Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teabags Today

Today is the big day, when some unknown number of Americans will protest the President's economic policies. Nobody has any idea how many people will participate in the teabagging, but you can be sure that Fox News will exaggerate the number.

Yesterday two different people, both immigrants from the USSR, came to talk to me about this big revolution in America that they hear so much about on TV. They were a little concerned and a little fascinated, to think that the great USA would be susceptible to such a thing. One of them did not realize that Fox News is the media outlet for the Republican Party. The other one did understand that, but took a certain comfort in it all, I think the tone of Fox and the GOP reminds him of the old country, in the old days. He loves Bill O'Reilly.

National Teabagging Day is a wonderful great perfect example of the concept of Astroturf, that is, a fake grassroots campaign. It is supposed to look like Fox is simply reporting on a movement in the country, and it is not supposed to look like Fox fabricated the movement.

Maybe some people will buy that. Nobody knows.

I had an email forwarded to me the other day from the Republican National Committee. It started ...
Vice President Joe Biden said during the 2008 campaign that it is patriotic for Americans to pay more in taxes. Since taking over control of Washington, the Obama Democrats have decided we should all be more "patriotic" having passed or proposed more than $5 trillion in new spending and $1.4 trillion in new taxes.

I don't know about you ... but I don't believe there is anything patriotic about giving more of your hard-earned money to the government to bankroll the liberal Democrats' agenda to increase spending to record levels, change the tax code to redistribute the wealth of working families, and destroy the savings of millions of middle-class Americans.

So on this Tax Day, April 15, the Republican National Committee is asking you, along with hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists across our country, to assert a real patriotic act by sending a virtual tea bag to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the rest of the tax, spend and borrow Democrats. Let them know enough is enough and you don't approve of their plan to pass the largest tax hike in American history.

Their web site,, even has a screen where you can send a virtual teabag to the President, Vice President, or to Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Cute, you can pick the teabag, there are pictures of four different ones.

The funny thing is that the Obama budget contains the biggest tax cut for middle-class Americans in history. The only people who will have their taxes increased will be the very richest of us, the top two percent of the population. The top twenty percent of Americans make more than fifty percent of the total national income, and they have seen their taxes go down over recent decades. The Republican message that working-class families are going to pay higher taxes is not only misleading, it is false.

So today they will go to their teabagging parties. Maybe thousands of people across the country will participate, nobody knows. This is really a kind of test of the effectiveness of the Republican media machine, which for the past ten years or more has been very effective. Will people who watch Fox News really get up out of the easy chair and go downtown and teabag somebody? We'll know soon enough.

A Gallup poll that came out this week that showed that Americans really don't mind paying taxes. Sure, it's traditional to complain about it, especially on April 15th, but more respondents said their taxes were "just right," than that they were "too high." Gallup says, "Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low." This is a fascinating change, it appears that Americans have realized that government matters, and it is good for all of us if our government is effective.

The GOP/Fox approach to the current economic disaster is to use the same strategy that was so successful during Hurricane Katrina: do nothing. Everybody likes to have government out of their lives, everybody is in favor of reducing bureaucracy and keeping taxes affordable, but most people want their government to govern. That costs some money. We all contribute to the common good, that's the way of civilization, united we stand.


Anonymous David Fishback said...

I seem to remember that the point of the Boston Tea Party participants in 1773 was that "taxation without representation is tyranny."

And I do seem to recall an election last November. So unless a tea-bagger has his/her official residence in District of Columbia (which does not have voting representation in Congress), it is reasonable to assert that by using the Tea Bag hook, he/she is either ignorant of history or contemptuous of democracy.

If the Tea-Baggers wish to protest the size of government, fine. But it is disingenuous for them to seek to portray themselves as 21st Century patriots in the model of Sam Adams and his friends at Boston Harbor.

April 15, 2009 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

It is supposed to look like Fox is simply reporting on a movement in the country, and it is not supposed to look like Fox fabricated the movement.

We can dispel that **lie** by watching this video, Fox in the tea salon, assembled by Keith Olbermann aired on Countdown last night.

April 15, 2009 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their point is that higher taxes doesn't represent their desire, David.

FOX News is skewed a little to the conservative side but is a trivial counterweight to the Democratic bias of the rest of the media.

Your obsession with them is amusing.

btw, if Democrats think it's patriotic to pay taxes then why do they nominate so many unpatriotic people to serve in the government?

Democrats love long as someone else is paying them

April 15, 2009 12:38 PM  
Blogger Tish said...

April 15, 2009 Teabaggers protesting the taxes on their 2008 incomes are protesting Bush administration taxes.

Fox is flogging an astroturf protest movement against the administration they thought walked on water.

April 15, 2009 1:12 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies -- dubbed "tea parties" -- to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending.

There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like

So who's behind the Tax Day tea parties?

Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize. For a number of years, techno-geeks have been organizing "flash crowds" -- groups of people, coordinated by text or cellphone, who converge on a particular location and then do something silly, like the pillow fights that popped up in 50 cities earlier this month.

This is part of a general phenomenon dubbed "Smart Mobs" by Howard Rheingold, author of a book by the same title, in which modern communications and social-networking technologies allow quick coordination among large numbers of people who don't know each other.

In the old days, organizing large groups of people required, well, an organization: a political party, a labor union, a church or some other sort of structure.

Now people can coordinate themselves.

We saw a bit of this in the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, with things like Howard Dean's use of Meetup, and Barack Obama's use of Facebook.

But this was still social-networking in support of an existing organization or campaign.

The tea-party protest movement is organizing itself, on its own behalf.

Some existing organizations, like Newt Gingrich's American Solutions and FreedomWorks, have gotten involved.

But they're involved as followers and facilitators, not leaders.

The leaders are appearing on their own, and reaching out to others through blogs, Facebook, chat boards and alternative media.

The protests began with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., who organized a demonstration on Feb. 16.

As word of this spread, rallies in Denver and Mesa, Ariz., were quickly organized for the next day.

Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli's Feb. 19 "rant heard round the world" in which he called for a "Chicago tea party" on July Fourth.

The tea-party moniker stuck, but angry taxpayers weren't willing to wait until July.

Soon, tea-party protests were appearing in one city after another, drawing at first hundreds, and then thousands, to marches in cities from Orlando to Kansas City to Cincinnati.

As word spread, people got interested in picking a common date for nationwide protests, and decided on today, Tax Day, as the date.

As I write this, various Web sites tracking tea parties are predicting anywhere between 300 and 500 protests at cities around the world.

A Google Map tracking planned events, maintained at the Web site, shows the United States covered by red circles, with new events being added every day.

The movement grew so fast that some bloggers at the Playboy Web site -- apparently unaware that we've entered the 21st century -- suggested that some secret organization must be behind all of this.

But, in fact, today's technology means you don't need an organization, secret or otherwise, to get organized.

After considerable ridicule, the claim was withdrawn, but that hasn't stopped other media outlets, like the disreputable TTF blog, from echoing it.

There's good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians.

The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own.

The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama's policies, aren't especially friendly to the GOP.

When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: "With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties.

This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."

Likewise, I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no "professional politicians" were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn't an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest.

I've heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too.

Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they're really a post-partisan expression of outrage.

Of course, it won't be the same everywhere.

There are no national rules, and organizers of each protest are doing things the way they want.

And that's the good news and the bad news for Democrats.

It's not a big Republican effort.

It's a big popular effort.

But a mass movement of ordinary people who don't feel that their voices are being heard doesn't bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.

Will these flash crowds be a flash in the pan?

It's possible that people who demonstrate today will find that experience cathartic enough -- or exhausting enough -- that that will be it.

But it's more likely that the tea-party movement will have an impact on the 2010 and 2012 elections, and perhaps beyond.

What's most striking about the tea-party movement is that most of the organizers haven't ever organized, or even participated, in a protest rally before.

General disgust has drawn a lot of people off the sidelines and into the political arena, and they are already planning for political action after today.

Cincinnati organizer Mike Wilson, a novice organizer who drew 5,000 people to a rally on March 15, is now planning to create a political action committee and a permanent political organization to press for lower taxes and reduced spending.

Tucson tea party organizer Robert Mayer told me that his organization will focus on city council elections in the fall as its next priority.

And there's lots of Internet chatter about ways of taking things further after today's protests.

This influx of new energy and new talent is likely to inject new life into small-government politics around the nation.

The mainstream Republican Party still seems limp and disorganized.

This grassroots effort may revitalize it.

Or the tea-party movement may lead to a new third party that may replace the GOP, just as the GOP replaced the fractured and hapless Whigs.

April 15, 2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous ho-ho said...

CBS) Kellen Giuda hopes you don’t just pay your taxes today. He wants you to protest them, too.

Giuda is running one of the hundreds of demonstrations planned across the country this Tax Day against what the protesters believe are higher-than-necessary taxes and excess government spending, largely on the part of the Obama administration.

The demonstrations mark the culmination of a movement spurred in part by a February rant from CNBC personality Rick Santelli that generated more than a million views on YouTube - and even a White House response.

As you might recall, Santelli - surrounded by traders in Chicago - complained that Americans were being forced by the Obama administration to "subsidize the losers' mortgages" and called for a "Chicago tea party" to show his and others’ anger.

Of course, the tea party that seems to have inspired the comment - the Boston Tea Party, that iconic 1773 protest in which Massachusetts colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor - was tied largely to taxation without representation by the British government. That’s no longer an issue for most Americans. (Though there are notable exceptions.)

But the rant - and the tea party rhetoric - struck a chord with Americans like Giuda, who organized Wednesday’s New York City protest. The evening event features Newt Gingrich among its speakers. (Check back to Thursday for a report from the protest.)

"Santelli hit a lot of things that I believe - that the government needs to stop getting involved in everything," Giuda said. "They're too much involved in my life, my money. Everybody's working hard - it's not up to the government to decide how our money should be allocated - it should be up to us."

Supporters have also repurposed the word "TEA" and turned it into an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already."

April 15, 2009 2:39 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like me, ha-ha, but the email I received came directly from the Republican National Committee. The teabagging parties were first announced on Glenn Beck's Fox News TV show and the idea has been promoted around the clock, seven days a week, on that network for the past several weeks. The main promotion and organization for the event has been centralized at Freedom Works, a corporate lobbying group headed by lobbyist Dick Armey. There is nothing "grassroots" about the teabagging parties at all. Everything about your statement is false.


April 15, 2009 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Yet more irony: anonymous says Jim, the TTF blog-writer is obsessed with Fox news. Is not anonymous obsessed with the TTF blog? The trend of irony each day is nice, keep it up.

Now, in his long quote, he refers to "Millions of Americans". Is this like PFOX's "thousands of ex-gays demonstrate that being 'gay' is a choice? Thousands, millions, whatever. Or is it like the National Organization for Marriage (more irony)'s "Two Million for Marriage," or, as their campaign calls it, 2M4M.

You know, maybe it is grassroots, because organizations that come up with names lie "2M4M" and "Teabagging" can not be very professional.

More and more humor every day.

April 15, 2009 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, you've got a chicken-egg problem.

Republicans are trying to jump on a grass-roots train.

Who can blame them?

Still they didn't start the locomotive running.

"The demonstrations mark the culmination of a movement spurred in part by a February rant from CNBC personality Rick Santelli that generated more than a million views on YouTube"

This guy, on the official Obama channel no less, tossed off a comment and unleashed a torrent of voter sentiment.

2010, here we come.

Right back where we started from.

April 15, 2009 3:30 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

"One of them did not realize that Fox News is the media outlet for the Republican Party."

Those Russian fools.

Did you tell them CNBC is a branch of Sir B.O.'s re-election campaign?

April 15, 2009 3:32 PM  
Anonymous ho-ho said...

I just googled "tea bag party" and "aunt bea" and got 9,560 hits!

Hey, what's going on here?

April 15, 2009 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Did you tell them CNBC is a branch of Sir B.O.'s re-election campaign?

Back in February of this year, CNBC's Rick Santelli told the whole world plenty enough.

I just googled "tea bag party" and "aunt bea" and got 9,560 hits!

Try Googling "tea bag party, Anonymous" and you get over 10 times as many hits. What does that tell you?

April 15, 2009 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FRANKFORT, Ky. -Thousands of protesters, some dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers and most waving signs with anti-tax slogans, gathered around the nation Wednesday for a series of rallies modeled after the original Boston Tea Party.

They chose the income tax filing deadline to express their displeasure with government spending since President Barack Obama took office.

The protests were held everywhere from Kentucky, which just passed tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol, to South Carolina, where the governor has repeatedly criticized the $787 billion economic stimulus package Congress passed earlier this year.

"Frankly, I'm mad as hell," said Des Moines, Iowa, businessman Doug Burnett, one of about 1,000 people, many in red shirts declaring "revolution is brewing," at a rally at the Iowa Capitol.

"This country has been on a spending spree for decades, a spending spree we can't afford."

Large rallies were expected later in California and New York.

In Atlanta, thousands of people were to gather on the steps of the Georgia Capitol, where Fox News Channel conservative pundit Sean Hannity was set to broadcast his show Wednesday night.

In Boston, a few hundred protesters gathered on the Boston Common — a short distance from the original Tea Party — some dressed in Revolutionary garb and carrying signs that said "Barney Frank, Bernie Madoff: And the Difference Is?" and "D.C.: District of Communism."

Organizers said the movement developed organically through online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

And while they insisted it was a nonpartisan effort, it has been seized on by many prominent Republicans who view it as a promising way for the party to reclaim its momentum.

"It is a nonpartisan mass organizing effort comprised of people unhappy with the size of government.

All you have to be is a mildly awake Republican candidate for office to get in front of that parade," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

There were several pathetically small counter-protests, including one in at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, where about a dozen people protested the protesters, one carrying a sign that read, "Where were you when Bush was spending billions a month 'liberating' Iraq?"

The anti-tax demonstration, meanwhile, drew about 4,000 people.

In Lansing, Mich., outside the state Capitol, another 4,000 people waved signs exclaiming "Stop the Fiscal Madness," "Read My Lipstick! No More Bailouts" and "The Pirates Are in D.C."

Children held makeshift signs complaining about the rising debt.

"I'm really opposed to spending the way out of our problem," said Deborah Mourray, 56, a business administrator from the Detroit suburb of Troy.

"How I run my home is I don't spend more money so my situation improves. Save and conserve."

In Connecticut, police estimated 3,000 people showed up at the state Capitol in Hartford and another 1,000 at a rally in New Haven.

Many carried makeshift pitchforks and signs with messages aimed at the Democrats who control Congress and the White House.

In Montgomery, Ala., Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" blared from loud speakers as more than 1,000 people gathered at the Alabama Statehouse.

Greg Budell, a radio talk show host, said the tea parties could have the same impact as when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a Montgomery bus during segregation in 1955.

"If one woman could change the world by refusing to move to the back of the bus, we ought to be able to change it by saying we are not going to let our government throw us under the bus and our children and our grandchildren," he said.

In Frankfort, about 250 people gathered at the Capitol, where just a few months earlier Kentucky bourbon producers emptied whiskey bottles on the steps to protest alcohol taxes.

David Ransdell, a 66-year-old retired Baptist missionary from Lawrenceburg, donned an empty tea box as a hat and dangled tea bags around the sides.

"The future does not look real good for our country," Ransdell said. "People are afraid that they're going to be out on the street."

April 15, 2009 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just did "crazy" and "Aunt Bea".

66,900 hits.

Word's out.

April 15, 2009 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I'll say! Over 13 million Google hit for "crazy, Anonymous."

April 15, 2009 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

FOX news reports:

The following is a list of 38 lawmakers expected to participate in at least one anti-tax tea party, according to the Republican Study Committee: Reps. Robert Aderholt of Alabama; John Shadegg of Arizona; George Radanovich of California; Doug Lamborn of Colorado; Jeff Miller and Tom Rooney of Florida; Jack Kingston and Paul Broun of Georgia; Dan Burton of Indiana; Todd Tiahrt of Kansas; John Fleming and Steve Scalise of Louisiana; Michele Bachmann of Minnesota; Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri; Scott Garrett of New Jersey; Sue Myrick and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina; Jean Schmidt, Jim Jordan and Robert Latta of Ohio; Mary Fallin and John Sullivan of Oklahoma; Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania; J. Gresham Barrett of South Carolina; Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, John Culberson, Louie Gohmert, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Pete Olson and Lamar Smith of Texas; Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah; Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

April 15, 2009 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Foxwood said...

I suppose we'll be eating cake, Nancy?

April 16, 2009 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Foxwood said...

I suppose we'll be eating cake, Nancy?

April 16, 2009 7:21 AM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

"I'll say! Over 13 million Google hit for "crazy, Anonymous.""

This anonymous fellow is a worldwide phenom.

I just did "anonymous smart" and got 15 million hits.

That's better than last night's top vote getter on American Idol!

April 16, 2009 10:56 AM  

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