Archive for the ‘Tea party’ Category

Tea party made clash with public-sector unions inevitable

A showdown like the ones we’re seeing in state capitals across the Midwest has been building since the idea of a tea party movement was born on a Chicago trading floor.

It’s fitting that union members began amassing in, and Democratic lawmakers fleeing from, the Wisconsin state Capitol within days of the second anniversary of CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s now-famous, on-air tirade from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Santelli, you’ll recall, ranted about federal bailouts and then called for “a Chicago tea party” to protest them.

Two months later, tea parties were held nationwide, and American politics was transformed. Just ask any member of Congress who was involuntarily retired last year by the voters.

The tea party caught on as a popular movement in large part because, in the aftermath of the financial panic and the bailouts and the stimulus, the common American taxpayer looked around and realized he was the only “special interest” without a seat at the table. The tea party …

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Testing the idea that social cons are in retreat

I don’t disagree with what the AJC’s Political Insider wrote about the shift in influence among Georgia’s conservatives, from the religious right to more libertarian types. And the same dynamic was present in the tea-fueled Republican resurgence last year that saw the supposedly regionally limited GOP win big well beyond the Bible Belt.

The question, as the Insider recognized, is how long this dynamic lasts. Even as tea partyers were taking the initiative last year, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was roundly criticized on the right for broaching the idea of a “truce” on social issues while we sort out the nation’s fiscal mess.

Operating on the belief that social conservatives will still have a large say nationally in 2012 is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the subject of an interview and column today by the Washington Post’s George Will:

In 1994, when Rick Santorum was a second-term Pennsylvania congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat, a columnist asked him how he was going …

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The next phase of the Arizona aftermath: New laws

The anti-tea party and -Palin gabfest following the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., seems to be dying down, and we’re moving on to the policy prescription phase. Some ideas are plainly farcical, such as U.S. Rep. Bob Brady’s idea to ban the use of some symbols in reference to elected officials, and U.S. Rep. Peter King’s idea to ban the possession of firearms with a 1,000-foot radius of our ever-moving members of Congress (will the Ministry of Truth alert us to all of their comings and goings so that we can stay out of the way?). You can always count on members of Congress to look after themselves first.

Then there are the ideas that are entirely predictable: the call for tighter gun restrictions.

As a matter of principle, I think any law we enact as a response to a particular event ought to have, at the very least, a clear indication that it would have stood a good chance of preventing said event. And when it comes to mass murders such as the one in Tucson, the unique …

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AZ shooting: The blame game is part of the problem

Two responses to the shooting in Arizona over the weekend. First, prayers for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the other people who were wounded, and the doctors working to keep them alive; for the families of those who were killed; and, yes, for the clearly very tortured soul of the accused killer, 22-year-old Jared Loughner.

Which leads me to the second point.

The rush from some precincts to blame the shooting on the tea party or Sarah Palin was disgusting. Everyone who self-righteously did so in the name of civility in politics needs to understand that their blood libels make them part of the problem.

And, yes, it is blood libels — plural — at this point. Before this killing, it was the Times Square bomber last spring; before that, it was the aviator who crashed a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, last winter; before that, the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2009. In each instance, the specter of tea-party radicalism, or at …

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Top 2010 story: One most people have stopped following

At least it’s tops according to the Associated Press, which named the BP Gulf oil spill as the year’s No. 1 story. This, even though the predicted apocalypse for the coast’s ecology and economy has yet to materialize. (Well, except for the drilling moratorium the White House imposed through manipulation of scientific opinion — a “man-caused disaster” and “restoring science to its rightful place” two-fer!)

Here’s the AP’s explanation:

The April 20 explosion at a BP-leased rig killed 11 workers and unleashed a deep-sea spill that ultimately spewed at least 170 million gallons of crude into the Gulf. Consequences included devastation for fishing and tourism industries, a huge and costly cleanup effort, a management change at BP, and creation of a $20 billion fund to pay for damages.

The rest of the news wire’s top 10:

2. Health Care Overhaul

3. U.S. Elections

4. U.S. Economy

5. Haiti Earthquake

6. Tea Party Movement

7. Chile Mine Rescue

8. Iraq

9. WikiLeaks

10. Afghanistan

(The …

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On political moderates, tea-party victories, and more!

If you thought we’ve been moving farther apart, you were right.

Gallup, which has been asking Americans if we are conservative, moderate or liberal since at least 1992, finds that the self-labeled moderate group has shrunk by 8 percentage points over the last 18 years — a trend it calls “unmistakable.” The shift is split evenly between conservatives and liberals:

Gallup Political Ideology of U.S. Adults -- Annual Averages

It would appear that some moderates became gradually more liberal during the Bush years, and an even larger portion of them have joined the ranks of the conservatives during the Obama era.

Of course, whether you call yourself “moderate” depends in some part on where you think the middle lies. That’s why I think the proportion of self-described moderates in each party (click here for graphs) is less important than the trends of self-described conservatives and liberals:

Republicans consider themselves sharply more conservative, and Democrats think they’re sharply more liberal. The fairly steep decline in conservative …

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Tea partiers should be boiling at $1.1 trillion bill

We’re in need of some fresh, hot tea, and not just because it’s been so cold outside.

Senate Democrats — and some Republican accomplices — want to defy the will of the voters and have one last big-government hurrah. If there was ever a moment for tea partiers to prove to everyone that they’re not going away, this is it.

The immediate threat is a $1.1 trillion spending bill, with some 6,500 earmarks in its nearly 2,000 pages, which Senate Democrats suddenly unveiled Tuesday and want to pass ASAP. The bill would essentially freeze the bloated federal budget through the end of this fiscal year.

In every respect, this is the kind of action voters rejected at the ballot box last month. It is a budget-busting, debt-inducing, written-in-the-dark and rammed-through-before-daylight bill.

Democrats didn’t have the courage to pass such a spending bonanza before the election. They knew the public would punish them for it, and they took the unusual step of refusing to pass an …

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When tea is a stronger drink than tequila

For a movement that so many people like to deride, the tea party sure is attracting its share of imitators. First the coffee party; now, the tequila party. From the Las Vegas Sun:

Latino leaders in Nevada and nationwide are quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group.

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country.

The unlikely model for the movement they would like to launch is the Tea Party — not in substance, of course, but in its grass-roots organizational style. Acknowledging the source of their inspiration, Latino leaders have dubbed the proposed movement the “Tequila Party.”

These Hispanic leaders have noticed that while the Tea Party has had spotty electoral success, it has …

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The politics of debt and spending cuts

At National Review, Kevin Williamson says a typical Washington compromise — Republicans agree to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats agree to extend the current tax rates — isn’t a good outcome. Here’s what he suggests instead:

My best guess is that the debt ceiling is going up. Nobody reasonably expects a Republican House to be able to prevail upon a Democratic Senate and President Obama to balance the budget today. But Republicans can — and must — insist on a real deficit-reduction program that is very largely focused on spending cuts rather than tax hikes, one that has some real teeth on the enforcement end of things. The timeline doesn’t have to be tomorrow, but it had better not have a 20-year grace period, either: Real cuts should start kicking in right now, and the deficit should be significantly reduced within five years and radically reduced within ten.

Both politically and economically, I still think the Simpson-Bowles proposal is the best starting point. House …

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Will and Kate, the tea party, and ‘anti-elitism’

The barrage of coverage in our media of the engagement of Will and Kate, the future king and queen of England, is easy to explain. It’s the latest news event for our celebrity-drenched culture.

What I had a harder time understanding, before I lived in Europe, was the appeal of a monarchy within a democracy like Britain, or Spain, or the Netherlands, in the 21st century. Could any institution be more anachronistic? Why do some people still put up with having, even paying taxes to maintain, a king or queen?

The answer I finally settled on, after getting to know natives of those and other countries with royalty, transcends mere tradition. It goes something like this: We are theirs, but they are also ours.

The royal rush this past week — and the irony of American fascination with the heir to the British crown in this age of the tea party — got me to thinking about how that sentiment went missing in the relationship between American “commoners” and our own elites.

Ask people of any …

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