The American Bear


I think that the conservative idea of revolting against the ruling class by holding up the market as an ideal is completely backwards. There is a ruling class in this country. But the notion that the free market is an act of rebellion against it seems pretty fanciful. I can say it stronger than that. It is absolutely preposterous. Thomas Frank

People are desperate. They think their entire way of life is crumbling around them, and they reach for … a utopian system where everything is explained. This is the genius of Fox News. It is fun to watch, and if you agree with them, it’s very gratifying to watch — and on a level deeper than most TV entertainment. The message is “You’ve worked really hard. You played by the rules and now they’re disrespecting you. They won’t let you say the word ‘Christmas.’” Thomas Frank | The Tea Party’s “utopian market populism”

Tea Party Nation Wonders if Obama 'Staged' bin Laden Death, Gave Drone to Iran

So, what’s it like outside the cozy comfort of tumblr?

In an email message sent to members of Tea Party Nation on Saturday, the group’s president Judson Phillips pushed an article written under the name “Jane Galt” saying that President Obama might have deliberately offered the recently-captured predator drone to Iran…and that Osama bin Laden wasn’t killed but his death was in fact “staged” by Obama…

(You really don’t have to) Read more (the headline is enough) →

There have always been conflicting claims to the memory of the [“Boston Tea Party”]. Throughout the nineteenth century, Boston’s Brahmins—the owners of ships, banks, and textile mills who appointed themselves keepers of the past—distanced themselves from the Revolution’s radical activism, especially after it was appropriated in the 1830s by nascent journeyman trade unions demanding a ten-hour working day and by radical abolitionists such as Wendell Phillips. To conservatives the event became “the so-called Boston Tea Party,” just as the five working-class victims of “the so-called Massacre” were “ruffians” who did not deserve the honor of a statue near the Common. Alfred F. Young | The People and the Patriots

Boston Review — The People and the Patriots | Alfred F. Young

Non-revisionist history:

At the time, the event that took place in Boston on the night of December 16, 1773 was not called the “Tea Party.” For more than 50 years, if it was mentioned at all in print, it was usually as “the destruction of the tea.” Bostonians never celebrated it as they did their triumphs over other British measures. Patriot leaders cited the Indian disguises worn by some in the boarding parties in order to deny responsibility for the affair and claim it was the work of outsiders.

By mid-1774, after Britain closed the port as punishment and a British army once again occupied the town, it was hardly politic to claim credit for it. Nor, as rebellion turned to revolution, did it fit the pose patriots assumed as the victims of British aggression. In Paul Revere’s classic engraving of the Boston Massacre, a line of British soldiers fires on a group of hapless civilians at the command of their officer, and in the depiction of the Battle of Lexington the soldier James Pike carved on his powder horn, the men on one side of the iconic Liberty Tree are “Regulars, the Aggressors” and on the other side “Provincials Defending.” The carefully planned, disciplined action of a hundred and more men boarding three ships docked at Griffin’s Wharf, hoisting 342 heavy chests of tea out of the holds, hacking them open with axes, and dumping their contents into the harbor could hardly be portrayed as defense against aggression.

Since then, “owning” the Tea Party has been a political act. Partisans of today’s Tea Party movement have seized on it as a symbol of defiance of government, claiming the founders were united in opposition to taxation (with or without representation), government regulation, and spending. But Tea Party advocates seem indifferent to the original event. When Glenn Beck devoted an episode of his since-cancelled Fox News show to celebrating Samuel Adams, one of the Boston Tea Party organizers, he was mainly concerned with depicting Adams as a neglected Christian patriot. And when Sarah Palin spoke on the Boston Common in 2010, she had nothing at all to say about either the deliberations in Old South Meeting House that set the stage for the event or about the action itself at the waterfront.

The reluctance of today’s Tea Party to explore the history is not surprising given the thrust of recent historical scholarship on the resistance movements that led to the American Revolution. In the newly released Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, Benjamin Carp demonstrates that the Tea Party and Boston’s revolutionary culture emerged in good part from the influence on elites of what conservative contemporaries dismissed as the “lowest ranks” of the people or “rabble.” And inThe Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America, Barbara Clark Smith, extends this argument about popular influence to the colonies as a whole. Moreover, she shows that a “Patriot coalition”—in contrast to the present-day Tea Party—sought “public power to counteract the coercions of the market.”

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Tea Party leader arrested with gun at NY airport | The Hill

Tea hee:

A major leader in the Tea Party movement was arrested at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday after he tried to check in for a flight while carrying a gun.

Prosecutors charged Mark Meckler, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, with felony weapons possession after he told a Delta ticket agent early Thursday morning that he had a weapon in his luggage.

Meckler was carrying an unloaded Glock pistol and numerous rounds of ammunition in a locked gun box, according to multiple reports.

Meckler’s attorney, Brian Stapleton, said Meckler had a concealed-carry permit for the gun issued by California, and that Meckler was in temporary transit through New York.

But the California permit wasn’t valid in New York.

“He legally declared his possession of the firearm in his checked baggage at the ticket counter as required by law and in a manner approved by TSA and the airline, yet was arrested by port authority for said possession,” Stapleton said in a statement.

Under New York law, Meckler could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the charge.

Tea Party Plans Premeditated Felony | Wisconsin Politics


Madison — The kick off campaign to recall embattled governor Scott Walker kicks off in just four days and with that date approaching, the tea party has plans of its own. Politiscoop has received several screen shots of tea party and right wing activists planning to pass themselves off as those circulating petitions to recall the governor.

In one facebook post a user named Charles Atlas Shrugging begins the plan by saying “I’d like to collect signatures of those who want to recall Walker…so I can have something to feed my shredder..”

In another such post Matt Wynns who claims to be a small business owner states “I shall be heating my home with recall signature. as they sign, I’ll make sure to tell them not to sign another petition. I figure I can get a hundred to a few hundred signatures off the ballot. F*#&* (Word edited) Liberals.

(Source: existentialcrisisfactory, via randomactsofchaos)

On the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street


It’s getting rather exhausting listening to people try to use the Tea Party rallies as some sort of check on the Occupy Wall Street movement in order to demonize it. While the Tea Partiers do have some legitimate political concerns, for the most part, they were and still are pawns. Why was there constant mainstream media coverage of Tea Party demonstrations? Why were there so few incidents of clashes with police and zero arrests? Why were Tea Party protesters who carried guns, many semiautomatic riffles, untouched by law enforcement? Why were they taken so seriously? Why were they hailed as “patriots?” Why weren’t any Tea Party rallies shut down?

Because the Tea Party in no way threatened the establishment. They demanded completely privatized healthcare, eating right out of the hands of Big Pharma and healthcare insurance companies. They protested against corporate and environmental regulations, allowing big business to essentially steamroll over whatever they please, even if that meant destroying our Earth, with zero accountability. They demanded funding for services and programs that generally help the lower classes like Medicaid, employment insurance, Planned Parenthood, etc. be cut in order to “slash the deficit.” After billionaires like the Koch brothers poured money into their groups, they demanded it was unfair to tax big corporations and the rich because “they’re the job makers.” Maybe we should look at some of their corporate and mega-rich sponsors:

  • Massey Energy
  • Microsoft
  • FreedomWorks
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Armstrong Foundation
  • Carthage Foundation
  • Castle Rock Foundation
  • Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
  • Earhart Foundation
  • Exxon Mobil
  • F.M. Kirby Foundation
  • Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation
  • Jaquelin Hume Foundation
  • John M. Olin Foundation
  • Leadership Institute
  • Philip M. McKenna Foundation
  • Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
  • Rodney Fund
  • Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation 
  • British Petroleum
  • Bayer
  • NewsCorp
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Manhattan Institute
  • George C. Marshall Institute
  • Reason Foundation
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Scaife Family Foundation
  • Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation
  • MetLife
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Family Research Council
  • John Birch Society
  • Ensuring Liberty Corp.
  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Polaris Consulting
  • Southern Co.
  • Comcast
  • American Airlines
  • Time Warner
  • Kirby Corp.
  • Ernst & Young
  • Publix
  • Caterpillar
  • Fed. of Amer. Hospitals
  • Tyco International

There’s a major incentive to allow the AstroTurf Tea Partiers, which make up only 18% of the population, to stomp their little feet. There is, however, virtually zero incentive to allow the Occupy movement, which denounces such overreaching corporate power, to even open their mouths and let out a single utterance. So, how do you suppress an all-inclusive movement with legitimate and striking concerns regarding the unequal balance of power? You beat them in the streets and try to do everything possible to cut off their resources because your corporate overlords, guys like Bloomberg who made billions by doing business with Wall Street, said, “jump.” Because you’re part of the 40% the top 1% owns. They buy you with their massive amounts of wealth to do their bidding in order to increase that wealth.

I will give these critics of the Occupy movement one thing though: it’s difficult to figure out how the system really works because of how horribly broken it is. However, it doesn’t take a great mind to understand the very fact that it’s broken in the first place or pinpoint who broke it.

(via randomactsofchaos)

But, having lived most of my adult life among them, experience tells me that when it comes to the explanation of poverty and wealth libertarians are close cousins to conservatives. It’s my view that this shared sense of robust agency and individual responsibility for success and failure is the psychological linchpin of “fusionism”—that this commonality in disposition has made the long-time alliance between conservatives and libertarians possible, despite the fact that libertarians are almost identical to liberals in their unconcern for the conservative binding foundations. That’s why controversial “social issues” like abortion and gay marriage are generally pushed to the side when libertarians and conservatives get together. As long as they stick to complaining about handouts for poor people sitting on their asses and praising rich people working hard to make civilization possible, libertarians and conservatives get along fine. Tea Party vs. OWS: The psychology and ideology of responsibility (via azspot)

(via azspot)

…the GOP succeeded in passing massive spending reductions as part of a continuing resolution that kept the government operating. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress’ Scott Lilly, those cuts didn’t result in the job creating boon Republicans insisted would follow. Instead, it has done just the opposite, as those cuts will result in the destruction of roughly 370,000 jobs. Lilly’s report focuses on three major areas where Republicans insisted on spending cuts: funding for local law enforcement, environmental cleanup of sites where nuclear weapons were disabled and destroyed, and investments into construction, repair, and maintenance of government buildings. Cuts to just those three areas will result in the loss of 90,000 jobs, the report found — 60,000 from direct cuts, and 30,000 additional jobs lost from the secondary impacts of job losses in each community. REPORT: House GOP’s ‘Job Creating’ Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs (via underthemountainbunker)

(via underthemountainbunker)

'Occupy' vs the Tea Party

An excerpt from OWS: Fighting the politics of illusion by Paul Rosenberg:

As Occupy Wall Street has grown, there have been a growing number of comparisons between it and the Tea Party. Francis Fox Piven, offered one of the briefest, no-nonsense accounts, contrasting them as inclusionary vs exclusionary, forward-looking vs backward-looking, and “mainly young, racially diverse, happily counter-cultural” vs “almost all white… better-off and older”. She also wrote that “The Tea Party, under one name or another, has actually been part of American politics for a long time. It is a movement that yearns for the restoration of an imaginary past….” 

It also instinctively identifies itself as made up of “real Americans” - which in turn helps to account for dramatic differences between how conservative elites praised the Tea Party effusively, only to heap scorn on Occupy Wall Street. This conservative double standard toward people’s democracy was anything but surprising. If there is one thing conservatives believe in, it’s double standards. The defence of social hierarchies is their core value, which virtually demands very different treatment for those who support vs. those who challenge the powers that be. Decades of research in political psychology - particularly right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation - support this conclusion, and a new book by Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, offers a detailed critique of how this orientation has expressed itself through the complexities of actual history.

Particularly significant is Robin’s analysis of right wing populism, a more sophisticated view than Piven’s, which he summarised succinctly in his response to a deeply wrong-headed review in the New York Times. Right wing populism “assumes one of three forms,” Robin wrote, “none of which involves false consciousness or conspiratorial trickery.” These are:

  • Democratic feudalism: Giving real, not imaginary, power to members of the lower orders to wield over people beneath them. This can happen in factories (supervisors), families (husbands/fathers), and fields (overseers, slave catchers, etc). It can also happen in certain forms of nationalism and imperialism.
  • Upside-down populism: Get the lower orders to identify with the higher orders, not through deception but through an emphasis on the one experience they share: loss.
  • Outsider politics: Because the conservative defence of privilege occurs in the wake of a democratic challenge, it must develop a new ruling class and “a new old regime”, in which the truly excellent - not the lazy inheritors of privilege but the very best men - rule. These men often hail from outside the traditional precincts of power, proving their mettle in one of three places: at the barricades of the counter-revolution, on the battlefield, and in the marketplace.

Of course, these different forms can also intermingle, or co-exist side-by-side. Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and Republican presidential hopeful, for example, fits neatly into the “outsider politics” category, but he’s quite comfortable using the rhetoric of democratic feudalism or upside-down populism as well.

What is more, underlying all three forms that Robin describes are another bundle of defence mechanisms that help ordinary people identify with those above them, thus defusing the experience of being taken advantage by them. The three most significant are:

  • Identification or introjection, the obverse of projection. It involves identifying with someone else, rather than denying anything in common, taking on their personality characteristics as one’s own. In Anna Freud’s original analysis, it was specifically “identification with the aggressor”. Closely related is: 
  • Idealisation, the unconscious perception of another as having more positive qualities than they actually possess. Idealisation and identification can work together, creating ideal images of higher class people to model oneself on, rather than resent, regardless of how they actually treat one.
  • Fantasy completes the triad; this defence mechanism helps compensate for the fact that such ideal images do not correspond with reality.

The workings of these defence mechanisms can perhaps most easily be seen in works of art or literature romanticising the past - the less realistically, the better. Examples such as Gone with the Wind or Birth of a Nation come to mind. But it’s also reflected in Tea Party fantasies identifying themselves with Revolutionary War figures with whom they may actually have very little in common - Deists like Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine, for example, or high-tax colonies like Massachusetts, where representation rather than taxation, per se, was the over-riding issue. Such fantasy-based narratives work to heighten the identification with traditional, conservative elite figures - real or imagined - and lessen the identification with real-world others situated similarly to themselves. 

Stepping back from this description, we can clearly see that Occupy Wall Street involves shedding or stripping away defence mechanisms that serve to hide uncomfortable truths, while the Tea Party, as a form of right-wing populism, activates a greater number of defence mechanisms, making those truths increasingly obscure, and difficult to comprehend.

In short, the outward similarities of these two groups mask a difference as profound as any that can be found in American history. Will we go back to an imaginary past in which we are hopelessly confused and mislead by a welter of different defence mechanisms hiding painful truths from ourselves? Or will we go forward into a future we knowingly shape together for the mutual benefit of all? Those are the two visions before us, which the weeks and months ahead should make increasingly clear to one and all.

I have trouble keeping lunch down when I read these jeremiads about how sad and mysterious it is that our institutions of government are failing. It’s not a mystery. One side wants them to fail. And there’s very little the other side can do about it, besides point it out, which the president has started doing — and now he’s the one being divisive! They’ve turned the world inside out. Michael Tomasky | GOP Hatred of Obama Leads Them to Kill Jobs (via wilwheaton)

(via wilwheaton)

Tea Partiers: The self-hating 99 per cent | digby

[…] But while [OWS] is vast, and masses of common people are rising up, they are two separate movements with very different worldviews.
If one is to take Tea Partiers at their word, they have thrown in with Wall Street and the Occupiers are their enemy. They are already organised around opposing them. The Occupy Wall Street movement does not see the world in such terms. If they are lucky, some of the formerly hostile salt-of-the-earth working folk who might have opposed them on cultural grounds in the past have been radicalised by Wall Street’s greed and will join the occupation.

But I wouldn’t count on too many of them. This is a political and cultural fault line that runs deep. But then again, in this polarised country, all it takes is a few to cross over and make a majority.

Tea Partiers: The self-hating 99 per cent | digby

[…] There was a time when left populism was powerful and vibrant, driven by a workplace-centered labour movement that appealed across many of the usual political fault lines and resulted in the enactment of the New Deal, out of the ashes of the Great Depression.

The egalitarian ideas that underpinned that great achievement stood for many decades as the middle class, buoyed by its success, grew to be broad and deep. And that, perversely, led to the opening for the cultural and racial resentment that characterises right wing populism.

Once the left moved to broaden its economic gains to include traditionally marginalised members of society, the right reacted. Strongly. It not only blamed those minorities, but held “pointy-headed liberals” who championed their cause in deep disregard.

After the cultural revolution of the 1960s, this disregard morphed into outright contempt. And that right wing cultural populism has been dominant in the US for the past 40 years, providing cover for the rise of corporatism and the income inequality it buys for the wealthy. []