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Dispatch / Tea Party / April 17, 2009


VICTORVILLE, CA—It was a clear bright day, but the desert wind was roaring, chilling the air to what felt like the freezing point, when I got to the Victorville, California, Tea Party protest. I arrived late for the noontime protest, with the goal of finding out if this thing had really grown legs after the comedy I witnessed at the Santa Monica Tea Party in February.

A crowd of roughly 150 people formed a compact semi-circle in the small yard between Victorville’s brand new court house and the city’s administration building. Battling the gusts of wind that blew dirt and dust from an unpaved lot across the street, I made my way towards the crowd. I was wearing a flimsy jacket, totally unprepared for this kind of weather on a bright sunny day in the middle of April out here in the California desert.

But the locals knew the weather score. Some had winter coats on, others wore beanies and warm scarves. The crowd was almost 100% white, and skewed towards the pensioner on the age spectrum. There was a heavy ex-military vibe, too. Men wore caps with military decals. Just off to the side of the protest, a pickup truck was flying flags of some veterans’ organization. As I approached, a wiry man in his late 50s came up to speak. “As a Marine, I took the same oath that that bozo at the White House did when he was inaugurated. But unlike him, I actually meant it!” he said to loud cheer and applause.

Victorville Tea Party - Barb Stanton

A middle-aged white woman wearing an oversized sweatshirt with an American flag design took up the loudspeaker next. Her name was Barb Stanton, the organizer of the event. The wind made it impossible to hear anything very clearly. Listening to my voice recorder now, all I hear is whooshing. What was interesting was how this woman’s speech focused on a local issue: attempts to impeach a district attorney, I think. She then moved on to complaining about the local administration’s refusal to build a skate park for Victorville’s youth, while wasting millions on a lavish golf course they built for “their cronies.” She also criticized their attempt to sell Victorville’s power plant to Hugo Chavez’s America-hating Venezuelans.

I wasn’t sure if I was hearing her right. But she quickly moved into familiar territory. Picking up a sheet of paper, she listed all the billions and billions that the Obama administration was spending. It was money he was just giving to the banks. YOUR money.

The protest had 15 more minutes to go, but I was already getting impatient for it to end. It was so cold my hands turned blue and locked in a claw-like position, making it impossible to operate my camera or voice recorder, let alone take notes.

But amazingly, people were in no rush to go, staying on for at least another 10 minutes past the scheduled time. They weren’t here for show. There were no TV crews, and the only reporter I could see was a woman from the local daily, walking around with a notepad. They were staying out of a genuine desire. This protest had a very different feel from the Tea Party I attended in Santa Monica six weeks ago. It was for real—or at least a lot more real than the last one.

Before getting in their cars and heading over to an intersection on the other side of town (where they planned to rally for another six hours, until sundown), about 30 people walked over to the City Hall’s main entrance to shout about the misdeeds of local politicians. Again, their grievances were a strange mix of local issues, general anti-spending/anti-tax demands, Obama-hate and a good dose of xenophobia thrown in for good measure.

Some of their gripes, like the high wages local politicians awarded themselves, seemed logical and earnest. “What do you make over here? $200, 300 thousand? Well, most people in Victorville make do with $40,000 a year. It is called public service for a reason. You are supposed to take pleasure serving your community, not line your pockets.” Clearly, there was some bad blood between the old timers of Victorville and the new city-slicker bureaucrats that came in during the recent subprime-fueled housing boom, a boom that doubled the city’s population to just 100,000 in the past 10 years.

But then the power plant and race came out again. “Do we want our power plant to be sold of to the commie Chinese?” asked the crowd leader. “No!” shouted the crowd.

Victorville Tea Party

Most of the people in attendance were obviously Victorville old timers, Republicans for life. Not all of their concerns could be brushed aside as whacko or fringe. There were no Twitter Republicans around running the show pretending to be non-partisan. This was the type of thing that had the potential to grow, attracting Independents and more centrist Republicans. Or so it seemed.

But once I got home and started researching the organizers of the event, I found that they were not the grassroots newbies that they appeared to be, even to my skeptical eyes.

For instance, Barb Stanton, the organizer of the main rally, turned out to be a local talk radio host, Victorville’s own version of Michael Savage, a celebrity of sorts. She got into trouble with her employer for making belligerent racist commentary. Two years ago, she opposed the acquisition of a local bank by East West Bank, which was a publicly traded company with Chinese roots. After one of the bank executives came on the show to explain the merger, she called on Victorville’s patriots to rush the bank and “suck your money out” of it, adding that her guest (who’s last name was Ng) was an evil foreigner out to rob decent desert folk. The bank merger is “going to be a big time for all, except us, the true Americans,” she ranted. Clear Channel quickly yanked her contract and kicked her off the air. But she did get a lot of freeper sympathy.

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Add your own

  • 1. Charles Freedom  |  April 17th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Yes, Republicans actually hate taxes, social spending, and all things Obama. But is it really surprising (or newsworthy) that, after a weeks worth of promotion on Fox News, decent numbers of Republicans rallied in support of the Republican agenda?

  • 2. nil  |  April 17th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’ve been thinking we need a new name for this sort of protesting. I propose “Chiapetting”–the substrate is fake, but the grass is ultimately real.

  • 3. Baked Dr. Luny  |  April 17th, 2009 at 11:41 am

    The Republican party is beginning to transform into an opposition party. Here come the Right-wing freaks.

  • 4. joe stone  |  April 17th, 2009 at 11:54 am

    decent go at it, my man. i’d bet some good money those old shits hangin around town make it real hard to score some of that good shit.

    after getting the word in my mail box, this morning, it all made a lot of damned sense. but the size of this thing is sort of weird … also they are bringing up relevant, populist points … unlike their teabagging “welfare queen” counterparts, up up in the stratosphere

    that damned obama guy needs to get his shit together. i’m already feelin’ the heat of old-person stank.

  • 5. warren moon  |  April 17th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Good article here. It’s odd because everyone seemed to think after the Santelli exposure the Tea Party movement was dead. Still, they kept on popping up even before FOX hopped on. FOX is in a funny position now: you know they would love to take credit for these but to do so would further illegitamize the movement.

  • 6.  |  April 17th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Interesting study of the primate cognition of this rare hominid species.

    Did you observe any tool-making behavior?

  • 7. Jeff Albertson  |  April 17th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the surprisingly fair post Yasha. As an old fart myself I appreciate that you guys don’t care for Republicans; a lot of us (old farts) can’t stand the lying bitches either, and we’ve seen enough Demo bullshit over the years to know that both major parties are corrupt to the core, but we’re too old to riot. I just hope the bastards give up when there’s nothing left to steal.

  • 8. Moo  |  April 17th, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    “She also criticized their attempt to sell Victorville’s power plant to Hugo Chavez’s America-hating Venezuelans.

    But then the power plant and race came out again. “Do we want our power plant to be sold of to the commie Chinese?” asked the crowd leader. “No!” shouted the crowd.”

    “Two years ago, she opposed the acquisition of a local bank by East West Bank, which was a publicly traded company with Chinese roots. After one of the bank executives came on the show to explain the merger, she called on Victorville’s patriots to rush the bank and “suck your money out” of it, adding that her guest (who’s last name was Ng) was an evil foreigner out to rob decent desert folk.”

    ^ Is the Exiled taking a PRO-globalization position here?


  • 9. Tyler Bass  |  April 17th, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    It struck me as strange that, so early in the year, Geithner had already come out and acknowledged frustration with the bank bailouts. And then I heard anecdote after anecdote about him turning down the banks’ attempts to repay the Treasury. Without disregarding the always important questions here about the merits of what is being held up, indeed, the financial system is having to adapt and change.

    The eXiled makes a habit of talking about the cheapest artifices of the class war — the racism, the greed, the stagnant and primitive aesthetically-based attempts at caste systems. Ugly times.

  • 10. geo8rge  |  April 17th, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Hey, Levine while you are in Victorville, why don’t you visit the prison? Some interesting dudes, see wikipedia. Actually I think there are two prisons, you can never have too many.

    How about video taping an example commute to LA?

    BTW, the ex military types might be there because Victorville was once, and might still be, an Air Force boondogle.

  • 11. Carpenter  |  April 18th, 2009 at 12:56 am

    ^ Is the Exiled taking a PRO-globalization position here?


    Not odd when you consider that the new writer’s name is Yasha Levine. Oy vey, Levine, mustn’t leave any side of any issue to the goyim, eh? If they go Tea Partying, then the Chosenites must be the ones giving the right slant to the story, to separate the acceptable from the unacceptable. “Anti-immigration? Racists! Nuts! Only Israel is allowed to have an ethnic – I mean religious – identity!”

    But there I go being a racist nut again. How evil of me.

  • 12. Plamen Petkov  |  April 18th, 2009 at 1:22 am

    It’s funny, nobody makes the distinction between different type taxes in USA. There is many taxes convinently called “fees” that everyone pays. My bill for my landline telephone was 30 dollars a month and half of that was various “fees” both federal and state. Same for my electric bill and water bill. Most people in USA don’t know they pay about 50+ cents per each gallon of gas they buy, half of that federal tax, half state. Should i even mention property taxes, sales taxes and all the other taxes?
    SO when those fakers talk about taxes, which taxes do they mean exactly?
    Sure, giving 13 trillion dollars to the banks is a high way robbery but has any of these idiots ever stop to think what might happen if the major US banks fail? Total collapse of the system might occur because the US government has allowed the banks to take over the “capitalist” economy. The “evil” Chinese who are currently supporting the USA by buying its Treasury bond will immediately dump the worthless dollar. I wanna see what those idiots will do in a situation like this. Like it or NOT but the “evil” Chinese are supporting your dollar right now so you better be nice to them. But they all prefer to live in a fantasy world
    where the USA is number 1, Obama is the bad guy, and Iran/North Korea are building nuclear weapons with which to attack poor defenseless Israel and USA.

  • 13. Fearmonger  |  April 18th, 2009 at 1:23 am

    The article leaves some strange almost Fallout-like feeling. As if like something has gone terribly wrong.

  • 14. einstein  |  April 18th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    @Fearmonger #13

    uhh … something HAS gone terribly wrong.

  • 15. Will  |  April 18th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    the mayor of Apple Valley is named Rick Roelle

  • 16. some idiot  |  April 20th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Gee, what might happen if the major US banks fail? Total collapse!? Gasp. You’re right, we better keep giving the banks a shitload of money.

    Then again, shareholders have already lost their shirts and depositors have FDIC to fall back on. Credit’s tightened up, but once the current theives/incompetents are out of the way surely someone else can step in to satisfy demand (you know, free markets and all that)? Especially with the Fed being intent on giving away lots of free money. I say let ’em fail.

    Too bad the asshats in Washington immediately started flushing money last fall when they could no longer deny there was a problem. When they discovered they might not be able to climb out of the hole they began digging all the more furiously.

  • 17. Che  |  April 21st, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    If you really hate seeing your taxes wasted, then why not ask your rep to cut of all aid to that Jewish-welfare case, Israel. They spy on us, hurt our image and interests and kill civilians.
    Well you Conservatives can’t do it can you. Why? holocaust guilt? media brainwashing? biblical prophesy.
    If you aren’t willing to cut off aid to a foreign welfare case, then why are you complaining about welfare cases at home????

  • 18. Frank McG  |  April 23rd, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    You mean a nowhere desert town made up mostly of old people got 1% of its population to show up at a rally supporting the same stances that old people traditionally embrace?


    That’s like if there was an economic boom, jobs shooting through the roof, and a reporter visits a Berkley protest made up entirely of college kids protesting how we’re all slaves of consumerism. The reporter then declares “Maybe this grass roots movement is taking off after all!”

    But that would be stupid, because in both cases it’s just that particular group protesting what they always protest. It means nothing, and it changes nothing. It’s also worthless because all protests by old people and college kids are worthless (take time off from work to work a cause like protesting the war or Obama’s campaign and then I’ll be impressed about their resolve).

    Not to say the Santa Monica article impressed me. NO KIDDING they had to truck in staffers and crazy to protest Obama in Santa Monica.

    I want to see a dissection of one of these protests in a battleground state, attended by fence sitters and moderates.

  • 19. Frank McG  |  April 23rd, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    oh yeah…

    where in the FUCK were these people when we were flushing billions down the Iraq toilet and paying contractors out the ass for the privilege of getting soldiers killed to act as their bodyguards while they plundered us?

    Billions for war: OK

    Billions for trying to keep THE ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY FROM COLLAPSING: Spontaneous protests

    And whatever happened to the whole “love it or leave it” Republican mantra? Does that only apply when they’re in charge?

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