Friday, February 26, 2010

Dims or Dum(b)s? (Thomas Frank (WSJ Free!) - Tea Partyers Exposed) & The Return of the Grifters - Abandonment of Poor

The Truth About the Dims. Frightening but undoubtedly true. And as a political scientist myself, I can only add my voice to this clarion call (as the sole "liberal" article by the sole "liberal" columnist employed by the Wall Street Journal) for attention needing to be paid, reminiscent of that called for in "Death of a Salesman." Otherwise, we have lost. And the loss was long ago - witness the rise of the "stoopids" on the right who are taken as its serious leaders (h/t to Driftglass's artistry) with serious philosophies and serious dialogue.

Read the article I have typed out of the subscriber's edition of the Wall Street Journal from this last Wednesday, February 24, 2010, for your added elucidation and weep. And then take action. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.) (Extra! Added! Attraction!) (This site desperately needs your donation.) (The Rich Still Have Jobs. The Poor Don't. (More than worth a look))

What's the Matter With Democrats? The party embraced globalization while its union allies were cut down.

Thomas Frank Wall Steet Journal It's no secret that the tea party faithful regard the Obama administration as a Constitution-shredding tyranny. But in a profile of the movement published last week, the New York Times reported the surprising news that many of the protesters have come to this view as a result of their experiences in the recession: "Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame."

An account of a conservative uprising published a few days later by the Washington Post under the headline, "Appalachia is slipping from grip of Democrats," told the story of a hard-bitten congressional district in western Virginia where the response to the recession has been a dramatic swerve to the right.

The free-market system blunders into recession; its victims flock to the free-market banner. And here we go again.

The backlash against liberalism has been going on for more than 40 years. It is as immediate as this morning's newspaper but as old as those "Silent Majority" buttons you find at antique stores. Since the days of George Wallace, conservatives have been leading rebellions against hippies, against busing, against Hollywood, against property taxes, against welfare, against evolution, against whatever.

The formula is familiar beyond the point of tedium: Middle-American righteousness, resentment of literal "elites," weepy fantasies of persecution set to a country-music melody. Yet its power never wears off. Today conservatives are giddily anticipating another electoral disaster for the "Party of the People."

For the moment, let's leave aside the question of whether the conservative rebels can credibly claim that, by raising their voices for tax cuts and deregulation, they are striking a brave blow against the powers-that-be.

Instead, let us pause to contemplate what appears to be the epic dimwittedness on the other side of the battlefield - the years of folly that have allowed the Democrats to wander blithely into the same old snare again and again. The laissez-faire system has just finished giving us a convincing demonstration of its viciousness, but the party of Franklin Roosevelt can't get out in front of the resulting anger. Working-class Massachusetts and even Appalachia are turning away from it in disgust, but the party of the political scientists doesn't seem to have noticed.

The answer to the riddle is as plain as the caviar on a lobbyist's spoon. Democrats don't speak to angry, working-class people because a lot of them can't speak to angry, working-class people. They don't know how. Many of the party's resident geniuses gave up on that constituency long ago, preferring instead to remodel their organization as the vanguard of enlightened professionals and the shrine of purest globaloney. They worked hard to convince Wall Street that new-style Democrats could be trusted. They accepted, for the most part, the deregulatory agenda of the Reagan administration; in fact, in some fields - banking, telecommunications, free trade - they went farther than Ronald Reagan dared.

Along the way, these new-style Democrats did little as their allies in organized labor were scythed down by organized money; last year they watched as the percentage of unionized workers in the private sector sank lower than any point in the 20th century. The fatuity of it all is surely plain to Democrats by now: They have permitted nothing less than the decimation of their own grass-roots social movement. As a result, in large parts of America, there is no liberal presence at all, no economic narrative to counterbalance the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh.

President Barak Obama might have helped in this regard, using the biggest megaphone in the land to tell us, in the Times' words, "why it happened and whom to blame." He might have explained to us how financial regulation was systematically undermined by his predecessors, how the prospect of quick profits bred conflicts of interest throughout the system, and how a delusional free-market superstition blinded the nation to the unsoundness of the financial structure.

He might, in other words, have contested the right's monopoly on the word "elite." He might have reached out to working-class voters in the only way Democrats can.

But that would have been divisive. That would have disturbed the confidence of the markets.

Watching the victory of 2008 appear to slip through the Democrats' fingers is disheartening, but not because it is a story of opportunism and selling out. After all, if Democrats were opportunists, they would be pushing the still-popular "public option" in the health-care debate. Something might yet be salvaged.

No, the Democrats' problems arise from their convictions, from the botched centrist faith to which so many of their leaders still cling. They do what they do because they believe that those hearty fellows on the Sunday talk shows really know the answer; that the truth really resides in the dusty globalization cliches of the '90s.

Write to thomas@wsj.com

(Thomas Frank wrote What's the Matter with Kansas and The Wrecking Crew. He's one of the foremost experts on how the culture war has wrecked America.
Frank writes, “Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction.”)
Balloon Juice provides more heavy history lifting. Thanks to Dennis G.
There are more connections as well in the list of names behind the resurgence of the converative movement. Some of these grifters go back to the sixties, some the seventies, some the eighties, nineties and some come from the zeros. Regardless where they come from, the Tea Party movement is becoming a full employment movement for the Republican grifters who drove up the debt, stole from tax payers and got rich during the Gingrich/DeLay/Bush era actively destroying the Government of the United States. To call the movement these grifters are promoting "grassroots” is an insult to astroturf.
Are you really surprised at the corruption brigades behind the Tea Party organizers? I'm not (considering the players).

The Return of the Grifters

One thing that is predictable about the modern conservative movement is that a grifter can always return and can always get a job.

For example, let’s take a look at the real people behind the Tea Party movement and the mad libs rescramble of platitudes also known as the “Mt. Vernon Statement“.

A few weeks ago the Washington Post took a look at the people in DC that are actually doing the work to drive the Tea Party Movement.

Not surprisingly, it was a list of grifters. Because of my years researching Jack Abramoff and his activities since 1978 quite a few of these names jumped out at me. They also caught the eye of another scholar of the modern conservative movement, Thomas Frank. Tom is the author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas” and more recently, “The Wrecking Crew“. It was in the Wrecking Crew that Tom took a deep dive into the long history of conservative corruption. In 2008 Tom excerpted The Wrecking Crew in Harper’s Magazine and it is an important tutorial for anybody who wants to understand how corruption works in Washington.

These days Tom writes a weekly column in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) and it should be on your list of weekly reads. This week he took a look at the names mentioned in the WaPo article and explained some aspects of their grifter past:

What struck me about the Post’s story was the familiarity of it all. In particular, I kept being reminded of that ultimate conservative insider, the now-imprisoned superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the work he did on behalf of the Northern Marianas Islands, where garment factories churned out “Made in the USA” clothing under re-education camp conditions.

. . . Today, as Washington conservatives scramble to stay atop the growing grass-roots right, the cast of characters is remarkably similar. For example, the “Team Abramoff” lobbyist who ran the Marianas trips program in the 1990s, Patrick Pizzella, is reported by the Post to be the “only paid staff member” of the Conservative Action Project. According to the Washington Times, Mr. Pizzella has also been “involved” in the drafting of the Mount Vernon Statement, a conservative manifesto that is meant to rally the tea-partying base.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) also makes an appearance in the Post story, as ATR sponsored the first round of tea parties a year ago and as Mr. Norquist’s famous Wednesday morning meetings for conservative power brokers have provided a fertile medium for the movement’s networking.

. . . And then there is Dick Armey . . . as you may recall, Mr. Armey was once one of Congress’s staunchest defenders of the Marianas way. Several of his aides traveled to the free-market paradise, and in 1997 Mr. Armey even wrote a letter jointly with former Rep. Tom DeLay in which he praised the islands’ dedication to “the principles of free markets, enterprise, education choice, tax reform and other innovative approaches to governance.”

Behold your Third Great Awakening, America. Lobbyists, sweatshops, and the junkets designed by lobbyists to make sweatshops seem like liberty are, presumably, the sort of things tea partiers should have trouble with. Will the grass-roots nation call these gentlemen to account for their freedom flimflamming of the past?

I wouldn’t count on it. There are many other names on the list with connections to Abramoff as well. Take Matt Kibbe, the President of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks - he was one of Abramoff’s junketeers to Saipan and a reliable think tank defender of sweatshops and human trafficking upon his return.

Or then there is the reliable grifter-for-hire, Brent Bozell, who runs the Media Research Center - a conservative PR spin shop designed to extrude press releases and commentary on command. Bozell was another traveler to the Marianas Islands and a reliable media voice to defend the abuse ever since. And the there is Horace Cooper who has been indicted in the Abramoff scandal and is awaiting trial for his crimes. Cooper is a former long-time Dick Armey staffer who connects Dick to Jack in a tight and dirty way.

There are more connections as well in the list of names behind the resurgence of the converative movement. Some of these grifters go back to the sixties, some the seventies, some the eighties, nineties and some come from the zeros. Regardless where they come from, the Tea Party movement is becoming a full employment movement for the Republican grifters who drove up the debt, stole from tax payers and got rich during the Gingrich/DeLay/Bush era actively destroying the Government of the United States. To call the movement these grifters are promoting “grassroots” is an insult to astroturf.

Tom Frank is an entertaining fellow. As I drove into work this morning I was pleasantly surprised to here him on C-Span this morning. It is a fun segment and you can find a link to it here.

The Republican Tea Party movement is blatantly embracing the corruptionists who have done so much damage over the last thirty years. This is good new for Abramoff as he can be sure that he will always have a job with the Tea Party movement when he gets out of jail in a few years. After all, his BFF Grover is basically running the scam.

And there is hope in Ecuador!
Ecuador’s current administration seems to have it’s head screwed on straight, where the United States has completely lost it’s way. Almost everywhere you look you see schools and roads being built; You hear about money being spent on infrastructure, and you hear about the government trying wholeheartedly to raise the standard of living for typical Ecuadorans. Though I have no doubt that there are interests that would prefer things they way they were - the way things have become in the United States - the current administration seems dedicated to fighting those interests. By contrast, the United States government hasn’t just surrendered to such interests, they are a fully invested partner in helping corporations financially rape the citizens.
We must continue to follow these events carefully as the MSM tries to drown out our cognitive abilities in noise about mistresses gone wild and money-making madness abounding. Suzan __________

10 comments:

Tom Harper said...

Good post. Conservatives have been mastering and perfecting the "message war" since the 1930s; maybe even earlier. They know exactly how to push the race buttons when they're talking to KKK-types. They know how to bring out the Fire of Jesus when they're talking to devout Christians. They know how to get the poor and oppressed to lash out in fury at "elitists" and "godless liberals" instead of the real culprit.

And Democrats keep thinking that they're certain to win the next election because their policies are better, and they keep explaining their policies in long dry boring speeches and articles that bore everybody to sleep. The Left needs to learn (from the Right, if they have to) how to communicate, how to push the right buttons and strike the right chord.

Jolly Roger said...

The biggest grifter I've ever seen descended upon us like the vulture she is in 2008. And she's STILL milking the rubes, who worship her every stupid utterance.

TomCat said...

Hi Suzan

I'm rushing through to let you know that I've moved Politics Plus to http://www.politicsplus.org/blog

You're in the new blogroll there. Would you please update me in yours?

Beekeepers Apprentice said...

It's The Big Lie - that Obama caused the recession. Ok, here's a personal glimpse of just how backwards thinking the teabaggers are:

I have a co-worker who is a teabagger. She's actually gotten active in it. Back a few months ago when the payroll tax went down for most of us who make less than $250K a year, she was convinced, absolutely convinced, that her paycheck had gone down and she was paying more taxes. Mine went up, and I make about what she makes, so I know her paycheck went up too, because her taxes went down. I remember hearing her telling someone on the phone that she was being taxed to death, her paycheck was lower and dwindling, etc. etc. etc. Even when faced with a bigger number on that check than she saw her paycheck go down. That's what we're dealing with - utter denial.

Suzan said...

Thanks for your comment, Bee, but I don't believe they even think Obama caused the problems. According to one source I spoke with today, they think that Obama is synonymous with those who caused the problems - you know, welfare queens, lazy men who refuse to get a job and are on welfare, promiscuous women having abortions, minorities demanding rights which are superior to those earned by white people (the true rulers of America) . . .

Scary stuff under those tin-foil hats.

Seems to be a crowd gathering for his body after a "Seven Days in May" scenario.

And there are millions hoping for this to "bring back the good ole days."

According to my source, these folks have educations but are now watching Limpbaugh and Beckt wide-eyed and credulous.

Now that's truly terrifying.

S

t's The Big Lie - that Obama caused the recession.
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Suzan said...

Just like Al Gore in 2000, Tom?

and Democrats keep thinking that they're certain to win the next election because their policies are better, and they keep explaining their policies in long dry boring speeches and articles that bore everybody to sleep.

Funny how these big-brained "Conservatives" can hardly stay awake in order to hear the information that will save their economic lives, isn't it?

Grifter, JR?

Aren't you giving grifters a bad name?

Heh heh.

Done. And done, TC. You're on my blog perfectly - as usual.

Thanks for the comments, friends.

S
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Kvatch said...

Hey Suzan! Thanks so much for the link. I was pretty depressed about the situation here as the Frogette and I returned from Ecuador--returning to a country where I have no job, no health care, and where my nest egg can be stretched about 1/5 of the distance.

It's no wonder that, with the cost of living south of the equator what it is and the crazies gearing up to be put back in charge of the asylum here, Americans are expatriating like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Suzan said...

My question, Kvatch, is why did you come back?

I'm thinking if I got to a nice, cheap place I would stay!

But I'm sure family reasons prevail . . . until the lack of jobs, madness-inducing politics, etc., cancel out those reasons for staying.

And turning over the asylum (once again) to the crazies?

Don't get me started . . . !!!

Thanks for commenting, and keep us up to date on your travel plans.

S

with the cost of living south of the equator what it is and the crazies gearing up to be put back in charge of the asylum here, Americans are expatriating like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Kvatch said...

My question, Kvatch, is why did you come back?

Couple of things: As you suspected family obligations--parents are getting up there and are not as self-sufficient as they used to be. Work--working remotely is one thing, but finding gainful employment and being able to get work visas is difficult. Travel--we promised ourselves a year's worth of travel before we settled on what to do next.

All in all, we're not done with the US quite yet, but it's a close thing.

Suzan said...

Thanks for the info, Kvatch.

Do you think it's more difficult to get visas now?

Glad to know that you're treating yourselves well.

It may be the last chance?

S

Work--working remotely is one thing, but finding gainful employment and being able to get work visas is difficult. Travel--we promised ourselves a year's worth of travel before we settled on what to do next.
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