Jim, I think you have pegged the tea party pretty well. The main thing I get reading your post is that I’m thankful I don’t live among the tea partiers in Texas. Stay strong! Because I’m not surrounded by them I feel less of need to spend a lot of time thinking about them and trying to understand them. In general, I understand their anger and frustration, and I find it sad that the right and Fox News (who actively promoted tea party events, no matter how much they may protest that they didn’t). The energy was there for a true populist movement, and the left was caught flat-footed, letting big money right-wing interests fuel the tea party. Their anger is real and justified; their facts almost non-existent. They unwittingly do the bidding of people who are directly opposed to the interests of the tea party, and of all Americans. It’s a bit of genius propaganda. And it shows the dangers of having a horribly uninformed electorate, which we do. If people actually knew what was going on, they wouldn’t fight hard against their own self-interest, which is essentially what the tea party does.
The tea party and their gatherings have gotten way more media coverage than they deserve or have earned the past couple years–a mark of how vacuous journalism in America is today. They just go for the train wreck, the sensational, whatever is so out there you can’t take your eyes off of it, and so you think it’ll get you ratings. There is very little real news reported in the mainstream media. Sarah Palin calls it the lamestream media, and it might be the one true thing she has said, though not for the reasons she thinks.
In a tangential note, I found it amusing yesterday to see Eric (I hate all government spending) Cantor tour his home district that was at the epicenter of the earthquake and its damage telling his constituents they would find the money to help them. Gee, Eric, was this a day you disagreed with Reagan’s infamous statement that the most frightening words in the language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help?
So it was nice to see a protest movement from the left get a little coverage in the Times. And of course it was well covered in the alternative press, where they still practice journalism, here, and here. The subject of course is the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, which has been protested in front of the White House and seen over 70 arrests, including environmentalist Bill McKibben. I wish I could afford to go to DC to join them. There is nothing good to be said about the pipeline. As James Hansen has said, if it goes through, it’s game over for the climate. Those who claim it will create jobs miss the point that it would create far fewer jobs than a big program of building wind and solar power. And they miss that it would be a disaster for the environment, and so a disaster for public health and safety.
The only question is whether Obama will give the go ahead or not. Whether he will once again give the Republicans what they want because he is afraid they’ll say mean things about him (which they will anyway, of course), completely abandoning his ideals and indeed what he boldly declared in a speech in St. Paul when he clinched the nomination in 2008: “The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”
Grand words, and his decision on the pipeline may well show us once and for all if they were just words, or if he believed them himself. It’s a hopeful sign that so many are willing to go to jail trying to push him to honor and hold to those words.