Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not My Cup of Tea

I've not exactly been in denial about the Tea Party political movement. Today, however, its presence seemed to thread its way throughout my day.

Driving to work, I heard NPR report that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is forming a nonprofit organization to promote Tea Party ideas. Legal ethics expert Stephen Gillers told Nina Totenberg that, in terms of judicial ethics, the test would come if and when the donors to Virginia Thomas's 501(c)(3), to be called Liberty Central, might have financial interests in cases before, or headed to, the Supreme Court. If that were to happen, Gillers said, the decision as to whether to recuse himself would be up to Justice Thomas, and would not be reviewable.

Later in the day, I stopped by an IRS office in Bloomington to pick up a tax form. I'd done the same thing a year ago, at a nondescript office building near the Mall of America, so I knew just where to go. I took the elevator to the seventh floor - and immediately realized what a difference a year makes. Last year, one could just walk in there and select one's forms. This year, the tiny office features an armed security guard. I'm not sure whether this is an overreaction or a legitimate protection of federal employees who find themselves on the frontlines of a culture war. But there it is.

Then, on my commute home, I heard NPR report on the opposition to the most recent attempts in Congress to pass healthcare insurance reform. Not surprisingly, many of the opponents have Tea Party links. Where did this state of affairs come from?

In historical terms, it's been brewing for quite awhile. I intend to dig out Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which I read back in college, to help understand this. Libertarian thought has powerful arguments to make, and they need to be heard and debated - over coffee, tea, or some other beverage of choice.

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