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    My first exposure to the Georgia Tea Party was at a volunteer meeting held at the Cobb County public library. I expected maybe a handful of people and I wasn’t sure who or what to look for. When I pulled in the parking lot the first thing I saw was a young preppy guy (about 25 or 30) getting out of a car completely wrapped in decals from FairTax.org. This was a professional job; the car was like a moving billboard for not wanting to pay taxes. So I locked on Mr. FairTax, if anyone knows where this thing is, I thought, it’s him. And as I walked into the library I couldn’t help but sense irony in the fact that a bunch of people who don’t want to pay taxes are meeting at the PUBLIC library, you know the one that’s funded by tax dollars! Oh well, that surely won’t be the craziest thing to come out of tonight.

    I was stunned! This place was packed; besides me and preppy guy there were at least 60 people in the room! There were five or six under 30 years of age but the rest were mostly mid 50’s or early 60’s. I counted two minorities, both female. One was Asian (about 60) and the other Black (about 40). So demographic wise we basically had a bunch of old white people. Or to put it more accurately, a bunch of pissed off old white people. This was about a week after Obama signed the new Health Care Bill into law and I kept hearing whispers from the crowd about “Socialism” and the “Mafia in the Whitehouse.” I was getting nervous, if these people figure out that I’m a godless liberal, they’ll tar and feather me or they might even tea bag me! So I was relieved when a kid in his mid 20’s, Michael, complete with a polo shirt and name tag adorned with the Tea Party logo, called the meeting to order. Mike gave a brief intro and railed on Healthcare for a minute to get the crowd fired up. And fired up they got, I heard cries such as, “They’re destroying our country!” and stop “Obama’s Tyranny!” Then something happened that surprised me. It was a voice of reason that came from a little old lady in the back of the room. In the past week there have been bricks thrown through windows and even death threats to Democratic lawmakers. This sweet little old lady was calling on people to be civil and she was no sooner shouted down by a hateful old bat that accused her of being a Democrat, which she wasn’t. This venomous old bitch, we’ll call her Jan, claimed the recent threats of violence against Democrats was a “set up” to make the Republicans look bad. Jan was a nuisance throughout the entire meeting. If she wasn’t interrupting then she was fawning over the few young people there and bringing the entire meeting to a halt. You have to understand that the Tea Baggers are desperate for youth in their movement. A few teenagers trickled in towards the end of the night and you would have thought Glenn Beck himself had walked in the room. Jan forced these precious little patriots into telling their stories to the crowd and I couldn’t help but think, Good god! What are you poor bastards doing wasting the golden years of your youth at a Tea Party Meeting? You should be out chasing girls or at the very least hurling bricks through the windows of your local Democratic lawmaker! Ah to be young. But I’ve gotten grossly off track here. Where was I? Oh right, Jan was in the middle of her tirade with one of the few sensible people there that night. Thankfully Mike was able to get her to shut up for five minutes and then we had the obligatory opening prayer, which was led by a volunteer from the crowd, we’ll call him Jimmy. A quick fun fact about Jimmy, he’s unemployed and someone like him has the potential to benefit the most from our new healthcare system but that’s not the fun part. The fun part is his former employer: AIG! How weird is that? But back to the meeting, now that everything has been consecrated Mike turns the meeting over to Virginia Galloway from Americans For Prosperity.

    The AFP is a conservative advocacy group, which is a polite way of saying that it’s a lobby and Virginia is a lobbyist. Here’s a fun fact about Virginia: her babysitter was Newt Gingrich! So what chance did she have but to become a blood-sucking lobbyist for what she calls the “non-partisan” Americans For Prosperity. Ms. Galloway would basically run the rest of the meeting. In fact Michael, who I thought was leading the meeting, left and I didn’t see him for the rest of the night. The AFP is into all the stuff you would expect; free-market ideology, cutting taxes, limited government, and so on. I guess it’s a natural fit for the Tea Party mentality but I came there to listen to the Tea Baggers not some vampire lobbyist who doesn’t give a shit about these people but only her corporate benefactors; not least of which is the Koch Family Foundation. Koch (arguably the nations largest privately held energy company) and Americans For Prosperity were behind the infamous Hot Air Tour that warned us against the dangers of global warming alarmism: lost jobs, higher taxes, and less freedom. Galloway was here tonight to shore up support for a big effort being taken up by Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue and the Republicans in the State Assembly to sue the federal government over the mandate that all citizens buy healthcare insurance. Oh yeah I almost forgot, Virginia was also there to pimp the Next Step Training seminar where you too can learn to promote the AFP agenda. But Ms. Galloway was really just the opening act for State Senator Judson Hill (R), whom authored the legislation to exempt Georgia from the Healthcare mandate. But the good Senator is running a little late so we have a little Q&A session while we wait. First up is a woman in her early 50’s; we’ll call her Anne. Anne would like to know why the public could not vote on healthcare rather than let those fat cats in Washington muck everything up. Virginia told her that the Democrats probably would not want the public to vote on it but she also politely reminded Anne that we live in a REPUBLIC not a Democracy. Jesus Christ, I thought, this lady is old enough to be my mother and she doesn’t know that! Next came a young, borderline dwarf of a man who we’ll call Andy. Andy was in his early 20’s and very short but also fairly muscular, he had a very strange build and he said more than one thing about guns that night. Andy just got out of the Marine Corps and before I go any further here I want to say that I fully respect and appreciate Andy and the countless others who have sacrificed so much for our country. But having said all that doesn’t mean that Andy’s not a homophobic, 2nd Amendment nut with a Napoleonic complex; which, leads me to why he was there that night: according to Andy a lot of the higher ranking officers are really fed up with all of the “shenanigans” that are going on with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In fact they are so fed up with the “commies” in D.C., that many of them would like to resign their post over the matter. But if they were to do that, they would forfeit their pension, benefits, and all the other things that come with serving your country honorably. What’s Andy advocating? Allowing members of the military who choose to resign if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, full access to their benefits. Now I’m not sure why Andy thought this would be a good forum to bring up this matter and even Virginia did not seem to want to go near this issue, but no one in the crowd seemed to object to what he was saying. So here’s what I say to people like Andy; first of all, do you honestly believe that gays are joining the military to pick up guys? You realize that gay members of the military are fully aware that they will be going to somewhere like Afghanistan not Spring Break on Fire Island? Secondly, you don’t think it sets a dangerous precedent to allow members of the military to resign every time they disagree with a policy? Further more when you make a commitment, whether it is the military or a business contract; you fulfill your part of the bargain or you don’t get paid; it’s that simple. But what I’ve come to learn about people like Andy, whether they are homophobes, gun nuts, or other extremists, is that they don’t really represent the Tea Party. People like Andy just tend to graft on to the Tea Party because they’re the only conservative movement that’s gaining any traction right now. Fuck, I said to myself, will someone save me from this ignorant rube? Wait whose this silvery haired gentleman entering the room? He’s impeccably dressed and adorned with a “Don’t Tread on Me” lapel pin. Could it be? Yes! It’s Senator Hill, here to save me from this madness!

    Hill made the conversation sound a little more sophisticated than my friends Andy and Anne but he basically continued upon what Galloway was preaching. And speaking of preaching, he was telling it to the choir. The Tea Baggers ate up everything he said. Along with spearheading the effort to exempt Georgia from the healthcare mandate, Judson also wants to give the citizens of Georgia the ability to buy insurance across state lines but that effort was killed through a bipartisan effort in the State Assembly. “What are their names?” the crowd called out as if they were ready to get a posse together and string these guys up. Hill calmed the crowd and then continued on to a pretty standard Republican diatribe of the nations new healthcare plan; “socialized medicine,” “government takeover,” you know the standard stuff but my favorite was when Hill called the IRS the “Healthcare Police!” Oh the Tea Baggers loved that. Judson did have some ideas of his own though (well maybe not his own) like, TORT reform and of course allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines. Both of which, seem like reasonable proposals and I don’t know why the Democrats did not include them in their plan. But Hill lost me when he started comparing Medicaid to “crack dollars.” I had been there for over 2 hours and I hadn’t learned a damn thing about these people that I didn’t already know: they’re scared and angry. So I got the hell out of there and I was pissed because what was supposed to be a Tea Party meeting turned out to be nothing more than a forum for the agenda of Americans for Prosperity and State Senator Judson Hill. But I wasn’t done with Tea Party yet…

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Originally posted to McBlog on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 10:04 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  don't get photographed with these folks (10+ / 0-)

    it could ruin your reputation for life.
    Can't wait to read next chapter!

    What if the hokey pokey is what it's all about?

    by Julie Gulden on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 10:20:49 AM PDT

  •  I don't get it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper

    I don't get A) why you went, B) why you're telling us and C) Why a republican senator in a Don't Tread On Me tee shirt was supposed to "spare you from the madness"?  He's a fucking republican!

    I also don't get why you concern yourself with the purity of those who claim or are presumed to "represent the tea party".  They're fucking teabagagger!  Who cares who represents them.  With any luck, they'll be humiliated into marginalized obvlivion soon anyway!

    I just don't get the point of this diary.  Is it a "Here's What's Good About Teabaggers" diary disguised as some kind of a limp expose?

    I guess if I knew those answers, I'd also know why you're very first diary here featured the word "Obamacare" in its title.

    Catholic Church: Example of Religion thats TOO BIG TO FAIL

    by Detroit Mark on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 10:28:48 AM PDT

  •  Rec'd for entering the Eigth Circle of Hell (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, DaleA, martydd, louisprandtl

    "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here."

    "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

    by Apost8 on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 10:43:51 AM PDT

  •  Oh, dear. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, DaleA, louisprandtl

    Thank you for doing what I could never do.  

    My dogs think triciawyse is smart and pretty. They think I'm a strange, frumpy woman wth limitless snacks.

    by martydd on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 10:52:17 AM PDT

  •  UnFair Tax (8+ / 0-)

    I love it when folks try to explain "Fair Tax."  I've worked through the numbers and they don't even come close to adding up.  The percentage rate they use is intentionally misleading for example...not a real sales tax rate.  Plus it is at least 50% lower than what would be needed to balance the budget in a good year.

    What I do know is that if those "Fair Tax" idiots ever succeed, individuals will have to pay a large fraction of their income as a Federal sales tax so that corporations and high net worth individuals can effectively pay nothing.

    Besides, the "Fair Tax" basis is essentially supply siding taken to the extreme.  Their basis is invalid because like all supply siders, they can't accurately read and interpret the Laffer curve.

    •  angry bear blog (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      louisprandtl

      had a post or two on the fair tax.

      they also have a lot of posts about which party is better for america (economically).  

      it's the dems.

    •  The Laffer curve (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah

      is a fraud. There's no empirical data to support any of the assertions made by those who point to it as justification for their cockeyed theories. If cutting taxes raised more revenue, the government would not be in debt. If supply side theory worked as advertised, we'd all be rich by now.

      Bruce Bartlett demolished the Fair Tax argument some time ago; a Google search will turn it up.

      Among other things, the Fair Taxers set their rate--23%--based on polling of what number would be most acceptable to the average person. Then they calculate it as 23 percent of the total payment including the tax--$23 of every $100 spent in total. This would be equivalent to a 30 percent traditional sales tax. They count taxes paid by the government to itself as real revenue. They would apply it to the purchase of new homes. The actual rate would likely have to be well over 50% to replace all present revenue. And that's just the beginning.

      The Fair Tax is a backdoor way of cutting taxes even further on the rich.

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 01:07:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree on Fair Tax, not Laffer (0+ / 0-)

        The concept of the Laffer curve is reasonable even though it is most often misapplied.  The problem is that the response differs depending on where one is in the curve.  The supply siders are completely unaware of the "diminishing returns" or negative returns portion of the curve...or assume that our marginal tax rates is several times what it actually is.  They instead extrapolate an impossibly high economic growth rate for relatively small reductions in tax rates.  

        I'm well aware of the Fair Tax rate trickery.  What really amuses me is that the proponents of FT are shocked when I explain it to them and help them work through the calcs.  (I keep hoping that by teaching them to fish...)

        The rest of what you wrote I agree with.  It's definitely a backdoor trick to get the gullible to raise their own taxes to eliminate most taxes on the wealthiest.      

        •  Laffer is (0+ / 0-)

          a reasonable concept, but that's all it is. Can you show a graph of it? One that is backed up by data from the real world?

          "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

          by happy camper on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:50:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is no single curve/data set (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happy camper

            There are graphs of the curve for different countries from different sources.  The optimization point for tax revenue can be anywhere from the 30% to even 70% (Sweden) tax range depending on the country studied and the way it is analyzed--at least those are some values I've seen reported.  

            But in asking the question you get to the real problem:  there is not an agreed upon empirically tested model for the theoretical concept.  (Compare this to say empirical Reynolds number/friction factor curves for fluid flow.)  Since economics is a behavioural science the complexity and uncertainties are large.  This would tend to make the three regimes of the Reynolds number graph look simple in comparison.

            So it is open to interpretation.  The underlying assumptions about growth rate vs. overall taxation rate determine whether or not the net impact on tax revenue is positive or negative.  Supply siders claim higher than possible/reasonable revenue growth.  Plus they assume higher than actual marginal tax rates exist...which put them on the wrong side of any reasonable concensus Laffer curve when they do their "analysis."  

            •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

              for a thoughtful reply. My problem with Laffer is as you describe, that it is open to widely differing interpretations. So wide as to make it not very useful, IMHO.

              Are you an economist, or an engineer?

              "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

              by happy camper on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 03:34:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Laffer concept is useful, application is FUBAR (0+ / 0-)

                My background is chemical engineering, I take a pretty dim view of the current state of economics as a field...although the current decline in supply siding credibility is breathing life into the field.  Supply siding zeal is running into some actual science for a change.  (To me supply siding violates the "there is no free lunch" principle that is fundamental in thermodynamics.)

                I guess where I come out on Laffer curve is that instead of seeing it as something to be rejected outright, I see it as actually reinforcing more balanced (non-supply siding) economics.  Rather than seeing it as an enemy, I think it should be emplyed as an ally.  Bludgeon supply siders with their own weapon.  The Laffer curve area that progressive or economically moderate folks should focus on is the one we actually appear to be in: where decreasing tax rates results in greater deficits (lower tax revenue) and no measurable/sustainable increase in growth.

  •  Quite daring, but....... (7+ / 0-)

    You lost me a little bit when you used the words "old bat" and "bitch" to describe two women.  This is the kind of language that turns me cold when I hear it from the Right.  

    And speaking of conservatives, at least they aren't hypocrites.  Life is all about them, and they're proud of it.  Their philosophy is, I'm doing just fine.  If you aren't, then screw you.  It's your problem.

    I hear a lot of lip service from people who claim to be enlightened, compassionate liberals and progressives, but this is what I'm observing:

    I'm working pro bono for a monthly non-profit publication, and have been for years.  I get dynamite performance evaluations from them.  I need paying work desperately.  I'm living with the constant threat of sudden homelessness.  My housing situation is precarious.  The organization is understaffed in editing, where I work doing copyediting.  I've appealed to them repeatedly for them to find funding from their very wealthy individual benefactors for a salary for me, and those appeals are falling on deaf (or unwilling to hear) ears.  I'm dealing with people wealthy enough that they wouldn't even feel the pinch of paying for my part-time hours, but they feel I should work for free for them, even though I'm at risk of becoming homeless.

    I'm finding this pattern all around me in so-called "progressive" communities and organizations, including groups beginning innovative, grassroots philanthropy.  I contact them, I tell them that I am working, I just want someone to pay me for it so I can support myself, and they tell me how "moving" and "touching" and "unfortunate" my story is, but they back away from me.  

    If liberals and progressives are doing this, why should I lend them any credibility?

    "Your silence will not protect you." --Audre Lorde

    by altruista on Fri Jun 11, 2010 at 11:27:03 AM PDT

  •  Tort Reform Hypocrisy (5+ / 0-)

    We've had tort reform.  It gets harder and harder for the poor to sue the rich.  It doesn't do a damn thing about the medical-industrial complex and its double-digit annual price increases.

    A few years ago the corporate Right was arguing that, hey, Europeans don't sue over everything!  Why should we be allowed to?

    Yes, that's the Right using Europe as a positive example.  But it failed to point out the obvious.  I used to summarize depositions for a corporate defense legal firm, and I could see many, many personal injury lawsuits went ahead because the plaintiffs got left in the lurch by their medical insurance and had one last chance to avoid bankruptcy.

    That doesn't happen in Europe, so they don't sue there.

    Tort reform is getting it precisely backward.  Give everyone medical insurance, and the lawsuits go away.

  •  You must be a tea bagger (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, happy camper, louisprandtl

    I can't believe you said:

    "Judson did have some ideas of his own though (well maybe not his own) like, TORT reform and of course allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines. Both of which, seem like reasonable proposals and I don’t know why the Democrats did not include them in their plan."

    Tort reform eliminates the middle class and the injured from the court system. Just take a look at the Alaska judicial tort system that Palin was bragging about the other day. If you are injured in Alaska, screw you. Your state, Georgia, has just abut eliminated negligent doctors taking responsibility for their actions no matter how many patients they have maimed or killed thanks to "tort reform".

    Also, allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines means that they will set up shop in the states with little or no regulation and sell in the states with strong consumer regulations with no recourse.

    So if you don't understand why the tea baggers and Republicans keep pushing these idiotic ideas then maybe you will fit right in with the next tea bagger meeting.

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