Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reader Email

I don't understand your problem with the Tea party. You have complained for a long time about how the system is broken, and now here is a real alternative AND one that is in sync with what you write about economics and the financial system especially the Federal Reserve. But you seem to reject it because of minor points about how the Tea party started. If the issues you write about are really important to you, what other group do you think is going to come along and focus on them as much as the Tea party has? It seems like this is something you should be able to support.

I sympathize with the Tea Party movement in some ways -- more and more, actually, as Obama's unforgivable lack of interest in financial reform becomes obvious almost two years after Bear Stearns. I also agree that the country desperately needs a viable third party. Here's the problem. This is a movement in which someone can hold up a sign saying "Reform the Fed" next to a sign of Obama as a witch doctor or Nazi. Any sort of strident criticism of the Fed has always had a conspiracist tint, and it's taken years of work by Ron Paul and others to overcome that. Demanding a Fed audit one moment and Obama's birth certificate the next doesn't exactly help the cause. It makes it easier for Bernanke and the Fed's supporters to defend against an audit and other measures as "being pushed by nuts," and they are doing that right now.

If the Tea movement wants to attract more independent-minded voters and generally make itself more viable nationally, it's going to have to grow up (from its admittedly young chronological age) and decide what it wants to be. Part of that means finding a way to distance itself from the fringe and unserious elements -- and that includes Sarah Palin -- that limit its appeal. Since the movement seems to both revel in those elements and define itself by decentralization and inclusivity, this probably won't happen soon.

As I explained at the top of this post a few days ago, I also object to the movement's hypocritical roots. It's undeniable that many Tea Partiers are simply opportunists whose interest in the issues they hold dear coincided strangely with 12:00 noon on January 20, 2009. If a Republican wins in 2012 will that interest fade just as quickly? Until it proves otherwise, the Tea movement is basically an ideological slush fund whose allocation and disbursements depend more on political expediency than intellectual honesty.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Ohhhh my. I don't know what dream world TCR is living in but to think things are going to get better by playing nice is insane. Until the ruling class starts feeling the middle class pain or starts fearing for its life it is going to be business as usual. Take a look at the what playing nice got the UAW... Take a look at what playing hardball got the Teamsters. They managed to stand up against Goldman Sachs for crying out loud. I suggest the American people start taking a look at what works and what doesn't and act accordingly. This might seem odd coming from me... I have never belonged to a union and generally have no sympathy for unions' concerns but i recognize that the elite have gamed the system through the federal reserve bank and have no intention of making things better for Americans. The unions at least are worried about the welfare of this country even if they are clueless about how to go about and spend their time and energy making things worse for this country. The elites' in this country are worried about getting a bruise on the bottom of their foot as they stomp harder and harder on the necks of the American middle class. TCR is an exception but he is nuts if he thinks things are going to change by dealing nicely with his brethren. Ross perot and Ron Paul where America's last chance to save itself. The boat has sailed imo. The media convinced America they were crazy nuts because they work for the interests of the elite. All America has left is the pitchforks and torches at this point

2/21/2010 7:01 PM  
Anonymous b. said...

The problem with the Tea Party is that it is a mob of "Keep Government Outta Medicare" fools that are ecstatic to be co-opted by the likes of Palin and Brown - performance theater "politicians" void of policy or even comprehension, serving as a useful front for the oligarchy. If the Tea Partiers cannot muster enough common sense and "no free lunch" numeracy to identify the Mad Hatters and the vampire squids, then they will always fall for liblahtarian nonsense about protecting the rights of millionaire gamblers to tax-payer funded performance bonuses.

There will not be pitchforks and torches as long as the puppets do not cut their strings, and because the puppets are hollow from the head down, the puppets will just be adrift once the strings are cut.

I will never understand the religious blathering regarding collective bargaining. Yes, it either works or it doesn't, everything else is just wanking.

2/22/2010 9:37 AM  
Anonymous JohnR said...

I think it's probably better to think of the "Tea Party" movement as more of a social networking organization. This allows angry elements of all kinds, including strictly anti-government "Patriots", desperate "Law-and-Order" authoritarians, anti-"outsider" groups who fear having "one of those people" in the White House and Libertarian-Lite folks who want their share of the pie without earning it, to come together to feel comfort in numbers and to share ideas. It's always easier to convince yourself that you're both right and important when you join in a group with other right-thinking people. Luckily for this group of noisy radicals, the "Silent Majority" has been officially declared to support and not oppose them. Good thing they're not Dirty Hippies!

2/22/2010 11:17 AM  
Anonymous judyo said...

I'm with Bill Maher, the Tea Party is not a "movement", it's a cult.
It's a cult funded by BIG money and an agenda of its own. This is just a vehicle of uninformed, malformed angry and, possibly dangerous people.
Ignorance is always exploited.
When a country can get on the bandwagon of a woman who was plucked from obscurity to further political ends and run as a VP ... who can see Russia from her front porch, man is this country, collectively, in a world of hurt. As I said, ignorance is always exploited by the cunning and the rich.

2/22/2010 1:01 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

TCR: This is the most abbreviated, to the point and insightful post I have seen about the Tea Party movement. Until they purge the fringe types and opportunists who gum up the sensible message (banking reform), anyone with more than a few braincells to rub together, a sense of history (as well as a conscience), is not going to sign on.

2/22/2010 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If more Teapartiers were focused on the issues that Goldhorder talks about, I would be enthusiastic about them. As it is, I share TCR's disquiet at their simmering anger. I think we are watching this populist rage get redirected onto "acceptable" targets. Acceptable, in this case, is anything that shields the system from scrutiny.

Perhaps Goldhorder is right and even misdirected anger is better than somnolent snoozing. In fact, I'm sure it is. But he hits on the truth right in his post, albeit talking about unions; the more of the Tea Party that remains focused on junk-conspiracy, the greater the chance that all that sound and fury translates into fixing the wrong problems.

This is the one problem I see with the direction of the Tea Party. They are very eager to be led, especially if they are being led in a direction that confirms their pre-existing biases. If you think I'm full of shit, here's a little mental exercise for you: as you make your rounds on the internet watch closely how people talk about the Tea Party. See how often people's sentiment is basically "the rise of the Tea Party demonstrates what I've been saying all along because of x, y, z."

-Medicine Man

2/22/2010 3:40 PM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...

ALOHA !!

I will speak from my own participation in the very first Tea Party back in April 15th last year here in Hilo, Hawaii. We protested right in front of the lei-strewn, golden statue of King Kamehameha who unified all the Hawaiian islands as one.

There were some 300 people attending where I would say less than half had a sign. Of those signs I saw no Nazi or Obama signs. Most signs I saw said things like PROUD SHAREHOLDER OF GM or DONT TREAD ON ME. I carried a sign that read CSI US FED and I counted at least six or more other US FED signs.

While I agree with Mr. Cunning Realist that there are some losers who will want to abduct the movement to benefit the REPS I will also say there were the same loser types who infiltrated the Vietnam War movement for their own political and anti-American agendas as well. Yet infiltrators or not the movement still made Nixon think twice about keeping the War going. The Vietnam War protests started in 1964 and the Vietnam War ended in 1975, some 11 years of protests.

All the 20 and 30 somethings of today can thank those who got off their goddamn sofas during the Vietnam War to protest for never having to face a "draft" again. Politicians are like water, their spines are made of water, they always follow the path of the least resistance. NO DRAFT has ever been instated in America since Vietnam.

So why?

I was being true to myself ... I cared not who would be displeased, whether Jeannine Garrafallo or Oprah or Bono would disapprove. I cared not what my next door neighbor might think. I cared not what Mr. Cunning Realist or all my other fellow bloggers would say. I just did it because to me it felt like the right thing to do, because if my written protests that I post at many numerous financial blogs were to have any integrity any truth then I better take an opportunity to protest without a keyboard in front of me. Without a comfy chair to sit in. Without office walls to hide behind. Without the cyberspace buffer. I have to say it was a glorious and freeing experience to see people who were willing to get off their goddamn sofas and just STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS! At least Bob Marley would have been proud ... So go ahead and analyze motives and strategise like political arm chair quaterbacks how best to protest without seeming too "conspiratorial", but you do no service to my cause or your own to sit at home. If this was the mentality during the Vietnam War protests we'd probably still be in Vietnam.

Lead by example. I would challenge Mr. Cunning Realist to make his own protest sign when it comes April 15th, the next Tea Party protest, and take to the streets, just so he can experience "protest". Just "protest". Don't analyze and judge it like Wolf Blitzer would, just "protest" ... protest something. Have you ever protested anything in your life? Has anyone here on this blog ever protested? Stood on a busy street or marched? And if Mr. Cunning Realist feels too "uncomfortable" or "embarrassed" protesting in front of his Wall Street buddies in NYC then I'll pay for his air fare to come protest in Hilo, Hawaii, which is probably as far from his Wall Street bros as you can get. Besides maybe he will get a completely different perspective on life standing in the Hawaiian jungle instead of some pricey crowded bar like Delmonico's or Bull Run. How many Tea Party types do you run into at Delmonico's?

2/22/2010 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Kaimu... I have tears in my eyes. I'll be at Westlake park in Seattle at 5:45pm. Unless... You know... You want to fly me out to Hilo. Lol

2/23/2010 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Completely agree with TCR. The Tea Party has too many crazies with too much voice. Until that element is silenced they won't be getting the majority of the independents.

@Kaimu
A couple hundred Tea Party protestors without Nazi/Obama signs doesn't prove anything. Talk about a sampling error.

Also, there are numerous reasons we haven't had a draft other than protests 40 years ago. The military doesn't want one and their wasn't any reason to have a draft until the recent wars.

2/24/2010 1:41 PM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...

ALOHA!!

Chad ... You and your type "fiddle" while Rome burns! By your statements then America is perfect now as it has been in the past! By your statement Obama had it all wrong, as "CHANGE" is not needed.

Enjoy your sofa ...

2/24/2010 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was onboard with the "original" tea partiers which were basically an extension of the Ron Paul campaign in '08. But after Obama was elected the GOP astroturf groups came in and basically destroyed the original message.

Now, from what I could tell the main themes that came out of the Tea Party Convention a couple weeks ago were "Cut Taxes", "Bomb Iran", "Stop Gay Marriage" interspersed with a bunch of prayer sessions. I'm all for cutting taxes but bombing Iran and stopping gay marriage sound very much like the unholy alliance of neocons and religious nutters that gave us the Bush Administration. The Tea Party movement puts itself forth as being generally a libertarian movement, but the neocons and theocrats are about as authoritarian as you're going to find. It is this contradiction that keeps me away from the Tea Partiers.

If they get back to their libertarian roots and truly support small government, then I may get on board.

2/24/2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger DGJ said...

Congressman Paul did not exactly help erase the conspiracist tinge by suggesting today that the Fed financed the Watergate break-ins.

2/24/2010 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Kaimu:
take to the streets, just so he can experience "protest". Just "protest". Don't analyze and judge it like Wolf Blitzer would, just "protest" ... protest something. Have you ever protested anything in your life? Has anyone here on this blog ever protested? Stood on a busy street or marched?

Kaimu, I enjoy reading your comments (on a couple of different blogs) and what you wrote here on this one was inspiring. I do think your heart is in the right place.

But I had to answer your question here. Back in February 2003, I marched with over 10 million people in various cities to communicate our rejection of the Iraq War. (Far from my first protest march, I assure you.) Democrats and Republicans alike laughed at us, called us "fringe", and jumped right into the war. Dick Cheney's often-quoted response to 10 million protesters was "So?"

When millions of Greens held packed rallies around the nation in advance of the 2000 election, we were dismissed as "dreadlocked white boys" and politicians on both sides of the aisle considered it a matter of honor to reject any kind of common ground or compromise with us.

We all know that this, the most advanced nation of the 21st century, has a cornucopia of weapons in its arsenal to deflect and co-opt dissent, defuse it, distract disrupt and disorganize it, and then physically squash dissent when all else fails.

Now the Tea Party movement comes along, and in 6 months, achieve everything the Greens and the anti-war protesters had spent years trying and failing to achieve. Ubiquitous media coverage, politicians on both sides of the aisle falling all over themselves to address their concerns and prostrate themselves.

The apparatus to squash dissent, which I mentioned above, has not been used.

So why is that? I'll tell you, it's because the Tea Partiers pose no threat to the powers in charge of the country. I'm talking about the REAL powers, not the hollowed-out shell of the so-called democratically elected government.

The Tea Partiers want to "get government off our backs" by finally destroying every last one of the paltry protections the government still offers its citizens. I've talked to a number of them, and as you can guess, some of my relatives have joined their ranks. They're mad about the bank bailouts -- not mad at the banks because the banks swindled people, but rather because the government had the gall to intervene. They're mad at the national security state, not because it spends billions spying on us and torturing people, but because the laws forbidding those things are still on the books.

The Tea Partiers are a variegated movement, so you'll find lots of people saying lots of different things. But what they all have in common is that they'll all stand against any limits on corporate or security power. The people who find habeas corpus, fair-lending or media monopoly rules inconvenient, have found their perfect vehicle.

Sir Thomas More: What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? ... And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

2/25/2010 3:34 AM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...

ALOHA !!

T DAULTON ... First I disagree with your assessment of the Tea Party movement. Most of the Tea Party people I know and protested with were protesting our loss of two Constitutional values ...

-Liberty
-Representation

LIBERTY
"Government is essentially the negation of Liberty."-Ludwig Von Mises

When you have to work for six months before you can keep one dime of wages I define that as a loss of Liberty. If you add up all the many taxes you must pay during the year it comes to an average 54% tax bracket. Add up payroll taxes, income taxes for Fed and State, County and City, also sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, estate taxes, etc.

In order to buy one loaf of bread or a gallon of gas you must use net income, after taxes. Your mortgage payment, your utilities, your kids school tuition can only be paid for using net income, not gross. Most people I know who attend Tea Party protests are sick and tired of being in that 46/54 partnership and not seeing the US government live up to their fiscal responsibilities to taxpayers.

Also, we are in unprecedented times when tax revenues are being leveraged like derivatives at the US Treasury. Of course that leverage is called "debt". Many Tea Party participants are tired of seeing never ending government(Fed, State, Local) spending and debt that ends in one crisis after another.

REPRESENTATION
Most people I know who attend these Tea Party protests are also mainly there to let their "elected representatives" know they are dissatisfied with their performance. They see bankers getting more representation than WE THE PEOPLE. We have taxation without representation as a core belief of most Tea Party protesters that I know. Lack of representation stretches across both political parties.

Your protests in 2000 and 2003 got no "representation" so perhaps you have more in common with Tea Party protests than you think. In 2000 and 2003 we did not have 17% unemployment. We did not have $700BIL TARP paraded on TV every day! We did not have real estate plunging nationwide. We did not have 201ks. We did not have Congress approval ratings at 10%.

What is it that a voter has on his mind as he stands there in the voting booth these days?

- Is he thinking about the polar bears?
- Is he thinking about purple fingers in Baghdad?
- Is he thinking about Exxon?
- Is he thinking about 9-11?

- OR -

- Is he thinking about finding a new job after being out of work for a year?
- Is he wondering how much longer before he gets a pink slip?
- Is he tired of seeing his electric bill go up?
- Is he tired of seeing his 401k go down?
- Is he underwater on his mortgage?
- Is he tired of paying his credit card debt down only to see his rate go up to 30%?

Every month when working Americans open their bills and look at their bank accounts and retirement accounts they are reminded of the money issues.

I honestly do not know anyone in the movement who wants Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan to survive. On the other hand I know plenty who want Exxon and Apple and Lockheed Martin to survive. I believe the perception is "product". Can Americans live without oil and gas in their daily lives? Can Americans live without phones and data in their daily lives? Can Americans live without a strong Defense? Or can Americans live without derivatives and currency swaps and securities fraud in their daily lives?

People here in America are looking now at the "basics" ... survival! Every day survival ... People are fearful for their future and they see the faces on TV that created the problems we now face telling us how they will solve them ... and then failing to do so! We are tired of seeing failure and fraud in banking and government rewarded while hard 9-5 work is punished.

Its about MONEY! Not Congress' MONEY and not AIG's MONEY but WE THE PEOPLE'S MONEY! Like it or not, I think we all saw that in Massachusetts.

2/25/2010 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Chad said...

@ Kaimu

"Chad ... You and your type "fiddle" while Rome burns! By your statements then America is perfect now as it has been in the past! By your statement Obama had it all wrong, as "CHANGE" is not needed.

Enjoy your sofa ..."

My type? Oh, good one. You really got me there. You have no idea what my type is from my statement other than I don't favor extremists from either side.

Not once did I say we didn't need to change things. I only inferred that the Tea Party does not back a lot good change, as the crazies appear to be in charge.

I do enjoy my sofa.

I also noticed you failed rebut any of what I actually said. In fact, you replied like most current politicians. Changing the subject and making character assasinations. It appears the Tea Party is learning from it's two older brothers.

3/03/2010 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kaimu,

The problem with the TPM is that none of you understand the problem. The villains, you understand, but not the problem.


"I honestly do not know anyone in the movement who wants Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan to survive."

See, the thing is, the disappearance of these organizations would not result in you paying less taxes or any sort of financial alleviation for you.

You're looking at two different problems and your solution to each one makes the other worse.

It's a lot like as if some policemen had been running around,a citing as vigiliantes, killing innocent citizens, and your movement's solution is to burn down and abolish the police as an organization.

Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan got themselves in a lot of debt by selling a lot of people lies, but the solution is to stop them from doing it again, not executing them. If you don't pay their obligations, it wouldn't be 'some people' you know being out of work, it would be 'everyone you know is out of work'.

Radical solutions bring radical results, like the literal collapse of of the US economy. Like, looting out of Wal-Mart to survive-style.

There's very good financial reform packages being fought about in the Senate right now that would at least help this not happen again, but the Tea Party movement is completely, totally indifferent to the whole thing. You had no idea what TCR was referring to here. If the TPM was serious in any way, they'd be pressuring the people who they have influence on - Republicans - to limit derivatives, CDOs, and leverage. Instead, they want to "audit the Fed" - a useless blame game subitem with no non-ludicrous end goal. Audit the fed, huh? Then what? Oh boy, the fed was full of idiots! Then what????

Meanwhile, your endless demand for tax cuts are the single largest reason why government debt is even a remote problem in this country. The first thing you could do to deal with debt in this country is to just shut up about taxes already. First-world countries have them. Third-world countries don't. Just. Get. Over. It. It's what you pay for the fact that you don't have to hide in your basement with a gun when the sun goes down.

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