Ted Frier

Ted Frier
Location
Boston,
Birthday
April 02
Title
Speechwriter
Bio
Ted Frier is an author and former political reporter turned speechwriter who at one time served as communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, helping Bill Weld become the first Bay State Republican in a generation to be elected Governor. He was Chief Speechwriter for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci and Lt. Governor Jane Swift. Ted is also the author of the hardly-read 1992 history "Time for a Change: The Return of the Republican Party in Massachusetts." So, why the current hostility to the Republican Party and what passes for conservatism today? The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest. Conservatism once sought national unity to promote social peace and harmony. Now conservatism has devolved into a right wing mutation that uses divide and conquer tactics to promote the solidarity of certain social sub-groups united against the larger society while preserving the privileges of a few.

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DECEMBER 26, 2012 12:26PM

NRA, Tea Party GOP in Rebellion Against America

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The Tea Party Republicans who mutinied against their own House Speaker rather than raise taxes on the wealthy even a little bit are cut from the very same cloth as the leadership of a National Rifle Association whose answer to gun violence is to give everyone a gun. Both are belligerents in a right wing rebellion against America.   And I use the term "rebellion" intentionally.

In a recent Washington Post column, E.J. Dionne says America faces a crisis in our political system "because the Republican Party is no longer a normal, governing party."

Things have gotten so bad within the Tea Party wing of the GOP, says Dionne, that the only way to avoid what he calls "a constitutional crackup" is for sensible Republicans to form an alliance with House Democrats to retake control from those Radical Republicans "who would rather see the country fall into chaos than vote for anything that might offend their ideological sensibilities."

What Dionne describes is identical to the revolutionary mentality Eric Hoffer wrote about in his classic work on the right wing movements of the 20's and 30's,  The True Believer.

For the ideological true believer, "crisis is his element," says Hoffer. Sensible politicians seek to avoid crisis at all costs.  In contrast, when the old order begins to crack up, the revolutionary "wades in with all his might and recklessness to blow the whole hated present to high heaven.  He glories in the sight of a world coming to a sudden end.  To hell with reforms! All that already exists is rubbish and there is no sense in reforming rubbish."

A normal political party in a democratic system with separated powers, two houses of Congress, and divided government, "accepts that compromise is the only way to legislate," says Dionne. "A normal party takes into account election results. A normal party recognizes when the other side has made real concessions. A normal party takes responsibility."

And so by all of these measures, says Dionne, "the Republican majority that Speaker John Boehner purports to lead is abnormal."

Quoting congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, Dionne notes that today's Republicans  constitute "an insurgent outlier in American politics," one that is "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

It should be noted that New York Times conservative David Brooks said exactly the same thing about the GOP when it took the nation to the brink of insolvancy in the summer of 2011.  Today's "fiscal cliff" crisis is the direct result of the "debt ceiling" crisis Republicans created 18 months ago when they nearly forced the nation to default on its debts rather than surrender plans to dismantle federal programs under the guise of cutting deficits that Republicans exacerbated instead by further cutting taxes on the rich.

Dionne predicts that once this radical Tea Party wing is marginalized by the new moderate Republican/Democratic majority, Congress will be able to pass a deficit package that contains fewer cuts and more revenue than the solution President Obama earlier offered John Boehner but which the Speaker was forced to back away from once his caucus abandoned him.

Just like 1990 when conservatives rejected a budget deal President George H.W. Bush had negotiated with Democrats, Republicans will once again get stuck with a result even more favorable to Democrats in these fiscal cliff negotiations as the "price the right wing will have to pay for refusing to govern," says Dionne

Dionne mentions the recent attacks by assailants carrying assault weapons at the Sandy Hook school and Aurora movie theater as examples of the carnage Republicans cannot control because they are beholden to the "tone-deaf extremism" of the NRA.

But the better analogy is that the Republican Party's refusal to curtail the easy availability of assault weapons is evidence of the undeclared war against our democracy radical Republicans and their allies on the Right are already waging.

It is true that NRA President Wayne LaPierre is just a shameless shill for arms manufacturers who don't care who buys their machine guns just so long as they can make a profit. 

But what does it say about an organization that would create a national registry to keep an eye on millions of the "mentally ill" the NRA says might someday become mass murderers but who refuse to close loopholes that today allow millions of weapons of mass destruction to be sold at gun shows without background checks being done on buyers? It says that, among its other functions, the NRA now provides political cover for survivalists, white supremacists, neo-confederate militiamen, seditionists and others who may want to make war against the government and so do not want paper trails created to let the FBI monitor their activities.

What does it say when the NRA refuses to support bans on military-style assault weapons that the vast majority of gun owners and hunters would gladly support? It says that the NRA is no longer a sportsmans' association but part of a shadowy paramilitary alliance uniting weapons manufacturers with right wing militias that are today doing basic training in their camos in preparation for the day when they will be engaged in armed conflict with our "tyrannical" government.

In LaPierre's appalling speech last week, as New Republic's Alec MacGillis points out, there was not a single gesture toward new regulations that might mitigate if not prevent future Newtowns.

"This was profoundly startling to those of us who have become used to lobbies and special interests adept at playing the game of public relations and tactical compromise," said MacGillis. "Heck, even Wall Street was willing to accept some new restraints on its behavior post-financial crash."

But the NRA is no more a "normal" special interest than are Tea Party Republicans a "normal" political party.  Instead, both are foot soldiers in a right wing revolutionary movement.

Consider LaPierre's speech in which he opened fire indiscriminately at just about every aspect of modern American society, blasting away in rapid fire succession at the media and their corporate owners, the political class, video games, violent movies, the mentally ill - everyone, in short, but the NRA and the gun industry it represents.

Legitimate hunters do not need, or even want, military-style assault weapons with their high capacity ammo clips. And so, far more representative of the NRA's real constituency are those ex-military and law enforcement officers who join groups like the Oath Keepers, whose motto is "Not on Our Watch" and whose purpose is to forceably resist actions by our government they say overstep what they define as "Constitutional boundaries."

Oath Keepers was founded in early 2009 after President Obama took office by Stewart Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper and staffer of Congressman Ron Paul.

Like their Confederate ancestors, the Oath Keepers portray themselves as patriots upholding the Constitution in the very act of taking up arms against it.

As florid as the group's language about freedom and liberty may be, its seditious intentions are even more obvious.

On its website, the Oath Keepers are forthright about their belief that the "right to bear arms" under the Second Amendment is not about protecting their families against street crime. Rather, stockpiling guns is about "preserving the military power of the people to defeat the standing army of a tyrant."

The Second Amendment "is not just about preserving a final, doomsday capability to fight oppressive government," say the Oath Keepers. "It is also about the people themselves, as the militia, being the domestic military security force."

In other words, to right wing groups like the Oath Keepers, the Second Amendment is not about the right to own guns. It is about the "right" to take up arms against a government they have defined as "tyrannical."

And if there is one thing we've learned from listening to Rush Limbaugh, or watching Fox News and observing the behavior of those who bring assault rifles to Tea Party rallies and their representatives threatening national insolvancy in Congress, it's that the radical right's definition of "tyranny" is rather spacious - and specious - indeed.

Long-time militia leader, and Oath Keeper member, Richard Mack, was even more blunt: "The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government. "

Patrick Buchanan, before he was axed as an MSNBC political commentator for one too many offensive and outrageous comments, said the Oath Keepers were either defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia, depending on your point of view. But their existence was due to the alienation of many white Americans who believe America was once their country but is no longer. "And they are right" about that, said Buchanan.

It is encouraging that mainstream pundits like E.J, Dionne are willing to say openly that not only does the Tea Party GOP embrace extreme positions but that the conservative movement whose worldview it represents has become extreme itself - mutating into a revolutionary faction with an extreme mentality able to justify any means, however destructive, for achieving its righteous ends.

I don't know how many post mortems I've read of disasters in which a major cause of catastrophe is a failure of imagination. The crisis to American democracy, if and when it comes, will succeed only if those with the ability to do something about it lack the imagination to recognize the Republican Party and conservative movement for what they really are.

 

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Concise and elegantly argued as always, Ted. As I've stated before, in a sane world you would be writing in Dionne's and Brooks's slot and not those two corporate hacks.

I have to say I admire your courage in still posting on OS, which has been virtually unusable for many weeks now. I still post too, when the system allows me, but with so few readers managing to access my work - or wondering why they should risk the wasted time and frustration that involves - I wonder why I still bother.

Rated.
Concise and elegantly argued as always, Ted. As I've stated before, in a sane world you would be writing in Dionne's and Brooks's slot and not those two corporate hacks.

I have to say I admire your courage in still posting on OS, which has been virtually unusable for many weeks now. I still post too, when the system allows me, but with so few readers managing to access my work - or wondering why they should risk the wasted time and frustration that involves - I wonder why I still bother.

Rated.
Thanks again Alan, I guess old habits die hard but it has been frustrating to have such long delays or to be unable to access other people's work at all -- and when you do to have comments vanish into the ether. It's almost to the point that OS is little better than putting notes into a bottle and throwing them out to sea! But glad to see that you are still sticking it out!
Thanks for this post, Ted. I believe it is essential to make the point that the Tea Party and the rightwing are not conventional political parties anymore, but closer to a destructive criminal gang with private armies allied to it. There were precedents in the 1920s and 1930s. Back then, even the monarchist and very conservative parties recognized the qualitative difference with this new phenomenon and were frightened by them.
Ted, your post covers a number of different issues, and I think you're neglecting some important distinctions, especially when it comes to your comments on firearms.

" . . . the Republican Party's refusal to curtail the easy availability of assault weapons is evidence of the undeclared war against our democracy radical Republicans and their allies on the Right are already waging."

Firearms commonly referred to as "assault weapons" are functionally indistinguishable from many other rifles. As the Wiki article on "assault weapons" notes, assault weapons are largely defined by a set of cosmetic features. These features (e.g., a pistol grip, a bayonet mount) make the weapon look "scary." But weapons that lack those cosmetic features function in the same way that "assault weapons" do. In my view, outlawing "assault weapons" would be like outlawing "assault clothing." It would be like saying that you can't own a t-shirt made from camouflage print fabric, or a t-shirt with a picture of a skull on it.

"It is true that NRA President Wayne LaPierre is just a shameless shill for arms manufacturers who don't care who buys their machine guns just so long as they can make a profit."

"Machine guns" sounds nice, but people aren't buying machine guns. They are buying revolvers, shotguns, hunting rifles, semi-auto pistols, and so on. Go to any gun manufacturer web site and you will not see any "machine guns" advertised for sale to civilians. This is because federal law bans the civilian transfer or sale of machine guns that were not legally possessed and registered before May 19, 1986.

" . . . but who refuse to close loopholes that allow millions of weapons of mass destruction to be sold at gun shows without background checks being done on buyers? It says that among its other functions, the NRA now provides political cover for survivalists, white supremacists, neo-confederate militiamen, seditionists and others who may want to make war against the government and so do not want paper trails created to let the FBI monitor their activities."

There is no gun show loophole per se. But private sales of firearms are not regulated -- in the same way that private sales of other items are not regulated. Though not regulated, there are laws that govern private sales of firearms. For example, if I had reason to believe that you were purchasing a firearm that you intended to give to a felon, it would be illegal for me to sell you the gun.

"What does it say when the NRA refuses to support bans on military-style assault weapons that the vast majority of gun owners and hunters would gladly support?"

I don't know that the vast majority of gun owners would support such a ban. As I said before, the main difference between "assault weapons" and other rifles is cosmetic. So you can ban all the "assault weapons" you want, and it's not going to make anyone safer.

As I have pointed out on other posts, many of these proposed gun laws are only "security theater" -- things that give the appearance of safety but that in fact don't make anyone safer.
While I don't doubt your facts for a minute, I disagree with about half of your opinions. But then I also disagree with about half of the opinions expressed by the other side too.

As mishima666 has pointed out, there is little, if any, functional difference between an "assault" rifle and other guns that have the same capability, but a different appearance.

What is readily apparent, however, is that neither side in this argument has one iota of interest in working out any compromise at all. None. Nada. Nil. Zip.

Each side wants its own way and that's that! Bunch of petulant whiners, all of ya.

And why is no one talking about other means of personal defence. There ARE other viable means of defending against nuts with guns. Means that don't shed blood or take life but are actually MORE effective - and effective from a distance too! I have replaced my firearms with one. I feel safer than I did with guns.
Someone ought to start that conversation......

R
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