Archive for November, 2009


ObamaCare’s Cost Could Top $6 Trillion

By Michael F. Cannon

Congressional Democrats are using several budget gimmicks to disguise the cost of their health care overhaul, claiming the House and Senate bills would cost only (!) about $1 trillion over 10 years.  Now that critics have begun to correct for those budget gimmicks, supporters of ObamaCare are firing back.

One gimmick makes the new entitlement spending appear smaller by not opening the spigot until late in the official 10-year budget window (2010–2019).  Correcting for that gimmick in the Senate version, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) estimates, “When all this new spending occurs” — i.e., from 2014 through 2023 — “this bill will cost $2.5 trillion over that ten-year period.”

Another gimmick pushes much of the legislation’s costs off the federal budget and onto the private sector by requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance.  When the bills force somebody to pay $10,000 to the government, the Congressional Budget Office treats that as a tax.  When the government then hands that $10,000 to private insurers, the CBO counts that as government spending.  But when the bills achieve the exact same outcome by forcing somebody to pay $10,000 directly to a private insurance company, it appears nowhere in the official CBO cost estimates — neither as federal revenues nor federal spending.  That’s a sharp departure from how the CBO treated similar mandates in the Clinton health plan.  And it hides maybe 60 percent of the legislation’s total costs.  When I correct for that gimmick, it brings total costs to roughly $2.5 trillion (i.e., $1 trillion/0.4).

Here’s where things get really ugly.  TPMDC’s Brian Beutler calls “the” $2.5-trillion cost estimate a “doozy” of a “hysterical Republican whopper.”  Not only is he incorrect, he doesn’t seem to realize that Gregg and I are correcting for different budget gimmicks; it’s just a coincidence that we happened to reach the same number.

When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion.  That’s not a precise estimate.  It’s just far closer to the truth than President Obama and congressional Democrats want the debate to be.

Beutler and other supporters of ObamaCare can react to this news in two ways.  They can continue to deny the enormous cost of the legislation they support.  Or they can question how President Obama’s health plan came to be so blessedly expensive, and how (and by whom) they were duped into thinking it wasn’t.

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Climate change data dumped

By Jonathan Leake

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records.

“The CRU is basically saying, ‘Trust us’. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science,” he said.

Jones was not in charge of the CRU when the data were thrown away in the 1980s, a time when climate change was seen as a less pressing issue. The lost material was used to build the databases that have been his life’s work, showing how the world has warmed by 0.8C over the past 157 years.

He and his colleagues say this temperature rise is “unequivocally” linked to greenhouse gas emissions generated by humans. Their findings are one of the main pieces of evidence used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says global warming is a threat to humanity. [emphasis mine]

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Man wanted for shooting police officers was granted clemency by Mike Huckabee

By Alex Spillius

A convicted armed robber wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of four US policemen was granted clemency nine years ago by former Arkansas Governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, it has emerged.

Maurice Clemmons, the man wanted for questioning, has been convicted of five felonies in his home state Arkansas and has been charged with eight felonies in Washington state.

In 1989, Clemmons, then aged 17, was convicted in Little Rock for aggravated robbery. He was paroled in 2000 after Mr Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ 35-year prison sentence. Mr Huckabee, who took criticism during his run for the Republican presidential nomination for the number of pardons he issued, cited Clemmons’ age at the time of the sentence.

After his release from prison, Clemmons violated his parole and was returned to prison in July 2001. He was released March 18, 2004, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ Pulaski County told the Seattle Times.

Clemmons had been jailed on remand for several months awaiting formal charges of second-degree rape of a child.

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Harold Estes is a respected and honored WW II veteran who is well known in Hawaii for his 70 plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes. Estes is not a political activist and has never spoken out before about a government official, until now.

In the following letter, the WW II battleship sailor tells Brother O it’s time to “shape up or ship out!”

I.M. Kane 


A World War 2 Veteran sends a letter to Obama

Dear President Obama, 

My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year.  People meeting me for the first time don’t believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos’n Mate.  Now I live in a “rest home” located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.

One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.

So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.

I can’t figure out what country you are the president of. You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:

“We’re no longer a Christian nation”

“America is arrogant” – (Your wife even announced to the world, “America is mean-spirited.” Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness. )

I’d say shame on the both of you, but I don’t think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you.  To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

After 9/11 you said, “America hasn’t lived up to her ideals.”  

Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British?  Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?  I hope you didn’t mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.

I don’t think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.

Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don’t, I’ll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue. You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don’t want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight?  You don’t mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don’t want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

One more thing.

I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you’re the Commander-in- Chief now, son.  Do your job.  When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him.  But if you’re not in this fight to win, then get out.  The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you’re thinking of.

You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.

You’re not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That’s not our greatest threat.  Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now.

And I sure as hell don’t want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.


Harold B. Estes

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Questioning conspiracy

By James Simpson

As long as we are facing facts, it is time to confront a long-held, dangerous delusion of the American psyche. The vast majority of people who have read my series on the Cloward Piven Strategy, including Monday’s post, Cloward Piven Government, have taken the lessons to heart and are justifiably alarmed by their conclusions. Yet, despite the exhaustive wealth of evidence, despite overwhelming documentation embedded within these and others’ essays, some people choose to dismiss the frightening conclusions by taking the easy way out and ridicule them as “conspiracy theories.”

To these people, I have to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” The “dismissal by conspiracy theory” argument is the product of a lazy, cowardly mind, unwilling to risk a peek, instead reacting instinctively out of subliminal fear to facts that threaten comforting rationalizations.

The communist method is and always has been conspiracy. Since the Soviet military adopted Sun Tzu’s Art of War as their guiding philosophy, they have almost always utilized the effective tools of slow subversion as a critical component of their overall offensives. One of the foremost experts on Soviet methods even called the Soviet Union the “Counterintelligence State,” based on the idea that the entire society was dedicated in one form or another to “Dezinformatsia.”

The public relations campaign launched against Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s was in fact a full-scale assault led by American communists to discredit the notion of communist conspiracy, which at the time was very widely believed to be occurring. It was an intimidation campaign based on Alinsky’s rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon…”

The effectiveness of this campaign lives with us today as people almost universally shy away from any notion even hinting at that awful word “conspiracy” when it comes to leftists.

For example, this manufactured ignorance is so widespread that many people conflate the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee’s (HUAC) investigations of the film industry with “McCarthyism” when McCarthy hadn’t even been elected Senator. McCarthy’s 1950s investigations focused on communist infiltration of the Army, especially the Army facility at Monmouth, New Jersey, where atomic spy Julius Rosenberg had worked. Three years after McCarthy had been railroaded for his efforts, that facility quietly closed because of this internal security threat it. Did you know that? Why not?

As commentator Chuck Morse wrote in 2003:

The substantial power the left wielded over our government and media was on full display in the concerted campaign to stop McCarthy, who, in hindsight, has been vindicated of all charges. Politicians who would henceforth be more circumspect when investigating communist or any other subversive element in government heard the lesson of McCarthy’s downfall loud and clear. Average citizens, at least subliminally conscious of the auto da fe McCarthy had been put through, would also learn to curb their criticism of the left as well.

The left ridicules notions of communist conspiracy and we buy it. At the same time they aggressively promote the notion of “CIA” or “Vast Right-Wing” conspiracy as though it’s a given, and we buy that too! But if one is possible, so must be the other. Our illogical reasoning is the result of years of popular culture conditioning, not fact. The difference is, with communists, subversive conspiracy is doctrine. With us, it is an alien notion, born witness by the scorn with which counterintelligence and clandestine activities are treated even within the military establishment.

Fast forward.

Cloward and Piven were not merely two lone sociology professors conspiring on teacher salaries to bring down America. They were prominent socialists and lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest and oldest worldwide socialist organization. Therein lay their strength, both in recruitment and resources. The leftist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) held seminars for activists on how to use the CPS. Cloward and Piven’s Nation article was reprinted a record 30,000 times.

These folks were not alone. And they only added to the plethora of anti-American strategies being used, building on the already utilized Alinsky method. Also, we have been infiltrated since the 1930s by the KGB and their sister agencies in other communist countries whose goal has not merely been to obtain military secrets, but much more to create a subversive infrastructure in this country. The IPS, mentioned above, is largely a KGB front. All of its principals are American communists, who, by definition, work for the communist international, still run by the KGB despite the alleged “fall” of communism.

All these groups, the think tanks, the DSA, ACORN, ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Communist Party and all their offshoots are led by people who know each other, have worked in the “movement” for years, and share the same goals, often trading places in the various organizations. It is well organized, powerful, and even deadly when necessary. Connections to foreign intelligence agencies like the KGB are well hidden, but very likely much closer than even a lot of people in the movement realize (those, like many prominent Democrats, are the useful idiots).

Finally, it doesn’t take much for a conspiracy to work when you give participants a vested interest. That was an overtly stated component of the CPS. Cloward and Piven said:

First, this plan promises immediate economic benefits. This is a point of some importance because, whereas America’s poor have not been moved in any number by radical political ideologies, they have sometimes been moved by their economic interests.

So they were able to mobilize armies of poor people simply because those people saw a paycheck in the form of welfare benefits. ACORN attracted homebuyers in droves by showing them how to get 5% or even zero down payment mortgages, with the implicit promise — borne out later in some cases — that they wouldn’t have to pay anything. Countrywide Financial, the “Friends of Angelo” bank, had a direct working relationship with ACORN and by 2006 were holding $600 billion in high risk mortgage investments.

Most communist conspiracies work because, as Whittaker Chambers explained, most people aren’t communist and don’t even know they are promoting communist causes. They merely work in their own interest, whether that be to obtain a mortgage, get welfare income, or save a tree.

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The following 2:41 video is song parody about Climategate sung to the tune of “Draggin the Line” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Climategate is the brewing scandal involving hacked e-mails that reveal how top scientists conspired to manipulate data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures.

The e-mails were leaked into cyberspace last week after hackers broke into the servers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), one of the world’s leading climate research organizations.

Nevertheless, Enviro-zeals will continue to believe the Global Warming propaganda regardless of contrary evidence because they are too emotionally invested in the lie to objectively see the truth.

I.M. Kane


Hide The Decline – Climategate


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Cloward-Piven Government

By James Simpson

It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In September of last year, American Thinker published my article, Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. Part of a series, it connected then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to individuals and organizations practicing a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government. Since then, the story of that strategy has found its way across the blogosphere, onto the airwaves of radio stations across the country, the Glenn Beck television show, Bill O’Reilly, and now Mark Levin.

The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us. He describes it as:

The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled “The Weight of the Poor,” they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government.

The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level.”

They implemented the strategy by creating a succession of radical organizations, most notable among them the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with the help of veteran organizer Wade Rathke. Their crowning achievement was the “Motor Voter” act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 with Cloward and Piven standing behind him.

As we now know, ACORN was one of the chief drivers of high-risk mortgage lending that eventually led to the financial crisis. But the Motor Voter law was another component of the strategy. It created vast vulnerabilities in our electoral system, which ACORN then exploited.

ACORN’s vote registration scandals throughout the U.S. are predictable fallout.

The Motor Voter law has also been used to open another vulnerability in the system: the registration of vast numbers of illegal aliens, who then reliably vote Democrat. Herein lies the real reason Democrats are so anxious for open borders, security be damned.

It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations, and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

The real goal of “health care” legislation, the real goal of “cap-and-trade,” and the real goal of the “stimulus” is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design.

This time, in addition to overwhelming the government with demands for services, Obama and the Democrats are overwhelming political opposition to their plans with a flood of apocalyptic legislation. Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized, and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Barney Frank said, “the middle class will be too distracted to fight.”

These people are our enemies. They don’t use guns, yet, but they are just as dangerous, determined, and duplicitous as the communists we faced in the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and bush wars across the globe, and the Nazis we faced in World War II.

It is time we fully internalized and digested this fact, with all its ugly ramifications. These people have violated countless laws and could be prosecuted, had we the political power. Not only are their policies unconstitutional, but deliberately so — the goal being to make the Constitution irrelevant. Their spending is off the charts and will drive us into hyperinflation, but it could be rescinded, had we the political power. These policies are toxic, but they could be stopped and reversed, had we the political power. Their ideologies are poisonous, but they could be exposed for what they are, with long jail sentences as an object lesson, had we the political power.

Every single citizen who cares about this country should be spending every minute of his or her spare time lobbying, organizing, writing, and planning. Fight every initiative they launch. It is all destructive. If we are to root out this evil, it is critical that in 2010 we elect competent, principled leaders willing to defend our Constitution and our country. Otherwise, the malevolent cabal that occupies the government today will become too entrenched.

After that, all bets are off.

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EDITORIAL: Obama’s sacked inspector general


Even as congressional investigators demolish White House explanations for its firing last summer of a key inspector general, new documents show that an entire second area of misleading administration statements has gone largely unexplored. Each new revelation in the case suggests that Gerald Walpin, the fired IG for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), ought to be reinstated to his job.

We’ll get to that second area of dispute in a few moments; it’s a doozy. First, though, because this is all rather confusing, a review of the particulars is in order.

By law, inspectors general can be “removed” by the president only with 30 days’ notice to Congress that is accompanied by an explanation for the removal. The goal is to protect the independence of the IGs. However, after Mr. Walpin issued two reports critical of close allies of the Obama White House, he was removed by a phone call, without prior notice, on June 10 and placed on administrative leave, without access to his office or his e-mails. Only the next day was Congress told, without explanation, that he had been fired. On June 16, the White House finally and belatedly provided several members of Congress with more explanations. None of those explanations has held up.

The Obama administration said Mr. Walpin appeared “confused” or “disoriented” at a May 20 CNCS board meeting, raising questions about his competence. However, not a single shred of evidence, before or since, has emerged to suggest any lack of mental acuity by Mr. Walpin.

The administration said the board was dissatisfied that Mr. Walpin often telecommuted between New York and Washington. However, the telecommuting arrangement was, by design, an experiment to be reviewed at the end of June anyway. Nobody, not even once, has identified any work that fell through the cracks because of the arrangement.

The administration made much of an ethics complaint filed against Mr. Walpin by the acting U.S. Attorney in Sacramento, Calif., but the complaint itself contained flagrant inaccuracies. In October, it was formally and summarily dismissed by the Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

Meanwhile, Mr. Walpin’s most contentious charges against political allies of President Obama’s have held up quite well. He said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had misused AmeriCorps funds for private services. That was true. He said the arrangements for Mr. Johnson and his previous nonprofit organization to repay the government were weak. They were. He said there appeared to have been an attempt to cover up e-mail evidence in Mr. Johnson’s case. The FBI indeed found reason to investigate that matter.

Finally, a report prepared by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, disclosed a previously unknown controversy involving allegations that Mr. Johnson had made inappropriate sexual advances to AmeriCorps workers. Officials testified that D.C. Schools Superintendent Michelle A. Rhee, now Mr. Johnson’s fiancee, said she would intervene in the case and that shortly thereafter, other officials offered the purported victims what appeared to be “hush money.”

Finally, on Friday afternoon, the White House released a portion (but only a portion) of the remaining documents requested by Mr. Grassley for his investigation. Those documents seem to show the administration scrambling in the days after the firing to come up with a justification for having done so.

Here is where the new, largely unexplored second area of dispute arises. In addition to the report about Mr. Johnson, Mr. Walpin had issued a report critical of one of the largest of all AmeriCorps programs, a teaching fellowship at the City University of New York (CUNY) that Mr. Walpin said wasted “upwards of $80 million of taxpayer money.” Other than in a June 16 editorial in The Washington Times, the report on the CUNY program has gone almost entirely overlooked.

Yet just two days after Mr. Walpin was removed from his job, as the administration hustled to try to find retroactive justification for the firing, CNCS press aide Ranit Schmelzer drafted, for distribution to all CNCS board members, a memo of “suggested guidance in the event you get press calls on IG Walpin.” At that time, all reports on the matter had focused on the Sacramento case alone. Yet the Schmelzer memo, in a strange fit of defensiveness, included this talking point: “If asked whether this was connected to Walpin’s action in the CUNY case, say no. The decision was made before Walpin’s reports on CUNY were issued.”

That is false. On April 2, Mr. Walpin’s office issued its draft report on CUNY, which was critical of both CUNY and of the CNCS board for lax oversight. On April 30, CUNY responded. On May 4, the CNCS management responded. On May 5, Mr. Walpin told Senate staff that he feared CNCS management would “retaliate” against him. On May 20, before Mr. Walpin supposedly became “disoriented” at the board meeting, the major reason for the contentiousness of the meeting was that Mr. Walpin excoriated the board for its failures related to CUNY. On June 4, the IG issued his final report on the CUNY matter. Yet the White House did not fire Mr. Walpin until June 10.

How, pray tell, could it be that “the decision [to fire Mr. Walpin] was made before Walpin’s reports on CUNY were issued” if the reports were issued on April 2, May 20, and June 4, while the firing came on June 10? And why would the memo specify that the board members should “say no” about the CUNY connection while the memo mentioned not a word about a single other specific, potential line of press questions?

This looks like the classic case in which an administration “doth protest too much.” Defensiveness about one issue, and only one, when nobody has yet raised the issue, is often a telltale sign that there is something to hide. This is especially the case when the information provided is demonstrably false.

Former White House counsel Bernard W. Nussbaum, who served under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, had this to say last week: “I think the Obama administration made a mistake here.” He’s right, and it’s a big mistake at that.

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The bloom is off the rose until the tea party movement finds its purpose and coalesces around it.

I.M. Kane


Tea partiers turn on each other

By Kenneth P. Vogel

After emerging out of nowhere over the summer as a seemingly potent and growing political force, the tea party movement has become embroiled in internal feuding over philosophy, strategy and money and is at risk of losing its momentum.

The grass-roots activists driving the movement have become increasingly divided on such core questions as whether to focus their efforts on shaping policy debates or elections, work on a local, regional, state or national level or closely align themselves with the Republican Party, POLITICO found in interviews with tea party organizers in Washington and across the country.

Many of these differences date to the movement’s beginnings last winter in an outpouring of anger about the huge increases in government spending enacted by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress. But they were overshadowed by the initial explosion of activism that culminated during the congressional town hall meetings in August.

Now the disagreements and the sense of frustration they have engendered could diminish the movement’s potential influence in state and national politics.

“These groups don’t play as well together as they should,” said Kevin Jackson, a St. Louis-based conservative author and activist who has spoken at dozens of tea party-type rallies and is traveling across the South with a convoy sponsored by the national Tea Party Patriots group.

“They’re fractured at the organization level, I think mainly because there are a lot of people who have not had managerial experience who all of a sudden are thrust into the limelight and become intoxicated with it. And when a potential rift comes up, instead of handling it and maybe agreeing to disagree, they splinter and go off on their own.”

The movement is composed of hundreds of independent local groups, many of which are incorporated as nonprofits and have localized names referencing the tea parties, 9/12 or We the People.

Many of their members also belong to national conservative groups, including FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity and Grassfire, while the local groups often affiliate formally or informally with loose-knit umbrella organizations, including the Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Nation.

The organizational chaos — combined with a widening apathy at the edges of the movement — has produced a growing consensus among local, state and national tea party leaders that for the movement to evolve from the loose conglomeration of fired-up activists who mobilized this summer to register their dissatisfaction with Obama and Congress at town hall protests and marches across the country into a sustainable bloc with the power to shape the GOP and swing elections, it will require the emergence of a national leader, group or structure.

Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a nonprofit that has conducted organizer-training sessions for many tea party activists, said “the next three to six months” are going to be critical in determining “what’s going to happen with the tea party movement. Are they going to be a bunch of fingers, or are they going to come together to be a fist?”

Yet, while some tout a planned National Tea Party Convention in February (at which former Alaska governor and tea party darling Sarah Palin is listed as the keynote speaker) as a potentially unifying moment and others point to online coordination efforts, there is deep disagreement about what any national organization would look like and who would lead it.

FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Grassfire, Americans for Limited Government and a host of other groups have helped organize various efforts capitalizing on the energy behind the tea parties, including providing training, online war rooms that help generate phone calls and ready-to-distribute canvassing literature.

But the groups have also jockeyed — mostly behind the scenes — to take credit for leadership of the movement, which — depending on who’s doing the telling — took its name either as an homage to the 1773 Boston tax revolt that played a major role in sparking the American Revolution or from an acronym standing for “taxed enough already.”

Some activists see the turmoil within the movement and the internal clashes as simply a part of maturing.

“Some of these groups may burn out, but this is part of this entrepreneurial process and the competition is good,” said Adam Brandon, vice president of communications for FreedomWorks, a nonprofit chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.

The group has facilitated some of the efforts demonstrating the potential power of the movement. Those have included the confrontations that erupted at congressional town halls this summer, the massive Sept. 12 “Taxpayer March on Washington” as well as another Washington rally this month and support for conservative third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, who narrowly lost a special congressional election in upstate New York this month despite strong support from many tea party groups and leaders.

Brandon stressed that the strength of the tea party movement is in its grass-roots nature and that FreedomWorks’s goal is to help facilitate the movement, not to control it.

“One thing that’s clear is that anyone who says they own the tea party movement is going to get run over because no one owns the movement,” he said.

Brandon acknowledged the “rivalries and turf battles” now gripping parts of the movement but said “that’s normal because people have different ideas about what they want. That’s what’s happening now, and it’s sometimes a painful process.”

Those fights have been waged over issues that go to the heart of the movement’s purpose and strategy as well as more mundane rivalries and personal feuds.

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., disputes within the local tea party about how much to engage in partisan politics and whether board members were profiting from contracts to print paraphernalia emblazoned with the group’s logo prompted the treasurer to resign and join with defectors from a North Carolina We the People group to form a new organization.

There’s a lot of fighting, and everyone wants to be in charge, and that’s why you have so many splinter groups,” said ex-treasurer Janet Spencer, who charged her adversaries within the tea party with saying “derogatory things about me that were very unprofessional.”

She said her new group, called Patriotic Voices of America/Carolina Patriots, counts about 100 members and will not coordinate with the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, whose treasurer, David Ognek, said the friction is “just group dynamics.”

In Texas, a handful of thriving tea party groups severed their ties from the national Tea Party Patriots group after it ousted, then sued a founding board member who had affiliated with a rival group called the Tea Party Express.

Our fight is in Congress and not with each other or with these other groups,” said Toby Marie Walker, who was the Texas state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and also co-founded the Waco, Texas, tea party.

This Waco group recently drew an estimated 4,000 people to a rally it organized with the Tea Party Express, which travels the country hosting rallies. The month before, it had pulled out of the Tea Party Patriots after the Patriots group accused the Tea Party Express of steering the movement away from nonpartisan issue-based advocacy, embracing extremist rhetoric and raising questions about the Express’s finances.

The Patriots’ attack and lawsuit worried the Waco group’s board, Walker said, because “if you align yourself with someone who is going to be that malicious, then how do we know they won’t turn on us?”

Other local tea party groups, though, cast their lots with the Patriots, heeding the group’s call to disassociate with the Tea Party Express.

In Granbury, Texas, local tea party organizer Josh Sullivan says he believes the movement’s effectiveness is being compromised by extremism.“You have some interesting folks in the Tea Party movement — some of them I can support, but some of them are kind of out there and radical, and I don’t want to associate myself with them,” he said. In Northern Colorado, meanwhile, a handful of active 9/12 groups — named for the Glenn Beck-encouraged effort to stage the Sept. 12 Washington march — are unhappy with the state 9/12 group’s aversion to fundraising and with its focus on national issues and have discussed forming their own rival statewide group.

People are beginning to become a little bit de-energized — they’re starting to feel like they’re fighting a losing battle, because we send a lot of letters into Washington, D.C., and things like that, and people are saying they’re not listening,” said Brian Britton, who heads the Greeley, Colo., 9/12 group.

That fear is echoed by Glenn Galls, a Hot Springs, Ark., tea party organizer frustrated with the focus of Arkansas’s state-level tea party groups on national races and issues such as cap and trade and health care.

“If the tea party movement is going to continue to thrive and to grow and to have influence,” he said, “it must start coming together and coalescing and finding its purpose in life, because if it doesn’t, the excitement will fade like it does from anything else.” [emphasis mine]

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