Innocents at Home (Updated)

Here are a couple of items to take in together. First, here is a bit from Friday’s Countdown with Ken Vogel of Politico. Vogel essentially makes the point that “astroturfers” like the guys behind Tea Party Express primarily are using the movement to promote themselves and raise their own profiles as political and campaign consultants. Those fellows and a lot of other “leaders” of the allegedly grassroots movement have long political histories, but the tea party activists themselves generally are people who didn’t pay much attention to politics until the day before yesterday. And so for the most part the activists are unaware that they’re being manipulated by a pack of Establishment figures even as they rail against the Establishment.

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At Newshoggers, John Ballard takes up a similar theme.

I watched a Christine O’Donnell video by “anna missed”. Innocent viewers who just came from Sunday School, knowing none of the back story about this woman, will have nothing but a positive reaction to what she says. Never mind that along with Beck, Palin and the rest of the crowd she is blowing smoke. Just because the words are as devoid of content as cotton candy it is a mistake to mock and point at those who buy them. There is a market for cotton candy, too, you know.

She’s telegenic, speaks without profanity and uses all the right images, knowing instinctively how to push the right buttons and wave the right flags. Anybody trying to follow this video (or other rhetorical fluff) with hit pieces will only succeed in looking vindictive. The point was made in a comment aimed at me by one of their number just yesterday. Closed minds are as durable as epoxy.

I live in a place where Glenn Beck is cited in sermons as a courageous man and a spokesperson for God. When a certain population of sincere Christians look up from the pages of their bibles they may not understand what they have read, but their minds and opinions are as malleable as those of children. They have been taught from childhood to hear and respect their leaders.

Please do read the whole post. It’s very good.

A lot of us have been saying that the tea party movement doesn’t seem to have any real cause behind it; just fluffy and meaningless rhetoric. Some righties objected when I wrote that, so I asked a couple of them to articulate what the movement stands for, beyond T-shirt sales, and they couldn’t do it. They could cough back the empty slogans they obviously didn’t understand and express their feelings about current events, but they couldn’t explain the movement’s cause. I’m not sure they understood what I meant by a “cause.”

While we wonder at people who wear T-shirts and golf caps promoting “liberty” even as they willingly march into serfdom, I admit Ballard is right that mocking them them makes them even more enslaved to their manipulators.

Unfortunately, trying to reason with them doesn’t work, either.

Ballard finishes by saying,

There is no way that knowledge will ever trump belief systems. Those who think these people are nothing but a bunch of kooks who will soon go away do so at their political peril.

I don’t know anyone who thinks they will soon go away. I certainly don’t.

The tea partiers themselves are lost to reason, so there is no point trying to change their minds. A small percentage of them eventually will wake up and realize they’re being had, but most never will, no matter what happens. That’s the reality of the thing. The best we can do is try to keep Congress from completely going over to the Dark Side in November and try somehow to reach Americans who aren’t committed to a “side.” And I think that publicizing the weirder aspects of candidates like Christine O’Donnell is one way to do that.

Update: One more video — possibly the most brilliant 44 seconds in any film, ever, of all time.

Update: Right on time — a profile of Sal Russo, the head of Tea Party Express. So the head of this allegedly rogue organization has insider connections going back to the Reagan Administration. Further, there is an appearance that tea party donations have turned into a cash cow for Russo —

Mr. Russo’s group, based in California, is now the single biggest independent supporter of Tea Party candidates, raising more than $5.2 million in donations since January 2009, according to federal records. But at least $3 million of that total has since been paid to Mr. Russo’s political consulting firm or to one controlled by his wife, according to federal records.

One suspects Russo doesn’t care if Christine O’Donnell is a serious politician or a ham sandwich.

Mr. Russo’s group is also under attack from Republican Party leaders in Delaware, who have accused the Tea Party Express of improperly collaborating with Ms. O’Donnell’s campaign. Federal laws allow political action committees to support candidates independently, but they are not permitted to coordinate their spending with campaigns. … the campaign finance records for the Tea Party Express also showed payments totaling more than $10,000 for stays at casino hotels, as well as bills for meals at expensive restaurants near Mr. Russo’s offices, including nearly $5,000 at Chops Steak House, which former staff members said the Tea Party Express frequented after work.

Oh, but they are restoring honor to America, aren’t they?

9 thoughts on “Innocents at Home (Updated)

  1. They have been taught from childhood to hear and respect their leaders.

    They have been conditioned to follow authoritarians, and that to believe an authority figure on absence of evidence, only “faith”, is a virtue instead of gullible stupidity and an invitation to manipulation.

  2. Desparate people, and many Americans are these days, are completely vulnerable to be worked by anyone who seems to promise ‘I will make it all better’ or variations there of. As Germany was being carpet bombed by the allies with cities lying in ruin and numerous dead lying in the streets Hitler was daily telling the people that Germany was winning the war. Amazingly, even faced, literally surrounded by ruin and death, the German people believed him – because they wanted to.

    Tea Party people want to believe what they’re being told and no amount of reason, facts, numbers…anything will dissuade them. Lambs being led to the slaughter has been repeated and repeated throughout the history of man.

    Maybe way out in left field, but I have wondered if the present economic turmoil facing us, now that it has begun has not been aided and abetted and furthered by those who will profit by it in the end.

  3. Tea Partiers claim that Obama (and by extension all who voted for him and support him) is trying to take away their freedoms. But, in the end, they are the ones who are trying to take away our real freedoms as designated by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution just because our leader is half African-American. They believe we don’t deserve these freedoms because we voted in a man who is only half white. They are dangerous people. And, of course, women like Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin are very dangerous for other women who believe in making our own decisions about our bodies. The sad thing is that it still boils down to racism.

  4. Reason and logic are like kryptonite to Teabaggers.

    I think you hit the nail on the head.
    Dick Armey and his cohorts lost nothing in the financial fiasco’s of the past few years. If anything, most of them profited. So, yes, they’ve aided and abetted in those in the past, and do the same in the coming catastrophe’s.
    What we’ve seen since Reagan is that corporations and the rich are allowed to privatize their gains while their losses are ‘socialized.’
    We chastise people in need, eroding their, and our, safety nets, while we fork over trillions to billionaires and millionaires who recklessly ‘double-down’ on bets without any consequences to them if they lose. ‘Head’s they win, tail’s we lose…’
    So, in fact, the critics are right. We ARE a ‘socialist’ nation.
    But it’s not the ordinary people who benefit from this ‘socialism.’ It’s the corporations, the rich, and the Whoreporatist’s in Congress who allow it, if not enable it, and are rewarded by re-election, who benefit.
    If there’s a God, may He/She/It help us. I think we’ve lost whatever power, or chance, we may have ever had for change. And I think the SCOTUS put the final nail in our coffin with its “Citizens United” decision.
    Our new motto shouldn’t be “Don’t Tread on Me!,” it should be “Serf’s Up!!!”

  5. Ohhh… *still laughing*!

    Thank you, Barbara. Thank you, Graham Chapman, wherever you may be. Thank you, YouTube.

    100 proof distilled brilliance, that clip.

  6. cundgulag – You’ll appreciate this definition of the ‘free market’ – it means unlimited economic power for some with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others.

    Speaking of the American brand of socialism, you’ve got it and I’ll add that the Street did a bang-up job of socializing risk as their profligacy has ended up ‘socialized’ as our debt. By now it should be clear, but it isn’t, that the free market and supply-side crap and trickle-down magic are in fact, economic alchemy.

  7. Felicity,
    Alchemists actually produced something useful. In their search to create gold, they were the forefathers of modern chemistry.
    Trickle-downers have produced nothing useful. And in their quest to keep gold, they are the forefathers of the New Guilded Age.
    But there must be some element of alchemy there. Somehow they turn working people into willing participants in their own serfdom by siding with the Robber Barons against themselves.
    Me? I’d rather be turned into a newt (the lower-case little creature, not the upper-case FAT CREATURE!).

  8. You are so correct that nothing you can say or do will change their minds. In fact it only makes them more rigid. I live in a very conservative area and have been doing this with these guys for years.

    Here’s what I’ve determined. Engage them to the point of making your point. Talking about how you feel and why. Don’t debate their point, don’t try to prove them wrong. Just keep giving your view point on it and eventually they will end up on the defensive. That is still not time to debate them. One may sometimes find it necessary to address something they have said, still, Never debate them. Just give your view and your vision for something better.
    You know that they will eventually get to the Bible or the liberal media or Nazis and they will find that incontrovertible evidence that the debate is over.

  9. Seems to me the Republican/Tea Party is trying hard to put forth only good-looking women (and men), despite their other obvious flaws. They really have taken to heart the style over substance meme, while making sure to tell the rubes exactly what they want to hear (which, itself, is nothing of substance).

    Grid help us all…

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