Clowns to the Right, Jokers to the Far Right: Scenes from the Tea Party Convention

Chase Whiteside (interviews) and Erick Stoll (camera) of New Left Media have released a new short video entitled Scenes From An American Disaster. They interview various attendees to the recent National Tea Party Convention exposing the paranoid, delusional and conspiratorial assertions that run rampant in this crowd: Obama isn't a natural born citizen, he's a socialist, he hasn't released his college transcripts. It curious that so many complain about the expansion of government now and yet were silent during the Bush years when the Republicans not only expanded the size of government with irresponsible spending on unnecessary wars but also pushed for a more intrusive government that curtailed our civil liberties.

In this piece, I was most struck by the claims of Orly Taitz, the Queen of the Birthers who has filed numerous frivolous lawsuits, that she is "Facebook Friends" with 16 members of Congress. Given that one chooses one's friends on Facebook, it is bizarre that any member of Congress would associate with her on any level. So driven by curiosity, I looked into it.

She claimed 16, I found six - all Republicans. They are Mary Bono Mack of California, John Fleming of Louisiana, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and somewhat surprisingly Ron Paul of Texas (who by the way only has 110 other friends beside Orly Taitz). It is frankly reprehensible that any member of Congress associates with such a stark raving mad lunatic as Orly Taitz on any level.

Here's Chase and Erick's introduction to their film:

Last week, the group Tea Party Nation organized the first Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tenn., a for-profit event. Some 600 people paid $550 to attend, and Sarah Palin was reportedly paid $115,000 to the be the keynote speaker. After criticism of the convention’s cost, for-profit status, and payment to Palin, multiple national Tea Party organizations withdrew their participation. But the event went on.

And so did the paranoid, conspiratorial assertions–that President Obama was born in another country, that he has covered up his college transcripts, that he is pushing a communist/socialist agenda, that he is protecting terrorists and endangering our country, etc.

The organizers of the convention made great efforts to limit access to the press, and even held “new-media training” sessions to help the Tea Partiers sound and look better on camera–the more people see inside this movement, the less like it. But we got ourselves into the event, where the right-wing, fringe sentiments were on plain display.

That said, these Tea Partiers–able to pay the cost of attendance–are more affluent than those at the 9.12 DC March, and more self-conscious of [the way] they are portrayed in the media. There were fewer signs and homemade t-shirts here, but the attitudes, if more subtle in delivery, were the same.

Both Chase and Erick attend Wright State in Ohio. If you can spare a few bucks, please consider throwing a few dollars their way. Their films are really some of the best short documentaries on the radical right being produced today.

Tea Party of Nevada to Field Own Candidate in Senate Race

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that the Tea Party of Nevada has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will field its own candidate in the Senate race for the seat currently held by Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader.

The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report.

[Las Vegas Sun columist Jon] Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party's U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy.

According to the party's constitution, the Tea Party of Nevada will "promote this nation's founding principles of freedom, liberty and a small representative government. We believe that our government under both Democrat and Republican control has led to massive national debt, crushing deficits, increased taxes; while establishing a large and powerful federal government in a direct refutation of the founding ideals of America."

The move is likely to marginally help the embattled Harry Reid who has been trailing in most polls by a wide margin against potential GOP challengers. There are currently three Republican challengers vying to win the GOP nod: former State Senator Sue Lowden, former UNLV basketball star Danny Tarkanian and former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

In addition there are six other third-party candidates going through the verification process to appear on the ballot as US Senate candidates — one Reform Party hopeful and five as independents.

Perplexing Political Punditry: 'Palin's Perfect-Pitch Populism'

David Broder, the dean of the Washington punditry establishment, has penned quite the column in the Washington Post:

Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.

Top of her game? Really the top of her game was back in the summer of 2008 at the GOP convention. Since then it has been one more embarrassing debacle after another. She's got her fan base to be sure and it's not an insignificant number but most sentient beings see Palin as an on-going political train wreck. There's an entertainment value in Palin-watching for certain but it's more a morbid curiosity than any deep yearning for her pearls of political insight.

Broder continues on:

Blessed with an enthusiastic audience of conservative activists, Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington.

Touch is the right word because any details were sorely lacking. One really has to wonder about David Broder's senility at this point. Full repertoire? Of what? Of meaningless stock phrases such as "commonsense conservatism"? Her national security policy was "we win, they lose." Her economic prescription was more of the same policies that got us in our present predicament.

There's more...

On Palin's Hand

By now I suspect many of you have seen the picture of Sarah Palin's left hand with her scribbled crib notes. I'd embed the picture but MyDD5 doesn't seem to allow that functionality but you can view the image over at Andrew Sullivan'sThe Daily Dish.

On her hand she scribbled four points: "Energy," "Budget [crossed out] Cuts," "Tax" and "Lift American spirits."

The fact that she wrote these points suggests that Q&A session with Judson Phillips was staged but that's not really the story here. The takeaway is that those notes were in response to the question on her three top legislative priorities.

Now think about that. It's not exactly a hard question and it's not like she was being asked policy specifics or hard facts. She was asked generalities.

How hard is that? Well for Sarah Palin anything beyond reciting talking points is an near impossibility. It's obvious that she can't think on her feet. Who among us couldn't name three, five or even ten legislative priorities without batting an eyelash? And note that the last one - "Lift American spirits" - isn't exactly something that can be achieved by an act of Congress.

Nor is this the first time that we have the moose in headlights Palin. She was stumped by Glenn Beck's question on who was her favorite Founding Father. It's not that she couldn't name one but can she  differentiate between them? Her answer implied that she could not. Now consider that former Colorado Congressman Tommy Tancredo bemoaned the lack of civic literacy among Americans in his speech. Is there any public figure who is as historically challenged as Sarah Palin?

Nor is it the distant past that befuddles Sarah Palin. Even the more recent leaves her gasping for answers.  Think back to Charlie Gibson's interview when she was asked about the Bush Doctrine. Her response was "Which one Charlie?" That suggests a complete detachment from the foreign policy debate that stemmed from the Bush Administration's decision to pursue a policy of preemptive war. In last night's speech, the Palin Doctrine of national security was "we win, you lose" with you being America's enemies. Gee whiz, now why didn't we think of that before?

I hate to be so blunt and publicly disparage an individual but she is little more than a talking chimpanzee incapable of critical thinking who wouldn't make it out of the Republican primary which is frankly a pity because if she were to win the Republican nomination it would doom the GOP to the worst electoral landslide in history.

Hey, let's give her credit. At least this time she got the Vice President's name right. During the Vice Presidential debate in 2008, she kept on calling him Senator O'Biden.

Now that's progress!


Palin: "The Tea Party Movement is the Future of Our Country"

In a rambling, often incoherent 40 minute speech, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin addressed the faithful at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville. She covered topics from national security to health care to budget deficits often deriding and mocking the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party though she took a moment to praise Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak for his anti-abortion stance.

In her speech she praised Ronald Reagan effusively on the day that would have been his 99th birthday. Oddly enough, she didn't mention his role his tripling the national debt nor did she acknowledge the erosion of the middle class that began under the 40th President. Somewhat surprisingly, she said her now trademarked "commonsense conservatism" stock phrase a mere seven times.

Still other empty stock phrases peppered her speech. “This is about the people, and it’s bigger than any one king or queen of a tea party, and it’s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter,” she said.

As the New York Times noted, Sarah Palin gave the lily-white Tea Party Nation exactly what they wanted to hear, declaring the primacy of the Tenth Amendment in limiting government powers, complaining about the bailouts and the “generational theft” of rising deficits, and urging the audience to back conservative challengers in contested primaries. “America is ready for another revolution!” she belted. 

Apparently, America is also ready for a martyr. "I will live, I will die for the people of America," she cried as if she were some American Jeanne d'Arc ready to be burned at the stake.

More interesting to watch was the 20 minute question and answer session with Judson Phillips, the founder of a group called Tea Party Nation. There she informed us that the Tea Party Movement was the future of the country. She encouraged people to run for office but I'm sure the irony was lost on her when the "I quit halfway into my term" former Governor noted that Americans have to do more than just "talk the talk but walk the walk." Again clichés aplenty but complete sentences seemed as endangered as polar bears in Alaska.

Asked her three top legislative priorities when the conservatives regain the House and Senate - that's the modest plan in 2010 - she offered reining in spending and then looked at her left hand to read the cheat notes (at the 46:30 minute mark) to offer up the other two ideas: jumpstarting energy projects and "allowing America's spirit to rise again" by which she means that it "would be wise to start seeking divine intervention again in this country so that we can again be safe, secure and prosperous." I must say that's going to be one hell of a bill.

The "renowned Marxist" Dave Weigel of the "socialist" Washington Independent has several more reports. His Twitter feed provides additional hilarities. Dave, I have to say, what ever they pay you, it's not enough.


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