As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Teabag D-Bags

We have our first epic teabagger FAIL.

But a funny thing happened en route to a visually pleasing Tax Day protest. The National Park Service said the tea party protesters didn't have the proper permit to dump their bags [...]

"We have a million tea bags here, and we don't have a place to put them because it's not on our permit," said Rebecca Wales, lead organizer of D.C. Tea Party [...]

A local think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said it would allow the dumping of the tea bags in its 12th floor conference room instead. Not quite the same impact, though.

Perfect. Using a right-wing think tank's conference room for a "grassroots" protest.

There's also this amusing nugget inside a Fox News story on the teabag protests:

In New Hampshire, state employees are hitting the street to speak out against cuts aimed at public employee jobs.

Um... fellas? Public employee jobs are being cut because of a lack of revenues.

But that's the whole point of this thing. Conservative leaders are trying to leverage some genuine anger in the country based on the recession, bailouts, etc., and target them toward movement goals like the flat tax and other harmful measures. The very people who caused the problem want to use the anger generated by themselves to rail against the Administration's goals. It's the exact same cast of characters pushing the exact same failed solutions. And with a lack of leadership at the top of the Republican Party, this kind of teabaggery has filled the vacuum for people whose party got blown out in the election and are looking for answers. Matt Taibbi has his typical solid take:

This must be a terrible time to be a right-winger. A vicious paradox has been thrust upon the once-ascendant conservatives. On the one hand they are out of power, and so must necessarily rail against the Obama administration. On the other hand they have to vilify, as dangerous anticapitalist activity, the grass-roots protests against the Geithner bailouts and the excess of companies like AIG. That leaves them with no recourse but to dream up wholesale lunacies along the lines of Glenn Beck’s recent “Fascism With a Happy Face” rants, which link the protesting “populists” and the Obama adminstration somehow and imagine them as one single nefarious, connected, ongoing effort to install a totalitarian regime [...]

After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over. Beck pointedly compared the AIG protesters to Bolsheviks: “[The Communists] basically said ‘Eat the rich, they did this to you, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” He then said the AIG and G20 protesters were identical: “It’s a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find ‘em, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” Beck has an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.

But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit.

I think liberals have generally done a very good job calling out this nonsense for what it is, and the traditional media has taken notice. For practically the first time, they have failed to take the bait. But because this economic crisis is so confusing, so tangled, so out of reach to most Americans who don't work in the financial sector, and because there are genuine concerns and frustrations out there, I wouldn't suggest that this tea party nonsense was hopelessly doomed. I plan to point and laugh considerably today, but there's a germ of an idea here, a leveraging of real anger, that could be dangerous in the future.

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