Teabaggers and Puppetmasters

An e-mail today, which I suspect is tongue-in-cheek, but which actually is worth making a point about:

Why do the teabaggers and their puppetmasters hate America so much?

Well, in terms of the teabaggers, of course, they don’t hate America. They love America, and no, I’m not being arch and sarcastic. They do. Deal with it. The problem is that as much as they love America, they love an alternate history version of America more, the one in which someone other than Barack Obama won the presidency, the Republicans aren’t the minority in Congress, and where they can not worry overly much about the excesses of big government because at least it’s their big government.

They love it so much that they are having a hard time grasping that it is an alternate history version of America, partly because where they live, it doesn’t seem like alternate history. Dayton, Ohio had one of the largest teabagger turnouts in the nation, and if you look the county election map for 2008, it’s easy to see why: Because Dayton’s Montgomery county is an island of blue surrounded by a sea of red, including my own county, Darke, which is incidentally represented by the GOP’s top congressman, John Boehner. When you live in counties that went 60% or more for McCain (Darke was at 68%), you have a hard time believing your vision of the US is the alternate one.

If you don’t want to believe this, I ask you to cast your mind back to, oh, say, November 3, 2004 and check in with how liberals and democrats were feeling that day, and indeed additionally for much of the time between then and November 4, 2008. Well, you say, at least we never threatened to secede. To which I say: Oh, I don’t know about that. Granted, it wasn’t the governor of one of those blue states getting himself all hopped up on secession fumes and blurting stupidities on national television. But this is neither here nor there regarding a chunk of the electorate being in shock and denial about how another, larger portion of the electorate voted.

So that’s the teabaggers. What about their puppetmasters — most specifically Rupert Murdoch and his minions at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the various other contributors to the whipping up of these alternate America lovers? You know, the ones that the tea baggers are adamant aren’t their puppetmasters, because no one tells their grassroots movement what to do?

Well. Rupert Murdoch doesn’t actually give a shit about the teabaggers one way or another, save retaining them as eyeballs for his advertisers. Murdoch understands the dynamics of American political opinion, and that outside the sixty percent of the US electorate that constitutes the fuzzy, unpredictable political middle, there’s a hard-edged twenty percent on either side that is reliable, predictable and loyal to its politics, and to those who support them. Murdoch long ago staked out one of those twenty percent for his own benefit and enrichment, and now maintains it assiduously. Done and done.

Limbaugh’s the same, although I suspect he’s less dispassionate about it than Murdoch; he’s enjoying the fact that for now, fortune has crowned him the right’s unofficial policymaker. Between Limbaugh and Murdoch and the teabagging rabble is a middle class of opinionators and politicians who may believe what they expound to a greater or lesser degree but who equally see themselves as chessplayers, moving the teabagging public into position for the next game, i.e., 2010.

Will any of it work? Doubt it in the short run; President Obama is being tricky by not actually playing their game and instead focusing on his own plans, carving out a constituentcy in the middle of the road and generally being successful at it, leaving the teabagging right, which will never support him regardless of what he does, to spin in tight, isolated circles and do its own thing — except when from time to time he reaches out them. Which they reject, which allows him to say “well, I tried,” and then do what he was going to do anyway, with the added benefit of making the right look petulant and insular. He’s already done this a time or two, with excellent effect, politically speaking. This is not to suggest Obama is an Ultimate Political Jedi Master. He screws up enough. But at the moment he is better at politics than his opponents, which is sufficient for his purposes.

Also, I doubt any of it will work in the long run, either. Not because conservativism is doomed — it’s not. But the current iteration of it — the socially fundmentalist, expansive government, rights grabbing, it’s-right-if-we-say-it’s-right-because-we’re-right version — almost certainly is. The smart conservatives (and the younger ones, not necessarily always the same) have already started to separate themselves from this dried-up conservatism, particularly its social fundamentalism: Note the recent appearance of Steve Schmidt and Meghan McCain at the Log Cabin Republicans convention, banging on the old guard for being clueless (or as McCain noted, for being “scared shitless”). These folks aren’t living in an alternate America, the one that denies that it’s lost the argument; they know the score well enough. They’re living for an alternate America, one in which they win because they have a better argument.

They know what most of the teabaggers don’t (and what their puppetmasters don’t seem to care about): No amount of hopping up and down about taxes or secession or same-sex marriage or whatever will mean anything if the majority of Americans have already rejected your message and see you as embarrassingly clueless about not getting the memo. So, no. The teabaggers don’t hate America. They love America. It’d be nice if they started living in the real one.

190 thoughts on “Teabaggers and Puppetmasters

  1. “No amount of hopping up and down about taxes or secession or same-sex marriage or whatever will mean anything if the majority of Americans have already rejected your message”

    I ask as non-American currently passing time in Michigan (only two more weeks!), has the majority of America really rejected the Republican message?

    Props to Iowa and Massachusetts and whoever, but that leaves something like 45 states where gay people cannot get married, and I’ve never heard of people clamoring for higher taxes in any country. You might get some mild appeasement about “well as long as you tax them and not me” but, I’m not so sure America, in terms of its people, is more progressive now then it was.

  2. Indy:

    You’re conflating rejecting the Republican message with becoming more “progressive.” One may do the first without doing the second.

    That said, socially, I do believe people are becoming more progressive, at least in terms of same-sex marriage. It’s just not going to happen as rapidly as some people would like (and happen far too fast for others).

    Benjamin Rosenbaum:

    Fixed.

  3. I think you nailed it on the head, John. What amazes me is the cries of “anti-americanism” “traiter” etc that the right gives off every time you bring up America’s past actions. Any student of history will tell you America has not always been the “good guy.” Look at our history in the middle east or in South America, we’ve done some crappy things. Sure, there was a cold war going on. Yes, a lot of the nastiness was neccessary. But if you are from Nicaragua, for instance, you might have some problem with the American backed Contras.

    Now, bring that up in conversation with a Right Winger and watch as heads explode in righteous indignation. According to many righties on cable tv any mention of previous bad behavior by America is treason, and a lie to boot. I watched Pat Robertson freak out about Daniel Ortega’s speech at the recent summit on Hardball. According to Robertson it was 50 minutes of anti American lies. It wasn’t lies though, at least not entirely, for the most part it was just reality.

    I guess I’m rambling. I just really wish American’s had a better grip on History. If they did maybe there wouldn’t be so much denial of reality. After all, if we are all playing with the same set of historical facts it makes denying reality that much more difficult.

  4. So…

    this isn’t real?

    Or this?

    Or even this?

    Some of us have been hacked off by government overspending for a very long time. I remember sending this spreadsheet of programs (Excel spreadsheet, scroll up to see specific line items) that I felt should be eliminated back in 2005 (when Katrina hit and everyone was wondering how we were going to pay for rebuilding New Orleans.) to the White House, and my Senators and Congressman (2 Republican senators at the time, both since replaced by democrats, and a Democrat in Congress.) None of them wrote back to me, by the way.

    Protests always attract attention whores hyping their own causes. This happens on the left and the right in equal measures. The right has, inter alia, the “zOMG OBAMA SEKRIT MUSLIM HURR” protestors, the left has, inter alia, the “US OUT OF EVERYWHERE HURR” protestors. But at the core of each protest, there is an understandable grievance about a government policy being pursued that may have serious unintended consequences which the people do not see being adequately addressed. Then it was the Iraq War. Now it’s government bailing out failing companies and shoveling money into dubious “stimulus” programs.

    Oh, and in case you think these are Republican partisans, take a look at this video of a Republican Congressman getting up on the stage at one of these events… and being booed.

  5. “Will any of it work? Doubt it in the short run; President [insert name here] is being tricky by not actually playing their game and instead focusing on his own plans, carving out a constituentcy in the middle of the road and generally being successful at it, leaving the [adjective] [opposing political stance], which will never support him regardless of what he does, to spin in tight, isolated circles and do its own thing — except when from time to time he reaches out them. Which they reject, which allows him to say “well, I tried,” and then do what he was going to do anyway, with the added benefit of making the [opposing political stance] look petulant and insular.”

    Yes, I’m cynical today. It’s still insightful commentary, John – thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  6. MasterThief:

    “Some of us have been hacked off by government overspending for a very long time.”

    Good for you. Would that there would have been more of you over the last eight years, and those you elected would have had more of a spine about it at the time.

    In the meantime, you’ll understand why so many other people believe the very frantic bitching about the budget has the stink of hypocrisy about it, and why simply pointing with horror to deficit spending by the new government acting to counteract the massively negative consequences of the budget management of the previous one is probably indicative of either an incomplete understanding of economics or simply more hypocrisy.

    “in case you think these are Republican partisans”

    You’ll note I use the word “conservative” more than Republican, and do so for a reason, although I’m sure you know there is significant overlap between the two, both in the public mind and in party identification.

  7. John,

    1. Engaging in politics and trying to effect change is not living in an alternate reality. It is the ultimate embracing of reality. These peolpe know that they lost. They don’t like it and they are working to try and change the situation. That’s how our system works.

    2. You continue to assert that the same sex marriage debate has been settled in your favor, despite the fact that every time (100%) it is put to a popular vote it loses by significant margins, even in an enlightened state like California. Now that might be shifting and demographics might eventually be the key, but the facts are that at the moment the pro same sex crowd is in the minority. Obama is a perfect example. He backed the tradtional marriage position during the campaign despite pressure from democrats because he knows it could have cost him the election.

  8. America is a land of many messages; as many as there are people to argue about them. As a non-American currently living in Michigan (and Indiana before that, since 2000), I have to say there are messages here that do not get heard or perhaps are drowned out by larger, more personal concerns. The patience of online masses is much shorter than those offline. The offline timescale is different and their concerns more local. I think it is more a matter of feeling pushed into things that you simply do not know about, that you have concerns that you feel do not get addressed and the work that your fathers got by on in the past simply does not exist. Bombarded by conflicting messages, I feel many people ignore much of what happens and focuses on the narrow slice that is their life. To them, politicians are a more boring form of celebrity. With newspapers dying out, it takes more effort to remain informed, and often, that effort is subordinate to the demands of daily life.
    Working as a librarian, I see this first hand, every day. Every time I show people how to access information about what they hear in the news, their is surprise, followed by thought, and always followed by thank yous.
    I’m all for better arguments. Let’s remember to try and listen respectfully. Teach by example because it is the right thing to do.

  9. Pault:

    “They don’t like it and they are working to try and change the situation.”

    It’s quite evident they don’t like it; what’s far less evident is that returning to the policies and politics that allowed Obama and the Democrats to clean the clocks of the conservatives and Republicans in the last election cycle is going to do any damn thing other than to make this ideological rump even more pissed off in 2010.

    “You continue to assert that the same sex marriage debate has been settled in your favor”

    Show me in this article where I have said that, please. As it happens, I do strongly suspect that the argument will be settled to my satisfaction in time; I don’t think it’s there yet. I don’t think it’s wise for either the GOP or conservatives, politically speaking, to keep this bit of bigotry at the heart of their positions.

    As for the “popular vote,” canard, I understand it’s painful to some people that Vermont has taken the “judicial activism” argument away from them, but pretending that the only real test of the progression of same sex-marriage is a popular vote isn’t one I’m obliged to take at all seriously, any more than the “judicial activism” argument was. So please don’t trot it out here. It’s dumb and dismissive of how we actually run our states and governments.

  10. What many left-to-center-left people fail to realize is that George Bush wasn’t conservative: No Child Left Behind, immigration policy, spending policy, etc. etc. etc.

    Since Bush was painted as a conservative in comparison to Gore and Kerry, people think that he’s the kind of candidate that Republicans should field. Hopefully *some* people will learn the right lesson from McCain’s loss, though; he was no conservative, either. I, and many others, would love to pull the lever for a good conservative candidate.

    Thus I think that tea-partygoers* aren’t living in an alternate reality. Many of them didn’t want Bush-era liberalism any more than they want Obama-era liberalism. They’re protesting (the ones I know, anyway) because they see things getting even worse with Obama in the White House and Pelosi & Reid in Congress.

    I should add that there is a problem with pundits like Rush Limbaugh, because they tended to be too partisan. We rarely heard Limbaugh criticize Bush, even when he would criticize Obama for doing similar things. But as MasterThief points out, the criticism from the tea-partygoers cuts to fiscally liberal Republicans as well as Democrats. That indicates to me that these aren’t astroturf movements.

    * I have heard very few call themselves “teabaggers”, regardless of all the sniggering on the left, and it’s not their fault that some people can’t keep their minds out of the gutter.

  11. I, too, cannot get the other definition of teabagging out of my head. I need to send letters to the “teabaggers” telling them to stop being perverts in public!

  12. As a solidly middle-of-the-road kind of guy, I find the tea parties just distasteful and really quite stupid. I like tea and all, but seriously, folks, think of the fish. They like their water just the way it is, thank-you-very-much. All you’re doing by dumping tea in the water to protest wasteful spending, is wastefully spending money on tea to dump in the water. Protest all you want, but this crap, this is just idiotic. And if you’re going for the symbolism of what the Boston Tea Party was all about, well, last I checked, there weren’t any residents of the United States who weren’t represented. So you fail on the taxation without representation argument. If you’re doing this because you vaguely know that the Boston Tea Party was something about taxes, well, history not much of a strong suit, perhaps?

  13. Jake Freivald:

    “What many left-to-center-left people fail to realize is that George Bush wasn’t conservative”

    Conservatives did an awesome job of claiming him for their own for quite a few years there, Jake. You can’t blame the left-of-center (or the center, given the most recent election results) for confusing him for one when the main body of conservatives clung to him — and allowed him to ruin their brand.

  14. Each time someone says “teabaggers”, I laughed. I am twelve.

    You say that jokingly, but it is a sign of how out of touch the old guard of the social conservative movement really is. Why would much of the US take the whole protest seriously when they can’t even bring it up without laughing at the name? For a movement that has used some very clever branding (Patriot Act, Protect Marriage Act, etc) that completely obscured the actual meaning (shit on constitution act, prevent marriage act) I find it pretty amusing that now the opposite is happening.

    @Jake – W was a social conservative, which is what defines the conservative movement now. Fiscal conservatives have just now realized that they lost control of their party.

  15. Jake Freivald:
    “Hopefully *some* people will learn the right lesson from McCain’s loss, though; he was no conservative, either. I, and many others, would love to pull the lever for a good conservative candidate.”

    This runs squarely into the 20-60-20 problem; if you assume that 20% of the population is hardcore left or right, and you run as one or the other, you get that 20% and all you have to do then is get 31 of the remaining 60%.

    But, that only works if you get the 31%! Super-conservatives have not shown themselves to be capable of doing this in a national election, whereas Barack Obama did.

    The other problem is the idea that more people would have voted for McCain if he was more conservative, however, where would those votes have come from? Are we to assume that people who wanted to vote Obama would have voted McCain had he been more conservative?

  16. “Below Limbaugh and Murdoch and the teabagging rabble… “: probably between.

    I suppose it depends on what is meant by ‘teabagging rabble’. If you mean the FOX News cabal using the tea parties, then it’s the same thing as Limbaugh/Murdoch. If you mean the Libertarians who are genuinely upset about runaway government spending (and seemingly kind of horrified that their cause has been stolen by the people who were largely responsible for the last 8 years of runaway spending), that’s a different group entirely. You can disagree with both of those groups, but I’d hope one’s disagreement with the Libertarians would be based on an honest philosophical or difference in methodology, rather than intent.

    If you’re a Republican (voter, not policitian (HUGE difference)), and you voted for Bush in 2004, you’ve really no right to be complaining about smaller government or less government spending. Libertarians, however, DO have the moral high ground on those two issues.

    I loved the bit last week where the guy got up to speak at a tea party and told the crowd about how we had a budget surplus in 2000 and then Bush spent all that and drove us to the point where we’re at before Obama even came into office. The crowd, of course, booed at the truth. The whole tea party thing has been coopted by the conservatives since they don’t have anything else in their arsenal right now. *shrug*

    Not that I’m a big Obama fan, anymore. At this point, by refusing to go after the Bush Administration for torture, by not only refusing to stop the warrantless wiretapping program, but actually fighting to save it, by not reinstituing habeas corpus, etc., he’s guilty not only of international war crimes (he’s essentially protecting war criminals by refusing to prosecure them), as well as now being Impeachable (warrantless wiretapping on US citizens is, IMO, against the Constitution, the protection and defense of which are in the Presidential Oath of Office). I’m deeply disappointed (though not all THAT surprising) by this, and am wondering if we really DO have to elect a wacko like Ron Paul to at least sweep away all this stuff (then fix what he screws up after he’s gone). The last time I was this disappointed in a President I voted for was Clinton with the whole ridiculous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” nonsense. This is WAY worse, though. I’m not regretting my vote – the other choice was much worse, but I had hoped for a lot more change. *shrug*

  17. Tumbleweed:

    “Libertarians, however, DO have the moral high ground on those two issues.”

    This is true, for what it’s worth for the Libertarians. I am skeptical the majority of the people at the tea parties were actual Libertarians, however, in party affiliation, voting record or in overall political philosophy. I’m not saying they weren’t there (and pissed off at the GOP/conservatives for co-opting their movement), just not in the majority.

  18. I don’t agree with your conclusions, John. IN fact, I think you picked the easy but incomplete answer; These people are protesting because they lost, and overlooking the legitimate concerns the protesters address.

    For my part, I’m against the further expansion of government and expansion at the Federal level will only encourage more grasping at the state and local level in turn.

    It’s nonpartisan in my mind, because I just dislike elected officials acting like thieves, and unqualified unelected bureaucrats making policy. I expect politicians do do the job they were elected to do, or be held accountable, the se protests are part of that call for accountability.

    I’m apalled by such an increase in the deficit, especially when no one in the administration or in Congress has taken the time to fully read the ill-conceived, rushed-through stimulus or the almost unexamined pork-laden budget.
    It’s not free money the government is passing out, it’s mine, and if you pay taxes, it’s yours as well. If you don’t pay taxes, it’s free money, but it was takem from someone else to give to you.
    Not only that, deficit spending at such an enormous level devalues the dollar, so ever dollar you get back from the Treasury will be worth less than it was when you paid in.

    As for puppetmasters, I’ll grant you that there are lots of people working to gain ratings and influence from this protest, but I from what I’ve seen locally, I don’t see them as puppetmasters, just opportunists.

  19. Thanks, John, for articulating this. I have been observing this for several decades now, since I live by my own choice in one of the bluest places in America, but grew up and have a lot of friends and family in more rural areas.

    The assumption generally is that good people probably agree with us, and it is very difficult for any of us to move away from that point of view. This seems true even when obvious markers are in place that would indicate otherwise, not out of ignorance exactly, but more because “good people think as I do.” And it’s not just rural folk — there is a highly regarded PBS interviewer who can not accept that a good person could be an atheist, and has insisted to their faces that his very highly admired and openly non-believing interview subjects must “believe in something.” He will press and press until they express some non-committal agreement just to move past the discomfort.

    I do fault those who actively encourage a kind of closed information loop on either side and those who sit by and allow lies to go unchallenged, as well as those who encourage false equivalencies simply to represent “both sides.”

    That said, I guess my responsibility is to check this impulse in myself and gently draw attention to it in those who will listen to me. FWIW

  20. They don’t love America, they love the “Leave It To Beaver” version of America that never really existed…

  21. John and Mythago, I agree with you both. (My use of the passive voice wasn’t disingenuous, just sloppy.) I have no particular friendship for the Republican party right now, and I’m not pretending that the left wing is filled with evil propagandists while the right is squeaky clean. Clearly they also (i.e., along with the opposition) painted Bush as conservative, even though he wasn’t all that dissimilar from Kerry or Gore. And by pretending that Bush was conservative, they definitely wrecked their brand. But I remember the kvetching among many conservatives in 2000 (fewer in 2004) that it didn’t really matter much whom you voted for.

    Josh, W wasn’t that socially conservative, either. He was pro-life and mildly anti-gay-marriage. I say “mildly” because his position wasn’t much different from Obama’s and Biden’s — he endorsed a Constitutional amendment saying that “marriage” is defined as being between a man and a woman, while O&B said they wouldn’t legalize gay marriage. No Child Left Behind, his position on immigration, and other programs show that he was just fine with continued federal intervention in state issues, increased nanny-statism, and so on.

    Mark, I don’t think conservatives have had much of a voice in the past few elections. Pundits thought that Tom Tancredo was “too far out of the mainstream”, which gave us McCain, but the energy that Sarah Palin brought to the party (even I was hopeful for a few days after her nomination, until it became clear that she’s mostly an empty suit) shows that there’s pent-up demand for more conservative politicians. As for where the votes would come from? It’s anecdotal, but I know a fair number of people who voted third-party (myself included) or refrained from voting because they couldn’t back McCain. We know that lots of people stay home on election day because they feel like their votes don’t make a difference. It would require a grassroots change and a charismatic leader, to be sure, but we’ve seen that happen just recently on the left. Who knows?

  22. Cassie — the problem is that’s what you all named yourselves. We were told by the people organizing, running and promoting the events that they were teabagging parties, that it was a teabagging movement sending teabags to the White House, and that the protesters were teabaggers. It was a mistake and I think you got overly roasted for it, but given the things that more liberal protesters were called in the past — traitors, communists, fascists, perverts, etc., at least the teabag comments have been jocular and not forced on the groups doing the parties against their will. If the former teabaggers would like to be considered something else, they’ll have to put forth a name to replace the first one they told us to use.

    What I’m trying to wrap my head around is what FreedomWorks and its business employers thought they were up to in funding and organizing the tea parties, and trying to craft their messages. There was clearly an anti-labor goal, to help with the fighting against the Free Choice act, which accounted for much of the communist rhetoric of the parties, and an attempt to hurt the struggle for any expanded government health care for the poor and children. And the anti-stimulus rhetoric helped the Republican party with their sort-of organized platform.

    But the tea parties would seem not to have advanced any of these goals, would not draw more than the 20% already on board, and the negative publicity, including the Libertarians fighting with Republicans over Armey stealing their idea and the anti-Muslim racism at some events, would not seem to have helped the Republican politicians on their side. So basically, Armey failed at his job and wasted their money. And the people who attended these events got hosed, even though some of the issues they raised are valid ones for discussion.

    As for Steve Schmidt, his work on the Bush campaigns is responsible for a lot of the nastier, hate-filled rhetoric, social conservatism posturing and slur campaigns. McCain took him on board, and he did the same thing for McCain, including saddling us with Palin, all of which lost McCain the election. Schmidt is not a conservative, he’s an opportunist. He’s good as a weathervane as to which way the wind is blowing, but I wouldn’t count him as an example of the new conservative. Nor would I count on much from Meghan McCain, who’s basically doing a Paris Hilton in the media on her daddy’s name. If we’re going to have new conservatives, they’ll need better candidates than that.

  23. John H @ 27: Yes, the one in which women stayed home, shut up, and put out. The one in which minorities came by to clean the house twice a week and otherwise stayed put “where they belonged.” The one in which gay men and women were invisible or, if they dared speak up, were punished. The one in which everyone toed the line they were assigned at birth. The one in which those who got ahead deserved it for their “hard work” and not because of their class, socioeconomic background, family name, geographic location, education, political or religious beliefs, etc., etc.

    Ah, the good old days.

  24. Since around the 80’s most protests have been for the protesters, not to create change, organized by hardcore activists instead of being spontaneous outpourings of indignation (though I’m sure some of this has always been in protests). The teabaggers are no different. Rather than protesting in ways likely to convince reasonable people, protests are more often about preaching to the extreme that the protester is a part of. This gives them a warm feeling that they are part of a larger group that is trying to do something, hopefully making them more committed to the group in the future.

    Conservatives are more on the outside on the national level than they have been since before Reagan. The voices of conservative politicians and pundits have largely been impotent whining. Tea parties have united them into a chorus of impotent whiners. The effect on policy will be nil. But there is likely to be some long term effect of keeping teabaggers from drifting off and becoming politically inactive. Conservatives want a base of angry voters to vote for change (or for retcon). Tea parties keep the pot stirred.

  25. John, you seem to be confusing the Republican base, which, by and large is some sort of conservative, with the Republican leadership, which is not Conservative, and has not been for quite some time. For examples of this see, oh, every Presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. The social conservative wing did claim Bush, the fiscal conservative wing most emphatically did not.

    “Would that there would have been more of you over the last eight years, and those you elected would have had more of a spine about it at the time. ”

    The problem is that when it comes down to an election, leaving out third party candidates who have no chance with the way the system’s set up, you have 2 choices, and you have to go with one of the two. Was I _happy_ with the President in 2004? No, not a bit. But given the choice between him and Kerry, who ran on basically losing a war for us, there was no choice. National security issues trump basically everything else.

    Moving on to 2006, the conservative base, in large numbers, stayed home, for exactly these reasons. That combined with the anti-war left growing in number (which I attribute almost wholly to the Bush administration’s inexplicable decision to decide not to defend its decisions until crises hit, and Bush’s extremely poor communications skills) gave us a Democrat congress.

    Fast Forward to 2008. Once again, we have to make a choice, and both candidates were, frankly, lousy. Up until the Supreme Court Heller vs. DC decision, I was sitting this one out, because I believed (and still believe) that McCain would have harmed the country. Not as much damage as Obama’s going to do, but at least I wouldn’t have borne any responsibility. As an aside, if you Democrats had nominated Hillary, I would have voted for her (and in fact did vote for her in the Texas Democratic primary). Because she clearly passes the test Obama doesn’t, which is, “Do I believe that she will actually defend the US”, and I can’t stand McCain.

    As for the whole snark about “puppetmasters”, Conservatives by and large don’t do protests, or movements. That’s a thing for paid political operatives and the unemployed (ie college students), which are predominantly liberals. It takes a lot to get us riled up. So did Fox News and Limbaugh encourage this? Sure they did, but the movements were well underway before Limbaugh, at least, jumped on board, and they didn’t create the sentiment out of nothing. There was a huge unrest growing that they merely tapped into. And it’s not, primarily, anti-Obama. It’s a ‘throw all the bums out and start over’ sentiment.

  26. KatG, please google “teabagger”. The results are from Kos, HuffPo, Wonkette, Crooks and Liars, and a bunch of left-wing or left-leaning blogs.

    I’m sure that some people who don’t generally use urban slang to discuss specific sex acts have called themselves “teabaggers”, but the vast majority of people using the term are those who are denigrating the protesters. It’s Beavis-and-Butthead humor, and while I don’t particularly have anything against it, it gets old pretty quickly.

  27. @Jake – I disagree. The social conservative movement was his base and with good reason: Abstinence only education, blocking stem cell research, advocating Intelligent Design, cutting off funding for international womens education funds because they included reproductive rights (which, incidentally, are far less draconian than the pro-abortion, sterilization efforts that the US advocated to fight the chinese a couple of decades ago), creating and empowering the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, etc.

    He was clearly pandering to the social conservative movement up until he became a complete lame duck. He may have waffled a little on things like immigration (we do have a giant fence now, so I would hesitate to say he waffled that much even if it is to keep “terrorists” out instead of illegal immigrants) his core message was right up their alley.

  28. Poor George.

    For the last eight years, the liberals were yelling, “he’s not my president!”

    Now, the conservatives are yelling, “he wasn’t my president!”

    Reminds me of the old joke about Nixon — he won by a landslide, but no one voted for him…

  29. Josh, fair enough. The stem-cell research stuff was part of his pro-life stance, so I don’t count that separately, but you’re right to correct me by pointing out his pro-ID stance or his support for abstinence-only education. We could quibble about other things, I’m sure (is support for faith-based community initiatives “socially conservative”? It seems to be Yet Another Means for distributing money to the poor, and I could see a Community Organizer allowing it to happen), but I won’t argue much.

  30. John, you’re missing several important differences between then and now, and you end up drawing a lot of false equivalences.

    For example, after 2004, liberals didn’t consider Bush to be an illegitimate pretender-to-the-throne type*. Liberals’ horror was in recognizing that a majority of the country really did vote for Bush-style conservatism, while the nonsense that the Tea Parties are peddling is utterly baseless. These fears are not the mirror-images of one another; one was fear of reality, and one is fear of black helicopters and federal gun raids and other phantoms.

    Another big difference you elide is that you didn’t see groups calling for the elimination of Bush (and/or conservatives). We wanted Bush to be fired; plenty of tea-party-goers fantasize about killing Obama and other liberals.

    *when I say ‘illegitimate’, I am not talking about voting problems. For a lot of conservatives, their refusal to acknowledge Obama stems from who Obama is; they deny his legitimacy as a person, whereas liberals doubted the legitimacy of Bush’s election, an important distinction.

  31. That these folks and their leaders seem to want to believe in an alternate America doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is their mental deficiency and hypocrisy. For the last 8 years deficits weren’t an issue… NOW they’re a huge issue and the Dems are being irresponsible. Obama took office 3 months ago… but the financial crisis is HIS fault – but the Repuglicans held the White House for the last 8 years and Congress for 6 of those 8 years. Most of all I think it’s completely hypocritical to whine about government interference in private affairs when it comes to economic issues, but then to push government interference in social affairs. All of this strikes me as either mental weakness or craven pandering… neither of which makes me like them.

    Bottom line? I’m simply sick and tired of the ‘my way or the highway, you’re a traitor if you questioned the Bush administration’ mindset that the current Repuglican party believes in.

    However, I yearn for a bright, intellectually strong and honest conservative opposition that questions the Dems and gets us to engage in debates about the important questions of the day like healthcare, the environment and our economy. This crop of conservatives has a sex and tax fixation – from abortion to gay marriage, they seem unable to get their thoughts away from the bedroom except to continually scream for lower taxes.

    Conservatism can be so much more than that and if it is I believe that the resulting debates would let us choose directions more wisely.

  32. 1.) They are Tea Parties, not teabaggers. Cheap rhetorical trick.

    2.) Barack Obama is President of the USA. Deal.

    3.) If you honestly feel that saddling you, your children and your grandchildren with a national debt that would make George Bush’s profligacy look like Ebenezer Scrooge, I pity you.

    4.) If you honestly feel that reactionary Keynesian economics and fascist power grabs of private enterprise are a good idea, I pity you.

    5.) 500,000 Tea Party attendees are a bigger start of the resistance than any ginned up, overreported leftist demonstration for the last twenty years.

  33. If your analysis falls on the same side as Steve Schmidt and Meghan McCain, that’s a pretty good indication that a rethink is in order. On the economic side, while Bush and the 2000-2008 Republicans were horrific and absolutely merit getting slammed to every Democratic heart’s content, there is already considerable evidence that Obama and the 2008-2012 Democrats will, amazingly, be even worse.

    With Economagic reporting total credit market debt at 370.36 percent of GDP in Q4 2008, Obama’s budget looks rather like the equivalent of igniting the afterburner on a jet already speeding straight for the ground. He’s gambling everything based on an outmoded neo-Keynesian model, which means that if any of the other economic schools are correct, we’re looking at smoking ruins that will make Japan’s Lost Decade look like the Roaring 20’s.

    Just for reference’s sake, the previous pre-2002 peak was around 300 percent in 1934. (NB: I’ve read the Credit Suisse report disputing the significance of CMD/GDP; I didn’t find the bank’s argument that Americans really can afford to borrow more money very convincing.)

  34. The most interesting thing for me watching this whole cultural flip flop is that it forces me, as a liberal, to question a lot of the things that I said over the last eight years. As you point out regarding the secession argument, for pretty much every ridiculous thing the far right is doing right now, there’s an equivalent action the far left was doing a few years ago. I think it comes down to the fact that no one likes to feel powerless, and that people believe that the louder you yell, the more right it makes you. It’s been an important reality check and lesson in humility, that’s for sure.

  35. For the record, John, while there were certainly secession rumblings on the left, especially after the majority of the american public declared openly in 2004 that they’d elect a gibbering chimp over someone who ‘sounded like an elitist ivory-tower intellectual’ because at least they understood what the chimp was saying, there was another view, one I personally echoed at the time I heard it.

    We disagreed with Bush, openly stated that his military and diplomatic policies were nothing short of disastrous and Iraq would remain a quagmire for years to come… But deep inside, a lot of us wanted to be wrong. We didn’t think we were (and it looks like we weren’t), but we felt that our ideologies and egos weren’t worth thousands of lives being lost.

    I said this in 2004, and I’ll tell Rush Limbaugh to shut his fat face now.

  36. I’m a Republican, and that’s a hard thing to say these days. Hopefully you are right and the type of “Republican” we have had recently is on the way out.

    What killed me these past 8 years is the party completely going against what Republicans are supposed to be for: small government, low spending, low taxes, individual rights, etc. Now I usually just say libertarian because I have been ashamed by my party.

    And to everyone who claims to be Republican as well, if you really followed those ideals, you’d be for gays being allowed to have equal rights and against a police state.

    Bleh, mini rant over.

  37. N. O’Brain @39: 5.) 500,000 Tea Party attendees are a bigger start of the resistance than any ginned up, overreported leftist demonstration for the last twenty years.

    And from where, pray tell, did you pull that number? The coverage I saw showed maybe a hundred at most of these ‘Tea Parties’, with some of the larger gatherings hitting perhaps 5000. Half a million is a LARGE stretch…

    Contrast that with the millions who demonstrated against the Iraq invasion in 2003, or the tens of thousands who attended Barack Obama’s speeches during the campaign.

    (No Brain indeed…)

  38. Murdoch long ago staked out one of those twenty percent for his own benefit and enrichment

    Murdoch was clever enough to take the 20% with lotsa bucks; Mrs. Murdoch didn’t raise no fool.

  39. Jake @28, I’m really stunned that you think there is no real difference on those two positions re same-sex marriage. Until very recently, marriage was largely seen as a state issue, and states’ business – if one state said “We let these two people marry,” other states and the Federal government recognized that marriage, even if such a marriage could not have happened in those other states’ borders. Amending the United States Constitution is a direct assault on both states’ rights and the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Such an amendment says that it doesn’t matter if Vermont votes to permit same-sex marriage; the Feds are going to step in and say OH NO YOU DIDNT.

    That is very, very different from “well, I don’t agree with it” or “here’s what the states ought to do.”

    (Let’s not even get into the question of why nobody wants the government to step in to prevent marriages that most states would recognize as being between a child and a pedophile. Priorities much?)

  40. John H@47 try this for a summary of the various estimates, including some skepticism.

    The low end estimate was 240000, which missed about half the locations (probably mostly smaller ones), the high end was 618000.

    Of course, it didn’t actually get much coverage. Contrast that to the coverage that half a dozen people in a ditch in Crawford, Texas, got for weeks, and you might understand why.

  41. John H,

    Nate Silver (a partisan Democrat who nearly called the election exactly) over at fivethirtyeight.com had the attendance at a little over 300,000. He has a breakdown of numbers by rally here

  42. Dave Ruddell @51: Which I looked at before posting. 300K is a far cry from 500K. The largest “party” was in Atlanta with an estimated crowd of 15K — no other location reported more than 5K.

    Skip @50: I haven’t seen any comparisons made between the coverage of Cindy Sheehan in Crawford and the Tea Parties. If Sheehan got as much or more coverage, perhaps it was because her protest went on for four weeks instead of one day. I don’t know.

    I would say it’s disingenuous to state that the Tea Parties “didn’t actually get much coverage”.

  43. Skip @50 – you have a funny definition of ‘not much’. Are you angry that every major newspaper in America did not devote a special front-page wrapper section to the protests, or what?

  44. Of course, it didn’t actually get much coverage

    Only in bizarro world…in this world, Fox nearly devoted their entire bandwidth to it, and I saw reports and new stories in most of the major outlets.

    But that wouldn’t fit with the narrative, would it?

    As to the budget deficit, people are talking like the Great Depression never happened. It did, and when business and consumer spending tank (ala 1930 or late 2008) we actually know what to do now, and unfortunately the government has to step in and start spending. And no, that’s not “outmoded Keynesianism” it’s “bailing out the lifeboat”

  45. Jake Frievald / Cassie:

    I know it’s comforting to thing that the “tea bag the white house” / “tea bag obama” meme’s came from EEVIL LIBRULS, but the first I saw of it was here:

    http://www.yesbutnobutyes.com/archives/2009/03/fox_news_report.html

    Not that website specifically, but the Fox News video. Fox News. A guy covering them sympathetically, called on people to “tea bag the white house.” Also, the website for the bloody things is called teabagtaxes!

    Also, see the photo that John put at the top of this post. With teabaggers. Carrying a sign. Advocating teabagging.

    I know reality is hard to deal with, but that’s John’s point. By all means advocate for a different world, but don’t pretend it currently exists just because it suits you.

  46. This “outmoded Keynesianism” talking point interests me. Once upon a time, I was supposed to know something about macroeconomics and banking theory and all that economics theory stuff you’re supposed to learn when you get an undergraduate degree in the subject. (Note: Not claiming to be an expert in economic theory here, okay?) Most of what I remember 25 years later is we moved lines around on a bunch of graphs. Also: it should be “quantity demanded” not “demand” on that supply/demand graph. So there.

    Because I was in college in the early 1980’s and supposedly studying these theories and graphs and stuff, I remember when the professional economic types declared that Keynesianism was dead, dead, dead and now we were going to use monetarism and rational expectations theory and supply-side theory. I never understood which theory applied when, or how the theories integrated to create fiscal policy — which is either a flaw in the theories or a hole in my memory or maybe why I don’t do economics on professional basis.

    The thing is, unbridled monetarism is at least partly to blame for the mess we’re in. And we certainly can’t lower the Federal funds rates any further, so I doubt monetarism is going to get us out of our current predicament, even if one disagrees that it led us down the path to the housing crisis. Rational expectations is nice but there are some real-world flaws inherent in the mathematical approach, or so Wikipedia tells me. And Reagan never could get the supply-side theory to produce the results it promised, because of a lack of political will or skill or what have you, or so David Stockton wrote in The Triumph of Politics.

    So my question is what post-Keynesian economic theory has rendered Keynesianism outmoded, and now underlies the fiscal policy of the Tea Bag Set? I would really like to know the answer to that question; I would find it educational. Seriously.

  47. To follow on Eddie’s comment, I suspect that those on the protester side who thought they could sneak the double entendre into the discourse were surprised and dismayed at the alacrity and glee with which the term was reversed upon them.

  48. 3.) If you honestly feel that saddling you, your children and your grandchildren with a national debt that would make George Bush’s profligacy look like Ebenezer Scrooge, I pity you.

    I wouldn’t necessarily do that. Some people think that’s the BETTER choice in what’s facing us.

    What’s missing oftentimes is the consideration of the possible options and choices. It’s very easy to point at the flaws in the opposition’s plans; it’s a lot harder to present an array of options, admit the weaknesses in your own plans, but still sell your own plan as better because of features A, B and C. That’s not what being doing by the Republican opposition here.

  49. So my question is what post-Keynesian economic theory has rendered Keynesianism outmoded, and now underlies the fiscal policy of the Tea Bag Set? I would really like to know the answer to that question; I would find it educational. Seriously.

    As usual, someone says it better, more concisely and more analytically.

  50. I’ll add N’obrain point 1 to my list of deluded people refusing to acknowledge the origin of the use of “teabagging” to describe these protests.

    And to follow of from gwangung, his point 3 – National debt:

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt

    There is a distinction between the national debt and a deficit. If you want to argue about the problems of deficit spending, fine. There’s a discussion to be had there. However, the US debt has been a meaningless statistic for over a decade. If all the debts were called in at once, the country would not be able to pay them. China, who most of the money is owed to, knows this. They know it’d collapse the system and they’d not get their money back. Liquidity crisis blah blah blah.

    I’d therefore suggest arguing about things that weren’t LONG past the point of no return before Obama was even elected to the Illinois state senate.

  51. Oh, it also occurs to me that it doesn’t help conservative/Republican efforts when you have middlin’ to mainstream figures like Kudlow comparing Obama to Boyz N the Hood, or obsessing on trivial details. Harder to take criticism from that side seriously when detail like that aren’t marginalized.

  52. Sorry, but liberal-minded media didn’t make up the term teabaggers for the parties, the protesters did. A number of event organizers labeled their parties teabagging parties. At a late February tea party rally, a protester had a sign saying “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You,” a photo of which appeared in newspapers. A website organizing events, reteaparty.com, encouraged people to “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” which was quoted by conservative commentators. And Griff Jenkins, a reporter for Fox News, which supported, promoted and helped organize the tea parties, said on air that protesters were going to “teabag the White House.” And that was just for starters.

    The people and media who were doing the events kept using the term, and the rest of the media couldn’t resist. FreedomWorks then counseled protesters not to use the term, and the claim that it was the media’s invention quickly started. I’m sure Fox News has conveniently forgotten they even used it, and will deny it even if you show them the video clips from February and March.

    I was wrong — I thought there was mainly anti-Muslim racism at the protests, amid claims of white slavery. But apparently, a website called “Bay Area Campaign for Liberty” involved with the San Mateo, CA event used an image that pictured a bucket of money being poured into a funnel with a Star of David on it that drips blood into a bottle that has a person holding a Palestinian flag, with the text, “Uncle Sam Reminds You: KEEP PAYING TAXES. The ongoing extermination of Palestinian Children Can’t be Done Without Your Help.”

    So I’m thinking that the tea parties brought a lot of disparate groups together, and the real issues got lost in the noise.

  53. Simon @ 50 said

    Contrast that to the coverage that half a dozen people in a ditch in Crawford, Texas, got for weeks, and you might understand why.

    This is probably a rash generalization, but what the heck. Anyone who cares about anything (especially politics) believes the media are ignoring their pet passions. Cries of “the media love you more” are the background noise for every political discussion.

  54. I got two problems with teabaggers (yes, like Emily, I am 12 years old and still think it’s funny):

    1) where the hell were you the last eight years? At my local one, I saw a man holding a sign saying “save the constitution”. Was this person in a coma, or did they miss the wiretapping, torture, infringement on free speech, creation of a fourth branch of government, and all the rest of the constitutional violations caused by the last bunch?

    2) ok, you don’t like Obama’s plan. (I think. It’s really hard to tell if it’s that, or you don’t like taxes, or you don’t like black men. But I’ll give you that much credit and assume you have a valid reason for protesting.) WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?! Jumping up and down and crying is not a plan. Doing the same thing we’ve done for eight years is not a plan. Saying you don’t want higher taxes is not a plan.

  55. John – am skeptical the majority of the people at the tea parties were actual Libertarians,

    Yeah, I’m more than skeptical; I’d say the vast majority were ignorant (of history, of Republican & Democratic politician’s activities, of what Obama’s tax plan entails, etc.) Republicans organized by FOX News. I’d be surprised if the average tea party was over 5% Libertarian, though I’d love to see some statistics. It’s interesting to see the Republicans trying to claim the Libertarians as their own. Kinda like China & Taiwan, really. :)

  56. LOL, taunting the tauntable! Consider it done to you! You have been owned!

    I am impressed how quickly you were able to delete something that disagreed with you!

  57. Yes, because as you see from the rest of the thread, I make a habit of deleting comments from people disagreeing with me.

    Also, you acting like a tiresome jackass does not constitute you owning me. No, your comment was deleted because it was pointless and stupid, as opposed to most of the rest of the comments here, which are interesting and from people who, whether they disagree with each other or not, are engaged in discussion.

    I understand you seem to feel that just because you lay a turd in my comment thread that I have to respect it. However, you don’t get a vote. Moreover, if I have to keep cleaning up your turds, regardless of how much you admire them and think they are special simply because they’ve come from you, I’m going drop you into the moderation queue.

    So: Either make a comment that’s worth reading, or fuck off. Thanks.

  58. ok, how about this? Am I the only one somewhat disturbed about adults talking about tea-bagging with Emily (supposedly 12 years old)?

  59. The first usage of “tea bag” in the, um, double entrende sense I know of was the photo John has at the top of this entry, from Dave Weigel in late February. Most of the crazy at the protests I’d place alongside most of the crazy at left-wing protests, which the right has always used to demonize all of the left. (Since this has been the first major power transition I’ve seen since I became really politically aware, I’m in the “notice everyone’s hypocrisy, including your own” phase still).

    I don’t really have a problem with the objections to the spending increases, which have been disturbingly higher than expected, especially over the long term. I can understand the choice to go with a stimulus, but the other budged increases are too much right now, especially long term and with no plan to ease taxes back up.

    My problem is rhetoric meeting political reality. I did see criticism of spending by conservatives and libertarians. What I didn’t see was it affecting voting patterns.

    At all.

    Remember “compassionate conservatism”? Conservatives voted for it. The Medicare Prescription drug bill, etc, didn’t pass because Democrats hypnotized moderate Republicans into doing their evil bidding. It passed because it helped them get re-elected. Everyone loves yelling about spending and balanced budgets. Hell, Obama does even now. They just never do it, and there’s no indication putting the GOP back in power anytime soon will change this.

    So I’d love it if these protests coalesced into an organization that pushed the GOP into making a coherent run at a lower-spending, fiscally responsible budget with the hope of peeling off enough Blue Dogs to make a run at it. The GOP hasn’t yet. They threw up a random passel of jokes against the stimulus bill – including complaining about it being too expensive and too long-term, then pulling 35 Senate votes for a permanent tax cut that cost twice as much over 10 years. Then they threw up a budget molecule and followed it with a “real” budget consisting of magic cuts to Medicare and people voluntarily choosing to pay an extra 10% on their income taxes.

    This is not the way to convince people you are actually going to behave responsibly next time.

    As for gay marriage as a political issue:
    It’s probably a slight advantage for the GOP right now.
    But it was a bigger advantage in 2008, and didn’t help.
    And was an even bigger advantage in 2006, and didn’t help then either.
    2004, it had a large impact. But since then the GOP is running out of ways and places to pass gay marriage bans (Virginia’s had, what, 4 of them?) and the trend is moving away from them. In the wake of Prop 8, the enthusiasm gap seems to have narrowed too.
    It won’t have an impact in 2010 or 2012, which will be about Obama and the economy, baring an unforeseen change.
    It could have an impact in 2014 – when, given current regression marriage will be around 50% support nationally and civil unions 70%.
    And the support is and will be coming from the young, and the opposition from the old. Which makes it a weak and probably non-viable position to use as a plank in rebuilding a party that just got its ass kicked.

  60. JimmyJones:

    Probably, because Emily isn’t actually twelve; she’s commenting on the somewhat juvenile giggle she gets from the term “teabagging.”

  61. Everyone loves yelling about spending and balanced budgets. Hell, Obama does even now. They just never do it

    Well, minor correction: The tag team of Clinton and Congressional Republicans sort-of managed it in a boom economy. But even sans Bush’s tax cuts it wouldn’t have lasted due to lack of entitlement and defense reform.

  62. But at the moment he is better at politics than his opponents, which is sufficient for his purposes.

    It’s not sufficient for people who look at policy, which too many on the left don’t.

    As for social conservatism being the driving force, in this I must say you are very wrong.

    The “movement,” for the most part is not solidifying behind gay marriage, they are hardening their positions about fiscal restraint.

    The veteran office holders are not that popular with the “Tea Party,” “movement,” you really need to get off of the snide teabagger thing, makes you look like a juvenile incapable of engaging in debate, even though you obviously are willing to speak forthrightly and honestly, and willing to see the other side.

    Lost my place. . . oh, the “movement” ain’t happy with the arrogance of power they/we (I’m a part of it) have seen in people who ostensibly represent us. They don’t, and they have denied any right to associate themselves with my basic opinions on government.

    1 trillion dollars is a LOT OF EFFING MONEY! almost 2 trillion dollars is almost twice as much effing money, and to say “I didn’t hear the right complaining about bush during. . ” is a cop-out, and also false, the right was furious with bush for the first two years cuz of the deficits.

    And yes, we do love our country, and I don’t think we are wrong. The projected debt after 10 years of Obama’s policies is about half again the projected GDP, that would be fine, except that we are in a recession and retraction of income and revenue, so the deficit will actually be larger, because tax revenue has already fallen to record lows, and aren’t likely to live near to the projections of revenue based on 2005 – 2007 (which is the basis of the revue projections) meaning that the current projected deficits are actually going to be MUCH larger.

    We see that the idea of increasing spending (which might be valuable in the short term, and I happen to think it is) while simultaneously increasing burdens on revenue (which is bad) is a fast path to economic failure.

    China’s already gaming their investment, and we have already accepted commitments in spending, that we can’t reliably find investment in.

    You think china thinks the US is too big to fail? No, it doesn’t china will take a short term hit, but they have a manufactured economy, and they can survive our economic turmoil.

    There are so many indirect risks that we are opening ourselves up to, JUST this year, that people are actually getting angry.

    I would also like to know how ditching the f-22 in favor of “community educational enterprises,” is at all rational on a federal level.

    We know Obama won the election that is why the action now. If he doesn’t get over his “I’m the President, and I’m pretty good at it.” arrogance pretty quick, he’s a one term president, and a failure.

    2010 will be the gauge, if the democratic majority isn’t at least significantly reduced in 2010, then we are looking at an ugly ugly ugly (not “civil unrest,” but silent seething anger, and polarization) period in US history, because there is so much more at stake now than ever before.

    Sorry for the rant, but If I were a better writer, I might have summed up some of the opinions of the delusional opposition.

  63. And some of those people you mentioned (except for murdoch and limbaugh and . . . did you mention paul? well except for them) had nothing to do with organization.

    PJM provided media support, there was some funding that was funneled into private accounts for the purposes of organizing.

    Like TRUE grass roots organization rather than having Moveon, CFP, WWP, International Answer and yes, ACORN (btw, you know that one of the founders of ACORN in chicago was the same little white jew guy who “organized” the Vice Lords?

    But hey? who cares, that ACORN does in fact use gang tactics by hiering gang members, what you never heard that?

    Move here for a few years, you will learn a lot about “community organizing” and the Vice Lords, and the P-stones, and the El-rukins, but why let facts get in the way, Obama gives a great speech.

    Their might have been support from outside organizations, kinda like Obama’s credit card fraud for fund raising, only, like, legal.

    But the only group that lent any substantive support was PJTV, and when other big groups tried to be “puppetmasters,” they were turned away.

    Steele was turned away, Romney was turned away, even THE FRED was turned away.

    This is not a partisan act, this is a centrist group of people focused mostly on fiscal responsibility.

  64. For those knocking the Republicans for the last 8 years of spending, please remember Democrats took over Congress in 2006. Congress being the place that budgets come out of, not the President.

    As to 2000-2006, the critique of Bush and the Congressional Republicans is fair enough. They own it and will be a long time (if ever) convincing the public they’ve learned from the spend thrift ways.

    The flip side is, of course, that the Democrats rode the anger generated by the fiscally irreponsible and arrogant Republicans to take back power. Now the Democrats are behaving in an arrogant and fiscally irresponsible manner. We know how this formula turns out.

    I wonder which party will learn the lesson, long term.

  65. The “movement,” for the most part is not solidifying behind gay marriage, they are hardening their positions about fiscal restraint.

    Well you’re almost there: fiscal restraint is indeed the excuse they’ve glommed onto for despising Obama. But you’re certifiable if you think these loons were ever going to support him even if he took every bit of his economic policy straight from Ayn Rand. They’d’ve found some other thing to bitch about, because the hard right fundamentally does not believe that a black, urbane, liberal Democrat (or any combination thereof) ever deserves to be president, the whole “winning an election” thing having no standing at all in their worldview.

  66. wickedpinto:

    > same little white jew guy

    Oh, good. Let’s blame the Jews. That always works out well.

  67. The local newspaper reported that there were approximately a thousand tea partiers in Lisle, Illinois, which is in DuPage County. DuPage is a Republican county, formerly represented in Congress by Henry Hyde.

    Three days later, over a thousand people showed up ten miles away to fly kites in celebration of Wheaton’s sesquicentennial.

    And this is supposed to be a huge grassroots protest? When a kite-flying party gets at least as many attendees into a similarly-sized space, within a few days, and within a double-handful of miles?

  68. MH at 79: “the hard right fundamentally does not believe that a black, urbane, liberal Democrat (or any combination thereof) ever deserves to be president”.

    Really? I suspect, knowing some hard right types, that they could care less about skin color. Say what you will about conservatives, but they are neither sexists nor racists. Conservatives are driven by ideaology, and whether one is a woman Sarah Palin), an Indian (Bobby Jindal) or black (Clarence Thomas), they’ll embrace that person if they champion their causes.

    And they would be delighted with an “urbane” president. As, I would assume, anyone would as the word is defined, if I recall correctly, as a well mannered gentleman or lady.

    Its the “liberal” that sticks in their craw. They do not equate liberalism with fiscal prudence. They do not equate liberalism with being strong on national security. Social issues (gun control, abortion, school choice, immigration, etc.), just add to the rift existing between competing idealogies of left and right.

  69. Cally —
    The Wheaton 2009 Go-Fly-A-Kite fly-in was an attempt at a Guinness World Record, not at all the same as the monthly fly-ins that I go to occasionally. It seems that although 1182 people signed up, there wasn’t quite enough wind to get more than the current world record of 967 (IIRC) kites aloft at the same time. Given a choice of a political protest or a fly-in, I’m flying (I’ve got kites light enough to fly in still air.)

  70. Wickedpinto:

    Jew-bashing does not really help your argument.

    Jews! ACORN! Reverse vampires! Obama credit card fraud conspiracies!

    …you’re going to have a really difficult next 3 years, aren’t you? As Scalzi suggested, trying living in the real world, and changing it, rather than inventing a fake one.

  71. I suspect, knowing some hard right types, that they could care less about skin color. Say what you will about conservatives, but they are neither sexists nor racists.

    O RLY.

    OK then, quick quiz:

    Someone who agrees with the statement “I believe that society is better off with most of the jobs, especially the more senior ones, going to men, and with women concerning themselves mainly with housework and child raising” is most likely to describe themselves as:
    a) Left wing
    b) Liberal
    c) Centrist
    d) Conservative
    e) Right wing
    f) Any of the above

    Someone who agrees that “People of African descent are generally less intelligent and more prone to committing crimes than people of European or Asian descent” is most likely to describe themselves as:
    a) Left wing
    b) Liberal
    c) Centrist
    d) Conservative
    e) Right wing
    f) Any of the above

    What do you think?

  72. I think what the Tea party movement is showing is the groundswell of support for fiscal conservatism rather than social conservatism. I don’t think the people in the movement are living in an alternate world. They know who won and they really hate that he seems to be turning the US into a European Socialist State* – yes he did campaign to do this but some were lulled into thinking that he was a politician and therefore lying when it turns out he actually meant that bit.

    However it seems that after bailing out lots of lobby supporting special interests like banks** Obama and the democrats in Congress are willing to spend trillions of dollars that the country doesn’t have on a whole laundry list of programs that seem to lead to greater encroachment of the federal state on individuals and don’t seem to solve the “US economy not healthy” problem.

    There has in fact been a growing annoyance with congress for larding up bills with pork at the bequest of lobbyists and I think the Tea Parties are the first real emergence of this annoyance into the general public. I should note Sarah Palin got a lot of her supporters excited because of her supposed willingness to cut pork and government spending and for standing up to big business and lobbyists (yes there were other strands too and one of which was how viciously the MSM attacked her).

    I suspect 2010 is going to see some upsets amongst incumbents who are perceived as being in bed with lobbyists. That will occur both in the (mostly republican) primaries and in the actual elections. Whether there will be enough to make any difference is another matter but we can live in hope

    *for some definitions of Europe that include Canada and Australia and definitions of Socialist that includes people like Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.
    **yes I know they donated money to republicans as well

  73. John,

    First, a suggestion. In general, the proponents of this movement refer to it as the “tea party” movement. I believe it is much more common for members of the left to refer to the individuals at the tea parties as “teabaggers” than it is for the members themselves. They consider themselves to be in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party, not of a snicker-inducing sexual practice. I don’t doubt that there are some members of the movement who call themselves “teabaggers”, but by and large it’s considered an insult. It’s like when folks on the right insist on referring to the “Democrat Party”. It’s pretty hard to accept your assessment of the movement as objective when you refer to its members in such a fashion.

    Second, while there is no doubt the center of mass of the tea party movement is to the right of center, it is attracting a favorable impression from a fairly wide section of American public opinion. Rasmussen polls found that 54% of “mainstream Democrats” had a favorable impression, which I think suggests that this is not simply some FOX/Rush cabal. I have limited access to news in Iraq, so most of what I have read about the movement has been off of Instapundit.com, PJM, and blogs. When I do get to see traditional media, my access comes via the Armed Forces Network. This is the network that is shown in the dining facility (or “DFAC”, since the military can’t abide plain language). AFN airs a weird, schizophrenic broadcast that skips between CNN (mostly silent on the tea parties), FOX (mostly praising tea parties), and MSNBC (mostly making tea bagging jokes). Maybe things are different in the US, but I never got the impression that FOX was organizing this, more that they were exploiting it for ratings. I don’t get marching orders from Mr. Murdoch, and I think I represent a solid majority of the > 500k people who showed up for these protests last tax day (source – PJM). To suggest I am somehow a dupe is insulting.

    What is so hard about accepting that a sizable portion (I’d argue a majority) of the tea party participants are sincere in their desire for limited government and reduced spending? Obama has proposed structural deficits that dwarf Bush’s, and the CBO finds that Obama’s revenue projections are far too optimistic. The members of this movement are of the opinion that such spending proposals will reduce wealth, initiative, freedom, and productivity. I can see how you might disagree with that, but I hardly think it is worthy of dismissal as delusional. This is not a movement that fails to accept that Obama won, but rather one that thinks the appropriate reaction to his election is to try to stop his policies from being implemented.

    Finally, let’s be honest. BAsed on the same Rasmussen poll, can a movement that over 80% of the political class views unfavorably be _that_ bad?

  74. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate:

    “It’s pretty hard to accept your assessment of the movement as objective when you refer to its members in such a fashion.”

    As others have noted, it’s hard to take this argument seriously when the picture with the entry shows someone participating in these protests gleefully using the phrase. The tea baggers were using the phrase before anyone else was, so at this point the desire for dignity regarding their “movement” and double entendres is a little silly. If you weren’t aware enough folks on your side were indulging in tea bagging jokes and commentary to make it an entirely fair subject of commentary and satire for everyone else, this is your problem and not mine.

    Also, I’m not sure why you’re of the opinion I was attempting objectivity here. I’m not offering reportage, I’m offering opinion, which is inherently subjective. My assessment is that this “movement,” is mostly harmless, a bit silly, backwards looking and far too disorganized to do anything other than have the folks participating jump up and down for a bit on tax day and then go home. Which is to say I doubt it’s a movement at all; it’s mostly a stunt.

    “What is so hard about accepting that a sizable portion (I’d argue a majority) of the tea party participants are sincere in their desire for limited government and reduced spending?”

    I don’t have any problem whatsoever accepting it. I just don’t think the protests mattered, nor do I think ultimately they were designed to be anything other than media-ready set pieces for the benefit of Fox and a few others. Which is to say that however sincere the participants were, I think a lot of them got used.

    Now, I could be wrong about this opinion; we’ll see. However, as noted above, if the folks protesting are planning to use the same political blueprint that got the right its ass handed to it in the last election, it’s difficult to see how they’re going to be in the least effective.

    “Finally, let’s be honest. Based on the same Rasmussen poll, can a movement that over 80% of the political class views unfavorably be _that_ bad?”

    By this rather silly bit of logic, one assumes genuine communism and fascism would be even less bad? Because I would guarantee more than 80% of the political class views those movements poorly, too. This is a very bad argument.

  75. Ajay at 85:

    In response to question no. 1, my answer is “left wing/liberal”. In support of this I point you to the commentary from that side of the political divide, suggesting that it was irresponsible of Sarah Palin to seek the Vice Presidency, as she had small children (including a Downs baby) at home. Something that Geraldine Ferraro, the only Democatric nominee for the position, felt necessary to call out her cohorts on the left on.

    In response to no. 2, my answer is again “left wing/liberal”. In support of my answer I’ll point you to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s statement that he is more fearful of being mugged when a young black man is walking behind him as compared to a young white man. It is conservatives who are advancing school choice, even in DC, so that children (including black children), can enjoy an education similar to that of the politically and economically powerful.

    I am coming to the belief that the supposedly enlightened left does a whole lot of projecting.

  76. It’s interesting that a professional writer would be so uninterested in words. Or is he?

    TEA is short for “Taxed Enough Already.” A TEA Party is a gathering of people who feel they’ve been taxed enough already and want the government to know it.

    It’s one of those First Amendment things that Progressives usually are so concerned about – the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. It’s also a reminder of our national historical precedent for such complaints.

    Teabagging is a deviant sexual practice.

    So being aware of this, and being a professional wordsmith, knowing that using exactly the right phrase makes all the difference – which phrase does Scalzi decide to adopt to describe citizens peacefully gathered to express their displeasure at government policy: the citizen’s own name and historical referent, or the insult?

    More importantly, WHY does he choose one over the other?
    .

  77. stevem, you must live in a self selective world if you really believe that such selected quotes are representational. Most of the hardcore racists in congress have died off but it was Republicans who kept electing them. Have you seen any of the hundreds of email chains that got passed around by conservatives prior to the election?

    Also notice that an apparent tea partier in this thread used the term “little white jew guy” which sounds a bit racist to me. It also makes me doubt his ablity to judge that every other movement was a manipulated event but his is a true grass roots movement.

  78. Joe, it’s already been well covered that the term tea bagging was started by the group. It’s alarmist to bring in the First Amendment in such a way when no one has attempted stop the gatherings. Pointing and laughing at gatherings is also a First Amendment right.

  79. Am I to assume that you believe fiscal responsibility is unimportant and anyone who disagrees with the (corrent) government is wrong? Do you not see a quantitative difference between the past deficit spending and the current deficit spending? The complete lack of planning and control over how the money is spent? The complete disconnect between the stated goals of the spending and how it is actually being spent? Congress isn’t building infrastructure that future generations will benefit from, they appear to be tossing money in the fire.

    At a minimum you should maybe question the fact that you are parroting EXACTLY what left leaning press is saying. I think you are falling into the same logical trap of thinking that this all boils down to one side or the other. Teabaggers indeed.

  80. To N. O’Brain #39,40-I say right on brother!!!
    When I went to the protest last week in Baton Rouge I was like most of the other people there in saying ” a pox on both your houses!! to the dems and the GOP. I also think that Mr. Scalzi hit the nail on the head when he stated that all of us (left & right) love our country. I admit that I voted for G. W. Bush, b ut I was disappointed in him in his fiscal policy in the last couple of years. I also voted for Carter in 1976 so I’ve made big mistakes in Presidental votes in the past. I am looking for the bumper sticker I saw at the protest last week that sums up my feelings about Obama which says “I voted for McCain because he sucked less”. Maybey our Governor, Bobby Jindal, can right the ship of affairs for our country if he runs for President. He has done great things for my state, the great and semi-sovereign State of Louisiana!! He has the tax and spenders on the run here.

  81. So my question is what post-Keynesian economic theory has rendered Keynesianism outmoded, and now underlies the fiscal policy of the Tea Bag Set? I would really like to know the answer to that question; I would find it educational. Seriously.

    Austrian economic theory. Hayek and Mises were massively critical of Keynes even before the General Theory was published, and the Austrian critique of Keynesianism has only been sharpened in the intervening decades. You’re correct that Friedmanite monetarism triumphed in the 80’s, as the stagflation of the 70’s pretty much killed off Keynesianism since according to the orthodox theory, inflation and unemployment were supposed to be in fundamental opposition.

    However, the Japanese bust of the 90’s and the 2008 crash now make it clear that monetarism is a failure too and that the theoretical “pushing on a string” critique of it applies in the real world. Instead of turning towards Austrian theory – which correctly anticipated the current crisis – the politicians and media have turned back to adopt Keynesian theory under the idea that it got the USA out of the Great Depression.

    This is, of course, nonsense. What got the USA out of the Great Depression was the rest of the world blowing itself to Hell and 20 years of manufacturing dominance while the rest of the world rebuilt. Both Bush and Obama have taken exactly the same sort of approach that Hoover and FDR did, only Obama in particular is doing it on an even larger scale. If Paul Krugman and the neo-Keynesians are correct, Obama will be a huge hero and deservedly so. If, on the other hand, the Austrians are correct, there is a very good chance that the USA will collapse economically and Obama will be numbered among our worst presidents ever.

    Before placing your bet one way or the other, I’d suggest reading Krugman’s attempt to critique Austrian theory. The complete text , interspersed with my comments on it, can be found here if you’re interested.

    “You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?”
    – Bill Clinton

  82. Joe @90, the First Amendment also protects the right of free speech – that is, the right of people to disagree with you. Too many on the Right have forgotten that they used to be against ‘politically correct’ euphemisms and hate-speech codes, and would rather play a no-tagbacks game where you aren’t allowed to disagree with them.

    As for Wickedpinto, to borrow a phrase, it’s always interesting to see the moment when the egg cracks open and the grub crawls out. We saw it a lot in the last election when some people were so angry at Obama they just couldn’t keep the veneer over their racism.

  83. To Charles at 95. I will not vote for Bobby Jindal for any office after his statement that volcano monitering was pork that should not be in the federal budget. After all the money that has been spent over the years for hurricane monitering for a handful of southern states, why is the west less important? Even with Volcano monitering there were many deaths in Washington when Mt Saint Helens erupted in 1980. There are also active volcanos in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and California. At this point I don’t even care what the rest of his views are.

    I believe these TEA parties were attended by those who do not understand the connection between living in a civilized society and paying taxes. There are a lot of them in my state, and with the inititive power that’s allowed by our constitution there are constantly tax cutting proposals on the ballot.

  84. Cynthia at 98
    I trhink what Gov. Jindal said about the volcano monitering programs was unfortunate. I think that the western part of our country is just as important as any other part. Saying that, I think that you will have to agree that more hurricanes have hit our nation that volcano erruptions. He did a great job as sec. of health services under Gov. Foster by cleaning up that wasteful department in state government. I have voted for him every time he has run. I wounder how my area of south Louisiana would have fared if he had been gov. instead of that bungler Blanco? I think he has gotten some bad advice about the volcano issue and his national address a few weeks ago. Also, I’m not aganist paying taxes. I think that most of our taxes should be collected at the local and state level where we are most affected by those services that are provided by govt., not by some far off adminstration in Washungton, D.C.

  85. John,

    I’ll agree to disagree with you about whether the ongoing use of “tea bagger” to desribe those who wish to call their movement the Tea Party Movement is deserved satire or a juvenile prank designed to be both dismissive and annoying. I find the “you started it” meme and the photo of the unrepresentative (IMO) attendee to be unpersuasive. I prefer to think that “Tricorner Tea Party Babe” is the true face of the movement.

    http://minx.cc/?blog=86&post=286271

    As to who is using whom and the ultimate success or futility of the movement, time will tell. I’d caution those who are so quick to dismiss the Tea Partiers. That dismissal sounds an awful lot like what the right said when discussing the angry left in 2004. Funny as it sounds now, there was talk then of a “permanent convervitave majority”. Win, over-reach, fail, replace, repeat. If the left can’t see parallels in the Gingrich and Pelosi-led congresses, as far as I’m concerned, so much the better.

    Finally, this topic seems to have narrowed the bandwidth available on the site for humor. My comment regarding the fact that 81% of the politcal class viewed this unfavorably was meant to evoke the spirit of “throw the bums out”, and my tongue was in my cheek the whole time I typed. Even if 99% of the political class had an unfavorable view of a glass shard enema, I wouldn’t point to that as a reason it should be covered by your HMO….Hmm…maybe _their_ HMO, but not yours.

    Me write funny some day.

    ZBBM

  86. What got the USA out of the Great Depression was the rest of the world blowing itself to Hell and 20 years of manufacturing dominance while the rest of the world rebuilt

    Oh bull. WWII completed the process that the New Deal started. By 1941 (prewar) U.S. GDP was close to where it had been in 1929. WWII continued the recovery.

    And lordy lordy but what do you think the deficit looked like in WWII? In 1943, the government spent $78 billion and took in $24 billion, for a deficit of $54.5 billion. That’s right: the government was spending *three times* it’s income.

    source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2008/pdf/hist.pdf

  87. It appears to me that some people are spending a lot of time and effort attempting to discredit a movement they consider to be inconsequential.

    And it makes you wonder why that is.

  88. Zanzibar, someday y’all are going to have to explain the disconnect many conservatives have between Values and their desire to ogle chicks.

  89. mythago,

    The day conservatism says I can’t look at a pretty woman is the day I look for a different -ism.

  90. You mean modern conservatives have discarded all that stuff about Family Values and abstinence and screaming that gays don’t deserve rights because look at those parades? Awesometastic. Maybe I’ll give the Federalist Society another chance.

    Frank @102 – because sometimes we like to take a little break from weighty arguments about international foreign aid policy, the economic crisis, rising academic problems among young minority men, and so on to just shoot fish in a barrel. Laughing at the earnest folks waving signs out of a clown car isn’t really “discrediting” them, is it?

  91. But mythago, you don’t understand. The essense of conservatism as it’s developed in the US is that everything straight white Protestant men do is OK by definition, and not subject to scrutiny; in fact it’s positively UNAMERICAN to question it. By contrast, anything any of the marked categories of people do is subject to being nitpicked endlessly; we’re all required to be absolutely perfect and consistent and behave ourselves within rules the SWPMs don’t follow themselves. “Only little people pay taxes,” remember?

    Oh, and Frank: we’re not attempting to discredit it. We’re laughing at it. We’re making fun of stupid people doing stupid things in public for even stupider reasons. There’s a difference.

  92. @Frank

    Because a number of us think it’s funny. When I see pictures of children under ten holding signs that say “Stop taxing me!”, adults who (most likely) got a tax break complaining about higher taxes, and when the movement’s spokesperson first said they were going to “tea bag the White House” I find I can’t take it too seriously.

  93. Xopher and mythago,

    Hey, ya’ll want to have a straw man kickin’ contest don’t let me stop you. Be sure and dust off before you come inside.

    One thing that had me puzzled; I thought “only little people pay taxes” was the Obama cabinet motto.

  94. Stan at 91: You kind of fell into the trap. You critique me for citing those on the left who were critical of a mother seeking higher office and expressed fear of black men as not representational. You then cite a anonymous poster for the proposition that the right is obviously rascist, etc., as he used the phrase “little white jew guy”. I hope you can spot the double standard.

    As to hardcore rascists in the party, it is not the Republican party who has a former Klansman in the Senate. That would be the Democratic party. And as to “Republican” (assuming that is the source) emails which are hateful in regards to Obama, yes I have seen them. As I have seen similar emails concerning Bush. As I did not view the Bush “personal” emails as Democratic (but as spiteful, malicious trolls), I am adopting the same stance as to the Obama emails.

    I don’t believe that either the Republican or Democratic parties are racists, sexists, etc. You (and I) can find individual behaviors in support of both positions. Each of our cases, if we attempted to do so, would be weak based on such “evidence”. I happen to believe that conservative (note I did not use the word Republican) idealogogy would better lift people up than liberal (note I did not use the word Democratic) ideaology, at least for the most part. You can disagree but you harm your argument, IMO, when you attempt to paint one side as bigoted since they disagree with your opinions.

    And on the women issue, I can assure you that women Republicans run our county’s politics. The men talk and don’t do much. Its the women Republicans who make things happen, at least locally. And they are a very conservative bunch, with the guys being somewhat more easy going, as a general proposition (assuming you avoid the gun control issue, that is).

    VD at 96: Amen.

    David at 101: That may be your opinion, but others (such as myself) disagree with it. A major advantage the federal government had following WWII was: 1) the war was over so revenues previously directed to the war could be directed to debt repayment; 2) less of a social safety net and other “mandatory” spending, giving them more financial flexibility than we have in our current situation; and, 3) a manufactuting base which was previously directed to the war effort and which could now be directed to generating income which would generate tax revenue for repayment of debt.

    Xopher at 106: What is your source for your definition of conservatism. I suspect your source has a very skewed and infantile view of the world akin to “They disagree with me! They must be stupid, bigotted and/or evil!” I hope that as you age you’ll find that the saying “reasonable minds can disagree” more true than you currently appear to believe.

  95. Matt at 107: Maybe you should consider that those “adults who (most likely) got a tax break complaining about higher taxes” are not ridiculous because they’ve considered the proposition that the enormous debt must be paid back and, long term, that means higher taxes. Saying that they shouldn’t complain because they got a short term (and nominal) tax break is not rational considering likely long term consequences to our spending spree.

  96. “A major advantage the federal government had following WWII was”

    REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates.

  97. Stevem @ 110

    You make a good point and I’m sure that some of those individuals may very well have considered such ideas but I often find here online and in watching the coverage of such events that many of the people selected (and that’s taking it with a grain of salt that those people were probably chosen for their particular views), as well as the people I’ve talked to face-to-face, felt they were being taxed unfairly *now*. They don’t really consider the future.

    Additionally, many people call this a “movement”. The operative part of that word is move, the idea of a movement is to go forward, and I don’t actually see them doing anything other than, as our host said, jumping up and down. They don’t have any real direction other than their one day of protest and, well, that’s over. Now the dialogue about their movement is about how mean the liberal media is for calling them “teabaggers” and how immature they are for using a term that Fox News put out there in the first place.

    Finally, when people try to say it’s a “grassroots movement” and the first tea party website (the one for Chicago) was registered as far back as August of 2008 and went live convienently after Santelli had his rant (cite).

    So, yeah, I don’t honestly take it seriously and I think that the people are getting used whether they feel strongly about the “movement” or not.

  98. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate

    You might be thinking about those cabinet postings who, through their accountant, a misunderstanding of the tax status for a certain item, or using a computer program to do taxes that were much more complex than the program could handle, we told hey owed more on taxes than they paid, and then paid them without any argument.

    The ones who pulled their names, with the exception of Geitner, because they didn’t want to give the wingnuts yet another reason the be obstructionist, even though they shouldn’t have worried, because the lunatic right doesn’t need a reason.

    You also may not have noticed that Obama has given families tax breaks under a certain income level at the expense of him and his cabinet paying higher taxes. It’s OK, not everyone knows how to use Google or parse actual information. Go ahead and look around the Internet for a while, familiarize yourself with the place, and then come back. We’ll be here.

  99. David at 101: That may be your opinion, but others (such as myself) disagree with it. A major advantage the federal government had following WWII was: 1) the war was over so revenues previously directed to the war could be directed to debt repayment; 2) less of a social safety net and other “mandatory” spending, giving them more financial flexibility than we have in our current situation; and, 3) a manufactuting base which was previously directed to the war effort and which could now be directed to generating income which would generate tax revenue for repayment of debt.

    That GDP had essentially recovered by 1941 is not my opinion; it is fact. That government spending during WWII was massively in deficit is not my opinion; it is fact. You can handwave that if you want, but it doesn’t change things. The New Deal started the economy on the road to recovery and World War II finished it off through even more massive government spending.

    Your points are kind of irrelevant to the above, but…

    As to 1) you’re confusing things; government spending never dropped back to pre-war levels (last FDR peacetime budget was $8 billion; Truman’s lowest budget was $38 billion and very little of that difference was debt service.) The difference was that revenues shot up and brought the budget into balance. It was WWII that created the big government y’all are so terrified of, not the New Deal.

    And 2) is wrong as well. The safety net created by FDR remained and the GI Bill was added into that. 3) is somewhat arguable–revenues did go up, but there was a serious recession in 1946-47 owing to economic contraction of the military industry.

    And finally, Truman ran three surpluses in his budget, the total of which were $22 billion, less than half the deficit of a single year of the wartime budget. Since then the sum total of _all_ the budget surpluses run by any presidents up to Clinton? $10 billion dollars (not in 2009 dollars). That’s not even close to paying down the national debt.

    The point of all of this is that we’re in an emergency and one that requires substantial spending. We could start another world war to do it, but I kind of prefer Obama’s approach, thanks.

  100. SteveM, I think the crazy comments are more in the mainstream among conservatives. But lets look at some actual numbers on sexism and racism.

    Of the 17 current female senators, 13 are Democrats. of 75 current female representatives, 58 are Democrats. A quick check showed no current African American Republicans in congress. If Republicans aren’t racist or sexist, they sure have a tendency to nominate and vote that way. I know that there is not an isometric mapping between party affiliation and level of conservatism but it’s pretty clear that most conservatives are either Republican or at least anti-Democratic.

  101. Jon H at 111: Of the two competing schools of economic thought which appear to dominate our discussions, the neo-Keynesians and the Austrian, I’m pretty sure that both would discourage “REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates” if you want an economic recovery under our current circumstances. Some of the neo-Keynesians here can correct me if I am wrong (and I might be).

    The historical economic data that exists shows that “REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates” discourage the collection of tax revenue as it discourages production and, accordingly, the generation of taxable income. When rates are cut, collection of tax revenue increases (though I would concede that at some point cutting rates would become counter-productive). Even if there was a void in the market which production of certain goods could fill, that void would be more cost effectively be filled by companies located in other countries that did not have “REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates” as they could, as a net measure, produce the good cheaper than the country with the higher rate. All other factors being equal, which they would not be of course, as it is likely in today’s world that the countries with the lower tax rate would also have lower labor and other costs. Creating even more of an incentive to take the production off shore and depriving the U.S. government of tax revenue. It becomes something of a visicous cycle which our lords and masters in D.C. are still coming to grips with.

    We could, of course, slap tariffs on foriegn goods to make up the revenue. But as Pres. Hoover learned, all that does is prompt retaliatory tariffs against American products, further decreasing tax revenue.

    So I would not be so sure that the “REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates” were a net benefit post WWII. Even if they were, the protectionism of the past is not our economic reality.

    Matt at 112: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ has a very good analysis on the 4 paths the Republican party might take (inclusive of the tea party rallies). As he is a progressive (I think), you might want to review it. And if I accept as accurate the first tea party occurred in August of 2008, then it has been around for 8 months and appearing to grow stronger. So it might well qaulify as a “movement”. Time will tell.

  102. stevem@1117

    I agree, it’s an interesting analysis.

    I did not say that the first tea party occured in August of 2008 (do you have any information saying that this is the case) but that the website was registered then and only went live this year when Santelli had his rant.

  103. Ack, I was asking for information about a tea party in August of 2008 not referring to my previous post. *sigh*

  104. VD @ 96 –“Austrian economic theory. Hayek and Mises were massively critical of Keynes even before the General Theory was published, and the Austrian critique of Keynesianism has only been sharpened in the intervening decades.”

    (I’m assuming you mean Friedrich Hayek and not Salma Hayek, because I know which person gets more Google results. The difference is 4,000 to 7 million, by the way. But I kid.)

    So we’re on a road to serfdom, huh? That’s cool; I read Jennifer Government, so Rothbard’s anarcho-capitalism doesn’t shock me overmuch.

    But seriously, I grant you that the Austrian school is the natural opponent to Keynesianism, though the debate appears to be contextual to the socio-economic climate of WWII. My hesitation in agreeing with you in full is that the Austrian school and its classical liberalism is pretty well inextricably tied to libertarianism, right? So in order to agree with you completely I would need to agree with your hidden assumption that everybody in the Tea Bag (or Tea Party) Set would describe themselves as libertarians, and not conservatives or “classical liberals.”

    Since I haven’t seen any credible evidence that the protesters were all libertarians — or even that a majority of the protesters were self-described libertarians — or that even a sizable portion of the 350K or so protestors were self-described libertarians — I can’t completely accept your response.

    Here’s a cool quote I found on Wikipedia.

    “The libertarian economist Walter Block has observed critically that while the The Road to Serfdom makes a strong case against centrally-planned economies, it appears only lukewarm in its support of pure laissez-faire capitalism, with Hayek even going so far as to say that ‘probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rules of thumb, above all of the principle of laissez-faire capitalism’. In the book, Hayek writes that the government has a role to play in the economy through the monetary system, work-hours regulation, and institutions for the flow of proper information.”

  105. Many fine links to economic and political information on this thread.

    However, I only clicked on one link. Can you guess which one it was?

  106. Silbey at 114: This is a pretty good article on the split in economic thought (49% con to 51% pro) on whether the “New Deal” helped any:

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/economy/2008/04/11/did-the-new-deal-work.html

    My disagreement with David related to his “BS” comment (i.e. opinion). His data appears accurate but the conclusion he draws from that is far from settled.

    As to spending patterns, “mandatory spending” (such as social security and medicare) accounted for 53% of the 2007 federal budget. Interest payments are another 8%. Interest payments will, of course, only increase and the chickens come home to roost under Obama’s plan.

    Military spending (including Homeland Security) is about 30% of the federal budget.

    By contrast, as of 1962 mandatory spending was 30% of the federal budget. I’m rushed for time so I’ll have to concede the % on mandatory social programs and interest, short term, from 1946-61.

    Matt at 118 and 119: My confusion. I interpreted your post to mean that there was a tea party in 8/2008, not merely the registration for one. I have no informtation as to the tea party movement other than having attended one on April 15 (which 200 or so people showed and which is not included in Nate Silver’s count, as my area is too rural to make the big news).

    Which does not change the point, I think. Please recall there has been libertarian and conservative angst with Bush and the Democratic Congress (which took over in 2006) for quite some time.

  107. This is a pretty good article on the split in economic thought (49% con to 51% pro) on whether the “New Deal” helped any:

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/economy/2008/04/11/did-the-new-deal-work.html

    The article goes on to point out that economists can’t even agree on how to model the economy, which is why I don’t take economics all that seriously as a science (as a field of study, sure). The article further points out that the economy had grown to $1 trillion in 1940, nearly 400 billion more than it was at the bottom of the Great Depression.

    My disagreement with David related to his “BS” comment (i.e. opinion). His data appears accurate but the conclusion he draws from that is far from settled.

    Oh, continued levels of bull. You dismissed the New Deal and laid it all on WWII. The evidence demonstrates that the economy was recovering nicely by 1940 and that WWII continued that recovery. Your counterevidence is the opinion of 49% of economists, a strange thing to bring up, given your dislike of “opinion.”

    And you still don’t have an answer for the point that WWII *was* government spending, and government spending that came with a level of deficit that remains unmatched to this day.

  108. stevem: “So I would not be so sure that the “REALLY CRAZY HIGH top marginal tax rates” were a net benefit post WWII.”

    Sure, but they were certainly part of the economic environment of mid-century America, when the economy did pretty well.

    The Clinton-era top tax rate that Obama is returning to tiny in comparison.

  109. Zanzibar @108 – the “little people” line was from Leona Helmsley. I am pretty sure she was not a progressive Democrat, but I am willing to be corrected on that one.

    As for strawmen, when the New Face of the Movement you present is “hey, here’s a gratuitous pic of a chick in a miniskirt”, you can’t really expect anyone to do much more than snicker about teabagging.

  110. @stevem

    Yeah, sorry about the confusion, please feel free to blame my poor phrasing for it.

    Which does not change the point, I think. Please recall there has been libertarian and conservative angst with Bush and the Democratic Congress (which took over in 2006) for quite some time.

    But does that make a movement? I know a lot of people who aren’t too happy with how the Sharks have been playing hockey lately but a generally shared opinion doesn’t mean that they are a movement. They had their day of protests but the momentum behind whatever they were trying to accomplish beyond being upset over government spending has trickled down to seemingly next to nothing and the dialogue about the tea parties is now about how mean liberals are for referring to them as tea baggers, which does nothing to actually support their supposed cost. What, exactly, did they accomplish?

    IMO, for me to consider the tea parties anything more than a flash-in-the-pan moment of easy political activism (because attending one rally and shouting slogans at fellow supporters is easy when you compare it to other movements that had dogs set on them, faced down being blasted away by high-powered water hoses, or the possibility of being murdered), I’d need to see this happen again next year or some sort of actual organized and official group growing out of this.

  111. Silbey at 123: I “dismissed” the New Deal as an effective tool for economic recovery. The fact the economy “recovered” is not logically connected to the New Deal. One does not necessarily lead to the other. Your logic that it does is akin to a 18th century physician dosing a syphilis stricken patient with mercury and, when the symptoms disappear (as they sometimes do, either due to the body beating the disease itself, which happens in some cases, or the disease hiding within the body before progressing to the next more virulent stage), claiming the patient was cured by the mercury treatment.

    And I do not dislike “opinion”. I express opinions all the time. I try to be clear that I am not speaking in absolutes. Neither are economists. They are guessing, working off of hypothesis. We, as a species, do not know whether neo-Keynesian theory and/or Austrian theory is reliable economic indicator. The question is not settled. In my opinion (supporting by some economists) the economy recovered slower because of the New Deal. You disagree. Fine. Obama is betting the Keynesians are more right than wrong, which is not unusual as liberals are usually Keynesians and conservatives usually align with Hayek (to his dissatisfaction).

    And of course WWII was government spending. And I agree that government has never since shrank to pre-WWII levels. And except for Andrew Jackson’s presidency, the government has never been out of debt. And as of 1940 it was about 50% of GDP. In 1950 it was about 90% GDP. It was reduced (in relation to GDP) every decade thereafter until 1980, when it was about 30% of GDP. In went up to roughly 50% GDP as of 1990 and roughly 60% as of 2000. As of 2007 it was roughly 66% of GDP. And it will increase to about 75% of GDP in 2008.

    I am less than clear on the point you are trying to make. Is it that we’ve had high debt before and therefore can do it again? If so I would question that for a few reasons. First, the problem facing us currently is nowhere near a large as problem as WWII, IMO. The reaction has been hugely overblown, likely for political purposes. Second, I question the value of the benefits which we are currently receiving under the Obama plan. It would be more palatable if there were more infrastracture and less social planning, as in that case we would at least get value for the money. Finally, I question whether the fundamentals of our economic system is as strong as it was post WWII. For example, we are more a service than manufacturing economy as compared to WWII, we’ve moved to a fiat currency (the wisdom of which I remain neutral on), our “mandatory” expenditures are up, reducing our ability to pay down the debt in a timely fashion, and our population aging which means the mandatory expenditures will only increase.

    John H at 124: And there was completely different business environment also. Less regulation, a booming production base (largely gone now), and our main competitors where bombed out wrecks trying to rebuild their infrastructure.

  112. I’m coming to this very late, as usual, but to Jake Freivald, I’ve gotta say that the No Child Left Behind act was *not* an act of benevolent centrist wisdom on Bush’s part. It was and remains an effort to dumb down the population, not lift it up. If you have kids in public school, you know what I mean. Conspiracy theory #71,509.

  113. I “dismissed” the New Deal as an effective tool for economic recovery. The fact the economy “recovered” is not logically connected to the New Deal.

    Dude, you dismissed the New Deal based on no evidence whatsoever, and claimed WWII was responsible. The problem for that logic of course is that the evidence clearly shows that the economy was recovering well before WWII, leaving you with apparently nothing but a puerile form of the correlation versus causation argument.

    I am less than clear on the point you are trying to make.

    I am making the point that it is laughable to whine about how high government spending won’t mend an economic crisis when you are, in fact, making exactly that argument with regards to WWII.

  114. David at 130: Exactly where did I claim that WWII cured the Depression? The free market cured the Depresssion. It did so, in my opinion, despite the additional and ill advised burdens put on it by the government in the form of the New Deal, which delayed the end of the problem.

    The end of WWII decreased the government’s need for money directed toward the war effort (it was around 33% of GDP in 1944-45 and is roughly 4% now). The “WWII” demand for dollars apparenly continued for a few years after 1945, what with the GI Bill and the Marshall Plan, which grew out of the war, but lessened as a percentage of GDP. But that is not saying that WWII ended the Depression. A connection in time between WWII and the end of the Depression does not mean one cured the other. The same holds true of the New Deal.

    What WWII did achieve, economically, is the reduction of unemployment. Even under the New Deal I don’t think it ever dropped below 10%. The draft of 10 million plus men solved that problem. If I were a cynic (and I sometimes am), WWII also provided a golden period for US business, as our competitors following the war, both in Asia and in Europe, where in bad shape, giving us an edge in establishing a favorable trade balance.

    And I dislike dismissing public debt as it is only some percentage of GDP. That analysis, IMO, implies that it is not a big deal as the government owns GDP, that is private production and, as a result, wealth and income. GDP is not the government’s money, its our individual monies, in aggregate. If the politicians in DC own my labor, they own me. I reject that concept. Which is why I am a conservative on many issues, including reducing our debt load to a more manageable level (Teddy Roosevelt’s era, a few % points, would be nice).

  115. stevem 109: You are correct that I should have been more careful in choosing my words. I was speaking of the American “conservative” movement, not real conservatives. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Rush bow-wow, all the commenters on Faux News, the Rethuglican Party. None of these people is a true conservative. They’re all manipulating conservative ideas to serve a racist, classist, nativist, sexist agenda. They are not conservatives. They are oligarchs, they hate everything America stands for, and I hate them with every fiber of my being.

    Obama’s election was the ultimate slap in the face to them. Here’s a mixed-race guy from a modest background, son of an immigrant. He only failed to appall them by being male. And I hope it burns their hearts like acid.

    By the way, I don’t think too much more is going to change “as [I] age,” except the general deterioration we all have to expect. If I live as long as my dad did, I have about 22 more years.

    ibid. 128: I “dismissed” the New Deal as an effective tool for economic recovery. The fact the economy “recovered” is not logically connected to the New Deal.

    *jawdrop* Do you actually expect to be taken at all seriously after a statement like that? How many generations of your family do you have to go back to find someone who lived through the Depression? Go talk to them. Double points if they got a job through the WPA. A lot of the roads and bridges we have now, and that have been key to the economy doing as well as it did in the second half of the Twentieth Century, would not exist were it not for that effort, never mind the fact that the people who got the jobs themselves didn’t starve.

    But then, I’m a liberal. I think if there are people literally dying of starvation in your country while others live in luxury, your economic/political system is by definition a failure.

    Perhaps as you age you’ll realize that the free market is not a god, but a phenomenon of nature, across many human minds each acting in self-interest. It’s no more benevolent than weather: some days are sunny and some days you have a massive hurricane that drowns your city and kills thousands. Trusting the free market is no wiser than not beefing up your levies.

  116. Exactly where did I claim that WWII cured the Depression?

    Oops! You’ve discovered you’re way out on a limb here and now you’re trying to edge off before the saw goes all the way through.

    Let’s take a little walk through memory lane. At 101, I responded to VD with this:

    Oh bull. WWII completed the process that the New Deal started. By 1941 (prewar) U.S. GDP was close to where it had been in 1929. WWII continued the recovery.

    And you jumped in with That may be your opinion, but others (such as myself) disagree with it

    If you’d like to back away from that position right now, that’s fine, but then we’re going to be having a different discussion.

    You might want to think about a different argument though as such a discussion will include how an economy that was essentially *not* a free market from 1942-45 managed to nonetheless become the largest in the world.

  117. This whole “teabagging” thing is a shame, both for the responsible left (as a libertarian, I still DO believe in a responsible left) and for you personally, John. It’s smirky, childish, and not at all what I’ve come to expect of you over the last few years reading “Whatever”.

    I’ll grant you that some unsophisticated tea party organizers, not conversant in GLBT slang, have used the terms teabag, teabaggers, teabagging, etc. Most of those people aren’t professional organizers, all the Murdoch-conspiracy mongers to the contrary none the less. They just thought they were referring to a heroic period in their country’s history. I think they deserved better than this from you … if not the smirky rabble you’ve managed to drag into your wake with this kind of commentary.

    It’s been fun reading this blog. I’ll continue to buy and read your books, but this? Why should I continue to pay attention to this kind of Beavis&Butthead commentary? It sucks up time better spent reading your books, and others. I will be very sad if this kind of thoughtlessness creeps into your books. It’s not a good idea to piss off even 30% of your potential audience.

    I won’t be back to read any subsequent comments. I’m sure you won’t feel pressed to apologize. After all, to whom would you? Blanket apologies are generally meaningless, and you’ve managed to insult too many good, thoughtful Americans to be able to do it with a true personal touch.

    What a sad spectacle from one I always thought to be an intelligent and tasteful adult.

  118. However, as noted above, if the folks protesting are planning to use the same political blueprint that got the right its ass handed to it in the last election, it’s difficult to see how they’re going to be in the least effective.

    Toomey, is a good start.

    As for me being an anti-semite or a jew hater, you effing lowlife namecalling dipshits.

    I HAVE given my life to this nation, though at the time it wasn’t necessary.

    I HAVE! Stood front and center when dealing with local (largely Liberal) social accusations against blacks, and jews, and mexicans and all others.

    I was raised believing that Racism was a relic of the past, and I didn’t realize how severe it was until I met a bunch of self righteous liberals.

    I said the thing about the jew who represented the vice lords, because he was a jew, he IS A JEW, it’s a fact, not a slur, and he did represent the vice lords, and they are a gang, it’s a FACT not a SLUR!

    But you are incapable of seeing the FALSE concepts of community organizing in favor of thinking that TRYING to do the right thing, even as you propogate failure and corruption is a bad thing.

    Destroy the world, but you meant well, all you care about is how YOU feel.

    Well, let me say, Leave me alone, don’t Care about me, don’t TRY for me, don’t FORCE others to do your bidding.

    YOU are the one who is doing evil, not I.

  119. @Allen

    Just an FYI – Teabagging, teabagger, and teabag are not GLBT slang. Slang, yes, but very mainstream slang, and not associated with GLBT at all.

    Also, if you think that our host owes you or anyone an apology for voicing his opinion, you should really get over yourself. You have voiced your opinion. This is his site, and on his property he deserves at LEAST the same privileges he has given to you. However, you may want to recheck your facts, in that he has not made fun of the term teabag. Others in this comment thread have, but Mr. Scalzi has not mentioned the term in any derogatory form, and has only mentioned it as a double entendre. He has personally not referenced what the secondary meaning is to the term, though others have. Before you completely blow off someone for voicing their opinion, you may at least want to read what exactly that opinion is.

  120. That dismissal sounds an awful lot like what the right said when discussing the angry left in 2004.

    Ironicaly the dem’s didn’t get control until the ‘pub’s proved they didn’t care about fiscal responsibility.

    Dem’s didn’t win in aught 6 or aught 8 because the dem’s won.

    The dem’s won because the ‘pub’s proved that they were just like the dem’s.

    The “sit out the vote” movement was strong in aught 6, and was validated in aught 8, because why vote for McCain, rather than Obama many thought, what’s the difference?

    True story.

    I voted McCain, but only because his opponent was Obama, if it were Hillary? I would have voted for hillary.

  121. Ryber?

    I don’t think John should offer an apology, but I do think it’s sad that a talented man who I respect feeds offensive adolescent CRAP that is promoted in the Main Stream Media, and especialy during prime time “news” casts.

    I am disappointed that John, as bright as he is, and as honest as he tends to be, will fall into silly childlike insults, rather than simply doing what he did in this post (other than the insults) and engage in an honest debate.

    If he wanted humor, he’s a lot more witty than latching himself to olbermann and maddow and cooper (one of which probably has direct experience with “teabaging.”)

    That’s my only real problem with john.

    The rest of you lying to yourselves and about others, to make yourself feel better? That’s just pathetic.

  122. WickedPinto 135: you effing lowlife namecalling dipshits

    I think that kind of says it all. You haven’t a leg to stand on after that.

  123. Wickedpinto –

    Where has John fallen “into silly childlike insults”? He has posted a photograph of one of the participants from one of the tea parties. He has not thrown childlike insults regarding the term teabag, but has given thoughtful analysis on his belief that the tea parties are not going to bring about the result that those participating were looking for.

  124. That’s right, allen. Blame the gays for teabagging. We are responsible for a lot of social ills, too.

    You know, we’re after your marriages too, you know. Your husbands aren’t safe! [your wives, however, are eminently safe from me] I’ll teach them to teabag and they’ll run away with me. All of them. No one can resist the homo inquisition.

    Oh and threatening Scalzi not to buy his books? People have done that in the past, and in my observation he seems to have cared very little.

  125. Wickedpinto, the fact that you felt it was important to criticize someone by calling him a “little white jew guy” in a context where being Jewish has nothing whatsoever do with what you’re throwing a fit about (liberal organizing, gang affiliations) means that yes, you meant it as a slur.

    But you go ahead and test out your irony detector’s malfunctioning with comments like “you effing lowlife namecalling dipshits”. Posting ANGRY consecutive POSTS and adding your CREDENTIALS! for making comments about a ‘jew’ may make you FEEL better; it’s just NOT persuasive.

  126. Wickedpinto: I am disappointed that John, as bright as he is, and as honest as he tends to be, will fall into silly childlike insults,

    you effing lowlife namecalling dipshits.

    olbermann and maddow and cooper (one of which probably has direct experience with “teabaging.”)

    Thanks for waiting until John is out of contact with the site because of his DSL before posting your Neanderthal poetry. This way we all get to read it before you get pummeled by the LMoC. Quite a treat, really. We normally just get to see John’s take on it, but this time we get to experience the raw stupidity right from the source. Awesome.

  127. Oh and Wickedpinto?

    The reference to media personalities being teabagged I assume is to Cooper, given the rumours that he’s gay. If so, I’m sorry to inform you that us homos don’t have a monopoly on deviant practices, and a whole lot more sorority girls will have been teabagged by moron fratboys than gay men have been.

    Its just not a gay thing, sorry.

  128. Eddie, Maddow (who is a lesbian) and Olbermann, who only sucks man meat for promotions, preceded cooper.

    As for the “little jew.” It was more a description of self hatred, in his whiteness and his assumed prosperity, and HEY! get that, he’s prosperous, just like the grassroots organizers, Dohrn, and Ayers, and Obama.

    You attack me personaly rather than seeing the truth.

    Lie to yourself if that’s what pleases you.

    It’s pathetic, but I am not one built on hate, but I can see the pathetic inefficacy of my opponents.

  129. Look, if you want to talk about lying to yourself, wickedpinto:

    You said this:

    “olbermann and maddow and cooper (one of which probably has direct experience with “teabaging.”)”

    You said ONE of whom. It can’t be maddow – as you point out, she’s unlikely to have close contact with balls. There’s no reason to suggest olbermann. That leads me to conclude you’re referring to Cooper, who’s reputedly gay. There’s no reason to do that unless you think teabagging is an exclusively gay perversion, or that gay people are perverted in general.

    That could be classed as a hateful assumption, oh mr pure at heart, hate free, superior debater, Wickedpinto.

    If there’s a (non-bullsh*t) alternate explanation for the quoted phrase above, I’m happy to admit I’m wrong and apologise.

  130. David at 133: You asserted that I alleged that WWII ended the Depression. In support of that statement you quoted yourself making that assertion, not me. You also included my quote expressly disagreeing with your opinion. Based on that, exactly how have I gone out on a limb? Exactly when and where have I ever claimed that WWII ended the Depression? Those are your words, your opinion, not mine. If you would, please refer to your post 101. As a hint, please be aware that the italicized text in your post is not drawn from any post of mine (though it is true that the world was blown to hell and the US, as the sole economic power to escape with infrastructure largely intact, had an enormous trade advantage).

    If you want to challenge my consistency, that’s fine. I’m human and make mistakes on occassion. But please get your facts straight before doing so.

    If you still assert that I’m “way out on a limb here” and am backing away from some as of yet unstated position, please clarify exactly what you think I’m backing away from.

    Xopher at 132: Its not so much a word selection that I was attempting to illustrate, but the double standard that is used in asserting “proof” that more Republicans are bigots as compared to Democrats by pointing to individuals. Its a lousy way to prove a point.

    As to the Depression, all my grandparents and great grandparents lived through it. You may be interested in knowing that FDR did not win universal accolades for his handling of the issue. In 1936, about 40% of the public thought that FDR was mishandling the economy and being overly antagonistic to business. In 1937 there was another recission (unemployment increased from 14 to 19%). In 1938, the Democrats lost over 70 house seats and 6 senate seats. By 1939, the margin was 2-1 in support of the proposition that FDR’s attitude’s toward business was prolonging the depression. To quote Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, in 1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started.And enormous debt to boot.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal#Recession_of_1937_and_recovery

    And here is another quote, from the same link, “Some economists, including at least three Nobel Laureates, argue that neither the war nor New Deal policies ended the Great Depression. Rather, a return to normality after the war, as the government relaxed wage controls, price controls, capital controls, reduced tariffs and other trade barriers, and eliminated the rationing of goods and the relaxing of Federal control over American industries, ended it.”

    And if you want the opinions (as communicated to me) of my grandparents and great grandparents (the males being a contractor, a farmer, a copper miner and a plumber pre WWII, the grandfathers being decorated soldiers during WWII), which I concede is hardly evidence but you inquired, FDR sucked.

    Was the Depression bad, even horrible? Yes. Did the FDR’s New Deal fix it, IMO? No. Ditto WWII. What solved the economic crisis of 1929 forward was the market, despite ham handed efforts from both Hoover and FDR to fix it.

  131. I’m a highschool and college dropout, but I can tell you this, and I hope you mark it well.

    When this years economic activity, and it’s federal revenues are gauged against the federal expenditures, you will find that this year will ACTUALLY be about 2.25 trillion, not 1.65 as Obama’s office predicts.

    See, you need a static line in which to gauge deficit, and the Obama admin is predicting that we will have collected in tax revenues based on the 2005-2007 period (that’s a fact, see, a fact is true, and measurable)

    This year, we will not collect the 2.1 trillion we think we are going to collect, in all likeliehood (once again, call me on it at the end of the year) we are most likely to collect about 1.8 trillion, meaning that we will actually have about a 2.5 trillion deficit. Not to mention, the deficit is almost TWICE!!!!!!! the annual revenue.

    The average household in the US holds about 4X in total debt based on income, the US under obama is gonna hold 2X total debt in ONE EFFING YEAR.

    We have appr. 12 trillion in anual gdp revenue.

    At the moment, our debt is in the neighborhood of 1=1

    In JUST the first for years, it will be 1=1.5

    after ten years, it will be 1=2.2, and that’s not assuming the contraction of the economy.

    Obama is bankrupting this nation.

  132. Honest question – is a “teabagger” on the receiving end or the giving end of the transaction? In other words, does a “teabagger” work with another party, possibly called a “teabaggee”?

  133. Eddie!

    ZOMG!

    I’m the jerk, because I call out the teabagger media hypers, for the idea that one of them might have balls across his face?

    Insult anything from 350K to 520K protesters, that’s all cool, but call a likely gay a gay, and I’m evil?

    The power of one. Opinion, one ideology, one sycophant, one servant, one SLAVE who desires attention?

    The power of one likely nutsucking teabagger?

    Cuz that’s more important than insulting hudreds of thousands.

  134. You asserted that I alleged that WWII ended the Depression. In support of that statement you quoted yourself making that assertion, not me. You also included my quote expressly disagreeing with your opinion. Based on that, exactly how have I gone out on a limb? Exactly when and where have I ever claimed that WWII ended the Depression?

    Dude, you’re wandering into fantasy world here. I disagreed with VD, who asserted that WWII ended the Depression, not the New Deal. You disagreed with that disagreement. What part of That may be your opinion, but others (such as myself) disagree with it. is not yours?

    But hey, if you want to assert that it was neither the New Deal or WWII that ended the Depression, but the free market, then perhaps you could answer how in the least free market period in American history (1933-45, including a period (42-45) when the economy was centrally-managed), the U.S. nonetheless climbed out of the Depression?

  135. @149 – The -er is the giver. The -ee is the receiver. Thus it is with all transactions, including those of the scrotal variety.

  136. I suggest parsing it as “Gnomes of Zurich! Rosicrucians! Illuminati! Opus Dei! Oh and ACORN and all those liberals trying to Destroy America”

    Does that work?

  137. ’m the jerk, because

    No, you’re a jerk because you make anti-semitic and racist remarks. The other stuff is just embarrassing.

  138. Wickedpinto @ 151: “The power of one likely nutsucking teabagger?”

    This, combined with the fact that the picture at the top of this very post, and videos in this thread, prove that tea bag party attendees call their own activities teabagging says everything that needs to be said about you. Intellectually dishonest and bigotted. Only one conclusion to draw.

    Scalzi, I apologise for feeding the troll. I will cease engaging. Suggest that others (mythago? xopher?) do otherwise.

  139. Wickedpinto, go to bed. Sleep it off, whatever it is. Your posts are increasingly incoherent rants, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by continuing. I don’t know if you’ve been drinking, or if you’re just so worked up that you’re losing your ability to make sense, but it’s time to stop for the night.

    In the morning I suggest that you reread everything you posted, say what you mean to say, and apologize for anything you didn’t mean to say.

  140. Mythago, of course you can’t because you don’t chose to.

    In’ the mid 70’s there was a “community organizer” who happened to be short, and he happened to be white, and happened to be a jew, all of which are facts, and he “organized” them into a community faction that helped to “mobilize” the local area’s.

    He is a self hating jew, with white skin, that he also hates, as well as his heritage, and a government of freedom, that gave his parents, or grandparents safety, so he, after being indoctrinated in the SDS environment, he came to chicago (which was already organized under the black power concept, thanks to SDS and the Weathermen) So he offered a white face as “I’m a leader of the Vice Lords.”

    He’s not, he’s a beard.

    The vice lords are still criminals, and so is he, but he can use criminals to serve his purposes, I think He died last year.

    I was born here, I know this place.

    Am I a hate criminal for saying that “el-rukins are/were a muslim gang? who ALSO tried to gain respect by calling themselves as “community organizers, in the name of islam?”

    how many hate crimes, when you call criminals crimals?

  141. xopher, you are right, shitty sleep.

    But while I might be goofy in performance, It would be nice if someone bothered to find the truth that is easily found.

    Night.

    Thanks Xopher,

    I’m tired, I’m not wrong, I’m just out of line.

  142. David at 152: You are being downright dishonest. Read your post 101 where you state “Oh bull. WWII completed the process that the New Deal started.” Read my response at post 109 where I state “David at 101: That may be your opinion, but others (such as myself) disagree with it.”

    If you want to engage in discussion, fine. That you want to play games were you attribute to your opposition statements they never made, I think demonstrates the weakness of your position.

    As to your question about how the economy recovered in light of the New Deal and WWII, this article seems to cover the bases:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/GreatDepression.html

  143. John, if this verbal diarrhea WP shits out is anything like what you normally delete, I humbly request that you start a “Best of …” page that allows us to experience the crazy like you do. Seriously, this is awesome, and I for one wish you wouldn’t keep it all to yourself.

  144. Oh bull. WWII completed the process that the New Deal started. By 1941 (prewar) U.S. GDP was close to where it had been in 1929. WWII continued the recovery.

    David, you really don’t appear to understand what you’re talking about here. The data you are correctly citing actually shows the DAMAGE caused by Hoover’s and FDR’s interventions; previous credit-inflation busts had ended in less than a year. Because Hoover and FDR, in combination with the Federal Reserve, wouldn’t leave the economy alone to recover as it had as recently as 1921, they significantly extended and exacerbated the contraction.

    The claim that the New Deal managed to cause the economy to recover over 8 years when previous recessions almost always ended in less than two is absurd. The increase in government spending from 1932 to 1934 was only 1.5 percent per year, less than the 2 percent per year increase from 1929 to 1932. And yet, 1934 saw 17 percent GDP growth from the 1933 bottom! In fact, if it weren’t for WWII and the destruction of competing industrial economies, the aggressive stimulus of the New Deal would almost surely have led to an even deeper depression in the USA.

    Look, it’s clear that you still believe in Keynesianism and trying to borrow-and-spend out of recession. So too do Obama and Alastair Darling, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer who yesterday had to admit that his economic estimates were wrong, again, for the fourth straight time. So do the Japanese, whose economy has been struggling since 1989, although there are signs they are beginning to realize it is futile.

    Anyhow, if you’re correct and the New Deal resolved the Great Depression, then the very similar Obama plan will lead to recovery next year as planned and I’ll readily admit that I’m incorrect. If things get worse, then you can admit that you’re wrong and that the Keynesian model doesn’t work. Sound fair?

  145. WickedPinto @ 145: (my emphasis)

    As for the “little jew.” It was more a description of self hatred, in his whiteness and his assumed prosperity

    So to prove that you’re not an anti-Semite, you claim that you only called him a “little jew” out of self-hatred? To demonstrate how repugnantly rich he was?

    Jews are not uniformly white, nor are they uniformly rich. The “money-grubbing Jew” is a staple anti-Semitic trope. And I assume a description that expresses hatred (self or otherwise) is going to be derogatory.

    I think Xopher had good advice, and I sincerely hope that this is one of the comments you’ll regret in the morning.

    P. S. While you gave us irrelevant information like this guy’s stature and religion, you neglected to mention his name. I’m moderately conversant with Chicago history, and I have no idea who you’re talking about. Who is he, and where did you hear/read about him?

  146. You are being downright dishonest

    stevem, if you are unable to state your position coherently, it’s hard to be dishonest about it. You intervened in an argument about whether it was the New Deal or WWII that ended the Great Depression on the side of the person arguing for WWII. If you don’t want to get involved in that argument on that side, then you shouldn’t.

    this article seems to cover the bases

    The article is from an encyclopedia sponsored by the liberty fund, a libertarian foundation. Forgive me if I’m not shocked that it simply confirms your viewpoint. In any case, the article’s argument is strange. At the end, after dismissing both the New Deal and WWII, the author writes:

    “For consumers, the recovery came with the war’s end, when they could again buy products that were unavailable during the war and unaffordable during the 1930s”

    This neatly elides the fact that the products *were* now available and the consumers *could* afford them. Something had happened between 1933-45 which made the U.S. economy able to go on a consumer building and spending spree. That something was called “recovery” and it was started by the New Deal and finished off by WWII.

    previous credit-inflation busts had ended in less than a year. Because Hoover and FDR, in combination with the Federal Reserve, wouldn’t leave the economy alone to recover as it had as recently as 1921,

    Oh Lord, it’s the 1921 meme again. Do you show up at GOP headquarters every morning to get your briefings? The 1919-21 crash ended so quickly because it was the post-war contraction of an economy repurposing towards consumer goods, just like 1945-46. By contrast, the crashes of 1873 and 1893 lasted a decade and a half (1873) and seven years (1893). The Great Depression was akin to the latter, not the 1921 crash.

    New Deal resolved the Great Depression, then the very similar Obama plan will lead to recovery next year as planned and I’ll readily admit that I’m incorrect.

    The New Deal started the recovery, finished off by WWII. Whatever happens in the future, that remains the historical case, so you’re already wrong. But I am happy to see that our current policy makers have learned the lessons of the 1930s.

  147. I have been catching up on the reading in this thread and have to agree with Jeff 129 about NCLB. As a public high school teacher I can tell you that it is not working. At least not working at my school, There is no discipline in the schools anymore. It takes an act of congress to get anyone suspened now. Some of my “students” have had numerous in-school suspension this year. The PBS (positve behavior system) does not work for H.S. kids. I think NCLB needs to be scraped. This is a subject very near and dear to my heart. We need to get the trouble making kids out of school and out to work. Mabey Mao had a good idea when he said education was a previlage that kids need to work for, not a right to be abused. I know I’ll get some flack for these rants, but there it is.

  148. I’ve noticed a pattern in libertarian argument, David Friedman is a past-master, whereby referencing an enormous article which supports your position is equated to “winning” an argument.

    Fascinating habit.

    VD & SteveM: the neo-classical school of economics doesn’t work if the banks aren’t lending money to each other and if people are up to their eye balls in debt. Rich people put there money in safe haven banks where it doesn’t get lent out. Poorer and middle income people give their money back to the owners of their debt and don’t spend.

    Either way, in the current situation for the USA, money doesn’t circulate. If you have a way to get the money circulating and personal debts paid off WITHOUT increasing government spending then there’s a Nobel Prize in economics for it.

    On the plus side, after 30 years of low/no investment in your nation’s infrastructure, at least you have something to spend the money on that will actually do some good. Unlike Japan in the 1980s, you don’t need to spend money on made up infrastructure improvements – the real economic costs of inadequate transportation, failing bridges, poor roads, lack of commuter transport options need to be resolved.

    Likewise, getting off fossil fuels and onto something else isn’t a dumb economic move either.

    You’re crying crocodile tears for a credit bubble boom that wasn’t built on a new neo-liberal economic paradigm from the 80s, but purely on air and irrational exuberance. Live with it guys, and move on.

  149. David at 166: You have moved from claiming that I made an express and unequivocal statement of position to now claiming that I did not state my position “coherently.” You were wrong the first time around and you are wrong on your re-interpretation of my position. Here’s a hint on how to effectively conduct yourself in a debat. We are human. We make mistakes. We all misread, misunderstand, misinterpret and mistype on occassion. If you make an error, admit it as quickly as possible and move on. It will help your credibility tremendously. As it is, all you are doing is digging yourself deeper.

    As to the article I referred you to being on a libertarain website, that may be true and would be unsurprising. For someone who is apparently moderately well read, I am surprised that you would be unaware that libertarians and fiscal conservators are frequently supporters of the Austrian school of economic theory (though the converse is not as frequently true, as economics and politics do not 100% correlate- Hayek described himself as a Burkeian Whig). As I have been clear that I consider myself primarily in the “Austrian” camp, and as you requested an explanation as to how that camp would account for the New Deal and WWII, I provided it. If you disagree with it that’s fine, but it is not a convincing argument to dismiss it as “libertarian”.

    Charles at 167: I’ve been on the local high school board for the last 6 years and support your opinion that NCLB has caused more grief than good. On the other hand, I am firmly in the mandatory education for children camp. As to behavior issues, I think those could be solved by a very expansive school choice program. Some children do well in a purely academic environment, surrounded by books and paper. Some would do better in a more hands on environment, where algebra is taught as it relates to a trade, such framing, bidding, etc. Some are somewhat wild (whether nature or nurture I’ll live to others to decide) and require either a more structured setting (“military school”) or less structured setting (such as Montessori methods). As kids aren’t one size fits all (something that NCLB fails to account for), are education system is not doing the right thing by them by essentially trying to fit them all into the same shaped hole.

    Daveon at 168: The Austrian explanation for the current problem is (copy and pasted from wikipedia):

    “According to the Austrian business cycle theory, the business cycle unfolds in the following way. Low interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing from the banking system. This expansion of credit causes an expansion of the supply of money, through the money creation process in a fractional reserve banking system. This in turn leads to an unsustainable “monetary boom” during which the “artificially stimulated” borrowing seeks out diminishing investment opportunities. This boom results in widespread malinvestments, causing capital resources to be misallocated into areas which would not attract investment if the money supply remained stable. The global economic crisis of 2008 represents, according to some pundits, an example of the Austrian business cycle theory’s dependability.

    Austrian economists argue that a correction or “credit crunch” – commonly called a “recession” or “bust” – occurs when credit creation cannot be sustained. They claim that the money supply suddenly and sharply contracts when markets finally “clear”, causing resources to be reallocated back toward more efficient uses.”

    Seems logical to me. And we have a safety mechanism for too much bad debt, both individual and corporate (including banks). Its called bankruptcy. An important enough tool that the Framers enshrined it in the Constitution. The “value” of bad assets would then be established by the market, at sale. The “toxic debt” that the politicians is debt which cannot be reliably determined for bookkeeping purposes. Fine. Sell it and the value will be determined.

  150. Charles @ 167

    I’m no fan of NCLB, but I don’t believe it has anything to do with school discipline. It’s not Washington’s fault that your classroom is out of control. The problem is somewhere closer to you. Likely it’s either your community, your school administration, or you. Based solely on your rant (and perhaps a tiny bit on your mis-spelling of “privilege”. Though that might be unfair…what is it you teach?) I’m guessing it might be the latter.

  151. Stevem:

    Austrian economists argue that a correction or “credit crunch” – commonly called a “recession” or “bust” –

    A credit crunch does not equal a recession though. You’re equating the wrong terms right there.

    Seems logical to me. And we have a safety mechanism for too much bad debt, both individual and corporate (including banks). Its called bankruptcy.

    Sure we do. Which is part of the problem. We reached a point last year where the ENTIRE banking system almost shut down. I have a money market account, as do most businesses and government organisations. In September last year when they let Lehman’s go bankrupt, my money market account suspended operations. As I understand it, we came within 48-72 hours of every single money market account in the industrial world following suit.

    That would mean that no business transactions WHAT SO EVER could take place. Think about that. Payroll isn’t made, invoices can’t be paid, money stops flowing.

    That’s bad. That’s so mind buggeringly bad that I actually feel slightly nauseous thinking about it.

    That was by letting 1 bank go bankrupt in the current situation.

    The framers of your precious constitution nor the original Austrian school economists didn’t think of this scenario. They didn’t think of a scenario where previously secure banks would suddenly find they had zero or negative nett assets in just a quarter.

    If they’d let more banks go, it really would have been that bad.

    That’s why they had to start bailing out and quickly.

    And all of this came about through monetarists wanting their cake and eating it. If I wasn’t currently so terrified I’d be chuckling at the irony.

  152. Jon, that would be ‘last’, not ‘latter’. ‘Latter’ is only to be used when there are exactly two items listed, and you listed three.

    I figured you’d want to know, since you’re nitpicking Charles’ spelling.

    (Please note: this is meant in good fun. Apologies if it offends instead.)

  153. Stevem @ 169 (sorry for the double post, my previous post and yours crossed):

    I believe Daveon’s question was on whether the Austrian school can offer an explanation as to how we got here. He was looking for solutions. Yours is to sit back allow multi-trillion dollar companies to enter bankruptcy? And to force banks to sell off their assets? Okay, then what? Banks sell their assets and rock-bottom prices. (Perhaps valid prices, perhaps not.) They don’t have sufficient assets to keep going, so they declare bankruptcy. All their assets and debts get turned over to a bankruptcy court somewhere…and then? I guess it’ll be up to a few bankruptcy judges somewhere. But when that big a chunk of the financial system goes under, the effect starts to look much like nationalization.

    I’ll freely admit I don’t have any solutions of my own. This is way beyond what I can grok. But I’m very very leery of simple solutions to such huge and complex problems.

  154. Xopher: Oh I am so busted! Seems like something of the sort always happens when I nitpick someone’s post.

    I originally blamed it either on the administration or teacher, and forgot to change it when I add the community as a third option. Doh!

  155. Jon Marcus: you are quite right. Although I do reserve the right to enjoy the irony that we got here through the actions of governments which claimed to be aligned to the Austrian school of thought.

    the effect starts to look much like nationalization.

    The other irony is that this might end up as the least bad option from a cost perspective. The cost of just propping up the share prices of the businesses could be far worse than the penalty of taking them into public ownership.

    Sweden did this in the 1990s when their banking system collapsed. They applied a simple and clear metric to the private banks and nationalised everybody who didn’t make the cut. Later they were able to privatize many of the banks again.

  156. I’ll freely admit I don’t have any solutions of my own. This is way beyond what I can grok

    Yup. As I said, if somebody can come up with a new way of solving this one, they’ll get a Nobel Prize and a school of economic theory of their very own.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  157. You have moved from claiming that I made an express and unequivocal statement of position to now claiming that I did not state my position “coherently.”

    No, I’ve remained consistent in pointing out that you joined the argument on the “WWII solved it” side. You did. If you did this because you couldn’t state your argument coherently, then that’s your problem.

    We all misread, misunderstand, misinterpret and mistype on occassion

    That’s very true. You should take it to heart.

    you requested an explanation as to how that camp would account for the New Deal and WWII, I provided it

    I didn’t ask for how the Austrian camp would explain it. I asked “how, in the least free market period in American history (1933-45, including a period (42-45) when the economy was centrally-managed), the U.S. nonetheless climbed out of the Depression?” The article you cited simply returns us to this question. The free market essentially did not exist from 1942-45 and yet the economy had essentially recovered by the end of the war. Citing writers who chant “free market, free market” while sticking their fingers in their ears is simply not useful.

    (Another problem with the article: the writer argues that men serving in the military should not count as “employed” and thus the unemployment figures during the war were artificially low. But the unemployment figure in 1945-47 did not return to Depression-era levels when the men returned, meaning that the economy had recovered during the war, not after. The writer never acknowledges or deals with that.)

  158. David at 177 states “No, I’ve remained consistent in pointing out that you joined the argument on the “WWII solved it” side. You did. If you did this because you couldn’t state your argument coherently, then that’s your problem.”

    Again David, where did I say that? Provide the exact post, just the number.

    You’ve passed into the realm of childishness. Stop pouting and man up to the fact that you made an error.

    Jon at 173: Yes. Bankruptcy is not a one side fits all proposition. This is simplistic, but in addition to allowing a business to cease to exist, it can also allow business to reorganize, including dealing with badly valued assets (the toxic debt) and renegotiating or avoiding unfavorable contracts. Multi-billion dollar companies have gone bankrupt before (in today’s dollar terms). It is not unusual, though I concede the scale of the problem is much greater now.

    And as to simple vs. complex problem solving, I’m a big believer in what I was once told is an effective planning style, keep it simple, stupid (KISS).

    Jon at 170: To be fair to Charles, NCLB (as a practical matter) limits curriculum choices. Its a one size fits all attitude which is detrimental to the education process. For example, some kids want to be out doing things. While you can divert them short term, their long term preferences are fairly well set. When they are frustrated, disruption can result.

  159. Again David, where did I say that?

    Good Lord, man, I’ve done that several times. Look back up the thread.

    You’ve passed into the realm of childishness. Stop pouting and man up to the fact that you made an error.

    That you no longer wish to hold a particular position is not my responsibility, but weaseling away from it is less than impressive. Your new position–that the free market ended the Great Depression all by its lonesome–is, if anything, more embarrassing. There’s at least an argument for WWII ending the Depression, albeit one that requires a certain blinkered staring at the data. But the idea that during the period that the U.S. government had the *most* control over the economy in American history, the free market magically freed itself and manfully rebuilt the economy is the libertarian version of a Hollywood movie ending normally populated by Ben Affleck. It may play well in the theater, but it has little connection to the real world.

  160. Stevem @ 179:

    Yes, bankruptcy can be either an orderly shutdown or reorganization. An orderly shutdown of our financial sector just isn’t a solution. The effect would be roughly similar to an “orderly shutdown” of your car’s oil pump as you go cruising down the highway. Except that instead of being unable to drive, we’d be unable to transact business. Any kind of business. Kinda cool setting for a post-apocalyptic SF story, but truly terrifying place to live.

    Or you could go the reorganization route. That means turning the whole shebang over to a few bankruptcy judges, essentially handing it off to government control. That would be the libertarian solution??

    KISS is a warning against choosing unnecessarily complex solutions, not a guarantee that all problems are simple.

    And finally, while I really don’t like NCLB, how does it limit curriculum choices? It does famously require that kids learn how to take tests. But as you say, kids can be taught algebra (for example) in traditional settings, or using hands on techniques, or in a loosely structured Montessori environment, or in a highly structured military school, etc, etc. As far as I know, NCLB doesn’t say anything about the curriculum, just about testing requirements.

    Admittedly, determining the goals does indirectly set some practical limitations on curriculum. But that’s an indirect effect. Then we take that another level and say that indirectly restricting curriculum has the further indirect effect of making classrooms unmanagable? Sorry, that’s a bridge too far.

  161. Jon at 181: I think you are starting from an incorrect premise in that requiring failing institutions to go bankrupt would not have shut down the financial sector, I think, as the majority of institutions were not failing and have not failed, as I understand it. As I also understand it, many banks are attempting to give back the money as too many strings have been attached by the gurus writing (and daily re-writing) the plans. As a business matter, they’d prefer to take their chances with the market. Which is what one should expect when one asks politicians to ride to the rescue.

    As to the bankruptcy judges controlling the “whole shebang”, it again pre-supposes that the whole shebang was going bankrupt.

    And you are right. Not all problems are simple. But most problems, even complex ones, have simple solutions. I suspect the current crisis is one such problem.

    NCLB does not legally limit curriculum choices. I used the phrase “as a practical matter” as the NCLB encourages a focus on 4 subject areas (admittedly worthy areas which have been the subject of some of my own efforts on the local school board) in order to be considered adequately performing. The school instructional day is 6 hours. 4 of those hours are dominated by the four subject areas. Many children (a majority from what I can see in rural AZ) require remedial efforts in the four, requiring additional remedial class work with the remaining 2 hours. To the extent that additional time is available, they are getting art, language, etc. This has the practical effect that kids are not getting physical activity. For example, PE is down to 1 credit hour for an entire 4 year curriculum, from the year round required when I was in school. Another example is that shop and vocational classes are fewer, as the kids who would be in them are taking remedial math on top of their regular math class and remedial english on top of regular english. We just shut down our metal and wood shops in 1 of our 2 high schools.

    And to further clarify, I think the goals of NCLB are admirable and should be pursued. If remedial classes are necessary to get the students to a base level of knowledge, they should occur. And push comes to shove, I would rather the students master English and basic alegebra, than have physical education, shop, etc.

    That does not stop me from recognizing that this is causing problems, both with pent up energies and because not all kids learn the same way. I would gladly structure the school as part academy, part vocational school, part artist studio, and place the kids in the section that they would best shine. I would gladly support (and would insist, if I had my way) daily PE and intramural sports (so the kids who can’t make the jv or varsity teams still play baseball). But that takes money and time. A lot of both. I once tried to argue for a 8 hour educational day (which the board has the authority to do) but the teachers correctly pointed out that they would be doing a 1/3 more work and should recieve 1/3 more pay, or we should hire 1/3 more teachers. Since 8 million of a 11 million budget was already being spent on salary and benefits, that wasn’t possible. A school board can have all the power it wants, if it doesn’t have the cash not much is changing.

    So NCLB is a good and noble idea which is causing problems as a practical matter. The last half of which I think was Charles’ point.

    David at 180: The only post number you’ve provided I’ve already demonstrated is false (see post 161). Care to try again or are you going to hide behind a bunch of false words and hope no one notices?

  162. Sorry as to the question that turning over the mess to the bankruptcy judges was the libertarian solution, the answer is yes. Keep in mind that bankruptcy court is a constitutional right.

    And I am not a libertarian. I am a conservative with libertarian leanings. This means I’m pro-small non-instrusive government, low taxes, balanced budgets, national defense, pro-life and pro-second amendment. I don’t think the government has any business policing the bedrooms of consenting adults and that drugs should be legalized. I’m not in favor of national health care or many of our social programs as our currently in place. Despite this I’m not a complete and total laisse fair free marketer. The free market, left completely unfettered, would run rampant over the rights of the individuals (much like the government is in process of doing). But I think the “fetters” should be very light and most should be enforced with private attorney general statutes. I also favor massive dollars for education, which I my opinion should be the single biggest government program.

  163. NCLB is a worthless program that shuffles money to the better schools who don’t need it while starving those in poorer areas. It was designed as a stepping stone to school vouchers so the religious right would no longer have to home school their kids, but we could all pay to subsidize private school education that are largely religious, and by religious I mean Christian.

    NCLB ruined the school curriculum and should be revoked with prejudice. It is damaging our children and costing our teachers who have to buy simple items for the classes because of the loss of funding.

    There is nothing good about it.

  164. Stevem:

    I think you are starting from an incorrect premise in that requiring failing institutions to go bankrupt would not have shut down the financial sector, I think, as the majority of institutions were not failing and have not failed, as I understand it.

    In plain English, you understand wrong. In normal circumstances the failure of a single bank wouldn’t be a problem. But what we were facing last September was the failure of the entire banking infrastructure.

    If the Money Market system had failed more than the 2 or 3 which were suspended then banks, government agencies and institutions would have been unable to pay themselves, their staff or each other. It’s as simple as that.

    It was made worse when AIG hit trouble. AIG covered the insurance policies against debt which the insane nature of the deregulated market had allowed. Imagine being able to insurance all your debt against loss?

    That’s what the banks did, and AIG couldn’t cover the losses. Hell, even the government emergency fund couldn’t cover WAMU’s debt exposure.

    CDOs and insane AAA rated lunatic debt set ups almost brought down the banking sector. There’s no method for that to be dealt with.

    As I also understand it, many banks are attempting to give back the money as too many strings have been attached by the gurus writing (and daily re-writing) the plans. As a business matter, they’d prefer to take their chances with the market. Which is what one should expect when one asks politicians to ride to the rescue.

    Again, you understand wrong.

  165. stevem, I don’t think you realize just how large the largest bank holding companies are. Citi alone has about $2 trillion in deposits. The top five companies alone hold well over half the deposits. So sure, a majority of banks are in good shape. But most of them are small banks. Most of the big banks are shaky even under the current standards. If we were to follow your prescription and force them to sell all their toxic debt, most of the big boys would fail. And they hold a very large majority of the assets in the US.

    So I’ll stand by my premise that your plan would effective result in either shutting down or nationalizing the financial sector.

    RE NCLB, I understand your argument. The act certainly does have some indirect effect on school curriculum, which in turn has some indirect effect on classroom discipline. But at that level of indirection, I think it’s hardly a significant factor. If it were, school discipline would have changed noticeably since NCLB was enacted. I’m not aware of any such change.

    That said, I think we’re loudly agreeing at each other on this. We agree that while the goals may have been noble, the effects have been largely negative.

  166. Jon at 170
    Sorry about the typo. I still use the “hunt & peck” method on my laptop. My students are under control. I teach many seniors. I teach social studies (law studies, contemporary issues, and world cultures). I link to deal with my own problems. But sometimes when the office must be brought in I get lame excuses such as “theres nothing we can do” or “its in his/her IEP”. I’ve been at this for 19 1/2 years and these disruptions are the worst I’ve ever seen. By the way Jon, what subject to you teach? or are you someone who thinks they know everything about teaching because they sat in a desk at some point in their life. I belive there should be consequences for bad behavior, not just sitting in a time out chair, especially in high school. Some of these kids (and their parents) know how to work the system. NCLB needs to be scraped.

  167. The only post number you’ve provided I’ve already demonstrated is false (see post 161). Care to try again or are you going to hide behind a bunch of false words and hope no one notices

    I already walked you through the discussion. That you no longer like your old position is not something with which I can help you. The only “bunch” of words I’ll use in this post is that you might think about being more graceful when you’re losing an argument.

  168. @ 187:

    Probably should’ve kept my mouth shut on the spelling. (Already got the karmic payback on that.) I will say that I didn’t tag “previlage” “privilege” as a typo. The vowel confusion makes it look more like a legit misspelling. But as someone who routinely types it as “priviledge” maybe I should quit while I’m behind.

    Regarding the rest of your post IEP have been around long before NCLB, and are pretty much unrelated to it. IEPs are mandated by IDEA, which was overhauled a few years back (post-NCLB, I believe), so maybe that’s what’s causing the problems you’re seeing? Or from your comment on the lame lack of support you’re seeing from your administration, maybe they’re the problem?

    But your complaints about NCLB sound a bit like liberals complaints about the PATRIOT act. It became a catchall target for unhappiness about civil liberties. Now NCLB is getting targetted for a boatload of education problems, some actually related to NCLB, many not.

    Your final two sentences make this point nicely: “Some of these kids (and their parents) know how to work the system. NCLB needs to be scraped.” I believe both those sentences are true. I also believe they’re almost completely unrelated. Very few kids (or parents) know how to game NCLB.

    Finally, I’m not sure what I said to give you the impression that I’m a teacher. But to clarify, I’ve never taught anything. (A leeetle bit of assistant instructing in college doesn’t really count.) I guess I could list off my “credentials” (parent, teacher’s spouse, board chair, etc) but I don’t think any of that adds weight to my argument.

    You’re a teacher who’s unhappy enough that you see giving up on kids who most in need of education as the best way out. I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that your students sense this and respond accordingly.

  169. As an early poster also wrote, I was an early worrier, complainer, and “yelling fire in a crowded theater” type person concerning Government spending and the financial industry, long before there was any such thing as a “Tea-bagger”. And, as you noted, I wished there were more of us. It was exhausting trying to explain mathematically (I’m an ex-mechanical engineer and currently a math teacher) some of the problems of the American-European over-leveraged fractional-reserve-banking-money system. It’s hard even naming it, let alone understanding it and explaining it. I’m posting because I simply found it interesting that you found interesting to write about the Tea-bagging phenomena and the political rigmarole surrounding it. I’ve dabbled in political blogging for the past year, and the financial crisis is one of my favorite colossal cluster-f**ks to discuss.

    I found your Web-site after Googling you to see what I might read after finishing “The Last Colony”. My son (22) turned me on to your “Old Man’s War” universe (I’m in my third book, in the middle of “The Last Colony”), and it’s great stuff. I’m fifty-almost-two and I’ve been into science fiction since the fourth grade. I’m trying to get my father (a really old man) to read “Old Man’s War”, but he will only commit to putting it on his list. Stubborn man. The last books I recommended to him were Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, and he became an Asimov first-edition book collector after that. I got my daughter, currently at Stanford, into Stargate SG1 and eventually she spent $250 of her own money on a package containing who knows how many DVDs of the series. You might say that I’m a sci-fi “pusher”.

    Anyway, thanks for your creative thinking and writing, and I did notice you have a few books planned before you write another one in the “Old Man’s War” series. So, I’ll rummage around your other works and maybe drop in once in a while like this to drum my fingers on the table and ask what’s holding up the show, if you don’t mind, OK? (J/K, I read your post about authors being real people with lives and everything … I get it.)

    But seriously, think about stepping it up, how ’bout a bit of effort for the real fans, OK? (Actually, I was looking out the window, just thinking that, and my fingers took on a life of their own.) Must – stop – fingers – from – typing – more – and – apologize …

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