Blowback: Division (2010)

[The following was published July 4, 2010.]

Remember the sales pitch? The “post-partisan”, “post-racial” President who was gonna unite everybody? The guy who, if you didn’t support him, you were racist and couldn’t stand the thought of a black guy in a position of authority?

How has that turned out?

About a year ago, the seams started coming apart. The emergence of the Tea Party was immediately followed by a tidal wave of hatred and venom that, in the end, didn’t hurt anyone but the people spewing said hatred and venom. Also, healthcare was a big topic that separated people between those who had read the bill and were against it and those who hadn’t read the bill and were for it. The growing debt was a small issue then, as well.

This time around, the Tea Party has earned multiple victories across six states, the hatred and venom still isn’t working (but it has been amped up). Healthcare isn’t as big of a topic as it was when town halls became YouTube sensations, however with elections coming up that fire is only going to be dormant for so long. Meanwhile, in a striking irony, the people who have read the Arizona immigration bill are for it, whereas the people who haven’t aren’t. Furthermore, the people who haven’t read the bill are suing to have it repealed.

While all of this is happening, stuff from history is coming back into focus. A number of states are telling the feds to go to hell, the Gadsden flag is showing up virtually everywhere, and the words “Founding Fathers” are re-entering the mainstream.

There’s a lot going on in what people on both the left and the right have termed the “culture war” (or, “information war” depending on your perspective.) Tonight, as Independence Day gets underway, a rundown of this so-called war. Also, the classic Fourth of July MR stuff (i.e. music and books)

1.) Gotta stop the Tea Party! First off, what little information is available on the anti-Tea Party movement.

This from April 9. There were numerous Tea Party protests that took place April 15, (one of which I have on tape). The big opposition movement was to attempt to “infiltrate” the protests, mainly by either holding up signs that highlighted stereotypes (anti-homosexuality, Palin obsessions, etc.)

Several days after the protests, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein started making the rounds after saying that the Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, two people who have both become something of an icon for the movement, “rub right up close to being seditious.” Webster defines “sedition” as “incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.” Anyone who has actually heard Beck or Palin would likely know better.

Other things started making the rounds that were more in-line with the previous year’s tactics (i.e. labels like dumb, racist, homophobic, etc). This comes courtesy of Brian Maloney AKA Radio Equalizer. It’s a fun little exchange between former Air America man Ed Schultz (who you may/may not know from MSNBC’s “The Ed Show”) and a Democrat Tea Partier.

This is yet another “they want to overthrow the government” diatribe from Chris Matthews…..

…..who headed up a “Rise of the New Right” “documentary.”

Presidential reaction to the protests was….bizarre. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” noted President Obama. He went on to claim that he had cut taxes; presumably unaware of the tax increases in the healthcare bill, as well as the well-publicized plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Union people were just as strange in their reaction, but equally as predictable.

And then there was this whole “n-word” controversy where a black Congressman claimed that Tea Partiers hurled racial slurs at him. Of course it never happened, but it took an investigative report for anyone to finally admit it.

2.) Couldn’t stop the Tea Party!

Remember those “infiltrators” from point one? It was a colossal failure. At least some of that stuff was somewhat entertaining.

A Washington Post columnist decided to test the theories about Tea Party people….and found them all false.

WorldNetDaily recaps the action.

Despite the aforementioned venom, polls show that most Americans see the Tea Party has a better grip on the issues than the Congress.

Canadian news streams on the Tea Parties.

3.) Aftermath. The Tea Party has gone on to score major victories.

From Rand Paul in the Kentucky primary….eliminating the GOP pick….

….to ending a Utah senator’s political career…..

… setting up a “Tea Party vs. Obama” situation in Utah.

The ironies of all this being that the Tea Party movement was allegedly a bunch of GOP drones and were funded entirely by the party. The belief was that they were just briefly angry, and that the whole thing would fizzle out soon enough. Clearly, this has not happened.

4.) Historical background. Next up, we take a look at something that is becoming extremely popular: history. Our focus is the Revolution, the founding of the country (note the date) and the people/ideals behind it.

While this article wears its biases on it’s sleeve, it’s a decent springboard. And frankly, I’d have no issue meeting some of the people at these classes, even without any affiliation with militias (and I’d like to meet those guys too, but I digress.) This story is about a Constitution class, which, believe it or not, isn’t a college course. Though, personally, I think it should be.’don’t-tread-on-me’/

Popular at Tea Parties and seen by hostile media types as an anti-government extremist symbol ( most of the time), the Gadsden has also been regaining popularity, even making more than a few appearances in the audience of the World Cup (for those of you with access to, check out the opening for the first US/England match). This report from MARINES, the official magazine of the Marine Corps, looks at the REAL origin of the flag.

5.) Material goods. Finally, we depressurize with a couple of books and even a couple of videogames for the Independence Day weekend. All of which, in keeping with the theme of tonight’s MR, have some relation to history.


1776 by David McCullough

Sometimes, the best epics are the ones that actually happened. A 400-page, unreasonably well-detailed look into Revolution, 1776 covers focuses more on the military side of the Revolution than the political buildup to it. The signing of the Declaration, the massive, impassioned debates leading to the Constitution; they all take a back seat to the monumental struggles that came when England came to the shores.

The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen

Best described as a dissertation on the principles that the Founders used to guide them, The 5000 Year Leap is probably slightly harder (or at least, more heady) reading than 1776. As if to make it’s point clear, the book now comes bundled with other documents, such as the Constitution, the Declaration, and Common Sense; a pamphlet from Thomas Paine released in 1776 that argued for independence from Britain.

A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

American History in plain English. The authors say that it is meant as a counterweight to revisionism. It is a long, in-depth history of the nation as a whole. There is not too much else to say on this one.


Empire: Total War (PC, Requires Steam)

A hybrid of turn-based and real-time strategy, Empire features the series’ trademark gameplay, but was the first in the series to bring massive amounts of gunpower (or, indeed, any guns at all). The main campaign puts you in charge of the Revolution, but with a historical twist that, on the surface, doesn’t make that much sense. Whereas in reality, the 13 colonies banded together at once to defeat the British Empire, Empire: Total War tasks you with building the colonies from scratch. You have about 2 of 13 locations under your control when the game begins, and have to manage taxes, military, and of course the mood of your citizenry in order to take back your land.

The game plays in two parts. The first is a turn-based strategy mode where you manage everything, move armies into position, and set up battles with enemy states. The second part takes over when the battles commence and is a tactical, real time affair. You spend your time bouncing between these two modes with the same goal; eradicating the enemy, and dominating the territory. It’s a lot easier said than done.

Civilization IV: Colonization (PC/Mac, No DRM)

Speaking of damn near impossible, let’s move to a strictly turn-based game built on micromanagement. Colonization takes place during the same time period, but has a much different focus. Whereas Empire is just barely interested in the economy side, Colonization is all about the economy of your colonies. The game has you colonizing the map, raising an army, while simultaneously managing the economies of all cities and their relationship to the mother country. Speaking of which, the motherland has a much bigger presence in Colonization. Empire’s England was largely a really, really big army hell-bent on at least annoying you if not wiping you off the face of the Earth. The motherland in Colonization will cut off certain resource trading with you, raise taxes on you, and after the shooting starts, usually steamroll their way onto your coastline. It’s one of those games that are incredibly difficult but oddly addicting.

With those fine games highlighted, this year’s Independence Day MR is over. Last year was “unapologetic flag-waving”, but this year it’s been a lot harder to do that. Following the healthcare passage, a lot of the sources used for Midnight Run: Blowback started acting like the end of America as we knew it was upon us. Now, we have a resistance. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Leave a Reply