Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On a (Right) Wing and a Tea Bag: Corporate Power Desperate for a Movement

With a progressive labor-friendly President in the White House, large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and the public turning against the capitalist extremism that led to the economic collapse, the old right wing is desperately searching for a spark. Hmm, where to look?

"Hey how 'bout these tea bags?!"  

Trying to create the illusion of a rising tide of conservative populism, corporate lobbyists have created the "tea party" movement. It's a loose coalition of anti-tax, anti-government, mainly anti-Obama protesters, funded by lobbyists and conservative think tanks and heavily promoted by FOX News. Oh and it's supposed to remind you of the Boston Tea Party. Today--on tax day!--there were teabaggin' rallies staged all over the country.

How'd it go? Well, let's see. In San Francisco, 300 or 400 confused white people waved little tea bags in the air. In Washington, the Secret Service shut down the rally at the White House when someone threw a package over the fence. The teabaggers wanted to dump a million tea bags in the already-polluted-enough Potomac River but realized they would be arrested. Then they were going to dump them on the ground in Lafayette Park, near the White House, but weren't allowed to drive their big rental truck into the park. In Chicago, a CNN reporter interviewed a teabagger who had a poster calling President Obama "a fascist." When asked why he called the President a fascist, the man answered, "Because he is." 

And so went the story all across the country. Corporate money organized angry, snow-white crowds. Right-wing TV exaggerated their numbers and boosted their story:

And the rest of us were left confused. 

What country are the teabaggers living in? They are vaguely worked up about taxes being raised when the only taxes going up are those on people making over $250,000 a year and on cigarette purchases. Their signs say things like, "Taxed Enough Already" and "Taxed to Death!" when 95% of American households just got a tax cut. So their messages only make sense if they are... 
  1. Very rich, 
  2. Tobacco company executives, 
  3. Representatives/lobbyists for the rich, or 
  4. Completely duped by a right-wing ploy to get working people to lead a "revolution" to demand more wealth and power for the wealthy and powerful. 
I've studied the crowds a little bit, and I'm pretty sure it's #4.  

***BTW, the calling-it-like-it-is award goes to the creators of this new website, $ave the Rich, that exposes the real power behind the tea party movement.


Becky said...

Watching those guys teabaggin' took some of the sting out of paying our taxes today. Seriously, the jokes just write themselves.

But on a serious note, exactly, what reality are they living in? Total dupes, in my humble O.

Off to look at the website.

Becky said...

And I know I'm taking a really impolite amount of pleasure in their inability to name things without making the rest of us snicker. But I eagerly await their anti-corruption "Rusty Trombone" rallies coming this summer.

Ju said...

What was probably the icing on the cake for the tea parties was when Rick Perry, Texas' governor stated that Texas can secede from the union. That will draw a lot of attention but more importantly it sends the message that these movements are serious for such strong words to be used. While the media will say they Texas does not have the right to do this outright (there are some court cases which agree, there are certain paths they can take to get this goal).

While they do not have the right to do this outright, there are certain paths they can take to get this goal. Come on, you know this is possible because this is the same country which gives exceptions to tax cheats through cleaver legal

Really it is just using the legal system creatively.

Texas probably has the best chance at success. Here is just one way how it can work. The annexation agreement made when Texas joined the union provided that Texas would be able to divide into 5 states. This would create 8 more conservative Senators.

If Texas were to try to divide and be rebuffed, the US would be in violation of the agreement and Texas should be able to go free.

It is not all that far fetched.

Regardless of the TX situation, the movement was larger than expected. And it is just a start because the thing about grass roots is that it will only take hold, grow and spread.

Some pics here:

Elizabeth said...

Interestingly, I saw many people driving on publicly-funded highways and hopping on the publicly-funded metro to skip their work (because they live in a country that has good labor laws that protect least some of them...from losing their job if they miss work) and taking their kids out of their local Virginia public school to come and protest all that crazy government spending. I mean where does our money go????!?!?!

I actually support the people's right to protest. But the same ole', same ole' over and over again ("Government is bad! I am good! Don't spend my money, bad government, unless it's on billions and billions of dollars to blow up terrorists. And protecting my right to own guns. And protecting the free market. And for the death penalty. And millions of other things that I totally take for granted. Like regulated power companies. And the busting of monopolies that keep me from paying out the nose for things. But definitely DON'T spend it on all those poor black people who don't know how to work and those crazy gay lovers who want to change the American flag from red, white and blue to rainbow colored") makes me really sad, actually. Likewise, the same ole' same ole' from the other side makes me sad, too.

When do we get to the part where the scales fall from their (our) eyes?

Better Than Machines said...

I think Gov. Rick Perry's behavior says more about him trying to symbolically distance himself from Washington in the run up to a primary contest against another conservative. I'd like to see a poll of Texans on the issue. My guess is that simply having a Democrat in the White House again doesn't mean they're ready to fight another Civil War.

Thank you for making that point. The teabaggers would rather not think about the services their taxes provide and the safety and freedom they live under thanks to a strong government.

The other thing is, if these people are supposed to be against taxes and government on principle, where were they during Bush's rule? How is government suddenly significantly more intrusive under Obama?

Here's one easy way to cut taxes that you won't hear from the tea bag crew: End our wars, withdraw our military from its many permanent overseas bases, and cut the military budget in half.

I agree. To me, their poor naming is half the fun.