Lunatic fringe.

The holiday bollixed up my Monday chores and I have to slice one item from the list. Folks? It’s you. Sorta. I leave you with this long, long, long NYT examination of the Tea Party movement, which you may discuss, if you like. I’m not entirely sold on it; there are too many passages like this, that meander on and on, making some pretty sweeping assertions without any actual human beings offered as proof:

They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Many describe emerging from their research as if reborn to a new reality. Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst. For others, though, transformation seems to amount to trying on a new ideological outfit — embracing the rhetoric and buying the books.

But it generally tracks with what I’ve observed anecdotally, and it underlines a fear I’ve had for a while, i.e., that someone from this gang is going to make an attempt on the president’s life:

…in Indiana, Richard Behney, a Republican Senate candidate, told Tea Party supporters what he would do if the 2010 elections did not produce results to his liking: “I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too.”

Here’s where Richard Behney stands, by the way. He hasn’t a chance of being elected to anything, but funny how his story — jus’ a plumber/entrepreneur who enjoyed sittin’ on the back of his truck at the end of the day, talkin’ about life — is pretty much a word-for-word match to the typical teabagger profiled in the Times piece.

This part tickled me:

(Ron) Paul led Mrs. Southwell to Patriot ideology, which holds that governments and economies are controlled by networks of elites who wield power through exclusive entities like the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.

These folks used to call my radio show, many years ago. They’re Jew-haters to the last man. Maybe Joseph Sobran has a future in journalism after all.

OK, now I must away. Tomorrow should be better. Alan’s off this week, and we’re thinking of going to Windsor for dim sum, like the effete yuppies we are. Is dim sum worth traveling for?

Posted at 9:13 am in Current events |

45 responses to “Lunatic fringe.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Wow. Found a conspiracy minded wingnut in Sandpoint, Idaho. That took some journalistic effort.

    Ruby Ridge is just up one or two unpaved roads from there. C’mon.

    “I mean when you finally learn what the Federal Reserve is!” How long have we been learning what the Federal Reserve really is, or who the Bilderbergers truly are? When we would wait with breathless anticipation, back in the late 60s & early 70s in northwest Indiana to find out, by transistor radio, if we were getting a snow day (Chicago TV never carried our cancellations), I was introduced to the John Birch (“Keep US out of the UN!”) Society and the Liberty Lobby, who bought quite a bit of radio ad time before 8 am. They thought Dwight was a closet commie then, and they don’t like Republicans now.

    And even as a grade schooler I could tell they were loons. Loons then, loons now. What’s this got to do with disagreeing with Reid & Pelosi? Nothing. Monarchists also disagree with R&P, but that doesn’t mean I want a royal family.

    Unless it’s the Osbornes. That could be kind of fun, as long as Sharon is the one to open the first session of Congress each year, not Ozzie.

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  2. John said on February 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

    In New Mexico, Mary Johnson, recording secretary of the Las Cruces Tea Party steering committee, described why she fears the government. She pointed out how much easier it is since Sept. 11 for the government to tap telephones and scour e-mail, bank accounts and library records. “Twenty years ago that would have been a paranoid statement,” Ms. Johnson said. “It’s not anymore.”

    Weren’t these the folks who cried how much we needed the Patriot Act?

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Nope. Ron Paul and such were as anti-Patriot Act as anyone on the Left. Look at how the USA Patriot Act passed, and with whose votes . . . 98 U.S. senators voted in favor of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 (Senator Landrieu (D-LA) did not vote); Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was the only senator who voted against the Patriot Act on October 24, 2001.

    The renewal of it in 2006 got only ten votes against: Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Byrd (D-WV), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Jeffords (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Murray (D-WA), Wyden (D-OR) (Inoye, D-HI, didn’t vote). In the House, only 66 votes against, 62 were Democrats.

    Can you tell we’re trapped indoors here in Granville? The snow is piling up outside the Overlook Hotel, let me tell you.

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  4. Jeff Borden said on February 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Yeah, the voting on the Patriot Act was hardly a profile in courage, but the pressure on senators not appear to be soft on terrorism was too much for all but the sainted Russ Feingold.

    The astonishing thing about the teabaggers is the timing. It was the last administration that ushered in sweeping changes to the rule of law including widespread wiretapping and e-mail interception without court supervision and allowing the president to declare anyone –including American citizens– as “enemy combatants” who could be detained indefinitely without access to legal counsel or even family visits. Where the hell were all these upright patriots then?

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  5. jcburns said on February 16, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Sandpoint also has my favorite named-for-what-they-serve restaurant: Spud. A somewhat unitary menu.

    I’m just glad the teabaggers were thoughtful enough to provide their critics (like me) with an easy derogatory variation on their name. Makes the heavy lifting of dissing them so much easier.

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  6. Sue said on February 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Jeff Borden:
    “the sainted Russ Feingold”.
    You got a problem with my man Russ? Cuz he’ll be fighting for his seat like everyone else come next Fall. There is some noise that Mr. “Stick It To ’em”, Mr. “You people are so good with money”, ex-Gov Tommy Thompson will run against Russ, although I think Tommy is just playing with his fan base at the moment.
    We need a few more Russ Feingolds. He’s sticking to his position and the voters in the great, once-truly-progressive state of Wisconsin may throw him out on his ear for trying to get health care reform passed in spite of screaming town hallers.

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  7. LAMary said on February 16, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Good dim sum is worth a trip occasionally. I wouldn’t include dim sum and the travel expenses involved in procuring dim sum in my budget as a standard item. Personally I’m on a Vietnamese pork sandwich run these days. There’s a place in Monterrey Park where you can get your fix for about two dollars.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on February 16, 2010 at 11:08 am


    I admire Feingold. I’m one of those starry-eyed optimists who actually hoped for campaign finance reform back in the day when it actually seemed possible. Now, it looks impossible to even consider it.

    As noted yesterday, there’s at least a 50-50 chance a Republican will win Roland Burris’ seat in the Senate. Aside from the problems the Democratic nominee has with his family bank, everyone is pissed off at the Democratic Party in Illinois — including me. I will not vote for Mark Kirk, who once might have received my vote, because he is pandering to the far right base and fear-mongering on the transfer of prisoners from Gitmo to Thomson, Illinois. But he may very well benefit from the backlash against our deeply entrenched, deeply compromised Democratic leadership, who are far more concerned with lining their pockets and keeping their patrons happy than addressing the endless list of problems we face.

    And, btw, screw Evan Bayh. Whining about the gridlock in Congress, then surrendering his seat without a fight when he knows it will only worsen the gridlock, is positively Palinesque in its selfishness.

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  9. paddyo' said on February 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

    All work and no play makes Jeff (TMMO) a dull boy. Rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

    Mmm. Dim sum. In the ’80s in DC, we used to go on Sundays to a joint (I forget the name now) in the rundown “Chinablock” (not enough there to qualify for “Chinatown”) over near the city convention center. The taro root was a mouth-watering thing of beauty. Our drive was only a few miles, but for good dim sum? Drive, he said.

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  10. MichaelG said on February 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I’ve traveled for good dim sum. I’d do it again. But only for good stuff. Somehow bad Chinese food is worse than bad any other kind of food. You want a place that has those circulating carts so you can see and grab what you want not a place where you have to order off a menu. Also a place that’s busy so all the stuff is fresh. Best I’ve had was in a joint on Pacific between Stockton and Grant in SF. I forget the name but I know where it is.

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  11. alex said on February 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

    My only attempt at dim sum was one time many years ago on Broadway and Argyle in Chicago. One of our party, a native of Taiwan, didn’t show up until rather late in the meal, although we had hoped for his counsel. Many of the items on the cart were just plain unappetizing to look at. The things I did dare to try left me kind of “meh,” (as the young folk like to say these days).

    Afterward we strolled into an Asian grocery just a few doors down, where on the floor were numerous gray plastic restaurant bus tubs full of carp (no doubt locally caught) and several rather neglected-looking cats roaming around.

    It was a long time before anyone could convince me to go out for a meal in that neighborhood again, but one day someone did. When we arrived at our destination, which my friends swore was the best damned place in town, the doors were padlocked and in the darkened window was a big neon-pink health department sticker.

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  12. brian stouder said on February 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve always read that Chinese/Asian restaurants have a harder row to hoe with the health inspectors, given the array of different foods and handling requirements for each (for example, even putting individually packaged things in the same refrigerator can earn a citation)

    Just sayin’

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  13. Julie Robinson. said on February 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    My perusal of the restaurant inspections published each Sunday shows a trend for Asian and fried chicken places to have the worst records. Just sayin’

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  14. James said on February 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Here’s my take on the Tea Baggers.

    I’ve had folks call me on the rhetorical carpet because I’m saying that “the party” is inherently racist. They’ve told me that they went to a tea party meeting, and that they actually saw black people there.

    I should have asked: “how many?”

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  15. judybusy said on February 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    On the subject of dim sum: can anyone suggest a good place in NYC? We’re going there for a long weekend in May, and dim sum is on the “must have” list! I’d appreciate any tips.

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  16. Dexter said on February 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    The old radio show worked perfectly for me. I worked 3-11 nights, my drive time was 2-3. Ah yes, I remember it well, and I caught some WGL shows as well.
    The pay scale was killer…I had no idea. Just think of the dough you’d be raking in if you had pursued radio talk to Sirius XM. Serious cash there for the hosts, and not just Howard Stern and Martha Stewart , either. Only the production crews are forced to accept sub-par salaries; the stars shine all the way to the bank.
    Nobody had a Paczki today?

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm


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  18. Rana said on February 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    James, that’s like claiming that an establishment like Hooters isn’t sexist because there are women there.

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  19. 4dbirds said on February 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Seems fishy to me that the Tea Party got going when the black man went to live at the White House.

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  20. James said on February 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Where were these folks when Bush drove the economy into the gutter? Where were they when he took a surplus and pissed it all away? Where were they when Bush spat on the Constitution, and okayed spying on Americans? Where were they when the fascist Patriot Act was passed?

    Were they busy? Has something changed? Hmmm… let’s see…

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  21. whitebeard said on February 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I outran the bullet despite major colon surgery. All ten of the lymph nodes harvested by the surgeon are clear of cancer so I do not need chemotherapy, And the baseball-sized tumor did not extend behind the regular fatty tissue so all the other organs are apparently safe. But I just started eating real food three days ago so I am as weak as a kitten, but a purrrrrring kitten. Thanks guys and gals for all your best wishes.

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  22. crinoidgirl said on February 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Yay, whitebeard!

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  23. Rana said on February 16, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Oh, whitebeard, I’m so glad to hear the news! Strengthen up soon!

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  24. Sue said on February 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Oh, such good news, Whitebeard.

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  25. Julie Robinson. said on February 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    How terrific to hear that, Whitebeard! May your good health continue.

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  26. joodyb`` said on February 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Whitebeard, such good news. now, behave yourself and heal quickly.

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  27. Scout said on February 16, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Excellent news, Whitebeard! Have yourself a saucer of milk and curl up with your favorite catnip mouse.

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  28. KarenNM said on February 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Travel for Dim Sum can be totally worthwhile. I extended a business trip to San Francisco last fall for just that reason – went a day early to go into the city and have dim sum for lunch. That meal, plus Gelato at the Ferry Building afterward, made for a fantastic day. Supposedly we have good dim sum in Portland, but I haven’t found it yet.

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  29. nancy said on February 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Karen, have you tried the Food Dude at Portland Food and Drink? He’s linked to me kindly a few times, and I owe him some love. Drop him a line.

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  30. moe99 said on February 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Got your great news whitebeard while waiting in the airport for my flight back to seattle. Congratulations!

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  31. MIchaelG said on February 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Great news, Whitebeard. Eat hearty.

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  32. Deborah said on February 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Been waiting to hear good news Whitebeard!

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  33. Deborah said on February 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Had some problems typing comment #32. Everything I typed after the first sentence was backwards.

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  34. beb said on February 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    I had Dim Sum once, many years ago while visiting friends in Toronto. It was all pretty good but for the chicken’s feet, which was just too gross.

    Good news from Whitebeard. Long may you dine….

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  35. Deborah said on February 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Having bizarre computer problems? Is anyone else having typing problems in comments? Never mind, now it seems to be OK. Odd.

    I just wanted to add that I’ve never had Dim Sum, what is it exactly?

    We don’t eat much chinese food because it reminds my husband of his stint in Vietnam. He can’t even stand the smell of it. I eat it for lunch sometimes, but he can smell it on me later and the memories makes him depressed. I usually wait till he goes out of town on business and then my daughter and I go out and pig out on it sometimes.

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  36. Colleen said on February 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Glad for your good news, Whitebeard!

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  37. 4dbirds said on February 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Great news Whitebeard!!!

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  38. Denice B. said on February 17, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Hey, I like chicken feet! lol

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  39. Maria said on February 17, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I’ve always enjoyed Dim Sum at Three Happiness in Chicago’s Chinatown and Fortune @ Olantangy Village in Columbus. No NYC suggestions, sorry.

    One can easily spend a few hours sipping tea and choosing both long-time favorites and something new as the carts are wheeled through the restaurant. Dining with a small group allows you to try many different dishes. One of my favorites is shu mai, a steamed pork dumpling in a thin wrapper. The big, fluffy, white sticky buns with bbq pork are great too.

    Chicken (and duck) feet are supposedly great for your nails but they are not on my favorites list.

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  40. Dexter said on February 17, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Yee Haw!Let’s hear it fer Whitebeard!

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  41. Dexter said on February 17, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Denice B. You have been watching a little too much of Anthony Bourdain. He was gobbling chicken feet in Ho Chi Minh City on a repeat show a few days ago. Right after that, Andrew Zimmer was in El Salvador eating domestically raised-for-food boa constrictors. Snakes for food. Yes. Yuckk.
    He also was eating chicken feet.

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  42. cosmo panzini said on February 17, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Good news Whitebeard. Eat up now and buy a couple lotto tix.
    Now, this Evan Bayh dude—I get the feeling there’s a shoe waiting to drop. The timing of this thing is just a little bizarre, no?
    And the tea party nuts–Well, the first chance we’ll have to see what kind of legs that has is going to be in November at election time, and I predict that it will turn out to be a big bag of air. The Rs will have to find some other strategy. Pandering to goof balls has never returned much electorally in this country.

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  43. alex said on February 17, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I suspect Bayh’s departure is a “fuck you” to Obama for not making him veep and to the party base for criticizing his blue dog ways. Or maybe he just realized that he can aspire to nothing higher thanks to his wife’s big pharma conflicts of interest. Or maybe there is/was a shoe about to drop because of said conflicts. Who knows?

    I would think the GOP would be happy, given that there’s no Dem heir apparent and the party will be scrambling to find someone, anyone, to run against the victor among the five Republicans running for the seat, which range from tea-party cranks to Dan “K Street” Coats and his war chest of filthy lucre. I think the GOP primary in Indiana will be the one to watch for signs of whether the GOP establishment or the Teabaggers are going to determine the kind of candidates we see November.

    Congrats, Whitebeard.

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 17, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Huzzah and Godspeed, Whitebeard — eat hearty!

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  45. LAMary said on February 17, 2010 at 11:07 am

    In LA’s Chinatown Empress Pavillion is the place for dim sum. There’s probably better stuff available in San Gabriel and Monterrey Park. Those cities are more Chinese than western. The little dives in strip malls serve amazing food.

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