Monday, April 13, 2009

Tea Parties - From a Coffee Drinker

Tomorrow, the big story will be the tax day tea parties. As I will be working and juggling kids, I will definitely not be at one (my nearest is in Lima, Ohio at noon). Now if I weren't working (and didn't have kids to manage), I think I'd still be challenged to be there. Although if I was there, you can bet I'd be there with a big FairTax sign (more on that on tomorrow's tax day post).

First, let's get an appropriate video that I found and enjoyed and that, while Obama-themed, applies to Washington at large (nod to Rivka for the vid):



Now I have a lot of mixed feelings concerning the Tea parties.

First the positives. It's a whole lot of people that are pissed about the size of government and the mess that the tax system is in that . And they're doing something more than just sitting at home and bitching. As this is to send a message to Washington, I'm okay with that. And the fact that they're getting a lot of the big names (almost all conservative) out for the tea parties means this will have some significance.

However, there are two things about this that bother me.

First on the list is rank symbolism. Just as I was harsh with the insipid Earth Hour, there are far too many people who are hellbent on making an idiotic, wholly symbolic, essentially vitriolic gesture that has no other message than "I'm pissed so I'm going to do something that makes me feel I've sent a message without any real work. If I were a representative, the announcement of the number of teabags I'd be getting would be received with a spectacular eyeroll, followed by the question, "Anything intelligent in the mail today?"

Now while there is a place for symbolism, what gets attention is an intelligent expression by the constituents (and a threat of not voting for them) to motivate a politician. The tea baggers will do well to remember this.

The second problem is the goal. I did some searching on taxdayteaparty.com. From what I gather, the general things that they stand for are (based on what I could find from the front page):
No More Bailouts. • No More Fake “Stimulus”.
No More Taxes. • No More Debts.

Now I can easily and heartily agree with all those things. My problem? "NO."

It's easy to oppose things. I oppose a lot of things. It's much harder to come up with solutions than it is to shoot down someone else's. As the oracle of wisdom and light here on SPD, I've always tried to follow up a chewing of someone's ass by presenting my great and magnaminimiminous ideas to solve every ill ever conceived. Sometimes they're a little thin (anorexic crack addict thin, that is), but it's something more than just saying no (which doesn't work, and is the reason I need to do another drug post (and get stoned)).

So while I don't condemn the protests as wholly pointless, if the protest is all that there is until the next tax day and is not followed up with more substantial action, the protests will be pretty damned pointless.

So with that said, here's some advice for those of you going to the tea parties:

1. Know your shit. Don't be an ignorant slut that spouts catchphrases like a d-list pro wrestler. Actually be able to discuss things cogently, and be able to explain why incessant taxing and spending and bailing out will strangle us.

2. Don't be an asshat. Now this shouldn't be a problem like it is when the anarchist go out to protest G-8 or G-20 or G-whatever summits. You know what I mean. Likewise, don't let your fellow brothers and sisters (and plants from the anarchists) be asshats either. Put them down, then find a cop to cuff 'em and stuff 'em.

3. Find a cause that is aligned with the tea parties' goals. Whether that be a plan to reduce government spending or a surefire plan fix to the tax mess (hint: that's the FairTax at the federal level) in all levels of government, embrace it, push for it, and don't let up the pressure on your representatives until they are cured of their case of Headupass Syndrome.

4. Be positive. It's easy to be angry. I've got blogs on the left and right that I visit that spout anger, sometimes in every damned post. A little righteous anger is a good fuel to keep the activist blood flowing. But too much is poison.

So that's it. Have fun, be loud and proud, and take it to the next level after the tea party. After all, if they had stopped with chucking the tea in Boston harbor, it would have been a little different.

Now where's my coffee?

24 comments:

TAO said...

Oh, if the government had done everything that these folks wanted then there would be another bunch marching in the streets for something else.

Cut military spending? March in the streets.

Cut social security and medicare? That would be a really big march.

Don't bailout wall street and let the financial system self destruct and FDIC goes belly up? Then a whole bunch of people would be out in the streets wanting to know who stole their money.

If this was a grass roots movement then I would have no problem with it and might actually get involved but since the 'conservatives' are trying to get out in front of this thing its not grassroots but rather an astroturf movement.

One party using populism to beat another party over the head...and neither party really gives a shit what we think.

Patrick M said...

Tao: That's why I say people have to take substantive action after the tea parties or it's all meaningless gobbledygook.

And on that note, another suggestion:

5: Don't make this about Obama. He may be the one spending the money, but there are plenty of Republicans willing to throw money at the problem when they have any power. So go after the concept, not the party head. It'll make it easier to explain later.

TAO said...

The KEY is to realize that it has nothing to do with Obama...my big gripe has always been the Agriculture bill and it gets more support from Republicans than Democrats....

Satyavati devi dasi said...

is the reason I need to do another drug post (and get stoned))The thought of you gettin into the shit, for some reason, cracks me up.

I mean seriously cracks me up.

Lynne said...

Insanity is everywhere!!!

Name: Soapboxgod said...

My biggest beef with the Tea parties is that, so far as I've seen, there is virtually no emphasis on spending and reigning it in.

Given the salatious appetite of Washington to spend, tax cuts (God love 'em) aren't going to get us out of the doldrums we are facing.

We need to attack wasteful spending (and yes this includes that in the Military Industrial complex though missile defense I do not consider a sensible portion worthy of cuts).

You can cut taxes all you want but if Washington continues to post $3-$4 Trillion budgets, the money is going to have to come from somewhere and it's going to effect not only your liberty and your prosperity but the liberty and prosperity of future generations.

TAO said...

Soapy,

Everyone wants the government to spend but only on those things that they want. Then everyone wants future generations to be taxes because we want spending now and lower taxation now.

We are not a very mature bunch and we do not play well with others....

Toad734 said...

Umm, you do realize that you are talking about a gathering of conservatives, arranged primarily by Fox New right?? This isn't the thinking, logical crowd who is up for high brow thinking. So no, they aren't going to be well informed, they think Obama is an Arab terrorist Muslim who is going to move black people into their back bedrooms and make people stand in line for toilet paper because that's what Rush Limbaugh and Fox News tells them.

For one, the real tea party was to oppose taxation without representation, not government spending. All these people have representation. So already, they are off on the wrong foot concerning your list. 2nd, 98% of the people at these things will actually see their taxes go down under an Obama administration. All the, not so clever, editing in the video is where he is actually talking about tax cuts and the parts where he was talking about raising taxes and spending on everything was where he was talking about how he wasn't going to do that. Not only that, in his original budget, before President Dumb Dumb started throwing money at AIG and all the Phil Gramm deregulation bills caught up to us, all spending was paid for by either cuts or by raising taxes on the 2% of Americans who can afford it and already benefit the most by living in America, AKA not you or anyone at the Lima Ohio rally!

I can agree with some of those main bullet points as well but its all bullshit they way it is packaged and sold. And none of these people were protesting when Bush irresponsibly cut their taxes and then erased a balanced budget and inflated the government more than it has ever been inflated in history, not to mention, the 600 Billion in Iraq. And let’s not forget that no more debt is part of their plan, well guess what the tax rates were the last time we had a balanced budget??? You guessed it, the same as Obama is proposing in the uber rich. So they can't have all of those and still invade every country under the sun, still have highways, schools, libraries, cops, firefighters, prisons, etc.

By pulling troops out of Iraq Obama will decrease spending by 6 Billion per month. If a republican president had reduced spending on Medicaid for Children by 6 million per year Fox would be treating him like a national hero.

So, in other words, its all bullshit and my guess is that there will be about 40 people at maybe 100 rallies and Fox News will pick the biggest one, zoom in on the crowd and act like its some big huge success that is going to change the country.

These people should have had the tea party when we invaded Iraq but I suppose killing non Christian brown people is worth more than saving the economy.

Fucking white people!

Name: Soapboxgod said...

"Everyone wants the government to spend but only on those things that they want."And I want a Limo to take me to work everyday. The reality is that you need someone with the political courage to restore spending which is Constitutionally just. We don't have that right now.

If people want a flippin' waterpark or a snowmaking machine for their municipality codified in legislation then someone ought to call them out on it and tell them to hold a damn bake sale or something.

Or, to your point, if the agricultural bloc thinks they need a subsidy for their industry, someone ought to tell them there is no moral justification warranting their claim just as their is no moral justification for a professional sports team owner to have taxpayers subsidize his new stadium, etc.

Dave Miller said...

Patrick, unless and until the GOP/conservatives step up and admit their culpability in our financial mess, nothing will be changing on your side of the aisle.

When will we see anyone in the GOP repudiate the results of the Bush Admin in a way that makes it clear, they are making a change?

I know this can sound like hammering the guy after he is gone, but unless some party leaders say it, the GOP will have no credibility with the everyday folks that are not part of the rabid right. [the Tea Party people]

This means we need some GOP leaders to say that President Bush was wrong to spend like he did, and so were we, as legislators. We were irresponsible.

I know on a large scale we are spending too much, but consider what Toad is saying.

A monthly Iraq cost of 6 billion is 72 billion a year. If you add that to the GAO's conservatively estimated 300 billion dollars in annual defense contract overruns we can have some real savings, with no cuts in services here in America.

Are there any conservatives who will support saving money in this area?

I think not.

And yet, these are real options to cut federal spending.

PS Try a nice dark roast on the java!

Name: Soapboxgod said...

I've no compunction with cutting spending on unecessary defense measures. However, defense spending (as large as it may seem) is not the real meat and potatoes of the fiscal problems we face.

It would seem that what you are advocating (and forgive me if my assumption is wrong but I do hear the argument made no less) is that we look to defense spending cuts for the sole sake of preserving the excessive spending elsewhere.

Toad734 said...

Actually, do you know the main reason why the budget deficit skyrocketed under Reagan and the 1st Bush but was balanced under Clinton? It wasn't because Clinton "ended welfare", its because he reduced military spending. Reagan spending like a drunk sailor on shore leave is why the deficit was so out of wack. And how much good did all those weapons do us against that Soviet invasion?

At least when you spend it on social programs it keeps drug addicted street kids from breaking into your home.

Dave Miller said...

Soap, I am certainly not advocating cutting defense just so that we can overspend elsewhere, but there are legitimate cuts to be found in defense.

It was not too long ago that the GOP was saying John McCain was a defense expert. Now that he supports SecDef gates, and by extension Pres. Obama on cutting the F-22, he is seen as an idiot by his party.

While I hear the GOP and their people when they say occasionally they'd like to hear a Dem name a social program they would cut, the same is true the other way around.

Can the GOP name a social program they would support, or a defense program they would cut?

A lot of this is 100% political. The GOP has an image problem in that people think they do not care about the regular guy.

Do you really think this Tea Party is going to help them on that front?

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Absolutely there are legitimate cuts to be made in defense but I will tell you this much.

A) Missile Defense ought not be one of them; and

B) allocating significant resources towards R&D on weaponry is practical from the perspective that when you consider its cost and its development process in comparison with getting a brigade through basic training and up and running to ready for battle, it is fair to conclude that, up to a point, it is wholly necessary. Same goes for pharmaceutical companies. These things don't simply materialize out of thin air. I think many times people tend to forget that.

As for a social program worth supporting I'd likely go with WIC or some type of welfare to work program.

"It was not too long ago that the GOP was saying John McCain was a defense expert. Now that he supports SecDef gates, and by extension Pres. Obama on cutting the F-22, he is seen as an idiot by his party."You might also recall that when Bill Clinton was president and he proposed a Medicare Prescription Drug plan and guess what??? The Republicans were joined at the hip in their utter contempt of it.

Flashforward to George W. Bush...who'd a thunk the Republicans suddenly have a change of heart on the matter?

Tis why I say that these two political parties are two sides of the same damn coin.

It's like Yin and Yang, Fish and Chips, Salt and Pepper....

You can hardly have one without the other. Regardless of the party, their "end" is the same their differences are only a matter of degree. When push comes to shove, there is but the political class (inclusive of its punditry, consultants, etc.) and then there are the rest of us.

Dave said...

You hit it Soapy, there really isn't a lot of difference between the parties.

Maybe we would be better if we had three or four viable parties.

That might provide some real diversity on opinion.

Anonymous said...
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Arthurstone said...
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Patrick M said...

Arthur: You should know better than to engage anonydolts that bring up that subject. As your comment deals wholly with that anonydolt...

Dave Miller said...

Dude Patrick, whazzup with your blog followers and their commenting?

Patrick M said...

Miller(have to differentiate you from that other Dave somehow): I caught a troll. And I'm going to foolishly give the asshat opportunity to vent tomorrow.

Or I'm going to have to resort to comment moderation for a week or two.

Dee said...

I agree about too much anger is poison but you already know that since you listen to me every week ;-)). The KC protest was good because our organizer kept it focused.

Toad734 said...

Dee:

YOu mean they didn't have Nazi skinheads, gun nuts and people who just hated our black President showing up uninformed? That's a nice change of pace.

Patrick M said...

Dee: Yeah. Nevertheless, the networks were cherry picking the idiots among us.

Patrick M said...

Toad: This time I can honestly say you have no fucking clue what you're talking about. They weren't there in numbers and their shit wasn't welcome. And I think Dee (who actually spoke at the KC tea party (video on the way)) can vouch for that.