What is this?

 "The 600 delegates at the National Tea Party Convention feel taxed to death, ignored by their elected representatives and the media, and appalled at the federal government's spending — and there are millions of Americans just like them. Their anger has helped claim some political scalps, and they vow to "take back America." What is unclear to them, and to the political establishment watching warily, is how they might do this."  Washpost


As an originalist libertarian constitutionalist I can only applaud this, but as an elitist Virginian of the old school I can only dread what might emerge.  Will there be room in this for all or only for the anointed?  pl


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51 Responses to What is this?

  1. JM says:

    I must admit that I’m a bit confused about the tea partiers’ concerns over federal spending.
    Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, enormous spending on two wars (while cutting taxes at the same time), introduction of Medicare Part D with no provisions to actually fund it, and absolutely zilch oversight of the “financial community” not only increased the national debt by over 5 trillion in a handful of years, but also left Obama’s administration with a financial disaster that God Himself would have a hard time repairing.
    In the face of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Obama spends public money in order to keep the economy from falling off a cliff. Deficits of course get bigger in the shorter to medium term. Without that spending, though, unemployment would be much higher than it is now.
    BUT NOW people are concerned about federal spending? Where were the tea partiers during the Bush years?

  2. HJFJR says:

    I have been watch with interest the Tea Party movement–it is a populists revolt against the progressivism of experts. It is nothing new, we have seen this before. Despite what the pundits state, this is not a conservative movement, it is a revolutionary movement seeking conservative ends.
    As a Virginian, I too am elitists, and wonder how the heated passions of popular sentiment can be directed towards useful ends.
    This dilemma is what Mr. Madison so eloquently wrote about in Federalists Number 10 http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

  3. R Whitman says:

    They sound more like the “Know Nothing Party” of the Nineteenth Century than the Twentieth Century Libertarians.

  4. Fred Strack says:

    The ‘people power’ of this movement is anger, which is rather easy for the likes of professional politicians to manipulate (Dick Armey and Tom Toncredo both come to mind). Only now these folks are concerned about federal spending? Only now the ‘conservatives’ in Congress are concerned about the balanced budget? There’s plenty wrong in D.C., there are some things right, too. Scrapping a few amendments to the Constitution? Perhaps these folks should read it, then look at Gitmo and see which parts have already been scrapped.

  5. confusedponderer says:

    What I would dread is that, given the chance, they might just out of sheer enthusiasm reflexively cut taxes, then, faced with low government revenues, feel compelled to do the fiscally conservative thing – cut government spending i.e. lay off employees (cops, firemen, teachers, clerks, administrative staff) and gut government into dysfunctionality and eventual failure – to then use that as an justification for more of the same. After all, failure only proves gain that government doesn’t work, it cannot possibly be because the original decisions have been misguided or short sighted.
    Iirc engineered failure was part of Gingrich’s ideas about how to get government small enough to drown it in a bathtub. Political ideologues who conjured that up are digging America’s potential grave. The assertion that government doesn’t work well anyway insidiously undercuts democracy. It leads to the misplaced belief that government is no longer needed as it is not capable to perform the functions entrusted to it anyway.
    The price of the privatisation of government functions is loss – of institutional memory. Government functions killed with the stroke of the a pen can easily take a decade or longer to rebuild. For an impression on the difficulties one only needs to look at US efforts to build institutions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    But never mind, government is the problem, not the solution. The right wing anti-government sentiment in the US is a mere reflex, it is an attitude, and neither a rational criticism or a constructive approach to rectify shortcomings.
    America doesn’t need ‘big government’ or ‘small government’. That are just slogans. America needs *good government*, and that to an extent does require size. The blather about of ‘big government’ has IMO been all but an excuse for capturing for private interests the tremendous sums invested by the public sector.
    Coming from Europe I can only roll my eyes about those poor persecuted Americans feeling taxed to death.
    While probably highly patriotic, the anti-government element of tea party is also irresponsibly foolish, and oblivious to that.

  6. PirateLaddie says:

    In the early days, yes — there will be room for just about everybody who cares to join.
    Unfortunately, if history does indeed rhyme, there will be a shake-out (“night of the long knives”? Ernst Rohm call your office!) once the movement achieves escape velocity and our corporate masters (Justice Roberts, your check is ready!!) decide to call in their chits. As Miss Bette advised, “Fasten your seat belts….”

  7. Bart says:

    I’m only going to give them 2 out of 3 on the complaints listed. They are not taxed to death, given their standard of living.

  8. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I have been saying for a long time now that we have a leadership and management crisis in this country, both inside and outside the government. Much of the leadership centers on self promotion and personal success. Wall street is but one example where the CEO class has become totally oblivious to the fact that their actions are bad for the country as a whole. The only “patriotism” they exhibit is for an open and free form of capitalism that enables their personal success. And this mentality has bled over to government, especially the Senate.
    People are pissed off at BOTH parties as the Washington Post article shows. And they are trying desperately to find leadership that responds to their needs.
    Right now, the movement has no core philosophy and has a lot of contradictory views. The most unifying point is a sense of frustration by white, middle-aged folks. And I think this happened because Karl Rove’s focus on winning elections above all else has burned the very people Republicans were supposed to be representing.
    This fellow seems typical…
    Jim Linn, an electrical engineer from San Diego, says that …the Constitution must be interpreted in ways that match his understanding of the Founders’ intent. That would mean scrapping a lot of the amendments, he acknowledges, but not Nos. 2, 10, 16 and 17.
    Interesting that he believes in KEEPING the 16th Amendment when they are being “crushed by taxes.” Or that is a mistake by the reporter. And exactly how is “scrapping amendments” in keeping with the views of the founders?
    Anger and frustration are ruling the day. And that leads to mob mentalities.

  9. Lysander says:

    Taxes are what fund the world’s most expensive military and allows it to span the globe. Are they ready to do without? If Republicans win in 2010 and 2012, will they still complain when the deficit continues to grow? What if McCain had won in ’08 and he too decided to save the big banks with trillions at taxpayer expense?
    My problem with the tea party is not that they are factually wrong. I think they are quite correct. But I do doubt their sincerity.

  10. J says:

    Look at ‘whom’ is/are ‘behind’ the Tea party organizing, and ‘whom’ is/are ‘behind’ Dick Armey/Tom Tancredo/associated parties. It’s the ‘whom’ that is the ‘key’.
    Follow the money, follow the money.

  11. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    I am keeping a distance from that crowd, at least for now. Probably some well intentioned folks among them but still: they seem to have a look that could turn on anyone, including me, and then its feets don’t fail me now.
    That said, I do greatly respect Ron Paul and believe that libertarianism, at this time in history, can act as counterweight to a government hopelessly out of balance and hurdling towards even more centralization, just as the Walrus mentioned in another thread. That aspect of our government is as worrisome if not more so than the Tea Party crowd.
    Long live Bruton Parish! Wait, I am Catholic now…but I still put the ladies of the Virginia DAR near the top of the American hierarchy. If the tea party folks would be willing to quietly listen to and take notes of historical lectures given by the ladies of the Virginia DAR, then such an act points in their favor. I wonder if any of those Tea party types are also members of the General Society of Colonial Wars? Good litmus test, perhaps.

  12. JohnH says:

    My thoughts return to retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler and the attempted business coup against Roosevelt. The tea baggers could unwittingly serve the same function as the unpaid veterans of 1934.

  13. Redhand says:

    The first comment by JM and the third by R. Whitman reflect my feelings about the “tea partiers.”
    People who will listen to a racist know-nothing like Tom Tancredo, or Sarah Palin, that sleaziest of political grifters, are less a “political movement” than an angry mob. This is pure Bill the Butcher stuff.

  14. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Regarding this topic, I applaud what you applaud and dread what you dread and for the same reasons.
    I also share CWZ’s nervousness about people who want to “scrap amendments” and who particularly favor the 16th and 17th [two of the most mischievously subversive toward the original intent of the founders].
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  15. Andy says:

    I think your analysis is correct. The tea party movement is pretty much a mob right now. All the outlying ideologies have gravitated toward it. I suspect it will implode like the Reform Party did in the 1990’s as the various factions fight to control it.
    The anger is undeniable, however. This is a group of people who don’t believe that the political establishment represents their interests. As both political parties move away from the center and become more programmatic, there will be more people in this country that will feel alienated by the political system. If that trend continues, it doesn’t bode well for the future.
    On the issue of deficits, I think this is our nation’s primary medium-long term threat. We have run deficits for an entire generation – for my entire life, in fact – except for that blip during Clinton’s administration. That blip, unfortunately, was an anomaly borne of the confluence of a bubble economy, decreased military spending and a slowing in the rate of government growth among other factors. It’s a set of conditions we aren’t likely to see in the future.
    The political cycle over this 40-year period of deficit spending is that the party out of power takes the role of deficit hawk. Once that party gains power, their priorities change and deficits take a back seat to implementing their agenda. This explains why deficits continue no matter which party controls the White House and/or Congress.
    The problem, of course, is that deficit spending is inherently unsustainable. The national debt also benefits from the miracle of compound interest which makes the problem worse over time. The CBO report and testimony that came out last week illustrates the problem we face as a nation. Even once the near term stimulus spending ends, we’ll still be running annual deficits of $700 billion a year and that assumes all the Bush and Obama tax cuts are rolled back, which isn’t likely to happen (President Obama for example, wants to keep most of the Bush tax cuts except those on people with high incomes). It’s more likely our deficits will be closer to a trillion annually with interest payments near a trillion as well. In short, we are facing government insolvency and the effects of that will be severe and far-reaching.
    So this is not about, as some here have put it, about getting rid of government and cutting essential services like police, schools and the fire department. The feds don’t pay for those and even if they did they wouldn’t cost 25% of our GDP, which is what the federal government is spending.
    Finally (sorry about the length), the fiscal problem has grown so bad that the solutions offered by both political parties cannot solve it. They are like dinosaurs, stuck in the mire of ideologies that lost relevance decades ago. We are going to have to face the fact that we are heading into a period of national austerity that will require both significant cuts in federal spending along with significant tax increases. As a nation we’ve let this unsustainable fiscal situation brew for so long that working at the margin and half-measures are no longer sufficient.

  16. lina says:

    I’m not sure if the tea partiers are libertarians or not. And what exactly is a “libertarian constitutionalist” in 2010? I listened to quite a few of these people scream at the healthcare townhall meetings last summer saying “the constitution does not give government any jurisdiction over healthcare.” My question to them is: When someone gets hit by a car and gets taken to a hospital by an ambulance, who pays for that? Or maybe it is their position that the person just remain bleeding in the street? I really want to know. If the government has no right to make people have health insurance, do we just leave people to die in the street? If the tea partiers get their wish and gain real power (assuming that’s their wish), what is their position on this?

  17. GregB says:

    Col. Lang,
    The tea-party movement seems to be largely a new re-branding of the old GOP. It seems to be a coalition of far-right Christians, anti-immigrant activists, so-called libertarians(the kind of libertarians that believe in warrantless wiretapping)and an assortment of anti-Obama birthers and other rampant Obama haters.
    It seems to me to be a cynical ploy to push the same old far right Republican agenda while detaching itself somewhat from the deeply unpopular GOP brand name.
    Here’s a link to Crooks and Liars that gives name to some of the same old names in GOP politics and activist political Christianism.
    Reports from inside indicate that Joseph Farah the head of World Net Daily was cheered after his diatribe about how the need to get to the bottom President Obama’s birth certificate issue.
    Former Congressman Tancredo also addressed the need to institute a poll test to keep ignorant urban dwellers from voting, because that is how he feels President Obama was elected.

  18. jamzo says:

    how far can this round of populism go?
    dick armey and his freedomworks has played a major role in amplifying and organizing teabaggers
    armey successfully harnessed populist energy with the contract for america that he wrote for the republicans in 1994
    Ross Perot provided the “political outsider” leadership and the money needed to make “populism” a major player in 1992
    at some point the teabaggers need a nationally recognized “political outsider” leader and a revenue stream for their populist fervor to spread

  19. Bobo says:

    Changes in our government have always come in increments so I propose the following gets on the agenda with my fellow frustrated Americans.
    “Enact a law or regulation that any debt incurred by our government must be held by its citizens.”

  20. Robert in SB says:

    The Tea baggers are Rubes. they will serve the Far Right, like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, well meaning Rubes who have no idea what they serve as-cannon fodder, the same way evangelicals did for Bush 2.0. They will be turned out and and ignored once they have served their purpose. Every conversation I have had with them seems to be ultimately focused on the skin color of the 44th President. Ask most of them what they stand for, their Platform,and they can only recite talking points fed to them by Fox news. They have no ideals that are based in anything other than fear.

  21. Fred Strack says:

    What you are describing is happening in Michigan right now. The stage was set for that by Governer Engler’s end of term tax cuts while in office. To quote the state archives:
    “As Governor Engler puts it, “Michigan has been transformed from the broken buckle of the Rust Belt to the turbocharged engine powering the High Performance Heartland.””
    The only thing turbo charged has been the exodus of jobs and the economic effects they provide the people of this state.

  22. BillWade,NH says:

    I think we’ll see more and more of this: You have a heart attack or something similar and need an ambulance. In the end, all’s well but then you receive a invoice for $500 for your ambulance ride and you think to yourself, “I thought my property taxes were for services like this”. Your no good son winds up in prison but you still love the guy. But, you know he’s in a private corporation prison and you have to go to work and pay taxes to keep him there. You live in Tampa and you love, why I don’t know, the Bucs. The owner of the Bucs wants a new stadium and he wants you to pay for it. Some are ok with it, others aren’t so a vote is scheduled. Then you get your property tax invoice and it’s several hundred dollars less than last year’s. You think to yourself, ok – maybe the stadium isn’t such a bad idea and you vote for it. A week later you get another property tax invoice that’s higher than last year’s with a letter attached that says, “darn it all, we hired a private company to do the invoices and they sure messed it up, here’s the real invoice”.
    I suspect that soon anytime your local police or fire department gets involved with you, you’ll get an invoice. It will be explained to you that your taxes only cover their salaries and if something does happen, you have to pay for it.

  23. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Were you also asking “what is this” to identify the thumbnail picture you display? I believe it is a photo taken from the rear of the Robert E. Lee monument at Gettysburg.
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  24. Mark Logan says:

    The policies of the people running the economy have for quite some time been lowering the standard of living for the middle class. I see this as a very badly focused reaction to that change.
    That the rage is so heavily focused on Obama and Democrats seems but a reflection of where most of them get their information,
    for the most part.

  25. Paul Escobar says:

    This isn’t different from the circus of leftists who rallied during Bush Jr.’s reign, orgasming at Grant park when Obama won on election night.
    We all know what happened aftwewards.
    The revolution will be co-opted & undermined…

  26. Byron Raum says:

    I feel compelled to add my voice to rick’s. I tend to spend a lot of time in an environment where the implicit assumption is that government is bad and private industry is good. The government is seen as ludicrous, wasteful, etc.
    However, although I used to think the same way, I have changed my mind. I believe it is obvious that the biggest inefficiency comes from government turning around and giving a lot of money to private industry. The industry then sees it as a cash cow and tries to get as much money out as it can – not surprising, in retrospect. This is true of banks, this is true of the myriad defense industries, this is true of pretty much every for-profit commercial organization that deals with the government.
    The fault doesn’t lie with the government. It lies with the people who deride the government while robbing it.

  27. Nancy K says:

    I so agree with JM, where were all these mainly middle age and older, white, angry, teabaggers when Bush was president and was running our country into financial ruin. I quess it didn’t bother them as much when the president was white.
    I find them apalling, and ignorant to boot.
    Being from California I’m sure they consider me an elitist, maybe not, they probably think I’m just a fool.
    I fear that even though they are a small minority, their anger and hate can cause a lot of problems. As politicians who are fearful by nature often listen most acutely to the squeaky wheels.

  28. dilbert dogbert says:

    “As an originalist libertarian constitutionalist I can only applaud this, but as an elitist Virginian of the old school I can only dread what might emerge.”
    Col. Lang,
    I can understand your point of view and I could see joining you if we could go back to the original 13 states and the economy of those states. Time has passed however and we are where we are.

  29. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. That is the Virginia Monument at Gettysburg. Across the field is the Codori barn and just to the left is the clump of trees that was the focus of Longstreet’s concentric attack.
    I find the tea party crowd to be a joke when considered in comparison to the men who attacked across that field. pl

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    I think the federal government is too strong and continuously grasping for more power over our lives.
    That does not mean that I am a secessionist or that i want to abolish Social Security or Medicare nor am I opposed to a reasonable reorganization of medical insurance so that all can be covered. Simple justice and common sense demand such things. pl

  31. Patrick Lang says:

    Since I do not think of The Union as a union of the people but rather of the states, I do not favor the 16th and 17th amendments, but they exist and are the law of the land. pl

  32. I suppose as the weeks roll on we will be able to make a closer analysis of the Tea Party thing. Who are the “leaders”? Where is the money coming from? What is their ideology? Etc.
    Just pawns in the game, IMO.
    With or without them it seems to me this country is moving toward Fascism, an “American” type one might argue. This was set in motion in the 1930s here
    and Ike warned us…
    Meanwhile, Sinclair Lewis’ classic novel “It Can’t Happen Here” (1935) seems appropriate to the present times. He made a careful and thorough study of Italian Fascism to prepare for writing the novel. And he looked around the US with a perceptive, if not prophetic, eye…

  33. Jose says:

    IMHO, Tea Party = Ross Perot/Reform Party when Pat Buchanan took control and destroyed it, only this time it’s on steroids.
    The only thing they might accomplish is reelected Foolbama in the next election by dividing the opposition.
    I really wish there was party that would tell the American people we need to raise taxes, cut entitlements, and give up our Empire if we really want to fix our mess.
    I guaranteed the Virginia delegation will seeking Federal money for fix all the problems associated with this weekend weather, just don’t lecture Florida after we get hit by a Hurricane…

  34. seydlitz89 says:

    That was great.

  35. confusedponderer says:

    The fault doesn’t lie with the government. It lies with the people who deride the government while robbing it.

    You will be hard pressed to find a crook who actually respects the people he rips off.

  36. JM says:

    Andy: “The problem, of course, is that deficit spending is inherently unsustainable.”
    With all due respect, this is simply not true. Sustainability of the national debt is a function of the relative size of the debt (i.e., annual interest payments) compared to annual GDP.
    The US government can maintain a debt greater than zero effectively forever.
    All the talk about how the government needs to “tighten its belt” like American families have to do misses a couple of critical points:
    1) American families cannot raise taxes.
    2) American families cannot increase the money supply (i.e., “create money”) through monetary policy.

  37. rfjk says:

    Come on. The tea party is a circus act by ignorant citizens. Take away corporate or private federal welfare and social spending and the whining will slam past the stratosphere.
    How many of these brave crusaders will gladly forgo social security & medicare and take full financial responsibility for their parents, or for themselves? How about educational loans and school aid? What about all that federal aid channeled to states they would have to pay for, instead of the feds?
    These brainless, movements are pregnant with hypocrisy and the Col is quite right to feel “dread what might emerge.”

  38. Bart says:

    Lina, the Constitution could indeed provide for health care by way of the preamble clause “promote the general welfare”; put there by Morris of PA I believe.

  39. jerseycityjoan says:

    I guess I will be the brave one (or the fool) and admit that while I am no Tea Bagger, I salute them for leaving their passivity behind and making their voices heard.
    I’m just angry and dismayed as the Tea Baggers.
    I think many people are, but they just don’t know what to do about it, so we all end up saying and doing nothing.
    I think many Americans would be even angrier if they realized how little their years of dutifully paying taxes will help them in times of trouble.
    Chances are if they’re unemployed with no minor children and finally run out of money, there will be nothing for them (except food stamps and possibly Medicaid). Not a penny in cash assistance, homeless and broke unless someone helps them out. Since unemployment is predicted to remain above 7% for the next four years, many people who never paid much attention to such things will discover for themselves what it means to be falling with only a postage-stamp sized social safety net to catch them.
    Yet look at other first world nations and you see that for paying an additional 10-15% in taxes they have a far superior social services network. Cash support for long-term unemployment, no crushing medical bills, no $100,000+ in student loans. Sounds like a good deal to me, where can I sign up?
    We’re the richest country in the world but who would know it by how we take care of our own people?
    We should all be out on the streets, we have a lot to protest about.

  40. Fred Strack says:

    Col., the tea party crowd is a joke compared to the men who were on Cemetery Ridge , too.

  41. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. One of those in 6th US Corps was my great grandfather. He was a rifle company first sergeant then. he used to tell dad that on that day he was afraid for a while that there would only be enough trees for the officers. pl

  42. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Prof. Kiracofe
    You nail it again, imo. Like Lewis, Michael Ledeen and others from his school of thought have studied Italian fascism in depth. But, alas, their goals differ from that of Lewis, and they became admirers of certain aspects of Fascism. Now their meme is deeply implanted within the USG, either consciously or unconsciously. Here is the word according to Wiki:
    “Earlier in his career, Ledeen authored Universal Fascism: The Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928-1936, published in 1972 and now out of print. The book, which was his doctoral dissertation, was the first work to explore Italian leader Benito Mussolini’s efforts to create a Fascist international in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Ledeen follows Italian historian Renzo de Felice in drawing a distinction between “fascism-regime” and “fascism-movement”, and seems to approve of at least one aspect of the latter, saying “fascism nevertheless constituted a political revolution in Italy. For the first time, there was an attempt to mobilize the masses and to involve them in the political life of the country”, and describing the fascist state as “a generator of energy and creativity”.[1] Ledeen continued his studies in Italian Fascism with a study of the takeover of Fiume by Italian irredentist forces under Gabriele d’Annunzio, who Ledeen argued was the proto-type for Mussolini.
    Ledeen is a strong admirer of Niccolò Machiavelli, whom he regards as one of the greatest political thinkers. In Ledeen’s view, Machiavelli combined democratic idealism and the necessary political realism to secure and defend idealism in perfect measure.”
    (end of quote)
    As for a uniquely American style of fascism, the drive towards an over-centralized state appears to exist in both established parties at this time in history, including among those who consider themselves “progressive.” (certainly not Glenn Greenwald, though!) as well as among status quo Republicans who, once you remove their masks, are imperialists to the core.
    Best I can tell, many of histories’ greatest horrors trace back to the emergence of a leviathan state. Or to word differently, the more centralized a government becomes, the greater the likelihood a catastrophe looms on the horizon. One can assume a direct correlation. Or to word differently again, Ike was right.

  43. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    And don’t forget the Federals at Fredricksburg. Or the soldiers from Illinois at “dead angle” at Kennesaw. Quite frankly, I don’t see how they did it.
    Shelby Foote has a beautiful and prescient quote at the end of Vol. 1 of his work focusing on “mid 19th century American History”. Here is part:
    “One word more perhaps will not be out of place. I am a Mississippian. Through veterans I knew are all dead now…I hope I have recovered the respect they had for their opponents until Reconstruction lessened and finally killed it. Biased is that last thing I would be; I yield to no one in my admiration for heroism and ability, no matter which side of the line a man was born and fought on when the war broke out, fourscore and seventeen years ago. If pride in the resistance my forebears made against the odds has leaned me to any degree in their direction, I hope it will be seen to amount to no more, in the end, than the average American’s normal sympathy for the underdog in the fight.”
    (end of quote)
    Foote really does bring out the humanity, bravery, foibles, and all, on both sides of that searing catastrophe. He does no mythologizing or romanticizing for either, best I can tell. His work is narrative history at its best. It is not academic polemics, imo.

  44. Patrick Lang says:

    Foote was a poet. At joint reunions long after the war, the two sides would shake hands the first day and throw rocks at each other if the camporee went on too long.
    Wars are not football games. pl

  45. N. M. Salamon says:

    An intersting analysis of the Supremes and voting [fiasco in my opinion]:
    top article in his blog.
    Wonder if it has anything to dfo with the Tea Paqrty movement?

  46. Fred Strack says:

    Col. Thanks for the anecdote. Lots of sergeants in my family tree, not too many officers. Seems the last one anyone admits too was on Washington’s staff and got caught spying on the British. I believe his sword is on display in a museum in CT, though I only have a faulty memory for the name.

  47. Patrick Lang says:

    Our great grand father appears in imagination as the Vermont officer who bayonets Devereux in the Mule Shoe. “Death Piled Hard.” He fought at Spotsylvania. pl

  48. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Re: spectator sports like football
    As a recovering SEC-oholic, I have come to believe, the hard way, that spectator sports are doing more harm to our nation than help, including, most particularly in the South. Southerners take pride in saying “football is a religion”. Well, if so, then its idolatry, not so much for the players but for the spectators who place way too much emphasis on simply associating with a team. Like someone is a bad ass because he watched a football game and his team won. Spare me. [that phenomenon is not specific to the South only, by a long shot)
    Southern football may have played a significant role at one time. Like Bear Bryant once said, “Sam Bam Cunningham did more to integrate the South than MLK”. (or something like that). But I don’t think the essence of a culture should rest upon Spurrier’s fun and gun, Meyer’s spread, or Saban’s 3-4 with cornerbacks who must play man. And of course it has turned into an entertainment monster. But damn if I couldn’t go into stream of consciousness re: SEC, actually I still can with the best of them, but it is all an illusion. And, if one is not careful, it’s a cultural trap that takes your focus off what is important — like Foote or hell, our foreign policy.
    Plus, on a more general level, a culture addicted to spectator sports probably portends some kind of decadence. Honestly, it is a serious problem, imo.
    And I cannot help but believe that those who want to create much mischief with our nation’s foreign policy are delighted that Americans waste untold hours “participating” in spectator sports.
    As an SEC-oholic, I have been able to cut way back. At most only attend one game a year. Biggest problem now is I check out recruiting but only read the headlines. But my problem is I immediately can figure out the story by just reading the headlines and then go into stream of consciousness mode. Total waste. Misplaced priorities. I have actually seen it contribute to ruining careers of amazingly talented people.
    When I die and if I wake up in Sanford Stadium in Athens, that probably means, in my case, that I am in purgatory. (others would see it as heaven) Not bad, but, in my case, it has to mean I didn’t learn something. Of course, if I wake up in the Swamp, then I will know I was in hell. (that was joke, actually I am fond of Fla. in part b/c of the evil genius Steve Spurrier but, as I say, I can go into stream of consciousness with this stuff.)
    Proud to say I wrote this during the super bowl but watching pro football was never the problem.

  49. Fred Strack says:

    Sidney, interesting points. one of my anthropology professors actually talked about America’s animal worship – of course starting off with the Gators. It was quite an eye opener. As to the workplace I always thought my own employer could increase productivity by banning internet access to ESPN and other sports websites.

  50. N. M. Salamon says:

    While the Tea Party issue is argued in deficit and constitutional terms [from what I gather] in the long run – 3+ years, if main election cycle, or short run next congessional in a year, the outlook for longer terms is defined by NET ENERGY GAIN ON INVESTMENT.
    Please peruse all the pdf-s no audio yet at:
    If you do not have time to read all, the most important for the future is:
    especially pages 33+ where the cost of finding/producing of fossil fuels impacts on all other expendiotures by society [of the world, USA included]
    There is no solution to the above, the ;limitation is the 2nd law of thermodynamics!

  51. Charles I says:

    Clifford,novelist whose work touch on this theme was Advise and Consent, former UP Senate reporte Allen Drury’s 1959 novel about the Senate’s consideration of the nomination of a controversial individual as Secretary of State. He wrote a series of novels based on his observations, and then a series about presidential politics as well.

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