Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Can the tea party survive success?

Flush with electoral success and a new Gallup poll that shows 7 in 10 Americans want Republicans to heed its small-government ideas, the tea party movement is on a roll toward its ultimate prize: determining the 2012 presidential election and becoming, in Sarah Palin's words, "the future of politics in America." But the tea party phenomenon teeters at a critical point in its rags-to-riches two-year history. In fact, the future of the tea party could largely be determined in the next few months as its willingness – or not – to compromise on key issues comes into sharp focus. American history shows that populist political insurgencies can burn out as fast as they flare up, either absorbed into a major party or shunted to the ineffectual fringes of the American mainstream...more

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tea Party Gets Early Start on G.O.P. Targets for 2012

Leaders of more than 70 Tea Party groups in Indiana gathered last weekend to sign a proclamation saying they would all support one candidate — as yet undetermined — in a primary challenge to Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Republican who has represented the state since 1977. They are organizing early, they say, to prevent what happened last year, when several Tea Party candidates split the vote in Republican Senate primaries, allowing the most establishment of the candidates to win with less than 40 percent. The meeting in Sharpsville was hardly the exception. Just three months after the midterm elections, Tea Party organizers are preparing to challenge some of the longest-serving Republican incumbents in 2012. In Maine, there is already one candidate running on a Tea Party platform against Senator Olympia J. Snowe. Supporters there are seeking others to run, declaring that they, too, will back the person they view as the strongest candidate to avoid splitting their vote...more

Monday, January 31, 2011

Federal Judge: A Wink at the Tea Party in Overturning Health Law

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, ruling against the Obama administration’s health care overhaul, reached back to a seminal American Revolution-era event now in vogue with today’s tea party movement. The central issue in dispute is whether the Constitution gives Congress the power to require Americans to buy health insurance or face financial penalties. In his 78-page ruling in favor of 26 states that sued to overturn the law, Judge Vinson recalled the 1773 Boston Tea Party. “It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place,” wrote the judge, a Reagan appointee who sits in Pensacola, Fla. Some administration officials read the ruling and saw a wink to today’s tea partiers, who were partly spurred into action by the health care legislation debate over the last two years. Mark Meckler, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest tea party organizing groups, saw a clear nod: “It’s very exciting. He’s invoking the tea party movement. It’s what we have felt all along about Obamacare,” using opponents’ moniker for the health care law...more

Poll: GOP should listen to tea party

Seven in 10 Americans would like to see Republican leaders in Congress consider the tea party movement’s ideas as they confront the country’s challenges, a new poll has found. In a Gallup/USA Today polling released Monday, 71 percent of those surveyed said they want to see GOP leaders look to tea party positions when developing policy. Forty-two percent said that listening to tea party ideas was “very important,” while another 29 percent said it was “somewhat important.” Support for congressional GOPers to adopt tea party positions was strongest among Republicans, with 88 percent saying it was important for party leadership to take tea party ideas into account. Fifty-three percent said it was very important and 35 percent said it was somewhat important. Independents were less supportive, with 46 percent saying tea party ideas were very important for congressional Republicans and 26 percent saying they were somewhat important...more

Tea Party Express Will Not Challenge Hatch in 2012, Calls Senator an ‘Original Tea Partier’

The buzz in Utah is that Sen. Orrin Hatch may be vulnerable in 2012, especially if a Tea Party insurgent mounts a campaign to snag the nomination at the Utah Republican convention. Last year, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater knocked off Sen. Bob Bennett on the second ballot, sending the Beehive State into a political tizzy. Lee, of course, now holds the seat and is making an early name for himself as a fiscal hawk. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a 43-year-old Provo Republican, is often mentioned as a possible Hatch challenger. But as Chaffetz and others mull a run, they will not find support from the Tea Party Express, the California-based political action committee that propelled Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and others to primary victories last year. Sal Russo, the group’s chief strategist, tells National Review Online that the Tea Party Express will not tangle with Hatch in 2012...more

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann to deliver Tea Party response to State of the Union

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the most conservative members of Congress and founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, will deliver an alternative response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25th, her office confirmed Friday. The speech, which will be broadcast online and sponsored by Tea Party Express, a California-based political action committee, will compete with the Republican’s official response by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee...more

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Death Threat to Tea Party Member at Tucson Town Hall

KGUN-TV reports 

The meeting room at St. Odilia’s Catholic Church on the city’s northwest side was packed with local dignitaries, witnesses to the mass shooting Jan. 8, some of the witnesses to the shootings and the first responders to the scene for a taping of an ABC-TV special, a town hall event, at 11 a.m. Saturday. Host of the program, This Week, is Christianne Amanpour.Toward the end of the town hall meeting Saturday morning, one of the shooting victims, J. Eric Fuller, took exception to comments by two of the speakers: Ariz. state Rep. Terri Proud, a Dist. 26 Republican, and Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries.According to sheriff’s deputies at the scene, Fuller took a photo of Humphries and said, “You’re Dead.” Deputies immediately escorted Fuller from the room. Pima County Sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said later Saturday that Fuller has been charged with threats and intimidation and he also will be charged with disorderly conduct...

Bill Maher criticizes Tea Party admiration of the founding fathers

During the season premier of his HBO show “Real Time,” comedian Bill Maher on Friday sharply criticized Tea Party members for their admiration of the founding fathers. “Now that they’ve finished reading the Constitution out loud,” Maher said to chuckles from the audience, “the tea baggers must call out that group of elitist liberals whose values are so antithetical to theirs. I’m talking of course about the founding fathers.”
Maher said that “tea baggers” mistakenly believe that the founding fathers were every-day citizens like themselves. Contrasting the two groups, Maher said, “one is a group of exclusively white men who live in a bygone century, have bad teeth, and think of blacks as three-fifths of a person. And the other are the founding fathers.” Moving on from implying that Tea Partiers are racist, Maher said, “I think it’s pretty clear that the founding fathers would have hated your guts and what’s more, you would have hated them.”...more

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Senator Fundraises Off Arizona Murders

There has been no shortage of individuals and institutions that have sought to capitalize on the shootings in Tucson. Add Vermont senator Bernie Sanders to that list.
This afternoon Sanders sent out a fundraising appeal, seeking to raise money to fight Republicans and other “right-wing reactionaries” responsible for the climate that led to the shooting.
He writes:
Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, as well as the start of the new Congress, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few words with political friends in Vermont and throughout the country.  I also want to thank the very many supporters who have begun contributing online to my 2012 reelection campaign at  There is no question but that the Republican Party, big money corporate interests and right-wing organizations will vigorously oppose me.  Your financial support now and in the future is much appreciated.
Sanders lists several events as evidence that right-wing rhetoric led to the attacks, and then continues:
What should be understood is that the violence, and threats of violence against Democrats in Arizona, was not limited to Gabrielle Giffords.  Raul Grijalva, an old friend of mine and one of the most progressive members in the House, was forced to close his district office this summer when someone shot a bullet through his office window.  Another Democratic elected official in Arizona, recently defeated Congressman Harry Mitchell, suspended town meetings in his district because of the threatening phone calls that he received (Mitchell was also in the cross-hairs on the Palin map).  And Judge John Roll, who was shot to death at the Giffords event, had received numerous threatening calls and death threats in 2009.

In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?  Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?
A staffer in Sanders’ campaign office confirmed that the letter went out today.

Palin accuses media of 'blood libel' in Giffords shooting aftermath

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Wednesday accused the media of "blood libel" by looking to assign blame for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Palin offered a pointed defense of herself and other political leaders who used sometimes heated rhetoric on the 2010 campaign trail — rhetoric some Democrats say created an environment that fueled the assassination attempt against Giffords. "After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event," Palin said in a lengthy statement and accompanying video on her Facebook page. Palin lashed out at the media, one of her traditional targets, saying they fueled the notion that rhetoric played a role in the Arizona attack. "But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn," she wrote. "That is reprehensible."...more

Monday, January 10, 2011

After Giffords Shooting, Tea Party Under Siege

Under siege from politicians, activists, and commentators' attacks on their members' rhetoric, Tea Party and conservative activists now face the frustrating task of defending their movement even as they grieve with the rest of the nation. Almost immediately after news broke of the Arizona shooting, which claimed six lives and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for survival, liberal commenters on Twitter began circulating links to a campaign map from Sarah Palin's Facebook page featuring crosshairs over Giffords' district. A spokeswoman for Palin, Rebecca Mansour, told talk-radio host Tammy Bruce on Saturday that the map had nothing to do with violence and it has since been removed from Palin's website. In the wake of the shooting, Giffords' father identified "the whole Tea Party" as enemies of her daughter and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik warned that Arizona has become a "Mecca for prejudice and bigotry" and that anti-government "vitriol" may have played a role in the attack. A number of Democratic lawmakers called on politicians to tone down their rhetoric in response to the tragedy, including civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who cited an "atmosphere and climate that makes it almost impossible for us as Americans to reason together."For Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, it's been a trying 24 hours. Audibly shaken over the phone, she said her first instinct throughout has been to keep the victims in her thoughts and prayers, saying that as a mother of 7-year-old twins she was particularly horrified by the death of a 9-year-old girl, Christina Tayloro Green...more

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tucson Tea Party Leader: We Won't Change Our Rhetoric After Giffords Shooting

A leader of a Tucson-area tea party group condemned the mass shooting in Arizona that included Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ), but told TPM that this doesn't mean her group is going to tone down their rhetoric: "I think anytime you start suppressing freedom of speech, I think it's wrong. I live here and I didn't hear anything [in the 2010 campaign] that concerned me in terms of inciting violence." Allyson Miller, a founder of the 500-member Pima County Tea Party Patriots, told TPM in an interview today that the members of her group, as well as the entire city of Tucson, were "deeply saddened" by the events of today and said "there is no place for violence" in political debate. "This is outrageous," she said. Miller was quick to distance her group from the shooting and said that she felt she had to go on the defensive after news of the tragedy began to spread. "I did feel, you know, very like 'why are they jumping to this conclusion before they even knew the person's name?'...more

Giffords had history with Palin, Tea Party

As of Saturday, Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' name appeared on a website titled "take back the 20" as part of a list originally issued by Sarah Palin of vulnerable House Democrats. A map on the site showed crosshairs over the contested Democratic districts. Palin first posted the list in March 2010, naming 20 House members who voted for health care reform and represented districts that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona won in the 2008 presidential election. The post read, "We'll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington," and was accompanied by a map with targets over the districts. At the time, Giffords responded to the map by saying on MSNBC that her long-serving colleagues had "never seen anything like it."...more

Harry Reid Predicts Tea Party Will ‘Disappear’

Time Magazine predicted that the Tea Party would soon break up like the Beatles (apparently one of the Tea Party members is going to start dating Yoko), and now Harry Reid is making a similar claim. The Tea Party, said Reid, was “borne because of the economy,” so it will disappear when the economy fully recovers. “Ignoring the truth” doesn’t begin to describe it. The health care takeover and all manner of shock & awe-style spending binges and pork shams Harry Reid was at the forefront in shoving down America’s throat was much of the reason the Tea Party came to fruition, and it’s now likely to stay motivated as long as politicians like Reid remain in office and committed to finishing the job. This means, somewhat ironically, that if Harry Reid wants to help fast-track a Tea Party breakup, the greatest single contribution he could make would be to resign his Senate seat. And to think that Nevadans just passed up a grand opportunity to send this guy back to Searchlight for a lengthy retirement...more

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tea Party Activists Take Hard Line On GOP Agenda

While Republicans taking over the House have already made nods to Tea Party goals, activists say they also need to be "walking the walk": taking radical steps to stem government spending and cut the nation's historically high debt. Otherwise, "It's not too early to start making our 2012 target list." Republicans preparing to take control of the U.S. House when the 112th Congress convenes Wednesday have been scrambling in recent days to salute the Tea Party activists who helped drive Democrats from power last November. They've ordered a reading of the Constitution on opening day and required that all new legislation cite a constitutional provision permitting the proposed action. They've pledged to cut 2.6 percent of the House operations budget and teed up a largely symbolic vote on repealing the 2010 health care law next week. While that's all fine and good, say Tea Party adherents across the county, window dressing does not equal what they almost uniformly refer to as "walking the walk": taking radical steps to stem government spending and cut the nation's historically high debt...more

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Tea Party is the political movement of the decade

If there is one political movement that has truly shaken the foundations of the American political system in 2010, it is the Tea Party movement. In fact I would describe is as the most influential movement in America of the past decade, even of this generation. What started off as a tiny patchwork of local protest groups has emerged as a mighty political force across the United States, clearly capable of bringing the White House to its knees. The Tea Party played a pivotal role in igniting the conservative revolution that swept through the United States over the past year, culminating in the midterm elections, where it scored notable successes in both House and Senate races. Pre-election polls showed it had become even more powerful than President Obama at the ballot box, and a post-election survey by Gallup showed the Tea Party virtually neck and neck with Obama in terms of voter opinion on who should influence government policy.  Over the past year I have met many Tea Party activists who have come through Washington. They are to their very core patriots with a deep love for their country, possessing a hugely admirable attachment to the Constitution and the vision of the Founding Fathers. It is impossible to predict the course of their movement, especially as they now wield real power in Washington, and in some cases have moved from protest into Congress. But America undoubtedly has a far brighter future because of the Tea Party. And the battles its foot soldiers have waged, and continue to wage, against the overbearing power of Big Government will help keep the flame of individual liberty and freedom alive in the United States for future generations...more

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tea Party Activists Angry at G.O.P. Leaders

As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions. “Do I think that they’ve recognized what happened on Election Day? I would say decisively no,” said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which sent its members an alert last month urging them to call their representatives to urge them to “stop now and go home!!” Still, the Tea Party could point to some impact already. Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, who will become House speaker when the Republicans assume the majority, has proposed new procedural rules that acknowledge Tea Party demands. House members will not be able to introduce a bill or a joint resolution without “a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact it.” This was a leading demand of the Contract From America, a Tea Party manifesto that was issued as a prelude to the midterm elections. Proposed legislation will have to be posted online for three days before any vote, reflecting Tea Party demands for greater transparency. Despite its victories in November — more than 40 candidates supported by the Tea Party were elected to the House and Senate — the Tea Party lost battles for important leadership positions...more