Tea Baggers with guns: The Dick Armey edition

Dick Armey

Dick Armey (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

You know that Dick Armey got $8 million from the Tea Baggers to leave Freedom Works, the lobbying organization that he and others formed under the pretense that it was a grass roots organization. Few people seem to point out that when billionaires, lobbyists and political hacks come up with a plan coordinated with Fox News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh that gets people in funny hats to hold demonstrations and disrupt town hall meetings, that’s not grassroots.

But how he got it was pretty intimidating.

The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

The Washington Post story above has plenty of fascinating detail on the craziness going on at Tea Bagger central and how extreme, and incompetent, Armey was during his brief takeover.

But I can’t get over the fact that Armey bought a guy with a gun with him to fire those five employees. Is that really the mentality of Tea Bagging purists? They just walk in with guns, and people better do what they say? What if someone stood up to Armey and said, “you have nothing to say until that guy with the gun leaves?” Would that person have been shot?

What if someone who was scared called the cops and said, “There’s a guy with a gun in our building, and we don’t know who he is?” What kind of response would the police have made?

Nothing like that happened, but the presence of a gun easily could have made a bad situation a bloodbath.

Kindle vs. iPad: the battle rages

Looks like there’s a new development in the computer wars (from Crooks and Liars):

Amazon on Thursday announced that, among a record-setting 306 items sold per second on the November 26 Cyber Monday, its Kindle Fire line of tablet devices topped the list of the most popular items purchased on the website during the 2012 holiday season.

“Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle hold the top four spots on the Amazon worldwide best seller charts since launch,” Amazon declared in its press release Thursday.

Amazon launched its new Kindle Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader devices in September 2012, almost a year after it first launched the original Kindle Fire for $199 (that model has since been officially discontinued, or “sold out” in the words of Amazon).


I’m an Apple user. Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, you name it. But I bought one a Kindle Fire last week. Just a few days, but given what it does, at half the price of an iPad, it’s no wonder it’s sales are soaring.


At the Harley-Davidson Museum

The history of motorcycles in one building in Milwaukee:




They lost. Why don’t they shut up?

During the campaign, Mitt Romney was the greatest thing since sliced bread, according to the Republican party and the Tea Baggers.

How soon they forget:

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips on Thursday disputed that President Obama claimed a mandate in November’s election, arguing that his re-election victory came over “the worst candidate in history in Mitt Romney.”

“You know, Obama ran on the fact he was going to raise taxes, the Republicans put up the worst candidate in history in Mitt Romney, yet Obama allegedly has this mandate,” Phillips said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Well, why did Republicans keep the House if Obama has this great mandate? People don’t want their taxes going up. What people do want is spending cuts.”

Unbelievable. These guys went all in for Mitt. Their “concerns” about his candidacy disappeared when he got the nomination, and they were convinced he was going to lead them to the promised land and out of the clutches of the socialist, Muslim, Kenyan usurper.

Tea Baggers really have no shame.

A look at gun possession … and of gun use

The Journal News in suburban New York published a story a few days ago that involved going through public records and finding the names of every registered gun used in Westchester and Rockland counties. Then it took every name and address and put them on a map. So neighbors now know who has a gun next door to them.

That bothers me. It just feels like an invasion of privacy, and I’m not going to link to it (though it didn’t take more than a quick Google search to find it).

The permit holders obeyed the law by seeking a permit before they got a firearm. I’ve got tons of problems with the use of guns, but I don’t see any reason to publicize every person with a gun in the two counties, especially when they haven’t committed a crime.

That said, there are a hell of a lot of guns in Westchester and Rockland counties, and if that’s the case in suburban New York, the numbers have to be astronomical throughout the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the Violence Policy Center, a pro-gun-control organization, went through state databases and listed, “the circumstances for all killings (private citizen, law enforcement, mass shootings, murder-suicide) not ruled self-defense by private individuals legally allowed to carry concealed handguns.”

This, I have no trouble linking to. Go here for the 216-page PDF.

It’s scary. Lots of murders. Lots of suicides (an alarming number of murder/suicides). Lots of kids finding their parents guns and blowing themselves away.

The listings all show how police and courts dealt with the incidents, and there are contrasts throughout the country, especially in terms of parental responsibility on children’s deaths. Some states prosecute. Others don’t. And each incident is a detailed account of what led up to the deaths.

Meanwhile, Ezra Kline posts a chart over at the Washington Post that shows the leading causes of violence-related deaths in the U.S. by method and age group (click to enlarge):


As Ezra says:

You know that line, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” It’s true, so far as it goes. But in the United States, when people decide to kill people, or kill themselves, they typically reach for a gun.

Now he tells us

Looks like we did Mitt Romney a favor by not voting for him:

Mitt Romney’s eldest son Tagg Romney told the Boston Globe that his father had “no desire” to run for president again 2012 but was persuaded by his family to do so.

“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” he said. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention.”

Romney spent $45 million of his own money on his 2012 bid.


Stupid is as stupid does: The ship of fools

A week after the presidential election, a group of about 600 rich Republicans took a “conservative cruise of a lifetime” to the Bahamas, sponsored by the National Review.

New York magazine has the details. The diplomatic way of saying it is, “these people are really out to sea.”

Some of the gems …

“Who sent Obama here to destroy America?” a fiftysomething woman asked me one evening over dinner, as if it were a perfectly reasonable question.

…and …

As we drained the Pinot Noir, [Kevin] Hassett gave his audience the insider’s view of the Romney campaign, describing how its election-monitoring software crashed on November 6 and Obama was probably behind it, “because those guys are so evil.”

The table grumbled in assent.

“The thing we have to understand is, these are people who don’t have any morals,” said Hassett. “They’ll do anything. I’m one of their No. 1 targets. I mean, they really want me bad.”

… and …

After dinner was a program called the “Light Side of the Right Side.” A frenetic, tightly wound man named James Lileks, a National Review columnist from Minnesota, warmed up the crowd with one-liners: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put 50 million Democrats up there as well!”

… and …

At other times, things got a little too old-fashioned for comfort. I met a man near the railing who was there as a caregiver for a 70-year-old National Review cruiser from Palm Desert, California. He was gay and seemingly liberal and had come on the cruise only to push his boss around in a wheelchair. As he smoked a cigarette, he recounted a conversation the two had about the ship’s largely Indonesian and Filipino staff.

BOSS: You notice none of the workers are white.

CAREGIVER: Except the managers upstairs.

BOSS: Well, that’s the way it should be.

It goes on like this for a couple of thousand words, but it’s a fascinating story. If you start reading it, you can’t put it down. It’s like watching a car accident in slow motion. You want to turn away, but you watch because you just can’t believe it’s happening. Read the whole thing here.