the irs/tea party scandal sure is a beaut. for one thing, the whole thing perfectly justifies the self-presentation of those groups; it is a lovely confirmation of their worldview. the best thing is the notion that the irs targeted groups that "sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Consititution." i do think the irs is just the group which ought to be in the business of repressing that document, which is entirely incompatbile with their conduct of life.
as i have said for so long, the one thing that everyone agrees on is that we should spend more through infinite deficits. or rather, everyone agrees about this except 'tea party republicans.' essentially we are almost reaching the point at which there are two parties: boehner/obama/macconnell/biden democratic-republicans, and the tea party. now, with regard to this issue at least, you should not listen to all the continual 'extremists,' 'hostage-takers,' 'ideologues,' and so on: they are the only force in any opposition to the ever-growing state and they had to jump ship here. they really are conscience-bound to fight on the debt ceiling, and i think they should. as soon as you hear terms like 'extremists,' invoked at once by everyone, your ears should prick up; it's obviously mere propaganda, yes? and really stop to consider the argument that we never really argued about the debt ceiling before. so what? it's never been now before. or maybe that was a mistake and people should have been focusing on that all along. anyway, the arguments need to be better than mere manipulative strategies.
now of course one might also point out that a good percentage of these tea party republicans are much more committed to tax cutting or no tax increases than to controlling the deficit, so their net contribution is less than zero anyway. if deficits and debt could ever get you concerned under any circumstances, you should be concerned now.
Highjacking Crispin's site again with JJ Cale and Chuck Prophet, Thomas More and Thomas Hobbes, the Navajo, the Army, Paul Ryan and Tora Bora...it just doesn't get better than this. I think at times there's a better class of reader here than at the other places I babble...certainly the comments I get over at Veteran's Today give me a lot of pause. Anyway, this has been a complex piece to get my teeth into...for a variety of reasons. So, here we go...
Civilized costs more than hard, brutish and short...
The number of broken promises and bad judgments made over the last 30 years is incredible. Each bad judgment ends up causing more broken promises. However, the majority of the problems I see – crumbling infrastructure, lousy schools, increased long-term unemployment, mounting debt, lagging modernization, lack of a coherent energy plan and so on and on and on as well as what has happened to Native Americans, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman, Civil Servants, Labor Unions, and on and on comes from the idea that we don’t have the wherewithal to pay for what we need to do. That is bullshit.
To be educated, a person doesn't have to know much or be informed, but he or she does have to have been exposed vulnerably to the transformative events of an engaged human life. Thomas More
Can you say AN/PDR-27R? ALPHA-NOVEMBER-PAPA-DELTA-ROMEO-TWO-SEVEN-ROMEO?
[just back from my mom's in little washington, va, where both she and my ex-wife/gf performed autobiographical monologues. my mom's included the story of my brother bob's murder. i was rocked a bit, but 11-year-old jane was crying. i'm going to try to get on this lisa simeone situation tomorrow. we already know she rocks.]
here is a nice piece bringing tea partiers and occupiers together and letting them see the commonalities. really, i think the hope has to be to get beyond the left-right ideological spectrum. obviously the left-right split has rendered our political system completely useless. on the other hand, who cheered the iraq war? the mainstream right (msr) and the mainstream left (msl). who did the bank bailout? msr and msl. who's competing for the most possible fundraising from wall street? msr and msl. take the commonalities more seriously than the differences, is my advice to you.
the alternating unanimous catch-phrases, rival sets of potted experts (all of whom i have utterly discredited), contrasting demographics, etc might disguise the fact that the whole spectrum is a single political ideology. we should think of it that way and develop its antithesis. the dilemma is always state or capital, but they are merged, and they are both forms of dependency and subordination, between which they bat you back and forth like a pingpong ball. the state represents by definition the most assymmetrical arrangement of power that our species is capable of producing; capital of wealth. it more or less goes without saying that these are going to coincide in the long run.
so i propose that the opposite is self-reliance and mutual aid: the dignity of autonomy and voluntary internal organic community organization. it is individualism and inter-individualism. the (early or sincere) tea party and the occupy movement provide actual models on the ground of such activities: they're fun and goofy and theatrical and human. they are not gigantic bureaucracies, and have actively resisted hierarchical forms of organization.
so don't listen to the voices, like msnbc and fox, who want to line you up against each other, or who are focused maybe on your race or age etc. don't develop a legislative agenda (admittedly, basically too late for the tea party). show us what you want us to be.
notre dame went well: threw down some immortal technique and anarchist political aesthetics to the catholics. obviously i am disappointed that there's not a permanent government shutdown. i expected the leaders of the legislative branch to resign in embarrassment after a sudden realization of who they actually are. i'm reading henry adams' beautifully-written and -researched history of the united states of america during the administrations of thomas jefferson. jefferson came in and eliminated all internal taxes (funding the federal government exclusively through excises and tariffs on imported goods), while his treasury secretary albert gallatin (a biography of whom henry adams also wrote) launched a systematic effort to eliminate the national debt. jeff wrote: 'Our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization and a very unexpensive one - a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants." tea par-tay! (on the other hand, he was our least christian president, regarded as one of the most extreme religious skeptics in the world. try that in contemporary american politics.)
i often hear people ridiculing the pretensions of the tea party to represent the position of the founders. well, this is an extremely complex question! if the assertion is that we are a 'christian nation,' for example, i'd point out that most of the founders were enlightenment-style religious skeptics of various sorts: deists and unitarians, for example. on the other hand, the basic set of values derives from protestantism (as well as ancient republicanism). cf. roger williams, and also the role of the protestant churches throughout the 18th century in agitating for freedom of conscience and against tyranny. the extent to which locke was a sincere believer is too often overlooked, and his ideas are inconceivable without radical protestantism.
the tea party, i believe, is profoundly divided on defense and security-state-type issues. but i will note that many of the founders opposed nothing more vigorously than a 'standing army.' we have come a long long way since then in this and many other areas, and the scope of federal power is exponentially greater than any of the major figures, with the possible exception of hamilton (a constitutional monarchist) could have envisioned. i can see why the individual mandate to buy health insurance makes sense and solves a problem. i also think it's clearly unconstitutional and will be found so. and the idea that the patriot act is consistent with our form of government is baldly ludicrous.
and we might remind ourselves of a few simple, obvious facts.
(1) the american revolution was to a large extent a tax revolt. the revolutionaries saw excessive or arbitrary taxation as the very essence of tyranny.
(2) the tradition of the founding is a tradition based around individual rights, both a radical protestant individualism and a more urbane or tempered lockean liberalism.
(3) though the founders disagreed profoundly on the scope of federal power, almost all agreed that it should be carefully circumscribed, in contrast to the british and european monarchies. this is enshrined in statements in both the articles of confederation and the constitution (e.g. the tenth amendment).
i don't think the left, and for that matter the neo-cons, really care what the framers had in mind, and that truly they could give a shit about the constitution; the left actually prefers the swedish constitution, while security-state rightists prefer hosni's pharaoh-style system. but they can't just say that without abandoning the debate, and all in all i am glad the constitution still plays that role. however, we might also point out that the constitutional convention was called explicitly to invest the federal government with much more scope. and then point out that it would not have been ratified without further attempts at limitation, enshrined in the bill of rights. etc.
ok but if you're just giggling at the idea that tea-party types have a connection to our actual traditions, you might read or re-read jefferson's kentucky resolutions, opposing the alien and sedition acts. among the many benefits to be derived from a perusal of this document is that you get to try to read the longest english sentence ever composed (section 8).
here's yet another attack on the tea party for being decentralized: 'The "Tea Party" does not exist. It has no members, leaders, office bearers, headquarters, policies, participatory structures, budget or representatives.' it's like younge or the naacp is exposing the tea party as a sham because it is not a single hierarchical organization with an identifiable fuhrer, and like the question of whether that discredits it or rather redounds to its credit cannot even possibly occur to them. what's really bold in younge's formulation is an apparently general ontological position that what is not arranged in a hierarchy of power does not exist. well that could provide a good inference, for example, from the existence of the universe to god and angels etc: the divine bureaucracy. not sure how you'd get to a principle like that; maybe it's the devastating and continual operation of the legacy of...slavery.
one good thing about the tea party, problematic though it is in many respects, is that it broadens the almost unbelievably narrow and unimaginative range of viable american political positions. there are people here (rand paul, e.g.) who are actually capable asking fundamental questions, or of critiquing what john boehner and barack obama have in common, the assumptions they share. i believe i would say the same if a far-left viable movement were to emerge; if, say, dennis kucinich or someone farther out than that suddenly appeared in an effective role. i just want to see a broader and more challenging political discourse. this would entail, for example, the collapse of the two-party system, which just has got to go if we actually are committed even vaguely to democracy.
What most troubles the report's authors is the fact that the organizations within the Tea Party movement showing the fastest growth are the Tea Party Patriots and ResistNet, which have the most diffuse, locally based structures. "This would tend to indicate a larger movement less susceptible to central control, and more likely to attract racist and nativist elements at the local level," the report concludes.
i don't understand what has happened to people or to the concept of democracy etc. and i really, really do not understand what has happened to the civil rights movement. the very fact that a group would have "diffuse, locally based structures" is extremely troubling to the naacp. i suppose now they will be attacking 12-step programs, or volunteer fire departments, or the civil rights movement of the 1960s, for being too local and diffuse. any such movement might attract and has attracted extreme elements. fortunately, the naacp only attracts extreme morons. it's true that any organization without a politburo is dangerous and incomprehensible. sadly, organizations with politburos are also dangerous and incomprehensible. a pretty predicament!
i want you to notice that what the naacp says about the tea party is wholly, entirely, ferociously incompatible with the notion that the tea party is run by the republican party, or by mysterious evil financial puppeteers. better make up your mind. or really i would just issue in the most emphatic terms two attacks on the tea party which are completely incompatible with each other. my favorite fallacy and yours, the essence of american political logic: any argument is a good argument if i agree with the conclusion.
this beautifully confirms what i blogged on june 15: "there is no ceo of the tea party. jealous i think is not frustrated with that, just totally uncomprehending of even that possibility. there is no organization from which to expel somebody, and no one to do the expelling. (meanwhile everyone i saw that they actually did get on tv condemned racism.) but how is a guy "associated with the tea party in south carolina" supposed to start expelling people? ben jealous can expel people from his group, or could with the approval of the board of directors etc. but he cannot conceive of a movement without a hierarchy."