Tag Archives: tea party movement

Hyppo and Critter: Bill reading

Hyppo and Critter: Racism

Miles to go before I steep – five Tea Party myths

I think I know what the Tea Party needs - an editor! Get in line behind me.

I’m told one of the central themes of the Tea Party Movement – hereafter referred to as TPM for the sake of brevity – perhaps the most important theme of all, is that they stand opposed to “big government.” In fact the TPM is quite often referred to as a “backlash” against big government.

Hey, I’m all for that. With over two million federal employees (not including the postal service) and more on the way I happen to agree. Government has gotten too big and does too many things. Further, I’d bet that most of your garden variety Americans are against big government, too.

So why then is there a backlash against the backlash? Why isn’t everyone running out into the streets to embrace the TPM as the best thing ever?

It must be hard to take a central theme that most Americans would eagerly embrace and generate backlash against yourselves. Way to fumble the ball while running into the end zone without being touched.

People in the TPM are angry and not afraid to show it. But is that anything that special these days? It seems to me that when taken as a group, most Americans are angry. We flip each other the bird, spew profanity at one another, drive like we’re in the Indy 500 and barely take the time to show the most inconsequential of courtesies to strangers we bump into. We are, as I like to put it, a society of assholes.

Also, like I recently wrote in my post Always Be Opposing, anger isn’t a very effective selling technique.

My objective today is to expose what I think are some myths about the TPM.

  1. “The movement is grass roots.” It turns out that big money funds the movement, and it comes from “conservative” groups like Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Follow the shell-game of organizations receiving money from corporations and conservative individuals and you’ll find the source of the money comes from places like David Koch, Koch Industries, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Mellon industrial. [Source.]
  2. “The movement isn’t about Obama.” Another myth that can easily be dispelled simply by looking at the number of anti-Obama signs at TPM events, protests and rallies.
  3. “The movement is non-partisan.” Heh. This is an especially good one. It is a conservative movement and trying to sell it as anything else is disingenuous.  Even one of the movement’s biggest supporters (FOX News) says so: “In a bid to advance the tea party movement from holding rallies to holding office, the leaders of the anti-establishment groups announced a new political organization Friday that they say will ‘endorse, support and elect’ conservatives across the country.” (Source.) A poll recently found that the most members of the TPM were Republicans at 53 percent. 28 percent said they were independents and 13 percent were Democrats. (Source.) No great big shocker there.
  4. “There is no racism in the TPM.” This is simply a bald-faced lie. I doubt any group of humans could successfully support a claim like this. What about the racist signs seen at TPM event? Those are discounted as “plants” or persons not representative of the moment. Simple question, though: Why are the racist messages allowed to remain unmolested? Why doesn’t the TPM kick those sign-wielders the hell out? Isn’t that the same as tacit approval? The response to this argument is lame as hell: “It’s a free country. We can’t stop them.” Sure. At best the movement fails to properly control its image. At worst racist elements are actually a part of the group.
  5. “The movement does not condone violence.” Why then all the talk about “revolution” and pruning the tree of liberty (a quotation that refers to “blood”), violent imagery (clenched fists raised in the air, boxing gloves, Browning firearms), TPM leaders on radio talking about effecting change via the “bullet box,” violent speech (like “reload”) and so forth? If you want to successfully defend against the charge of inciting violence, again, you need to proactively control the perception of your movement. Allowing violent messages to stand simply confuses the issue.

So how does the TPM take a theme where they enjoy a considerable amount of sympathetic support amongst the American people and turn it into backlash against themselves? I think it has to do with the vehemence of their anger and the way they go about pursuing their agenda and the methods they employ. Most of us don’t much relish the thought of being shot dead by our neighbor because we happen to have some sort of difference on a political belief. The general public is also turned off by the bait-and-switch aspect of saying it is about big government while the actions of the TPM say it is about Obama. Most of us don’t like being lied to, either.

The TPM needs to take proactive control and reign in the radical messages that have been allowed so far. Failure to control their image will only continue to generate backlash against their goals.

What can Browning do for you?

Seen on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2010

Browning Arms Company was founded in Utah in 1927. It offers a wide variety of firearms, including shotguns, rifles, pistols, and rimfire firearms. (Source: Wikipedia.)

When the tea party talks about “revolution” ad infinitum what do they mean by that?

On March 20, 2010, “tea party activists” gathered on Capitol Hill for a rally named “Code Red.” The purpose of the rally was to protest against “health care reform” and was promoted by actor John Voight, who said the rally was a way to fight back against the “corrupt ACORN liars.”

The “Code Red” event was organized by organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity.

The sign shown in the inset was on display at that rally. It references a “Browning” firearm and even includes a picture of a handgun (just in case the Browning reference wasn’t clear enough) and a picture of the Capitol building. It also depicts “fire line” yellow tape which is typically used in reference to hazardous areas. (Like a shooting range, I wonder?)

One question I have: Why don’t those in the vicinity take a little bit of proactive action and self-police signs with messages like that? Does that mean the sign has the tacit approval of the crowd and/or the event organizers? You’re not likely to tear down signs you agree with, are you?

These are strange times indeed when messages like that are displayed in our nation’s capitol. I can only sit here and wonder: What can Browning do for you?

Politics ad hominem as usual?

An idea has been percolating in my head for some time and the other day it finally went off like a light bulb.

It’s this notion of what I’m calling “personal attack politics.” A lot of people are spending a lot of time and effort to convince me that:

President Barack Obama is a bad person.

Eye catching, isn’t it? I guess it isn’t too surprising that some would be out peddling a message like this in our fast-paced, talking point, sound-bite culture.

Imagine, if you will, that you are the teacher for a debate class. Two of your students are given an assignment called The Great Food Debate: One student is pro-hamburger and the other is pro-hot dog. This is going to be one interesting debate! 🙂

Hamburger kid goes first and talks about the popularity of hamburgers, how round patties are more efficient than cylindrical-shaped meat, says that hamburgers had better condiment containment, and even has data and graphs to illustrate his points.

The other kid, however, doesn’t talk about hot dogs at all. He starts off by saying that his opponent’s father is an alumni and donated money to the school and that’s the only reason he’s even in this debate. He talks about how “everyone” on campus considers his opponent to be a super nerd and makes fun of the way he’s dressed. And in his closing argument he says that anyone who votes for his opponent is a big nerd, too.

After watching this “debate” and as the teacher of the class, would you feel proud if your students voted the hot dog kid as the winner? I don’t think so.

Personal attacks do little to further understanding in a debate. Nothing that the hot dog kid had to say offered any information or rebuttal regarding the factual claims about hamburgers made by his opponent.

Personal attacks have been around for a long time. In Latin they are known as ad hominem.

So what are some of the personal attacks against Obama:

  • He uses a teleprompter.
  • He’s an empty suit.
  • He’s too smooth.
  • He came from the Chicago “machine.”
  • He bowed to someone, or he shouldn’t have bowed, or he bowed too deeply.
  • He’s a socialist.
  • He wants to destroy America.
  • He’s a “militant racist.”

If you need more examples of ad hominem (and sometimes not-so-veiled threats of violence) against Obama, just look for the most offensive signs at tea party rallies and such:

  • I didn’t vote for the socialist – you can keep the change
  • Fire Line Do Not Cross: If Brown can’t stop it a Browning can (includes picture of a handgun)
  • We came unarmed (this time)
  • One Big Ass Mistake America
  • You Can’t Fix Stupid – But You Can Vote It Out – Change Is Brewing
  • Freedom Will Be Defended
  • Revolt Against Socialism
  • Obama is a Very Bad Man (link)
  • Obama’s Plan: White Slavery

These are the same signs that, when singled out after the fact for criticism, we’re told, “Oh, that sign doesn’t represent the movement.” Yet, somehow, the people holding those signs are never asked to leave or take down their signs by the other tea party protesters all around them. I’ve never heard a single story about an offensive sign being removed from a tea party event. Those signs being allowed to remain represents the tacit consent of those in the vicinity and the movement itself.

In the interest of fairness, I just googled up one example of a sign ejection. Yeah! A guy who is a tea party activist and runs a tea party web site and claimed to be a tea party “founder” was apparently kicked out of a Houston tea party event last year for an offensive sign. I won’t bother to repeat it here.

Politics can be murky and messy. “A tax cut for the wealthiest among us is the best way to help America!” That’s what Bush said (and did) in early 2001. Agree with it or not, at least it is a “factual claim” that can be debated.

I believe that if we want what is best for our country we need more discussion of the issues and less time spent on personal attacks. Keep an eye out for the personal attacks on Obama. If you filter those out, you  might be surprised how little those that are throwing the attacks really have to say.

I’m crashing the tea party

I believe I'll have a spot of tea

I have decided to become a self-appointed “junior member” of the tea party movement.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are many areas where I differ with some of the movement’s main themes. But my understanding is that the movement is “grass roots” (in spite of some corporate sponsors), still doesn’t have an official leadership structure, and that localized parts of the movement are free to support their own priorities. Members are defining the terms of their own involvement in the movement.

I’m taking that same initiative. I am now a “tea party patriot.”

I should point out that I represent the citizens of the abyss, population one, where I now hold the position of tea party president. Unlike other elements of the national movement, however, I will not be doing things like starting a web site, selling merchandise for profit (buttons, tshirts and bumper stickers) and developing my own flag. The national flag of the United States works just fine for me, thank you.

I’ll begin by enumerating my concerns as I see them:

  • The federal government employs about two million people (not including the postal service.) Source.
  • The number of federal employees could grow to 2.15 million people in 2010. Source.
  • “Federal employees earn an average annual compensation of $106,871, including pay and benefits, compared to just $53,288 in the private sector.” Source.

Now the areas where I differ with the rest of the tea party movement:

  • I don’t think this is all about Obama.
  • I agree that dissent is patriotic, but I also believed it during the Bush administration.
  • The first TARP happened under Bush. (Yes, I know Obama also supported it.)
  • I don’t blame everything on liberals. 82% of our national debt was spent by Republicans. Source.

I have seen pictures of some of the hateful signs that have been displayed at tea party tax day protests. For my slogan, though, I wanted something edgier:

Let’s work together in good faith to make America the best it can be.

Now, when will someone show up to teach me the secret tea party handshake? 🙂