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April 16, 2009


"... where do you draw the line as to when the signs are newsworthy?"

When the sheer volume of specific types of signs predominate the group.

When the larger group expresses support for the sign wavers.

When the sign wavers are the leaders of the group.

The 'crazy' sign wavers at the 'tea parties' appeared to be many of the leaders but also included a very large and significant number of the supporters and those sign wavers generally appeared to be supported by the larger group.

The corporate lobbyist driven 'tea party' 'movement' flipped 'nutpicking' on it's head. The difficult part at the 'tea parties' was finding the rational protester.

When Murdoch's crazy FOX conspiracy nut Glenn Beck is literally wired into the 'tea party' event's loud speakers, it really does suggest the entire 'movement' is a little crazy.

Though not necessarily the type of crazy that should be ignored but rather the type of crazy that you want to make sure doesn't have a can of gasoline and matches nearby.

Really, tens of thousands of tea party protesters, and the worst signs critics could point to were "What you talkin about [W-word]" and "Don't tax me, bro"? Brendan is right to take it all with a grain of salt, but let's be very clear: nothing that's been pointed to so far is even mildly hateful.

Those who are hyperventilating about the protesters' signs should perhaps reflect on the Supreme Court's invocation in New York Times v. Sullivan of our "profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

For the record, "Rob," I fully support your right to support a corporate lobbyist backed astrotuf party.

Even better, it's great that the right wing has suddenly discovered that free speech and civil liberties are an important part of America's history.

Now if ya'all could just remember it when you're team is in charge next time, that would be much appreciated.

Your team not only forgot about civil liberties and the right to free speech for most of eight solid years, you even forgot that you forgot.

How convenient.

The right wing's amnesia of the last eight years is genuinely astonishing.

Your tea must be mixed with kool aid.

These tea parties have been pushed on the web for months, particularly by blogger Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit). Reynolds is not a Republican nor is he a corporation nor does he work for one. These tea parties have been a true ground swell effort by people who are concerned about higher spending at all levels of government which they believe will inevitably lead to higher taxes.

I don't doubt that News Reference can find some liberal sources for her/his description of these demonstrations. I'm not accusing him/her of making it up. But, I am accusing various liberal pundits of making it up.

In a way I'm happy to see Dems kidding themselves about the nature of these demonstrations. The more they "misunderestimate" the strong, widespread feelings, the easier they will be to defeat in the next election.

P.S. According to two different estimates, the total number of demonstrators exceeded a quarter of a million. http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/76810/

Glenn Reynolds works for a state government agency. By Republican Michael Steele's definition that means that Glenn Reynolds isn't employed, Reynolds is a welfare recipient.

Reynolds is a hyper right-winger, who, apparently because he's a welfare recipient without a job, has a LOT of time to blog.

A true conservative knows that it would be better society of welfare recipients like Glenn Reynolds were forced to get off of their government welfare dependent bums and get a jobs in the private sector.

But Reynolds is a classic right winger: always the first in line for a government handout.

Assuming there really were 1/4 million tea baggers across the nation*, that's still a tiny fraction of the people that attended a couple of different nation wide protests in the last eight years.

In 2006 there were a 1/2 million hispanics that protested in Los Angeles, alone. Add up the rest of the countries protests the same day and it dwarfs the teabaggers protests. And those protest didn't get marketed by Murdoch's FOX propaganda corp for weeks on end.

And the nationwide Iraq war protests, which I recall were mercilessly MOCKED by the FOX spokesmodels had more protesters in just New York City.

And what were the tea baggers protesting?

TAX CUTS for 90% of tax paying Americans.

Clearly the 250 thousand tea baggers not only hate the millions and millions and millions of Americans getting tax cuts but clearly many of them hate themselves, as well, because the majority of the tea baggers are getting tax cuts.

The corporate lobbyists pulling the strings are the 05% to 10% who are facing tax raises. And they just got thousands of tax cut receiving suckers to go out and whine on their behalf.

*How many tea baggers were there? FOX's Cavuto inflated an invented estimate to "report." Watch the video and "you decide."

The reason Cavuto and Murdoch's other FOX hosts have been so heavily advertising the teabag parties is that they are part of that upper 05% whose taxes will be going up.

And considering the FOX puppets helped lie US into the Iraq War, maybe it's time they started to pay for that war's burdens.

I wonder if Rob would describe conservatives' criticism of some isolated over-the-top signs at anti-war-in-Iraq rallies as "hyperventilating."

Yes, Daniel, I probably would. Signs are basically harmless. It's fun to ridicule over-the-top signs, but that doesn't mean we should regard them as threats to the republic. Any large crowd of activists is likely to contain some profoundly dumb signs, and the left-wing demonstrations in recent years have certainly had way more than their share.

What is regrettable is when serious commentators try to impute racism to signs like "Don't tax me, bro" or even "What you talkin about, [W-word]." It's a bit unclear from Brendan's language whether he buys into this notion (note his somewhat ambiguous statement about "hateful and offensive signs"). No doubt some Obama operatives and supporters would like nothing better than to chill anti-Obama expression, but as we've been repeatedly reminded over the last eight years, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

I'm tempted to say Obama is a big boy and can take it, but I won't, because I don't want to be accused of the racist use of "boy." See how that chilling of expression happens?


Since you mentioned crowd estimates-

In 2006 I was among 50,000 people (police estimate) who participated in a rally in Atlanta which was basically in support for amnesty for illegal aliens. In 2009, the Atlanta version of the tea party (even with Hannity hosting!) only drew 10,000 or so.


In your opinion, which movement has the most support from the American public: Concern about higher spending, or Immigration Reform? (In your answer, please try to avoid using some variation of "brown people don't count".)

Laurence, you ask a fair question, but you then append to it what certainly seems like an accusation of racism by me. What could possibly justify this kind of smear? But thank you for illustrating the way in which many liberals impute racism to those with whom they disagree without any evidence whatsoever. Isn't it odd how liberals are hypersensitive to any suggestion of a lack of patriotism, but fecklessly toss around accusations of racism?

The answer to your question is that the number of people who turn out for a rally is a poor indicator of how much support a movement has among the public at large. There are too many other variables: whether the rally is on a weekday or a weekend, how well it has been publicized in advance, how good the weather is, what groups are supporting the rally, whether people are being bussed in to attend, how strongly people feel about the issue.

That doesn't mean that large rallies don't deserve to be reported. They do. What's been interesting about the tea party reporting in the MSM is how dismissive some of it has been (see especially the NYT coverage), particularly when compared to earlier coverage of rallies concerning immigration or anti-war protests or civil rights. Why, even the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had quite a different approach last week to the tea party protest and a rally for immigration rights, even though the two articles shared a reporter.

Finally, Laurence, let me congratulate your candor in describing the 2006 rally as being "basically in support of amnesty for illegal aliens." At the time, all we were hearing from supporters of the comprehensive immigration bill was that it was not amnesty, and we were implored to use terms like "undocumented workers" rather than the politically incorrect "illegal aliens." Didn't you get the memo?

Oh good grief, Rob. All I wanted to do was short-cut the conversation so that we didn't have to have a particular discussion that I find silly, and I tried to do it as politely as I could. No one is accusing you of racism. Get over it.

You know what - Just forget I ever asked the question, ok?

And Brendan:
This is an excellent example of why Matt Yglesias brought up this subject in the first place. It's not just signs. If you read his blog, you'll see that this posting of his is one in a series having to do with the Conservative tendency to be willfully blind to racism just about always while simultaneously being hyper-sensitive to anyone (real or imagined) who may be pointing out racism.

Interesting analysis at CNN shows that our taxes may have to double over time to meet all the commitments government has made. http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/15/walker.tax.debt/index.html

This is why many of us are so concerned, even though the big tax increases haven't happened yet.

And Rob, I don't do "political correctness".

The purpose of the 2006 rallies was to promote amnesty. The purpose of the tea parties was to bash Obama.

I have no idea why you think I should care if you call them "illegal immigrants" or "undocumented immigrants". I don't. Lately, it seems Lou Dobbs has been using the more politically advantageous "criminal immigrants". Didn't you get the memo? Maybe "fascist immigrants" will be next?

Since you linked to my website I thoght I'd show you my post on the Tea Party I attended in Los Angeles.


I went looking for offensive signs and this is what I found.

Some are over the top, the birth certificate signs are the nuttiest, but nothing I could find at the Tea Party came close to the craziness that is everywhere you look at anti-war demonstrations. And the offensive signs at anti-Israel protests are completely beyond the pale...Take a look, judge for yourself.

"...nothing I could find at the Tea Party came close to the craziness that is everywhere you look at anti-war demonstrations. And the offensive signs at anti-Israel protests are completely beyond the pale..."

Doesn't seem like a very fair or valid comparison to me, since you're talking about a SINGLE Tea Party event versus "anti-war demonstrations" and "anti-Israel protests" (plural for those last two)...unless you're trying to (laughably and inacurately) suggest that the Los Angeles Tea Party was the ONLY one of these Tea Party events where offensive signs were present.

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