Saturday, April 18, 2009

Please Master Order Me Down to the Floor

It appears that the Teabaggers (giggle snort) scored a moderate success with Wednesday's Tax Day rallies. The figure I've seen is 250,000 participants nationwide, which isn't bad unless you compare it to gay pride marches, antiwar rallies, immigration protests, and other demonstrations about marginal issues. And I still think that these rallies should be taunted as antiwar and other 'left' protests always have been: with catcalls and verbal abuse -- Dirty hippies! Get a job! Take a bath! Go back to Russia! The Teabaggers have tried to excuse their less than mind-blowing turnouts by pointing out that they keep scheduling these things on weekdays (and whose fault is that?); so those lazy bums who do participate should be denounced as the pinko shirkers they are. They should also routinely be described as "riots", "violent street protests," and the participants as "screaming," in the American tradition of viewing all demonstrations, no matter how peaceful, as violent.

So, what are these dirty reds screaming about as they riot in the streets? Aside from terms they don't understand, like "socialism" and "fascism," and complaints about the Bush-Obama bailout of the banks (which the left also criticizes) they appear to be having hissyfits about taxes. Okay, nobody likes paying taxes much, though I can think of many things that bother me more, not least because Americans pay lower taxes than most or all of the rest of the developed world. The Teabaggers keep complaining that they don't want to pay higher taxes, which is especially weird when you remember that Obama's very small tax increase is going to affect only those who earn more than $250,000 a year, and virtually none of the people who accuse Obama of taxing them to death earn that much. In a world of multibillionaires, it's easy to regard $250,000 a year as not that much, though it's roughly ten times what I earn, and only about 1 percent of the US population will be affected by the tax increase. Indeed, it's likely that these rioting Communist propagandists are, like me, going to pay less in taxes under Obama. That's leaving aside this welfare queen (from Atrios via IOZ), who paid no taxes at all last year and is now draping herself in the flag as she screams hatred of America in the streets of Syracuse, New York. (Cheap red-baiting, like cheap populism, is oddly arousing, and dangerously habit-forming. But I can stop any time I want! I'm in complete control! I am not an addict!)

"I don't want to see this country turn into a welfare, nanny state, where we stand in line for groceries, and we're in welfare lines, and in socialized medicine lines," Joanne Wilder said between gulps from the welfare teat. The term "nanny state" was of course popularized by Newt Gingrich when he was the congressman from Cobb County, Georgia, which (in those days, at least) received "more federal subsidies than any suburban county in the country, with two exceptions: Arlington Virginia, effectively part of the Federal Government, and Brevard County Florida, the home of the Kennedy Space Center. When we move out of the state system itself, Cobb County is the leading beneficiary of the 'nanny state.'" And Gingrich, according to a sycophantic AP story (from Sisyphus Shrugged via Sideshow), is currently poised to benefit from whatever political capital the Teabaggers manage to generate. To characterize Gingrich adequately would require the talent for invective of the late Hunter Thompson in his prime, back when he was calling Richard Nixon a cheapjack thug and a lust-maddened werewolf. As Avedon cautions, "It's the smell of 'New Nixon' - and, laugh while you may, but just remember that it actually worked for Nixon."

That's the baffling thing, and of course I'm not the first to notice it: the amazing altruism of people who basically renounce altruism when it comes to people like themselves, but are positively eager to make sure that the wealthy and powerful don't get a raw deal, even at their own expense.