Teabag Poster Boys
Mother Jones reports:
If you ever wondered what type of candidate the Tea Party movement would like to see elected to Congress, look no farther than Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning (R), the man who is single-handedly holding up unemployment benefit extensions and health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans. While the rest of his party is quietly trying to ignore him, Bunning is giving Tea Party activists in Kentucky much to love.
"We're all in support of Sen. Bunning," says Wendy Caswell, the founder of the Louisville Tea Party. She says Tea Party activists believe that Bunning is being fiscally responsible, and that's a core Tea Party value. "He is kind of one of our models of a good representative of the people of Kentucky."
Both of the GOP candidates running for Bunning's seat agree, with Rand Paul even holding a rally outside Bunning's office.
I am getting the same sick feeling in my stomach about this that I got when I watched the torture "debate" unfold. This is yet another unraveling of certain pieces of the already threadbare social contract --- the reflexive moral consensus on cruelty and selfishness that we all teach our children and at least pay lip service to if not always live up to. Things like whether or not it's ok to torture --- or to let people flounder with no income at all during a serious economic crisis. You can tell that this is one of those things by the punch drunk response of so many, even some on the GOP side, who are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that this could happen.
It's way outside the normal consensus about what is expected of our government during an economic downturn and it could be the beginning of something really ugly. Up until now there was no question that it would be political suicide, much less morally wrong, to make massive numbers of unemployed, working and middle class workers, pay in order to make an ideological point. But with these incoherent tea partiers and nihilistic libertarians pulling the same kind of out sized influence the neocons did during the Great GWOT scare, this is what happens. We lose our moral consensus.
Here are some more examples:
On the March 1 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh said: "Now, who knew? Who knew? But if you look at this story, folks, this is the worst thing that could have ever happened. Two-thousand federal workers are going to be furloughed, and there might be a delay in some unemployment benefits being paid. Oh my God, this is the worst thing that's ever -- who knew, folks, that one lone senator from the minority party could wreak so much damage to our economy?" Limbaugh later said, "Unemployment advocates are calling for Jim Bunning to be removed from the Baseball Hall of Fame."
This is simple Randism, which is the real basis of Tea Party anti-government faux populism. They may not "believe in" Wall Street bailouts, but they don't believe in unemployment insurance either.(And in return for no bailouts, they are ready to lift all regulations and constraints on business, while the average Joe gets the "freedom" to starve.)
The biggest problem is that this foolish tea party ignorance is having the effect of normalizing the adolescent "individualism" of the Ayn Rand cult beyond the boardrooms and estates of the Master of the Universe. The "parasites" are now anyone who has the misfortune to lose his or her job in the worst recession since the 1930s --- a recession that was caused by millionaire con men who are reaping big bonuses these days.
Here's your American ethos 2010:
Update: The pinheaded Chris Matthews is framing this as whether or not we should be borrowing money from the Yellow Peril to pay for unemployment insurance.