From the "I Don't Think That Word Means What You Thinik It Means" Files

Via Ed Driscoll, from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post:

The odd thing about the Tea Party is that it uses Washington to attack Washington. This is a version of Hannah Arendt’s observation that totalitarian movements use democratic institutions to destroy democracy. (This is what Islamic radicals will do in Egypt.) Note that the Tea Party is nowhere near a majority — not in the House and not in the Senate. Its followers have only 60 seats in the 435-member House, but in a textbook application of political power they were able to use parliamentary rules to drive the congressional agenda. As we have known since Lenin’s day, a determined minority is hands down better than an irresolute majority.

The Tea Party has recklessly diminished the power and reach of the United States. It has shrunk the government and will, if it can, further deprive it of revenue. The domestic economy will suffer and the gap between rich and poor, the educated and the indolently schooled, will continue to widen. International relations will lack a dominant power able to enforce the rule of law, and the bad guys will be freer to be as bad as they want. Maybe the deficit will be brought under control, but nothing else will. I worry — and I envy (but will not forgive) those who don’t

Yep, those dang totalitarians -- always trying to shrink government and diminish its power and reach.

  • LoneSnark

    If I didn't have a dictionary, I'd think the word totalitarian meant "those that won't let me use the government as I see fit."

  • el coronado

    hell, the tea party ought to put that whole quote, word-for-word, on their flyers and ads. "this is what we want to do: shrink government. but hey, don't take OUR word for it...take a look at what a self-important MSM peabrain thinks of us. kindly note the shrill, barely-contained hysteria. vote tea party!"

  • caseyboy

    Snobbish elitism in evidence again. Who do those Tea Party people think they are? Just because they work and pay taxes doesn't give them the right to lord it over those of us who know better.

    I wasn't aware there was an independent third party called the Tea Party? Did I miss that one? Perhaps he is assuming those who joined the Tea Party caucus are in the Tea Party? This elitist must have missed the 2010 election results. Republicans were swept into Congress and statehouses in huge majorities. That wasn't done by a "Tea Party". It happened because Americans finally realized that our country was placed on a path to ruin. Lets hope it isn't too late.

  • NL_

    In those two paragraphs, he manages to imply comparisons of the Tea Party to Nazis (Hannah Arendt), Communists (Lenin), and Islamic terrorists (Egypt). Yet he doesn't actually come out and say it. Impressive.

  • stan

    Spending continues to go up. The govt continues to take a much larger part of GDP than before. And he thinks the result of all this additional spending is all that?!

    Some people are so stupid, so lacking in a basic understanding of the facts, that merely calling them liberals fails to do justice to their extent of their idiocy.

  • http://dullgeek.blogspot.com dullgeek

    Besides totally misunderstanding the meaning of totalitarian, the insanity of that piece continues with the assumptions that

    1) government should accomplish all of those goals, and
    2) only government can accomplish all of those goals

  • NL_

    Jeez, the full article is depressing, basically a look into the deflated adherent of an exhausted ideology. The left's purpose now is to exert gradually increasing control over society to make tweaks here and there for modest improvements in the human condition. He admits this, but doesn't really suggest a solution - either abandoning a dying belief-set or taking it further towards socialism.

  • http://counterrevolutionaryact.blogspot.com Chris K.

    I find it hard to believe how an increase in federal spending over the next decade constitutes a "win" for the tea party that said STOP SPENDING MONEY!

  • Don

    Wow! I was unaware that the spectrum ran from fascist (e.g. George W. Bush) to ... totalitarian? (e.g. Rand Paul, I guess).

    I wonder, where do our current leaders fall in that spectrum?

    I suspect "Glorious Leaders."

  • Kevin

    Holy epic self delusion Batman, so many things blatantly wrong with the 'logic' in that article.

    1. In order for democracy to work, the minority *need* to have a voice. It's not like the tea party is trying to curtail anyone's rights (as far as I can tell, anyway) unless you are talking about people's 'rights' to other people's money. If a minority can't have a voice bigger than it's relative size, I wonder why this does not apply to [insert any of hundreds of special interest groups here]

    2. Slowing the growth of something is not 'shrinking' it. If that were the case, most diets would be instant successes.

    3. Obama and other liberals campaigned on limiting the reach and power of the United States. Oh wait, I guess he did not mean the power and reach of the United States over its own citizens.

    4. If my bathtub is overflowing and flooding my house, turning down the faucet is not "depriving my bathtub of water"

  • Mark

    I find it really funny how all the lefty blogs are proclaiming the T-Party won. It is like they get their story line from some DNC operative. The stories all sound the same and are outrageously false.

    1: spending won't get cut until 2014, until then not much will happen. The new congress in 2014 is not bound by this agreement.
    2: Much of the cuts are from military. That will work great if Obama gets us out of the wars as he promised, but since he won't - military won't get cut.
    3: The Democrats got their tax increase! In the agreement they agreed not to extend the Bush "tax cuts"
    4: The agreements don't cut anything anyway, they are reductions in the increase in spending - due to baseline spending which assumes spending will just have to go up 7.5%.
    5: The democrats can now claim the Tea Party got what they wanted - even though the T-P[arty got nothing, and then in a year when we are still in recession they will tell everybody that the T-Party was wrong, and they will double down on spending and taxes.

    Complete loss for the Totalitarian T_party

  • Dan

    What bothers me about the "stop spending" mantra is that so much government spending is on stuff many of us take for granted but would be in trouble without. Like safe food, medicine, highways, airplanes.

    I agree that entitlement spending is out of control and needs to be reformed, and I also believe the defense budget is bloated and the country needs to stop spending so much overseas. But in this drive to cut costs, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    One of the reasons this is a first-world country, not Russia (or China, where a train crash last week pointed up the danger of charging ahead recklessly without enough emphasis on quality) is the regulatory system we have in place, which can only be run through a strong central government.

  • chuck martel

    Dan, you're what's wrong with America.

  • el coronado

    couldn't help but notice, dan, that when you were whining about "the bloated defense budget", etc.....that nowhere did you mention the hundreds of thousands of utterly useless parasites "working" for....oh....the department of education; the department of energy; HHS; the CIA/NSA that had no idea whatsoever the USSR was about to fall, or that wahhabiism might be dangerous; the "justice department" that sends weapons to mexican cartels in the hopes of outlawing them for americans - and then lies about it under oath - or sues a soveriegn state for daring to enforce the immigration laws they refuse to. or NPR. or "art" subsidies. or a visitor center at hoover dam that cost more to build than the *dam* did.

    you know: stuff like that. ergo.....what chuck said.

  • http://www.griffin3.com/ Griffin3

    Almost everything Dan said above was wrong.

    What bothers me about the “stop spending” mantra is that so much government spending is on stuff many of us take for granted but would be in trouble without. Like safe food, medicine, highways, airplanes.

    The government does not, at any level, create safe food or medicine. Private businesses create safe food and medicine. The government has a hand in certifying the food and medicines to be safe, but recent failures in food (salmonella) and medicine (any number of drugs which have been withdrawn from the market, see breathless lawyer's ads on daytime television for a list) point to government unreliability in this role.

    The government produces roads, and this is one of the areas where the taxpayer actually gets what it pays for (in the form of gas taxes, though some of these are misdirected to general funds). Federal sources cover less than 25% of highway spending. You don't need a strong central government to have roads.

    Airplanes are entirely produced by private industry, and regulated to some extent by the government. But this is not necessary: in Canada, commercial flight control has been provided by a private company for less money than the previous government controlled version, for less money, and has won international awards.

    I agree that entitlement spending is out of control and needs to be reformed, and I also believe the defense budget is bloated and the country needs to stop spending so much overseas. But in this drive to cut costs, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Costs have not been cut. The rate of growth had been reduced, and not even by a large amount.

    One of the reasons this is a first-world country, not Russia (or China, where a train crash last week pointed up the danger of charging ahead recklessly without enough emphasis on quality) is the regulatory system we have in place, which can only be run through a strong central government

    April 18, 2002 – Crescent City, Florida, United States: 21 cars of an Amtrak Auto-Train derail near Crescent City, 4 deaths, 142 injured. Just one example that the regulatory system you imagine will not prevent such crashed either. This is a double whammy: a government run train, on a government inspected track. Government regulators have even less incentive to be correct than private industries: they are pretty much immune to consequences, like being sued for damages.

    And, isn't the Chinese disaster you mentioned, as it is being investigated ... mostly turning out to be a case of corrupt officials, giving positive reviews and passing project test grades in response to pressure from a powerful central government?

  • steve

    The mere threat of significant spending cuts send both Democrats and establishment Republicans into fits of apopalectic hysteria. I can't imagine what will happen if the tea partiers actually manage significant cuts one day. I predict a constitutional crisis, but I am not sure. The only thing I am sure of is that it will be better then what will happen if they don't.

  • Dan

    I'm not going to address everyone's comments. Only to clarify on aviation safety that I didn't mean the airplanes, but aviation itself. Air traffic control, for instance. Which isn't and couldn't be provided by industry.

  • Dan

    And anyone who thinks food and drug safety would be fine with no regulation should read "The Jungle" so they can appreciate what it was like 100 years ago - before the FDA - when private industry was fully in charge. Or they can read the Sears catalogue from that era, full of "medicines" that supposedly cure cancer with cocaine.

  • Dan

    As for the Amtrak crash - I'm not saying government-run rail is perfect. But safety here in the U.S. is taken far more seriously across all industries than in China. Coal mining, for instance.

  • Dan

    Also, let's look again at the Amtrak crash. I know nothing about it. But if there are safety issues, it may well be the result of Republicans hacking funds for Amtrak over the last few decades. It's the typical GOP "starve the beast" solution: Cut a government program to death, and when it sucks due to inadequate funding, claim that it's no good and shouldn't exist.

  • chuck martel

    Dan, you mean to say that people in control towers keeping track of airplanes and talking to the pilots and arranging for the planes to arrive and leave without smacking one another could only function if those people were federal employees? Is that what you're saying? That if a private entity was assigned this task, they wouldn't be able to complete it because. . .? Their employees checks aren't from the federal government? That federal employees and their management are uniquely qualified human beings and the only homo sapiens capable of directing flight operations? Do these qualifications come with birth or are they bestowed when the individual signs on with the feds?

  • chuck martel

    Dan, interesting that you should bring up "The Jungle". Upton Sinclair was amazed at the response to his novel. Activist that he was, he had intended to write a Dickensian social commentary on the inhuman working conditions in American industry in general and Chicago meat packing in particular. The public reaction to his depiction of the sanitary conditions in a packing house surprised him made the work a classic instead. In reality, according to historian Gabriel Kolko, by the time Sinclair's novel had been published, pure food laws concerned with meat and lobbied for by the meat packing industry had been in place for some years. Meat packers were glad to have inspectors paid by the government guaranteeing the quality of their product and insuring access to European markets.

  • el coronado

    STOP it, chuck!! you're ruining a good - if nonsensical - argument with your....your...your right-wing fascist **facts** and your fancy college-schooled **logic**. cut it OUT! and don't you DARE compare the speed of service and rates difference between the post office and UPS/FedEx!

  • drB

    I fail to see how the so-called "Tea Party" is against big government if most of congressmen they supported vote for Patriot Act extensions. They are just another version of big government Republicans.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/tyner5.1.1.html

    List of Tea Party-backed candidates voting for the bill:

    Tim Griffin (AR-2), Paul Gosar (AZ-1), Steve Southerland (FL-2), Allen West (FL-22), Sandy Adams (FL-24), Bob Dold (IL-10), Adam Kinzinger (IL-11), Marlin Stutzman (IN-3), Todd Young (IN-9), Jeff Landry (LA-3), Dan Benishek (MI-1), Tim Walberg (MI-7), Michelle Bachmann (MN-6), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), Renee Ellmers (NC-2), Frank Guinta (NH-1), Joe Heck (NV-3), Michael Grimm (NY-13), Steven Chabot (OH-1), Bill Johnson (OH-6), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Jim Renacci (OH-16), Tim Scott (SC-1), Jeff Duncan (SC-3), Trey Gowdy (SC-4), Mick Mulvaney (SC-5), Scott DesJarlais (TN-4), Bill Flores (TX-17), H. Morgan Griffith (VA-9), Sean Duffy (WI-7), Reid Ribble (WI-8), David McKinley (WV-1)

    That's thirty-one out of forty voting for the bill (77.5%), eight voting against. Tea Party-backed candidates overwhelmingly supported an extension of the PATRIOT Act. That's not good for anybody.

  • John Cheek

    WOW,great comments!You guys restore my faith.My two cents;the left will always signal who they fear and they must really fear common sense fiscal conservatives.JaC

  • commieBob

    Circumstances alter cases.

    Given the right circumstances, the tea party could lead to the total destruction of America. Given other right circumstances, it could lead America into its golden age.

    I realize it's a p.i.t.a. to have to think through each issue on its own merits but that's the only way you stand a chance (other than by dumb luck) of coming up with the 'correct answer'. Substituting your favorite mantra for thought just means you will be wrong most of the time.

    Anyway, it's easy to find examples of political minorities being able to subvert the democratic process and producing results that would never be chosen by the majority. Could that happen with the tea party? Of course it could; given the right circumstances.

  • Doug

    Brought to you by the same crowd that shouted for joy as Pelosi & Co. uncovered a procedural technique to actually avoid an honest-to-God VOTE on the Obamacare bill. Pelosi knew she could not muster the votes, as many in her party needed and wanted political cover to avoid a direct vote. Then she actually invoked it, there was no yes/no vote on Obamacare, and it magically became law! Really! She did that! They got a massive new federal program that will add trillions more to the deficit, but it was never voted on!

    And the left applauded with glee.

    But those danged Tea Party terrorists who actually had the nerve to demand a vote ... THAT'S tyranny!

  • John Moore

    "And anyone who thinks food and drug safety would be fine with no regulation should read “The Jungle” so they can appreciate what it was like 100 years ago – before the FDA – when private industry was fully in charge. Or they can read the Sears catalogue from that era, full of “medicines” that supposedly cure cancer with cocaine."

    Yeah, and I see TV ads for magnetic bracelets that will improve your strength, magic homeopathic (read: empty) pills that will increase this or that important hormone or lengthen a certain body part. The country is still totally full of quackery and the FDA has done nothing about it.

    How about we have the FDA sponsor independent drug research and make the results easily available to all. Meanwhile, get rid of their noxious regulation that is killing Americans right and left while crippling innovation.

  • steve

    Now if only we can get a small determined band of partisans inside the Fed.

  • http://www.ianrandom.com Ian Random

    I often wondered at trying to write the worst left wing posts using right wing/libertarian ideas, just to introduce the concepts to a hostile audience. It looks like they beat me to it. Oh, well, back to avoiding hidden gliadin sources.

  • Mark

    @Dan there has been talk for years about handing over the FAA air traffic control to an airline consortium, because the FAA has done such a poor job of upgrading the system, that it is grossly hindering the airlines, in flight efficiency in terms of time, ability to fly to destinations, and fuel efficiency. The reason it hasn't happened in the USA is because there is a government desire to keep government functions as part of the government even if the government is not providing the service efficiently.

  • Mark

    @Dan again

    Per the wiki in Canada Air Traffic control is private:

    "In Canada, Air Traffic Control is provided by NAV CANADA, a private, non-share capital corporation that operates Canada's civil air navigation service."

    There is actually very little that government "has to do" for us because no-one else can. Pretty much government could be limited to defense, international treaties, and disputes between the states.

  • Dan

    Again, if air traffic control run by the government is lousy, look at the history. Republicans have cut spending to the bone on most discretionary programs (non-defense, entitlements). They also fired all the controllers in 1981, and I'm not sure ATC has ever recovered. So it's the same strategy: Cut it till it sucks, then complain that it sucks and needs to be privatized.

    I'm not familiar with the Canadian system. I'm not against it being done privately if it's feasible, but where is the profit motive? I guess the airlines pay for it, so there's a profit for someone. But then you have the wolves guarding the chicken coop, don't you?

    In Chicago, where I live, the city recently sold a tollway to a private firm to run. The tolls immediately rose 50%. Same thing happened when the city let a private company run the parking meters. Prices went up immediately. Service was lousy at first too, with people getting ticketed when they hadn't committed a violation. Why do you always assume private industry can do everything cheaper and better than public?

    Do you know that Medicare is actually cheaper than private insurance? Because there's no overhead of advertising and other costs like you have at a private insurance firm (like the $10 million a year CEO salary).

  • Neo

    The Tea Party has recklessly diminished the power and reach of the United States.

    Is Cohen so dense to believe that other countries aren't completely more aware of the current monetary situation than the average American ? Putin was bashing Americans just the other day as "parasites," and he isn't too far off the truth.

  • Not Sure

    "In Chicago, where I live, the city recently sold a tollway to a private firm to run. The tolls immediately rose 50%. Same thing happened when the city let a private company run the parking meters. Prices went up immediately."

    You don't suppose it's possible that the government had mispriced tolls and parking so badly that they were charging 50% less than the actual cost to provide those services?

  • caseyboy

    Guys, give up on Dan. He takes comfort in the "Nanny State" ideology.

    Dan, you don't happen to work for Nanny do you?

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >> International relations will lack a dominant power able to enforce the rule of law, and the bad guys will be freer to be as bad as they want.

    WHAT THE F***?

    Let us know when his personal space shuttle lands. We'd like to use it now that the NASA Shuttle is no more.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >> In those two paragraphs, he manages to imply comparisons of the Tea Party to Nazis (Hannah Arendt), Communists (Lenin), and Islamic terrorists (Egypt). Yet he doesn’t actually come out and say it. Impressive.

    Hey, when you're going to fool yourself into believing you aren't Evil, it really, really pays to be an expertly talented mental contortionist.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >> a visitor center at hoover dam that cost more to build than the *dam* did.

    Oh, lovely. You got a good cite on that one? I like to collect 'em.

    Gives good meaning to a "damn visitor center".

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > Air traffic control, for instance. Which isn’t and couldn’t be provided by industry.

    Hey, Dan. What drugs are you on?

    Got any you can share? 'Cause that's some impressive sh** you're taking if it actually makes you believe that.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >> an there has been talk for years about handing over the FAA air traffic control to an airline consortium, because the FAA has done such a poor job of upgrading the system, that it is grossly hindering the airlines, in flight efficiency in terms of time,

    Indeed, the current system is a totally ludicrous mess. In actual fact, planes should all have transponders and independent flight control systems that don't allow planes to crash at all by know where the hell the plane is and where every plane nearby is, and triggering auto-avoidance routines whenever there is a conflict.

    No doubt people will still manage to eph that up and cause crashes, but it'll take work to make it happen.

    >> I’m not sure ATC has ever recovered.

    It was pretty much acked by everyone qualified to have a position that it was "recovered" within two years, fantaboy. What it's never recovered from is being run by the same high-grade sort of technical expertise that brought you 50 cent postal service, and has actually claimed, on different occasions, that increased volume meant a rate increase was called for.

  • Dan

    I don't work for the government, by the way. I just don't have a built-in "government is always wrong; privatization is always the answer" philosophy. While you all see in black and white, I can see shades of gray.

  • orthodoc

    "Do you know that Medicare is actually cheaper than private insurance? Because there’s no overhead of advertising and other costs like you have at a private insurance firm (like the $10 million a year CEO salary)."

    Uh, no. The reason that Medicare is "cheaper" is because it creates a wage and price control on what providers get paid. So it reimburses at less than the cost of care, which is then borne by, you guessed it, private insurance.

    As for the allegedly cheaper overhead of Medicare, that's simply not true. While the percentage spent on overhead is lower, the actual costs are no different - they're just borne by the provider, who gets to spend time and effort on paperwork. And the reason for the lower percentage with Medicare is simple: the average Medicare enrollee spends $6000/year, while the average private insurance enrollee spends less than half of that. So $300 of $6000 looks great (hey - only 5% overhead!!) but $250 of $2500 looks awful (10% boo-hiss private payers).

  • chuck martel

    " They also fired all the controllers in 1981, and I’m not sure ATC has ever recovered." Well, Dan, "they" didn't fire them, President Reagan did. And he really had no choice. When you go to work for the feds you sign an oath that swears that you will not engage in a work stoppage. If you do, the chief law enforcement officer of the US is obliged to terminate you. That's just the way it is.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > Do you know that Medicare is actually cheaper than private insurance?

    Did you know that money grows on trees? Really! There's a special tree only the US Treasury has the genome for, and they grow them in big underground caverns in northern Arizona and Nevada, using grow-lights confiscated from Mexican marijuana cartels.

    Call 888-IB1-BGFOOL for more information on how to get your own seedlings for these trees, from specially-grown farms in Central America.

    So that when someone asks you, "Are you STUPID?" you can exclaim, quite proudly, "Why, YES! YES I AM!", and hold up your canceled check or CC bill, along with this offer, as incontrovertible proof.

    No more self-doubt, no more askance looks by those around you, you will know, as will anyone and everyone who knows you, just what kind of truly magnificent dumbass you really, really, REALLY are.

  • steve

    "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting ... freedom in the minds of men."
    – Samual Adams