Tag Archives: Tea Party

Burns, Bachmann and Smith: A Gruesome Threesome

Many of the Tory Party’s extreme ideas come from the American Right. In the United States, the Tea Party is supported by a wide variety of right-wing think tanks like Cato and The American Enterprise Institute, as well as the Koch (pronounced ‘coke’) Brothers, who provide them with millions of dollars of funding.

I saw this photograph on Conor Burns’ Twitter timeline. Burns, who recently complained about Oxfam for being ‘socialist’ because the charity dared to question the government’s austerity policies and their effect on ordinary people’s lives, was formerly a Hammersmith and Fulham councillor along with Donal ‘Fulham Homes for Fulham People’ Blaney. Both of them formed the Young Britons’ Foundation, a sort of right-wing entryist group. Burns (left) is pictured here with fellow YBFer, Greg Smith (right), the new leader of the Tory group and Michele Bachmann of the Tea Party. They apparently had dinner together.

Burns, Bachmann and Smith

 

Isn’t that nice?

Here are a few of the mindless things Bachmann has said. This one demonstrates her extraordinary ignorance on slavery.

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President”.

Regarding the very anti-intellectual Tea Party, she said:

“Our movement at its core is an intellectual movement.”

She’s an advocate of paying people poverty wages too. No surprise there, given her ahistorical take on slavery.

“If we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”

On CO2 emissions, she had this to say:

“Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”

Carbon dioxide is harmless, eh? Well, you try breathing it then.

No wonder the Tories are a clueless, spiteful, ruthless, anti-intellectual bunch: they take most of their weird ideas from the Tea Party. But that lets them off the hook slightly. The Tories have always been spiteful and clueless. Their anti-intellectualism, however, is as American as apple pie.

Oh and did I mention that Bachmann is apparently a fan of Ludwig von Mises?

6 Comments

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

Romney includes Nile Gardiner in his foreign policy team

Apparently GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, has included Moonie Nile Gardiner, in his foreign policy team. Quite what Gardiner has to offer in the sphere of international relations is anyone’s guess. Last month, The National Memo said this,

And then there is Nile Gardiner, a British national, ultra-conservative, and former Unification Church devotee, who is thinking deep thoughts about Europe for Romney. Gardiner once said that we would only discover why we had invaded Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, when records proving Saddam Hussein’s collaboration with Al Qaeda would fall into our hands. (Is he still waiting for that?)

Gardiner is something of a Jack D. Ripper figure who imagines that all sorts of enemies are lining up to poison our water and steal our women.

Gardiner’s world view, like that of Romney, is US-centric and thus cyclopean. Both of them inhabit a pre-Copernican world where the US is the centre of the universe.

According to Romney’s website, Gardiner is going to ‘advise’ him on Europe. That’s interesting, given the fact that Gardiner spends no time here nor does he seem to know much about the continent for which he has been given a brief.

Here’s Gardiner’s latest drivel, where he claims that the #OWS movement has been “defeated”. Of course what our Moonie friend completely ignores is the police brutality that forced the protesters from Zucchoti Park (of which he doubtlessly approves). He also seems to have ignored the fact that the protest is continuing.

Occupy Wall Street has been an act of desperation by the liberal Left, which now represents a small minority of Americans in terms of ideology. In many ways, OWS has been the antithesis of the Tea Party. It has failed to shape the political debate on Capitol Hill and has been driven by an anti-capitalist agenda that does not resonate with most Americans. In addition, while the Tea Party has been an unfailingly law-abiding movement, with tremendous respect for the police and the rule of law, Occupy Wall Street has descended into anarchy. In many ways, OWS is an anachronism, a wannabe 1960s-style protest movement in an America that has moved on. And it is above all a symbol of a Left in decline amidst an increasingly conservative nation that has had enough of the kind of big government, anti-free market policies the liberal protestors crave.

Smears and lies.  In the same blog, he claims that the Tea Party is the political force in the ascendancy. Nothing like objectivity, eh?

In marked contrast, conservatism has undergone a profound revival since Obama entered the Oval Office. As I’ve noted before, the Tea Party has been the most influential US political movement of the early 21st Century, fundamentally transforming the political landscape.

Funnily enough, the Tea Party seems to be in decline but Gardiner doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, propaganda, Tea party, United States, United States, World, Yellow journalism

The real road to serfdom

So the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor (great name) has downgraded the US’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. Do you know what this means? No? Because I don’t either. Does it mean that the US will have its credit card taken away and sent to the naughty step?

Is it me or is this whole process of credit rating  nations a little simplistic? I remember when Thatcher compared Britain’s economy to to a domestic budget. It was silly and reductive then and it’s silly and reductive now. It provides an instant rationalization and a justification for spending cuts and job losses.

Viewing the world in such simplified terms can only lead in one direction: disaster. The global economic meltdown is partly a product of lazy thinking as well as inveterate greed.

The world and its economies are much more complicated than the world’s politicians are prepared to admit. Credit rating agencies are merely an arm of enforcement that works on behalf of the banks and other financial institutions.

The US can thank the sociopaths in the Tea Party for its downgrade. It can also thank them for nearly bringing the world to its knees. I get the feeling that they won’t be happy until we’ve all returned to a feudal formation.

When Hayek wrote The Road To Serfdom, the serfdom that he envisaged was associated with what he saw as the two ‘socialisms': Nazism and socialism (or communism). But there are fundamental flaws in his understanding of what constitutes serfdom. His knowledge of socialism was also limited to his own narrow ideological understanding of the word. In Hayek’s world, only the free market could protect liberty but, as we have seen in the last thirty years, people are less free because our politicians put the interests of corporations and banks first. The Hayekian praxis of Thatcher and Reagan and those who have followed them has put us all on a path to serfdom. The trouble is, those who support this form of economic libertarianism have little , if nothing, to lose. They won’t become  serfs. But the rest of us will end up as their slaves if we don’t put a stop to this nonsense.

Meanwhile in Israel, people have been on the streets to demand homes and jobs.

We need more of that here in Britain.

Guns or butter?

Here’s a song from a The Gang of Four.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, laissez faire capitalism, Late capitalism, neoliberalism, robber baron capitalism

A walk through the kingdom of the blind: political romanticism and naïveté

Yesterday I had to laugh at the headline of Hannan’s blog, “Now Tea Partiers are accused of being in league with the British far right”. There’s an old saying that probably has its origins in the Bible, “There are none so blind as those who will not see”.  So in love is Dan with the Tea Party’s supposed ‘grassroots’ appeal that he has allowed himself to be swayed by the rhetoric of this movement. But has he really been swayed or does he genuinely believe the noise that comes from the likes of Glenn Beck and Pamela Geller? I suspect it’s a combination of both. Only a hopeless romantic would regard the Tea Party movement as truly grassroots. Only a hopeless romantic would see the Tea Party as ‘defenders of liberty’. He says,

Take three minutes to watch this CNN report, filmed in Britain, about the Tea Party being “infiltrated by the far Right”. The story is built around the visit by one Tea Partier, a loopy sounding rabbi, to an English Defence League rally. No doubt, in an organisation as large and dispersed as the Tea Party, you will also find supporters who are members of the League Against Cruel Sports, the Freemasons, and the Church of Scientology. As the French say, Et alors?

Non, comme le français dirais: tu me prends pour merde? Is he seriously telling us that the Tea Party hasn’t been infiltrated by extreme right wing groups?  If Dan had been paying attention he’d have noticed a number of stories about the Tea Party’s links with the English Defence League over the course of the last six to eight months. Of course none of those stories have appeared in the Telegraph because the paper has made up its mind about the Tea Party: they’re just a load of misunderstood patriots. He cites the “loopy sounding rabbi” (Nachum Shifren prefers to be referred to as the “Surfing Rabbi” (sic)) as the only example of a link (a word that he vehemently contests) between the two groups. But I do agree that the rabbi is rather loopy.

I wonder what Mad Dan has to say about Andrew Neil’s documentary Tea Party America on BBC2 on Monday night? You can view the documentary here. Like most who write for the Torygraph, he’d probably tell you it’s ‘biased’ even though Neil is a dyed in the wool, true blue Tory. One thing that stood out for me were the numbers of them who displayed an alarming lack of engagement with historical materialism. The myth of the America of the Founding Fathers is accepted over the realities of poverty, slavery, indentured servitude, disease and the lack of the democratic franchise for non-property-owning males. “We want to go back to the smaller government of the Founding Fathers” say many of them. Many of them will claim that they want to ‘protect the Constitution’ and will then add ‘the Bill of Rights’ to that. But I suspect that few of them have actually read the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution was written over 200 years ago. France, the other revolutionary republic has had 5 constitutions. each republic had its own constitution which was supposed to be an improvement on the one that went before it. By contrast the US has had one republic and one constitution in roughly the same period of time. In the US, the Constitution is regarded by some as holy writ; its words are set in stone. Truth be told, the US badly needs a new constitution; the political institutions of the country are ossified beyond belief.

Now that Tea Party-backed candidates are in the House of Representatives the Republicans have control. This can only lead to gridlock in Congress as Obama tries to push through his legislation. We can expect  [Ayn] Rand Paul to stand on the steps of Congress and make Newt Gingrich-like pronouncements about ‘freedom’ and ‘smaller’ government. Say hello to 2 years of inertia.

One thing that I find so breathtakingly bizarre are the many self-described Tea Partiers who have some form of disability or congenital health complaint who claim that they “don’t need any government help with healthcare” or “To hell with your socialized medicine (sic)”. Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas. You can find a good example of this cognitive dissonance here.

Now that the election is over, I’m also hoping that we hear no more from this ill-informed rabble but I think I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking. When Barry Goldwater lost the 1965 election his supporters didn’t just shrink away; they formed think tanks and shadowy lobby groups and fought a rearguard action. We can probably expect more of the same from this lot. The fight is not over.

Finally, the rank and file of the Tea Party; the ordinary people who followed the movement don’t realize that they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes by FreedomWorks, the Koch Brothers and the Cato Institute who used the movement to pursue their own agenda. Of course, telling the average Tea Partier that they were hijacked by larger interests is only likely to be met with insults and abuse. They aren’t that big on counter-argument.

Some people simply hate change. A lot of people think nothing of the future and others want to live in a romanticized past when everything had its place and things were certain. But that is a narrative and the Tea Party’s ahistorical narrative is now part of the mainstream.

Leave a comment

Filed under Society, Tea party, United States

Dan Hannan: the master of lazy thinking

Yesterday, Hannan wrote a defence of the Tea Party. In it he suggests that the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was perpetrated by a group of ‘patriots’ who were eager to use the occasion of the Tea Act to engage in a little direct action. The truth is that the Tea Act made tea cheaper and it was this act which was about to put tea smugglers out of business.

The immediate catalyst was a tax break—not a tax increase—that effectively made imported tea more affordable for colonists. What irked the patriots was that they had no role in the decision.

Gastronerds says,

Turns out the Sons of Liberty were not protesting the tea tax, they were saving their lucrative tea smuggling operation. See some of the Sons, specifically John Hancock, was illegally importing tea from the Dutch East Indies Company, bypassing British Customs and selling the tea in the 13 original colonies. Sweet eh?

I thought Hannan was some kind of historian. What makes me laugh about Hannan’s blog is his mention of socialist, Tom Paine whom he describes as a “radical”. What he doesn’t mention about the CNN poll he quotes, is that more people think the Tea Party are extreme as compared to those who see either the Republicans or Democrats as extreme. Furthermore, the Boston Tea Party was seen as an embarrassment for many years until relatively recently when it was rehabilitated by the national myth-making machine.

The Tea Party stands for the opposite of all those things. Of course, if you depend wholly on British media reports, you might not realise this. Opponents of the Tea Party have systematically tried to portray it as a far-Right fronde. One Leftist website even encourages its supporters to attend Tea Party events and wave racist placards in front of the cameras. But Americans haven’t fallen for it: the most recent CNN poll shows that the Tea Party and the Democratic Party are seen as equally mainstream (or, if you prefer, equally extreme). Despite all the propaganda, voters view the Tea Party’s principal contention – that taxes are too high – as reasonable.

Another thing that Hannan skilfully avoids are the growing links between the Tea Party and the thugs of the English Defence League. Here, Atlas Shrugs declares,

The EDL is being smeared like the tea party activists in the States. The media is corrupt.

These are the people Mad Dan seeks to defend. I wonder what Hannan has to say about the EDL? Well, oddly enough, he’s rather quiet on that subject. Atlas Shrugs is closely linked to the Tea Party and is responsible for perpetuating lies like this one,

When I started posting about Obama’s religious Muslim background in January of 2007, every epithet was hurled at me from the left and mainstream circles. Islamophobe! Right wing nut! Racist? What race? He is really more Arab American than African American, but the racist charge was for his religion (Islam is a race?). I continued to post through 2007 and 2008 evidence of his Islamic religious birth, his extremist Muslim family and his Islamic schooling. Terrorists supported him. There were the phone banks in Gaza. Oodles of jihad money from a Hamas controlled refugee camp in Gaza. Mosques in the US were preaching for ObamaKhalid Al Mansoursponsored Obama for Harvard. *crickets chirped*

Like Atlas Shrugs, Hannan’s blog is fully of lazy thinking and dubious connections (just like his stablemate, Andrew Gilligan). Here he repeats his nonsensically puerile assertion that the BNP is “left wing”. He links back to one of his earlier blogs in which he moans and whines that “There is nothing Right wing about the BNP except in the BBC sense of baddie”. These aren’t the words of a grown man,  they are the words of a spotty-faced 16 year old boy with smelly feet.

Where to start? The BNP is statist, authoritarian and racist. It might just as well be called far Left as far Right, favouring as it does higher taxes, workers’ co-operatives, protectionism and the nationalisation of industry

For someone with a classical education, Hannan is a remarkably thick individual. How on earth did he manage to become an MEP in the first place? I have news for you, Dan, the BNP isn’t interested in the rights of worker’s-even if it says that it is. In fact, that is something that your party and the BNP have in common: a hatred for the working class.  He continues to live in denial,

I’m sure the Tea Party has its share of eccentrics and, perhaps, of racists: so do almost all large organisations, including the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties.

Oh, that’s big of you. But oddly enough none of the political parties that he’s mentioned have described the EDL as ‘patriots’. Though the Conservative Party has previous form when it comes to racism and xenophobia (go on, sue me). In fact, for all of Mad Dan’s bluster, he conveniently ignores the most glaring exponents of his party’s racism: Gerald Nabarro, Piers Merchant, Harvey Proctor, John Townend and the Wintertons to name a few.

Last week, Hannan used the deportation of Roma from France to have a dig at the EU (the people who pay him lots of money). He has no sympathy for the Roma, he just interested in making noise…and posting up videos of himself speaking in the Euro Parliament. Not only is Hannan a cheap dissembler; he’s vain as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Government & politics, Tea party, United States

Janet Daley: the Tea Party is misunderstood

I read this blog by American Republican-in-Britain, Janet Daley in yesterday’s Torygraph. She says that “the BBC sets about the American Tea Party Movement as if it were a cross between the Klu Klux Klan and the German neo-fascist brigade”. I am not surprised that Daley is defending the Teabaggers; she’s one of those journos who would defend the indefensible because they are, in her eyes, ‘defending liberty’ (sic). In her blog she regards the Tea Party through the prism of economics. Bad move. I remember how the Ludwig von Mises Institute tried this tack with their revisionist history of the US Civil War. It has the stench of denial about it.

Here, she presumes us to be thick because we are reading this on the other side of the Atlantic, but the fact remains that the Tea Party or teabaggers are overwhelmingly white.

Note to BBC editors: the movement is named after the Boston Tea Party because it is protesting about the imposition of higher federal taxes and over-weening controls on citizens who believe their voices have been ignored

This would be the same ‘Tea Party’ that was organized by the wealthy merchants of Boston? Of course. Daley would quite happily accuse her opponents of myth-concoction but there are no bigger myths than those that are articulated around  the Boston Tea Party.

The reason why we see the Teabaggers the way we do has nothing to do with their claims of liberty but because they claim that the English Defence League are ‘patriots’.  They also hold up racist placards and shout racist abuse.  The Tea Party has also attracted a sizeable number of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

As Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) walked to the Capitol, the teabagger crowd repeatedly called him a “nigger”. Lewis (pictured) is a veteran and hero of the civil rights movement in this country, having put his life on the line for his fellow citizens and to make this country a better place. He does not deserve this kind of treatment [and this atrocious behavior was witnessed and verified by his fellow congressman -- Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana)].

Then Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) received even worse treatment. He was not only called “nigger” repeatedly, but the crowd also spit on him. Frankly I wouldn’t spit on my worst enemy. It’s not only disgusting behavior, but it says more about the boorish and reprehensible nature of the spitter than it is an insult to the person spat upon.

The Tea Party are also anti-gay (is there anything they’re not ‘anti’?),

Protesters also hurled anti-gay comments at Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, who is openly gay, as he left the same health care meeting that Lewis attended in a House office building.

A CNN producer overheard the word “faggot” yelled at Frank several times in the lobby of the Longworth building. Frank said he heard someone yell “homo” at him.

Daley is unsurprisingly silent on these matters. So Janet, this has nothing to do with alleged BBC ‘bias’. The Tea Party do these things to themselves. As Mark Williams of Tea Party Express demonstrates,

“We are dealing with people who are professional race-baiters who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader, ever. It’s time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong along with all the other vile, racist groups that emerged in our history.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Here’s an excerpt from a ‘satirical’ piece that he wrote,

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.

I have tried and tried but I cannot find a single trace of irony here. Maybe Janet could help me out? On second thought, maybe not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The ugly face of patriotism

Dr Johnson once famously remarked that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. I would also add that it’s the last refuge of the terminally ignorant, the backward and the educationally-deprived. So it is with the English Defence League, whose brand of knee-jerk street politics holds an appeal to the football crews and pub thugs who make up the movement. In March of this year, they declared war on trade unions, communists, socialists, anarchists and anyone who stands to the left of them or who doesn’t agree with their idea of Englishness.

This is from their website:

The EDL know that unions have a part to play to protect workers’ rights, to ensure that employees are treated fairly in the workplace. However it would seem that these unions have become more powerful, more influential and more militant in the political sphere, this is where vested interests infringe upon a democratic political platform, so much so that democracy seems to be ebbing away right before our eyes and its replacement………COMMUNISM!!!!

http://www.englishdefenceleague.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=181:labour-partys-affiliation-to-union-criminality&catid=42:feature-stories

It would appear that they swallowed the BNP line on trade unions that don’t follow the lead of Harrington’s Solidarity Union.

What is even more indicative of their ignorance is this breathtaking statement.

Great Britain doesn’t do Communism, it never has, yet Communists are afforded more influence and more power as the Labour party look to fund its upcoming election campaign. This is a sad reflection of the corrupt political climate we live in here in the UK.

A couple of things here:   two communist MPs were returned in the 1930’s and one was returned in the 1946 General Election.  But these are men who are totally ignorant of their own history and political system; and given their ignorance of all matters political and social, it is not surprising to see them conflate Labour with ‘reds-under-the-bed’ style communism that was typified by films like Big Jim McLain (1952) which starred John Wayne in the eponymous role.

Perhaps what is more interesting is the way in which these young working class men are seeking to undermine their own class by attacking the unions. New Labour let a lot of people down: they didn’t repeal Thatcher’s anti-union legislation and they failed to build more council homes. Instead, people were urged to buy their own homes and to forget about agitating for better pay and working conditions and just ‘get on with it’.

It is easy for the extreme-right to tap into such ignorance; they can come along and inject certain discourses into the movement and this sudden appearance of anti-working class language is indicative of the influence of the BNP and others.

Gramsci argued that the subaltern classes needed to be educated in order to challenge the dominant class for power. On the basis of the ignorant language of EDL, this cannot come too soon.

According to this blog, the Teabaggers in the US have reached out to the EDL.

There are, though, a couple of other factors:  It’s clear that the EDL would rather people support parties such as UKIP or the English Democrats over mainstream parties, and Labour’s association with the Unite union is a topical knocking-point. Perhaps we are also seeing the importing of rhetoric from the USA, where the crudest 1950s-style anti-Communist posturing has enjoyed a renewed lease of life over the past year or so. I recently noted Pamela Geller’s reference to Obama as the “mad Commie clown”, and this kind of thing is now commonplace among the “teabaggers” – Geller has written posts commending the EDL to American conservatives, and the EDL in turn has directed traffic to her site.

http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/english-teabaggers-the-edl-vs-communism/

Now there’s a scary thought: a transatlantic coalition of the perpetually thick.

Leave a comment

Filed under Society & culture