Well, a Seattle math teacher and improv actress is to blame:

Keli Carender has a pierced nose, performs improv on weekends and lives here in a neighborhood with more Mexican groceries than coffeehouses. You might mistake her for the kind of young person whose vote powered President Obama to the White House. You probably would not think of her as a Tea Party type. But leaders of the Tea Party movement credit her with being the first.

A year ago, frustrated that every time she called her senators to urge them to vote against the $787 billion stimulus bill their mailboxes were full, and tired of wearing out the ear of her Obama-voting fiancé, Ms. Carender decided to hold a protest against what she called the “porkulus.”

She's a teacher, a National Review reader, and an idiot:

In a video viewed 68,000 times on YouTube, she confronted Representative Norm Dicks, Democrat of Washington, at a town-hall-style meeting on health care. “If you believe that it is absolutely moral to take my money and give it to someone else based on their supposed needs,” she said, waving a $20 bill to boos and cheers, “then you come and take this $20 and use it as a down payment on this health care plan.”

Ms. Carender is less certain when it comes to explaining, for instance, how to cut the deficit without cutting Medicaid and Medicare.

“Well,” she said, thinking for a long time and then sighing. “Let’s see. Some days I’m very Randian. I feel like there shouldn’t be any of those programs, that it should all be charitable organizations. Sometimes I think, well, maybe it really should be just state, and there should be no federal part in it at all. I bounce around in my solutions to the problem.”

Keli and Advisors
  • Keli and Advisors
Yes! Let's return to those gloriously Randian days of poor houses, debtors prisons, and the elderly starving in the streets! Or, you know, let's not. But for sure let's not take seriously anyone who grandstands about the immorality of the federal government spending "her money" on other peoples' "supposed" medical needs but who then can't bring herself to call for even cuts—just cuts!—to Medicare and Medicaid. A Randian with the courage of her own idiotic convictions would be calling for the dismantling of Medicare and Medicaid, two taxpayer-fianced federal health insurance programs that are currently meeting the "supposed needs" of the poor and the elderly. A Randian wouldn't suggest that, gee, maybe the burden ought to be shifted to the states. (And Medicaid is already administered by the states!

And the story doesn't mention where Keli Carender teaches. (She performs with Jet City Improv.) Is she a city, state, or federal employee? It's a relevant detail. Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers and if Carender is a city, state, or federal employee, then its likely that her job comes with tax-payer-financed health-insurance benefits. And if she is a government employee, and her workplace does offer taxpayer-financed health benefits, has Carender refused her goverment-funded heath insurance? Has she opted to purchase much more expensive health insurance on the open market? Is she living by the Randian values she seeks to impose on us all? Or is she a hypocrite?

NYT readers have a right to know if Ms. Carender practices what she preaches or if her support for a "Randian" social compact ends where her own health-care needs begin.

UPDATE: Dom wrote up one of Carender's first Tea Party rallies last April:


The event organizer, Keli Carender (who blogs under the name Liberty Belle), staged a call to Representative Jim McDermott's office to say his constituents were upset about the state of things. She was outraged when nobody answered the phone, asking the media to take note that nobody answered the phone! It was 6:30 p.m.

UPDATE 2: JohnnyC nail it in the comments thread...

Interesting that this profile pretty much proves that the Tea Baggers are just pissed off Republicans:

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1. Keli called the stimulus "porkulus"—just like Rush Limbaugh
2. She was a member of the Young Republicans.
3. She sought help to boost her profile from Michael Medved and Michelle Malkin—hardly names that those "not interested in politics" are familiar with.
4. She read up on economics at National Review
5. teamed up with Republican Dick Armey
6. she apparently sat silently by while Bush ran up the dept, even passing a trillion dollar unfunded new Medicare entitlement.

This woman is a Republican pretending to be someone previously uninterested in politics. In short a fraud.