Friday, April 09, 2010

Tea Party Express Sponsor ResistNet Actually GOP Front Group

Why am I not surprised? I had never heard of ResistNet before I attended the Tea Party Express stop in Madison a few days ago, so I decided to check it out. Turns out that ResistNet was created, and is presumably controlled, by a GOP public relations firm called Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. SourceWatch has more details.

ResistNet's motto is "Home of the Patriotic Resistance." Seems like "Home of the Republican PR Operatives" would be a lot more accurate. Or maybe "Home of the uninformed teabaggers who are too dumb to figure out that they're being used."

To be fair, I should point out that the left also has its share of astroturf front groups, although they're not nearly as pervasive as those on the right. The Democratic and Republican Parties pretty much work from the same political playbook, but in this arena Republicans are much more successful. In part this is because Republicans and business interests simply have far more resources to throw at such efforts, but also because it's easier to manipulate the grassroots right, which is generally both less educated and less politically informed than the activist left.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Report and More Pictures from the Tea Party Express Stop in Madison

UPDATE: Somebody leaked a document to Politico which shows that the Tea Party Express is a pure astroturf operation created and run by Republican operatives through an outfit called Russo Marsh & Rogers. More and more it's looking like the entire Tea Party phenomena is just a very sophisticated PR campaign intended to help the Republican Party.

(Click any picture to enlarge)

Reform Dem attended the recent Tea Party Express stop in Madison so you wouldn't have to make small talk with folks like the women in the picture above! Despite the presence of a few crazies it was an interesting and entertaining experience. What it wasn't, despite the repeated refrain of the speakers, is grassroot. The event was very professionally run and produced. The very essence of astroturf, although the crowd seemed quite willing to ignore the evidence right in front of their faces. Ah, to be a teabagger and believe whatever I'm told...

Speaking of truth, it doesn't seem to be much of a requirement at Tea Party events. Some of the whoppers I heard from the speakers were truly amazing. Peter Cobb, the Wisconsin director of, kicked the evening off with, among other things, the most bizarre global warming diatribe I've ever heard. He claimed, as you would expect, that global warming is a hoax, then that carbon dioxide is actually a good thing because it's natural and helps plants grow, therefore environmentalists should support increased CO2 because they're opposed to erosion, which more plants would help to reduce, and if we get rid of the CO2 there will be too much oxygen anyway, so the real problem is that we need better science to find the truth. Whew! Maybe the real problems is that folks like Cobb shouldn't make shit up about subjects in which they're obviously clueless.

But the crowd loved it!

It's pretty obvious that the folks behind the Tea Party groups are worried about the reputation teabaggers have earned as nasty racist thugs. The theme that the Tea Party is a respectable nonviolent mainstream movement was hammered constantly. Did you know that it's actually impossible for a teabagger to be violent because the Tea Party is a human rights organization? I didn't either, but that's what they said, so it must be true.

Mark Neumann was up next, and I have to admit that for a wacky conservative he sure gives a good political speech. If he gets his campaign act together Neumann could potentially beat Scott Walker in the primary. Barrett is my guy, of course, but between Neumann and Walker I'd take the far more moderate Walker in a heartbeat. Following Neumann was Sarah Palin impersonator Rebecca Kleefisch, who is running for Lt. Governor. I have a previous post up about Kleefisch's rather despicable dog-whistle homophobia at the event, including audio of her entire speech, so I won't go into it here.

Then, finally, the main act arrived. The three big buses of the Tea Party Express!

The Tea Party Express is a conservative vaudeville act, a bunch of entertainers who speak, sing, and even dance a little, all while spouting Tea Party propaganda. Sounds corny, but they're quite talented and a lot of fun to watch, even if you don't agree with their extremist politics. The organizers obviously went to great lengths to make sure the Tea Party Express performers and staff are as diverse as possible. Gotta prove to the media that teabaggers aren't racists. Probably a third of the folks that got off those buses were black or brown, while the only person I saw in the crowd who wasn't pasty white was a Hmong guy trying to earn a little extra cash selling buttons.

The performer that the crowd seemed to like best was Polatik, a Mexican-American rapper. He really was quite good, despite some problems syncing with his background vocals. Wish I had audio of him to post, but I didn't have my recorder on. I cut out just after Polatik finished. It was getting late and I was thoroughly chilled by then. Here are some more pictures from the event, I apologize for not having more crowd and general shots, but most of the time it was just too dark to shoot without a flash. Enjoy!

Happy teabaggers! I blurred the face of the person in the center because he was clearly a minor.

One side...

And the other. Wonder if he knows that Rand was actually an atheist who practiced free love and once wrote "What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?"

There's a popular misconception, which I once shared, that many teabaggers are moderates or disaffected Dems. Not true! In reality they're almost all extremely conservative, although many are so far to the right of the Republican Party that they label themselves as independents. Pollster has a good article examining this issue.

I certainly agree with the first part of this bumper sticker, and I understand the point of the second, but it sure is a xenophobic way to express it.

The Tea Party can complain all the want about being misrepresented as violent extremists, but as long as they condone signs such as this, and make claims, as one of the speakers at the event actually did, that "Obama is a domestic enemy," then they fully deserve that condemnation.

And why are all these folks so radicalized and disconnected from truth and reality?

Of course.

Dog-whistle Homophobia from GOP Lt. Governor Candidate Rebecca Kleefisch

Tea Party events seem to bring out the worst in some people, and GOP Lt. Governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch is no exception. She used yesterday's Tea Party Express stop in Madison as an opportunity to serve up a little dog-whistle homophobia to a receptive crowd. Many folks probably missed her double entendre, but the social conservatives in the audience certainly didn't. Using sex education as an example of unwarranted government involvement in personal matters, Kleefisch said that she wanted her children to learn about the birds and the bees from her, not from "Jim Doyle and Mark Pocan."

Kleefisch will undoubtedly claim that she's simply using Mark Pocan as an example of a big bad Madison liberal, and that Pocan's sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with it. But given Kleefisch's background, and her knowledge of Wisconsin politics, she knew exactly how the social conservatives in the audience would interpret her words: Democrats have put gays in charge of sex ed so that they can corrupt your children. Be afraid, be very afraid.

UPDATE: I've uploaded an MP3 file of Kleefisch at the 3/6/10 Tea Party Express event. The comments I referred to above occur about three minutes into her speech. It's worth listening just to hear hear how well Kleefisch imitates Sarah Palin. Quite deliberate no doubt, and the teabaggers love it!

Oh, the Irony...

A picture from the Tea Party Express stop in Madison earlier this evening. You'd think they'd notice something like this.

More pictures and info from the Madison event later. Some pretty shocking stuff.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Terrence Wall: Teabagger?

Will Terrence Wall show up at the Tea Party Express Tour stop in Madison tonight? Wall has donated the use of one of his properties for the event, and it would be a perfect opportunity for him to start cozying up to the radical right.

Although being closely associated with an increasingly strident and violent fringe group like the Tea Party could hurt Wall in the general election against Russ Feingold, he has a much more immediate problem: Tommy Thompson. Current polling shows that if Thompson enters the race he'll crush Wall in the primary. How can Wall even the playing field? Perhaps by going the populist Tea Party route while painting Thompson as a corrupt Washington insider.

Will he or won't he? It will be very interesting to see if Wall takes the plunge tonight. At the very least, the fact that he's providing a free venue for the event shows that he's keeping all his teabagging options open.