Tea Party, Racism, Corruption: Steeping to the Bad Side

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By Elizabeth Burke
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report

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This week, we saw firsthand the fractious divide that is growing within the Tea Party movement. Under the generic “Tea Party” umbrella, there are actually many groups across the nation calling themselves Tea Partiers (I guess they finally figured out what Tea Bagger means). Problem is, there is still no unifying organization, no clear leader — I look forward to ex-governor Sarah “Refudiator” Palin and Rep. Michelle “Gangsta Government” Bachmann slogging it out for that role — and, worse, no clear message.

Two of the largest factions are the Tea Party Express and the National Tea Party Federation. Most recently, Mark Williams was booted from the Express train for writing a fictitious letter by a slave to President Lincoln extolling the benefits of slavery. His “letter” included this witty observation:

“We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!”

Williams’ wry racism (and cowardice — he has taken the letter of his blog) gave Bachmann the perfect opportunity to jump before a camera and create a new sect — the Tea Party Caucus. Boy does this Party love its parties! According to Bachmann, the “caucus” is little more than a big ear a-listening instrument by which Tea Partiers can clarify what the Tea Party isn’t. Please read that sentence twice.

Actually, don’t bother. Here’s a quote from Katrina Pierson, a member of the Dallas Tea Party:

“Racism is not a Tea Party principle nor is it in any bylaws. Racism is not the fight of the Tea Party. If black leaders want to come together in this country and put it on the table, then we can discuss that. As of today, please understand that racism is not an issue of the Tea Party, nor will it ever be.”

Well, I’m glad she cleared that up.

My other favorite is Keli Carender, a Seattle Tea Partier who is angry because Bo, the First Dog, supposedly has his own private jet:

“…I am done with mentality of this current Congressional leadership which to me appears to be extremely arrogant and some sort of aristocracy than the republic that we should be and the republic that we are. I’m tired of these double standards, that we’re not supposed to fly places but the presidential dog gets his own jet to go somewhere. I’m tired that we’re being lectured on things and how to live our lives but somehow this elitist class above us gets to do whatever they want to do.”

Um, Keli, someone might want you to tell this to the airlines so they’ll stop selling tickets. Thanks.

Who Feels Like Working, Oprah’s On!
Also this week, the Senate finally voted to extend unemployment benefits to those who are desperate to work but unable to find a job. Sadly, the jobs issue is the albatross — a better word is anvil — around President Obama’s neck, what with approximately 10 applicants for every spot available. Worse for the president, many of the unemployed would take jobs below their experience level or ability but can’t get hired because prospective employers believe they will leave as soon as a better job comes along. The unemployed should be so lucky!

This isn’t the same as asserting, however, that the unemployed don’t want to get off the government checkbook, don’t want to support their families, don’t want to pay their bills, don’t want to feel useful and don’t want to control their lives again — as Republicans, as part of their obstructionist strategy, believe, to their unpatriotic, everlasting shame.

While Republicans continue spinning the fantasy that the unemployed lounge in luxurious homes, watch daytime TV and live the life of Riley, complete with bonbons, back in reality, we’ve have all heard the stories of people sending out thousands of resumes with no response. Fortunately, many companies are starting to hire again — there is, at last, a dim light at the end of this very dark corridor.

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But never mind that, especially when Republicans can play politics with people’s lives. Republicans like Rep. John Linder of Georgia, for example, who recently suggested that extending unemployment benefits keep people from looking for work. “And even when businesses are willing to hire,” he fumed, “nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some.” Sure, Rep. Linder, for in many states unemployment is the golden goose! States like New York, where you’re entitled to a maximum of $405! States like Arizona, where the highest weekly benefit is $205 before taxes! It’s a veritable windfall!

Another Republican promoting the lazy-jobless philosophy is Tom Corbett, the GOP’s sterling candidate for Pennsylvania governor (he’s attorney general there). He told radio reporter Scott Detrow last week that extended unemployment benefits discourage the jobless from finding work. “The jobs are there,” he claimed, “but if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there. I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until — they say, ‘We’ll come back when unemployment runs out.'” Damn straight, Tom! I mean, I’m getting $583 a week (the maximum in Pennsylvania before taxes) you betcha that’ll be enough to feed, clothe and house my family, pay my car note, pay my auto, home and medical insurance, and, well, I guess I better hope nothing else comes due! No job could possibly pay better than that!

I get that the GOP wants to address the budget deficit. But their credibility is nil. It isn’t as if they cared this much when Bush was spending every last dime like a drunk in Vegas with someone else’s money. If it’s the GOP spending every last cent, that’s fine? I just want to make sure I have the rules down.

Who Paid for the Food, Pedro?
Speaking of crooks and blowhards, let’s check in on our favorite corrupt, thieving New York state senator, Pedro Espada, Jr. Now that petitioning for his seat is completed, the race is really heating up. We all remember the senator’s, um, “record,”, right? We all remember how the state, the FBI and the federal government are piling up charges and investigations. This video says it all.

Meanwhile, where did all those signatures for Espada’s campaign come from? Anyone check them against the patient and employment records of the Soundview Clinic? I would.

And since New Yorkers for Espada actually filed its campaign finances on time (for the first time), it’s interesting to note that while his campaign asserts spending $41.17 at Key Food, this video clearly shows that it spent more than that. Unless Staples started selling fresh fruits and veggies, who paid for the food? And who paid for the van used to cart the food around? And who paid the driver and the guy handing out the food and who paid for the paper, the envelopes and the stamps used to promote this event? And who paid for the phones in Espada’s office to field questions about the giveaway? And who paid for the staff answering the phone? Even if the staff volunteered their time, the van, the gas and the food would all be deemed “value in-kind” and must be reported in Schedule A of the financial disclosure report.

Not only is Espada’s time running out, his desperation shows like a virgin’s sweat stains on her wedding night.

Which means things couldn’t look better for Espada’s chief rival, Gustavo Rivera. While current state senator beats his chest, claiming “God” is on his side, Rivera has been quietly and steadily gaining support, finances and endorsements — most recently the Working Family Party, Riverdale’s Ben Franklin Club and Oliver Koppell, a three-term New York City Council member and a former New York attorney general. I always believe in educating yourself about candidates, so here’s the link to Rivera’s website. (Full disclosure: I have recently done some field work for Rivera’s campaign.)

With the departure of Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, the only other Espada challenger worth noting, Rivera is poised to win, putting New York one step closer to restoring respect, civility and party unity to the legislature in Albany. That’s a lot more exciting to me than Tea Party “patriots” who are intellectually half in the bag.

Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.

  • Tami Burke

    Um, Lizzie, “teabagger” isn’t an insult….being a ‘tea-baggee’ would be. “Heck yeah, call me a teabagger if that’s what y’all want”, as I actually heard on a radio phone-show, is a way of telling the opposition “eat my shorts”. The opposition is the tea cup, or shorts eater.

  • The author should have done more research before posting her article. The Tea Party Express is a PAC, not a tea party. Their PAC, Our Country Deserves Better, was formed long before the tea party existed. When the tea party began getting traction, OCDB changed the name to Tea Party Express to capitalize monetarily. They make money off the tea party name. Just like other groups like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and other groups.

    The Tea Party Federation is not one of the largest groups in the tea party movement as stated in the article. They have only 61 affiliate groups. In contrast, the Tea Party Patriots is a national umbrella groups with 2,400 member tea party groups.

    The real tea parties are local, grass-roots groups of people who work their regular job while giving their time to fight for tea party principles. Katrina Pierson was right in concept but she used the wrong words. She should have said “race” is not of the tea party principles. It’s not. The tea party welcomes all. In fact, the Dallas Tea Party principles (of which Katrina sits on the steering committee) are:

    1. Limited Government
    2. The Rule of Law
    3. Fiscal responsibility
    4. Personal responsibility
    5. National sovereignty

    Ms. Burke’s article was sloppy and snarky. Just what we’ve come to expect from leftists.

    Angry White Dude

  • You should be angry, where was all this financial and moral outrage when Bush and Congress was spending every last cent until we were broke? Limited Government, sure, then go ahead and give up your social security, any medicare or VA benefits when you come of age, oh and that should make you pro-choice, you know, keep the government out of our private lives? I find the Tea People very hypocritical and disingenuous. When they start calling out the 8 years of uncontrolled spending, Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and true limited government (which is what exactly) I’ll have more respect. Please, the timing of your anger is suspect. Stay angry if you choose, I will be happy and excited and relieved.

  • Jon

    I think it broad brushes any group to apply the fringey intolerance of some members to the group and certain factions of the tea party movement have done what they can to disavow racism.

    That being said, I do not believe that most tea partiers have sincerely held views on all 5 points made by Angry White Dude which would withstand scrutiny. Most of them just want to protest, and to be in opposition, and limited government, rule of law, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility and national sovereignty were not even a twinkle in their eyes five or ten years ago. When these principles might have helped us.

    Now they’re just a bunch of grouchy people with lawn chairs and error-prone signage, with a few intolerant members amongst their number. Mostly, the tea party ideas are irresponsible, insidious, and politically motivated, draped in vague and bland ideology.

    But it’s not fair to call the movement itself racist as if they have a monopoly on that sort of thing. They don’t.

  • Tami Burke

    There was plenty of outrage during the Bush years…and there’s been ‘Boston Tea Party’ talk wherever and whenever people have gotten tired of being taxed again, and again… liqour, cigarettes, table dances (yes, tax those table dances, smalltown NY’s running out of $) gas, the bailouts…. there were local “tea party protests” BEFORE the last presidential election in NY and Va, and I doubt they were alone. The camel’s back was broken, and eventually the cries of pain caught the ears of the media, the eyes of opportunistic politicians and wannabes, and “official” Tea Parties were born. Do you really think that the current administration is just so wonderful that the only reason for opposition is because of the President’s skin color? Puhlease. It had nothing to do with how I cast MY ballot. My white trash redneck relatives who ARE racist would’ve voted for him…and may have…for the now dead Public Option, first time home-buyer credits, cash for clunkers, etc…

  • “Joe Citizen”

    I have no party tied or loyalties as I think they are all shysters , all greed driven, backed, controlled. When our country was founded it was the intend of my forefathers that the average citizen hold office, not the elite, nor the puppets of multibillion dollar corporations etc.
    There is so much happening with out representation of the actual average citizens it is a shame, and an actual tea party is be way over-do. I once went to some of their sites and said I supported what I perceived to be their cause, to restore these intentions in a peaceful matter. However, I have since seen noting but headline grabbing ham acts like other so called political parties, which I believe are basically all self serving.I once respected some members of both parties, but have since woken up.I think no campaign contributions what so ever ( with prison terms for any work arounds )would fix a lot, limit it to televised debates , posts, and news. Even the fairest minded acts according to their own sense of obligation some what, and there is no avoiding it when people pay millions to get them elected.
    I would like to say, that although I see this article as basically supportive of the Democratic party ( I am purposely not calling them all actual democrats, since to me , that is not what I see) in opposition to it’s enemies, I do find it less full of it than most public media articles I have seen, and do think, regardless of party, it was written with some underlying actual care for our country. Despite my seeing it as agenda driven and misguided,the points are valid, the “Tea Party” is not what it pretends to be , in my view, it is just the proverbial third wheel in a dysfunctional relationship, serving only to perpetuate even more of the same problems that have arrived us to this wonderful place. I do appreciate seeing that someone actually realizes that many of us unemployed who have worked hard all our lives , can not get lesser jobs because we are seen as overqualified and bad risks. I appreciate this article, and I thank you.
    I would like to add that these irresponsible and apathetic people who say we do not want to work are only adding to the general dissent in the country, and perpetuating even more hiring bias for the long term unemployed.This proves even less a sense of responsibility than I had previous reckoned. There are also many more issues involved such as those needing medical accommodation to work, etc , etc.,
    Basically, it is, time we all learn to look at all sides of all issues, including unemployment,objectively, if not, perhaps we should go back to preschool ,or the like, to learn how to behave like civilized human beings. All of this bickering is helping no one, and getting us nowhere good.