The United States is now reminiscent of countries that at various periods of their history have been either been paralyzed by minority extremist groups; or worse, have elected them to office.

The rise of the Tea Party right is a classic case of how a small, extremist faction seizes control when the political mainstream fails to solve deep national problems. It is an amalgam of a far-right that has always hovered around one-fifth of the electorate, swollen by the frustrations of previously apolitical people.

In much of Europe today, far-right populist parties now typically get 20 or 25 percent of the vote. With Europe’s parliamentary and multiparty system, however, they don’t get to govern, but in several countries they are now the second of third most popular party.

These parties represent about the same share of public opinion as the Tea Party in the US. But in America, with our two-party system and our constitutional machinery of blockage, if a determined minority gains control of one party it can bring responsible government to a halt. That is what has now occurred, and it will color our politics between now and the 2012 election, and quite possibly beyond.

— 

Robert Kuttner, The Goons of August 8/2/11

Robert Kuttner is a reasonable man who substantiates his opinions. He is not given to hyperbole, so his alarm here demands notice.

"Fractured and fractious…" say Greenwald and Ebert.

 (Credit: Ian Huebert)

TOPICS:TEA PARTIESWe’re exceptionally proud to bring you this excerpt from Salon’s new e-book, “A Tea People’s History,” by Alex Pareene. You can buy the full e-book onAmazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Continental Congress organized the new nation with a document called the American Rules of Acquisition, an early precursor to our Constitution. While the Rules — also known as the Articles of Confederation — wisely established a weak central government and powerful states’ rights, there was a certain spark missing — the spark of Natural Law, which was the Founders’ preferred phrase for the Ten Commandments.

Some argue that the Articles of Confederation created a federal government that wastoo small and weak, but in fact the primary problem with the Articles was that they were far too left-wing. Government bureaucracy killed nearly 2,000 soldiers at Valley Forge. It was apparent that a change was needed!

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The California-based Tea Party Express has asked supporters to send it money to counter “leftists” it accuses of “trying to exploit” Saturday’s mass shooting in Tucson that left six dead and Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life.

While professing to be “horrified” at the shootings, the group charged that “many in the news media and liberal political figures and organizations” are blaming Sarah Palin and “our grass roots, Constitutionalist movement” for the tragedy in Tucson.

From one conservative to the others? These are not your parents’ conservatives. I keep saying, to all who will listen, that the fringe is now central to the GOP.

From Goldwater to Bachmann, the meaning of one of the right’s favorite terms has evolved considerably BY BRIAN GLENN

Michele Bachmann calls herself a “constitutional conservative.” So does Rand Paul, and anyone endorsed by Sarah Palin gets the label as well. As the nation heads towards defaulting on its debt obligations and the state of Minnesota remains closed, it’s worth pondering what constitutional conservatism actually means, and what lessons we can take from it.

For conservative politicians, the name signals that they are identifying as Tea Party members, which means limiting government, balancing the federal budget, lowering taxes, ending redistribution from the wealthier to the poor, assigning a central position for God in the lives of Americans, even in courthouses and public schools, and asserting the right to bear arms. While God will always be given top billing, one gets the sense that lowering taxes and eliminating social programs are actually the most important pillars in the platform — so much so that many elected officials claim to be unwilling to compromise no matter what the short-term consequences.

Yet the term “constitutional conservative” is older than the Tea Party movement, and has a subtle yet important difference to it, since it focuses on moderation. For contemporary conservative political theorists like Harvey Mansfield and Peter Berkowitz, among others, constitutional conservatism requires a proper balance between principle and prudence — that is, between living up to one’s ideology, and living together in a democratic community in which all acknowledge the necessity of compromise. God remains central, for religion provides a source of virtue and a reason to sacrifice for the greater good, and protecting individual liberties still remain the fundamental goal, but being a constitutional conservative for political theorists above all requires an awareness of political realities, and an accommodation to them in order to a allow a range of people in a society to live together peacefully.


[…]

Today’s officeholders who call themselves constitutional conservatives have taken a very different approach. They may do well to revisit their theoretical brethren who acknowledged the necessity of living according to principle while not being ideologues, of being driven by values and not opportunism, of compromising on policy while remaining true to principle, and understanding that as much as one would like to move society in a certain direction, it may not happen overnight.

As the federal government stands on the brink of defaulting on its debt obligations, the question for the moment is whether political constitutional conservatives, too, can find proper balance between principle and prudence, between staying true to their ideology, and living together in a democratic community in which all acknowledge the necessity of compromising with others.

Brian J. Glenn is a political historian who teaches in the Department of Government at Wesleyan University. His book, “Conservatism and American Political Development" (co-edited with Steven M. Teles), was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

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AmeriCorps, really? What will they ban next, motherhood and apple pie? It’s the Koch-zombie apocalypse, people. But don’t head for Home Depot and Walmart. Sign this petition.

The maniacal Tea Party freshmen are trying to burn down the House they were elected to serve in. It turns out they wanted to come inside to get a blueprint of the historic building to sabotage it.

Like gargoyles on the Capitol, the adamantine nihilists are determined to blow up the country’s prestige, their party and even their own re-election chances if that’s what it takes. (Many are worried about primary races with even more dogmatic challengers, which is a truly scary thought.) If they can drag President Obama off his pedestal, even better. They think he looks down on them and sneers at their values.

I want what I want when I want it.
— 

Eric Cantor (R-VA), high school yearbook quote ”The Tea Party Wants What It Wants When It Wants It … Or Else” | OurFuture.org By Terrance Heath July 15, 2011 - 3:53pm ET

Enough petulant “me generation” behavior. We need some more “we thinking” in Congress.

Here is another choice quote from the article: “Democrats are openly expressing a desire to send Cantor and the tea party back to the kiddie table..”

Don’t be so gleeful.

jmahon   |   Mon, Jul 18, 2011 7:56 AM EST (Published in The Berkshire Eagle, July 18, 2011)
Once upon a time, Republicans proudly called theirs the “Daddy Party.” They liked being seen as the protector, the payroll-maker, the disciplinarian, the traditional breadwinner, the one who carried the country on broad shoulders. Of course, this made Democrats the “Mommy Party,” with everything that was supposed to imply.

Those days are over. The Republicans are now your crazy uncle.

You know who I’m talking about. He gets into a lot of fights. Loves to tell scary stories. Thinks the government can find us through our tooth fillings. Has a spiritual life that cycles from vitamins to booze to Jesus and back. His favorite pastime is going out back with a six-pack of Bud to shoot at Grandpa’s old Studebaker.

N

Because there’s this:

Here’s the other thing. When the GOP went crazy uncle, a lot of Democrats in Washington turned into his battered wife. You’ve seen this, too. He insults the neighbors, she calls them the next day to apologize. He makes a big mess, she cleans it up.


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Land of the Free and Home of the Brave:

Tip ‘o’ the hat to a Facebook friend for this. (via Blame It on the Voices)

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