Now that I'm done teaching my summer course, some days I find myself at loose ends. I'm at home this week with Lady C., our hound, and we spend our days reading and playing Boggle™. The problem is, of course, she has trouble using words of more than one syllable, let alone spelling them. So it gets boring, and when things get boring the conversation inevitably turns to politics.
Even my hound is disgusted by the Tea Party farce. And that's because although she cannot spell, she has an instinctive quantitative sense. And she realizes that anyone who takes the Tea Party movement seriously is just not understanding the math.
When "grassroots" organizers such as Russo, Marsh, and Associates (founders of Tea Party Express™), Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform™, and the notoriously insipid Family Research Council™ (among the co-founders of the National Tea Party Federation™) set this thing up, I'll bet they never dreamed it would succeed like it has.
That's because most if us have yet to adjust to how complicit the media has become in treating astroturf as "news." Despite the fact that the commercial news outlets by and large wouldn't mention torture, and have conveniently forgotten that we were lied into starting a devastating war, they fawn over the Tea Partiers, follow every move of their Pageanteer-in-Chief, and lavish attention on any illogical argument that is offered. Network news broadcasts and NPR have been all over the FoxNews™-orchestrated rallies and their re-warmed anti-tax slogans. Eight years ago, I remember I would come home and watch in vain for coverage of huge anti-war marches -- and admit to having naïvely expected something like the coverage the tiny Tea Party has routinely received.
Of course, Lady C. now lives in California, which is where the anti-tax contagion started, back in those days of Governor Reagan and Howard Jarvis. She doesn't remember them, but occasionally when we are walking in the park, she will sniff the wind, make a face and put her tail between her legs as she tries to turn around and go home. Could it be?
In any case, the dog understands that since the budgetary cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is around $1.05 trillion, what the Tea Party is screaming about is chump change. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities chart above shows, war costs dwarf the things that they are complaining about like TARP ($151 billion in 2009), or even Medicare and Medicaid ($676 billion in 2009). To say nothing of the Minerals Management Service at the Department of the Interior ($0.348 billion in 2010) or the National Endowment for the Arts ($0.155 billion in 2009). Which all, of course, are smaller than regular Defense spending ($782 billion in 2009).
So what these people should really be doing is protesting is the size of the Defense budget and the additional spending on two wars through annual "Emergency Supplementals" and "Emergency Budget Amendments." And yet...
It would be silly to say that my dog was smarter than those Tea Party members, the equivalent of saying an actor is stupid for speaking like an Elizabethan nobleman. Still, in this case, I prefer my dog's inarticulacy to their theatrical protests, and those of the "deficit hawks" who have forgotten that their troubles came from being such "hawks" eight years ago.
She smelled something bad this morning, and I barely got her to cross the street into the park. I don't know what it was, but when we got home she clobbered me at Boggle™. She got 29 points alone for the words "economic" "muscle" "masquerading" and "protest."