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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mad Tea Party

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It’s been years since the so-called “liberal” media could be accused of failing to sufficiently publicize the views of the extreme right. Labeling the media “liberal,” a political tactic by conservatives, worked like a charm.

Newspapers everywhere scurried to add right-wing columnists, the more troglodytic the better. Television crews were sent to town hall meetings on health care to film the most shrill, right-wing attacks, whether the shouters knew what they were talking about or not.

So it may seem a strange complaint, but I honestly believe the state convention of the Wisconsin Tea Party movement in Wisconsin Dells last weekend was way, way under-covered.

Very few people heard about the Wisconsin Dells Police being called to the rally by a Republican candidate who claimed he was assaulted by a former TV reality show star—the wife of his congressional primary opponent, Sean Duffy, who also happens to be a former TV reality show star and the current district attorney of Ashland County.

OK, so maybe you don’t care about the hijinks of former cast members of MTV’s “The Real World.” But we all have an interest in knowing what kind of real world Tea Baggers dream of living in.

Tim Nerenz, executive vice president of the Oldenburg Group—a Milwaukee defense and engineering firm—and a Libertarian candidate against Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, openly compared government under President Barack Obama to a cabana boy who needed to be controlled by those who own the mansion.

“And what does a good master do when a cabana boy doesn’t know his place?” Nerenz asked. “That’s right. He fires him. … We should sack the whole mess and start over.”

Nerenz then got the crowd shouting along with him: “We are not the party of no! We are the party of hell no!”

With so much of the open craziness of the so-called Tea Party movement on public display, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chose not to cover the convention. It buried a four-paragraph wire service short inside.

That was curious since one of the Journal Sentinel’s own staff, right-wing columnist Patrick McIlheran, was being honored at the Tea Party convention for “achievement.”

The Journal Sentinel usually is not shy about publicizing awards. Perhaps it didn’t know how to describe exactly what McIlheran has achieved, other than using a formerly respected newspaper to tout the extreme political agenda of the Tea Baggers.

Supreme Court Bias

Of much wider political interest to readers who were not Tea Bag zealots were the number of mainstream Republican candidates and even two members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court who attended the convention.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was there. So was Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who bragged about how many illegal immigrants he had deported, declaring: “We need to preserve America for Americans!”

Congressman Paul Ryan, who’s been getting national attention by proposing to privatize Social Security and dismantle Medicare, in a video message proclaimed: “We rightly recognize the American idea is under attack and we have to come to its defense.”

Funny, a lot of seniors hope there are still enough compassionate politicians around to come to their defense against attacks on the American ideas of Social Security and Medicare.

The most curious Tea Party participants were two presumably nonpartisan members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Justices Michael Gableman and David Prosser.

Gableman and Prosser are members of the right-wing majority on the court, but Supreme Court justices used to try to avoid showing their political biases in public. Now, apparently, they feel free to flaunt their extreme views at incendiary public rallies.

Prosser warned the crowd of evil foreign influences on government, “George Soros-types flying alien ships into Wisconsin” to try to destroy democracy by organizing against the election of right-wing justices to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The irony is that Jewish philanthropist Soros, who grew up in Nazi-occupied Hungary, has donated billions of dollars to create democracies in Eastern Europe and reform the criminal justice system in America.

The media have played a major role in portraying all of the people who were unhappy about the election of President Obama as some kind of exciting, new, populist “movement.”

There is nothing new about those who would demean the first African American to be elected president of the United States as a cabana boy who needs to be kept in his place by his master.

Belief in white supremacy as the natural order and anti-immigrant cries of “America for Americans!” are among the oldest and most hateful forms of bigotry Americans of good will have worked together to combat throughout our history.

Since the media bestowed legitimacy upon the assorted Obama haters and anti-government fanatics who gathered at Wisconsin Dells, they should have followed up by covering their statewide convention to show us who these people really are.

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