Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Palin-Bachmann in 2012: bring 'em on

After President Obama’s State of the Union speech, CNN came under fire from some commentators for not just airing the official Republican response by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, but the “official” Tea Party” response given by Minnesota’s lunatic congressperson Michele Bachmann. Bachmann has been spouting the same simplistic nonsense well before there was a “Tea Party” movement, which only tells us that “Tea Party” right-wing extremism is as old as the hills these billies came down from. From what we saw from congressional Republicans these past two years, there is essentially no difference between “mainstream” Republicans and Tea Party Republicans; what difference there is seems to be that the latter have not sense enough to keep their silly mouths shut. Obama’s speech was of course subject to the latest media gimmick, the “factcheck”—which seems to have only been in use for the past year, and certainly seemed absent when George Bush was starting his Mideast adventures and judging the effect of his massive tax cuts; the use of this device seems easier to aim at people who are actually trying to put forth policies to fix the economy (Democrats) rather than those who are not offering anything of substance (Republicans). It would be interesting to see the media “factcheck” doing nothing, but that would require some work on their part, instead of relying on “facts” given to them by right-wing think tanks.

Anyways, the real reason why CNN deserves censure for airing Bachmann’s “response” is that she is for all intents and purposes an intolerant bigot who has little grip on reality. A few days ago she gave a speech in Iowa (not, of course, to test the waters for a potential presidential run against the “inadequate black man”) in which she spouted the usual simple-minded anti-tax propaganda and the budget deficit—which is a direct result of Bush’s tax policies and lack of regulatory restraint which failed to allow sufficient cushion to get the country out of its deepest recession since the Great Depression. And it isn’t just a federal problem. In the past two years for the first time in recent history, state government response to pain caused by the recession did not include increased spending, because of sharp revenue falls; instead, massive cuts that have going on for years before the recession are the order of the day—and states have become more dependent on federal assistance. Texas, for example, faces a shocking 25 percent short fall in revenues in the next two years because of its anti-tax policies; Molly Ivins called her state “ low-tax, low-service”—meaning that Texas depends on federal government assistant more than any other state to cover its own shortfalls, especially in health care.

But that’s all just more of the usual hypocrisy. While people are holding signs accusing Obama’s health care plan as creating “white slavery,” Bachmann was telling historical tales according to the right-wing, history-denying Texas Board of Education textbook:

"It didn't matter the color of their (immigrants) skin. It didn't matter their language. It didn't matter their economic status. It didn't matter whether they descended from nobility or whether they have a higher class or lower class. It made no difference. Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn't that remarkable?"

Tell that to Irish Catholics subjected to Know-Nothing Party paranoia, the Chinese subjected to “colored” laws in California, and the stereotypes and prejudices Latino immigrants have endured through-out this country’s history; try to tell them that being “brown” makes no “difference” the way you are treated in this country. It also “mattered” when this country first enacted the immigration quota law in 1924, to keep “illiterate,” “imbecilic” and “criminal” Eastern and Mediterranean Europeans from immigrating in large numbers.

Blacks, of course, were mainly involuntary immigrants, but what does that matter to a historically-illiterate congresswoman and her Tea Party audience? Bachmann went to say that the founding fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery, which, of course, ignores the fact that all the founding fathers were dead long before the Civil War; while many of the founding fathers did not like slavery, they never countenanced the idea of actually ending it—in fact it was written right into the Constitution to appease Southern slave-holders. Maybe John Quincy Adams didn’t like slavery, but that didn’t mean he opposed the “peculiar institution” wholesale; he didn’t want it expanding outward. Bachmann, like Sarah Palin, also seems to have similar problems with identifying who a “founding father” is; George Washington was not technically a part of the group that established the governing principles of the country, nor was Adams—although his father, John Adams, was.

Was Bachmann engaging in a sad effort to portray herself and the Tea Party movement as something other than intolerant bigots, especially in the wake of the Tucson massacre? If so, telling blatant feel-good falsehoods designed to obscure the history of discrimination in this country that has not really left us will only fool those who wish to be. Bachmann was subsequently the subject of much harsh criticism on MSNBC, but also by Anderson Cooper over on CNN; Cooper said that on CNN, “facts matter.” Like, since when? I’ll give Cooper some credit for taking on some real right-wing flakes on his show, but for his network in general, not a bit.

I found a recent study by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality about the content of Tea Party websites and their top-heaviness in non-race neutral subjects to be particularly useful in understanding the Tea Party “phenomenon.” For example, subjects dealing with “patriotism/take the country back”—code for white intolerance—is 10 percent of the content; attacks against the alleged “socialist” bogeyman—i.e. the “leveler” of society—is 23 percent of content. Personal attacks on Obama is 8 percent of content, attacks on immigrants is 6 percent, while overt racist commentary is 4 percent of content. Attacks on the media registered at 15 percent, and big government/states’ rights commentary came in with 14 percent. Interestingly, foreign policy issues register a meager 2 percent.

The “mainstream” conservative National Review’s content was examined, and 75 percent of its subject matter dealt in foreign policy, national security and governing issues. However, the content of Glenn Beck’s ranting was closer to the Tea Party’s—although his election year rants were heavier on “big government” and foreign policy than the Tea Party’s. The study also revealed the obvious: Tea Partiers were much more likely to believe that we have gone “too far” in trying to achieve racial equality and equal opportunity; in fact, only 31 percent of Tea Partiers who were part of the study thought that if everyone was treated equally, we’d have fewer problems in this country. Interestingly, only 37 percent of Tea Partiers, and 63 percent of all whites, thought that Obama was “intelligent.” The study also found that half of whites across the ideological spectrum—not just Tea Partiers—gave similarly middling marks to blacks and Latinos on such topics as intelligence, work ethic and “trustworthiness.” Interestingly, Tea Partiers were less to apt to be approving of their fellow whites than the whites as a whole, although we can assume this reflects their belief in the number of minorities, liberals and “socialists” in the country.

I must admit that given all this Tea Party hype, is there a chance that we'll see a Palin-Bachmann presidential ticket in 2012? Sure it's like having a root canal without anesthetic, but being a Democrat I kinda like the sound of it come 2012.

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