To Teaparty or not to Teaparty


by David Safier
We've had a bit of back-and-forth in the comments about whether the Friday anti-Cap and Trade protest at Giffords' office should be called a Tea Party event. Based on a comment from flounder, I went to the professional looking Tucson Tea Party website. Here's what I found on the subject.

Arizonans Setting Energy Free (ASEF) will be sponsoring a protest outside of Representative Gabby Giffords Tucson Office on July 17th, 2009 from 4 to 6 p.m. Her office is located on the southwest corner of Swan and Pima. The Tucson Tea Party will be there supporting this effort.

If you Google "Arizonans Setting Energy Free," the only link is the piece I just quoted from. I suppose I could put together a group called "Arizonans Making BfA Blogger Rich Beyond His Wildest Dreams of Avarice" and say the group is sponsoring a money drop in a certain Swiss bank account, but that wouldn't mean I'm not behind it.

Unless someone can show me this ad hoc ASEF group is independent of the local Tea Baggers, I'm going to assume it's old tea in new bottles.

And by the way, the Pima Dem group will be meeting at 4pm Friday on the Northeast corner of Pima and Swan. Everyone is invited. It could be an interesting matchup. I won't be surprised to see some media coverage.

UPDATE: A reader tipped me to this post on Sonoran Alliance.

The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity is joining the National Tea Party Protest Day this Friday (July 17) with protests at the offices of key members of Arizona’s Congressional delegation.


Here in Arizona, it appears that U.S. Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Pima County), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Prescott/Flagstaff) and Harry Mitchell (D-Scottsdale/Tempe) are not hell-bent on creating a single-payer, Canadian-style system of government-directed health care. But they are under intense pressure from President Obama and their hard-left colleagues in Congress. We need to give them some grassroots pressure in the direction of freedom!

I think we can take it to the bank. This Friday's demonstration is part of the Tea Party movement. If you have time, read through the comments at the end of the S.A. post about how this "grassroots movement" is bought and paid for by big Republican money. Some very good documentation.


  1. Trent.

    I didn’t see the emoticon. Colbert doesn’t see color, I don’t see funny little symbols. The difference is, I’m too damn old to see little things like that.

    Parent X.

    I’d be happy to welcome you as one of us. But if you have trouble with Olbermann, I don’t care how many hybrids you drive. Get Thee Hence! And Never Darken My Door Again! (Visual: Man standing on porch, finger pointing toward the wilderness. Woman with thin shawl over her head to protect her from the snow and howling winds, looking back wistfully) [Followed by one of those smiley face emoticons.]
    (I have to admit, Parent X, I find Olbermann a bit bombastic and overly self important at times. Forgive me, Keith, for I have sinned!)

    Trent, part 2: I can’t believe you actually wrote this:
    “McCain suspending his campaign to run to Washington to legislate this mess was the death of his campaign.”

    Do you really believe that? McCain pulled that stunt to try and revive his failing campaign. All he did was sit silently at the table during a meeting with Bush, then go to an office somewhere and make a few phone calls he could have made from anywhere in the country. And he kept his campaign in full gear during the whole thing. If you think McCain pulled that prank as a genuine act of concern for the country’s well being, I really don’t know what to say.

  2. Trent:

    1. You have started all of your last three posts by misconstruing my words. I didn’t say that members of tea party were hate filled – I said that I could relate to the fear, anger and frustration that they (and others) were feeling but that your movement wasn’t going to “get much accomplished if you stick to ridiculous stereotypes and hate-filled protest signs”. I’ll stick by that assessment.

    2. I laughed aloud when I read your second point…the pork bill and stimulus are ALL Obama but “not a dime” of defense spending can be attributed to him? Please see my last post regarding stereotypes, sweeping generalizations and the need for facts.

    3. No – nothing personal against poor ole Frank. He just happened to be one of your speakers and he just brims with irony when he rails against government while he himself receives a number of government paychecks (3, by my count) The fact that he served our country makes it perfectly acceptable in my book to receive all of the veteran & military benefits (and then some), but it doesn’t give him a free pass to be obtuse.

    and “chief enemies” ?? Trent, really ?

  3. Parentx

    A few things:

    1. To say that the members of the tea party are “hate filled” is just plain irresponsible. It is wrong, and I believe you know that. You are going to go to an event with thousands of people and pick out ONE sign, and characterize everyone under that banner, you are not looking for real political discussion. Hell, AZbluemeanine gives hate-filled diatribes on this blog quite often and I don’t believe it reflects on the owner of this site, and that’s a much smaller universe.

    2. National Defense is Constitutionally Mandated. None of this Obama spending is, not a dime of it. Bush (and Obama as a senator, for that matter) passed the first bailout. Conservatives were pissed about that, and still are. McCain suspending his campaign to run to Washington to legislate this mess was the death of his campaign. The subsequent Omnibus pork bill and the stimulus are ALL Obama though. And here’s the thing, the money from the first bailout is being restored. Do you think that any of that money will go to pay down debt like it was supposed to? Bush also didn’t nationalize the Auto Industry. We are NOT freakin’ Venezuela.

    3. Did Frank Antenori wrong you personally somehow? If you truly hate corporate loopholes and welfare, you should like Frank, he has stopped all kinds of corporate giveaways and was excoriated by this site, and the governor, and his House leadership for it. The fact that he fought for our country is a definite plus. I will never begrudge ANY of our soldiers their benefits, they have earned them. Again, why you would say you hate the expansion of government and single out Frank Antenori and the Tea Party as your chief enemies is baffling.

    Again, thank you for the discussion.

  4. Trent:

    Reading your message, I construe that you tossed me out of the Conservative Club because I “approve of government expansion”. I re-read posts and can’t figure out where I became an expansion cheerleader…I merely am pointing out that we have existing obligations that we need to pay for and that tax reductions aren’t realistic right now.

    Let me reiterate one reason why I think the Tea Party thing is over-baked with the following example:

    Our current military budget is roughly $651 billion dollars. That covers the general expenses for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. If you were to add in all the little ‘extras’ (Veterans programs, nuclear weapons research & maintenance, etc.) our total US military spending runs around $1 trillion dollars every year.

    There are around 138 million tax payers in the United States. If each of us paid an equal share JUST to cover our military expenses every year, we would pay $4,717 per person for the general military expenses…$7,246 each to fund the entire trillion-dollar package.

    That, my tea-touting friend, is a lot of money. And now we are also in DEBT by that same amount, so that means we have to shell out double that amount just to cover our military obligations and get back in the black. ($14,492 per person so far if you are keeping tabs)

    I’d like pause here to point out that President Obama can’t take the ‘blame’ for that big bill…it existed before he became President. I’d also like to point out that the more conservative tax groups (Heartland, etc.) say that the average American HOUSEHOLD (*not taxpayer*) pays around $17,300 per year in federal taxes.

    That $17k in taxes our households are currently paying- by the way – is just enough to pay for our current military obligations and existing debt…and not much else.

    Am I picking on the military because I’m a pinko-Commie liberal who doesn’t support our troops? No – it’s just an easy illustration and it just happens to be the portion of our tax money that pays Mr. Frank “Small Government” Antenori’s reported military pension and VA benefits.

    What I am saying, however, is that we Americans have gotten ourselves into a real mess. We need measured, serious and fact-based conversations about how to get ourselves out of the mess…not a bunch of guys carrying “Death to Our Dictator” signs (see your Tea Party website for this reference).

    We also need Americans to take responsibility for this. George Bush might have mucked a bunch of stuff up at the federal level, Obama might be making the wrong decision in launching a uber-expensive health care program – but WE AMERICANS borrowed more money than we should have, bought homes we couldn’t afford, didn’t pay enough attention to our education system and gorged ourselves on cheap/quick/disposable goods from overseas. We can throw a million hissy fits but the truth is that we have created the government that we deserve – and we won’t change much until we turn off the raving pundits and start taking a hard look at the facts.

    I’m not diminishing the fear, anger and frustration that the tax protestors feel…I think we all feel it to some degree about our general economic situation. I don’t, however, that you’ll find that you’ll get much accomplished if you stick to ridiculous stereotypes and hate-filled protest signs. You aren’t doing yourself – or your country – any favors by sticking to the lowest common denominator of rhetoric.

  5. David,

    Did you notice the smiley face at the end of my comment? I was being facetious. You say you had 100 there I believe you. I know that a candidate running against Gabby got over 300 signatures at the event, and I’m pretty sure not everybody signed his nominating petitions as supporters of other primary candidates were there as well. So I would put the floor at 500.


    I may have judged you harshly, but ANYONE who approves of the government expansion happening at this point raises serious red flags. Its funny that there are many who claim to be a disaffected conservative, but nobody claims to be a liberal who says the party is just too darn liberal! You see many “disgruntled conservatives” who never seem to have a center-right thought expressed. There had to be quite a few things that they were in agreement about a short time ago, and now I am to believe that Obama has shown them the light in all things, and that they have no disagreements with the current direction of the country? Uh-huh.

    If you truly believe in economic prudence, taking responsibility for one’s actions, general ideological opposition to our current endless stream of subsidies & tax loopholes and a desire for small government, you have my sincere apology. I would ask however, what do you find appealing in the current direction of the country, however, to lay off the current administration and attack its critics? Surely nothing leaving Washington at this point reflects ANY of those principles.

    Thank you for the discussion.

  6. Trent:

    In your reply to me you started off with: “You are most certainly not a conservative and don’t have a clue about what the Tea Party Movement is about”

    LOL Wow – forgive me. I didn’t realize that the keeper of the conservative key was right here in a liberal forum!

    I thought conservatism meant economic prudence, taking responsibility for one’s actions, general ideological opposition to our current endless stream of subsidies & tax loopholes and a desire for small government. I can’t claim to be a ‘social’ conservative since it would never occur to me in a million years to have my kids carry around dead fetus signs, but I thought I might have nailed the whole fiscal-conservative title square on the head. Foolish me…I didn’t realize that I also needed to parade around sneering at my elected Congresswoman’s office and/or enthusiastically misrepresent the principles behind a major historical event to join your club!

    Maybe, just maybe, that’s why so many people are fleeing the Republican party. Seems that the guidelines for admission are tightening and the atmosphere is getting a little extreme. If I can’t consider myself to be a conservative anymore, I guess I’d better find myself a new crowd to run with. How about it, David? Any room in your pack or am I excluded if I admit that Keith Olbermann gets on my nerves? I DO drive a hybrid though, so maybe Trent is on to something….

    PS: Check out the recent legislation in our state, especially that impressive budget omnibus bill that the “conservatives” in our state legislature jammed through at 3am last month as proof that ‘liberals’ don’t have the market on nutty, fiscally-irresponsible, multi-paged bills that people don’t have time to read. I might (might!) have a smidgen more respect for the tea party crew if they weren’t gushing over Rep. Antenori for doing the exact same thing that they are protesting against. More irony there than you can shake a stick at!

  7. Trent.

    Mellow, dude! In your last comment, you were ranting like some kind of extremist, getting all hot and bothered. But as Barry Goldwater said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Embrace it.

    As for the head count, somewhere around 5pm, I did a fairly accurate count on our corner. Starting with the people who stretched a ways down Pima to the east and ending with people stretching up Swan to the north, I came up with slightly over 100 people who were there for the purpose of supporting Giffords on energy legislation. I was too far away to do more than estimate the number of people you had (it looked like upwards to 250 on the SW corner and another 100-150 scattered between the two other corners), but I can take my number to the bank, I’m that certain of it.

  8. Trent,
    would you repeat in front of your wife and children the words written on some of your (your side’s) signs? And the language used by some of your people who infiltrated our side and took close-up pictures of us? If you are not aware, I’ll email you details (assuming I can find somewhere your email address.
    Trent, did you read our signs? What’s wrong with “Green Energy=Homeland Security”? or “Jobs for American People”?

  9. ParentX,

    You are most certainly not a conservative and don’t have a clue about what the Tea Party Movement is about. The taxes are only a symptom of the problem. I’m sure that if you could convince people that raising taxes would ONLY be used to pay down current debt and not fund new obligations, you might get a lot of takers from the Tea Party Movement. But that is not the deal. This Administration wants to raise Debt AND raise taxes. It’s like paying off your MasterCard with your Visa. It’s Insanity.

    Of course even the liberals know that’s what we are about. That is why we pass bills without debate or even reading them, because the logic of what is in them collapses under any amount of scrutiny. How can you support 1 day of debate on a 1000 page bill that nobody has read. You can’t, unless you are a Kool-aid drinker, or a cult-like believer in the Democratic party. And I would hope that most Democrats don’t fall in these categories.

    We are doing the grown up thing and getting results, and that is what is making a lot of people nervous. Card check is dead, and cap and trade and rationed medicine are next.

    Health care needs to be improved, but separating patients from the care that they like currently is not the way to do that.

    David, I’ll get you an invite to the next Health Care forum that we put on.

    Oh, and the extra 50 you counted on you side were just waiting for the light to cross the street to the good guy corners 🙂


  10. Dr. Kennible Lecter:

    With all due respect, there’s no earthly way you had 1000-1200 people on that corner. I’d wager the figure falls somewhere between Mr. Safier’s estimate and Mr. Humpries’s.

    I worry when I hear someone encourage a dramatic swing back to the right. It concerns me because swinging to any extreme on either side of the political spectrum is a dangerous thing for our country. Like dieting, a healthy and diverse moderation between both parties is key to our long term success.

  11. *Sigh*

    The tea party stuff comes on the news and my back bristles. I’m sorry, but you can’t run around advocating for unregulated financial markets, willy-nilly consumer spending, a variety-pack of international conflicts (which have driven our military spending to record highs) and all of our Arizona special-interest projects and THEN express indignation when the bill comes in the mail.

    Here’s the deal. We all hate taxes. I’ll bet that even David hates taxes. All of us also agree that our government (federal/state/local) needs some major improvement. BUT – that doesn’t make it OK to forgo personal responsibility and rave like a bunch of nutters about overthrowing the US President. Good lord, if the Democrats had used the same militant language the tea-partiers are using against our former President, Cheney would have had a massive conniption and we’d all be living under martial law.

    As a conservative, I’m not impressed. It’s time to stop reading the reactionary, self-centered Rush Limbaugh playbook and start approaching our substantial national issues like thoughtful grown-ups.

  12. What the democrats just don’t get is that they are rapidly losing support.

    Who really cares who funds it, or how many people attend,
    (by my estimates there were somewhere between 1000-1200 people)

    The point is I spoke with Republicans, Independents, AND turn-coat Democrats who are scared and have had enough.

    Maybe a dramatic swing back to the right in ’10 will
    convince them… One would hope.

  13. Trent.

    My count of your crowd came out more like 400, tops, and we had about 100, but I only say that as a counterpoint to your figures. I don’t have anything other than my own estimates to back up my numbers. No question, you had the numbers on your side, and also anger, which is the best way to bring out numbers. We got lots of folks out when Bush visited Tucson, and when we were protesting the run-up to the Iraq War. Same kind of thing.

    I have to admit, I don’t understand why groups that use the term “Tea Party” to describe themselves object to being called extremists. That term was tossed out by speakers at early rallies to full throated cheers. People called for revolution. People called for secession. People said Obama is not really our president. Those are extremist views. I don’t see why you won’t embrace who you are.

    Weren’t the Boston Tea Party folks extremists advocating destruction of personal property in support of their cause? That’s where you got your name, from a group that was part of the early rumblings that led to the American Revolution, a violent effort that overthrew an oppressive government. That’s the central metaphor of your group. Why deny it?

    I expect to see “Extremist and Proud of It” signs at all of your rallies, because that’s an accurate label, by the admission of many of the movements’ founding fathers and mothers, and by the name you’ve chosen for yourselves.

  14. J. Davidson,

    “Our Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, recently voted for President Obama’s Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that will lead to the creation of new jobs, a stronger economy, and a reduced dependence on foreign energy.

    And for her efforts, Rep. Giffords has become the latest target of the “Tucson Tea Party,” an extremist organization whose mission is to promote the far-right wing’s agenda and to support candidates who have fallen tragically out of touch with the values of mainstream Arizonans. These extremists have planned a protest outside of the Congresswoman’s office, to take place this Friday from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.

    Accordingly, we are holding our own rally this Friday in support of Congresswoman Giffords and her support of clean energy and a stronger economy! Meet at the NE corner of Pima and Swan (across from Giffords office) at 4pm Friday, July 17. (If you want to help make posters for the event, come to Pima Dem Headquarters (4639 E. 1st St.) Thursday, July 16, 5-8pm.) Call 326-3716 for more information.”

    I wasn’t speaking about the posts on this blog, but the words of the Pima County Democratic Party themselves. They started the smears, not me. I’m OK with such comments on a private blog to an extent, but a political party apparatus is another thing altogether. What they did here was idiotic.

  15. Mr. Humphries:

    While I can appreciate your frustration, for whatever that is worth, I can’t help but wonder just who within the Democratic party you perceive to be picking a fight with you and/or your organization?

    David simply posted about the association of Tea party enthusiasts and their link to the “event” at Rep. Giffords’ office and shared with his readers that the Dems would be there to offer an alternative voice.

    Regardless of your perception of fight-baiting, your “shoot to kill” language is highly reckless. I respectfully urge you to check that you aren’t over-posturing for a fight no one is asking for. Respectful dialog/exchange on the issues will do your cause far more good than adolescent chest thumping.

  16. David and company,

    What I don’t think you understand is that there is no national Tea Party organization. There may be several groups who would like to claim the mantle, but there is no centralized control. There is no training, no outside funding (or at least none coming this direction), or no “marching orders.”

    Now with the advent of social networking, event times and dates may be coordinated on a local level to minimize competition or redundancy. For instance Robert Mayer and myself were organizing the first Tea Party independently of one another until we met on a blog message board and decided to work together. Additionally, groups may time their event to coordinate with another group if their aims are similar, but this is not done by directive from anybody. It is mostly ad-hoc.

    I received an email from Arizonans Setting Energy Free and a little later from Smart Girl Politics (who we have already worked with) about doing a protest of Gifford’s office about different issues. These groups, after finding out what the other was doing, planned their protest at the same time to maximize effectiveness. That is the beauty of the internet and social networking. I just passed along the message to my group.

    However, because the Pima County Democrats attacked my group, they riled up people who might not have showed up otherwise and embarrassed Giffords and the Democratic party. Turnout was 10 to 1 with a majority of the anti-Giffords protesters Tea party goers. We estimate 600-700 people conservatively.

    If you want to pick a fight, you better shoot to kill, because tonight, you all got worked.

  17. In a related note, mainly that much of what we see as “conservative” thought, like the teaparties, is fundamentally little more than paid corporate advertising, did you see the story today that the conservative group The American Conservative Union (ACU) tried to blackmail FedEx out of $2 million dollars or else they were going to side with their competitors in a labor dispute and send out their team to attack Fedex with op/eds and plants on TV programs?

    The teaparty movement is simply advertising by corporations (through Dick Armeys “conservative” corporate pass-through e.g.) that want to keep taxes on their companies and executives at historically low rates as well as suppress uppity labor.

  18. I find it simply amazing that an independent teabagging outfit ended up protesting on the same day as the Dick Armey army of ‘baggers. How convenient.
    I know here in Prescott the thing is set up by a lady who is big in the Republican Women of Yavapai group and was seen at the last tea party lying into a microphone that the stimulus was building a train from Disneyland to Vegas. How independent that she was using John Boehner approved lies and smears.

  19. Trent, you say who didn’t organize the event at Giffords’ office, but you don’t say who did. According to Sonoran Alliance, it’s part of National Tea Party Protest Day. Does that mean it was organized by the national movement or a local branch? If so, I was correct in referring to it as “a Tea Party event.”

    And while I’m asking questions, what do you know about Arizonans Setting Energy Free (ASEF)? Is it a long standing group or an ad hoc group set up to fight the cap and trade bill? Since there’s no information on the web, you might be able to shed some light on the group and its founders and/or leaders.

  20. David,

    This event was not organized by the Tucson Tea Party, which is independent from any national tea party movement or any other Tea Party movement in Arizona. We did send word of it to our email list as we support the protest, and I guess we will be showing up in number because of the stupidity of Pima Democratic Party.

    Congratulations, I guess.

    Trent Humphries