Friday, August 26, 2011

Burn Bright and Flicker Out

According to The Daily Beast by way of Yahoor News, it seems that the rage that has driven the Teabaggers so far is fizzling out. This alone is enough to make me laugh, and when all is said and done, I'm not surprised. On another forum I frequent, a member there by the name of Sandman made a very concise and, to my opinion, insightful post explaining why the Tea Party as it stands now will not last. Well written as it is, I want to call attention to the third reason he gives:

Reason 3: It is a political movement based on anger.

You can get a lot of stuff done in politics when you get people pissed off at something. What you can't do is maintain that long term. Political motivation by anger is a lot like shock comedy, you have to keep topping yourself in order to keep the momentum going. What all shock comedians eventually discover, and what the Tea Party will eventually discover, is that you can't keep escalating things forever. Eventually you will get to the point where you simply can't go any further without appearing genuinely insane even to the most hardened of your followers, and the momentum falls apart.

In order to keep the anger-momentum going, the Tea Party has been reduced to incitement, exaggeration, and bald-faced lies to keep people pissed. Everything from "death-panels" to Obama "not being born in the USA" to Obama is a "socialist" to the blatant lie that Americans are being taxed to death. None of it is true, but that doesn't matter. The Tea Party "leaders" don't even care if these things are true, that's not the point. The point is that these lies can be used to keep the rank-and-file Tea Party member frothing at the mouth with righteous fury.

The Tea Party is based on anger, and while this is effective in the short-term, is impossible to maintain in the long run.

Shortly after that, another member, gyeonghwa, was kind enough to share an article he found on the New York Times.

But in fact the Tea Party is increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion: among most Americans, even before the furor over the debt limit, its brand was becoming toxic. To embrace the Tea Party carries great political risk for Republicans, but perhaps not for the reason you might think.

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent. Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

More and more I am seeing signs that the Teabaggers are ringing their own death knell. They're trying to go in a direction that the majority of Americans don't want, and a lot of the people who voted for them didn't realize. But what I fear right now is the damage they'll inflict before they finally flicker and die. Do I think they're malicious? Not intentionally. Do I think they're mentally unhinged? The evidence is getting more difficult to ignore.

Consider for a moment this article from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

A new Tea Party group in Florida is boldly going where no Tea Parties have gone before – space.

Tea Party in Space, an offshoot of the South Florida Tea Party, is, of all things, pushing to end the government’s supposed monopoly on space exploration.

“Our goal is nothing less than the expansion of American civilization into the solar system,” says the group’s platform. “We must return to traditional American free-market principles to expand permanently into space.”

Tea Party in Space is complaining that, as its founder Andrew Gasser said, “NASA is being forced to fund programs that are behind schedule and ridiculously over budget.” But that’s not all. Gasser sees a great ideological principle here: “It is socialism when you have the government coming down and saying, ‘this is what we want to build, and this is how we want you to build it.’”

According to Tea Party in Space logic, the Erie Canal, Hoover Dam, our national highway system, and Mount Rushmore are all just examples of unnecessary government socialism.

Of course, Tea Party in Space has a rock-solid standard bearer, proudly noted in its “Core Values”: “I am a child of Ronald Regan [sic], Ronaldus Magnus. ”

Houston, we have a problem.

As NASA recounted in its statement in honor of Reagan’s death in 2004, “President Reagan spoke … about how the shuttles were the modern day equivalent of the Yankee Clipper ships that opened new horizons for our young nation.” In his 1984 State of the Union Address, the statement continues, Reagan “announced plans for a permanent human presence in space with the construction of a space station, and he tasked NASA to including the international community to be part of a project designed for the benefit of everyone on Earth.”

But it seems the intellectual disconnect doesn't end at the Final Frontier. Teabagger and GOP favorite (and sane person's favorite chimp) Michelle Bachmann has shown us that there is an aspect of ignorant and malicious thinking when she made it a point to block anti-gay bullying legislation for public schools in her district. The result of that? Let Mother Jones tell you:

The first was TJ. Then came Samantha, Aaron, Nick, and Kevin. Over the past two years, a total of nine teenagers have committed suicide in a Minnesota school district represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann—the latest in May—and many more students have attempted to take their lives. State public health officials have labeled the area a "suicide contagion area" because of the unusually high death rate.

Some of the victims were gay, or perceived to be by their classmates, and many were reportedly bullied. And the anti-gay activists who are some of the congresswoman's closest allies stand accused of blocking an effective response to the crisis and fostering a climate of intolerance that allowed bullying to flourish. Bachmann, meanwhile, has been uncharacteristically silent on the tragic deaths that have roiled her district—including the high school that she attended.

Bachmann, who began her political career as an education activist, has described gay rights as an "earthquake issue," and she and her allies have made public schools the front lines of their fight against the "homosexual agenda." They have opposed efforts in the state to promote tolerance for gays and lesbians in the classroom, seeing such initiatives as a way of allowing gays to recruit impressionable youths into an unhealthy and un-Christian lifestyle.

Later on, we get this:

As civil rights groups have pushed the Minnesota school district to do more to increase tolerance of LGBT students, conservative religious groups fought to keep them away from public schools. After Samantha's suicide and several others, students in Anoka-Hennepin schools participated in the Day of Silence. The event, organized by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, encourages kids to remain silent for the day in recognition of the effect of anti-gay bullying and harassment. In response, religious activists took up the "Day of Truth" an event championed by the "ex-gay ministry" Exodus International that's usually held the day before the Day of Silence. Students who participated were encouraged to engage their classmates in discussions of homosexuality from a Christian perspective.

Fifteen-year-old Justin Aaberg appears to have been one of the targets of this initiative. One day last year Justin came home and told his mom, Tammy, that another student had told him he would to go to hell because he was gay. "That did something to his brain," she says. He hanged himself in his bedroom last summer. Only after his suicide did Tammy learn that the Parents Action League had reportedly worked with area churches to hand out T-shirts promoting the "Day of Truth" to students at his high school (which is also Bachmann's alma mater). The students were also instructed to "preach to the gay kids," Aaberg says. (No one from the Parents Action League responded to a request for comment.)

A favorite cry of these people has been "What about the children?!" Well, the children are killing themselves because they're not accepted for who they are and you're not just doing nothing to change that, you're obstructing efforts to reach out to these kids.

These are the sorts of things I am talking about. I have no doubt that the Teabaggers will die out, likely they'll fade into a distant memory as the Baby Boomers start dying off. But I am scared, very scared, of what they will do before then.

Fight for the Future or Watch NASCAR?

The following is a repost from an entry I made on the IrregularTimes guestbook.


I'm quirky. I'm one of those rare and elusive creatures known to anthropologists as a Gun Toting Liberal (guntotus liberus).

Something I have wanted for years is to own an AR-15 rifle but I have never been in a financial position to acquire one of my own. Hopefully, I would be able to build one from one of the many kits available online. My financial position recently changed and I ordered a stripped AR-15 lower receiver online and then waited for the company to ship it to my local FFL dealer so I could fill out the forums and have my background checked and be all legal.

This was happening during the debt ceiling debate, during which I saw the Teabaggers on capitol hill basically taking America hostage and threatening to kill said hostage. As the days turned into weeks of this, I occasionally found myself thinking: "I better hurry up and build that AR-15 before these idiots destroy the economy and I have to end up shooting things for food."

Well, they didn't blow Uncle Sam's head off, thanks to Obama snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Not long ago, I put in an order for a full length AR-15 kit and am waiting for it to be shipped. Now, I've taken the time to look at these people, their actions, their mentality, their goals and I find myself thinking; "I better hurry up and build that AR-15 before these fuckers trigger the civil war they want so badly."

And then I remember Americans are too apathetic to actually take up arms, so I go look at what else is on TV.