Category Archives: Tea Party

The American Right: A Case Study in Lunacy

You might remember back in January the political controversy that raged in the wake of the gun attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at an open air constituency clinic outside a shopping mall in Tucson. Nineteen people were wounded by a lone gunman, Jared Loughner, six of whom were killed, the youngest a nine-year old girl, and afterwards there was a good deal of talk that he might have been inspired by right-wing, hate-filled hysteria of the sort available, and at that time reaching a new pitch of intensity on Fox News and talk radio.

There was some basis for this thinking. Loughner had made whacky anti-federal government statements of the sort popular in Tea Party and libertarian circles; attacks and threats against Democrats were ratcheting up (Giffords herself had warned in a TV interview of the consequences of such violent rhetoric) and mainstream figures like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Fox’s Glenn Beck had been busy feeding the right-wing’s insatiable appetite for conspiracy theories and addiction to gun violence as the way to confound them.

But the prospect of having to confront the great unacknowledged reality of American life, that one of the two major political traditions in the country was significantly if not largely under the sway of nutballs and psychotics, horrified the mainstream media. After all, having to admit that Grandma might be going a little nutty is one thing but being obliged to concede that insanity is rampant on father’s side of your DNA is an entirely different matter.

But not to worry. Deliverance was on its way and within a few days it arrived in the form of Jared Loughner’s mug shot which clearly showed that the gunman was as mad as a hatter. The sigh of relief from America’s newsrooms was almost audible. Loughner’s violence couldn’t have been political, they sang in chorus, because he was clearly, visibly insane.

Jared Loughner - so crazy he couldn't possibly be right-wing

No doubt about it. The guy was as loopy as they come. But that seemed to me to rather miss the point which is that Loughner was and is no less certifiable than much of the American right-wing. A philosophy that can see ‘death panels’ in proposals to extend health coverage to more people, that is convinced that Barack Obama is a Muslim Marxist, or that Sharia law is about to be imposed nationwide and that Al Qaeda is sending pregnant Muslim woman to America so their offspring can be reared as citizens and ‘sleeper’ human bombs – so-called ‘terror babies’ – is every bit as deranged as someone, like Loughner, who believes that the government uses mind control to brainwash people by controlling grammar.

If more proof for this central, almost defining aspect of Conservative American politics is necessary it can be found by the bucket-load in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s decision to make his long-form birth certificate publicly available earlier this week. The birther phenomenon, the conviction that Obama was born in Kenya, is not a US citizen and therefore ineligible for the White House, is itself evidence of mental instability but the fact that the latest, and most shameless champion of this bit of lunacy, Donald Trump, was riding so high in the opinion polls indicates that political dementia in Conservative America is at epidemic proportions.

(While there can be little doubt that much of the birthers’ bile is fueled by racism and their irritation that an African-American sits in the Oval Office, it is worth bearing in mind that right-wing dementia of this sort first became visible during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Clinton was white and a good ol’ boy from the South, where the anti-Obama lunacy is strongest yet the right-wing leveled charges against Clinton that they have not dared to make against Obama – at least yet. The gravest accusation against Clinton was that he had been responsible for murdering as many as fifty people who might have been about to testify against him or his wife Hillary.)

One symptom of madness is the inability of the lunatic to recognize their own illness and so it is with the birthers. Their refusal to accept the evidence of Obama’s US citizenship, mirrored by the reluctance of mainstream Conservative politicians to bury the issue for once and all, was to be expected but it is only when you actually read what they are now saying that you can properly realise how truly and irredeemably mad these people are and, by extension, how malign are American politics.

Take for example this website, which calls itself “The Patriot Update – A Free Press for the Conservative Revolution”, a Tea party-inclined outfit by the look of it. It starts its coverage of Obama’s birth certificate by saying: “Of course we’d love to put this issue behind us and move onto the important issues facing our nation, but questions still remain.” Of course. And those questions?

Well first there is the fact that the certificate did not reveal the juicy and embarrassing details that followers of “The Patriot Update” expected, like Obama being a Muslim because his father was one, or him being misdescribed as “Caucasian” because his mother was one. The absence of all this is points to dirty work at the White House and an effort to buy time. As “The Patriot Update” put it: “….makes you wonder why this went on so long”.

And what could that reason possibly be? Well of course it was to give Obama the time and opportunity to fabricate the birth certificate. What else could it be? And the evidence? There’s three bits, and here they are:

• Supposedly the original document was in a bound volume (as reflected by the curvature of the left hand side of the certificate), why is the green patterned background of the document’s safety paper seem to be so seamless?

• Why, if Obama was born on August 4, 1961, was the “Date Accepted by Local Reg.” four days later on August 8, 1961?

• The certificate says “African” for Obama’s father’s race when the term used in the 1960’s was “Negro”.

So there you are. No doubt about it, the birth certificate is a fake, Obama is an impostor, and America still faces the threat of ‘death panels’ and a Marxist Muslim plot to impose Sharia law.

Less than 24 hours after “The Patriot Update” posted all this nonsense, no less than 1,064 of its readers had left their comments, enough of them to remove any doubt at all that the only difference between them and Jared Loughner is that he went out and did what they only fantasize about doing. Here are some examples. Read them, remember that people like these nowadays dictate or profoundly shape the policies of America’s second largest political party, and weep.

Len says:

April 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

”We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” Obama said. “We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve.” THIS IS A GRAVE SECURITY ISSUE THAT THIS PRESIDENT AND MANY PEOPLE PLAYED DOWN, THAT WITH THE THREAT OF SHARIA LAW & MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD INFILTRATING POLITICS TO SUBVERT & OVERTHROW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW & GOVERNMENT, IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE HAVE CONSTITUTIONALLY A U.S. NATURAL BORN CITIZEN! What is the matter with us, where is our common sense? Where is the FBI, CIA, our Internal Security to investigate these things?

Obama's 'Kenyan birth certificate'

LD Gray says:

April 28, 2011 at 7:47 am

Is anyone going to prove the Kenyan birth certifate as being a “fake?” The Kenyan birth certificate has an ink impression of his foot – and the President of Kenya said construction of a monument of Obama is underway at Coast Provincial Hospital in Mombasa – where Obama’s Grandmother said she witnessed his birth. His mother was swimming in the ocean when she had cramps and went to Coastal. Check it out on Google: Coastal Providence hospital birthplace of obama -
– that is if Obama hasn’t had the site removed – you can view his Kenyan birth certificate and zoom in by clicking on it.

UncleRickets says:

April 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

The big O cannot be trusted. He says one thing and does another. Proclaims to be a Christian but says nothing of the Resurrection Day (Easter). This birth Certificate is not real. It is a fabrication. He wants to put this silliness behind him because people with resources (Trump) brought it up and he doesn’t want anyone with those resources digging any deeper. When this is all said and done we will have put a Muslim, Kenyan in the highest office of the United States. The reason Congress doesn’t want it to come out is that they would be the laughing stocks of the world. Actions speak louder than words. This president doesn’t act like an American!

JACK3889 says:

April 28, 2011 at 9:18 am


PriklyPete says:

April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

I’ll volunteer and furnish the bullets and guns!

Ron says:

April 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

right on dude

Miss Vi says:

April 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Count me in – my guns are loaded!!

patriot4life says:

April 28, 2011 at 9:05 am


Donna Eyman says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

Obama was born with the name Barry Soroeto, so this is definetely a fake. I am outraged that no one seems to be seeing this obvious play on our emotions. His pattern is totally unConstitutional so when are people going to start doing something about it and quite smiling and agreeing?

just myrtle says:

April 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It makes not the teeniest, weeniest difference what can be proved against this man, he is America’s King of Kings and he will remain just that. He is a liberal radical Muslim and he has a houseful of political radical liberal muslims to keep him where he is. Enough to have him impeached and tried for treason has already been proved and nothing has been done. There is only one thing that I know of that will stop him, “THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR AND THE SON OF GOD”.These radical libersl do not believe in GOD AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST but to all Christians there is no greater truth or power in the world.

Haters Gonna Hate says:

April 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

I know right, for some reason liberal candidates don’t seem to get scrutinized as harshly as their conservative counterparts. I mean when Bush was asked about his war record, he produced TONS of information, no more questions. The liberal a-holes need to go away. I wish we could hand our whole country over to the major US corporations who then could choose our congress and president. I bet they would get it right! And F..k panda bears, they are not American, quit funding the zoos! Zoos are are a major problem in the US, just in my city alone millions are spent on animals that don’t make money for any businesses, just there for amusement. First windmills are stopping the world from turning, now OBAMA is telling me to get a prostate exam, what next? God Bless Dick Cheney.

Mark says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

OK, so he finally released his birth certificate. He’s had over two years to hire someone to forge a document that looks real and even if it is, his eligibility is still in question. According to the Constitution, both parents have to be natural citizens of the U.S. His father was may have been naturalized, but was certainly not born here. This seems to be a point that everyone is missing and that’s why he’s taken so long to release it.

Dixie Lee Eubank says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

I just want to know if Obama think we’re all as stupid as he is. It’s got to be a fake. If not, then why the delay in showing it. Of course, I agree with a lot of the comments. We just need to get that man out of office and try to straighten out all the mess he’s made. His birth certificate is the least of our problems.
Don’t all of those people in Washington realize that all we would have to do, is get rid of Welfare, food stamps and send all the illegas back to were they came from and we would be a rich country. They have just let it get out of hand.

Peter King

As he prepares to open Congressional hearings into the alleged ‘radicalization’ of American Muslims this week, Rep. Peter King has not been having it all his own way – in fact he’s been having a terrible time of it.

His problem is that the US media has finally caught up with his past as a cheerleader for the Provisional IRA back in the 1980’s and 1990’s when he and Noraid were inseparable and when he was on first name terms with and a house guest of many in the IRA’s national and Belfast leaderships.

And they are drawing a-pretty-hard-to-avoid conclusion – which is that with his background and history, the Republican Congressman for Long Island is pushing the definition of the word hypocrisy to new limits by pursuing others for their purported ambivalence towards terrorism.

Two of America’s premier newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times featured substantial pieces that led with and dwelt extensively on King’s past as an uncritical supporter of the IRA and advocate of armed struggle. As effective, and possibly more so, was a biting piece by Jon Stewart on Comedy Channel’s Daily Show. Here’s a link to the segment. Irish viewers will not be able to watch it unless they use a US proxy IP address. There is also this piece on MSNBC, a cable network popular amongst American liberals and progressives.

Also interesting to note is that some in the Irish-American community have protested at King’s plan. Particularly effective was this piece on the Irish Central website by Irish-American writer Brian Dooley who highlights the potential effect of Peter King’s Congressional hearings on the Muslim community in America, noting that the precedent was set amongst the Irish community in Britain during the 1970’s at the height of the IRA’s bombing campaign – which is that they were all wrongly tarred with the IRA brush and suffered terribly for it. What Peter King would have roundly, and rightly in the view of many, condemned in Britain he now threatens to bring to America.

Islamophobia is at a new and scary peak in America, as the video below of a recent Tea Party protest at an Islamic function in California demonstrates, even though the 9/11 attacks happened a decade ago.

The reasons are not hard to fathom. First of all there’s an audience for it. This is a deeply and at time frighteningly racist country and in Muslims, White racists are able to indulge both their hatred for non-Whites and for non-Christians – the same engines that fueled and drove the Klu Klux Klan. The Tea Party is emerging as the leader in that field.

Second, a number of skilled and articulate rabble rousers have discovered that a lucrative living can be made whipping up these fears. Take a look at this recent piece in the New York Times and you’ll see what I mean. There’s now a small industry of hate-mongers who thrive off fear and distrust of Islam. To them Peter King’s hearings mean money in the bank.

Third, there’s a political dividend. Politics in America have, historically, often been characterised by the exploitation of ignorance, bigotry and fear, especially in White middle America – and particularly in that big bit in the middle between the East and West coasts. Blacks, Irish, immigrants, Jews, anarchists, socialists, communists, Russians, Chinese and Mexicans have all been at one time or another the focus of an invariably ill-founded, irrational but powerful phobia. Since 9/11 the Muslims have gone to the top of the list and replaced the Red Tide and the Yellow Peril as the biggest imagined threat facing America.

Invariably it has been the Right, that is the Republican Party, that has cranked this engine and the electoral payoff can be substantial. It is why GOP leaders have refused to condemn those who say that Barack Obama is a Muslim or that he was really born in Kenya and therefore not entitled to be in the White House. It’s ugly stuff but since one in five Americans believe this nonsense, the GOP does nothing to discourage it. And it is why Peter King is holding his hearings. Liberals will denounce him, the media will mock him but he knows that out there in the boondocks they are cheering him on.

Nonetheless, the re-emergence of these old links to the IRA are embarrassing to Peter King and his response has been both utterly predictable and supremely dishonest – he has wrapped the peace process around himself as protection and justification for what he did. This is what he told the Washington Post:

‘ “I [wanted] a peace agreement, a working agreement, where the nationalist community would feel their rights would be respected,” King said in an interview at his Capitol Hill office. “I felt that the IRA, in the context of Irish history, and Sinn Fein were a legitimate force that had to be recognized and you wouldn’t have peace without them. Listen, I think I’m one of the people who brought about peace in Ireland.” ’

The facts, sadly for him, do not support any of this. He first came to Belfast in 1980 just when the first hunger strike, the one led by Brendan Hughes, was reaching a climax and was radicalised by what he saw and experienced. He came back for the second hunger strike and it was then he met the family of Bobby Sands family, in particular his sister Bernadette and her then partner, now husband Micky McKevitt. He would visit them on every trip he made and often stayed in their home in Louth. When he was elected to Congress virtually the first thing he did was to jump on a plane to Ireland to host a celebratory dinner with Bernadette and Micky – and this was all at a time when McKevitt was masterminding the smuggling of Col Gaddafi’s Semtex and AK-47’s from Tripoli. In Belfast, King’s best friends were Anto’ Murray and his wife, the formidable Lucy. McKevitt was the IRA’s QMG and Anto Murray was Belfast Operations Officer.

The point of this story is that King’s closest contacts in the IRA in these years were the military men, people who had never been nor would ever want be in Sinn Fein, activists who would have little truck either with the peace process. King told me himself that he didn’t meet Gerry Adams, the architect of the peace process, until 1984, four years after his love affair with the Provos began.

By the time the process got seriously underway in secret, circa 1987/1988, King had been supporting the IRA for seven or eight years and if his real ambition during these years was to contrive a peace agreement he did a remarkably successful job disguising it. By the time the process became public in 1992, his liaison was a dozen years old. When the US got officially involved, King’s role was fairly minor, ferrying the odd message from Adams to Clinton. In fact he probably gained more than he contributed, as it enabled him to refresh a rather soiled image. As he told me back in 2005: “Gerry Adams made me respectable.” I’m afraid Peter King’s re-writing of his own history just doesn’t wash.

Nonetheless, his hearings will go ahead amid fears that they could whip up a McCarthyite-style hysteria against American Muslims. There is one group of people whose silence during all of this build up has been pronounced. Peter King owes the Provos a lot; in fact it is no exaggeration to say that his political career would have been stillborn and he wouldn’t now be a Congressman, much less the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security without their support back in 1985 when he was chosen to lead the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York city, an event that gave him sufficient profile for higher office.

Peter King with friends in Belfast. So far Gerry Adams has stayed silent on his planned Congressional hearings on Muslim extremism

If they were to speak out their words would have an effect. But so far they have stayed silent. Until they break that silence we can only believe that Peter King’s plans cause them no problems even if their former ally helps to foment a campaign of hate against American Muslims every bit as toxic and harmful as that which engulfed the Irish in Britain some thirty years ago.