Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sometimes You Have to Walk Carefree Across the Street with a Big Ass Hammer

Yesterday I biked down to the US Capitol to see for myself the Teabagger crowd on the day the historic healthcare reform bill passed.

Whenever I had posted pictures or videos from Tea Party protests or Sarah Palin rallies in the past, I would get the same comments from my right wing friends: that the photographer or video producer had only published the images and interviews of the most extreme elements that the protests had to offer and the most extreme posters, and that somehow the intellectual or reasonable people were not being shown. There are crazies in every crowd -- so the argument went -- and all video is biased.

Well, take my opinion for what it's worth, but the negative stereotype of the Teabagger we've seen in the media is highly accurate. This is a movement whose origins are not in mere response to Obama's policies; they are the same exact angry, sometimes racist, often religious and conservative protests we saw during the 2008 election, which are the clear roots of the Tea Party movement.

I walked around with an Obama t-shirt on and spoke to many people -- perhaps two dozen. Some folks were polite, some folks not, but many of the signs were offensive, comparing the Obama administration to some of the worst governments known to modern man. Here are some photos I took:

The comparisons are, of course, completely ridiculous and not worthy of much comment. However, having visited the physical evidence of Nazism when I visited Auschwitz and been highly emotionally affected by the experience, I would like to extend my sincerest fuck you from the bottom of my heart to the types of people who wrote the above signs. Granted, those types of signs were not the majority, but coupled with the intense anger exhibited around me that day, there is something different about these extremist reactions. I've been to many many protests in Washington DC from over 10 years, but I haven't seen this level of anger, threats of violence, and demonization of the presidency, ever. Plus, the widely-reported shouting of the words faggot and nigger at members of Congress carrying out their democratic duties. I mean, even the enormous anti-war protests under Bush didn't yield more than two signs comparing the presidency to regimes like Stalin or Kim Jong Il. You can even see my photos from those protests back in 2005 here.

What's most disturbing and should be understood by any thinking person, is that this isn't just the fringe elements of right-wingism in 2010. This is no longer the big tent party of Ronald Reagan. My favorite economist, Paul Krugman, put it very well in a recent op-ed:
And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin — who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate — eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
This is what pisses me off so much. What's going on here isn't that old saw that "both parties are guilty of the same behavior." Bullshit. One party is dedicated to whipping up fear by spreading lies and misinformation, regardless of its sometimes violent effects, and the other is trying to move the country into 2010. Until Republicans change, that is my assessment of a wide swath of their party (yes, I know not 100% of Republicans are like this; that's not my point).

One great part of the day that made me feel proud of my democracy was the fact that the congresspeople walked from their offices across the street to the Capitol building, boldly walking past screaming Teabaggers. And this picture of Pelosi and her entourage with the fucking big ass hammer is just awesome:

I was standing with the mob of angry screaming teabaggers a few feet from where Pelosi walked in to vote. She walked right past them in bright sunshine, without security, and without fear, despite the violent rhetoric and insults. It was a great democracy-will-prevail moment that few people get to see in person. And now the US will have universal healthcare. It's hard to believe, but it gives me chills still.
Excellent post. Really excellent stuff.
Nice Job Lonnie!!!

Wonderful post. we won't have universal health care but we're closer.

Krugman is my favorite economist, too.

I worked for U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and we were defeated because of a tea-bag like backlash against health care reform back then (1994).

It is an amazing thing to see and I agree with Pelosi -- it's personal for women. It is definitely personal for THIS woman!

Nice pics, nice post.
I'd hesitate to blindly judge the conservative movement based on the few thousand people that showed up at the capitol over the weekend. Like you, I checked out the whole scene while jogging down to the mall, and have to say that the vast majority of people there were absolutely embarrassing. And this is coming from someone that's borderline libertarian and absolutely against public healthcare. I have to agree with the 37 or so states that are about the challenge the Constitutionality of certain elements of this bill.

I'm not sure why people believe we can afford this. We can't afford the entitlements that we currently have, how can we add more and expect it to be "deficit-neutral" in 10 years? We only have to look at the state of Massachusetts' public healthcare system to know there will be significant costs involved here. We either need to raise taxes immensely, or cut some of the most expensive programs. I'm hoping we cut some of the programs that are currently funded on the taxes of future generations. It makes me sick to know that people want to live comfortably today at the expense of people that aren't even born yet.

Also, don't get the Republican party confused with true conservatives, the only thing that's conservative about most of them is their 19th century social views. Bush increased government spending more than any president since LBJ--not very conservative. Some of us are actually interested in increasing private wealth and civil liberties at the same time.

Sorry if this seems like a rant, but it's so frustrating to be associated with those idiots on the lawn shouting racist slurs at people doing what they believe is best for everyone.


I agree there are reasonable conservatives. I've met them and am friends with them. I think David Frum (former speechwriter for Bush) is very intelligent and Ron Paul is a nice guy.

The plan is paid for. The CBO states that it's “the largest deficit reduction of any bill we have adopted in Congress since 1993”. New taxes will be raised to fund it on people making over $200k per year. Not a huge tax -- just between 1% - 5% on income. $500b is coming out of wasteful programs like Medicare Advantage.

I think Massachusetts' problems are more similar to what most states are going through in this recession -- rather than Romneycare being the problem. But honestly, I don't know much about MA's budget woes.

37 states are not suing. 10 are.
Excellent post.

It's a shame the Bush administration made up the story about WMD's in Iraq. How much has this war cost compared to the cost of this health care bill?

The GOP thinks that this health care bill will suck the economic vitality out of the U.S. Seems like
lack of regulation of the mortgage industry accomplished that -- another gift from the GOP.

The Republicans can shove their so-called concerns about future generations. Never before has one group been so reckless about our future.
I apologize for saying 37 states are suing, I heard that number on the news yesterday. Perhaps more will sign on to the suit, or only 10 actually followed-through on their words. Though a quick google search shows several news sites reporting different numbers, ranging from 10 to 12 actually suing to 38 preparing suits. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the final number turns out to be.


This is a good graph to show who has caused the deficit problems.


Those states will likely fail. There is a supremcy clause in the Constitution saying that laws passed by the federal government trump those of the states.
I would like to add my own voice to that "fuck you" you're sending out to those ridiculous alarmists. Usually, I have no problem keeping my cool when seeing images of teabagger protests because I'm happy to live in a country that lets people speak publicly of their beliefs. But seeing that poster comparing Obama to Chavez burns me up. I'm willing to bet that sign is held up by an American who has never been to communist China, Nazi-ruled Germany, or current day Venezuela. I, on the other hand, live with my heart in my throat, since my entire family lives in Venezuela. I also used to live in Venezuela when it was a democracy. Over the last 10 years, my family members and friends have been kidnapped, terrorized, or outright murdered during demonstrations or as a consequence of their political beliefs. I've had aunts, uncles, and cousins tell me that they have to resort to scavenger-hunt methods in order to find food and medicines. Today, I got the news that Chavez is about to pass a new law eliminating the right to private property-so when Venezuelans die, all of their property goes to the state, and while they live, they cannot give or sell it to anyone. And you wanna know what their version of "universal healthcare" is? ask a Venezuelan to tell you about the "yellow pill"- a pill given to Venezuelans that supposedly cures all ailments, from headaches to cancer. A pill distributed by Cuban "doctors" who were brought in from Cuba by Chavez because the poverty and illiteracy rate is now so high that Venezuela can't even manage to produce it's own doctors anymore. So "fuck you, you racist, ignorant assholes. And be grateful you live in a country that lets you spout your bigotry and misinformation without consequence. May you someday travel to a country like Venezuela ruled by someone like Chavez rather than someone like Obama, and may you be trapped there the rest of your life. Then, maybe, you'll have the right to draw yourself a ridiculous and alarmist protest sign BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE EARNED IT".
This is a pretty good breakdown.
Thanks for the eyewitness account. It's like logic and sanity has flown out the window. I just shake my head a lot these days.
Heard on the "Bob Ney" radio show some teabagger called in all in a fret, He had the usual rant about how Obama is undeniably a communist, Then he went on to describe how millions of teabaggers are going to march on washington and change the gov't with "the use if many bullets" nice. What an idiot
"Then he went on to describe how millions of teabaggers are going to march on washington and change the gov't with "the use if many bullets" nice. What an idiot"

I've been reading this blog for years. I tend to be aligned with the author on many topics, including politics. I love the pic of Pelosi with a hammer. I love the fact that she strolled boldly in front of the teabaggers. I love the fact that she pinched baby boy's toe.

But you can't overlook the fact that there are a lot of truly pissed-off and disenfranchised people in the country today. It may not matter if their reasons make sense or are justified. Remember that this country was forged by war, and subsequently reshaped many times by war and conflict. DC and other US cities were ravaged by riots in my lifetime.

It is not at all inconceivable that a group of pissed off people are planning something despicable to unleash on the nation's capital.

Call me alarmist, but I've planned accordingly.

Thanks for the comment. I think there are between 15% and 20% that are extremely pissed off. This is what the polls reveal over and over. It's not to say that there aren't others who are also not happy with the way things are, but I'm talking about REALLY angry, which is probably 15%-20%. That's the same number that thinks Obama is a Muslim/Fascist/Marxist etc.

That protest was TINY as DC protests go. I've been to a lot and there just weren't people there. In fact, there was an immigration protest that same day on the Mall and they outnumbered the Tea Party people by like 8,000 to 1.

I don't think someone is seriously planning an attack. This country hasn't had an internal conflict since the Civil War -- it's not in our recent history which makes a big difference (war begets war; look at any country who's had a recent war). The US is an extremely stable country. Even compared to the late 1960s and early 70s, this country is EXTREMELY stable. Imagine in the 60s multiple leaders were being assassinated, the Weather Underground was bombing government buildings, the SPLA was robbing banks and kidnapping famous daughters of rich people, huge numbers of students were talking revolution, and on and on. We've got nothing CLOSE to that. We've got an extreme fringe who're pissed that they're just another minority in the US and that their power is not what it used to be. This fringe is egged on by the conservative entertainment business (Fox and talk radio) who're making loads of cash off it and the establishment leadership gives it a wink and a nod in hopes of draining some votes off it.

Also, I think these people just don't have the balls for an attack of any significant sort. Think about it: that militia leader in Alabama (Vanderbough?) basically said "we're cleaning our guns ..."" and urged people to throw bricks through Democratic offices. Oooo, I'm so scared; a bunch of dumb-ass rednecks are wacking off to their guns and encouraging petty vandalism. Pussies. I say to them, bring it, bitches. You do, and our excellent law enforcement system will lock you up for a long long time.
The "three percenters" are a distraction.

Anger doesn't count for much; hunger does. As long as the checks keep coming and a fin is still worth tucking into a stripper's g-string, people will be content to fight for control of the fascistostat via the sacred skinner boxes.

However, if Uncle Sugar's loot tit ever dries up, all bets are off. I don't think the country is quite as stable as you do.
"This is a good graph to show who has caused the deficit problems."

That chart is bullshit, for reasons I've pointed out elsewhere. But whatever keeps you warm...
The graph is not bullshit but the Bush tax cuts in that graph account for their effect if Obama extends them past 2010, which he is not. The CBPP has very good data which is not easy to sum up in a blog comment. The entire report is here. Mainly, we will see billions added to the Bush tax cuts in debt service costs. Regardless, it is Obama's problem now and he has proposed a budget that will reduce the deficit in the near term which you can see in that CBPP report. The upswing in 2018 and beyond is mainly due to rising Medicare costs.
"...but the Bush tax cuts in that graph account for their effect if Obama extends them past 2010, which he is not."

Thank you for that clarification, and for the link. The partisan blame game doesn't interest me, but I do expect people to critically examine the data they reference.
how you feeling today.. still got that thrill?

Yes, I do. The 111th Congress got more done than any since the 1960s.

RE: healthcare. The Virginia federal judge made the genius move of saying the individual mandate is not constitutional. The judge says you are not required to have health insurance by law. But he didn't get rid of the pre-existing condition clause. This will save a lot of money. If you get sick, just call up the insurance company and ask for coverage. Then when you get better, drop your coverage. Will save you lots of money. Only problem is, it will put all the insurance companies out of business and maybe then we'll finally get a single payer system.
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