This whole teabagging movement, aside from being hilarious for their completely unaware use of the term "teabagging," is more than a little baffling to me.
Government has been prone to wasteful spending for years, and people's interpretations of what equals wasteful and what equals necessary has varied for just as long. Still, you'd think that the massive deficit left to us by the last administration's eight years in office would have been more than enough to tick off these fiscally fired up folks.
Apparently not. Apparently it took a New Deal style stimulus plan to do it for the teabaggers. This would be the stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the abominable mess left by the last administration's hard-on for deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.
Now, at this very moment, a group of people are gathered at the state capitol here in Madison (and in many other cities across the US) to throw themselves a tea party. They've had enough of this Obama and his crazy ideas about spending on infrastructure and social services, job creation and environmental protections! Tax cuts for those making under $250k a year? Outrageous!
My source on the ground tells me that local talk radio host and great admirer of her own reflection Vikki McKenna has just asked the assembled crowd, "For how many of you is this your first protest? That's right, we've never had reason to before."
If that's true for even one of the people there, consider me deeply depressed by it. They've never had a reason to protest before? Not over the falsified intelligence and needless invasion of Iraq? Not for the massive, warrantless wiretapping program perpetrated on American citizens by their own government? Not for the brazen disregard for the vital importance of our natural resources? Not for the rampant politicization of our nation's Justice Department? Not for the lying, outing of CIA agents, and law-breaking that happened at the highest levels of government?
Nope. It took a stimulus plan and a right-wing, corporately funded campaign claiming that said plan is akin to dirty, dirty socialism to mobilize these individuals.
Regardless of the fact that several of the services many of them rely upon to get through their days in relative safety and to make ends meet (Medicare, Social Security, police, firefighters, etc.) would qualify as dirty, dirty socialism by their own definition.
Regardless of the fact that this "grassroots" movement is having its strings pulled and paid for by major conservative political organizations (like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks), somewhat negating the whole "grassroots" part of the claim.
Frankly, I'd take far less issue with this teabagging business if they just up and admitted to where they're getting their financial and logistical support from. But the fact that the movement's biggest cheerleaders--like Fox News' histrionic Glenn Beck--seem so intent on painting this as something put together entirely by "regular folk" is extremely disingenuous.
There are real issues of tax fairness and need for tax code revision facing Americans today. The corruption and incompetence that lead us into the current Recession call out loudly for serious fixes. But, instead of addressing these issues with reason and thoughtfulness, the teabaggers have simply opened their mouths and swallowed what's being fed to them by the very interest groups and organizations that would be most targeted by real efforts at reform.
P.S. As a side note, the photos included in this post were taken by my source on the ground at the Madison tea party. Like his own caption said, "It isn't a REAL protest until the Hitler signs show up." That and references to white slavery, I guess.
Also, can I just say, kudos to Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, who has been the voice behind many of the state's most anti-gay movements of past years? It must have taken a great deal of personal strength on her part to attend and speak at a pro-teabagging rally.
EDIT TO ADD: OK, enough of the silly double entendres. Take a look at this informative break-down of what's included in the Obama stimulus plan the teabaggers seem to dislike so much.