How the Tea Party Movement Is Often About Things Uglier Than Fiscal Restraint, and a Challenge to Public Conservatives Who Claim Otherwise


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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111 Responses

  1. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    Fire codes are the nanny state refusing to let individuals be responsible for their own safety. Real anti-government activists would have refused to obey them.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’d probably point out how the original news article announcing the forum said:

    Killian and Moore will provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.

    “This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told The News Monday. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”

    Later on in the article, it goes on to say Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction.

    That’s probably what set everything off on the wrong foot.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

      “That’s probably what set everything off on the wrong foot.”

      Yeah, everyone probably would have come together in a pretty kumbaya hug fest otherwise.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Well, I’ll quote Eugene Volokh:

        My one reservation is that it’s hard from the newspaper article to tell precisely what U.S. Attorney Killian said; misparaphrases sometimes happen, even more commonly than misquotes. If his claims about the civil rights laws was limited to specific true threats of violence against particular people or particular institutions, such speech may indeed be punishable under the “true threats” exception to the First Amendment. But indeed “inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims” generally are constitutionally protected, so if Mr. Killian indeed used those words or ones that are fairly paraphrased as those words (or suggested that the “How to Wink” posting was actually illegal rather than just wrong), then Floyd Abrams’ criticism is entirely apt.

        Now, Floyd Abrams said this:

        “He’s just wrong,” said Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most respected First Amendment attorneys. “The government may, indeed, play a useful and entirely constitutional role in urging people not to engage in speech that amounts to religious discrimination. But it may not, under the First Amendment, prevent or punish speech even if it may be viewed as hostile to a religion.”

        “And what it most clearly may not do is to stifle political or social debate, however rambunctious or offensive some may think it is,” Abrams said.

        The comments in Volokh’s blog post seem to indicate that the original news story was poorly written and easily sensationalized. That seems pretty accurate.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        What JB quotes does seem to be the point of the Facebook post you show. And the second comment isn’t anti-Muslim: it says there isn’t anti-Muslim sentiment to crack down on and asks why the Feds are there, not why the Muslims are there.Report

        • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to MikeSchilling says:

          To be perfectly clear, had the text in the picture said, “How to wink at a Conservative” there wouldn’t even be a hoopla to lalala about. And of course when Muslims start talking about a Muslim Caliphate to exercise world power, they stop looking like (and expecting the protection of) a religion and start looking like a political entity.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

      I had read about Killian’s comments independent of what Tod points out here. Those comments – as I understand them – are worthy of derision. That’s a conversation worth having, not the least of which because there were people here at The League and people at Outside The Beltway who thought Terry Jones should be imprisoned. Worthy of conversation.

      But… I think that picture below the title of the conversation, and the general topic of the post, suggest that there is another conversation worth having, independent of what we think might have spawned it. That the above image is disgusting really ought to stand on its own, before we go back to discussing the other thing.

      Sorta like what to discuss when George Tiller is killed, or our Libyan embassy is raided and Americans are killed. At least that’s my take on it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Who here thought Terry Jones should have been imprisoned? I thought he was an expletive deleted who was morally guilty for the results of whatever violence he provoked, but not that he could be legally punished in any way.Report

        • Mike,

          That was pretty much my take, too.Report

        • That was the take of a lot of people. I remember Jeff No-Last-Name saying that he should be cited for inciting a riot. I also remember Nob comparing it to cases in Africa where people were in fact arrested for incendiary rhetoric, though I can’t remember where he stood on the issue. I remember conversations about fire in a theater.

          I should have been more clear that by “some” I was definitely not intending to say “most” or even “many” as I cannot recall how many people actually took that position and I do remember your view as being more prominent.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Saunders is a conservative here?

    Otherwise I have nothing to add, you pretty much hit the nail on the head with my feelings of the Tea Party.

    Also as a Jewish Zionist, I really dislike the Christian Fundamentalist support for Israel because it is usually tied into their apocalyptic fantasies of Jews converting En Masse during End Times or burning in Hell with the rest of the Infidels. I would love to get the neocons on tape laughing about how they are taking those bum-morons out for a ride. I think that the Christian-Fundamentalist and Jewish Neocon alliance over Israel is one of the most cynical ever made in politics.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to NewDealer says:

      Dennis, not Russel.

      In case you’re confusing your gay, Saunders-nomenclature-themed, scary-good, League bloggers of high integrity.Report

    • Avatar jaded in reply to NewDealer says:

      THANK YOU NEW DEALER! I’m Jewish, but not a Zionist, I think everyone can get along. But I’ve been trying to tell my family that Christian Zionists only love dead Jews in Israel. They have no other use for Jews.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      I disagree with you on Evangelical support for Israel. A good chunk of it is usually tied to apocalyptic fantasies but not all of it or even the majority of it. Many Christian Evangelicals support Israel because they believe that Zionism is a moral imperative and played an important part in providing support for the Zionist movement. During the very early years of the Zionist movement, like around shortly after Herzl wrote the Jewish State, Evangelical Protestants provided important aid in terms of access to government officials and acted as intermediaries in such things as the purchase of land.Report

      • That’s largely my sense, at least anecdotally from the evangelicals I knew while I was growing up. I wouldn’t separate it entirely from the “conversion of the Jews” idea, but I don’t remember any of them mentioning it (the ones I knew could be antisemitic in other ways, just that they weren’t by my observation, antisemitic in that way).Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

          And honestly, I find Evangelical Zionists much more to my liking than the Christian Anti-Zionists, whom at best believe in “lets cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t turn out to badly for the Jews” at best, basically benign apathy, to outright malevolence at worse.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I won’t attempt to speak for all Christians, especially given the bewildering variety of denominations and their doctrinal differences. But in the conservative evangelical Protestant church I grew up in, support for Israel was all about the end times. The Jews are God’s chosen people, even though they’ve gone astray. And not for the first time, right? So just as he didn’t abandon them then, so he hasn’t abandoned them now, so in the end times, Armageddon, yadda yadda, you’d better be on the side of God’s chosen or you will burn in the fires of hell. Dead Jews had nothing to do with it, though. They expect lots of dead folks on all sides, of course, this being the final battle between good and evil, Gates of Mordor type thing. But no focus on dead Jews, and an expectation that they will suddenly realize their error, recognize their messiah, and be saved. Lots of happiness about Jews being saved, rather than killed, in fact.

        Perhaps not exactly inoffensive, but not about dead Jews. But very very much supporting Israel because of their reading of Revelations. Lutherans may differ. 😉Report

        • I remember a lot of talk about the final battle being in the Mideast, presumably over Israel, and somehow Russia/USSR and the European Common Market figured into the picture, the former as “gog” or “magog” and the latter as one of the “beasts” described in Revelations. My sense, at least according to the anecdata available to me, was that Jewish people, as Jewish people, were just incidental to the picture, and the key thing was “Israel.”

          Of course and as you point out, there are so many doctrines and in theory, you and I could’ve grown up in neighboring congregations, or perhaps even the same congregation, and come away with different takes on the end times.Report

          • (To be clear: I didn’t “grow up” in the evangelical environment, but my brother converted to pentecostalism while I was young and I also had an evangelical friend from elementary school onward. I attended my brother’s church occasionally and I grew very close to my evangelical friend and his family, and attended their church frequently, even on a quasi-regular basis on Wednesdays on sometimes Sunday nights. Which is weird, because I still also went to mass and identified as a Catholic at that time.)Report

        • Avatar Zane in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

          Lots of happiness about Jews being saved, rather than killed, in fact.

          I’m no bible scholar, but aren’t only 144,000 Jews supposed to be converted in the end times? Happiness about a small minority of Israelis being saved?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer says:

      That doesn’t make sense. As an Evangelical with deep reservations about the State of Israel’s policies, I’d appreciate it if you recognise many Christians are deeply angered by Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Christians and its tolerance for every sort of Hasidic insult heaped upon everyone, including the State of Israel itself.

      It’s as if Israel has become some vile parody of a democracy, an entire state based on one ethnic identity. And don’t say it isn’t: when the Hasidim get to say who’s a Jew and who isn’t, Israel has delegated the terms of its own citizenship to a de-facto theocracy. Cynicism is a two-way street.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Have you ever considered that it might be worth some effort to get the Palestinians and other Arabs just to accept the fact that Israel exists rather than to encourage them on in their worse behavior?

        I can find no shortage of essays, columns, and what not from alleged allies of Israel telling Israel that the time for the amount of time left for the two-state solution is ending, that a deal has to be reached now or its the end of Israel. Essays like this have been published regularly since 1948. What I can’t find are similar essays from the alleged allies of the Palestinians saying something similar. I can find several essays that tell the Palestinians or really Muslims in general, never to give into the “evil, colonialist Zionists” and fight on to the end of Israel. These essays usually engage in some rather blatant Jew-hatred. Has anybody who is Pro-Palestinian ever considered that we might have progress if the Palestinians were given the same message to compromise that Israelis regularly receive.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to LeeEsq says:

          And what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Who is an Israeli citizen and what are his rights in law? Let’s just confine ourselves to that discussion.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq says:

          They’re given it constantly. Every single person in power who speaks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tells the Palestinians that they have to be willing to compromise (by which they mean – give up substantial portions of the West Bank where Israel has built illegal colonies, and accept major infringements on state sovereignty such as foreign control of their airspace and complete disarmament). And the Palestinian Authority has accepted these things, even though they shouldn’t and it’s unfair to ask it of them, to the point that the debates are now over how much of the West Bank they’re going to give up.

          And never mind that all powerful parties assume – to the point of not it needing to be mentioned – that the Palestinians have to accept that those people who were driven from their homes in 1947-48 can never return to them, nor can their descendants, despite ethnic cleansing being a fundamental violation of their human rights.

          The two-state solution isn’t dying any more. It’s dead, and because of Israel’s actions. The settlements, which were only ever built to prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and to enable the annexation of Palestinian land to Israel, have by now expanded to the point that a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state is impossible –
          and the settlers and their supporters have grown sufficiently strong in Israeli politics that removal of the settlements will never happen. Which was the intention all along – if you intend to cease occupation of a territory, you don’t conduct a systematic multi-decade policy of settling your own people there. If the Israelis had ever wanted peace, the settlements wouldn’t exist. If they wanted it now, they wouldn’t be continuing to expand the settlements. They don’t want peace. They want annexation. They want the land without the Palestinians – and thanks to demolition of houses, wells, and everything else in Area C of the West Bank, they’re on the verge of getting it. Why negotiate any more?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to KatherineMW says:

            That’s exactly how I view the issue. Well said, from my pov anyway.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW says:

            I think that this is one of those things that 9/11 changed forever. The timing of the 2nd Intifada followed by 9/11 pretty much turned a supermajority in the US against the Palestinians.

            This *MIGHT* have been mitigated if the 2nd Intifada ended the second, like, the *SECOND* they stopped dancing, but it still went on, according to the wiki, until February 2005 (!).

            Israel can pretty effectively paint their fight as a fight against Muslim Terrorists “Who Want To Destroy Our Country”.

            It seems to me that, when it comes to framing, they’ve won that particular debate in the public consciousness. Hands down.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

              The stupor-majority opposed to the Palestinians — if it wasn’t so condescending, I wonder at turns if a Dummies book on the Middle East isn’t needed.

              First dumbitude I’d dispose of is “The Arab World.” Stupidest phrase ever invented. Hell, put twenty Arabic speakers in the same room, odds are, they will barely understand each other. Four of them will start fighting with each other immediately.

              Another idiot word: “Islamic”. Whose Islam? Sunni Islam comes apart into at least eight major denominations, madhhahib. The Shiites come apart into at least three main branches, Twelvers, Fivers and Ismaili — and the Druze, who are sorta-Ismaili Shii and nobody else thinks they’re even Muslims. And of course, the much-ballyhooed al-Assad factoid, the Alawi, who are offshoots of the Fivers — and everyone else thinks they’re not Muslims either.

              The Palestinians are all over the map, quite literally. It’s one of those catch-all terms, like “Jazz”: it isn’t quite rock, sure isn’t country, might be classical, isn’t this, isn’t that. It’s a nothing term which became a Something term only because the Palestinian were thrust into the same Bed of Procrustes. Some are historically Syrian, some Egyptian, some Lebanese, Hashemite — the Ottoman world was a cosmopolitan place and the post-WW1 British and French Mandates were, too. Lots of Palestinian Christians.

              Also loads of Israeli Druze, they don’t usually pop up as a distinct minority in Israel but they’re there.

              A small Bedouin contingent actually fights for Israel, they have their own unit but most the Bedouin live in wretched conditions inside Israel proper. They are gaining in the courts but Israel’s track record with its organic Arabs is abysmal: essentially they live on these teeny reservations. Palestinians are a mixed bag but it’s not a bag they created. Others pushed them into that bag.

              But here in the USA, for all the yelling about the I/P conflict, it’s just horrifying how little most people know about these people.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Sure. But the fact that most people in the US don’t know about the I/P conflict allows it to present itself like a bunch of Civilized Israelis (who will let you be gay, buy copies of Playboy, and eat bacon) are being assaulted by Palestinians who are blowing themselves up.

                There’s only so much Amy Goodman can do.

                On top of that, if you’ve got the Obamaphile Left explaining, patiently, how important it is for Obama to be able to drone whomever he wants, you’ve got a huge chunk of people potentially sympathetic to the underdog Palestinians over there who just gave the exact same speech as Shimon Perez… which is kinda awkward.

                Maybe things will turn around once a Republican is in charge of the drones and the left can have a unified voice about what Israel is doing again.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

                The American Left is a collection of well-meaning idiots. What am I always saying — the worst evils arise from the best of intentions. Mr. Jaybird, sir, my bowels are in a profound uproar over this Metadata crap just now. I have never liked the idea of drone warfare: I understand the necessity of such tools in the scope of warmaking. But with every such drone strike, we are sowing dragon’s teeth, creating more enemies than we kill.

                The Palestinians are doomed. There’s really no saving them at this point, any more than we can save our own Native Peoples. They’ll end up on little reservations, just like our reservations. Just without the casinos. Kinda pointless crying about them. Hamas is doomed to failure, they’re sorta the Apaches in this situation, the last bunch of fighters to go down. I’m sure all those settlers hated the Apaches back in the day as much as the Israelis hate Hamas today, and for pretty much the same reasons.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I suspect that the Arab Spring will only make things worse. When “our” Strongmen were in charge, they were capable of pointing their people at Israel/Emmanuel Goldstein and getting a good two minutes hate going.

                Now? The Arab World is currently preoccupied with Democracy and their giveadamn about Israel/Palestine seems to have evaporated.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “What am I always saying — the worst evils arise from the best of intentions. ”

                More and more I find the word ‘sophomoric’ to be useful.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Barry says:

                Platitudes on my side, euphemisms on yours. Same-same.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Oh please Katherine. Every Arab and Muslim leader tells the Palestiniams never to compromise and so do their intellectual allies in the West. Palestinian leadership have always chosen war over negotiation since 1948. Same goes for most of the test of Arab leadership. Do the Palestinians have no agency? Is it not possible that at least some of their decisions might have been not for the best?Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Heh. Palestinian leadership? The ones Israel has locked up at present time? Or the ones it locked up previously? We can dispose of the leadership it killed outright.

              But the most amusing part of all this is the rise of that bank robber Yasser Arafat. After Israel defanged him in Lebanon, this is the bastard Israel will do a deal with: prop him up like a scarecrow across the table, “Lo, are we not negotiating with the dreadful terrorist Arafat?” — and the Americans just bought into it like a Ronco late-nite advert.

              Eventually Israel will get around to doing what South Africa did: release the Palestinian version of Mandela from prison and negotiate with him. Some Israeli PM will have the conscience and the political will to do it, not the present bunch, but in the future, one will arise. It’s pretty much inevitable.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “…release the Palestinian version of Mandela from prison and negotiate with him. ”

                Aside from the pitfalls of parallelism, you’re assuming that (1) there is such a person, (2) that he’s not already been killed by Israel, (3) that Israel would ever negotiate in good faith. Remember, South Africa was being systematically squeezed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Barry says:

                To be perfectly fair, maybe the Palestinian version of Mandela blew himself up on a bus.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

                In all seriousness, what (or who) has prevented the emergence of the Palestinian Gandhi? Are the Israelis that much more unreasonable than were the English in their colonial phase? Because it seems likely to me that many Israelis would probably listen to a Palestinian Gandhi, if there were such a thing.

                Is there one, and we just don’t hear about him (or her), and if so, why?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

                If I had to guess, I’d say that there are religious incompatibilities between Islam-as-practiced in the Middle East and The American Religion. The folks they’d see as representative of them and the folks we daydream about seeing as representative of them don’t have a lot of overlap in the post-internet era.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Gandhi failed because he lacked a Muslim counterpart. That’s another myth I’d like to dispel, the idea that Gandhi succeeded. He manifestly failed. The Partition of India was arguably the single largest migration of refugees in the history of the world — but we don’t know, because the whole thing was so chaotic. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie lays it out in a dark parable.

                Israeli do-gooders are useless. They’re the equivalent of the missionaries who went out to the Native Americans, lots of them tried to get some justice for the native people. Didn’t get any, of course. The Israelis don’t even listen to their own Do-Gooders and they will never, ever listen to a Palestinian Do-Gooder.

                No, folks, forget all this talk about a Two State Solution or anything of that sort. The model for the Palestinians is American Reservation System. There’s some autonomy for yez.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Barry says:

                Assuming, in the words of Mark Twain, that history doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes — there is no other possible outcome. Let’s not kid ourselves about South Africa: it was doing just fine under the embargoes. Might add in passing, one of its best customers was Israel, who also sold RSA nuclear weapons technology.

                Two very wise men, one white, one black, reached out to each other from across a strait of water, de Klerk from his side, Mandela from his, on Robbins Island, to create something better of a horrible situation.

                It was men of conscience who ended apartheid, not force of arms or economic embargo.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I can find no shortage of essays, columns, and what not from alleged allies of Israel telling Israel that the time for the amount of time left for the two-state solution is ending, that a deal has to be reached now or its the end of Israel.

          And yet you’ve actually apparently never read one of those. The time for two-state solution is near ending for _Israel_, and Israel only, because at we’re getting close to the point the Palestinians say ‘We hereby officially give up on Palestine, and are now all part of Israel. You officially win, congratulations, take all of Palestine….and now give us the fucking vote, and, oh, look, Arabs outnumber the Jews. Let’s see _exactly_ how long Israel remains a Jewish state.’

          Here are the _only_ possible outcomes:
          1) A two state solution in the next decade or two.
          2) Israel attempts to keep things as they are forever, trying to keep ‘Palestine’ existing in a quasi-country even as _Palestinians_ want to join Israel.
          3) Dissolving Palestine, making it part of Israel….
          a) …and being essentially voted out of their own country. (Probably with a country rename, just for fun.)
          b) …and operating some sort of apartheid forever where Muslims can’t vote.
          c) …after some sort of ethnic cleaning to kill most Palestines.

          The two-state solution is the only solution where _Israel_ wins, and _Israel_ is rapidly running out of time to actually make it happen.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to NewDealer says:

      Also as a Jewish Zionist, I really dislike the Christian Fundamentalist support for Israel because it is usually tied into their apocalyptic fantasies of Jews converting En Masse during End Times or burning in Hell with the rest of the Infidels.

      I totally agree. Israel’s interests and the interests of the Christian fundamentalists who support it are seriously at odds.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to NewDealer says:

      “I think that the Christian-Fundamentalist and Jewish Neocon alliance over Israel is one of the most cynical ever made in politics.”

      One side has a t-shirt saying ‘I’m with Stupid’; the other has a t-shirt saying ‘I really like you (on my altar)’.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    I should like to point out the Tea Parties are plural. There is no overarching Tea Party, singular. Thus, every effort to describe them in the singular betrays a fundamental misapprehension: if you cannot get the form right, any statement about their natures is wrong.

    Populism has always been shadowed by bigotry, going back to the dawn of American politics. Every political party has embraced bigotry in pursuit of power: a ballot is innocent of the sins and evils of the person who cast it. When it comes to trashing documents we all hold so dear (thumps pulpit here, wipes a crocodile tear from his eye at this point in the harangue) let’s be careful, in the pursuit of Truth, Justice and the American Way, that we do not forget the stupid and angry have the franchise, too. They greatly outnumber the clever and the mild-mannered, do the stupids. And the stupids vote with a vengeance.

    This episode happened in Coffee County, Tennessee. It’s roughly an hour’s drive from Manchester to Pulaski, Tennessee, the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.

    I have often said, here and elsewhere, that had I been POTUS on 9/11, my first subsequent television appearance would have been in conjunction with American Muslim prelates, Christians and Jewish leaders, too. We would all have pointed our fingers at the camera and damned Al Qaeda, saying “You have killed our Muslims and we will be revenged upon you for it. Here in America, we are free. We have always been free to believe as we wish. Thus have we become the most religious nation in the world.”

    For many Muslims were killed on 9/11. Four of them were friends of mine, Indian Muslims working at Cantor Fitz. Two were Hindus, on the same team. Had that message been spread far and wide, we would see less of this ignorance and bigotry, I believe.

    If we are asked to studiously dissect away the bigots from every political movement in America, we should find them everywhere. Yes, even in the Muslim community, you’d find them there, too: there are imams who do advocate for Shari’a Law, right here in the Land of the Free. I’ve met several of those clerics, clerics who roundly condemned any rapprochement between the kufr Christians who dealt with Somali refugees, found them homes, dealt with the paperwork, fed and clothed those refugees. Ignorance and bigotry is everywhere: it is not localised to a handful of bigots in Tennessee. It is present within the American Muslim communities. Shall we demand, with equal vigour, that their clerics repent and preach tolerance in their masjids? I hear no such cries abroad in the land.

    Be careful, in your condemnation of the Tea Parties, that you do not tar them all with the same brush these Tennessee Tea Parties have tarred the Muslims, or with which the Muslims have tarred the Christians who were only helping bring Somali refugees to the USA. We did not attempt to convert those people. It is a simple fact: Islam, where it has any power, is hugely intolerant. I do not make excuses for either the Muslims or the Tea Parties. League is full enough of facile condemnation without throwing fuel on this fire.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to BlaiseP says:

      To his credit, Bush did a good job of making clear that not all Muslims should be tarred by the actions of a few and called for religious tolerance.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle says:

        Bush didn’t do half enough. His skim-milk lip service in the service of religious tolerance was belied in the wars he would fight.

        Lest we forget, the Ba’ath Party was resolutely secular. When Bush43 said Saddam Hussein was supporting Al Qaeda, he knew he was lying. Saddam Hussein’s mukhabarat would murder any Saudi Wahhabi missionaries sent into his country and Osama bin Laden volunteered to fight him.

        The Bush Wars have led to the installation of two new Islamic Republics. Thanks so much, Dubyah. Where we might have demanded the formation of actual political parties, we tolerated the rise of fundamentalists and bigots.

        I might add in passing, for all its many evils, the Bashar Assad Ba’athists are also secularists and Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities have sided with him. Our new buddies the Islamic Resistance evicted the Syrian Christian community wholesale from Qusair, the locus of recent fighting.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Michelle says:

        Yes, of all the very-few things I can find it in my heart to praise George W. Bush for, this is pre-eminent among them. He managed to tamp down the nativist anti-muslim hatred to such a degree, that it did not really surface broadly until the 2008 election season.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

          Heh. I do a fair bit of back-n-forth with an old college friend, a Sikh. He loans me software talent from time to time. After 9/11, he had to put up a sign describing the difference between a Sikh turban and a Muslim turban on the front door of his building: enough ugly incidents transpired to warrant him putting up the sign, lest any more of his windows be bashed in.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Michelle says:

        Seconding this – it’s one of the few good things that he did.

        But the Tea Party (and I’ll make this a sweeping statement, at the risk of sending BlaiseP to his fainting couch) doesn’t really care.

        In fact one overarching theme of the Tea Party and the actions of the GOP base over the past few years has been the White People’s Revolt. They’re looking at a bunch of people and saying that those people are not White, and shouldn’t have a voice in running things.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Well said.Report

    • Avatar M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      “There is no overarching Tea Party, singular. ”

      You might have a point, but it exists much in the way that other organizations have used plausible deniability of the actions of other “cells” to shield themselves. There is a high order of organization and parallel thinking both that makes the Tea Party a “unified movement” by any definition of the term.

      That they use members as a form of ablative armor, discarding anyone who commits (too egregious of) an offense (that gets noticed by national media) as an “outlier” or “not really a member of the Tea Party movement” or some other form of Lone Wolf designation is a feature of the strategy of the unified movement.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to M.A. says:

        One of the criticisms of the Republicans, and especially of those who identify with “the” tea party, seems to be that they in fact don’t discard or disavow the egregious offenders, or that they wait quite a long time to do so.Report

        • Avatar M.A. in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

          It’s the way they do it, Pierre.

          Disavowing is easy. What comes from the GOP or Tea members is “why should I bother to disavow what they said? And how dare you conflate what they said with me, MY tea party friends, my GOP representative, and the rest of the True Scotsmen?”

          It’s Boehner insisting that he has “no control” over the Tea Party caucus members and other groups while simultaneously refusing to denounce the problem rhetoric.

          It’s the constant claims that Tea Party #49967 doesn’t represent the views of Tea Party #69925 doesn’t represent the views of Tea Party Patriots Local 1213 doesn’t represent the views of Tea Party Lone Wolf Division #982. “We won’t disavow them because we don’t have to, they’re not associated with us.”

          It’s using their membership as ablative armor.

          “After each incident, other prominent Tea Partiers were quick to denounce the actions. In each case, public announcements were made strongly stating that the controversial actions were neither condoned by, nor representative of, the Tea Party movement.”

          Therein lies the problem. The movement has direction, it has its unifying / unified goals, and it has its structure. It is not the random groups of 50-100 local people in separate cities that all meet separately, don’t share information, don’t get their “news” such as it is from the same sources, don’t get their marching orders from the same guys on mass-market talk radio… it is what it is. It makes the pretense of being disorganized and separate for the purpose of being able to dump those people who become a little too obvious and go that one step too far, nothing more.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

        I do have a point. I’ve said it before: the Tea Parties are an unreasonable reaction to an uncaring government. Are you asserting the Tea Parties are run by a cabal of conspirators? So it seems, if I read you right. Do you have a handy list of ’em so we can build some sort of map into their organisation, like some street gang, with caporegimes and all?

        It seems to me the Democrats have made a lot of hay tossing this term Bigot around. It gets awfully tiresome after a while. All this holier-than-thou baloney about how there’s no bigotry in the ranks of the Democratic Party — of course there is. Venality, sloth, the rest of the Seven Deadlies too. Stones, glass houses, etc. For decades, the Democratic Party has been condescending to poor people and minorities. That which annoys us in others annoys them about us.

        I am not a Tea Partier. I did, however, run a little guerilla course in John Stuart Mill for a bunch of Tea Partiers in Eagan, Minnesota. They were decent enough people, completely untutored in anything resembling classical liberalism. By the time I’d gotten them through reading On Liberty, they were on track for a reasonable debate on that subject. Ignorance can be cured.

        Yes, the Tea Parties are afflicted with demagogues. We, with our college educations and sophisticated political vocabularies, might well ask why the demagogues find such a ready audience. The Obama administration has its enemies, some of whom are awfully vicious. And yes, a lot of those enemies have backed the Tea Parties, notably the Kochs, who also fund Cato Institute and damned near took over that institution as well. But ere we talk about Conspiracies and Nefarious Cabals, we might well consider how these Tea Partiers, most of whom are entirely decent people, came to be consumed with anomie and rage, to the point where they become the prey of demagogues. The answer’s pretty obvious: they lost faith in the Red and Blue political parties who had been telling them what they wanted to hear, come every election year — and doing none of it.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to M.A. says:

        The Tea Party is basically a stalinist-style front organization for Republicans, since their ‘brand’ was too damaged in ’08 to be useful.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Barry says:

          “stalinist” oh please…lets not go there. There are plenty of way to criticize the TP without getting into the hyperbole Olympics. One of the most irritating things often about TP people is there incessant “soshilim, communism, etc” crap.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to BlaiseP says:

      BlaiseP June 6, 2013 at 6:19 am

      ” I should like to point out the Tea Parties are plural. There is no overarching Tea Party, singular. Thus, every effort to describe them in the singular betrays a fundamental misapprehension: if you cannot get the form right, any statement about their natures is wrong.”

      And technically each one is a set of shifting subset composed of people with multiple and frequently shifting motivations. And any statement we make will never be true, in a Platonic, mathematical sense.

      However, that applies to almost all statements made about people.Report

  5. Avatar Just Me says:

    What exactly are you trying to point out with the Facebook post? And why would that post be taken down? Are you presuming that the “they” in the last response referred to the Muslim business owners or to the FBI? Just curious, because sometimes I have this sneaking suspicion that some read a story about the Tea Party through a negative interpretation filter that then makes what any Tea Partier says out to be bigoted whether it is or not.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Just Me says:

      “What exactly are you trying to point out with the Facebook post? And why would that post be taken down? Are you presuming that the “they” in the last response referred to the Muslim business owners or to the FBI?”

      I am assuming it referred to the outsiders coming to town. It’s pretty clumsily written, but despite that I think you’ d have to go out of your way and be pretty willfully trying to find something nefarious to argue that she was talking about the local business people.

      As to why I posted it, that had more to do with “showing my work.” None of the stories I read online mentioned how the protests had come about, and I was curious and did some google-digging. All of the announcements I could find leading up to the forum were from various Tea Party groups. So my connecting the protests to the TP wasn’t something I read on, say, TPM and passed along, it was something I had to go out and find. At the time I posted this, to my knowledge, no one was reporting or commenting on the TP factor.

      My experience writing for this site is that if you make a claim like “this was organized by Tea Parties” and no one can find that claim the article(s) you link to, you are heavily derided in the threads. So as I say, it was an attempt to show my work.Report

  6. Avatar Michelle says:

    If the Tea Party (writ large and small) were actually about fiscal restraint, these groups should have been formed during the Bush administration, which ran up crazy deficits and put two wars on the national credit card. Yet, there was nary a peep out of them or their enablers in the right wing media. While motives of different Tea Partiers may vary, it’s been pretty clear from the start that their main objective is to protest not government spending but government spending by the black Kenyan usurper in the White House.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Michelle says:

      I’m sure I remember there being something called Tea Party rallies before the 2008 election. Though admittedly not long before and I don’t know how big they were, one commentator described them as ‘Ron Paul and his dog’.Report

    • Michelle,

      Those are generally my thoughts. But I can see an argument that the dire consequences of Bush Jr.’s fiscal adventurism weren’t as fully or widely grasped by those who would become tea partiers until 2008-2010. I don’t think I’d agree with that argument, but I think it can be plausibly made.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        My memory may be faulty, but I thought TARP and the bailouts were the major driver, or at least the last straw, for the Tea Party stuff, so to some extent the timing might be coincidental rather than politically motivated.

        But even if not, I think it’s defensible, in the same way that liberals as a whole are more muted in their criticism of Obama’s security policies than they would be if Bush were making the same decisions. The guy on their own team wasn’t doing what they wanted, but putting the other team in charge sure as hell wouldn’t make it any better — the problem in their eyes was exactly that their own team had become too much like the other team.Report

        • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to kenB says:

          My memory–probably just as faulty as, if not more faulty than, yours–is that the health care bill was the last straw. Alas, I’m not enough of a twenty-first century historian to know about it.

          I do think the dynamic you describe is accurate, at least to some extent: wherein Republicans are more likely to criticize the Democrat in a similar way that Democrats are more likely to criticize the Republican.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to kenB says:

          When the ‘last straw’ is sooooooooooooooooooo politically convenient, it’s not a plausible excuse.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        The change from Clinton surpluses to massive deficits (along with Cheney’s ‘deficits don’t matter statement) was clear years before 2008. The grotesque abuses of presidential power were clear years before 2008.Report

        • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Barry says:

          Oh, I agree. But those things likely seemed much more ominous in 2008 than they did in 2003, or even 2006.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

            Well certainly. In 2008, it looked quite possible there wouldn’t be a Republican President.

            Instead you’d have the Most Socialist Obama (Black, Muslim) or the Most Socialist Clinton (Female, Clinton), each of whom was the most socialist politician the Democrats had ever produced.

            Just like Kerry was in 2004 and Gore was in 2000. I wish I’d paid more attention to the Senate, since it would have been pretty awesome to see Kerry, Obama, and Clinton duking it out in 2007 to be the most socialistic. Reading Marx on the floor of the Senate, proposing bills to nationalize the auto industry, adding a hammer and sickle to the flag — I get a little confused as to what’s socialistic these days, but those three had to be going at it hammer and tongs for the title to keep passing back and forth.Report

            • I think it’s time for me to quit this thread. My point was only that the argument is plausible, not that I agree with it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

                Sorry. 🙂 Didn’t mean to even look like I was piling on!

                In fact, sarcasm aside, I do agree with you. It’s entirely natural — all other circumstances aside — for people to feel far more apprehensive of the power of government in hands they consider ‘wrong’. There’s always going to be a President, an Executive, a government — who doesn’t feel at least a little better about it when they tend to agree with the guy or girl running it?

                2008 was also a pretty ugly year, economically. As was 2007 — the whole Tea Party thing arose out of the worst economic collapse since the 1930s. One that was not only deep and savage, but swift and seemingly bottomless.

                And the solutions to those are rarely popular. TARP and the bank bailouts happened under Bush, for all Obama strangely gets blamed. And nobody — including folks like myself who thought bank bailouts were absolutely and totally necessary – -liked the idea of bailing these morons out of the mess they’d made. (Sadly, the argument was bailout/no bailout rather than bailout and then “what to do to prevent it from happening again/punish these morons).

                But, well, the economy got better. Those unpopular measures worked, if not as well as they could have. The collapse halted.

                That doesn’t mean people weren’t angry anymore. They still were. It’s just…it had morphed from anger about a financial collapse and unpopular measures into anger about other things.

                The Tea Party stopped being about the economy because the economy got better. So, given the demographics of the Tea Party, they started being about the other things they had in common. Which, since basically the Tea Party was the GOP base, was the things the GOP has been about.

                And since it takes a rather…forward and involved sort of person to start joining groups, it tended to be red-meat for the base type stuff, not white paper stuff.Report

              • I should apologize, too, for being dramatic. I’m feeling persnickety now and took it out on you (and Barry). I do have leave for the day, so I cannot comment any more, however.Report

            • Avatar Barry in reply to Morat20 says:

              “Well certainly. In 2008, it looked quite possible there wouldn’t be a Republican President.”


    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michelle says:

      Seeing as how “I want my country back” became a rallying cry post November 2008, it seems there was something specific to the winner of that election, something that made them feel as if their country was no longer theirs, that spurred their emergence. And despite rhetoric to the contrary, it did not seem related to finances.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Taking country back was also a theme of Howard Dean (I doubt he was the first).

        I’m not going to go to the mat for the non-racism of the Tea Party, cause there are some problems there for sure, but I do think the odds are better than not that it would have occurred in some form under President HR Clinton.

        I think a whole big part of the problem with this debate is that the Tea Party is about race, or it isn’t about race. I’m not sure either comment is true. I think Tod is right that it’s a pretty tough sell that the TP is really just about fiscal restraint, but I also think it’s pretty problematic to argue that it revolves around race.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

          “but I also think it’s pretty problematic to argue that it revolves around race.”

          I would agree with this.Report

        • Avatar M.A. in reply to Will Truman says:

          I think it’s been a theme of every election since about 1800. We even fought a war over it at one point.Report

        • I agree that it’s problematic to say that the tea party is or isn’t about race. But I don’t think the probability (a good probability, in my opinion) that a similar movement would likely have arisen under a President H. Clinton necessarily means that it couldn’t be about race or that race wouldn’t have entered into the picture. One of the ways to bait pro-welfare Democrats, even if they are white, is to portray them as too much pro-minority.

          I remember a Nightline c. 1993, when Ted Koppel interviewed a man at a D.C. bar, who said that he didn’t like Bill Clinton because he (Bill) was “too much for the blacks” (if I remember the quotation correctly). That’s just one anecdote, of course, but I think it illustrates what I’m talking about.Report

          • I don’t think this is wrong, but I think this is different than the persona of the president as being the inspiration. This is where you get into the thick weeds of “To what extent are all conservative views ultimately about race…” where different people will have differing views.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


          To be clear, I didn’t mean to imply it was definitely about race: if I thought it was, I would have said as much. It could be because he was a Dem, or because he’s black, or because they consider him to be “Socialist”… any number of things. Whatever it was, it seems they were responding to much more than fiscal irresponsibility.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

            Whatever it was, it seems they were responding to much more than fiscal irresponsibility.

            I agree, though I will say at first I genuinely believe that economics was the focus for a lot of them. It had a real “Let’s get back to basics” feel to it. As time passed, though, more and more standard-issue Republicans started joining the movement, bringing their views and priorities with them. Those original members for whom it really was about economics started leaving (libertarians stopped boosting them). Before too long, you have the Tea Party we have now.

            That’s my take, anyway. My brother, who considers himself a Tea Partier and couldn’t care less about social issues (he’s pro-choice, married to girl of Pakistani heritage…) was high on it at the beginning, but doesn’t really talk about it like he used to.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

              How much of the standard-issue Republicans flocking to it was a result of typical social cliqueiness? The Tea Party seemed new and hip while the GOP was tired and old.

              And I do remember that switch happening. It seemed to happen VERY early on, from what I remember.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                I think your first paragraph is probably right. It’s not just that the GOP was tired and old, but that GWB kind of boxed them into a corner. They had to be something new and different. I think it was originally economic issues that brought standard-issues together with the tired-and-frustrated who initially formed the party. And once they were there, it was like “Hey, we agree on these social issues, too. Economics is hard, moral righteousness is easy!” And, as with the GOP in general, it became easier to rally around the social issues. It became circular from there.

                I think the switch was nearly complete by the run-up to the 2010 election. That was when the rubber really hit the road.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to Will Truman says:

          I think a whole big part of the problem with this debate is that the Tea Party is about race, or it isn’t about race. I’m not sure either comment is true.

          I think race is only part of it. As another commenter said, if Hilary had been elected, surely it would feature an attack on feminism and her gender would be at issue. The willingness of large segments of the Tea Parties to sign on to a social conservative agenda and go after abortion rights speaks volumes about how their priorities are not purely, or even predominantly, fiscal.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kazzy says:

        Seconding, thirding and fourthing this.Report

  7. Avatar Barry says:

    This might be off-topic, but here’s an example of the ‘fiscal conservatism’ in the GOP (

    Food aid is cut, but ag subsidies are not.Report

  8. Avatar Morat20 says:

    *shrug*. The Tea Party started off as, well, really unhappy people screaming about what they were unhappy about. Which is all well and good and American. (It was, of course, coined by a famous rant by a rich guy on TV about his taxes, which is deeply amusing, given it was taken up be people that very person’s preferred ideology would have deeply screwed, but that’s just human nature).

    Anyways, unhappy people screaming about their unhappiness is good and wholesome and a deeply rooted part of American politics, no matter which side of the aisle you sit on or which century you happen to live in.

    However, approximately 30 nanoseconds after the Tea Party entered into an uncontrolled expansionary phase, it basically became astroturf OR the Republican base, depending on which group you were talking about.

    The Tea Party isn’t some new group. It’s the GOP base. They just have a new name. Same people, same demographics, same issues as it’s always been. It’s just briefly they were very angry about TARP and bailouts (and strangely at the wrong people, oh well) and then went back to being very angry about social issues, Democrats, taxes, and Democrats.

    Which is pretty much my big gripe about the Tea Party. Laying aside the pure astroturf stuff surfing off the name, it’s basically kinda pointless to act like the Tea Party is some new mass movement.

    It’s the same movement it was, with the same people. Which is why they weren’t angry about George Bush but are very angry about Obama, and why they’re more concerned with Muslims than taxes. Because “Tea Party” is just branding.Report

    • Avatar M.A. in reply to Morat20 says:

      See my response to BlaiseP above. Much of the function of the Tea Party / Tea Parties / astroturfing dynamic is an attempt to transform the standard and odious GOP rhetorical structure into one featuring a form of rhetorical ablative armor.

      That guy over there, the one holding up the racist sign? He’s not “really Tea Party”, he’s just some guy who showed up.

      That guy over there, the head of Local Tea Party #49967, who just sent out a racist twitter picture link about “how you wink at Muslims”? Oh, he might represent Local Tea Party #49967 but those guys aren’t “really tea party”, they’re just some local guys who grabbed the tea party name.

      Anything negative, so the story goes, is detached from “the movement” and is just the individual action of someone ready to be thrown away, their usefulness to the movement spent. Anything that aggregates well to the movement or casts it in a better light, contra, is necessarily a “core value” of the movement and proof that the Tea Party Is A Gift From God To Take Back Amurrika.

      That the negatives outweigh the positives by a solid 100,000 or so to 1 is immaterial. It’s the hits that matter, not the misses, in the ablative astroturfing model.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to M.A. says:


        I have a question, but before I ask it I’ll be clear that my first inclination is to assume that much of the motivation behind the tea party can indeed be attributable to race, or at least I think it’s plausible that its appeal and vitriol can be so attributed.

        With that out of the way, here’s my question:

        Couldn’t your point be made about other groups? A union member beats up a strikebreaker, and the union leader says “he acted without our authority” or a union sympathizer says “that person’s actions do not represent the true principles of unionism.”

        I’m not trying to bait unions here so much as to add a note of caution. It’s one thing to suggest, as you seem to, that the tea party functions as a way to legitimate some of the less attractive features of the GOP’s base, and another thing to suggest that these features are an inherent part of the movement. I’m not saying you’re doing the latter, but I think it’s possible to make the leap that is not necessarily warranted.Report

        • Avatar M.A. in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

          A union member beats up a strikebreaker, and the union leader says “he acted without our authority” or a union sympathizer says “that person’s actions do not represent the true principles of unionism.”

          To a point. However, the union itself has a structure of authority. In addition to saying “they acted without our authority”, they also have to say “and within our bylaws here is what will happen as the prescribed punishment.” The union will not deny that the man was a member that that is a crucial distinction.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    There’s this, which is going round the ‘net:

    Audio posted by Democratic group Battleground Texas on Tuesday has Ken Emanuelson, a leading [Texas] state Tea Party figure, answering a question about black voters at a May 20 Dallas County GOP event.

    “I’m going to be real honest with you,” Emanuelson said. “The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”

    But I have to admit to some guilt here myself. If the Kochs are going to be buying elections only for Republicans, I don’t want them buying elections at all.Report