Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
A Letter The SF Chronicle (Probably) Won't Print
A letter writer to the Chronicle today (Letters to the Editor, 4/20) says that people shouldn't be afraid of Tea Party rants and rhetoric, that the groups are made up simply of "people taking an active interest in their government and protesting that it does not represent their views."
On the opposite page, Debra Saunders chastises former President Bill Clinton for bringing up the Oklahoma City bombing on its 15th anniversary and equating the political climate then to the events that are unfolding today. She makes the claim that some people (read: Tea Partiers) are simply upset with overly intrusive government and worried about long term debt. She also feels that there is nothing to fear from this fringe group who can't seem to get over the last election and the fact that many of their candidates lost or were replaced by politicians they don't particularly like.
I've seen some of these people close up, and I have to disagree with both Ms. Saunders and the author of the letter defending the Tea Party members. I attended the Tax Day rally at Union Square last week, and what I heard there left me feeling less than safe. In fact, it sent a chill up my spine. A woman at the microphone (I didn't get her name or affiliation, but she was speaking at a little before 5 o'clock) was ranting about "taking back" the government. This seemed to be a common theme among the crowd -- apparently democratically-held elections are not viable to her or her compatriots if their chosen candidates lose. She closed her speech with these words: "We will beat them with our ballots! And if that doesn't work, we'll beat them with our bullets! We'll have a real revolution! WE WILL NOT STAND FOR SOCIAL ANARCHY IN THIS COUNTRY!"
I knew going in that subtlety and nuance were not the Tea Partiers' strong points, but it appears that irony is completely wasted on them as well.
Apart from the obvious contradiction, what she was saying was that if they don't get the people they want elected, they will come gunning for those of us on the left. They want to shoot the people who win, unless they're Tea Party approved. Her comments received cheers and enthusiastic applause, and I have yet to hear of anyone associated with that group condemning her words or disavowing her call to violence. Not one person there seemed troubled by her eliminationist rhetoric; rather, they appeared to embrace it as a call to arms.
So please, tell me again why I shouldn't be afraid of this group, because seeing the signs and the people protesting and listening to the assembled speakers at Union Square last Thursday sure scared the hell out of me.
-- Love, Generik
Friday, April 16, 2010
Teabaggers On Parade
One speaker, a blonde woman of about 40 or so, was particularly scary. She ranted and raved, building to a frothing crescendo with these words: "We'll beat them next time with our ballots! And if that doesn't work, we'll beat them with our bullets! We'll have a real revolution! WE WILL NOT STAND FOR SOCIAL ANARCHY IN THIS COUNTRY!!"
I swear, she said that. Seriously. Irony is completely lost on these people. At another point, they began chanting "Dissent is patriotic! Dissent is patriotic!" Now, I can agree with that sentiment -- as can a million other progressives and liberals who still have bumper stickers left over from the Bush administration days on their cars saying just that -- but I seriously doubt that few, if any of them knew that they were chanting a phrase that had been co-opted from the left. And I have no doubt at all that they did not feel that way a few years ago when we were protesting the wars and excesses of the previous president and his evil cohorts.
This being San Francisco, at one point a local eccentric who calls himself Starchild, and who has run for City Supervisor numerous times, came to the microphone. He got a smattering of applause when he paid lip service to some of their concerns about government intrusion into their lives, but he was booed off the stage when he began talking about immigration reform.
The whole scene was just bizarre. Local hate talk radio KSFO had a tent set up selling T-shirts, pins and other paraphernalia, and there were plenty of media people recording the event as well. I saw only a few counter-protesters there -- one was a skittish guy with a very small sign who skirted the crowd briefly and then took off; the other was a brave young woman who had a number of signs that she kept holding up high. One of the security people kept standing next to her with a sign reading "Infiltrator" and an arrow pointing in her direction, but otherwise she was not particularly hassled that I saw (and thank goodness for that). The crowd was overwhelmingly white and definitely skewed towards the middle-aged and older. Still, I don't think we should take these people lightly.
Below you'll find some of the pictures that I took while I was there, fearing for my life and my country.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Teabagging Circus
Personally, I'm not at all enraptured by the health care bill as it's currently constructed -- I think it needs to go much, much farther (hello, single payer, hello, Medicare for all...) -- but at least it's a start. And if these are the people who oppose it, well... bring it on, I say.
A Warning From Noam Chomsky
By Matthew Rothschild, April 12, 2010
Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.
“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.
Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship.
“The level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime,” he said.
He cited a statistic from a recent poll showing that half the unaffiliated voters say the average tea party member is closer to them than anyone else.
“Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error,” Chomsky said.
Their attitudes “are understandable,” he said. “For over 30 years, real incomes have stagnated or declined. This is in large part the consequence of the decision in the 1970s to financialize the economy.”
There is class resentment, he noted. “The bankers, who are primarily responsible for the crisis, are now reveling in record bonuses while official unemployment is around 10 percent and unemployment in the manufacturing sector is at Depression-era levels,” he said.
And Obama is linked to the bankers, Chomsky explained.
“The financial industry preferred Obama to McCain,” he said. “They expected to be rewarded and they were. Then Obama began to criticize greedy bankers and proposed measures to regulate them. And the punishment for this was very swift: They were going to shift their money to the Republicans. So Obama said bankers are “fine guys” and assured the business world: ‘I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.’
People see that and are not happy about it.”
He said “the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism” is what is fueling “the indignation and rage of those cast aside.”
“People want some answers,” Chomsky said. “They are hearing answers from only one place: Fox, talk radio, and Sarah Palin.”
Chomsky invoked Germany during the Weimar Republic, and drew a parallel between it and the United States. “The Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy,” he said.
And he stressed how quickly things deteriorated there.
“In 1928 the Nazis had less than 2 percent of the vote,” he said. “Two years later, millions supported them. The public got tired of the incessant wrangling, and the service to the powerful, and the failure of those in power to deal with their grievances.”
He said the German people were susceptible to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, and defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.”
When farmers, the petit bourgeoisie, and Christian organizations joined forces with the Nazis, “the center very quickly collapsed,” Chomsky said.
No analogy is perfect, he said, but the echoes of fascism are “reverberating” today, he said.
“These are lessons to keep in mind.”
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
One Of The Greatest Quotes Ever
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
Friday, March 26, 2010
A Post Stolen From My Good Friend Nash
Taken directly and entirely from my good friend nashtbrutusandshort's blog, Categorical Aperitif:
Culture of LIFE!
Telling a Congressman to "bleed out your ass, get cancer and die."
Using racist epithets and sending pictures of nooses.
Cutting the propane line to someone's house—someone whose address someone else posted online, obviously to encourage acts of intimidation. Oh, and shrugging off the news that it was actually the intended target's brother's family's house with "Oh, well, collateral damage."
Running away from reporters when questioned about one's violent rhetoric.
Blaming the violence and threats on Obama and the Democrats: By not doing what we want, they're forcing us to threaten them. Or something. (Honestly, there are eight-year-olds who would be embarrassed to be caught using such an excuse.)
Oh, and suggesting that Democrats are just "trying to score political points by talking about the threats in public." Apparently, when Democrats are threatened, they're supposed to take it and like it.
Can't you feel the reverence for life and freedom? It's a good thing that America has people so devoted to these things that they'll wish miserable deaths on people, hurl racist invective at them, cut the propane lines to their houses, etc. and then blame it all on somebody else, huh? Surely we must be grateful to have such paragons of moral and intellectual leadership scattered throughout our land.
I'd like to call this behavior childish, but I fear that would be an insult to children.