CONFUSION-BASED RAGE…. National Review published a couple of items recently about President Obama having cut taxes for 95% of working families. This is, in reality, what happened, but the conservative magazine was incredulous. “If the taxes of 95 percent of Americans actully [sic] had been cut, surely somebody other than Obama would have noticed,” one NR writer put it.

It was a curious argument. It doesn’t matter what President Obama did — in this case, approval of a tax cut — it matters what people perceive, even if the perceptions are patently false.

And perhaps no group of people is fueled more intensely by misperceptions of reality than the Tea Party crowd.

Of people who support the grassroots, “Tea Party” movement, only 2 percent think taxes have been decreased, 46 percent say taxes are the same, and a whopping 44 percent say they believe taxes have gone up.

Now, we know that this 44% is wrong. We also know that in nearly every instance, the 46% are wrong, too. Indeed, my challenge to them would be to go look at their most recent paystub, and then dig up their paystub from, say, December 2008, before Obama took office. The math isn’t that hard — did their tax rate go up, down, or stay the same? Opinions and perceptions are nice, but arithmetic can be stubborn.

But as this relates to politics, John Cole noted that these folks “don’t even know what they are mad about.” Indeed, it’s easy to forget this, but the first Tea Party crowds started protesting in March 2009 — exactly one month after President Obama signed one of the largest tax-cut packages in American history into law. The protestors wanted to make clear that they are “taxed enough already,” choosing to pretend that they hadn’t just received a tax cut from the president they hate so intensely.

John added, “It really is quite amazing what you can do with a group of people who are completely uninterested in the truth, unwilling to believe anything that comes from someone other than Rush or Glenn Beck or an ‘acceptable’ source of information, and who have a vested interest in believing what they want to believe, reality be damned.”

This is important to the extent that there are still some who believe the political mainstream should do more to listen to the Tea Party crowd and take its hysterical cries seriously. But how can credible people take nonsense seriously and hope to come up with a meaningful result?

The truth may sound rude, but in general, Tea Party activists have no idea what they’re talking about. Their sincerity notwithstanding, this is a confused group of misled people.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.