What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cut the crap

To my fellow brethren who disparage the Tea Party and other conservative policy promoters (anti-climate change people, anti-science people, etc), knock off the crappy behavior and clean up your act.

No, seriously. Yes, debate the issues all you want. When the opposition tells a lie, call them on it. When they act in both shameful and/or ludicrous manners, call them out on it. If they shout, out shout them at that point. And, BTW, it might be a good idea to carry recording devices with you to stop the "but there's no tape so it didn't happen" silliness.

However, doing things like attacking them physically, leaving bone-headed messages, and, in general, acting like the worst examples of the opposition is not what's needed. This cannot be won by a "but they started it first" discussion.

Counter them with facts and knowledge. Civil discourse. Even standing up to them (which is sometimes all it takes) and telling them they're wrong and show them where their arguments go into fairy tale land. You might look at the current arguments against Sen. Mitch McConnell's howlers over the financial reform bill for some guidance.

Remember Wheaton's Law, "Don't be a dick." Nobody is served by acting that way. I understand your frustration, but you misunderstand their level of spin. They fully believe what they say, name calling won't change their position.


Anonymous said...

What brought this up?

I'm amused by the "there's no tape so it didn't happen" reference.

Anonymous Cassie

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, Cassie, the counter protests are starting up and people are starting to respond to the Tea Party in different ways. One of those is the story about the voice of the Geico announcer (not the Gecko) who left a message on FreedomWorks voicemail. While his wasn't all that bad (more satorical than anything else), some of the other messages haven't been.

So it's just a reminder that this is a political discussion and we can disagree without being disagreeable (the Tea Party itself is also going through such an evolution at the moment).

I understand their frustration, but it doesn't do our argument's side any good for going to extremes.

Anonymous said...

Um... more sartorial? Was he commenting upon their dress?

No local tea party after a long day on bad knees, so I skipped the next closest one (Ravenna) but I've heard some pretty interesting stories and seen some LOL pictures of Tea Partiers reacting to those who are trying to either use the Tea Parties for their own message (Birthers) or infiltrators with the intent to discredit the movement. I think they've taken seriously a lot of the criticism regarding their message (and the kooks) and want to distance themselves from those not focused on the Tea Party's main issue: taxes and government spending.

After spending a year with high school debaters,* I've finally figured out that the primary issue is philosophical at the bottom and from that base, what we see as the nature and function of government determines our politics. Both sides have critically important truths to the success of the country and it's the tension between the diversity that keeps us strong and balanced. The vitriol and lack of respect corrodes our culture.

What grates on me is the "where were you X years ago when Bush did Y?" The likelihood is that I was grousing about his over-spending then, too. I think TARP pushed me over the top - that's when I noticed the ground-swell. It had nothing to do with Obama's skin color. The proximity of events does not equate causation.

So, when I see that Brietbart is offering $100K for a video and none has come forth I have to believe that the politician making the claim that he heard a racial epithet... is probably lying. I know, it's shocking to think that a politician would lie. Unconceivable.

*That sounds like a non sequitor, but really, hang out with high school debaters for a few weeks and you learn a lot of social contract theory, philosophies of government and logical fallacies.

Anonymous Cassie

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, Cassie, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I know it's difficult to see, but even in this age not everybody is recording everything everywhere.

What would prove it is if there was video/audio of them walking past where they said it happened. That tape has also not surfaced. So it becomes a they said, they said situation. So far, more witnesses have come forward with "Yes, it happened" than have come forward with "no it hasn't."

And I seem to remember those of us who did rage and howl at the time of the Bush Administration was saying, "Deficits don't matter," were shouted down as being unpatriotic and uninformed (that lower taxes prompted higher tax revenues and greater economic growth, don't cha know). So, yeah, we're all wondering where you all were at when this economic maelstrom was set into motion. We could have used your help then. And now we're at the point where the government must spend more (during recessions, government spending must increase or the downward cycle will feed on itself - cumulating debt at this time is primarily what all economists agree on - or they had until this downturn and then those who disagree seem to have consulting contracts with a certain Newscorp).

So what is different now? What changed?

And if this was only about "economics" how come the majority voices I hear out of the Tea Party echo the sentiment, "We want our government back." I don't know about you, but I don't see the government as having gone anywhere. So, other than the crashing of the "permanent majority" dream, which really happened in 2006, what else happened? What major cultural shift occurred to spark this concern?

Anonymous said...

What happened? The "great recession" collided with bailouts on top of an already crushing debt that Bush managed to double in a matter of months before leaving office. I suspect that it wouldn't matter who ended up in the Oval Office - they would be seen as complicit in the bailouts.

Where has the government gone? A lot of us would say it's gone beyond its mandate, and we want to reign it in. It's been building a while - my guess is since Clinton was in office and wasn't impeached. It hit the tipping point in 2008.

I'm not avoiding blaming Bush - I do think that Congress showed its spinelessness then. Bush's propensity to sign any spending bill put on his desk undoubtedly aggravated the problems.

Why is it that progressives think it can only be about race? It looks to me (this is an observation, not an accusation) that the race issue comes from Democrats more than Republicans. What do you see?

I disagree with your assessment about government spending to get us out of a recession. Keynes, right? I think I'm more along the lines of Hayek, if this is an accurate description of Hayek's theories (tsk, learning economics from a viral rap video. I was a liberal arts major, can you tell?) It is commonly misattributed to Abraham Lincoln that you cannot tax a nation into prosperity. I strongly believe that. Nor can we expect prosperity when we're paying interest on huge deficits. Not everyone agrees that government spending is necessary to get us out of a recession. There have been several economists who have theorized that government spending lengthened the Great Depression.

I concede that lack of evidence is not proof that the event did/didn't happen. But did you see those men walking through the crowd? Most of them had cameras or cell phones up to video the crowd. If they've got something, they'd come forward. Instead, you want us to prove a negative? Can't be done. Lack of evidence does mean one thing - I don't have to believe the accusation. It smelled like a set up then and from all accounts of the congressmen, they "just decided to take a walk" with cameras up in a crowd that's been branded as racist? That's not an attempt at entrapment? I need evidence as proof - and there is none, therefore I don't believe the accusations. Have you decided to believe a politician because you believe that Tea Partiers are racist - based on what? The media's representation of them? Have you gone to a tea party yet?

I've been to the Tea Parties. You'll find as many kooks there as in any other group. I'll bet I can find idiots at a Democratic rally who like to equate Bush with Hitler. Do I think all Democrats are therefore idiots with neither a knowledge of history nor a sense of propriety? No. I disagree with many of their policies. I think that they have a philosophy about government that I find abhorrent. But they provide a necessary balance to our culture.

Anonymous Cassie

Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, well, the government, IMHO, has not gone beyond its mandate. And if it were, I'll remind you of the arguments during the previous administration on how in times of great challenges, Presidents need to go beyond. It was crap then, and it's crap now.

However, how has the government gone beyond it's mandate? In times past the government was more involved in the economy. We haven't even approached the levels of intrusion seen during both the Great Depression or World War II.

As for Congress' spinlessness, Congress were the one that formulated the increased spending bills (many during the Republican/Conservative "Permanent Majority" Era). Back when it was also okay to incur debt to spend our way out of minor recessions ("Deficits don't matter"). Back when earmarks were a good thing to make sure the bureaucrats didn't send money elsewhere.

As for economic theories, well, since the Great Depression GDP grew the largest during the 50 and 60s, a time of outrageous (according to today's standard) taxes and government regulation. GDP growth slowed in the 70s and 80s, at a time of tax reduction and reduced regulation. In the 90's GDP resurged (but only to levels above the 70s, but still half as much as the 50s and 60s). Then during the aughts, GDP showed it's worse growth since the Great Depression, during the tax cuts and rampant reduction of regulation. As for those economists who believe that the spending lengthen the Depression, they're such a minority opinion they don't even appear in peer reviewed journals as dissenting voices. Sorry, it's just like the saying that "markets love Republican administrations" which I disproved last year. Our economy grows during progressive administrations, when regulation creates a fair playing field, and the tax structure helps smooth the differences between incomes.

As for the delegations going through the crowd with cameras, etc. No, I didn't see that. I did see video of them walking across a green lawn, but they didn't have anything in their hands (that I remember). And again, if there is video of them going through the crowds showing the full progression, bring it forward, or with them having recording devices, show that. That would be evidence of something. As for the rest of your statements, are you arguing that they baited the crowd to shout racist remarks (as was proposed by Fox News with their "why would they walk to the capitol" line of reporting - only to be countered that yes, they walk to the capitol all the time)?

And yes, I've been to the local TP. I didn't stay long. The difference is our crazies typically aren't on stage with the microphones. Nor are they the ones leading the organizations.

Anonymous said...

I had a rather elegant response (if I do say so myself) that my daughters closed before I posted. Now I've got to get ready for class in the morning, so I'm limiting myself to a short response.

This shows John Lewis et al in their walk through the Tea Party. Notice the number of cell phones and cameras the entourage has. See how many the people around them have. I'm told that Jesse Jackson Jr. is the gentleman with the camera up, but he's moving too fast for me to identify him. So yeah, they did walk through the crowd with cameras up.

Nobody's saying that the government and its spending policies didn't extend the Great Depression? Milton Friedman, Nobel Winner, didn't publish in reputable peer-reviewed journals?

Regarding your last post with the link to Tim Wise's blog post: I haven't had time to read it closely, and won't until tomorrow night. But a quick scan of the first few paragraphs prompted me to ask two questions:

1. Do you know the race of the man who took the semi-automatic rifle to the Tea Party?

2. Didn't a similar gathering take place in Washington DC, albeit not concurrent with the Civil Rights Act enactment?

It appears that Mr. Wise's comments are regarding white privilege and perhaps my speedy read has misunderstood him. I'll give it another read tomorrow.

Anonymous Cassie

Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, the incident took place as Rep. Lewis walked from the Cannon Office Building to the Capitol at about 2pm. Looking at the video you linked to, it's clear the entourage (which is much larger than what the initial reports of the incident had) are walking from the Capitol toward the Cannon Office (look, the Capitol is in the background as they come across the street toward the camera). Also, look at the shadows they cast on the street. Their shadows are nearly as long if not taller than they are. This is late afternoon footage.

My guess is that this is them returning from the Capitol after the incident. Which, yes, I would expect him to have found a larger group to walk with, and to have someone videotaping this time.