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Surprise Party
One has to wonder: Where were the Tea Partyers when Bush and Cheney lied to get us into the Iraq war ["It's Tea Time," Sept. 27]? Where were they when Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib tarnished our reputation worldwide? And where were they when Republicans' trickle-down economic policy ground our economy into the dirt? Now all of a sudden, after Obama has been trying to clean up the mess in less than two years in office, they are "fed up," want to "restore honor" and want their voices heard?
Wen Chen,
Middleton, Wis., U.S.

The Tea Party movement is yearning for America to return to its former greatness, but its members forget that the country's past success was based on cheap oil, technological superiority and competitive wages. All that has gone. If Sarah Palin manages to become President, she will find that no matter how hard she waves the Stars and Stripes and ramps up the patriotic rhetoric, she will not be able to change these circumstances.
Alex Potter,
Claremont, South Africa

When I saw your cover line, I was apprehensive, since the national media have been so far off base on real Tea Party people. You helped me overcome my doubt. Not once did I see the word racist or extremist in your story. You played it straight down the middle, and we need more political reporting like yours.
Ron Hill,
Beacon, N.Y., U.S.

I was shocked by the photograph of the rally in Flagstaff, Ariz., showing young children holding Tea Party signs. If there is anything this country needs less, it is school-age children growing up blindly indoctrinated in their parents' political opinions, whatever those opinions may be. What this country does need are citizens who can process ideas, think critically and help arrive at solutions.
David Cohen,
Wyckoff, N.J., U.S.

Recipe for Tea-saster: Take 30 years of repeating Ronald Reagan's mantra that big government is bad and taxes are too high. Add a weak opposition eager not to fall behind, and combine with a biased media happily promoting the illusion that the America of today will be better off working to the idea that might is right. Add a lavish dose of financial uncertainty plus deterioration of the quality of life. Make sure that people do not become too informed. Simmer gently with the lid on. Enjoy — but prepare for a gigantic hangover.
Thomas M. Ankele,
Weilheim, Germany

I suggest the Tea Party candidates, to prove their sincerity, publicly vow not to accept any big-government perks, like a transportation allowance or insurance, if they win, and to serve only one term lest they themselves become part of the problem.
David Kelly,
Tucson, Ariz., U.S.

Base Problems
North Korea aside, Northeast Asia will be peaceful if the U.S. decides to stay away ["Seeing Double," Sept. 27]. The Japanese people want to befriend China, as it is a major export destination. The recent territorial dispute, however, has been blown out of proportion for domestic reasons to cover up the mess in Japan's ruling party, caused in part because it has not kept a promise to reconsider the U.S. military base on Okinawa.
Fujisan Ito,
Tokyo

Not All Beer and Cheer
In "Tapping into Tradition" [Sept. 27] TIME states, "Oktoberfest has avoided becoming a globalized marketing event." As a Bavarian, I have to disagree. After 200 years of "tradition," Oktoberfest has lost what made it once so popular: sociability, atmosphere and that feeling of being surrounded by like-minded people. Oktoberfest is an illusion of Bavarian lifestyle for all those who do not want to see what the occasion has become: just another commercial event and expensive tourist attraction.
Stefan Kiefl,
Munich