“An Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug”

That’s what one of the two paid shills for the Tea Party Express called the President of the United States.

Oh, and don’t forget “racist-in-chief.”

Mark Williams, a former journalist and talk-show host, is one of the two employees of Our Country Deserves Better who address the crowds that come out for the Tea Party Express bus. He was one of the speakers at the 9/12 rally. OCDB, run by California Republican operative Howard Kaloogian and Republican PR exec Sal Russo of Russo, Marsh & Rogers, is an offshoot of an “independent expenditure” anti-Obama outfit form the 2008 campaign.

Williams appeared on Anderson Cooper, and Cooper confronted him with the “Muslim” and “racist” quotes above; Williams didn’t back off. That sort of destroyed his attempt to portray the Tea Parties as mere patriotic rituals.

This isn’t just a matter of a few loons carrying loony signs. The organizers of the Tea Parties hired this stone bigot to be their mouthpiece.

The people who are against Obama and health care reform but who aren’t lunatics, and who are contemplating going to a Tea Party event, are in much the same position as patriotic Iraq War opponents offered an anti-war rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R.
Going meant, knowingly or not, forwarding a project of the orthodox Leninist Workers’ World Party. Going to a Tea Party means supporting the project of a group that thinks Mark Williams is an appropriate spokesman.

Here’s hoping that the Tea Parties will do to opposition to health care reform what the A.N.S.W.E.R. demonstrations did to opposition to the Iraq War: fatally weaken it at a key moment by associating it with fringe ideas.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

7 thoughts on ““An Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug””

  1. Mark,

    The constant posts about these nutters are getting tiresome. WE GET IT. Pleeeeease bring back the substance! (note: not the substanceS)

    -A big fan

  2. "Here’s hoping that the Tea Parties will do to opposition to health care reform what the A.N.S.W.E.R. demonstrations did to opposition to the Iraq War: fatally weaken it at a key moment by associating it with fringe ideas."

    Not necessary; the elite mass media did just fine anyway.

    And as for fringe ideas, when the alleged elite decision experts in society were for the war, one is 'fringe' for having common sense and not unquestioningly sucking up government propaganda.

  3. Nikki, I'm glad you "get it." Now, when the other 299,999,999 people in the country get it, and the press corps starts reporting it, I can stop writing about it.

    I think the takeover of the Republican party by the lunatics is one of the most important developments in American politics in my lifetime. I'm straining to think of a previous case in which one of the two major parties allowed itself to so severed from consensus reality: maybe the Democrats in the Free Silver period. To the extent that ordinary voters understand what has happened – and that extent depends importantly on how the press reports the phenomena – the Republicans will lose votes, which will reduce the power of the paranoids both directly (by reducing the power of the Republican Party they now more or less own) and indirectly (by putting pressure on the surviving Republican officeholders and the network of Republican-affiliated institutions to disown the nutcases, as the post-Goldwater GOP disowned the Birchers).

    So I'm afraid you're just going to have to skip further entries on this thread, because there will be many. I promise that my colleagues and I will continue to to write about "substance" at the same time.

  4. Nikki:

    Raymond Chandler once said something to the effect that the basic premise of the detective story was that truth will out and justice will prevail, but only if some very determined individual makes it his business to see that this happens.

    Reason will eventually prevail, but only if certain very determined individuals make it their business to see that it does.

    And determination is called for in this situation.

  5. The ANSWER case indicates why it's necessary to ask further questions before blaming attendees as a whole for the obnoxious views of a few or of the organizers. As I recall, the ANSWER people had some unpleasant ideas about, among other things, the North Korean regime. But we know from other sources that the broader liberal & anti-war population aren't communists, & I'm pretty sure if you polled everyone who attended the ANSWER events, you'd find very few support Kim Jong-il. Whereas a lot of people are happy to believe the most obnoxious lies about Obama.

  6. I think the ANSWER case demonstrates something completely different. There used to be a "Chinese Wall" between the 'respectable extremists' on both sides and the nut-cases. I doubt if any office holder or office seeker ever appeared at an ANSWER rally. (In fact, even last campaign the Republicans, with all their Ayers and Wright nonsense, still avoided the 'birther' insanity. It was the PUMAs — remember them — and Larry Johnson who were pushing that, not the Republicans, not even the Baroness Munchhausen, ex-Governor of Alaska.)

    I had believed that "To the extent that ordinary voters understand what has happened – and that extent depends importantly on how the press reports the phenomena – the Republicans will lose votes…" but I'm waiting to see any evidence of it. And it isn't just the media. Where are the Democratic challengers demanding that an incumbent Republican either stand with or denounce the tea-baggers, birthers, or Beckoids? For that matter, why aren't any sane Republicans doing this? (I mean politicians, not commentators like David Frum — who would get a "Who dat?" from most of the tea baggers — and saying he's an ex-speechwriter for Bush wouldn't win him any applause.) When Bob Ingliss told his constituents to turn off Glenn Beck, he immediately got four primary challengers filing, why aren't there any Republicans taking on the Bachmans or Wilsons or Kevin Bradys?

    Instead, we have more and more Republicans supporting the crazies, and instead of costing them votes, it seems to be gaining them. (And the crawldowns on ACORN, on the (supposed) 'death book' and 'death panels,' even the piling on of 'guarantees' against abortion-funding and 'illegals' getting support hasn't made it look like craziness is a vote-loser.

  7. A further comment, playing off nikki's remarks. She's wrong about continuing to hit this subject. But there is a germ of truth in her complaint. Not that we should shut up, but that you, and almost every other political blog I read regularly, are 'preaching to the choir.' Now — running with the metaphor — there's nothing wrong with that — if what you are preaching is the need for the choir to go out and evangelize others. For that matter, it's fine, if there are people in the pews as well who need to hear the preaching.

    But that's not what is happening. Except for the Brett Bellmores — and other regular appearers on other blogs like SteveAR — who are here to attempt to answer us, not listen to us, is there one person reading this who needs to be told that birthers are crazy, that Joe Wilson's response was the words of someone who is a rude racist, that Obama DOESN'T want to kill Grandma, that Republicans are being deliberately obstructionist? On these areas — which are to my mind the most important issues currently being discussed — we aren't convincing anyone, because the people who read us don't need to be convinced.

    There's one lesson that Republicans have known for years, but that we seem unable to grasp. Most people don't spend two to four hours a day reading political blogs, or even thinking about politics. And most people don't get their information from blogs, or from newspapers, or even from Cable News — not even Fox. Sure, they might listen to Limbaugh, or Hannity or Van Susteren — but the reason they believe them is because they at least start by repeating things their audience already 'knows.' (It's not what you don't know that hurts, it's what you know that ain't so.)

    And they 'know' this because they heard it from the people they know and trust, their friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow carpoolers, church member (and pastors), the people at the block parties and neighborhood barbecues. Okay, most of us aren't pastors or churchgoers (or go to different churches than they do). But we are co-workers, or neighbors, friends, even relatives as well. We can whip up a potato salad for a barbecue, or dance at a block party.

    But we don't. We don't want to waste our time with such stupid people — some of them are, but others are just ignorant. We don't want to waste time explaining things that are so elemental we've known them for years. And lord but it is much more comfortable being around people who share our views, instead of being one person arguing against the tide.

    And then we wonder why the Republicans are so much more successful than we are.

    (More on this tomorrow.)

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