Category Archive 'Teaparty Protests'
27 Oct 2011

Occupy* Versus Tea Party

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Cost refers to costs for cleanup and extra police to municipalities hosting protests.

09 Aug 2011

The Left Blames the Tea Party

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09 Aug 2011

CNBC’s Rick Santelli On the US Ratings Downgrade

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Santelli comes in around 3:06 and puts matters into perspective.

“You guys ever play sports been on an organized team? Ooh yeah. Okay. You know sometimes you get a couple of bad calls or the game didn’t go your way but should have. A good coach isn’t going to come up to you and say, The other team stinks I’m mad. We’re going fight, we’re going to appeal. The coach says, Doesn’t matter. Okay. we’re a better team than this. Just take this to motivate the team to move on to greater things. You know, the treasury secretary, the 8% excuses, the blame Bush, blame the sun, blame this. You know what leadership means? It means that it doesn’t really matter what S&P says. We all know deep inside that no country is the same as it was five years ago. And the market seems to be okay with it. As for stocks going down, we’re already Ralph Kramden on thin ice. Now an infant jumped on our shoulders that’s even more weight. In the end, in the end we need to address problems we know exist. The treasury secretary or president should be out here not fighting S&P, not grabbing the other coach and slapping him around, taking the umpire behind the barn. He should be getting the team psyched to overcome. I had a professor in college. I wrote a great paper. Could never please this guy, but it made me better. We’re better than this. Don’t get caught up in the minutia. All this b.s.. We’re better than this. We need to prove it. We’re off track. Whether we’re better than some other country or not, the real circumstances we’re on the wrong path.

Blame the Tea Party? Geez, no wonder Kerry did so well in an election. If it wasn’t for the Tea Party, they would have passed the debt ceiling thumbs up, we would have been rated BBB.

01 Aug 2011

“Unfit to Govern”

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Fighting hobbits

“Tea party Republicans may be a noisy and effective protest movement, but they’re unfit to govern,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said at a news conference on Friday.

Speaker John Boehner’s task in working out a deal with Barack Obama and the democrat leadership of the Senate to avert a default crisis was made more difficult by 22 fiscally-irredentist Tea Party Republicans who refused to support his compromise solution.

John McCain made headlines by labeling the conservative extremists as “hobbits.”

I think “the hobbits” were wrong tactically and philosophically on insisting on trying to pass a balanced budget amendment. The democrats could never accept a balanced budget amendment. Their base and constituencies would never tolerate it. But, even more importantly, a balanced budget amendment is an unworkable idea which is constitutionally highly problematic.

Publius Huldah is quite right: a balanced budget amendment would strike directly at the concept of enumerated powers and it would effectively transfer decision-making authority from Congress to the courts.

The hobbits were wrong about the balanced budget amendment, but I think their hearts were in the right place and I still think they served a highly useful purpose in holding the GOP leaderships’ feet to the fire and restricting their ability to compromise too far elsewhere.

Mr. Boehner was enabled by their existence to go to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and say, “You know, guys, I’d like to compromise further and let you throw in some class-warfare taxes on the rich, but those crazy hobbits are fierce and fanatical. They’d never put up with any tax increases at all. I’d like to settle for more modest spending reductions, but Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took (R-VA) is insisting on blood.” It’s useful in negotiations to have a “Mr. Jones” you have to answer to, who is completely unreasonable and who is making maximalist demands.

Marc A. Thiessen contends that, in the end, in fact, the Tea Party hobbits did win.

The reported debt-limit deal appears to be a victory for the Tea Party. It includes around $1 trillion in spending cuts and creates a special committee of Congress to recommend cuts of $1.2 trillion more. If Congress does not approve those additional cuts by year’s end, automatic spending cuts go into effect. The package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be “paid for” with commensurate cuts in spending. According to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years — something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve. And all this is accomplished with no tax increases. …

The Tea Party is also winning the battle of ideas. Last week, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod crowed that the debt-limit battle was shaping up as a “definitional fight” in which voters would see Obama as defending the reasonable center against Republicans who are “pandering to the extremes.” Well, if Axelrod is so confident that Obama is winning this “definitional fight,” why was the White House so adamant about ducking a second round next year? The president said that “the only bottom line that I have is that we extend this debt ceiling through the next election.” If he were winning the argument, he would have been eager to have this fight again just before the next election.

And Glenn Reynolds notes complacently: Well, you know the hobbits won in the original story too.

The fact that the Conservative Movement is large and diverse enough to have its own more extreme fringe is really a positive sign. Political coalitions large enough to win are never tidy, compact, perfectly ideologically pure, all neat and discreet. A successful political movement inevitably even attracts people you would just as soon not have on your own side along with all the opportunists who can tell which way the wind is blowing.

20 Jul 2011

Al Pacino, the Tea Party Movement, and Immanuel Kant

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I’m not persuaded that the fantasy ending of “Scent of a Woman” (1992), in which one rip-roaring speech by a colorful old veteran suffices to cause a preparatory school dean and disciplinary committee to reverse course and do the right thing, is the best possible cinematic illustration of the point Eric Lutzuk might have chosen. I have met some deans and college disciplinary committees and I can tell you that all the eloquence of Daniel Webster or Demosthenes and all the sound reasoning and philosophy of the entire Western canon would have had precisely zero impact on any of the results of their deliberations.

Pardon the digression, but there is a pertinent scene in Joseph Heller’s great novel Catch-22 . The idealistic Clevinger is incorrectly accused of some default and is scheduled to appear before a military disciplinary tribunal. The cynical Yossarian warns him that he is completely screwed. Clevinger insists that he is perfectly safe because he is innocent. (I’m paraphrasing, rather than quoting.) “You don’t understand.” Yossarian warns him. “Those guys hate Jews.” “But I’m not Jewish. Clevinger protests. “That will make no difference.” Yossarian assures him. That is what deans and disciplinary committees are like.

Anyway… Mr. Lutzuk’s article makes an interesting and valuable point about the motivation of conservatives which liberals characteristically find impossible to understand.

In the climactic speech delivered by Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, Pacino does an excellent job of articulating why Kant rejected the pursuit of self interest as an ethical position. In the speech Pacino clearly disavows the pursuit of self interest as being properly ethical. Charlie (the young student who Pacino is representing in the school court ) has forfeited entry to an ivy league university, and has potentially ruined his prospects of climbing the American social ladder by choosing to not “snitch” on his classmates who he witnessed perpetrating a prank on the Dean. The over-arching point of Pacino’s fiery speech is that by punishing Charlie for his silence and rewarding Mr. Willis (Philip Seymour Hoffman) for “snitching”, the school is encouraging students to adopt an ethical stance concerned with acting out of self interest. …

The American Liberal “left” can learn a lot from Pacino’s speech as it might explain why they are failing to rally grassroots populist support amongst a lot of poor Americans who would directly benefit from Democrat initiatives…. [T]he American Midwest, now a hot bed for right wing Christian, tea party type republican populist support, used to be the center for radical leftist movements in the United States.

This shift can be explained as a Kantian phenomena. After all the number one criticism amongst the left of the tea party and other populist movements in the US is that they are acting against their own self interest. They are supporting a political party (the Republicans) that explicitly benefits the rich and do little to nothing to help the poor or disenfranchised. Time and time again Democrat political pundits point this out to no avail. All the statics and numbers in the world seem incapable of swaying these people from their support of a party that does nothing to improve their day to day lives or the lives of their children.

What makes the tea party a properly Kantian movement is that they justify their support for the Republican Party by appealing to freedom. This is the twisted strength of the tea party movement, it emphasizes people’s freedom as the highest virtue. It’s overarching message is that common people, working people, are free and capable of making their own decisions. You do not have to listen to the pejorative pandering of left liberal intellectuals from the North East, telling you what is or isn’t in your best interest. You are free to make that decision yourself. That is what America is all about.

Arguments appealing to self interest are practically non-existent on the right (with the exception of the small business owners tax cut argument). Ordinary working people are appealed to based on their autonomy. They are encouraged to demonstrate their autonomy by voting for a party that they feel represents them despite it acting against their self interest. In this way they are strangely enough like Charlie: affirming their own characters against intellectuals who claim they can predict their actions based on their class, race, occupation income etc. The right in the US have tapped into the fundamental Kantian insight that people want to believe and feel they are autonomous beings.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Oct 2010

The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics

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As the democrat party’s November Appointment in Samarra draws near, the left has been furiously discussing how voter dissatisfaction and the Tea Party Movement is all the nefarious culmination of a diabolical plot presided over by scheming capitalists who artificially created the whole thing with their funding.

Andrew Ferguson, in this month’s Commentary, has a good deal of fun applying Richard Hofstadter’s paranoia meme to liberalism’s latest efforts at self gratification.

Over the past 30 years, Charles and David Koch, owners of a Kansas-based family business called Koch Industries, have given hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that advance their political views. Those views can be described as unevenly conservative and generally libertarian (pro-gay marriage, anti-ObamaCare). The donations are readily observable in foundation tax records posted on the Internet, as all such transactions are, and the brothers themselves have made many public appearances on behalf of the think tanks and magazines they fund, given speeches and media interviews, issued statements of support, sat on boards—even, in David’s case, made a hopeless and expensive run for the vice presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.

Oddly, it took a while for the Inspector Clouseaus of the American left to smell a rat. And in fairness, it should be said that hiding in plain sight can often be the most sinister form of disguise for billionaires like the Kochs, the tricky bastards. About a year ago, the alarming rise of the Tea Parties inspired researchers at a website called ThinkProgress to start Googling. Among their discoveries, breathlessly reported, was the news that one of the Kochs’ foundations had funded Americans for Prosperity, a group instrumental in the Tea Party movement.

ThinkProgress presented its story as a scoop the mainstream press was afraid to touch. There the Kochs stood at last, exposed to broad daylight in the public square, where they’d been all along. ThinkProgress dubbed them “The Billionaires Behind the Hate.” We may never know what tipped off the sleuths to the Kochs’ political activities, but David Koch in particular must be kicking himself: I knew I shouldn’t have given that speech to 2,000 people in that hotel ballroom at the Americans for Prosperity convention! And the interviews I gave to New York magazine, and the Times—what a fool I was! …

One mark of the paranoid style in American politics, Richard Hofstadter wrote in his famous essay, is its concern with “factuality,” a piling up of random details to create a coherence that reality itself can’t provide. Journalism of a certain sort becomes a convenient instrument of the paranoid partisan. “The paranoid’s interpretation of history,” Hofstadter wrote, “is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will,” an “amoral superman” who “manufactures the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way.”

With the Kochs, the American left gets two amoral supermen in one. Mayer’s article, and the larger campaign it’s a part of, is meant not only to alarm its audience but to soothe it as well. Any Democrat unnerved by the rise of the Tea Party movement will find it comforting to learn that it’s a giant confidence trick. The belief requires both a deep cynicism about one’s fellow citizens and a touching credulity about the ease with which they can be manipulated. All those angry, badly dressed people shouting into megaphones on TV: they’re not evil, they’re just stupid.

17 Sep 2010

The Tea Party Has Already Won

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Gene Taylor (4-MS) this week became the first House democrat to sign the Repeal Obamacare petition.

Democrats in larger numbers are deserting Obama and calling for tax cuts for all Americans.

A.B. Stoddart
, at the Hill, observes that you don’t have to wait for November to tell that the tide has turned, the Tea Party has already stopped Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid’s leftist offensive. The war will continue, but the initiative has changed sides.

Even before Christine O’Donnell handily defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in an epic upset Tuesday night, the Tea Parties, all of them, had already won. No matter what happens in the midterm elections on Nov. 2, the Tea Party has moved the Democrats to the right and the Republicans even more so, and President Obama’s agenda is dead. …

As of last week, before the House and Senate even reconvened, it was clear there were enough Senate Democrats joining Republicans seeking an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest earners that the Democrats don’t have the votes to pass President Obama’s permanent extension of the middle-class tax cuts without passing cuts for the top two tax brackets as well.

When Obama introduced his latest economic proposals earlier this month, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), an ally of the Obama White House, immediately put out a statement not only criticizing Obama’s newest infrastructure plan but knocking the original stimulus as well. “I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,” Bennet said.

Obama won’t get his infrastructure plan through the Congress, and he knows it. Next year, when he is running for reelection, tax and budget reform will be the only issues he could realistically work on with a GOP majority or a razor-thin Democratic majority. In other words, the Tea Party agenda.

The Tea Party candidates themselves — like O’Donnell, whom Karl Rove called “nutty,” — matter little. Only a few will actually get elected this fall. Yet the Tea Party has won without them. There are no tea leaves left to read. Democrats have been spooked and Republicans threatened, cajoled or cleansed. The results are already in.


Overseas, the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung agrees:

“Obama has underestimated the frustration in the country and the power of the Tea Party movement, which gives the prevailing disillusionment a platform and a voice. It is by far the most vibrant political force in America. Obama’s left-of-center coalition, which got young people and intellectuals involved and which appealed to a majority of women, blacks and Latinos, has evaporated into nothing. …

The new right, though, is on the rise. It sets the agenda. America is facing a shift to the right. The Republicans have already marched in this direction of their own accord, regardless how many Tea Party reactionaries get a seat and a voice in Congress in November. The Democrats and the president have been put totally on the defensive. From now on they will only be able to react, rather than act.

27 Aug 2010

Nico Would Be a Republican Too Today (If She Were Still Alive)

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In this 3:01 WALB-TV (Albany, GA) video reporting on Tea Party protests in South Georgia, we find at 2:41 former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker denouncing the advance of socialism and excessive federal spending.


Velvet Underground — Beginning to See the Light (1969) 4:43 video

Some people work very hard
but still they never get it right.
Well I’m beginning to see the light.


Hat tip to John Brewer.

03 Aug 2010

Frum Follower Objects To Tea Parties Serving Up Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand

Former New Republic intern Ellsworth Noah Kristula-Green, writing at Frum Forum (where else?), observes the prominent role that the writings of Ayn Rand are playing in providing intellectual fuel for opposition to the Age of Obama with harrumphing indignation.

Rand’s popularity tells us two things about the state of modern conservatism.

First, it suggests that Rand’s atheism and permissive social views are no longer deal-breakers among conservative thought leaders. Jennifer Burns, the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, has explored Rand’s influence through the years. She told FrumForum that while religion had been a crucial issue for William F. Buckley and the conservatives of the 1970s, “someone like Glenn Beck isn’t going to argue about the existence of God or the need for religion. Beck and Limbaugh can use the parts of Rand they want to use and not engage the rest.”

Second and more troubling, the conservative rediscovery of Rand signals an increasing conservative divergence from mainstream America. Conservatives falsely assume that because more copies of Rand’s books are being sold, that everyone who reads them agrees with her. Conservatives are buying into Rand’s extreme views without understanding why many people—and not only liberals—revile her.

Contra Kristula-Green, Rand’s strong readership over many decades and the ability of her ideas to make their way and expand their influence in the face of entrenched establishment opposition, and despite an embarrassing personal cult, constitutes good evidence that Rand’s values and political perspective were very much in tune with the American mainstream (if not with its cultural elite), a nation whose soul, in D. H. Lawrence’s critical view was always “hard, isolate, stoic and… unmelted.”

07 Jun 2010

Tea Party Patriotism

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Michael Kinsley sneered at participants in the Tea Party Movement, in the Atlantic, dismissing them as people only interested in a tax cut, and challenging their patriotism. Kinsley admires instead the 1960s anti-war movement, which he describes as “selfless and idealistic.”

Bah, humbug! I was there. Whom does Kinsley think he’s kidding? The 1960s anti-war movement was pure selfishness. The student revolution gave people our age the chance to throw their weight around and they took it. Adolescent hormones, excess energy, and self-importance found expression in opportunistic rebellion against authority powered by the disproportionate weight of an unusually large age group sept. A lot of people back then went out to the demonstration motivated by nothing nobler than the desire to see themselves on the six o’clock news.

The antiwar movement had no problem recruiting. Opposition to the war was morally crucial to justify one’s being at home in college, smoking pot and chasing girls, not on the other side of the world with the less fortunate male members of our generation, marching through the jungle getting shot at. If the war was right and a good cause, then we were a sleazy bunch of self indulgent louses taking shameful advantage of our student deferments while the blue collar crowd went to war in our place. If the war was wrong, we were wiser, better people, too noble to support an imperialist war. How surprising that so many people our age found the second theory so attractive.

But an even better reply to Mr. Kinsley came this weekend at a Tea Party gathering of residents of Douglas and Carroll Counties held at Clinton Preserve in Villa Rica, Georgia. The syndicated columnist and talk show host Herman Cain addressed the crowd, then there was a magical moment:


The most memorable part of the tea party occurred near the end. A white-haired gentleman let a young woman go ahead of him in the rapid fire line so he could be last. When he reached the microphone, he introduced himself as Louis, a former Marine, and announced that he had recently heard the second, seldom played, verse of the Star Spangled Banner and then began to sing:

    Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
    Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
    Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
    And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

As Louis sang (actually the fourth and last verse; find the complete lyrics here), the surprised crowd began to stand to their feet, remove their hats, and cover their hearts with their hands. As he reached the more familiar last lines, members of the crowd joined in, and the entire crowd erupted into cheers at the finale. Upon completion of the song, Louis turned and hurried away, shaking a few hands that were thrust toward him as he walked. He quickly blended into the crowd, not to be seen again, but a photographer from recorded his performance and posted it on youtube for posterity.

2:56 video

Hat tip to David Larkin, Karen L. Myers, and Bruce Kesler.

18 Apr 2010

Tea Parties: Revolution From Above?

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Today’s Day By Day illustrates Richard’s point about the sophistication of Tea Party commentary

Richard Fernandez notes that Tea Parties have taken the political debate to deeper than customary levels of analysis, which may possibly be connected to the recently discovered fact that Tea Party activists are not really the rubes and yokels that the community of fashion inevitably supposed they were.

Perhaps the greatest distinction between the Tea Parties and the televised “debates” between candidates is that issues are raised at fundamentally different levels. In the first the money is for the candidate to dispense. In the second it is about how much he has a right to dispense not at the margins but structurally. The psychological difference is captured perfectly by Barack Obama’s response to the Tea Parties. ABC News reported that

    Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser tonight, President Obama touted his administration’s tax cuts and said that the recent tea party rallies across the nation have “amused” him.

    “You would think they should be saying thank you,” the president said to applause.

    Members of the audience shouted, “Thank you.”

‘Thank you for what?’ the Tea Partiers might respond, ‘it is our money.’ The incendiary potential of that type of conversation may explain the heat which has been generated by the crashers and anti-crashers at these events. The Tea Parties are less a debate than political clash. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has a number of links to sites which have promised to infiltrate the Tea Parties and efforts repel boarders. It has the aspect of conflict and consequently generates many of the same emotions. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post was nearly beside himself at the sight of these “faux populists”, only recently described as hicks, but now revealed to have Harvard Degrees.

    A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Tax Day found that Tea Party activists are wealthier than average (20 percent of their households earn more than $100,000, compared with 14 percent of the general population) and better educated (37 percent have college or postgraduate degrees vs. 25 percent of Americans ).

Milbank should be careful about opening that can of worms lest it lead to a discussion of whether the half of US households who pay Federal Income Tax so it can be transferred to the other half should have any say on how their money is spent. Because the only thing worse than the narrative that Tea Partiers are the ingrates who should be saying “thank you” to the quality that wisely governs them is the reverse: a narrative where the Tea Partiers are the quality who dare to question the ingrates that govern and write about them. Any idea that threatens to invert the positions of the elite and the peasantry is by definition subversive. The real problem with portraying the rebels as well educated and smart is that it begs the question of what their critics are.

12 Apr 2010

California Tax Day Tea Party

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“As goes California, so goes the nation,” boasts this Tea Party video by Lipstick Underground.

5:33 video

I heard about it from a liberal classmate who was not pleased by this video’s high professional quality.

Stop Taxing Us web-site

Hat tip to Norman Zamcheck.

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