Monday, July 26, 2010

Anger and Disrespect Comes From Uncertainty

By Steven Tavares

We live in turbulent times. Composure is not something usually attached to times like these when uncertainty is hitting Americans in both their pride and checkbooks. We are frazzled. Unemployment reached a plateau off over 11 percent in the East Bay and just under 10 percent nationally. In scary times like this it is no wonder we see such an outpouring of fear, hot-tempered rhetoric and name-calling at events like Rep. Pete Stark's town hall meetings last weekend. In fact, such behavior is unfortunately the norm in troubling times.

A vast majority of the people gathered in Hayward and Alameda did so to unleash their anger at the long-time congressman who many times stokes the fire of discontent identified with the growing Tea Party movement. The Bay Area may be a bastion of liberal politics but the rancor emanating from the edges of the East Bay are growing. From Fremont to Dublin to Oakley conservative contempt is rising and liberals cannot turn a deaf ear to their voices. Let's be clear, the movement is not racist in its intent, but a disenchanted group of mostly white, middle class Americans absolutely terrified of what the future holds for them. In these times, the threshold of tolerance is vastly lowered as the vice of uncertainty twists and tightens. Disparate groups like the poor, minorities and their subset, undocumented workers, become the scapegoats for all that has gone wrong with America. Their destruction becomes an easy antidote for a return to the halycon days of Americana based on their perception of the good ol' day or as a 75-year-old man in Walnut Creek told me last week, "normal times."
After eight years of wildly increasing spending under President George W. Bush and the severe recession that followed, many people in the Tea Party exhibit a peculiar political schizophrenia regarding the economy

A boiling, pink-faced man repeatedly jumped to his feet last Saturday anytime Stark made reference to taxes and every time his argument would diverge with the growing immigration problem. "God, Guns and Country," he declared to Stark. He described his experience patrolling the Arizona borders and made reference to "rounding up" those "illegals" and sending them back to Mexico. A Hayward man told me Stark wins elections every two years because "illegals" vote for him, without realizing you have to be an American citizen to vote.

Another common gripe is the rising deficit under President Obama. While nearly all the Tea Party supporters veer to the right, the issue of the deficit is the outpost where most do not have a political party to identify. Democrats will spend to fund social programs and expand government, they say. Republicans once offered supporters an opposite view, but after eight years of wildly increasing spending under President George W. Bush and the severe recession that followed, many people in the Tea Party exhibit a peculiar political schizophrenia regarding the economy.

A retired woman in Alameda who said her and her husband live comfortably on their Social Security check and savings accrued over 40 years of work, jousted with Stark generally over rising spending by Democrats and specifically provisions of the health care reform act she said will balloon the deficit. Stark, this time, politely disagreed and then offered his consistent critique of the war in Afghanistan as a colossal waste of money. He seemed to have been attempting to reach common ground with the woman's sense of frugality. Except, the word "Afghanistan" stopped the woman's money-saving refrain in its tracks. "I personally know someone who is in Iraq right now," she said. "I think we need to finish what we went there to do."

It is exchanges like these that indicate the Tea Party movement is not political, but somewhere between a social movement and a grand bitchfest. A forum for Americans to unleash their hurt and fears. Where every topic imaginable is open for argument and little in the form of facts and figures is allowed. There is no focal point, just an amalgam of unrelated tirades. Dozens of people may feel better after pelting Stark with heavy invective, but for most of the time Saturday morning healthy discourse of the issues facing the country and the 13th Congressional District was drown out by name-calling and intimidation. Let us hope as the economy brightens over the next few years, the level of discussion rises commensurate with better times.


  1. Tavares, you're a babooze. You like to continually use the phrase; "old, white, middle aged" but never to you mention blacks and mexicans when describing leftists protests.

  2. Cornel West on the tea party

    On the tea party movement: "That's not a movement. Social movements are rare. And these days you've got to distinguish between grass-roots organizing versus AstroTurf networking that appears deep only because of televisual disruptions. The tea party might look a mile wide on Fox News, but it's only a few inches deep."

    Steve you put stuff on here solely to get a response, like your Stark piece.

    This area is 75% democrat to the consternation of manuel, frank lynn

  3. I cover all your politicians. The Pete Stark/Minutemen/Tea Party story is a national story. This district's congressman is a national story that why I cover it. The area has a very large Democratic majority. This is true. That's why I asked the question of some of the participants Saturday whether it was an anger deeper than a small minority. Besides that we need to see why this group is so angry and I'm trying to figure it out.

  4. Steven. You are being disingenuous and misrepresenting the group the was there that day and you know it. I was there at Pete Starks last town hall...you interviewed me and we even talked for a while after in the hallway. You have slanted the story to appeal to your audience...just like you told me you had to in order keep getting published and getting a paycheck.

    Nice journalistic integrity Steven

  5. Pete Stark was given ample opportunity, dispite the shouts of the angry mob, to answer some very serious, pressing, and sincere questions from the audience but chose to dodge them instead and divert to other topics of his choosing like phoney "green jobs". However, when the SEIU lobbyist shill that was there asked a question about his support of possible pending national legislation that would prohibit State Governors from furlowing or laying off unionized state employees due to budget shortfalls, Pete quickly indicated his approval of such a law.

  6. Steve. May I suggest that, if you really want to understand the Tea Party as you say, you need to come out and cover a rally. May I suggest the 912 rally being held in Sacramento. I'm sure the people attending will be glad to educate you on the Tea Party's issues and concerns.

    As far as the disrespect directed at Congressman Stark, if you have done any research at all on the man, and specifically on his outrageous behavior towards constituents, you would know that open and blatent disrespect are well deserved and indeed warrented in this case.

  7. The health care reforms passed earlier this year, if left intact, will reduce the deficit by an estimated $124 billion over the next decade.

    Laying off police, firefighters, nurses and other public employees reduces services at a time when the public needs these services more than ever. It will also increase the unemployment rate.

    Shorter Tea Party: BRING BACK THE 1770's!!! Also, we love President Hoover and the 24% unemployment rate he brought on with his fiscal conservatism. Another Depression won't happen if we repeat his policies, promise! As long as we oppress Mexicans and Muslims, that is.

  8. Sarah, with all due respects to a lady; You are an idiot! If you think that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit by $124 billion over 10 years, then show us the PROOF! Not some number off the back of a Zig Zag.

    Laying off public workers will increase the unemployment rate?? Where do you think the money comes to pay for all these people?? The Tooth Fairy?

    And just to show how ignornant you are; Herbert Hoover was no fiscal conservative. He expanded the role of government and if you knew your head from a hole in the ground you'd know that Roosevelt's New Deal was just Herbert Hoover's programs with far too much borrowed money going into them.

    Oh and take your snide comment about oppressing Mexicans and Moslems and stuff it in a hookah, you stupid airheaded ditz.

    Tavares, there's no need to try to figure out Tea Party participants. You need to figure out why so many people in the East Bay are freeloaders and want to mooch off the government.

  9. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 27, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    I had to pause from reading to point out something, Steve-O:

    " Let's be clear, the movement is not racist in its intent, but a disenchanted group of mostly white, middle class Americans absolutely terrified of what the future holds for them."

    It's not about race, yet, you point out that Tea Party gatherers are 'mostly white, middle class Americans.'

    When is RACE not going to be a factor/issue with you left wing progressives? You are playing the 1960s handbook and following Rules For Radicals.

    If it's not about race, perhaps you should have said NOTHING about race and just said"but a disenchanted group of Americans absolutely terrified of what the future holds for them."

    Because that's what it truly is.

  10. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 27, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    I have to say, in all honesty and respect, this was by far way out of line. It is a complete attack on the Tea Party movement.

    If a group of like-minded conservative people gather, they are attacked, called racists, portrayed as idiots or typical rich white people.

    But when left-wing, radical, progressive Marxists gather or take over the White House, it's change, it's progress...it's hope.

    Rule #13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

    This piece does just that, attacks pissed off Americans. Sure, Bush spent, and no is saying he was the greatest President, and some question his progressiveness. However, Obama & Congress are spending greater amounts of money, not ending any wars and not giving a damn about the future, while blaming everything on the previous President.

    THIS piece makes me want to get more involved in the Tea Party movement.

  11. The Fremont Tea Party is not “a group of mostly white...” we ARE an ethnically diverse group of American patriots dedicated to the preservation of the rights, liberties and freedoms of the people of the United States. We believe in the rule of law and in the US Constitution that provides for those Laws. Some of our members:

    - Heading our group is a man who is American born, but his family is from Guam, his wife is Filipino
    - A woman from Germany who saw the destruction that Hitler caused
    - A man from Russia who is seeing things happen here that he saw in Russia
    - A woman from Panama
    - A man from India
    - A woman from Argentina who's family saw the destruction Juan Peron caused
    - An African American man
    - An American woman of Japanese ancestry as well as another woman of the same ethnicity
    - We also have a man from Persia who was a Jew, but has now converted to Christianity.

    We vetted and supported a candidate who is half Ecuadorian and half Samoan and on his campaign team was a man whose family is from Mexico. We also vetted a man who is half Filipino and half Pakistani.

    Evelyn, Fremont Tea Party Patriots

  12. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 27, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    Evelyn...I'd like to hear more about your group.

    Even though I'm a lower class (in income only) white, male.

  13. Nicholas,
    All patriots are welcome at http://www.fremontteaparty.com/

  14. Stephen, well written objective article. You certainly did stir the pot and best of the Tea Party folks have emerged. Well done. The faster the US is out of Afghanistan and Iraq entirely the less money we will spend and the more resources can be brought to bear on support for border control.

  15. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 27, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    We won't be out of Afghan or Iraq before 2012...I also think we'll invade another middle east country soon.

    The money spent on these wars is not the main objective here. It is larger then that...including the expensive gatherings at the White House, Obamas vacation, golf, chef...etc.

  16. Why would we invade another middle east country soon? What would the rationale be? The wars we are already conducting in two Middle Eastern countries significantly increase the deficit, kill and maim many Americans and Middle Easterners, and have unclear final objectives, making the losses in blood and treasure particularly unacceptable.

  17. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 27, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out action against Iran's nuclear program.

    These two wars had objectives and the President promised to end them during his campaign; now we had no exit plan nor a clear objective. If the President wanted to save the economy, which by the way, the next decade WILL be a lost one, he would end these two wars. However, he will not, and will play politics with it. Either way, its to late to use it as a way to save the economy

    Still, no one has been able to prove that ObamaCare will not hurt the economy, either.

  18. So far there has not been any Tea Party riots, violence, looting, rape or pillage.

  19. Dear Manuel,
    I hope your “so far” comment was innocent humor. As a woman, I find your “rape” comment disconcerting. I’ve been to several TEA Party protests from San Jose to Pleasanton and we don’t even leave any trash behind.

  20. Evelyn; the above comment was tongue in cheek and innocent humor. I know that the Tea Party participants are not spawns of Attila the Hun and I support them 100%.

  21. I agree; the Afghanistan and Iraq wars should end ASAP, as would anyone who is TRULY concerned about the federal budget deficit. I disagree that they were pursued with a clear objective or mission before Obama took office. Didn't President Bush announce "Mission Accomplished" already?

    It is also a misstatement to say that President Obama "promised to end (both wars) during his campaign". In fact, he promised an escalation of troop levels in Afghanistan, claiming they were needed to prosecute the fight to prevent the Taliban from taking control of wide swaths of the country, or the government itself.

    He did promise a drawdown in Iraq, with the goal of largely withdrawing our troops from that country by the end of his first term. Both of these promises are being kept by current actions by the Defense Department.

    The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency, are the ones who estimated that the health care reforms passed this year will reduce the deficit by $124 billion in the next ten years.

    It is also easy to make the case that making it possible for more people to purchase private health care insurance will increase disposable income for Americans, which helps the economy. It will also reduce our massive foreclosure problem, as personal medical debt is the #1 cause of foreclosures in our country.

  22. Click the link and remember the tea party is funded by Koch Industries, Founder of the John Birch Society.

  23. "Doug" you are insane....

    It is also easy to make the case that making it possible for more people to purchase private health care insurance will increase disposable income for Americans, which helps the economy. It will also reduce our massive foreclosure problem, as personal medical debt is the #1 cause of foreclosures in our country.

    bahahhahahahahahaha What a laughable statement. That all these foreclosures are because of people being unable to pay their medical bills.


  24. Doug Jones...site your source.

  25. The American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 122, #8, August 2009
    CNN, June 5, 2009
    Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies
    Researcher: "You're one illness away from financial ruin in this country"
    Situation likely to worsen: study was done a year before recession

    Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

    "Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country," says lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, in Cambridge, Mass. "If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that's the major finding in our study."

    Woolhandler and her colleagues surveyed a random sample of 2,314 people who filed for bankruptcy in early 2007, looked at their court records, and then interviewed more than 1,000 of them.

    They concluded that 62.1 percent of the bankruptcies were medically related because the individuals either had more than $5,000 (or 10 percent of their pretax income) in medical bills, mortgaged their home to pay for medical bills, or lost significant income due to an illness. On average, medically bankrupt families had $17,943 in out-of-pocket expenses, including $26,971 for those who lacked insurance and $17,749 who had insurance at some point.

    Overall, three-quarters of the people with a medically-related bankruptcy had health insurance, they say.

    "That was actually the predominant problem in patients in our study -- 78 percent of them had health insurance, but many of them were bankrupted anyway because there were gaps in their coverage like co-payments and deductibles and uncovered services," says Woolhandler. "Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance."

    The Social Science Research Network performed a study to determine the top causes of foreclosure in the U.S. The result? The # 1 cause of foreclosure (with almost HALF) is healthcare costs. To fix the economy and the “foreclosure crisis” the U.S. MUST obviously address healthcare costs.

    Half of all respondents (49%) indicated that their foreclosure was caused in part by a medical problem, including illness or injuries (32%), unmanageable medical bills (23%), lost work due to a medical problem (27%), or caring for sick family members (14%). We also examined objective indicia of medical disruptions in the previous two years, including those respondents paying more than $2,000 of medical bills out of pocket (37%), those losing two or more weeks of work because of injury or illness (30%), those currently disabled and unable to work (8%), and those who used their home equity to pay medical bills (13%). Altogether, seven in ten respondents (69%) reported at least one of these factors.

    Understand The Underlying Causes Of Foreclosure
    By Oscar Morante

    ....Underlying Causes of Foreclosure
    Financial Slippage: This is the condition in which most responsible, smart and hard working individuals in foreclosure find themselves. We live in a capitalist system society. The system creates more opportunities but it is also less forgiving. Long term unemployment is devastating to the middle class. So is the astronomical cost of health care. People in this category often resort to tapping equity in order to make ends meet. If matters do not get quickly resolved, the house becomes over mortgaged; they default and end up in bankruptcy. Foreclosure comes next.

    More citations are avaliable.

  26. Laughable citations. They do not apply to everyone. Just another "scare tactic" by the left to advance their agenda.

  27. I would love to be able to cover the tea party and its members, but readers Some here will recall I was booted out the party a few months ago in Pleasanton for merely holding a notebook. I was famously told they knew what I was doing? Writing a story? No, trying to make them look dumb.

    I'm looking at the less liberal areas of the East Bay right now. Wrote about Mehserle protesters in Walnut Creek, tea party and Stark and this weekend covering labor issues at Pleasanton Castlewood Country Club where many residents don't seem to care a rich club is locking out $12/hr workers for 150 days.

  28. Yet "Manuel" has no "facts" to advance his point of view; it's a pattern. As mentioned, more citations of the destruction health care debt causes to the economy are avaliable to those who wish to see.

  29. Doug Jones...I promise you, even a politician didnt know that, nor read it. But moreover, site your source on you saying Obama didn't say he'd end the war...

  30. I agree the Tea Party is not about race, but it is about social standing. That's why I loved those goofballs having a protest for the BART cop. What more do you need to know. Upper class white people protesting against lower income people in favor of a murderer.

  31. From Wikipedia:

    "In a Washington, DC, speech entitled "A New Strategy for a New World" delivered July 15, 2008, Obama stated five main foreign policy goals:

    ending the war in Iraq responsibly;
    finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban;
    securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states;
    achieving true energy security; and,
    rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

    To "finish the fight againds al Queda and the Taliban", Obama called for an increase of "at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan" for a significant period of time; his speeches detailing this policy position date back to at least August 2007. Politifact notes this as "Barack Obama Campaign Promise #134", and classifies this as a "Promise Kept".

  32. Doug once again your "sources" are just opinion pieces by Leftists. They "assume" that everyone is in poor health, that everyone is just one step away from financial ruin. All you do is mouth the same Communist nonsense that has been mouthed by those 1 million "refugees" that Roosevelt let into America illegaly during World War II, they were Communists sent by Stalin.

  33. You must have hated History classes when you were young, they done taught it all wrong. Frankin D. Roosevelt was a Communist sympathizer- who knew?

    It's positively diabolical how well he hid his support for CommieFascistSocialists. They're all the same, right?

    Comedy gold, you are.

  34. Mr. Tavares uses old,tired liberal retoric! He has no interest in the Tea Party and less of a clue as to their goals. He deals only in half truths and worships at the temple of Chris Mathews of MSNBC. We are losing our country, no jobs are coming,as this month is not doing well at all. I am so tired of these people! Nov. election told you what the American public wants and it's not your all encompasing large gov't.