Friday, April 23, 2010

Tea Party! An(other) Open Letter

Dear Tea Party Leaders,
Have I mentioned I'm not a big Tea Party fan? One of the top reasons is because too many folks who participate in these rallies don't really know what they want. There's a serious lack of direction. Case in point:*

Somehow, your movement has managed to attract Birthers, racists, libertarians, Republicans, anti-big government folks and folks who are just feed up in general (among others). That's a whole lot of (often) conflicting ideologies and goals. Which means there's an incredible lack of consistency in the Tea Party position beyond "the government is too big."

A few questions for you Tea Party Leaders (excluding Fox News, since I think they're full of sh*t anyway): How is the government too big? How exactly do you suggest slimming down the government? Which federal agencies should go? What/who would pick up the slack of those eliminated federal agencies? Would the slack be picked up at all? What is the Tea Party's view on health care reform in general (not just the recently passed bill)? What about immigration and/or immigration reform? Regarding taxes, how does one propose funding the military/unemployment/Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security etc. without some form of taxation? Or should those programs just fall by the wayside?

I normally describe myself as a moderate with liberal tendencies. That's only half true. I'm a liberal with both liberal and conservative tendencies. When election time rolls around, I do actually (attempt) to research the candidates and try to choose the candidate I think will be best for America. In the last election, I heard it from both sides, both my liberal and conservative friends, because I was seriously considering voting for Hilary Clinton (hand she won the primaries), Barack Obama and John McCain (up until he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate). Out of the last 3 presidential elections that I've been able to vote in, the candidate I hauled my ass to the post office/American Embassy to send my absentee ballot in for has won exactly once. One out of three is a pretty sh*tty record. When my chosen candidates lost, did I start shouting about how the tyrannical Commie Fascist  government was ruining America or talk about how my rights were being trampled on without representation? No. And why didn't I?

One, in my humble opinion no government in the history of America has been Communist or tyrannical in the true sense of the words, although some of my Southern brethren who are still fighting the damn Civil War might disagree. Sidenote: You lost. Deal. With. It. Please feel free, Tea Party Leaders, to disagree with me on the Communist/Fascist/tyrannical government point, providing evidence that does not include Fox News or anyone associated with Fox News with the exception of Shepard Smith, who I secretly kinda love.

And two, not liking your representation isn't the same thing as not having representation. You have representation. Not having representation looks something like this: being counted as 3/5th of a person while being denied the right to vote, hold property, marry or be treated like a human being. That's not having representation. So until the day the Obama administration officially repeals voting rights for all white Americans (I say this only because the Tea Party rallies seem to be overwhelming white, another point y'all might want to look into), I'm really going to need y'all to stop throwing out that whole "no representation" thing.

Oh and while we're on the topic, I keep reading all this stuff about how the Obama administration is stomping on the Constitution blah blah blah, generally from strict constructionist. Refer back to the 3/5th Compromise on why my black-descendant-of-slaves ass is not a strict constructionist. In my (over)educated opinion, part of the reason the Constitution has worked so well for so long is because it's a document which can grow and change with the times (see Article 5)....something the Framers ever so thoughtfully allowed for, even if they did drop the ball with the whole black-folks-as-chattel thing.

Since I'm leaving France in a week anyway and avoiding doing anything at all productive, I'm going to go ahead and address the Birthers element of the Tea Party movement's whole "Obama wasn't born in America" thing (despite the birth certificate) for sh*ts and giggles. Let's assume the Birthers have a point on this (they don't). Doesn't. F*cking. Matter. His mother was American. He gets citizenship through her anyway, in addition to being born in Hawaii (yes, it is consider part of these United States). And before any of your Birthers cite the "natural born citizen" clause, please note the Constitution doesn't really set down the criteria for "natural born citizen." Go ahead and check. I'll wait.

And breath. Rant. Over

American Black Chick in Europe

*P.S. To the young lady in the video who called Glenn Beck "very educational," I can see the American educational system greatly failed you. And for that I'm truly sorry. Beck could connect the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to a Commie-Islamo-Fascist plot to overthrow America using that delightful chalkboard of his if he wanted to. The writer in me is impressed with his level of creativity. The non-batsh*t crazy person in me secretly weeps that folks believe him.

Cross-posted from American Black Chick in Europe.


  1. Well, hell, it all boils down to, we don't need no stinkin' fishin' in America any way. I am totally over, and tired of these batshit nutsy imbeciles. Not an intelligen statement among them. Seriously.

  2. Excellent post! I do hope someone representing tea partiers answers your most reasonable questions. I for one would really like to know how they think things should be handled.

  3. ABCIE,

    Great post, thanks. I entirely agree on the Tea-Folk’s ideological incoherence and cognitive dissonance. They’re as angry and hectic as an infected wound, and whether they admit it or not, a lot of the “reason” seems to consist in disdain for the biracial and international background of our current president. (With President Clinton, it was the Vietnam issue, drugs, etc – they saw the guy as a hippie with a haircut; with President Obama, it’s ethnicity and “Americanness.”) Bob Cesca of makes a good point, Sherlock Holmes style,* that when you analyze the claims these guys advance and find them incompatible and incoherent, what’s left is a core of racist resentment. I’d say it doesn’t differ much from the kind of paranoia and resentment that made certain white southerners feel that if there was one black person somewhere drinking from a fountain not labeled “Coloreds,” that one hypothetical black person was ruining their lives. I’m tempted to say with Wanda Sykes on Curb Your Enthusiasm, “You can fix the problem [with the tv remote] or you can just fire the black man. Whatever works, Larry.” Well, that’s a close paraphrase anyway.

    Aside from that, the whole “take back our country from Big Government” meme is every bit as absurd an instance of short-circuited thinking as I think you suggest it is. It has been programmed into people for several decades now that government at any level is their enemy: the enemy of individuals and individual liberty. James Madison recognized the kernel of truth in this view when he wrote in The Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” and Friedrich von Schiller addresses the ordinary person’s feeling of hostility very finely in one of his earlier letters from Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. But the extremes to which the pseudo-educated Tea-rallyists will extrapolate from this kernel of cautionary pessimism is astonishing. They seem to know no limits in their incoherent resentment of “government,” and apparently can’t imagine how large numbers of people could ever act in an organized manner, by majority rule, to ameliorate their living conditions and try to bring some fairness into their dealings with one another: any attempt to do so is simply labeled indifferently “socialism” or “fascism.” Evidently, their model of politics is “when you win, gloat and do whatever you like; when the other side wins, refuse to acknowledge it, claim the government shouldn’t exist anyway, and then bellyache and obstruct until you become the center of attention again.” The Republicans in Congress have openly followed a similar strategy since President Obama was sworn in.

    The Libertarians are perhaps the least pernicious element amongst the Tea-People. If they would only historicize their views, they would probably become “damn liberals” who want to keep capitalism running properly rather than simply crowing about its alleged perfection. But at present I think they’ve got it wrong: the aim should not be to shrink the government down to nothing but instead to make it serve us and still act with genuine respect for both individuals and groups. I don't see the Tea-Partiers leaning that way at all: I think most of them are stupidly characterizing “government” as their all-purpose opponent, and its elected officers (especially, of course, Democrats) as just short of the Devil incarnate. I don’t see them reinvigorating the Republican Party; I see them as evidence that the Party may be fracturing and suffering from long dependency on the loathesome Southern Strategy that it formulated after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The GOP can no longer control the rage and resentment it has so long encouraged not only in the Deep South but across the country.

    *“[W]hen you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? (A.C. Doyle, “The Sign of Four”)

  4. Fantastic post, ABCIE. May I sign my name under your letter?

    This, below, is an excellent point, sadly lost on so many of the Constitution's "defenders" on the right:

    part of the reason the Constitution has worked so well for so long is because it's a document which can grow and change with the times (see Article 5)


    BTW, great clip. The guys from New Left Media again have done a beautiful job showing the batshirt insanity of the extreme right-wing with calm compassion and an (apparent) lack of judgment. Just running these interviews as is is sufficient to give a glimpse into the overheated, paranoia-filled swamp of the Tea Party "movement."

    And then there is Victoria Jackson.

    P.S. Are you leaving just France or Europe altogether? If the latter, what will become of you -- American Black Chick Back Home?

    P.S.2. Shepard Smith, huh?

  5. A related aside: there is a new poll (from the Pew Research Center) looking at the Americans' attitudes toward government.

    One surprising (or not) finding: Republicans kinda love big government when THEY are in charge of it. It's only when Democrats are in power, the government problem becomes so huge and unbearably difficult to tolerate for Republicans.

    Shocking, I know.

    In contrast, Democrats are equally distrustful of government no matter who's running it.

    Read on:

    Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center (...) notes that, over time, Republicans are actually no more distrusting of government than Democrats.

    "That is one of the surprising findings," Dimock says. "Even though Republicans are more ideologically conservative about the role of government, they can feel very positive about government -- when there's a Republican president."

    Past polling shows that Republicans exhibited extremely high levels of trust in government under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush -- far higher, in fact, than the trust Democrats showed during much of Bill Clinton's presidency, and today with President Obama.

  6. Palin/Jackson 2012

    Let freedom ring!



  7. Wonderful post ABCIE.

    I've written about this free-floating paranoia on the right and their fear that Mr. Obama is "taking away their freedoms."

    But check out most right-leaning blogs and see how they have no problem with the Arizona Republican governor's actual infringement on "their freedoms."

    And the nutters with guns? They're outraged over the fact that Mr. Obama has expanded their carrying-concealed rights?

    They don't understand where their rage comes from, I'm afraid. Either that, or they won't face what their fear and paranoia is about: Our bi-racial president whose middle name is Hussein.

  8. Shaw said:

    they have no problem with the Arizona Republican governor's actual infringement on "their freedoms."

    They don't have a problem with that, since these are not "their freedoms," but those of other people, those not like us, who don't deserve them anyway.

    This is yet another version of the erroneous and harmful belief in American -- and Americans' -- exceptionalism, one that repeats itself throughout our history and contemporary politics with a frightening consistency.

    It is the most insidious of American myths, in my opinion, because it allows us to cultivate our national narcissism and arrogance with predictably ugly consequences, which we (some of us, that is) prefer not to see or acknowledge.

  9. Bill Maher on the illogic of Tea Partiers:

    The problem with the tea party movement, besides their almost universal rejection of dentistry, is that they want money for nothing and chicks for free. They want a deregulated free market and their jobs to stay here in the US; they want guaranteed health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions without a big government mandate; they want to call themselves teabaggers and people to keep a straight face. And of course they want big tax cuts along with deficit reduction. I can't even think of a suitable analogy for that disconnect--it's like thinking getting a handjob will clean your garage.

  10. @ Elizabeth - I'm leaving France for 2 or 3 months to spend some time with my family back in the US. I'll be back in Europe in mid-August though, but this time I'll be blogging from Belgium.

    And my love of Shepard Smith has to do with the fact that I have a thing for journalist that call Fox News on their bullsh*t...which coincidentally enough is part of the reason I also not-so-secretly love Jon Stewart. The fact that Shepard works at Fox News and still occasionally calls them out just makes me want to marry him.

  11. ABCIE,

    I googled Shephard Smith and am relieved to see that he's NOT that older guy on FOX I always want to smack when I see that simpering, smug smile on his face. :)

  12. Thank you for your excellent and charming post, ABCiE.

    In a Universe where all things appear equal and opposite, it may be apt and proper if the lunacy of right were matched by a lunacy of the left in the hopes each would cancel out the other. What I propose is a form of biological and chemical warfare that would make any flower child proud. Not the pot or LSD kind of biological and chemical warfare (these being illegal), but something more natural and native to the human species.

    Your resident cephalopod proposes this eccentric hypothesis: The Oxytocin Theory of Social Harmony. What is oxytocin, you ask?

    It is a hormone that acts a neurotransmitter in the brain and seems to be associated with such behaviors as orgasm and sexual pleasure, social recognition, pair bonding, and trust and love. Oxytocin is released after childbirth and breastfeeding, thus giving rise to a very liberal maternal buzz. In other words, oxytocin is the ultimate Hippie elixir … a perfect antidote to counteract the stress and social alienation of post-modern times.

    It has been suggested that Tea Baggers are oxytocin-deficient … that the stress and fear associated with a bad economy and an even worse political climate have depressed their natural levels of oxytocin leaving them feeling distrustful of government, taxes, and liberals. Instead of a coffee klatch to counteract the tea partiers, perhaps the better approach is to attend a tea party … armed with aerosol spray bottles of concentrated oxytocin to raise their levels of this natural, peace-n-love neurotransmitter … and render them happier, more trustful, and more liberal than before.

    One caveat: There are known adverse reactions associated with oxytocin. Untreated right wingers suffer from copious amounts of paranoid ideation and might be tempted to take any satire too literally.

  13. Right you are, dear Octo. Lack of oxytocin is a serious and seriously under-recognized problem among the right-wingers. It causes the Oxytocin-Deficiency-Induced Overwhelmingly Unpleasant Syndrome (ODIOUS), so prevalent in that population. I believe that Rush L. has sensed as much and tried to remedy it, but got a tad confused in the process, ending with an addiction to Oxycontin instead. Well, can't blame a guy for trying.

    I'm not sure, however, if aerosol sprays will be effective to improve this dire situation. Externally delivered oxytocin may not be as powerful or behavior-changing as its internal release. And therein lies the problem. Love and sex are well known to flood our bodies with oxytocin, but it's the right-wingers we are talking about, so not much hope there.

    Maybe we can put it in teabags?

    P.S. ABCIE, isn't everyone in love with Jon Stewart?

  14. Elizabeth - Love and sex are well known to flood our bodies with oxytocin, but it's the right-wingers we are talking about, so not much hope there.

    If only the right wing were a little less ... shall we say ... anhedonic!

    At least there is some good news: Oxytocin is deliverable as a nasal spray, which means the buzz starts at the top and works towards the bottom.

  15. At least there is some good news: Oxytocin is deliverable as a nasal spray, which means the buzz starts at the top and works towards the bottom.

    Octo, you say good news, I say drats. A nasal spray is nice and good, but who's gonna deliver it? I mean, can you imagine anyone wanting to get close enough to a RWer to spray him (or her, as the case may be) in the nose? (Ick!)

    I dunno...

  16. Elizabeth, what I had in mind was something like a modified flame-thrower that doesn't spit hellfire and brimstone but a fine mist of oxytocin ... from a hundred yards away. A device that can disguised inside the proboscis of an elephant ... for symbolism and poetic justice.


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