Matt Armstrong Transcript

Interview with Resolute Media co-founder and Tea Partier Matt Armstrong at a Starbucks near the Dallas North Tollway in Plano, Texas on July 23, 2010. Interview Time: 93:15 A.J. Bauer: CNN has kind of found itself without a niche, right? I mean MSNBC kind of realized what Fox was doing and jumped on the liberal side of it to compensate — but CNN is kind of left in the lurch without an ideology. Matt Armstrong: Yeah, but everybody says Fox News is so far to the right but there are a lot of liberals on Fox News. And the always almost always have a competing person on the panels. Keith Olbermann has never interviewed somebody he disagrees with the whole time he’s been on the air — not one. AB: Yeah, but Glenn Beck rarely does either. MA: Yeah, but Glenn Beck is an opinion person. AB: So is Olbermann. MA: Olbermann touts himself as the featured newsperson, newscaster on that network. AB: Well I don’t know anyone who takes that seriously — that’s ridiculous. MA: He does. AB: He’s also a buffoon, but whatever. MA: And all the polling shows that Fox is pretty close to the middle. It’s just been in a meme in the media to try to attack them. You know, you read that JournoList stuff, I’m sure. They were saying isn’t there a way we can get them shut down? I’m like, why would you want to shut them down? I mean I know why they want to shut them down, but I mean that’s sort of un-American. AB: I’m glad you said that, because that’s a question I have coming up. MA: Now are you going to allow each person who’s done this to view what you’re going to write before it’s finished to make sure their comments are accurate? AB: I’m not going to submit my content to prior review, but I’ll let them see it when it’s done. And if they have any problems with it I’ll be more than happy to listen. MA: Before it’s published though? AB: I don’t have any plan to publish it at this point — I’d like to but I don’t have any plan for it. [Discussion over the heat of the table, and the decision to move to a more shady one.] AB: So, starting out Matt, what year were you born? MA: 1966. AB: And what’s kind of been your career trajectory — were you born in Texas? MA: I was born in Virginia and I moved here in 1992, when I was 25. AB: And why did you move to Texas? MA: I loved Virginia but I wanted to move to the South — further South. I’m a huge Cowboys fan, which played a role in it, believe it or not, and it was a great market — a growing market for business. AB: And so where did you attend school? MA: Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. AB: And what were some of your favorite subjects? MA: I was a health and physical education major — nutrition, coaching — and my intent was to someday be a college coach and then I made the mistake of doing my student teaching my last semester and — this was 1989, and I was taken aback at just how frustrating it would be dealing with kids, and trying to reach them all when there were really very few that you could make a difference in. And then I ended up getting into sales while I was waiting to get a teaching job — and I’ve been in sales and marketing ever since. AB: What drew you to physical education and teaching? MA: I’ve always loved sports — I was, always participated in multiple sports, and sort of was always a coach on the field, I guess. And that’s something that I wanted to do — and I still plan to do that, just later in life — coach my child and hopefully be financially well off enough to be able to volunteer and coach, you know, where I don’t have to do it for a living. AB: And tell me a little about this latest venture that you’re doing — Resolute Media, right? MA: MmHm. Resolute Media Group. AB: How did you go from sales into this idea of going into media — especially now? MA: Well I’m still in sales. Resolute Media is what we do in our quote unquote spare time. We just — me and my two partners, along with just about, as you can imagine, just about everybody in the Tea Party movement as well as just about everyone in the conservative movement — firmly believes that the media is heavily liberal, and that it plays a huge role in public policy, and that they shape the news instead of reporting the news. So, one of the ways to kind of counter that, is through the media. The difference being — and obviously we’re a conservative-leaning publication — there’s no question about it. We don’t deny it. But the ability to take on the right when they’re in the wrong is the difference. Because the problem that people have in the liberal media is that they highlight stories that hurt the right and they minimize or even don’t cover at all stories that hurt the left. We’re going to cover stories that affect both. And in fact there is a lot of corruption and cronyism on the right that needs to be addressed from within, so to speak. So that’s one of the reasons, and the other reason is, obviously, we’re capitalists and we see the opportunity with the Internet to have publications not only in Dallas/Ft. Worth — our goal is to have them all over the United States. We’re building a franchise model where someone in another market can take everything on the back end, the IT, all the infrastructure, how to sell advertising — sort of an online newspaper in a box — and we can go to them and say okay you’re the new McDonalds in Oklahoma City. You’re under our corporate umbrella, and you can’t write anything flamingly ridiculous — but you’re able to sell local advertising, make a living at it, as long as you’re able to meet the journalistic guidelines that we’ve set forth we’ll have these franchises pop up all over the place and sort of create a new media, an alternative media source that people can go to as part of their daily search for news — especially as the print publications are dying, their advertising is declining rapidly, they’re canceling their subscriptions — I would submit, because of bias, although the business model is flawed a little bit. But I miss my newspaper — I like holding it and reading it, but I got tired of the bias here — even in Dallas Ft. Worth it’s bad. I just decided I was going to cut off, cut off my subscription. AB: So you’re using an online advertising model — that’s your revenue stream? MA: Yeah, our only source of revenue will be selling advertising. We’re not going to charge for the publication — it’ll be free, free content. Never plan to charge for it at all, ever. And we’re going to cover national news — international news by getting feeds from content aggregators, who we’ll occasionally use Associated Press or Canada Free Press or folks like that for national stuff — national sports, national business — and then we’ll also have a heavy emphasis on local, in the North Texas market, what people really care about, dealing with local government, business, sports, weather, entertainment. It’ll have all the sections that a normal newspaper has. AB: When did you — when did the idea for this come up? MA: I met my two business partners at a, what’s called “Leadership Tea Party” and it’s sort of a — you know there are Tea Party groups all over the country, I mean there are thousands — more than I can count. And there is no central figure; there is no central head of the Tea Party, no matter what someone might tell you that they are. They are not. But Leadership Tea Party is a group of Tea Party leaders around the country who got together for a conference in January, and that’s where the idea was presented to us. And, I saw it, from a marketing standpoint, I saw it as a successful operation. The question was — can you build it? And luckily one of the guys I was sitting by, who’s now one of my partners, was an IT expert. And he’s been building it, basically without — we would have to have $150,000 in capital to build the site if it wasn’t for him being a part of our business. AB: When you say it was presented to you — the opportunity — how does that work? MA: Well, there was a guy that they invited in from New York — upstate New York — that was trying to do this. And he presented the idea. And we tried to work with him in the beginning, but the problem was his business model was flawed from the standpoint that he wanted one central domain, with every city, every market being a sub-domain under that — I mean imagine if you were in a city say Youngstown, Ohio — I mean you’d have to scroll down all the — it just wasn’t going to work. The reason why he wanted to do that was so he could sell all the national advertising off of one domain. And he wouldn’t have to pay for content, except for coming through one domain — which is a cheaper way to get content, but people want to log in to their local newspaper and have it called whatever its called in that market, and they’re not going to scroll down. So we ended up trying to work with him, it didn’t work out, we sort of took the idea — it’s not a patented idea, of course, so it’s not something we stole — and we’re trying to perfect it the way we want it to be done. AB: So this is a very new venture then — only since January? MA: Yeah, we’ve been building it — we launch in about two weeks — live. Obviously our newspaper site is in development right now, it’s hidden behind the ... from the public. AB: Where do you get content? Are you doing reporting for it yourself? MA: Yes I am. Actually all three of us will be writing, doing some investigative — I, my forte is doing interviews. And I’ve interviewed a lot of people you may know, who are famous, including the state GOP chairman last week and, that’s one thing I’m going to do. And we’re all going to write, but we’ve also solicited local writers and we have a lot of people — we’re funding this out of our own pockets. And we haven’t spent an exorbitant amount of money, but we have spent quite a bit of money. So in the beginning we have people that are willing to write for us locally at no charge. And then as we get into month four — our business plan is set up so we will be pretty profitable, we believe, in month four and we’re going to begin compensating our writers. We have a copy editor who’s been doing this for 20 years and we have a video editor. We have a lot of contributors — really more writers than we can handle — and we’ll have to weed that down based on their ability to write and their content. And ultimately what we want to do is not only take it larger but also micro it down to another site. So we’re the North Texas Navigator, we’ve got six and a half million people. We’ve got Denton County covered, because that’s where Alice and I both life. Travis lives in Tarrant County, we’ve got that covered. We’ve got contacts in Dallas County, Collin County — those are the four major counties. But you know people in North Texas also live in Parker County and Johnson County — there’s a ton of counties that are not covered — Grayson County. So what we want to do is find entrepreneurs in local, smaller markets and have them run the Grayson County edition — now that would be a sub-domain, a drop-down on the main site. The Dallas Morning News does this right now, and they can sell local advertising to local businesses that only care about reaching customers in that market. There may be a single car dealership in Grayson County, well they don’t care if someone in Arlington sees it because they’re not going to drive up there to buy a car. They would if they’re there. So you’re sort of empowering people — by growing in larger you’re also growing it smaller and micro-ing it down where people can make a living or a side income selling advertising, writing and running their own mini publication under a smaller demographic. AB: And so, switching gears slightly here — what would you say is your first political memory, thinking all the way back? MA: When I was in college, Ronald Reagan speaking — and I was not politically active at the time. I always had sort of a gut — my parents were not terribly political, never even asked them who they voted for. But I remember being in high school and going through the Carter malaise — I mean I remember my parents and us being in gas lines. I mean, why do we have to wait so long to get gas? And I just remember my parents worrying about money more. I mean, my dad was pretty successful, but — so I remember that. And when Reagan came in I felt, innately I just felt this spirit that he embodied about American exceptionalism — the city on a shining hill and all that. And I remember his speeches and I was just drawn to him, even though I was still not. I was not in the college Republican Club, I was not politically active, necessarily. That was really the first thing I can remember. I guess the other thing would be Watergate, because I was six years old, I wanted to watch my cartoons and Watergate was on all the time. And I was like what is this Watergate, what are they doing? And I didn’t understand it. But it was on TV for months — every day that’s all they did. AB: And so, do you remember the first election you ever voted in? MA: Let’s see, I was 18 in 1988. I actually didn’t vote until 2000 for George Bush. I didn’t like — again, I wasn’t terribly politically active and I wasn’t really enthralled with George H. Bush, Sr. or with Bob Dole, or course. Yeah, it was 2000. AB: And what about Bush brought you out to the polls — W. Bush? MA: Well he’s obviously — he was the governor of Texas, a successful governor, we had a great state. He — despite what he was characterized as later, he had a lot of consensus — this used to be Democratic state not until too long ago, and he got a lot of things done by working across the aisle. The people here in Texas, even the Democrats — of course there was some hatred, but he’s a good man. He has a good heart, and I disagree with him on a lot of things, but I sort of gave him a pass on the things I disagreed with him on because I thought he was a good man and I thought that he really had good intentions and a great heart — you know the way he took care of the troops and all the private visits he would take to visit the troops without fanfare, as opposed to what we have now I just believe they’re photo-ops. So the man himself drew me to him. I will say I was less enthusiastic after eight years than I was in the beginning — he let us, he let conservatives down, some, but he’s still a very good man. And to stand there and take — nobody’s ever been treated like that in office, and with the class and grace with which — even now he will not take pot-shots at president Obama because he just doesn’t feel presidents should do that, and lord knows he took shots at him by all kinds of people. And Jimmy Carter called him the worst president ever, which is just the most oxymoronic thing I’ve ever heard in my life. AB: And, kind of in line with that same question — what kind of characteristics do you look for in a political leader? Generally. MA: Well, it’s changed a little bit. Now we need someone with a spine of steel — from a conservative standpoint you want somebody who’s willing to stand on principle under a relentless, and I mean an unwavering attack by the left and by the media. The left is better at playing the game — they’re just better at politics than the right, even though I disagree with their principles. So someone that has an unwavering spine to do what is right regardless of polls. And they have to be a great communicator — as we learned. I mean George Bush was not a terribly effective communicator. He was better off teleprompter, when he spoke from the heart. His speeches, when he spoke from the teleprompter, were not great. John McCain was clearly a horrible candidate. We need someone who can communicate. We’re sort of in an American Idol age, and quite frankly one of the appealing things to people about Obama is that he gives a good speech on teleprompter and is a pretty effective communicator. I would argue with people who say he’s a brilliant communicator. Off teleprompter he’s already made more gaffes in 18 months than Bush made in eight years — but, so those are the two things — the ability to sell. Politics is sales. You’ve got to stand on your principles, but you’ve also got to be able to sell them effectively — you’ve got to be able to articulate them. And we haven’t had that in a while on the conservative side. AB: So you mention you weren’t too terribly involved in politics but you remember the Carter malaise. Is that what drove you to conservatism? Or, how did you — from where does your conservatism derive? MA: Well, the left would argue with this assertion and say that I’m calling them unpatriotic — but I’ve always deeply loved the United States of America, and I’m not saying liberals don’t love their country. Some clearly don’t. But they don’t love it the way that it’s always been, they want to remake it — you know, the whole progressive model. And I’ve always a proud — you know I’m the kind of person that if I were to ever go to France, you know, I would wear my American flag t-shirt — even though I know I would take abuse; I would actually welcome that. And I was always raised — I was raised in a religious home; always went to church. And that — I just believe that the conservative cause, I believe that the conservative movement is where my home is — not only from a spiritual standpoint but also from a fiscal standpoint, from the standpoint of each, liberty, freedom, personal accountability. A lot of the Tea Party — the Tea Party’s got five basic principles and they’re rooted in conservatism, even though they will not affiliate with either party, and I understand why. AB: And what are some of the top political issues to you now — and how have the top ones on your list changed over time? MA: Well, you know, national security has always been number one, because the right to — without that you have none of the others. If you’re dead, you have no rights. And it’s still a huge issue. It’s fallen to the backburner because we’ve been successful in thwarting a major attack since 9/11, which is remarkable, quite frankly. I think everybody thought on that day that this was going to become a way of life. So national security is always a huge issue, and what’s going on in the world, and the re-emergence of Russia back to the Soviet Union and what’s going on in Iran — so that’s a huge issue for me and always has been. It has dropped down — in polls it has dropped way down. Immigration is a huge issue for me, and spending — the debt. And if you look at recent polls — the American people are not dumb — if you look at recent polls, the debt is the number one issue for people. And the debt never used to be ranking in the top five or 10, it was just something where we were running a deficit and most people never paid attention — but now they truly understand — we’re $14 trillion in funded liabilities and $60 to $105 million in unfunded — they see now that it’s going to affect — there are polls taken of the American people where two-thirds say that their children will have a worse life than they did, which is sad because we are America and America doesn’t think like that. So that’s a huge issue as well, and corruption — on both sides — corruption, cronyism. I’m a term limits believer — I believe that the longer people are in office, regardless of the side they’re on — that they become corrupted by lobbyists and special interests. They’re bought and paid for and I have always wondered how in the world it’s possible that a person goes into office with a net worth of $500,000, a million dollars. They get paid $163,000 a year and they leave 20 years later and they’re worth $200 million. Well, how did that money get into your account — why can’t we track that as public officials? Of course, some of them own businesses. Some are privately wealthy before they get into office, but that doesn’t add up. And we should be able to track how much they are making off the public doll. I mean it knows no bounds — it’s on both sides — it’s ridiculous. So cronyism and corruption is a big thing for me as well. AB: So the next question I have switches gears a little bit but it’s inline with the same topic. Would you consider yourself — well obviously you consider yourself a religious person. Kind of tell me what religion are you? How does that influence your life generally? And how does that influence your politics? MA: I was raised as a Southern Baptist, and didn’t really like church as a child. And again my parents made me go — and I’d ask to I have to go to church and they’d say yes as long as you live here you do. Of course, I disagreed but now that’s the same thing I would tell my child. I strayed away from Southern Baptists a little bit because, no offense to Southern Baptists at all, it was just — it wasn’t as exciting. It wasn’t presented. It was sort of depressing — some of the sermons were sort of depressing. So now, since 1993 when I moved to Texas, I joined Fellowship Church — one of the largest evangelical churches in the country. We have about 22,000 members — part of it is because the pastor. When you go to church there you feel like he’s speaking just to you. AB: What was his name again? MA: Ed Young, Jr. His father’s a Baptist preacher in Houston — one of the largest churches. So, you know, people on the left like to denigrate people on the right by calling them evangelicals — well I’m proud — I’m an evangelical Christian; I’m a protestant, and I wear those badges proudly and don’t shy away from that at all. But it doesn’t certainly affect my politics — there’s no question about it. And there’s a direct correlation between those of faith — you can look at any poll. People that consider themselves conservative, or even Republicans, attend church at a much greater frequency. And I don’t mean there’s anything denigrating to the left — you don’t have to go to church to be a believer. You can do whatever you want. But it’s overwhelming — not only in church attendance, but also in philanthropic efforts. Every poll shows that 30 percent — that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than those on the left. That is a fact. Now, how could you explain that? It goes to one of the core beliefs of the Tea Party — personal accountability. I want to be able to give to a charity because I want to because God has asked me to tithe or give back — I don’t want to be forced, when someone starts taking my money to give to their cause du jour — and that is really a fundamental difference right now. The government thinks they can handle our money better than we can. We can handle our money better than the government can — there’s no question. Even to the point of education — I think we should do away with all public education and make it privatized. And when it’s private, you’ll have charter schools, you’ll have private schools, you’ll have religious schools — you’ll have schools competing for students. And if I’m in an inner city like Washington D.C. — it’s a failing, miserably failing public school system — the Obamas don’t sent their kids there — those kids are stuck. They have no choice. Whereas what if there were— and again he’s disbanded the voucher program — but what if those kids were able to choose between five or 10 schools within a 20-mile radius. Those schools would have to compete for those students and the free market would take over and our education would be so much better. We spend billions of dollars a year on education and we are falling father and farther and farther behind India, China. I mean in every poll we’re 21st in aptitude which is just ridiculous. The more money — it just goes to show that the more money we spend on education, it doesn’t make it better. George Bush spent more money than any president in history on education and you could argue that it got worse. And it’s worse today — Texas, Texas schools are not very well rated. AB: So, what was the question I was going to ask — so you mention the correlations between conservatism and religion and things like that. What role does religion play in the Tea Party movement? MA: Very little. I believe that most Tea Party people are religious — most that I know are. And they’ll proudly talk about — I’m a huge Facebook person, and that’s what I use for politics — 3,300 friends. And a lot of people on the right — and not all Tea Party people are on the right, first of all — but they are generally conservative. They may be conservative Democrats, there are independents. There are a lot of Democrats in the Tea Party, despite what people might say — most of them are conservative in nature and they’re mad at the GOP just like they are at the Democratic Party. But the Tea Party specifically chose not to involve religion as a part of their plank, in order to draw in people who, there are lots of conservatives, mostly libertarians that think that the quote unquote religious right is always preaching at them, and I have libertarians where we’ll argue about the pro-life issue, and I’m like if the right doesn’t support life, then who will. I always say everyone who’s for abortion as already themselves been born — which I always find is an ironic twist. But, religion really plays, technically under the planks no. And anybody who tells you different doesn’t understand the five planks of the Tea Party because it’s nowhere in there. AB: Right, no I’ve seen that and everybody when I talk to them they’re very adamant about that as well — especially up in Boston. MA: Oh yeah, absolutely. Here we’re in the Bible Belt. AB: But one thing that I noticed — so up in Boston all the meetings start with the pledge of allegiance and things like that, just like here. But here, I’ve only been to one Tea Party meeting that hasn’t started with a benediction — I mean invocation. So I thought that was an interesting change between the two. When I talk to people it’s the same — religion doesn’t play any part in the Tea Party — and yet, I’m just wondering. I know politically, when you’re advocating for political positions you’re not advocating for religious positions, but I’ve been to several meetings, I’ve seen it. What role does religion play within it — say you’re a libertarian, an Objectivist maybe, and atheist Objectivist and you come to one of these meetings and there’s prayer and the beginning. MA: You can choose not to participate. And there’s been fights here in Texas, and in the South, praying before football games and the courts have tried to strike that down and some schools said we’re going to do it anyway because that’s what we’ve always done. And again I’m not going to speak for the Tea Party, because it’s an organic movement and I’m just one member and there are millions. AB: I’m just looking for your opinion about what you’ve seen of it. MA: We always start meetings here — Republican Party meetings, which I’m a part of as well because I decided to join the party so I could help fix it, because it’s broken — but ever meeting I attend here we do three things without fail. We do an invocation, we do the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, and then we also do the pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag, and we are the proudest state about their flag and about — people who live in Texas, and I always joke that I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could. People in Texas have this pride about them that other states somewhat don’t — now they may argue that, but they don’t. And I’ve got friends all over the country who say man you guys in Texas are fighting the good fight — I mean if we ever lose Texas. That’s why the Democratic Party is targeting Texas — it’s their number one state to go after because of the metropolitan sections of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas — they think if they can get a strangle-hold here and turn this state redish-purple or they think blue, which is not going to happen, that the rest of the country would sort of lose the will to fight. So yeah it does play a huge role — we’re much more open about our faith in the South, one of the things I like. Again, nothing against my Tea Party brethren in Massachusetts, they can choose to do whatever they want. But it goes back to the — we, clearly, anyone who wants to look at the Constitution — God is mentioned all over the place. Divine providence is mentioned everywhere. We were founded on Judeo-Christian principles. I believe in freedom of religion but not freedom from religion. And there’s no separation of church and state in the Constitution, whatever they say, it’s not in there. If somebody could find it for me I’d give them $1 million, because it’s not in there. So, it does play a huge role in the movement. We are all bound by — I say all, but most of us are bound by a common belief in God and, you know, I was listening to the radio last night — people try to paint — there was a religious conference, Christians Uniting for Israel, and I do believe that it’s Biblical that we protect the people of Israel — it says it. I believe that. There are a lot of people on the left who try to accuse the right, the evangelicals, whatever name or vernacular they want to use, as being apocalyptic people and Armageddon people — well, I mean, it’s in there. But it does play a much bigger role in the South than it might in other parts of the country. That is their choice, but I always go back to — 95 — there was a poll done in 2005 and 95 percent of the people in the country believe in God. Of the five percent that don’t, only one percent is positive that there’s not a God. As I always say, they will find out one day too. That being said, if we have Tea Party people, Tea Party meetings where I’d say that 95 percent of people at Tea Party meetings are fairly religious, then why should we cater to — we can allow the minority to abstain, and they can do whatever they want, but why should the vast majority not say a prayer just because there’s on person in the room that does not like it — and I have not seen, in fact I’ve not heard of a Tea Party person saying I’m not coming back because you made me say the invocation. They just understand it. Now, if you didn’t put your hand over your heart for the pledge of allegiance, they’d probably kick you out. You know, so that’s the difference. But to each his own. And it’s not a religious movement but I think it’s fueled by faith, I don’t think there’s any question. But that’s my opinion and some in the Northeast might say they want nothing to do with it, we’ll leave the social issues alone and focus on fiscal responsibility, personal accountability, national security and quit preaching down to people about pro-life and anti-gay marriage let’s just focus on this and we have a vast majority — I agree with that. AB: I don’t mean to mischaracterize the people up in Boston either — most of them are Catholic, the ones I’ve met at least. And they’re very religious as well, it’s just about the front... MA: Well, like I said the South is more open. AB: Right. MA: If you were to go farther out West — interview someone in a Tea Party in California or something — they might not, and that’s their choice. But here I’ve not seen a conflict with it at all and every meeting I’ve been to, even the huge rallies with 10 or 20,000 people, it opens with an invocation and ends with a benediction and I’ve never heard a person write or say anything about it. AB: So switching gears slightly again, what kind of music do you like to listen to? MA: I actually like country music, which I’m sure is popular among Tea Party people. I like Christian rock, and you know, I don’t like saying I like pop, but I like the Fray, I like Kings of Leon, I like stuff like that. I don’t listen to it as much because, like I’m sure most people have told you, when I’m in the car or at home working at my home office, I’m on talk radio almost all day long. I think there’s something in that, too, personally. Country music is generally more pro-American, you know artists come out with pro-American songs, and people want to hear — you know there’s that new song out now about I Am America and sort of, I don’t know the self-described theme of the Tea Party because I don’t know if there is such a thing and nobody could make that declaration, but it is very popular. And she has spoken out — she will lose audience on the left, but she will gain so much more. You know, I have a friend, a little bit off the subject, I have a friend who’s a financial adviser. And he’s a strong Christian, strong conservative. And he said, you know, you never talk about three things in business — you never talk about your faith, you never talk about politics, you never talk about money. So he decided years ago and decided to do the opposite — he said, I talk about my faith and my politics with anybody who’s going to invest money with me. They’d better know my faith; they’d better know my politics. He goes, and have I lost a few clients that way? Sure. But I’ve gained 10-times that many more and there’s sort of this. It’s sort of the same thing with our newspaper. There is a thirst out there. I have not met one person who has not overwhelmingly said anything I can do to help you let me know — we need something like this so badly. We feel like we’re, again the silent majority that’s silent no more — you’ve heard all of this stuff. But we do feel a kindred spirit. And I have friends on Facebook that I have never met — never! We’re already planning to go to Tea Party rallies in Las Vegas and places and we — I’m as close with them as people I might have gone to college with, that I know personally, just because we’re sort of kindred spirits in that cause. We kind of feel that it’s us against the world sort of thing, whether that’s true or not, that’s what we think. AB: And how’s for television? Do you watch television? MA: MmHm. AB: What do you watch? MA: Fox News — Glenn Beck is my favorite show. I DVR Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, every day. If at the end of the week — like this week has been a busy week and I’ve got 12 of them on the DVR that I haven’t watched yet. I will watch all the Becks, I will watch — and you have to watch them in order because of the way he does his show. I will watch all the O’Reilly — O’Reilly gets on my nerves sometimes but it is a fascinating show. And then I will watch Sean Hannity third — I do like Sean Hannity; I actually liked his show better when he had Colmes on there. I like to have both sides and I like the heated argument. I think we should debate things in public, and one of the things about Fox is, generally speaking, they do allow a panel that includes someone from the left and right and they let them speak and go at it — that’s why I don’t understand why they paint them as this big right wing network, because I mean Shep Smith is a liberal, Brett Baer is slightly left I think. Greta van Susteren is a liberal, although she takes up for Sarah Palin. But there’s a lot of folks on there — there’s a lot of folks on there that are on the left, and of course there are a number of people from the right. But that’s just another way for them to be demonized because they’re so successful — their ratings are just off the charts. AB: I forgot to ask — when you said talk radio earlier, who are some of your favorite talk radio guys or girls? MA: Well there’s a local guy here in the morning. AB: Mark Davis? MA: I like Mark Davis — I’ll go back and forth between Mark Davis and Jeff Bolten, KLIF. Then at 9 o’clock, if I’m driving in the car I just consciously know at 9:07 that the commercials are over and Glenn Beck starts at 9 o’clock. And then I’ll listen to Glenn Beck from 9 to 11 and then at 11:07 I know to turn it to WBAP for Rush Limbaugh. And then at 2 o’clock I keep it on there for Sean Hannity, although I don’t like his show as much as Rush or Glenn Beck. And then I like Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller. So generally at any time of the day if I’m in the car there is a talk radio — and I have Sirius XM, so I can switch over to that as well. And it’s 95 percent of what I listen to is talk radio in the car. There’s Dennis Prager and some other, but Rush and Glenn are my two favorites by far. AB: And what about Rush and Glenn captivate you more than say a Hannity or someone like that? MA: Well, the one thing about Glenn Beck is, and there are a lot of people in the Tea Party movement who don’t like him — I don’t know if you’ve found that out or not — they think he sabotaged Deborah Medina. Which I don’t know if I agree with that. But, his research is — his research staff is unbelievable and he has put it out there in a way no one else has. And he is making these connections between all the radical ties of this administration. And he just plays their words — I mean he just takes the video and plays what they say. So I like the fact that he’s really into that, and he will take on the right as well, I mean he will hammer the Republican Party all day long. Now I don’t necessarily like that, but the parts that he hammers I agree with because there are a lot of fake Republicans — a lot of RINOs, a lot of corruption in the Republican Party too. So I like that about him, he’s not just a shill for the right. And anybody on the left who says he’s just for the right doesn’t listen to him or watch him, because he hammers the Republican Party, I mean on a daily basis. Rush, of course, does not. But Rush will hammer the parts I don’t like too — I mean I tend to agree with Rush on almost everything. I understand his satire too, you know he’ll make fun of things, he’ll take things people said. For example, years ago Jesse Jackson called Barack Obama the magic negro — he said it, not Rush Limbaugh. But Rush Limbaugh has done a satirical song about it and gets ridiculed and called a racist when he says no, actually it was written in the L.A. Times first. And he does those kind of things to tweak the left, just like Ann Coulter does. And I generally think that while they might say some outlandish things sometimes, people on our side loves when people on our side actually has a backbone and stands up and actually fights the left as opposed to trying to appease them, because it simply can’t be done. And that’s why Rush is the most popular person in the country, because he can get up and get under their skin like no one else. AB: How about books, do you read? MA: Yep. AB: What are some books you like to read? MA: Well, I just got Glenn Beck’s — a common theme — but I just picked up the Overton Window and I’ve gotten a lot more in the last couple of years into the Constitution. I mean I never really ever read it that thoroughly. And I went to a Constitution [seminar] — well you were there — a couple of weeks ago. AB: Saturday, yeah. MA: Fascination — I don’t agree with everything the guy said, but it was fascinating. And I’ve never heard that take on it about our rights and what not. A lot of the books that Glenn Beck has pushed — I went and ordered the 5,000 Year Leap and ordered Atlas Shrugged and I read a lot of books before the election about Barack Obama, and that’s why I felt I knew him so well. I even read his book. And there are a lot of clues in his book about what he’s really planning to do — no one took it seriously, but so I’m not just someone who reads stuff on the right — I want to know quote unquote the enemy. I just, I’m now reading Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals because that is sort of the Bible for the radical left for what they plan to do and how they attack the right. So, mostly political books — other than the Bible, of course. AB: Thinking back over the course of your life — what are the top few books that have influenced you the most, would you say? MA: Well, the 5,000 Year Leap has been, I’d never heard of it before last year when Glenn Beck brought it up and it automatically went to number one on the New York Times best seller list, like almost over night. It’s amazing. And some of the Ayn Rand stuff, it’s amazing. And even George Orwell’s 1984 — it’s amazing that. It’s amazing in that sense that people can write things 50, 100 years earlier that are now happening. And it also shows you that history repeats itself. People on the left would disagree of course, but we are in a struggle for the American way of life, and we’re pretty rapidly going down the road toward being a European socialist-style country. Our government’s out of control — and it was out of control before Barack Obama got elected too, I always tell people that. It didn’t just start 18 months ago — anybody who thinks it did is not being truthful. He’s done it on steroids, but. So those are the kinds of things that have impacted me. And Bill O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior was a very profound book for me. And then Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism was a — so again, common theme. I don’t know that that’s too different from all the other people you’ve talked to. AB: No, it’s similar. So with Rand, had you only read Rand once you heard about it from Beck? MA: No I’d heard of Rand before, I’d heard of Atlas Shrugged, I actually had a copy of it and never read it — never knew how profound it was. And it’s hard to read — it’s like Moby Dick — I mean it’s huge. So you kind of have to take it in chunks, but what’s been going on the last three or four years, if you start going back to those... Because the keys to the future are always in the past — always. And the reason why the Tea Party movement is so fired up, and I hope that you’ve gotten this, it has absolutely nothing to do — I don’t even know a person who cares that he’s black. I don’t care. In fact, when I think of him I don’t think of him that way. He’s more of an elitist than — more a white guy than anyone, than I am. People in the Tea Party, I mean they’re fearful for the first time about our future existence and for their kids. And I don’t think the left understands — I believe I understand the liberal mind. My sister’s a liberal and I love her to death, she’s very smart. I think I understand how liberals think and how progressives think. I think I know what they’re up to. I don’t think they understand conservatives at all and how we think. And I think part of the reason for the coverage, besides the biases, I don’t think they truly understand how Tea Party people think and how conservatives think and what we’re made of. I don’t think they understand our intentions — I think they misread them. And a lot of — I just it’s amazing to me that they would not try to get — like what you’re doing. If you write this accurately, the way it’s been portrayed, you’re going to hear a lot of common themes. I’m not the only person who’s telling you some of this, but our love of country is much greater — I really don’t, I don’t even know a person — in fact I have met a lot of black people at Tea Parties who are now good friends of mine and I’ve invited them to other events. And I almost like them better in some respects because I realize how much crap they take from other African Americans. They call them “Uncle Toms,” they call them — one of my friends’ name is Tom, and he’s constantly teased and called an Uncle Tom because he’s a conservative. And they’ve got more guts to come out against the institutionalism of 95 of black people vote Democratic — and that’s always the way it’s been. I have more respect for them than anybody because they have actually taken a stand and lost friends over this — family members even who won’t speak to them because of their politics. And as I always say, it’s just as wrong to vote for someone because they’re black as it is to vote against someone because they’re black. And I believe that to be true. So I think parts of the left understand that there’s no racism — they’re just trying to tout it. And I think there’s parts that actually think that there is, but there’s not been one documented, not one documented incident of racism by a Tea Party person — not one. Even the one at the Capitol — there was a reward put out, I’m not the first one to tell you this, there’s not one documented incident of racism committed at a Tea Party that was committed by a Tea Party person. The left is trying to infiltrated — there’s a group called LaRouche which goes to Tea Parties and hold up signs. I believe it’s coordinated to the point that they call up the local media or the liberal media and say look I’m going to be wearing a blue shirt with a sign that says Obama is a whatever, Hitler, and they take a picture of that and try to paint the race the past. And in fact some of the incidents of violence have occurred against — Kenneth Gladney, who’s a black — I assume he’s a conservative, I mean he’s a capitalist and sold pro-Obama stuff during the election and now he’s selling Gadsden Flags. He got beat up by SEIU guys and was called the N-word by black people in the SEIU, and they took forever for those people to even be charged with anything. So there is a clear double standard that fuels — that’s kind of why we’re doing the media thing. Whether you agree or not, there is a — our side sees a huge double standard and hypocrisy, and again, it’s us against the world — 95 percent of the media is against what we believe. And it even fuels this Tea Party movement even more. It adds fuel to the fire like nothing else, because we’ve got to do it better, smarter, and we feel that our ideas — we feel that we can tell the truth, and I wish more of them would, tell the truth about conservatism and run on it and win, whereas the other side I believe they have to hide their real motives. They’re not going to come out and say we’re going to increase your taxes or that we’re going to bring back the death tax next year where 50 percent of what you work for your entire life goes to the government when you’ve already been taxed on it multiple times already. They can never say that. So it’s just a different way of articulating the message and I believe a conservative can tell 100 percent the truth, even the tough stuff like we’ve got to reform Social Security. We’re going to have raise the retirement age, I’m sorry. I don’t know if I’m going to get it — I’m 44. I would even be willing to sign over and relinquish all that I’m supposed to get if I knew that they’d put it in a lockbox so they my child can have it. But they won’t do that. So conservatives have to be clear about the tough stuff too — Medicare, Medicaid, entitlements are unsustainable. This debt is unsustainable. We’re going to have to make some sacrifices as a country in order to save it for our kids. Some politicians don’t want to tell the truth because that’s not politically popular, but I think Americans are ready to hear the truth — even the tough stuff — and we’ll all band together and fix it. But you can’t just continue to say what’s politically expedient, both on the right and on the left. Because people are starting to see through that with the Internet, with the town halls, all the Tea Parties — I mean there are people who understand what a cloture vote now is who were like cloture? They didn’t know what that was, they thought it was something else. After the healthcare debate there were people who were never politically active at all — I mean you’ve probably met 75-year-old women and men who never paid attention and now they’re as fired up as anybody. And now they understand the inner-workings of government and how it works both on the right and on the left and that’s never going to go away. I’ve heard people say that the Tea Party movement is going to die, or it’s a fad. I assure you it’s not going to and it’s only going to grow in strength — and one of the things that people may or may not have told you is there are going to be, I believe there are going to be huge Republican gains in the fall. Some of those people are not conservative — we’ll get them next time, and get them out of office as well, but in the past Republicans, when they’ve won, when they’ve supported their candidates, put out yard signs, our guy wins and everybody goes okay, it’ll be okay. Well it won’t. They’ve proven they can’t handle success — neither party can. So November 3rd, the Tea Party movement is going to be on our elected officials on our side even more. And if they don’t realize that, they’re in big trouble — because we’re going to hold them accountable, get in their face and make them accountable to the people. And if we continue this kind of fever we can fix this — it’ll take two, four, eight years. It’s not a quick process. AB: So, a lot of follow up questions ... First follow up question: you said that you feel a lot of people on the left don’t understand how people on the right think. And I think you’re probably right on that — I mean it’s hard to generalize, I mean I think a lot of people do understand — but in particular? What are some ways that you think, that you think the people on the left don’t understand? MA: Well, I don’t know if they believe this, but this is what they say — you know, evil conservatives don’t want. For example the left is very creative at calling these bills these innocuous names, sort of the CHIP program — Children’s Health Insurance Program, now who wouldn’t be for that? Who wouldn’t want kids to have health care? Well of course they do, but they stuff all kinds of other goodies in it. Or the Free Press Act, the Free Press Act has nothing to do with the freedom of the press, it actually has to do with trying to quell and control the Internet. AB: How about the PATRIOT Act? MA: The PARIOT Act — I was for that. And I think you and I have already talked about that, but I was for that because it was my guy in office and I felt the shock of 9/11 and I thought this was going to happen all the time. And he even used to say — and I still agree with his point — if a guy calls Pakistan, I don’t really care if they listen or not. I know they’re listening to my stuff and I know the Internet is regulated and Facebook, I have had people hack my Facebook account because I’m on the right. There’s one of them who admitted — we have a screen shot of him admitting that he’s being paid by the left to go in and infiltrate conservatives on Facebook and try to get them banned. I’ve had friends on Facebook who got banned for no reason. But the PATRIOT Act is largely unconstitutional and that’s what I think I told you this the other day, or you may have overheard, but people on the left now are letting government grow at an enormous rate — and the power of these czars — they’re bypassing Congress, and Glenn Beck says this all the time. Well, some day — power always — we’re a pendulum. When we have too much on the left we swing back toward the middle and when we have too much on the right it swings — and the American people, I believe, would like to have it right of center, but they want it close to the center. They want a check and balance. Republicans proved when they were in control that they couldn’t handle the success and now it’s just gargantuan. What they don’t understand is they’re looking for the short-term — some day these laws are going to be in the hands of the people on the right who could use those same powers to hurt the left. And no one wants that, so I think it’s a short-term mentality. So us wanting to keep more of our money — the biggest fallacy and what gets the right in more trouble than anything is — the left has these great poll-tested themes like tax cuts for the rich, and some people believe it. If you look at the Bush tax cuts on the whole, every single person who pays taxes got a reduction. Ten percent got dropped off the rolls altogether. It’s just a simple fact that the top two percent of earners pay, I want to say it’s 45 percent. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. So if you’re going to give a tax cut, it makes sense to give them to the people who actually pay them. Now we’re giving refunds to people who don’t even pay taxes — that’s literally a hand-out. So there are themes like that where they don’t understand the fact that we want to give people a hand up. But when you — this unemployment situation we’re in now. When people don’t have any hope — black, white, green, doesn’t matter. Take inner city kids back to the Washington D.C. schools example. Those kids have very little hope. Statistics would show that the vast — I mean a huge percentage of those kids in inner city schools in Washington D.C. are not going to graduate and that many of them will end up in prison. Well, why not create school choice and help those kids have hope? I believe that freedom — liberty is instilled in us by God, and if people had hope — I don’t think most people want a hand-out. I think it hurts their self-esteem. If you’re on unemployment for two years in a row and you can’t find a job and you’re really trying — I believe that a lot of people have just given up. They’ve quit. Now, some people do want the hand-out — they love, and whoever will give them the most stuff — even Thomas Jefferson said that. But the left doesn’t seem to understand that we don’t want — it goes back to what Michael Badnarik said: being a republic, the minority’s rights are protected, and that’s what conservatives believe. We believe that everyone should be given an equal chance to succeed on their own merits. If there are people who need help — especially, say, a wounded veteran that comes back from Iraq and cannot get a job. I mean there would be an outpouring of support to help those people. We have to protect those who cannot protect themselves. But we’re protecting a lot of people that could protect themselves. So what I don’t think liberals understand is that conservatives are very compassionate and we see the best in people where they believe that government should be involved in making decisions for people because they’re not smart enough to make them in their own lives. And you take away people’s liberty, you take away their hope, you take away their self choice, and you have really knocked them down as a human being and they have less self worth and they’re going to be less productive. To me it’s a simple fact. AB: I was just going to ask another follow up — another follow up is a question about that seminar on Saturday, what did you think of that overall? What did you gain from it? MA: I mean obviously I believe he’s right — I believe our rights are endowed by our creator, as it says. But I’ve never taken that view on it — even the property thing, that I don’t own my own property. So that gave me a different view on it and I believe he’s correct. I don’t agree with him that the Republicans and Democrats are the exact same and if anything it’s shown us in the last 18 months that that’s not the case. The Republican Party has got some serious problems, no question, and there needs to be term limits. We need to get rid of those that are — it’s a difference between worshiping God and worshiping power, worshiping money, and they have become idols unto themselves. But I agreed with him on a lot of things. I don’t agree — at least my hope is, he made a comment, I don’t know if you were there but he showed up. AB: I saw that, but I had to leave at that point. MA: Someone asked him, can we do this peacefully? And he said “no.” Now, I really hope that’s not the case. But I think everybody in the Tea Party — you might have heard people, you know, I’m getting my guns ready and they’re not going to get my guns and I’m getting gold and water — and I think that’s probably smart to be prepared no matter what. I mean, if the power grid were to go out for two weeks, I mean what would you do? If you have perishable items — so I just think it’s smart to protect your family. In case of a biological attack or a nuclear, whatever, there’s anything that could happen. But I mean it’s not like we have a bunch of armed militias roving out there waiting to shoot someone who comes to their door. I hope he’s wrong about that; I think he’s wrong about that. I think if three or four years from now things haven’t changed I think he’s probably right. I don’t know if we’re tough enough. We’re so spoiled — I mean people whine if the TV’s not on or something — I don’t know if we’re tough enough to fight the revolution again like our forefathers did — I just don’t think, I don’t know. AB: No, it’s interesting you bring that up though, because you do hear the rhetoric about the guns and, “oh I think this might come to revolution” — and it’s always in the future. I’m not getting the sense that people are arming themselves or anything — but you do hear this every once in a while, and it’s often from someone who’s like a housewife in Plano or something. And I’m just like, “I don’t think you understand what that means!” You know? Somebody talking about preparing for armed conflict — do they know what that means? MA: I think a lot of them do, and there’s more women — this movement is not a white male movement. If anything I would say that women have a lot more of an influence than men. A lot of moms — lot of home school moms — a lot of concerned women who have not been too terribly active. And you know 55 percent of women voters vote Democrat — and that’s a block you can’t win without. So it’s sort of the mama grizzly thing that Sarah Palin talks about. I mean I don’t know if I like the commercial, but it’s sort of a great analogy, because they’re protecting their young. I don’t know if people really realize what that would be either. And again, this is one of the last states — like they say, the government isn’t stupid enough to come and try to take away our right to bear arms. They would do it by taxing ammunition to the point where people couldn’t buy — putting a serial number on every bullet, making you go through these ridiculous regulations and paperwork and all this stuff to have the right to bear arms, and just making it difficult to get them. And if they ever did start trying to ban them, Texas is the last place they’d come — or the first place they’d come and either try to put it down, but there’s just no way. I mean there are militias out there, but I don’t really see that — I think the hope of most Tea Party people is that it can be done peacefully through the exchange of ideas and through reforming our government and getting rid of the debt. And I think you have a few crazies that would like to go at it right now, but that would not end well for anybody. It may be necessary and our forefathers said, you know, occasionally in order to have liberty you need the blood of tyrants and patriots. I hope that the tree of liberty needs to be watered — but I will say. We will not go down — the American people will not go down like others have. We will accept doses of socialism, that’s what Khrushchev said, we’re not going to get you all at once we’re going to give you little doses and you’ll accept it — it’s getting to the point where two, three, four years from now if there were a stolen election or something like that — I mean there could be some, it could be bad. And I think all Tea Party people hope that’s not the case, but it may be. If it is necessary, I believe it’ll happen, but it would be pretty ugly. AB: The next question is kind of open — but what does it mean to be an American to you? MA: Well first and foremost that you have a profound love of this country and you swear allegiance to this country — that’s one of the things that gets me about — immigration is a huge issue for Tea Party people, it’s one or two for sure. But Tea Party people and conservatives are not anti-immigrant. They’re anti-illegal immigrant, but I don’t really care about where they come from. I don’t think about it in terms of one race — I don’t think about it in those terms. But dual allegiance is something you should look up — it was written by the former governor of Colorado in I think it was 2003. And he wrote, How To Destroy America From Within and he talks about multiculturalism and he talks about encouraging immigrants to have dual citizenship, to have dual allegiance. I believe an American should swear their allegiance to the United States of America, put their hand over their heart — I understand their cultural history of being from South America or from Africa or from Europe — fine. Don’t ever lose that. But America becomes number one — and you have a profound love of your country and are willing to defend it, and you also — and this is where the left doesn’t quite get us — is that we believe that America is an exceptional place. There’s never been any other country that’s given more blood, more treasure to free people around the world — and you know if you ask the question what would the world look like without the United States of America, I don’t think there’s any question that it would be a much worse, more dismal and less free place. And people on the far, far left, I’m not talking about Democrats, I’m talking about liberals or progressives, they truly see America as the problem, as the aggressor, that we’re causing terrorism, that we’re causing strife and poverty when that’s ridiculous. That simply is not the case. Even to the point of — I like to say this all the time to people on the left, and especially black people — you could make the case, through the massive AIDS funding in Africa, that no human being on the face of this earth has ever done more to help save the lives of African Americans than George Bush. If you say that the reaction you get — you’ll get punched in the face. But he did, I mean our AIDS funding increased tremendously, and every study shows that. So I think that moreover that you have to love — you don’t have to agree with everything about the place you live in, I mean I have problems with my government about a lot of things. But I love America and America is the greatest country in the world and quite frankly I think a lot of conservatives believe that God has played a special role in the creation of America and that he looks favorably on America. Now when you say that to a person on the left his head explodes, but I believe that — I firmly believe that. As with Israel as well — I mean if you look at Israel, it would have been wiped off the — I mean if you look at the map they’re surrounded by people who swear their demise. I mean. AB: So just one side thing — you talk about dual loyalties. How do you reconcile the pledging to the American and the Texas flags? That’s something I’ve been interested this whole time. MA: Well, there are a lot of folks — and we always joke about it — but there are a lot of folks, you know Texas is one of the few republics that can technically succeed — and I see bumper stickers you know, if y’all don’t straighten up we’re out of here. But I don’t think there’s a serious — no serious person that I know really believes that would be best. It’s kind of like immigration — I don’t know a serious person on the right who believes in mass deportation — I mean it’s impractical, it’s stupid, it’s not possible. And it’s not what they want. You’ll hear a few people saying, oh deport them all! But how are you going to do that? It’s sort of like that. Texas — I love the United States of America first, but I do love Texas too. And it is, you’ve hit on something very key on people you’re talking to in this area — I don’t think there’s another state, as I said in the beginning, that has the love and the pride in their state as they do in Texas. I don’t think there’s any question. AB: Well, I mean no other state has a pledge to the flag of that state either. MA: Well it’s part of the fact that it is a republic. And there are a lot of people who have never even left the state of Texas — they’ve never been anywhere. AB: I know some of them. MA: It is different, but it isn’t a dual — I don’t think that’s a conflict because they believe in basically the same thing. It’s much different than someone who comes here, emigrates from another country, and yet who hasn’t bought into the American — you know it’s kind of like they hyphenated American. I can’t stand that. But it is politically correct to call someone an African-American, you’re not allowed to say the word black. Hispanic American, Latino American, Asian American — you know, I get tired of all that. Can’t we all just be American? But, I do understand the love of their culture, where they came from — I mean we all came from somewhere. Except for the American Indians, we’re all immigrants. But I do believe that in order to succeed here you can’t have a dual allegiance to another country, you’ve got to learn English — if you’re going to succeed in the United States of America you have to learn English, your chances of success are much less if you don’t. AB: And — just for the record, Texas doesn’t have the right to secede. It has the right to break into several states, like five or something, but. Just, when Perry said that, just having taken several Texas history classes in high school and all that. MA: I don’t know if I agree with that. AB: No, I mean factually. If you look at the contract by which Texas as admitted into the union — it doesn’t have the right to secede. But anyway — so what does it mean to be un-American to you? MA: Well it’s really the opposite — someone who doesn’t believe in the founding documents. Someone who doesn’t believe in free speech, no matter if you disagree with them — like Badnarik said, free speech is not just what I agree with. Someone who doesn’t believe that America’s exceptional — someone who believes that America’s the problem: then why don’t they move to wherever they think is better? I mean they’re perfectly within their right to do that. Someone who always downgrades America, who always — you know, again, we’ve had our share of problems, we’ve committed mistakes, there’s no question. But, again, the people of America are exceptional — they’re good, kind, decent people over all and — just someone who complains but never wants to do anything about it. I just wish that — I mean Alec Baldwin said that if Bush won he’d move to Canada. I’d certainly like to help him pack. If they don’t want to be here — and people just have this love affair with Cuba, which astounds me, then go move to Cuba! I mean you have the right to do that, I’ll help you. I will take a fund up and help you move — so that’s really it. AB: We’re getting close to 11. MA: Yeah, I’ve got about 10 minutes, 15 minutes. AB: Well we’re getting close to the end so I’ll hurry up toward there. I don’t really need to ask you these news media questions, because you’ve already answered them in earlier things. What would you say is the primary factor that got you involved in the Tea Party — what was the final straw that got you politically active? MA: Well, I was already politically active — I’ve been politically active about 10 years. I worked on Fred Thompson — worked on his campaign in 2007-2008. AB: What about Fred Thompson appealed to you? MA: I kind of saw him as sort of a Southern Reagan. He was a straight talker, he just said what he believed to be true, regardless of consequence — which is what I like in somebody, instead of trying to — he doesn’t mince words, he just says it. And I agree with like 95 percent of his stuff. But I think that the Tea Party movement — it’s contrary to say that the Tea Party movement arose because Barack Obama was elected, and that’s what the left is trying to say, is that they’re hating a black man — it’s simply not the case. There were — even if John McCain was president right now, I would be just as upset about most things. Do I believe we would have spent as much money? No. But we’d already have cap and trade, which I’m against, we’d already have comprehensive immigration reform with amnesty, which I’m against. He would not have done much to help — but there would still be Tea Parties. It’s not really a response to Obama so much as it is Obama’s policies and the radicalisms. I mean the American people want to be talked to, they want to have a say and when you ram stuff down their throat that they disagree with en mass — like the healthcare bill. Sixty-three percent of the people right now want it repealed, in every poll that I see. And they always say Rasmussen is the big evil pollster — no one has been more accurate in the last 10 years than Rasmussen, right on the nuts. So I think it was really a fear that had been growing for years about the debt, even under the Bush administration, and the un-sustainability and the out of control government officials. And part of it, I think, and not just Obama, but you had massive control of huge majorities, all on one side. If they were all on the right would there be a left Tea Party? I would hope so. They should. So I think it was really — I think it’s driven more out of fear, angst and a love of the country and wanting, trying to get it back to the Constitution. And we’re a long way from the Constitution and have been for years. It didn’t just start, as I always say, anybody in the Tea Party who says this started in 2008 is not true. AB: That’s interesting what you said that if McCain was president right now you think there’d still be a Tea Party. MA: I’d be almost as furious — because nobody in the Tea Party was a John McCain fan, I don’t think. I mean I can’t speak for all of them, and a lot of them voted for Sarah Palin, like I did, but. AB: But — I think that’s interesting though. I mean obviously McCain was not an ideal candidate for your side at all. But at the same time, I don’t know I find it kind of hard to imagine. Just based on — for example. If the Tea Party movement would have still formed if McCain had been elected, why wouldn’t have formed when McCain won the primary? Because, either way you’re going to get it on your side — so why after the election? I mean you knew it was going to be one or the other. MA: The people who really understood Obama’s past and who read about him and were educated about him — again, nothing to do with color — the people who really understood him. It was sort of lesser of two evils. I mean he scared me to death — I have writings back from what I thought he was going to do, even talking to my mother, who voted for him, the things he’s going to do. Nothing he’s done has surprised me. There were some people who were shocked — oh I didn’t expect this. Well you just didn’t pay attention to what he said in his entire political career from the time he got involved with Bill Ayers. We would be, in some respects, we would already have cap and trade right now, which I’m against, we would already have a comprehensive immigration plan — because if you think about it, there were Dem majorities, McCain would be the Republican president. McCain has always been willing to bend over on the other side and have that quote unquote bipartisanship — stick it in our eye. He would thrive on it. He loves to stick it to conservatives, which is why those left shows, Meet the Press, they rarely have a real conservative on — they always have Lindsay Graham or John McCain or Mitch McConnell on because they’re more wishy washy. A lot of people say why didn’t you protest during Bush — I mean if you heard people on the right, we were railing against even back in the Iraq war. I agreed with the war, I agree with it now — but in ‘03 or ‘04, or ‘05 and ‘06, the rules of engagement, I mean kids were out there getting killed — I was like we need to win the war or get out. I’m not a get out kind of person but we were wailing on him. The Medicare prescription was unpaid for. In the last few years of Bush’s presidency were not good. So this movement was spawned back then. AB: So it has roots back then but the trigger was the election you think or after the election? MA: No, I don’t know that it was necessarily the election because we hadn’t — I mean all the polls will show you. That’s why when a leftist calls you a racist it’s like what are you talking about? Because white people voted for Obama in pretty big majorities. You could make the case that 90 percent of African Americans always vote Democrat, okay, he got 98. But there’s not a huge — only 13 percent of the population — you could make a case that Barack Obama was elected by white people. You can make the case, statistically easily — so did they become a racist over night? No. Now conservatives didn’t vote for him because of policy. I do understand, and I think most Tea Party people understand — I mean I never had water cannons shot at me, I never had dogs, I never had my parents have to deal with that. I understand the historic significance of it — I just wish it was Alan West or Herman Kane or someone like that. I do understand, and it was tough to ignore that. And he was going to win no matter what — looking back you can’t ignore that — he didn’t have a single person that could beat him. It was a tsunami — and quite frankly it had to happen. We always have to take a drastic march to the left to bring us to the right. Jimmy Carter brought us Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama’s going to bring us, not this time a single Reagan — because that’s too easy to decapitate. This is a Reagan movement in some respects, and you can’t attack — you know, the Tea Party is like a starfish. If you cut off the head of a spider, the spider’s dead. If you cut the leg off a starfish, it grows right back. And we have tentacles all over the country. And that’s what I think has confounded the left so hard is that they can’t attack the Tea Party. That’s where the whole race thing came from — we’re working on a big story about that, which I can’t share, but that’s where that whole thing — paint them all as racists, but it’s not going to work because everyone that’s in it or knows friends that are in it knows that they’re not that way, that they don’t feel that way, and you know, I haven’t seen any Aryan Nation people in the Tea Party — we wouldn’t want them there either. There are people that have brought signs that, if they’re one of ours quote unquote we hammer them and expel them, I mean there have almost been fights among Tea Party people trying to get rid of people because of what it would do to the whole movement. So to say — I think there would be a Tea Party, I think it’s brewing, every, really, since Reagan left I think it’s been brewing and it overflowed. And I really don’t know if it’s Obama especially, I mean he may be the figurehead of it, but I mean Pelosi — if you were to rank evilness among Tea Party people, Obama, Pelosi and Reid are pretty damned even. And last time I checked both of them are white — so I don’t buy into that. I do think there would be a movement — the difference is, this is the distinction, the country would be in just about as bad a shape as it is now, because you hadn’t gotten rid of the corruption just by changing out the president, but we’d be getting blamed for it because he’s quote unquote on our side. So in a way I’m glad that he lost, because this way our side doesn’t get the blame for it — and it would essentially guarantee Democratic control for a decade, because McCain would have been a disaster. God bless his service, but. And we wouldn’t be spending as much money, but again he wouldn’t be in control of anything. No president wants to get no legislation passed — they want to compromise. And when you’ve got Dem majorities, I mean Bill Clinton — you could say, and they say oh he created 14 million jobs — Bill Clinton’s presidency was saved by Republicans winning the house in 1994. I mean he was on a leftist path and he is smart, and he was pragmatic to say — and they balanced the budget, they did welfare reform, they did a lot of good stuff together — saved his presidency and created job growth. I don’t see Obama as that kind of guy. I think when Republicans win in the fall I don’t think he’s going to reach across the aisle at all – I think he will — it’s going to be real contentious for the next two years and not a whole lot is going to get passed, and you know what? I’m okay with that. Because we’ve got to stop the path that we’re on now. And our hope on the Tea Party side is not to have Republicans win, but have conservatives win, and enough of them. Now, I’ll take Scott Brown from Massachusetts, you’re not going to get a Texas Republican in Massachusetts. And then we need a conservative president, a conservative majority in the House and Senate that’s willing to do what’s right — and we need to hold them accountable, because as we know there’s some of them who are not what they seem to be. So that’s really our hope is to sweep in conservatives who will start cutting spending, start cutting some of these government programs, reforming entitlements and doing some of the tough stuff — kind of like Chris Christie. Chris Christie is not my brand of conservative, but I’ll tell you what he’s a hero right now to the right because — if he fixes New Jersey, he deserves to run for president. Because it’s a mess. And it’s actually a microcosm of the mess that’s going on in California, New York, New Jersey — a lot of places. AB: So it’s 11, and I don’t want to keep you past. MA: I’ve got 5, maybe 10 minutes. AB: Those were most of my main questions but I always ask at the end — is there any question I didn’t ask but I should have asked or anything else you’d like to say about the Tea Party or your beliefs or your involvement that I didn’t get out of you with the questions that I asked? MA: I don’t think so. I guess, how many people have you interviewed for this so far? AB: More than 20, but I haven’t counted how many — 20-something. MA: Twenty in this area or 20 total? AB: More than 20 total. MA: See, why not more? Have people been resistant to meet with you because they think you have an agenda? AB: Well, part of it was in Boston I got my IRB approval late — so I could only do interviews the last two weeks. So I only got eight there. I’m going to try and go back in August and get some more. Here I’ve got more than 10, probably close 10 or 15 here. And it’s been a mixture — I’ve been passing out those flyers, like I gave you one, and talking to people. And some people said they’d be willing to talk and then when I contacted them they never called back. So it’s a little bit of that — and some of that’s probably, like you said, concerns about agenda and things like that. MA: Probably, a little bit. AB: But I mean. MA: Sometimes they’re just busy — I mean people that are really active, they can go to four meetings a week. AB: Right, and that’s the think too — I mean there are only so many interviews that I can physically schedule anyways. I can really only handle about two interviews a day — given the fact that I have to drive from place to place. MA: What did you think about that Constitution thing on Saturday? The Constitution class. I mean we were there for the better part of 10 hours — in an uncomfortable chair. That says something about — and there’s no racism in that room. Now you’re right, there weren’t a lot of brown and black faces in there, and I am a huge, anybody who knows me, even in the Denton County Republican Party and the Republican movement, that’s why I have been attracted to such people as Allen West, Herman Kane, not because they’re black — they’re conservatives who happen to be black. But ‘outreach’ is a terrible idea and a terrible word — I like the word ‘upreach’ — it’s kind of like the difference between giving people and hand-out and a hand-up. There are black people — there are plenty of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans who agree with more of what conservatives believe in. But you have to go talk to them, you have to engage them, sometimes you have to go argue with them. You have to show them information — you have to show them another side to see, for example Planned Parenthood and abortion — which is not a Tea Party issue — but you don’t find Planned Parenthoods in rich white neighborhoods. There’s always a liquor store, a gun store and a planned parenthood in black neighborhoods — well why is that? And black babies are being aborted at an alarming rate compared to the same population among Caucasians. Well that’s not good. And out of wedlock kids being born in the African American community is much higher — I would tell you, and I think I could make the case, that liberal, progressive causes have really hurt the black community — however, they continue to vote for the left in 90-plus percent. And I don’t really understand it and I think part of it is the people on the right’s fault. If you’re going to run — if I was running for office and there happened to be a large black church in my district, that was heavily attended by African Americans and/or people who heavily vote Democrat — I don’t know why I wouldn’t schedule a town hall in that church and go and engage with them, talk with them — don’t just go knock on the doors of the people who you know are going to vote for you. Go engage the other side. You’re not going to pick up huge percentages — but when you leave at the end of the day they can say whatever they want about you but I think they’re going to say I don’t agree with that guy on a lot of stuff, but he made me think and at least he was honest. And right now that’s really all people want is for someone who will tell them the truth and be honest and have character and principles. I mean I believe that the Tea Party people are telling the truth, that they would vote for a conservative Democrat over a quote unquote Republican like Dede Scozzafava in New York. I firmly believe that they would. I would, especially at a local level. But of course when you get to Congress there are no conservative Democrats because they put so much pressure on them even the ones that were quote unquote conservatives caved in on everything. And that’s part of the problem with Congress as well. I mean you get a freshman Republican who goes up there and says, alright I’m going to take on my party, and they get him in a room and it’s like mob tactics and they threaten to cut off all of their funding and you will never get a seat on a committee and we’re going to bla bla bla, and they end up caving. And we need 465 people, regardless of their party, who won’t cave and will just do what their constituents want them to do and will do what’s right. And we don’t have 20 or 30 people like that. And I don’t even think liberals would disagree with that. The way to fix the country is not to put it all in one — have the House, the Senate and the presidency all dominated with 100 percent conservatives — that’s not right. There needs to be a mix of the population. I think the liberals would love to have 435 liberal congressman, 100 liberal senators and a president. In fact, no one thinks that’s a good idea really. AB: Anything else? MA: No, I think that’s good. You have found in these discussions — I’m sure there are many common themes. As long as you’ve talked to people who are educated — that’s the good and the bad of a de-centralized organization. No one can claim — oh, I’m the Tea Party leader. AB: Well, and nobody has. MA: There are a few — I mean they just expelled for writing that stupid Op Ed — he was trying to be satirical and it was dumb and he’s been expelled. But expelled from what? I mean, you and I could form the “A.J. Tea Party” right here and now and nobody could stop us — it’s not a patented thing. So that’s the good thing about it, but it also can be the bad thing about it — communication-wise there needs to be a little more coordination. And there are behind the scenes — I’m a part of some of those groups. But that’s the neat thing about it is that we cannot be attacked from one spot — there will never be another Ronald Reagan per se who can lead an entire movement because they will find a way to smear and just besmirch that person. And when there are millions of them, how do you smear them? You just have to do it one at a time. So, hopefully you got the same — I don’t know if anything I told you was particularly surprising or earth shattering. AB: Not particularly. MA: I understand the movement better than most but everybody has their own take. AB: But you’re right, you begin to hear certain themes. MA: And there’s nothing wrong with writing that if that’s what you heard — now if you were to say that the Tea Party movement is a deeply religious movement, even though religion has nothing to do with it — that’s true! Nobody can say [inaudible]. It’s true! We all do different things, but as long as you stick to the facts. AB: And that’s what I intend to do. MA: Whatever bias you may have — I think you have a different worldview than I do, but journalism is supposed to be about telling the story by the facts — even if you disagree. And that’ll be a big challenge for us and one of the things we do with our newspaper is to take on both sides. Because otherwise we’re just the right version of everything we despise on the left — then we have no credibility. And there will be a lot of people on the right who will be some of our biggest enemies. I already know some of them right now that we know that we’re ready to publish stuff about them. Like I spoke to a group last night and said look, if a Republican Congressman gets in a scandal, whether we break it or not, if we can verify that it is true, we’re going to write it. And I know what’s going to happen — that congressman’s office is going to call and say, I thought you were on our side? And I’ll say, no, no, no, I’m on the side of the truth, whatever that happens to be. Whereas I believe that the New York Times sits on most stuff that they could go after the left with and they highly publicize stuff on the right. And the JournoList stuff can all be diminished — oh they were just independent. Joe Klien was there and guys from Bloomburg. Even this morning it was found that even an Obama staffer was a part of those lists. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, and journalists should be a fair and a free press. But we don’t have that, it’s really a right or a left press. So we’re hoping to be upfront about our bias too. I have one — we all do. And so if I admit to you that — like in an article we write about so-and-so. If I write, in full disclosure this is my state representative and I did not support him, I think the reader would be like, that’s pretty cool. Now I can take what he wrote in context knowing he’s already told me he has a bias. Everybody has a bias — that’s our problem is the left won’t admit they have one, they claim to be down the middle and they’re just now. Call me, tell me your conflicts of interest — disclose them and then I’ll take that as a prism and I’ll give you 90 percent weight over here and 10 percent on the other — that’s all anybody asks, and I don’t see a newspaper in the world that does that — blogs sort of do. So I think we can be unique in that, and attract readers from both sides. We want to get people on the right to hate us too. In fact, if no one on the right hates us we’re not doing the right thing. Speaking of, that thing went out. — Interview conducted by A.J. Bauer —

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