Whoever is compiling a list of what journalists really believe when they put forth certain vague but commonly used phrases (e.g., using "some people believe" instead of truthfully saying "in my opinion") should consider adding the following: "small but vocal group" really means "a tiny bunch of people I agree with."
That's my assessment as I look at two uses of the term this past weekend, each referring to pathetically small gatherings of people using tax-filing weekend as a excuse to protest "corporate tax loopholes."
The first comes to us via David Roeder of the Chicago Sun-Times (HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit), where the paper's headline writers cooked up something that would give those who didn't read the underlying report the impression that the city's Tea Party Tax Day protest was small:
Small but vocal group protests taxes
"Thank you for paying your taxes” is a seldom-heard phrase, but it was the calling card Sunday for a few citizens angry about federal loopholes for corporations.
They had a serious point to make with humor. With some dressing the part, they pretended to be high-class moguls walking Michigan Avenue and thanking people “for paying your fair share of U.S. taxes, so we don’t have to.”
... They included members of the Coffee Party, which is positioning itself as a nonpartisan alternative to the Tea Party, and U.S. Uncut. Last week, U.S. Uncut took credit for a hoax press release saying that General Electric was returning to the treasury its $3.2 billion tax refund.
Participants said they hope to convince others that wiping out corporate loopholes will save critical programs facing the budget ax. “The corporate tax situation in Europe is so much simpler,” said Jim Netter, a music producer from Chicago. “Nominal rates are much lower, but corporations actually have to pay them.”
The headline obviously should have read that the group opposes "tax loopholes."
Anyone even remotely familiar with federal fiscal figures knows that closing all the alleged loopholes would barely make a dent in the government's $1.5 trillion annual deficit. Additionally, closing the alleged loopholes without lower overall corporate tax rates (the average effective rates in the U.S. is currently the second-highest in the world behind Japan) would only work to make American companies less competitive, cause them to create more jobs overseas instead of here, and lead some of them to move their headquarters out of the U.S.
Another similar report comes out of St. Augustine, Florida:
Small but vocal group protests outside rally
As Tea Party members enthusiastically cheered politicians at Saturday's Tea Party rally at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds, a small but vocal group gathered at the State Road 207 entrance.
As many as three dozen people -- including teachers from at least three counties -- held signs that said "Pink Slip Rick," and "Fight Truth Decay."
... St. Johns County Education Association president Debby Etheredge said the group was protesting cuts to education spending "and the fact that (state Sen. John Thrasher) wants to take away our political voices."
Etheredge was referring to Thrasher's introduction of a bill that the Associated Press reports would no longer allow union dues to be automatically deducted from employees' paychecks and would require members to give written approval before their dues are used for political purposes.
... Once we collect the dues dollars, it's up to the members where the money goes," Said Liz Crane, president of the Clay County Education Association. "It's not up to the Legislature, which is saying we can't use (the money) for political purposes."
.... Gloria LeBlanc, coordinator for the local Coffee Party, said she was holding the "Fight Truth Decay" sign to protest misinformation the current government is dispensing.
"I'm not here to protest the Tea Party," she emphasized. "The Tea Party is welcome in the Coffee Party.
... The Coffee Party is a nonpartisan group committed to civil dialogue about problems facing the nation, state and local community.
"I'm protesting cutting programs for the poor and middle class while giving tax cuts for the rich," LeBlanc said. "I don't want controversy. I want to have a dialogue."
Oh yeah, they're nonpartisan. The last four excerpted paragraphs are so laugh-out-loud funny that it should have come with a "don't read this if you have any liquids in your mouth" warning.
As to the use of dues for political purposes, there was a Supreme Court ruling about that over two decades ago: Beck vs. Communication Workers of America. The Court said that unions can't use dues for political purposes without a worker's consent. The problem is that until states codify Beck into law, the only way individual union members can stop this from happening is to take legal action themselves. They should ultimately win, but most will be deterred due to the costs and personal ostracism involved. As far as I can tell, all Florida is merely doing is what all 50 states should have done long ago, and the quoted Liz Crane is dead wrong.
There was one other Coffee Party-related event I found, but it was written up in advance in Oregon (bold is in original):
... Even though taxes are not due today, there are still Tax Day Tea Parties being held across the country, meant to bring attention to concerns with too much government spending and high taxes.
There are also rallies against the tea party today...
NewsWatch 12's Danielle Craig was live at Alba Park in Medford, where some have gathered for a so-called "Coffee Party."
The people who attended the "Coffee Party" say they're tired of the Tea Party, blaming it for growing hate speech in politics.
... The Coffee Party is hoping today's rally will unite minority groups in the community.
I would suggest that "some" in the third excerpted paragraph might really mean the following: "a really small and not very vocal group I agree with."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.