Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TEA Party Activist, Baptized in Fire,

Home From Midnight Vigil Surrounding the Capitol

By Jim Parks and Toby Marie Walker

Sing a song of America.
Once she was a young girl with her heart on fire.
Born in the magic and the dust of history
and the dream goes on, yes, it all goes on...

- Jefferson Starship

Let there be no mistake.

It is true that once upon a time there was a House
Resolution 1190, "providing for consideration to suspend the
rules," passed in the House of Representatives late last

Presumably, these are the same rules followed in a knife
fight; however, the resolution suddenly metamorphosed from a
lion into a lamb, lost its teeth and retracted its claws.

Had the resolution been applied, the lower chamber of
distinguished gentlemen and gentlewomen could have simply
approved the amendments the Senate had made to the Patient
Care Reform Act of 2010 and gone on their way, the new law
being "deemed approved" under the provisions of the
Slaughter Rule.

But a funny thing happened on their way to the office and
thence to the floor of the House.

They were surrounded!

Toby Marie Walker, a co-founder of the Waco Tea Party,
arrived at D-FW with the express desire to "wash off some of
the D.C. grit" and get a good night's sleep.

"I swear, you have no idea how dirty it is in that town,"
she said as she drove America's Main Street, I-35 East, back
to Six Shooter Junction, Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos, and made a
commitment to tell her side of the story the next day.

This much is clear.

When she called in a little after the Saturday morning
McLennan County Republican Convention, she told her fellow
operatives who were in caucus at the South Waco Public
Library that at about 10 a.m. there were perhaps 10,000
people wandering the corridors of the Rayburn House Office
Building and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

By mid-afternoon, the throng had swollen to more than 50,000
and it was growing, rising like the waters of a flood tide.
The building was surrounded, the doors were locked and life
became much, much more complicated for those on the inside.

The switchboards were jammed. You couldn't even get to the
threshold of Representative Chet Edwards' office, much less
through the door.

This is what it was like, according to Ms. Walker, an
individual who joined the ranks of the TEA Party long before
Tax Day 2009 and has been there ever since, showing up on
cue on certain downtown street corners and in caucus in
library and church meeting rooms in emulation of the finest
traditions of the ancien regime of the common man, the
Committees on Correspondence and Committees on Public Safety
of 18th century colonial America.

However, this is an America in its maturity, nurtured in
infancy by the insulation of two great oceans, forged by
civil war and two great world wars, tempered by the Pax
Americana of cold war and brush fire holding actions
worldwide. It's an America situated on a globe that
suddenly shrunk with the advent of jet travel, then shrunk
again with the introduction of satellite transmissions and
instant television, then found itself fed into the maw of
the twin streams of the great reduction valve of internet
intermodal streaming communications and the ubiquitous cell

Within one year, this fledgling organization has gained the
muscle and sinew necessary to put boots on the ground within
hours of the hue and cry going up, over and out of the great
surrounding fuddy duddy drone of business as usual.

Toby Marie Walker set aside time to tell The Legendary just
what it was like to go flaps down, hit town, put boots on the
ground, and get busy with the psy-war, TEA Party style,
in the Seat of Government, Washington, D.C.

The Legendary - So, tell me about your trip there. What was
that like?

Toby - Well, Thursday Grass Roots Coalition organized fifty
different groups around the nation to organize rallies
around the Capitol. So Thursday night Waco TEA Party had a
meeting and we discussed making the trip. We were going to
drive, but we didn't have time to get in the car and drive
there. So, we decided we were going to pool money and send
somebody...We decided we would do it if we could raise
enough money by noon on Friday to do it. So we sent out the
e-mail and raised enough money to do it.

L - How much?

T - I don't know. I'm not the treasurer, but it was enough.
It was over a thousand dollars. And that was by 10 o'clock
in the morning. And this was for somebody to go up and
represent and watch what happened.

We don't lobby. I mean, Chet won't meet with us, anyway.
He'll meet with a lot of people, but he won't meet with us.

So we sent somebody to go and watch the vote, to watch
what's going on, to come back - because sometimes the media
doesn't get the whole story, or doesn't get it accurate, or
misses things that we find important. So I got up there late
Friday...And the next day we had a rally at the Capitol.
That section of lawn, accoridng to the Capitol police holds
50,000 people. So it was from there between those two
walkways and down to the statue. Then there are the two
sides and those hold 10,000 people.

L - In less than 24 hours.

T- Yeah, really - in less than 48 hours. Where people just
dropped everything and came in.

L - In the expensive time of the week to fly, too.

T - Yes. People rented buses. I think Tennesee or Kentucky
had five buses that they filled in less than 24 hours.
People paid to get on the bus and go. They drove all the
way to D.C. and went to the rally, got on the bus and went

L - Did you know that while you were away Bert Hernandez got
a petition signed by the majority of people employed at
Bird-Kultgen Ford - he's the general manager - to sacrifice
$280 a month of their pay? To keep their jobs? That's what
it's gonna cost, this bill. It's either take a pay cut, pay
it, or get fired. So they signed up - $280 a month. Your

T - Well, Americans need to keep their jobs. What Obama did
was pass a tax increase on Texas and all Americans. Because
they're going to have to take pay cuts or pay more in taxes
or both. And, to me, a time when our economy is so
sluggish. You know, that's something that costs jobs, not
creates them. And in Texas, it's an even larger problem
than it is in other states because we don't have a state
income tax. So how are we gonna pay the Feds the $28 billion
over 10 years that it's gonna cost us? You know, where's
that money gonna come from? It's gonna come out of the
pockets of Texans. It may be $23.5 and it may be around
$24.5, or it's around $28.5, but it's around $28 billion.

What's a billion here and there? I can't even imagine a
billion dollars, you know... (laughter)

L - It's a thousand million.

T - Yeah. They talk about billions of dollars in Washington,
D.C., like you and I talk about a hundred dollars or ten
dollars. To them, they just drop that figure left and right.
Understandably, because it's a very large budget, a very
large economy, you know, a much grander scale. To say it
without - so flippantly - oh, that was only a billion
dollars. It's shocking...

L - So you were actually experiencing some form of culture

T - They think a lot differently on both sides. There's
like a D.C. bubble that they live in. They live in that
bubble and I think that's part of the problem that they live
with. They get so disconnected whether it's Texas or Alaska
or Maine or Ohio or anywhere else. They get disconnected
from home. I think we have some very, very good people in
Congress, but they live in that bubble and when you live in
that bubble, that kind of isolation, I think it's very
difficult for them to see how the average American sees it.

L - Do you think the design of the city, you know, the way
it's laid out for that kind of mass protest or rally, does
that have any cultural significance on the way people behave
or think?

T - I think it depends on who you're talking to. You know,
we had that rally and all the garbage cans were overflowing,
but we left it very clean. Five hours later you would have
never known that anyone was ever there. It was unlike the
inauguration when it took them days and days to clean it up.
The Capitol police were extremely polite and, you know,
friendly and smiling at us, and extremely good ambassadors
for our country. And it's a shame that - you know, some of
our Congressmen have the same attitude. You know, they were
smiling and shaking our hand and thank you for coming, you
know, and this is our lawn. This is our building...

L - Did you actually witness untoward behavior from elected
officials or their direct servants, their staff members?

T - There was a Congressman that, while we were eating
dinner on Saturday night - we were eating in, like a
sidewalk restaurant - walked by - was initially very
friendly, but later became very condescending and rude. You
know, treated us like peasants, like we didn't know any
better and we were uneducated on the issues and we were
misinformed...and no one knows it but you. I mean, the
portions that were made public. Part of the problem with
legislation is that when you look at these clauses, you have
to go look at other legislation so it is very difficult for
the average American. Except for the staffers or the lawyers
or the people who wrote it, they're the only ones who
understand it because they're the ones who wrote it.

So it's a perversion of our system.

But it was, other than him, I think it was locking the door
so people could not get in to see their representatives.

L - What building was that?

T - The Cannon Building. So you could talk to the
Congressmen and see how they were voting, get their sense on
the matter. The people who represent you, how they represent
you. I mean, they're our representatives and they locked the

L - Well, I had the same impression. I was here in Waco and
I went into Chet's office to get someone to tell me what
this resolution means. (H.R. 1190 "motions to suspend the
rules) And I thought it was a fair question. And it occurs
to me that any kind of question about this is a fair

T - Yeah. There are no stupid questions. There are only
stupid answers.

L - Not when it comes to this meshugas. I mean, like, you
gotta ask...

T - Yeah. And it's very disheartening when you can talk to
policy centers or people who will explain to you what things
mean. And there are certain Congressmen who are very good
at it, their staffs are very good at explaining what a part
of the House bill is. Then there are Congressmen who don't
want you to know anything. They think you're stupid. And so
it's not that we're stupid. A lot of times we're ignorant
of how, we're ignorant of who to talk to, we're ignorant of
what to do, and that's where the TEA Party is getting people
educated on how to find out. There is a lot out there. You
can go to, you can go to policy centers and find
people who will talk to you, who will help you. And so,
it's really sad that people who represent you, who are paid
to represent you, can't hire staff who can explain something
as simple as a resolution.

L - Well Josh (Taylor, Rep. Edwards' press liaison) never
sent a statement until after deadline - television deadline
- I got a statement from him after they were off the air.
And it would have helped me and it would have eased the
situation there in town if he had just told me and embargoed
it. Said you can use it, but not until after the tv news
shows. And that's okay, I mean, who the hell cares about
television, man? I mean, what do they sell? They sell
washing powder and Frigidaires and Chevrolets, Fords.

T - Well, to me the first priority should be to the
citizens, not to television...So if a citizen calls and asks
a question, then, yeah, they should be answered. If a
citizen calls and asks what a vote is about, they should be
told. And I don't blame their office staff. I mean, they
just work there. They're doing what they're told to do.
They're very lovely, very polite, very kind. They're just
doing a job. I mean, I don't hold them responsible. I hold
the D.C. office responsible because they're just hired to do
what they're told to do. And they're playing games with
people. You know, the rhetoric that goes on on both sides of
the aisle, I mean, there's a lot of misinformation from both
sides and sometimes it's disinformation because nobody's
been clear. I mean, if you come out and say this is what it
was, this is why I did it, this is much better than giving
out false information like you're trying to hide something.

And it wouldn't happen if you weren't trying to fool people.

L - When you sit down and read the Constitution, are you
sometimes just amazed at what the Constitution says and what
you've actually seen in your life? Because there's always
been a war going on in my life. I'm sixty years old. I
don't remember a time when there wasn't a war going on.

None of them have been declared by Congress.

You know, Article 1, Section 8 says that war is declared by
a majority of both houses of Congress. The President can ask
for a declaration of war, but only Congress can declare

T - That's something I don't have the answer to. There are
other things in the Constitution that, I mean, our states'
rights are trampled on every time they pass a law that does
what this one did. I mean, we don't teach civics the way we
used to. People don't know. My kids didn't have a civics
class and they're in their twenties, but I did...We don't
teach this to kids and it's generational brain drain. They
don't know, so they can't fight. I mean, you know what you
know...So that's one thing that, this year, we're handing
out pocket Constitutions so you can read it. You can read
it on-line.

That's not a high priority in peoples' lives, but if you
don't know what your rights are, they can be taken away from
you very easily...

You're innocent until proven guilty, but even in our IRS
code, you're guilty until proven innocent...

L - Okay, they put that magnetic strip on that driver's
license and they run it through that computer in that police
car. It says right there, "He's a drunk. He's a dope
addict. And the third time's the charm. You're a felon.
You're not gonna vote. Okay, it's not a war on drugs; it's
not a war drunk drivers. It's a war on the ___ ____ vote...

Something that I see, and I really would like to hear you
talk about, is what I see from TEA Party is direct action. I
see direct action type of operations. I don't see any civil
disobedience to speak of. You know, I don't see anything
like knocking over garbage cans or breaking windows - any of
that stuff...

T - It doesn't accomplish anything...

L - Just gets you locked up...It reminds me of the things
the original TEA party did. Where they didn't try to
remonstrate or treat with the government or lobby them to
see things their way. They just went down there and
destroyed the tea...So, that's what they call direct

People come to you about specific problems - party politics,
social issues - and you say you don't deal with that. Why is

T - Well, because of our by-laws we are non-partisan. We
don't deal with Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or any
other party. Now, if you come to me and I take my TEA Party
hat off and put on my Republican hat, I can point you in the
right direction.

L - Why do you have that by-law?

T - We have Republicans; we have Democrats; we have
Libertarians; we have Independents. We don't want to favor
any one over any other. There's bad behavior on all fronts,
so we don't mix them. There are good groups out there who
do do that, and we let them do that and if they fail to do
that, it's on their shoulders...There's only so much time in
the day. Really, TEA Parties came out of taxes and spending
- not I want you to reform my party, I want you to change
who's in office, I want you to change laws. We've been
criticized because we don't take on those social issues and
they have subject matter expertise so we let them do it. We
wouldn't want the NRA to come in and tell the TEA Party how
to operate and we wouldn't go in and tell the NRA how to
operate. Even though we have an extremely large e-mail
list, a large volunteer base, there's not enough people to
handle each one of these issues separately...

L - What was the precipitating event that got you into

T - It was really a 12-minute YouTube video named "Burning
Down The House" by Mouthpiece. It's about TARP (Troubled
Assets Relief Program)...which I call throwing a tarp over
the American economy. Go watch it and Google the things it
points out. I think it will show you what has happened to
the American economy.

And so, I went and watched Mouthpiece's YouTube presentation
and I realized what caused the collapse of the housing
market and created a need for a massive bailout of the
banking, insurance and automotive industries.

It was a government program that created an opportunity for
people to borrow sums they could never afford to repay to
buy homes that were grossly overpriced, over-appraised by
lending institutions and government agencies.

I suddenly realized what the TEA Party activists came out
swinging and raising hell about a year ago.

It's all about a massive bid for power over the American
economy, a bid financed with the American taxpayers' own

Go watch "Burning Down The House" by typing in YouTube -
Burning Down The House in your web search engine.

Google the references in that documentary.

Then, go figure.

Keep coming back. If we aren't here, it will be someone
just like us. If we aren't at this location, it will be one
nearby - very nearby. Next door. Around the corner.

But we will be in your neighborhood - definitely in your

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