I've noticed in recent days a lot of red, white and blue signs at intersections in my community near Birmingham, Alabama. I couldn't make out all of the lettering on the signs, but it looked like they referenced a "tea party" on July 4.
My first thought? "Didn't we have enough of this nonsense a few months back?" My second thought? "Is this being planned for someone's backyard?"
The answer to both questions apparently is no. In fact, our local event is set for an outdoor amphitheatre that can seat 15,000 to 20,000 people (if my memory is correct). This "tea party" nuttiness is growing, and I really am starting to wonder if people who promote these events are showing early signs of mental illness.
My first clue that this might be a big event came on Thursday afternoon when I drove by the Verizon Wireless Music Center in fashionable Pelham, Alabama.
Mrs. Schnauzer and I have many fond memories of the music center, which is just down the road from where we live. In fact, we still think of it by it's original name--the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.
We've had the good fortune to see a number of splendid concerts there. In the wonderful, care-free days before Mrs. Schnauzer entered my life (along with mortgages, lawsuits, exploding washing-machine hoses, etc.), I saw the late, great Dan Fogelberg at the music center. (God, am I going to pay for that sentence.)
Together, Mrs. Schnauzer and I have seen Steve Winwood, Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, Don Henley, and John Fogerty there.
Because we associate the music center with good times and great music, I tend to check the marquee every time I drive by there.
When I drove by on Thursday afternoon, I noticed upcoming shows included a Def Leppard/Poison double bill and Nickelback. But at the top of the marquee was this: "July 4: Tea Party."
To borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, that was a "WTF moment" for me. "So all of those signs I've been seeing are referring to a 'tea party' at the amphitheatre?" I said to myself. "These people think there are enough nut jobs out there to draw that kind of crowd?"
Then came this scary thought: Maybe they are right.
I became more alarmed when The Birmingham News reported that July 4 tea parties are scheduled for at least 10 locations in Alabama. And get this: The American Family Association (AFA) says tea parties are scheduled for 1,460 cities around the country on July 4.
So this is a nationwide "nut fest." What on earth is going on?
I'm not a psychiatrist, so I'm certainly not qualified to diagnose any form of mental illness. And I hate to throw that term around, partly because I probably have a number of friends and family members who might attend one of these events.
We're not talking about the kind of mental illness that makes someone dysfunctional or overtly dangerous. But is the "tea party" movement grounded in reality? I don't think it is. Should we be concerned about it? The answer, I think, is yes.
My guess is that quite a few people today will go to the Verizon Wireless Music Center, and other sites, simply to partake of the food, fireworks, music, and such. But if you read about these events, you see signs of possible psychological disturbances--hysteria, paranoia, delusion, and more. At the very least, it seems some people connected to these events are separated from reality.
For example, folks behind the Birmingham event claim they are not anti-Democrat or anti-Obama. But one of their speakers is a fellow named Kevin Jackson, who has penned a screed called The Big Black Lie: How I Learned the Truth about the Democrat Party.
The Birmingham organizers apparently have not checked the Web site of the AFA, the umbrella outfit for the tea parties. Here's part of what it says:
With the national debt already out of control, President Obama has added 78,000 new government jobs to the federal payroll since he took office. Obama’s increase in the number of government employees will add hundreds of millions of dollars to our debt. If history is any measure, these jobs will never be eliminated. They will simply add to the mountains of debt we are leaving our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Obama and Congress continue to spend money the government doesn’t have. The deficit for the current year will be $1.8 trillion, 50% of the total budget. In order to pay interest on the debt, the government will have to cut spending, raise taxes, print more paper money or borrow from another country like China, which already holds billions of U.S. debt. With no end of spending in sight, some estimates project that our national debt could reach $8 trillion by the year 2014.
Obama and liberals in Congress are taking us down the road to socialism, seizing control of key banks, insurance companies, the automobile industry, etc. They are currently working on a government funded national health care program which is expected to cost roughly $2 trillion while rationing services.
That all sounds pretty "anti-Obama" to me.
Here's the curious part: Most, if not all, of the problems the AFA mentions either were started or greatly exacerbated by the George W. Bush administration.
Did the AFA sponsor "tea parties" while Bush was in office? I don't remember any.
Is the AFA trying to arouse public passions against Obama--for problems that he inherited from Bush? Sure sounds like it.
If Old Man Winter punches you in the nose, but you blame Jack Frost for the fact that your nose is now broken, is there something wrong with your thought processes?
Is that a sign of a mental disorder--or at least the beginnings of one?