My That Shirt Is Looking Brown Today

One of the things that is worrisome about movements like the 'Tea Party' is the potential for fascism. That's not to say fascism is part of the ideology, or an inevitable consequence of it, but there's a certain fellow-traveler feeling that is hard to ignore. Here's an example relating to the Tea Partyiod GOP candidate for Senate in Alaska: Miller security guards handcuff editor. Note that the guys imprisoning the reporter/editor are private security, not cops.

And from Florida (via Political Animal), where Florida congressional candidate Allen West (R) is running his nutty (and very successful) campaign against the estimable Ron Klein:

NBC News ran a report documenting West's background associating with a violent gang of criminals, which the Justice Department believes is involved in drug running, arson, prostitution, robbery, and murder.

Yesterday, things managed to get even worse, still. West spoke at a public park in the South Florida district, and a 23-year-old videographer was on hand to record the candidate's remarks, which is hardly an unusual modern campaign practice. But things got ugly when West's gang allies were caught on tape harassing and threatening the Democratic staffer.

As the local NBC affiliate noted, “Threats can be heard on the video tape. The West supporters forced him to get back into his car.”

The threats worked — the Democratic party decided to take “videographer off the campaign trail altogether yesterday” because they felt they couldn't protect him.

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16 Responses to My That Shirt Is Looking Brown Today

  1. Vic says:

    I just scratch my head every time you go political.

    There are two possibilities:

    1). You honestly don’t know, or somehow don’t remember, that incidents that you feel portend the end of the world when conservatives are linked to them (often incorrectly), happen with Democrats, liberals, progressives, communists, socialists, whatever, over and over and over again like clockwork. All this stuff is part and parcel with being a liberal politician it seems sometimes. That’s why it’s news when a conservatives does it. Barney Frank allowed a friggin’ prostitution service to be run from his home for Pete’s sake! Ted Kennedy KILLED a woman. Half the Congressional Black Caucus seems to be under investigation for corruption at any given moment. (thank you gerrymandering) Not to mention an administration full of tax cheats. You don’t remember how there have been numerous instances of perceived conservatives being violently dealt with at Democratic events? You really don’t remember or notice it when liberal protesters advocated killing Geo. Bush on many occassions? Do you REALLY not remember this stuff when you start chucking stones?

    2). You are just being unabashedly biased and don’t care. (which is your right. I could actually respect this, but I don’t think you are just being biased.)

    Now here you go on the Tea Bag people are potential fascists line again… It’s either laughable or sad. I just can’t decide.

    What it really means though is that you are likely to completely not understand the results of the upcoming election. You obviously don’t have even a clue about the sources of voter anger right now. Yeah: Tea Party people are riling up the inner fascist in all of us. Go ahead and keep telling yourself that.

  2. michael says:

    Tu quoque is the last refuge of the forensically destitute.

    In your case, it’s not even that, since the examples you picked are not of election-related violence, and especially not of violence directed at the media. The examples I picked are just from yesterday. Last week it was the GOP gubernatorial candidate in New York doing something similar. This is not an isolated incident.

    If your point is that there are a lot of politicians of every political stripe with moral flaws, no debate. If your point is that there are crooks in every party, true again, although it might be instructive to look at the relative distributions. I might also make a distinction between financial fraud/tax evasion (very bad) and acts of violence (usually even worse).

    But even Chappaquiddick (40 years ago! and Teddy is dead! and that’s all you have?) ghastly as it was, isn’t spinnable as a brownshirt moment. When it comes to committing physical violence on the press in order to shut it up or shut it down, I think your ‘voter anger’ — stoked by the modern Goebbels at Fox — is looking mighty brownshirt. That doesn’t mean I think the neo-Nazis are coming for me in the morning. It means that these guys are dangerous in ways that go beyond their expressed ideology. (Note that by ‘these guys’ I certainly don’t mean ‘all Tea Party supporters’ but I certainly do mean a number of the candidates they have thrown up this cycle, and some of their more fervent supporters.)

    Please feel free to deal with the substance of the observation in the post above. You might, for example, attempt to explain why we don’t really need to worry about the intimidation of the press, as it no longer has a role in a functioning democracy. Or you could try to find examples of Democratic thugs routinely roughing up reporters (although I think that might only tend to show the problem is worse than I think, not that it isn’t a problem). Or perhaps you could show how handcuffing reporters by private security goons in the employ of candidates for federal office has been a regular feature of the last five elections, and the Republic didn’t suffer. Go to town.

  3. Vic says:

    So I take it it’s #1 then.

    You seriously don’t remember the numerous examples, from recent election cycles, of Democratic candidates (and or their security thugs) overreacting violently to “perceived threats” in the form of conservative reporters asking them questions they didn’t like? If you are being serious, then I’d start wondering about my memory. Remember a reporter being knocked down in the street and beat up by a Democratic security thug…ring any bells…? How about the various calls by Democratic Members of Congress to get certain commentators tossed off the public airwaves – to take away their livelyhood – because they are saying things that Dems don’t like (re-defined as “hate-speach”)? A governmental official going after a specific U.S. citizen because they are using their right to speak in a way that the official just doesn’t like – and threatening no violence to anyone, imminent or otherwise (Brown-shirtism personified). This is news to you? How about the current Administration calling for the specific assassination (!!!!) of a U.S. citizen for crimes against…somebody…without trial. That doesn’t tickle some small part of your memory? Do you live in a bubble?

    I’d google up a few examples for you to read about, but why bother? You don’t care anyway, and I have other things to do than remind people of things they’ll obviously just just forget again anyway. If you choose to believe I’m making it all up, then go right ahead.

    And yes, I’d agree that both sides have their problems.

  4. “Tu quoque is the last refuge of the forensically destitute.”

    Yelling “tu quoque” is the first refuge of the exposed hypocrite, who insists that only the other guy’s sins are appropriate to discuss.

  5. michael says:

    I seriously don’t recall Democratic candidates for federal office (or their staffs) reacting violently to questions from genuine reporters in recent elections. I found the Coakley incident to which I assume you refer (in which a staffer blocked out a persistent questioner supposedly not knowing he was a reporter, and (he says) accidentally knocked him over). The staffer wasn’t a security guard, but rather a PR guy and he claims “I clearly did not intend to cause John McCormack to trip and fall over that low fence … As the video shows and he confirms in his blog, I stopped to help him up and make sure he was OK.” Is that the same as security guys handcuffing and detaining a person they know is a reporter? Or doing that to anyone? I don’t think so.

    But suppose it is comparable, or some other story is. Tell me whether you think this proves (i) the political violence problem is worse and more widespread in US politics than I suggested; or (ii) violence and intimidation is more common in US politics than I suggested and therefore not such a big deal since we’ve been living with it for so long?

    Violence is a pretty toxic thing in politics whoever is doing it. I think it is most toxic when (A) the candidates or those close to them do it, followed by (B) an organized group supporting a candidate doing it, followed by (C) disorganized violence not sponsored by either. I have not purported to offer a full accounting of the national incidence of violence in federal politics. Rather I have asserted the coincidence of two such incidents from Republican candidates for federal office, both reported the same day, and the ways in which the rhetoric of a good chunk of the Tea Party tends (in its apocalyptic and eliminationist tendencies) tends to create a climate in which violence is more likely.

    To that I will add, (2) my sense that (B) was bad and now this looks like we are getting some (A) which is worse.

  6. “I seriously don’t recall Democratic candidates for federal office (or their staffs) reacting violently to questions from genuine reporters in recent elections.”

    You don’t recall, say, Democratic Representative Maurice Hinchey?

    But that was a fairly tightly qualified denial, which suggests your memory isn’t all that bad…

  7. michael says:

    Hinchey? Nope. Never heard of him. But having looked him up, he doesn’t sound like much of a prize. (Although it’s odd that the reporter’s most serious allegations don’t show up on the videotape.)

    Incidentally, if you Google “Hinchey reporter throat” like I just did, none of the major media comes up on the first three pages; it’s mostly right-wing stuff like Redstate or Politico that I don’t read. Even the right-wing stuff I do read, like the Washington Post, isn’t there. For whatever reason — perhaps because the facts were disputed and the video evidence much tamer than the reporter’s later allegations — it doesn’t seem to have made huge waves.

  8. Vic says:

    Or, like many such events, the “mainstream” media doesn’t bother reporting on it, leaving the oft times smaller, internet-based press as the only source on it. Which has the accompanying problem that if is the only source on an incident, then it’s routinely denied anyway, even if it actually occured. The fact that everyone has a cell phone with video now though is changing such things.

    Note, for example, how the Tea Party folks (whether it was all them or not) were accused of yelling racial epithets and spitting on black congress persons at the Obama care vote. As it turned out, the ONE confirmed incident of an epithet was said by someone who was unknown by anyone involved and out of all of the news cameras and personal cameras filming the “incident” not one could turn up anything that was accused – even with a $100K reward. (meaning: it either didn’t happen at all, or was maybe one wacko that nobody else either saw, heard or filmed). Cameras were everywhere, if it happened someone would have caught it.

    So many of these incidents that maybe you’ve honestly never heard of are unknown to you because you don’t frequent the outlets of the usual victims of these incidents.

    I’m not saying all is peaceful in conservative-ville, but by and large, it’s the left that has violent rallies where personal and property damage occurs, vulgarities are displayed on every other sign, and what some would call hate groups (i.e. the Panthers) are considered to be making reasoned points. This is not a 100% thing, but open your eyes, man! Take a look around the web. You can find numerous websites with photos and videos from liberal rallies and demonstrations were things are clearly advocating violence and forced silence upon those who are conservative. It’s easy to find if you look. On the other hand, you will be hard-pressed to find the equivalent from the conservative side with TWO possible claimed exceptions: The pro-life people can get fired up at times, but even among them, they are mostly peaceful. And you will see the occassional white supremacist – but while they are usually called conservatives by the left, they are not anyone that a conservative wants to associate with any more than you do. I doubt Daily Kos has daily reports of how a group of Tea Partiers decided that someone’s free speech was getting out of hand and so started burning cars and looting.

    But in the main – no, we have very little political violence. You pretty much never, if at all, see pictures like you routinely see from parts of So. America and Asia where candidates are beaten in the streets by supportes of their rival. It just doesn’t happen here.

    My problem with you is that you insist on attributing ideas to the “Tea Party” (as if it’s an organized group with a central agenda) that have nothing to do with the ideas that are attributable to such folks as a whole. You define the Tea Party according to YOUR (and media’s) idea of a Tea Party, not according to how they actually think. They are not a bunch of fascist brown shirts that want to kick all the minorities out and allow the sick to die and the poor to starve. When someone does something that happens to fit your rubric, you see it as proof, rather than a possible anomoly. If you really believe that, you just have no idea.

    For example, your other post on the separation of church and state. Contrary to what you imply is an obvious truth, it is NOT in the Constitution, much less its First Amendment. It is a phrase we have from Jefferson that people commonly attribute to the First Amendment (as you know). In fact it was a reflection of the philosophy of Locke who felt that certain aspects of human conscience could not be given over to the government, nor could government seek control over it. (Which was the very basis of the Declaration of Independence, if you can stop reading it like a modern law prof) The First Amendment, under this view was a clear reflection of that idea, and NOT a statement that government and religion must be separated by a wall in both directions. Many conservatives hold this view of the First Amendment and perhaps it was what O’Donnell was referring to (I didn’t watch the vid). But it is NOT evidence of being wacky – it IS evidence that you don’t actually have a handle on what the Tea Party types think. You can disagree with that view of the First if you like, but it is a legitimate view, whether considered mainstream for Yale grads now or not.

  9. Just me says:

    How about this, there are some incredibly despicable people on all sides. Does the fact that the left also has some awful people make those on the right feel better? Good. Now, let

  10. michael says:

    I use the term fascism primarily because when I see Hannity, I see Goebbels.

  11. Murray says:

    The term “fascism” degenerated into a generalized epithet decades ago… though especially favored by leftists against rightists. So nowadays it adds nothing substantive to discussion. The formal principles/history of Fascism are solidly “socialist” … developed by Mussolini, who was a Marxian-socialist prior to World War I.

    Fear of some potential American fascism from the muddled, disorganized Tea Party seems quite odd in view of the actual American political/military situation now rigorously imposed by the progressive-left’s ‘dream U.S. President’. For example, American Habeas Corpus now exists only at the whim of the Chief Executive… who boldly asserts the unconstrained power to arrest/imprison/torture/kill anybody on the planet (including U.S. citizens) far from any battlefield — without a shred of legal due process or human rights. That’s the very definition of tyrannical (fascist ?) power — yet we don’t see any lawyers marching to the Potomac in protest.

    What exactly do you fear a “fascist Tea Party” America would like in reality ?

  12. what says:

    Wasn’t it the Bush Administration that eviscerated habeas?

  13. michael says:

    Yes, it was Bush that took us down this very ugly road on habeas, but Obama hasn’t really been any better on it, or on the use of drones.

  14. michael says:

    Hey, guess what, Miller’s goons were active-duty military doing some moonlighting.

    Nothing at all even vaguely like fascism here, move along….

  15. Murray says:

    So we agree that both Bush/Obama and the major Republican/Democratic Parties impose(d) tyrannical/fascist?, extra-Constitutional controls upon the entire nation.

    Please explain then why the small “Tea Party” is the real (potential) threat we should worry about ?

  16. Just me says:

    Sheesh the readers on this site are an argumentative bunch (myself no doubt included).

    I’m sure Michael can do a better job of explaining his position than I can, but just read the original post. I see nothing there that says that “the small ‘Tea Party’ is the real (potential) threat we should worry about.” The post says instead that “[o]ne of the things that is worrisome about movements like the ‘Tea Party’ is the potential for fascism.”

    So, it appears to me that issue is not that the “Tea Party” is the “real (potential) threat,” but rather that it is one of many movements that is worrisome. Also, I didn’t see anything in Micheal’s post that suggested that other threats to our freedoms do not exist.

    If the “Tea Party” and similar movements are worrisome, why not discuss that? Why do people on this blog constantly try to change the subject? Yes, the big parties have their own problems too. The fact that the big parties are not perfect does not absolve the “Tea Party” of whatever problems may be plaguing it.

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