So says the Sacramento Bee in today's editorial. As a former editorial writer myself, I can hardly imagine penning such an insulting, childish screed as the "official voice" of a newspaper. It's one thing to go after with such vigor the politicians, "special interests" and unions that run this state. It's quite another to insult the populace at large — and the diminishing number of readers you have — with such arrogance, condescension and petulance.
Some excerpts from this stunning editorial titled "You did it! Uh, so what now?":
Good morning, California voters. Do you feel better, now that you've gotten that out of your system? ...
The point is that you're sick and tired of all this political mumbo-jumbo. So you showed those politicians who's in charge. You. You're now officially in charge – of a state that will be something like $25 billion in the hole for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
So, now that you've put those irksome politicians in their place, maybe it's time to think about this: Since you're in charge, exactly what do you intend to do about that pesky $25 billion hole in the budget?
Lay off some state workers? Which ones? And how many? Remember, the entire state payroll is about $25 billion. You could lay off every last one of them – every Highway Patrol officer, every prison guard, every state firefighter, every health inspector, every professor in the UC and CSU systems, every DMV employee and every nameless, faceless paper-shuffling bureaucrat – and the state would only be barely in the black. But if you want to do that, go ahead. You're in charge, remember.
OK. Let's pause here. For one, being "barely in the black" isn't a bad goal to have. The Sac Bee also presumes that every one of those state workers is essential to the operation of not just government but life itself in California. I'm still of the mind that if you laid off 70 percent of state employees in California, few residents would even notice.
How about criticizing Gov. Arnold and the rest of the dopes in Sacramento for saying that the first people to be laid off if these propositions didn't pass would be firefighters, police, other emergency personnel ... oh, and teachers? The first ones? We're to believe there aren't a few thousand pencil pushers in California's innumerable, little-known yet expensive state agencies who could be let go? No. We'll scare 'em with wildfires burning out of control and criminals terrorizing our un-policed streets. The Sac Bee apparently endorses that deplorable scare tactic.
We continue ...
Let's see. What about laying off more teachers? Shortening the school year? Releasing prisoners? Selling some of the state's real estate holdings? Borrow billions to tide the state over until the economy improves.
What's that? Few of these ideas sound like what you want to do? Well, that's OK. You really don't have to do these things yourself. You just have to figure out what you want done and tell the Legislature to do it.
They'll surely hop right on it, now that you're in charge. Just keep in mind that your suggestions have to keep the state solvent and able to meet all its legal obligations. And you know how complicated things get when the lawyers get involved.
Wow. This passages reveals so much about the mainstream California liberal mindset. We are not supposed to tell our legislators what to do. We are supposed to just sit here and be passive subjects of our government overlords.
As we suffer the indignities of the highest income and sales taxes in the country, increasing fees tacked on to virtually every mandated and unpleasant interaction with state government, unchecked illegal immigration that is straining public services by giving free rides to non-citizens, and a state legislature that is perhaps the most corrupt (and certainly) the least effectual in America, we are supposed to just "lie back and think of California." Or the children. Or something.
As for the substance of this passage, I would not lose a wink of sleep if state real estate holdings, such as the LA Coliseum, were sold off to private enterprise. Laying off more teachers? Why not. Mrs. Zaius informed me of something she heard on the radio the other day: Just 31 California teachers have been fired for incompetence in (I think) the last decade. Blow up the education budget and institute a voucher program. That can't be worse than the status quo—the highest-paid teachers in the country in a public school system ranked second-to-last in the country.
The editorial builds to one final childish jab:
You say it'll take you awhile to figure this stuff out, that you'll need a little time to get up to speed on the details? No problem. You've got until June 30 to get it all straight.
That sounds a lot like work, you say? Sorry, no whining allowed. You asked for this job. Now you've got it, so get on it. Oh, and remember. The entire nation is watching to see how you do now that you're in charge.
No pressure or anything. Just thought you'd want to know.
No whining allowed? Who's the one whining here? Seems to me it's the Sac Bee. Besides, as the Bee well knows, this is not how representational government works. The people delegate the details of policy to their elected representatives. To pretend that it is now the "job" of Mr. and Mrs. California voter to convene in a room somewhere to balance the budget in five weeks is beyond absurd.
The voters on Tuesday sent instructions to their elected representatives in broad, simple terms: The days of taxing and borrowing to spend, spend, spend in California must end. But since the Sac Bee is asking, I'll bite. Make a list of what are considered "essential" public services. Cut that list in half. Then cut it in half again. Then cut the budgets of those services in half. Everything else not on the list? Too bad. We'll try to get you guys funded when the economy picks up again.
And to help that happen, let's cut corporate and personal income taxes dramatically so California becomes attractive to entrepreneurs again. The revenue generated from this supply-side thinking will help California get back on its feet — certainly a lot better than the propositions ever would.
Yes, I realize that previous propositions and laws lock in a lot of spending in California. So keep a few lawyers on hand to fight the "whiners" in court as you go about dismantling a state government on spendaholic autopilot.
Californians, or at least this one, is not a child who needs the state to take care of me.
California has a special election Tuesday, in which voters are being asked to vote on six ballot initiatives, all of them bad. Yes, all of them. Don't listen to Gov. Schwarzenegger or read the papers. Believe what you read on this little known and poorly regarded blog: Vote no on every one of them.
But, please, don't take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal's editors write Monday:
Given all of this trickery, it is no wonder polls show Props 1A-E are likely to lose. The only initiative ahead in the polls, Prop 1F, would block pay raises for lawmakers if they fail to balance the budget. One recent poll found that 72% of Californians agreed that "if the measures on the special election ballot are defeated, it would send a message to the governor and the legislature that voters are tired of more government spending and higher taxes."
That's a good message to send. California politicians have operated for years as if the purpose of government is not to provide reliable public services at low cost, but to feed public employee unions. Sacramento also needs to rethink its highly progressive antigrowth tax code, where the tax rates are the highest outside of New York City. The Golden State now ranks worst or second worst on most ratings of state business climate. This drives away entrepreneurs and high-income taxpayers, which in turn leads to lower revenues.
If the voters do reject these false fixes, there will be wails of despair in Sacramento. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who never saw a spending or tax increase she didn't like, says "California, frankly, is going to be in a world of hurt." Mr. Schwarzenegger says he will be forced to release 30,000 criminals from jail, and to lay off teachers, troopers and firefighters. Look for the state to ask Washington for another bailout "stimulus."
I'm sure they will. But here's the thing voters need to understand. The Democrats have held the purse strings in this state for a long time. Schwarzenegger, a genuine Republican in name only, lost his stomach for battling the profligate Democrats when his last special election crashed and burned. It amazes me that Arnold even bothered to run for re-election in 2006.
No matter, though. He's there, and the best Schwarzenegger and his team have been able to come up with is to sell off state assets to pay short term debts.
Arnold will be gone by 2011, and perhaps sooner if a fledgling recall effort gains traction. (Doubtful, but who knows?) The more important task is the oust the corrupt representatives who have whored themselves to the public employee unions and various statist interests all these years. California simply cannot continue on this path of unlimited entitlements and benefits. It's becoming impossible for the middle class to survive and thrive in this state. The only thing to do is cut, and cut deep. It requires going to war with the unions -- truly going to war. It may mean suing the unions, and perhaps ousting the leaders. The unions are already subverting the public interest, and have been for a long time.
Something has got to give. A sound thrashing of all six ballot initiatives on Tuesday would send a message to Sacramento that the voters are no longer amenable to the establishment's distortions and lies. But the critical step will be to remove the worst offenders and push necessary reforms despite the protests of public employees.
One last thing: Several thousand people showed up at a tea party-style rally in Corona on Saturday, hosted by L.A. talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chaimpou. Another rally, organized by Laura Boatright, is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Ontario. The festivities start at 5:00 p.m. Show up and let your freedom flag fly.
Update: For your amusement and edification, more "No" agitprop:
It's independent's day on the podcast, which returns with gusto after a brief hiatus. Ben Boychuk and guest host Robb Leatherwood talk "post-partisanship" with Jackie Salit, an activist, political consultant, executive editor of the Neo-Independent and spokeswoman for IndependentVoting.org.
Among the issues Ben and Robb discuss with Jackie Salit:
• Just who are these independent voters, anyway?
• Is there an independent agenda?
• Is the independent movement left, right or center?
• How did 19 million independents end up voting for Barack Obama?
• What are the most important policy changes needed for an independent voting bloc to grow and thrive?
• Is "post-partisanship" possible, let alone desireable?
After you've listened to the podcast, watch Jackie Salit's video presentation, "How the Independent Movement Went Left By Going Right."
Music heard in this podcast:
• "In It for the Money," by Supergrass
• "Bossa Per Due" by Nicola Conte
• "Sun Hits the Sky," by Supergrass
• "Lunera," by Trio Electrico
I had planned to take a break from all non-paid writing, including blogging, I swear. I was going to stop reading other blogs for a little while, too. But between writing iPhone app reviews, I keep clicking around where I shouldn't, and so I find this:
Federal Felony To Use Blogs, the Web, Etc. To Cause Substantial Emotional Distress Through "Severe, Repeated, and Hostile" Speech?
Eugene Volokh goes on to discuss the obvious constitutional problems with HR 1966 by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., which is aimed at curbing "cyberbullying" in the wake of the vicious harassment and tragic suicide of Megan Meier. The bill, if passed, would go well beyond criminalizing the cruel MySpace hoax Lori Drew and her compatriots pulled on young Megan in 2006. Volokh lists off a few examples and concludes:
The law, if enacted, would clearly be facially overbroad (and probably unconstitutionally vague), and would thus be struck down on its face under the First Amendment. But beyond that, surely even the law's supporters don't really want to cover all this speech.
What are Rep. Linda Sanchez and the others thinking here? Are they just taking the view that "criminalize it all, let the prosecutors sort it out"? Even if that's so, won't their work amount to nothing, if the law is struck down as facially overbroad -- as I'm pretty certain it would be? Or are they just trying to score political points here with their constituents, with little regard to whether the law will actually do any good? I try to focus my posts mostly on what people do, not on their motives, but here the drafting is so shoddy that I just wonder why this happened.
I resurrected the headline because here is yet another example of the "progressive" response to the problem of speech: blunt-force regulation through criminal statutes. I recommend reading the entire discussion at The Volokh Conspiracy. Unlike the comments at most blogs, the Volokh Conspiracy readers generally know their stuff.
As for me, I'm going back to paying work now.
How is this possible? "Lobbyists prosper in downturn," according to the Associated Press.
Senate lobbying records show that dozens of cities and counties signed up with lobbying firms in the first three months of this year. Their goal is to get a greater share of the money flowing out of Washington, from a record federal budget to the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
Some of the communities hiring lobbyists have done so before and are simply shuffling their lineup or adding to it. But others are getting into the lobbying game for the first time.
It's possible because anyone paying attention can see that the Obama administration is drastically altering the rules underlying the Rule of Law. When the president begins threatening creditors who oppose his plans for handing over two of the big three U.S. auto manufacturers to the United Auto Workers, you should have a fair idea of the way in which the winds are blowing.
According to the story:
The change in administrations has spurred interest, too. The Bush administration was viewed as less supportive of aiming federal tax dollars at local initiatives. Cities and counties now believe they have a better shot at securing federal money.
The Bush administration was a profligate as any other, and perhaps more so given the rise in federal outlays over the past eight years. The difference, as always, is flow. What the local governments fail to understand -- incredibly -- is that the federal dollars they seek always -- always -- come with strings attached.
But it's not just the local governments, of course. The corporations that have accepted TARP money and those that have not rightly worry about the direction in which the administration is headed. Picking winners and losers. Favoring special interests amenable to the powerful party's agenda. Reshaping political patronage. This is change? This is the new post-partisan direction?
Did anyone really believe that?
I suspect Kemp hadn't been on many conservatives' radar for quite some time, but his importance to the Reagan Revolution cannot be understated. Shortly after Kemp's family announced in January that the former congressman and 1996 Republican vice-presidential nominee was ill, Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator wrote a piece assessing Kemp's legacy to the conservative movement:
Jack Kemp long ago earned his role in this American pantheon. He did not invent "supply-side" economics. Yet in a day and age when many members of Congress use their office for nothing grander than prying grandma's Social Security check out of the federal morass and issuing a press release telling the world, Kemp, elected in 1970, set about an entirely different task. He began schooling himself, and eventually his party, about the difference between bread slicing and bread baking economics. As Bartley would later recount in his book The Seven Fat Years: And How To Do It Again, Kemp became the focus of a Washington group (paralleling Bartley's in New York) that focused on the economic woes of the 1970s. What they were, how they got there, and, strikingly, what to actually do about them. Bartley says that Kemp "did bizarre things like sit down and read The General Theory." This would be John Maynard Keynes' less than scintillating tome The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, a basic economics text then and now if one wishes to call oneself a Keynesian. It is not to be confused with a romance novel.
With what Washington would eventually realize was the typical Kemp passion, Kemp took an idea about tax cuts and made of it a gospel. In legislative form it became what was called Kemp-Roth, named respectively after Kemp the House sponsor and Delaware GOP Senator William Roth, its Senate champion. At its core, the idea proposed to slash personal income tax rates -- and cut them big time by 30 percent over three years. It was 1978, the middle of the Carter malaise years, and after what Bartley calls a "stormy debate" the bill failed in a conference committee. Kemp kept going. By 1980 he had convinced candidate Ronald Reagan, and the concept was written into the 1980 Republican platform. By August of 1981 President Ronald Reagan was signing Kemp's cause into law. By 1983, the American economy had begun to shake off recession and, in a startling reversal, roared to life. The results were so powerful that Reagan later said France's Socialist President François Mitterrand, Reagan's guest at the 1983 Williamsburg G-7 Summit, wanted to know just exactly what went into America's blossoming and quite vivid economic growth.
For Kemp, this was more than simply passing a piece of legislation. Supply-side represented a real threat to the core beliefs of an entire intellectual class, a class that then -- as now -- considers itself "enlightened." Passing Congressman Kemp one day as he bounded (Kemp bounds, he doesn't walk) up an escalator to a House office building from the Capitol subway, I watched him overtake a moderate Republican Congressman who clearly considered himself a member of this enlightened class, an affliction that, sad to say, is all too bipartisan. After a brief conversation that required Kemp to stand still, he clapped the moderate on the back and -- with a smile, always with a smile -- said: "You know what your problem is? You're an elitist!" And bounded away as his target visibly fumed that someone would mistake his addiction to me-too liberalism as something other than being a champion of the average man.
No doubt, we'll be hearing and reading a great deal about Jack Kemp, good and bad, in the next few days. For the moment, let me simply say, may he rest in peace.
"I had plenty of substantive disagreements with him, including his lack of interest in cutting spending and controlling the growth of government," Bandow writes. "But he was a rarity in Washington--someone who had achieved significant success before entering politics, really cared about those with the least opportunities, was seriously interested in ideas. and genuinely hoped to use politics to make the world a better place. He might not have succeeded in achieving the latter goal, but he personally made the world a better place."
Pleszczynski adds: "Jack's football position was quarterback -- but in fact his position was leader. Even at the small Saturday Evening Club dinner he once attended as our guest, where he felt called upon to tell other guests when to come to the table and where to sit. He couldn't help himself. Wherever man still wants to breathe freely, his memory will remain cherished."
Update 3: Bill Bennett, who in 1993 co-founded Empower America with Kemp, remembers his friend: "You know, there's a lot of talk, these days, about who will be the next Ronald Reagan. A few of us were thinking, this morning, who will be the next Jack Kemp?"
A few years ago, in a moment of weakness, my wife gave $100 to the California Republican Party. I wasn't sore about it -- it was her money, after all -- but I warned her that we would never be left alone by party hacks asking for money incessantly.
Making such a prediction, of course, is like predicting the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to cut off a hapless phone bank worker with a curt but polite, "Sorry, can't help you today." Some disgruntled Republicans and stand-up conservatives like to explain to the caller why they won't hand over another penny to the party. (Articles have been written. I'm too tired to look for them now. Google 'em yourselves.)
Well, I don't explain. I don't think they care what I think, nor would they understand what I have to say. What's more, I feel sort of bad for the poor schlub on the other end of the line who has to listen to cranky retirees lecture them for the thousandth time about how the GOP is weak on illegal immigration or whatever. It's a waste of time.
Point is, withholding my money is enough. They want it. They keep asking for it. I don't give it to them. Simple as that.
If pressed, however, I might point to a story that landed in my inbox from the Sacramento Bee on Friday: State GOP faces Prop 1A pickle.
The good news, ostensibly, is that the Republican party is planning to come out against the deceptive initiative on next month's special election ballot that would extend recent tax increases while imposing weak spending curbs on the Legislature. It's a bad measure and nobody should vote for it. In a sense, then, opposing Prop. 1A is the very definition of no brainer.
So why does the state GOP face a Prop. 1A "pickle"? Let the SacBee explain:
The CRP will find itself in a tricky position explaining how it can oppose Proposition 1A after it already gave Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger $650,000, much of which is going toward the pro-1A effort. Schwarzenegger laid claim to that money in January and February ($1.3 million shows up on the secretary of state's Web site, but the transfers have been double-posted, according to Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Julie Soderlund).
CRP spokesman Hector Barajas already faced questions of this sort from Los Angeles talk-show hosts John and Ken on Wednesday, who grilled Barajas on KFI-AM about how his party could give so much money that ended up supporting Proposition 1A. John and Ken held a protest in front of the California Republican Party headquarters in Burbank, largely due to that money transfer.
Barajas later said by phone that the CRP board decided to give Schwarzenegger $650,000 to pay for "the governor's activities, whether it's for conferences, his plane, his travel, other expenses." He said it was not earmarked for any one purpose.
He said the party routinely helps its governors and other elected officials. "Whether an individual is a fundraising machine or not, a partnership is a partnership. If we provide money for the governor so he can go out to conferences or promote his agenda, that's the function of the party."
Money is fungible. The $650,000 the state GOP gave to Schwarzenegger for "activities" is money he won't have to worry about as he raises funds and campaigns for Prop. 1A. So although it's nice the California Republican establishment is chiming in to oppose a bad ballot initiative, they've given their financial support, even if indirectly.
Former EBay exec and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman came out against Prop. 1A a month ago and urged the party to do the same. Good for her. Unfortunately, she still hasn't gotten around to writing a check to the No on 1A campaign. I hope that's on her to-do list somewhere.
As I noted yesterday, the rude, juvenile, supposedly professional journalist Susan Roesgen attempted to bully a tea party attendee in Chicago yesterday. She only embarrassed herself and her network, CNN — if either is capable of embarrassment ... I think not, however.
Anyway, after the cameras stopped rolling on the air, some of the people protesting who witnessed the debacle that Roesgen called "not really family friendly" gave her a piece of their mind — firmly but with civility. It's worth watching. (HT: Mark Hemmingway)
The original target of Roesgen's tirade, "Norm," was a guest on The Mark Levin Show a few minutes ago. A quick recounting as I listened and typed:
Way to go, Norm. In the era of constant news, spirited blogging, and talking heads coming to loggerheads on cable TV, it's easy to forget that impromptu arguing comes quite easy to the people who engage in such stuff for a living — like me, Ben, Joel, and Deregulator. It's not quite so easy for an "ordinary" American to stick up for their principles and articulate a point on the spot — whether it's in a bar or on national television in the face of a hostile, smarty-pants, big media dope like Susan Roesgen.
Again, way to go, Norm!
The new Scripps-Howard column surveys yesterday's tea parties and asks if it's time for a new tax revolt.
I posted my thoughts late last night. A condensed version appears in the column. Also in the column, and over at his Philly Weekly lair*, Joel issues his verdict on yesterday's mass demonstration of anti-tax, anti-spending, anti-debt fervor:
Sad to say, but the tea parties were one of the biggest displays of sore loserdom seen in recent U.S. history.
I'll leave it to Dr. Zaius to unearth bigger displays of "sore loserdom" from the party of who gave us that tireless phrase, "selected, not elected." But for now I wonder what Joel would have these people do?
He complains that the tens of thousands of people who turned out yesterday, often under less than ideal weather conditions, weren't in the streets months ago. Well, so what? If it turns out that a million or even just 250,000 people around the country took the time to show up for these events, does that mean anything at all? I'm not sure what the answer is myself, but I don't think it's merely "sore loserdom" at work.
Nevertheless, Joel apparently buys the line that the whole thing is just Fox News-driven "astroturf":
No doubt the demonstrations included many people legitimately concerned about the growth of government, regardless of which party is in power. But the glee of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox News gang in promoting the tea parties suggests those sincere folks were co-opted by Republican operatives less concerned about free market capitalism and more interested in undermining a Democratic president.
Notwithstanding a couple of caveats about the protesters' sincerity and "legitimate concerns," Joel really doesn't know who these people are, except that they watch Fox News and listen to AM talk radio. These are disaffected Bush voters and "Anybody But McCain" people. These are Palin 2012 fanatics and Ron Paul die-hards. Although I guess they are "losers" in the technical sense of not only having lost the general election but, in most cases, the primaries as well, they've been complaining for a long time. It just took a Democratic president, a reckless Congress, and the prospect of $1 trillion budget deficits every year for the next 10 years to get them together and yelling on street corners and in front of government buildings. This has been a long time coming.
Events shape politics. Joel knows this. So do other liberal Democrats who have tried to dismiss the anti-tax, anti-big-government protests. They shouldn't act so surprised.
Joel then goes on to express his dismay at the "alarming rhetoric" on display, which is pretty commonplace at mass demonstrations. Yglesias got all hot and bothered about this, too. And the Huffington Post is touting "The 10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs," which includes a picture of the Statue of Liberty with her head in her hands. (Qu'elle horror! Have the Rethugs no shame!) "Maobama" = "Bushitler". I guess Obama Derangement Syndrome going to be a fact of life, after all.
Outrageous signs are one of those things we like to focus our attention on -- just peruse Zombie Time's Hall of Shame -- to show how crazy some of our political opponents are. But from what I could tell, there was remarkably little seditious libel or overt displays of imagining the king's death to be found yesterday. Texans -- not unlike San Franciscans -- talk about seceding every few years. Big deal. This is political street theater, after all, not the Oxford Union.
Finally, there's this:
Many carried signs warning of 'taxation without representation,' which is ridiculous: Whether you love or hate the new policies in Washington D.C., they are being crafted and carried out by duly elected representatives of the people.
"Taxation without representation" -- yeah, that's dumb. One of the problems with this tea party business, and the main reason I've been so ambivalent about it, is that it puts a lot of hope in lightning striking twice. I'm all about recurring to first principles, especially the American Founding's principles, but our situation today isn't Boston circa 1773. It's different, and therefore requires a different response. But beyond decrying (frequently misspelled) slogans on homemade placards, you would do well to actually listen to what these people are saying. It's all pretty much the same thing. The debt is going to kill us. Big tax increases are inevitable. We have to vote the bums out.
Again, I don't know whether this movement will spark a Proposition 13-like tax backlash or what. And I don't think rallies persuade anyone of anything, for the most part. But dismissing this as Joel does -- and as some of his fellow travelers do in a far more contemptuous way -- would be a regrettable error.
* Speaking of regrettable errors, I spelled "lair" wrong in the paragraph near the top of the post. Not a Freudian slip, just carelessness. Sorry.
Update: Tim Slagle at Big Hollywood makes a similar, if a bit more cutting, point:
The popular meme circulating throughout the “unbiased” media yesterday was: The original Tea Party was about taxation without representation but Americans HAVE representation and Republicans are just mad because they lost. The more I twist that in my head, the more absurd it sounds. What they’re really saying is: you are only allowed representation in government if you’re the majority.
Funny how that didn’t seem to be the case in California when Prop. 8 passed. I don’t remember any snide reporter telling a disappointed same-sex couple “Hey, you lost, get over it.” In fact, their protests have been covered by teary-eyed reporterettes (too young to remember Selma) as a modern civil rights struggle. (How is the right to keep your income and raise children free from debt not a civil right?) And the justification of majority Democracy gave no comfort to Prop. 8 opponents who went to court to overturn the majority.
If you want to talk about taxation without representation, how about the millions of children who are not old enough to vote; the ones who have been saddled with thousands of dollars of debt in just the past hundred days of this administration? Certainly their voices should be heard, although it’s probably assumed Americans below voting age would have made the same childish misguided decision the Obamaphiles did.
It’s funny how Democrats only support democracy when it skews in their favor. Things like abortion rights, gun control, and nontraditional marriage, are just “too important” to leave up to the electorate. But when it’s a decision to limit salaries, ban smoking from bars, tax the rich, or any other thing the Left wants, populism rules.
I don't think I disagree with a word of that.
This sore loser mistakenly spray painted "1776" on his computer monitor, when he could have just typed in "2009."
Ignore the propaganda and to hell with the scoffers. The tea parties are the real deal.
If I had to guess, about 2,000 upbeat, patriotic, solidly middle-class denizens of Inland Southern California lined the busy intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Day Creek Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga between 5:00 and 7:00 on Wednesday evening. The police estimated the crowd at roughly 1,600, but that seemed awfully conservative. In any case, a spirited and diverse throng waved flags and signs, chanted and shouted and cheered as passing traffic along the bustling thoroughfare honked their horns in approval.
So... those are the “right-wing extremists” you may have read about recently.
I confess, I was a bit lukewarm about the whole "tea party" business at first. (Joel and I discuss why in the latest podcast. And I share many of Chad the Elder's sentiments here.) Not that I don't enjoy a demonstration. A few effigy burnings now and again would do the body politic good. But tea bags? Americans did tea 236 years ago. We're not arguing about taxation without representation anymore. We're arguing about spending the United States into ruin.
Wednesday's event allayed many of my doubts. The new American tea party protesters are harkening back to an old tax revolt to lend credence to a modern political movement. Two-thousand people here, another thousand there... multiply that by a several hundred events across the country and pretty soon you're talking about an honest-to-goodness movement. How far this thing goes, I wouldn't dare hazard a guess. But I do know there are already events in the works for May 18 -- the day before California's special election -- and July 4.
I have to believe Obama's partisans are more than a little concerned. Smug bloggers and pompous pundits spent the days leading up to April 15 mocking the tea party protests, dismissing them as "astroturf" -- fake grass roots -- created by Fox News and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks. (If support from a national organization disqualifies a local rally from being called "grassroots," then the word should never appear in the same sentence with "MoveOn.org" or "Kos" ever again.)
One of the worst pieces of anti-tea party dross I encountered Wednesday came courtesy of Democratic party hack and CNN commentator Paul Begala. The man who made a small fortune concocting elaborate fictions for the Clintons attempts to defame the tens of thousands of good people who turned out across the country as “goofballs,” “phonies,” “whiners” and -- get this -- “plutocrats.”
Plutocrats! I saw small business owners, teachers, Teamsters, stay-at-home moms, retirees, college kids, and even a few government workers angry and worried that the political establishment has saddled the next two or three generations of Americans with a ruinous debt fueled by government spending gone mad. I didn’t see a fat cat in the bunch. But, as I say, it was a big crowd. Who knows? Maybe one slipped in.
And, by the way, the tea partiers don’t merely blame Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress for the coming debt tsunami -- $35,000 and counting for every man, woman and child in America, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. They blame Republicans, too, for years of fiscal irresponsibility when they held the purse strings. Naturally, they worry what Obama and the Democrats will do. They don't believe his promises about tax simplification, and they are not mollified by stupid giveaways and pitiful adjustments in withholding on their paychecks. They see a $1 trillion deficit and know that the government can't print enough money to paper it over.
The Rancho tea party, as well as an event earlier in the day in downtown San Bernardino, was organized by an energetic activist named Laura Boatright. She was thrilled with the turnout but slightly disappointed that no elected officials or chamber of commerce types bothered to show up. Maybe they knew they wouldn't be too welcome?
Boatright understands that the problem facing Californians and Americans generally is that we elected the people who brought us to this pretty fiscal pass. "You know how Harry Truman had that sign on his desk in the White House that said, 'The buck stops here'? Well, that's not true," Boatright said. "The buck stops with us... with the people. It's our responsibility to vote these politicians out of office."
And that requires money, organization and persistence. "This isn't the last event," Boatright assured me.
The Inland tea parties drew big crowds, surprising even the event planners. Events in Palm Springs and Temecula drew about 1,000 people, according to a Press-Enterprise story. Organizers in Temecula had only been expecting a few hundred people.
I've posted several photos of the event after the jump. (Click on "read more" below the icons.) Darleen Click of Protein Wisdom, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, was also on hand snapping pictures of the festivities. Check out her post and her photos.
Hundreds of people waved flags and demonstrated their support for lower taxes, restrained spending and smaller government along Foothill Boulevard in Rancho Cucamonga on April 15. Estimates put the crowd at 1,600 to 2,000 people.
Many people at the Rancho Cucamonga tea party are exercised about Prop. 1A, a deceptive measure on the May special election ballot that would extend tax increases in the guise of limiting spending. The gentleman in the center-left of the photo is wearing a shirt that reads "I don't need sex: The government screws me everyday."
Laura Boatright of Ontario, Ca., organized the tea parties in San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga. "The buck stops with us... with the people," she said.
There were at least a dozen Gadsden flags waving at the Rancho Cucamonga Tea Party. No doubt Janet Napolitano is gravely concerned.
There were surprisingly few freaks at the Rancho Cucamonga Tea Party on April 15, 2009. Memo to organizers: Next time, more freaks!
Iain Murray observes the scene in Washington D.C.:
It turns out the the Park Service wasn't very happy about a million suspicious teabags being taken into Lafayette Square, and so forbade the organizers of the D.C. Tea Party from doing so. I overheard a reporter tut-tutting about how badly organized this was. Yes, it's such a shame when amateurs attempt to organize a protest, isn't it? This sort of thing should be left to the professionals at MoveOn . . .
So these are the dangerous right-wingers rallying against "the price we pay for civilization," eh? They can't even defend their right to keep and bear tea!
A new Department of Homeland Security report warns that dangerous right-wing elements could be exploiting the economic downturn, fears of gun control, and the presence of a black man in the Oval Office to recruit people to their extremist causes.
By way of evidence, DHS offers... well, not much. A bit of conjecture. A dollop of speculation. Pro forma invocation of the late, unlamented Timothy McVeigh. References to angry web chatter and some recycled propaganda from liberal activist groups and a foreign university. And that's about it.
Radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock touted the report on Monday and Eli Lake and Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times followed up with a story on Tuesday. That in turn provoked cries of alarm and outrage from conservatives who fear a crackdown on dissent from the Obama administration.
Truth is, the report is just the sort of blinkered, philistine, pig-ignorant analysis we've come expect from the career bureaucrats at Homeland Security. The nine-page brief is impossibly vague and open-ended. DHS names no specific groups, offers no specific numbers, and says the threat so far is "largely rhetorical." With maybe one exception, the report relies entirely on anecdotal evidence -- which hardly counts as evidence at all -- derived from dubious sources, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group unable to distinguish a Klansman from a policy wonk.
The report is almost wholly conjectural and so freighted with qualifiers and caveats as to be useless as a policy-making guide or as intelligence for law enforcement. Mind you, intelligence professionals wrote the thing! This is what you get when bureaucrats value "intelligence" over intelligence.
Please click the "Read More" link below the icons at the bottom of this post.
Mrs. Zaius has been Facebook chatting with a friend tonight who is getting lots of giggles out of conservatives' and libertarians' big plans to go "teabagging" on April 15. The joke, apparently, is that anti-tax, anti-statist protesters don't know that in using the word, they are using a term for a (mostly) gay sexual act ... (use your imagination, if you're not familiar).
Trouble is, no fans of this movement uses the term. The term is throwing a "tea party." The home page of the official National Tax Day Tea Party doesn't even have the word "bag" anywhere. Who's employing the "teabagging" term? The lefties and media tools (same thing, I know) finally "reporting" on the massive grass-roots movement. And the worst offenders appear to be ... SURPRISE! ... on MSNBC. Via Hot Air's Allahpundit:
This makes not one, not two, but three segments in primetime to which MSNBC has devoted the fine art of the teabag pun, thereby proving that, despite the Foxies’ best efforts, FNC’s actually not the most biased network when it comes to tea-party coverage. Try as I might to manufacture some phony outrage at this display the way Shuster would surely have done if it aired on Fox, all I can muster is boredom — and grim amusement at the thought of what sorts of innuendo Olby would be lobbing at O’Reilly had he indulged in such idiocy.
The left and the lefty media can decry these rallies all they want. But they are called "tea parties." No one is "teabagging" Congress (ho ho!). Did the patriots who helped spur a freedom-gaining revolution "teabag" Britain? No.
Grow up. But asking people who get their news primarily from MSNBC and the Huffington Post to grow up is like me asking the plants I put in the ground last week to thrive. It's pointless.
And let's make a pre-protests prediction: The right's anti-tax, anti-statist events will be free of the childish antics of most lefty protests — the burning of administration officials in effigy, the posters of the president and vice president with blood-soaked fangs, the enormous papier-mâché puppets.
We'll see Apriil 15 who are the adults, and who are the children when it comes to protests. We've already revealed who the dishonest juveniles are when it comes to media coverage.
Now, it should go without saying that I don't agree with all of the reasons Joel brings to bear to back up his proposition. I do share his suspicion of unfettered presidential power. The Constitution gives the president extraordinary powers in times of emergency. But when the "emergency" is indefinite, then the Constitution truly is a "parchment barrier" to tyranny.
But what's most interesting is Joel's conclusion. Reviewing the Obama administration's record so far, he finds that the new boss is only "a little better" than the old boss. And for my friend Mathis, "A little better isn’t good enough." Where does that leave a principled liberal in relation to the Democratic Party? In the same place that many conservatives have found themselves vis-a-vis the GOP: Desperately seeking a viable alternative.
George W. Bush took the presidency in 2000 in part because many liberals looked at Democrats and Republicans and decided — much like the end of Animal Farm — that they couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Back then, the similarities were on economics issues; today, it may be the case that the two parties are simply too similar on civil liberties issues.
Since 2000, many liberals repented that they cast votes for Ralph Nader and (perhaps) accidentally gave the presidency to Bush. The lesser of two evils they (and I) came to believe might be evil, but it is still less evil. Right?
But it seems that partisans on both sides of America’s political divide ought to uphold minimal standards of not-evil-at-all. Perhaps Democrats look at the deep unpopularity of the Republican Party and figure they can get away with betraying their base on these matters. They shouldn’t be so cavalier. Ralph Nader could always make a comeback.
Of course, a lot of things could happen. I've grown accustomed to hearing warnings from the right that the Republican establishment should think twice before betraying the base for the umpteenth time. Even with some 40 percent of voters identifying themselves as independent or unaffiliated, I'd say the odds of this are long -- the two-party system exists to make such third-party insurgencies difficult and therefore rare.
What's more likely is a transformation and realignment within the existing parties. We've certainly seen this many times before as both parties have changed with the times and political circumstances. Even likelier is the continued decline in voter participation at every level. Historically, voter turnout has been on the wane since 1960. The sharp increases in turnout in 2004 and 2008 were aberrations.
If I had to bet, voter turnout in 2010 and especially 2012 will sink once more as voters realize what Joel has come to understand: "A little better isn’t good enough." And the "lesser of two evils" is still evil. But rather than clamor for real reform, Americans will be resigned to the fact that the "lesser of two evils" is as good as it's going to get.
Lisa Schmeiser of Filthy Commerce joins Ben and Joel in this edition of the podcast to discuss:
• Why tax hikes are inevitable -- and not just for the "rich";
• How America's days of enjoying cheap, Chinese-made imports are likely numbered;
• Americans' unhealthy obsession with "stuff"... lots and lots of stuff;
• What Joel really thinks about Glenn Beck;
• What Ben really thinks about Disney's shareholders;
• How Pixar has broken the tension between art and commerce.
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Innit for the Money," by James Mathus and His Knockdown Society (from National Antiseptic)
• "The World Is Gone," by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchester (from The In-Kraut, Vol. 3)
• "Don't Let Money Be Your God," by the James Taylor Quartet (from Creation)
• "I'm Payin' Taxes, What am I Buyin'," by Fred Wesley and the J.B.s (from Funky Good Time: The Anthology)
Big Hollywood's Riley Hunter wants to know.