Palin star of controversial Tea Party
By Ed Stoddard – Analysis
DALLAS (Reuters) – The first national Tea Party convention meets this week to take aim at all the raucous movement says is wrong with Washington and Sarah Palin, darling of America’s conservatives, will help lead the charge.
Tea partiers grabbed headlines last year with often highly charged protests against President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform drive, his $787 billion economic stimulus package and other aspects of his agenda.
The movement takes its name from the historic protest against British taxation, the Boston Tea Party, one of the triggers of the American revolution against colonial rule.
Organization for the convention in Nashville has been plagued by in-fighting, pullouts and criticism of an attendance cost of more than $500 and a glitzy dinner that evokes Wall Street rather than Main Street.
It also brings together activists who make for an awkward fit, mirroring wider divisions in a movement which seems united in little but its opposition to big government, especially under Obama’s Democrats.
Conservatives ascribe the movement to grass-roots frustration with the big spending ways of both Democrats and Republicans. Liberals counter that it is a Republican Party or corporate front.
“Some have tried to portray this movement as a commercial endeavor rather than the grassroots uprising that it is. Those who do so don’t understand the frustration everyday Americans feel when they see their government mortgaging their children’s future with reckless spending,” Palin wrote in an opinion published on Wednesday in USA Today.
Palin said she will donate her fee as keynote speaker at the convention to the cause and its candidates.
There is no reliable estimate of the movement’s nationwide numbers though strands of it are coming together under different umbrellas such as the National Tea Party Coalition.
ROOM TO GROW?
Some want it to grow from boisterous agitation to a political machine that can get out the vote for candidates who subscribe to its view of limited government.
Activists interviewed by Reuters said they were targeting Democrats made vulnerable by Obama’s sinking popularity. All 435 seats of the House of Representatives and more than a third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs in November.
In the House, Colorado Democrat Besty Markey is frequently cited as a target while in Arkansas tea partiers in neighboring Texas have signaled their desire to send volunteers to campaign against Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, who faces a tough re-election campaign.
They have said they may try to influence Democratic contests by pushing for conservatives within the party to win nominations to run for state or national offices. Activists have said they have their eye on the race in Connecticut to replace retiring Democratic senator Chris Dodd.
“What we are working to do is engage people in the process and we are actively recruiting people that have this limited government view. At the same time we are working on training them up to effect political change,” said Ken Emanuelson, who is on the steering committee of the Dallas Tea Party.
The Dallas group is organizing local activists by their zip or postal codes enabling them to their work such as voter registration drives in their own backyards.
Paul McGovern, 62, a small businessman in Irving, Texas, who is a volunteer with his local Tea Party group, said he saw the benefits of taking things to the next stage by organizing politically in many ways including on-line.
“Obama used the Internet to get elected but now it’s his own worst enemy because we’ll use it,” he said on the sidelines of a tea party leadership conference last weekend in Dallas.
The tea party movement has drawn a mixed bag of what critics might call malcontents, and such a structured approach may grate with libertarians among the faithful.
“It is inherently difficult to organize libertarians, which most of the Tea Partiers are,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Mainstream conservative groups such as Judicial Watch, which pushes for government transparency, will rub shoulders with fringe elements such as “birthers” who insist that Obama was born in Kenya and his administration is therefore illegal.
Organizers say Palin’s speech at the steak and lobster dinner on Saturday night will be broadcast live, giving the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential contender a chance to rally activists nationwide.
Commentators credit the movement with generating some of the energy behind the Senate election upset in Massachusetts last month when Republican Scott Brown captured the late Edward Kennedy’s seat in a sign of voter discontent with Democrats.
If it does manage to transform itself into a political machine, its impact may be most felt during the primaries when candidates compete for party nominations to run for state or national offices.
The field in the primaries is more fluid which can work to the advantage of a diffuse movement. In Florida, it is credited with a surge in the polls by tea party favorite Marco Rubio, who is vying with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in the party’s primary to contest for a U.S. Senate seat.
(Editing by Anthony Boadle)
Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World,” Fox News’ Glenn Beck, thinks his weeping in opposition to Democrats’ healthcare is somehow comparable to foretelling the 9/11 attacks.
On his program Wednesday, Olbermann quoted Beck as saying that his jeremiads against healthcare reform are somehow comparable to those who once warned Bin Laden was determined to attack the United States.
“Ten years ago, I could have shouted every single day about Osama bin Laden and his wacky, crazy threats to kill Americans in New York and no one would have been willing to stand in line two hours while some security officer made grandma take her shoes off,” Olbermann quotes Beck as saying. “Today, things are different. America is changed. Washington, We’re not letting you get away with it anymore. The 912ers are willing to stand in line and take off our shoes before plane actually hits the tower.”
Olbermann retorts: “Beck, shark jump. You and the 9-12ers have the nerve to exploit 9/11 for your lousy tv ratings?
“You cannot make light of 9/11 nor bandy about as if your petty political grievances are comparable to it and still be a patriotic American,” Olbermann continues. “In short, Glenn, 9-12ers, if you are invoking it just to oppose healthcare reform, go to hell.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Nov. 3, 2009.
Beck’s original comments follow.
Leaked video: Glenn Beck ‘uses Vicks to cry on cue’
A video posted to YouTube a few weeks ago making the rounds across the internet apparently shows Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck having Vicks applied under his eyes in order to cry on cue for a photo shoot. One blog, Sensico, mocks, “This is only shocking video to those that love Glenn Beck and think he cries non-stop because he ‘loves this country.’” The blog links to a montage of Beck crying jags put to the theme song of “The Crying Game” as sung by Boy George: YouTube link. In April, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert mocked one of Beck’s tear-ups, by pretending to be choked up about it: “I’m sorry. I just love Glenn Beck’s sanity — and I fear for it.” Of course, using Vicks to cry during a staged photo shot wouldn’t be the same as using it to produce tears on television about how the country “is turning Socialist.” So, until another tape surfaces showing Beck getting the Vicks treatment before a rant on Fox, it would be premature to speculate that he only emits fugazi tears.
But if Beck is outed as a Vicks-enabled weeper, then there are other tricks of the trade he can employ.
A wikiHOW manual offers many suggestions such as, “Make a crying face, which usually involves closing your eyes and scrunching your face.”
“Turn the corners of your lips down a little,” the manual advises. “Try to force the inner corners of your eyebrows upwards. Wrinkle up your chin like people do right before they start bawling.”
However, the manual notes, “This may look faked.” So, another suggestion is to “try pinching hard in some sensitive parts of your body,” and “tears will automatically flow down.”
In a post entitled “Internet Finally Discovers Glenn Beck Photoshoot Video, Freaks Out,” Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins blogs, “Depending on your point of view, this is either the object demonstration of a time-tested photographer’s trick, or the SMOKING GUN THAT WILL BRING DOWN GLENN BECK’S EMPIRE OF FAKE TEARS! As you might surmise, I am opting to err on the side of calmness and serenity, because Gawker posted this video about two weeks ago, and the Republic survived.”
Gawker did indeed post the video about two weeks ago, after it was first “published exclusively in June,” which we (staff and readers who send tips) somehow missed.
It’s difficult to take a performance artist like Glenn Beck too seriously when he keeps breaking out of character. For instance: Time’s new cover is another photo of him by Jill Greenberg, a liberal he pretends to hate.
The photo comes from a shoot Greenberg — whom Beck has lambasted as a liberal photo-agitator — did for a GQ story on Beck back in June, in which she made the emotionally unstable Mormon cry. Hey, as long as she makes him look good, right?
Here’s the deeply unsettling behind-the-scenes video we obtained of a bawling Beck at that shoot, which we first published exclusively in June.
From Gawker’s June post:
GQ assigned photographer Jill Greenberg to shoot Glenn Beck for an interview, in a cheeky homage to Greenberg’s notorious series of crying children. Funny! Hey, didn’t Beck accuse Greenberg of “terrorizing” children for those photos? Of course he did.
Beck’s penchant for hysterical tears makes the pairing obvious—why not ask a photographer famous for taking pictures of crybabies to shoot a blubbering TV personality? But Greenberg is an officially designated public enemy of the right wing: Last year, when she was hired by the Atlantic to shoot John McCain, she boasted of taking extra shots of McCain deliberately lit to make him look old and leaving “his eyes red and his skin looking bad.” Also, she posted photoshopped outtakes on her web site featuring a monkey shitting on McCain’s head.
The following video was posted to YouTube on September 17:Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite
pdate (at bottom): Video of town hall disruption surfaces on YouTube
In a stunning display of anger, Florida Republicans and fans of Fox editorialist Glenn Beck turned a Tampa healthcare forum into a “near riot,” one reporter said, as they attempted to enter the meeting hall and drown out a group of community organizers and a member of congress.
There were at least two reports of violence at the forum.
“The meeting which was scheduled to begin at 6:00 at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County drew hundreds of people who quickly began to overwhelm staff and event organizers at the front entrance,” reported Tampa news station 10 Connects.
The channel added: “10 Connects photojournalist Kevin Carlson, [who was] inside the meeting reports at least one fist fight breaking out inside.”
Tensions were raised as Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) attempted to convene the meeting, only to be drowned out by protesters banging on the windows and jeering, “Tyranny!” and “40 million illegals.”
“Thursday’s forum/near riot was sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, and the Service Employees International Union, who apparently had hoped to hold something of a pep rally for President Obama’s health care reform proposal,” noted St. Petersburg Times reporter Adam Smith.
He continued: “Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.”
Outside the meeting hall, one Randy Arthur, of Oldsmar, Florida, was injured by door minders, according to one report. “[Hall] said he would file a police report,” reported Tampa Bay Online.
“He and his wife, Kathy, were outside the meeting room when organizers tried to close the doors,” the publication continued. “Randy Arthur and others tried to stop them ‘and he didn’t give up,” Kathy Arthur said.”
Mrs. Authur reportedly said her husband was “slammed into a wall,” suffering a ripped shirt and scratches on his chest.
Because of all the commotion, the forum ended early, 10 Connects noted. Those in support of the president’s health reform agenda were reportedly outnumbered at the meeting by nearly three-to-one.
Such “mobs” have been denounced in recent days by Democratic lawmakers, while journalists like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have revealed the corporate interests and Republican operatives that bankroll and organize these town hall disruptions.
In a prepared statement, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman echoed her party’s stance on the healthcare “mobs.”
“Recently, [our] thoughtful discussions are being interrupted by angry mobs – well funded and organized by Washington special interests – attempting to drown out the voices of the hard-working Floridians who are desperate for health insurance reform,” she said. “These groups are not concerned about Americans’ access to quality heath care, but are extreme ideologues, only interested in ‘breaking’ the President and thwarting the change Americans voted for last November.”
Additionally, Fox editorialist Glenn Beck, who promoted the group that arranged this particular protest, earlier this week pleaded with his viewers to resist turning violent.
A recent CNN poll found a slim majority — 50 percent — support the president’s health reforms.
The United States has almost 50 million uninsured citizens who face tremendous financial hardship should they ever fall ill or require hospital care. Obama’s proposed reforms seek to create a “public option” that would extend low-cost coverage to those who are ineligible for or otherwise cannot afford private insurance.
This video was published to YouTube on August 6, 2009.
This video is from Tampa’s local Fox News affiliate, broadcast Thursday, August 6, 2009.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite