Note to Tea Party: Put Up or Shut Up (and Go Away)

Let's give the snakes their own dens!

I’m sick of the Tea Party. It’s not just the constant whining and the “We can’t” attitude. It’s more than the fact that many of its followers are dumber than a lobotomized salamander and the rest are boorish bullies. It even goes beyond the fact that a lot of Tea Partiers advocate overthrowing the government, sentiments that would land the average lefty on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. I’m just tired of the pure hypocrisy of those supping on tax dollars moaning about Big Government. So here’s my challenge: put up or shut up (and go away).

Let’s take these anti-tax, anti-government cranks at their word. Let’s set up regional centers in which the Tea Party can put its bombastic rhetoric into practice. Each Tea Party center will be sovereign and autonomous--free to conduct affairs and pass legislation as deemed appropriate. They are welcome to abolish all income taxes, trim as much waste as they want, teach whatever they want in schools, outlaw abortion, and force people to pray nine times a day if they wish.

Here’s the catch: They get no--as in zero--federal taxpayer monies. They must relinquish control of all federal buildings, programs, property, and accounts. They get no Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security checks, federal loans, highway dough, postal service, military bases, federal contract work, educational subsidies, or anything else they don’t pay for themselves. They must raise their own revenues, fund programs without federal help, pay for their own schools, and figure out what to do with the sick, unemployed, and elderly. No more largesse from American taxpayers.

As a fair test, let’s pilot this with a center in each region:

Northeast--Maine: Normally this honor would go to New Hampshire, but given that old Teabag Paul LePage is now governor of the state, we’ll allow Maine the glory of showing just how far he can take an economy based on wood pulp, tourism, and blueberries.

Mid-Atlantic--Ohio: Yeah, I know that Ohio isn’t really a Mid-Atlantic state, but it has more than enough loose tea leaves to provide a region that--other than south-central Pennsylvania--doesn’t have that many. Ohio is a perfect place to let post-industrialism merge with post-intelligence. (Or is that the intelligence of a post?)

South--South Carolina: Where else but the first state to secede? The US should have let it go back when, so it’s only fair to let South Carolina have a go now. But just like in 1861, South Carolina needs to give back its nine military bases.

Northern Midwest--North Dakota: I was tempted to go with Wisconsin, but it looks like Cheese-Staters are starting wake up, so let’s go with a traditional anti-government hotbed. Give it a whirl, North Dakota, but don’t come crying on Uncle Sam’s shoulder when the Red River floods again. Get your self-reliant butts off the sofa and stack those sandbags.

Midwestern Heartland--Kansas: A no-brainer. Here’s my Cliff Notes review of Thomas Frank’s What’s Wrong with Kansas? Everything. So let’s free Kansans to pray over their problems and see if that works.

Far West--Utah: Hell, anything to make John Huntsman stay home and lure Mitt (“I Can Be Anything”) Romney off the campaign trail. Utah is also a good test case because it’s so friggin’ white (95%--98% if you don’t count the Utah Jazz) that if it survives on its own, maybe we really can blame all the “colored folk” for America’s troubles. But about those National Parks… no NPS staff or money.

Southwest--Arizona: Texas might be a logical choice, but to pick it might mean imposing a Cold War-like Berlin solution on Austin, so let’s go with ‘Zona. They are now free to build a fence as high as they want on the Mexican border, but they get no Homeland Security agents to police it.

Non-Continental US--Alaska: I can see it: the 24-hour All About Sarah Show. Why the ad dollars alone will be enough to buy every Alaskan an icemaker. Don’t spill any North Bay oil, though, ‘cause you’re on your own, baby!

An eight-state trial… that’s sixteen percent, which is more than Gallup surveys. If it works, run up the surrender flag, declare the US a noble experiment that failed, and let the rest of the states strike whatever deal they can--independence, regional consolidation, Wal-Mart takeover, merger with Canada…. But I’m placing money on the fact that a year of no government will lead the citizens of these states to hang Tea Party activists and beg for forgiveness.


Sensational New/Old Release from Suzy Bogguss


American Folk Songbook

Loyal Dutchess Records 1006

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Suzy Bogguss fans--and if you’re not one, why not?--will be delighted with her latest record, American Folk Songbook. Bogguss, you may recall, was a country music queen in the 1980s and 90s--back in the days when they could airbrush and package her as a lil’ darling. When she decided she wanted to take time off to raise a family and maybe do something a bit different, Big Music dumped her like a hot potato.

Well… she’s now a graceful woman of 54 with a stunning voice and in charge of her own destiny. Her Website tells of how she had a revelation when appearing on A Prairie Home Companion. The audience went nuts over her rendition of “Red River Valley,” which became the germ of an idea to pluck seventeen old chestnuts from the American standards bag instead of making another Nashville flavor-of-the-month record. You’ve heard everything of American Folk Songbook a billion times, but Bogguss will make you feel like “Shady Grove,” “Erie Canal,” “Shenandoah,” “Wayfaring Stranger” and other such ilk are as fresh as a “Wildwood Flower.” Speaking of the latter, you’d better have the chops to do a song that everyone in America associates with either the Carter Family or Joan Baez. No fear. Bogguss presents mature full-throated renditions of everything on the record. Her controlled vibrato in turn stuns and soothes. Like the person fully in command of her craft that she is, Bogguss makes each song the star, not herself, as if she’s the conduit connecting the American past to the present. This is also the ethos of the top rate talent that backs her--folks such as Stuart Duncan (fiddle, mandolin), Pat Bergeson (guitar, harmonica, Jew’s harp), and John McCutcheon (hammered dulcimer). Nobody’s showing off here; as the liner notes accurately note, the goal was to keep everything “simple and beautiful.” Mission accomplished. By the time we get to the final track, “Beautiful Dreamer,” we are ready to roll into the sweet arms of Morpheus.

This album should receive serious attention for a Grammy Award. And wouldn’t it be delicious irony if it wins?