A Scene From a Tea Party Protest Of Days Gone By



I actually feel guilty for making fun of these things. Or at least I start to feel guilty and then I read things like this. It’s true that many of the tea-party protestors were never interested in protesting spending or deficits before, but “Government spending” is, in and of itself, not a good or bad thing, any more than any other kind of spending. (Spending can be bad, but it can be good. Sometimes you make back what you spend.) It’s not about spending, it’s what you spend it on. It’s not surprising that conservatives are protesting the spending priorities of a Democratic administration.

But what makes these protests so confused and confusing is that they are being sold as protests against “spending,” in the generic sense, when they clearly are not about “spending,” they’re about what is being spent on. (Remember, conservatives wanted to replace the stimulus package with a package of tax cuts, which would cost the government as much or more. So the issue is not deficit spending; it’s that different sides have different ideas about how to run up a deficit during a recession.) For Fox News, this is a natural strategy: the network is trying to build a counter-cultural image to appeal to viewers who hate liberals but aren’t particularly proud of being Republicans. Focusing on buzzwords like “spending” and personalities like G. Beck helps to build that image. What they wind up doing is stirring up interests in protests that don’t seem to be against anything in particular, but that just helps re-enforce the network as the place to go if you’re upset and don’t really know why.

I do think that the message from the Tea Parties will gain traction, even though it makes no sense. Or maybe because of it. The other cable networks love the idea that “spending” is an all-purpose negative buzz word, at least when applied to domestic spending; they loved it during the Bush administration, they loved it during the Clinton administration, they always love it. The least-fair criticism of Bush was that he was a “big spender” on domestic programs (again, it doesn’t make sense to criticize “spending” independent of what the money is paying for), so it’s an all-purpose talking point that you’re going to be hearing a lot more of.

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A Scene From a Tea Party Protest Of Days Gone By

  1. Government spending is different from any other kind of spending, because …

    (1) The quantities of money involved are a hundreds of times greater than any spending decision which take places in the private sector.

    (2) An extremely small number of people make the decisions of where to spend money which has been taken from of tens or hundreds of millions of other people (party leaders and a very small inner clique of cronies and lobbyists).

    (3) The spending decisions are not subject any serious review or revision, except a laughable sham called “legislature” or “committee” in which stupid and dull hacks reading from a script pretend to object to certain aspects of the spending, but only until anonymous backroom fixers make a deal in which certain of their friends and well-connected constituents are paid off.

    (4) The people whose money is being spent have no way to influence the spending, except through sham “elections” in which the issues and the choices are carefully engineered so that there is no way to actually change anything in any significant way.

    (5) The spenders can borrow virtually unlimited amounts of money by promising the lenders that they will use the power of the state to force the public to pay back the money, with interest.

    (6) The spenders can print new money out of thin air, virtually at will, and they can force the public to use and accept the devalued currency.

    (7) Bad spending decisions do not cause the elites to renounce spending – instead they declare that even greater amounts of spending, taxes, debt and inflation are required in order to fix the problems.

    Your keywords for the day – monopoly, commons tragedy, moral hazard, debt, inflation, coercion, vicious circle.

    • Her appearance last night on The Daily Show was incredible. She really showed just how difficult it is to getting any information about anything,especially if it has to do with money.

  2. Keep making fun.

    The 2010 midterms are going to be hilarious.

    • Because the Teabagging party is planning to run candidates? I think Michelle Malkin would be a good candidate for House leader.

      • Yes, that’s precisely the kind of juvenile snickering I’m talking about; thanks for the handy example.

        It’s going to seem a lot less funny in retrospect, I predict.

        • Well, you did say hilarious, so I was trying to think of hilarious scenarios. The prospect of Michelle Malkin straining to put together a coherent sentence was pretty funny in my head, but hey…that’s just me.

          Perhaps you meant that the midterms will be hilarious in some other way?

    • I’m not sure I understand: So if the opposition party makes gains during the mid-terms (which I agree is likely to happen), it’ll magically give these protests a coherent philosophy in retrospect?

      If you want an example of a conservative protest that doesn’t open itself up to mockery, The March For Life has been going on for a long time, often with more people than attended the Tea Parties all around the U.S., and the protestors actually have a coherent objective that can be agreed or disagreed with. That’s a far cry from a protest against undifferentiated, generic, morally-neutral concepts (“taxes,” “spending”).

      • In some ways, I’m reminded by the various anti-globalization protests that have taken place since Seattle and as recently as a few weeks ago at the G20 Summit in London. The reason those are never effective is that , instead of organizing around a coherent and achievable goal, they basically become a kind of free-for-all gathering of various lefty causes, ranging from anti-war to anti-globalization to Palestine, social justice, etc, etc.

        Of course, at least those groups, misguided and lacking unity of purpose as they do, are at least sincere and motivated by a genuine sense that someone less fortunate than they is getting the shaft. The teabaggers, on the other hand, are a cat’s paw of a variety of right-wing interest whose real goal is the preservation of Bush-era tax practices that favour the absurdly wealthy. But, of course, you can’t just go out and say that out loud – so you have to harness some right-wing nutbag power, the better to gussy up your ideas as a genuine “revolt”. Disgusting.

        • Those “right-wing nutbags” seem to resonate with people. This from the “April 17 Drudge report:

          8-11 PM ET

          FOXNEWS 3,390,000
          MSNBC 1,210,000
          CNN 1,070,000
          CNN HEADLINE 909,000

          FOXNEWS O’REILLY 3,980,000
          FOXNEWS HANNITY 3,239,000
          FOXNEWS GRETA 2,947,000
          FOXNEWS BECK 2,740,000
          FOXNEWS BAIER 2,401,000
          FOXNEWS SHEP 2,185,000
          COMEDY DAILY SHOW 1,777,000
          MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,499,000
          COMEDY COLBERT 1,446,000
          CNNHN GRACE 1,336,000
          CNN KING 1,292,000
          MSNBC MADDOW 1,149,000
          CNN COOPER 1,021,000

  3. “All right, you two, up against the wall! I don’t what you want but you should know I’ve killed a lot of old people in my time. And I’m not above doing it again.”

  4. Methinks this blog just jumped the shark.

    • Oh, I think you can go way, way earlier than that for a shark-jumping moment. What about those endless “is Dollhouse in trouble?” posts? Those were much more shark-jumpy.

      • I think that the expression “jumping the shark” has itself jumped the shark. It’s all very meta.

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