Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Tea Party Movement

Mindbridge has been interviewing and discussing politics with Tea Partiers for a few years now, although, I used to call them Republicans. The traditional Republicans aren't angry. They were as upset with Bush for his lack of fiscal responsibility as the rest of the country and so they weren't surprised when a Democratic landslide took away their power. Many of them even voted for Obama.

The angry Republicans are the Tea Partiers. These are the Republicans and Independents who listen to the news blaming Obama for the deficit and job loss. These are Republicans and Independents who have bought into the idea that Democratic and Liberal are the same, and that they are also Socialist and sometimes Fascist.

I argued for years, and now I understand the positions of the Tea Party. Here are the definitions according to the Tea Partiers:

  • If you ever wanted to help someone else, or to have someone help out your family or friends, your neighbors or those who are unemployed, you are Socialist.
  • If you ever thought a law should force such generosity, you are a Fascist.
  • If you ever thought that there should be a law to protect the public from corporations that spew toxic sludge into the drinking water, you are a liberal Commie and a Fascist. Why? Because you are costing the Tea Partiers more for the product and there might be job loss because you are restricting the "free market".

The Five Segments of the Tea Party Movement

The Tea Party Movement has 5 distinct segments. It's members are sometimes in one segment, and sometimes in several. Each segment is powerfully fueled by angry emotions.

  1. The fiscal Movement started in the late 80's. There was distress about the growing deficit which was sometimes blamed on Democratic spending, but started with the tax cuts and Reaganomics or Voodoo economics. This was the ignition of Ross Perot's electoral movement. There are multiple reasons for this distress. There was a frightening inflation in the late 70's which lowered middle and lower income people's buying power. The height of buying power for minimum wage jobs was at its zenith in the 60's and has been going down ever since. The reductions in manufacturing jobs started in the 60's, which meant that those non-college educated people have had fewer and fewer middle class jobs to support them. This part of the Tea Party protest is angry about their own fiscal struggles.
  2. There is racism. Racists have targeted liberals and Democrats and "big Government" since Kennedy and Johnson brought the force of the Federal Government against racism in the 60's. More recently, there is the racism that is targeting the Black American who holds the highest position in the Nation, and this makes the Tea Partiers experience rage. Their grotesque depictions of President Obama in social media have shown their disrespect and disdain of the person whom over 64% of the population put in office, and still support.
  3. The birthers are an offshoot of the racists, but have a fake birth certificate to try to prove that Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii. This birth certificate is actually an altered Australian birth certificate. See the two below.
  4. There are anti-abortionists who have targeted any politician who sought to defend the law of the land which allows abortion or who are allowing the Hyde Amendment to insure that no federal money is used to pay for abortion. They want abortions to be stopped altogether.
  5. There are the NRA anti-Gun Control people who have been distressed by increasing gun control, primarily in urban areas where guns crimes are prevalent and public defenders such as police are shot down by automatic weapons. These are the people who are raging with epithets such as RELOAD, CLEAN YOUR GUNS NOW. These are the ones who have caused a shortage on ammunition because they think there's going to be a government confiscation of their weapons.

Failure of the News Media:

The TV news media doesn't earn new listeners by explaining away public distress and helping to create calm. They increase their audience when they show conflict. Public news used to have the mandate to tell the whole truth, and they were never meant to be part of the profits of their corporation. But, since this has changed, we now have the news media covering the greatest conflict because it makes money for their corporate owners and bosses.

During the Bush years, there were peaceful anti-war protests that were not covered in spite of having thousands of protesters. More recently, the Tea Party protests have been covered although they only sport hundreds of protesters because they are loud and misbehaved. Last week there was a protest in DC which had tens of thousands of protesters seeking legislation regarding undocumented immigrants. This was not covered by a single TV news station in spite of the large numbers of protesters. Yet, the few Tea Party members who have advocated violence against Democrats who voted for health insurance reform have gotten a great deal of publicity and notoriety.

MikeVanderboegh published this blog posting: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW.”

Vanderboegh is a member of an Alabama militia group who is headlining an open-carry gun rally in Northern Virginia next month. He has time to organize this because he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks. He said he receives $1,300 a month because of his congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension. The news media doesn't mention that this Tea Partier who is against gun legislation and against health insurance reform is living off government health care and government income for his disability.

The news media fans the flames of dissent. Showing the anger of a few Tea Party members (3 to 3000) and allowing them to air their views without correcting their facts implies to their listeners that these views are true and worth listening to.

The right wing radio and TV commentators all air their talking points taken directly from the right wing think tanks' daily press releases. They consistently promote Ayn Rands idea of "Free Market Capitalism". They hide the fact that when the market was "free" in America, we had a Great Depression which followed the Age of the Robber Barrons. The Free Market rewards big and bigger business and squashes local small business, and it promotes lower and lower wages and does nothing to protect the environment or the local populations from the costs of the waste of this business run in this manner.

The Truth of the Free Market Corporation

The purpose of any corporation is to increase profits. It is not in business to benefit society. It is not in business to offer good wages to workers. It is not in business to protect the environment.

It is the responsibility of government to balance the health of the corporation with the health of society. If the government officials are more influenced by donations of big business than by the needs of society, then we have corporatism. This is the backbone of fascism.

The media is part of the free market, not of government. They also have the fiduciary responsibility to increase profit rather than to protect society. Formerly, there were laws (in exchange for access to the public airwaves) that required their news arms to portray the truth so that the public would have access to accurate information at the local, state and national levels. This accurate information is necessary for an informed electorate who can then make informed decisions when they vote.

This is not what we have now because those laws restricting the media have been removed. As foretold by the movie Network, the news arms of TV Corporations are now required to produce profit. As we all know, conflict and discord produce more profit than peace and calm. Charlie Rose will never have more listeners than Bill O'Reilly or Jerry Springer or Howard Stern, no matter how important their information is. Who then is the more informed voter? What then becomes the public interest?

And, then there is the power of the advertiser. The interests of the advertiser is enforced by their abundance or their withdrawal of advertising. This has a huge effect on the Corporate decisions and on their programming. Phil Donohue had great ratings for MSNBC, but was taken off the air when his anti-war shows opposed the corporate interests of General Electric whose profits would soar from the coming war against Iraq.

Jon Stewart was able to tell the truth of the war against Iraq because he was on Comedy Central and not part of a major network owned by a member of the military industrial complex. When invited to move to another network, he refused.

Not only does the free market internalize profits and externalize costs, it controls the media which controls the facts that the voting population hears. It does this via coordinating its information from the American Enterprise Institute, Informing Corporate Policy and the News Media since the 1970's.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Government Shutdown by Republicans

Why is Senator Jim Bunning Blocking an Extension of Unemployment Benefits to 500,000, Transportation Programs that Employ others, and Medicare Payments to Docs?

This is the grossest misuse of the filibuster. In this case, Bunning was the sole Senator objecting to the bill. His stated objection is that it was not paid for.... Interesting that his party voted down the "Pay as You Go" bill proposed by the Democrats which would have required that equivalent cost cutting or program cutting accompanies each bill.

Rumors are that he also wanted another tax reduction for the wealthiest Americans which is not a bill being brought to the Senate floor. Some think that his filibuster is meant to force the Democrats to give him the tax cuts he wants.

Whatever his reasons, this is not the majority rule that the Republicans demanded between 2000 and 2008 -- an "up or down vote." He has just caused 100,000 Americans to lose their benefits immediately. About 400,000 more will lose their unemployment benefits in two weeks according to the Department of Labor.

If they lose their federal benefits now, even if an extension bill goes through, they might have to reapply which will delay their next check by 3 weeks to 2 months in some states. Many of these are people with families to support.

Senator Dick Durbin proposed making the Senator actually perform his filibuster by standing and talking from Thursday until whenever he would give up.
Many young Senators were prepared to attend the all-night session. This was started on Thursday February 25th, but the unprepared Senator Banning resorted to yelling obscenities at other lawmakers.

Senator Bob Corker
of Tennessee took his defense and reminded the others in attendance that Senator Bunning was 87 years old. Senator Durbin agreed to end the session shortly before midnight, perhaps before Bunning would have a serious health crisis of his own.

Meanwhile, the Republican Senators don't seem to care about an additional 500,000 jobless people will lose ther health insurance subsidies under the Cobra program during the month of March. I wonder if Senator Bunning has considered that there might be some children awaiting life saving surgeries? He is so determined to make his point....

This bill also blocks an extension of Medicare pay increases to docs, which will lower their reimbursements by 21%. Many docs will simply stop seeing Medicare patients which will mean that many seniors will be without the docs they have come to know and to trust. -- Wasn't it the Republicans who keep voting against all the Health Reform bills because "We want Americans to be able to keep their insurance and to keep their docs!" And, didn't they scream out in the late summer, "We don't want our seniors to have their benefits cut!"

Well, all Americans should know that it is the Republicans who are voting against Medicare reimbursement to doctors and voting against the extension of Unemployment, but this is not all.

There is also an extension of the Highway Trust Fund which employs 2,000 employees. These employees have been furloughed since Monday without pay and without the ability to sign up for Unemployment since they are still, technically, employed. The association of State Highway and Transportation officials said states are losing more than $153 million a day in federal reimbursements.

This is only one case, but Republicans this last year have used the filibuster (see chart on cloture voting) more than any other administration. To give you an idea of the changes involved, Democrats held up a total of 10 of George Bush's judicial appointees. Last year one Senator held up 50 of President Obama's appointees because he objected to the President's consideration of Boeing for government contracts. This is Senator Richard Shelby of Lockheed Martin Corporation, oh, excuse me, of Alabama.

Cloture Voting chart thanks to Yglesias of Think Progress. Note that last year Republicans almost doubled even the blockade used during the Bill Clinton presidency. Politics is one thing, but this is affecting millions of Americans in a very harmful way. Those who lose unemployment benefits may have no where to go. The children and seniors who have no health providers to go to may suffer or die.

Perhaps this is a reason to ask for impeachment, not because some political leader cheated on his wife -- but for those who cheat on the American people!