Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tea Parties, Really?

I always try to listen to a little bit of conservative talk radio in any given week. I think I'm finally starting to understand the myriad of ways that restoring the marginal tax rate on the top 2% of income earners to what it was under Clinton and Reagan pretty much represents fascism.

Beck, Hannity, and Rush have recently spent a lot of time getting excited about a new book by their friend, another conservative radio host named Mark Levin, who has one of the most annoying voices I've ever heard in my life. Levin's new book, Liberty and Tyranny, is apparently a big seller. It's a big hit with the tea party crowd. He hasn't yet sent me a copy for review but I'm pretty sure the general thesis is that the New Deal was the worst thing of all time and that progressives since Woodrow Wilson have been party to a gigantic conspiracy, weaving in and out of latency in order to subvert the constitution.

I've been disgusted as anger on the Right has manifested itself in high gun sales and wild flailing comparisons between pragmatic Democratic governance in the public interest and Hitler's Germany.

Some of the comments are shocking and abhorrent but when actually listen to these shows, there's something ironically adorable about what these hosts actually spend most of their time trying to get people to do.

Think about it.

The reality is that the macho men of talk radio are devoting huge chunks of their programming in order to promote tea parties and book discussions.

Lift your pinkies gentlemen, it's considered polite.

Seriously though, the attempted allusion to the Boston Tea Party rebellion against British taxation during the buildup to the Revolutionary War might have worked once as a conceptual mobilization. But effectively now that this is a long-term conservative campaign, it comes across more like a bunch of grown men talking about tea parties. The historical reference is totally lost.


To get a reading list for your next tea party, you could listen to New Orleans' Rush Radio, 99.5 WRNO. Recently, these guys have been running a series of commercials featuring edited clips of amounting to a campaign by the morning show to ensure that US Attorney Jim Letten is retained by the Obama administration. My personal views on this have evolved. For awhile I thought of him as overrated and replaceable but now I'd prefer to keep him on just in the interest of investigatory continuity. Anyway, the ad is all about the 'Lettenpalooza' going on 24/7 at WRNO and then cuts to an announcer who says:

"99.5 WRNO - because WE live here too."

The emphasis is all theirs.

Now what the hell is that supposed to imply? That the white conservatives who control all of the wealth in the city plus all of the wealth, power and influence in the region and state are the feeling oppressed? I'd bet that if you measured WRNO's listenership by geography, it would disproportionately originate from the majority- white, majority-conservative parishes that encircle Orleans Parish.

No reason to feel lonely guys. As Glenn Beck would remind you, "We surround them."


MAD said...

In a rambling, angry and incoherent mood today, E? Most of what I hear on talk radio of late generally makes more sense than the socialist nonsense coming from Congress these last several months.
When I was your age, I was also pretty left of center, so I do not fault your overzealousness, but you must always keep in mind that it is your generation that will have to pay the trillions of dollars of oppressive indebtedness inherent in Obama's "progressive" budgets and stimulus packages.

E said...

That's a very selective interpretation of what has caused the debt that my generation will have to repay. Obama's spending will actually yield product in terms of infrastructure improvements and a more robust social safety net. Republican spending, which is what put us in this mess in the first place, brought us wars of choice, tax cuts for the wealthy, and spending cuts that harm the poor and middle class.

I didn't know I had actual talk radio fans amongst my readers. Neat.

DAMIAN said...

Conservative talk show radio hosts are hypocritical blowhards who give rational economic thought a bad name. They are to capitalism and free markets (both very practical ideas) what Geraldo Rivera and Nancy Grace are to journalism.

I grew up listening to these guys, due to my father's populist right-wing predilections, and it poisoned me against traditional conservatism for years (by which I'm exclusively talking about economic theory, not moronic and superstitious religious and cultural aggression, which I would refer to as "religious rightism" for clarity).

Rush, Beck, Hannity: They're rabble rousers, primarily, milking America's idiotic and unrealistic "Left-Right" schism for every ad dollar they can. They remained idiotically silent while Bush expanded social programs in America at the fastest rate since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiative, and crippled the country's economy with unnecessary and self-destructive wars, while trashing the civil liberties that you would think wags who banter about "tyranny" would be more protective of.

But seriously, attacking them is going after low hanging fruit, E. I don't try to smear socialism by saying that it should be judged according to Hitler, Stalin and Mao. There are lots of happy, content, nonviolent socialist societies.

Just so, there are lots of cheerful, thoughtful, non-violent, non-hateful, modest and pragmatic capitalists. There are also lots of people who hate tyranny and aren't stinking hypocrites who always vote Republican.

If I were you, I'd keep my radio on 91.5 FM. It's better for your soul.

Anonymous said...

E, love ur site, not all your views, but I always find it comical even in these dire times when the left is now blaming this primarily on Bush's lack of conservatism.

I am frankly a big believer in the fact that it was Congress, not Red or Blue, but both parties over several decades got plenty of mud on themselves and did little to clean it up. Congress is where the true power of our country lies always has and always will.

Lest ye forget that Clinton passed the law that allowed sub prime mortgages to be securitized. Before you respond with "why are the conservatives still blaming Clinton"...I am merely pointing out when the seed was planted that eventually blossomed into our economy today. It was not Bush, and if you fail to acknowledge that I will be sorely disappointed because I think you are better than that.

It is also true that the right had control of Congress for 6 years and did nothing which is why anyone currently in office for the last 10 years should be just asked to pack up and go home (Barney, Dodd, Pelosi, feel free to add your own list of republicans). It is also true that Obama has appointed key positions to people that profited from this train wreck within the last 10 years.

My only issue with your generalization of the result of our net gain with obama is the infrastructure will be improved (which I am in favor for) and a robust social safety net.

The managed health care is a horrible idea, its never been done well and will increase cost at every level (service, taxes, insurance, etc - look at Britain) while reducing the quality of medical care at the higher or more complex treatments.

I am all for trying a new system if benchmarks and performance metrics are in place and the understand that if this doesn't work, we can try something else. This is how business works in a free market, not how the government works, it is neither flexible or willing to address what it knows is broken. Ask the OMB on how many recommendations are followed up on and in what kind of time frame after their analysis of current government projects - it's abysmally low.

I wanted to believe in Obama, I really did. Some of his ideas if implemented could change things. But where is the transparency, where is the accountability, when did he go through these proposals line by line. To me, it seems Pelosi and Frank are being patient and tolerating the young man getting all the attention while they get to do what they want to do.

Sorry for the ramblings myself, I just think we all deserve better and I just don't see it getting better any time soon.

E said...

I really really really don't understand people's opposition to healthcare reform. I'd LOVE to have Britain's system over what we have now. LOVE IT. And the British are generally satisfied with gov't healthcare. So are the French, the Germans, the Canadians, Scandanavia, Spain, Italy and so on and so forth...

And that kind of universal healthcare entitlement isn't even on the table in the US. Senate Democrats leading the charge for reform have taken that option off of the table as a way of getting skeptical conservatives on board. We need this so badly. It's killing our economy but screw that - it's killing our neighbors.