Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tea for Me

This evening I attended a Tea Party meeting in Dumbo, The location is a great bar at No. 1 Front Street that has a perfect upstairs room. The place is one block from the old Fulton ferry landing which is one of my favorite places in NY. Bargemusic is on the water, great ice-cream is on the landing, the River Cafe is there, Pete’s is across the parking lot from the RC, along with Grimaldi’s outrageously expensive pizza and a couple of other good places right there. Getting there via the People’s Urban Transit System (it’s the PUTS) means taking the A or C to High Street and walking along a busy but pedestrian unfriendly stretch along and under the BQE approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Dick Armey was just getting started when I arrived around 7:30. There was a good turnout, in the 50 to 60 range. Armey knows how to give a stump speech and pointed out that his current organization FreedomWorks is officially non-partisan. They just can’t seem to find any Democrats willing to agree with them but they’ll keep trying. He noted that he was an Economist by profession and added that he was a member of the Austrian school (named for Ludwig von Mises and F.A. van Hayek) so he knew what he was talking about, “unlike the Keynesians.” That made me think of Milton Friedman mentioning that an Economist is someone who knows that the government doesn’t help the overall economy but who can get the government to pay him to say it.

The crowd was worked up and eager to applaud at the mention of of the NY 23rd Congressional District race where the Conservative had a chance to win. Armey’s argument was that on many occasions the Republicans have come to the Conservatives and asked them to endorse the mainstream candidate for unity and to hold off a left wing challenge. In this case the official Republicans endorsed a closet Democrat and they should have returned the favor for prior support by endorsing the Republican.

Armey also said that he was often asked but there was no formal head of the conservative movement and we were all like Ronald Reagan’s “thousand points of light.” That made me think that the Left and their media allies are sticking close to the Alinsky playbook. The want to identify a titular head to their opposition so they can “personalize it, isolate it, and destroy it.” It frustrates them that they can not get Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Dick Armey to assume that role for them. The closest thing that I see most movement conservatives agreeing on for that role is the ghost of Ronald Reagan. While netroots movement leftists might want to run against Reagan the way earlier generations ran against the ghost of Herbert Hoover the professionals know that will not work without at least another 10 years of indoctrination to tarnish his image. This amorphous quality can be a source of protection for a minority subject to attack by students of Rules for Radicals but it has limits. It is an essentially defensive posture and lacks the staying power to roll back an opposing force or to maintain a focus on developing specific responses to anticipated challenges.

Hierarchical, formal and disciplined organizations can accomplish more, as any military veteran knows. The key is to have cadres so well trained and reliable that they have the flexibility to disperse and regroup. New technologies will give potential leaders of a movement like the Tea Parties the capacity to exchange ideas, formulate policy, and rally the troops on short notice. In theory the left pioneered this but the reality is that the independence of the netroots was always a sham. They have always proven to be a shell funded by and controlled by a tight inner core.

The next speaker was the newly installed head of the NY Republican Party, Ed Cox. He started out by declaring that the selection of Scozzafava happened before his watch, he opposed it and there would be a real Republican running to take the seat back in 2010. He then predicted that the party would gain 5 seats in NY. This warmed the crowd. He briefly reviewed the gains from last weeks election in Westchester, Nassau and upstate in Erie. He disputed the claim that it was just anti-incumbency by pointing out that a Conservative Republican won reelection in Rockland County, despite the edge Democrats had in voter registration. His next theme was that the Democrats had total control of the entire state government and this would prove a disaster for them. He described the sorry state of NY politics by saying that the Governor was a lame duck who had been undermined by the President of his own party and who therefor was unable to govern effectively. The Democratic head of the State Senate was mired in scandal, he used the word “corrupt” and had no influence or credibility. “Three men in a room has become one man in a room. Who voted for Sheldon Silver, a few thousand people in lower Manhattan across the bridge here? Who said that they get to run all of NY State?”

After Mr Cox there were a few brief words from Andrew Ian Dodge of the Main Tea Party who introduced a musical interlude and then a gentleman seeking support for the farmers of California’s Central Valley who have had their access to water cut off by environmental regulators seeking to protect a fish called the Delta Smelt. The cause merits investigation and their website is My take is that this sounds like another set up from the Alinsky book. The Democratic Party is deeply tied to policies, like Cap and Trade, and ideological positions depending on acceptance of Global Climate Change as settled fact. The shaky basis of the science involved is papered over by bullying and appeals to authority. Billions of dollars are at stake for General Electric and other backers of the Democratic Party. A crises is being fomented to make the opponents of the party appear as unflattering as possible. It would not surprise me if someone like Rahm Emanuel sees the economic destruction of the traditionally conservative farm communities as positive outcome.

It was a pleasure meeting Mr Dodge, who regularly contributes to Theo Spark’s virtual spud farm. He pointed out to me that there are about 30 core bloggers on the right who have known each other for 7 to 10 years, an eternity in cyber time. He made me promise to write up the evening on my blog. Almost half the crowd was still there when I left after an hour and a half to see to my four footed friend. They were doing the sensible thing, socializing, networking and maybe even planning future meetings. It was a good crowd with friendly professionals including some charming ladies.

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