Celestial Map c1708

Celestial Map c1708  by Andres Celarius.

The map is based on the Ptolemaic model of the universe with planetary bodies  in eccentric and epicyclical orbits. This model was named after the ancient Greek Claudius Ptolemy. While this model of the universe was popular for centuries there were detractors such as Aristarchus of Samos(310 BC – ca. 230 BC) who argued for a  helicentric universe with the sun at the center. Ideas and science theories were not critically peer reviewed as they are today and some science like the Ptolematic model  were adopted because of religious and political pressures. In 1708 map making itself was considered something of a science and maps were generally commissioned by royalty and wealthy merchants. Celarius was a Dutch-German cartographer. He died in 1665 so this would have been a reproduction of one of his originals. Reproductions would have been relatively affordable at that point due to the growing use of the printing press in Europe.

Why Liberals Don’t Get the Tea Party Movement by Peter Berkowitz. Actually we do. While we have been critical of the tea baggers it is not because liberals do not know what tea baggers stand for. There has been article after article in which people at tea party rallies have been interviewed and polls done on what the tea baggers believe. We liberals argue against the tea baggers we use the facts as the tea baggers themselves present them. Conservatives such as Berkowitz continue to argue with straw man liberals. Berkowitz and his ilk have neither the desire or moral backbone to argue with actual liberal policies or history.

To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the tea party movement from the competition.

Born in response to President Obama’s self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens’ lives.

In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.

There are not just a few kooks in the tea bag movement – which judging from the surveys there is no appreciable difference between the tea bags and those conservatives who supported the policies largely responsible for the economic meltdown. The “runaway” federal spending stared under Bush and a conservative Congress. The economy tanked. The money spent after the 2008 elections was necessary to keep the entire economy from tanking. Economists think we’d be at 15% unemployment or worse with TARP and the Recovery Act ( even the economists picked by Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal agree). let’s try the counter factual. Berkowitz is n the right-wing think tank Hoover Institute’s welfare plan so he would never acknowledge that judging from history Democrats are the most fiscally responsible political party of the two. While conservatives blow a lot of hot air about fiscal responsibility, Democrats have actually been the adults. There is no political upside for Democrats to deepen the debt. As we can all see it is not doing Democrats any good in terms of public perceptions to spend anymore than they have to. To buy Berkowitz’s narrative ( or tea bagger conservatives) we all have to believe the Recovery Act was an act of self immolation by Democrats to set themselves up as an easy target for cheap shot propagandists such as Mr. B. President Obama could have chosen to do absolutely nothing and let the wheels of the kind of dog eat dog crony capitalism long advocated by the editorial page of the WSJ take it’s course and chew up millions more American then it has already. That would have meant some sleaze ball friends of the WSJ in the financial sector would have been selling pencils on street corners along with millions of other Americans who did nothing to deserve that fate. Politicians in both parties seem quite capable of self loathing, but Democrats have also have very good instincts for self preservation. The only way to understand Berkowitz’s logic is through one of Glenn Beck’s foil wrapped conspiracy theories. Maybe the Right’s resentment against Obama has it’s roots in the resentment they have for FDR. They both saved the capitalism that was mugged and beaten senseless by Republican policies.

Taxes? Surely the Hoover Institute has historical tax tables on file and there is always the intertubes. Federal income taxes are the lowest they have been in decades,

By comparison, the lowest tax burden during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency was 17.3% of GDP. Under President Bush federal taxes reached their low point at 16.3% of GDP. See the CBO historic budget tables: http://www.cbo.gov/budget/data/historical.pdf

Obama gave the middle-class yet another tax break as part of the stimulus. If the tea baggers taxes are increasing they must be at the state level.

“Reinvigorate” the economy. Republicans have given us Paul Ryan’s ridiculous Roadmap which includes a VAT-like tax and cutting Medicare. The RNC has given us the “Pledge” – Robbing the Middle Class: Republican ‘Pledge’ Lets Wall Street off the Hook and  the bizarre hypocrisy continues here , GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’ Replaces Affordable Care Act With Provisions From Affordable Care Act.   I like Helen and Margaret’s pledge better. It at least makes sense,

I pledge that I will actually read the Constitution before pledging to uphold it. And I pledge that if I am too stupid to understand its intent, I won’t become a politician.

I pledge not to start two wars, give tax breaks to millionaires, ruin the economy and then get mad when someone shows me the bill.

I pledge not to be a hypocrite or a Tea Party Republican—whichever comes first.

I pledge to remember that religious freedoms apply to all religions including the lack of a religion.  And I pledge to remember that no matter how much I believe in my religion, I will remember that my neighbor believes in his religion just as much. And finally, I pledge that if I believe in my religion too much I will keep it to myself. […]

I pledge that I won’t hate gay people in public and then sleep with them in private.

I pledge to accept the fact that John McCain really can’t pull his head out of his ass at this point. It’s in too deep. […]

And Margaret, my dear, I pledge that I will vote on November 2. I meant it. Really.

And as long as we’re on the subject of what the tea nuts stand for – America’s dish detergent wars

Political observers trying to understand the conservative backlash movement in America known as the Tea Party certainly have their work cut out for them. It’s a movement primarily composed of Medicare recipients who object to “government-run healthcare”. Its leaders claim they’re more libertarian in orientation, and yet they routinely back some of the most anti-choice politicians ever to run for such major office. One of their key leaders likes to compare himself to Martin Luther King Jr, but the issues that most reliably get Tea Partiers to hit the streets are reliably racialised to exploit their prejudiced paranoia. They are full of contradictions, often making – and then running from – position statements, and seem to be more about just being angry than listing specific grievances.

But as a long-time conservative-watcher, I think the best way to understand where reactionaries are coming from is to look at some of the smaller issues that get them all riled up. Take, for instance, the long-standing fight over phosphates in dish detergent. The parameters of this debate provide an excellent insight into the Tea Partiers, what motivates them, and why they’re so paranoid.

Remember Redstate’s resident weirdo and now a commentator on CNN once threatened to start a killing spree over dish-washing ingredients. Berkowitz could mark that up as one of the kooks, but it is petty ignorance and malicious hatred that drives most of the tea nuts. OK, some of the tea nuts are just woefully uniformed. They’ve been described as older white folks on Medicare – which is true of many of them. These are people who probably do mean well and watch way too much Fox news. The hierarchy of the tea bag movement quickly jumps up to the next level. They’re the same old right-wing smiley faced fascists. The ones who think Obama is building internment camps and is a socialist out to destroy the American way of life. And they’re not the marginalized kooks they’re candidates like Sharron Angle(R-NV), Joe Miller(R-AK), Rick Scott(R-Fl) and Rich Iott(R-OH). The Destructive Con Job of the Modern GOP:

You can’t unfuck something that you’ve fucked. Republicans have paid almost no long-term price for the Caligula-like madness of the Bush administration. There’s a chance that, now, two-years later, they’re gonna get rewarded for refusing to participate in running the country. It’s like setting free an arsonist after you’ve started to rebuild the house and telling him, “Oh, and here’s those matches we took from you. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

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