our country. Two of the most absurd Supreme Court rulings passed down are: money is speech and corporations are people. Both rulings, which should be overturned, favor wealthy self-interests at the expense of everyone else. I thought the Supreme Court was supposed to be the impartial branch of government that made sure our nation lived up to its professed "justice for all" ideals.

America prides itself on being a charitable nation when there is a urgent need or crisis. As good as charity is, it is usually temporary and not good enough over the long haul. One of my favorite quotes comes from St. Augustine: "Charity is no substitute for justice withheld."

As long as our economic system is stacked overwhelminly in favor of the rich--especially the upper 2% of our people--justice is not done. Systemic injustice can only be overcome by government action that makes just laws, enforces them and interprets them fairly.

Selfishness and justice are incompatible. As important as profits are in the business world, they are not more important than people. It is unlikely politicians who can be bought by their biggest campaign contributors will be justice-doers.

Recommend Recommended by 12 Readers 24.w. smithseattleAugust 29th, 20109:20 amAs a lifelong conservationist and environmentalist, I am no fan of the Koch brothers. But, to pretend that George Soros, who makes his money off groups of companies and countries who are huge polluters, is somehow different is ridiculous. Without horrid pollutants that provide energy and synthetics neither would be rich nor powerful. My problem is with the hypocrisy. I generally vote Democratic strictly for environmental reasons, but I am sick to death of the hypocrisy from the Democratic side. Democrats has been in the pockets of Big Coal for decades. And, nothing is as polluting as coal. BP gave more money to Obama and the current Democrats than they did to Bush and the last group of Republicans.

There are many other points of hypocrisy, but my point is tht both sides are equally uneducated on the issues and just parrot the "My-side-is-better" lines without knowing that about which they speak. Judging by the comments a person reads, even in this newspaper, it is easy to say that Americans are more ignorant of facts today, than ever before, and there is no excuse with the internet and the explosion of information. I am coming to the conclusion that voting, for me, might simply be a waste of time. Recommend Recommended by 18 Readers 25.jstevendMission Viejo, CAAugust 29th, 20109:20 amThis is a thank you comment for all the enlightening research. I think the two important issues are, one, the question of how the American people can be made widely aware of these big money players' activities. The other point would be the question of the President's role in making this known. Will he do more along these lines.

I think it's likely that no one will be in power on the Federal level in this country after the November elections, not so as to get anything done that's either clearly liberal or conservative, but there will be some kind of right-ward shift.--in Federal judge nominations for one thing.

The problem is that this country is going to need effective government leadership for the problems in particular that the economy faces. Unemployment will continue to need addressing; the plight of state governments will continue to need federal action.

One result would seem be a large growth in the disaffected political middle and independents away from the parties. If that's correct, then I wonder how change might come from there, and what it would look like.

Perhaps along with the Koch brothers and Murdoch, the five Supreme Court justices who ruled for unlimited spending for elections should have been named. It looks like the struggle between democracy and plutocracy in this country is about to enter an extreme phase.

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[Oct 20, 2010] Let's Infiltrate The Tea Party Rallies - America's Political Chat Room - Page 13

Did any of you see Bill Maher on Larry king the other night? He stated that there is no tea party movement on the liberal side. He is right, but there should be. It is easy to dismiss these people as a collection of right wing nuts who can be easily be ignored, but the truth is that as long as they go unchallenged they come across as looking legitimate and as having the support of a significant portion of the general population. This gives not only them but all of the other far right nutcase and hate groups who are riding the coat tails an air of legitimacy also.

In order to combat this we are starting an anti-tea party party called the Unionists. Why Unionists? Because in the first place the ideas of the Tea Party are not the ideas of the minute men, but rather they come from a group later in our history; racism, state rights, weakening the federal government.

It is the federal government these people are revolting against not Great Britain. These attitudes are very familiar to us here in North Texas, as I'm sure you also recognise them too. They are Confederates. It would be funny if they didn't represent a real threat. OK not much maybe, but just possibley more than we are comfortable admitting.

I took a ride with my daughter today to visit realitives and we saw no less than 6 cars with "Texas Secide" bumper stickers and when you think of states like Arizona writing thier own immigration laws and the reaction of states like California in railing and other states threatening to follow suit you see that there is a chance that the USA could go the way of the USSR.

Maybe not likely but any step in that direction is dangerous, you can't weaken the federal government without weaking the union. Therefore we are forming a party called the Unionists to directly oppose them. Our uniform and dress will be civil war uniforms, union blue. If you think this sounds silly think how I'm going to look wearing one in Texas. We will carry signs showing president Obama dressed as Abe Lincoln and having such slogans as "Save the union, boil a teabagger!'" or the stars and bars with a swastika in the center and the words "true flag of the teaparty" but you get the idea.

We are planning a rally to be held in Dealey Plaza in Dallas tentively set for Sept. 1st if any of you in the DFW area are interested in this please E-mail us at [email protected] , we need to know how many people we can count on and we can use any help you may want to give. Any of you in other locations please feel free to follow suit and god bless you. James


I think it's fair to name the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Christian Right, etc. parts of a potential neo-fascist movement in the United States. Their words and actions too often encourage attacks on people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks, and anyone they don't see as legitimate members of US society.

Ultimately, many in this movement are pushing for a different social system taking power in the United States: one that is more authoritarian, less compassionate, more exploitive of the environment, more militaristic, and based on a mythical return to national glory.

This is not a throwback to Nazi Germany. It's a new kind of fascism, a new American fascism. And it's a serious threat.

Tea Party -- Old Whine in New Bottles

Memo to Obama: Bill Clinton, LBJ, and FDR know how you feel.

By Kevin Drum | September/October 2010 Issue

[Editor's Note: Click here to see a related slideshow of tea party signs.] [1]

IN A WIDELY READ essay about the tea party movement [2] published earlier this year in the New York Review of Books [3], historian Mark Lilla [4] provided a now-familiar explanation about what motivates the tea partiers. They are, he reckoned, angry about the recession; angry about health care reform; angry about President Obama; and angry about educated elites forever telling them what to do. "A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes," he said, and he described the movement this way:

It supports with worshipful intensity the Constitution of the United States; it places itself on the side of the individual and of liberty in opposition to an encroaching government bureaucracy; it respects the judgment of the founding fathers who had so wisely incorporated the separation of federal powers and the rights of the states into the great national document; it defends the American right to enjoy the sweat of one's own labor and the rewards of one's ability.

Actually, Lilla didn't write that last bit. Another historian did. This passage comes from Frederick Rudolph, writing [5] in 1950 about the American Liberty League [6], a group formed in 1934 in reaction to FDR's New Deal. But it sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? All I did was change the verbs to the present tense, and it might as well have come from a portrait of the tea party written the day before yesterday.

And that's a problem. It's a problem because too many observers mistakenly react to the tea party as if it's brand new, an organic and spontaneous response to something unique in the current political climate. But it's not. It's not a response to the recession or to health care reform or to some kind of spectacular new liberal overreach. It's what happens whenever a Democrat takes over the White House.

From FDR to JFK to Clinton, something like the tea party fluoresces every time a Democrat wins the presidency.

There are, of course, differences between each of these movements. The Birchers were single-mindedly obsessed with communist infiltration, a fear that's largely gone out of style; the Arkansas Project crowd seemed motivated more by cultural issues and a burning personal hatred of the Clintons than by policy matters. And there are structural differences, too. The Liberty League and the John Birch Society were formal groups with formal leadership. The anti-Clinton brigade was chaotic and leaderless. And the tea party movement is somewhere in between: funded and inspired partly by formal organizations (FreedomWorks [10], the Tea Party Patriots [11]) and specific personalities (Sarah Palin [12], Glenn Beck [13]), but with a membership that, in practice, is an agglomeration of hundreds of local groups that often compete with each other and hotly insist that they take direction from no one.

But these differences are superficial. The similarities are far more telling, and the place they start is a shared preoccupation with the Constitution. The Liberty Leaguers, as Rudolph wrote, spoke of it with "worshipful intensity." The John Birch Society-which is enjoying a renaissance of sorts today-says of itself [14], "From its earliest days the John Birch Society has emphasized the importance of the Constitution for securing our freedom." And as Stephanie Mencimer reported in our May/June [15] issue "One Nation Under Beck [16]"), study groups dedicated to the Constitution have mushroomed among tea partiers. [CLICK HERE TO READ MOJO'S STORY ABOUT TEA PARTY STUDY GROUPS.] [16]

Other shared tropes include a fear of "losing the country we grew up in [17]," an obsession with "parasites [18]" who are leeching off of hardworking Americans, and-even though they've always received copious assistance from business interests and political operatives-a myth that the movement is composed entirely of fed-up grassroots amateurs. Take, for example, this description of Pam Stout [19], the star of a seminal tea party profile [20] written earlier this year by David Barstow [21] of the New York Times [22]. After Obama took office, he writes, "Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated-even manufactured-by both parties to grab power. She was happily retired, and had never been active politically. But last April, she went to her first tea party rally." Compare that to the description of Estrid Kielsmeier in Suburban Warriors [23], Lisa McGirr's history of '60s-era right-wing activism in Orange County, California. Kielsmeier, a resident of my hometown of Garden Grove (my mother acidly recalls PTA meetings at my elementary school as hotbeds of John Birch Society activism), was a homemaker who ran the local gubernatorial primary campaign headquarters of ultraconservative oilman Joe Shell against Richard Nixon in 1962: "Her baby played in a playpen next to her desk while Kielsmeier participated in what she later called her first real involvement in politics. 'Up to that was education and just kind of...networking, really.'"

Above all, though, is the recurring theme of creeping socialism and a federal government that's destroying our freedoms. In the '30s this took the form of rabid opposition to FDR's alphabet soup of new regulatory agencies. In the '60s it was John Birch Society founder Robert Welch's insistence [24] that the threat of communism actually took second place to the "cancer of collectivism." Welch believed that overweening government had destroyed civilizations from Babylonia to 19th-century Europe, and he said [25] his fight could be expressed in just five words: "Less government and more responsibility."

Three decades later, Newt Gingrich rode into the speaker's office on the Contract with America's [26] small government promises and promptly shut down Washington in a fight with Clinton that mostly revolved around conservative desires to slash a laundry list of social programs. And today, tea party rhetoric is shot through with charges both that the president is a closet Marxist ("Obama isn't a US socialist," thundered Fox News commentator, Steven Milloy at a tea party convention [27] earlier this year, "he's an international socialist!") and that the federal government has become a multitentacled monster that needs to be crushed before it enslaves us all. In an interview [28] with the Columbia Journalism Review, the Times' Barstow diagnosed the "idea of impending tyranny" as the tea partiers' deepest and most abiding nightmare: "I was struck by the number of people who had come to the point where they were literally in fear of whether or not the United States of America would continue to be a free country."

Finally, there's the weaving, kaleidoscopic thread that binds these groups together: their insatiable appetite for conspiracy theories. Robert Welch-in addition to his famous belief that water fluoridation was a communist plot [29]-believed a shadowy group of "insiders" ran the world, stretching back to the founding of the Illuminati in 1776 and continuing through the French Revolution and The Communist Manifesto [30], and on to the UN, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission. In like fashion, the anti-Clinton zealots developed a colorful and ever-growing bestiary of shadowy plots. They believed, among other things, that Clinton had Vince Foster murdered [31]; that he conducted a drug-running operation out of Mena airfield in Arkansas; that he'd fathered a black child out of wedlock; and that he had allowed dozens of big-time donors [32] to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. John Birch Society fliers like these circulated in Dallas before the JFK assassination. Richard Mellon Scaife, the primary funder [33] of the Arkansas Project, called Foster's death "the Rosetta Stone to the Clinton administration" and told George [34] magazine, "Listen, he can order people done away with at his will...God, there must be 60 people who have died mysteriously."

Today's conspiracy theories are different in detail but no less wacky-and no less widespread. Some 30 percent [35] (PDF) of self-identified tea partiers believe that Obama isn't a natural-born citizen, according to an April New York Times poll. Some tea partiers are worried about internment camps for conservatives, an echo [36] of a theory peddled by the Birchers in the '60s. As Canadian conservative Jonathan Kay bemusedly wrote in Newsweek after attending a tea party convention last winter, Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers are also frequent obsessions, "the idea being that they were the real brains behind this presidency, and Obama himself was simply some sort of manchurian candidate." And of course there's ACORN [37], the centerpiece of a baroque theory in which the now-defunct organization [38] ran the Democratic Party, forced banks to make loans to minorities and poor people via the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act, crashed the economy, and got Obama elected president [39]. Robert Welch [40] would be proud.

Ideology and paranoias aside, there are also more concrete connections between the generations. Some are unsurprising.

Other links are almost charming: One of the most popular tracts among Birchers in the '60s was W. Cleon Skousen's [44] The Naked Communist; 50 years later, Skousen has been rediscovered by Glenn Beck [45], who relentlessly hawks Skousen's 1981 book, The 5000 Year Leap [46]. And still others are simply bizarre: Welch was convinced that the 17th Amendment, which affirms the direct election of senators, represented a poisonous concentration of power in the federal government. Today this obscure fixation has made a comeback among the tea partiers.

All of this points in one direction. The growth of the tea party movement isn't really due to the recession (in fact, polling evidence shows [47] that tea partiers are generally better off and less affected by the recession than the population at large). It's not because Obama is black (white Democratic presidents got largely the same treatment). And it's not because Obama bailed out General Motors (so did [48] George W. Bush). It's simpler. Ever since the 1930s, something very much like the tea party movement has fluoresced every time a Democrat wins the presidency, and the nature of the fluorescence always follows many of the same broad contours: a reverence for the Constitution, a supposedly spontaneous uprising of formerly nonpolitical middle-class activists, a preoccupation with socialism and the expanding tyranny of big government, a bitterness toward an underclass viewed as unwilling to work, and a weakness for outlandish conspiracy theories.

Is this good news or bad? Some of both, I think. Let's start with the worst news: These right-wing fluorescences are, unfortunately, getting more potent over time as they learn from their mistakes. Raw numbers tell part of the story. The Liberty League topped out at about 75,000 members, and even that number may have been exaggerated. They simply weren't good enough at concealing the fact that they were little more than a group founded by rich industrialists who disliked the government interfering with their business. The Birchers did better, attracting support from 5 percent of the population and claiming a core membership of more than 100,000.

The anti-Clinton forces did better still, boasting a following of millions, though there was no formal organization to compare to the Liberty League or the John Birch Society. And the tea party has done even better: An April New York Times poll suggests not only that the movement attracts support from 18 percent of the population, but that as many as 5 million people have attended tea party rallies and perhaps a million core supporters have donated money to a tea party group.

Beyond sheer numbers, though, right-wing extremist groups are also becoming more effective. The Liberty League withered after it failed to make even a dent in FDR's 1936 reelection campaign. The Birchers improved on that record, winning lots of local campaigns and eventually helping Barry Goldwater win the Republican presidential nomination in 1964, before collapsing under the weight of Robert Welch's increasingly bizarre rants. The '90s activists were more successful yet, helping Gingrich take over Congress in 1994, impeaching a president in 1998, and eventually sending George W. Bush to the White House.

And the tea partiers? Their history hasn't been written yet, but they have, for all practical purposes, already trumped every previous generation of activists by successfully taking over the Republican Party almost entirely. And this is, at last, something that really is new: The Liberty League was rejected by the GOP almost from the start, the Birchers were all but spent as a political force after the 1964 election debacle, and even during the '90s there were still moderate factions in the GOP. But today, there's virtually no one left in the party leadership who doesn't at least claim to adhere to tea party principles. Recent polls by both Gallup [49] and the Mellman Group [50] (PDF) find that the views of self-identified tea party supporters are nearly identical to the views of self-identified Republicans across the board. Gallup's analysis may go a little too far in saying that the tea party movement is "more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene," but not by much.

In 1961, Time condemned the John Birch Society as a "tiresome, comic-opera joke"; in 2009, it called Glenn Beck "tireless, funny, self-deprecating."

How did this happen? Partly it's a reflection of the long-term rightward shift of the Republican Party. Partly it's a product of the modern media environment: The Birchers were limited to mimeograph machines and PTA meetings to get the word out, while the tea partiers can rely on Fox News and Facebook. Beyond that, though, it's also a reflection of the mainstreaming of extremism. In 1961, Time exposed [51] the John Birch Society to a national audience and condemned it as a "tiresome, comic-opera joke"; in 2009, it splashed Glenn Beck on the cover [52] and called him "tireless, funny, self-deprecating...a gifted storyteller." And it's the same story in the political community: The Birchers were eventually drummed out of the conservative movement, but the tea partiers are almost universally welcomed today. "In the '60s," says Rick Perlstein [53], a historian of the American right, "you had someone like William F. Buckley [54] pushing back against the Birchers. Today, when David Frum tries to play the same role, he's completely ostracized [55]. There are just no countervailing forces in the Republican Party anymore." Unlike the Birchers, or even the Clinton conspiracy theorists, the tea partiers aren't a fringe part of the conservative movement. They are the conservative movement.

So where's the good news? Part of it is that the movement's 15 minutes could be nearly up. The tea partiers may have expanded faster than the Birchers thanks to Fox News and talk radio, but the same media echo chamber that enabled this has also shortened attention spans and provided 500 channels of competition for the Glenn Becks of the world. The speed of the tea partiers' rise may foreshadow an equally fast decline as their act begins to grow stale.

Likewise, the sheer size of the tea party movement may be as much a curse as a blessing. An insurgent movement can retain its vigor if it remains limited to true believers, but once it takes the reins of power, it has no choice but to offer a winning platform if it wants to keep its influence. The tea partiers are thus likely to be victims of their own success: When everyone's a tea partier, then no one's a tea partier. Right-wing extremism may win majorities in Arizona and a few other basket-case states, but it doesn't win national elections, which means the tea partiers will either move to the center or die.

In fact, there's already evidence that this is happening. There are only a handful of genuine tea party candidates running in November-folks like Nikki Haley [56] in South Carolina, Sharron Angle [57] in Nevada, and Rand Paul [58] in Kentucky-and plenty of evidence that tea party affiliation might not help them much. Tea party favorite Doug Hoffman [59], for example, accomplished nothing in New York's 23rd congressional district last year except splitting [60] the GOP vote and handing the district to a Democrat for the first time since the Civil War. And tea party darling Scott Brown [61], who came from behind to win Ted Kennedy's Senate seat earlier this year in Massachusetts, has turned out [62] to be a pretty moderate Republican. The tea partiers, it turns out, love these candidates for taking on the establishment-not necessarily for being able to win, or even (in Brown's case) for toeing the purist anti-tyranny party line.

The tea party movement is likely to provide plenty of drama this November, but if the historical record is anything to go by, it won't last long after that. As with the earlier incarnations, its core identity will slowly fade away and become grist for CNN retrospectives, while its broader identity becomes subsumed by a Republican Party that's been headed down the path of ever less-tolerant conservatism for decades. In that sense, the tea party movement is merely an unusually flamboyant symptom of an illness that's been breeding for a long time.

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German neo-fascists see Tea Party as model - Dialog International

Cross-Posted at Daily Kos

Junge Freiheit (literally "Young Freedom") is the most influential paper of "academic" right-wing extremism in Germany. The Berlin weekly espouses volkish nationalism along with historical revisionism. The paper is generally shunned by the German political establishment and has caught the attention of German authorities for its extremism and anti-democratic point of view. But the editors of Junge Freiheit have a new model for political engagement that they want to transplant to Germany: the US Tea Party movement.

This week's issue of Junge Freiheit has a breathless report on the Tea Party along with an interview with one of its leaders. Amy Kremer. Below are some excerpts from the article :

Ask what you can do for your country. Millions of Americans are doing just that thee days and have a practical response: They sacrifice their time, their energy and their money to join in with the "Tea Party" movement. They are acting against the tax and borrow left-wing regime of Barack Obama and his elite cadre who are systematically looting the country while disenfranchising the people.

The editors are convinced that Germany needs a Tea Party as well, since the "socialists" have all but destroyed the nation.

To German ears it sounds like a fairy tale from the New World. The same kind of state intervention and disenfranchisement, which is driving the Americans into the streets, is much worse here, thanks to the socialists and social democrats of all stripes from all the different parties we have.

But the editors are skeptical that such a grass-roots movement could ever succeed in Germany. For one thing, it would face a hostile established media in Germany, whereas the US media is sympathetic to the Tea Partiers (they are correct on this point!). Still, one can dream.

Enough with the tax and debt madness. We don't just want to keep giving our money to the elites and the state bureaucrats who are ruining our lives. No longer will we throw our money down the throats of the parasites and bankers who sell us out to the functionaries of European Union. The message of the American "tea party" movement can be translated without much difficulty to Germany What are we waiting for?

SO, these are the German fans of the Tea Party. Interestingly enough, Junge Freiheit is also aligned with the US Webzine Alternative Right, the mouthpiece of "intellectual" racism.


I'm probably one of the few people here who grew up in rural America, deep south to be exact, and still works and lives in rural America.

The biggest change for white men was the civil right act of 64 and the dismantling of Jim Crow laws. However, we know that the bigotry did not end, it just went underground. Bigots do not live in exclusively in rural areas, they walk the halls of Congress everyday.

The NYT's research showed many of the Tea Party's angry white men were in-fact well educated and most would be effected by a tax increase to top brackets.

The Tea Party movement was orchestrated by Fox News and Dick Armey's AstroTurf advocacy group Freedom-works. Shara Palin is on Rupert Murdock's payroll. How do you conduct social research on a movement that's essentially a corporate marketing program?

Rural white men are angry, you would be also if there were no job opportunities for you. Corporate Ag jobs, with the exception of management, are minimum wage or piece work with no benefits. Industrial Ag extracts wealth from rural communities; the multiplier is less than 1 to 1 as money flows from rural areas into corporate coffers.

Economist are concerned that this generation of middle class workers will have a lower standard of living that their parents or grand parents. This already happened in rural America decades ago and the University types haven't a clue.

It seems nobody in the press or the econ profession is aware of the hundreds of millions of dollars the Obama administration is pumping into rural areas under the USDA "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program.

Corporate Ag, like the colonialist they are, oppose the transfer of funds from commodity support programs and other corporate largess to people. That's correct, they oppose assistance to help small farmers and processors build and grow small local business to help rebuild their local rural economies. The multiplier for this type of assistance should be about 3 or 4 to 1.

Industrial Ag is claiming that only their form a Ag is legit so therefor all government assistance should go to them. I'm not making this up.

Most industrial Ag cannot survive without government assistance. The entire model is build on subsidized grain, tax credits and not being held responsible for the cost of down stream pollution. It's a failed model waiting to die.

Bigots are bigots regardless of where they live; but trying to tie the anger of rural white men to anything other that lack of economic opportunity is ivory tower BS.

P.S. Merl Haggard now smokes pot, took a public stand against the Iraq war and supported Hillary for President.

I have a friend who was born and grew up in a small mid-western town in a rural farming area until he left to go to college and then on to a university career. But he still has contacts in his home town and thinks he understands the feelings there. The town upper class is white and relatively rich (not New York rich of course). What would turn many of them into tea party people, he believes, is basically lack of education. They may have gone to the state university in the 1930s, but what they learned there then isn't much by today's standards and they have not gotten any better informed since. Many don't use the internet and watch mainly Fox News, etc. They know enough to "appreciate" Limbaugh and O'Reilly. Krugman would be beyond their understanding of economics. They are concealed racists and of course detest Obama whereas they adored Bush and his tax breaks. What one often overlooks is that most of the really bright young people from these small towns left for better things in bigger, urban places. He did. And this meant that the less talented and the less bright (to be honest about it) were the ones left behind and they have formed the town elite and arbiters of opinion there.

"They may have gone to the state university in the 1930s"

Somebody who went to university in the 1930's would be about 90 years old now.

Midwesterners live long lives you know. Of course the same would apply to those who went after 1946 too. I know some types who are close to 90 and some who are rather younger. Education at a midwestern state university even today doesn't, in my experience, make one terribly well informed.


You might want to check out state by state ACT and SAT scores. Hint, California isn't first.

Reply May 29, 2010 at 02:27 PM

Lawrence said in reply to Hal...

This is not about education, but more of a struggle to preserve a way of life. A way of life that some people have to come view as inalienable. So the better educated the Tea Partiers are, the better they can fight for their inalienable rights.

"a struggle to preserve a way of life"

What way of life is that? The one where you let the economy completely melt down instead of having any of the dreaded government interference and you can be deprived of medical care by an inefficient rent-seeking pseudo-free-market system?

"A way of life that some people have to come view as inalienable."

Inalienable way of life? Wow, that's new. I like the idea of inalienable rights like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but an inalienable way of life would require a nanny state that can halt time itself. Sorry if it's not 1928 anymore - shit happens.

Oh, and don't let the government interfere with my Medicare!


"Merl Haggard now smokes pot, took a public stand against the Iraq war and supported Hillary for President"

See, he is a bigot! Of course by that logic everybody who supported Obama in the Dem primaries was a sexist. It was kind of amusing to watch that mud slinging during the primaries.

Curt Doolittle:

This group of people (White Protestants) lost political power, status, and their culture, as someone else said, due to "enlightened choice". There was no material reason why they HAD to lose power. They chose to be 'christian', which was the sentiment needed to unify a fragmented europe. They could just as easily have chosen to keep slavery, to keep control of government, to forbid immigrants political power, to maintain the requirement of protestantism. In other words, they could have done what most civilizations have done.

Starting with the industrial revolution, the dominance of the HOUSEHOLD lost importance, and there for the dominance of the MALE waned. The decline has been not just among white men, but among men in particular. Women's entry into the work place has not hurt high performing men, but since women have taken all the lower risk clerical functions in society, and seem to largely be better suited for it, this has moved men toward the edges - into the riskier professions.

These voluntary abdicators of male political power were Christians. They tried the experiment. It was a heady debate. The debate is still going on. We have just wrapped class, race and cultural preference in a deep cloak of secular language instead of religious language, but the underlying sentiments and logic are essentially the same. We have a religion of democratic, secular humanism rather than paternal christianity. The difference of the 'white man's burden' of anglo exceptionalism in order to morally justify the empire, has become democratic secular humanism in order to justify the empire. (I always find the cognitive bias that people overestimate how others share one's views somewhat humorous on both sides of the spectrum)

What has happened is that these power-sharing people believe that the experiment failed. That their conservative sentiments (the belief that humans have immutable behaviors), have returned to precedence over their liberal sentiments (people can aspire to utopian behavior in the right environment) have changed. White Men in particular tolerated man-hating feminism because they felt it was somewhat justified, but that society would 'settle back' because people have 'natural tendencies'. White Men felt that because of slavery and WW2, that they were wrong in their fantasy of exceptionalism - that they had betrayed their christian sentiments, and so they tolerated criticism in the hope that society would settle down. White men today no longer believe those egalitarian myths. WHen you destroy a mythos you don't destroy just the 'bad parts'. You destroy the entire system of myths. They no longer believe in their guilt.

The question becomes, a) whether white men will cease tolerating their denigration, and say 'but we did, and our model did, over the past 500 years, more to improve the state of man than all other civilizations in history' to which they have a legitimate claim, and become activists, - or b) whether they will do what men have in all other collapsed cultures, which is abandon the Fraternal Order, and become like byzantines, Mediterraneans or muslims or africans, and simply pursue non-political localized self interest which will over time, simply erode the legitimacy of the state. There is another option c) which is violence. But that is always a minority position because it is so costly. And if history is a guide we will get all three of these factors.

The sentiments of white male culture are an anomaly. It is the product of the fraternal order of city-defending soldiers who treat the 'market' (which they don't differentiate from 'society') as if they were shareholders. That sentiment is extremely rare. If that sentiment ceases, we will not get the civilization that utopians aspire to. We have a lot of historical evidence to support it. We might get something random. But history tells us what we will get will not likely be the 'free society' that we aspired to.

We are urbanizing, world wide. And we must. There are too many of us to return to the non-market activity of farming, where we are self sustaining, yet produce excess in order to participate in the market. Nearly all of us must participate in the market for our entire livelihood. The problem of 'social order' (conformity to law) occurs when any civilization sufficiently urbanizes. The human social tools of ostracization and fraternalism do not operate in dense populations where anonymity is common, and opportunities cannot be controlled (the prisoner's dilemma problem of community building). There is no evidence that these social tools operate in the dense urban environment. There is no evidence that Law or Religion can cause them to operate.

This is the last generation where white men will feel guilty about their position. They feel disempowered. They are soon to be a minority. They dislike being ridiculed and having their status trampled upon, and are rapidly considering it RACISM against them. (which will give them the right in turn, to be racist)

The question is what will they do. And if history is any indicator, most of them nothing, but acquiesce. But like any racial group they will form a disenfranchised but radical minority who is activist. This is what is occurring. White men are developing the sentiment of racial persecution, and the egalitarian christian sentiments, and their historical guilt are waning.

For everyone else, it becomes the question how a society can be managed, or how it will operate without those sentiments of fraternalism. We never get what we think we will. The french and russian revolutions were horrific both in process and outcome. But most if not all civilizations simply decay once they urbanize, and their expansionist class of males surrenders to the feeling of impotence.

The general assumption is that the democratic process will solve this problem of social integration and power distribution. But there is no evidence that such a thing occurs. Politics is a market, and people will circumvent the market when it no longer serves them.

The USA, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and his ilk, is an empire in imitation the european model. Empires consist of factions. Factions are geographic (trade routes), racial (genetic), cultural (normative), and religious (legal). But an empire over whom half the population feels oppressed is simply fragile.

We are no longer a country contentiously dealing with a problem of integration which we desire for the purpose of westward expansion of the continent. We are an empire over some number of smaller nations yearning to be free, and a disenfranchised geographic ex-majority that appears to be developing a new sentiment (acquiescence to failure), a political movement (tea party), and a radical movement (militias). At least, that is where this appears to be going, if history is any indicator. And, at least to conservatives, history is always an indicator.

And men who no longer see the existing order as beneficial to them may not work to overthrow it, but they will not work to maintain it. And that may be worse.

-A Catholic.


The reaction of Democrats to the incompetence and war mongering of GWBush was to hold anti-war rallies (much ignored by the press) and start a new level of grass roots activism. Because the left wing activist base test to be college educated and progressive, it has a very different look than the Tea Party. During the 2008 campaign, the left wing (which at times is independent and critical of democrats) joined with the democrats to support a huge grassroots effort to sweep Republicans out of the White House.

The conservative activist base reacts the very same way. They don't like main stream Republicans. They were dismayed by the incompetence of Bush, but are anti-progressive in every way. Whenever Democrats get into office, they react to try to get Republicans back in office. Because the Tea Party base is fundamentally different from the progressive base, the look and feel is different.

Both progressives and the Tea Party are dissatisfied with the economy and the direction of the government whether or not their guy is in the White House. It is not necessary to invent narratives to describe the phenomena.

The urban rural phenomena can be understood this way. Those who are satisfied with the small town rural life will stay and look for ways to stay in the community. Those who are dissatisfied will move away to urban areas. Those who move may do so for educational or economic opportunities that are better in urban areas. They may also move to join larger communities of people like themselves. The net result is a rural population that is white, older (because people move when they are young) and more conservative (because they are satisfied with the status quo). They want opportunities where they are.


Broadband high speed internet is coming to rural America under the stimulus plan.

Once people can communicate at the same speed from anywhere in the country; you start to see migration out of urban/suburban areas.

Not all people stay in rural areas because they like the conservative status quo; some of us cannot function in an urban/suburban environment; we need country air, lots of nature, room to stretch out and no rush hour traffic.

Besides the county hick stereotype only goes so far today.


But once people move out of the cities and suburbs, the countryside won't be so rural anymore. Best bet for you is to keep complaining about lack of broadband, no matter what the reality.

Not country hick stereo type. There is net movement from rural to urban. People who live in rural areas (especially flyover country rural areas) are people who were born near the area and did not move away.
Life in urban areas tends, I think, to be more competitive than in small towns. There are many more sharp and talented people to compete with you. In small towns and rural areas competition is far less intense. The ones who move away (by choice) are usually ones who want the challenge of competition and the bigger rewards available in urban settings. The ones who stay don't care to compete or else are so well situated that going elsewhere might bring a drop in income and status. I also know of a number of small town doctors who got their degrees at a very prestigious school but moved back to their home town where they could be a big fish in a small pond rather than the opposite. They seldom brought any liberal viewpoints back however since that would impede their "fitting in."
> bakho, yes there is net loss, however there's a counter trend when broad band is introduced.

Sasha, We need people in rural areas. Most Urban/Suburban folks think they might like to live out here until they realize that a carton of milk is a hours drive away.

Who are "main stream" Republicans these days? I find that almost all seem to be right wing reactionaries. "Liberal Republicans" as far as I can see don't exist any longer. You might be able to name a (very) few.
ken melvin
The good Professor is clueless.

Looks like a great discussion.
It is all about power and fear of not belonging. Cursing outsiders is the easy (and sleazy) way for the political/religious class to create a body politic.


Once upon a time when isolated groups of people with a chieftain could fend for themselves this model was valid. As barriers fall and these leaders are found to not be competitive in a world rife with would-be leaders it is not surprising that these 'victims' of creative destruction are angry. Finding that your job can be done for a fraction of the price offshore including shipping the product does not help.

We have few products where we have a comparative advantage and the few that do like the entertainment industry and finance create little of lasting value.


akes a woman, who has carried a child in her belly for nine months, to think not twice but a hundred-hundred times before sending that child off to war....

What complete nonsense.


This is just overly broad sweeping generalizations that hold some degrees of truth but this guy should no better. You need to substantiate some of these statements with at least some facts.

What is funny though is how people still think UC Berkeley is this island of counter-culture with hippies run amok. These are usually people who have never been there. Yeah, the campus has a general left-bent to it but it is overwhelmingly Asian now (mostly Chinese but its share of Indians) too in undergrad enrollment.

Still some political activism on campus but nothing resembling the stuff in the 60s. These are generally kids who come from 1st or 2nd generation Asian immigrant families. Maybe they couldn't get into Stanford or they wanted to take advantage of the more reasonable cost of UC Berkeley (great education, state rates like a Michigan or UVA).

They do there share of partying like any undegrad do but there is also an expectation they are going to work hard, do well, and go on to a professional grad school. Doesn't leave as much time for political activism nor necessarily the same desire. It is more about having a good time but working hard & moving ahead.

As for the professional schools themselves especially the MBA programs (grad here) and law schools there isn't a left-bent to them at all. Many of my classmates were about making bucks first and foremost. Met that fiscally they were left-leaning in many aspects at all.

Yet you still have these stupid national stereotypes that exist about Berkeley from nearly 50 years ago just as you have many stupid stereotypes about 'white males.'

Grace Wdowiak - Simplified Accounting

Here we are looking at the "class struggle" prism again; Poor, displaced, dependent, oppressed versus angry white men.
That's how the left wants to categorize tea party movement, backwards countrymen who want to move the society 200 years back.
Then we have these urban, hip, modern, educated, independently thinking, free, intellectual, engineered and progressive society which better understands the necessity of high taxes, bloated and intrusive government, mommy state which suppose to take care of the intellectual from a cradle to a grave.
How sad....
Marx, Engels, and Lenin are still alive and well....
Grace Wdowiak - Simplified Accounting...

"high taxes, bloated and intrusive government, mommy state which suppose to take care of the intellectual from a cradle to a grave."

Replace "intellectual" with "rural resident", and you've pretty much got the current reality. With limited exceptions (hat tip to Organic George and the real, unsubsidized farmers), what passes for farming today is the product of massive corporate-controlled government subsidy. Combine that with the direct welfare assistance the rural residents receive in much higher proportion than urban residents, not to mention the regulation that requires utility providers to provide electricity and communication infrastructure at a loss to rural residents, and it's clear who really needs the nanny state.

If urban residents ever became as anti-government as rural residents, it would mean the end of rural America (and probably urban America, too, but that's another story).

Grace Wdowiak - Simplified Accounting

Devin... The whole analysis is, excuse my words, "garbage". The author bases his whole article on New York Time survey. The survey says:
Supporters of the Tea Party movement are more likely to be men, over the age of 45, white, married, and either employed or retired. Few are unemployed. They are more affluent and more educated than most Americans. Almost all said they are registered to vote, and most are Republicans"
First, I don't know how anyone can make a connection between XVIII-XIX century patriarchal setting of rural America (which is also overstated) and XXI century modern country. Although these "old men" are over 45 but even those old men don't necessarily think women are their subjects, and they want their old country back. Authors' interpretation of these angry old men real motive of protesting goes too far.
"The reports also suggest that TPA activists hold a wide set of grievances far beyond their objections to taxes and to Obama. They demand to have their "country back."
These people (not only men) are conservative, not all necessary republicans. However conservatives are not backward rural tyrants who oppress women, children, and want slavery to come back. That way of describing them is a propaganda spread by the "progressives".
They want" their country back", yes but it does not mean what Mr. Fischer suggests in his article. Maybe, a little bit maybe it just means smaller government and lower taxes. Does that possibility even occur to our sociologist ? Maybe these people really mean what they say?
Second, if the survey points out that these men are employed or retired, affluent and more educated than most Americans then what is the connection between them and rural Americans who, according to David's words, benefit more from the welfare programs than urban Americans? It doesn't make sense for welfare recipients to rebel against the hand which feeds them.
Grace Wdowiak - Simplified Accounting

What "Claude Fischer a sociologist at UC Berkeley" knows about real world?


Prof. Thoma:

This strikes me as particularly inept piece of analysis by Claude Fischer. I encourage you, and anyone else here who feels inclined to accept Fischer's interpretation as face value, to review the actual survey results and come to an independent judgment as to whether they support his interpretation.

Yes, the Tea Party supporters are an average somewhat older, whiter and more male than the overall popluation. But there are other differences that are as large or larger than these. I would just note a few items from the data:

Tea Party supporters are more likely to: identify as, and vote, Republican; describe their political philosophy as somewhat or very conservative; be married; describe themselves as middle or upper-middle class (vs. working class or lower class); be employed; have college educations; have incomes over $50,000 a year; and be registered to vote.

For my money, the New York Times does a far better job than than Fischer when it summarizes the results as follows:

[Tea Party] supporters are more affluent and better educated than the general public. They tend to be white, male, and married. They are loyal Republicans, with conservative opinions on a variety of issues. And their strong opposition to the Obama administration is more rooted in political ideology than anxiety about their personal economic situation.

I trouble to write all this only because this is a mistake that we liberals and progressives have made before, and I see it being made again in most online commentary about the Tea Party movement (Bob Somerby is a notable exception).

Back when the Goldwater and Wallace supporters were the ones under the microscope, liberal/progressive opinion tended to have the same view of them as of the Tea Party supporters today. Surely they represented those classes on the losing side of the progressive changes that liberalism had wrought in society? Surely they were the unlucky losers in that process, suffering displacement from their accustomed priviledges and anxiety about the diminishment of their self-image?

It is awfully tempting to interpret signs of ideological and political vigor among one's opposition's grass roots supporters as somehow or other reflective of desperation and disorientation -- the ineffectual braying of those who find themseles on the wronog side of history. Back in the 60s and early 70s, bien pensant liberal opinion contented itself with this comforting illusion for a long time. And then came Proposition 13, and the election of Ronald Reagan.

Do we really want to risk sleepwalking into that kind of outcome again?



It takes a woman, who has carried a child in her belly for nine months, to think not twice but a hundred-hundred times before sending that child off to war....

[Actually, I would prefer this sort of identification be true but find no reason to think so. The idea even if unsupported though is quite interesting on a further consideration. Leaders who actually internalize decisions to go to war in any such manner are not too easily found historically.]


"I would prefer this sort of identification be true but find no reason to think so."

No, it's completely true. As a father I have no qualms whatsoever about my children being used for cannon fodder. My wife not so much (except when they really misbehave).

i agree with you that the election of obama is a symbolic and that it marks an inflection point

in 1960 the southern baptist convention voted it's opposition to the idea of electing a catholic president

1n 2010 catholic justices make up a majority of the supreme court

don rickles, the comedian, was on david letterman recently, many of his jokes were "white" ethnic, his onliners focused on jews the irish, italians, and pollacks

the white ethnic content style of his humor seems old, rude and inappropriate today, and yet not so long ago it was the norm


The US is going through a generational change of guard. The post WWII generation(boomers) are moving out of influence with it's replacement being generation "Y", whose mix is almost 50% minority. The upcoming generation has the prerogative to decide what the US will be like tomorrow.
...and the People's Republic of China are licking their chops for that day to come!
Us boomers are quite proud of the diversity of the younger generation. It was one of our hippie goals ya know; peace love dope

Where is Obamas alliance any better? Are younger big city upper middle class professionals somehow better human beings? Beyond the hyperbole, the gold buying, theres a serious distributional conflict aswell. And those evil angry people do have a point. The defict spending, the lax attitude towards inflation - it hurts them and helps other privileged social groups. This isnt noble Obama for the little guy vs overprivileged classes that lose their advantage, this is Obama shoveling between different privileged groups.

The US is like any banana republic. The parties represent factions of Capital, not 'right' or 'left'. America is growing more unequal , and California the 'diverse Left Coast' is the most unequal of all.

Continue to fiddle while Rome burns.


One person above mentioned this was a trend that started 100 years ago. I think this trend is more like 800 years old when the Saxon noblemen had King John sign the Magna Carta. It was during the reign of Elizabeth I that the Magna Carta was codified into much of what is now English Common Law.

It was the Puritans who settled much of what's now called the United States. They developed a class structure that was distinctly different than anywhere that could be found in Europe. It is very important to note that when The War for Independence was won, there was no discussion of forming one nation out of the thirteen colonies. It was out of the need to form a Navy that led to the talks that formed the United States. It is both the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States that provided the impetus for the massive transfer in wealth the Tea Partiers are angry about. This is a tiny part of the progression of how the transfer of wealth has been disseminating through the ages.

In the view point of the old Soviets in Russia, a Tea Partier would be held as a "Kulak". We all know what happened to the Kulaks between 1919 to 1936. Despots like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were the antithesis of the historical forces of the distribution of wealth.

This is why people don't take 'Tea Partiers' serious between the largely incoherent ranting & nonsense about 'transfer of wealth/progressies', things that are just flat out wrong (Puritans were the majorities only in very limited parts of the US colonies. They were not a majority in any of the Middle Atlantic or Southern states at any time before or after the American Revolution), and just grasping at straws.
I believe The Province of Pennsylvania was a Qauker colony. Not to diminish the difference between a Puritan and a Quaker, but the roots of Pennsylvania is not too much different than Puritanism, and it was a Mid-Atlantic colony.
And here I thought a kulak was a guy with property and/or somebody against whom somebody else held a grudge and ratted him out to the "purifiers" eager to fill arrest and conviction quotas.
Aside from the nominal definition of somebody unwilling to part with their property (putting it under the management of the collective) and superior social status.
WmT said...

As a Berkeley graduate, growing up in an agricultural culture, transitioning to academia and to technical research, and now in the category of an "angry old white man," I wish to state my areas of agreement and disagreement with Prof. Fischer.

I agree: 18TH-Century America's model of a "patriarch" ruling with a "tight fist" was the strongest model for survival, where a family with several children, and whoever else might join in from unsuccessful families, could congregate around an individual who had land and knowledge of how to live off of it.

I agree: As interactions among and between members of society became easier (and this has continued at an exponentially increasing rate), talents related to coordination, resource allocation, innovation, business acumen, etc. became useful, and labor/management and endeavors other than farming became important for smoothly functioning society. These additional functions produced greater rewards for all (in general), and a reduction in the relative dominance of the male "patriarch."

I disagree: The above transition has taken place over many decades. There has been sufficient time to adjust values to recognize the worth of equals having different functions in society. That is NOT the source of Tea Party anger.

My views of the previous administration: I found the Bush administration floundering amidst a flurry of criticism for taking action in Iraq on what was "trumped up" charges. But, most of all, for stimulating the economy with easy money that led to overleveraging, to unrealistic housing prices (that had been escalating for decades), and for a salary/reward structure that spread the haves and have-nots excessively. I voted for Obama.

My views of the current administration: The escalation of monetary leverage by the current administration has continued, although it now has shifted more to the government in terms of debt, with the excuse that we are avoiding a depression. This has rewarded the banking system and those who are being rewarded excessively for engineering obscene returns for trading money that has little to do with enhancing productivity in society today.

Discontent with Congress: Congress with its "sausage making" procedure reveals what is an archaic process for introducing too many laws, with levels of detail that no Congressman reads except for a few paragraphs applicable to his/her district. Votes in Congress represent narrow points of view rather than what's good for the country, and more often than is desirable, for a special deal with bargains not related to an issue that "buys" a vote.

A critical value system: A value system considered essential for success in this country, espoused by "18th century partiarchs," appears to be under threat. The culture attributed by Prof. Fischer to the "patriarch" of white farmers is really the attitude of working hard toward well-defined goals that will provide goods to those able to pay for them in exchange for their hard work and products. The sense of "income redistribution" is considered offensive, since goods are not exchanged for respected value. Income redistribution irrespective of value appears to be the goal of the current administration, which has not done a good job of convincing voters otherwise.

A true dilemma: How can this country reward hard-working productive members of society with income more in line with the true contribution to society? The reward system is skewed too much between haves and have-nots. We must reward hard-working individuals, but today's clever individuals able to find novel ways to capture unrealistic monetary rewards is not in line with their value to society. Laws are being created that will reward relatively ineffective contributions to society, to social segments who overproduce in terms of population, and underproduce in terms of contribution to the country.

Conclusion: Our decision making process leading to excessively detailed laws and what appears to be income redistribution is going to reduce incentive, reduce productivity, and hurt the future of the country. An alternative set of lawmakers is the first goal toward resolving this problem.


Tea parties are angry old white men. still fighting the Vietnam war against the Hippies. Nixon and Reagan were a concerted response to the liberal ideas of the '60. these white men are still fighting the left, no concerned that everyone loses when the Corporations have the final say, since St. Ronnie open up Government to control by the Rich/Corporations.

that is what amazing about watching them. they have no clue that they are the ones responsible for the Corporate take over, at least the idiots who make the noise. the rest of the rich white men are so pleased at how dumb their fellow cohorts are.

with the Civil Right Act and Women almost getting the ERA passed, white men were outraged and terrified by their loss of control over those they once held economic power over. this is just the gradual unfolding of the changes started by the rabble rousers of the '60s.

to have the right and white men admit this would be nice, but highly questionable.
the whole thing about Rand Paul and the Civil rights issue and Arizona is just the proof that these white men know what is what and are continuing their "struggle" against those they see as taking their power. the whole thing about the "Old white men" in college years ago, was just another aspect of the changes that the "60s brought to America.

when myths change there is great turmoil until society finds a way to create the "new" myth that will guide the leaders of the present day.

that there is so much doubt and question about why these white men are angry is a real cause for wonder. it is so obvious. just as change is upsetting, white men don't like the change they see for they have to be responsible for only themselves too. before they were the Masters of the Universe/America and no one dared to question their authority or power.

Republican are the Daddy party. listen to Daddy. like the TV series, Father Knows Best, just because they were a white man, you were supposed to "obey" him cause Father knew best.

and it is true commons sense isn't common.

Dave said...

As a refugee from academia, having received a PhD from one of those elite universities, taught for decade at a public universities, and never reached that pinnacle of tenure, I find it Fisher's blog post both amusing and sad in it's stupidity. Of course, ripping off some surface history and plastering it on to a social movement is an old strategy done to make someone seem smarter than than really are. Ignoring what actual data there is on the social movement is about par for the course in my old discipline that for the most part has abandoned field work for the more intellectually satisfying discipline of propaganda.
My friends that still labor inside academia marvel at the shallowness of the "public intellectuals" that seem to attract the attention these days. I use to base my social problems course on an analysis of "social class" and always fielded some criticism from the department heads that the more modern critiques [feminism, ethnic studies, queer studies, post-modernism, etc.] received little attention in my class, which I shrugged off with a "every other class in the department covers it, so why do I? For the most part the students loved the class, even if it was only to satisfy their need to feel superior to the lower classes.

Ironically, I find myself applying my sociological training for the corporations now, something that my post-modern peers find appalling!

"Angry Old White Men"

Claude Fischer is a sociologist at UC Berkeley:
Angry old white men, by Claude Fischer, Berkeley Blog: The April, 2010, New York Times survey of Tea Party supporters found that they skew toward male, white, and old. Journalists' reports on Tea Party events suggest that TPA activists skew even more those ways. The reports also suggest that TPA activists hold a wide set of grievances far beyond their objections to taxes and to Obama. They demand to have their "country back."

Dispossessed in the household

18th-Century America was a society of households each ruled by a property-owning white man. Just about everyone else – wives, children (including older boys awaiting their own households), servants, slaves, apprentices, farm hands, spinsters, widows, orphans of relatives, and the destitute whom the town officers had "bound out" – lived or were supposed to live under the legal, political, and moral authority of a patriarch. ... Occasionally, town officials would remind lax men to rule their households with a tighter fist, if, for example, their servants misbehaved or their wives were too proud.

Over the course of American history, these dependents – perhaps most importantly, the women – became increasingly independent. Generation after generation, the patriarchs lost more and more power over those dependents. (Historian Carole Shammas wrote a particularly nifty, short book on this topic.) Wives, for example, gained some control over their own property and a greater right to divorce; young men – and young women – grasped independence by leaving farms for emerging industrial jobs; journeymen moved out of the masters' houses to their own homes; and so on.

As with most social changes, the dispossession appeared first among the more affluent and educated classes. In the 19th century, couples in these groups "re-negotiated" the terms of households. Wives took on greater authority in the home by, for example, displacing fathers in the role of premier moral instructor to children. In the latter part of the century, observers applauded a new trend: More middle-class men were going straight home to their families after work, bypassing the bar or men's club, and there participating in the emerging sentimental, "feminized" family. (Margaret Marsh tells the homecoming story here and here.) Many historians describe this as the era when middle-class men were "domesticated." We could also say dispossessed.

Such trends spread slowly and for much of working-class, immigrant, and rural America, it took much longer. But by the end of the 20th century, women and youths were independent everywhere. Older men no longer could simply command and be obeyed.

Dispossessed in the community

Roughly in parallel, the power of older, property-holding, white men over the wider community also waned: Propertyless men gained the right to vote, grassroots religious movements (fueled if not led by women) challenged established church leadership, slaves were freed, immigrants flooded into politics, employees organized against their bosses, women voted, courts discovered more and more individual rights – including the rights of children against their parents, an emerging welfare state gave workers new options..., and minorities of all sorts who had once known "their place" stepped out, organized, spoke up, and successfully pressed their claims. Old white guys, especially affluent, Protestant ones, had to give ground. No wonder they're ticked.

It is a delicious irony that currently the lead spokesperson for angry old white men is a bodacious, young, entrepreneurial woman. But when Sarah Palin energizes claims to "take back" the country, she is pressing to give the country back to the angry old white men.

I've been thinking about the extent to which the tea party movement represents resistance to and resentment over waning power in rural America. Obama is a symbol of a shift toward urban interests. Rural America senses that he represents a major shift in the political landscape, one that will no longer put the white male farmer at the center of the American political landscape. Even though the majority of the population moved to cities long ago, the rural myth persisted in American politics. The "small town values" that politicians pay so much attention to is a reflection of this, and Obama is a signal that the special place rural America holds in American politics is coming to an end.

[Oct 05, 2010] Tea & Crackers

Rolling Stone Politics

In the Tea Party narrative, victory at the polls means a new American revolution, one that will "take our country back" from everyone they disapprove of. But what they don't realize is, there's a catch: This is America, and we have an entrenched oligarchical system in place that insulates us all from any meaningful political change. The Tea Party today is being pitched in the media as this great threat to the GOP; in reality, the Tea Party is the GOP. What few elements of the movement aren't yet under the control of the Republican Party soon will be, and even if a few genuine Tea Party candidates sneak through, it's only a matter of time before the uprising as a whole gets castrated, just like every grass-roots movement does in this country. Its leaders will be bought off and sucked into the two-party bureaucracy, where its platform will be whittled down until the only things left are those that the GOP's campaign contributors want anyway: top-bracket tax breaks, free trade and financial deregulation.

The rest of it - the sweeping cuts to federal spending, the clampdown on bailouts, the rollback of Roe v. Wade - will die on the vine as one Tea Party leader after another gets seduced by the Republican Party and retrained for the revolutionary cause of voting down taxes for Goldman Sachs executives.

...Paul had a surprisingly good showing as a fringe candidate in 2008, and he may run again, but he'll never get any further than the million primary votes he got last time for one simple reason, which happens to be the same reason many campaign-trail reporters like me liked him: He's honest. An anti- war, pro-legalization Republican won't ever play in Peoria, which is why in 2008 Paul's supporters were literally outside the tent at most GOP events, their candidate pissed on by a party hierarchy that preferred Wall Street-friendly phonies like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Paul returned the favor, blasting both parties as indistinguishable "Republicrats" in his presciently titled book, The Revolution. The pre-Obama "Tea Parties" were therefore peopled by young anti-war types and libertarian intellectuals who were as turned off by George W. Bush and Karl Rove as they were by liberals and Democrats.

The failure of the Republican Party to invite the elder Paul into the tent of power did not mean, however, that it didn't see the utility of borrowing his insurgent rhetoric and parts of his platform for Tea Party 2.0. This second-generation Tea Party came into being a month after Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office, when CNBC windbag Rick Santelli went on the air to denounce one of Obama's bailout programs and called for "tea parties" to protest. The impetus for Santelli's rant wasn't the billions in taxpayer money being spent to prop up the bad mortgage debts and unsecured derivatives losses of irresponsible investors like Goldman Sachs and AIG - massive government bailouts supported, incidentally, by Sarah Palin and many other prominent Republicans. No, what had Santelli all worked up was Obama's "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan," a $75 billion program less than a hundredth the size of all the bank bailouts. This was one of the few bailout programs designed to directly benefit individual victims of the financial crisis; the money went to homeowners, many of whom were minorities, who were close to foreclosure. While the big bank bailouts may have been incomprehensible to ordinary voters, here was something that Middle America had no problem grasping: The financial crisis was caused by those lazy minorities next door who bought houses they couldn't afford - and now the government was going to bail them out.

"How many of you people want to pay your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise your hand!" Santelli roared in a broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. Why, he later asked, doesn't America reward people who "carry the water instead of drink the water?"

Suddenly, tens of thousands of Republicans who had been conspicuously silent during George Bush's gargantuan spending on behalf of defense contractors and hedge-fund gazillionaires showed up at Tea Party rallies across the nation, declaring themselves fed up with wasteful government spending. From the outset, the events were organized and financed by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, which was quietly working to co-opt the new movement and deploy it to the GOP's advantage. Taking the lead was former House majority leader Dick Armey, who as chair of a group called FreedomWorks helped coordinate Tea Party rallies across the country. A succession of Republican Party insiders and money guys make up the guts of FreedomWorks: Its key members include billionaire turd Steve Forbes and former Republican National Committee senior economist Matt Kibbe.

Prior to the Tea Party phenomenon, FreedomWorks was basically just an AstroTurfing-lobbying outfit whose earlier work included taking money from Verizon to oppose telecommunications regulation. Now the organization's sights were set much higher: In the wake of a monstrous economic crash caused by grotesque abuses in unregulated areas of the financial-services industry, FreedomWorks - which took money from companies like mortgage lender MetLife - had the opportunity to persuade millions of ordinary Americans to take up arms against, among other things, Wall Street reform.

Joining them in the fight was another group, Americans for Prosperity, which was funded in part by the billionaire David Koch, whose Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in America. In addition to dealing in plastics, chemicals and petroleum, Koch has direct interests in commodities trading and financial services. He also has a major stake in pushing for deregulation, as his companies have been fined multiple times by the government, including a 1999 case in which Koch Industries was held to have stolen oil from federal lands, lying about oil purchases some 24,000 times.

So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul "Tea Parties," but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey "unconstitutional" orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party. It's a mistake to cast the Tea Party as anything like a unified, cohesive movement - which makes them easy prey for the very people they should be aiming their pitchforks at. A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC.

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview.

  1. Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me - I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.)
  2. Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.")
  3. They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views - despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate.
  4. In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.

It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog - and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid. I hear this theme over and over - as I do on a recent trip to northern Kentucky, where I decide to stick on a Rand Paul button and sit in on a Tea Party event at a local amusement park. Before long, a group of about a half-dozen Tea Partiers begin speculating about how Obamacare will force emergency-room doctors to consult "death panels" that will evaluate your worth as a human being before deciding to treat you.

"They're going to look at your age, your vocation in life, your health, your income. . . ." says a guy active in the Northern Kentucky Tea Party.

"Your race?" I ask.

"Probably," he says.

"White males need not apply," says another Tea Partier.

"Like everything else, the best thing you can do is be an illegal alien," says a third. "Then they won't ask you any questions."

An amazing number of Tea Partiers actually believe this stuff, and in the past year or so a host of little-known politicians have scored electoral upsets riding this kind of yahoo paranoia. Some are career Republican politicians like Sharron Angle, the former Nevada assemblywoman who seized on the Tea Party to win the GOP nomination to challenge Harry Reid this fall. Others are opportunistic incumbents like Jan Brewer, the Arizona governor who reversed a dip in the polls by greenlighting laws to allow police to stop anyone in a Cypress Hill T-shirt. And a few are newcomers like Joe Miller, the Alaska lawyer and Sarah Palin favorite who whipped Republican lifer Lisa Murkowski in the state's Senate primary. But the champion of champions has always been Rand Paul, who as the son of the movement's would-be ideological founder was poised to become the George W. Bush figure in the Tea Party narrative, the inheritor of the divine calling.

Since Paul won the GOP Primary in Kentucky, the Tea Party has entered a whole new phase of self-deception. Now that a few of these so-called "outsider" politicians have ridden voter anger to victories over entrenched incumbents, they are being courted and turned by the very party insiders they once campaigned against. It hasn't happened everywhere yet, and in some states it may not happen at all; a few rogue politicians, like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, might still squeak into office over the protests of the Republican establishment. But in Kentucky, home of the Chosen One, the sellout came fast and hard.

Paul was transformed from insurgent outsider to establishment stooge in the space of almost exactly one year, making a journey that with eerie cinematic precision began and ended in the same place: The Rachel Maddow Show. When he first appeared on the air with the MSNBC leading lady and noted Bible Belt Antichrist to announce his Senate candidacy in May 2009, Paul came out blazing with an inclusive narrative that seemingly offered a realistic alternative for political malcontents on both sides of the aisle. He talked with pride about how his father's anti-war stance attracted young voters (mentioning one Paul supporter in New Hampshire who had "long hair and a lip ring"). Even the choice of Maddow as a forum was clearly intended to signal that his campaign was an anti-establishment, crossover effort. "Bringing our message to those who do not yet align themselves as Republicans is precisely how we grow as a party," Paul said, explaining the choice.

In the early days of his campaign, by virtually all accounts, Paul was the real thing - expansive, willing to talk openly to anyone and everyone, and totally unapologetic about his political views, which ranged from bold and nuanced to flat-out batshit crazy. But he wasn't going to change for anyone: For young Dr. Paul, as for his father, this was more about message than victory; actually winning wasn't even on his radar. "He used to talk about how he'd be lucky if he got 10 percent," recalls Josh Koch, a former campaign volunteer for Paul who has broken with the candidate.

Before he entered the campaign, Paul had an extensive record of loony comments, often made at his father's rallies, which, to put it generously, were a haven for people gifted at the art of mining the Internet for alternate theories of reality. In a faint echo of the racially charged anti-immigrant paranoia that has become a trademark of the Tea Party, both Paul and his father preached about the apocalyptic arrival of a "10-lane colossus" NAFTA superhighway between the U.S. and Mexico, which the elder Paul said would be the width of several football fields and come complete with fiber-optic cable, railroads, and oil and gas pipelines, all with the goal of forging a single American-Mexican state. Young Paul stood with Dad on that one - after all, he had seen Mexico's former president on YouTube talking about the Amero, a proposed North American currency. "I guarantee you," he warned, "it's one of their long-term goals to have one sort of borderless, mass continent." And Paul's anti-interventionist, anti-war stance was so far out, it made MoveOn look like a detachment of the Third Marines. "Our national security," he declared in 2007, "is not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon."

With views like these, Paul spent the early days of his campaign looking for publicity anywhere he could get it. One of his early appearances was on the online talk show of noted 9/11 Truth buffoon and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The two men spent the broadcast exchanging lunatic fantasies about shadowy government forces, with Paul at one point insisting that should Obama's climate bill pass, "we will have an army of armed EPA agents - thousands of them" who would raid private homes to enforce energy-efficiency standards. Paul presented himself as an ally to Jones in the fringe crusade against establishment forces at the top of society, saying the leaders of the two parties "don't believe in anything" and "get pushed around by the New World Order types."

Unsurprisingly, the GOP froze Paul out, attempting to exclude him from key party gatherings in Kentucky like the Fayette County Republican Party Picnic and the Boone County Republican Party Christmas Gala. "We had the entire Republican establishment of the state and the nation against us," says David Adams, who mobilized the first Tea Party meetings in Kentucky before serving as Paul's campaign manager during the primaries.

The state's Republican establishment, it must be said, is among the most odious in the nation. Its two senators - party kingmaker and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and mentally disappearing ex-jock Jim Bunning - collectively represent everything that most sane people despise about the modern GOP. McConnell is the ultimate D.C. insider, the kind of Republican even Republicans should wonder about, a man who ranks among the top 10 senators when it comes to loading up on pork spending. With his needle nose, pursed lips and prim reading glasses, he's a proud wearer of the "I'm an intellectual, but I'm also a narrow-minded prick" look made famous by George Will; politically his great passion is whoring for Wall Street, his most recent triumph coming when he convinced Republican voters that a proposed $50 billion fund to be collected from big banks was actually a bailout of those same banks. Bunning, meanwhile, goes with the "dumb and unashamed" style; in more than a decade of service, his sole newsworthy accomplishment came when he said his Italian-American opponent looked like one of Saddam's sons.

Paul's animus toward the state's Republican overlords never seemed greater than in August 2009, when McConnell decided to throw a fancy fundraiser in Washington for the national GOP's preferred candidate, Trey Grayson. Attended by 17 Republican senators who voted for the TARP bailout, the event was dubbed the "Bailout Ball" by Paul's people. Paul went a step further, pledging not to accept contributions from any senator who voted to hand taxpayer money over to Wall Street. "A primary focus of my campaign is that we need Republicans in office who will have the courage to say no to federal bailouts of big business," he declared.

The anti-establishment rhetoric was a big hit. Excluded from local campaign events by the GOP, Paul took his act to the airwaves, doing national TV appearances that sent his campaign soaring with Tea Party voters. "We were being shut out of a lot of opportunities in the state, so you go with what is available to you," says Adams. "And what was available was television."

In the primary almost a year later, Paul stomped Grayson, sending shock waves through the national party. The Republican candidate backed by the party's Senate minority leader had just received an ass-whipping by a Tea Party kook, a man who tried to excuse BP's greed-crazed fuck-up in the Gulf on the grounds that "sometimes accidents happen." Paul celebrated his big win by going back to where he'd begun his campaign, The Rachel Maddow Show, where he made a big show of joyously tearing off his pseudolibertarian underpants for the whole world to see - and that's where everything changed for him.

In their first interview, Maddow had softballed Paul and played nice, treating him like what he was at the time - an interesting fringe candidate with the potential to put a burr in Mitch McConnell's ass. But now, Paul was a real threat to seize a seat in the U.S. Senate, so Maddow took the gloves off and forced him to explain some of his nuttier positions. Most memorably, she hounded him about his belief that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power. The money exchange:

Paul was pilloried as a racist in the national press. Within a day he was completely reversing himself, telling CNN, "I think that there was an overriding problem in the South so big that it did require federal intervention in the Sixties." Meanwhile, he was sticking his foot in his mouth on other issues, blasting the Americans With Disabilities Act and denouncing Barack Obama's criticism of British disaster merchant BP as "un-American."

Paul's libertarian coming-out party was such a catastrophe - the three gaffes came within days of each other - that he immediately jumped into the protective arms of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party. "I think he's said quite enough for the time being in terms of national press coverage," McConnell said, explaining why Paul had been prevailed upon by the party to cancel an appearance on Meet the Press. Some news outlets reported that Paul canceled the appearance after a call from Karl Rove to Adams, who concedes that he did speak with Rove around that time.

Soon after, McConnell threw yet another "Bailout Ball" fundraiser in Washington - only this time it was for Rand Paul. The candidate who just a year before had pledged not to accept money from TARP supporters was now romping in bed with those same politicians. When pressed for an explanation of Paul's about-face on the bailouts, Adams offers an incredibly frank admission. "When he said he would not take money from people who voted for the bank bailout, he also said, in the same breath, that our first phone call after the primary would be to Senator Mitch McConnell," says Adams. "Making fun of the Bailout Ball was just for the primary."

With all the "just for the primary" stuff out of the way, Paul's platform began to rapidly "evolve." Previously opposed to erecting a fence on the Mexican border, Paul suddenly came out in favor of one. He had been flatly opposed to all farm subsidies; faced with having to win a general election in a state that receives more than $265 million a year in subsidies, Paul reversed himself and explained that he was only against subsidies to "dead farmers" and those earning more than $2 million. Paul also went on the air with Fox News reptile Sean Hannity and insisted that he differed significantly from the Libertarian Party, now speaking more favorably about, among other things, judicious troop deployments overseas.

Beyond that, Paul just flat-out stopped talking about his views - particularly the ones that don't jibe with right-wing and Christian crowds, like curtailing the federal prohibition on drugs. Who knows if that had anything to do with hawkish Christian icon Sarah Palin agreeing to headline fundraisers for Paul, but a huge chunk of the candidate's libertarian ideals have taken a long vacation.

"When he was pulling no punches, when he was reciting his best stuff, I felt like I knew him," says Koch, the former campaign volunteer who now works with the Libertarian Party in Kentucky. "But now, with Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove calling the shots, I feel like I don't know him anymore."

Hardcore young libertarians like Koch - the kind of people who were outside the tent during the elder Paul's presidential run in 2008 - cared enough about the issues to jump off the younger Paul's bandwagon when he cozied up to the Republican Party establishment. But it isn't young intellectuals like Koch who will usher Paul into the U.S. Senate in the general election; it's those huge crowds of pissed-off old people who dig Sarah Palin and Fox News and call themselves Tea Partiers. And those people really don't pay attention to specifics too much. Like dogs, they listen to tone of voice and emotional attitude.

Outside the Palin rally in September, I ask an elderly Rand supporter named Blanche Phelps if she's concerned that her candidate is now sucking up to the same Republican Party hacks he once campaigned against. Is she bothered that he has changed his mind on bailouts and abortion and American interventionism and a host of other issues?

Blanche shrugs. "Maybe," she suggests helpfully, "he got saved."

Buried deep in the anus of the Bible Belt, in a little place called Petersburg, Kentucky, is one of the world's most extraordinary tourist attractions: the Creation Museum, a kind of natural-history museum for people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old. When you visit this impressively massive monument to fundamentalist Christian thought, you get a mind-blowing glimpse into the modern conservative worldview. One exhibit depicts a half-naked Adam and Eve sitting in the bush, cheerfully keeping house next to dinosaurs - which, according to creationist myth, not only lived alongside humans but were peaceful vegetarians until Adam partook of the forbidden fruit. It's hard to imagine a more telling demonstration of this particular demographic's unmatched ability to believe just about anything.

Even more disturbing is an exhibit designed to show how the world has changed since the Scopes trial eradicated religion from popular culture. Visitors to the museum enter a darkened urban scene full of graffiti and garbage, and through a series of windows view video scenes of families in a state of collapse. A teenager, rolling a giant doobie as his God-fearing little brother looks on in horror, surfs porn on the Web instead of reading the Bible. ("A Wide World of Women!" the older brother chuckles.) A girl stares at her home pregnancy test and says into the telephone, "My parents are not going to know!" As you go farther into the exhibit, you find a wooden door, into which an eerie inscription has been carved: "The World's Not Safe Anymore."

Staff members tell me Rand Paul recently visited the museum after-hours. This means nothing in itself, of course, but it serves as an interesting metaphor to explain Paul's success in Kentucky. The Tea Party is many things at once, but one way or another, it almost always comes back to a campaign against that unsafe urban hellscape of godless liberalism we call our modern world. Paul's platform is ultimately about turning back the clock, returning America to the moment of her constitutional creation, when the federal bureaucracy was nonexistent and men were free to roam the Midwestern plains strip-mining coal and erecting office buildings without wheelchair access. Some people pick on Paul for his humorously extreme back-to-Hobbesian-nature platform (a Louisville teachers' union worker named Bill Allison follows Paul around in a "NeanderPaul" cave-man costume shouting things like "Abolish all laws!" and "BP just made mistakes!"), but it's clear when you talk to Paul supporters that what they dig most is his implicit promise to turn back time, an idea that in Kentucky has some fairly obvious implications.

At a Paul fundraiser in northern Kentucky, I strike up a conversation with one Lloyd Rogers, a retired judge in his 70s who is introducing the candidate at the event. The old man is dressed in a baseball cap and shirtsleeves. Personalitywise, he's what you might call a pistol; one of the first things he says to me is that people are always telling him to keep his mouth shut, but he just can't. I ask him what he thinks about Paul's position on the Civil Rights Act.

"Well, hell, if it's your restaurant, you're putting up the money, you should be able to do what you want," says Rogers. "I tell you, every time he says something like that, in Kentucky he goes up 20 points in the polls. With Kentucky voters, it's not a problem."

In Lexington, I pose the same question to Mica Sims, a local Tea Party organizer. "You as a private-property owner have the right to refuse service for whatever reason you feel will better your business," she says, comparing the Civil Rights Act to onerous anti-smoking laws. "If you're for small government, you're for small government."

You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don't see what the problem is. It's no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what's real to them is the implication in your question that they're racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it's an outrage that binds them together. They want desperately to believe in the one-size-fits-all, no-government theology of Rand Paul because it's so easy to understand. At times, their desire to withdraw from the brutally complex global economic system that is an irrevocable fact of our modern life and get back to a simpler world that no longer exists is so intense, it breaks your heart.

At a restaurant in Lexington, I sit down with a Tea Party activist named Frank Harris, with the aim of asking him what he thinks of Wall Street reform. Harris is a bit of an unusual Tea Partier; he's a pro-hemp, anti-war activist who supported Dennis Kucinich. Though he admits he doesn't know very much about the causes of the crash, he insists that financial reform isn't necessary because people like him can always choose not to use banks, take out mortgages, have pensions or even consume everyday products like gas and oil, whose prices are set by the market.

"Really?" I ask. "You can choose not to use gas and oil?" My awesomely fattening cheese-and-turkey dish called a "Hot Brown" is beginning to congeal.

"You can if you want to," Harris says. "And you don't have to take out loans. You can save money and pay for things in cash."

"So instead of regulating banks," I ask, "your solution is saving money in cash?"

He shrugs. "I'm trying to avoid banks at every turn."

My head is starting to hurt. Arguments with Tea Partiers always end up like football games in the year 1900 - everything on the ground, one yard at a time.

My problem, Frank explains, is that I think I can prevent crime by making things illegal. "You want a policeman standing over here so someone doesn't come in here and mug you?" he says. "Because you're going to have to pay for that policeman!"

"But," I say, confused, "we do pay for police."

"You're trying to make every situation 100 percent safe!" he shouts.

This, then, is the future of the Republican Party: Angry white voters hovering over their cash-stuffed mattresses with their kerosene lanterns, peering through the blinds at the oncoming hordes of suburban soccer moms they've mistaken for death-panel bureaucrats bent on exterminating anyone who isn't an illegal alien or a Kenyan anti-colonialist.

The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can't; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.

Of course, the fact that we're even sitting here two years after Bush talking about a GOP comeback is a profound testament to two things: One, the American voter's unmatched ability to forget what happened to him 10 seconds ago, and two, the Republican Party's incredible recuperative skill and bureaucratic ingenuity. This is a party that in 2008 was not just beaten but obliterated, with nearly every one of its recognizable leaders reduced to historical-footnote status and pinned with blame for some ghastly political catastrophe. There were literally no healthy bodies left on the bench, but the Republicans managed to get back in the game anyway by plucking an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers out of thin air and training them into a giant ball of incoherent resentment just in time for the 2010 midterms. They returned to prominence by outdoing Barack Obama at his own game: turning out masses of energized and disciplined supporters on the streets and overwhelming the ballot box with sheer enthusiasm.

The bad news is that the Tea Party's political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that those interests mostly have us by the balls anyway, no matter who wins on Election Day. That's the reality; the rest of this is just noise. It's just that it's a lot of noise, and there's no telling when it's ever going to end.

This was an article from the October 15, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone, available on newsstands on October 1, 2010.

[Apr 21, 2010] Thoughts on the Tea Party

I was asked by our weekly paper to give some thoughts on the Tea Party movement. Here is what I came up with:

The Tea Party movement combines ignorance, anger, and justifiable indignation. For some, this ignorance reflects a degree of racism and ethnic hostility.

The anger has been nurtured by the demise of journalism along with a cynically crafted rhetoric of hate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was a master of this mode of communication. In 1990, four years before Gingrich ascended to his leadership position, his organization, GOPAC circulated a memo instructing Republicans about the most effective method of communication in the political arena. The memo recommended that his fellow travelers adopt a vocabulary built upon confrontational words, such as "decay, sick, unionized bureaucracy, greed, corruption, radical, permissive, and bizarre." Without a responsible media, this strategy went largely unchallenged until it became common practice.

The Tea Party, crafted by Republican interests, cleverly managed to whip the resulting anger into an Astroturf movement. At the same time, the Tea Party anger made sense, although it was misdirected. As I tried to show in the Confiscation of American Prosperity, since 1970 the United States has undergone a more massive transfer of wealth than either the Chinese or Soviet Revolutions. Damn right, people should be angry -- but not at the poor immigrants or racial and ethnic minorities, who are made out to be causing all the trouble.

One of the big complaints of the Tea Party is taxes. Their complaints are partially justified. The partiers are largely middle-class. Poverty precludes the very poor from paying much in taxes, while influence allows the very rich to avoid paying their share. The burden of taxes largely falls on the middle class.

In addition, people are alienated. They know that they have virtually no say in the way the system works. They are absolutely right to call for a more democratic way of governing. Ironically, of course, the same forces that are behind the conditions that generate this anger are manipulating the Tea Party to serve their own ends.

Centrism as tribalism - Crooked Timber

I've been doing my best to resist getting pulled back in by Clive Crook. I really have. I nearly succumbed when I read his Monday FT column, in which otiose self-congratulation dukes it out with utter lack of self-knowledge for seven hundred words but pulled myself back from the brink (self-congratulation wins, but it's a very close call). But his follow-up blog post has propelled me into the abyss.

Chris Dornan 10.09.09 at 4:24 pm

Henry, I think you are right about torture being a vulnerable point for mindless centerism.

Your article makes an excellent point, that the problem isn't with partisan differences so much as the way the debate is being carried on. I am looking at Mansfield Park as a critique of Kantian ethics and there is a critical passage in the fourth chapter:

Such were the counsels by which Mrs. Norris assisted to form her nieces' minds; and it is not very wonderful that, with all their promising talents and early information, they should be entirely deficient in the less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity and humility. In everything but disposition they were admirably taught. Sir Thomas did not know what was wanting, because, though a truly anxious father, he was not outwardly affectionate, and the reserve of his manner repressed all the flow of their spirits before him.

Self-knowledge is an important theme in your post and I agree. Some generosity and humility, a less self-righteous adherence to one's own ideas, wouldn't go amiss either (assuming we do want more rational discourse).

JulesLt 10.09.09 at 4:33 pm

Now, from where I'm sitting, that sounds less like Centrism, and more like being on the Right – but that's hardly surprising in a country where the definition of Left has shifted from Socialists, Communists and union members, to the merely Liberal.

Still, congratulations to him on discovering the concept of Ad Hominem. - Columnists - Clive Crook - An American polity blinded by rage

Increasingly, rage is the dominant mood of US politics – but the feeling is not confined to the far right. Committed partisans on both sides question their opponents' legitimacy. It is one thing for an adversary to be mistaken, quite another to be a liar or traitor. You do not argue with an opponent like that, or seek an accommodation. You silence him, you shout him down, you impeach.

Right-wing "birthers" question whether Mr Obama was born in the US and can lawfully be president. Their leftwing counterparts think George W. Bush stole the 2000 election, then permitted the attacks of 9/11 to justify his war against Iraq and the creation of a police state. Conservatives deride Mr Obama's healthcare plan as a plot to turn the US socialist. Liberals, led by former president Jimmy Carter, no less, suggest that much of the opposition to Mr Obama is mere racism.

... ... ...

To repeat, this is an attitude of the politically committed, not representative of the country as a whole. Indeed, most Americans' disgust at the relentless anger and ill will helps to explain their disenchantment with politics.

Polls show that the electorate holds an ever lower opinion of Congress, the cockpit of this struggle.

... ... ...

Bipartisanship is bunk. The soppy centre is no use. Good government is not just splitting the difference; it is splitting the heads of the enemy, and getting your way without compromise. We floating voters see things differently. We approve of consensual politics, thinking that it delivers better policies. And we believe this for two main reasons.

First, good policy involves trade-offs...

Second, good policy requires stability. ... Policy that lurches to and fro is damaging. Consensual politics means smaller fluctuations.

For many years, relative stability was a marked feature of US politics – as compared, say, with Britain. And this surely worked to America's advantage. Perhaps US politics is starting to look more like postwar British politics. If so, it is safe to say that the country will not like the results.

But one wonders whether even more may be at stake than the capacity to form sound and steady policy. So inflamed are the US political classes that a deeper breakdown begins to be imaginable.

Historically, the US has both accommodated and benefited from a remarkable degree of cultural pluralism – with sufficient civic tolerance, mutual (if sometimes grudging) respect and unashamed patriotism to bind the whole together. Now, more than ever, the instinct of politicians and their energised supporters is to divide.

... ... ...

In the coming years, the US has enormous challenges to face – not least, like Britain before it, the trauma of relative economic decline. Right now, its polity looks unfit to cope. "A house divided against itself", said Abraham Lincoln, "cannot stand."

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Noam Chomsky De-Americanizing the World

There is still a Republican organization, but it long ago abandoned any pretense of being a normal parliamentary party. Conservative commentator Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute describes today's Republicans as "a radical insurgency - ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition": a serious danger to the society.

The party is in lock-step service to the very rich and the corporate sector. Since votes cannot be obtained on that platform, the party has been compelled to mobilize sectors of the society that are extremist by world standards. Crazy is the new norm among Tea Party members and a host of others beyond the mainstream.

The Republican establishment and its business sponsors had expected to use them as a battering ram in the neoliberal assault against the population - to privatize, to deregulate and to limit government, while retaining those parts that serve wealth and power, like the military.

The Republican establishment has had some success, but now finds that it can no longer control its base, much to its dismay. The impact on American society thus becomes even more severe. A case in point: the virulent reaction against the Affordable Care Act and the near-shutdown of the government.

The Chinese commentator's observation is not entirely novel. In 1999, political analyst Samuel P. Huntington warned that for much of the world, the U.S. is "becoming the rogue superpower," seen as "the single greatest external threat to their societies."

A few months into the Bush term, Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association, warned that "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." Both Huntington and Jervis warned that such a course is unwise. The consequences for the U.S. could be harmful.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the leading establishment journal, David Kaye reviews one aspect of Washington's departure from the world: rejection of multilateral treaties "as if it were sport."

Comrade Kristina wrote on Sat, 10/26/2013 - 5:44 am

Speaking of the Kochs. California to levy massive fine against Koch brothers groups

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Tempest in a Tea Party-

Many progressives are going hysterical about a Tea Party takeover. People, get a grip! Here are four dynamics, including TINOs (Tea in Name Only), to watch behind the fright factor.

Richard Kim