"Tea Party Extremism" vs. Major Party Everydayism

On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote a much-linked piece talking about all the crazy-ass shit that Tea Partiers are inflicting on the American body politic in 2011. Milbank's extended lead example was the disgusting comment by Kansas state Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro, appropriately enough) suggesting that maybe we oughtta just shoot illegal immigrants from helicopters like feral hogs. Concluded Milbank:

Kansans may be surprised to learn that the immigrant-shooting idea was offered in their names, but they wouldn't be the only Americans getting unwelcome news from their state legislators now that many Tea Party types have come to power.

When Louis Brandeis called state legislatures "laboratories of democracy," he couldn't have imagined the curious formulas the Tea Party chemists would be mixing in 2011[.]

Reading this, you would have the distinct impression that Virgil Peck is a Tea Party kinda guy. But is he?

Well, for one, Peck was elected in 2004, not 2010. For another, the only Google News mentions of "Tea Party" and "Virgil Peck" that I could come up with were Milbank's piece, a similar connection-through-assertion from Creative Loafing, and this Business Week article from 2010 mentioning that Peck voted against a "Health Care Freedom Amendment" that had "strong backing from the tea party movement." But hey, he's a Republican, and an asshole, and it's 2011!

Milbank's collection of usually kooky, occasionally godawful, and sporadically passed bits of state legislation that he pins 100 percent on "Tea Party chemists" was nonetheless championed as a "very well-reported column, an absolute must-read," by U.S. News' Susan Milligan (in a post titled "Tea Party Extremism Run Amok"), so I think it behooves us to take seriously Milligan's follow-on challenge:  

If the anti-big-government, local-control camp wants to prove its sincerity, it can help out right here in the District of Columbia.

Agreed! Let's start by looking at not just what the goofier D.C. City Councilmembers have proposed, but what they've actually been enacting, particularly since the pro-big-government American Federation of Teachers and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees shelled out seven figures to unseat pro-school reform mayor Adrian Fenty last year:

* Gray Hires More Senior Staffers Than Fenty Did, and Is Paying Them Significantly More

* 'Fully loaded' SUV Puts D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown on the Spot

* Washington D.C. Axes $700,000 Green Payment to Residents for Installing Solar Panels to Cut Budget Deficit

* City Council Looks into UDC President Dr. Allen Sessoms' Luxury Trips

* DC City Council to Hold Hearing on Problems with Police Breathalyzer Equipment

Alas, the "anti-big-government" camp doesn't have much pull here, since registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 11 to 1 [pdf]. And though the District of Columbia is an extreme case in every sense of the word, this kind of misgovernance is being replicated every day in such non-TP, non-Montana outposts as Bell, Hoboken, Jackson, Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and scores of other cities.

While it's indeed disturbing (if almost kind of funny) that some states are fighting tooth and nail against Sharia Law, apparently with at least some support of Tea Party activists; any basic power analysis of the world we actually live in will conclude that the Tea Party tendency, whether extreme or not, has a fraction of a fraction of the power that non-limited-government Republicans and Democrats wield–terribly, in my opinion– every day of the week.

Meanwhile, next time you see some crazy comment or action ascribed by the mainstream media to the Tea Party, you'd be better off double-checking.

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  • Jeffersonian||

    Yes, but did he ever get money from the sinister Kochtopus?

  • ||

    Googling is hard!

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    Shut up, Sally.

  • ||

    What about the overwhelming majority of TP republican congress critters who voted to extend the Patriot Act?

  • Ol' Liberal||

    ... that sure is a lot of words to write:

    "... bu-bu-b--BUT DEMOCRATS!!!"

  • Beezard||

    yeah, it's such an invalid point and shit..

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But hey, he's a Republican, and an asshole, and it's 2011!

    Milbank, if it would serve his purpose, I'm sure will slap the Tea Party label firmly upon John Boehner, were he ever to talk about threatening to possibly get close to getting somewhat serious about limiting the size and scope of the federal government by not increasing the budgets for one or two precious social programs.

    (Of course, I don't know if Peck is even concerned about reining in his state's government, but I suspect anyone looking to trade ICE's SUV's for helicopters probably isn't.)

  • JoshINHB||

    Milbank would be willing to slap the Tea Party label firmly upon John Boehner Barack Obama if it would serve his purpose,

    FIFY

  • Colin||

    Let me guess: Milibank hasn't one mentioned all the violence threatened by the union thugs in Wisconsin.

    Just a guess.

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    He might be for it?

  • Anonymous||

    Articles connecting people with opponents' organizations don't serve to persuade. They serve to be cited.

    The Wikipedia-style citation methods that have achieved legitimacy in most modern discourse put publication above fact-checking, because at one time the former usually implied the latter; even though, when one did follow the other, it wasn't so throughly relied upon by peer publications.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    You're saying it's intentional?

    Damn that's a depressing thought.

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    you'd be better off double-checking.

    Usually good advice, but if it has the name Milbank on it I know well enough to pass it by.

  • juris imprudent||

    Y'know, if it had been this Kwame Brown I could've understood the need for the extra leg-room.

    Figures that Washington wouldn't get burned twice by the same guy. Or, maybe that's how he made it onto the Council?

  • bgates||

    Why is it disturbing that some states are opposed to Sharia? Is reason actively pro-Sharia, or just anti-(whatever the cool kids are anti-, like, I mean, Oklahoma, amirite?)

  • Random Dude||

    I, myself, am confused at that one.

    Given that the bill did nothing but 1) make international law invalid in rulings on Oklahoma cases, and 2) asserted that Sharia law could not be considered legally binding, I don't really know what the deal is.

    Maybe stoning adulterers is the hip new thing.

  • ||

    The big deal is this: let's say we disallow Sharia law. Now, we have someone married legally in Iran (such as one of my professors from back in the day) who comes here and suddenly they aren't legally married, because she was married in accordance with Sharia law back under the Shah (for instance, she had to receive a dowry of real value from her husband for the marriage to be legal). So, she's not legally married, and has no right to her husbands property, because our disallowal of Sharia law invalidated the marriage.

    Of course, it goes much deeper. What if someone in her situation had their partner commit adultery? What if they were subject to domestic abuse? What if the husband tries to sieze the dowry by claiming that it is community property (when over a millenium of legal precedent says otherwise)? They can't get a divorce, because they aren't married. They can't get a share of any community property, because there isn't any.

    I cite these sorts of things becuase in the real world, that same professor, who trained as a lawyer in pre-revolution Iran, testified at various trials in the United States and Canada about marriages under Sharia law where these things were at issue.

    None of this is to say that specific provisions of the law of the local jurisdiction should not prevail (for instance, you could have the law be such that all property is community property, which is different that disallowing the judge and jury from considering foriegn law in considering what actually was community property when the couple was wed because the law allows that some things are community property and some are not) is not what's at issue. What is being proposed is simply a blanket overriding of any choice of law or reasonable standards of international law for pure culture-war reasons, which happens to undercut the case for lots of other things that rule-of-law types favor more generally.

  • ||

    Another example: Let's say a business man in a location under Sharia law buys an American security. For purposes of American securities law for activities conducted over the internet with American residents and businesses, should the business man's second wife be considered to be his spouse? Seemingly, disallowing Sharia law would lead to saying that she is not, since no State nor the federal government recognizes polygamous marriages. Yet all of the normal concerns about inside trading, privileged communications, etc. with which our securities laws are so concerned would seem to apply.

  • ||

    The big deal is this: let's say we disallow Sharia law. Now, we have someone married legally in Iran (such as one of my professors from back in the day) who comes here and suddenly they aren't legally married,

    Nope, that's not the way it works. Two people who have a reasonable good-faith belief that they are legally married are legally married. Recognizing or not recognizing sharia has nothing to do with it.

  • ||

    I'll buy that, but try pulling it with a male-male couple legally married in Vermont and now living in Missouri, or a man with two wives, and tell me how it goes.

  • David||

    The people who lie about what the Tea Party is and does will never be persuaded to be fair and honest in their reporting. Tea Party principles are a threat to their worldview and so their response is visceral. They leave reason, fair play, honesty, and professionalism in their desk drawer when they pull out the stops to slander the Tea Party.

    What should we do about it? Nothing. Take note if you want but realize that part of the reason they do such things is to provoke an ill considered response. Ignore them and get back to work. There is much to do.

  • Ed Zacharias||

    +1

    One of the benefits of not being a collectivist droid is that you're free to ignore the media without risk of being "out of the loop."

  • ||

    You mention D.C., and its governance. Congress, specifically the House, owns D.C., lock, stock and barrel.

    The responsibility of governing D.C. is the House, not a bunch of home-grown politicians. Congress needs to reclaim its role and DIRECTLY Rule the Federal District.

  • ||

    Historians will have a field day on our media over their use of the term Tea Party or Tea Partier.

  • Ed Zacharias||

    Milbank is a lazy douchebag whose job is to peddle dreary conventional wisdom to the beltway crowd and reinforce their assumptions.

    That doesn't distinguish him from the rest of the increasingly awful WaPo columnist lineup, so he adds a dose of passive agressive snark to make people think they're reading something "edgy."

  • Lonewacko||

    What, exactly, is wrong with shooting illegal immigrants from helicopters like feral hogs?

    Is it that you can't eat immigrants?

    I don't get it.

  • Don Mashak||

    Unless you are happy with the state of the Country, why would you want to continue with the policies that put us in these dire straights. But the author wants to stay the course? With at 2011 deficit on track to hit $1.7T? If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got. Major Party Everydayism got us to this state of chaos and ruination. Loss of Liberties, fiat money controlled by private bankers via the Federal Reserve, unsustainable spending, high unemployment, manufacturing and jobs exported out of the country, indebtness to China, balkanization of the citizenry, etc. Change is what is needed. Anything but Major Party Everydayism, communism and socialism is what we need.

    Those were my thoughts.

    Don Mashak
    The Cynical Patriot
    http://twitter.com/dmashak

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