Patriots and scoundrels

Climbing on board with Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams

Well, I have to say I’m disappointed. I was hoping by the time I got around to writing this, the second American Revolution would have already started, sparked by some unemployed, foreclosed citizen desperately clinging to the Tea Party Express that’s wheezing and sleazing its way across the United States.

I don’t use the term “revolution” lightly. In fact, I wouldn’t use it at all if renowned prognosticator Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute, hadn’t declared it first in a heated essay released earlier this month.

“The natives are restless,” Celente wrote. “The third shot of the ‘Second American Revolution’ has been fired. History is being made. But just as with the first two shots, the third shot is not being heard.”

Fueled by fear of change, a crashing economy and rising unemployment, the hundreds of people who turned out for tea party protests across the country on April 15 and July 4 represent the first and second shots of Celente’s revolution; the town-hall disruptions were the third. Even if the disruptions of health-care town-hall meetings across the country this summer were organized by the usual Republican disinformation specialists—and they were—Celente says there’s no denying that many of the protesters are genuinely angry, and not just because they got turned down for The Jerry Springer Show.

Reading his essay in advance of the nationwide “Tea Party Express” tour that launched from Sacramento last Friday, I wondered if the send-off might herald the fourth shot. That’s how I came to be sitting in Cesar Chavez Plaza with Mark Williams, former KFBK talk-radio host and lead talking head for the Tea Party Express, the week before the train left the station, bound for Washington, D.C., and a national meet-up of like-minded groups and individuals on September 12.

Mark’s wife, Holly, and their dog were also on hand at the park. I first met the couple eight years ago, when I did a profile on Mark shortly after he arrived at KFBK (“All right, all the time”; SN&R Feature; February 8, 2001). During the interim, the right-leaning talk-radio personality has gained some notoriety, helping to recall Gov. Gray Davis and exploiting the illegal-immigration issue before being unceremoniously sacked several years ago.

Now this. He slid his business card across the table and I flipped it over. The Joker, as played by the late Heath Ledger, digitally altered to look like President Barack Obama, stared back at me with dead zombie eyes. The word “socialism” was printed in lowercase, extra-bold type below the president.

It was a diversion, and I wasn’t going to let a little bad taste stop me from getting answers. Mark has been traveling all around the country meeting angry folks everywhere he goes, and I know damn well they don’t give a rat’s ass about socialism. I wanted to know what’s really bothering the peeps. I asked Mark the question a half-dozen different ways before I finally pinned him down.

“The little guy believes the fix is in,” Mark said.

Eureka! The little guy is screwed. Surely this is something we can all agree on, no? Mark knows all about it, being in the talk-radio business. He cursed the industry consolidation that’s reduced him to filling in on weekends—and, he might have added, shilling for a movement that contains more than a few sketchy individuals.

Turns out Holly, a real-estate agent, knows all about being screwed, too. She was flipping a property when the housing bubble burst three years ago, and it cost the couple their new home. Now she’s working the “short sale” market, attempting to convince buyers to purchase homes that have depreciated in value 50 percent in a crash that has no end in sight.

Yep, there’s no doubt about it. Mark and Holly, along with many of the folks who’ve climbed on board the Tea Party Express, are screwed. So screwed they can’t see straight.

Mark decries Obama’s less-than-$1 trillion stimulus package, complaining that the government owns the banks. It’s exactly the opposite. In fact, the privately owned Federal Reserve System is in the process of funneling tens and trillions of taxpayer-backed dollars into the financial markets. Holly and Mark get screwed out of their new house, Wall Street gets a $23 trillion bailout to prop up the old Ponzi scheme.

So far the Fed has refused to say where the money—our money!—is going. That’s why members of Congress from U.S. Rep. Ron Paul to Sen. Bernie Sanders are calling for an audit of the Fed’s books. Surely, I asked Mark, there must be people onboard the Tea Party Express who support such action?

Indeed there is at least one: Mark Williams himself.

So we agree on two things.

I didn’t catch the Tea Party’s departure from Sacramento, and so far I’ve heard no reports that they’ve come out in favor of auditing the Federal Reserve. But earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank announced the proposal has enough votes to pass in the House of Representatives. If the issue catches fire, it just might end up being the fourth shot of Celente’s revolution.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a short sale, I have Holly’s number.