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Response to Aaron Pendell
9 years ago

There is a section of Care2 called "Lets Get Political" that features individuals chosen by Care2 to occasionally write opinions. Unfortunately, the format for response provides only 1500 characters, which is insusufficient to address the points in the column. This post is in response to a question directed to me by a writer of one of those columns, which can be seen here:
The column itself was desultory even by the low level of competence we normally encounter on this site. I briefly commented that it was no more than the trite memes we heard echoing around the leftward parts of the blogoshpere, filled out with a few youtube clips of far-left MSNBC commentators - but no real analysis of the protests themselves. In doing so, I advisedly noted the very small ratings of MSNBC, which elicited this response from the columnist -  a Mr. Aaron Pendell, who describes himself as a husband and father residing in Chicago:
@Jeffrey W "a news organization known only for its leftist bias and microscopic ratings. " -------- A shallow meme if I ever heard one. I could care less about a network's ratings as long as what is being reported is accurate. So, please explain your disagreement with what they said, not what O'Rilley[sic] or Hannity said about them.
I rarely watch Sean Hannity, and never watch the egregious populist, Bill O'Reilly (although I can correctly spell his name), so I will plead ignorance as to what they said about them. Mr. Pendell did, however, invite me to explain my views - an invitiation I will accept. First, though, I will quickly note that my comment about the low ratings of MSNBC was directed at Mr. Pendell's dismissal of a protest that "only" amassed several hundred thousand people - an audience below his threshold for significance. Apparently, his sense of self-irony failed him this time.
In his first paragraph, he recites these superficial memes echoing around the left, and also reveals his own lack of analysis:
Anti-tax protests have been around as long as there have been taxes, but this last week was special.  At a time when American taxpayers are actually quite content with the amount they are taxed; one cable news network hijacked, actively promoted, and then participated in what was supposed to be the Boston Tea Party, reborn.  The Fox News production of "Tea Party 2009," had no more impact than any of its predecessors.  It sure was fun to watch, though.
Here are some of the highlights:

Of course, what followed were not highlights of the Tea Parties, or any real substantive presentation of what was said at them, but rather mere commentary by television personalities on the left who were ideologically opposed. There was no attempt to state the purpose or arguements behind the demonstrations themselves - but then it is much easier to attack strawmen.
The Strawman argument is that the Tea Party is protesting the current of level of taxation:
At a time when American taxpayers are actually quite content with the amount they are taxed;

He does honestly seem unaware of the problems inherent in his statement. First, there is no mention of the fact that 47% of American don't even pay income taxes, which puts a whole different light on that poll. I would assume most people who pay nothing are quite content with the current tax levels. If the polling had been limited to people who actually pay taxes, I suspect the result would be quite different.
But let's not be distracted by the strawman - the protests were not about current taxation levels. The demonstrations protested this administration's reckless spending on social programs consisting of the long-gathering wish list of the far left, the dangerously ballooning debt - and the higher taxes that are sure to follow to pay for it.


And then the usual attempt to discredit the gatherings because of the boogeyman - FoxNews:


 one cable news network hijacked, actively promoted, and then participated in what was supposed to be the Boston Tea Party, reborn.  The Fox News production of "Tea Party 2009," had no more impact than any of its predecessors.  It sure was fun to watch, though.


This is merely one instance of a ploy repeated countless times over the past few day by those desperate to discredit the growing dissatisfaction with the fiscal direction of the current administration and congress. The idea is to claim it is a manufuctured and bought protest by FoxNews. Of course, this is no more than projection by the left of their own tactics onto their opponents. In stark contrast to the handful of unemployed souls bussed in by ACORN to demonstrate in front of the homes of AIG executives, or the professional protesters who turned up at all the ant-Bush and anti-war demonstrations, these gatherings mainly consisted of people who had never been to a protest in their lives. We on the right, being more individualistic than the left, don't normally look to government to solve our problems for us, and therefore don't do a lot of public protest. These gatherings had more the atmosphere of a barbecue (which we do really well), than the mindless chants and broken windows that were prominently featured at anti-Bush protests.


It is true that there were a few idiots calling Obama a fascist, but they looked no more (or less) idiotic than the leftists who carried signs portraying the Bush administration as fascist. And any honest observer would have to allow that the idiot quotient was many times higher in the latter.



9 years ago

Why is a protest that is promoted by organization suchs as MoveON legitimate grass roots, but a protest promoted by one news organizaion and hundreds of conservative blog sites dismissed as "astroturf"? Obviously, the distinction can't be made on any objective grounds, which leads to the question of why the left would attempt this distortion. It comes down to this: the left sees this as its opportunity to expand government and employ the pervasive social engineering it has long wanted. It is also uneasy, because it knows that the majority of Americans, who have always stood in the way of these grand plans, still opposes them. It is dishonest for Obama and the left to simply assert: We won. Obama won on a platform of fiscal responsibility and tax cuts for 95% of the people. He is know embarking on a course 180 degrees counter to that - and people are getting angry.

9 years ago

I appreciate your simple response and no name calling. You put it all down in a way we all can appreciate; I hope.
I also believe that only those who actually attended a TEA party should comment. How can one comment on somethign they have no knowlege of? I went; we spoke on how we can help each other. The COMMUNITY was represented; not one politcal party. I am NOT a republican or Democrate, I belong to the independent party.

9 years ago

Thank you, Roberta. Your experience at the Tea Party was very much the same as others I know who attended.


By the way, this is a brand new group where I hope all views can participate in discussions without name-calling and personal attack. Feel free to add topics at any time. If you have friends who have an interest in substantive discussion, please invite them. I hope that together we can all build a serious discussion group with no censorship of any political views.

9 years ago

Regardless of your low opinion of my work, I think you missed my point.

Say what you will about ABC's polling, but taxes are far from the top of the majority's concerns. That's a subject that can be argued over & over without ever arriving at a consensus.


I'm afraid it is you who misses my point, which is that the demonstration was not about current tax levels, but the reckless spending that will lead to higher taxes, inflation, and runaway debt. You would be wrong to assert that that isn't a cause for concern among the majority, as a recent Rasmussen Poll  shows 51% of Americans supporting the tea parties.


As you indicated, rightly, the greater frustration is over spending, be it reckless or otherwise. However, I also indicated the same within the post.

Well, no. Your point was that a few people were protesting about taxes that most don't think are too high now.


My argument is that FOX did a great disservice to those with genuine concerns over just that. Their active promotion & presence transformed the protest into astroturf. The clip from the Maddow show was indicative of an active organizer/participant with legitimate concerns expressing his displeasure with FOX and other elements within the GOP elite for doing just that.


That is more of an assertion than an argument; and apparently based on a misunderstanding of the term "astroturf". That term is used to describe faking the appearance of mass support for a cause, usually through mass emailing from a relatively few people trying to appear as many. You can't fake people being at a rally - they showed up. You could say that Fox, among other organizations, promoted the rally, but that isn't astroturfing. It isn't even a suspect tactic - all organizers do that. You dodged my question about if you considered MoveOn's promotions of protrests as astroturfing, or how it differed in any way at all from the tea party promotions.


I believe that without FOX, the tone of the demonstration would have been different, and would have been more palatable to those near the political center. After all, you're going to need some of them if you want back in the majority.


First, you wrongly posit there was anything wrong with tone in the first place. In your original post, you merely echoed the dishonest distortion of the tenor of the gatherings to begin with. The Rasmussen poll contradicts your assertion that the tone ran counter to the majority of Americans when the fact is it resonated with the majority. Second, you fail to speficy what tone Fox caused, or how it would have been different. In short, you merely echoed Democrat talking points with no apparent understanding of the underlying reality.



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