Pick Wayne's Brain

May 3, 2014

Tea Party Nation of Ignorance

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 3:10 AM

One day a retired US Army Colonel and World War II Veteran named Harry Riley who, to the best of my knowledge, served our nation honorably, snapped. He somehow got the idea that the United States is a tyranny, and so he has begun Operation American Spring. Their mission:

Restoration of Constitutional government, rule of law, freedom, liberty “of the people, for the people, by the people” from despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.

That was my first hint that there might be something wrong with Harry. You see, in order to have a tyranny, you have to have a tyrant. And not only is a tyrant not a whole “federal leadership,” but if President Obama really was a tyrant, all these people crying about him being a tyrant would have been silenced a long, long time ago. That’s what tyrants do. That’s not what Obama has been doing. This distorted idea that we are living in a tyranny is utterly and completely ridiculous. People need to learn that words have meanings, and they should learn what those meanings are. We are not living in a dictatorship. Nor are we living under a Fascist/Socialist government, as if living in a government of complete opposites was even possible.

As further evidence of Harry’s detachment from reality, he lists certain assumptions upon which his little rally is predicated:

Millions of Americans will participate.
American veterans and patriots are energized to end the tyranny, lawlessness, and shredding of the US Constitution.
Government is not the target, it is sound; corrupt and criminal leadership must be replaced.
Those in power will not hesitate to use force against unarmed, peaceful patriots exercising their constitutional rights.
Patriots may be killed, wounded, incarcerated.
There is no hope given today’s technology of secrecy for the effort nor do we want it secret.

Ironically, many of the things for which Obama is accused of being a tyrant were started under the previous Republican administration. At least, that’s the impression I get. Look, I’m not totally happy about some of the things Obama has done, especially those in the name of “national security.” But as far as I know, the things most of us complain about were started before he took office, and our displeasure is over the fact that these programs have been continued or even expanded. But I can’t think of anything resembling tyranny that Obama started fresh. And if Harry’s delusions were confined to Harry, our nation wouldn’t be in as much trouble as it is. The cynical say that Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the rest. And the Tea Party is a good example of why this is so.

The Tea Party Nation, headed up by Judson Phillips, is promoting Harry’s War. He’s e-mailing a column from his group’s website written by Alan Caruba, a column containing many hilariously wrong ideas about American History.

His column begins with an ad hominem attack on people who use logic in their thinking

You have to be extremely stupid to send a couple of hundred armed government agents to confiscate some bullheaded rancher’s cattle without contemplating how the rest of the nation will interpret your actions.

Actually you have to be extremely stupid to think that the federal government had no reason NOT to seize Cliven Bundy’s cattle when he was using OUR property to feed them and not paying us. Bundy owes you and me more than a million dollars in unpaid grazing fees, and despite all his court battles to overturn those fees, he has lost the war. I think this simple observation strikes at the core of what is wrong with Tea Party People. They don’t understand that the federal government is you and me. It’s not some tyrannical despot off by him or itself. If it’s not doing what we want it to do, it’s because we keep re-electing the same stupid Representatives and Senators to Congress, and the majority of them are Republicans.

But the attacks didn’t end there

What was obvious to voters who rejected Barack Obama’s run for the presidency the first and second time was the fact that he lacked any record of competency to be President. The rest voted for him because they wanted to say they helped elect the first black President of the United States and because they believed what this pathological liar said then and since.

You know, it’s an insult to suggest that the only reason we voted for Obama was so we could say we helped elect the first black President of the United States, and there was no evidence at the time that he was, or is, a pathological liar.

But we all know consistency is not a strong suit of the far right-wing

The assertion that Obama’s and Eric Holder’s actions and policies are opposed because they are black is absurd. It is an insult to everyone who voted for Obama and to the rest of us.

So it’s an insult to those of us who voted for him to say the other side opposes him because he’s black, but it’s not an insult to us to say we voted for him because he’s black. And how did Attorney General Eric Holder get into this? He was writing about Bundy’s dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, not with the Justice Department. But Tea Party People think all of the federal government is run by one person, who may be Barack Obama or Eric Holder, they’re not sure which.

And then the bizarre romantic view of American history begins

I love the notion that Cliven Bundy lives in Bunkerville. It reminded me of Bunker Hill and you know how badly that eventually turned out for the British in 1775. What ensued was a guerrilla war led by George Washington that defeated the most powerful nation of its time. There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them. That’s quintessentially American!

Let’s look at a few lines of this.

It reminded me of Bunker Hill and you know how badly that eventually turned out for the British in 1775.
He must be thinking way past 1775. The British won the battle of Bunker Hill, BTW.

What ensued was a guerrilla war led by George Washington that defeated the most powerful nation of its time.
A couple of things here. First, Washington didn’t defeat the British, the French did. And we wouldn’t be Americans today if not for the French. The British surrendered to the French. And as for Washington’s victories (few though they were), even those were possible thanks to the training his men received from Baron von Steuben, who was gay. They didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell.

But then Caruba goes on to admit that the entire premise of their support for Bundy is wrong

Bundy should have paid his grazing rights fees. Other ranchers do. What he has done, however, is bring greater awareness the amount of land that the federal government owns in Nevada and elsewhere, particularly west of the Mississippi, and expose a regime that wants to intimidate Americans with force if necessary.

Okay, so they admit that Bundy didn’t pay his grazing fees, which was the entire reason the federal government took the action they did. In other words, the federal government was acting entirely lawfully! Bundy is a scofflaw. And how else does a government enforce the law except by force! Are they really that naive? I’m afraid so.

Caruba goes on to quote a Wikipedia passage, which uses deceptive and incorrect math to make an irrelevant point

According to Wikipedia, “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers America’s public lands, totaling approximately 247.3 million acres, or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages 700 million acres (2,800,000 km2) of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state, and private lands. Most public lands are located in western states, especially Alaska. With approximately 10,000 permanent employees and close to 2,000 seasonal employees, this works out to over 21,000 acres (85 km2) per employee. The agency’s budget was $960,000,000 for 2010 ($3.79 per surface acre, $9.38 per hectare)”

If you’re going to quote how much the BLM spends per acre of land covered, why use only the 247.3 million surface acres of public land, but not the 700 million acres of substrate mineral estate, which isn’t cost-free to manage? Shouldn’t you really be dividing that $960 million by the combined acreage of about 947.3 million? Isn’t the BLM really spending about $1 per acre to do its job? And what’s with all the metric conversions? FTR, the current Wiki entry for BLM has updated numbers, but the deception of dividing the budget money against only the surface area and not the substrate remains. The History section of that page requires citations. Take what you read there for what it’s worth.

So far, Caruba has failed to make any convincing arguments about anything. But it’s hard to be certain because I’m not sure what point he’s trying to make. So he goes off in a different direction

I can understand the need for national forests and reserves, but I have concerns about those reserves that are used as an excuse to deny access to massive energy sources that lie beneath their surface. If the U.S. didn’t own most of Nevada, Bundy would not need to pay grazing fees. Most certainly, his ancestors didn’t. The other excuse, that the government is trying to protect an endangered tortoise, is just part of the environmental movement’s efforts to keep energy sources from being available to all of us. Endangered species is pure fiction.

Does Caruba not understand the concept of public land? It belongs to all of us, and that means that no privately owned corporation should be allowed to destroy the most beautiful parts of our country just to make a dollar. And the oil they’re after would be sold on the world market, thus screwing the American people of the profits exploited from the land we own. As for the remark about Bundy not needing to pay grazing fees if the feds didn’t own so much of Nevada, what happened to “Bundy should have paid his grazing rights fees. Other ranchers do.”? But the next five words confirm to me just how willfully ignorant the Tea Party People wish to remain. “Most certainly, his ancestors didn’t.” Caruba must not know how this Internet-thingy works. A simple search brings up an official history of Grazing Fees from the Bureau of Land Management itself. Actually reading that article reveals

The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978.[Emphasis mine.]

No need to sound so uncertain about it, Caruba. They didn’t, because they were probably dead by the time the fees were first set. The Ignorance is further revealed by the comment that “Endangered species if pure fiction.” Tell that to the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon. Prove to us that the extinction of an entire species has no effect on the rest of the environment. And use plenty of Science in your proof. You do believe in Science, don’t you, Caruba?

Caruba still doesn’t understand what the initial Cliven bundy problem was

What worries me and many of my blogger colleagues is the prospect of a renewed effort by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding what is essentially a fairly minor dispute between it and Bundy. Showing some common sense, the BLM backed off its initial effort.

He stole public property for his own enrichment and he didn’t compensate us for it. This has nothing to do with private property rights.

Caruba goes back into ad hominem attack mode

I don’t think the BLM response to Bundy was exclusive to the agency. That decision needed to be sent up the line as far as the White House. Indeed, it was likely initiated by the White House.

Do you have any evidence whatsoever that the White House initiated the federal seizure of Bundy’s cattle? I’m sure they were told by the Interior Secretary that action was going to be taken in the matter, but I can;t imagine that Obama called DIS and told them to seize the cattle. Again, now naive is Caruba about how the federal government works?

If there was ever any doubt that the Tea Party movement is one of Conservatism, Caruba’s revelations about what he thinks people should fear should dispel those doubts.

Even more scary is the fact that only Fox News channel had reporters on the scene. No other major television news outlet set journalists to record the event. How much in league with the White House does the media have to be to ignore two hundred armed government agents descending on a ranch in Nevada?

Conservatism’s message is always about being fearful of change, of things that are different. When a Conservative sees something that scares him, he thinks everyone else should be just as scared as he is. Caruba and his ilk think this is a big deal, but I can;t figure out why. He admits that Bundy should have paid the fees, so why is the government’s reaction to his refusal to do so an act of tyranny and not an act of law enforcement? Don’t Conservatives like Law Enforcement? And I wouldn’t be so quick to classify the employees of Fox News as “journalists.” The media doesn’t need to be in league with the White House to rightly ignore a man desperately trying to seek attention and unlawfully avoid having to pay us a million dollars.

Next comes a meaningless threat based on simple mathematics

I suspect that a lot of Americans and most certainly those who live in the rural areas of the nation are going to remember the Bundy face-off with the BLM come the November midterm elections. While most voters are crowded into the cities on the East and West Coasts, there are a lot of others in “flyover country.”

What you suspect and what you can prove are two different things, or have you never seen an American cop show before? And if, by your own math, “most people” live on the coasts, doesn’t that mean they outnumber the “lot of others in ‘flyover country'”? So why does that matter?

Again, a lack of understanding of what’s really going on leads to another meaningless threat

When you add in all the folks who lost their healthcare insurance and others who have discovered they can’t even buy a policy until next January, that’s going to be a voting bloc that could decimate Democratic Party candidates.

This is a callback to the “If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance” fiasco, a very inexpertly worded sound bite that came back to bite them in the ass. The people who lost their health insurance did so for a variety of reasons, but the primary one was that their insurance companies refuse to alter their policies to comply with the new law, even though they had years to do so. People who claimed they liked their insurance only liked the low premiums they paid and rarely, if ever, actually used their policies. If they did, they would often find huge deductibles and small lifetime limits. They were exactly the kinds of policies against which the law was meant to protect you. As for not buying a policy until next year, how is that the Democrats’ fault? [Notice how easily the Conservatives forget the “individual responsibility” part of their philosophy.] As for those unable to get Medicaid because their Republican Governors refused to accept the federal money, that’ only helps the Democrats win more State houses.

Uh-oh, here comes that T-word again

All tyrannies over-reach at some point and we are seeing that occur in the White House. The nation is fortunate to have the House controlled by Republicans and now needs a Senate as well in order to dispense some much needed justice on behalf of Americans.

It’s not a tyranny, or you would never have been around long enough to write this column.

Caruba demonstrates his memory problem with facts

It’s going to be interesting to see how the White House responds to the May 16th “Operation American Spring” being organized to bring a million or more to Washington, D.C. to participate in an event that will demonstrate the breadth of the unhappiness that has spread since Obama’s first election and is gaining momentum since his second.

Actually Riley is hoping to bring ten million people to Washington. You should try to learn to read for comprehension. The unhappiness is only among the people who believe the kind of nonsense and untruths the Tea Party People believe. Cliven Bundy is not a hero, he’s a criminal trying to rip you off personally.

Finally, Caruba ends with more paranoid speculation

The White House response will tell us all a lot about its current state of thought. Whatever it has in mind is likely to leak before the event. The best thing about Washington, D.C. is its inability to keep a secret. The worst thing is the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.

Why would the White House respond to an event that hasn’t happened yet, and is unlikely to be as big a deal as the organizers hope? And just what kind of response do they really think they’ll get if they behave as peacefully as they claim they intend to behave? We really need to stop giving the tea Party People a platform. Because they simply do not know what they’re talking about, and they’re so clearly afraid. They need medicine, not a microphone.

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