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"Harnessing the Power of the Internet"

By John Martin - Posted on 15 April 2009

If you thought the GOP was a political threat before today, the 300 under-attended Tea Parties should really have you shivering in your boots.  It looks like the rump of the conservative movement has finally acknowledged the organizing power of the digital world-- and now they're trying to brag about it.

I don't think I could imagine anything productive being done without it being done online.  Were Republicans sending out mailers to each other up until a few weeks ago?  How was organizing even done before the internet?  My 72 year old godmother (a wonderful woman, whom I commend for not shying away from technology) just friended me on facebook.  How did she catch this internet thing before the braintrust of the Republican party?

Speaking of facebook, the official facebook Tea Party group now has under 38,000 members.  Just to put things back into perspective, the group "I Refuse to Let The Jonas Brothers Play At The '09 Superbowl" has 122,561 members.  I won't even bother to trying to embarass conservatives by reminding them of how many fans Barack Obama has.  (Ok, I guess I just did.)

Every photo I've seen of today's protests have been small smatterings of people-- all easily dwarfed by the WTO protests in Seattle many years ago and the anti-Iraq War protests back in 2003.   I hear 8,000 people showed up in Atlanta.  That's not terrible, but it's nothing to try bragging about.  Of course, it does help that people like Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity headlined these events.  When you also consider the heavy TV coverage these rallies have gotten, you realize just how un-grassroots-y, internet-y they actually were.

I bet Fox is only going to allow the camera to roll in the middle of the crowd rather than from a rooftop. It's always about controlling the message rather than speaking the truth, isn't it? I don't know if the "actually small crowd toppling Saddam's statue" photo was real, but it speaks to how one source can establish the view of something just by using a single perspective.

8000, huh? Probably 500 nuts and 7500 Hannity fans.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

"...500 nuts and 7500 Hannity fans."

What's the difference between the two?


The Hannity fans are from out-of-state?

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Right m-m, as IF this all began January 20, 2009.'s a beginning alright, the beginning of the end. Hope it wasn't good tea.

Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

I just stepped out the door of my building to check out the Downtown Houston gathering.

Fourth largest city in the country... there were more police officers and gawkers like me than actual protesters.


I wonder if organizers thought about paying/bribing people to join in?? Forget paying big bucks for Palin's wardrobe...this would have been a better investment! I guess this is what a "pretend grassroots" movement looks like.
Wow! I attended 2 parties todaym one on Chicago and one in my hometown. Both had considerably more than a mattering of people. Considering most of these people are tax payers who have jobs, I wonder how many couldn't afford to miss the day to attend. I don't know what pictures john is seeing, and I don't know what parties the pictures were from. But in Illinois, we had a peaceful showing of conservatives, liberalsn moderates and even a few extremists. Without any major issues, both parties we're a success. And both parties had more people than expected. But I expected the naysayers who did not attend to get a lot of facts wrong. Its all good. We had a great time and I think its just the beginning

Hey RF:

I'm more than willing to be convinced that there is some nation-wide anti-tax movement afoot.

Here's photos from,4644,7034,00.html

Here's a question-- of the people out rallying today, what percentage are benefitting from the tax cut that Obama signed into law two months ago.

I have no idea what percentage of people are benefitting from the Obama tax cut, as I did not hand out questionaires to those people regarding this issue. That would be like asking you how many people on RFO benefit from government programs that our taxes pay for? First of all, thats none of our business, and second, how in the world would you know?

 And Obamas tax cut is not the main issue. Fiscal responsibility is, and Obamas deficit spending is out of control. Whether you recive an extra dollar a day under tha Obama tax cut, isnt gonna help you, if the economy tanks because of foolish govt spending. So technically, no one is benefitting from Obamas tax cut, since he has plans on rasing the prices of energy. But anyway ...................

 I must be missing your point. I am not seeing anything significant from any picture in your photo essay from Fox. What was the point of the pictures from Springfield?


You implied that the MSM was not giving a clear picture of how large these rallies were.  I went to Fox news to get the truth.  What I saw there was that these rallies looked about as lame as everyone else was saying they were.  This tea party "movement" is contrived nonsense. 


WEll John, thats your opinon.

 I dont know what time Fox took the pictures of whatever party they were at. Perhaps their timing was as bad as CNNs was in Chicago.

 Passing these parties of as nonsense may be foolish though. I am telling you, as a person who was actually there, that there were more people then expected, the parties were fun and free of "incident". (in spite of a few extremists from either side). I dont care as much about a "tea party" movement as much as I care about the :fiscal responsibility" movement.

 I havent seen MSMs take on the situation. I am just saying I was there, and it wasnt just a "mattering" of people. It was packed in Chicago, and my hometown

Whether you recive an extra dollar a day under tha Obama tax cut, isnt gonna help you, if the economy tanks because of foolish govt spending.


And there in lies the debate, do we need the spending or not?  If it is true, as many economists insist, that the economy would tank without the "foolish" gov't spending, should we just take our lumps and let the economy go down the drain? 

I say not.  I think the likely increase in crime alone would be a sufficient deterent.

To solve this problem we need to get away from the short term " what are we going to get" to the long term  " what do we need to do to  get our economy back on its feet in least damaging way possible".

We just stopped at a restaurant on the way home. They have fox news on the tv. Greta is showing the scene at the Alamo in Texas. The jerk glenn beck is there, but there are thousands of people in the background. He is up on a stage of sorts, well above the crowd, and you can see people as far as the camera points. I guess your perspective of the parties depends on the "perspective" of the news channel you watch. But I was there live. I saw it. It was big, it was peaceful, it was fun and I think it served a purpose
Here's the thing: the media (including Fox) enslaved themselves to ratings, and nothing gets ratings more than strong emotions like outrage, allure, and grief. I'm sure Brandon would agree that the main reason few saw the parties you went to on the television screen was because producers scoffed at it, saying, "BOOOOORING!"

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I remember just a few years ago when grassroots internet organizing was the Republicans' forte.

 Now they're being roundly ridiculed for "not getting it" WRT technology, and Dems act like the Reps never got it in the first place.

My, how times have changed! Were all the techies Republicans up until a couple of years ago?  Makes a person wonder.

It also kinda emphasizes the "anti-science" and anti-education reputation which our party has gained over the past several years.

As for these tea parties? Yeah. Bunch of irrelevant dudes. 

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor,
progress is the magnificent by product." 

I guess I just get confused as to what Tea Partiers stand for. For example, the governor of Texas was flirting with secession in his speech at a Tea Party, getting the right wing radicals all fired up, yet he happily took government money for disasters and lots of stimulus money-wasn't even shy about it. Sorry-you can't have it both ways. Do you want gov't help or not? Is gov't. intervention welcome or shall we just call it socialism? If there was some sign of consistency from these Tea Party leaders, I'd give more credit to the "movement." I heard a Fox News broadcaster even muttered the word Fascism during his coverage. How can we call that fair and balanced? You can blame bad weather or potential work conflicts, etc. but if you truly believe in a cause you are out there no matter what (throughout the Buffalo winters-snowstorms and all, I witnessed a large group of Iraq War protesters standing once a week on the same street corner with signs for 2 years straight-despite facing some ridicule.) I see that now they are talking about a July 4th protest being even bigger, downplaying disappointing numbers in some cities by saying they were just getting their feet wet. Hey, I've said it before: peaceful protests are part of the American culture and I would never discourage that. However, I think Fox News and organizers just need to be more honest with themselves about how "grassroots" and popular this really is. Perhaps if the GOP decided to, instead of clinging to Anti-Obama parties, get together and really hammer out some new ideas to put on the table, the GOP would have a more promising future.
If they are astroturfing, let them fritter their money away. Many of these appear to be the GOP's fat-cat donors trying to seize power again through a crude simulacrum of Obama's campaign, and the people know it.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Why are the tea parties a big deal?

Whether I agree or not it is at least refreshing to see people stop being apathetic for a change.

Short answer: Blame the conservative bull-horn called Fox News.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I heard someone give this comparison of the coverage of the three major cable news channels...

- CNN treated is as a normal, if minor, story

- MSNBC treated it a source of constant ridicule

- Fox treated it as a major story, almost the only story.

That was a pretty accurate analysis, if you ask me.

Well there's a good reason why ($$$):

 This was on the Drudge Report this morning:

8-11 PM ET

FOXNEWS 3,390,000
MSNBC 1,210,000
CNN 1,070,000

FOXNEWS BECK 2,740,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 2,185,000
CNNHN GRACE 1,336,000
CNN KING 1,292,000
MSNBC MADDOW 1,149,000
CNN COOPER 1,021,000

I think that's far more telling of the average Nielsen household than any journalistic skill of Fox News, but that's just me...

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I love seeing people debate,gather and have free speech! But you cannot call this a United tea party gathering! United is when you have one goal in mind! Like when we as americans came together with one idea to elect the first african/american president of the U.S.! This croud accross america may have gotten up to 1 million , but failed to unite. Some protested a black president, Some protested a muslum president, some protested tax's, some protested the stimulus, some protested opeing up with Cuba, Texas Gov. talked about suceeding from the United States, and others were protesting Gun control. We had Hitler signs, Sick mocking of Obama signs, people walk around dressed like jesus , and others mocking sodi arabia's kind who they feel Obama bowed to. I would say this unity for JUST the tea baggers where very small in numbers for any real unity of a goal, now wouldn't you?

jupitor...I saw one guy with a "9/11  Inside Job" t-shirt.  The nuts were united for a day.  lol

I saw a sign ( on a Fox broadcast) that scared me said... "We came unarmed...This time."

Sorry, about spelling! Not a good day for me!
Ya, suzi that Governor of Texas scares me. I lived in texas for several years. Communities work hard to take care of their own down there, because they get little to no help from the Goverment. Those people could truely use the stimulus he wants to throw to the wind. the church's their has the pantry for the poor, and supply xmas gifts, coats in the winter and etc. But they are gun totten fools down there, and a lot of them, like this Governor take it to far, and scares people who arn't used to such gun and we can take care of ourself talk. Being a hunter all my life,  I too are for hunters to keep their guns. But, not the kind gangs use an you know what I'm talking about. This Gov. encourages the crazy's with his talk.

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