On this whole debate as to whether the townhall protests represent genuine grassroots activism or mere astroturf coordinated from above, Julian Sanchez has an eminently sensible comment (CHT Jesse Walker):
Any astroturf campaign on the modern media landscape is going to require actually ginning up some broad-based activism if its going to be effective. And any genuinely spontaneous, bottom-up action that seems even moderately interesting and resonant with national issues is going to find a whole lot of political professionals eager to promote, guide, replicate, or co-opt it.
Similar remarks apply, of course, to the tea parties.
Manifestly, there are groups like FreedomWorks trying to catalyze or corral opposition to Obama’s policies, but it hardly sounds as though they’re in control—at most, it seems like they’re providing focal points for the kind of genuine, strong sentiment you can’t fake… and that I’d think few political operatives would want to fake.
But isn’t that sentiment fear/hysteria? And that sentiment is — by definition — unorganized and disordered. These folks are expressing something they really feel, but how is herding them into town halls not a form of astroturf? I think the grass-roots expression of fear/hysteria would more typically be seen in the streets.
The talk Dilorenzo gave on tariffs being the major economic cause of the Civil War is interesting because wikipedia says slavery was the major economic cause (slavery represented more money than tariffs):
I think the whole thing was a proxy war between the Martians and the Mercurians. And the major issue was whether the war god Tlaxil has nine tentacles or eleven.