Tea Party Supports Higher Taxes?

Is it possible that tea partyists actually support higher taxes? If it is true that they are now supporting Herman Cain, they are in fact supporting higher taxes.

Unless you are earning more than $120,000 a year, Cain’s 9-9-9 tax solution means higher taxes. And the last 9 is a federal sales tax. That gets added on to the sales and local taxes that are already in existence. This means that Cain will raise the sales tax you pay from whatever it is now to anywhere between 14 to 17 percent or more. If you live in a state that does not have sales tax at present, you will be paying 9 percent under Cain.

Is the tea party actually supporting this? I don’t think so. Then who is giving Cain his support? Republicans too are against increased taxes, so what is going on? Are they being suckered by the glib simplicity of 9-9-9? Are they too dumb to realize that their taxes are going to go up?

Who is Advising Sarah Palin?

After the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a number of people and certainly the media implied that Sarah Palin’s election map, threatening Giffords’ district among others, was at least partly to blame, since the map placed gun sight crosshairs over the targeted areas.

After the attempted assassination, the map was hastily removed from Palin’s web site. A spokesman for Palin said they were not gun targets, but surveyor’s marks. This was a lie, of course, since Palin herself said they were gun targets.

During the mid-term elections, Giffords picked up on the symbolism of those crosshairs over her district and said that there are “consequences to that action.” The media replayed those remarks many times as part of their coverage of the Giffords shooting. It was as though Giffords had a premonition of what was to happen on January 8, 2011.

Other voices, including the media, blamed the harsh and often violent partisan rhetoric, spewing out of political candidates, especially those of the extreme right.

Palin evidently felt that she was being attacked by the media, and this prompted her to respond in an eight-minute video.

The video opened well. Palin sat in front of the flag and a fireplace and spoke in a manner reminiscent of a State of the Union address by a president. But what came out of her mouth was far from presidential. Rather than rise above partisanship, she chose to elevate it and attacked anyone who might have accused her as though they were the ones guilty of provoking violence. The comparison of her proclaimed innocence under attack as equivalent to the blood libel charge of Jews showed both no sense of proportion and an insensitivity to another ethnic/religious group. Her address was anything but presidential.

A genuine presidential address came later from Obama both in form, since he was the president, and in the substance of the address.

As it turns out, there is no evidence that the map and maybe even the rhetoric had anything to do with the disturbed mind of a mentally ill gunman. Palin would have been far better off to ignore the whole issue than to continue with her vitriolic attacks.

(The actions of Jesse Kelly, the tea party candidate who ran against Giffords in 2010, by taking an M 16 rifle to rallies and brandishing it like a phallus to boost his credentials, are far more likely to set the mood for a disturbed gunman than Palin’s map. What else could that action represent, since gun control was never an issue in that district?)

Has Sarah Palin now lost her chance at running for the presidency? She has not alienated the extreme faction on her side, but this is not enough for her to become a candidate. If she still has presidential ambitions, she must now work harder to convince her party of her viability. She desperately needs to get savvy political advice, listen to it and act on it. And if she can manage to achieve the now more remote candidature and be elected, she has to convince the ones who actually make the difference in elections. These are the voters in the middle, between the parties, the ones who value bipartisanship and compromise and who have a vision of government working together for them and for the common good.

Sarah Palin 2012

The 2010 mid-term election was the first test of the tea party on a national stage, and the overall result must be encouraging.  A large part of the swing to the conservatives was engineered through and by the tea party. As a result they will remain a political force in the conservative movement to be reckoned with going into the 2012 presidential race.

In 2010, the main beneficiaries of the tea party movement have been the Republicans in regaining control of the House of Representatives. Now the tea party has demanded its pound of flesh: elected Republicans must keep their campaign promises or face defeat in their next primaries.

In the longer term, it is Sarah Palin who gains from the tea party’s successes. She has aligned herself very closely with the tea party movement, and this will stand her in good stead when she seeks the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Palin has been unfairly blamed for the failure of John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008. It is true that she put her foot wrong in a number of minor ways, but her selection as running mate revitalized a flagging campaign. And she was not allowed to campaign freely on her own merits.  Since then, she has shown herself to be a very effective campaigner.

Now with the showing of “Sara Palin’s Alaska” on TLC, we are seeing her in a different light. The program is non-political, but it nevertheless works as an effective promotion of Palin, softening her image and filling out the human aspects.

The old Republican guard, if there is still an effective one, may pale at the idea of Palin running, but as it stands at present, she must be considered the front-runner.

The Tea Party in a Republican House

The 2010 US elections have gone as expected, the Republicans taking the House, but not the Senate. This follows the usual pattern that takes place in a “mid-term” election. It also happened with George Bush in 2006, when the Democrats made the large gains.

Not surprisingly, the Republicans see the 2010 results as affirming their agenda. The gains made by the Republicans were greater than the usual mid-term swing, and this can be attributed to the influence of the tea party. Now the tea party has served notice that it expects its agenda to be followed; otherwise, it will work towards taking out those Republicans that do not cooperate.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know what the Republican agenda is, except to continue the huge Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, to overturn health care legislation and to make sure that Obama is not reelected in two years time. The agenda of the tea party Republicans is primarily to cut the deficit. It also includes getting rid of earmarks (pork barrel projects) and the health care legislation, and uncompromising non-cooperation with the Democrats.

Where does this take us? The Bush tax cuts, an overriding issue with the Republicans, run in direct conflict with the tea party’s desire to cut the deficit. Continuing the tax cuts would add $650 billion to the deficit. How does this sit with the tea partiers?

As for health care, labeled ObamaCare by its detractors, it is difficult to see how the Republicans can overturn it while the president has the power of veto. It is unlikely that the tea party wishes can be met on this issue. Also, despite the election results, 57 percent of voters are in favor of the so-called Obamacare, a percentage that is likely to rise as new provisions come into effect.

Non-cooperation with the Democrats is certainly possible. So is bringing the business of government that has to go through the House to a complete standstill. Will the Republicans do this and risk the consequences?

The truth of the matter is that tea party demands cannot be met 100 percent. The Republican Party is not so irresponsible as to make government impossible. At least some cooperation is necessary to ensure that the party is not blamed for stalemating and bankrupting the country.

Ignorance is Right

It is significant that ignorance plays a large role in the politics of conservatives. I wish I could define that as “of ultra conservatives”, but ignorance has spread beyond the extreme right.

Gross ignorance, for instance, is at the heart of the tea party movement. It is not always as obvious as, for example, when someone in a recent tea party protest against health reform held up a sign that said, “Govt, keep your hands off my Medicare.” (Someone should have told that moron that Medicare is a government program; without government, there would be no Medicare.)

There are many other indicators of ignorance. Tea Partyists like to see themselves as reincarnations of the original patriots who founded this country. But dressing up as them is as close as they ever get, for the founding patriots were not at all like the tea partyists. They were about unity, stability and working together; they were not about disunity and destabilization. Above all, they did not protest taxation. In Boston, after the real historic tea party, they continued to pay their taxes to the colonial government. What they were opposed to was “taxation without representation”, a different matter altogether. The present day tea partyists are actually the antithesis of the real tea party patriots.

The tea partyists do not want to accept the results of the last election. They are stridently anti-Obama, but to call him a Nazi and make him a latter-day Hitler is nothing short of absurd. Obama is the opposite of the extreme right wing that Nazism represents, and of the white race supreme leader of the Third Reich, whose minions set out to purge the land of non-white races, to destroy democracy, and to raid and smash homes and offices of opposition leaders. Uh oh! It’s beginning to sound like the behavior of some of the tea party’s very own members.

Other commentators have noted the racism that is at the heart of the tea party movement, so I’ll leave this one to them. “Take back America,” means in effect, “Take back America from a black president.”

Away from the tea party, conservatives are on the move to rewrite the history books in their own image, especially in Texas, but also on radio and TV and in written publications. This is not simply an exercise in cynicism. It is a genuine exercise of ignorance. In this Right version, Franklin D. Roosevelt caused the Great Depression. (He didn’t, but he was a Democrat, so let’s blame him.) Theodore Roosevelt, one of the great Republican presidents, turns out to be a socialist. (He wasn’t.) Jamestown in 1607 was a socialist experiment that (naturally) failed – ignoring the fact that Jamestown was the result of a capitalist venture that set out to make a profit; it did come close to failure, but eventually made it. Joe McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the early 1950s, was actually an American hero and should not have been censured by the Senate. (The censure, incidentally, was led by Republicans.)

More details on the conservative effort to rewrite history are to be found at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/01/91478/some-conservatives-rewrite-history.html.

Of course, to some extent, history can be interpreted in different ways. For instance, one might debate the extent to which Ronald Reagan’s policies contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The circumstances around this event are complex; some are open to interpretation, while others do not provide clear indications of significance. What are not open to interpretation are facts and first person statements. But these are exactly what the conservatives are fudging, glossing over, ignoring, or simply misrepresenting (that is, simply lying about) to make the case for their new version of history.

By politicizing history into their own image, they are doing what the very ideologies they most oppose do. These are precisely the activities that non-democratic totalitarian governments (such as Nazism and communism) indulge in to twist history into a model that supports and justifies their ideologies.

Palin Cleans Up

As we saw during the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin, given even half an opportunity, helps herself. Though the McCain campaign worked hard to keep her in check, she was always on the verge of “going rogue.”

She also helped herself in another way. When the campaign wanted her to improve her image (i.e. her appearance), she went on an enviable shopping spree, spending over $150,000 of Republican campaign funds on herself and on her daughter. Not bad! And she wanted to keep what was tangible after the elections!

When she addressed a tea party convention in February this year, she gave them exactly what they wanted, that is, unrelenting attacks on Obama;  she presented herself as someone sympathetic to their “cause” (i.e. their anger) and a potential leader of the movement. She still charged them $100,000 for the privilege. There were complaints from many of the tea partyists. She fudged on the money, saying to trust her that it will go to a good cause. No doubt it will: Sarah Palin.

Recently at the Oscars Gift Suite, she and her entourage helped themselves to the freebies there. “They were like locusts,” it was reported. “They practically cleaned out the suite.” (That part may have been somewhat exaggerated.) Security would not allow any photos, which were expected by the companies donating items to use for product promotion. These items were then supposed to be donated back for auction (to support Red Cross efforts in Haiti and Chile), but Palin “did not give up any of of her swag.” (E! Online)

It seems that with Sarah Palin, there is no clear line between what is private and what is public. The same pattern seems to have existed in her public positions in Alaska, and it will no doubt continue wherever she finds herself. Perhaps she is also helping herself at Fox News. This trait is not necessarily a bad one. All the great dictators made no distinction in this respect. Their philosophy was, What was good for them was good for the nation.

Tea Parties

Republicans around the country have organized “Tea Party Rallies” to protest health care reform, among other things. They draw their inspiration from the Boston Tea Party, which helped spark the American Revolution. Protestors turn up in support wearing teabags; that is to say, they go “tea bagging.” Little do they realize that tea bagging is also a fraternity ritual, drawn from the similarity of a tea bag to a scrotum.  So the sweet conservative ladies turn up at the rallies with their tea testicles hanging from their hats.

At these rallies the tea baggers listen to rants against the government. At a recent rally, they witnessed the Minority Leader of the House, John Boehner (Republican, Ohio), commit a big boner to go with the teabags. Waving his pocket copy of the Constitution in his right hand, he declared he would quote from it, and went on to orate, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” Oopsie! Your ignorance is showing, sir! These words are not from the Constitution, but from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

Boehner’s ignorance is a gaffe that a congressman should not make, let alone a potential leader of the house, but it was not much more than a gaffe. There are, however, errors around the Boston Tea Party, which are not gaffes, but which are consciously perpetuated. In a fifth grade classroom last week, I had to listen to ignorance among the patriotic hogwash that was being inculcated into their young minds. Not all of it was hogwash, of course, but not one item was free of it.

There is no doubt that the Boston Tea Party was a very important spark leading to the American Revolution, and that generally it was about taxation without representation. One reading told the fifth graders that King George removed all the taxes, except the one on tea as a lesson to the colonists who then had to pay high taxes on tea. This is bullshit. The Tea Act of 1773, passed by the British Parliament, removed the tax on tea, requiring only American duty to be paid on tea coming into the colonies. The effect was that the price of tea, legally entering the colonies, now cost half the original price. In fact, tea in the colonies was cheaper than tea in Britain, since the British still had to pay the tax.

The main importer of tea was the East India Company, and the Tea Act was seen as favoring the company, enabling them to undercut American importers and (above all) tea smugglers. And there is truth in that, and there was understandable resentment by leaders in the colonies. But it was NOT about high taxes. Significantly, among the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, the group who engineered the Tea Party, was the wealthy John Hancock, who made his pile from … smuggling tea.