Advice for Teabaggers–Spotting Infiltrators

Nomi at I Dreamed I Saw Grace P. Last Night quotes Michelle Malkin. Malkin warns of spies, infiltrators and provocateurs, probably from ACORN, blending into the vast teabagging crowds and advancing their nefarious agenda.

She is tempted to go to the State House herself. I think if I had more time to make them, hats shaped like acorn caps would be really fetching. But how can you spot the undercover acorns? If anyone starts trying to register voters, you’ll know you have your double agent. Unless they are trying to register Republicans. But that could be a triple cross. Who can you trust these days?

My advice to the teabaggers is based on a painful, real-life experience of a meeting of the Clamshell Alliance. It was about six hours on, three hours overtime. People who had traveled far and had to get back home to work the next day were leaving and feeling disrespected. A man was blocking consensus over whether the word ‘struggle’ or ‘struggles’ would be used in our statement to the press. Was he a provocateur? I have often wondered.

There was a rumor that the FBI had people in our organization. Apparently that was true. However, there was another bitter truth. We obstructed ourselves more effectively than any infiltrator could have hoped to do. Rampant egos, an insistence on consensus decision-making in large groups where there was not enough commonality to make it work, lack of an organization that could fight the good fight for the decades it will take to change our dependance on centralized energy helped ensure that our movement would be short-lived.

On the other hand, we did some things right. Decentralized structure made it harder for any one person to grab control of the movement. A commitment to nonviolence protected us from the most likely scenario–that the guy who is ramping up the anger is there to provoke an outbreak that will discredit us and result in arrests and convictions. Clamshell was the first group I ever encountered that required the participation of women in decision-making. That helped, I think, to get us to think more creatively.

Teabaggers, you are right to demand that our tax dollars be spent wisely. If the General Assembly starts bringing bag lunches I think it would be a good start. While you’re at it, ask the Governor to do that too.

I heard a guy on the radio today, he was a financial advisor. He said he always pays his taxes promptly. He said that when he was a child his family was on welfare, and he feels his country helped him get to a place where he could get a good education, and ultimately a career where he makes good money. He hoped that some of his taxes might help other children who needed a start in life.

We still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, some on multiple tours of duty. What do we owe to our country, and what does our country owe to us? Respect for our sacrifice, however we serve. But we are not subjects of a foreign king. Paying taxes is a responsibility of citizenship, and so is making sure our money is used fairly and honestly. I hope you teabaggers are on to that.


7 thoughts on “Advice for Teabaggers–Spotting Infiltrators

  1. There is basically no other reason to form a ‘representative government’ other than to tax and spend on public infrastucture, safety and health.
    Without such government you only have to look to Somalia to see the end result.

    Tax and spend is the MAIN function of government. It is not a sin, and/or unpatriotic to do so. Anyone that says different needs to go back to a high school level civics class. Nuff said?

  2. What is being protested via the Tea Parties isn’t so much “tax and spend,” — although that’s bad enough — but rather a dangerous “borrow and spend” philosophy.

    The federal government is deliberately borrowing excessive amounts of money — mainly from foreign sources — based on the “hope” that it will do something in the present or near-future, by essentially mortgaging the foreseeable future and consigning future generations to mountains of debt or hyperinflation.

    It wasn’t right when the GOP controlled the White House, and it certainly isn’t right now to not only continue with that philosophy, but to double-down on it.

  3. Well thanks God that news cycle is over.

    Now we can get back to hearing about the Palin family fued, and other trash journaism.

    I wonder what the runaway bride is up to right now?

  4. I wonder if I’m the only person who sees the silly Tea Party protests as nothing more than fringe righties complaining (again) that they lost in the 2008 elections.

    After everything is said and done — after we try (and fail) to see some sort of logic or decency in their arguments — that’s really what the Fizzle in the Drizzle (as the DC event has been dubbed) was all about.

  5. “When you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.” ~Unknown –

    Jesse, I for one would have…if I was able to go – have gone to the uprising. Obviously we will agree there is a synergy and that the Bush Administration set us back decades and ignored (okay, swept under the rug) and funded a War of weapons that never surfaced and we still fund now. The restructuring of not just the AIG’s and GMC’s of the country need to change, but our government and the way we fund them. Sometimes it takes hearing something 20 times before it is actually looked at or believed. Maybe if we do this enough and gain momentum from others then some legislators will actually realize “they are pretty d@mn mad” and want real change in funding other countries and accepting investments from Saudi’s, Japanese and others.

    A few years back I thought we were heading to become a third-world country and there would be a revolutionary change in thinking. I think when Obama took office some of this has started.

  6. I have a “blog” on Rhody Beat where I posted the entry below. This was written and posted on Thursday but I think it’s still relevant today. Thus my contribution to the discussion.

    The first thing I wanted to know is whether they were serving green or black tea yesterday at the State House. I’m not a fan of green tea. I’m a black tea Tazo Awake guy – even at night. That’s when there’s no coffee available. Of course.

    At Wednesday’s lunch with friends, the topic soon turned to whether any of us were going to go to the State House for the Tea Bag demonstrations. I wondered why there were going to be tea demonstrations at the State House but then remembered that I lived in Rhode Island where all things are possible.

    I soon discovered through our conversation that this had nothing to do with tea and everything to do with PROTEST!!! OK, now that’s something I can get into! Modeled on the Boston Tea Party, hundreds, if not thousands of Rhode Islanders were going to descend on the State House to ….. do what? Were they going to dress up as “Indians” and other members of the Village People? Were they going to dump tea on the State House lawn?

    As it turns out, there was no Village People sighting or tea dumping. Rather, there were several thousand Rhode Islanders who were there to demonstrate their anger at “high taxes” and “out of control deficits.”

    Really? Well, where have you been and what’s kept you?

    I’m a fan of protest demonstrations. We should have more, not less of them. Lord knows there’s lots to protest. But protests need to be based on real issues, not manufactured ones. And all movements must be led by leaders and not demagogues.

    Let’s take the last point first. The demonstration emcee (a term used in the projo) was local talk radio show host Helen Glover. Question one: since when do real protests have an emcee? Anyway, on to Ms. Glover. She is described as a local radio “commentator.” Aside from her star turn on Survivor, what exactly is she qualified to commentate about? Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not questioning her right to yell at the top of her lungs that which makes my blood boil. I say go to it. And if someone places a microphone in front of her, more power to her.

    No, my question centers on what training and experience does she, or Dan Yorke or John DePetro possess to comment authoritatively about our current economic problems and the enacted solutions thereto? The same could be asked of Rush Limbaugh. I used to listen to a lot of talk radio years ago but stopped when my head almost exploded. Complex issues reduced to base simplicities, opinion masquerading as fact, ad hominem attacks delivered with faux civility, and too often civility, faux or otherwise, discarded in favor of berating and belittling those who dared argue with the talk show “host.”

    These guys and gal can say whatever they want. However, it’s important to note that the local guys work for Citadel Broadcasting. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Citadel has been a financial benefactor to republicans and the republican party. Information published by the Center, based on FEC records, show that 98.5% of political contributions linked with Citadel went to republicans; only 1.5% went to democrats.

    Now I don’t care about the favoritism to one party/candidate over another. Citadel can do what it wants with its money, so long as it’s legal. However, what is of concern is when a media giant comes into an area, buys up local radio stations, pretends to provide a forum where a free exchange of ideas can exist, and then filters that exchange by its hiring and promotion of radio “personalities” to uniformly reflect the corporate bias. This cruel hoax is down-right mean spirited and is a disservice to those looking for real leadership on complex and complicated issues during times of great anxiety. Those who hope to prosper by the trading on the fears and anxieties of others deserve to be called what they are: demagogue. There’s a lot of demagoguery on the local and national air waves, the print media and the internet masquerading as informed and objective opinion.

    That brings me to the issue underlying the demonstration – the current economic climate in Rhode Island and nationally. People are smart to be anxious and angry. Nationally, the recent unemployment statistics show that 8.5% or our neighbors are unemployed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, those same folks who bring this news every month, indicated that if all the counted (and this is an important classification as not everyone is counted in these reports) part-time workers who are searching for full-time employment are counted along with the unemployed, the percentage jumps to over 15%. Applying the same methodology to Rhode Island, our state’s unemployment/underemployment numbers are closer to 20% than the reported 10.5%.

    Too many of us over the last six months have stood helplessly by while our savings dwindled or disappeared. Most of us know or know of someone whose house has been foreclosed. Those who are in their homes have suffered through a decline of its value. Remember when our homes were the single most important investment most of us would make? Remember when we were told that we could enhance the value of our property by investing in it through maintenance, repairs and upgrades? For too many of us, that ship’s sailed.

    More of us have watched savings depleted, our jobs lost, health insurance gone, all while facing an uncertain future. Most of us acted as we were told to act. We spent money because our economy depended on it (remember when “W” told us that going to the mall would show the terrorists that they couldn’t “win”?). We invested in those neat 401Ks that replaced defined benefit pensions on the basis that the market would provide for us. We succumbed to the lure of easy credit and used our homes as ATM machines. Many obtained mortgages that in a saner world (not sane, just saner) they would never have qualified for.

    And many of us fell for the claptrap that low taxes would grow the economy. Right. And pigs fly.

    But, many of us knew that something was wrong. We knew that although our taxes were “lowered” (remember “W”‘s admonition that it was “the people’s money?”), we were paying more and working harder for less. We worried about colossal deficits only to be told that by cutting taxes, more revenues would stream into government coffers erasing those deficits. We were told that by cutting corporate and individual taxes, jobs would spring up thereby bringing all of us to some economic promised land.

    And we were told that investments were key. And so we did. We invested in various funding vehicles, which in turn invested in other vehicles promoted by some of the stalwarts of Wall Street. As we received our quarterly reports, we marveled and just how savvy we were as investors. We watched as our investments and retirement plans grew fat and dreamed of the good life. We never really wondered if there was any actual money in those investment returns.

    Turns out that there wasn’t, at least not much. We all now know the story of the mismanagement and fraud that attended these investments. We lost sight of the fact that wealth is primarily based on a simple concept – the production of an item for which others will purchase for value.

    In short, we weren’t growing wealth. We were reallocating it. From us to them. According to Cornell economist Robert Frank, over the last 20 or so years, real income (in constant dollars) of the upper income earners increased by over 120%. During the same period, real income for middle-income earner increased just 3%. It’s impossible to grow the economic pie when all we’re doing is transferring wealth from one group to another. This is a Darwinian zero sum game of epic proportions.

    Tax cuts that favor the wealthy individuals and large corporate interests are not new. Starting from Ronald Reagan (remember the Laffer Curve?) and extending through to George W. Bush, this has been holy mantra for the supply-siders. Relying on the “invisible hand” that would motivate people to behave in their own self-interests, the economic architects of this current day fiasco told us that the recipients of these tax incentives would do the right thing – they would have the money to invest in business expansion, research and development into the next generation of products, and the creation of jobs that would benefit all of us.

    These economic architects were right about one thing – the well-healed did act in their own self-interests. However, rather than invest in their businesses or new enterprises, they took their tax savings and ran. And when the benefits of that wore down, they systematically lopped off jobs, sent others offshore, all in an effort to shore-up the bottom line.

    Never has Springsteen’s lyric in Youngstown seem more appropriate to our current conditions: “Now sir you tell me that the world’s changed, once I made you rich enough, rich enough to forget my name.”

    I always find it interesting that these “free-market” economists extol the virtue of laissez-faire. They forget that while their patron, Adam Smith, asserted that the invisible hand will keep the economy balanced, with excessive self-interests canceled by others’ self-interests, it wouldn’t always work out that way. Smith argued that there would be times when the government would need to intervene in order to restore balance to the economy. So, I don’t understand these free-marketers’ problem. If we’re not at a point where order needs to be restored, it’ll do until the “real thing” comes along.

    What we face today has been decades in the making. There’s enough blame to go around, from our public officials to ourselves. Rightly or wrongly, many public officeholders – even if they believed they were right, and I think many of them sincerely did so – hung on to a failed economic policy beyond all reason. That’s on them and they should be held accountable.

    But we are also to blame. We wanted our “leaders” to pander to us. In spite of the reality clearly evident starting at the end of our collective noses, we turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to that reality and politically rewarded those who, rather than told us the truth and proposed tough solutions, merely told us what we wanted to hear. We collectively devolved into becoming Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman asking, “What? Me worry?”

    If you’re going to dance, you’ve got to pay the band. The music has stopped and now the band wants its payment.

    However, in spite of all reality to the contrary, yesterday’s excess in vitriol focused on the fears and anxieties of good and decent people who want nothing more than a fair shake and a secure future. And instead of real discussions about real issues, they got more of the same – lower our taxes, down with big government and don’t invest in our communities. In fact, what they got was the same nonsense that led to the current economic crisis.

    It’s time that we started to tell our “opinion leaders” that their fifteen minutes are over. Rather than exploit the fears of people, they should bring folks together in honest exchanges of views of how best to remedy our situation. We should base these discussions on fact, not fear. We should bring people together, not divide and demonize. We should look at the public good, now and in the future, rather than our own selfish interests. We should look to see that everyone shoulders their fair share of the burden, rather than exempt some at the expense of others.

    And finally, we need stop dividing people in order to advance our own narrow political, professional and personal agendas. We should remember John Kennedy’s comments made in another context at American University in 1963, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures.”

  7. excellent post. i read it all.
    it must have been a real mix at the state house. in a journal photo a man is holding a sign that says ‘anchor babies raise our taxes’. someone put a sign up on a ramp over 95 that said ‘congress s–ks, no taxes’.
    i found myself agreeing with the people on the radio who were worried about our debt to china and our children’s future, but i think that letting things go right now will pile up worse trouble later on. we need the stimulus, we need to put people to work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s