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What the Tea Party Is and Is Not, Part II

PART II: What the Tea Party is not is what far too many Democrats pretend it is, and if Democrats, already behind the power curve in this fight, still cling to what "Dispelling 7 Myths" by Adele M. Stan calls "myths" about the TP, they might lose the war before they figure out what hit them. Among these dangerous fantasies (Stan's myths) lulling Democrats into laziness are:

1) The Tea Party is nothing but a creation of the media "which devotes too much coverage to... a small constituency of malcontents." The rabid right media like Fox may have hyped the Tea Party into its malignant growth cycle, but the reality is that now other media are "beginning to internalize some of those themes in their own assessment of the Obama administration, such as the obsession with reducing the federal deficit in an economy that, if history is any guide, will require serious deficit spending to repair."

Thanks to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and Wall Street Journal, the Tea Party's themes are, and will continue to be, embedded into public discussion, something no other movement has going for it. Stan refers to these two Murdoch Media as "movement organizers," Fox hyping Great Lies to invigorate the TP members at the bottom, and the WSJ providing fodder for more elite types, both then issuing suggestions (read "orders") for action (like disrupting town halls or marching on Washington). Democrats and liberals have no comparable media under their control---- certainly neither GE-owned MSNBC nor the waffling New York Times, "paper of record" can be considered even allies, much less "movement organizers" or Pentagon-level war rooms like Murdoch's command post. The media threat is real.

What the Tea Party Is, and Is Not, and Why Both...

PART I: Why is the media so fascinated by the Tea Party, a bunch of loud-mouthed kooks who are likely no more than 18 percent of voters, if that? Answer: That's not exactly what they are ("loud-mouthed kooks"), the media loves an aggressive rant, and the media is also being paid well for their gig as purveyors of right wing agitprop. But wait, there's more, a lot more, and the reality is far more dangerous.  Indeed. While all those amused or ugly assessments of the TP ----as wild-eyed extremists, as astro-turf funded by sinister Big Money corporotists, or as a flock of little more than your typical Republican Glen Beck dittoheads whose nasty nuttiness will naturally be rejected by the electorate at the polls----- may comfort Democrats because there is some truthiness to them, none of it makes a difference right now, including for the 2010 elections. None of it.

“The Anger of the Legions” Meets the Tea Party

Thanks to the firing of General McChrystal from his command in Afghanistan, Americans, wittingly or not, find ourselves at a tipping point in the evolution of our society, a point which history tells us is inevitably reached by every large power, after which that society goes down one of several possible different paths, generally without its participants' expressly realizing what has happened until long after the fact, if ever. The choices made, the threats perceived, the problems forcing the crisis almost always, I believe, bring about unintended consequences quite different from the expected results. The nature of tipping points is such that many different actors in the scenario in some way do sense the revolutionary nature of the moment and try, each of them, to seize and control the opportunity but, however savvy each participant may be, or whatever they believe it is necessary to do, the unintended consequences of their actions in the longer term rarely match their intentions.  

President’s Statement Replacing McChrystal

President Obama's statement replaing General McChrystal with General Petraeus

Mutiny Among the Military

UPDATE: This was first published in over a year ago; in view of the Rolling Stone article I am re-printing it now. At the time, I was concerned about the politicization of the military by President Bush, and the growing power of the military-industrial complex under his administration, coupled with a virulent anti-Obama group of rising younger officers. Today we see the results. Note unedited e-mails circulating among younger officers.

One week after his inauguration Barack Obama is facing the first security test of America and his presidency, and the attack is coming not from sinister jihadist cave-dwellers, but from the Pentagon and a disgruntled cabal of both retired and active-duty top-ranking military officers. Included in the group are General David Petraeus (author of the "Surge" in Iraq, named CENTCOM Commander by Bush in October 2008), General Ray Odierno (replaced Petraeus as top commander in Iraq), General Jack Keane, US Army, ret. (Vice-Chief of Staff of the Army 1999-2003), a network of senior (and some not-so-senior) military officers, and very possibly Robert Gates (Secretary of Defense, held over from the Bush administration by Obama). Frustrated by President Obama's determination to withdraw troops from Iraq, there is evidence they are mounting a public relations campaign to trivialize and intimidate Obama into doing as they want, in what amounts to acts of insubordination, thereby creating a constitutional crisis.

In Search of Empathy (and Where Not to Find It)


I offer the following tidbits, each story with a common thread: Where is the empathy?

• Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged tops books borrowed at the Virginia Tech Newman Library for a recent year.
• Hopes for extension of unemployment benefits died last week.
• Concern for needy declines as the poor and working poor are "nickeled and dimed."
• President Obama wanted his US Supreme Court nominee to possess empathy, though to date we do not know if or how Elena Kagan has demonstrated such, or whether she would be another corporatist on the high Court. Republicans criticized and mocked the empathy criterion.

And then, there is this: A recent University of Michigan study on empathy among young people found a sharp reduction in it.  College students today score much (40%) lower in empathy than college students did just 10 or 20 years ago. The biggest drop came after 2000, which is not surprising given the arrogant, resource-grabbing culture promoted by Bushism.  Every man (and woman) for himself and God help us all. It's the GOP/Club for Growth/(Milton Friedmanomics/"Tea Partiers"/Freedom Works/Americans for Prosperity," mantra.  

Ruthless opportunism marks everything George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and the newer reinvention of the far right seek.  There is nothing more sacred than their very own tax shelters, preferences or cuts, except, perhaps, their tendency to hijack patriotism and contort it into something it is not.  They use up resources way out of proportion to what they contribute and without regard for what they destroy in the process.  Think BP.  Think Halliburton.  Think Wall Street.  Think those who believe any American should be a second class citizen.

To quote cognitive scientist, George Lakoff, the radical-wrong's ideology is:

"empathy-free, self-interest maximizing, with disdain or even hatred for those seen as lesser beings."

Lakoff notes that this wrong-wing (my term) ideology is self-reinforcing: a system that essentially promotes that values-free system itself.  It mocks altruists, "do-gooders," and "bleeding hearts," as if those were actually bad things. If the trend with college students continues, eventually a majority could take such a jaded view of others.  For sixty years the fringe has orchestrated a movement to change the way we view our responsibility to one another.  From Nixon to today's GOP, they've nixed the common good.  Now the fringe has grown from less than 10% to roughly 25%.  And the 25% is holding our nation hostage to their Party of No "leadership."  Now we see the result of values-free, self-adulating, self-aggrandizing  destructiveness.  The radical wrong is destroying everything in its sight. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  Democrats cannot have it both ways.  

My Two Cents: Stop Big Oil’s Assault on America

Watch the aerial maps.  See the terrible more-than-a-"slick" move closer and closer to the coast, spreading wider and deeper toward Alabama's coast.  The dreaded Loop Current's is poised to snare the oil and push it toward Florida and the Eastern Seaboard.  What's to become of us at the dirty hands of BP? They're fast getting away with the homicide of the American continent.  Is the Gulf Disaster eco-terroism-by-neglect? Do these companies really believe that if they destroy everything in their path, that there will be anything left for their version of commerce? Do they not get that they are destroying themselves along with the rest of us?

Corporatists and Republicans (which are mostly the same thing) have flagrantly abused the term eco-terrorist. They've wantonly misapplied the term to anyone who cares about the environment and works within the system to protect it. That there are some fringe fanatics who are, in fact, eco-terrorists does not justify the wrongful overlay of defamatory labels on a huge sector of Americans who believe resource protection is simply good stewardship of our country. But, like everything else they hypocritically decry, it is the radical so-called "right," and the corporations which love them, which increasingly morph into something approaching eco-terrorism.  This spill may not have been directly intentional, but it happened by intentional neglect. And the result is analogous to a homicide, a homicide of our nation's coastline, its fishing, its tourist industries, and even, potentially much more... but their "solution" is even less regulation.  

“Net Neutrality” On The Ropes

UPDATE: Amy Schatz on 5 May in The Wall Street Journal says
"Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has decided to reregulate Internet lines to protect net neutrality, siding with consumer groups and Internet companies worried that Internet providers have too much power."

According to what I made of an article by Cecilia Kang in the 3 May Washington Post, we are probably on the verge of losing "net neutrality." (i.e., uncensored use of the Internet, everybody pays the same).  She reports that Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, according to sources, has indicated he wants to keep broadband services deregulated. This is no doubt because of the April decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which said the FCC "exceeded its authority" when it sanctioned Comcast, and to which the Chairman is about to respond.  The ruling brought into question the Commission's ability even to force Internet service providers to treat all services on the Web equally. It looks as though Genachowski will announce that "reclassifying" broadband to allow for more regulation would be "overly burdensome on carriers and would deter investment," and would undoubtedly lead to extended lawsuits every time he attempted to institute a broadband policy. Art Brodsky, spokesman for Public Knowlege, a media public interest group, said:

The telephone and cable companies will object to any path the chairman takes. He might as well take the one that best protects consumers and is most legally sound.

President Obama at the University of Michigan

President Obama just delivered a major speech at the University of Michigan. It is worth listening to in its entirety. (h/t to DailyKos for putting up the YouTube)

Peterson’s Pirates and the So-Called Deficit Commission.

As you saw yesterday here at BV, this week president Obama officially launched (photo-op and all) the so-called deficit commission. And today, Peter Peterson hosted a "Fiscal Summit" in Washington, D.C.  One might ask, is the so-called Deficit Commission Obama's or Pete Petersons?  It's a fair question, first asked by Roger Hickey of  The fact is that both the "Summit" and the deficit commission are "stacked with some of the very people causing this economic crisis." Now these folks want us to follow Peter Peterson off the cliff.  And they'll tell us with a straight face that they just want to reduce the deficit. As Roger Hickey also notes, this comes to us from a man who pledged a billion dollars to "panic Americans to get them to slash Social Security and Medicare."  What a great time to be a senior in America! (Sarcasm.)   Wall Street, and the pols who enabled them, hurt seniors disproportionately and now they want the government to do so too.

Multi-billionniare Peter Peterson co-founded The Blackstone Group.  For many years, he and his colleagues have infiltrated and influenced the corporate media, even and especially NPR. Is it any wonder that other voices are not being heard?  This very morning we heard more of his propaganda on what is supposed to be the people's radio network (as if...).  A couple of weeks ago CNN re-aired the Peterson dis-infomerical, IOUSA, designed to con Americans into handing over the last piece of their financial security, now that their retirement nest eggs were devastated by the negligence and incompetence of some of these very same folks, along with many a Wall Street defrauder. Peterson, and the companies Americans for Prosperity fronts for, only intend for themselves to be prosperous.

Today Social Security eliminationists meet with an all-star cast, including Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Judd Gregg and others who share the blame for the decimation of Glass Steagall and the resulting fiscal crisis.  It would be hysterical if it were not so very Milton Friedman-like. Instead of laughing them out of Washington, people are still listening to them?  

(The list of commission members is below the fold.)