Tea Party wants to control the message; Society ahead of the high court on gay marriage…

March 26, 2013

On the local scene in my neck of the woods the Tea Party is trying to control the news. Our local U.S. congressman was holding what was billed as a town hall meeting, but members of the Tea Party kicked out the reporter from the local newspaper. And I thought the Tea Party supported the Constitution. But I guess they never heard of freedom of the press. They only want positive coverage.

Now if this were truly a private meeting with a group I could see restricting attendance. But like I said it was billed as a town hall meeting.

Some members reportedly said they wanted to be free to say what they wanted and would not be if the whole thing was public. Yes, hard to get your politician to give you special favors when everyone is listening.

On the national level I keep reading about how the automatic spending cuts are doing away with various services and programs the public likes.

The only positive to come out of all of this is that people might finally realize that you cannot have it all and there has to be choices — by people I mean both politicians and the electorate at large.

What is given can be taken away but it can all be given back again (within financial limits and the willingness to accept taxes). It’s really up to everyone to make up their minds. Of course not everyone will agree, but that is why we have elections and that is why sometimes opposite sides compromise, somehow hoping that they get the better end of the bargain.

And the Supreme Court is listening to arguments over same-sex marriage today. But maybe society at large is ahead of the court on that one. Even the Republican Party is beginning to see reality with some of it’s own children turning out to be homosexual (or gay and some call it). If God created everyone, then he created homosexuals too. We all just have to live with the reality of nature. In saying that I in no way believe nor would I ever believe that it is right to promote homosexuality. And I think that some public school texts may do that under the guise of just informing children about various lifestyles. There is a fine line.

And I will leave it at that today…

Enough to make one join the Tea Party…

June 21, 2011

From what I have read, the Tea Party was originally a kind of gimmick set up by some fat cat conservative Republicans to get the common folk stirred up against moderates and liberals, but whatever the truth of that it has taken on a life and meaning of its own. It ostensibly stands for every-day Americans who are just fed up with all the shenanigans and money-wasting schemes that come out of Washington, primarily, and state houses and other levels of government.

For the most part I have viewed what seems to come out of Tea Party rallies as unintelligible babble of uninformed people, mixed in with some legitimate gripes about government.

But a couple of things in the news in the past many days have made me angry enough, well almost enough, to join the ranks of the Tea Party. And actually, if I really knew more of what goes on in government I’d probably already be a member.

But here are the two things:

Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman who resigned under pressure after it was brought out that he spent much time emailing photos both depicting and explicitly displaying his private parts to various women, and perhaps sometimes unsolicited at that on their behalf, may be out of a job but thanks to a generous retirement program congress has given itself, taxpayers will eventually pay him some $1.2 million or more in pension benefits.

I have never understood how people on everything from city councils and county boards of supervisors (commissioners in some states, selectmen, whatever) get health care benefits and taxpayer-paid retirement from positions that are not even permanent employment, usually.

Okay, that was one.

The other is this story that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has or had a program called “Fast and Furious” by which they knowingly let firearms fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, ostensibly to be able to track down cartel members (I know it makes no sense or at least is not good sense). It has been reported that at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by one of those firearms. So far, Obama administration officials are not saying anything or not much, anyway, about this whole affair.

While I doubt this is the case, I heard one typical Fox News watching, right-wing, probably Tea Party type (but likely a non-voter), and gun-toting NRA member (likely) say that the purpose of the gun running scheme was to get more guns into Mexico so they would then be used in violence on our side of the border (in the ongoing drug wars) and thereby add fuel to the fire in an effort to “take away our guns”. Then again, who knows?

It Just upsets me that we spend tax dollars in such cockamamie schemes. Far too much money is wasted on fighting drugs. The more we try to fight the drug running the more we bid up that illicit trade. I am not an advocate of decriminalizing dangerous drugs, I just think we need to rearrange our priorities.

Government at all levels needs to reassess itself and go back to putting the priority into basic services and go from there.

And while I never get any traction on this, I still think almost all elected offices, from local to federal, should be non-salaried, with office holders receiving only stipends for public service.

There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that high salaries and generous benefits keep office holders from accepting outright or indirect bribes.

Money is the standard motivator in much of life, but I don’t think it is good to have it be that motivator for public service on the elected level.

Think I’ll brew myself a cup of tea, but I‘ll probably hold off on joining the party, just now.

Is it in to be ignorant in the Tea Party???

October 20, 2010

I’ve read that the Tea Party is a kind of rebirth of the wacko movement of the mid to late 50s represented by the old John Birch Society — a kind of conspiracy-driven movement if you will. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/18/101018fa_fact_wilentz

But at least the Birchers pretended to be intelligent or were pseudo intelligent.

Some of the Tea Party crowd seem to exude ignorance and even seem to cherish it, although you have to have some smarts to even know you are ignorant.

This is not all to say that the whole movement is populated by the ignorant. I think the Tea Party (not really a single entity with a one registered name, so really I should not use upper case, but many are now) is a legitimate grass roots, populist movement made up of a cross section of the populace who are fed up with business as usual. Many of its followers, I suspect, have not paid a lot of close attention to politics — may not have voted — but have awoken to find things awry and are angered that the elite have let things get this way. They may think they all agree on what should be done, but in reality when it comes down to actually doing things they likely will have wide differences of opinion.

But back to this ignorance thing: First it was personified, in my opinion, by Sarah Palin. Now I don’t really mean that she is mentally challenged, what I mean is I do not think she has demonstrated that she has a working knowledge of civics or political or even general history or geography — reportedly believing that Africa was a nation instead of a continent, as an example, or her uttering of a word not in the dictionary, “refudiate”, with no indication she was trying to make a joke or pun. She certainly is smart enough to know opportunity when she sees it and cash in. And she may well run for president. And if the American voters were to put her into the president’s chair, well those who voted for her would deserve what they get (but what about the rest of us?).

Real ignorance and/or daffiness is personified by this Christine O’Donnel character running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware as a Tea Party Republican, who in a candidate forum seemed to indicate that she never heard of the separation of church and state and did not know that it comes out of the First Amendment to the Constitution. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/

Her defense from her campaign staff is that she simply meant the exact wording of the First Amendment (part of the Bill of Rights) does not mention separation of church and state explicitly. I could believe that and even give her the point on that one, but I saw the tape on the internet and she seems to indicate real ignorance.

Even if she was trying to make an argument that the doctrine of separation of church and state is an overreaching by the high court in interpretation of the First Amendment, she still gives off the message that she is ignorant. You do not have to be a history professor to know that there was an ongoing debate in our early days as a nation as to whether we ought to have an official religion. Kindergartners wear pilgrim hats around Thanksgiving to celebrate those folks who came over here for religious freedom. And you can’t have religious freedom if the state (the government) supports an official religion. So the only way out of it is to say that the government should take a hands-off approach to religion. Furthermore, constitutions are frameworks and often lack specificity, leaving that to statutes enacted in accordance with them. It may well be that some who supported the final wording of the First Amendment might have hoped that there was enough wiggle room — although I don’t see it — to allow declaring Christianity the official or semi-official religion. But nonetheless it has been accepted by most educated people through the years that government and religion don’t mix in a free society. Even Jesus seemed to note that government was separate from religion: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

I do think the courts and public officials get carried away, though, when they ban individual prayer by students in public schools or religious invocations at public meetings or football games. The First Amendment in my layman’s reading guarantees freedom of religion, but does not ban religious practice in any way. If the court can look the other way in allowing our money to have the phrase “In God We Trust” (that seems religious), then I think individual prayer (not led by a teacher or government official, but simply performed by the individual) is harmless to anyone — and maybe helpful to the individual.

Hopefully the Tea Party will weed out the ignorant over time from its candidate ranks. If not, then we may all be doomed, because as things stand now, I don’t think the movement is going away any time soon.


Actually if the Tea Party were to take over it might soon realize it had no more clue as to what to do than anyone else and a new movement might have to spring up — the return of the elites.

P.s. P.s.

While O’Donnel is reportedly behind in the polls in Delaware, Sharon Angle, another Tea Party pick (officially she is Republican), who seems to be a little off kilter in her public appearances, is locked in a dead heat with Democratic Senator Harry Reid in Nevada. It is said by Reid supporters that her candidacy is the gift that keeps on giving to them, because until she was chosen to run against him political observers saw him losing to any Republican.

P.s. P.s. P.s.

Some observers have noted that the Tea Party seems to be putting up ignorant women candidates. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has a take on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/opinion/20dowd.html?_r=1&hp

Public utilities too important and dangerous to be private; failure of elites fuels Tea Party…

September 18, 2010

It’s been a frustrating several days for me, what with my computer acting up (my own near computer illiteracy adding to this problem) and having to work at my day (and night) job driving an over-the-road big rig and all this news happening all the while:

 –The terrible and deadly natural gas line explosion in San Bruno, Ca. and the rise of the Tea Party and what it means to the Republican Party and one pundit’s prediction Sarah Palin is the  likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate (or possibly VP again) and the continuing controversy on the economy and on whose taxes to raise or cut and how to pay off the national debt and whether added indebtedness is the way to cure our nation’s economic malaise.

On that last one, some think the federal government has to prime the pump, even if it means spending more revenue than the government takes in, thereby requiring it to borrow money from China.

(If we eventually went to war with China would we have to borrow money from that country to fund the war? I always think about the time I read that Krupp Steel of Germany produced bullets for Great Britain in World War I, a nation it was fighting — well business is business (don’t really know if that story is true). It has been reported that much of the U.S.-supplied armament sent to the Middle East has been used against our own troops.)

Time will tell, we hope, what the real cause of the gas line failure in San Bruno was. But it appears at the very least the ruptured line was way too old. It was as old as me, I have read. I was born in 1949, just north in San Francisco. My family moved away when I was nearly four, but we often took trips back to the city. I recall my folks remarking about how housing subdivisions were expanding all over the hills on the peninsula. I guess that doomed neighborhood in San Bruno was one of them.

There are also disturbing reports that PG&E, the privately-run public utility that so many love to hate (who likes getting ever-escalating power bills?), got permission from the California Public Utilities Commission on more than one occasion to raise rates enough to cover the costs of fixing old gas lines, to include the one in question, but deferred work instead. No word yet on where the money went.

I personally think utilities are so important and in this case so dangerous they should be publicly run and administered by those skilled more in the technical aspects of utilities and safety rather than corporate bottom-line next quarter profits over investing in maintenance and safety types.

And as one radio talk show caller asked: why does PG&E use some of its rate payer dollars to advertise — it’s the only game in town in the areas that it serves. Also, as the caller, I think, pointed out, it is  ludicrous that rate payers must subsidize PG&E’s lobbying efforts which are not usually in the ratepayers’ interests.


I’m wondering if the Tea Party may wind up being just another loud but ultimately ineffective splinter group or third-party populist group. Those who study  U.S. politics usually conclude that third parties have little to no chance. The structure of our federal form of government and the fact we don’t have a parliamentary system gives us room for only two major political parties.

I still remember Ross Perot, even though I’d rather forget him.

While the Tea Party stars do not impress me, except for the fact they could  be dangerous if given real power, one of the reasons they have been so successful is that the conventional political intelligentsia has failed miserably in its leadership.  Tea Party activists have found that they can gain much traction by railing against established elites.

Personally I think we need elites. But these elites need to remember their responsibility to the country. If they fail we will be left with half-baked Alaskan beauty queens and their ilk.

Has Obama met his Katrina? And real political change has to come from outside the establishment…

May 26, 2010

Is Barack Obama offering real change? To some extent, maybe. But his change, especially his inability to handle the Gulf oil spill crisis, is making his change look  too much like the same old same old Bush W methodology — he’s doing a heck of a job.

The measure of a leader is what he can do in a crisis. And in this Gulf oil disaster Obama is not particularly having his finest hour. In some ways it seems like this is his Katrina. I’d have to go back and look at the actual time line, but as I recall, we first heard that there had been an explosion on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf. There were casualties, eleven dead, but the first reports quoting experts assured us all that there was no sign of oil escaping. But maybe there should have been contingency plans in the advent that it was (and it was). Apparently there were not. That of course is primarily the fault of BP, but the federal government certainly should have had plans and realized the potential and immediately took charge and made sure something was done post haste. The response was rather slow (despite Obama administration claims) and the government let BP control the information and action, puting itself and all of us at the giant oil corporation’s mercy.

Of course Obama can’t immediately fix everything wrong in government left over from previous administrations. One big problem is that the agency or agencies that oversee oil and mining and such on land and sea are rife with corruption. We now find out that many of the inspections done on offshore oil rigs were phony — the industry did them itself and the paid-off bureaucrats signed off on them. It’s even been reported that BP took a shortcut in drilling the mile-deep Deep Horizon well by throwing sea water into it instead of mud as it was supposed to (profits before safety) . And this is what we get. But maybe if Obama was not so busy apologizing to our enemies or at least people who don’t like us and trying to rebuild a nation (Afghanistan) that resists rebuilding, he would have more time to take care of things at home.

During the Katrina fiasco, Bush just did not seem to care. It was not worth his time to help a bunch of poor people down in New Orleans who probably did not and would not vote for him and his party. In Obama’s case, I am sure he cares, but there seems to be something missing. The fact is that no one really knows what to do to stop that leak (they were still dithering this morning, more than a month after the thing began), and that is not the president’s fault.


UPDATE: a so-called top kill procedure began at 1 p.m. central time today (5-26-10) in which BP is essentially throwing mud and concrete down the hole in an attempt to plug it up but its CEO was only giving the gambit a 60 percent or so chance to work. Meanwhile I just heard  a report that the oil gushing out (millions of gallons so far) is becoming darker and presumably more toxic. It is said they might not know for days if this is working, and if not, efforts to dig relief wells would not be done until August. There is also talk of using a convoy of tankers to suck up the oil — seems like that would be hard to keep up.


But Obama needs to be more visible in marshaling the forces that can put their heads together and figure out what to do. He does not need to be anti-business or anti oil but he needs to be pro-American.

This Gulf oil disaster, with the fishery of the Gulf in peril (maybe already ruined), and the coastline and wetlands of Louisiana being devastated and the potential for far wider environmental and economic damage, needs to take priority over things such as Afghanistan where we are currently wasting blood and treasure.

And again, Obama’s change seems like more of the same. While he came in sweet-talking the Islamic world of the Middle East, he’s got the nation mired deeper than ever in the war over there.

He did not do away with torture and he continued the bank bailouts and while health care is listed as his greatest success so far, it really remains to be seen. And the housing crisis continues along with high unemployment.

Real political change may have to come from something other than the establishment.

While I hate to break down all politics to left and right, or liberal (progressive has become the modern euphemism) and conservative, I have to think that while in 2008 we essentially got change (supposedly) from the left in the presidential election, next time around it may come from the right or even more likely from something that is neither.

(And by the way, even though “liberal” has been attached to the Democrats and while liberals nowadays like to call themselves “progressives“, didn’t the “progressive” term start with Republican Teddy Roosevelt? Or at least in that era? Back then the Republicans wanted clean government and instituted civil service to replace the spoils system, while Democrats seemed to prefer machine politics that got votes by handing out jobs).

If the economy does not improve substantially, in the presidential election of 2012 or even the congressional elections next fall we might get real change (though not necessarily change for the better).

There are a lot of other issues other than the economy — defense, war policy, illegal immigration, gay rights (I prefer really to say homosexual rights, but the word gay has been ruined for decades now — it used to just mean happy), the environment (BP spill, a good example), and so on, but the economy or the perception of the economy usually takes center stage in elections.

I thought it was strange Al Gore not only lost due to an electoral college technicality but did not win by a landslide, seeing as how he would have presumably continued the relative prosperity under Bill Clinton — but I guess people did not know the bottom was going to fall out and so they thought they could afford to express their disgust with Clinton’s outrageous lack of judgment and morals (and I can understand their disgust).

But unless my memory fails me, the economy helped George W. Bush, one of our most obviously dull witted presidents, win two terms, even while it had ruined his dad’s (a far brighter bulb) chance for a second term.

I still think the vast majority of the electorate remains essentially middle of the road — it just tends to swing a little left and a little right at times.

But things are so bad (even though there are some signs of economic improvement here and there) and the corruption and ineffectiveness of government so great, that the electorate is liable to swing back to the right or something that is not the traditional right, but is not left.

The tea party movement and its faction of libertarians and the stray bigots and nut cases add another element that does not exactly fit into the familiar liberal/conservative paradigms.

While I doubt the new element can gain much strength in government by itself, I do believe it can have, or has had successes with individual candidates and I really believe it can have a major impact on the actions of the establishment, whose professional politicians are fighting for their survival. Since the tea party still seems to be closer to the Republicans, that party, the GOP, is particularly vulnerable to its influence.

The libertarian element really offers a challenge to the establishment who can only think in left and right terms because it is left and right or right and left at the same time.

In addition, hard-core tea baggers threaten to oppose the entire establishment to include Republicans and Democrats.

Both the Republicans and Democrats, who have had a stranglehold on politics since the Civil War, are facing insurrections within their own parties as well as a challenge from what amounts to a quasi third party, the tea party. In some respects the tea party will remain stronger if it remains tea party lower case instead of becoming an official party with membership and bylaws and a written platform and its name on the ballot, as in Tea Party. It’s hard to fight a challenger you can’t quite identify.

While I think there are regressive and racial overtones and outright idiots within the ranks of the challengers, overall I still feel this new movement of change (different from the Obama change) is a healthy development for our democracy.

Presumably candidates on the national level will still have to appeal to the broader electorate, so that is a safety mechanism.

On the other hand, if the establishment keeps failing and desperation is too acute, extremists could get the upper hand.

Tea party a description more than a party; maybe we need an Eisenhower

May 23, 2010

The tea party is not a political party. It’s more of a description of a loose-knit movement of people fed up with government as usual. For sure it seems to spout so-called conservative values, but I imagine a lot of its followers do not necessarily agree with each other on details and, in fact, do not think in details.

But they see the current government as ineffective, or perhaps too effective when it tries to micro-manage human behavior and the conduct of private business.

The economy is in a shambles, taxes are too high (even if we are told they have come down), the national debt spirals further and further out of control even as the public is made to feel shamed because of its profligate ways with the credit cards and mortgages and other forms of borrowing.

The sad part is that the tea party has no plan. Even if it got a whole new slate into office it would likely soon see that the new slate will not have the answers and will not be able to agree with each other.

The tea party will also find that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely — and did I get that right?

But tea party standard bearer and Republican Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul — the real maverick it turns out  —   with his libertarian-type ideas is at least a  breath of fresh air, even if some of what he comes up with sounds a bit outrageous.

Maybe if we put the libertarians in charge we could start all over again.

In an article I read in the Saturday Wall Street Journal, Paul was quoted as saying that the country essentially moved to the socialist way of doing things after 1937 (FDR era). But that same article quoted a spokesman for the libertarian Cato Institute as saying people, to include modern libertarians, have come to take some form of government environmental (water) and consumer safety (children’s toys) protections and civil rights for granted and would not want to return to the pre-1937 world. What professors (on the right and left) argue and how people really live or want to live are two different things.

So even if  the electorate were to follow Paul’s libertarianism, they might eventually realize they did not all grow up to be doctors living off the bills their patients pay via Medicare (the dreaded socialism). They might decide they need things from government and they would throw out the libertarians or ultra conservatives.

Personally I like middle of the road with a dose of libertarianism, particularly when it comes to personal freedom.

But no one seems to get excited by middle of the road. I think New York times columnist David Brooks said something like moderates have failed to have their own agenda so they’ve forced themselves into siding with the right or left. (That’s why there is no such thing as a Republican moderate. The last one (Arlen Specter) turned Democrat and got canned.

I don‘t know if we‘ve had a liberal president since Franklin Roosevelt — well I guess LBJ with his Great Society welfare programs — but Barack Obama will do for now, even though he seems in so many ways to be centrist. I’m not sure we’ve had a true conservative either. Ronald Reagan is said to have been (but not really), and the Bushes tried to be (but I don’t think it was really in their hearts).

But those whom I said were not really conservative voted or worked against a lot of liberal stuff just so they wouldn’t be tagged liberal (something akin to being called communist or socialist).

But once the electorate has had its fill of what it perceives as liberalism and then goes to the opposite extreme and finds that does not work either, the only thing left will be middle of the road.

Was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower middle of the road? Let’s go back to the 50s (unless you are black, or homosexual, or a woman who wants working at the kitchen stove to be an option rather than a foregone conclusion).

But seriously. We need an Eisenhower-like figure at the top and maybe even going down the ladder too. Maybe I mean centrist or maybe I mean statesmanlike or maybe I just mean people who are not too obviously full of themselves and not just out for fame or fortune or just to do the bidding of elite cronies (Reagan? the Bushes?), but who are leaders nonetheless.


I heard Rand Paul say in an interview that he was not really the libertarian his Dad is, but from what I have heard him say he seems to believe is some form of libertarianism. And his dad, Ron Paul, although officially a Republican, is Mr. Libertarian.

I’m fascinated with libertarians because while being conservative is fiscal matters and matters of private property, unlike conventional American conservatives, they don’t want to regulate personal behavior and fight foreign wars. But the way Rand Paul reads it, they don’t want government to bug BP for ruining the ecosystem and causing economic havoc. And he also thinks a private business should be able to discriminate. Actually I could see his point to a degree on that one. If I ran, say, a restaurant and I felt a person or persons might cause trouble or upset my regular clientele, I might want to discriminate. But it is not practical in a free society as most envision it today to carry on that way. And I recall that a good number of Republicans voted against the 1964 Civil Rights bill (yes, I realize Rand Paul seems to say he supports the act — just not its outcome??). The Party of Lincoln (Republican) who freed the slaves had found it politically expedient by the 1960s to side with those who wanted a right to not serve blacks (or negroes as they called them then).

But as usual, I digress.



To the extent I have regular followers of this blog, a guilty conscience compels me to admit I failed to use or heed my spell check and mangled the word ophthalmologist in a recent post. Hopefully I’ll remember how to spell that word from now on, or at least to look it up.


Since the tea party is not a formal organization (although I guess there are some formalized local groups here and there) I’m having a hard time figuring out whether to capitalize it as a proper noun, as in Tea Party, or lower case it as a common noun, as in tea party. I would think the tea party movement would be lower case, but if it becomes a formal organization or some type of recognized political force (which it might be) it would be Tea Party —   what do you think?

I ask Goldman Sachs: have you no shame? (well no…)

April 18, 2010

I am just as mad or madder than anyone in the so-called Tea Party movement. We might even be on the same page on this one.

I just read a headline on the Huffington Post that said that Goldman Sachs is paying out some $5 billion in bonuses to its employees even as it is under federal investigation for fraud and even though it took taxpayer dollars to save itself from going under.

At this point I have to wonder why anyone pays their taxes at all.

Even the British prime minister says Goldman Sachs is morally bankrupt, and he and the Germans are contemplating lawsuits.

I know President Obama has criticized Wall Street for not being more circumspect in its awarding of bonuses after taking billions of dollars in government bailout money, but his words are not enough — meanwhile his administration seems to  not fully get it or maybe the problem is that he has Wall Street insiders trying to fix the problem. Yes, I know he is pushing for finance reform and it is his administration who has filed a civil suit against Goldman Sachs, but from what I am gathering, the reforms may end up being tailored more to Wall Street needs that that of the general public (not sure on this one).

Personally, I don’t think Wall Street should have anything to do with putting together financial reform. Wall Street needs to have new and tougher rules put upon it, and then good luck, because I think history clearly shows it is incorrigible.

Meanwhile, we need a new and honest financial system.

For one thing, I think, we would be a lot better off with a system in which money was based on gold (yes, a return to the gold standard) or something of real value, rather than something based on imagination and speculation and fraud.

From what I have read, one problem with something like the gold standard is that there is only so much gold and that results in capital being hard to come by. And shipping gold bars back and forth across the ocean is not all that practical.

Nonetheless, it would be good to have fairly tight credit (too easy credit got us into the current mess) and money that was based on something real to save us from drastic inflation and wild speculation.

And you know, while I am not an Adam Smith philosophy of capital follower (necessarily), I think I may believe in laissez faire more than some ultra-conservatives.

Capitalism carries with it great opportunities and great risks. Let’s keep it that way.

Wall Street seems to want to have its cake and eat it too (yes, I always have thought that a rather strange saying too; of course if you have a cake you would want to eat it, but you know what I mean). It wants to keep its profits private, but to socialize its risks (government bailouts).

There is some sign in all of this that the Obama administration, however misguided it has been, is cracking down. Go for it.

The Republicans do not know what to think or do (and this may divide them — oh too bad). Do they support their normal constituency, Wall Street, or do they satisfy the Tea Party crowd and crack down on the bailout pigs?

So far, some of them are trying to do the bidding of Wall Street by making everyone think that the financial reform bill actually helps Wall Street (does it?).

While I am not sure that Obama’s financial reform package does enough or is the right approach, I think we can safely assume that if Wall Street is against it, it must have something good in it.

Still trying to make out the Tea Party message…

April 16, 2010

As tax day wound down a helicopter flew over hauling a banner that read “no new taxes” and the sounds of a Tea Party rally wafted up the hill from the river. I could not make out all of the words but I did catch something about preserving liberty and being God fearing (the implication being that if you don‘t agree with the Tea Party you are an atheist or a secret Muslim).

And then I heard a woman speaking and maybe because of the distance and the echo effect I took what she said out of context, but I swear I heard her say “war is inevitable”.

I went outside and walked closer, but still out of range to hear it all clearly, but I did hear some twangy country music and a song about patriotism and liberty.

And I heard a military officer urging folks to honor those who died in our wars in the cause of our liberty. Our wars are always sold to us that way.

While the World War II struggle against fascism and Nazism and militarism may have been a struggle for freedom, it seems we got the raw end of the deal. We spent the next forty years or so protecting Western Europe from the Soviet Union while our allies reindustrialized and rebuilt their economies free from overburdening defense costs. And Japan was conveniently kept from maintaining a giant military and meanwhile built an economic powerhouse to rival us. And China, the nation we saved from Japan, turned into our adversary and then found out the best way to beat us was to trick us into being dependent on it for consumer goods (we fell for that one a little too easy).

And today private contractors enrich themselves on Uncle Sam’s dollars (our dollars) while mostly young Americans die in questionable wars sold on the notion that they are fighting for freedom (to an extent maybe, but more for oil and geopolitical gamesmanship and the cost of being the fastest gun, someone always wants to challenge you).

But back to the Tea Party. One speaker said that people need to keep the government from “wasting the efforts (earned money) of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Strangely though, part of the purpose of government is to take care of people in kind of a cooperative effort among the populace. Constituents prevail upon their elected representatives to have government do things such as build roads and levees and water systems and schools and maintain order and a national defense and so on. Not everyone agrees on the level of service the government should provide or exactly what services. One man’s necessity is another man’s waste.

Another thing the speaker, who I think identified himself as a Republican office holder, said is that many Republicans had betrayed conservative values and of course it went without saying that he was against Democrats (where I live, to say you are a Democrat is tantamount to saying you are a card carrying communist — or least it seems so at times).

He also said that too many office holders are politicians, not statesmen. He said they are in it for the power but not the real job of representing the people.

That last part echoes my sentiments, but I am sure at the same time that many politicians take umbrage at what they must see as an unfair accusation and probably privately think that the public are ingrates.

The problem in all of this is that even if this conservative splinter group were to get its way its members would find that since people have a hard time agreeing on anything except generalities and platitudes and since as I said one man’s waste is another’s necessity they’d be back to square one. But it is healthy that they might at least want to take part in the debate. I mean, where have they all been all these years as things were falling apart?


There was also a line about Thomas Jefferson warning not to let the bankers take over. Wasn’t Jefferson the founder of the Democratic Party (a complicated history)?

P.s. P.s.

And of course standing up for the Constitution was the mantra of the day. But who does not believe in the Constitution? Trouble is it is open to wide interpretation. If it were not the Supreme Court would have little to do.

P.s. P.s. P.s.

But finally, I hope this Tea Party movement is something new and not just another version of the worn out conservative movement that has not been all that conservative.

P.s. P.s. P.s. P.s.

I just can’t stop. This rally took place a few miles south of the giant Shasta Dam, a big government project that provided one heck of a lot of employment at the time (1940s) and provides flood control, irrigation, and recreation. I’m sure some thought it government boondoggle.

ADD 1:

Still another irony occurred to me. This Tea Party rally, as one or more before it, took place on a pedestrian bridge over the river that was decried as a boondoggle by local conservatives when it was built a few years ago thanks to public dollars. It has become a destination for locals and tourists — the Tea Party sure finds it handy (but I suppose any Libertarians among them would rather it be a toll bridge).

ADD 2:

On the administrative portion of my WordPress blog site I saw that someone apparently typed in: “what does the tea in tea party mean?”

Please tell me this person is a foreigner.  At least being aware of the fact that the Boston Tea Party was an historical event leading up to our War of Independence (we usually call the Revolutionary War) is about as basic as you can get in American history. I have to admit, though, it was an illegal destruction of private property then and such an incident would be today — but these kinds of things happen in revolutions.

Some Tea Partiers may be conservative in the true, not political sense…

April 15, 2010

I got some interesting insights into the so-called Tea Party movement in Today’s New York Times internet site.

Surprising to me, a poll indicates they tend to be more highly educated than the average American and somewhat wealthier (not as surprising) and that they are mostly white (also not surprising).

But more interesting is an interactive feature that shows videos and remarks from Tea Party followers. I did not watch all of them, but I watched and listened to several. The people seemed articulate enough and reasonable and exhibited a common sense approach.

While Tea Party members object to socialist programs, they seem to support Social Security and Medicare. But the story notes that they claim that since they paid into it (Social Security) they deserve it. And I suppose they may actually support the program because it is a necessity, but they may feel further socialist-like programs are not.

My own observation is that since a lot of Tea Party types are not politically active or astute they have the freedom of not being tied to standard or accepted political ideology. They consider themselves conservative, but maybe they are conservative in the pure sense or in the literal sense, not the political sense. And maybe what I just wrote makes no sense. But I think it does.

It’s probably wrong of me to stereotype Tea Party members as I have in previous posts, but the only glimpse I have had is what I have seen on the news and stories in my own local newspaper and it has not been terribly impressive.

But on the other hand, I have to sympathize or perhaps empathize with the populist notion the Tea Party puts forth, that the politicians (both Republican and Democrats) do not represent the interests of the citizenry as a whole.

Actually, I think the New York Times story said they think that under President Obama the interests of the welfare set are given more priority than the working or middle class.

But we could go back and forth on that all day and all night.

What I think is that the one thing that is true is that under our political system money talks a lot louder than any pleas from the general public.

While politicians want votes, they are more interested in dollars, that is dollars to fill their own pockets and dollars to purchase political propaganda that seems to help them secure votes and stifle free debate from any opposition so they can reap the rewards power brings (gifts from lobbyists, as an example).



And I need to add that a lot of politicians go on to be lobbyists. So who do you think they care about? You or the money-making political system based on the needs of special interests?


I honestly believe that we would be better off with unpaid politicians.

We would be better off with office holders who serve as a civic duty.

There is of course a couple of major problems with this. One is that only the independently wealthy would likely be able to afford to hold office and another is that much power would gravitate to the entrenched government bureaucracy.

Nonetheless, we need to move toward a system in which office holders represent their constituents and not the highest bidders.

It would be refreshing to see a politician refuse to deal with any lobbyists.

But of course with the recent Supreme Court decision that considers corporations to clearly have the same rights as real people that might make such a move impossible. A lobbyist representing the interest of a giant corporation (or a union) would be just like Joe Citizen.

Of course the system has always been the person with the money goes to the front of the line.


Oh, did you pay your income taxes? Remember, the Wall Street investment bankers are depending upon you for their bonus checks!

Tea Party has wrong take on Declaration of Independence…

April 14, 2010

There have been reports that some in the so-called Tea Party movement are forming armed militias and threatening insurrection, using the Declaration of Independence as a justification.

While it is true that the Declaration of Independence does indeed call for the people to rise up against an unjust government, it was referring to the situation in the 13 colonies in the 18th Century who were under the thumb of the British monarchy. While the English did have a form of democracy, the rebelling colonists contended that they were even denied the “rights of Englishmen.”

While citizens in the 21st Century United States of America may have reason to object to an oppressive government, if they took part in armed rebellion they would be rebelling against a representative democracy in which they to my knowledge have not been denied any rights. It would essentially be a minority rebelling against the majority.

I suppose if the rebellion took hold, it could become a majority rebelling against the government, their own government, but I suspect the vast majority want to maintain stability and avoid violence.

The Declaration of Independence, I think, was not intended to be a tool of those who simply had a political disagreement in our representative democracy.

It is healthy, though, that folks can threaten rebellion and not be immediately locked up. We indeed live in a free country (so far). If the mob had its way, though, we might not still have a free country.