Is the Tea Party the new religious right? By which I mean, the grassroots group the GOP uses to mobilize voters, then once in office, keeps serving up symbolic expressions of love without much to show in the way of actual policy goodies, while hoping to keep the crazies under wraps. The fact is that the Republican establishment has always been a bit uncomfortable with the religious right, as much as they need them to win elections. And that establishment may become increasingly unsettled with the Tea Party.
You may have heard about this crazy story from Philadelphia, in which the city is sending letters to bloggers, demanding that they pay a $300 "business privilege tax" because of their income from blogging. This rang a chord with me, because a few years ago, long after I had moved to D.C., I got a letter from the city of Philadelphia informing me that I owed them money from my unpaid business privilege tax. This happened because I reported some modest royalty income from a book I had written while living in Philadelphia, and the city decided that by writing a book I was operating a business within the city, and therefore needed to pay a tax for the privilege.
Stop me if you've heard this one: Barack Obama and Joe Biden walk into a bar ... have a drink, shake some hands, and leave.
Not laughing? Well, our current political leadership just isn't all that funny. It's not just the Democrats -- have you heard any good Mitch McConnell jokes lately? Granted, John Boehner has that orange tan, which is always good for a laugh. But apart from Sarah Palin, who sometimes seems to be doing a subtle yet devastatingly vicious impression of herself, today's top politicians don't offer comedians a particularly target-rich environment.
When I opened my copy of The New York Times this morning, I saw this photo, in which a bunch of burly looking guys in hard hats are protesting the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. Hard hats -- now where have we seen that before?