“Give me Liberty or…”

"It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny. This narrative permeates Tea Party Web sites, Facebook page, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos. It is a prominent theme of their favored media outlets and commentators, and it connects the disparate issues that preoccupy many Tea Party supporters — from the concern that the community organization Acorn is stealing elections to the belief that Mr. Obama is trying to control the Internet and restrict gun ownership.

Worldnet.com trumpets “exclusives” reporting that the Army is seeking “Internment/Resettlement” specialists. On ResistNet.com, bloggers warn that Mr. Obama is trying to convert Interpol, the international police organization, into his personal police force. They call on “fellow Patriots” to “grab their guns.”

Mr. Beck frequently echoes Patriot rhetoric, discussing the possible arrival of a “New World Order” and arguing that Mr. Obama is using a strategy of manufactured crisis to destroy the economy and pave the way for dictatorship.

At recent Tea Party events around the country, these concerns surfaced repeatedly."

NY Times


The hockey war was fun, but, to be honest, most Americans care about hockey about as much as they do about soccer or lacrosse.  This "tea party" business brewing in what would usually be considered the "clueless right" is much more serious.  Look at that picture above.  No. I am not in the picture. 

I am what used to be called a "paleoconservative."  I always was that.  I support just about all the domestic conservative policy positions except capital punishment and I am a Life Member of the NRA.  I do not belong to any political party.  I guess you could call me a member of the "old libertarian constitutionalist right."  That is quite different from what is emerging among all these "just plain folks" across the country in what I have heard referred to as "exurbia." 

I spent a lot of time a year or so ago in the center of the United States in Missouri, Kansas, southern Indiana, Kentucky, etc.  What I learned there from extensive interaction with "folks" in that region is that they are remarkably innocent of knowledge about the world outside their immediate surroundings.  Most have not traveled.  They did not read much in their normal lives and the federal government is a distant rumor for them, a rumor that takes their money and their children and that lives in luxury and indifference on the banks of the Potomac.

There is also a certain reverence for dimly understood and long past events and people, a reverence that can be seen in the way Americans from "exurbia" flock in vast number to Washington in the warmer months to revere the relics of our country.  Fathers and mothers in athletic shoes, shorts and belly packs lead their children around the town stupefying Washingtonians with their overwhelming presence on sidewalks and in subway cars.  The things that they say are surprising since they clearly expect to find something in the capital city that is not here.  Don't be smug about that.  I have been to many of your capitals and "it" is not there either.

In normal times, the feeling of serious alienation from the federal government is a muted grumble among a relatively small set of groups.  These are not normal times.  The drum beating of the "War on Terror,"  the wars themselves, the economic disaster, the federal government's enrichment of Wall Street, the latent racism that Obama's presidency stimulates in some, the massive unemployment, the Obama health care reform program, the stimulus bill, these things are being interpreted as part of a sinister conspiracy of leftists, big business, internationalists, African Americans, etc.

The health care bill is an example.  Among the "tea party" crowd and their allies on the right, the bill is seen as a transfer of wealth that moves funds from Medicare growth to a system of federally subsidized health insurance that will benefit the insurance companies and poor (read heavily African-American) people.  The "tea-party" people see that as money, their money, taken from their pockets for "change we can believe in."  They do not like that change.  They see it to be to their disadvantage and largely irreversible if not halted.  All the different phenomena that I mentioned are being interpreted this way.

I hope the economy recovers quickly, and that jobs, good jobs for working class and lower middle class Americans are in plentiful supply soon.  These good people are going to vote, and they are going to vote behind leaders who are both ignorant and self-serving.

Americans lack the talent for "dressing up" that people in Europe had in the '20s and '30s, but that does not mean that what is happening is not dangerous.  pl

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98 Responses to “Give me Liberty or…”

  1. Phil Giraldi says:

    Colonel, I agree with you completely. What we are seeing is slow motion development of a security state run by out-of-touch Washington elites and all that implies, but the tea party reaction to it is based on ignorance and what might come out of it all won’t be pretty. The tea partiers get some of the domestic issues right but they neither understand nor question that our bizarre foreign policy and ridiculously exaggerated fear of terrorism are feeding the growth of the monster state, which they rightly abhor.
    The real tragedy is that the prosperous working class that was the backbone of this country has been all but destroyed by politicians from both parties who are so isolated from the consequences of their actions that they have traded away the heart of our economy without so much as a kiss goodbye. The people who are now tea partiers have lost jobs, opportunities, and status in this destructive process and now they are striking back.
    The tea partiers seem to think that a kick ass foreign policy is the one aspect of the Bush regime that they can enthusiastically support. I am mortified that they and other conservatives cannot see that the current drive to go to war with Iran, supported both by the mainstream media and the political chattering class, will drop us into a hole so deep that we will never emerge again.

  2. ExBrit says:

    This IS a dangerous time for the American version of democracy – a failed democracy at this time. The emergence of Sarah Palin, the corruption of the Supreme Court, the success of financial oligarchies to monopolize power – all lead to a strong feeling that we are living in a time analogous to Germany in the 1930’s. Tell me I’m wrong. Please!

  3. BillWade, NH says:

    I think Congressman Ron Paul (31%) will prevail over the likes of Palin as evidenced by the recent CPAC straw poll which he won by a good margin over Romney (22%) and by a rather large margin over Palin (7%). Source: USA Today

  4. N. M. Salamon says:

    The tea parties are a symptom of the belief that “our way of life” is over – WHICH IS TRUE [unfortunately].
    The civil unrest in Greece is a similar “revolt” against reality. The politicians are treshing around as fish on dry land [ere dying for lack of support] with the full hope that some miracle will restore BUSINESS AS USUAL [somewhat reflecting Mr. Lang’s hope of return of high paying jobs] which is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Eternal growth in a closed eco-system [planet earth] is not possible!.
    Fighting resource wars when such fighting destroys the very resource is the sign of insanity! If only the effors of DoD, and the wars of Afganistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia et al could be devoted to preparation for the decline of AFFORDABLE OIL [and Coal] there could be some growth in selected areas of the econmy.
    It is most unfortuante that the country with the greatest need to adjust has the poorest education system among developed nations, combined with the mosat expensive non-performing health system [14+ % of GDP per the Oracle of Omaha] with the consequences that the displacced Tea-Party members feel EXTREMELY threatened.
    But this movement is not restricted to USA, the turn of Eastern/Central Canada is coming! so does for all nations which do not save for the future and build castles in air, especially the UK, Italy, Spain [my daughter so reports] and who knows the next one to fall?
    The political class, the top civil??? servants, the top MEDIA commetators are all removed from the daily toil of the 60-80-90% [depending on the country from USA to Pakistan] with little or no hope of theoir children having a future. Thus, the present politician is incapable of coming up with aswers to the failing notion of BUSINESS AS USUAL – based on non-deliverable future promises [pensions, needed mediacl treatment in old age etc [note the Canadain Health care system is straining all governement budgetrs, as it grows faster than the economy due to increasaed median age].
    Essentially the question of the future which will come firts, the end of the Republic [total abragation of the Constitution], or the collapse of the international Anglo-Saxon/USA business template. The latter is certainif satpes to adjust to the future are not takewn YESTERDAY!

  5. Agree with PL and comments. Slightly different take. The premise of democracy is that interested citizens can know what the policy debates and issues are about! That information is deliberately kept from many whether by the FEDERAL RESERVE or the National Security STATE! Service is no longer the standard of performance but in fact how can you milk you current position for the future take from the innocents! The culture of many Executive Branch organizations is not to provide value to the public but like the modern corporations to provide the leadership with goodies. Basics are ignored. Example the prohibition on travel reimburse by third parties when the government has already borne the costs is absolutely not policed. Also the existing prohibition on earned income from active participation in business no longer policed and most have no knowledge of the Dual Compensation Act. Many serving flag ranks on boards of business doing business with DOD or enlisted ranks while still serving. Complete and utter ethical breakdown as federal appointments are measured by their future prospects not that appoint has crossed line to serve the public interest. Perhaps the Progressives are outdated but at least they understand that the current version of corporate socialism relies on the continued production of a poorly educated underclass. Many of the so-called finest colleges and universities produce “Close Minds” paralleling the title of a book in the early 80’s “The Closing of the American Mind” Our foreign policy is driven by organized violence making the US a feared but no longer respected power. We now know that President Obama lacks courage on the issue that elected him? Racial relations in the US. The corruption in the Congressional Black Caucus is legendary evidenced by tax cheat Charlie Rangle. The rewards of being the good citizen and having good citizenship have become a joke to the elites who often by the way have dual citizenship or offshore accounts or homes and plan to escape if necessary the plumment of the American economy and culture. 2/3 of the Senate have net worths well over a million and they think they deserved being elected. At some level the sacrificies of early generations were frittered away by make believe heroes and officials. Amazing how swift the fall from leadership is occurring. And above all the nice but incompetent, the egotistic but incompetent, and those who are fakes get the press while substantive lives are not recognized for their achievements. Recently a 70 year old former Green Beret buried at Arlington who was the most highly decorated living soldier. Check the official white house papers for its ignorance of what that life really represented. This diatribe could go on for a long time so will end here.

  6. Steve French says:

    Colonel – could you explain the “Dressing Up” reference in the final paragraph?

  7. psc says:

    I experienced change as a child. It was the late 1960’s and our family lived in Philadelphia. The neighborhood was changing. One day I will never forget, my sister and I walked home from grade school and entered a corner store for candy. A teen spit im my sister’s hair.
    I was too young and small to defend her. My family left for the ‘burbs.
    The state I now live in, Delaware, has recently lost a GM plant and a Chrysler plant, an oil refinery just closed, and DuPont long ago outsourced most of their chemical jobs overseas.
    My parents had a place to flee. Where do I go?

  8. Graeme says:

    I’ve never been to the American backwoods. I’ve heard other descriptions similar to yours (“a remarkable innocence of knowledge”).
    So I was aware of it, but I lack first hand knowledge, which makes it harder to internalize. This is probably true of many people who have never travelled widely there. Many people in DC might not have even read descriptions such as yours. They may fall into the trap of imagining everyone else is like them.
    My question is, to what extent are elites ignorant of this phenomenon you describe, and ignorant of the true import of the Tea Party movement?
    And what relevance will this have if and when the Tea Partiers start electing officials like themselves? Or if they win the presidency. How will the bureaucracy and other elites respond and react?

  9. lina says:

    For all the sturm and drang, President Obama still has a 50 percent approval rating. (See Gallup). The polling on healthcare reform shows people don’t like the legislation as a whole, but if you ask them about individual parts, they overwhelmingly approve. Obama spoke of reforming the healthcare system at every single campaign stop for two years. He got 52 percent of the popular vote.
    The biggest failure of the Obama White House to date is communications. For failing to get out in front of the right wing propaganda on this issue (and every issue) they get a grade of “F.”
    I’m not sure why the tea party movement is any more threatening to our republic than the John Birch Society or the Know Nothing Party of other eras.
    The Congress will flip back to R in November, and politically speaking, this will help Obama. (See Reagan and Clinton).

  10. Jose says:

    We share a similar stand on the issues and I agree this is getting dangerous.

  11. Larry Kart says:

    Colonel — Excellent post that makes the blood run cold. But a friend asked me what you meant by the phrase “talent for dressing up” in your final sentence. I admitted that I didn’t know myself. Could you explain?

  12. Larry Kart says:

    Oh — I think I get it. Is “the talent for ‘dressing up’ that people in Europe had in the ’20s and ’30s” a reference to the Black Shirts, the Storm Troopers, etc.? Or am I completely off the mark?

  13. Jackie says:

    The tea partiers remind me of “the paranoid style in American politics”. I just don’t understand their complaints and grievances.

  14. markf says:

    This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened in America. The Whiskey Rebellion and the second Ku Klux Klan spring to mind.
    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” So we shall see. Personally I like to see “opportunity” in the fact that these folks have decided to pay attention to politics, but ignorance is not bliss and great tragedy is surely possible.

  15. Twit says:

    I agree with this post.
    Three points:
    1. Tea Party Logic: the tea partiers are right to be angry, even if they are ignorant and crazy. This is a logical response, and in fact I find it a lot more logically consistent than Obama’s nonsensical message of essentially “Things need to Change, and Change has come.” Those of you who voted for Obama need to wrap your head around the fact Obama now and has always been for the status quo. In fact, I think that most Obama voters actually knew deep down that the Bush years were indulgently but unsustainably good, and they desperately wanted Obama to keep things ‘going.’
    2. Tea Party Passions: What exactly is so dangerous about the tea party movement? I think it’s that it is at core emotional, irrational, and absurd, which makes it a perfect vehicle for the anti-democratic forces who so recently held real power and are desperate for a Restoration. Voltaire said, “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities also has the power to make you commit atrocities.” The irony is that the absurdity of such things as ‘FEMA camps’ and the New World Order (not to mention the impending ‘Caliphate’) will actually empower actual anti-constitutional politics in very real terms.
    3. A Solution?: I think Obama should embrace the cause of ‘states rights’ like Nixon went to China. If you listen to Glenn Beck, et al, their ire is directed towards “government” in the abstract but all of their specific examples relate to the federal government in particular. This may make the tea partiers quasi-anarchist nihilists, but they do have a point I think in that the federal government is much too large and is in many ways virtually unaccountable to the citizen. But this is not true of state governments. Therefore, it would be incredibly powerful politically if Obama, the first black president, would embrace ‘states rights’ as a solution to America’s ills. All this would mean in practice is to shift responsibility to state governments, backed up by federal funds and minimum federal standards (which can be set via executive order).
    But I’m pessimistic. Obama is a transitional figure, and I am afraid of the to what.

  16. Russ Wagenfeld says:

    What you write about “the center of the United States” applies to Rhode Island as well. Many here rarely leave the state and a trip to Boston for Rhode Islanders is equivalent to what a trip to London would be for others. One of my acquaintances here routinely forwards us 4 or 5 proto fascist items daily which are often racist and attack the Obama administration as socialist, communist, dictatorial etc. Frightening. If these people ever find an effective leader watch out.

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. You have it. The Germans had a particular talent for the operatic style in uniforms for civilians but the Italians were not far behind. pl

  18. confusedponderer says:

    What I find particularly disturbing is the extent to which they are anti-state. A state is a necessity. Taxes are a necessity. I somewhere read the sentence that taxes are the price for civilisation. That is most certainly true.
    I can’t quite wrap my head around them feeling taxed to death, because coming from Europe I know that in comparison that’s just silly. Anyway, they do feel that way, and the apparently increasing resentment against IRS is a reality. And reckless politicos and people like Glenn Beck fan the flames.
    I have a hunch that we will see more acts directed against the IRS, like the kamikaze thing from Texas. Maybe that here is already the next one:
    Haz Mat Crews Descend On IRS Building In Ogden, Utah: FBI Investigating
    They’re lashing out at the administration, the feds, for them being there, never mind that neither Obama nor the IRS can reasonably be blamed for the excesses of Wall street or the destruction of the American manufacturing industry. Real grievance, wrong target.
    From all I know many of the old US manufacturing centres are today post-industrial wastelands. Now where did all the jobs go? And what is Obama supposed to do? Pull jobs out of his hat? Make the industry create them? The industry appears to be very happy with having outsourced manufacturing to wherever, and they aren’t going to reverse that course. Now, if Obama tried to force them (never mind the predictable lobbying backlash) to get Americans back into manufacturing jobs, he’d predictably be accused of being a socialist, of all things. Well, a little socialism has helped keep the social peace in Europe. It certainly beats strife and internal unrest.
    I find it tragic to see the tea party folks being co opted by the likes of Dick Armey who has if anything industry interests at heart, not theirs, and those people are to him just useful idiots. Take health care: Of all people, middle class Americans would benefit from health care. Costs for treatment of a severe illness like cancer can in America eat up a family’s 401k, and coupled with the less of income threatens a family’s ability to re-pay a mortgage of eat up the kids college money. It threatens the very existence of individuals and their families alike. But they are afraid of it, because they were told into that Obama wants to kill their granny or some nonsense like that.
    The extremely industry friendly policies the likes or Armey goads the tea party people into supporting aren’t even remotely in their interest, but they just don’t know or realise that. In that sense, America has gotten too good at PR for its own good.

  19. KHarbaugh says:

    Pat (sorry, I’m going to forgo the honorific for this),
    I am surprised to hear you suggest (with a double negative)
    the possibility that “what is happening”
    might be “dangerous”.
    To me, that is the paranoid style so typical of
    those who think another Holocaust is right around the corner,
    and can only be prevented by
    constant vigilance and control of the media and political process
    (e.g. Gerson 2010-02-19).
    I think it is both possible and necessary
    to reverse the forces that have destroyed so much of
    the successful America that we knew the 1950s.
    The only danger will be to the bank accounts and power
    of those who have led, propandized for and benefited from
    all the negative trends.
    Where is Joe McCarthy when we need him? 🙂
    God bless Pat Buchanan for having had the courage to speak out.
    But look what happened to him politically. 🙁

  20. walrus says:

    Col. Lang,
    ” The Germans had a particular talent for the operatic style in uniforms for civilians but the Italians were not far behind. pl ”
    My Father always said that Mosely and the British Union Of Fascists were taken seriously until they put on uniforms. The British sense of humour did the rest. Do Americans revere uniforms per se?
    The Tea Party movement are “useful idiots” in Lenins context, and I think the intention is that they become a Republican electoral tool in Fall and in 2012, as well as a continuing spoiling force. I don’t believe they are self generating, but are being funded and manipulated.
    I see the the threat that is coming as a takeover by the very rich, via corporations, of the reins of government. The Glen Beck “Small Government” propaganda is code for the dismantling of what restraints on corporate behaviour still exist in my opinion.
    The strength of the forces arrayed against the American Republic can, in my opinion, by seen perfectly well in the healthcare debate. Many of us who live overseas have had access to what some would call “socialised medicine” for at least Four generations with no ill effects to health or wallet. We are simply amazed at the volume of disinformation and outright lies that is being produced and marketed by the medical industry to try and frustrate meaningful reform.
    The deduction I draw from it is that if the medical lobby can neuter obviously beneficial and much needed reform, then there is no hope of any other meaningful reform, for example, financial reregulation.
    Now we are going to have a double dip recession. There is a chance that both America and Britain will default on sovereign debt because their problems are far worse than Greece. The prediction of this economic group have been uncannily accurate so far. I refer you to bulletin 42.
    My belief is that Obama is going to be a one term President he must in suceeding budgets create considerable pain for everyone, no matter how it’s shared around.
    I’m also mindful that about half the Federal budget is defence related. I’m not sure that those military industrial complex folks will agree to budgetary cuts gracefully.
    I’m concerned that there could be very difficult choices needing to be made regarding the size of the military, and one of the considerations may be the desirability of having large numbers of unhappy and angry former military personnel on the streets.
    I believe some folks are calculating that this turmoil will be to their advantage. History doesn’t follow scripts, and it ain’t over either, no matter what Francis Fukuyama thought. We can descend into the maelstrom again.

  21. Patrick Lang says:

    Oh tusked one!
    Americans don’t like uniforms.
    I don’t agree that the tea partiers are not authentic.
    interesting theory. pl

  22. Patrick Lang says:

    You are proud of a lack of courtesy?
    And you accuse me of a lack of grammar?
    I am paranoid? Millions of Jews, and others thought that of those who were worried about
    European fascism. pl

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    Mr. Jefferson said that “the best government is the least possible.”
    I’m with him, always have been. I share his faults but not his genius. pl

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    I did not mean to single out the “center” of the country. pl

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    Which folks are you talking about? pl

  26. Patrick Lang says:

    I think that the attitudes of the coastal and other elites is mixed and not in a good way.
    “Overfly country” as an attitude would be typical of the true “coastals.” Terra incognita. Some of these people are actually afraid to travel into anywhere distant from a big, cosmopolitan city, and, they do not.
    Then, there are those who migrated to the coastal or “Chicago type” places by way of university. They prefer to avert their eyes.
    You understand that the “exurbians” are the people who by and large fight America’s wars? the others are far too good for such activities at present. pl

  27. SAC Brat says:

    If you’d like a challenge, try explaining the Tea Party movement and its cheerleaders to Permanent Residents and foreign nationals.
    On the other hand, try helping non-passport holding US nationals over various mental hurdles in understanding areas outside their state borders. Also explain that while the NRA is supporting their second amendment rights most militias around the world now have automatic weapons, mortars and rocket propelled grenades.
    I hate this crap. I keep expecting Kristalnacht or the Cultural Revolution to come to the US. As an Eisenhower Republican and a constitutionalist I keep thinking we can do better. Too bad Joe Biden isn’t allowed to hurt people’s feelings and say nasty things.
    Maybe if people would just follow the writings in the good books…

  28. Pirouz says:

    “Americans lack the talent for “dressing up” that people in Europe had in the ’20s and ’30s” -PL
    Surprised some folks had a problem getting this.

  29. markf says:

    Let’s talk a little bit about leadership in this situation.
    Given that the economics are bad, short term and longer. Given that Americans are who we are. Given that Congress are who they have shown themselves to be. Given that campaign finance is what it now is.
    YOU are President. What should you do? Give up, try to muddle through, or?
    If you aren’t President, what should you do?

  30. J says:

    Ask some what ‘world geography’ is, or where Bishkek is, and you’ll get a quizzical look on their faces.

  31. Andy says:

    Interesting set of comments.
    In my opinion, this is what happens when the elites screw things up. Why shouldn’t the so-called ignorant masses be angry? Why should anyone blame them for being angry and demanding change when their lives are negatively impacted by failed policies? The tea party movement is much more diverse than most people, particularly partisans, like to believe, but it is decidedly anti-establishment. The quickest way to make it go away is for the political elite in this country to start solving problems instead of creating and compounding them. Otherwise the populists will solve the problems their way.
    Complaints about tea party ignorance are irrelevant – they are smart enough to understand the trends and see where this country is headed. They have seen enough of Washington to know that promises made today are likely to turn into blowing sunshine tomorrow. Most Americans are simply trying to get by and scrape out a living. Who can expect them to spend a significant amount of time trying to study the incomprehensibility of Washington? I consider myself an elite by the common definition and I’m fortunate to have the luxury to spend time each day reading and researching issues and following the politics in Washington yet that effort only partially lifts the fog. Most do not have that luxury – my brother, for example, is working 80-90 hours a week trying to keep his business afloat. Instead of belittling those who, for whatever reason, don’t understand Washington maybe we should instead look at those who’ve made Washington and governance incompetent and incomprehensible.

  32. Ken Hoop says:

    Col, I’m in Cincinnati, close to your past haunts.
    Clear Channel corporate radio with its Cincy-based nationally broadcast Bill Cunninghams and Mike McConnells serves as adjunct for the Police State and misleading Tea Party members into an overtly pro-Israel, pro-war position which of course results in the “needed” Police State at home.Even as the McConnells and Cunningham’s falsely describe themselves as small government libertarians.
    McConnell traversed to Iraq in early 2004 and simply repeated Bush/military accounts of the Iraq War for a week.
    The Iraqis loved us, hated the insurgents, didn’t approve of strikes on our troops etc. The troops all favored the sure to be over soon war,… to support the troops you must then support the war, the WMDs would be found,etc.
    All wrong, all never apologised for. Callers who had cited Buchanan’s “Whose War” dismissal of neocon/Israeli provided false intelligence were dimissed as antisemites or or conspiracy theorists or both.McConnell derided Scott Ritter when he predicted a long war during a pre-war interview.
    No apology given.
    Now both are noting with
    braggadocio Obama has adopted Bush’s war-related policies at home and in Afghanistan and the Left is barely protesting, as if that vindicates Bush.
    As for the tea party itself, only the Paul followers and the “Buchananite” antiwar types are worth anything. And they will be (further)marginalized by the corporate GOP/banking manipulators not least because of the attributes you describe above, of the majority.

  33. Ronbo says:

    You people are pathetic.
    A Second American Revolution is brewing and none of you have a clue why it’s happening.
    Sincerely, RONBO
    “The Freedom Fighter’s Journal”

  34. Larry Kart says:

    Pirouz — I think some of us didn’t get “talent for ‘dressing up'” because of the Colonel’s nicely ironic use of “talent.” In my case he was, momentarily, too hip for the room.

  35. fanto says:

    “prosperous working class that was the backbone of this country has been all but destroyed by politicians from both”
    I think that not the politicians destroyed the jobs and the workers doing them – but the Big Capital – which went abroad where cheaper labor could be had; the workers here, the whole society is in a way “guilty”, am I wrong?
    Otherwise, I am grateful to the Colonel for this blog and the comments.

  36. anna missed says:

    About the only thing the tea baggers are right about, is that our government is immiserated. Their solution to this state of affairs is to (simply put) “get rid of the the government”, as if the government itself is some kind of disease that needs to be eradicated. The problem with this viewpoint is that the government is not the disease, but is instead infected with a disease. This makes their solution something akin to killing a patient through leeching in order to cure the disease. Which only exacerbates the problems of developing an effective cure.
    The real problem with our government is that it has failed to govern, not that it governs too much. It has instead been consumed by the interests that directly fund its operation, while losing sight of those it was created to serve. The government has failed because it has allowed those other “interests” to squander America’s competitive edge by outsourcing its scientific and technological instruments of growth and its manufacturing base, in favor of a casino capitalist economy that has widened the disparity of wealth to depression era levels, with the predictable results of a crashed economy.
    No way this all is rectified by even less government..

  37. Nancy K says:

    The 50’s may have been good if you were a white male, which I’m not, at least not male.
    All of this looking backwards is just that backwards. That was then this is now.
    I live in California but I have friends and family living in much of the country, a son in New Hampshire, going into the Navy. A daughter in North Carolina, a daughter in Boston, a daughter in LA and a daughter in Peru.
    Our family is multiracial and multicultural.
    I love this country and when I hear the teabaggers rant, it sickens me.
    It appears to me much of them may be 65 and may be receiving Medicare and SS. If they want to give up these benefits I say go to it, save the government some money.
    My main complaint with President Obama is he needs to get touch. Some of the ranting sounds threatening, maybe a few butts need to be thrown in jail, Glenn Becks for one.

  38. FDRDemocrat says:

    I think if you mine down, the Tea Party and Beck are about a great many things that don’t fit neatly in right or left.
    The military-industrial complex, as Eisenhower described it, has a death grip on our country. A lot of resources are poured into it, regardless of the international situation, based on the cleverness of industries to place the factories in as many congressional districts as you can.
    There is also a tremendous control of our democracy by the monied interests. They are in the process as we speak of destroying real reform of the finance sector and they will throttle any meaningful health insurance reform that does not leave them in a position to fleece as many millions as they can.
    The rage over the financial bailouts is not a left-right issue. People across the spectrum were appalled at how blatantly the well-connected acted to dip into the public treasury to protect their private wealth – and how they got away with it. It was what is often called in the developing world as the Culture of Impunity and it can stick in the craw and create a revolution if it continues.
    FDR, with the much more dire economic situation of the early 1930’s, and his willingness to use the language of class warfare, was able to accomplish significant restraints on the system, in the meantime creating things like Social Security.
    That is not happening now. A combination of miscues by an inexperienced President and a much stronger opposition than FDR faced are preventing the changes needed to prevent the near-collapse from happening again. In Obama’s defense, I think it is harder now than before to move the needle – the system is so heavily entrenched and vicious in defending its interest. One can imagine what these same negative forces, with the power of YouTube and the Internet, would have done to the “cripple” Roosevelt if he lived today.
    The Tea Party is some astro-turfing. But I think at its heart it is a legitimate cri de couer from an American public who feels it is being scammed. The GOP is trying to hijack it and there are some right wingers with agendas in its ranks – they may succeed in turning it into a right wing movement, which would be a shame.

  39. Graeme says:

    Re: backwoods
    Perhaps a freudian slip on my part (though I’m from a similar region of Canada. It’s generally misunderstood in the rest of the country.).
    I was using it as shorthand for how those areas tend to be referred to in American media. All of the places you were generalizing where people don’t usually travel much beyond their immediate area, and know little directly of places further afield.
    I didn’t really mean anything more by it. I am curious as to how the coastal and political elites will react if and when the tea party movement gains political power. At present, I think a substantial portion of the elites believe that the tea parties are simply a fake grassroots movement sponsored by corporations.
    As you said, I’m not sure that’s true.
    As for what you mentioned about the exurbs being the places which provide the soldiers; yes, I’m aware of that.
    Running America’s overseas affairs, as they are currently constituted, requires some knowledge of things abroad. What will happen if a movement comes to power which expressly views any knowledge of this sort with suspicion?

  40. greg0 says:

    Patrick Henry’s famous oration also said “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery?” But this was in 1775 and in response to British military actions in the Massachusetts colony.
    I really distrust the media in promoting the Tea Party folks. They are using a mob for their own purposes. When an elite has to disguise their true interests with faux populism, the question of authenticity arises.
    Not that there isn’t anger. There is a long list of unfulfilled promises from Obama’s first year. Why is there no accountability for the previous administration, or even replacing Rove’s political prosecutors? Why adopt so many of the previous administration’s bad policies such as the bank bailout? And why is there no alternative to ‘free’ trade such as ‘fair’ trade?
    Maybe ANY talk of tariffs will scare big business and stop contributions.
    Lots of Tea Party concerns look similar to leftist criticism of Bush: secret internment sites, stealing elections, and wasn’t the New World Order first mentioned by HW Bush? I wonder how they feel about multinational corporations funding our elections…

  41. walrus says:

    Col. Lang,
    By bizarre coincidence, I have just purchased and started reading John Lukacs “The Legacy Of The Second World War” – Yale University Press, which I think is just published and I commend it to all of you.
    What has jumped off the page immediately is Lukacs early distinction between “The State” and “The Nation”, in the context of Germany, that I think is germane to a discussion of the Tea parties.
    I apologise if the dangers of a movement focussed on the dream of “An American Nation” as opposed to a “United States Of America”, is old news.
    The danger of a nationalist (which Lukacs defines as a patriot with an inferiority complex) leader emerging is something that one must consider.

  42. arbogast says:

    I hope the economy recovers quickly, and that jobs, good jobs for working class and lower middle class Americans are in plentiful supply soon. These good people are going to vote, and they are going to vote behind leaders who are both ignorant and self-serving.
    Federal tax withholdings plunge to multi-year low.
    We are not going to export our way out of the recession. We are not going to have residential or commercial construction pull us out of the recession. And the government will be prevented from turning us into a trans-Atlantic Zimbabwe.
    I don’t see where there is hope for economic recovery.
    Perhaps a post could be devoted to that question?

  43. Michael says:

    Col. Lang describes the Tea Parties’ response to policies like TARP (which no one likes, but one should be willing to raise one’s hand to say, yes, I’d have been willing to live in the world where it didn’t happen if one wants to make it a point of political differentiation) and the health care bill without offering his judgment either of the merits of the policies, or the appropriateness of the Tea Parties’ assessments of them. That’s fair enough, but it’s hard to gauge the intended upshot. The post reads as a warning about the impact of the Tea Parties, but seems to suggest that policymakers ought to heed their anger. That’s a hell of a way to mitigate their effect on the country: let them dictate policy.
    There are millions of people who cannot afford health insurance in this country, or choose not to purchase it. This ends up costing the country huge amounts of money. It is well and good to oppose a given remedy to this situation because one thinks it will transfer resources from oneself to others. But it would seem one would need to at least address whether one regards this reality as a problem in need of solution, and if one does, suggest what course is being neglected if one is going to offer warnings about the rage the solution on offer is.
    I don’t personally find this anger terribly threatening. These people have a very specific view of what kinds of problems government is constituted to address and how, and in their view our government has stepped far, far beyond it’s prescribed boundary. The party in power has a very different view (to which, in very broad strokes I happen to subscribe), but at the same time the major opposition party has been ineffectual in undoing the established programs that make up this overreach. Given that, I don’t begrudge those who truly oppose such programs their vocal opposition. It’s fundamental to democracy. Let them be heard. The point of politics is to seek and succeed in instituting a policy platform. The party in power has a clearly stated one; they should pursue it. And the opposition should be heard. The Union is not thereby endangered.
    I’d like to know if the Colonel feels the party in power should abandon its agenda because there is opposition to be heard in the country? If so, does he endorse the status quo of health care economics in the country, and if not what reforms he supports, and when we can expect a governing majority to deliver them?

  44. Paul Escobar says:

    They’re not dangerous becase they have an outlandish agenda.
    They’re dangerous because there’s not an equivalent amount of outlandish in opposition to them.
    Their counterparts on the (loosely defined) American “left” are too Canadian for their own good.
    If any outrage was inflicted upon them, they might produce a documentary, publish an essay or peform standup!
    There’s no “nuclear deterrent”.
    And I’m sure the more “motivated” followers of the (loosely defined) tea party are aware & emboldened by this fact.
    Okay, maybe there is a “nuclear deterrent”: Megan Fox

  45. Tyler says:

    And meanwhile they’re burning Berkely yet again.
    I really don’t know what the hell is going on in this country.

  46. confusedponderer says:

    The least possible government is something to strive for, but that necessiates knowledge. To strive for something not knowing what it is is running around like a beheaded chicken – quite the spectacle, but, indeed, headless.
    To strive for least possible government also means to strive for government. With the tea party crowd I’m no so sure that’s their goal. If they have their way they’ll abolish all taxes, the IRS, all regulation and whatnot, and there won’t be much government left to strive for.
    And then there is that remarkable ability to reconcile reveration for the constitution and ‘the founders’ (whatever their – divergent – intents were) with calls for the torture of terrorist suspects, i.e. with contempt the fifth amendment. Or take the lambasting of tyranny (through taxation or whatever) while calling for a strong commander in chief and approving of his asserted power to execute Americans without trial if they pose a threat. That and more and so forth …
    Headless, headless, headless …

  47. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Your post did not include a reference to what I consider the most
    frightening of many portents -that sometime between 2001 and 2010 the idea that the President of the US had the authority to imprison, torture and assasinate US citizens became if not completely accepted then at least a position that “reasonable” men could debate. The next generation of protestors may want to stay spread out and keep alert for the sound of drones.
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  48. Patrick Lang says:

    Most people are pathetic. You do realize what a racist you are, don’t you? I looked at your site. Appalling. pl

  49. Patrick Lang says:

    I am engaged here in an educational effort, not a didactic or propaganda effort. Form your own positions. pl

  50. Patrick Lang says:

    I, too, doubt the possibility of a long term economic recovery to levels we thought we were experiencing.
    I don’t think I know enough economics to write that post but would welcome attempts by others to do so. pl

  51. Michael says:

    It is not propaganda to offer a view of public policy questions. You don’t have to do it; as with Iran I merely think your journal would benefit from having any positions you do hold presented straightforwardly.
    How is it the idea of presenting a political viewpoint on a private blog amounts in your accounting to propaganda?

  52. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks for your opinion. Many have offered the thought that they would like me to write differently. I am who I am. I dislike policy wonks and do not intend to become one. pl

  53. Patrick Lang says:

    I did not say that the tea party critique of the federal government is not justified. pl

  54. frank durkee says:

    Living as I do in a small town in the back mountains of Southwestern colorado the population of which is split roughly equally between retired urban elites and blue collar or ranching small businessmen and ‘working stiffs’ what is universal is a sense of helplessness in the face of the realities we confront. There is a profound sense on both sides of the party split that we are powerless in the face of the forces exercising influence and control [ all mentioned one way or another above ]. There is outright despair about the future of our children.
    this seems to be especially true of those, mostly retired, who have exercised real influence at the regional or above level before retirement. Historically this is a factor in eras of great change and our time is such in spades. The radical shifts in our governance, our economics, our technology, and the international landscape, create a sense of powerlessness and that opens the dooor to all sorts of responses positive and negative.
    extremism flourishes in this fertile soil and as The Col. points to very dangerous possibilities emerge and need to be taken seriously.

  55. N. M. Salamon says:

    To those interested in small government in USA:
    Your tax rate is well below that of most countries in the EU.
    1., instead of paying taxes for health care, you run the most inefficient private/government financing system, thereby raising the cost of health care to 14+% of GDP versus 7-9% in EU land [with worse mortality etc rates].
    2., Instead of paying higher taxes, you elect to run your education system at the pleasure of local taxpayers with dire consequences to your youth – placing well behind most EU members in achievement.
    3., Instead of paying higher taxes you elect to make post secondary institutions unaffordable for most [either bankrupting the student loan recepient or depending on family wealth to pay for it – See what it got you from BUSH – purchased education purchased presidenc y- via corrupt Judges!] My second daughter went to University [second degree] in Germany – her cost for the year including Room/Board was less then the tuition in proposed in California’s new fee schedule, also less than her cost in Edmonton including R/M there also].
    4., you elect to pay lower taxes, and children grow up without decent childcare [except if you are well to do, or have kids at home without adult supervision], while in EU land most of that is provided freely.
    So you do pay less taxes, get second or third rate education to your children [except if you are well to do], deny PREVENTIVE health care to large % of your population [my daughter in Spain has yearly PREVENTIVE MEDICAL ASSESSMENT as a right of residence [married to a Spaniard], end up paying for this action with disasterous health care spending as a nation.
    There are other differences [the safety net etc which you also lack due to low taxwes].
    At times as an outsider [though exposed to conservfative notions in Alberta] I wonder why the MSM does not present clear comparison of EU tax Benefit package in USA terms. Is it that the elites decided to treat the 60-70% below them as OTHERS? – in a line as DoD treated the fatalities of Iraq, Afganistan et al, they are OTHERS, they do not count in the national interst of the USA?
    The Question, therefore, are you as a society better off for paying lower taxes, or is the lower taxes damand far greater expenditure by the nation for a seccond rate outcome.
    I believe that the low taxes of the USA are against the national interst, and demand of the population far greater costs [in relative terms] for a second rate outcomes [in relative terms] for most citizens / families of that at one time GREAT NATION.

  56. Nancy K says:

    I have thought about this subject more since I read your site last night. I do understand the frustrations and anger of those without a job and without prospects. 3 of our children are underemployed, 1 is unemployed. Only 1 of the 5 have health insurance. My daughter who is 40 and lives in LA bought fish antibiotics on line, because she could not afford to go to a Dr. fortunatly they worked.
    It is not just middle America who is hurting. LA has one of the highest unemployment rates and mortgage failures in the country.
    Our industries have been shipped to China, Mexico, India etc. and we are overtaxed. However and this is a big however,
    it did not just happen under Obama’s watch. Where were all these angry white men when Bush was president.
    Where was the indignation against the government, even the IRS.
    This is racial as much as anything. When President Obama promised change, he promised the one thing rural American hates and fears the most.
    All the outcry against health care for all Americans, when many of the teabaggers are happy to receive Medicare and SS. It is okay when they receive these well deserved benefits however if anyone else receives them it is termed entitlement programs.
    We have family in England, Spain and Peru, and they all have univeral health care.
    I agree that we pay too much in taxes for what we receive. But instead of getting rid of education for all children, health care for all Americans, and a Social Security net for the elderly, fireman and policeman, and keeping up our infrastructure. Why don’t we stop subsidies to Mega Farms (not the small farmer) stop subsidies to the oil companies, to the Pharmaceutical companies, stop our politicians from being bought and paid for by lobbyists, stop sending millions perhaps billions to Israel, Egypt, etc, and stop business from having off shore accounts and taking American companies to foreign countries and then selling the goods back to us at inflated prices.
    I’m really angry too, and as I’m white and 63 years old, I quess that makes me an old, angry white woman. However I am not angry at President Obama who became president 1 year ago. I’m angry at the bankers, lobbyists, large international corporations, pharmaceutical companies, all of them are going to eventually succeed in killing off the middle class.
    Wake up middle America, there is an enemy but it is not President Obama. And change is coming because there is no stopping it.

  57. trstone says:

    How do you expect government to work when a large portion, if not a majority, if not a large majority of the electorate, believe government is the problem. That electorate have and are electing politicians who’s goals are personal enrichment(an goal not intended by the voters) and preventing any progress being made to solve the problems the TP’ers are illuminating.
    I have no solutions to this.

  58. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,

    I did not say that the tea party critique of the federal government is not justified.

    I agree, my comments were directed at some of the commenters – sorry for not making that clear.

  59. Farshid Ebrahimi says:

    Andy’s assessment is correct.
    N. M. Salomon
    Combined Federal, State and local tax burden on Americans is not that much different than Europeans. The problem is huge miss allocation of resources.
    That is, approximately one trillion dollars per year defense spending.
    F. Ebrahimi

  60. Well, there is military history, diplomatic history, and political history. Americans are deficient in all three having been “dumbed down” for a number of generations now.
    Of course there are circles in the US elites who desire, and have desired, an American form of Fascism. Only the most naive (or designing) would be in denial on this point.
    The American form of Fascism (unlike the Nazis etc.) would not be anti-Semitic with respect to Jews but rather “pro-Israel.” The anti-Semitism would be, conveniently for certain cosmopolitan circles, directed against the Arabs, etc…
    Both the right wing mob and the left wing mob are not only military cannon fodder but are also political cannon fodder as Julius Caesar well knew.
    Caesarism-Fascism in the United States got a strong push in the wake of World War I. For example, the “American Liberty League” for which see:
    Is anyone so stupid, or so naive, as to think this project did not extend from the 1930s, past World War II, and into the post-War American scene??? One would hope not. Look around today.
    Ah yes, the principate…Augustus (Octavian) and all that…

  61. Wll the comments all remind me we have had since the election of 1960 the choice for the Presidency of a professional politician or a professional politician. There are some who achieved in other professions that might be willing to give it a try! I suspect some of these may very well show up in the near future, but not sure how. The professional politicians have largely given the country and its citizens what it wanted and not what it needed so let’s see where the Teabaggers go on future goals and objectives. Voters in the US are now tired of amatuer night meaning those who claim leaderhsip based on having been elected or defeated many times! The basic problem is the shortage of leadership and perhaps a blog PL on that failure might come up with some interesting comments. Can the TEABAGGERs lead? Perhaps! Will it be constructive? Perhaps! But at least the largely disinterested sleeping public seems to be awaking. Hard to predict the outcome. Voting the “Ins” “out” might be useful start.

  62. JT Cornpone says:

    A teabagger ahead of his time (with an agenda). Please forgive the extended quote:
    “Finally, it may be noted that high fertility has not been an unimportant factor in subverting the traditional patterns of government in the U.S. To the extent that rapid population increase has augmented urban and metropolitan concentration and produced chronic and acute economic, social and political problems, it has had a major influence in altering our traditional division of responsibilities between the Federal, State and local governments. For one thing the record shows that the functions of American government on all levels have tremendously expanded and multiplied in the course of our history. There can be no doubt that the reason for this continued expansion of government, despite our ideological traditions to the contrary, is a direct result of increased population and especially increased population concentration which has produced our mass society and metropolitanism as a way of life. Examples are given by the acute form of urban problems requiring Federal government participation in public housing, urban renewal, and public highway and expressway programs. The worsening education and transport problems mentioned above may well bring further Federal programs during this decade.
    Finally, the rapidly increasing urban and metropolitan populations have drastically altered the form of local government envisioned by the Constitutional fathers. Local government today is by no means that envisaged by the founding fathers in that it is supplemented by government structures such as the school district, the port authority, the sanitary district, the water district, the metropolitan area planning commission, and, also, by such instrumentalities as ther interstate compact and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
    Rapid urban and metropolitan growth which has already outmoded local government structure is further accelerating its obsolescence. Twentieth century agglomerations of population and economic activities approximated by the Federal government’s delineation of metropolitan of metropolitan areas, have long ago outgrown their inherited 18th and 19th century forms of local government….”
    From the Report of the Wingspread Assembly on the Population Dilemma conducted by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest with the cooperation if the American Assembly and the Johnson Foundation of Racine Wisconsin at Wingspread April 16-19 1964, from the address of Philip M. Hauser, Professor and Chairman, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago. This document was aquired by my wife sometime back in her undergraduate days and just showed up during some unpacking in our new house today!
    I think the guy had a point. The US now has more than twice as many people as when I was in grade school and I can feel their weight even though now I split my year between a town of 500 in N. Central Florida and a fishing cabin in the central Missouri Ozarks. If he was right it’s far too late for the baggers to put that genie back in the bottle almost 50 years after he described what they just noticed last year.
    Richard Nixon made me a paleo liberal. A habit of personal fiscal conservatism instilled by my depression survivor father has served me well so far. I say give me liberty and give us health care reform and keep your tea stained hands off my Medicare.
    JT Cornpone

  63. N. M. Salamon says:

    F. Ebrahimi:
    Agreed as to defence misallocation!
    Further assert that the misallocation in healthcare bureaucracy is approx 15-20% of gross compared Vet Affairs’ 2-3%administrative burden. Similar judgements can be laid at K-12 education [boards, administratiors, etc at the expense of students], post secondary [ibid]’ etc.
    Should not forget the grieveous error of SCOTUS in re Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, wherein Scotus argued for racial equity rather than demanding equal quality regardless of color, creed, etc. – required bureaucratic control of enrollment %-s rather than access to quality programs. Thus we had busing on one hand and divergent quality of educational opportunity based on resident voters’ of the local board[s] funding regimes – whether within states or whether among states.
    This error of Brown vs… is the major cause of the Tea Party rise, for those undereducated [and systemically abused by the power elite of USA] do not understand the implications of their own actions/desires, especially with respect to the future of their own children.
    You are no doubt aware that the various states are firing teachers, not cutting adminstrators! – all in step to ensure that the USA economy is to suffer in the longer term.

  64. Patrick Lang says:

    NS Salomonm
    I am sorry but we are not willing to give up the limited role of the federal government. pl

  65. Ken Hoop says:

    Of course, Nancy K, above, outsourcing, free trade, fighting Israel’s wars,
    Chamber of Commerce promotion of cheap labor– are all symptomatic of multicultural breakdown of an erstwhile healthy political class.
    And most of the nominal “white males” of the Tea Party are not particularly acting
    coherently even with respect to their own “selfish” interests.

  66. Ken Hoop says:

    The militant “anti-Semitic” factions of the tea party, whatever the modest percentage, are not going to be enlisted in a mass fascist movement of the kind Pat Lang depicts. Perhaps a miniscule one, say in Idaho, more aptly callled “seperatist.”

  67. JM says:

    Re the comments of Hauser, posted by JTCornpone:
    Hauser points to increasing populations generally, and increasing “metropolitanism” specifically, as a source of our problems. Perhaps he’s right, but this is the way of human nature.
    I am living in an Asian mega-city at the moment – more than 25 million population. There are massively populated mega-cities all over the planet. Humans tend to group themselves this way, and have always done so. Perhaps our politics should align with human nature?
    Which raises a related point. My view is that much of what we experience as a set of problems with our social, political and economic life is likely related to our wildly diverse viewpoints about what our “societal objectives” should be.
    Health care reform is a case in point. If a “societal objective” of the US citizenry is to ensure that most, if not all, people have access to a basic level of health insurance, then a government-subsidized system is the only way to do it. The private for-profit health insurance industry simply can’t or won’t provide affordable coverage for “everyone.” (They’re in business – to make money – one does that by maximizing revenue and minimizing expenditure. Think about what that means in terms of health insurance.)
    If we decide that ensuring near-universal access to HI is not our “societal objective,” fine – keep the system we’ve got.
    Col. Lang mentioned above that “we are not willing to give up the limited role of the federal government.” For the most part, I agree.
    However, for some things, specifically for health care and education, we need to think carefully about what our “societal objectives” are.
    In my view, those objectives involve producing the healthiest and most well-educated population possible, in order to enable us to compete effectively in a highly-integrated, even sychronized, global economy.
    Also in my view, ensuring the two “societal objectives” above must involve a significant government role, most likely at the federal level.
    Apologies for the long-ish post.

  68. Patrick Lang says:

    And where have you detected the “militantly anti-semitic” faction of the tea party? pl

  69. Patrick Lang says:

    That’s your particular view of the needed objectives of US society. Have you become a decisive factor? pl

  70. J says:

    Many of the Tea Party citizenry fear Obama instituting Communist rein and take over of the U.S.. One of those that Obama recently appointed is underscoring that fear, Obama’s appointment of Andy Stern the SEIU head to a government commission. To many, Stern’s behavior is that of an avowed Communist who is not remiss to use force to institute his views.

  71. Ken Roberts says:

    Twit (01-march 434pm) has an interesting observation re states rights.
    First a digression, re why Canada showed up in early posts in this thread: Because Canadian society is seen as a comparator, mostly like but different in some respects.
    Why are the 50 States not exhibiting more difference?
    In mid-1992, on a driving trip thru Wyoming, I read in the local newspapers about two divergent views Wyomingians had about their state – as a nature place (hunting, fishing, and such) or for mineral extraction and such. Not an unusual dilemma and in actuality no doubt sorted out satisfactorily over time, a bit of each, etc.
    But what astounded me was that Wyomingians were looking to Washington to make that decision for them, and all their hopes rested on the influence in Washington that their two senators could exert!
    How strange and alienating to delegate such important choices to far-away others.
    My general take on well run human organizations is that decisions should be made as close to local as possible, and passing to larger legislature should be reserved for the relatively few matters which cross boundaries.
    That is even seen in the US constitution, eg matters not dealt with are reserved to the states. But the practice does not seem to run that direction.
    I greatly admire many parts of the US governance system, esp separation of powers. But on the federal vs state scopes of authority, Canada seems to have a messier but more human-scale de facto tilt to local decision making.
    In Canada, our present health care system did not come from a federal initiative. Rather a small province (Sask) put in a health care system that then was over time seen as desirable, and a national consensus emerged.
    Had we tried to innovate on a national basis, health care would have taken far longer.
    Anyway, interesting posts. Thanks.

  72. JM says:

    pl: “That’s your particular view of the needed objectives of US society. Have you become a decisive factor?”
    Of course not. Just my particular view, as you’ve pointed out.

  73. optimax says:

    A woman in the NYT’s article listed all the tv news channels that should be boycotted but left out FOX. That is her informing input. Dick Chaney had the tv tuned by a servant to FOX when he traveled. It seems the Tea Partiers, whose lives are in part being ruined by the oligarchy, are swallowing the solutions offered by the same oligarchs (Murdoch, Ailes)–reduced taxes, smaller government. They didn’t complain when Bush increased the military/security portion of government or Reagan’s great levelling of the tax brackets, both increasing deficits, but giving every american a modicum of fringe benefits is going to far. The downside of pluralism is that one group can be used to oppose the other groups, and the upside in this case is the factionalism within a group like the Tea Party will disolve it and keep it from becoming a dominant political force. Considering the source of the Tea Parties funding and propaganda input, the purpose is to stop Obama and Congress from reforming Wall Street, raising taxes on the wealthy, reducing the size of the military/security/industrial complex and bringing jobs back to the U.S. That’s assuming Obama and Congress are truly concerned with the plight of the average Joe and Jane.

  74. Kim Viner says:

    Re Ken Roberts – part of the problem that Wyoming has is that 50% of the land area is controlled by the federal government – for better or worse depending on your point of view. But in either case, it requires Wyomingites to be concerned about federal government rules, regulations and laws. Our representatives in congress are a key factor in that process (again – for better or worse).

  75. Sara says:

    I have a hard time recognizing some of the depictions of so called “Fly-over” land in these comments and the post. After all, I do live there.
    In my political party we came up with an open safe seat in 2006, and in deciding who to endorse, we looked at needs in Congress. Too many didn’t know what in the hell the Islamic World was — and since we had a highly qualified American Muslim available in the State Legislative delegation, we decided to elect him to Congress. Keith Ellison can get into Gaza, dine with the Saudi Royals, and drink tea and eat mutton with the tribal leaders in Iraq, and then come home and spend an hour on the best Public Radio Network in the US discussing the complex details of it all.
    Agreed, the district just to our north produced Michelle Bachmann, but that is Exurbia for you — she could be elected from any number of similar districts in many states.
    We hear the term “resource Wars” — well one of the world resources fly-over land specializes in is food, raw exportable commodities that ship out either down the Mississippi or through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Want to hear detailed discussion of all this — I would suggest any rural cafe in Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas or Minnesota.
    Which state has the highest literacy rate? North Dakota. Which state reads more non-fiction and biography per person? Iowa.
    I too worry about the extremes around the Tea Party, but I also know that another “movement” the Tea Party reminds me of in somewhat similar Anerican Context is the Townsend Movement of the mid 1930’s. It was “nutty” and extremist, but was also the proximate cause for FDR picking up the cause of Social Security that Francis Perkins laid before him, and moving it through Congress. And yes, Townsend was sorta midwestern — out of Kansas.

  76. jerseycityjoan says:

    “I hope the economy recovers quickly, and that jobs, good jobs for working class and lower middle class Americans are in plentiful supply soon. ”
    I am sure that this is a sincere hope, but surely we all know it is a forelorn hope. It would take a miracle or a revolution to bring the good times back to the average American.
    The average American wasn’t doing well before Fall of 2008 and he’s doing far worse now. None of the government policies that caused so much trouble have changed. And now businesses have decided the new way to make money is to fire as many workes as possible and work the remainder hard enough to keep productivity rising every quarter.
    I’ve been waiting for a year to discover how we’d change and what the “New Normal” would be. Silly me, I thought we’d discuss our “lessons learned” and decide how to get our economy and ourselves back on firm ground and away from dependence on leverage and wishful thinking to get us through.
    Correct me if I’m wrong but none of our leaders seem to be making an effort to help us find a new and better path, with less exposure to bubbles, turmoil and downturns.
    That’s what scares me most of all: the dead silence about our real future.

  77. I would again point out that circles of the American elite (plutocracy-oligarchy), during the post World War I era, looked to European Fascism for inspiration.
    I explain and document this in my book “Dark Crusade” (London: Tauris, 2009) and indicate the post WWII continuities.
    The Luce Empire extolled Mussolini and the “New Order” in Fortune magazine and in Time during the 1920s and 1930s. The Hearst Empire took a similar line. These media empires were part and parcel of the American oligarchy. Of course, Luce himself as a Yale Skull and Bones type was in the dominant “Eastern Establishment” elite.
    Any coincidence that the Neocons took Luce’s “American Century” theme and updated it to “New American Century”? Any coincidence that Bush Senior talked about a “New World Order” which his son later attempted to “shape” with the war against Iraq?
    Any coincidence that Neocon theorist Mike Ledeen is a deep scholar of European Fascism, Italian in particular?
    That “Tea Party” types support Palin and McCain is an indicator of their limited understanding of US politics and political history. Pawns in the game….about which they know nothing.
    The “anti-state” orientation of the far right (and far left) deserves analysis. Some supposedly “conservative” anti-state ideologues appear to have their intellectual roots in one Franz Oppenheimer, a German who wrote “The State.”
    William Buckley, for example, assimilated Oppenheimer through Albert Jay Nock, a Buckley family friend.
    Oppenheimer was associated with the Frankfut School and other “causes” such as Zionism.
    It is useful for the plutocracy-oligarchy to attack “the state” (if they do not control or dominate it) because the state, through regulation, can protect the citizenry from their plunder and institute reform programs such as the New Deal….etc…
    Traditionally, Americans have been proud of their constitutional and democratic institutions which constitute their “state” (these United States)…

  78. N. M. Salamon says:

    I respect your desire to keep the powers of the Feds limited.
    Having argued in Alberta about matters educational [wherein the system is similar to USA’s several states; e.g. boards – but in our system they are voluntary law creations not matters Constitutional to AQlberta] I read many Reasons for Judgements of the several States’ and Federal Courts re: k-12.
    Aside from a single case of one of the Carolina-s, the best educational opportunities are stricktly limited in all other States to the elite’s benefit [be they private, denominational or public schools]. This is contrary to the well being of the UNITED STATES as a nation. The Judges always argue for “governance” and “FUNDING”, never about EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO PROGRAM ACCESS [consistent with the individual’s ability and persevarence]. This is the line of Brown Vs. Topeka, the process of integration rather then the product of integration: HIGH QUALITY EDUCATIONTION TO ALL!.
    Now my question to you, Sir, which do you desire as a RATIONAL ANIMAL [Descartes], vs as a POLITICAL ANIMAL {Aristotle] the present boondogle of various states’ ed system – leading to unqualified undisciplined youth, or a system forced to offer HIGHEST quality across the width and breath of the WHOLE UNITED STATES – leading to a vibrant co-operative society? The arguments are similar for health care.
    PLEASE while you are contemplating on the above problem regarding the well being of the United States in the future, also analyse and list all Federal powers which have been extended since the Constitution was written, and tell us which you would delete, eg. No child left behind [and all similar measures], FHA and other controlling agancies re food, drugs, TV, Mobile phone, etc, Small Business administration, Various agancies on health, eg, CDC, National Health Agancies, Labs, etc.
    The TEA BAGGERS are the members of the class “political animal”, with scant nowledge ,indeed, almost total ignorance of the demands of post-industrial society : CREATIONISM, ANTI SCIENCE, anti-math etc].
    Thank you for posting this problem, as it is informative of the various views held by citizens of USA, and some foreign participants.

  79. Andy says:

    Ken Roberts,
    Wyoming, like most western and mountain states, contain huge tracts of federally-owned land. For Wyoming, about 1/2 the state is federally-owned. The debates over land use you described regard these federal lands and so must take place at the federal level. These debates have been an enduring part of western politics for many generations and there’s no sign that will change anytime soon.

  80. “Wyoming…federally owned land”…
    In plain English, this is land owned BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE and administered by THEIR government, in their behalf, at the Federal level.
    There are those who have an ideological problem with the idea of “public lands” owned by the American People as a resource for the future and future generations.
    Such useful and simple types are a boon to the mining and timber interests who would wish to exploit without regulation the public lands to their private profit and etc…

  81. Ken Roberts says:

    Kim Viner and Andy – Thank you for clarifying Wyoming land use, ie federal ownership of about half. Also for the correct term for residents of Wyoming!
    Ok, I understand your land use problem’s context better. It still must be very frustrating for those who live there. I live in SW Ontario rural and experience frustration with some decisions made in Toronto, which is only a 2 hour drive away.
    When I was in sales for a multi-national, we had a saying, “you can’t fix head office from the field”. That’s ok for a corporate role, which is after all just a job.
    But for a life, I think I might want to finesse the problem by seeing the scope of head office diminished.
    Similar to “why rob banks?” – “because that’s where the money is”. Why reduce scope of national govt? – because that’s where the freedom went.

  82. Ken Hoop says:

    Sometimes possession marks, well-placed, say it all. You misplaced mine.

  83. Tyler says:

    Was listening to NPR on the way home from work, and the idiots started talking about “nullification” as a way for the states to just do what they want if they don’t like what the Fed Govt is doing.
    My eyebrows shot up and did not come down. So what follows is a bunch of idiots from Texas telling screaming crowds that they are telling the Fed Govt to “push out of Texas” and that they cannot be a free people as long as the federal government can tell them what to do.
    NPR made some cutesy gestures about the viability of that, but didn’t really mention that this sort of issue was what the Civil War ended up being fought over.

  84. Patrick Lang says:

    No idea what you are talking about. pl

  85. optimax says:

    Have you ever seen a strip mine fifty years after they’ve finished with it? It’s Ummagumma Land, a fun place to swim naked but not much lives there. Thank you, Bull Moose.

  86. walrus says:

    In an era of very strong trans-national corporations that have revenues larger than many countries and very very considerable international market power.
    …..And you want smaller less powerful Government, that is already influenced far too much by corporations?
    That is simply suicidal.

  87. Medicine Man says:

    Thank you for this post, Col. Lang. Your perspective on how things look from the heartlands of the US is illuminating.

  88. N. M. Salamon says:

    For those who are interested why there shall not be a recovery to eternal growth in the USA [and the world] please peruse this rather long article. The essence of the article – if analysed correctly – is that the TEA PARTY crowd is of little significance with respect to the future of USA [and world] economy, indeed , at best a temporary distraction.

  89. Andy says:


    There are those who have an ideological problem with the idea of “public lands” owned by the American People as a resource for the future and future generations.
    Such useful and simple types are a boon to the mining and timber interests who would wish to exploit without regulation the public lands to their private profit and etc…

    That is all true to an extent, but you also have to consider that the livelihood of local residents is dependent on these public lands and federal land-use policy and decisions can destroy that livelihood. Land use policy for them is therefore not merely ideological.

  90. Nancy K says:

    Texas Gov Perry is always threatening that Texas will leave the Union. My feelings are don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
    Of course much of the country may feel that California should leave too.
    My husband and I were discusing the 2 Americas, and how we are so divided, more so than at any time in my life, and I’m 63.
    Probably like many countries, we only come togather when we are attacked by an outside force.
    My husband lived in Israel for a number of years and said Israel would have had a civil war if they did not have the Palistinians to focus on.

  91. BillWade says:

    Mr Salamon, thanks for that article you linked to. I think the Tea Party folks are relevant and will remain relevant, it’s not so much the taxes, it’s how the taxes are being used. Instead of fighting resource wars and bailing out the “too big to fail” businesses, our taxes should increasingly be used to make us all as self-sufficient as possible. I doubt that will happen though as our elites would like things to continue on as is, as long as possible, so that they can remain powerful and rich and delay the inevitable at least for themselves. Regular folks will just have to start understanding that the elites will be increasingly irrelevant to our future society and take steps to secure their own well-being.

  92. walrus says:

    A General who released a report on Afghanistan intelligence failings – through a think tank?
    It seems other people are concerned as Mr. Kiracofe is, about the blurring of public and private interests.

  93. anon says:

    The Ronbo guy is the same guy who wanted to assassinate Bill Clinton

  94. rfjk says:

    Our first republic was slaughtered in the Civil War. Our second is dying a slow death of a thousand self inflicted cuts. I believe the right question is will there be another republic or something else? What I do know is that the American story is not over by a long shot, regardless of the outcome.

  95. Ronbo says:

    Most people are pathetic. You do realize what a racist you are, don’t you? I looked at your site. Appalling. pl
    Posted by: Patrick Lang | 02 March 2010 at 08:57 AM
    Ronbo a “RACIST?”
    Yes, I’m proud racist because the new politically correct definition of racism is, “Anyone who disagrees with the Leftist Democrat Party line.”
    Speaking of racism, what do you think of Obama’s twenty years attendance at Rev. Wright’s anti-white, anti-Semitic and anti-American church?
    Your boy is a racist – In the traditional definition of the word.

  96. Ronbo says:

    The Ronbo guy is the same guy who wanted to assassinate Bill Clinton
    Posted by: anon | 05 March 2010 at 01:16 AM
    Actually, the jury found me guilty of “Threat Against The President” (USC 871) that carried five years in prison and rejected “Attempted Assassination” that would have been a life sentence. A juror later said the verdict was a compromise.
    BTW, the alleged Clinton assassination took place in January, 1994…Does anyone have video of the event? I can’t seem to locate any footage and neither can the U.S. Secret Service.

  97. Patrick Lang says:

    The president is not “my boy.” I can understand that you oppose his policies. I oppose some of them myself, but why is it necessary to have material on your site that calls him the “boss nigger?” pl

  98. different clue says:

    The economic components and dimensions of our problems are large enough that I also hope one or more of our fellow corresponders will attempt an essay about the economics
    of it all. The subject is big enough that it might take 2 or 3 commenters at least to tackle 2 or 3 aspects of it.
    At the very least, I hope someone will write an essay naming and shaming all the credentialed academic professors of economics who laid the academic groundwork and framework for the belief in Free Trade as a goal for the nations of the world to pursue. Since Free Trade helped to put us where we are today; we should at least know the name of every economist responsible for the concept so we can decide whether we want to take any more advice from any of those Free Trade economists and theoreticians.
    I also hope that knowledgeable lay commenters will not allow themselves to be intimidated by lack credentials, degrees, or professorships in economics.
    As a layman myself, might I be permitted to say that I am not impressed by the pretensions of economics to be a science. If it is a science, where is its body of agreed-upon knowledge, let alone unanimously shared and verified theory? Is there any body of accepted fact and theory agreed upon by the Keynsians
    and the Austrian School Hayekists and the Marxist economists? If physics were
    divided among Keynsian, Austrian, Marxist, etc. schools of physics; would anyone be able to take physics seriously? Let alone use it to fly to the moon and come back?
    Perhaps someone could also submit a post about any
    seriously reality-grounded school of economics, however
    “alternative”, which might offer a genuinely worthwhile
    analysis of how we got here economically speaking, and how we might get ourselves to someplace better.
    Man does not live by bread alone. But don’t tell that to the man who has no bread. As fresh millions of people run out of bread, they will want to know where the bread is. If we don’t have a real answer for them, the Tea Party will offer any old answer just to get them to join the Tea Party Parade. And that’s how the Tea Party
    can add to the danger of a dangerous situation.

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