Al, Christina and I attended Richard Viguerie’s seminar on 9/11 in DC. He had a lot of good advice for us rabble rousers. Here is a recent interview of Viguerie where he repeats a few of the things we heard on 9/11.
Archive for September, 2009
Nobody knew what was going to happen at the Taxpayer March on Washington. The Capitol Police didn’t know, the media didn’t know, politicians didn’t know, conservative pundits didn’t know, the organizers didn’t know, and the participants themselves had no idea. Many who weren’t part of it still haven’t a clue what happened.
Three of us from the Sooner Tea Party left our Alexandria hotel early, under rain clouds, to meet up with the busload that would arrive from OKC around nine. For the whole drive in I wondered how many people would be there, and I hoped it would be at least ten or twenty thousand. I worried that it wouldn’t be. Numbers send a message, and we had one for some people here in the capitol, I thought.
When the fifty or so of us Sooners walked away from Union Station we quickly joined a stream of groups and individuals flowing toward Freedom Plaza, the beginning point of the march. When I reached 13th Street and the plaza came into full view I was shocked. From the Ronald Reagan building north of Pennsylvania to the Starbucks south of the plaza there was a mass of people with flags and handmade signs of all different sizes, colors and messages: “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying taxes,” “I’ll keep my fingers, Bible, guns, and freedom – you keep the change,” “How will my children pay for all of this?” “Clean sweep: Vote them all out.”
There seemed nowhere left for us to stand. Rising above the assembly was the statue of the Continental Army general, Casimir Pulaski, astride his stallion, ready to lead another charge. Someone was giving a speech I couldn’t make out and a cheer broke out, then another. I looked around at others who were just arriving. From the moment the streams of incoming demonstrators saw that bright and lively multitude, quizzical smiles appeared. They relaxed, and despite the gloom of a few of the signs and the dark clouds, it became festive.
I entered the crowd saying “Excuse me,” and people made way. We smiled and nodded in passing. I climbed to the highest platform I could reach. How far back did this go? As far as I could see. There were speakers like Kenneth Gladney and some music, but that wasn’t why I came. I snapped photos and began talking to people. “Where are you from?” “Sacramento,” one couple said. “Virginia” “North Carolina” “New Jersey” “Pennsylvania” “Ohio” and the list went on. When I replied “Oklahoma” to that question I often got a surprised look and “Thanks for coming so far!” and I would thank them back. In each meeting we made eye contact and there again was that quizzical look, a question expressed in a smile: “Is this really happening? I thought I was alone, me and my family,” or “Me and twenty or a hundred friends, we thought this was our last stand.” Then we marched down Pennsylvania to the US Capitol, singing and chanting, smiling and wondering as the clouds broke before us.
We sent a message, but it wasn’t the one we thought we had come to send. It wasn’t a message to Capitol Hill, or to Obama, or the media, the left, or even the people back home, though some of them may have overheard a bit. The real message became clear when we walked up to strangers and started talking. Five minutes later we had friends from some other part of the country, email addresses, new websites to check out, and ideas, crazy ideas about changing things that every ex-stranger seemed to share, and it didn’t matter how many we met. There were always hundreds of thousands more.
The day came to a close and I began to see a new look in strangers’ eyes. Our group kept talking to more people, briefly now, as we walked back to Union Station. As darkness slipped across us there wasn’t much smiling, just faces like engineers and carpenters, mothers and veterans wear. We strangers in the Capitol began saying: “It’s going to be a hard slog.” “There’s a lot of work to do.” “This is just the shot heard ’round the world. Get ready for a fight.”
This story has been cross-posted at Tea Party Gazette.
CNN interviewed Al right after the Taxpayer March on Washington ended. Here’s the video:
How all of this came about is a pretty good story in itself. I was sitting in the bleachers at the Liberty Summit on Thursday morning, thinking about how I was going to find the other Oklahomans in the crowd. The guy that set up our congressional meetings had set the meetings on Friday, not Thursday as the national schedule called for. As a result, we weren’t going to get any face time with any of our congressmen, just the staff. I wasn’t going to let that happen.
So the speaker announced that they were starting in 5 minutes, and I thought I’d ask if he could announce that I was looking for other Okies. As I was explaining the situation, he tapped a guy on the shoulder, and introduced me. It was Senator Inoffe, my Senator. After explaining the situation, Inhoffe offered to announce my plight during his talk, and asked if we would come see him in the afternoon. We had one meeting with Congressman Lucas, a meeting that I had set up myself, and we found another guy that was meeting with Boren’s staff. Found five or six Oklahomans as well to take to the Boren staff meeting, later we had around 12 to the Lucas meeting, and around 20 at the Inhofe meeting..
So I was waiting by the exit to catch any other Okies, and this lady walks up with a video guy, starts asking questions about why I was there. I thought it was another small patriot group doing some footage, had met one already doing just that. The lady said her organization, but I thought I had misunderstood. She asked if she could come to my meeting with Inhofe, I said yes and went on doing what I was doing.
A bit later she came back and we talked some more. I decided she was asking a lot of questions, so I asked again who she was with. CNN…. I liked to have fallen over.
She showed up at Senator Inhoffe’s office at the meeting, filmed part of the 20 person meeting till Inhofe asked her to go so we could talk privately. They waited outside till we got done, then interviewed me. They tossed me some soft ball questions, then asked about Joe Wilson and what he said at Obama’s speech. Luckliy, I had been too busy to keep up with the current stories, so I didn’t have a clue who Joe Wilson was.
Then Saturdayafter the event had shut down, the producer called again,asking if I would interview live. Our bus was about to leave, but we had plenty of help to see them off (I was flying in the next day), so I decided to do the interview. CNN had a platform set up near the stage, where they had filmed the event. They had maybe six people making things happen. It was pretty interesting. You see these interviews all the time on TV, the anchor sits in New York, and the interviewee has a camera trained on him, microphone and an ear plug, where he can hear the anchor’s questions. You don’t see the anchor, just listen to him.
They had two guys with some of our white signs, using the back of the signs as reflector to correct the lighting, one guy held up the carboard on each side of you as they filmed. The producer tracked the anchor man as he broadcast the show, giving us cues as to when we were going live. Then there was a sound guy that wired me up and managed sound levels, and of course an couple of their reporters, one of which was Jim Spellman.
Jim Spellman was the reporter that followed the Tea Party Express bus across the land. Here is a video of the guy http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/28/tea.party.express/index.html?iref=newssearch#cnnSTCVideo.
At first they had me siting some distance away, I could watch, but not hear what was going on. As my time spot got closer, they moved me in about six feet away, started hanging the microphone on me, earphone, checking sound levels. At this point, Jim Spellman starts a live report about seeing a dark side to the Tea Party movement, Nazi swastikas and AK47s at the Tea Parties along the bus route, saying that many of us believed there were concentration camps that Obama was going to use on us, shutting down the internet, just about every far out rumor that has been spread around. I’m sitting there thinking that I had walked into a trap and was going to get chopped up. Jim Spellman really takes a hatchet to us then they go into a break. Probably commercials.
They finish with him, rush me up onto the small platform you stand on, test the microphone, that sort of stuff. I’m wondering if I should just bail out, but decide they are likely trying to rattle me, to get me upset enough to make a fool out of myself and the partiot movement. That makes me start getting mad. It takes about ten minutes for the program to get back to me, and I can hear the program through my ear piece.
My interview starts off with Don Lemon, the anchor, introducing me, where I am from, pleasentries really. Then he references Jim Spellman’s report earlier, without being specific, leaving some doubt as to whether it was the hatchet job Jim did on us right before the break. Don then asks about the “dark” side that Jim was speaking to. I was ready for that one, had planned out several replies, all of which put the blame back on Obama and the politicians for not being clear on their plans for the nation. I blamed the extreme talk on fear and rumors, then started leading the conversation away from the “dark” side and into safer ground, the slide into socialism. I knew I could get him to bite on that bait.
Sure enough, he swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I got into GM, insurance company, and bank bailouts, leading him further and further away from where he started. From his stumbling response, you could tell he really didn’t know the difference between socialism and othe forms of government, didn’t get that government control of businesses was a step in that direction. Really, facism fits the definition better, but I didn’t want the discussion to be about facism or Hitler. But I had the hook set well, so I interrupted him while he was speaking, correcting him when he said we were a democracy. Putting him off balance, leading him away from what he wanted to talk about and to where I wanted to define our movement. At this point, he is stumbling, not for sure if we are a capitalistic society or a democratic one so I offer him a lifeline, I turn the discussion to health care.
Again he follows, seeing some firm footing in the swamp and goes for it. He doesn’t quite understand how he got to this point, from asking about the “dark” side of our group to now talking about health care, but he thinks he is on familar ground. Quickly he grabs a lifeline “Al, has his, but what about others?” He is trying to define me as “selfish” now. At this point we are far away from dangerous ground, so I can hammer home the facts, that no one has to worry about health care in this country, or if they do, it isn’t the disenfranchised that worry, it is the middle class. He has to admit, on the air live, that there is no health care problem for the poor. With no legs left to his arguement, he is forced to change his focus from combative to concilitory so he asks me what we want we want done. He isn’t likely smart enough to have picked up the “control” issue that is waiting in the wings should he be slow enough to stay on the stubject.
My final thoughts were that the guy isn’t a monster,he is just a regular guy, but he hasn’t enough real education to understand the different forms that government can take. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with people challenging him so he isn’t ready to address real facts. Some serious challenging of his “facts” might well change his opinion eventually. His staff gets it, they congratulated me on handling the situation so well.
Here is a link to some of the reporting they were doing that focused on the most extreme of the protesters.
And here is the CNN video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bNPu5keAdc
Just a quick run-through here. All of these links have differing descriptions and good photos.
Another interesting detail about the march — it was filled with immigrants. I’m pretty sure every Cuban in a thousand mile radius was there, helpfully explaining to everyone who would listen that Cuba’s vaunted free health care system involves shoddily trained doctors and bringing your own linen to the hospital. I also spoke to angry immigrants from England and Ireland, appalled the country was slouching toward socialized medicine.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the crowd was how friendly and civil it was. It was also a fun crowd — to the well endowed redhead in the “Boobs Czar” T-shirt, I doff my cap to you m’lady.
More to follow, including our own reports.
I just came back from spending four-plus hours with the Don’t-Tread-On-Me crowd at our nation’s capitol. Expect a full Reason.tv report later, but my snap impressions:
* Big crowd. Do not believe any description that says “thousands.” If there weren’t at least a healthy six figures there, I will permanently revoke my head-counting license.
* Nineteen out of 20 signs were hand-made. …
* Of the people I ended up talking to, the general vibe was that they were conservative, and then either Republican, formerly Republican, or independent. Every single one had unkind words to say about George W. Bush’s spending and governing record, though none had protested him. None expressed trust in Republicans, and most preferred a “throw-all-the-bums-out” strategy. All but one did not care about Obama’s birth certificate controversy, and those I asked thought it was foolish to bring guns to political gatherings.
Born into a noble family in Poland, Casamir Pulaski was so inspired by the American struggle for liberty that he immigrated and joined the Continental Army in 1777. An experienced cavalry officer who had fought the Russians for Polish liberty, during his short career he was appointed Brigadier General and eventually put in command of all American cavalry forces. He led his troops in a number of battles before being mortally wounded in combat at Savannah, Georgia, in 1779.
A number of STP members spent a great day in our nation’s capitol. Al, Christina and I took most of the morning and early afternoon to attend a grassroots organizing seminar put on by Viguerie Marketing Institute. There was a lot of good information, and Richard Viguerie was inspiring to hear. Ben Hart and Diana Banister also spoke about key aspects of grassroots activism. We learned a lot and will be bringing that knowledge back to the STP.
Then it was off to visit Congressional offices with Ethel, a fellow Tea Partier here from Massachusetts. Al and Christina had visited the Oklahoma offices yesterday, so today we went by Joe Wilson’s to offer some encouragement, and then to Olympia Snowe’s, to tell her representatives that we hoped she would vote against Obamacare.
Later we met up with a number of other STP members for dinner. Afterward, group of us went to the front gate of Walter Reed Army Medical Center to participate in the demonstration to show support for our wounded veterans. My guesstimate is 150-200 showed up for it (Update: Al thinks more like 500), many carrying flags and signs of support for our troops. Drivers passing by honked and waved. This ongoing rally is a response to anti-war demonstrators who used to protest at the front gate of the hospital. About 20 anti-war demonstrators had their own rally some distance away.
After that we drove back to our hotel, but even then couldn’t get away from the Tea Party — there were two busloads of patriots from the Great State of Indiana at the hotel! There’s a lot of pretty excited Americans here tonight.
Tomorrow’s the big march! We’ll be up early to meet our busload of spirited fellow protesters from Oklahoma and then rally with fellow patriots from around the country at Freedom Plaza. From there, the spirit of General Pulaski will set us off on our march to restore the freedoms he and many others died for.