Grounded in reality


Sandpoint (Idaho) Tea Party Patriots president Pam Stout’s appeared last week on Letterman to discuss her newfound interest in politics. Of the grandmotherly Stout’s politics, Digby writes:

Her politics aren’t grounded in real life but in abstract concepts.

Stout’s group, the New York Times wrote in February, “joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement.” With all the grounded-in-reality that that entails.

For instance, the Detroit Free Press reported last week that indicted Hutaree militia member, Tina Stone, complained on her Facebook page that H.R. 1388 (signed recently by President Obama) allocated “$20 billion to help the terrorist group Hamas settle in the U.S.” Apparently, Stone credulously accepted bogus facts she received in a chain email.

Here’s another example of “grounded in reality” from my weekly dose of right-wing talk radio.

This year again, North Carolina faces high unemployment and another huge budget deficit. State and local governments feel the pinch. Thursday, WBT Charlotte’s drive-time host interviewed Mecklenburg County commissioner, Republican Karen Bentley, about plans the county floated to save money by closing public libraries and laying off staff. People in Charlotte were up in arms. Bentley was critical of the county’s handling of its budget crisis [timestamp 33:10]:

Bentley: The various county departments have never had to think like a business. I mean, the private sector started adapting to this two or three years ago. And we change our processes. Unfortunately, we have to lay people off and we figure out how to be more efficient. Government is not good at that, and we’ve got to get good at that quickly. So, of course, I am very much opposed to raising taxes. This is absolute last resort.


Talking about the libraries, specifically. Their first response to filling the immediate budget gap was to lay people off and close twelve branches.

Servatius: Right.

Bentley: That was their first option. And this is how they think. They don’t think creatively. They don’t think like private-sector business folks, and when the public cried foul on it they went back to the table, and voila, they came up with this proposal that said maybe we don’t need to close twelve branches. And to me, that’s the frustration of local government, is their first reaction is to keep doing the same things the way they’ve done them forever.

Uh-huh. The private sector would never react to budgetary crises by simply laying people off and closing factories. The private sector would respond more creatively — by giving their CEO’s bonuses for doing it. Because only the government would consider going “back to the table,” reversing itself on layoffs and closings, and saving people’s jobs in response to public outcry.

For some reason, the myth persists that the private sector is somehow better, “purer,” than government. But it would be a mistake to argue that, say, a urologist is better than a Navy Seal. It depends on what you need done.

Government might indeed run more effectively if we emulated the Ãœbermenschen of Planet Rand. If such a mythical place actually existed. The problem is, it doesn’t. Even in “real America,” in quaint spots like Frog Jump, TN, people like Republican candidate for Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District, Stephen Fincher, are none too fussy about taxpayer largesse so long as it’s not going to someone they perceive as less deserving than they are.

According to the Washington Post, the gospel-singing Fincher pulls in $200,000 a year in federal farm subsidies. Supported by both the national Republicans and some (though not all) of Tennessee’s “tea party” groups, Fincher no doubt decries “parasites” and “moochers,” confiscatory taxation, his lost freedom, and government interference in free markets all the way to the bank.

“I don’t see the agricultural subsidy thing as an issue at all,” says David Nance, founder of the Gibson County Patriots. “If it were an issue, then we would never elect a farmer to Congress at all. Because basically, most farmers get agriculture subsidies. If they didn’t, they’d be broke, and we’d be buying our food from China.”

“Flexibility is the first principle of politics,” Richard Nixon once instructed a staffer. That’s one reality some “tea party” purists have already accepted.

Categories : Media, News, Obama, Republicans

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