22 February 2011

Admitting Bias

A while back, I commented on another Civil War history related blog about the left's history of violence. I believe the comments followed some discussion about the Tea Party movement. My comment upset one of the historians who posts there and he suggested it was actually the right which was to blame for most of the violence in modern America.

We witnessed numerous false allegations against Tea Party members last year and outrage expressed at some of their signs, comments, etc. How quickly the tables can turn. Funny, I'm not hearing the same outrage expressed by educators and those in academia over what's going on in Wisconsin. However, at least some in the media have now admitted "liberal bias" against the Tea Party movement. If we could just get some historians to do the same.


Michael Aubrecht said...

Nice series of post on this teacher debacle my friend. I can't believe the greed that I see going on in Wisconsin when so many people are struggling. (I also wanted to add that I have been very transparent in my criticism of the Tea Party and wish that more historians would be open too. Whether one agrees on issues or not, we should all have the guts to admit our opinions publicly.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Michael. Remember one thing, were it not for the Tea Party movement, and those whom they inspired, Congress and state legislatures would still be controlled by radical progressives. I don't think that would be a good thing for our country.

Susan Hathaway said...

Best sign from a Wisconsin Tea Party rally last weekend..."SORRY WE'RE LATE, GOVERNOR...WE HAD TO WORK!"

from NC said...

Honetly I can't figure out what the Tea Party stands for. I suppose I would be more symathetic to accusations of bias against them if I could figure out what it is they really stand for.

Smaller government? Where were they when the Bush led GOP spent a trillion on a misadventure of a war, nationalized our banks, gave out the largest corporate welfare in world history, and signed into law the largest expansion of unfunded entitlements since the Great Society? At home supporting Bush's policies, that's where most of them were I suspect. There were a few Tea Party activists then, but as a movement it seems to have its ranks swollen and been co-opted by people who watched passively as the so called Neo Conservative movement derailed the GOP only to lash out at the Dem takeover of '08.

Honestly, what does this Tea Party movement stand for? When I ask my Tea Party friends, the answer I usually get is "Smaller government". Setting aside the not so small government errors of GOP past, I say great -- as a former military officer, I can assure you Mr. Tea Party supporter that the largest part of the federal discretionary budget is the military. How much should we cut that? Oh, heavens, no. We must spend $530 billion and maintain an active duty headcount of 1.5 million. Huh? Smaller government does not apply to one of the the largest sectors of government? How's that working out for the Tea Party?

When the Tea Party (not the authentic nucleus, but the co-opted former GOP types) get serious about cutting government, I'll lend them my support. Let Europe and Japan defend themselves; they can afford it. Station our our troops at home and re-think what our military is supposed to do. Let the military defend the USA, and stop rattling our saber around the world. Without a cold war to wage, we can improve our security while making deep cuts to the military. Combatting terrorism does not require a bloated, outdated cold war footing.

(Climbs down from soap box.)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

What they stand for is easily accessible by reading their own websites, statements, and watching what some of the politicians they backed are doing.

I share your disgust w/Bush - he certainly was no conservative, but Obama makes Bush look like an amateur when it comes to big government. You can't seriously believe there's any real comparison.

"I can assure you Mr. Tea Party supporter that the largest part of the federal discretionary budget is the military."

So what? It should be. That is the Federal government's first and most important constitutional function. It's not the so-called discretionary spending that has brought us to this point. It is entitlements. You know that.

That being said, I would acknowledge that there is plenty of room in the Def. Dept. for cutting waste, fraud, etc.

I also agree w/you on Europe and Japan.

"Let the military defend the USA, and stop rattling our saber around the world. Without a cold war to wage, we can improve our security while making deep cuts to the military. Combating terrorism does not require a bloated, outdated cold war footing."

I'm w/you there too. They should be guarding our Southern (and Northern) borders.

from NC said...

I've read the Tea Party positions. What I mean by not understanding what they stand for is that actions speak louder than words, and from what I’ve seen for the majority of self-identified Tea Party folks the actions don't match the words. As I wrote, there seems to be a small nucleus of the Tea Party movement, the ones active in the Bush years, whose actions seem to match their words. On the other hand we have the co-opted movement of the Tea Party preaching small government, but who support a military-industrial complex that is vastly larger than we need. Ike saw it coming, and he was uncannily prophetic. They’re also perfectly happy preaching federalism out of one side of their mouths and wanting to thrust their way of thinking on people using the force of federal law with the other side. For instance, the federal war on drugs is an unmitigated, counterproductive disaster. Yet when California takes modest steps to legalize a crop many of our Founding Fathers grew, cannabis, right wing authoritarians go into hysterics. What would decriminalization of cannabis accomplish except increased tax revenue, lower crime, and easing of law enforcement and corrections resources? In other words, "I love States Rights except when a state does anything I think it shouldn't do in which case I'll have the feds tell them what to do." I’ve never smoked the stuff, but I’m not about to tell others they can’t as long as they stay off the roads and keep their smoke out of the faces of others.

As far as what’s breaking the bank right now, 54% of income tax goes revenue goes to current and past military spending. Payroll taxes vs. SSA outlays are problematic when the Baby Boomers turn senior, but they are not yet contributing to the mess we are in right now. (I’m not discussing the merit of the nanny state, but on a pragmatic level the largest entitlement programs have so far been revenue positive or revenue neutral with some exceptions. Of course, I fully expect the government to be paralyzed with fear of touching these programs until it’s a disaster.)

“They should be guarding our Southern (and Northern) borders.”

While we should step up our border protection, the borders are vast and the people wanting to come for work are determined and clever. I think there’s a more effective way to handle the illegal immigration problem.

I don’t know about VA, but here in NC the business interests are highly complicit in the illegal labor market. Whenever I contract with a landscaper, pressure washer, home builder, etc., I talk to a citizen who then has illegal immigrants do his work for him. It’s not just the small LLC’s and independent home builders either. I spoke to illegal workers who were framing my house for the contractor. They explained to me how the big companies know how to get around the system to hire them. They know exactly how many hours they can work without requiring documentation. One of them told me that in addition to working for the framing subcontractor full time, a week before he worked 10 hours at Food Lion unloading trucks, 10 hours at Wal-Mart doing the same, and 10 hours spraying chemicals for a national lawn service. If we need this labor because native born citizens don’t want the jobs, that’s fine. Let’s just not do the ‘wink, wink, nod, nod’ game and get that labor force illicitly. We need a better guest worker program and serious teeth in laws to prevent businesses taking the matters into their own hands to get low cost unskilled labor.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

NC - I agree with most of your last comment, except your dismissal of the entitlement issue vs. defense spending. I think its accurate to state that the vast majority of economists, left and right, acknowledge that the various entitlement programs are what will eventually bankrupt us, though I agree we are spending defense money we don't need to.

I would add, however, that the Tea Party movement becomes rather diverse beyond the economic issues. There are Republicans (mostly), but also Libertarians and even some Democrats involved, as well as a good number of independents and political neophytes. You are misreading by lumping them altogether with these views.

Thanks for reading and for taking the time to post your thoughts.