How the Chamber of Commerce et al lost control of their Brownshirts

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.

Never say that Chamber of Commerce types are stupid. Whatever our stereotypes of the “idle rich”, many of them worked hard to get where they are, and have some sort of intelligence to which they can attribute their success.

But I think another quote about the rich, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, illustrates how we find ourselves in this pass:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.

It’s that cynicism which is the reason we find ourselves where we are today, with the government shut down, and a debt default looming on the horizon.

Of course, not all the rich are callow and self-serving. Philanthropy and civic-mindedness amongst the moneyed classes has a long history in America. But it’s no stretch to call the Republican Party the party of business, and many titans of industry expect a return on their investment.

With the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008, Republican backers began to panic. The economic dogma which had obtained since Ronald Reagan’s administration was no longer tenable. The crisis of 2008 promised to sweep away all their most cherished perquisites: lax regulation, laissez faire economics, the slow but inexorable withering of the welfare state. Suddenly bankers and other assorted masters of the universe were less popular than head lice. The world teetered on the precipice of a second Great Depression; the Great Recession which was the ultimate result was nearly as devastating to the US economy; in parts of Europe, it was a Depression in all but name.

Something had to be done, quickly. And ironically, Barack Obama’s election provided the kernel of an idea.

Yes, it spoke to our maturation as a society that we were able to elect a black President. But the idea that we were a “post-racial” society was laughable. How laughable that was soon came to light.

The Tea Party movement which came into being soon after his inauguration should have been laughed out of the public square, with apoplectic middle-aged white men waving bags of tea and swearing on their sacred honor to “take back our country”. But the now-demonized rich saw an opportunity; the mainstream Republican Party was demoralized, after two landslide defeats. Here was a ridiculous movement, but one which had a passion lacking on the Right as a whole. And the rich became rich by never missing the main chance.

Thus began the astroturfing. The Tea Party went from being a ranting rabble to something slick and organized. It injected the GOP with an energy it had lost in the waning days of George W. Bush’s debacle of a Presidency. Suddenly the supine media was awash in stories about this vibrant oppositional movement. And because our media is a failed experiment, it never looked too closely into who was backing the anarchists, and why. To the media, it was just an upwelling of “people power”, its claiming that the sky was pink treated with as much validity as the accepted notion that it was blue.

And it worked. In a depressed turnout for the 2010 midterms, the Republicans and their backers rode the Tea Party to retaking the House.

Now, this is the point at which the Tea Party should have been thanked for their efforts and shunted off to the sidelines. But, as with the evangelicals in the 1970s and 1980s, once you release the crazy, it’s hard to put the crazy back.

It’s been a truism in American politics that a politician’s main task was to bring jobs and funds back to his constituents. Not so with the Tea Party. They had a vision of politics as pure as that of any Bolshevik. They weren’t sent to Washington to praise it, but to bury it. There could be no compromise with a President they saw as illegitimate, dangerous, not American. They weren’t there to glad-hand and make deals; they were there to purge the DC cesspool of its decades-long mess.

And they couldn’t be contained. Republican politicians who weren’t fervent enough were primaried. Most survived those primaries, but mostly by lurching even further to the Right. Moderation was death.

The Tea Party became like Agent Smith in “The Matrix: Revolutions”: it multiplied, and multiplied, until it took over the party, not by numbers, but by fear. The so-called GOP moderates are scared to death that any hint of moderation will earn them a primary fight. Even Mitch McConnell is fighting for his political life against an attack from his right. And with ample funding from the Koch brothers and allied entities, the Tea Party doesn’t have to rely on traditional Republican backers, whom they see as part of the corruption in any case.

The government shutdown and looming debt default is the Armageddon the Tea Party wanted. Like Travis Bickle, they want a real rain to come and wash all the scum off the streets. They’re not very smart; this gambit will not end well for them. But you don’t have to be smart to smash things. And they’re very good at that.

That a group of legislators which represents 18% of the electorate has such an outsized power is due to the rich’s cynicism. The Chamber of Commerce thought it could control the rubes. Once you give someone a whiff of power, they’re not likely to give it back.

113 Responses to “How the Chamber of Commerce et al lost control of their Brownshirts”

  1. 1 57andfemale
    October 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm


  2. October 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    All I did was blink and there’s a new thread. Hi, everyone!

  3. 5 57andfemale
    October 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Excellent post, LL. I think I already linked to it on the last thread.

  4. 6 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

  5. October 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Congrats on 1st 57!

    LL, fine essay. Left you a comment, earlier, at TPV.

    EVERYONE ON TOD who tweet — this dude deserved MASSIVE push back …

    Yes We Can

  6. 8 amk for obama
    October 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Oh man. Just finished reading this at TPV. 🙂

  7. 10 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Always the biggest jerk

  8. 13 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Now saying “several” Capitol police injured. WH not on lockdown.

  9. 14 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

  10. 16 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

  11. 17 57andfemale
    October 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    When I think they cannot disgust me more……

  12. 22 donna dem 4 obama
    October 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    ’all honest to goodness I think I’m gonna need therapy soon!!!

    I go to the bank just now on my lunch break and I hear all these sirens going but think there must be an accident somewhere near by. I get in my car and turn down Pennsylvania Avenue to take 3rd street back to work and all hell is breaking lose. Police cars and swat team cars and ambulances all headed past me to the Capitol.

    LHM when will this craziness stop!!!

    p.s. I am safely back at my office.

  13. 28 amk for obama
    October 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    • 29 anniebella
      October 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Tell Tim Griffin to tell his fellow terrorists to end the Government shut down.

      • 30 anniebella
        October 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        Tim Griffin Tea Party GOP terrorists is to blame for it all. I could be wrong but I bet the shooter were upset about the Government shutdown.

    • October 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      This just blows my mind! I have a chronicle of the kind of rhetoric that the Tea Party and Republicans have indulged in over the last five years and it could have easily been 20 pages long. As my Gram would say, “they have more nerve than a brass assed monkey”.

  14. October 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Wait, this was an attack originally on the White House?! Holy fuck.

  15. 34 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  16. 35 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Shooting incident started at the WH–oy—shots fired, police chase and surround black car. (Pete Williams)

  17. 36 hopefruit2
    October 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  18. 37 Nena20409
    October 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I am beginning to get the chills. I can’t stop shivering.

  19. 46 anniebella
    October 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Are you guys hearing about the shooting? Starting at the WH then over at Capital Hill. Thank you John Boehner and Tea Party terrorists. You are to blame for this.

  20. 47 desertflower
    October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Andrew Fine ‏@AFineBlogger 1m
    @JeffersonObama All that I see is a bunch of furloughed heros taking bullets for the people that just took their paycheck away.
    Retweeted by Jeff Gauvin
    View conversation

  21. 49 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  22. October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I’m just sickened by every single aspect of this.

    That someone tried to storm the barricade at the WH? This has gone too, too, too far.

  23. October 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I guess I’ll be glued to AJAM when I get home for lunch.

  24. 57 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  25. 58 amk for obama
    October 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

  26. October 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Apparently it was a woman driving who tried to ram a car into White House checkpt at 15th/E. St. checkpoint.

  27. October 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

  28. 65 Linda
    October 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    The shooter is a female ?

  29. October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    This may have already been posted….


    “Shutdown coverage fails Americans”


    Commentary: We need journalists to hold politicians accountable for extremist actions, not to enable them.

    U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy

    …. The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.”

    When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable? … the political media’s aversion to doing anything that might be seen as taking sides — combined with its obsession with process — led them to actively obscure the truth in their coverage of the votes. If you did not already know what this was all about, reading the news would not help you understand.

    • 67 Nena20409
      October 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      But their reporting last night….some form of a social media Thing with a so called Medical reporter from Politico was pitiful.

      • 68 57andfemale
        October 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

        I was disgusted with their coverage yesterday morning. It was worse than msnbc or cnn. My husband said he’s seeing more loons than they had on in the beginning. And now your experience.

        amk linked to something pitiful from them this morning as well.

        I’m getting disheartened.

    • October 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      I remember the day when the news magazines found near the checkout stand talking about alien babies and who cheated on whom were considered trashy sensational journalism that any sane person would avoid. They were pushing lies and conspiracies for profit. Now-a-days it seems most news is of that same quality. Profit is the goal. Truth and facts are trumped by sensationalism and being first. Milking the story as long as there is interest and profit in it is the goal thus promoting lies to get Nielson ratings, viewers, and sales is where the job is today. It reminds me of the old Soviet run propaganda only today it is corporate propaganda here in the good old USA.

  30. 70 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

  31. 72 japa21
    October 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

  32. 73 donna dem 4 obama
    October 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Okay for those of you who aren’t familiar with the layout of Capital Hill and the White House let me just say its not a hop, skip and and jump between these two places.

    From where I am reading that she rammed her car she drove quite a distance to get to the Capital. Why didn’t they blow her tires out instead of letting her get that close to the Capital? Maybe the story will evolve and more will be told over time but this is crazy that they chased her car that far through DC.

    I need a drink!

    • October 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      It may be that they sighted the child in the car and were trying to avoid accidently shooting her/him???

    • 75 hopefruit2
      October 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      I agree donna – there is still a lot to this story that remains to be known. It’s possible that there was more than one suspect, and the person who rammed the car at the WH was not the same who fired the shots at the capitol. The MSM is reporting piecemeal as usual.

      Glad that you and collegekay are both safe, and hope you get home safe too!!

    • 76 dotster3
      October 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      And now all saying a child was in her car–unbelievably. Eyewitnesses report seeing child being taken out of car. Woman shot, no confirmation as to her condition. Capitol police officer injured from car crash during pursuit, not gunfire. Of course, all is subject to change.

      • 77 amk for obama
        October 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

        all is subject to change. Indeed. We have seen these idjits “in action” before. I would wait for an official pc.

        • 78 amk for obama
          October 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

          a bj poster

          Reporting is always stupidly sketchy on these things. Intial reports are some chick and a car and gates. Final report will involve a chicken, a carbouy, and Bill Gates.

          • 79 57andfemale
            October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

            when my twitter TL became, “I heard someone that a cnn reporter said…..”

            I decided to wait for, like, actual news.

      • October 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

        I did see a clip of police carrying a very frightened child and putting her in a squad car.

  33. October 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The GOP implosion continues…

    John Harwood ‏@JohnJHarwood 13m

    GOP Rep, blaming Cruz: “the guys who got us into this mess won’t be there for deal that gets us out. They’ll attack it & profit politically”

    Retweeted by Keith Boykin

    • 82 Lovepolitics2008
      October 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Well, sorry but “the guys who got you into this mess” are not the majority. You had the power to say no. You just followed them. Your fault.

      Conservative minds have difficulty to self-reflect and admit faults. Not surprising to hear that kind of comment.

      • 83 theo67
        October 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

        Indeed. The GOP talk about personal responsibility – but they have no idea what that means. I’ve never seen a single one take responsibility or hold themselves accountable for the consequences of their stupid and vile actions.

  34. October 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

  35. 85 donna dem 4 obama
    October 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    No one should have to go through this mess!!!

  36. 86 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Child in car said to be safe. No status known of woman driver. News conf. supposed to start any minute.

  37. 87 Layla
    October 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I want to hear about FLOTUS, the girls and the WH staff…anyone..

    • 88 jacquelineoboomer
      October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      I heard “Pres. Obama has been briefed,” after the fact, so – God willing – all are okay.

  38. 89 kathryn kivett
    October 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    and she had a child in the car who is supposedly safe…..

  39. October 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I did see a clip of police carrying a very frightened child and putting her in a squad car.

  40. 91 jacquelineoboomer
    October 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

  41. 92 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Pete Williams has been great. No speculation, no gossip, no half-assed nonsense. Just facts.

    • 93 jacquelineoboomer
      October 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      He used to be the Pentagon public affairs lead during GHWB term, so old Pete knows when to keep his mouth shut and how not to give out unconfirmed information.

      (Hard for me to applaud him, though, because he also worked for and followed Cheney from Congress to DOD, and I knew women at the Pentagon who said he was not good to work near, when he was there. But that’s all old history.)

  42. 98 japa21
    October 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm

  43. 99 dotster3
    October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Just said WH not on lockdown but restricted to only those who have passes. Wouldn’t that always be the case? I wouldn’t think anyone could just waltz in there without some authorization.

    • 100 japa21
      October 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      There are different kinds of passes, what they call hard passes or soft passes. Hard pass people permitted, mostly actual employees at WH.

  44. 101 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

  45. 102 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  46. 103 utaustinliberal
    October 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  47. 105 57andfemale
    October 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

  48. October 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    The picture I saw of the suspect’s car didn’t appear to have damage to the front end. So I’m wondering how she hit any ballards at the WH entrance?

    • 107 dotster3
      October 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      There’s a lot of hmmmmmmm on this incident. Will need more info. I see questions if woman had a gun when she hopped out of car after crash into police vehicle and was shot. Need more info about circumstances of her crashing the barricades.

    • 108 hopefruit2
      October 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Check @adeptu’s TL – he’s having some suspicions about the whole reporting here…

  49. 109 japa21
    October 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    This brings out the irony and ridiculousness of it all.

  50. 110 Kyle
    October 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Sad that the crazies are out in full force again. Someone needs to reel this nutter-bags in or i’m afraid something really crazy will happen. I thought the GOP stood for personal responsibility and stuff… must be misremembering from a dream or something. just imagine what we could accomplish with PBO if the repubs weren’t clinically insane. /sigh

  51. 111 jacquelineoboomer
    October 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  52. October 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    The report I saw showed the child’s face, too. GAH.

    “We should probably blur that.” – CNN reporter.

    CNN shows the face of the child who was pulled from the car driven by the woman allegedly involved in the D.C. car chase and subsequent shooting at the U.S. Capitol.


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