Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ain't no party like a teabaggin' party

This whole teabagging movement, aside from being hilarious for their completely unaware use of the term "teabagging," is more than a little baffling to me.

Government has been prone to wasteful spending for years, and people's interpretations of what equals wasteful and what equals necessary has varied for just as long. Still, you'd think that the massive deficit left to us by the last administration's eight years in office would have been more than enough to tick off these fiscally fired up folks.

Apparently not. Apparently it took a New Deal style stimulus plan to do it for the teabaggers. This would be the stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the abominable mess left by the last administration's hard-on for deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

Now, at this very moment, a group of people are gathered at the state capitol here in Madison (and in many other cities across the US) to throw themselves a tea party. They've had enough of this Obama and his crazy ideas about spending on infrastructure and social services, job creation and environmental protections! Tax cuts for those making under $250k a year? Outrageous!

My source on the ground tells me that local talk radio host and great admirer of her own reflection Vikki McKenna has just asked the assembled crowd, "For how many of you is this your first protest? That's right, we've never had reason to before."

If that's true for even one of the people there, consider me deeply depressed by it. They've never had a reason to protest before? Not over the falsified intelligence and needless invasion of Iraq? Not for the massive, warrantless wiretapping program perpetrated on American citizens by their own government? Not for the brazen disregard for the vital importance of our natural resources? Not for the rampant politicization of our nation's Justice Department? Not for the lying, outing of CIA agents, and law-breaking that happened at the highest levels of government?

Nope. It took a stimulus plan and a right-wing, corporately funded campaign claiming that said plan is akin to dirty, dirty socialism to mobilize these individuals.

Regardless of the fact that several of the services many of them rely upon to get through their days in relative safety and to make ends meet (Medicare, Social Security, police, firefighters, etc.) would qualify as dirty, dirty socialism by their own definition.

Regardless of the fact that this "grassroots" movement is having its strings pulled and paid for by major conservative political organizations (like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks), somewhat negating the whole "grassroots" part of the claim.

Frankly, I'd take far less issue with this teabagging business if they just up and admitted to where they're getting their financial and logistical support from. But the fact that the movement's biggest cheerleaders--like Fox News' histrionic Glenn Beck--seem so intent on painting this as something put together entirely by "regular folk" is extremely disingenuous.

There are real issues of tax fairness and need for tax code revision facing Americans today. The corruption and incompetence that lead us into the current Recession call out loudly for serious fixes. But, instead of addressing these issues with reason and thoughtfulness, the teabaggers have simply opened their mouths and swallowed what's being fed to them by the very interest groups and organizations that would be most targeted by real efforts at reform.
P.S. As a side note, the photos included in this post were taken by my source on the ground at the Madison tea party. Like his own caption said, "It isn't a REAL protest until the Hitler signs show up." That and references to white slavery, I guess.

Also, can I just say, kudos to Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, who has been the voice behind many of the state's most anti-gay movements of past years? It must have taken a great deal of personal strength on her part to attend and speak at a pro-teabagging rally.

EDIT TO ADD: OK, enough of the silly double entendres. Take a look at this informative break-down of what's included in the Obama stimulus plan the teabaggers seem to dislike so much.


Anonymous said...

I will not be impressed until they can amass the tens of THOUSANDS of people we had filling State Street and the capitol square for the Feb. '03 Iraq War protest. Funny how that got so little media attention, while this has preoccupied the MSM for days on end. (That and the Obama family's new dog.)

Emily said...

Well, those protests lacked the kind of corporate and Fox-backed support that the teabaggers so enjoy.

I have video of the '03 protests in Chicago that I really need to get around to uploading one of these days, too. It was pretty damn spectacular.

Nadine said...

You've done a great job of reporting -- especially compared to the AP report I just read on

The links and background information you provide make this post much more informative.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

To say they are protesting a New Deal style stimulus is a bit of a straw man, don't you think?

Perhaps it is the massive spending under the TARP.

Or perhaps it's the Geithner giveaway to huge financial firms willing to buy toxic assets on our dime.

Maybe it's the Obama budget with deficits that are high by historical standards years after the war in Iraq is over and the financial crisis should have passed.

Using the stimulus as you have makes a nice rhetorical device, I'm just not sure it fits the facts.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted a picture of the "white slavery" sign. Priceless. One observation about the assembled masses -- these people looked like they didn't make enough money to pay much in taxes. It skewed pretty low on the food chain (except for the paid agitators who bought the microphones and big screen projection device).

Dave Reid said...

It sure seems to me like organized sour grapes. We didn't win, and we're mad. Yup

Anonymous said...

A GREAT young American and one of our future leaders. His parents are sure proud of him. You got that right with the box of Trix. Great sign.

Jo Engelhoff linked this pic on her website.

Thanks Jo, we appreciate the respect you show our kids, for political gain.

Emily said...

Jeremy - No, I don't think it is a strawman. Many of the people who showed up to these events were specifically protesting Obama and his spending bills--which, last I checked, are pretty heavily skewed toward tax cuts for the very people protesting, as well as social programs and job creation.

If anyone was protesting the TARP specifically, I would certainly side with them. But that, as you'll remember, was a Bush administration bill, one with almost no strings attached for those accepting the money, and one that has since been heavily (and rightfully) criticized for being totally irresponsible.

I'd also like to point out that Paul Ryan, who spoke at the Madison rally, voted for the TARP bailout. But start talkin' assistance for everyday people, instead of big banks and corporations, and hoooo boy!

Gregory said...

Great job!

My sense throughout was that they were really a bunch of malcontents who lost an election and wanted to vent. The only thing I missed was also how uneducated most of these folks truly are. I was stunned in some cases to hear the rationale for their being so anti-government. I also, as did anyone only half-listening, came to understand they had no facts, just bluster and a highly political point of view. And I was also struck by how often those pushing these rallies tried to make it seem they were not controlled by the conservatives within the GOP. There was such an attempt to make these rallies to appear like they wre just akin to mushrooms popping out of the ground. (And we know where mushrooms grow best…..)

Anonymous said...

I think that the people protesting are just mad that they got beat (like someone else posted). The "omg we're all going to die" type hype that the religious and GOP leaders are pushing is just adding to the hysteria. No, he isn't going to take your guns. No he's not the Antichrist. Get a grip! You lost, deal with it!

Russell said...

Nice post, Emily, and thanks for the link. I attended the Tea Party yesterday, and I've put a report and lots of pictures on my blog, ReformDem.

I also have a great recording of the entire rally that I hope to get posted tomorrow.

The Lost Albatross