So I went to check out Glenn Beck’s little 9/12 Project teabagger rally in front of the Capitol on Saturday and saw a great cross-section of what “real” Americans supposedly look like. First, a little background for those of you who aren’t familiar with the premise of the 9/12 Project:
The 9/12 Project was created by Glenn Beck, with the support of corporate front groups like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, essentially to shamelessly exploit the memory of 9/11 to further their rabid, hate-filled, paranoid, ignorant, right-wing agenda. Or, as a tear-filled Glenn Beck explained it, to take us back to how we felt the day after 9/11–which was apparently panicked, fearful, angry, and confused. Glenn Beck essentially wants to bring America those feelings 24/7/365, or at least until we no longer have a black or a liberal in the White House. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who famously said the following of the families of victims of 9/11:
You know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims’ families. … I don’t hate all of them. I hate about, probably about 10 of them. But when I see, you know, 9-11 victim family, on television, or whatever, I’m just like, “Oh, shut up.” I’m so sick of them, because they’re always complaining. And we did our best for them.
So the 9/12 Project was essentially a 6-month effort by Fox News and corporate lobbying firms to manufacture an astroturf protest, wrap it in the memory of 9/11, and use it to further their right-wing political agenda, and maybe foment a violent uprising of right-wing militias while they are at it.
Before I get into the awards portion of this blog, I just wanted to acknowledge one more thing about the event. When I ventured down to the Mall to do some crazy watching, I was struck but how small the rally was. I had actually expected it to be much bigger than it ended up being. After all, this was the baby of Fox News, the biggest cable news channel. They had spent six months and untold millions of dollars pimping this thing out, plus they even had the backing of FreedomWorks and other right-wing groups. Yet, despite all of that, they were only able to muster between 30-50k, which by DC protest standards is pretty pathetic–something easily dwarfed by a free concert on the Mall. Now the adorable part of this whole thing was how proud the teabaggers were of their little event. Listening to them boast about the size of their rally you could tell they really thought it was enormous…they thought it was unprecedented, a game-changer. Of course it wasn’t even close.
And so in true right-wing fashion, they couldn’t help but lie to back up their claims. Since the event they have been making the absolutely hilarious claim that between 1.5 and 2 million people showed up. Anyone from DC can tell you that they are either insane or pathological liars. At one point they were actually circulating a photo of an event from the 90′s, sans a few obvious buildings that exist today, to “prove” they had a large crowd. It was a comical show of how embarrassed they were over their turnout. Yes, it was a severe case of crowd envy indeed.
Before they get too ahead of themselves in thinking they are going to take over the country, they might want to compare their crowd to massive sea of people at President Obama’s inauguration (which had much less favorable weather), or other smaller events like his Portland rally which drew 80,000 with much less planning, money, and advanced notice.
As many have noted, the 2007 protest against the Iraq War drew a much larger crowd–between 150,000 and 300,000 people–yet got much less attention in the media. Is this a symptom of conservative media bias, or just one of the perks of having an entire cable “news” network
supporting manufacturing your cause? You decide.
And a few other differences notable differences: Most events in DC, unlike the 9/12 crowd, aren’t 99.99% white. (Although I did see two African American protesters, who were actually heckled and run off by a large crowd up their white consorts while I watched in amazement–same team? Obviously not “same” enough!). Also noteworthy was the disturbingly high frequency of both fanny packs and, unfortunately, obesity, which was particularly ironic at an event where health care and personal responsibility were major themes.
But enough digression, I can tell you are ready for the main event, what you’ve all been waiting for…The 1st (And Hopefully Last) Annual 9/12 Teabagger Sign Awards!
We had a large slate of signs this year, with fierce competition all around, so some categories ended in ties. We’ll pick more decisive judges next year.
“Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy” was, hands down, the classiest sign there. There was stiff competition in this category, but this one wins hands down. Adding to the classiness, conservatives put in on the ground, covered it in horse crap, and stood around laughing, pointing, and taking pictures of their proud creation. The was actually one of the few mass-produced signs at the event, and you could see them all over the place.
I’d like to point out that multiple members of Congress endorsed and spoke at this event, offering words of praise and encouragement to their fellow “freedom fighters”. Congressional headliners included Republicans Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Phil Gingrey (R-GA). In addition to praising the attendees as “informed” and “outraged’, Senator DeMint also added that he had “never been so proud to be an American.” After all, what’s there not to be proud of?
Most Confusing Message
So this protester is apparently against health insurance, period. She seems to be decrying the fact that doctors must deal with private insurance companies, which is no doubt a huge (bureaucratic) hassle. So, she doesn’t want private insurance, she is protesting a public health insurance option, so she either wants a completely nationalized health care system, or she wants to move to a Skittle-based health care market. I really can’t tell which.
Whatever her message, I think we can agree that our current private health insurance system is a giant mess, and excessive administrative costs and corporate bureaucracy are strangling the health insurance market. One thing that should be a delight to this protester’s ears is that Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private for-profit insurance. For more information about insurance companies, check out Insurance Company Rules.
Most Nostalgic for the Civil War
This was a difficult category to judge. One could argue that the various confederate flags floating around the crowd were in fact the most nostalgic for an armed rebellion in defense of out of control racism; however, those lacked creativity in my mind, and didn’t make a strong enough point of how America belongs to the small teabagging minority, and not to anyone they disagree with. You may have thought that “real America vs anti-America” crap faded out with George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, but no, it is alive and well, and basically the only geography these people know.
There were, of course, a lot more signs hinting at armed insurrection (treason, as I believe they used to call it), assassinating the President, and violence with guns, however I didn’t feel those warranted their own distinct category. Maybe next year.
Most Nostalgic for McCarthyism/Busiest Sign
This woman was a treat (and so was her darling kid, pictured here, with matching t-shirt and crazy sign). She obviously had a lot on her mind, as evidenced by her rambling sign, which hit on such ubiquitous 9/12 themes as communism, fascism, Hitler, and of course “liberals are anti-American”. She also hit on the not-so-ubiquitous theme of anti-Janeane Garofaloism.
Upon reading this sign, dripping with paranoia over the supposed commie influence in politics and Hollywood, one could not help but be struck by the disturbing parallels between that language and that of Joseph McCarthy during his infamous Red Scare witch hunts of 40s and 50s. I couldn’t help but wonder, do these people realize that we’ve been down this road before, and that it represented a dark and embarrassing chapter in our nation’s history that we supposedly closed long ago? Then I noticed her shirt, “The cure for Obama Communism Is a New Era of McCarthyism.” Oh, well I guess they are aware of their historical bedfellows, and they appear unabashedly proud to be following in McCarthy’s disgraced footsteps. That’s just super.
This actually made me realize how weird it is that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wasn’t speaking at the rally, given that these extremist views go hand in hand with her own. In fact, it was almost a year ago that she went on national television and suggested that the media should investigate members of Congress to expose whether they are “pro-America or anti-America.” At the time she also indicated that she’d put the Obamas in the “anti-America” category.
This was, unquestionably, the category with the most nominations. In fact, practically every single sign at the 9/12 rally was a contender for Most Hypocritical. This largely stemmed from the fact that this was primarily billed as an anti-tax protest, yet President Obama has only lowered taxes. Yes, taxes were actually higher under Bush, yet as soon as Barack Obama took office, and lowered taxes, white conservatives suddenly decided that their taxes were oppressive and they needed to overthrow the government. Hmmm….I can’t figure out why they’d protest under Obama and not Bush. Hmmm….
Since it would be impossible to say which is the most hypocritical at the rally, I’ll call it a thousand-way tie and let them all share the glory of Most Hypocritical ’09. Here are a few of our winners:
So here you see the sudden outrage over our national debt. The fact that the federal debt EXPLODED to unprecedented levels under both Reagan and Bush Jr. obviously doesn’t bother them. It also doesn’t seem to bother them that the bailouts began under Bush, nor the fact that the estimated long term cost of the Iraq War is projected to be somewhere between $2-3 trillion. And then there is the inconvenient fact that “only a sliver” of the current deficit is a result of Obama’s policies. In short, they have no idea what they are talking about and, of course, they are complete hypocrites.
I would also like to point out that when Reagan and Bush Jr. racked up enormous debt during their 16 year reign they spent the vast majority of that money on A) feeding our already unbalanced military budget, and B) tax cuts for the rich. At least when President Obama spends money it overwhelmingly goes to things that improve the lives of all Americans and make our nation stronger (in much more substantive ways than our ability to bomb people into dust from tens of thousands of miles away). In short, there is a fundamental difference between how conservatives spend money, and how liberals spend money. Each side has starkly different priorities and starkly different outcomes.
- Bickering – This person does realize they are at a rally organized for the sole purpose of bickering, organized by career-bickerer Glenn Beck, right?. If nothing else, conservatives have been bickering strenuously ever since Inauguration Day.
- Lying – Replace “bickering” with “lying” on the last point.
- Half-Truths – See “Lying”
- Cronyism – See: Dick Cheney, Haliburton, no-bid contracts, and George W. Bush’s entire corporate-sponsored cabinet.
- Nepotism – See: Bush Sr., Bush Jr. – Not nepotism per se, but that is a whole lot of coat-tail riding. I’m not sure what alleged nepotism they think they are protesting here anyway, Obama didn’t appoint family to any positions. We may actually need to check to make sure this protester actually knows what the word means.
- Taxes – This is my favorite one, and a ubiquitous theme in this protest. As I mentioned already, President Obama has actually lowered taxes from Bush-levels. Yet these people weren’t mad with their higher taxes under Bush. See why this fits perfectly into the Most Hypocritical category? Also, Obama has never suggested raising taxes on anyone making under $250,000/yr, and believe me, the people in this crowd were not the kind of people who pull in that kind of cash (yet coincidentally Glenn Beck and the other corporate backers of this little rally are the kind of people who pull in that kind of money, and much much more. Hmm…). So it obviously isn’t about taxes, we’ve established that.
- Trampling of Constitution – With the exception of the crazy “birthers” (who were also well represented in the 9/12 Project), I’m not aware of any other example of supposed violation of the Constitution, so it is hard to tell what this teabagger is referring to. That is generally how it worked at the rally, lots of crazy accusations, nothing to back any of them up. But for this, in the spirit of Most Hypocritical, this person may want to take a little look at all of the ways Bush has violated the Constitution. Here is a good start.
- Wasted $$$ – Again, see my previous notes about the Iraq War, no-bid corporate giveaway contracts, and tax cuts for the rich, just to name a few epic wastes of money under the previous administration. Where was the outrage then? Certainly not coming from these folks.
I’ll leave it to you to decide why they really hate Obama with such great fervor.
As usual, they know nothing and have no sense of shame. To baselessly attack the current administration is one thing, but to do so right after acquiescing to, if not outright applauding and defending, these actions in the Bush administration is the height of hypocrisy. How they can protest against these fake problems with a straight face is beyond me. And those are just a few of the winners of Most Hypocritical ’09! Let’s have a round of applause!
Most Historically Ignorant
Now as I’ve mentioned, the vast majority of these protesters seem to have absolutely no idea what was going on in this country between 2001-2008. It turns out that most of them also had a very weak handle on other parts of history as well. The most common theme, collectively Czars (Advisors) = Communism, takes home this year’s Most Historically Ignorant award.
Now I’ve never accused these people of being intellectuals, but this one is pretty hilarious. In their minds, because Glenn Beck told them so, the Soviet Union and Communist Russia were full of Czars. Of course this is funny because the communists were essentially the exact opposite of the Russian Czars (Tsars). In fact, during the Russia Revolution which brought the communists to power in Russia, the communists actually overthrew the Czarist autocracy and slaughtered Czar Nicholas II and his entire family. Talk about the commies loving Czars!
Now I know this might be a lot for these protesters to soak up all at once, and I know they might be in a little bit of shock at the fact that not only did Uncle Beck lie to them, but he also made them look like fools, so I would encourage them to watch “Anastasia” if an actual book is too much to handle.
Best Obama Is Heath Ledger Sign
I couldn’t help but notice that the Obama-is-Heath-Ledger theme was a popular one this year. This one is my particular favorite, for its sheer laziness. Apparently hunting down one of those now-cliche Obama Joker posters was too difficult, so this woman just took a poster for “The Dark Knight”, and wrote “OBAMA” on the Joker’s forehead. Nailed it.
She also managed to tie in that tired “the New World Order is coming” conspiracy theory. Classic tin foil hatter. But not to be outdone by herself, on the flip side of her poster she successfully identified the President as…Hitler? No. Stallin? No. Heath Ledger again? Nope. Must be Mao then. Not quite. Then who?? Well….ThE aNtI-cHrIsT!! Who else? Yeah, they went there. Are you surprised? At this point, you shouldn’t be.
This is probably my favorite category. Like the others, there was stiff competition, but one stood out and made this year’s winner for Most Ironic a no-brainer:
I’m glad you asked: Incredibly.
Update: My nomination for best video ever (these are REAL teabaggers, not satirical actors):
Update 2: Glenn Beck and his conservative friends are now claiming their event was the biggest in DC history, ever. Seriously. This settles it, they are pathological, and the people who believe it (their fans) are probably the most gullible people on the planet. Oh, and they are actually citing a source talking about President Obama’s Inauguration as their “proof”. Yes, because Obama’s event was the biggest in DC history, the teabagger event actually was instead…somehow. As someone who attended both events, let me tell you: Glenn Beck’s event was like a single drop in an ocean compared to Obama’s inauguration.
If you come across any other signs from the 9/12 Project rally that deserve an award, feel free to pull a Kanye and nominate them yourself in the comments.