All in Their Heads

Sarah Palin says that Rand Paul is learning what it’s like to be her. Resentful and whiny?

I want to go back to something I read yesterday. Rand Son of Ron wants to eliminate the Americans With Disabilities Act, which he said is burdensome to small business. He gave the example of a small business in a two-story office building forced to install an elevator for one employee. John Cook of Yahoo News writes that Rand doesn’t seem to understand what the ADA actually says, and that most small businesses are exempt.

But here’s the interesting part:

Trouble is, we searched far and wide for a single instance in which a private employer was successfully sued under the ADA for failing to provide an elevator, or was compelled by a lawsuit to do so, and we came up empty. We searched the case law, contacted ADA experts — both proponents and opponents of the law — the Justice Department, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Not one of them knew of any case involving the government-ordered installation of an elevator. It looks like Rand Paul is either peddling a myth or spinning some vanishingly small number of elevator installations we’ve yet to hear of into an epidemic big-government overreach.

So, essentially, Rand Son of Ron is screaming about an alleged injustice that isn’t actually happening and therefore doesn’t need addressing.

It hasn’t happened lately, but in decades past Republicans in Washington liked to introduce laws or constitutional amendments banning flag burning. And they’d go on and on about how awful it was that those hippies burned flags, but research always failed to turn up any epidemic of flag burning.

And then yesterday we were blessed with the comment from “Liberty Dawn” —

Only the dumbed-down media can try to make a racist bash out of individual and states’ rights. Point being the federal government has shoved its fist down our throat — and Americans aren’t going to take it anymore.

And, of course, one hears this stuff all the time, but I’ve yet to see anyone screaming about government fists down throats who appears to have a genuine grievance. Not in the U.S., anyway. Exactly what is the government doing to these people that is so oppressive? And if you push them for an answer, if you get an answer at all it’s usually something about using their tax money for something they don’t like. This was L.D.’s second point —

No national heathcare, no more spending of billions of dollars that aren’t theirs to give away.

Never mind that if the health care reform bill goes into effect as written as works as planned, it will save L.D. and the rest of us money in the long run. We all pay taxes for all kinds of stuff we don’t use personally. My taxes have paid for roads I will never drive on, bridges I will never cross, schools my children will never attend, wars that are a damnfool waste of everyone’s money. And it’s perfectly normal, and reasonable, for us citizens to disagree with each other how our tax dollars are spent.

But that’s not oppression. That’s not government fists down throats. That’s just the normal kind of stuff citizens disagree about. Because the disagreement here is not between “the government” and “citizens.” It’s between “citizens who favor health care reform” and “citizens who don’t favor health care reform.” And because the former group did a better job getting their politicians elected during the last couple of election cycles, now there’s a health care reform law. This is how republican representative government is supposed to work.

BTW, if you want to see what real government fists down throats look like, catch the documentary Burma VJ sometime. HBO has been showing it lately.

The tea partiers are marching around saying they want to take their country back, but from whom? and for whom? and by repealing the 17th Amendment? Frank Rich wrote of Rand’s acceptance speech,

Paul said the voters’ message was to “get rid of the power people, the people who run the show, the people who think they’re above everybody else” — or, as he put it on an earlier occasion, the establishment who “from their high-rise penthouse” look down on and laugh at the “American rabble.”

That Paul gave his victory speech in a “members only” country club is no contradiction to white Tea Partiers.

And repealing the 17th Amendment will rectify this?

The pundits keep trying to analyze the teabaggers as if they had some kind of coherent agenda that is just laying there waiting to be uncovered. I don’t think so.

A few days ago there was a nice essay by Paul Rosenberg at Open Left called “America’s Delusional Politics.” The real key to understanding the teabaggers is in here —

Conservatives believe that they should rule the world. Liberals, not so much. Liberals tend to believe much more in process-that whoever wins elections should rule, and that ideally whoever’s ideas are best should prevail. As long as there are processes in place protecting basic rights, liberals tend to trust the political process-or at, to trust its legitimacy. Conservatives, OTOH, tend to regard any loss of power as somehow illegitimate.

They are not in charge; therefore, they are oppressed. It’s not about issues. The entire tea party movement is about a bunch of aged children throwing a tantrum because they’ve been told they have to play nice with other kids. They don’t have real grievances, so they make some up.

22 thoughts on “All in Their Heads

  1. Oy Vey,
    What can you say?
    It’s either their way,
    Or, no way…

    Oy Vey,
    If you’re disabled,
    It’s no big deal.
    Unless you decide to steal..

    ME? Im not only disabled, but unemployed,
    And I say, go F*&$ yourelves.
    No, seriously, go FUCK ourselves

  2. I’d like to have told them “teabaggers should love having things shoved down their throats”.

    • I’d like to have told them “teabaggers should love having things shoved down their throats”.

      Snort. Well, you are quicker than I am, or else you have a dirtier mind. 🙂

  3. maha, you’re a million times more patient than me, trying to debate our most recent couple of trolls. They’ve presented nothing to substantiate their arguments. One of them is a gross hypocrite, hijacking comment threads while whining (falsing) about having ??? shoved down their throats. Links don’t show what the trolls think they show; facts are incorrect; thought is completely absent. To me, they appear to be pretty typical of the tiny percentage of the overall electorate that supports extreme wackos like Palin and the Pauls. Explaining reality to them is like trying to explain to a kindergartener how the television works; it’s not a magical portal to actual alternate worlds, but really something much more complicated.

    But I do admire you for trying.

  4. Many, many years ago, I used to do ADA site reviews. Nearly all the businesses we reviewed were compliant because in the long run, they stood to increase their business, especially if they were among the first to be accessible. Not so very long ago, people who used wheelchairs or had mobility problems were effectively shut out of what society and commerce had to offer. I remember crashing a mall with a group of young people who used wheelchairs, back in the seventies, it was unusual and invited stares. It soon became commonplace, and it was good for everyone.

    Not only is Mr. Paul unaware of the “undue hardship” clause in the ADA, but he remains oblivious to one instance in which market incentives actually did help to produce positive social change.

    You made a statement about Libertarians a few posts ago. You said “they think only the government can be oppressive.” There is a related bent of mind in they’re conviction that commerce is the engine of innovation and positive social change. In the discussion of slavery and Jim Crow, somehow these are never considered market phenomena, which of course, they both are. Market forces created the institution of slavery. The libertarian concept that the market would have remedied slavery becomes particularly horrific when you start to think of how this may have come about. A cheaper, more efficient alternative would have to present itself. That is, a group of people who would be cheaper and easier to exploit. This would have come about in the form of some of my ancestors who came here from Ireland. There is the famous quote, “When a slave dies, you’ve lost an investment, when an Irishman dies, you just hire another.” The slaves, no longer worth their keep would have been sold “down market” to some even more horrendous fate. This process, if it happened at all, would have taken many generations, so there would have been plenty of misery to go around. But, we would all be grateful that market forces had prevailed. Utopian capitalism would have been one step closer to a libertarian paradise.

  5. The Teabaggers are reactionaries who want to return the world to the ideal state they recall from their childhood. (Even though, when pressed, they might admit it wasn’t ideal even for them.) Barring this, which they actually do know isn’t possible, they rage at the changes in the world. That’s all that the teabaggers are about — bitter resentment that anybody other than the white middle and upper middle class having a voice and a place in society.

  6. As I pointed out yesterday on my own blog, teabaggery is inherently motivated by racism — by the sneaking suspicion that some darkie, somewhere, is getting some benefit from their tax money. That is why the tea baggers rant about taxes despite the fact that taxes are at a post-WW2 low right now. It’s not the *scale* of taxes that upsets them. It’s the fact that America is becoming a majority-minority nation — and thus the majority of benefits from tax money are going to be going to dark-skinned people in the future. And that rankles them big time, yessiree.

    If you aren’t a native Southerner and don’t understand the code words that the Tea Baggers are spouting, the whole Tea Bagger movement makes no sense. But if you grew up there and understand those code words, it makes perfect sense. Tea Baggery, in the end, is no different from the mentality of the city fathers in my city of birth who shut down all city parks and pools when a federal judge ordered them desegregated, saying “we aren’t going to pay city tax money to have niggers swimming in our pools”. I.e., if black people benefit from a government service, they don’t want that government service, *even if they themselves also benefit from that government service*. That’s their mentality — one of utter racism — they just have gotten more circumspect about stating it, indeed, may never even state it to themselves. But I was *there* when the South switched from being progressive to being regressive. I know why it did so. And if you don’t know why that happened, nothing about the teabaggers will ever make sense to you.

    – Badtux the Racism-smellin’ Penguin

  7. “So, essentially, Rand Son of Ron is screaming about an alleged injustice that isn’t actually happening and therefore doesn’t need addressing”

    That’s the whole dimwitted teabagger movement, its all about imaginary injustices, imaginary tax increases, imaginary gun grabs, imaginary Christian oppression. The whole fucking movement is a figment of the Republican’t Party and the corporate media’s imagination.

  8. uncledad – I’m not disagreeing with you, but I still believe that the ‘movement’ was engendered and continues because a black man is president. I’ve ‘witnessed’ the reign of every president beginning with FDR and I’ve never witnessed the likes of the ‘tea’ phenomenon.

    I mean the guy didn’t even do anything – wasn’t in office more than a few months – when the ‘movement’ started. And let’s face it, Obama is the ultimate target of their manufactured dissatisfaction.

  9. I love the comments about how we can’t afford healthcare systems like Europe has. See how they are going broke!!! Well, splane to me how we are spending better by spending twice as much and getting poorer outcomes. Somebody can’t afford something, but I think it is us and our non system of sickness and death care!!!!!
    Europe my be going broke but it is NOT because of health care. We however might, before our ‘reform’ goes into effect. Medicare for all, new and improved is the only viable answer.

  10. Felicity, I agree, the colored guy in office is a big part of it, it’s just another perceived injustice. To a racist redneck dimwitted teabagger having a black president is just as threatening as anything, but the threat is still imagined. The whole teabagger thing started the minute it looked like Obama was going to win, I’ve linked this video before and I’ll do it again. In my opinion the teabagger movement began right here

  11. Right-o uncledad, and we all know about them nasty A-rabs, They’re all “terrists, have been on the movies and the Tee Vee since I can remember.
    To paraphrase Orwell,”all the war propaganda, all the screaming, and lies, and hatred comes invariably from the people who are not fighting.”

  12. Rand Son of Ron is screaming about an alleged injustice that isn’t actually happening

    Sounds like Joe the plumber syndrome!

  13. It’s very easy to focus on the extremists on the right, dismissing their delusions and pathologies, but there is something going on in this country that, however dimly understood and misrepresented by these same elements, is very real – I disagree that “it is all in their heads”. Jack Whelen talks to this a bit, in a discussion of something written by Tristero over at Digby (please forgive the reference to a reference to a reference…)..

    …I agree that extreme tea partiers are unreachable, but that’s not the issue. He should be worried about why the extreme right is doing a better job of capturing the growing rage of those in the uncommitted middle. And that’s essentially Berlet’s point–the Tea Partiers we need to be taking seriously are not the extremists, but the sane citizens who see what’s wrong about the American imperial agenda and the domination of Wall Street and other uber-corporations in Washington–who find themselves more attracted to people on the right who are organizing around these issues than they are to those who are organizing on the left. The Tea Party has to be taken seriously because they are doing a much more effective recruiting job than those on the left, and Berlet’s article should be read as a wake-up call to Progressives and a challenge to them…

    To focus on surface silliness like repealing the 17th amendment, or the chronic, childish egocentricisms of rightwingers – and thinking there’s nothing here – is missing the larger and deeper picture of how this country is slipping away from its citizens, and how said rightwingers and their behaviors are in some ways a circus sideshow – in some ways a reaction to this disempowerment, in other ways a tool used by those who have seized power, to gain even more power.

  14. moonbat,
    Good point.
    But, I think it comes down to, which would many people prefer to go to, a circus, or a lecture?
    We always seem to try reason, and that rarely works. The right appeals to fear, and to some degree, entertainment.
    We try to reason with their brains, they hit them in the gut. There’s a great line in the sport of boxing, “Kill the body, and the head will die.” This means, hit a fighter in the gut enough, and you’ll knock him out.
    We lack the gut-punch capability. FDR had it. Obama doesn’t.

  15. Moonbat makes a good point. Part of what is fueling the general rage that sometimes finds expression in the Tea Party are fundamental changes (beside racial demographics) that remain sadly under-discussed. People are working harder and harder to maintain a flat household income while previously unimaginable levels of corporate profits are not being re-invested but rather go to line the pockets of CEOS and banksters. People can’t help but feel there is something drastically wrong. Lots of people who grew up in comfortable one-income homes now as adults have trouble keeping a two-income family housed and fed. But the TV shows them no-talent arrogant scumbags who spend so much time rolling in dough that they can’t even imagine, much less remember that most people don’t. (Not that they’d care if they did.)

    Explaining to people that this is the result of decades of Republican propaganda yielding low taxes on the rich and cutting government investment. Especially when the Democrats in Congress have by-and-large, been accomplices in the crime. The Democratic Party has no real credibility to make an anti-corporate, anti-robber baron case. It isn’t just that the case requires a basic rationality and willingness to look at the historical record and do simple math; it’s that decades of Democrats trying to act like Republicans, up to and including our moderate President, means there is no one to make the case convincingly.

  16. And thus did American democracy die: not with a bang, but with a whimper – and a whine…

  17. I believe you’re right, moodbat.

    There is a whole lot of anger and dis-ease among us peasants out here. We were lied into a war with Iraq; the rich got huge tax breaks while spending soared on borrowed money; regulators freely colluded with corporations; government morphed into governance by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful; companies shed atate side jobs as if they were dandruff — a good thing to get rid of; over fifty cents of every tax dollar is poured into the military, our infrastructure decays and crumbles, schools cut programs and staff, unemployment remains frighteningly high and our earth is growing hotter.

    Not saying the Tea Partiers aren’t racists. I’m confident that most of them are. But methinks they’re also low-information folks who are just flat-out stomping mad about bits and pieces of the same things that infuriate progessives as well. Unfortunately, the GOP and corporate media have done an excellent job capitalizing on that anger and diverting blame for those problems onto liberals. As a result, we peasants are out here squabbling among ourselves while the Masters of the Univeras laugh at our foolishness and order another round of champage and larks tongue pate.

    Gulag, I sure wish I knew how to gut punch against that crowd, but they’re wearing media-plated armour and I have no idea how to get through it. As for Obama — it’s hard to plow a new field when half your horses refuse to move and some of the remainder insist on pulling in opposite directions. Without more and better progressives in the House and Senate, I’m beginning to think no matter how hard he cracks the whip, Obama will only be able to make progress in feet, rather than acres.

  18. Rand and the Tea’s are voicing basic Republicanism which has been around probably since there’s been a Republican Party. There’s a ‘they’ and there’s a ‘we’ and never the twain shall meet.

    Brown v. Board of Ed launched the school choice movement. Mexicans ‘imported’ to Calif. (Chicanos) years ago to work in our canneries and harvest our food were also relagated to the other side of the tracks where their children were schooled, where they shopped, dined, played… As their numbers increased they began to migrate to ‘our’ side of the tracks. Unacceptable set off the illegal aliens have to go movement.

    In bad economic times people invariably look for someone (or something) to blame – the government, minorities…take your pick. Rand’s preference for segragating lunch counters is no more than old, tired American Republicanism whose voice has (suddenly?) found a welcoming audience.

  19. I guess I’m not seeing this “general rage” that others are talking about (and I live in a very Red state). Most people I know are not convinced by anti-government arguments. No one lives in dreaded fear of HCR after it passed (except our state atty general, and he’s widely seen as a crank acting on his own for partisan reasons). Tea-party sympathizers are often dismissed because they keep blurting out racist nonsense, so that the general electorate shake their heads and walk away.

    Perhaps it’s different elsewhere, because our home foreclosures and unemployment rate have remained relatively low. Most Nebraskans I know, no matter how they usually vote, recognize a delusional nut when they hear one (e.g. Palin and the Pauls). For instance, “Democrat” Ben Nelson was most recently re-elected in a landslide because his Republican opponent was perceived as too far to the right.

  20. joanr16 – How refreshing. I once saw a bumper sticker which read, “Death in Nebraska is redundant.” Apparently not so??? Actually, except for more than occassional, in fact constant, media paroxysms on the Tea’s etc. among those of us on our side of the small screen there is little if any attention being paid to the phenomenon. (And LA is about as far as one can get from Nebraska.)

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