October 6th, 2011 / 3:30 pm

File this under “Making Shapely Fiction”: A Tea Party protest attracted Birthers and Libertarians and Constitutional “Originalists” and Anti-Abortion Activists and Christian Homeschooler Dominionists and Second Amendment Loyalists and Anti-Immigrationists and Anti-Socialists and Race-Baiters and Mainstream Republican Activists and people who want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare AND people who think they are Taxed Enough Already. If their message seemed “cohesive,” (see also this, this, or any of these) maybe that was because they had a corporate-funded lobby and an entire news network dedicated to shaping the message into a cohesive one for them.


  1. guy watching bowling

      While I’m likely just paraphrasing your larger point, I would note that none of this seemed coherent to anybody, ever. 

      In the end, the distinction to which you are gesturing is simply that there are different standards applied to the left and right. All declarations by the right MUST be taken seriously and as expressions of “real” America. All declarations by the left must be discounted out of hand, no matter how accurate they are or turn out to be. It’s simply not in the interests of the wealthy to acknowledge the left’s grievances, ideology, or their predictions about the effects of current policy positions. Note the failure of our nation to act on global warming as an example.        

  2. reynard

      yeah but

  3. Matthew Simmons
  4. alex crowley

      What? Isn’t Matthew’s main point that the OccupyWallSt (read: sorta Lefties)movement has been continually chastised for its lack of cohesiveness (there’s an ongoing email thread amongst my friends about exactly this) while ongoing Right-ist movements have not been subject to the same critique in the media, and that, to go a step further, the sense of coherence that exists among the Right is a fiction developed by that same media?

      perhaps I’m missing something.

  5. guy watching bowling

      Confused by your confusion?  

      I am saying (in amplification) that there has never been any cohesion in right-wing ideology. I am also saying that the media never offer any consistent, logical expression of right-wing ideology: from moment to moment it makes no sense at all. If it’s a fiction, it’s an absurdist one. Critiques of the left’s incoherence are incoherent, and they are used simply as a momentarily useful means of attack.

  6. alex crowley

      While it may have already been obvious to some of us that there is an equal amount (or possibly greater, who knows?) of incoherence on the Right, I don’t ever see that used against them by media outlets. Sure, that’s anecdotal because it just applies to me, but I took that to be what Matthew was saying as well, thereby lending some validity to my own personal observations.

      For at least a week (if not since the occupation began) the drumbeat has been, “Yes, but those 99%-ers don’t have a cohesive message!” or, “I’d support them if I knew what their message was.” If I’m putting words in Matthew’s mouth or misinterpreting what he’s saying above, then I’ll take my comment back, but I saw it as a critique of media portrayals.

      I do disagree with your statement that “critiques of the left’s incoherence are incoherent”. The Left does not cohere around any center or particular ideology, so I don’t have much of a problem when somebody points that out (maybe how they attempt to point it out could totally be incoherent); it’s a factual statement against which it is difficult to argue.

  7. reynard

      ‘a close reading of the cat in the hat

  8. Matthew Simmons


  9. Matthew Simmons

      Mass protests inevitably mix messages.

      Honestly, a few days ago I noticed myself dismissing the whole thing with a, “If only they had a coherent single message that they are pushing,” train of thought. Got off the train, examined it, found that I had mostly just picked it up from the media, saw a bunch of articles from “moderates” and “progressives” that suggested if only the #OWS kids were more like the Tea Party, remembered what it was like to actually watch a bunch of interviews with people at Tea Party rallies, felt silly.

      Feeling cynicism beaten out of me by a little nightstick:


  10. deadgod

      To me, right-wing incoherence has less to do with the motley of gullible grievancers sometimes contradicting themselves (a humanly universal trait) – though DON’T STEAL FROM MEDICARE TO SUPPORT SOCIALIZED MEDICINE is priceless, and anti-environmental-regulation fanatics who are also “life”-supporters, and on and on  – , and more to do with the self-contrariety of ‘conservatism’ itself.

      The thrust of this snippet is well-said:  supposedly left-biased media are absolutely unwilling – perhaps unable for infiltratory reasons? – to assess the Left and the Right in anything like comparable terms.

      [Matthew, on what grounds would you refer to any foxgoebbels network or outlet as a “news” organization?  Is there evidence that any foxgoebbels production – or any Roopie Murdoch thingy – has anything non-accidental to do with ‘journalism’??]

  11. deadgod

      [cross-posted with your remarks above – the problem with the right isn’t that its interests and perspective are sometimes at odds one with another, or that righties are sometimes factually inaccurate–what the hell– – everything is processual – the right/s is/are guided by ideology contrarily to facts and logic, which deprives the left of someone to talk to from the right]

  12. Matthew Simmons

      Probably deserved some quotes, that “news network” mention.

  13. Matthew Simmons

      Lex Luthor shot a young Superboy with a malfunctioning cloning ray and out came Bizarro.

      Bizarro felt misunderstood and went out to create his own planet, where logic was the opposite of logic.

      Did Bizarro’s world collide with ours?

  14. postitbreakup

      I like the anger here, although I’m somewhat disappointed this isn’t a post about Jerome Stern’s book. I’m probably the only one, though.

  15. Trey

      there’s this episode of seinfeld…

  16. Matthew Simmons

       I’ll post about that one at some point.

  17. Anonymous

      as far as I can tell, everybody who has commented up to this point in this thread agrees with each other and can’t tell that is what they’re doing?

  18. Anonymous

      i like that the only thing htmlgiant commenters can agree on is that republicans are awful.

  19. MJ

      Kind of. Exactly.

  20. Guestagain

      That’s a stereotype, I think both sides are quite dangerous at this point but the Republicans do deliver more consistently reliable comedy value, most of the time. The positive outcome of all this is – everyone to the streets!

  21. Dubya

      Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi are quite comical if not shameful. Both sides have their idiots out front and center. I’m a very embarrassed conservative. It’s not the ideology that is wrong but our leaders that are wrong. True conservatism is quite simple: Don’t spend more than you earn. I’m not leaving conservatism behind simply because Sarah Palin is the South Park version of Saddam Hussein come to life. As a conservative I don’t feel like we have time to attack the left. We have enough on our side to tackle first. A true conservative should agree with many leftist talking points, anyway. Gay marriage? Should’ve been allowed fifty years ago. Eco conservation? No Brainer. Without leftist ideology we’d still have children working 15 hour shifts at the factory, and women would make $3/hr because they are the “inferior gender”. So, yes, leftists have been right many times in the past but that doesn’t mean we can continue to spend a trillion dollars before we have earned it. We need a healthy mix of conservatism and liberalism. It just makes sense to me. 

  22. Guestagain

      yes, yes and yes, an organism out of balance is the ideology of cancer

  23. deadgod

      Don’t spend more than you earn.

      Sounds simple enough!

      –but . . . for how long do you mean when you say “earn”?

      Do you mean ‘no mortgages’ – because thirty years is a long time?  No car loans?  No credit card carry-over from quarter to quarter? 

      No Second World War?  No public roads, high schools, medical research, utility infrastructure that brings you electricity and water, food inspection, police or fire departments, cages to put child molesters in–at least, not without cash on the barrelhead?

      Do you mean ‘only spend what’s in your pocket/account’??

      All ‘capital’, all financial ‘capitalization’, is deficit spending–all of it.  That’s what ‘capitalism’ means:  access to as-yet unearned income.  Is this system what your “true conservati[sm]” opposes?  –because capitalism is certainly what your “quite simple” nostrum entails opposing.

      It’s “simpl[y]” not true that “we” haven’t “earned” a trillion-dollar deficit.  “We” have the money.  The issues are two:  a)  everybody paying their fair share; and b)  spending what’s collected and borrowed wisely.  Neither is “simple”.

  24. deadgod

      [By the way, excluding cooperating with fiscal ‘conservatives’, what have “Frank” or “Pelosi” done repeatedly as a matter of policy enactment or implementation that one could reasonably call “shameful”??  I know the phonemes composed in those orders are elements in foxgoebbels’s robot programming, but I wonder if there might be an actual argument the programming indicates.]

  25. deadgod

      ^  the paralytic ideology of ‘moderation’, whereby the best ideas of flat-Earth theory and the best ideas of spherical-Earth theory are combined, because the truth of the shape of the Earth is somewhere . . . in between

  26. Dubya

      We can start with Frank and Pelosi’s indignant support of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s solvency in 2005. If it’s too difficult to keep a balanced budget then I guess we’re all fucked.    

  27. deadgod

      So “fiscal ‘conservatism'” means ‘nobody ever borrowing any money at all’.

      That’s exactly how serious I thought your sloganeering was.

  28. Dubya

      So, it’s sloganeering to ask for a balanced budget? If so we are indeed fucked. I take out loans on vehicles because I can balance my budget at the end of the month. Well, it’s more than “can”. I have to. Besides, our government is not taking out car loans and home loans like the average family of four living on a budget.  The government is dining out nicely on what is essentially credit card debt. That type of debt spending has broken many families apart. If you don’t believe that congressman are bringing in millions of dollars in non-essential spending to their own districts then I can’t help you. Well, I don’t care to help you, actually. I just want sound fiscal spending. It’s not too much to ask considering that millions of families do this everyday. Those who don’t participate in sound fiscal spending seem to have no qualms with asking the government to follow suit.  

  29. Dubya

      Also, what I find interesting is that we are not all that different from each other. We can quibble over ideology, but I’m sure we have much room for common ground. I’m against war spending because I’m wholly against war. I’m sure you feel the same. We should start there instead of bickering over who is right and who is wrong. How about “appropriate” spending rather than “no spending”? 

  30. Guestagain

      Capitalism means private as opposed to state ownership. Sovereigns have been borrowing against projected revenue long before the emergence of capitalism. I agree with the two issues you have identified: a) everybody paying their fair share; and b) spending what’s collected and borrowed wisely, these are very moderate positions. I would add to this c) do not export self-sustaining domestic economies and after youth have taken to the streets insist they explain themselves. I think we’ve fixed everything!

  31. Cvan

      Sound fiscal spending is one thing.  However, it is always a fallacy when those, usually on the right, try to relate a family budget to how government works.  They’re simply two different beasts and cannot be compared. 

  32. deadgod

      Well, I should have said, rather than “means”, that ‘”capitalism” entails borrowing’, because, while borrowing against as-yet unearned income is – or is a condition for the possibility of – ‘capital’, capitalism “means” other things, too–especially the fictively compensated separation of labor from its fruits and, therefore, the systematic under-compensation of labor.

      I don’t think “private as opposed to state ownership” is a necessary condition of ‘capitalism’; I think state capitalism is not an oxymoron.  The key to ‘capitalism’, in my view, is not the evolution of a private sphere, but rather, the private sphere’s taking up in adapted form the systematic exploitation of labor–in this case, by systematic under-compensation, wich is not necessarily tied to “private ownership”.

      Not exporting domestic economies would be a useful longer-term strategy to set against the short-term tactic of exporting domestic economies.  ‘Self-sustaining’ is tricky, though:  America’s boom periods of the 20th c. depended on unsustainable consumption and exploitative extraction of raw materials from foreign sources, right?

      Getting these damn kids “[to] explain themselves” would be fine in almost any circumstance, but why don’t we get their targets to explain themselves first!  –so as to show the kids how it’s done!

  33. deadgod

      Yes:  it is sloganeering to ask for a “balanced budget”.

      You say you “balance [your] budget at the end of the month”.  Does that mean you pay fully for every thing – every vehicle, say – that you bought that month?  That is the question I was asking above, Dubya:  do you – or, in our ‘private’ economy, does everyone; the question is not personal – really “balance [your personal] budget”?  –or, when you buy a car, do you not “balance [your] budget every month”, but rather drive an unpaid-for car for several years before you’ve finally paid for it?

      Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? like it would grind a capitalistic economy to a halt?  –for every person/family/business to pay for everything in cash, so that she/he/it would have a “balance[d] budget at the end of [every] month”.

      Do you see how the emotionally attractive soundbite – of a “balanced budget” – is not only fiscally, eh, unwise, but is also a slogan?

      Families do not “balance [their] budget[s] at the end of the month”; they roll their debts over every “month” at usurious interest for decades in order to pay for ‘their’ homes, vehicles, furniture, vacations, and so on.

      Why shouldn’t government manage its books like a “family”, indeed!

  34. deadgod

      Definitely:  “‘appropriate’ spending rather than ‘no spending'”. 

      I’d bet good money that we even agree largely on what’s “appropriate”:  schools, medical research, hospitals for the (mostly working, in some corner of the economy) indigent, roads, utility infrastructure, and so on–things that people can’t afford one at a time nor all at once, but which are not only wise, but even necessary investments for a community to make such that its individuals can enjoy opportunities and prosperity.

      I think, though, that our disagreements over, for example, words like government and regulation are more than mere “quibble[s] over ideology”.

      Here’s what I mean:  pollution is ‘regulation’.  Pollution that gives your children cancer is ‘government’, and polluters who expose your family to this kind of risk are governing your life.  When it comes to industrial processes, there’s no question of ‘more or less regulation‘–there’s only ‘regulation’ for profit at the expense of life, or ‘regulation’ on behalf of life at the expense of accumulation.

      Do you see how quarreling over the meaning of simple words is – well, might be – more than “quibbl[ing]”?

  35. Cvan

      Regarding each side and generalizing greatly, the modern Democrats mean well but seem to be mostly ineffective at passing legislation, while the modern Republicans are so fringe as to barely exist as a governing or oppositional branch but only as a paranoid fever pitch.