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Richard Viguerie is one of the GOP operatives responsible for the "Reagan Revolution." He pioneered small-donor mailing-list techniques, so when he says he's been a Tea Partier since before there was a Tea Party, he's not kidding. He's been taking money from the folks who support Limbaugh, Palin and Beck for decades. We can assume with a fair amount of confidence that what he's thinking echoes TP thought in general.

He's written an op-ed for Politico.com, and it's worth reading.

In the first paragraph, he writes: "Over the past 100 years, an elite progressive minority has taken the Republican Party far afield from its conservative platform and the interests and values of its grassroots conservative base." It's pretty standard conservative paranoia - the East Coast elites are coming to get us.

It just happens to be the exact opposite of his party's history.

A hundred years ago, the Republicans WERE the progressives. Trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican; so was McKinley, who was the first president in US history to advocate any form of pluralism. The post-Civil War Radical Republicans were responsible for the election of the first African-Americans to Congress, and explicit proponents of the power of the Federal government over the states.

If you continue to read past Viguerie's first paragraph, things get even weirder - for instance, Walter Cronkite and his pre-Vietnam colleagues on ABC and NBC are cast as liberal mouthpieces.

But it's a statement that sounds right if you're a Tea person, a classic example of Colbert "truthiness." It fits in with the Tea Party narrative of growing encroachment by hostile liberal forces on the small party of patriots. It just happens to be wrong.

But facts don't matter when the Truthy is on your side. (Neither does the fact that headline and lede have nothing to do with the rest of the piece. Quibbles, I know.)

Discuss

Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:20 AM PST

Which Great Nation?

by Average Ted

This is less of a complete entry, and more of a question. Here's the context:

The Mitt Romney documentary (named, yep, Mitt) has been making the rounds recently. And toward the end, Mitt says something pretty revealing. Here's the quote:

“This is really serious, guys. This is really serious. I cannot believe that he [i.e. Obama] is an aberration in the country. This is following the path of every other great nation, which is we’re following greater government, tax the rich people, promise more stuff to everybody, borrow until you go over a cliff. We have a very high risk of reaching the tipping point sometime in the next five years.”

Now, let's leave aside the obviously delusional aspects of that statement, because no matter how bad Obama is, he will never match the fiscal irresponsibility of the Reagan administration or the ghastly failures of George W. Bush. What I find interesting is the assumption that there's a single natural progression to the collapse of "great nations" - that they punish the wealthy, coddle the poor, and then collapse into bankruptcy. This has a familiar ring to me; and even if it didn't, I'm pretty sure that Mitt didn't come up with this himself, because original thinking isn't one of his vices.

I suspect it is Friedrich Hayek six or seven times removed (and not what Hayek himself would have said), a truism that circulates on the Right so that conservative pundits can appear profound without putting in the intellectual effort to be so in reality. If that's the case, then it's a talking point worth considering.

In short, what great nations (if any) have actually pursued this course? Any thoughts? How does one define a "great nation" anyway? And of that group, how many have declined because of taxation of the wealthy, and how many through war, disease, famine, cultural co-optation, or imperial overreach?

Discuss

Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 10:37 PM PST

No Free Lunch

by Average Ted

Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) wants poor kids to sweep the cafeteria to pay for their lunches. He talks about them learning "the value of hard work" and that there's "no such thing as a free lunch."

You'll notice that he's not suggesting that kids from rich families do any work. (After all, their parents can afford to buy them lunch.) And it's not like that work could possibly repay the cost of the program. (In fact, he admits that making kids do janitorial work would actually make the program MORE expensive.) So this is all based on the assumption that kids with poor parents are lazy and don't understand the value of money - which just happens to be the exact opposite of the truth.

I went to a small high school where more of the students were from families wealthier than my own. The rich kids did not work significantly harder than I did, and they were not more appreciative of the value of money. In fact, they worked less, and got more. (The latest fashions, winter tans, birthday parties in the Hamptons.) And just like the poor kids, they got their lunches for free - because their parents paid for them. (It doesn't matter if that lunch is paid for by Uncle Sam or Daddy Warbucks; in either case, someone else is buying the kid's food, not the kid.) It's the rich kids who need the lesson in the value of money, not the poor kids who have to scrimp and save to buy what they need.

Kingston clearly assumes that the poor are poor because they're lazy spendthrifts... obviously it has nothing to do with, say, having limited opportunities because of a lack of access to a good education. (Kingston's dad was a widely published university professor, but the way, and he was raised both in the US and Africa.) But maybe, as a thought experiment, Representative Kingston could spend a few months working as a waiter or an Amazon.com warehouse clerk. Then he would get to see just how hard you have to work if you're unlucky, and how little you are paid for it.

Discuss

John F. Kennedy died before I was born. He was president for three years. His presidency included one profound win (the Cuban Missile Crisis), one inspiring side show (the Space Race) one disaster (the Bay of Pigs, which arguably precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis) and the start of US involvement in Vietnam. And now I'm tired.

Tired of the relentless coverage of every aspect of the Kennedy family. Tired of the annual chewing and re-chewing of his life and times. Tired of the Kennedy veneration; tired of the Kennedy hatred. Tired of the assumption that this was in some way the most important event of the 20th century. Tired of the conspiracy theories. Tired of the leering docudramas about JFK and Marilyn Monroe, JFK and Marlene Dietrich, "Camelot," Bobby, Jack, Jackie, Teddy, Ted, the Kennedy curse, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. It's done. If there was a conspiracy, good luck, you've had 50 years to prove it and it hasn't happened yet. The women he slept with are now dust. His policies have all played out in full, in some cases well, in others poorly.

Mr. & Mrs. Baby Boomer, please let him go.

Discuss

Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 10:44 AM PDT

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor

by Average Ted

Last night, God spake unto me.

And lo, the Lord God looked not at all well. Truly, the Agita of the Lord waxed exceedingly great, and the winepress of His Annoyance was full.

"Ted," he said unto me.

"Here I am," I said.

"Ted," said the Lord, "take these Christians, these Focus on the Family Christians, these Christians who claim to speak for Me-"

"I know them, Lord," said I, "for they Tebow me around and about, even here in New York, Thy city, and the place where Thou comest to not be treated as a celebrity."

"Interrupt not the Lord Almighty," said God. "For He is a jealous God, and refereth to Himself in the Third Person. Now in those days - last Saturday, three p.m. - I was accosted by one of them, who said that he 'wanted to share his faith with Me.'"

"And did he not know Thee, O Lord?" I said, in great astonishment and amusement of the spirit.

"Nay, for I looked too Jewish. And he then told me of the Word of God. But it was not My Word. It was but the translation of a translation at second hand, with much extra material by an unemployed rabbi of Tarsus."

"Yea, O Lord," said I. "Even here, in Thy city, we must endure these proof-texters who preach in Thy name and proclaim miracles and revelations."

"Well, tell them to stop," said God. "If they don't, I will share My faith with them."

"I hear, O Lord," said I. "I beg thee, don't share too hard."

"Not making any promises," said God. "Not this time."

And there was a rumble of thunder as He departed.

reposted from my personal blog, www.theswordthatnagged.blogspot.com

Discuss

Everyone knows New Yorkers are supposed to be rude jerks. You just know that Sarah Palin doesn't think we're "real Americans," so it's got to be true, right? (Of course, she thought Famiglia Bros was "real New York pizza" too, so what are you going to do?)

Now granted, in New York we have more than our share of violent scumbag psychopaths, but that's mostly because other states try to bus them in here with one-way tickets - the Greyhound treatment for mental disorders. But speaking as someone who has lived in New York and California and eaten and slept in most of the states in between, the notion that New Yorkers are nastier than others is just...nonsense.

In fact, in my experience it's worse than nonsense - it's been an excuse for preemptive rudeness against New Yorkers. I can still remember attending a party thrown by a friend whose family was from Georgia. This very nice-seeming middle-aged lady (who turned out to be my friend's mother) struck up a conversation with me, and then asked in a voice dripping with magnolia, "Where are you from, dear?" Of course, I said "Well, I grew up in New York." Matter-of-fact, not with any particular pride or defensiveness. To which she quickly replied "Oh, I'm so sorry!" And smirked as if she'd let off the bon mot of the century against a boorish adversary, instead of gratuitously insulting an invited guest.

It's an attitude I've found most prevalent among Americans who hail from rural states, and who have formed their unshakable convictions about New York and New Yorkers based on Rush Limbaugh, Law & Order: SVU and Spring Break class trips to New York taken no later than 1999.

On the other hand, after growing up in New York, spending more than a quarter of a century here, and returning in middle age, I have yet to hear a single New Yorker mock someone else's hometown or home state. (Mostly because, you know...why bother?)

That changed last night. And it was GLORIOUS.

As you might have heard, Rick Perry, former GOP presidential candidate and soon-to-be-former governor of Texas has been conducting an aggressive advertising campaign to lure businesses to Texas from other states. He's been doing this by taking out ads in other states, then INSULTING those states, and saying that Texas is better for business.

As a strategy, this is just hilarious to me. Big companies don't care about advertising like this; they have their own relocation & search committees that evaluate basing costs 24/7. And medium and small companies, well, they are conceived, built, and maintained by locals. So when Gov. Perry is bashing Illinois, say, he is insulting the very people he wants to woo. When he talks smack about Sacramento or  Chicago, his audience is natives of Sacramento and Chicago. I don't see a particularly warm reception.

And then Rick took his campaign that last step too far, and he hit out at New York. And finally New York, in the form of Lewis Black, struck back. Here's the clip from Black's spot on The Daily Show. The commercial he produced in response to Perry's ads starts at 3:56. Enjoy!

N.B. This post was reprinted from my personal blog, theswordthatnagged.blogspot.com.

Discuss

Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 08:13 AM PDT

The Worst Political Sins-

by Average Ted

-are hypocrisy and self-righteousness. That's why France has always loomed large in my headlights.

On Thursday, at a party hosted by the US ambassador to France, Manuel Valls (the French Minister of the Interior) denounced the NSA's spy program. Personally, I think it's pretty rude to criticize your host at his or her event. But what really pisses me off is this: France is running its own NSA-style operations.

Pot. Kettle. Baissez mon cul, Valls.

Discuss

A few months ago, I wrote about my experience as a gun owner - why I had bought a gun, kept it for 18 years, fired it only at the shooting range, and finally sold it. My basic thought, one which I expected to be unexceptionable to everyone, gun owner or not, was that guns are dangerous, and should be treated with care.

Thanks to this piece from the AP, I see that I was wrong. Guns should be treated no differently from overly large bottles of shampoo. Fair is fair.

My bad.

Discuss

Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 02:25 PM PDT

Watch Out for Water

by Average Ted

So last April 1, two Florida DJs told their audience to beware, because "dihydrogen monoxide" was coming out of their taps. Their listeners promptly panicked. Now the DJs are facing possible criminal charges.

Personally, I think that it's the Florida School Boards and Department of Education that should be going to prison. But it does explain politics in Tallahassee.

Discuss

Sun May 19, 2013 at 04:40 PM PDT

Bill Maher, Fat Head

by Average Ted

Generally speaking, I enjoy Bill Maher. He's sort of the Rush Limbaugh of the Left - not because he's a sex tourist and abuser of prescription drugs, but because, like Limbaugh, his schtick is an approximation of the conversation you'd have in your favorite bar with your buddies after two beers: crossing a few boundaries, saying some of the things that you think, but find it politically expedient never to say out loud, and usually fairly predictable. Of course, since he's doing that routine from the Leftish side of the spectrum instead of the Hard Right, he comes off as the favorite uncle who gets you porn, instead of the scary grandfather who wants your native-born teacher "sent back where she came from." That's why he's able to disappoint me in a way that Rush Limbaugh can't.

Two weeks ago, Chris Christie revealed that he's had lap-band surgery to help him lose weight; and with that news, Bill's inner prick leaped joyfully to the surface like a salmon going after a fly. Fat joke followed fat joke; and then the fat jokes segued into self-righteous rants about how a man so weak-willed and "desperate" to lose weight that he had surgery couldn't be trusted in the White House. He was embracing the "just say no" school of diet. It was amazing to me.

I grew up fat. Five years ago, I lost fifty pounds and kept 35 of them off; I will lose more this year. I've had to change my entire way of thinking, and it has drastically changed my life - and not necessarily for the better. I've had to re-examine and discard beliefs and habits I've had since childhood, and I relapse. Any addict will recognize this for what it is: the struggle for recovery.

Bill is on record that drug abuse should be treated as a medical problem, and I've never heard him say that JFK shouldn't have been president because he fucked around and popped pain pills. But apparently the overweight are still fair game. It's the classic Los Angeles attitude: Every self-destructive habit gets the presumption of compassion...until you get to the fatties.

Discuss

For some Americans, the universe is pretty simple: Everything that they don't like...is Hitler.

An administration massaging its talking points...is Hitler.

Expanding background checks to include gun shows as well as gun stores...is Hitler.

Shoddy bureaucratic practices in the Cincinnati office of the federal tax agency by appointees of the previous administration...is Hitler.

Granted, as a rhetorical scheme, this has an admirable simplicity. It allows men and women who may be of limited imagination or historical understanding (meathead is the technical term) to appear as pundits on television for minutes at a time without simply staring blankly into the camera and drooling. But if we too often use the words "Hitler," "Nazi," and "Gestapo" as synonyms for the word "bad," we might lose a bit of the complexity of a particular issue. It could happen.

With that in mind, here are three simple ways to distinguish Nazi Germany from 21st Century America.

1. If you don't have T4 euthanasia for immigrants, the old and weak, the mentally ill...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "They want to organize health care! That's just what Hitler did!" Does the Affordable Care Act order doctors to kill institutionalized patients who don't measure up to government standards? No? Then it's not like Hitler.

2. If you don't have hyperinflation so bad that it takes a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "Ben Bernanke's quantitative easing is inflating the dollar just like the currency was inflated right before Hitler came to power!" Has quantitative easing led to a $10,000 slice of pizza? No? Then it's not like Hitler.

3. If your gun control proposal doesn't involve completely disarming groups you have MARKED FOR DEATH, while EXPANDING gun privileges for right-wing whack jobs...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "Dianne Feinstein wants to register guns purchased at gun shows! She wants to put a limit on civilian magazines! Just like Hitler!" Is Senator Feinstein planning to liquidate NRA members? No. (She doesn't have to. They die from GSWs at a much higher rate than non-gun owners.) So the Jewish Senator from California is not like Hitler.

See how easy?

And Stephen Moore - Check back here for our next installment: "How To Tell If Something Is Rape."

Discuss

So, according to the Tennesseean, Kevin Sayre accidentally shot his one-year old daughter while field-stripping two handguns. The girl is now in stable but critical condition.

Leave aside the fact that you shouldn't do anything dangerous when your baby daughter is nearby. Leave aside the fact that this missing link was handling live ammunition in an apartment with rooms separated by drywall and studs. What kind of f**ing homo habilis doesn't think to empty the guns before stripping them?

I've field-stripped handguns. Hell, I field-stripped a Ruger revolver, which I actually found harder than stripping semi-automatics (you have to bear down hard to get the trigger guard loose, and the trigger spring carries enough force to be dangerous if you don't secure it).

It's hard to convey just how ridiculously, mind-blowingly moronic you have to be, what flat-affect, slack-jawed, sloping-forehead chromosomally-damaged stupidity is required to take apart your weapon and NOT REALIZE THAT THE DAMNED THING IS LOADED.

Forget background checks. What we need are IQ tests.

Discuss
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