Monday, March 16, 2009

"Tea Party" protestors are partisan hacks. Period.

Apparently, I'm supposed to be impressed that 4,000 people showed up in Cincinnati for the area's "Tea Party" protest. I'm not. That's about how many showed up regularly for McCain/Palin events in the fall, which isn't surprising since it's the same people in both crowds.

There's nothing grandiose about these protests. The whole reference to the "Boston Tea Party" is nothing more than to take a partisan, ideological whine and hide it in the American flag. As a historical analogy, there is nothing similiar to these protests and the actual Boston Tea Party. The fact that they seem to have Republicans speakers lined up like former Congressman/rumored '10 Congressional candidate Steve Chabot (who also voted for TARP and every Bush budget), Jean Schmidt and John Boehner at the ready all suggests that this is nothing more than ideological whining from a group threatened with political extinction.

The Boston Tea Party was a protest by the willful destruction of crates of tea that were subject to new taxes enacted by the British Parliament to raise revenues to pay for debts England incurred in defending the British colonies during the French-American wars. Since the American colonists were the biggest benefactors of that war, the English reasoned that America should be the primary payer of the war debt.

The taxes and scope of the taxes occurred at a time when the Crown was also trying to scale back the quasi-automony that the early colonial governments had developed as well. The tea tax, in part, was also enacted to promote the use of tea shipped by the British East India Tea Company over its foreign rivals. So, there was a monopolistic, protectionist angle as well.

Because English political thought at the time didn't conceptualize that a MP from London wasn't any less able to represent the views of the colonial lords than an MP from Richmond (at the time, there was still nothing "common" about the House of Commons, parliamentary elections were only decided by the white, landed gentry class), the English missed seeing that to the colonists, the depowering of the colonial governments and the lack of representation tied to the colonies themselves (the gentleman class of colonists were still viewed to be representated by the terrorities in England where they haled) lead to a widespread feeling that the colonists had all the liabilities of being a citizen with none of the civil liberties that came with it. So they revolted. The goal of the Tea Party was to foster a growing boycott of all the goods being taxed. It was marginally successful.

What does that have to do with TARP and the stimulus package? Not a damn thing.

But that didn't stop Screamin' Mean Jean Schmidt and John "I'm a man of the people because I've played on a public golf course before" Boehner from joining in the 4,000 "tea protestors" in decrying government spending (the Enquirer notes that the turn out was several thousand below expectation. Most of the camera shots and interviews suggests that many of the protestors were nothing more than young children dragged to an event that they have no understanding about.)

Now, from everything I can gather in the press coverage in these tea events, the general messages is opposition to government bailout of the banks. The protestors, in particular, say they'd prefer that the government let these banks fail rather than "rewarding" them with taxpayer money raised from people that did nothing wrong. Even John Boehner seems to understand this:

Except, of course, both John Boehner and Jean Schmidt voted FOR the TARP bailout package. The stimulus package is not a government bailout; TARP is. That means to the extent that these Tea Parties are protesting government bailouts, then they're protesting Jean Schmidt and John Boehner's votes in Congress!

Not since Maria Antoinette offer desserts to starving rioters in Paris has a political figure been so disconnected from the political message of a crowd it tried to embrace. Antionette offered dessert; the crowd took her head instead. History is silent as to the fate of the royal pastries themselves.

If tax cuts coupled with massive government spending on infrastructure and energy projects is socialism, then Barack Obama is Adam Smith compared to what Boehner and Schmidt supported during the Bush years. And if using taxpayer dollars to bail out failing banks and the financial sector is communism, then John Boehner's next column should be in Pravada, not the Wall Street Journal.

If this crowd is upset about AIG executives obscene bonuses while getting a bailout, then someone should warn John Boehner and Jean Schmidt that the money for those bonuses came from the TARP bill they supported, not the stimulus package they opposed.

But tosses a few teabags is a meaningless sacrifice (the real Tea Party dumped an estimated 90,000 pounds of the stuff.) If the Tea Party protestors really want to boycott government spending because of concerns about the growing federal debt, then the stimulus bill gives them an opportunity to do something about it. Simply mail your federal and state tax refunds to the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Public Debt:
Attn Dept G; Bureau Of the Public Debt; P. O. Box 2188;Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

Then you can say you've done your part to reduce the debt, now Congress should do the same! Or heck, just calculate how much of the tax cut you're getting from the stimulus package, and just send that in. I know Congressman Strickland used to send in all of his Congressional raises to the Bureau of Public Debit. I think he even did that with the Bush tax cuts.

So do what our Founding Fathers did. If 1770s tea is equivalent to 2009 Obama tax cuts, then boycott the tax cuts, I say! Put your money where your mouth is!

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