1 2 3 4 – Wait, What Exactly ARE You Fighting For?

I have posted several times about the fracturing of the Teabaggers disgruntled Libertarians self-proclaimed patriots angry mob Glenn Beck followers Crazy Palin Supporters Oath Keepers John Birch Society New Minutemen Ayn Rand Wankers TEA movement thing, as well as what I perceive to be the inherent problems of the “movement,” ranging from miseducation to willful hypocrisy to bigotry. One element, however, that I have not addressed very much is the apocalyptic hysteria.

Well friends, that time has come.

Yesterday’s New York Times contained a very interesting article on the TEAbaggery. And yes, after much internal debate, I have decided to refer collectively to the whole lot (lot = [Teabaggers disgruntled Libertarians self-proclaimed patriots angry mob Glenn Beck followers Crazy Palin Supporters Oath Keepers John Birch Society New Minutemen Ayn Rand Wankers TEA movement thing]) as TEAbaggery. They picked the name (no really Mom, they did) and I like it so there you go. Nomenclature aside, I have culled some of the more alarmist/jaw-dropping quotes from the article for us to discuss.

Who joins the TEAbaggery? Primarily people who are fed up and/or afraid and either don’t know or are unable to articulate why.  Also, a lack of prior education on government/politics/civics is good, as is a poor voting record.  Then the angry and fed up, either by divine luck or shrewd marketing, stumble upon the likes of Ron Paul and Glenn Beck. At this point, the proto-baggers receive an “Education” about what the Constitution *really* means and how those vague and ill-defined feelings of being shafted are *really* the pure spark of Constitutional Love.

The[ local TEAgroups] are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like ResistNet.com (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and Infowars.com (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Many describe emerging from their research as if reborn to a new reality. Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst. For others, though, transformation seems to amount to trying on a new ideological outfit — embracing the rhetoric and buying the books.

And this:

Most of the people [at a TEA gathering in WA state] had paid only passing attention to national politics in years past. “I voted twice and I failed political science twice,” said Darin Stevens, leader of the Spokane 9/12 Project.

Until the recession, Mr. Stevens, 33, had poured his energies into his family and his business installing wireless networks. He had to lay off employees, and he struggled to pay credit cards, a home equity loan, even his taxes. “It hits you physically when you start getting the calls,” he said.

He discovered Glenn Beck, and began to think of Washington as a conspiracy to fleece the little guy. “I had no clue that my country was being taken from me,” Mr. Stevens explained. He could not understand why his progressive friends did not see what he saw.

But what *exactly* do they think is so wrong?  Well, depends on who is talking, apparently. And a lot of the “fear” seems to be grounded in fantasy and fearmongering.

At a recent meeting of the Sandpoint Tea Party, Mrs. Stout presided with brisk efficiency until a member interrupted with urgent news. Because of the stimulus bill, he insisted, private medical records were being shipped to federal bureaucrats. A woman said her doctor had told her the same thing. There were gasps of rage. Everyone already viewed health reform as a ruse to control their medical choices and drive them into the grip of insurance conglomerates. Debate erupted. Could state medical authorities intervene? Should they call Congress?

WorldNetDaily.com trumpets “exclusives” reporting that the Army is seeking “Internment/Resettlement” specialists. On ResistNet.com, bloggers warn that Mr. Obama is trying to convert Interpol, the international police organization, into his personal police force. They call on “fellow Patriots” to “grab their guns.”

People are more willing, he said, to imagine a government that would lock up political opponents, or ration health care with “death panels,” or fake global warming. And if global warming is a fraud, is it so crazy to wonder about a president’s birth certificate?

“People just do not trust any of this,” Mr. [Richard] Mack said. “It’s not just the fringe people anymore. These are just ordinary people — teachers, bankers, housewives.”

Well, what are they going to do about it? I don’t know that THEY really know.

Tea Party leaders say they know their complaints about shredded constitutional principles and excessive spending ring hollow to some, given their relative passivity through the Bush years. In some ways, though, their main answer — strict adherence to the Constitution — would comfort every card-carrying A.C.L.U. member.

But their vision of the federal government is frequently at odds with the one that both parties have constructed. Tea Party gatherings are full of people who say they would do away with the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies, not to mention bailouts and stimulus packages. Nor is it unusual to hear calls to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A remarkable number say this despite having recently lost jobs or health coverage. Some of the prescriptions they are debating — secession, tax boycotts, states “nullifying” federal laws, forming citizen militias — are outside the mainstream, too.

But it sure seems that the end goal is going to require a LOT of ammo.  Many people appear to be fear/hoping for an armed “rebellion” – a desire that is both created and fed in an extremely irresponsible manner by people who should know better.

Mr. Beck frequently echoes Patriot rhetoric, discussing the possible arrival of a “New World Order” and arguing that Mr. Obama is using a strategy of manufactured crisis to destroy the economy and pave the way for dictatorship.

Politicians courting the Tea Party movement are also alluding to Patriot dogma. At a Tea Party protest in Las Vegas, Joe Heck, a Republican running for Congress, blamed both the Democratic and Republican Parties for moving the country toward “socialistic tyranny.” In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican seeking re-election, threw his support behind the state sovereignty movement. And in Indiana, Richard Behney, a Republican Senate candidate, told Tea Party supporters what he would do if the 2010 elections did not produce results to his liking: “I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too.”

When Friends for Liberty held its first public event, Mrs. Stout listened as Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, brought 1,400 people to their feet with a speech about confronting a despotic federal government. Mrs. Stout said she felt as if she had been handed a road map to rebellion.

And when you have highly visible media darlings (Beck) or elected officials with the non-stop ranting.  IF YOU LISTEN TO ME AND REPEAT WHAT I SAY PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU ARE SMART AND PATRIOTIC AND COOL! RED DAWN IS COMING! SOCIALISM IS GOING TO GAY MARRY YOUR GRANDMOTHER TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! GET READY TO SHOOT YOUR GUN BECAUSE THAT IS A SUPER COOL WAY TO BEHAVE AND TOTALLY JUSTIFIED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND WARRANTED BY THE FACTS! So is it really any surprise when people actually *believe* that Red Dawn is coming and they need to stockpile the weapons and canned goods? Or worse still, they believe based on what they have been told by these “authority” figures that it is perfectly acceptable to threaten violence against elected officials?

One local group represented at Liberty Lake was Arm in Arm, which aims to organize neighborhoods for possible civil strife by stockpiling food and survival gear, and forming armed neighborhood groups.

Also represented was Oath Keepers, whose members call themselves “guardians of the Republic.” Oath Keepers recruits military and law enforcement officials who are asked to disobey orders the group deems unconstitutional. These include orders to conduct warrantless searches, arrest Americans as unlawful enemy combatants or force civilians into “any form of detention camps.”

Gazing out at his overwhelmingly white audience, Mr. Mack felt the need to say, “This meeting is not racist.” Nor, he said, was it a call to insurrection. What is needed, he said, is “a whole army of sheriffs” marching on Washington to deliver an unambiguous warning: “Any violation of the Constitution we will consider a criminal offense.”

The crowd roared.

Not long ago, Mrs. Stout sent an e-mail message to her members under the subject line: “Revolution.” It linked to an article by Greg Evensen, a leader in the militia movement, titled “The Anatomy of an American Revolution,” that listed “grievances” he said “would justify a declaration of war against any criminal enterprise including that which is killing our nation from Washington, D.C.”

Mrs. Stout said she has begun to contemplate the possibility of “another civil war.” It is her deepest fear, she said. Yet she believes the stakes are that high. Basic freedoms are threatened, she said. Economic collapse, food shortages and civil unrest all seem imminent.

“I don’t see us being the ones to start it, but I would give up my life for my country,” Mrs. Stout said. She paused, considering her next words. “Peaceful means,” she continued, “are the best way of going about it. But sometimes you are not given a choice.”

Now, I will admit that I am not above mocking individual TEAbaggers, whether it be for their signage or their bigotry or whatever, but I have said all along that they are inexcusably being led to this insanity. My biggest problems with these shenanigoats are the irresponsible greedy fuckos who fan this crazy for their own commercial gain.

And don’t think for a second that what they are doing isn’t serious and seriously scary. In case you are not convinced, let me end with this quote:

As the [TEA] meeting ended, Carolyn L. Whaley, 76, held up her copy of the Constitution. She carries it everywhere, she explained, and she was prepared to lay down her life to protect it from the likes of Mr. Obama.  “I would not hesitate,” she said, perfectly calm.

You Misspelled "Glenn Beck"

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