Matthew Patrick Transcript

Interview with Matthew Patrick, leader of a Tea Party group covering one Dallas neighborhood, at Zinsky's Deli in Dallas, Texas on July 14, 2010. Interview Time: 111:06 Matthew Patrick: And the anti-intellectuals, the statists, the nationalists and the fascists were simply all on the left. A.J. Bauer: That’s really interesting. See, I don’t see a lot of nationalism on the left — in fact a lot of times the left is often critiqued for not being nationalistic enough, being one-world government, and all these kinds of things get thrown about. But no, I’d be interested to see your perceptions about it as well — that’s part of what I’m interested in. You’re right that there’s a lot of curiosity on the East Coast, but I’d say mostly there’s a lot of curiosity just generally in academia, because you read the news stories, news reports — sitting in New York and hearing about the movement, for example, about the Tea Party movement it’s like, what’s going on? And professors — it’s hard to comprehend. MP: They don’t get it. They don’t get it. AB: And I felt like I understood it a little more — I mean I was born and raised here — I mean, 20 years of my 25 years in existence — so I feel like when I heard what was going on I understood it to a certain extent — not understood it but got it a little more. It’s interesting actually, there’s a Tea Party in New York. I went to one rally with them and have been on a couple of conference calls. I spent a month up in Boston and it’s pretty lively up there. It’s a little more centralized up there, whereas here it’s really disparate. All the groups are very separate. MP: Yes. AB: In Boston the groups are a little bit larger. So the Greater Boston one kind of runs meetings around the basic vicinity of Boston; there’s a North Shore one that cuts out a little sliver north of Boston, but they don’t really overlap. They sometimes do some group things together, but there’s also a little bit of contention. MP: That’s interesting. AB: Yeah, I’m glad I did that — looked at that one and this Dallas one because the dynamics are different. But yeah, so — I’m interested in your ideas generally, but let’s start the interview and we’ll get to each of your points as we go along. MP: Sure. AB: What year were you born? MP: 1960. AB: And were you born in Texas? MP: I was actually born in Texas — born in Houston. AB: What’s kind of your life trajectory? MP: Oh you want to do a quick run through of where I’ve been? AB: Yeah. MP: Okay, let’s see, I was born in Houston; lived in Bellaire in Houston [Briefly interrupted by the waiter.] So I lived in Bellaire in Houston for about 10 years and then moved to Pennsylvania and lived in a suburb of Philadelphia, two suburbs of Philadelphia for three years in middle school. Then moved back to Houston in ‘74 — went to high school there, graduated, went to University of Texas for a year, worked for a year, went back to University of Texas for three years, University of Houston for three years. I put myself through school and went into banking. I kind of worked my way through retail banking when I was an undergraduate — went to work in corporate finance for a London-based international banking conglomerate. I was an oil and gas analyst. In ‘85 they moved me to Dallas, in ‘86 — I did large corporate work, trade and finance, that kind of thing for four years. Then went to SMU to get a master’s in business administration for two years. Got married and had children in that same time period. I worked for Merrill Lynch as a stockbroker for a year; went back to corporate finance with a Japanese bank for five years. And from there I went to work for large corporate institutions, publicly traded health care companies as a vice president and treasurer for one company with a $3 billion, vertically integrated international company, and I was on the board of directors for a $160 million company and I was the chief financial officer for that company, which was also publicly traded. I did that for two years and then started my own businesses doing health care real estate development in 2004. And I sold that company in January. So my two kids are now 18 and 19 years old, out of high school. My wife’s an attorney and works for JP Morgan Chase. AB: So are the kids going to UT or? MP: No. My daughter is going to be a freshman at the University of Tulsa. She’s starting as a sophomore and pretty much on scholarship. My son is in Colorado Springs; he’ll be in his second year at the United States Air Force Academy. AB: Congrats. MP: Thank you. AB: You mentioned you went into banking. What were some of your favorite subjects in school? Was it always math and science, that kind of thing? MP: No actually I started out — when I first went to UT I was an engineering undergrad. My dad was a civil engineer, so I was kind of following that path a little bit. And my favorite subjects were actually philosophy, history, business, not so much just pure mathematics — finance always intrigued me, real estate intrigued me. I guess that’s probably most it. AB: What about philosophy, history, business, what about those three subject drew you to them. MP: Well history — I’ve always loved history. I’ve been a history buff since I was eight years old. I used to read about the wars and the development of England. And the best professor I ever had — and I wish I could remember his name, A.J., I don’t know if you had him. There was a guy — he probably wasn’t there when you were there — he was an American history professor and he had such a presence. You know those big rooms at UT that seat 400-500 people? Freshman year I walked into one of those and this guy would come in, just command the stage, speak wall-to-wall the entire class period. And it was fascinating; he was on top of his game and kept you riveted; gave you assignments — where his assignments that semester were the only ones I wanted to do. It was great. AB: That’s awesome. MP: You know at the end of the year how everybody claps? This was like a 10-minute thundering standing ovation. I mean everybody — I wish I could remember his name, but he was very good in American history. AB: I love that — stories of professors who can command their presence like that. It’s kind of rare sometimes. When you get one it’s really... MP: As opposed to my calculus professor that semester who had literally been off the boat at the dock at the port in Houston less than 48 hours from Russia before he was in the classroom. Horrible English — didn’t teach the class, just wrote on the board. I didn’t do so well that semester [laughs]. AB: I had an economics professor, she was Chinese, and her English was still not quite up to snuff. We’d be sitting there in class and she’d be talking about supply and demand or something like that and we’d be looking at each other like, ‘What is she saying?’ So I’ve been there. Getting into the politics a little bit — what would you say is your first political memory? MP: My first political memory was the day that Nixon resigned. Now I know that my mom kind of talked politics because she was a yellow-dog, liberal Democrat. My dad was never vocal about politics at all. So I don’t even know what his politics were. But we were in the process of moving back from Pennsylvania to Houston and it was my sister, me and my dad driving all our stuff down. We got a hotel, I don’t know where, and the morning he resigned my dad was like ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’ He wanted to get on the road because he was trying to keep a schedule and I was glued to the TV. I said I’m not leaving until he’s finished. So that was kind of the first big one. AB: You say you were captivated by it. What captivated you? MP: Just the enormity of the moment, and I was not quite yet 14 — well I was 14 then, so you’re beginning to grow more cognizant of the larger world around you, and I’d sort of been aware of it for two years, but I was 12 — I didn’t really understand it. But this really drove it home. It made me wake up and say this is really important stuff, you got to pay attention to it. And really since then I’ve paid attention in one way or another to politics. AB: Do you remember the first time you ever voted? MP: 1980, for Ronald Reagan. AB: What’s your history of party and ideological affiliation? You said you started becoming aware at 14. At that point did you consider yourself a certain party or ideology? How did that develop? MP: For me it was more just an awareness and watching the policies that were being espoused by one side as opposed to the policies espoused by the other side. And the Democratic policies always turned me off because intuitively they’re completely wrong. The Republican policies, some of them are good and some of them are bad and it’s been that way ever since I can remember. I’m not a down-the-line Republican — I’ve been in and out of the party, I’ve been out of the party for long periods; I haven’t always voted Republican. I campaigned for Mark White who was the Democratic candidate for governor when I was in college — I did speeches for him, did campaign work for him. So for me it’s always been more about ideas than party. I guess that’s sort of the genesis or history of my political ideology. AB: So more about ideas than about party affiliation. MP: Always, yeah. AB: You mentioned that you always found Democratic policies intuitively incorrect — kind of flesh that out for me. What about them was intuitively wrong to you? MP: Well if you look at the history, for example, the Civil Rights movement. That’s mostly a Republican movement. And it’s interesting to me going through high school and college that these professors, who you could tell were liberal because of the way they talked about subjects, never wanted to delve into the conservative side of things or the positive history of the Republican Party. I saw that the first time with my 10th grade history teacher — and I saw it all the way through college. In particular, I had a professor at the University of Texas when I was studying Renaissance history and he completely downplayed John Locke and all that he did — which I was reading independently. And I was asking him about it but he was just skip over that part — he didn’t want to talk about it. So, when you look at the Civil Rights movement — I mean the Republican Party was formed out of an effort to free the slaves. It was formed in Wisconsin, which some people don’t know I guess. And it was the anti-slave movement that elected Lincoln, which they don’t teach in school, which they should. It was Lincoln who freed the slaves, that fought the Civil War. It was the Democrats that formed the KKK; it was the Republican Party in 1874 that introduced the first Civil Rights legislation. It was blocked by the Democrats for 90 years, and they wouldn’t have gotten it over the threshold in 64 if it weren’t for Republican help, help from the Republican leadership. But that story doesn’t get told. So if you look at the history, and the history of the Democrats — they’re the part whose central issue has always been about power. They’re the party that says they’re for the little person but they manipulate the little people, they manipulate immigrants, they’re basically, in my view, a fascist movement — because they’re after power, they’re after unified central power. So whether it’s centered around — people consider nationalism and fascism the same thing, I don’t. To me nationalism is kind of what you were saying before — it’s all about the boundaries of the nation where the Democrats and liberals are typically not for that, but what they are for is centralization of power; and that’s more in my view fascism. So, the ideas — they can’t win on the ideas so they want power to force people to do what they want. You see it all the time, and you see it particularly in this administration where they’re trying to end free speech rights via Organizing for America movement, organizing to degrade the military in terms of its external force and to substitute an internal military force. That kind of stuff is completely wrong and it’s right out of the book of fascism. AB: What are you referring to when you say they’re trying to cut down on free speech rights? Because I haven’t seen anything about that. MP: Well, what about net neutrality? AB: Well, net neutrality started under the Bush administration in terms of trying to get it controlled, right? I’m not completely familiar with the issue but I do remember that being a big thing under the FFC under the Bush administration. MP: It’s been pushed during his administration, but it’s not the Bush administration that was pushing it. There were some FCC bureaucrats pushing it, but I don’t believe there were any Bush appointees that were pushing it. Not to my knowledge, A.J., I could be wrong. AB: I could be too, it’s not really my pet issue. MP: It’s not mine either. AB: That’s interesting, I’ll have to look more into that. MP: And then the whole thing with campaign finance reform — to me that’s a free speech issue. Again, McCain-Feingold — and I’m not a big John McCain fan at all, in fact I’m kind of against him. I always have been. That’s incumbency protection is all that is. And I don’t believe necessarily in term limits, although I understand the argument for them, but I definitely don’t believe in incumbency protection either. AB: What political issues would you say are most important to you or at the top of your radar? MP: Right now or historically? AB: Let’s do both. Let’s say right now and then how that’s changed historically. MP: Okay. It may take a while to answer the question. Right now I’d say my number one issue — and I guess it’s always been my number one issue — is economics, and that’s kind of a funny thing because when you think about it just like people say everything is politics, everything is economics. Because things that are done in politics are all about the money — and that goes for both sides, whether you’re a capitalist or a socialist. It’s all about controlling the factors of production, that’s what it’s about. And so right now one of my central focuses is immigration, just because of all the spin-off implications and the economic implications. And frankly it’s been an issue that has been demagogued by both sides, but frankly more by the left because I think, again, in that crass power-play subterfuge that they have — they’re trying to use it dishonestly to try to further their power without regard for the impact that their policy has on the people they say they’re supporting. AB: So when you say that the immigration issue is a crass power-play, you’re referring to voting blocks and things like that? MP: Yeah. AB: So economics, immigration — anything else that tops your list? MP: Well, border control ties in with immigration. There are a lot of things we need to do to fix the country, so entitlements — obviously that’s a big issue. Entitlement philosophy that’s been put in place and expanded since Wilson — it’s just a policy that I disagree with because it’s not mandated in the Constitution. And to me this is where you get into the intellectual side versus the non-intellectual side. The intellectual side will look at the plain facts of the law and say this is what it has to be whether it’s in or it’s out. And what I consider to be the anti-intellectual side is the side that says no we can make the document mean whatever we want it to. Well if you’ve ever been in business you know that contract law is the most sacred thing — it serve as the foundation for all business and all transactions. So if you undermine contract law and the document doesn’t mean what it says it means, then you can make the document mean whatever you want it to and then you’ll never have an agreement. So that’s what’s happened in the political arena with things like Constitutional governance. And that’s why I was so opposed to the Kelo ruling, which I’m sure when you were living in Boston and the ruling was coming down you were well aware of that issue. AB: Was that the New London case? MP: Yeah the re-development case. AB: Oh yeah, I remember that. I just know it by New London, but yeah. MP: Kelo — K-E-L-O. AB: Right. MP: So we were kind of talking a little bit about the proper role of the Constitution and the founding documents of the government and how both sides play off of that, and the entitlement system that is not born out by those documents and therefore we shouldn’t have it. In my view, charity is the kind of thing that should be provided by private institutions, religious institutions, whatever not-for-profit people want to form up. And here’s the thing — I think, my sister in law is very very left-wing and she and I talk all the time — I said look, you and I don’t disagree on what we want to do, which is to help people, to give them opportunity, to not punish them because they’re poor, to give them a path out. It’s how we get there which is where the difference is. I think the left wants to force people to comply with its worldview by using the power of government to achieve their ends. The right, as a conservative, I say no, people have to be free to pursue their own goals and if those goals include providing for charity they can do that. Some people who choose not to do that — that is their right. So you look at the things, the enumerated responsibilities of the federal government, they’re relatively few. AB: So, historically, are there some issues in the past that have been more important than they are now — or are those the issues that have more or less always been predominant? MP: Yeah, I mean at various times different things are important to you, depending on what’s popular in the news — like social security back when they were doing the original reform. I thought they needed to push the age laws up and they did that, it was bi-partisan, it worked pretty well. At this point in time I don’t think that’s going to work again — the math might work, but philosophically, because my position — I’ve gotten older and a little more informed, is I think it needs to be privatized. Now it needs to be phased in and you need to protect the people that are closest to retirement, not change their benefits, but you need to provide better economic incentive for my children’s generation — if they could control their own assets they could probably invest them more effectively; it would help capital formation and capital retention in the country; it would help savings rates in the country; it would force the government not to raid the social security fund, and issue IOU’s and not cover up the deficit or what it is because they use funny accounting; and force them to account for themselves more correctly which would be a check on government and then it would give my children an opportunity to actually have a better retirement because they could invest in things other than just treasury bonds. And it would be triple helpful to the poor because they would have the same benefits. Now it would hurt some people, because if you were working of the books and not paying into the system, you wouldn’t have a retirement. But to me that’s a practical, real life way of forcing compliance and taking the black market economy out of the shadows. So if you’re looking to generate more tax revenue, why wouldn’t you support that? If you’re on the left it seems like the kind of thing you should support. AB: And so, moving onto political leadership — you mentioned Reagan is the first person you remember voting for. What characteristics do you look for in a political leader and what did you like particularly about Reagan that turned you out to vote for him? MP: Good question. And again, another complicated answer. AB: I like those. MP: The main thing I look for nowadays — and it’s always been important, and Reagan had it in spades, was character. I was actually reading something recently that said you can hire policy wonks, you can hire professionals on any kind of subject you want, whether it’s foreign policy or domestic policy or economic policy or environmental policy, or whatever it is. But you can’t hire leadership. You can’t hire character. You can’t hire people with a spine, with some kind of inner strength, with a good heart. Those are the things you have to look for. You can’t hire honesty, as we saw with Al Gore and Bill Clinton and I personally think we’re seeing with Barack Obama. So you have to have that kind of commitment to basic Judeo-Christian values first. That’s absolutely the number one thing. And Reagan had that in spades — and he had a love of country, which you have to have. So people sort of criticize nationalism, and we can skip to that later and come back to it if you want, but fundamentally what is nationalism is nothing more than a recognition that we have formed a country and that country forms the basis of what we do. Now, other countries have done the same thing — that’s the entire history of humanity has been this way since people started getting together in little tribes. Is that the best way to form things? Is that the only way to form things? In theory you could have one tribe and have no nationalism, but you still have competing interests that are going to be based on regions and smaller demographic areas. Tipp O’Neil said, all politics is local — so at a certain point, any large institution is going to break down to that. And if you look at it from a business model, take for example the U.S. Postal Service, which is a command and control, top-down structure, and it’s failures versus somebody like UPS or FedEx where they have some centralized management but they also push down some decision making to a local level which makes them much more nimble and gives them a lot more alacrity when it comes to servicing their customers. That’s — every successful business has had some facet of that as part of their management strategy. Compare Southwest Airlines to PanAm, which went out of business because they were very top down. AB: So... MP: And that ties directly into the fact that the Founding Fathers created a federalist society — a republic that was based on the individual rights of the 13 states. They didn’t create a strong central government. They created a weak central government with strong states because more local control is better. AB: Shifting gears ever so slightly, but in the vein because you mentioned the importance of Judeo-Christian values — what role does religion play in your life personally and how does it shape your political beliefs? MP: Well, born Catholic, confirmed Catholic, all that stuff — was not a choirboy or anything like that, or an altar boy. Kind of in and out of the church really from the time I was 18 — I mean forever I guess. I would go occasionally but not a lot — switched to Presbyterianism a few years ago. I’ve been going to a Presbyterian church since the time I got married. I’ve always had Jewish friends since I was about 15 or 16 because — I was actually thinking about this the other day because I was with some Jewish folks yesterday. It’s not that I have anything for or against Jews, it’s just when you look at the arguments and you look at the facts, they’re right about a lot of stuff. If you look at the conflict in Israel and you go back to not only the ‘47 accords and before that before the [inaudible] came into place — they’re the ones that have the right claim to that land, the land of Israel. People talk about the two-state solution. Well there’s already been a two-state solution and that other state is Jordan — according to the ‘47 agreement... So to answer your question of how religion informs my views — like most people in America I have a Christian background and what I think some Christians, particularly evangelicals, don’t realize is that Christianity sprung out of Judaism and our values spring out of Judaism and that the Torah is just the Old Testament — it’s the Torah. And a lot of Christians don’t realize that or don’t acknowledge it or want to talk about it much. And I think that the fight between Christians and Jews was silly. I was happy to see that Jewish scholars finally accepted the existence of Jesus Christ — he was a real guy and really existed and all that. They don’t acknowledge him in the same way or give him the same status that Christians do — obviously — but I think that was a good step. And I think that the Catholics and Christians coming out years ago and publicly saying that we don’t hold them personally responsible for the murder of Jesus, which is nothing more than one guy that did it — it wasn’t the whole religion that did it. So there needs to be some reconciliation there, and I think there is. So, does that inform my politics? Yes, and I think it should, because a government, and that’s what’s really unique about America, was formed to serve the people instead of the government being run by a small group or one person to dominate the people, which is what every other form of government is. And our government was formed by Christians — there’s no doubt about it, you can look at all the historical documents, you can read a paper written by anybody at the time. It’s widely recognized that this is a Christian country. Now, if you look at the freedom of religion laws, there is nothing that says separation of church and state — that was a ruling that was handed down in relatively modern times by a liberal [inaudible] court. So what it says is, if you read it, is that the federal government will not form a religion, a national religion, it doesn’t say that they will be completely separated in every way from religion. So do my ethics, which are founded in my religious beliefs, inform my political principles, absolutely. They have to. They must. Anyone who doesn’t have that I don’t think has the basis for ruling or for really being in the argument about what’s right and wrong. Because if you take a Nietzschean position, you know, that there is no god then there’s no right and wrong, and if there’s no right and wrong what’s the basis for any argument you may have? Any argument you make cannot be asserted as being right if you don’t believe in right and wrong. AB: So, just to get a little deeper into what you said — so America being a Christian nation. What does that mean for, say, Jews or, say, Muslims or, say, atheists that live within America? How does that play out within your definition of what a Christian nation means? MP: A good question. In my view everyone else who wants to practice a religion or not practice a religion can do so, but I would draw the line again anyone who wants to put forth an idea or a system of ideas that undermine the foundations of the system that they’re working under. AB: Could you give me an example? MP: Well, if you’re arguing that — if your system of beliefs, whatever they are, say that we should not have an independent government, that it should be dominated by a religion — like Islam does — then I’m against that. So Sharia law, in my view, is in direct conflict with our system of government and the enforcement of the rule of law. AB: Right. MP: I mean that’s different than saying we should — how can I put this — murder is wrong, for example, which is one of the 10 Commandments and part of the foundation of our Judeo-Christian values. That’s codified in our laws, but does that mean we should say that’s part of a religion so we should not have that in our laws? I don’t believe that. AB: So when you say draw a line again a system of ideas that would undermine the system — so obviously within that a Muslim that believes in the construction of Sharia law in the United States would obviously fall against that line, but Islam itself would be amenable, that would be fine? Is the line... MP: It depends on how it’s practiced. It depends on how it’s practiced. If you actually read the Koran and interpret it word for word there are some very objectionable parts. Of course, if you read the Bible and interpret it word for word there are some very objectionable points — whether you read the Old Testament or the New Testament, so it all depends on how you’re handling yourself. AB: So continuing in — this is the cultural part of the interview. MP: I can tell you’re enjoying this part. AB: I really do. What kind of music do you listen to? MP: Gosh, everything. There’s not much I don’t like. I listen to Classic. I listen to Classic Rock. I don’t listen to a lot of hip hop. I like reggae — I’ve always loved jazz. My favorite song is Take 5 by Dave Brubek. I do like some country western — I like bluegrass. I like classical music. I like Christmas music. Some big band stuff. AB: So very eclectic. MP: Yeah. Kind of all over. AB: How about for movies? MP: Not too much anymore — just don’t find too many things that interest me. I kind of wonder about that because, of course, when you’re a kid you go and watch movies all the time, but it is really more an age thing — because when you’re young your fascinated by everything and still learning all new stuff, the new liberties you’re getting. But at this stage in my life — I mean at 50 I’ve seen most if it before. They’re just replays and some of them aren’t that good. AB: What about books. Do you read for pleasure? What are some kinds of books that you read generally and what are some books that are particularly formative? MP: I used to love reading when I was a little kid — I used to read all the time, just suspense stuff and adventure stuff. I guess when I got to college I was having to read so much and I was working 40 hours a week and going to school, taking 15 to 18 hours — I was tired. AB: I understand. Not a lot of time for pleasure reading. MP: Yeah. So I kind of got out of pleasure reading at that time and I really read a little bit now for pleasure, but not very much. You know, some Dick Francis books are good — I read a few suspense type things. Started reading more in graduate school and you read there and then you start your career and you have to read professional journals — so I read lots of things. I read lots of economics stuff. I don’t read a lot of books anymore — I’m actually starting to try to go back and read some books that I hadn’t read before that are interesting to me. So like right now I’m reading Democracy in America. Occasionally — art history is something I’ve enjoyed, so anything from sort of 15th century, renaissance through Picasso probably — I don’t really like a lot of the art that’s happened since then. Pollock is really good — I liked his stuff. AB: That’s really interesting — you don’t really like art since Picasso, but you like Pollock! I love Pollock — I have trouble finding people who actually like Pollock. MP: Yeah, he’s good. He wasn’t that much past Picasso. AB: No, they kind of overlapped some too. So in terms of formative books that have influenced you in your life? MP: I don’t know — I can’t think of a book I’ve read that’s completely shaped my viewpoint. I tend to form my opinions based on what I observer more than anything — instead of reading and having some guy tell me this, this and this. And I like current events, policy stuff and maybe that’s why I didn’t get active in politics until I was 50 is because I mean my family was historically — I mean we’ve been in America for generations and generations but very poor. I mean my dad went to college on the G.I. Bill — first one to get a degree. I mean we didn’t talk politics — we were living paycheck to paycheck. So when I came out and had to make my own way — watching it I wasn’t really connected to it. I had to learn so I felt like I couldn’t really be part of the conversation because what do I know I’m just a kid? But now I’m old enough, I’m wise enough, I’ve traveled overseas, other continents, I’ve seen enough and now I feel like I can participate in the conversation a bit more because of my experience — not because of what I read in a book. There is a good book I’d recommend to you — it’s an economics book — it’s called The History of Economics by Eric Roll. And Friedman’s books I like. I like Thomas Sowell, some of his stuff is good. Actually, because history is being re-written so much these days, I’ve got a collection of books that I go back and refer to when I need to learn something about history — books by a guy, by Ridpath, and it’s basically an encyclopedic set, about seven or eight books. He wasn’t necessarily the best writer. He wasn’t even well recognized at the time, and these books were all published in like 1897 to 1901, but he gives a perspective of the time that I think predates a lot of the re-writing you get currently. And it’s all very dry, very factually based for the most part and they’re pretty condensable short stories on any event or any person in history. So if something comes up, and I don’t know what it is, I can go back and pick up my Ridpath books and read 20 pages and find out sort of what the history of some movement or some conflict. AB: Where do you become aware of those books? So they’re old books I assume? MP: Yeah, they’re original and they’re like this big. We had them in my house when I was growing up. And there’s like seven volumes and each volume is like this thick. AB: That’s interesting, so it’s mostly American history? MP: No it’s history all over the world — every society, every tribe, every region, every political philosophy, every significant person. AB: Wow, I’ll have to check it out. So, you’d mentioned earlier your interest in philosophy and history — and you’d mentioned Locke and Nietzsche as well — are there any philosophers that most align with your thinking? MP: I try to find out a little bit about what lots of philosophers think — you know you had philosophy 101 at UT and I still have my elementary logic book. That’s interesting when you do that because you can take apart people’s arguments very easily sometimes. So other than Locke, no. Jefferson — I mean if you want to know the Founding Fathers I like most it would probably be Hamilton — I thought he was absolutely exemplary. I think he had the best mind of all the Founding Fathers; and Franklin probably was second in that group. And Jefferson too — Jefferson really was good at taking other people’s ideas and sort of re-crafting them, so more of a classic politician kind of guy, and a good writer. Rousseau — I remember when we studied that period that I didn’t really care for him that much. His philosophies just didn’t really work, frankly. And Nietzsche, I read him and didn’t care for him. Most of the modern thinkers I’m not really that big on. Hayek, he was good. And then going back a little farther I tend to be more on the Socratic side of things than the Platonic. Let’s see — that’s probably it. AB: That’s plenty, that’s good. So switching gears slightly again — what does it mean to you to be an American? MP: Oh, boy. America as a concept is very important. Because fundamentally if you look at the world — the globe — there are other regions that duplicate in some ways our natural resources. So we’re not necessarily enriched that way. The reason that we’ve been able to be successful is because of the way we’ve managed our resources and the system of government we have set up. And the philosophy of capitalism — personal responsibility is huge — huge, huge for me. Because, I needed a lot of help when I was a kid and maybe it was available maybe it wasn’t, but I didn’t take it, I didn’t seek it — that’s not the way I was raised; it’s not the way I think most people were raised. You learn to be self-reliant. And that’s the frontier mentality, and maybe that’s a reflection of where I grew up, but I think that’s why in some measure why you get the divide between people who work for themselves and people who live in more high-concentration areas, like cities, where people are more interdependent, and where more services are available. I think you do have that break down between metropolitan areas and more rural areas. So to me that’s what it means. It means being independent, taking care of yourself, taking care of your family, taking care of your country — I’m a big believer in the military. Something that sometimes gets overlooked is that we could have in various times throughout the history of the United States used our power to dominate other cultures or to expand our wealth or global reach — and we didn’t do it. We passed on the opportunity. And there are very very few cultures or nations that have ever done that in history. You look at Islam, they’ve never done that. Not only have they not passed up an opportunity, if they get beaten back they still consider that theirs. I mean, they still consider Spain Islamic territory, you know. And if it hadn’t have been for the Germans... AB: That’s interesting. So kind of the inverse question and then I’ll have a follow-up — what does it mean to be un-American? MP: I would say people who don’t believe in American exceptionalism, don’t believe that our system of government is the correct one, don’t believe in capitalism, don’t believe in self-reliance — and therefore believe in the oppose of those things, believe in one-worldism, they believe in interdependence, they believe that we have a responsibility for taking care of others ahead of our own interests. That’s wrong. I had an interesting conversation with a guy who’s an immigration expert yesterday and he was talking about compassion and how we say we have to be compassionate to get back from the racial issue — that these people are hard working, they just want a better life, bla bla bla, we need to feed them and have social services available. So I said, okay, where are you going to draw a line at that compassion — are you going to have compassion for everybody? Yeah, you are. Let me ask you a question — there’s 3 billion people in the world who have nothing, I mean they have nothing — no food, no shelter, no clothing, no means of living, they don’t have any land; they’re totally destitute. Would you be in favor of importing 3 billion people into America so we can put them on our welfare system? And when you ask that question what’s the answer? AB: I mean it’s completely impractical. MP: Completely. So your compassion for others always has a line. Where is the line? As Churchill said to the woman, now that we’ve established what you are, we’re just after the price right? So now that we’ve established that you’re not really compassionate for everybody, you’re just compassionate for some people, it’s about where we draw the line. So let’s draw the line around America — our physical borders — and wherever else we define those borders — our interests. So that’s what I define America as, so if we want to define people that are not American it’s people who want to break apart those borders. AB: Two follow-ups from those two answers. First, you use the term ‘American exceptionalism’ — how do you define that term? MP: Well, to me it means a little bit about what we talked about before — how many countries have had the ability to take over an entire region and decided not to? It’s an exceptional thing that we didn’t colonize Europe, for example, or colonize South America, which we could have done. We didn’t colonize Iraq and we didn’t colonize Bahrain and we didn’t colonize Kuwait — but we could have. AB: That actually leads exactly to the second question I had which is when you said that about America staying within its borders — not colonizing — I mean certainly in terms of colonization in the European sense — say in Africa — there was certainly never anything quite like that, where there’s an institutional structure in the country and it’s merely extracting resources. MP: Right, all the Indians learned how to speak English. AB: Right, and so — but with regards to American values and things like that — the Iraq war in particular was pitched very much about spreading “democracy,” spreading “American values” over to these other countries. I guess... MP: So is that a form of colonization? AB: I guess that’s a part of the question — what’s the line there in your mind between something like colonization and these kind of modern or new forms that some people consider colonization? MP: I understand your question and my response is — there are competing philosophies in the world. There is good and there is bad. And if you look at the American system, it has proven itself over the last 200 years to be the most optimal system yet devised for governing human affairs. It provides the best opportunity for the most people on a consistent basis. So, in my opinion, if we are exporting that philosophy we are giving other people a better chance at a better life and a better chance to be successful in and of their own right so that they can have the same self-reliance and freedom that we have. That is not a bad thing. Is that colonization? Not in the strict sense. Is it an export of an idea, of American exceptionalism if you will? Yes. Is it right to do it? Yes. Why would you not want to give more people a chance to live in freedom? Are you going to say that a country that has instituted slavery — has institutionalized slavery — is a better system for the treatment of people than the American system? And I know we used to have slavery, and you can look at every other civilization in the world and every major city all over the world, and nearly all of them were built on the backs of slavery — including New York and Boston, by the way, which is something that frequently gets overlooked. I think that’s entirely consistent with the Republican Party’s philosophy. If you look at our history and the conservative philosophy. This is not a liberal philosophy, this is conservatism. AB: So the distinction between spreading American ideals overseas and colonialism — so the distinction between those two things, I mean they may be different in practice, but they both involve one country involving itself in the affairs of another country. MP: Sure. AB: What’s the distinction between the two? Is it just a matter of America is exceptional and right and that’s why? And that Europe was just wrong and that’s why? MP: Let me ask you a question — if there’s any sort of assertion that it’s improper for one country, America, to export its ideas and philosophy to another, does that also mean that it would be improper for another country to import its ideas and its philosophy to America? Are you prepared to erect a wall that says Islam is not allowed in America? AB: I’m not talking about walls or anything — I’m just pushing back to get... MP: I’m pushing back too. I’m pushing back too. Because if there’s any kind of an argument here that it’s wrong for us to export our ideals to others than it has to also logically, rationally be true that it is unlawful or whatever rules we want to set up for other people to export their values and ideas to us. To me that puts everybody in separate camps. Is that really what you want to do? AB: So turning that logic around then, to look at it from a different angle, if it’s okay for the United States to pursue its interests by pushing its ideologies overseas, it is therefore okay for Muslims to push for Islam in America — that’s the... MP: I’m okay with that — let the best idea win. But I’m convinced we have the best idea. AB: Thank you for that back and forth. I’m not really arguing, I’m just trying to flesh out the contours of the argument. MP: I enjoy the debate. That’s the way it ought to go. AB: So the next question is about cultural identification — say somebody from outer space comes down and asks who are you? MP: Those guys are in New Mexico — I saw them when I was there [laughter]. AB: Right. You know how would you identify yourself? MP: Oh yeah, I get this question in surveys, in online surveys — yeah I’d identify myself first as a Texan, then as an American — that’s pretty much it. AB: See, and that’s a question that in particular when we talk about the differences between here and Boston. Nobody ever says ‘I’m a Massachusettsan’ or whatever first. MP: Yeah they’ll have a lot of fun with that one. AB: Yeah, I actually wrote a paper about Texan identity for a conference this past spring — so it’s kind of a pet hobby, Texan identity. MP: It’s really funny, just as an aside that’s off the record I guess, when I first got into banking in ‘85 — I’d go to New York for training sessions and it would be me and 30 other guys and gals that were all in early 20s, just out of college. And we’d go around the room and say where you’re from, and I’d say I’m from Texas and there was always a reaction. AB: There still is. MP: And it’s always been hilarious to me. Even when I moved there when I was 11. I remember my first week there — I guess this was my second year, because I was in 7th grade — we sit down in the gym and the coach comes in and is trying to get everybody’s attention and says “yo” really loud. And everybody shuts up except for the Texas kid — I’m still yakking and yakking and he’s like hey don’t you know what ‘yo’ means? And I went over to him and said no, what does yo mean? I’m from Texas, I don’t know yo, why don’t you speak English. I’m a kid, I’m like four foot nothing and this coach is like oh my god. [laughter] AB: You might not actually be bigger but your personality is bigger. MP: It was just a Texas attitude. It’s a lot of fun. AB: At my program at NYU there’s me and then there’s a kid who went to A&M, and he’s from Uvalde and we’re the two Texans. The master’s program has five students — of those five there are two Texans. We’re constantly putting our feet in our mouths, and those kinds of things. Anyway. MP: It takes a long time to educate those Yankees. [laughter] AB: So switching gears again, what are your primary sources of news? Where do you get your news generally? MP: Typically just on the Web. AB: Any particular Web sites? MP: Yeah, probably the first thing I check is American Thinker, which is a pretty good little site. There’s a site called, which is basically a news aggregator site. And that is just, I kind of go all over. AB: Before the Internet... MP: I can tell you where I don’t get my news. I don’t listen to talk radio — ever. I watch Fox only on occasion and usually only the news programs. I really, I mean almost never watch any of the talking heads programs like O’Reilly or Beck. If I see four or five of their shows a year, that’s a lot. AB: Wow. That’s exceptional. I don’t mean exceptional in terms of great, I mean in terms of different. That’s an interesting thing though — how do you differentiate between the taking heads programs and the news programs on Fox? MP: Are you telling me you can’t? AB: I have trouble. MP: Really?! AB: For example, Megan Kelly’s show in the middle of the day is supposedly a news program but she’s very much turned into one of those advocate type. MP: She, like this thing she did the other day with the Democrat operative — she kind of got into it with her. Megan’s okay, and she’s usually a little more hard news, but she will pin people down when they are off topic or they’re spinning, which is what that guy was doing. And I like Megan, I think she’s pretty smart, but a lot of times she misses what the other side is trying to say, so that thing yesterday — you know the incident I’m talking about? AB: I actually missed it yesterday. MP: I can’t remember the gal’s name that she was talking to, but if you go on the Web site you can find it. The other gal was making one argument and Meg was making the other and so — if she had just slowed down a little bit. AB: But generally though? MP: Generally she’s a little more hard news. There’s, I can’t remember his name, I don’t really remember anchors’ names, but I think Scott... AB: I don’t know a Scott. MP: I know what he looks like, but I don’t remember names too much. But yeah, before the Internet — newspapers. I’ve always taken newspapers — I take the Dallas Morning News and read it cover to cover every morning, well not cover to cover but I read every section. And I took the Wall Street Journal for a long, long time. I used to take the Financial Times. I took Barron’s briefly. I still have some magazines I subscribe to — thinks like CEO, Treasury and Risk Management and I get a Bloomberg magazine and Forbes and Sports Illustrated and my wife gets Time. So we read those things. And then I just pick up things on the shelves sometimes when we’re out. AB: That’s very interested. So when you come out and say, “I can tell you where I don’t get my news” — why don’t you get your news there? How do you look at those sources compared to other people? Why specifically not those? MP: Because I don’t respect the intellect. That’s really it. Some of the things they do are good — I admire the fact that Glenn Beck, for example, is educating people on the history of some things. That’s a good thing. I don’t know if he’s always right with all his facts. But he’s at least getting some information out there, and I think that’s good. To me I believe you have to be intellectually curious and you can’t believe everything somebody tells you. I mean, I was an analyst for years and I was lending millions of dollars. I didn’t believe what the company told me all the time — you have to check different sources and you have to validate information. It’s critical to making decisions — to me that’s what being a businessperson is, well it’s not what it’s all about, you have to know what you’re doing. And you have to serve a need, which is something that people who are anti-business don’t understand. There wouldn’t be any business if there wasn’t a willing buyer... And no matter what station it is, whether it’s CNN or, that’s why I stopped watching their headline stuff, it’s so un-credible. And Dan Rather was a Texas hero growing up — Cronkite was in my fraternity a long, long time ago at University of Texas. But both of those guys lost their credibility with me, so I stopped listening to them. AB: So, what role do you think — so you’ve kind of seen that a lot of people within the Tea Party movement do get their news from Fox and talk radio, what role do you think those sources play in the generation of the movement? MP: I’m not sure I know the answer of that, A.J. I will agree with you that people in my neighborhood and people I know acting in the Tea Party — there are many of them that pay attention to those stations. I wouldn’t — I don’t know of anybody who gets their news solely from those people. But it’s a source of news for many of them. I don’t think it’s driving the formation of the Tea Party — I think what’s driven the formation of the Tea Party is a visceral reaction to the things that we see on a policy basis that are outside what we believe is right and proper for the country. And frankly my disgust started coming up not two years ago but six or seven years ago. AB: We’ve kind of jumped the gun — I’ve got to more media questions and then we can come back to this line of questioning. What are your general opinions of the news media? MP: Very low. My brother-in-law is a journalist in Wichita — my sister got her degree in journalism and works for a corporation in the San Francisco value area. I love them both dearly as people. I watch what they do and based on a lot of things that you see and read and the way stories are spun and the fact that you can now get information about stories that clearly they’re suppressing — they’re manipulating the news for the advancement of their own political philosophies. It’s totally biased and corrupt. And I think it’s generally held as the second most — in terms of professions — the second from the bottom in terms of esteem and I think that’s a well-deserved position. AB: The next question I had is what are your perceptions of journalists? MP: You can’t separate them. I mean I pine for the day when we have better, fairer journalists — it’ll be great. And to me that’s one thing that Fox actually does, is they will put on both sides of the story. And I think that’s why they’re getting the bigger audience. I would love to see — they talk about how, some people, the media, journalists let’s say talk about how talk radio is dominated by a bunch of right wingers — or that Fox News is awful, they’re a bunch of right-wingers. But if you look at all the other stations, that are all far left — I would love to see, if what they’re saying is true I would love to see scathing — have [inaudible] or somebody buy CBS, move it to Dallas, actually put in place, I wouldn’t even call them conservative, just honest journalists and actually have a public broadcast station that was getting real news out, honest news out, on both sides and breaking both sides of the stories all over. I think that would radically alter the country, and I think it would improve journalism tremendously. If that wasn’t true then why did the Post deny the sale of Newsweek? AB: I actually haven’t been following it too closely. MP: They had bidders and I think Fox was a bidder, a high bidder. AB: Oh, Fox had a bid in on Newsweek? I didn’t realize that. MP: I don’t remember if it was Fox or not — but I remember they said he was too conservative. AB: It wasn’t Murdock was it? MP: It wasn’t Fox, it wasn’t Murdock. It was a conservative guy — I know the name from the blogs but I can’t remember it. But they said no, he’s too right-wing, we’re not going to sell to him. AB: Right before the summer started Newsweek got put on the auction block and this summer I’ve been too busy to focus on it. MP: And look what the family did when they were selling the Journal. They put all kinds of handcuffs on him as far as what he could do and staffing and that kind of a thing. And people had talked about selling the Post but they won’t do it because that’s why they issued the B shares originally — they wanted to control the editorial content. They wanted to control who hears what. You probably don’t know about the A shares and B shares at the Washington post do you? AB: Who owns it? It’s the Grahams right? MP: Yeah, but the Graham family owned it and when they were having a generational change when the founder passed and Katherine was coming along, to pay the taxes on part of the inheritance they needed to sell part of the company, but they didn’t want to lose control so what they did was split the stock into A shares and B shares — they sold the B shares to the public. AB: But A shares have content control and B shares don’t? MP: A shares have all voting control; B shares have no votes, have no control at all. AB: Is that the way the Times company works too? MP: Yeah. AB: That’s the way the Journal was as well, because it was the Bancrofts. MP: Yeah it was the Bancrofts for Dow Jones and the Schultbergs for the Times. AB: So you mentioned that you were a long time Journal reader and handcuffs on Murdock — have you noticed changes in that publication since? MP: I’m not a subscriber since before he bought it. I pick it up occasionally on the newsstand but I hadn’t noticed the changes. AB: I’m not a regular reader, I was just interested if you had an opinion. So turning to the Tea Party movement — how did you first become aware of the Tea Party movement? MP: So obviously when Santelli had his rant, I heard about that within days. AB: And that was what, February 2009? MP : February ‘09. And I didn’t join the Tea Party movement at all. Like I said, I hadn’t been politically active, particularly. I actually had someone from the Dallas County GOP call me up and ask me if I wanted to be a precinct chairman because there was a vacancy in my precinct. And I said sure, what to I do? And they said we’ll get back to you, but nobody called me. And I called their office saying, what do I do? Should I go somewhere? Is there training? Is there a list you’re going to give me? We’ll get back to you. I never heard. AB: When was this? MP: This was October of last year — September or October of ‘09. So in March of this year, early March, I get an e-mail from a Tea Party person. And I was obviously aware that they were out there but hadn’t gone to any meetings or anything. And they said, hey would you like to join our Tea Party. I said sure, what do I do? Do I get a list? And they responded — they called me back and said we’re having this thing, do you want to come? And I said okay, and then I had some training — I went and stood with somebody at a booth outside of a poll during the run-off elections in March — March 13 or whatever that was. So I met some people and started getting in the group and started doing stuff. AB: So this was this past March? MP: Yeah, this was three months ago. So I’ve only been in the Tea Party movement for about three months. And I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. AB: No training? MP: Well, some training, but you know. AB: So you mentioned that your disenchantment didn’t start two years ago, it started six or seven years ago. What was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back? MP: Probably — Bush’s plan for pharmaceuticals, Part D for Medicare. That was a huge entitlement program and I was actually in the nursing industry and they were for it, but I still thought it was a bad idea — even though I thought it would be good for my business I thought it would be bad for the country, so I was opposed to it. And then he nominated the wrong person for the Supreme Court, and then he was doing the education — No Child Left Behind with Ted Kennedy. AB: And when you say the wrong person for the Supreme Court, you mean Harriett Meyer? MP: Yeah. And so all of those things — I voted for Bush twice as president and twice as governor. And when he was governor he wasn’t that bad — although he worked very closely with Bob Bullock. Bullock was a very special man. He did at least get some things done as governor. But as president I felt like he kind of walked into the wars — and nobody deserved to have that happen to them but he showed tremendous leadership at the time of 9/11, and I think he made the right decisions, fundamentally, going into the war. He had excellent help, in terms of his staff and cabinet, I thought, on those issues. And Bolton is probably the best foreign policy mind in the country right now, hands down — it’s not even close in my opinion. And I thought Rumsfeld was an excellent Defense Secretary and I felt that Cheney was a good vice president. Yeah. He knew the inside game probably better than his opponents would have liked for him to. AB: So the Medicare plan and Harriett Meyer and No Child Left Behind — those are kind of the issues that made Bush less than perfect? MP: He was never perfect. But it alarmed me as a conservative that he was doing those things — and that’s where my confidence in him tumbled tremendously. And he’s a neighbor by the way — I see Laura [Bush] in the grocery store. AB: So when the election came in 2008, did you have a dog in the fight? Who was your primary pick? MP: It was just a bad year — a bad year. There was no one that I was fully confident in. In the primaries the person I supported the most out of a weak field was Romney — but he has changed his position so many times that I’ve lost confidence in him. I was actually talking to some other conservatives recently about 2012 and I said, “Well who do you like?” They said I liked Romney last time but I don’t think I’ll support him again — I think the religious issue will kill him. The religious issue doesn’t bother me at all — I’m not, oddly, ideological about religion for the most part. So, the other guys — Huckabee I don’t like; he is not good. McCain obviously can’t run again. Palin is interesting because I think she’s a very nice person — she’s wired in to what, like you asked me earlier what do I think is American — Sarah Palin is an American. She’s a very typical person, strong values, good background, tries to do the right thing — she’d be a great neighbor, probably great on the PTA, probably a great mayor of Wasilla, but I don’t think she has the intellectual firepower or the education to lead the country. And I wouldn’t support her for president. I mean, she’s pretty, that makes no difference to me. That’s not what I vote for. So, when people talk about Palin they either love her or hate her and I guess I’m unusual because I’m neither one. AB: So are you just confounded for 2012 then? MP: I’m waiting for somebody. I don’t know who it’s going to be. AB: I heard Gingrich is considering it. MP: He is, no. He is considering it but I would not vote for Gingrich. He was good in 94, he should have stayed where he was — but he got hounded out. Totally, hypocritically hounded out. You look at other people that they talk about — Pence? Maybe. Haley Barbour? Actually wouldn’t be bad. You know, other guys? I don’t know. Or gals? I don’t know. Michelle Bachman, she’s not ready. AB: So you started getting involved in politics this last year? MP: Right. AB: What motivated you to become active? You say you’ve been unhappy for years, what sparked you to get active? MP: Watching the country commit suicide by electing Barack Obama. AB: And tell me a little bit about your thinking around the election — when did you start thinking it was a suicide? Was it early on or after the fact? MP: When he and Hillary were contesting each other — I was never a Hillary fan — I was laughing because I thought he was just going to chip away and hurt Hillary, but I believed Hillary was going to get the nomination. Because he came out of nowhere. But the better he did, and the more I started paying attention to that race, and the complete cover-up that was happening on his background — that’s what alarmed me. And listening to his speeches and watching his debates — he was, pardon my language, but he was completely full of shit. He was a bigger liar than Bill Clinton. I mean Clinton at least was lying but he had an agenda where you more or less knew where he was coming from. But Obama was just so far left wing that the fact that he was making statements like ‘I’m going to change things’ but he wouldn’t ever tell you what he was going to do. Just the whole tone around it made me very, very nervous. I felt like there was a deeply hidden agenda that no one, no one in the press wanted to come out. I felt that the press was purposefully avoiding the question. They didn’t want to have the American people examine Barack Obama — they didn’t want us to know what his background was, his education, his philosophy, anything about him. AB: When you said that you saw kind of a cover up happening with respect to his background — what are you specifically referring to? What about his background do you feel was not adequately focused on? MP: What about his grades? What about his papers? How about his writings? How about his votes when he was in the state legislature in Illinois? How about his voting record? His relationship with the church? Do you need more? That’s pretty much his entire adult life. AB: If there is more I’ll hear it. MP: His criminal history? His drug history? His arrest record? AB: I mean I don’t think he’s been arrested. MP: Do you know that? AB: I mean I haven’t done the research myself, but. MP: I mean I haven’t either. I’m not saying he’s been arrested, but what I’m saying for any other candidate all that stuff would have been dug up — and if there had been something there it would have surfaced. Nothing was being dug up on him — nothing. AB: You don’t think things were dug up and there was nothing there so there was no story? You think there was a cover up of something that was there? MP: Well, the fact that the stuff you know is there wasn’t released makes me think there was a cover up. Because if there wasn’t a cover-up, why didn’t they release the basic information? Do you follow the logic there? AB: Yeah, but I don’t understand what basic information wasn’t released. MP: His grades at Columbia? His grades at Harvard Law? AB: I mean did they release Bush’s grades? Well I guess they did release his GPA at Yale. MP: They had all his classes out there — you knew what he was taking. They talked to people that went to school with him. They got pictures of him with that stupid little megaphone and all. He was on the baseball team. You never saw any of that! Well, there were a couple of pictures leaked out but very few. AB: So you feel that there was a bigger cover up? That there is something hiding there? MP: There’s a lot hiding there. AB: I mean — he’s published autobiographical books as well. MP: He didn’t write them though. AB: But, I mean, he did. They weren’t ghost written. MP: That’s not what I hear. AB: Okay. Who ghost wrote them? MP: Ayers ghost wrote a big chunk of the first one. AB: Having read Ayers’ book and having read Obama’s book — it’s not the same writing. MP: Really? AB: Yeah. MP: I mean I haven’t read it. But I read a review by somebody who did the same thing you did and said it was clearly Ayers. AB: Ayers is a deplorable — well, I won’t say he’s a deplorable writer, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt — but he has a distinctive non-writerly tone. I mean I don’t think.... MP: Well that’s what this guy was saying too. He said it was coming across in Obama’s book. AB: Well, I’ll have to look that up... MP: Like I said I haven’t read it. AB: That’s interesting though, there’s been so much focus on Ayers and that relationship — the accusation that Ayers ghostwrote his books would imply a very tight relationship. Ayers was kind of — I don’t know I was always interested in the focus on Ayers during the election. What do you think was behind the focus on Ayers other than the guilt-by-association factor? MP: I think it kind of went to a pattern of not understanding what his philosophy was, how he was educated, what he believed in. And part of it was probably just sort of suspicion — which is natural, and part of it might have been a little bit of paranoia from some quarters because he lived overseas and things like that. And I think people want to know — it get backs to what you asked me earlier — what’s important when you elect a president? It’s his character and his honesty and his integrity. And people were looking to discover those things about him but they couldn’t. When you say what is your political philosophy, he won’t really answer — he answers only in vague terms. Or when he gives you an answer that you’re suspicious of that has subsequently been confirmed — like the redistribution of wealth crack at Joe [the Plumber]. Those sort of things are why people want to dig deeper into your background and why when they were trying to dig into Ayers and the answers that were coming out were not forthcoming, not completely candid. It drives suspicion higher and higher. It’s like if you’re investigating a crime and you’re told something that doesn’t quite ring true, you want to go deeper. And as a journalist you should have the same feeling. And I think that’s one of the reason people were so furious with journalists and why they’ve lost even more credibility over the last two-year cycle is because all this stuff was out and we the American people were waiting, dying for the journalists to do something about it and they didn’t. AB: You mentioned that in some quarters the fact that he lived overseas might heighten suspicion — why do you think that is? I mean John McCain was born in Panama — now it was on a military base and etc., but why do you think Obama’s time abroad heightens concerns? MP: Because if you just, like, compare those two for example. If a kid is born overseas on a military base, people have a pretty good idea of what his upbringing was like. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lived that same life. They can tell all their friends and neighbors what it’s like — so it’s a known quantity. Okay, living overseas in Indonesia with a divorced couple where the mother had been re-married to a guy who’s got a political philosophy and religion that’s different than a fundamental American believes. Whose school records are cloudy — and you don’t know if he was going to an indoctrination kind of school or a normal public school. All of those things raise questions because they’re unfamiliar — so it seems a very natural inquisitiveness on the part of the American people to want to understand, you know, the upbringing, rearing — the formation of the ideas and values system and the character of the person who’s asking for their vote. It’s a very practical, normal response. AB: I guess — so the election was the point where decided to get active? Because, like you mentioned, you didn’t think he was going to make it out of the Democratic primary... MP: Right, I was like, who is this guy? The more I learned the worse it got and unfortunately we had a horrible candidate on the other side. AB: So do you consider yourself a political activist now? MP: No. AB: What do you consider yourself? MP: Just a regular, normal person. At this point, and I say this at every one of our Tea Party meetings and to everybody I talk to, I say look the people that are sort of like me, that believe in American exceptionalism, that believe in capitalism, that believe in self-reliance, that raise their families, pay their taxes, do their jobs, run the country, essentially, provide all the value that creates all the taxes that allows the government to exist — we’re the A-team. On the conservative side — and I don’t mean that in the sense of TV or movies. AB: No, of course not, you mean it in terms like middle school football. MP: No, no, not at all. Let me define it. If you look at the divide between people that are conservatives and people that are liberal in this country — people who are conservative — our highest, best achievement is the things I’ve described. Work. Run a business. Raise a family. That’s our life goal. Capitalism is critical to the functioning of that — we view that as the norm. On the other side the highest and best use of your life is to be a bureaucrat; is to be a political activist; is to go and work for the government; is to grow socialism in the country. So if you’re in the political arena, the best people on the left are active participants. On the conservative side, our best players aren’t on the field — they’re in business. They’re doing something else. So the politicians and the activists — they’re our B team. So we’re playing our B team against their A team is the way to look at it. AB: That’s an interesting metaphor. MP: So am I an activist? No. Why did I get involved? It’s because having been on the business side — I’ve always done all these other things — I know we’re getting beat. We need to bring people into the public arena and speak out. We need to stop allowing the liberals to force their ideology and their agenda down our throat — because there’s a whole lot more people on this side [right] than are on this side [left]. It’s the whole squeaky wheel theory and it has been since before I was born. We need to speak out; we need to let people know that they’re wrong. We disagree. There is an argument to be made. We’re not going to let our free speech be taken away from us by being shouted down and being called names. Our ideas have value and we will fight to them. So that’s what it comes down to and that’s why I’ve decided to, for the first time in 50 years, participate in the discussion — that’s what it’s all about. AB: I love the hell out of that metaphor by the way — the A team B team. It’s a perfect Texas metaphor. What would you say are the main values of the Tea Party movement? MP: Well, it’s on the back of my card, I should have brought one with me. I gave you one? AB: I think you did give me one, actually. MP: But it’s personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, limited government, rule of law and national sovereignty. I’ll go over those again personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, limited government, rule of law and national sovereignty. AB: So what about the Tea Party do you think the media is consistently getting wrong or misinterpreting? MP: It depends. I think the media has kind of cycled through the typical stages of denial, rage, anger, you know. And we’re not going away and their name-calling is not making us go away, and their demagoguing us is not making us go away so now they’re going — what are we going to do with these guys? We can’t get rid of them. So it’s interesting, like we talked about when we met, the Rasmussen Study that says okay who are these people? They find out that we look exactly like America in terms of gender make-up, racial make-up — not political ideology, because it’s obviously much more conservative than liberal — but there are Democrats and lots of independents. I just got an e-mail this week from somebody who’s in my neighborhood and wanted to come but said you’re not a bunch of birthers and truthers are you? I mean the truth is we have libertarians in the group and I said of course! I mean, there’s not one set ideology, everybody has all kinds of different views, but it’s really about these five things. So I’ll probably see her next month. So I don’t know if that answered your question or not. AB: Yeah. I mean you said name-calling, demagoguing, some other things. Why do you think the media has selected the names that is has? For example, the race issue? MP: Right, the NAACP thing that’s coming up. AB: Exactly. Why do you think that that’s an accusation that’s thrown out? MP: Because for a long time it’s been the accusation that’s provoked the most defensiveness in America — it’s shut down conversation. It’s been used frequently to silence critics. And so people have been concerned about it for a long time and I think we are finally — and I think this is a tremendous sign of growth — getting past that, where people don’t care any more. People are saying call me a racist if you want; I don’t care; I don’t believe it; I know I’m not — I’m not going to let you label me. So the other side that’s used to being able to hurl that accusation and used to stereotyping people, whether they’re — my perception of the typical view of people on the left or people in the Northeast, who want to stereotype Tea Partiers is that we’re white, redneck, bigots — the typical thing. For me, I find the red neck label ironic — because to me being a redneck is something to be proud of. If you understand the genesis of the name, the etymology of the name, it’s somebody who either works outside, works for a living, or from the guys in Kentucky and West Virginia who were actually fighting for labor rights back in the ‘30s — why is that bad to somebody on the left? As somebody who stands up for worker’s rights? That’s an insult to me? Come on. But that, again, is just another way to separate them and to get at one of your original premises for doing the study — the label that they try to put on people as being those things and therefore anti-intellectual. But again, the fact is — as I think you can tell from our conversation — way more intellectual power on this side of the divide than, in my opinion, the other side. Because in my opinion, if you’re losing an argument, what do you do? You resort to name calling. The other side, to me, they don’t want to sit down and have the conversation about what’s right and what’s wrong about their policies. They want to say, oh, a bunch of racist white, redneck southern men, who drive around in their pick-up trucks and cling to their guns and their Bibles. That quote’s never going to die. AB: So that’s toward the end of my questions. The last question that I intend to ask is: Are there any other questions I didn’t ask but should have, or anything else about the Tea Party you think I should know? MP: Well, I can talk for hours about politics and Tea Party and conservatism versus liberalism, but there’s nothing off hand that I want to make a point on. I didn’t come to the interview to try and craft a message and give it to you — I was very honest and straightforward in responding to the questions you were asking, so I don’t have an agenda. I guess sort of a summary if there was anything I was going to say is the Tea Party is a very diverse movement, as you know, is really about activating the conservative side. I believe firmly that the country is moving strongly to the right. I think both sides know that. And I think that or I expect that the country is going to, of necessity and desire, move strongly away from the welfare state over the next 50 years and that we’re going to return to the fundamental principles of conservatism and the things that made the country great. And I think that the boomer generation and the generation that preceded them intellectually — I think that whole movement is going to be largely deemed a failure by history. I think that they’re going to go down as the most self-indulgent, narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-serving generation in our 250 years so far. AB: That’s interesting you mention the Baby Boomers — a lot of people I’ve talked to have brought them up in the same terms that you have. Why the focus on that generation in particular do you think? MP: Two things — sort of related but not really — the first is sort of the things I identified — the ideology that they brought in has been a pox on our country for the most part. There are very few things that anyone can point to that I think have been good for the country — overall, over time. I think every policy that they’ve had has been a failure — every idea. The second thing is a little bit of demographic determinism. I think that people that are sort of my age and younger, all the way down to my kids’ age, if you look at the demographics — they’re the ball in the snake moving through. As they’ve moved through, they have upset reality from every perspective for everybody behind them. So we’ve been kind of following in their wake for 30 years, or for everybody’s adult life. And I think that makes a lot of people upset — because they’ve gotten and cribbed off for themselves and have been extremely greedy about getting all the goodies — living the best life they could and piling debt on everybody behind them without a care for what comes after. So as all that debt as piled up, and the opportunities for success have diminished as a result, is they have been wanton consumers while hypocritically saying that they’re for the little guy and are trying to help everybody and want everybody to live together peacefully — everybody can see that that’s complete BS. That’s not what they want at all. All they want is to feel good about themselves and they could give a damn about the poor, blacks, minorities — you know, working Americans. That hypocrisy I think has fueled a tremendous amount of anger. And that’s why I think when they’re dead and gone and people are looking back and really writing their history, but they’re not going to care about that because they’ll have had their fun and they’ll be dead. And I think that’s what history is going to write about it. AB: That’s all the questions I have, unless you have anything else. MP: Nope. Although I want you to commit to me now that you’ll give me a copy of your study, your report and the raw data. [Interview ends, but small talk afterward leads to a brief coda.] AB: What didn’t I ask? MP: This was just prompted by our conversation. AB: Right, about American exceptionalism. MP: What you ought to explore — ask the question where do you see the country going? Where do see American exceptionalism going? What’s your concept of the future? How did we get from, let’s say, Reagan winning the Cold War, which he did, to what happens next? Where should we take it? What would be your ideal state for America? Because I think that’s going to tell you an awful lot about people’s vision for what the Tea Party should do. The Tea Party is really nothing more than an outward expression of people’s values and etc. And if you’re going to do something with the Tea Party and use it as a tool, what are you trying to achieve? AB: That’s actually the question that everybody says I forget to ask — the future angle. And I think that that’s the question all the journalists are asking... MP: Darn, I thought it was an original thought. AB: It was originally put — I like how you put it, but the reason I ask that is because — and you know what, people’s perceptions about what they expect in the future is an important thing, you’re right. The reason I haven’t asked that so much is that’s a question a lot of journalists are asking right now — what’s this mean for the future? Is the Tea Party going to be around in two years, five years, 10 years, whatever. I don’t really have a dog in that race. I don’t know if the Tea Party will be around next year, two years, five years, 10 years. It sounds like it probably will be, but who knows? MP: I don’t know. AB: And a lot of the people I’ve talked to have told me that they don’t know either. It’s hard to predict. But no, generally speaking I feel like I understand in what direction you’d like the country to go — you mentioned earlier about the — in the wake of the baby boomer generation you think it’ll go away from welfare liberalism within the next 50 years, I think you said. Is there anything else? MP: Well here’s something I was telling another guy from New York yesterday — one of the things I did in my professional career was I restructured troubled companies, so companies where they’d go bankrupt and you’d have to fix them. And one of the first things you do as a manager is you go and you stop the bleeding. You have to stop the things that are creating losses and then you have to construct something to fix the company. I kind of view America in the same way — it’s a restructuring candidate right now. And what we have to do is fix the things that are really creating problems and making the deficit worse — which is why immigration is one of the most important things to me — it’s got, you know, we may be able to do away with the minimum wage law completely. We could employ more minorities, we could employ more poor people. I mean the unemployment in black community is just ridiculous — especially for the young set, or the young cohort, but there are actually a lot more poor white people than there are poor black people, so it affects all different groups. So yeah, when you say where do you want the country to go, for me — although I’m more libertarian — I don’t have, my views aren’t really social. I don’t care so much about, I don’t know pick a social topic. Religious things. I’m much more about economics, what do we do, what do we get out of, what do we stay in? AB: So returning to the question of why you got active, what role did the financial crisis play in that? I mean, minus financial crisis, do you think that you’d be as active now? MP: To return to my original comment that everything is economics — yeah. For example when I was at UT and had a World History class, this was right before Regan got elected, I guess it was March of 1980, I did a paper for my class that in the conflict between the USSR and the US, that we should increase defense spending and basically break the bank of Russia. Well, what did Reagan do with Star Wars? He did exactly that thing. There is economic competition between countries. I think what we need to do right now is we need to pull in our horns. Right now I don’t think we should be in Afghanistan; I think we should get out of Iraq. It’s pretty much stabilized. We should exit the UN; quit funding a lot of our overseas aid. And you do things like that, and it’s not purely an isolationist strategy but it’s one where we pull back, focus on our own problems, fix our debt, kind of systematically repair the way the country functions. What I tell people is I don’t think the government should be writing checks to any individuals. Now, they have to pay for certain functions, like the Post Office, so you make a pay check to that guy, and we have to have a military so you make a paycheck to the soldier, but we shouldn’t be sending checks to people’s homes — we shouldn’t have food stamps or whatever. Those are state issues, they should take care of them. We shouldn’t be in education; we shouldn’t be in health care; we shouldn’t be in retirement accounts. So structurally change the way the country works so it does what it’s supposed to do — you end up with a much smaller government, and then you can go out and see what you can do. But you’ve got to be on a path to quickly pay down your debt and quickly return us to levels that are not just pre-Kennedy kind of numbers, or pre-War numbers, but 18th Century kind of numbers. So that’s the way I’d like to see the country function, in terms of the federal government. AB: So kind of get our house in order first? MP: Yeah. — Interview conducted by A.J. Bauer —

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