Thursday, March 31, 2011


Betty Cracker and Steven D are right -- this (from Mike McIntire in The New York Times) is appalling:

Odd Alliance: Business Lobby and Tea Party

... a Tea Party group in the United States, the Institute for Liberty, has vigorously defended the freedom of a giant Indonesian paper company to sell its wares to Americans without paying tariffs. The institute set up Web sites, published reports and organized a petition drive attacking American businesses, unions and environmentalists critical of the company, Asia Pulp & Paper.

Last fall, the institute’s president, Andrew Langer, had himself videotaped on Long Wharf in Boston holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence as he compared Washington’s proposed tariff on paper from Indonesia and China to Britain’s colonial trade policies in 1776.

Tariff-free Asian paper may seem an unlikely cause for a nonprofit Tea Party group....

The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government....

Stop! Stop! Make it stop!

Do I have to explain this? Teabaggers are Randroid, business-worshipping Gucci-shoe lickers who want to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. They think CEOs suffer the worst discrimination of any group in America. They hate the banks for taking government money because they thought the government was the bad guy. Screwing everyone on the planet prior to the bailout was just capital exercising its animal spirits. (And besides, the economic collapse was all the fault of Fannie and Freddie and those damn Negroes who took advantage of the Community Reinvestment Act.)


The odd thing is that there's some good reporting when you dig into McIntire's article. Andrew Langer was obviously a Randroid before there was a tea party -- he's been involved in pro-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business for years. McIntire determines that Langer once conducted a "grassroots" pro-genetically-modified-foods campaign involving petition signatures that (as McIntire learned) were occasionally from dead people, or people who had no idea they'd signed the petition.

So McIntire's reporting chops are not terrible. It's his interpretation that makes a sensible person want to weep. (But on the reporting see the update below.)

I'm guessing that Dave Weigel is going to come along eventually and say that Langer and his group, the Institute for Liberty, are teabaggers-come-lately -- Langer merely glommed onto the tea party as a useful vehicle for the corporatism he'd been pursuing all along. That's clearly the case. I suppose some Times readers will benefit from learning how effortlessly the two strains of conservatism run together; it'd be nice, though, if they grasped that that's not in any way a surprise.


MORE: McIntire notes that the previous campaigns of Langer and the Institute for Liberty (e.g., in opposition to Net neutrality) all favored business ... except, curiously, one:

...the Institute of Liberty ... was created in 2005 by Jason Wright, an author of best-selling inspirational novels who had worked for Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative policy group.

In his three years at the institute, Mr. Wright said in an interview, he was often approached by public relations consultants pitching projects for clients. Typical, he said, were overtures from two consultants who wanted him to advocate for opposing positions on the regulation of "payday" loans, widely criticized for usurious terms that hurt low-income borrowers.

"A P.R. firm in D.C. offered me a ton of money to take the wrong side of that issue," he said. "I did end up taking some corporate donations from the side of the issue I believed in -- that the industry had completely lost control and had to be reined in."

Which doesn't explain why this pro-payday lending essay appears on the Frontiers of Freedom Web site ("Payday Loans: A Choice That Virginia Consumers Need and Want"), or why Institute for Freedom writings are quoted in this attack on one of the main groups calling for payday lending reform, the Center for Responsible Lending:

The Institute for Liberty concluded that "under the CRL's lending reforms, North Carolina leads the U.S. in foreclosures. In a year-over-year comparison, the state's foreclosure rate outpaced the nation with a whopping 146% increase vs. 94% nationwide."

It would have been nice if McIntire had checked Wright's claim.

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