A liberal Washington Post columnist laments today of the loss of civility in the public discourse. Strange that he is suddenly outraged that Americans would dare call Obama a socialist or a fascist, given that Bush-Hitler comparisons were widespread during the previous administration.
Liberals in the media spent the summer and early fall bemoaning signs at town hall protests and tea party rallies calling Obama a socialist or communist comparing him to Hitler (incidentally, many of these signs were actually created by supporters of uber-leftist Lyndon LaRouche, as reported by Seton Motley here and here). These pundits had no such admonitions for signs at anti-war rallies during the Bush administration comparing him to Hitler and the Devil, and calling the president a fascist.
So the Post's E.J. Dionne's complaints about the loss of civility in the debate over federal politics fit right in with the narrative liberal pundits have been pushing since last year: comparing an American president to a murderous dictator is unacceptable...if that president is a Democrat.
CBS devoted half of Sunday's Face the Nation to the pressing question of “divisions within the Republican Party: Is there room for moderates?” Fill-in host Harry Smith of the Early Show allowed guests Dick Armey and Ed Gillespie plenty of time to reject his premise, but he forwarded the media's widely-held presumption in a series of statements as he simply cued up Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who endorsed the Democrat in the special New York House race: “Do you think you were too moderate?”
To Armey and Gillespie, Smith cited a list of principles some in the GOP want candidates to agree to in order to earn party support, and then posed a series of loaded questions, such as, “Is this litmus test a good idea?” and “some have called it a suicide pact,” as well as: “Is moderate a dirty word now in the Republican Party?” Smith was also bewildered anyone could consider South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham inadequately conservative: “Can someone with that kind of credentials be not conservative enough?”
Smith told Armey “some people suggest that the Republicans are fighting a demographic battle that they can't win, that this is going to end up being exclusionary...”
On Monday’s Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux became the latest CNN personality to use the offensive “teabagger” label to describe opponents of ObamaCare. Malveaux asked senior political analyst Gloria Borger, “Do we expect to see the kinds of big rallies and...the circus atmosphere that we saw...over the summer when you were talking about controversial policy, ‘teabaggers’ and all that other thing?” [audio clip available here]
The CNN anchor and correspondent, serving a substitute for the vacationing Wolf Blitzer, questioned Borger about the upcoming battle over health care “reform” in the Senate, after a 60-39 vote over the weekend to begin debate over the Democrats’ bill. Her use of the vulgar term came 14 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour:
One of the media members who made the disgusting term "teabagger" popular did a victory lap Tuesday after the New Oxford American Dictionary declared the epithet a finalist for its 2009 Word of the Year.
Like a child giggling as he tries to say "truck" with his fingers in his mouth, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was not only visibly pleased with himself as a result of this announcement, he also used the occasion to juvenilely offer his tiny "Countdown" audience numerous double entendres in perverse celebration.
The following makes one wonder if THIS is what the White House considers REAL NEWS (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Hot Air):
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Jim Acosta rehashed a three-month-old report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center about the apparent rise in militia activity in the U.S., and extensively featured a militia from Michigan whose members purportedly “could not specify which of their constitutional rights are being peeled away.”
Acosta didn’t use any specific ideological labels to classify the militias during his report, which aired just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, but it was clear that the featured militia, the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, held right-of-center views, as its members expressed concern about gun rights, anti-Obama sentiment, and even flew the yellow Gadsden flag (with its “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan) featured at Tea Party protests. The Gadsden flag showed up in many of the clips of the militia during the CNN correspondent’s report, which was the first in a series titled “Patriots or Extremists.” The Tea Party tie was reenforced with a shot of a truck of one of the militia members, which had a sticker of the famous “Obama as the Joker” image on it.
Remember those free health care clinics MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow played up back in October after Olbermann's hour-long "Special Comment," about Republican opposition to ObamaCare and/or PelosiCare?
Well, now it's time for their brand of AstroTurf to be put into action. On MSNBC's Nov. 13 "Countdown," fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell raised the issue about the potential opposition Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., might have over the current health care legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate. And, Landrieu so happens to represent Louisiana, the site of one of Olbermann's politicized free health care clinics.
"Republicans, in a new ad, are targeting conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for indicating she might, might, allow health care to come up for up or down vote on the Senate floor," O'Donnell said.
Just over a week after using the term “far right” three times in a row in one night, CNN’s Larry King used the term “right wing” three times during an interview of Al Gore on his program on Thursday. King first questioned Gore about “the rise of the right wing” and “right wing radio” in the context of the health care debate, and later asked the former vice president, “ Is the right wing bigger than its bite?”
The CNN host lead his hour-long interview with Gore with a ringing endorsement of the Democrat’s new book: “We are so honored to welcome back Al Gore to the show, the former vice president of the United States and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the best-selling author, all in one person. His new book is ‘Our Choice.’ There you see it. It’s a plan to solve the climate crisis, and it is brilliantly put together.”
Thirteen minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour, King raised the issue of the Tea Parties with Gore: “What do you make of the rise of the right wing, these rallies and dealing with health care- we’ll move to health care in a minute. Right-wing radio- they take you on pretty good.” As you might expect the “green godfather” (as Katie Couric put it) hinted the anti-ObamaCare activists were being unreasonable: “Well yeah, it’s not entirely new in American politics. We have had a strain like this in our politics for a long time, and there are extreme voices all along the ideological spectrum. And we just have to focus on building the health and strength of our democracy and hope that the voices of reason and deliberation will prevail.”
You might not have known it from the lack of coverage on Thursday, but Tea Partiers rallying at Capitol Hill were joined by at least one celebrity ObamaCare critic, actor Jon Voight, who denounced the requirement forcing Americans to buy health insurance under penalty of law as unconstitutional.
Back during the George W. Bush era, the media often hyped the criticism of the Iraq War effort by liberals in Hollywood, playing up the political credibility of actors like Mike Farrell (best known for his role in the long-running TV series "M*A*S*H") who waxed philosophical on the justness or necessity of that war's effort.
Yet even though it's a rarity to find conservatives in Hollywood, much less politically vocal ones like Voight, the ones that are vocal critics of the Obama administration are all but ignored by the mainstream media.
"[I] think we're building a stairway to heaven in Dow prices on the back of paper and I think that, you know it seems kind of dire to me that 8 percent - 8,000, 9 percent - 9,000, 10.2 - 10,000," Santelli said. "I shudder to think where the unemployment rate is going to be at 11 and 12,000 in the Dow."
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on "Hannity" last night and talked about the Fort Hood shooting as well as the conservative rally at the Capitol yesterday which drew thousands on short notice. [see video embedded at right]
Regarding the latter Bozell quipped, "Spontaneous combustion! This wasn't an instant tea party. This was a coffee urn exploding."
"There's something huge going on out there. And if people on Capitol Hill don't want to pay attention to them, fine, they'll become private citizens just like I am," Bozell added.
As to the Fort Hood shooting, Bozell noted that the attack reminds us "that we're up against some pretty awful stuff in this world today, some pretty evil stuff."
This morning, Bozell returned to Fox News's New York headquarters to chat with the hosts of "Fox & Friends."
You can watch the entire interview in the embedded video below the page break:
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
CNN’s Roland Martin picked up where Anderson Cooper left off on Monday’s AC360, claiming that there’s “the beginnings of a civil war” in the GOP and that Tea Party protesters “want to radicalize the right” in the party. Martin also claimed that the Democrats are more of a “big tent” than Republicans: “You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal...moderate...and conservative Democrats.”
The liberal political contributor appeared with Tea Party Express’s Mark Williams for two segments starting three minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper first sought Martin’s take on the New York 23rd congressional district race. Unsurprisingly, he forwarded the Chris Matthews/mainstream media spin on the contest: “There is no doubt you are seeing the beginnings of a civil war play out, in terms of folks who are saying that we do not want moderates, in terms of being involved in this party.”
Later in the segment, after Williams highlighted how Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democrat Bill Owens after she withdrew from the New York 23 race, Martin struck back with his “big tent” claim about the Democrats: “You talk about endorsing a Democrat. I’m sure Mark has no problem with former Democrat Joe Lieberman saying he’s going to campaign for Republican candidates....You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. What Republicans are saying is, we don’t want any liberal or moderate Republicans. We only want conservative Republicans, and you cannot expand a party nationally only having just conservative Republicans. You’re not going to win long-term.”
On Monday’s AC360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper forwarded the media’s new talking point about the New York 23 congressional race, that “Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are...driving moderates out of the GOP.” Correspondent Tom Foreman continued on this note, stating that “angry conservatives...[are] forcing the party to choose between...its base and attracting more moderate Americans.”
Cooper led the 10 pm Eastern hour of his program with the question, “Does the Republican Party have room for moderates?” The anchor outlined that “state and local elections tomorrow may have profound national effects, and President Obama and Sarah Palin are a big part of it. Two governor’s races may test the President’s ability to get others elected or turn into a referendum on his presidency.” He continued with the media’s new spin on the electoral contests, as if it was a matter of fact: “As for Sarah Palin, she, Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are front and center, driving moderates out of the GOP.”
CNN’s Candy Crowley made an oblique reference to her colleague Anderson Cooper’s infamous “teabagger” remark on Monday’s Situation Room. As she reported on the race in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Crowley referred to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman as “the choice of many on the right, including Sarah Palin, former House leader Dick Armey and ‘tea bag partyers’” [audio clips available here].
The CNN political correspondent detailed the different key races up in the November 3 election at the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour, including the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial campaigns. She closed her report with the New York contest: “And by way of marquee races, it’s hard to beat the soap opera of New York’s 23rd congressional district, where the Republican moderate dropped out over the weekend, leaving the race to a conservative, Doug Hoffman, the choice of many on the right, including Sarah Palin, former House leader Dick Armey and ‘tea bag partyers.’”
Sunday's gay rights rally on Capitol Hill garnered a positive story on the first page of Monday's New York Times National section by reporter Jeremy Peters, "New Generation of Gay Rights Advocates March to Put Pressure on the President." Peters claimed that "tens of thousands" had gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol Sunday to prod Barack Obama to move more aggressively to promote greater equality for gays.
Unlike the paper's hostile coverage of the "tea party" and "9/12" rallies by anti-spending conservatives, the Times's relatively prominent (page A12) coverage of the gay rights rally displayed no hostility toward the beliefs of the protestors and didn't label them liberal, even though a photo slideshow at nytimes.com featured images of Socialist Worker party members marching in solidarity.
Hard-left "anti-war" protesters – so far to the left that they’re protesting Barack Obama – were awarded the top left of The Washington Post on Wednesday. This "event" protesting the eighth anniversary of war in Afghanistan not only topped page one, it covered about 75 percent of page A6, including four color photographs.
The headline was "For Antiwar Protesters, the Cause Isn't Lost: But Will D.C. Rally Spark Groundswell?" Post reporter Eli Saslow softly implied it wasn’t going well, that "this time the organizers believed they could revive the beleaguered anti-war movement, once such a force in U.S. policy. The next 48 hours would put their optimism on trial."
If there was a journalistic award for beating around the bush, Saslow and the Post could win it. After 25 paragraphs, Saslow finally revealed that the Post’s idea of news judgment isn’t based on numbers: the reporter counted...176 protesters.
“Actress/activist” Janeane Garofalo used another media appearance to smear anti-Obama protesters as racists, this time, Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, insisting “it's obvious to anybody who has eyes in this country that tea-baggers, the 9-12ers” are “clearly white power movements” led “by the Glenn Becks, the Michelle Bachmans, the Rush Limbaughs.”
She fretted that “so few people are willing to say that yes it is racism, straight up racism,” before confusing which party controlled segregationist southern states: “The Republican Party has been willing to carry water for racists in this country since about the 1950s.” Garofalo proceeded to repeat a charge she's made often: “Fox News is happy to feed into this; AM radio is happy to feed into this,” including “this tacit nudging towards violence.” [Audio: MP3 clip]
CNN’s Rick Sanchez joined two of his colleagues in omitting the left-wing affiliation of Wendell Potter, a senior fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy. In fact, Sanchez went so far as to deny Potter’s alignment with liberals: “Is he [Potter] some crazy lefty? Is he Ralph Nader? Is he Dennis Kucinich? No. In fact, he’s a former player in the health insurance world.”
Before the CNN anchor made this denial about Potter, he read the senior fellow’s assessment of Senator Max Baucus’s health care “reform” proposal: “Here’s what my next guest thinks of this Baucus bill- quote, ‘It’s hard to imagine how insurance companies could have written legislation,’ he says- ‘that would benefit them more.’ In other words, if the guys who run the insurance companies would have sat down and written legislation- he says- they couldn’t have written it any better.”
Sanchez then made his introduction of his guest: “Who’s my guest? Is he some crazy lefty? Is he Ralph Nader? Is he Dennis Kucinich? No. In fact, he’s a former player in the health insurance world. He used to be a part of it. You ever heard of Cigna? Of course, you’ve heard of Cigna. They’re one of the biggest insurers in the whole world. Wendell Potter is who I’m talking about, and for 15 years he was the company’s chief corporate spokesperson, and he was also an executive with Humana as well.” He didn’t mention Potter’s current position with the Center for Media and Democracy during the interview, though an on-screen graphic did mention it (see above).
CNN’s Candy Crowley tried to prompt former President Jimmy Carter to explain his charge of racism against opponents of President Obama on Thursday’s American Morning, but the Democrat tried to worm his way out of what he said. Crowley paraphrased, “You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president,” to which Carter replied, “That’s not what I said” [audio clips from the interview are available here].
The topic of the former president’s inflammatory accusation came midway through the CNN correspondent’s live interview during the 8 am Eastern hour. Crowley had first asked Carter about the revamp of his presidential museum and library. Before turning to the Obama/race issue, she also prompted Mrs. Carter, who was also present, to comment on the future of mental health care.
Carter was clearly defensive about his allegation when Crowley brought it up. The correspondent put her question this way: “Mr. President, let me ask you first- domestically, you made some remarks recently about how you felt about the protesters that were protesting against President Obama. You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president, that there was racism involved.” The former president interrupted, “By the way, that’s not what I said.”
CNN’s Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer endorsed Thomas Friedman’s “scary and sobering column” in the New York Times on Wednesday’s Situation Room, where the liberal writer compared the current American political climate to that of Israel in 1995 prior to Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. After Cafferty remarked that “Friedman’s right,” Blitzer labeled the column “powerful.”
The CNN commentator began his 5 pm Eastern “Cafferty File” segment with his “scary and sobering” label of the New York Times column. After summarizing it and reading a quote where Friedman warned that “something very dangerous is happening” in the American political dialogue, Cafferty remarked that “Friedman’s right. You don’t have to look any further than protesters comparing President Obama to a Nazi, or a Facebook poll asking if he should be killed. Tom Friedman says even if you’re not worried about violence against Mr. Obama, you should be worried about what’s happening to American politics.”
Some liberals are using the death of a Census Bureau worker in rural Kentucky to bolster their wild claims that criticism of Obama is sparking political violence. But evidence is lacking, speculation is rampant, and left wing accusers are coming up short in their efforts to portray opposition to the president as somehow dangerous.
"This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks," writes Allison Kilkenny, a Huffington Post contributor and liberal radio host who, according to her bio, "makes sh***y world news funny." She was referring to the probable murder (authorities have not officially ruled it a homicide) of Bill Sparkman, whose body was found with the word 'Fed' carved into his chest.
'Fed', by Kilkenny's account, "has taken on a derogatory meaning in right-wing circles where fear and paranoia reign supreme... Such paranoia and anger isn't contained in the woods of Kentucky. The problem is systematic."
CNN’s Larry King fawned over Michael Moore during an hour-long interview on his program on Wednesday, calling the leftist’s latest feature “a brilliant documentary,” and went on to label the director “our number one propagandist.” King encouraged all of his viewers to see Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which was released in New York City and L.A. earlier that day.
The CNN anchor led his 9 pm Eastern program with his gush over the apparent magnificence of Moore and his latest documentary: “I’ve seen this movie, and I’ll tell you, whether people agree or disagree with it- and there will be people who disagree- this is a brilliant documentary. You are our number one propagandist, in the good sense that a propagandist presents their viewpoint very well. Maybe no one does it better.”
Eight minutes later, King besought his viewers to go see Moore’s “Love Story,” regardless of their political views: “Agree or disagree, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ is one heck of a documentary. We saw it. You should see it- again, whether you agree or disagree, you should- you should see it.”
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez again attacked Fox News on Monday’s Newsroom, implying the channel wasn’t a “real news organization,” and bizarrely labeled Glenn Beck “pudgy-faced.” Unsurprisingly, Sanchez continued his silence concerning his own network’s left-wing bias [audio clips from the segment are available here].
The anchor began the segment by summarizing his attack on the Fox News Channel from the September 18 edition of Newsroom, and then dropped his hint that his competitor was not a genuine news outlet: “Real news organizations- real news organizations- are not supposed to stage events, nor should they promote news events, nor should they hype news events. Otherwise, they lose their ability to be impartial. They’re no longer even remotely objective if they do that, nor are they being ‘fair and balanced.’”
Appearing on CBS’s Sunday Morning, commentator Ben Stein ripped into CNN political analyst James Carville for claiming anti-Obama protestors were "classless": "the elitist anger of the liberal Democrats is boiling over as some ordinary citizens show they don’t like being pushed around....Contempt for the ordinary citizen is just not American and it does not win elections."
Earlier in his commentary, Stein wondered: "I thought the Democrats were the party of the little guys and those who aren’t classy or well born...So now the Democrats are admitting they’re the party of the rich?" He went on to point out that Democrats have "been getting the lion’s share of very large political gifts for years now. The truth is that the Democrats are the fat cats. I’m impressed that Mr. Carville admitted it. I like him more than ever now."
Stein continued: "I was also interested to see that Mr. Carville, a mere lad of 64, same age as I am, has made fun of the age of the tea party attendees." A clip was played of Carville declaring: " I mean they had every old crank in the country out there." Stein observed: "So now the Democrats don’t think the opinions of senior citizens are worth anything more than ridicule?"
Reporting for CBS’s Sunday Morning, political analyst Jeff Greenfield wondered about the impact of nationwide ant-Obama protests: "Does this new militancy on the Right pose an opportunity for the Republican Party or create a dilemma?" He fretted over the tone: "Some of it is aimed specifically and virulently at Obama....At his background, at his race, at his agenda."
Greenfield began the segment by highlighting the source of all the "militancy": "Discontent is in the air. You can see it in the signs they carry. Hear it from the most prominent voices on talk radio. All from the Right....And most notably from Glenn Beck, whose radio program and Fox News telecasts draw millions with his apocalyptic visions of where the President is going."Greenfield went on to include South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, whom he mistakenly labeled as being from Louisiana: "You even heard it from the floor of the House...In an unprecedented outburst from Louisiana Congressman Joe Wilson."
Later, Greenfield worried about "signs here that show like pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Obama." One sign showed President Obama as Adolf Hitler, but as NewsBusters earlier reported, that particular sign has been traced back to followers of left-wing radical Lyndon LaRouche. In response to some of the other signs, Protestor Carol Fessler explained to Greenfield: "That comes from a fear...the fear is, you know, if the media’s not doing its job, if government is just taking over every single thing it can and we now have an unfettered liberal – the radical left has gotten control of the process. That’s the fear." Greenfield concluded: "Indeed, that fear has been fed not by politicians but by Fox News pundits."
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez correctly pointed out that a full-page color ad by the Fox News Channel incorrectly claimed that his network missed the massive September 12 Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, but went on to paper over CNN’s own double-standard on covering left-wing protests versus conservative protests. Sanchez also accused Fox News of trying to “promote” the Tea Parties.
During the segment, which began 13 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, the CNN anchor seemed to be perturbed by Fox News’s ad, which ran in the Washington Post on Friday with one main line: “How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN miss this story?” Sanchez led with a direct attack on the ad: “If you watch this show every day...you know that I usually don’t suffer fools gladly, especially when it comes to the fools who perpetuate falsehoods. Well today, thousands of you flipped through the pages of the Washington Post, only to come across a lie so bold and so upsetting that frankly, I’m not just going to sit here in silence and allow my craft or my news operation to be unfairly maligned, because enough is enough. And, yes, I’m talking to you, Fox News.”
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
Time Magazine's Joe Klein leveled another accusation of racism against Tea Party protesters today, employing fallacious arguments that could be torn apart by any student of basic logic.
Tea Party protesters, by Klein's account, are similar to the caricature of the 1990s religious right: "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command," in the words of the Washington Post. Klein takes that WaPo adage and adds 'racist' to the end.
The Tea Party protesters are scared above all, Klein asserts, "by an amorphous feeling that they [sic] America they imagined they were living in--Sarah Palin's fantasy America--is a different place now, changing for the worse, overrun by furriners of all sorts: Latinos, South Asians, East Asians, homosexuals...to say nothing of liberated, uppity blacks...
Timothy Egan, liberal New York Times reporter turned ultra-liberal nytimes.com "Outposts" blogger, titled his Wednesday night entry "Working Class Zero," a condescending, stereotypically liberal attack on blue-collar folks too ignorant and easily "distracted" to fight for their own interests, which Egan defined as government-controlled health care.
Egan was vexed that many middle-class Americans were instead heeding "the brat's cry of Joe Wilson" and condescendingly reduced the concerns of conservative protesters of the size and influence of the federal government to "generalized rage" stoked by "well-funded Astroturf outfits."