O thanks, NY Times. Just what we needed.

A whole article on the Tea Party!  With lots and lots of videos of individual members.

And they are scary, not least because they are about 18% of Americans.  They are ill-informed, think in slogans and are inconsistent.  The false and inconsistent beliefs are not uniform, but some are common.  E.g., they love medicade and social secuity, but not any ‘socialist’ programs that involve  big government. 

They each express a sense of estrangement and alienation from the US government, which they see as very menacing and out of control   They also think that it favors other people.  It is hard not to see racist coding all through the talks.

As I read the  article, I kept thinking, “Forget about the tea party and have some madeira, m’dear.”  The second part of the sentence comes from a Flanders and Swann song which – amazingly enough – they can  be seen performing in 1967 on youtube.   Delightful though the  melody is, it is a tale of a failed seduction, and so hardly going to cheer one up, I think.  Well, see what you think.  If it seems offensive (I really can’t decide), try the  next one, which is just fun.

The point of the second one is that it has absolutely nothing to do with current politics.  Go look at the Tea Partiers and you may get a sense of why that’s a good thing.

If you have a child who has heard Flanders and Swann on the Gnu, today might be a good day to fill them in!

China, Iceland & Northern Europe

The worst news is from China; it looks as though the death toll could go to a thousand, with 60,000 injured.  Less awful, perhaps, is the volcano eruption in Iceland and now the closure of airspace in Norther Europe. 

If you or friends or loved ones are involved in any of this, please let us know.

Rowling on Cameron on tax breaks for married couples

Rowling writes, in The Times, that the Conservative party’s manifesto:

reiterates the flagship policy so proudly defended by David Cameron last weekend, that of “sticking up for marriage”. To this end, they promise a half-a-billion pound tax break for lower-income married couples, working out at £150 per annum.

I accept that my friends and I might be atypical. Maybe you know people who would legally bind themselves to another human being, for life, for an extra £150 a year? Perhaps you were contemplating leaving a loveless or abusive marriage, but underwent a change of heart on hearing about a possible £150 tax break? Anything is possible; but somehow, I doubt it. Even Mr Cameron seems to admit that he is offering nothing more than a token gesture when he tells us “it’s not the money, it’s the message”.

Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say “it’s not the money, it’s the message”. When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money. When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money. When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money. If Mr Cameron’s only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is “get married, and we’ll give you £150”, he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.

You can read more here