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The Tea Party in Minnesota

The Tea Party — which isn’t really a party just yet, but rather the world’s largest agglomeration of misspelled signs — attracted the attention of the local press this past weekend. This despite the fact that, as the Associated Press admits, it hasn’t really caught on in Minnesota.

Nonetheless, the Star Tribune was inspired enough by the movement to reprint another AP story: Five things to know about the Tea Party. What is worth knowing? Well, they tilt hard right, they’re leaderless, they have no defining issue, and they’re angry. And, despite all the naysayers saying nay, they’re doing what they can to make an impact locally. Heck, they have big plans for Tax Day, according to the local Tea Party Patriots site. They’ve got Toni Backdahl as an emcee, as an example. Who? Dunno, but they make a infanticide joke on their Twitter bio over an image of the cartoon character Beavis, so there’s that. Also, there will be music by Kritical Kontact. Who? If their Facebook page is correct, they’re “a fatal hit from a ninja to the throat collapsing your windpipe,” which seems to be a fancy way of saying “a rap group from Duluth. You can check out their mad skillz on their MySpace page.

Speaking of tilting hard to the right, the news in Tim Pawlenty’s world got weird this past week. Now, this is not a candidate who has been antagonistic to, let us say the fringe of the conservative party. Quite the opposite — for the past year or so, our governor has been the very model of toeing the party line, from public pronouncements of religion to rejection of climate science to aggressively criticizing Obama for federal spending, even as Pawlenty has used those funds to help balance the state budget. So he’s not precisely the sort of guy you expect to get right-wing death threats. Nonetheless, on Friday, Pawlenty announced that he had received a letter telling him he must resign within three days, or he would be “removed.” As the AP reports, the letter came from a group identified by the FBI as Guardians of the free Republics. Pawlenty didn’t seem especially concerned, perhaps because the threats were sent out en masse to about 30 state governors. Why not all 50? Perhaps they simply ran out of postage.

Paul Schmelzer from Minnesota Independent looks into the group a little more and discovers an Anti-Defamation League report on the movement that the group is associated with, called the Sovereign Citizen Movement, and finds it to be a rogues’ gallery of Posse Comitatus-styled anti-government types, linking it to the Redemption movement (Wikipedia entry), a terrifically bizarre tax fraud scheme. Fortunately, these guys are just some lunatic fringe, and hardly have a voice in contemporary politics. Except that the you’ll find a lot of the language of the Sovereign Citizen movement at Tea Party rallies. Here’s an example of its appearance locally.

Of course, that’s just one guy and one blog, although the same guy was also promoting a Tea Party protest at the state Capitol on March 19. The point? Although it’s a movement without a leader or a unified ideology, when you start chasing down the ideological threads of specific members, it just doesn’t take very long to locate links to the same people who threatened our governor, and the governors of a majority of the states of this Union. Of course, the counter-claim by Tea Party affiliates is that fringe elements in their movement are infiltrators, probably intended to discredit the movement. We’d like to suggest that it is possible that having a large and disorganized movement with generalized anti-government and anti-tax sentiments might, on occasion, attract anti-government and anti-tax extremists, but, then, what do we know?

Well, enough about the Tea Party. Alas, this means we move on to some terrible news. Firstly, there is a word in criminology, “overkill.” It’s a terrifying word, and defines situations in which criminal violence is far in excess of what would be required to end somebody’s life, generally indicating the killer was so blinded with emotion that they completely lost control of their actions. There was a textbook case of it this past weekend. As Abby Simons of the Star Tribune reports, a man named Billy Nash was charged Friday with fatally stabbing his wife. He allegedly stabbed her more than 70 times. While his children watched. Nash had already been charged with beating his wife, and was released from the Hennepin County Jail on the condition that he make no attempt to contact her.

The other terrible news is of the burning of the apartments above McMahon’s Pub at 3001 E. Lake St., which cost six lives, including one of the pub’s bartenders. According to Jessica Mador of Minnesota Public Radio, officials are still chasing down the source of the blaze, and the Associated Press offers the story of Andrew Gervais and his three young children, killed in the fire, who were temporarily homeless and were above the bar for one night while Gervais tried to get back on his feet.

At least we can close with a more encouraging tale of homelessness: According to Scott Seroka of KARE11, former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair, who volunteers at Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul, provided space and resources for a down-on-his-luck architect named John Chilcott; Chilcott, it turns out, has a talent for painting, and his work will be displayed at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis April 10.

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 04/05/2010 - 10:06 am.

    Glad you Gleaned on to the KARE story on Chilcott and Birk, Max. Saw it this morning, and found it really heartlifting.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 10:41 am.

    Say, bunny?

    Where did you come to the conclusion that T-Paw’s antagonists were strictly “right wingers”?

    For instance, it’s come to light that at least one of the “Hutaree” kooks is a registered Democrat. Maybe all this anger is due to the lack of Hopey/Changey(TM) with cheese?

    The AP story you’ve linked to doesn’t jump to any conclusions, neither does any other mainstream media story I’ve read concerning these letters.

    You know, there’s a lot of leftist propaganda mills out there pumping out completely false information..remember the census worker that was hanged by right wing fanatics (not)?…perhaps as a member of a media source that promises a “thoughtful approach to news” you might, erm, put some thought into your work.

    Just a suggestion, mind you….not a threat or anything, no need to send out a desperate appeal to the Minnesota Independent for a special report.

    Last thing I need is a call from the wife telling me the SorosSquad(TM) is digging through our trash cans.

  3. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/05/2010 - 11:02 am.

    Well, we’re not discussing the Hutaree folks, and the Posse Comitatus and its related movements are distinctly rooted in the American right wing. If you have evidence that the people who sent the threatening emails were left wingers, go ahead and present it, but I am not sure saying “Hey, an unrelated group has one registered Democrat” constitutes a rebuttal.

  4. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 04/05/2010 - 11:08 am.


    I’m sure the threats against Pawlenty were coming from the “spend more money on the poor,” “end the war,” “education is a right,” “destroy all the guns” bunch of left-wing radicals. After all, these guys are always making physical threats, where as the right wing Posse Comitatus types are always engaged in community organizing and get out the vote efforts. In other words, it may be making an assumption, but not much of a stretch.

    Whoever sent the letter — regardless of their politics — should be tracked down and prosecuted. Although I don’t like Pawlenty, his alleged jokes (are there any funny Republicans?) or his policies, threatening a rightfully elected political leader is, and should be, a serious crime.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 11:46 am.

    “but I am not sure saying “Hey, an unrelated group has one registered Democrat” constitutes a rebuttal.”

    Right. But the “thoughtful approach” dictates that finding one guy that writes one obscure blog that showed up at one Tea Party event constitutes a nice, solid link….got it.

    So, the “thoughtful approach” also informs us that the Democrat party is a Communist front because “Socialist Alternative” marched in the leftist anti-war parades in Saint Paul that were organized by DFL activists.

    The world is really just one, big daisy chain isn’t it, bunny?

  6. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/05/2010 - 12:23 pm.

    There is no such thing as the Democrat party. If you refuse to engage in civil discussion, but instead make little, mean-spirited jabs, why do you think I should take your points seriously?

    Also, I’m not especially interested in false equivalency discussions. “Certain local Tea Party members have shown interest in radical fringe anti-tax philosophies” is not the same thing as “the Democrat (sic) party is a Communist front.” Please argue in good faith.

  7. Submitted by Robert Owen on 04/05/2010 - 12:45 pm.

    The Daily Glean gives a definition of “overkill” the same (only?) day there’s nary a mention of Michele Bachmann. Good timing.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 01:05 pm.

    “There is no such thing as the Democrat party.”

    We can dream, bunny; we can dream.

  9. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/05/2010 - 04:05 pm.

    Well, my nickname is Bunny, so I’m not going to fault the guy for using it.

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 04:14 pm.

    Dear Mr. Porter.

    In his inaugural “Glean” appearance, our host, Max Sparber, thought it important enough to inform his reading audience that his nickname is “bunny”….that’s good enough for me.

    My parents named me Thomas Swift, which is also good enough for me, although my friends call me “swiftee”; you can call me Mr. Swift.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 04:35 pm.

    BTW Dave, thanks loads for the lesson in civil discourse.

    My leftist fans are always so helpful when it comes assisting me in owning up to my disabilities.

  12. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/05/2010 - 05:29 pm.

    Looks like maybe some of the protesters of Stalinism might be retirees, whose Social Security payments give them the luxury of protesting socialism on the government dime instead of greeting people at Wal-Mart.

    Must be pretty sweet to be an old, angry, retired person with no productive hobbies and thus plenty of time to bite the hand that feeds you. Retired men and women who volunteer their time to help people who are less fortunate than themselves are perhaps the most noble among us. Retired men and women who protest that the government is actually taking action to help such people who are less fortunate than themselves? Not so much.

    I wholeheartedly believe in the concern of anyone at large deficits now, provided that they were likewise concerned by large deficits run by republican presidents who didn’t even have the excuse of a not-so-great recession. Otherwise, I think we know what’s going on.

  13. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2010 - 07:25 pm.

    Richard, I realize that it is entirely counter to what you’ve been taught, but if you’d listen to what those “old, angry” people are saying instead of judging them on their outward appearance, you’d know that there is plenty of condemnation being cast on Republicans that act like Democrats when it comes to spending. Bush’s TARP I is a constant topic, as a matter of fact.

    I note that you didn’t include a caveat regarding the color of their skin, so maybe there’s hope yet.

  14. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/05/2010 - 08:25 pm.

    This makes me laugh. I never though the many unkind things I used to say about lefty protesters would now also apply to righties. Heh. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    … Oh no! I used French! DAMN YOU, OBAMACARE!

  15. Submitted by Nancy Lazaryan on 04/06/2010 - 01:27 pm.

    The internet is great. It is a wide open forum for discussion and opinions. However, this article that I am posting comment on disturbs me. It amazes me how people will resort to personal insults when they are unable to properly discuss an issue.

    IMO the Tea Party formed as the result of both the DFL and GOP violating the constitutions. When people mature enough to listen and learn beyond the sound bites given to us by major media, they understand there is only ONE “party” in control of our public offices.

    For the benefit of a “good show” the DFL is pitted against the GOP. Our energies are used to divide us so that the machine, the “Matrix” can continue to grow unchecked.

    Case in point: “Healthcare” in our country is a mess. Instead of the People, at local and state levels coming together and discussing solutions, our government forces their will upon us…under the guise of “helping people”. An enormous amount of energy has been spent fighting Obamacare. But where are the PEOPLE saying, “Doctors are different from factory workers. Life and death decisions are in their hands. Many times decisions about a person’s life are decided by money, the ego of the doctor, misinformation by pharmaceutical companies. How do we have dialogue so that we as individuals make decisions concerning our health, and not others?”

    Another case: The Ten Commandments. This proclamation was NOT originally given to Moses. It was foundation of civil law codified some 3000 years before Moses. It was explained in the words of Yeshua (name changed to Jesus) that the Law HANGS upon “Honoring the Creator and respecting each other.” Something we know as the “Golden Rule”.

    Without the “Golden Rule” we cannot live in society. We must honor the Creator..acknowledge there are certain Laws of Nature that we do not break (pollute the water and we will die). We respect the lives, property and opinions of others, or we will all die.

    Ron Paul (and now Michelle Bachman) demand that it be asked of each law, “How does this comply with the constitution?” To an extent, they are correct. However, the constitution is NOTHING other than a contract that is between the People on how we live together.

    We cannot solve our healthcare problem, the economic crisis, the crime, until we individually hold our own actions to the “Golden Rule”. And once we INDIVIDUALLY become LAWFUL, we can discuss how our civil law must comply with the manner in which we choose to live.

    It is my opinion the “Tea Party people” know “something is wrong”. What we all need to understand is that WE are “wrong”. When we return to the foundations of what is necessary for us to live and prosper in society, then we will solve the problems.

    BTW I was a speaker at the March 19th rally at the state capitol. The rally concerned problems with corrupt judges, including judges committing felonies and not being prosecuted for their crimes.

    I also researched the Guardians of the Free Republics (GFR). I listened to Sam Kennedy on Republic Broadcasting Network on Sunday night. Kennedy is one of the people leading the GFR. I found no indication of anything other than well researched and documented information from Kennedy and the GFR.

    I suggest that Max Sparber should do a better job of research before writing an article, as that is known as being a professional journalist and not a mere gossiper.

    Nancy Lazaryan

  16. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/06/2010 - 06:01 pm.

    Where do these people find the time? I know I’m busy commenting on blogs all day…err I mean working.

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