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You could make the argument that the Tea Party movement is the most potent force in American politics today. After all, the evidence is everywhere -- especially in Washington, where Republican lawmakers pushed the previously-unheard-of, tea-flavored notion that disaster aid for hurricane victims can only be paid for by cutting social programs. That was advocated by the same Tea Party faction, swept into office last fall, that has scuttled any talk that higher taxes -- even on millionaires and billionaires who thrived in an era of working-class decimation -- could ever be part of the Beltway's obsession with debt reduction. From making support for generally accepted global warming science melt faster than an Arctic glacier, to folks cheering the death penalty and then booing a gay solider serving in Iraq at GOP presidential debates, the anti-government, anti-science, anti-knowledge 26 Percenters of the Tea Party movement have been the angry tail wagging the confused dog of American police for the last 30 months. Right?
Yes, you could make that argument.
But here's the weird thing -- if the Tea Party is really such a powerhouse of political influence ... where has it been recently?
It wasn't at the small crowds for Tax Day rallies back in April (including small crowds for Sarah Palin and Donald Trump), or at the "small" crowd of only 200 activists who showed up in March for a D.C. rally in favor of shutting down the government, or the less than 100 people who were rousted this summer to rally for the Tea Party's stance on the debt ceiling (pictured at top), even with supposed movement's superstars Sens. Rand Paul and Jim DeMint at the podium.
Where's the Tea Party? It's not in Las Vegas, where the swanky Venetian Hotel has been suing Tea Party Nation for more than $600,000, for canceling a planned convention last fall when it couldn't deliver nearly enough people for the more than 1,800 hotel rooms it had once reserved. You could also fairly ask what happened to the nearly 100,000 people who showed up at the National Mall just 13 months ago for a rally organized by and starring the then-king of all right-wing media, Glenn Beck. But a better question would be simply -- what happened to Glenn Beck? Little more than a year removed from the cover of Time and The New York Times Magazine, Beck has lost his main platform on the Fox News Channel, been booted from the airwaves in Philadelphia and New York, and taken his shtick to the narrowcasting world of Internet TV.
Sure, there's no question that the so-called Tea Party philosophy is fueling the discussion in Washington and in the media these days -- where every conversation on spending begins and ends with "cutting," where every notion about government boils down to "how much less." But the bizarre thing is that this ongoing influence seems to be playing out against a broad canvas that seems to be missing the existence of an actual Tea Party.
Did the Tea Party become, in that famous Sherlock Holmesian expression, the dog that did not bark?
For the most part, yes. So what was all that barking that woke America up in the middle of the night?
It was the right-wing media, and its echoes, that you heard.
When historians look back on the surge and decline of the Tea Party movement in America, and they will, I believe the focus will be how something that was real -- anger and fear among a segment of the middle class that has been decimated by the decline of the U.S. economy -- was hijacked by a band of high-def hucksters, starting with media stars and their bosses seeking ratings, attention, and cash, not necessarily in that order. The behind-the-scene billionaires eager to save their oligarchy, and the craven politicians that they own, piled on later.
I've been thinking a lot about the Tea Party recently. It's been just over a year since my book on the birth of the movement -- The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama -- was published (and it's just been released in more affordable paperback ande-book editions.) When I reported and wrote the book in 2009 and 2010, it was undoubtedly a current event, but now already it has the feel of history -- a moment in American politics that was both remarkable and alarming in nature.
How has the main premise of The Backlash -- that a cauldron of fear among the denizens of the American heartland over their grim economic fortunes and the rise of a non-white majority, punctuated by the election of a black president, was then stirred up by cynical manipulators like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin -- held up over a year's time?
So well that the president of Fox News, Roger Ailes, just essentially pleaded guilty to that central argument. This week, Ailes told Newsweek's Howard Kurtz, in a much discussed article, that his FNC has undergone ...
House Republicans released a draft spending bill Thursday that would cut off funding for many parts of healthcare reform, though the bill remains deadlocked in the Appropriations Committee.
The draft legislation would attempt to cut off almost all funding for implementation of the healthcare reform law. It would specifically block any money from going to the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight — the office handling the bulk of the implementation effort — as well as the recently disbanded office in charge of setting up the controversial CLASS program.
All told, the bill would rescind $6.8 billion in implementation funds, according to the Appropriations Committee. It would block funding for the Affordable Care Act until legal challenges over the law’s individual coverage mandate have been settled.
Read the complete story here.
Stop the witch hunt now. Tell Congressional Republicans to end their War on Women and let Planned Parenthood continue providing cancer screenings and other essential women's health care.
This is the Republican War on Women in its rawest form. Stearns is demanding detailed records from every single Planned Parenthood health center in an attempt to find something, anything he can use to discredit the organization.
Make no mistake: the Republicans want to get rid of Planned Parenthood once and for all. They don't care if millions of women are left without the basic care like family planning and cancer screenings they've come to depend on. They don't care if they violate the privacy of women and their personal medical choices. And if this is their top priority, then they must not care about the millions of Americans who are looking for work.
These outrageous attacks must stop now. We cannot stand by while Republicans go after our health, our privacy, and our basic rights.
Click here to tell Republicans in Congress to end the attacks against Planned Parenthood, to stop their War on Women, and to focus on the real problems Americans face every day.
Enough is enough. We cannot -- we must not stand by while Republicans try to destroy Planned Parenthood. I hope you will join me and the rest of the EMILY's List community in standing with them.
Thank you for all you do.
In a speech at the Reagan Library Tuesday night, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blasted Barack Obama as being a "bystander in the Oval Office,” contrasting the president’s leadership style with his own, and ran through a list of what he considers his bipartisan accomplishments in his state. Christie's rhetoric will inspire even more conservatives to view him as their savior, but The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky says it’s too bad Christie is bound to break their hearts.
Read the Article
Senate leaders agreed to a deal Monday evening that is almost certain to avert a federal government shutdown, a prospect that had unexpectedly arisen when congressional leaders deadlocked over disaster relief funding.
After days of brinkmanship reminiscent of the budget battles that have consumed Washington this year, key senators clinched a compromise that would provide less money for disaster relief than Democrats sought but would also strip away spending cuts that Republicans demanded. The pact, which the Senate approved 79 to 12 and the House is expected to ratify next week, is expected to keep federal agencies open until Nov. 18.
“I want to introduce you to Democrat John Waltz, a movement progressive, who's taking on cartoonish plutocrat, Fred Upton, the Whirlpool heir who has always treated the district as though it were a feudal fiefdom. Upton, by inheritance one of the richest members of the House, was appointed to the SuperCommittee by his crony John Boehner because Republicans know he will never agree to anything sensible that can in any way help dig the middle class out of the economic mess the modern day Robber Barons, in their unparalleled greed, have created for the rest of us.”
"Not one presidential candidate uttered a peep about the hateful and homophobic booing of a gay soldier in Iraq. I challenge any Republican or Tealiban member to sign up for the military and get shipped over there and see if they have any complaint when a gay or lesbian soldier is protecting their lives.
"I know during my time in the service we had a massive fire and several of us were pulled out by a lesbian and not one of us stopped her to ask if she was sleeping with a man or woman that night. This behavior is despicable and should never be tolerated. The repeal of DADT was a major step forward in civil rights for our nation and anyone that is willing to serve our nation to protect our freedoms should never be discriminated against."
“I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.' No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."