Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#224 Tea Baggers II--Mad Hatters

Yeah, they're nuts. And justifiably subject to ridicule, especially when the off-color connotations of "tea-bagging" became known to everybody but apparently themselves. Pundits on the left turned punsters quickly enough, making fun of TB slogans like "Lick the Liberals" and , of course, their incredibly-named leader, former congressman Dick Armey. Irony overdose. And visual puns too: look at this typical Bagger with tea-sack dangling from his "cocked" tri-corner hat. Even Rachel Maddow missed that little treasure trove of paronomastic fun.

My favorite is Bill Maher's quip of some months ago (can't locate exactage) that went something like this: "The Tea Baggers have taken something meant to be loving and beautiful [the oral-genital thing] and turned it into something ugly and hateful." As their pseudo-Libertarian darling Rand Paul proved with his Jim Crow remarks last week.

Point is ... you can throw all of the Tea Bag outrage "into a cock'd hat." And it would still be devoid of content. The original thought no doubt was to compare the Boston Tea Party protests of 1773 against the Tea Act, which imposed import duties/taxes that the colonists opposed. But since they were unrepresented in the British parliament, they had nothing to do with it's imposition, nor did they have the means, other than strenuous petition and boycott, to repeal it. Taxation without representation, and all that. The historical analogy is nothing more than mad-hattery around a crazy tea-table of empty cup-rattlers. (Whew.)

We're verging on almost geologic time here, I know, but for well over a hundred years the colonists had been PAYING various and sundry TAXES voted on and imposed by duly elected LOCAL and independent representatives of the separate colonies. The British were actually very enlightened imperialists in this respect. And 99% of "Americans" before the 1760s were proud to be called "Englishmen" because of it. (Incidentally--can't resist--the legendary call-to-arms for Lexington and Concord, "The British are coming!" ... "The British are coming!" would not have made sense. Everybody was British. More likely the word, if any, was "Regulars" or "Redcoats")

Here are the important differences. First of all, and most obviously: the Tea Baggers ARE REPRESENTED. Local and federal taxes are imposed by their/our elected officials. Duh. But the original Tea Partiers decidedly WEREN'T represented when it came to Parliament, and had no say-so nohow about any of those additional taxes/duties voted upon way across the pond and executed by His Majesty's gub'mint. Except in the that one fulminatory case, ALL of these were repealed during that contentious decade and, to be fair, the rate of taxation was minuscule, especially when compared to what residents of Great Britain had had to pay all along.

The Motherland was heavily in debt, due to the long war with Napoleonic France, some 0f which was fought on American soil. Just ask Col. G. Washington about that. Somebody had to pay for this expensive overseas war, and who better than the Afghans--sorry, colonial Americans--whom the British had been protecting from those nasty French and Indians. (Feel free to substitute Taliban. We never learn.)

But King George et alia decided finally to make a stand at the Tea Act. Big mistake. And the rest is history. (more)

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