After a week of speculation, controversy and support, the Houston radio reporter and talk show host tells the story of his firing from his own perspective
It has more supporters here than anywhere else. It fueled the Republican landslide. It has its own caucus. But what is the tea party? And how will it use its power?
Read a Q&A with Nate Blakeslee.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is the most powerful (and feared) activist at the Capitol. So who is he?
From the Times: The Tea Party might not be over, but it is increasingly clear that the election last month significantly weakened the once-surging movement, which nearly captured control of the through a potent combination of populism and fury. Leading Congressional Republicans,…
The Huffington Post web site noted yesterday that Rick Perry’s biggest career donor, Bob Perry, has not yet contributed to the governor’s presidential campaign. A likely reason is Rick Perry’s support for legislation that adversely impacts Latinos, such as Voter I.D. laws and sanctuary cities policies. Perry flip-flopped on…
Fortune magazine published an online article yesterday (which will appear in the magazine's July 25 issue) stating that the bailout is going to be a winner--a big winner--for taxpayers and the federal government. An abridged version appears in last Friday's Washington Post in partnership with Bloomberg News. The bailout is important in recent Texas political history because its unpopularity in the state, particularly with the Tea Party, was the foundation of Perry's wipeout of Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2010 Republican primary. Unaccountably, Hutchison never once defended her vote for the bailout or questioned the wisdom of Perry's opposition to it. In retrospect, I think Perry would have defeated Hutchison no matter what the issues were. She was too out of touch with the Republican Party of Texas and the sharp movement to the right that it had taken. Perry's ability to fan the flames of Texas exceptionalism left her without a constituency. Perry's stance on the bailout takes on added importance because Perry is going to run for president--indeed, I wrote a 7,000 words article in 2010 about how he was preparing to do so--and the bailout was a crucial moment in his evolution as a national figure. That he is already running second to Romney (in the latest Fox News poll, by 18% to 13%) is an indication that this is going to be a two-person race, and Perry brings an enthusiasm to the race that the current field has not been able to provide. Obviously there are still plenty of caveats: Can he raise the money? Can he stand up to the scrutiny of the national media? But he gets more attention as an unannounced candidate than most of his announced rivals can generate. From the Post's version of the story:
This was the big takeaway from the pundits on election night: It was a great night for women and for Tea Party activists. Here is a sample of the punditry: --Mark McKinnon, writing in the Daily Beast: "Voters in 12 states expressed their anger with Washington and special interests Tuesday night by defeating a $10 million union campaign to unseat a senator who had the courage to stand up against their special interest legislation, promoting women outsiders who have run public companies but never held office, and supporting candidates aligned with Tea Party values. And as clear evidence of voter desire to the shake up the good old boy network in politics, women ruled the night." --Jonathan Alter, writing on the Newsweek Web site: "We already know that this is the year of outsiders, but it may be that the most successful outsiders aren't Tea Party Foxulists but women of all stripes. With only six women governors, 16 women senators, and 74 women in the House, female candidates are fresher for voters looking for change. The problem for Republicans is that the wacky ones might hamstring the serious ones." We already know that this is the year of outsiders, but it may be that the most successful outsiders aren’t Tea Party Foxulists but women of all stripes. With only six women governors, 16 women senators, and 74 women in the House, female candidates are fresher for voters looking for change. The problem for Republicans is that the wacky ones might hamstring the serious ones." (more on that point later--pb) [Alter continues] "In Arkansas, being a woman helped Sen. Blanche Lincoln pull off a huge upset in a runoff over challenger Bill Halter, who led by a comfortable margin in almost all pre-primary polls. Bill Clinton campaigned for Lincoln, which no doubt helped, and Lincoln’s anti-derivatives amendment in the Senate gave her some populist cred. But I’d argue that she won as much because she’s a woman as anything else. In the public imagination, the stereotypical Washington hack just isn’t wearing a skirt. So while the conventional wisdom now favors Republican Rep. John Boozman in the general election, Lincoln’s come-from-behind win might energize her supporters and make that race competitive after all, a big turnaround." [I would argue that the reason Lincoln won her primary--in addition to her gender--is that her opponent, light gov Bill Halter, was the candidate of organized labor, which was seeking to punish Lincoln for voting against labor's pet card-check legislation. Lincoln was able to establish a narrative of being an independent underdog who was being bullied for voting her conscience -- a good position to be in at a moment when voters are angry at power cliques and the political establishment. In fact, labor isn't really "establishment" in Arkansas, which is one of the least unionized states. As Alter noted, Lincoln will be a big underdog in the general election against Boozman. Fivethirtyeight.com assesses the probability of a Republican victory as 92%.]
I attended a tea party meeting on tax day. It was held at the Doubletree on Interstate 35 north. The session took place in the hotel ballroom, so the atmosphere was rather subdued. The attendees were almost entirely white and in the 40 to 60 age cohort. I did see one African-American couple. From my vantage point, at the back of the room, women appeared to outnumber men. The word that is always used to describe tea party members is "angry," but that was not the mood here. I didn't see any signs on display either. These were ordinary folks, salt-of-the-earth types. As I arrived, a man onstage was talking. He was wearing a suit and appeared to be some kind of official. "If you're a Republican in district 47, and you want to give Valinda Bolton an early retirement--and we don't endorse any candidates--you need to get involved at the local level, in your precinct. If you're a Republican or a Democrat, we're in this together, because if what we're doing doesn't work for all Americans, then we're doing the wrong thing." The official called on people in the audience. A woman from Kerr County said, "You said that the only way was to get involved at the local level. There's as much bad stuff going on at the local level as there is in Washington, D.C." The next question from the audience was, "How do we not splinter off into a third party?" The answer from the dais was, "There is no one leader of the tea party. We're savvy. We get it." "Our view is, when you have a primary, pick the one that embodies your principles. Then vote for someone who is fiscally conservative." About this time, Newt Gingrich arrived and was introduced to enthusiastic applause. "Thank you for that very warm welcome," Gingrich says. "Today [April 15] we pay for government. Three days from now is the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride. What has made America remarkable is the people's willingness to stand up for their rights. They really believed what is written in the Declaration of Independence. We are endowed by our Creator. These rights are inalienable. We are the only people in history to say power comes from God to you. You are personally sovereign." "The second part--you're endowed with the right to pursue happiness--in the eighteenth century, happiness meant wisdom. It doesn't say that we're all endowed with equal happiness, or that we have happiness stamps, or redistributed happiness." "You're sending a signal to the rest of America to get involved. There is zero reason to believe that elected politicians are an elite, an aristocracy. Only 535 serve in the House. [This was a mistake that a former speaker should not make. Only 435 serve in the House. Another 100 serve in the Senate.] The American dream was to decentralize government, to have citizens engaged." "I believe adamantly, we have to be the movement of Yes and the party of Yes." "Obama, Pelosi, and Reed are the secular socialist machine." "The morning after we win, we have to be prepared to do things. You have to say what you're going to do and then do them. Government should be a conversation among all of us." [Then Gingrich mentioned his record as speaker]
Today is April 15, the filing deadline for income taxes. Conservatives are trying to organize protests against Obama's fiscal policies all around the country, known as Tea Parties. Rick Perry will attend three of the rallies. Dick Armey, the former House Majority leader, has an op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today praising the tea party movement as the future of the conservative movement. Armey writes: Who is the leader of the conservative movement? Is it Michael Steele at the Republican National Committee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, or even Rush Limbaugh? While they all may be movement leaders, today grass-roots activists across the country will answer the question —- the taxpayer tea party is the movement’s leader. The tea parties are the shot across the bow as taxpayers defend themselves against out-of-control government spending. Small-government conservatives felt let down as they watched Congress go on a spending binge and President George W. Bush justify his Wall Street and auto bailouts by saying, “I chucked aside my free-market principles.” Then President Barack Obama called for his $1 trillion debt stimulus, followed by a $275 billion mortgage bailout. CNBC’s Rick Santelli had enough and called for a “Chicago Tea Party,” inspiring folks to do the same in their communities. Frustrated Americans began taking their grievances to the streets and the tea party movement was born. Just as the original Boston Tea Party was a grass-roots rebellion against overbearing government, tea party participants are reacting to government that has grown too large.... Rick Perry has gotten out in front of the Tea Party movement. He has a YouTube video that touts the protests. This is the text: