Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's in Those "Tea Bags?"

There is one explanation for what happened last week at Alamogordo, NM: by every method of ranking education or "smartness," New Mexico is in the bottom five among the 50 states.

What did happen last week in Alamogordo?  Walt Rubel, managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun News, wrote that a bunch of folks gathered there to "rail against all things Obama and revel in all things ballistic."

Rubel wrote:

"The Alamogordo Second Amendment Task Force joined with the Otero Tea Party Patriots, and, as a twist, invited folks to brings their guns, along with those clever signs portraying Obama with a Hitler mustache.

"'We want to put a positive light on gun ownership," said Dan Woodruff, founder of Alamogordo's Second Amendment Task Force.

"Yeah, that'll work. For those who have an intrinsic fear of guns and a deep-seated belief that tighter laws are needed to reduce gun violence, nothing will 'put a positive light on gun ownership' quite like inviting every yahoo with a weapon in southern New Mexico to gather at the busiest intersection in Alamogordo and wave their firearms at the passing traffic.

"And, just to keep things in a 'positive light,' organizers decided to hold the rally diagonally from the Tea Party protest, with all the positivity it engendered. And, just for good measure, they invited a bunch of bikers - the Sons of Liberty Riders - to join in the fun. Nothing puts peoples' minds at ease quite like well-armed bikers.

"Woodruff wants us to understand that his group isn't taking its responsibility lightly.'We are going to keep an eye on people at the protest to make sure they're not playing with their guns or anything like that,' he said.

"See? Now don't you feel reassured?"

David Brooks of the New York Times chimes in with sneering references to "the educated class" being out of touch with the feelings of real people such as the tea party nutcases.

"The tea party movement," he writes, with no discernible tongue in cheek, "is now more popular than either major party. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 41 percent of Americans have a positive view of the tea party movement. Only 35 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Democrats and only 28 percent have a positive view of the Republican Party.

"The movement is especially popular among independents. The Rasmussen organization asked independent voters whom they would support in a generic election between a Democrat, a Republican and a tea party candidate. The tea party candidate won, with 33 percent of independents. Undecided came in second with 30 percent. The Democrats came in third with 25 percent and the Republicans fourth with 12 percent."

The Rasmussen poll to which Brooks refers is based on a telephone survey of 1,000 people -- too small a sample to warrant  his sweeping "is now more popular" assertion.  Besides, the same poll, using the same methods one week earlier, came up with this breakdown: Democrat 36 percent, mythical Tea Party 23 percent, Republican 18 percent.

What to make of all this?  Only that there are enough ignoramuses in the good old U.S. to work up a crowd toting guns and crazy signs, not just in under-educated New Mexico, but anywhere.

You don't have to be intelligent to be protected by the First Amendment.

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Only two things are infinite:  the universe and human stupidity -- and I'm not sure about the universe. -- Albert Einstein.

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