No group of political activists has been more intensely criticized than the Tea Party by the Washington political establishment and its allies in the traditional media. In recent days, thousands of left-wing zealots even signed petitions on and Daily Kos demanding that “Teapublicans” like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas be arrested and prosecuted for “sedition.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also applied the sedition label to the Tea Partiers, and Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen made an epithetic case for the prosecution: "A lot of those members are rabid, they're sophomoric — literally, they're second term in Congress — they've never worked in politics before. Really, you've got to think, we take an oath to protect this country from 'all enemies, foreign and domestic,' and these are the domestic enemies."

Clearly, the same paranoid malady that once induced members of the John Birch Society to see conspiratorial communists lurking in every dark corner of the federal government is now spreading rapidly on the Left. Just as the Birchers wanted all of the alleged communists in government rounded up and prosecuted as “domestic enemies,” so now are swelling legions of left-wing zealots calling for the detention and prosecution of all who recently advocated defunding Obamacare. Keep in mind that the next step for such fevered minds is sending seditious Tea Partiers to “re-education camps.”

By contrast, editor Jon Gabriel is a regular blog contributor to FreedomWorks, one of the activist groups most closely associated with the Tea Party movement. Gabriel posed an important question in a recent blog post concerning Washington's red ink flood: “Debt increased under Republican presidents and Democrat presidents. It increased under Democrat congresses and Republican congresses. In war and in peace, in boom times and in busts, after tax hikes and tax cuts, the Potomac filled with red ink. Washington likes to talk about sustainability. Forget sustainable — how is this sane? Yet when a conservative hesitates before raising the debt ceiling, he's portrayed as a madman.”

Gabriel uses a chart to show that the nation’s political class must take urgent action to remedy the $17 trillion national debt before it’s too late. Foundations as ideologically diverse as the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation have repeatedly reminded lawmakers that spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — which now consumes more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product — will double as the Baby Boom generation retires. “To pay these promised benefits in full for just Social Security and Medicare, the government would need to set aside and invest almost $40 trillion of our tax dollars today to cover this long-term shortfall,” according to Heritage.

So who is crazier: Tea Party conservatives who are at least trying to force the Washington establishment to act, or their critics demanding higher credit limit for a spendthrift government and jail for “domestic enemies”?