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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Kent County Democrat Party meets the TEA Party of West Michigan

    By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
    Posted on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 03:07:05 PM EST
    Tags: Senator Carl Levin, Kent County Democrats, TEA Party of West Michigan, peaceable assembly and protest, flash mob (all tags)

    Levin at KCDP PicnicSomething entertaining happened in Riverside Park (that's on the north side of Grand Rapids, for those of you unfamiliar) on Saturday afternoon.  To read the article from the Grand Rapids Press, you'd think it was the presence of our esteemed Senator Carl Levin at the annual Kent County Democrats Annual Dogs & Suds Picnic.  The good senator was apparently there to discuss the stimulus package, the national debt, and cash-for-clunkers.  He also told the local party faithful about his push to get President Obama to appoint a panel of health care specialists to flesh out details of the president's universal health care plan.

    Evidently he wants to have that panel hosted somewhere other than in DC, where the panel won't be so vulnerable to attacks.  Definitely in the Midwest, maybe Michigan.  According to the senator, "There's a firestorm of rhetoric and misinformation around this historic issue."

    How truly he had spoken, and how inaccurate he was.

    (I've reduced the size of all of the event photos to make them fit, but embedded links in case you want a really good view.)

    Big Dave's Sign

    In their regular meeting last Thursday, the TEA Party of West Michigan (TPWM) received word, via the Grand Rapids Press, that the KCDP annual picnic was going to be hosting Senator Carl Levin, who would be speaking to the gathering.  The matter was discussed back and forth for a bit, because several had attempted correspondence over the past months with the senator on several issues, only to receive standard form letters in return; said letters not even substantively addressing the subject of the original correspondence.  Disappointed with his refusal to speak with his constituents, it was quickly decided that, since Senator Levin would not come to us, we should go to him.

    Aware of the potential for backlash if this thing should get out of hand, TPWM leadership carefully laid out guidance for how we were to engage (or more accurately, avoid engaging) the opposition.  The basics were:

    • No violence, no threats, no profanity, no racism, no law-breaking.
    • Law enforcement officers must be treated with respect.
    • Stay out of the street at all times, except when using a crosswalk with the traffic light.
    • Do not block the sidewalk to pedestrian traffic.  Keep your signs from hanging over into the street.
    • Do not block the signs of, nor get within 10 feet of, our opponents.  Do not interfere with any media coverage of them.  Our First Amendment rights are their rights, too.
    • Any arguments should be at 10 feet away to avoid conflict arising from passions on both sides.  If you choose to get close to them physically, do so in friendship as fellow Americans only.
    • Do not give the middle finger, call people jerks, or tell them to go home or get a job.
    • Take the high road.  Be civil, but resolute.  When you are cursed at or given the middle finger, point out the rudeness of the leftists by chanting, "Mean spirited arrogant condescending liberal."
    • Remember, we are here to support the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution.

    Mustering the Four Dozen

    We only had about 24 hours to put this together, so we had to spread the word quickly.  David Oom, the main organizer for this event, posted an event notice on our website - with all pertinent information - as soon as he got home.  The e-mail and phone chain was also activated.  We kept it local, as we didn't expect anyone not living in West-Central Michigan would be willing to make the drive.  Our plan was to meet in the park, a short distance from the pavilion that KCDP had rented (and out of direct view), about an hour before the scheduled event and from there move in as a group to the party spot.

    Saturday afternoon wasn't the best of weather for a protest, but by 2:00 PM we had exactly 49 people at our rally point.  (I know the number because I did the head count, and I did it thrice just to make sure.)  We made a few last-minute protest signs - some had brought pre-made ones - talked about what we were going to do and how we were going to do it, said a prayer, and marched off to take care of business.

    Moving Out

    Approaching the Bridge

    Crossing the Bridge

    Liberal Think Tank

    We were pretty certain that we'd arrived in the right place when we noticed the liberal think tank set up.  Oh yeah, and all of the "campaign for change" signs too.

    Kent County Democrat Party Chair Phil Skaggs was considerably less than thrilled to see four dozen or so red-shirted protesters show up in a public place (we stayed on the public path during our rally) a half hour before his picnic started.  And of course, several of the hardcore-liberal members of the party were visibly (and audibly) distressed by our arrival.  This was not a small source of satisfaction for us.

    Peace Talks

    Now mind you, it wasn't like he didn't know we were coming.  I say this because when he came out to talk to us, he specifically asked which one was Dave Oom, the TPWM event organizer.  Big Dave, of course, identified himself (not like he's tough to miss) whereupon Mr. Skaggs showed his permit to use the pavilion and asked us where ours was for our counter-event.  Dave's response was very straightforward:  We're in a public right-of-way, so we don't need a permit.  Mr. Skaggs then asked if we could go and stand by the treeline, so as to be out of the way.  Dave's response again was very straightforward:  Nope, as long as we are on public property and keep it peaceful, then we are within our first-amendment free-speech rights.

    Chairman Skaggs, by now clearly concerned that something disastrous was about to happen, asked if he could speak with Dave out of earshot of the rest of the party; Dave was okay with this, as long as they weren't out of eyesight.  Phil mentioned his concern that this was a family-type picnic, and he didn't want it to be disrupted.  Dave said that we had no intention of disrupting the picnic itself; we would stay on the public path and keep it civil.  Our issue was that Senator Levin had so far refused to respond to our concerns, and we wanted to make sure that he was aware that his constituents did not view such conduct favorably.  As soon as Senator Levin left, so would we.

    Doug and Kevin

    Phil Skaggs on the Phone

    Doug Dunning and I (and a few others) speculated briefly about whom Chairman Skaggs was calling.  Our consensus (correctly, as it appeared) was that he was contacting Senator Levin's people to let them know that the picnic site had been crashed, so they'd have to be careful about bringing him in.  Which was fine with us really; we actually wanted the senator to show . . . how else would we let him know our opinion?  (Seriously, he could have avoided all of this by simply responding to us in a substantive way.)  Actually, we were debating inviting Senator Levin to come over and talk to us; we just weren't sure he'd take us up on it.

    Democrat in Civil Discourse

    Democrat in Uncivil Discourse

    On Station

    But once the détente was achieved, the TEA Party settled in and enjoyed the afternoon.  It did help that the weather had begun to clear.  Several of the Democrats coming in paused to talk; one or two of them even engaged in a lengthy, very civil and productive discussion (and even took some of our literature with them).  Mark Brewer also showed up - sorry no one got a picture of that - and smiled in a bemused sort of way as he walked past our line.  Other than Fred Bertsch and I, no one recognized him; but Fred and I made a point of correcting that educational gap as soon as the MDP Chairman was clear and our of earshot.  One or two of our number, upon learning whom had just deigned to grace us with his presence, were heard to remark along the lines of, "Oh, so that's the king of the state socialist party."

    Interview with Kim Reinstadler

    Another High Profile Guest

    After a little bit Kim Reinstadler decided that she might be able to get a useful story out of this, and so came out to speak with Mark Petzold, Tina Dupont, and Dave Oom.  I know that they talked for about fifteen to twenty minutes, but all the media ink we got was a three-paragraph article - third one down - in an otherwise Democrat-friendly "polpourri" piece.

    What was really fun was when Former State Representative Mike Sak pulled up (parking his Saturn Vue in the remaining spot right in front of our line).  He actually shook hands and talked with several of us on his way through to the picnic.  I don't think that he necessarily agrees with us philosophically, but he made it very clear that he supports and encourages the fact of what we do.  In other words, he's thrilled with us exercising our First Amendment rights, even if he would prefer that we voiced another opinion.  Is this a great country or what?

    Senator Levin Addressing KCDP Picnic

    Of course, the guest of honor did eventually show.  (And by this time our protest crew had grown to nearly 60.)  We almost missed him coming in actually, because his staff parked him about a hundred yards (give or take) away - in another parking lot - and slipped him in along the lake, behind the other treeline.  He spoke for about thirty minutes, and if the audience in that pavilion numbered 250 (as Ms. Reinstadler reported), then I'll eat my protest sign.  I'm familiar with that pavilion, and at capacity it doesn't hold more than 100.  Several of the Democrats that I spoke with said that we actually outnumbered them.  (Some of the responses to the online copy of the Press story are quite fascinating.)  I suspect that we may have discovered the secret to our budget problems . . . Democrat leadership doesn't seem to know how to count.

    Keep in mind that about a sixth of the TPWM protest crew on site was made up of the core leadership of our movement.  And while Senator Levin was speaking, we were discussing among ourselves what we should do if he chose to leave by the way he came.  We decided that we would ask him to speak with us (we'd have to be loud, since it was some distance from the public path to the lake), and if that didn't work, as we suspected it wouldn't, then we'd recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a group.  The video below should tell you the rest:

    < GIT-Motown | *ACTION ALERT* Health Care Town Hall with Congressman John Dingell (D) >

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    Oh, boo hoo hoo! (none / 0) (#1)
    by KG One on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 04:08:32 PM EST
    Sen. Lilly-liver,er Levin won't take the time to talk to the people that HE serves, then sneaks off like a thief in the night?

    Kudos to a job well done making these politicians squirm.

    If anyone hasn't got the chance yet, check out the videos of Reps. Ellison, Doggett and Bishop and Sen McCaskill either activing dodging (much like Levin has done) or actively getting concerned because their constitutients aren't responding too well to the federal government's benevolence.

    It's about time!

    Tea Party of West Michigan Scores (none / 0) (#3)
    by MichPatriot on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 05:47:25 PM EST
    The video says it all. Sen. Levin ignored the Tea Party of West Michigan, both as he arrived and when he hastily departed. All we wanted was for him to at least talk to ONE of us.

    Is not a true Statesmen supposed to represent ALL those who reside in his State? Then again Sen Carl Levin is not a true Statesman, he's a coward.

    The Tea Party of West Michigan is all about following the Constitution of the United States and the Michigan Constitution.

    Please lend your voice and JOIN the TEA PARTY OF WEST MICHIGAN.


    "They can't count" ROFL !!! (none / 0) (#4)
    by maidintheus on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 05:55:49 PM EST
    That was golden!

    This was (another!) fantastic article!

    Kudos and many thanks!

    inspiring (none / 0) (#5)
    by Tom McMillin on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 06:02:13 PM EST
    Truly Inspirational.

    Makes me proud (none / 0) (#7)
    by apackof2 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:23:12 AM EST
    to be a tea party organizer...but wait... there's more to come!...ACTION ALERT Health Care Town Hall with Congressman John Dingell(D)

    For me, this is almost impossible to comment on (none / 0) (#8)
    by maidintheus on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 11:19:38 AM EST
    but perhaps that is due to all the graphics.

    Is anyone else having this problem with this post?

    When I try to reference this post, I have problems, failures, and stalls. I love this article but experience a lot of problems (not having elsewhere or on other articles here) but maybe it's just my hardware/connection? I have 'high speed'... Obviously I'm not a geek. Anyway, I'm not able to enjoy the benefit of this article as I'd like.

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