More Bags Than Tea

September 29, 2010

Matt Taibbi travels to the heart of teabagger territory:

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

Watching them tootle around, he has an epiphany. David Broder would not approve of it. If there’s any higher praise than that, I’d like to hear it:

Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about — and nowhere do we see that dynamic as clearly as here in Kentucky, where Rand Paul is barreling toward the Senate with the aid of conservative icons like Palin.

Read the whole thing here.

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Money changed everything

September 24, 2010

Gosh, isn’t that wonderful? A billionaire geek whose Facebook empire is about to be the subject of an unflattering movie is giving a $100 million check to the Newark school system, with a governor who made four times that amount disappear through his own ineptitude (and a mayor who stands to gain added political power from the situation) sharing the spotlight while Oprah sprinkles fairy dust on the stage. Like the song says, money changes everything.

But while I agree with everything Bob Braun has to say about this ridiculous situation, I think he’s mistaken in treating this as some new development. The rich guy from California who wants to dictate terms to the Newark school district is following a well-worn American tradition. After all, a rich guy from Australia and a couple of rich guys from Kansas are using their dough to deform America’s political system, while  a rich guy in Orange County gets to use his hard-inherited bucks to undermine science education. A rich guy from Pittsburgh used his money to hobble the Clinton administration.  So why shouldn’t the co-founder of Facebook use Newark’s schools as his hobby horse? He’s rich! It’s not like there’s any other standard at work here.

In better times, it would have been considered seemly for the governor and the mayor to tell the rich guy, “Thanks but no thanks.” But these are pretty lousy times, thanks in no small part to economic notions promoted by think tanks and media outlets funded by rich guys who get even richer when these economic notions hold sway. So now people don’t tell the rich guy to find himself another hobby. They tug their forelocks and thank their lucky stars the rich guy came along and threw them a bone.

I guess that’s what “trickle-down economics” meant all along. The ones with the money get more money shoveled their way, and the rest of us get to huddle under the table and hope some big crumbs fall to the carpet. The argument for countenancing this Brechtian arrangement used to be that we would all benefit from the care and feeding of millionaires. A rising tide lifts all boats, right?

Well, not exactly. Not when money changes the laws of physics, and the reconfiguring of the tax system shifts benefits upward and risks downward. The rising tide now lifts the yachts and swamps the smaller craft. And if you’re one of the many who end up treading water, don’t bother calling for help. You should have learned how to swim, loser.

One of the cornerstone texts of the conservative movement is F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, which argues that centralized economic control inevitably erodes freedom.

And here we are, waiting for the lords and ladies of the upper class to toss a wad of money our way, every once in a while, when things get really bad. What I want to know is, how does the condition developing in this country differ from serfdom?

Character II

September 21, 2010

Crisis reveals character. Get a load of this character as he muses on 9/11.

“Why are we listening to this fruitcake Newt Gingrich? All he ever does is blow smoke.”

Seaside Lowlifes

August 10, 2010

This video clip speaks for itself.  Every season, those Seaside Heights boardwalk stalls always manage to outdo themselves in sleaze. It’s rather appropriate that the lil’ redneck got a funnel and hose for a prize. I doubt he’ll stick the hose where it will do him any good. If you go to the YouTube page, check out the right-wing comment-scat.

Time Travel for Morons

July 13, 2010

So this is what reflexive anti-incumbency gets us: a trip back in time for New Jersey.

And with that trip we get a Republican on a jihad against public education, Leatherface-style slashing of public services, tax-cuts for the wealthy, increased costs for local governments, and a wagonload of discredited wingnut notions presented as policy.

Privatization proposals that will waste huge amounts of money? Check. Financial chicanery? Check.

It’s like the past decade never happened. Chris Christie is just George W. Bush with more cholesterol. Our only comfort is that unlike Dubya, he can’t lie us into invading another country.

On the other hand, he’s been eager to launch a war against unions and lie about it. So in this area as well, Christie resembles Dubya.

Where Was I?

July 8, 2010

Boy, tempus sure has fugited. It’s been a busy year, but I’ll spare you the details.

There’s more to say, but right now I just want to highlight the good folks at Talking Points Memo, who have enrolled in Beck University to check out its demanding course load. The first installment appears to be the usual claptrap about how the Founding Fathers were all Jesus whoopers who would have made full-immersion baptisms a requirement of citizenship if they’d only had the time to stick it into the Constitution. Since the patrons of this online “university” pony up $9.95 a month for this stuff, I can only marvel at the willingness of conservatives to keep paying good money to hear the same nonsense repeated ad infinitum.

Later.