What's a Tea Partier to do?
First the Tea Party Express endorses Democrat Walt Minnick in the First Congressional District, for standing by his word and voting conservatively. Then Tea Party Boise settles some internal dispute and decides to make one endorsement in the First CD: Republican Raul Labrador.
And on Friday, Tea Party mascot Sarah Palin is coming to Boise to stump for First Congressional District candidate Vaughn Ward. Oh, it's so confusing. And why is Harley Brown not getting any Tea Love?
Well, Citydesk does not want Palin to be confused. She is, after all, an Idaho native. And luckily, Friday is a busy summer day in Boise. So here are 10 things Palin should do while she's in town:
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The anniversary is also marked by surges in anti-government activity verging on the type of militancy that spurred the bombing, and a new poll showing that a majority of Americans, not just the lunatic fringe, distrust government to some extent.
As a member of far-right militia movements, and an avid fan of The Turner Diaries, a book in which a second American revolution is fought against the federal government, Oklahoma City bombing perpetrator Timothy McVeigh was known for taking part in protests similar to those happening in Washington and Idaho.
In the clip below, Portland State University sociologist Dr. Randy Blazak, an expert on far-right groups, explains more about how the Oklahoma City Bombing had its roots in movements closely related to what has been playing out on the streets in recent weeks.
Yesterday was Tax Day, now the venue for an annual tea party protest in Boise and elsewhere, for the second year running.
While we noted in January that the fire and brimstone was gone from the tea partiers, at least locally, others have noted the same of yesterday's events, including Tea Party Boise events lead Russ Smerz, who told citydesk the march and rally this year was much more organized and structured this year, if somewhat less well-attended.
Smerz accepted a crowd estimate of about 2,000, a visibly smaller crowd than last year. He also agreed that describing the rally as "anti-Obama" was a fair characterization:
"I think if there was a focal point it was anti-socialism, and really tying Obama into that as well," Smerz said.
Prior to the march, a national group that hitched its wagon to the tea party train—The Tea Party Express—released a list of congressional targets and heroes. Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick made the list of tea party heroes, an announcement met with surprise (then incredulity, mockery and incomprehension) from multiple corners, starting with the Minnick campaign itself.
"Um, sure," Minnick spokesman John Foster replied when the a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/15/walt-minnick-tea-party-en_n_538837.html">Huffington Post asked if the campaign was accepting the Tea Party's backing. "Walt is not in the habit of turning down support," Foster continued.
Minnick accepted the endorsement, appearing on CNN Friday morning to describe the tea partiers as “just ordinary folks that think the government ought to balance it’s budget.”
"You’ve got some fringe within the group, that’s for sure," Foster acknowledged to citydesk this afternoon.
"You’ve got to base your views on people based on your interactions with them"
Foster said Minnick has some rapport with local tea party activists. He also said he spoke with a representative of the Tea Party Express today who told him they'd looked at all the Blue Dog Democrats and decided that Minnick was the only one worth endorsing, particularly for his anti-earmark stance.
“It’s for the most part a group of people who are frustrated by spending in Washington,” Foster characterized the tea partiers.
That's not exactly how Smerz, who said he resents the "government takeover of everything," (not to mention the "socialist" bomb above) characterizes it.
“They just seem to have their hands on everything and I don’t think it’s necessary, we should do it ourselves,” Smerz told citydesk.
Moreover, the national Tea Party Express, which is run by establishment GOP operatives, never asked the local tea partiers their opinion on Minnick.
"We at Tea Party Boise were not consulted or given the opp for giving our input to Tea Party Express," Smerz said. The local "party" has not endorsed any candidates, though they will publish candidate surveys on April 24. Smerz was listed as an Ada County campaign chair for GOP candidate Vaughn Ward, who is running in the May 25 primary for a chance to challenge Minnick.
He said he dropped his affiliation with the campaign when he took on more Tea Party responsibilities.
Ward said he's running for the tea party vote too.
“I think that any candidate in Idaho would be foolish not to look at them as a strong voting block,” Ward told citydesk.
Ward said he shares many tea party stances including limited government, accountability and the fact the "the Constitution does matter."
Raul Labrador, a state legislator who is also running in the GOP primary for the First Congressional District, had not returned our calls by press time (the time we press the button to publish the blog). Candidate Harley Brown, who stopped by BW last week, had just come from a meeting with local tea partiers who he described as "my kind of guys."
Here's some photos of Minnick's ordinary folks, as they marched up Capitol yesterday.
Tea Party 2010
Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada told a Comic Book blogger that any references to the Tea Party movement in the current Captain America book were a mistake.
The recent issue portrays an anti-tax protest in Boise that is an obvious reference to Tea.
Where Mr. Houston is correct is in our accidently [sic] identifying in one of the held up signs, the group as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group. That’s something that we need to apologize for and own up to, because it’s just one of those stupid mistakes that happened through a series of stupid incidents.
The interview goes on to ask how the comic books handle political allegory, which has been integral to story lines for 60 years. Quesada goes on:
Our books are no one’s soapbox. I have always made it a point never to publicly talk about my own political beliefs as I don’t feel it’s my place to do so and use Marvel as a bully pulpit. Our readers come in many shapes and sizes, and we need to be respectful of that. Yes, we have characters that have certain attributes built into them, like political beliefs and religious affiliations, but we try to handle those as carefully as possible, and when we present one side of a coin, I encourage my editors and creators to fairly show the other side. Do we always succeed? No, sometimes things slip through the cracks.
I feel like I should sum this up somehow, but I don't really want to use the Boise Weekly as a bully pulpit.
The March 2010 issue of Captain America, called "Two Americas," starts out with a police raid on a Boise Foothills home, where an impostor Captain America is gathering up an underground army of Tea Party-like anti-government forces.
William Burnside, who in the 1950s became obsessed with the New Deal American Hero, to the point of impersonating him, returns to find his childhood home in Boise replaced by a vacant strip mall.
"And now he was finally home ... but not to a hero's welcome," the strip reads. "No, this country had turned its back on him long ago."
Burnside, posing as the Captain, gathers groups of angry white truckers and returned soldiers in his compound. "Honest, hard-working Americans ... ready and able to rise up and fight back," as the strip describes. They march on downtown Boise (depicted below) and throw an African American secret agent posing as the Tax Man out of a bar, calling him Obama (with some degree of agent provocateur meddling from an undercover REAL Captain America).
They even have the real undercover Captain posing as a Tea bagger refuse free beer (no handouts, no charity, man) after throwing the faux tax collector out of the bar:
The strip acknowledges that Idaho ain't DC, but implies that the hinterlands are fraught with anti-government forces bent on insurrection. The cliffhanger ending leaves open the possibility that the real American patriot, Captain America himself, may swoop in and hand these impostor patriots a large can of whoop ass.
It's enough to make a guy want to read the comics again.
You can get the book at:
710 S Vista Ave
Paper Back Place
7011 W Fairview Ave
3890 W. State
When the majority of American voters selected Barack Obama as President of the United States of America last year, we caught a brief glimpse of post-racial America.
It lasted a few weeks, at least.
But the racial tension that has accompanied each major period of American history is again emerging under a new guise: The Tea Party/9-12 Project/Continental Congress '09 marches this weekend represent the new racist vanguard in America, uniting the anti-Muslim sentiments which followed the 9-11 attacks, Joe Wilson's singular obsession with undocumented immigrants receiving health care, and though in some ways subconsciously, a reaction to the nation's first black president.
These Tea Party groups are only months old, and yet they have attracted an intense following, spurred by AM talk radio and the John Birch Society, which has been race baiting for decades and had literature for sale in two merch tents in Boise's Capitol Park on Saturday. A few common themes unite the Tea Partiers, as far as I can tell: some evolving form of Christian patriotism, an aversion to paying taxes, fear of police with an equal and contradictory adoration of the law and the military, and a personal reading of the Constitution and Founding Fathers that borders on idolatry.
There are some fringe elements too: Birthers who continue to question Obama's citizenship, some 9-11 conspiracy theorists, vaccine skeptics, gun nuts and, yes, organic food nazis (at this point I use the term generously).
The casual and ignorant use of socialism and Communism and Marxism at these rally's have strong historical precedents, including the official red baiting of Martin Luther King, Jr., spurred some 50 years ago by the same Birchers.
Maureen Dowd has made a strong argument this morning that the rabid opposition to Obama is in fact race-based and not, as it pretends, policy based. You can easily write off the racist signs—Obama in white face as the Joker, show us the birth certificate, free ticket back to Kenya—as outliers. But their acceptance at these rallies is widespread and welcomed, including by elected officials like Emmet Rep. Steve Thayn, Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna who stopped by on his way to a ground breaking for a federal stimulus-funded school project in Wilder.
Here's how Dowd puts it:
"I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it."
I am not saying that each marcher on Saturday in Boise is a racist. But whether they realize it or not, the leaders of this national protest movement are using race and immigration and terrorism to fire up a specific base of working class Christians, even when it is against their personal interest to march. Expanding socialized medicine, lowering middle class taxes and opening up vast new channels of communication with their government will benefit the largely working class attendees at the Tea Party rallies, yet they prefer to find unity in their collective fear or who is in charge.
A small counter protest moved about in their midst on Saturday morning. Some 50 people dressed in black and sang the National Anthem, but otherwise listened silently, holding signs supporting the presidency, health care reform and reiterating Obama's arguments in his Wednesday night address to Congress that American values include compassion, which complements, rather that contradicts our rugged individualism.
There is no solution to this fault line in American society. But let's stop pretending that these are just "angry tax payers" or "Constitutionalists" and get to the root of the divide. And perhaps, after four years of moderate reforms that may include lowering their insurance premiums and giving them more charter schools, the mobs will be able to see past skin color.
While Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch sent boastful letters to Idaho Tea Partiers this week, and Rep. Mike Simpson sent good tidings as well, Idaho Democrats had a a message for the throngs as well.
"Idahoans agree that we must take aggressive action to get our country out of the current recession. Americans are frustrated that eight years of irresponsible policies pursued by the Bush administration have left the economy in a shambles with record deficits, record unemployment and record home foreclosures...
National media outlets may continue to debate whether or not Tea Party day was an authentic or manufactured phenomenon.