Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party’

Wingnut Right Blather is like an Illegal Drug

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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Ted Nugent and Glen Beck have been out in the Rapid City area at the behest of a couple factions in the socalled TEA PARTY there.   I have read most of what got into the RC Journal story and it seems that these characters and the TEA Party are like an illegal drug.

The Beck, Nugent, TEA Party blather is crystal meth rhetoric.  It is cheap and apparently generates a druggy kind of rabid enthusiasm and makes their brains fall out. (Note, if you want to see the real dangers of actual crystal meth )

A cartoon that sort of sums up the incredible inconsistencies and irrelevancy of these wingnut loons was in the ARGUS a day or two ago.

It can be found at  Matt Davies  “Oh Chute”

I really don’t know if these loons understand how their propaganda rings so hollowly or irrelevantly or they just don’t care since the perceive it as attacking  Obama, Pelosi, and Democrats and that means irrelevancy, lack of logic, ignorance of reality, history, and facts are not seen as problems.

)))) Stay tuned (but not tuned up) — Doug Wiken

The Cycle of Regimes

Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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cincinnatus1The classical philosophers called it the cycle of regimes.  An obscure polis rises out of its obscurity.  We happy few, we band of brothers, kick the snot of out all the other brother bands in the neighborhood, and become great.  Bred as much by the want of bread as by by eating it, the generation of heroes is leavened with a taste for exertion and is all but immune to the charms of luxury.  They seek power for freedom first, and dominion only because it is the proper ornament for their sense of honor.

Power, however, transforms poverty into plenty.  The sons and grandsons of the great generation shed their forefather’s virtues like winter coats under a noonday sun.  Plenty consumes the power gave birth to it.  The blood of ancient heroes nourishes itself on its own seed corn.  Shadows grow ominously both within the city and around its borders.  Fatted bureaucrats and comfortable guildsmen become alarmed.  They are willing to do anything to restore the health of the regime, as long as it doesn’t involve exercise or a diet.  They may fear the coming darkness, but they hate anyone or anything that speaks with the voice of their ancestors.

Okay, so I got a bit carried away there.  I will let you guess how the tale turns out.  Just right now it looks a lot like our story.  From the 15th century to the present time, Europe grew in power.  It grew at a magnificent rate.  It transformed the world by its growth.  The three great wars of the last century were perfect testimony to the stamina of that power.

In the last half century, things have changed.  Consider the news from France.  Roger Cohen at the New York Times has this:

Labor unions are mobilized, high school kids are out in force, oil refineries are struggling and more than one million people have taken to the streets as France rises to confront the government’s decision to lift the retirement age to 62 from 60. Yes, you read that right: to 62 (and gradually at that.)…

I found Christine Lagarde, the French economy minister, in a combative mood. “Yes, we are going to hold firm,” she told me. Then she gave me the math: “There are 15 million pensioners — every year we add another 700,000 — and already 1.5 million of them, or 10 percent, receive pensions financed by debt. We just can’t go on like that.”

The French now live 15 years longer on average than they did in 1950. They exist in a globalized economy where the Chinese don’t get the notion of retirement. As for financing lifestyles on credit, I suggest the French strikers ask debt-deluged Americans about the wisdom of that — and the Greeks about unbalanced budgets.

If you are financing pensioners with debt, you are eating your seed corn.  Everyone ought to be able to see that this is unsustainable.  The French government sees it, but it has to resist a very powerful wave of offended entitlement.  Greece is much further down the road to disaster, and accordingly the wave of protest has been all the more furious and violent.

So where are we Americans?  Our great pension program, social security, which we have pillaged for decades, is now going into the red.  Just at this moment, when trillions have been spent to rescue a faltering economy, the President and Congress pushed through a health care reform bill that will add trillions more to the bill.  All of this is being financed through debt.  Our budget deficit this year is what?  Well over a trillion dollars.

History isn’t destiny.  There is no reason that we cannot recognize the error of our ways and correct it.  The United States is in many ways in a better position than our European allies.  We have a Tea Party movement.  The push for fiscal responsibility is coming from below here.

The fatted bureaucrats and comfortable guildsmen (see unions) have so far been protected with benefits that most Americans do not enjoy.  They and their allies in the dreamy media hate anyone and everyone who says that we can’t go on like this.  Maybe, just maybe, the virtues of our fathers are not yet dead.

It’s all about Obama

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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isaynoThere is a saying among political junkies that all politics is local.  That is the sort of conventional wisdom that is always true, until it isn’t.  It is abundantly clear that politics isn’t local anywhere, even where it is.

Local conditions in Delaware have very likely cost the Republicans a Senate seat.  But those local conditions would be otherwise were it not for the national phenomenon of the Tea Party movement.  If this were not a very unusual year, Mike Castle would be the Republican nominee.

Likewise, we can look at West Virginia, Mountain Momma.  Governor Joe Manchin figured he was engineering himself a U.S. Senate seat when he arranged for a special election this year to replace Robert Byrd.  He had every reason to think so.  He is a very popular figure in that uneven slice of real estate.  Yet he is now a few points behind John Raese in two recent polls.  It’s not something in the water flowing out of those pock marked hills.  It’s the wave rolling beneath these spacious skies.

Then there is Connecticut.  Democrat Richard Blumenthal ought to have a lock on the Senate race.  He has a 51/41 percent approval in a recent poll.  By contrast his opponent Linda McMahon (a World Federation of Wrestling Executive) has a 43/42 percent unfavorable rating.  Yet McMahon has pulled into a statistical tie (three points behind).  That means that the Democrats will have to funnel more money to Connecticut, instead of funneling Connecticut money elsewhere.  It also means, more importantly, that Republicans might actually bag that Senate seat.

In Washington State Democrat Patty Murray’s lead over Dino Rossi has evaporated.  Russ Feingold in Wisconsin finally dared to appear on stage with President Obama.  He might as well.  When you are seven points or more behind in three polls, you are liberated to try anything.

None of these Democrats would be in trouble if all politics were local.  In fact, this year is an unambiguous referendum on the last two years of Democratic rule.  The people look to be about to vote with their fingers.  If the Republicans take the House and take or come close to taking the Senate, that is a decisive rejection of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

The situation has been clear since January.  Marion Berry, who occupies the Arkansas House district where yours truly was born, decided not to run for reelection when he realized that Obama just didn’t get it.  He and other Democrats tried to get Obama to recognize that they might be facing another disaster, like 1994 when the Republicans captured control of both houses of Congress.  To no avail.

“They just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

Well, yeah, now the Democrats have him.  In Arkansas District 1, which Berry gave up, Republican Rick Crawford is running sixteen points ahead.  For the first time in living memory, Arkansas’s House delegation will be dominated by Republicans.  Damned if Obama wasn’t right.  He has made a difference.

Faking it, Buying it

Posted: Monday, September 20, 2010 at 3:53 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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The RC Journal and the Mitchell Daily Republic have given the wingnut right in the TEA Party plenty of glowing coverage and refused to cover the Koch Industry money and workers behind the TEA Party “movement” as reported in the New Yorker which said that 50 hired campaign workers had been out in the hustings for 5 years to develop formaldehyde-laced astroturf spontaneous uprising against Obama, Big Government, and “Obamacare”.  Toss in around a $100 million more and operatives can get a big rock (or a 100 dozen rockheaded conservatives) to dance in the streets.

Years ago, somebody noted how important sincerity is in politics and added you were on the trail of political success once you learned to fake it.

It now appears that “spontaneous grass roots uprisings” are important in getting media coverage, and the really big money behind the GOP party of No knows they are on the trail of success now that they have learned to buy it.  A few hundred South Dakotans have been fooled by big oil and big chemical money and myth.

** Stay tuned especially if you never fake it— Doug Wiken

The New York Times on the Growling Fringe

Posted: Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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growingdogIf the rise of the Tea Party Movement has illustrated anything, it is the utter contempt that the Left in America has for, well, a whole lot of Americans.  Here (hat tip to James Taranto at the WSJ) is a bit from a New York Times editorial from three days ago.

Democratic operatives are ablaze with excitement over the victory of two particularly dubious Tea Party candidates in Tuesday’s Republican primaries, envisioning smoother paths to victory in the races for governor in New York and United States senator in Delaware. But for voters of all stripes, Tuesday’s primaries should illuminate the growling face of a new fringe in American politics — and provide the incentive for level-headed voters to become enthusiastic about the midterm election.

Now I understand that the Democrats in general and the Times in particular are happy that Christine O’Donnell won the Senate Republican primary in Delaware.  Republican voters in Delaware had to choose between a candidate who stood a very good chance of winning and one who seemed to more genuinely represent their own principles.  I would have voted for Castle.  This being a republic, Delaware Republicans got to vote as they chose.  That looks to me like the kind of decision that reasonable people often have to make, and such people aren’t less reasonable because they don’t vote the way I would have preferred.

The New York Times doesn’t see it that way.  Delaware Republicans are “the growling face of a new fringe in American politics”.  The growling face?  That’s a bit dehumanizing, isn’t it?  As Taranto puts it, using the President’s own language, “America, they talk about you like a dog!”

Let us be clear about this, again using the President’s favorite turn of phrase.  The Tea Party people are not, in fact, a “fringe”.  They are the vanguard of public dismay.  Behind them are almost all Republicans and about two thirds of independents.  That adds up to more than half of America.  That has been demonstrated in elections in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts.  It has been further demonstrated in voting patterns across the nation.  For the first time since the 1930’s, more Republicans than Democrats voted in this year’s primaries.

When the New York Times says “level-headed voters”, they mean voters who agree with the New York Times.  Everyone else is a growling beast, unfit to participate in democracy.  I am pretty sure this is how the President thinks, and how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid think.  Most Americans are too feral and unbalanced to know what’s good for them.  The Left wonders why their heroes aren’t sufficiently popular.

Good News & Bad New 4 Republicans from Delaware

Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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o'donnell senateThe bad news is that the Republicans very likely just lost a Senate seat that was well within their grasp.  The good news is the wind that has been filling the sails of Republican candidates all year long is still blowing at gale strength.

Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell won 53% of the vote in Delaware’s Republican primary, to Mike Castle’s 47%.  The Republican Party establishment, along with most GOP friendly pundits, analysts, not to mention bloggers, is disappointed.  Democrats everywhere are elated.

Mike Castle served two terms as Governor of Delaware and 18 years as the state’s lone representative in the U.S. House.  He is a very popular politician and was widely expected to win Joe Biden’s Senate seat if he had been nominated.  That would be quite a feather in the GOP’s cap.

Christine O’Donnell came out of nowhere.  She is very conservative, especially on social issues.  She seems to have a lot of personal baggage that will be exploited by the Democrats over the next few weeks.  Delaware is two states in one, rather small state.  Upper Delaware is largely a suburb of Philadelphia.  Lower Delaware is another animal altogether.  The state has been reliably liberal and Democratic for a long time.  It is hard to see how O’Donnell can win it.

So why did O’Donnell win the primary?  She won because Mike Castle’s strengths suddenly became fatal weaknesses.  Mike Castle got a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 52.  John Boehner got 94.  Lisa Murkowski got 70.  Barbara Boxer got 3.  That puts Castle squarely in the middle.  It is what made him viable as a Republican in Delaware.  But it also made him look like a RINO (Republican In Name Only) to a very energized Republican base, a conspicuous part of which is known as the Tea Party.

Democrats have been hoping this year that the Tea Party movement would tear the Republican Party apart.  That didn’t happen, though one can argue that the TP is responsible for weaker candidates in several races.  Delaware is certainly one of them.

Now all the horses (well, except for Hawaii) are at the starting gate.  The Tea Party people are not to be trifled with.  Their support for the Republican Party will probably be almost unanimous this year, but it is conditional.  They expect Republicans to behave like Republicans.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has said that it will not support her.  That looks to me like a grievous mistake.  The folks who put O’Donnell over the top are the same folks who have been putting flame to the feat of Democratic Congressman and Senators all over the country.

This year the Tea Party activists are the vanguard of a large popular motion in the U.S.  It looks like they will help sweep the Republicans to victory in the House and close to victory in the Senate.  This election is important, but the Republicans ought also to be looking to the future.  Snubbing Christine O’Donnell is snubbing the Republican base in Delaware.  That is not good politics.

In the meantime (now until November 2nd), the gale is blowing fiercely to the right.  It blew O’Donnell past Castle.  It will blow a lot of Democrats clean off of Capitol Hill.

A Fraudulent Image

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 12:47 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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tea-party-comix-face-cropped-proto-custom_2While I was deep in Glacier National Park, my esteemed Keloland colleague, David Newquist, did a lot of posting.  I frequently disagree with Professor Newquist, but I always enjoy reading his posts.  This one caught my eye.

A black executive I know commented that if we elected a black president, long suppressed racial hatreds, resentments, and prejudices would erupt like dandelions after a spring rain.  They did. Last summer, as the so-called tea party movement gained momentum, racial signs and slogans were in the front lines of the demonstrations.  People insisted that they were protesting Obama’s policies, not reacting to his racial makeup. But it was impossible to miss the racial stereotypes and derogation as the point of the message sent from those demonstrations.

Professor Newquist makes a pretty serious accusation here, but he offers no evidence except for a single image.  It depicts a Tea Party rally, apparently.  Among the various signs which are hard to read (though one can get slogans like “Live free or die”) there is a large, black and white image that is obviously racist.  A black face, with a bald head, brilliant lips, big ears, and a cigarette, appears within a frame under the title: “Tea Party Comix.”  If you don’t look closely, you might think that this was a sign carried by someone at the rally.

In fact, the blackface image is photo shopped into the larger Tea Party rally image.  The blackface image was produced, according to the Maddow blog, by “Tom Kalb, [who] runs a store called Caveman Comics, in Mesa, Arizona.”  I gather that Mr. Kalb produced three comic books with the blackface character prominently featured.  One of them, apparently, consisted of similes of the covers of several traditional comic books.  Mr. Kalb denies that his “Comix” were racist.  Mr. Kalb is clueless.

The image that Professor Newquist inserted in his post is manifestly fraudulent.  I think it is clearly intended to make it look as though the Kalb image was a sign at a Tea Party rally.  It is certainly intended to connect the rally to the Kalb image.  There is no evidence that Kalb has any connection with any Tea Party organization, or that his deplorable work has circulated among Tea Party activists.

Professor Newquist was righteously indignant about Andrew Breitbart’s distortion of the Shirley Sherrod speech, and rightly so.  The image he inserted in his blog post is just as much an intentional distortion.  I do not doubt that there are racists at Tea Party rallies, just as there are communists at anti-war rallies.  But there have been thousands of Tea Party rallies across the U.S.  I have witnessed two in Aberdeen and Watertown.  So far I have seen only a handful of images from those rallies that even suggest racism.  The Tea Party movement has cleaner hands than whoever produced the image that Professor Newquist inserted in his post.

ps.  I wish to make it clear that I am not accusing Professor Newquist of anything.  I doubt that he produced the image above and I have no reason to know how carefully he examined it or what he thought about it.  I myself mistook it at first glance for a photo of a sign at a Tea Party rally.

The Vilification of the Tea Party Movement

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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My friend Cory Heidelberger and I have been arguing all year about the Tea Party movement.  There has been a campaign of vilification waged against the Tea Party by unsympathetic members of the Press, by Congressional Democrats and the White House, and by Cory.  The campaign has made three general accusations: that the Tea Party attendees were 1) Racist; 2) that they encourage political violence; and that they are xenophobic in general.

I have written a number of posts showing how pitifully weak the argument is in each case.  The racism charge is based mostly on a handful of images, several of them of dubious significance.  The same images get reposted over and over.  The other main item for the prosecution was the supposed use of the “N” word when a couple of Black members of Congress walked passed a protest gather on their way to vote on Health Care Reform.  That story has never been told with any detail.  Was the racial epithet shouted once or more than once, by one or more than one person?  I note that there is no audio record, nor has a single reporter said that he or she heard the supposed epithet.  But assuming its true, there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of Tea Party meetings.  This is all you got?

The charge that Tea Party people encourage violence was ridiculously vacuous.  The evidence consisted of the most ordinary types of political language, and those who made the accusations frequently used the very same language themselves.  We have a very recent example of this.  From CNN:

A New Hampshire state legislator resigned his office Thursday after becoming the second Democrat in as many days to speculate about Sarah Palin’s death on Facebook.

State Rep. Timothy Horrigan made the remarks Wednesday night in a thread discussing the Alaska plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens.

“Well a dead Palin would be even more dangerous than a live one…she is all about her myth & if she was dead she couldn’t commit any more gaffes,” Horrigan wrote.

Horrigan was commenting on another post by a Democrat running for the state house, party activist Keith David Halloran, who found himself in hot water Wednesday after writing about the crash: “Just wish Sarah and Levy [sic] were on board.”

Now for the life of me I can’t figure out why Horrigan needed to resign.  His comment was rather nasty, and maybe altogether out of line.  It was certainly impolitic.  It was not without a point that one can evaluate.  “Party activist” Halloran’s comment was more damning, but isn’t it better to find out what is on these guy’s minds than to silence them every time they make the mistake of speaking honestly?

The truth is that both sides think and say nasty things on occasion.  Very few people on either side would dream of encouraging actual political violence.

As to the third charge, Cory offers only an article from the New York Times.  He gives it his own headline in a comment to his blog post: “Xenophobia trumps Tea Party’s professed respect for Constitution”.  Well, I read the article and it wasn’t about the Tea Party movement at all.  Indeed, the Tea Party is mentioned only twice: once referring to a specific Tea Party group in that nerve center of Temecula California, and once to a single person who is clearly worried about Islam in America.  She claims that she got a lot of anti-Islamic literature from “others she knew from attending Tea Party events and anti-immigration rallies.”  One group of yahoos and a sample yahoo from the same group condemns a national movement?  What I could do to the anti-war movement with that standard!

I don’t doubt that most of the people who show up at Tea Party meetings are likely, for example, to oppose the building of a Mosque near to Ground Zero in New York.  But so are 61% of New Yorkers! I expect that a majority of Americans across the board would be in opposition.  I don’t doubt that almost all Tea Party attendees support the infamous Arizona immigration law.  So do 51% of Americans and 70% of Arizonans.  Like it or not, the Tea Party movement is not a bunch of extremists.  It’s the vocal part of the mainstream.

Maybe that’s what’s really eating Mr. Heidelberger.  I am not immune to his concerns.  I think the opposition to building Mosques is, in most cases, un-American.  But it isn’t that issue that the Tea Party is “obsessed with”.  It is the expansion of government, the irresponsible growth in the Federal debt, and the current economy.  I can understand why my friends on the left want to talk about anything else.

Unfounded Accusations in the SD House Campaign

Posted: Monday, August 9, 2010 at 12:39 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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accusationMy friends at The Madville Times and Badlands Blue rightly object to a letter printed in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.  Here is the meat of the letter:

There are quite a few people in the United States who claim South Dakota residency for multiple reasons but really live elsewhere. Although Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lived in South Dakota when first elected, it is clear that she now lives between Texas and Washington, D.C.

Now I have no idea whether Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin and her husband have a residence in Texas, or how much time they spend there.  I am not curious about whether a Congresswoman or Senator for that matter really “lives” in South Dakota.  The Constitution only requires that Senators and Representatives be residents of the state they represent “when elected.”  The letter concedes that point.

As to Representative Herseth-Sandlin’s real residence now, the letter offers no evidence.  The accusation, for what it is worth, is baseless.  As Cory says:

there’s not one bit of evidence that the Herseth Sandlin residence is in Texas.

Both Travis Dahle and Cory Heidelberger take it for granted the letter is the work of the Noem campaign.  This is certainly possible.  A reasonable and well-informed person might suspect as much.  Neither Travis nor Cory present “one bit of evidence” that this is so.  Lots of South Dakotans make up their own minds about these things and some of them are not shy about expressing their opinions.

Travis says:

Make no mistake – this is an orchestrated smear campaign from the Noem campaign…

If you are going to complain about baseless accusations maybe you shouldn’t make baseless accusations.  If that one is baseless, so this one from the Madville Times:

Badlands Blue offers more evidence that the Kristi Noem campaign really is just a branch of the Tea Party.

I don’t doubt that Noem wants and is likely to get Tea Party support.  The claim that Noem’s campaign is “just a branch of the Tea Party,” whatever that might mean, is not supported by any evidence that Cory presents.

Cory says this:

As we all know, Tea Partiers are obsessed with vilifying people as outsiders and claiming America belongs to only a few chosen people.

Wow.  All Tea Partiers?  Maybe such an accusation should be supported with at least a bit of evidence.  I have attended two Tea Party rallies as a speaker, and I saw no evidence of such an obsession on the part of the crowd or my fellow speakers.  Maybe what “we all know” needs no evidence.  That is how your typical bigot reasons.  It is not how my friend Cory usually reasons.

Cory wraps up with this:

In tactics and loyalty, the Noem campaign is Tea Party through and through. And that bodes ill for a state that would elect her to turn a vacuous, spite-based worldview into votes in Washington.

If you are opposed to vilifying people, perhaps you shouldn’t vilify people.  If you think that “spite-based” views are a bad basis for policy making, perhaps you shouldn’t persistently demonstrate so much spite against a broadly scattered group of Americans whose only real offenses are that they disagree with you and that they might actually be about to have a real impact on the next election.

Politics on Pine Ridge

Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 11:12 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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pine-ridge-indian-reservation-south-dakotaThere are some interesting things happening on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  From Kevin Wooster at the Rapid City Journal:

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin insists that bringing Sen. Al Franken to the Pine Ridge reservation next week is a sincere effort to help Native American people, not a political move to boost her own re-election campaign.

Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she invited Franken, D-Minn., who sits on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, to meet with officials of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge on Aug. 7 because he is knowledgeable and influential on Native American issues and is in a position to help Native people.

Franken’s seat on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is a sufficient reason for Rep. Herseth-Sandlin to bring him to Pine Ridge.  It strikes me as nonetheless a somewhat risky move.  Franken is intelligent and funny.  He is also enthusiastically anti-Republican.  He thinks that people who disagree with him are not just wrong, they are bad people.  If I were on HS’s staff, I would be holding my breath while Franken’s feet are on state soil.

Meanwhile, something else is happening at Pine Ridge.

The Tatanka Oyate Tea Party will hold an organization meeting focusing on traditional Lakota rights and Second Amendment freedoms from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at the Fire Lightning Tiyospaye Building in Wounded Knee.

A feed will follow at 6 p.m.

Organizers Karmelita Plains Bull Rowland and Garry Rowland said the meeting will emphasize the importance of honoring the traditional tiyospaye form of government and preserving the Second Amendment on the reservation.

The meeting and the tea party movement it represents also will demand more accountability and better fiscal management by the existing Oglala tribal government, they said.

I don’t know what this will amount to, but it sure looks like fun!

Native Americans, like African Americans, have been very reliable voting blocs for the Democratic Party.  This has some disadvantages.  Republicans have no incentive to work with blocs that are altogether outside their base.  Democrats can afford to take such voters for granted.

I am a big believer in diversity, in the Madisonian sense.  A religiously, ethnically, economically diverse society is better for civil liberties and good government than a more homogenous one.  Diversity within voting blocs is better than homogeneity because it gives such blocs more flexibility and allows them to play the larger party competitors against one another.  Three cheers for Karmelita Plains Bull Rowland and Garry Rowland, from this Federalist.