Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Absolute Brilliance Meets Teh Absolute Crazy


If you know the English poet James Fenton at all, it's probably from his brilliant writing for the New York Review of Books. Something tells me my favorite teabagger, the Sarah Palin of The South, Katherine Jenerette isn't a Fenton fan. Fair enough; I doubt he'd groove on her either. Writing Friday on the teabaggers for the London Evening Standard, Fenton reminded me of something I got from Katherine this morning. (This is James, not Kath:)
April 15 is Tax Day in the US, the day on or by which all federal and state income tax returns have to be filed. Income tax itself was first introduced in America in 1861, to help finance the Civil War, so you could imagine that people who still, to this day, resent the outcome of the Civil War probably deplore income tax and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) itself.

How could that not make me think of Katherine? As you may know, she's the teabagger candidate in the Republican primary for South Carolina's open First District, most of the state's lovely coast other than Beaufort County. And now it's her turn, having just returned from the teabaggy anti-tax protest in Charleston:
I intend to introduce legislation to repeal the 16th Amendment that started the Federal Income Tax in 1913. Somehow, our country managed to survive without a personal income tax for 137 years.

Oh, there's more... she also wants to repeal healthcare reform, of course, and the 17th Amendment (which allows voters, rather than state legislatures and governors, to pick senators)... and, she wants to do something to or with Nancy Pelosi in an elevator. I e-mailed and asked her to explain but she hasn't gotten back to me yet. But watch:

Is it any wonder that sane folks around the world are scratching their heads and asking people like James Fenton to explain to them just what the hell is happening over there (here)? He happens to be doing a spectacular job of it as well-- as well as the only person I know of, aside from yours truly, who insists on always referring to them as teabaggers.
So it is that this year and last year, Tax Day was the chosen date for nationwide political rallies by the Tea Party, the loose grouping of local movements currently dragging the Republicans in the direction of relative insanity. The essence of Tea Party belief, as it has grown up during the Obama presidency, is extreme fiscal conservatism.

The teabaggers were outraged at the size of the stimulus package with which Barack Obama (at least so his supporters believe) saved the economy from yet further recession. That's what gets them going, or so they say.

Others believe that teabaggers are a bunch of disaffected whites who can't get used to the feeling that nobody is deferring to them, as whites, any more. When they exclaim that they are not being listened to, what they mean is that there's a black chap in the White House and they don't like it. They don't like the way Obama seems to be more interested in helping poor blacks than giving aid to the middle class. They don't like immigration. And they don't like the US Federal Reserve, which they think is unconstitutional and in the hands of a small number of families.

Here's a surprising statistic from Fox News: more Americans have a favourable opinion of the IRS (49 per cent) than of the Tea Party movement (36 per cent). Indeed, more people, according to this poll, have a favourable opinion of Obama (50 per cent) than they do of the IRS or the Tea Party.

Still, 36 per cent would be a worrying level of support for a group whose members do not seem shy of saying that they believe Obama is a Muslim and pushing the country in the direction of Islam and socialism. In fact, the percentage of voters who describe themselves as part of the Tea Party movement is lower than this: 18 per cent, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

According to the earlier poll, 55 per cent of the Tea Party supporters are women, 88 per cent are white and 74 per cent are Republican. They belong to the middle class. They are not necessarily directly affected by unemployment but the majority in yesterday's poll expressed concern that someone in their household would be out of a job next year.

The Tea Party gets its name, and spurious kudos, from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, a pre-revolutionary tax revolt against British authority. On Wednesday this week Sarah Palin, who gave up being Governor of Alaska in order to make money on the circuit, and is said to have taken around $12 million in publishing and speaker's fees, turned up in Boston for a teabaggers' rally.

...In many Tea Party rantings, what comes across is a sense of national distress, a fear that the nation may have lost its greatness, leading to a highly emotional individual response which gives political meetings a confessional, quasi-religious tone.

And this kind of national self-pity seems to turn to leaders perceived as uncontaminated with Washington politics: rabble-rousers, paranoiacs, conspiracy-peddlers. It's a potentially dangerous mix-- although, it must be said, none of the elements are new to the American scene.

I would love to introduce James and Katherine.

Labels: , ,


At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Jacqrat said...

Great Video. They got "a boatload" of something, for sure.

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous Ida Jurie said...

Whoa. Someone needs a lot of therapy! Someone needs help before it's too late.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA She is a hoot! I'd vote for her her so we could watch her on c-Span. Bet she would clean some clocks, starting with her own party! HoAh LOL

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about spitting out the gum when you're giving a speech! For cryin out loud!

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Clarification...the current "Tea Party" gets it's name from an acronym.


The spurious argument that we want to pay no taxes and therefor should give up our medicare etc is a strawman at best. Just saying.

As for what this chick wants to do with Pelosi in an elevator, who cares. I still want to know what Nancy wanted to do with my state beside bankrupt it.


Post a Comment

<< Home