Patrick Humphries Transcript

Interview with Patrick Humphries — a leader of the Greater Boston Tea Party — conducted over lunch in the atrium of his place of business in Canton, Massachusetts on June 16, 2010.

Interview Time: 103:44 A.J. Bauer: So, starting out Patrick, what year were you born in? Patrick Humphries: 1960. AB: And what’s kind of the history of your life. Where were you born? How did you come to work here at [company named redacted]. PH: Well, relatively briefly, I was born in Wabash, Indiana — as in the Wabash Cannonball, you’ve probably never heard of it but — I spent my first handful of years in Indiana, then probably for grade school on up. I moved to Iowa and I was there, went to most of my schooling including college there. After school — I went to school for chemical engineering. Chemical engineering in the ‘80s, let’s see, that wasn’t a good field to be in — the EPA had come out and things were getting a little tight. Even when I graduated job offers were actually be rescinded from people. I was actually fortunate enough to have two — selected to work for Union Carbide. The writing was on the wall almost instantly there — the first project of note that I was working on was the de-commissioning of a plant — a $750 million plant in Puerto Rico. So Carbide — I was also a part of kind of a contract engineering division. It was this concept of well if we need engineers and we don’t want to go out and hire people, we’d have this contract. When everything else was drying up the other divisions would contract me from the contractor so the division was fairly wiped out, basically. Well it wasn’t a whole division, but it was that kind of concept. They said, okay, those other groups — we being the new kids on the block. AB: First in first out. PH: Yeah, we were laid off. I went into the Navy — nuke. Didn’t survive the training process — I was a chemical engineer which actually worked quite well, my electrical engineering skills was not what was required. I languished there for a couple of years and then after I got out of there I was like okay let’s see. And of course at that point nuclear engineering and chemical engineering was not the hottest job prospects — it was post-Three Mile Island. Oh, I did leave Carbide before Bhopal [laughs] — I had nothing to do with that. AB: Good to know! PH: Well, I’m just kidding. They’ve had a checkered history too, but. So I ended up coming home — home by the way, my parents divorced when I was 12, my father moved out to this area and was working for a number of years. So when I was done with the service I basically ended up here in ‘86 or ‘85-‘86. And jobs, again, were tight so I ended up working at a hospital as kind of a contractor, temp labor. I tried to get into the IT department there, didn’t have a background in software, per se, except for fairly good analytical skills, engineering skills, etc. But not really whatever the language — I was good in Fortran, of course not too many places working with Fortran at that point. Then I saw an ad for [company name redacted] ... [Material relating to Humphries’ place of work redacted at his request.] AB: With your schooling, where did you go to school and was it public schools or private schools? PH: Public schools. I went to Iowa State University — four-year college for chemical engineering, as I said. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer, my father was an accountant — comptroller actually. AB: What were your favorite subjects in school? Was it science and mathematics? PH: Math and science. Physical chemistry, math — yes, I like all those subjects. AB: What would you say was your first political memory? PH: My first political memory — my father talking to me about — the bulk of my family is exceptionally conservative. I guess the lesson about money, and burning a dollar bill and saying hey this is backed by a promise, it doesn’t mean anything — if you’ve got gold that’s solid, that something of value. It’s permanent, etc. AB: So your father actually burned a dollar bill in front of you? PH: That’s how I remember it but I’m not sure that he actually did it. That’s always the way I kind of remember it though — it was a lesson about money. He gave me Atlas Shrugged when I was like 15 or 16. You know, that was — it was the first of her novels, it was you know the thick one. And, you know, I just understood the philosophy and he was always exceptionally political. He worked for a conservative educational organization back in, starting back in the late ‘60s. AB: So, a lot of people I’ve talked to have been mentioning Ayn Rand. Would you — is she someone who you think you still look back to in terms of your philosophy or is that something that was just formative for you? PH: I look back to it as something that provides clarity on things — I mean she is exceptionally black and white, so she does give that kind of focus. I mean I think the conservative principles are there as well — you know there’s a lot of areas where people with diverge from Ayn Rand because either they’re religious or can’t, you know, don’t get into exceptional libertarianism. You know, drug policy — that’s one thing libertarians always say, you’ve got to be for getting rid of or removing restrictions on pot or whatever. Those are areas where people will diverge. She’s a good anchor. It’s not necessarily chapter and verse — and you know her personal life, if you read about her life, again she had a lot of issues herself. So it isn’t as though she’s some sort of deification or anything, but her message — kind of divorce the message from the personality or whatever, but her message was an unrepentant support or defender or advocate of capitalism and free markets, free minds. So, yeah that’s an exceptionally strong anchor point. And they’re actually making a movie of it now — it’s been in production. AB: Yeah, I heard about that. I heard it’s going to star Angelina Joli. PH: No. That was like a year and a half, two years ago. From what I understand, and actually it just started production on June 11. And I guess the reason it was June 11 is because the person had bought the rights for a million dollars twenty years ago and if he didn’t start production he was going to lose them. A million dollars is always a good chunk of change, but 20 years ago it was a lot bigger. And whoever he bought it from, whether it was the estate or the Ayn Rand institute or whatever, still I guess it was like use it or lose it. So I guess it’s an indie film with only about a $5 million budget. Interesting to see what happens. AB: Of course. Do you remember the first time you ever voted? PH: 18 AB: And who was it for? Was there a candidate that brought you out or was it just you turned 18? PH: I turned 18 so I voted. I probably would have been pretty much straight-line Republican at that point. ‘78 would have been, no wait it wasn’t a presidential year — it was probably just state and local races. I guess my first overt political act was handing kind of a anti-Harkin piece of literature to Harkin himself when he was visiting our college. And that must have been in 1980. [laughs] I mean, I’ve always been a person of strong political convictions, you know, not an activist. Back then, that was probably the peak of my activity until the last few years, I’d say. I’ve always had — I guess that’s an accurate statement, that’s probably the peak of my activity until the past several years, which is kind of interesting. AB: Why do you think that is? Was it just getting into work and everything put it down? PH: Life was everywhere else, you know. Like I said I’ve always had strong political feelings and things and we all talk about, okay you’re throwing things at your TV, probably been throwing things at your TV or yelling at the talk radio or whatever for most of my adult life. But I guess to this point the radical changes that are being proposed at an exceptionally fast pace and also the — I guess the change in the — I mean one of the things that I’ve been big on in the past, well, probably half a dozen years, I’ve come to realize that the media is so poorly informing our electorate that it — people aren’t informed about what’s going on and they don’t realize it. I think the media absorption, the absorption of the — I mean I think the media has always been biased. It’s been going progressively left, that’s never been a question, but the lack of balance has increased significantly as well. And I think people are not informed and it’s to the point where these changes are happening without people realizing what’s being lost very quickly. ... [Material relating to Humphries’ place of work redacted at his request.] ... We don’t need a nanny state, a favorite phrase. It’s a crazy thing to expect it to work. Central planning has never worked in the history of the world. It’s collapsed. And even — I was a few credits short of a minor in philosophy when I was in school — I read Marx and all those other things. Marx very clearly said that you can’t have a communist system unless you’re building it on the ashes of capitalism. The capitalism system provides the most benefits, I mean, to everyone. It lifts the status of — I mean look at the miracle that is the United States. And I guess that, too, I’m looking at what president Obama’s philosophy or outlook on life is — and he doesn’t see the country as an exceptional place, which is bothersome. He’s going around the world apologizing for it. An editorial cartoon I remember rather well of him, during one of his European apology tours, also in front of Normandy, all the crosses — and it was a cartoon of course, he didn’t actually do it. But it was like — we’ve been a force for good in the world. You know, America’s not perfect. I’m for American exceptionalism, not American perfection — and there are a lot of problems with our system. But it’s because the system has been corrupted as opposed to inherent flaws. All the corruption started in the early 1900s and changes were made and the Federal government became more powerful. Our Founders — it was interesting, we were interviewed for The New Yorker and the author is a history professor from Harvard. And she was saying that the Founders believed in a strong central government — I don’t see that in the Constitution. It was strengthened a little bit from the Articles of Confederation because Washington had to run a war with the Articles of Confederation, which were way too loose and allowed too much infighting. The structure was tightened a little bit, but the 10th Amendment is kind of huge there. Unless it’s specifically in the Constitution, it’s up to the states or to the individual people. That’s it. It’s — we’ve come to rely to much on government, to the point that now you hear ridiculous level of things that people have to do, you know — I can’t think of one off the top of my mind but one might be like don’t be reading a book while driving a car — something, like, to that extreme stupidity you have to put warning labels on absolutely everything because there’s a lawsuit out there, you know? It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen or somebody able to take something the wrong way — and it’s just gotten too crazy. So I guess the reason to get involved is just that pace has accelerated to a point where I need to get involved. It’s got to be stopped now, because health care is started down the wrong path. AB: You’ve touched on a lot of topics that I was going to ask about. So this is one of those interviews where we’re going to slowly dig deeper and deeper. It’s great so far. I’m beginning to get a sense of some of the issues you find most important — health care, obviously, seems to be a big one. What would you say are maybe a handful, maybe top three most important issues out there right now? PH: Well health care, cap and trade. Third issue — I guess it’s kind of hard to label, I mean those are the ones that are being pushed so hard. I guess immigration I would put as a high one. I’m not somebody who’s anti-immigrant, in part — legal immigration is great, I think we should be increasing it. Apparently there’s a need for it, but it should be done correctly. I’ve done mission trips to Tijuana, Mexico, the outskirts of Tijuana and seen the people living in squalor and being told that actually there are people much worse off that are living literally in the dump. So I understand the reason for people wanting to get out of that. And actually within the Tea Party movement there are a fair number of people who want to stay away from immigration, just because some — it should be more plentiful, more legal. It’s not necessarily any race — mean you always have people trying to label us as everything. But that’s something that gets exceptionally tiring too — being labeled as x, y, z. But racism doesn’t have any place in the Tea Party, and I mean that’s easy to say, but it’s really true. So, I guess I’m kind of hesitant to say immigration because people tie it to that, but that’s also part of the battle is trying to work against how we’re being tagged or how we’re being flagged or labeled or whatever. Because people hear Tea Party and then all of a sudden they got the picture of the Doonsbury comic with the guy with the tri-corner hat and the clown nose on or something. But I actually had a woman stop me in the hall the other day and say ‘oh you’re in the Tea Party’ because I have it on my in-house log-in information, you know, ‘hey if you’re curious’ especially when I was out on April 14th and 15th, here’s where I’m at type thing. You have people that say oh that’s great and then other people who are maybe very conservative but maybe they’re not “watching Fox News enough” or they’re just listening to the Boston Globe or, you know, and they’re seeing it as those Tea Party wackos and that’s something to battle and to be expected but it’s... AB: What do you think is behind the accusations of racism in particular? In particular it seems like that’s the one people, that you guys are most importantly trying to battle against and stave off, and it seems like the one that’s been slung the most recently. What do you think is behind those accusations? PH: Well, president Obama’s black, and criticism of him can be painted — I mean, it’s an easy, it’s the “race card” or whatever you want to call it. It works. It’s unfortunate, it’s preposterous. I mean I’ve — you run into people of different stripes everywhere. When we were holding our rally there was some guys with white supremacist literature that came up by my booth and it was like, “get out of here, I don’t want you around, go somewhere else, just get out of here.” And I was almost thinking — well first of all, by the level of tattoos on him I didn’t think it was a plant. But on the other hand I was thinking this could also be a plant — but the level of tattoos or iron work or whatever. And there were people there who were pretending to be racist — it was kind of funny. Although I did see a black gentleman holding up a sign that said you should still be in the kitchen and to go get me a sandwich woman and that kind of thing — it was funny, I actually snapped a picture. I was like, that’s real classy. So we’ve got the racists you’ve got the sexists or whatever. Whatever. It’s a way to say shut-up. And it’s, that’s exactly — it’s to quiet us, that’s exactly what it is. You know, I mean, people get out there never having talked to us, never having been to something and they’ll say we’re racist. It’s an easy way to shut-up, it’s an easy way to marginalize. Don’t argue the issues. Don’t address what our concerns are. I mean, unfortunately we have the LaRouche people showing up with the Hitler mustache things. I guess there were — did you go into Boston? AB: Yeah, there were three of them there. There were no Hitler mustaches though, it was just Rachel Brown. PH: Yeah, it’s Rachel Brown, which I find funny. I really wish she would actually have a debate against Barney Frank — she’s running as a Democrat against Barney. AB: Well, I mean LaRouche is a Democrat right? PH: Yeah, a social democrat so — I would really love to see them in a debate. I think that would be so hilarious — well they’re already in a debate on YouTube. AB: Oh, are they? PH: Yeah, she was the “dining room table”. AB: Oh, that was her? I didn’t realize that. PH: Yeah, she was the dining room table [laughter]. AB: Yeah, I ended up at a LaRouche meeting on accident in college. There was a coffee shop in Austin that I used to go to all the time, and I showed up and was ordering my usual coffee and there was this group of people sitting around a table talking about politics. And I was always interested in politics, so I was like, oh! This is like my freshman year in college, I was like oh this is what they do in college, they talk about politics! So I sit down and I’m sitting there for a while and I start realizing that the way that they speak is very long long long long sentences where the beginning sounds good, there’s some crazy shit in the middle and then at the end it’s kind of good again at the end — trying to catch you in. And I was like, this is very strange. And they were telling me this plan whereby they were going to build a train that goes around the entire world or something. And I was like, this is a little bit nuts, I’m going to get out of here. And looked it up afterwards and was like, okay, stay away from those people. PH: And what’s funny too is that I’ve gotten some e-mails from some LaRouche people, because I gave them my e-mail because they were even showing up at our like regional meetings like in Reading. They showed up in Reading a few times. AB: Like at meet-ups? PH: Yeah, and we kind of finally convinced them that this isn’t a thing to be doing, but I gave them my e-mail and it’s probably close to about a half a dozen — I haven’t opened them yet; I’m going to do it all in one fail swoop, because I actually went to some of the things where I could Google on them, and it’s really tough to figure out where they stand. I mean, actually I have some of Emily Brown’s literature on health care, and on the flip-side — that’s the problem with them, and I get really upset with them, because they co-opt our message. You know, they can’t draw the crowd themselves — they come to our stuff, like the other day and other rallies — although I didn’t see them on April 14, which I was happy about. AB: I don’t know if I saw them either. PH: I don’t know if I did — which is great. But actually we have, I think, the power to tell them that they can’t be a stationary station, if that was the case. But they co-opt our message, they’re not able to draw their own crowd so they hang on the fringes of ours and try to pick people off. And they’re throwing the stones in the same direction — not that we’re throwing stones or anything, but the complaints are in same direction, they’re going in the same way. And I saw one of her fliers and, I have a more recent copy of it, and you turn it over and the solution is this this this and a single payer option as described like this. And I’m like, you’re talking about single payer and you’re expecting this to sell to people? Okay, that’s because it’s on the back, and you get all the anti-Obama and Obama’s stuff is all Nazi-like and etc. So I’m glad that they’ve actually calmed down and haven’t been piggybacking or leaching off our, whatever you want to call it, our stuff as of late. AB: When I saw them yesterday [at the rally] I was like, oh here we go. Christen dispatched them pretty quickly, and they went around and, like you said, proselytizing as it were to all the people that were standing there, and some of the people were listening but. PH: That’s the problem is that, as you indicated, they’re very good. I swear that anybody that actually goes out and does things like that, part of that is you have to be somebody who’s been polished. I’ve been — I think actually one of the ones that was coming to Reading was I think a new recruit. AB: Which is apt, because it’s very cult like. PH: Right. But it was very interesting because most of them are exceptionally polished and does a lot of work to draw people in. Which, hey we’re trying to get people to line up on our side too, but if you’re message stands on its own, you don’t have to stand with us. AB: So, obviously the Tea Party is focusing, in terms of its actual actions, on fiscal conservative issues — but I’ve noticed a lot of people have social conservative convictions as well. What role do you think that plays in your own life? Do you balance between the two or do you see any need to balance between the two? Or is it integrated individually? I mean, obviously the emphasis in the party is one thing, I’m more looking for you personally. PH: Me personally, I’m a fairly social conservative, although — and even in the later stages of my father’s life he was, in talking with him he was more libertarian, whereas in his former activities he was pro-drug control policy, etc. And I can honestly see the possibility of legalizing pot or other drugs at some point. And I guess people — abortion’s a sticky issue. I guess I’m closer to libertarian that to social conservative. AB: But you would define yourself as a conservative or as a libertarian or either? PH: I’m talking to a libertarian I’d probably say I was a conservative libertarian — I’d qualify it, because when I’m talking to conservatives too, I don’t believe in abortion, but if I wanted to make a law about it I would point to the fact that, okay, children born — I mean, infants born after five months are fairly survivable, I would say as a legal issue you could probably draw a line. Third trimester abortions should be outlawed. And if you look at the history of abortion in other countries, it’s the U.S. “leads” or whatever in the liberal abortion laws. I mean in many countries our abortion laws would be considered abhorrent. You know, drug laws — I could see like legalizing drugs, but that would be the absolute last thing I’d do. Personal responsibility would need to be through the roof. You want to be a drug addict and you’re not going to be a burden on society because society isn’t going to be supporting you. You get in a car and you kill somebody because you decided to get high? Life in prison or death penalty, you know? Very clear. If you could do it in a responsible manner I could see it. I personally have never done drugs and I never really had — I mean I barely drink. I know a fair number of people who have drank more in a weekend than I have in my life [laughs] you know. Maybe it’s the Irish in me or the Irish I don’t want in me [laughs]. AB: Protecting against that or something. What was I going to ask? Oh, you mentioned abortion, what role does religion play in your life, would you say? PH: Not a huge role, not as much as I had when I was growing up. I consider myself religious but [long pause]. I guess I believe in a higher power, but I’m not somebody who goes to church every week. Actually it’s been a long time — my father passed away last February and I haven’t been to service more than a couple of times since. My life had been kind of turned upside down leading up to that, and I guess I never really got back — part of it’s a habit, but also my life has been very busy and, after that point I actually got more — up to the point where he passed away I wasn’t doing things as well. I mean he passed away in February, Obama was elected in November, he was around to see that, I’m not sure that was a good point for him, but. Then I started getting active in this stuff and I think religion just kind of waned in my life, as it were. AB: Were you raised in a particular denomination? PH: I was raised a Baptist, Southern Baptist. So, it was fairly strict. My stepsister went to Bob Jones University — very conservative. You’ve probably heard of them; they’ve got a bad rap. But she — they’re very fundamentalist. I’m not that — I’ve never been quite that religious, but I’ve got strong inclinations that way, but I haven’t been active for the last several years. I don’t know, I kind of think about that from time to time but it’s just like I’ve got so much going on — I could easily spend 60-plus hours here a week — easily. And in the past I have. Since I’ve been with the Tea Party — got to get out a couple of nights a week, so it kind of forces me. AB: That’s a good thing. PH: Which is a good thing in several ways, yes. AB: As a former workaholic there is something to be said from stepping back from the precipice. So getting back, I guess, what does the Constitution mean to you? You’ve talked already a little about it, but getting deeper. PH: It’s our founding document; it’s the center of what our laws were meant to be; it’s kind of the quote-unquote Bible or Atlas Shrugged of our political life — whatever you want to see it as. Not that I equate the two, but it’s kind of a central statement of principles and it does hold a lot — actually I’ve been this is a very good Web site, those are the pocket Constitutions that I pass out. They actually have online Webinars; they also push the book The 5000 Year Leap — that’s, I’ve actually got it now on audio book and I’m planning on going through it. But, you know, our founders studied governments — they saw what worked and what didn’t. Watch their seminars or their Webinars on the Constitution — there’s a lot of things that just make sense in the context of, well if you don’t have the power to take property from A and give it to person B, why should our government have those rights? A government isn’t something that — we can’t cede those rights to the government, to take property from one person or group of people and give it to another — it just doesn’t work. That was one of the, I think it was Jefferson, I don’t have the quote down perfect, but the general gist being once the electorate can figure out that they can vote themselves funds from the public treasury that democracy is done. And to be honest I think that’s also something you see in the current administration — is that a lot of people who voted him in, I mean it makes for a hilarious YouTube videos but, ‘Hey Obama got elected now everything’s free now.’ There’s literally a certain mentality like that out there. AB: Regarding the Constitution, what would you say are its greatest elements — not looking for chapter and verse or anything — but greatest elements and flaws, if any you see? PH: Well, I guess the greatest elements — and it was stated by the Founders — is that the power should be limited. The powers of government should be not infinite — they need to be controlled and defined and they need to be contained and they shouldn’t be infringing on individual rights. Our central government was meant to be a framework, not the overbearing institution that runs everything, which is what it’s evolved into. The ideas being that — and that kind of gets to social issues too, I make that point fairly often when I’m talking, or I made it last night when the gentleman asked, ‘where does your information come from?’ We in the Tea Party are all about devolving government and sometimes kind of the remainder of thoughts I had from the other night are we don’t get into social issues because if you’re discussing social issues at a local level, there’s a much better chance that they’ll come out right — that they’ll be right for your area. If you’re in Massachusetts, which is fairly liberal, maybe you’ll have an exceptionally liberal abortion law. If you’re talking Kansas, maybe you’ll have a fairly restrictive abortion law. And abortion should not be something that’s a “right” — it’s all these rights that are implied, that people are implying are within the Constitution. It’s a right. It’s a right. They aren’t rights. They are extrapolations — some people, you’ll hear congressmen actually say — what was that congressman who said that the general welfare clause, it’s like what? I mean you’re supposed to be in government and understand how it was formed and you’re making statements like that. You know, I actually sat down and counted; there are 17 words in the commerce clause — things like nation and Indian tribes — the tribes. How did that get blown into I can regulate every economic transaction that you could even imagine just because somebody could do it across state lines I can now regulate it. Some of its greatest strengths are its recognition of individual rights and the fact that government needs to be limited. I guess its greatest flaw, and I’m thinking back to Atlas Shrugged where they were writing, perfecting the Constitution, which there was actually — I’ve been meaning to go back and look at that portion of it, but something to the affect of maybe put in 17 words in for the commerce clause, but they didn’t indicate how it should be restricted. They didn’t expect 10, 20, 50, 100 years from then that some court would take it and bastardize it to say we can just regulate whatever we darn well please. I think the flaw would be that they thought they were putting in enough restrictions — they couldn’t foresee the future about how perverse our power structures might become, and I think they had a healthy fear of it; I think they probably, for their time, thought they had taken care of it. I don’t know. It’s hard to quantify. AB: It was before the Industrial Revolution. PH: Right, well of course. And I mean I think — if you look, too, at the history of the Constitution. That’s something you point out to people, we’re on the verge of saying you can never sell tobacco — we’ve completely almost got to the point where we make it near impossible to smoke. You have to be in special areas; you can’t allow other people to breathe your smoke. What ever happened when we wanted to ban alcohol? Two amendments to the Constitution. That makes you think a little bit — oh my goodness. When we wanted to ban a substance back then, we actually had to get all the states to vote on it, if it was going to be a federal ban we had to get everybody onboard — and then we had to get everybody onboard to un-do it. I mean that’s like — wow. Now we’re banning trans fat, we’re effectively banning tobacco. I guess it’s scary when you think about it — I guess the greatest flaw is that they didn’t limit it enough. And that’s unfortunate, and I guess that was a part of the little Atlas Shrugged thing — I think it has something to do with government couldn’t interfere with business — something to that effect. It was the judge from the people who had left. Did you ever read the book? AB: I’ve not read it, no. I’ve seen the Fountainhead. PH: The movie. AB: Yes, the movie. I’ve read some Ayn Rand, some of her philosophical essays but I haven’t read any of her fiction. PH: A lot of her — if you get some of her, actually, just some of her books. Atlas Shrugged is huge. But some of her books actually take speeches out of there, because her characters would speechify — whatever the word is — they would pontificate. You know somebody would say, well, money is evil. And then you would get, I don’t know how many pages, but it must have been like a 20-minute conversation — a 15 or 20 page essay on why money is good; it’s not an evil it’s a tool of trade between producers. You know, so. AB: So if nothing else worth a read for the speeches. PH: Well, what I’m saying is a fair number of her books you can pick up from her will actually include chunks of her works. Actually there was some woman at the post-party summit who was handing out samplers of Ayn Rand. Actually I might have one on my desk, I’ll have to see if I can grab it for you — it’s a paperback, like 60 or 80 pages and has a lot of her speeches... AB: So, switching gears slightly but sticking with the Ayn Rand talk. You mentioned that you read philosophy and that you nearly minored in it. I’m also interested in what books and movies you like, but kind of inching into that conversation, what are some philosophers you found particularly useful or that you found particularly enlightening? PH: Oh, Locke, Mill. I read Spinoza. There’s a certain level of reading I had to do and most of them time — Aristotle, actually probably one of the only philosophers that I actually liked. Reading Plato — some of the philosophy stuff is like, you don’t know what you know. And I was reading it — maybe because I started off my philosophical journey with Atlas Shrugged and her other works. How can you talk like that? If you’re trying to get to the point of trying to trick people to believe they don’t know what they know there must be some objective, perspective where you can say there’s something going on here. I guess I was — I didn’t do well in my philosophy class — I was an A-, B+ student. My philosophy courses brought it down a little bit — but it was fun. AB: For real. So, what kind of books do you read now? Do you read for pleasure? PH: I barely read for pleasure. I’ve been reading some history — 5000 Year Leap I’m trying to get to. I picked up Michael Graham’s book recently, that was very good, the one about the mom in the Tea Party. I mostly try and keep up with news and things — that’s unfortunate. I haven’t read a pleasure novel in, I guess, a couple of years. AB: You mention Michael Graham’s book and the 5000 Year Leap — have you been reading a lot with that kind of literature or is it mostly Web research? PH: I guess it’s a lot of information from the Web — articles from Drudge are very interesting. The Heritage Foundation has a lot of stuff — I’m a member of Heritage and have been for a number — I don’t know how long. 2000. It’s been a while — it’s on my membership card. But they’ve got a lot of information; that’s an exceptionally well-researched outfit. Cato a little bit — they’re very much libertarian. Heritage is very conservative and Cato is very much libertarian. And actually finding Ayn Rand a lot more, their information — I hadn’t been looking at them for a number of years, you know I mean I always liked the books, even picked up the audio book of a few of them, but getting more into that just because they have a lot of information — it’s funny that they’ve kind of latched on to things as well, getting involved with the Tea Party more. AB: What about music? Do you listen to music? PH: I guess my musical tastes are tied back to the ‘80s. AB: Which ‘80s genre? PH: Oh, soft rock. I’m not a headbanger, quote-unquote. AB: I was going to say that or New Wave. PH: Oh no. I listen it’s like oh my goodness some of that stuff drives me nuts. I just never — and the lyrics too. Just easy listening — although I like Rush’s opening theme, that heavy guitar chord. AB: Right. PH: Sometimes, too, patriotic music can get my heart soaring too. Let Freedom Ring from the Hannity theme — not that much of the — but it’s kind of an uplifting type thing. Lee Greenwood, he’s got a lot of good stuff. Oh, country a little bit. There’s a lot of very patriotic country music. I don’t [pulls out his cell phone]. AB: What, do you have a country ringtone? PH: Well it’s not a ringtone, somehow I’ve got to get a new phone. When I was growing up country music and also Irish music. My father actually was stationed in Ireland during the Korean War. And he speaks Gaelic and etc. When I was growing up there was a lot of Irish music — the Clancy Brothers. So I can still relate to that stuff really easily. AB: So when you say country do you mean like the stuff when you were growing up kind of genre? PH: Yeah. And I — there’s a few — I don’t listen to the current artists except, Lee Greewood is country. Not contemporary country, per se. AB: Not Miley Cirus? PH: Not Miley Cirus. Not the guys that are supposed to be looking hot. Definitely not the Dixie Chicks. [laughter] AB: I imagine. PH: Definitely not the Dixie Chicks [laughter]. It’s got to be a good message — I do like instrumental things if I know the tune but it’s. AB: But things with lyrics you look for things with a good message in particular? PH: Yeah. AB: And what about movies? What kind of movies do you like? PH: Comedies, action, SciFi — I’m not a Trekkie, maybe Trekkie light? I’d see a Start Trek movie; I probably wouldn’t be out there at midnight, but probably within the same week of the release. Matrix, I loved those movies; those were cool. That kind of blends philosophy and, you know, I found those to be very interesting. Things that make you think — I do like the action stuff, but things that’ll make you think sometimes. Quiet Man I always found hilarious. And I can do Westerns too. I’m coming up on 50 so I can relate to anything. AB: So, switching gears once more. What does it mean to you to be American? When somebody identifies as American what does that mean to you? PH: Well, I guess — that’s an interesting concept. Of course it means that you’re a citizen of America — I guess there’s american and then there’s American with the big A. And American with the big A — somebody who understands the principles of this country, who can appreciate that we’re blessed to live in this country. Like I said, I’ve been to Tijuana — there were lots of great people there, but they were, I don’t want to say cursed, but their situations are much much worse. We owe a great debt to all those greatest generations out there going back from the typical group of people you call the greatest generation back to our founders who built a country based on the idea that human beings — I mean that kind of melds into the Ayn Rand stuff a little bit — that as human beings we need to fend for ourselves. We need to be productive as individuals. There’ll be people who are disabled or have troubles or need assistance from time to time, or need help or whatever. But as a whole, as the mainstream, people should be individuals taking care of themselves. Realizing that you don’t have to be your brother’s keeper but there’s nothing wrong with helping out. I mean charity — if you’ve been blessed and you see someone who needs a hand stop. I mean I’ll stop and change somebody’s tire. It doesn’t have to be a cute looking girl, it can be an older guy, it can be just a guy who’s having a hard time. It’s a sense of we’re kind of all in this together. And it’s not broken out by anything — it’s conceptually inclusive. Well, inclusive as in, if those are your shared beliefs; I have trouble with people who are saying we’re Americans and we think that we should be getting handouts or whatever. That’s not part of the American way. There’s going to be people that are troubled, but a lot of the problem with the where we had been is that we — part of being American I think is not looking to the government for your solutions. You know, I mean there are social nets — safety nets — that should be social, not governmental. There’s plenty — I mean the American people are generous; that’s something that’s in our core. I didn’t go down to Louisiana with my church, but I’ve been to Mexico a few times. You look out and you stretch out a hand. Those are the things that we do when it’s needed — but it’s a choice. It’s not a mandate. Charity is a choice, not a mandate. And the government saying that we, as a government, will provide a social safety net. I think we’re going to have to wean off of that. I mean extreme libertarians would say get rid of it right away. I realize that we have evolved an entitlement society — the problem is that it’s kind of like with the immigration thing, when people realize that the rules are being tightened the illegal immigrants, and maybe unfortunately some of the legal immigrants, have gone home. In the ‘90s when the welfare laws were getting tightened up people were getting off of welfare. They realized hey the gravy train is not coming anymore or whatever. And society as a whole is lifted up by that and they have to realize that there’s blessings to that. Being your brother’s keeper is a personal choice not a mandate of government, not a function of government. So I guess being American is, you know, taking care of yourself and also helping others if you can, if you so choose. AB: And you kind of answered the next question implicitly in that, but what do you view as un-American? PH: I guess I did allude to that to a certain extent but — I guess primarily it’s a contrast to that. Not realizing how we’re blessed, or thinking that the blessing are of the government. I guess a big part of that, and I haven’t really thought of this though, is it’s the American people. With the emphasis on people. It’s not the American government, it’s the American people. The American people take care of themselves; the American people help each other. I mean it’s not the place of the American government. Because when — I think people saying that — I have no problem with people saying I need help and looking for it. But when you go to the government and say it’s my right — you owe me this. And it’s also a respect for others. There’s an implied respect for other people in that as well. Respect for yourself, respect for others, where you don’t owe me something, I don’t owe you anything — if you’re helping me out, that’s great; if I’m helping you out, that’s great. But it’s not an entitlement, it’s a matter of I don’t know, I guess that pretty much says it. I don’t know if that’s complete enough. To a certain extent it’s an attitude too — I think people, and not that people can’t look at our country and criticize, but if you kind of — and I guess I wouldn’t label it as un-American; I guess I would label it as disappointing, but people have the attitude or haven’t been taught that this is an exceptional country — or that they don’t realize or haven’t been taught that this is an exceptional country, that we’re truly blessed, that’s disappointing I guess. I can’t label it un-American; people absolutely have the right to their own opinions, but I think it’s kind of ignoring reality. Go to another country. When I was growing up, because of the work my father did, [I met] Castro’s private pilot from the early ‘60s, people from the NKVD, precursor to the KGB, people who have lived under those systems and I’ve even talked to people who’ve gotten out from behind the Iron Curtain in various ways. Back when I was young it was still talked about as getting out from behind the Iron Curtain. You realize that this is a glorious place and what’s really unfortunate is that you’re not being taught that; you’re not being told that in the media. That’s a story that’s almost been lost, which is beyond blank, it’s beyond understanding, beyond comprehension. AB: Do you think the end of the Cold War has anything to do with that? Because the Cold War gave a really clear contrast. PH: Sure. AB: Do you think that — I guess you brought up the Iron Curtain and it made me think of the Cold War. What role did the Cold War play I the way you look at America? PH: Well, I mean, compare and contrast. Back in the — I’m starting to get on Facebook now so I’ve been throwing a lot of comments out and one of the ones I made recently was, actually Sam Meas — he’s running in the fifth congressional district; he’s Cambodian. If you came from Cambodia you realize, back in the late ‘70s early ‘80s the Guinness Book of World Records used to publish greatest mass murderers — the regime in China and Russia had about a half a million between the two of them. I guess — I don’t know if — did the Cold War ever really end? I mean it did to a certain extent but we didn’t have a boogey man to really look at, but there’s still bad things going on out there I guess, but I guess there’s not a national focus on it. So, maybe to a certain extent — but I am dead-on thinking that the media and the way that people absorb things — and to a certain extent the fault of the public schools. People are just mal-informed, misinformed, dis-informed. It’s — I mean I love having classes on the Constitution, because people just have to get back in touch with that. I think that for a number of us that are older it won’t be anything new — it’ll be a lot of reinforcing what we had been exposed to when we were younger. But for those 20-somethings or 30-somethings out there it’ll be new stuff — or not necessarily new but people feel that as a gut, but they don’t know why and they don’t understand why. And they don’t have the history of it’s either this or that. Like I say, we’ve evolved and we’ve grown, and maybe that’s what Marx was alluding to is that eventually communism — and I’m not saying we’re going communistic, but it’s just a way of looking at evolving societies — is that it needed to build itself on the ash-heap, as it were, of capitalism. But I think maybe because people aren’t philosophically grounded that hey this is a great system and that we can’t let the government do everything for us, that we’ve lost our focus and lost our ownership of things. AB: My next round of questions is about the media and personally how you get news. So perfect transition — I love it when that happens. So, where do you get your news today? What are your primary sources? PH: I still get the Boston Globe, but I’m going to cancel it — I’ve been saying I’m going to do that but it’s — I got it through April 15 and some of the early stuff, but it’s just not serving me. I find it’s too long to read because, if you’re lucky there are some fact at the end of the story — they’re telling you what to think. Drudge, like I said — Fox News; Fox News is probably my primary — and even that is more along the lines of the opinion shows. I have Rush 24/7 and you can get information out of that — so I don’t listen to that at work but I have it on a podcast that I listen to. Drudge. Realclearpolitics. Heritage. Human Events — actually I should have thought of that the other night, they have a lot of good stuff too. AB: Before the Internet and Talk Radio and Fox where did you get your news? PH: I guess, like the normal news outlets — the normal three stations and the Globe, or whatever the local paper was. AB: So the three main broadcast — ABC, NBC, CBS? PH: Yeah. AB: Do you remember was there one that you preferred over the others back then? PH: No. I wasn’t like Cronkite’s the best — no I wasn’t any. My family — Cronkite was exceptionally liberal and he had a bias, you know. But none of the others were any better, so it was what it was. Which is funny because actually — I don’t have that good of a memory going back and you remember them as liberally biased but you’d still get some news somehow. Nowadays — like I always like to look at this thing from the Globe — like the ClimateGate e-mail thing. It was out there — I was aware of it and I was going where is it? Where is it? It’s not in the Globe; it’s not in the Globe. The first day that they published a story about it was the same day that Jacob Jacoby — their token conservative — was writing an editorial column about it. So that’s the first time that the article appeared in the Globe about it. Interesting! Kind of a major, you know, some people might consider a major scandal of sorts — questioning something that we’re possibly going to be betting a trillion dollars of our economy on. Hey, you know? The media — that’s one thing that I will harp on at times when I do lead meetings — is that the media doesn’t serve us well — exceptionally poorly. And it’s all slanted, you aren’t going to get both sides. And if you watch Fox — Susan Estridge, my goodness. Juan Williams I’ve actually come to respect, just like I’ve come to respect Joe Liebermann — I know where they’re coming from, got to have a certain respect for what they do, but I don’t have to share their views. But Fox will have plenty of people from both sides on — you don’t see that in the mainstream media. AB: You say mainstream media, and I’ve been asking as many people this as I can, but when you say mainstream media how do you define that? What do you mean by that? PH: The three major networks, major newspapers across the country. AB: Is Fox a part of the mainstream media? PH: I wouldn’t consider it mainstream media, no. I’d consider it alternate media. You know, theoretically it shouldn’t be — I consider it the fourth network out there. But I guess I don’t hear people talking about the big three any more; that’s kind of a phrase that’s gone out of style. AB: That’s interesting. So you consider Fox News alternative media? PH: I guess it’s an alternative in that it’s not part of the mainstream because they do present information that you won’t see elsewhere — which kind of forces them to sometimes lead the news cycle, because they’ll report on something and after I think — I’m guessing that the inner workings of the other networks are, well if it shows up on Fox two or three days in a row, I guess we have to report it too — which is kind of disturbing. Which means also that for those things that are only on one or two days at Fox, they don’t make it out in the rest of the world — that’s part of my concern too with where we’re going. That’s something that I’ve actually — at the post-party summit I was asking several of the presenters saying actually it was [inaudible] that I asked directly when she was doing a book signing, I said when you’re talking about where we’re going, I kind of see the media as being one of the major obstacle because the majority of — you know a fair amount of the people who I think maybe in their gut have conservative views have been fed information. If they’re listening to the people that say Fox News is crazy or not to watch. If they’re grabbing all their information from the mainstream media they’re not aware of all this stuff and they could — I think that’s how Obama got elected. There’s actually a movie out, I just purchased it but haven’t watched it yet, called Media Malpractice. People who voted for Obama thought it was all of this hope and change business but questions of substance were rarely raised and if you — if you asked your normal person who was off the street. Actually Jay-walking — have you ever watched Leno doing a Jay-walk? You could just imagine people doing that with like Obama’s positions on things and have people just be so far off the bat. Did you really expect him to take over the healthcare system? Did you expect — so he says he’s not raising taxes on 95 percent of the people. That’s actually been not true, but why isn’t he hammered about it? It’s the double standard. I throw out the one about ClimateGate, I also talk about the 57 state comment. Obama said he was going to campaign in all 57 states. Now if Bush did that, there would be Saturday Nigh Live parodies, it’d be all over the place. And why isn’t that happening? And that’s part of what I like to do, is I like to challenge people and say you’re getting your information but when you’re talking to other people, trying to network and things, you’ve got to hit them in the eyes with — you are mal-informed. If you’re not looking at Fox News — not that it’s the be-all-end-all, but you’re not getting both sides of the story. Don’t you think you’re maybe just being programmed a little bit? And now the FCC thing too, did you hear about that? AB: Which FCC thing? PH: There was a Congressman Mosey I believe the name is? Anyway they have a 47-page document — I’ve actually pulled it down, I’ve got like a billion things to look at, read, watch. But within the last several days, how they’re going to reinvent journalism in the United States — kind of a scary concept. The government talking about reinventing journalism. AB: I’ll have to look into that. PH: I mean, that’s — you don’t hear things about like that. There’s people out there talking about — and Kerry’s talked about proposing bills that okay we’re going to declare them nonprofits and all sorts of tax-exempt status; and we’re going to rescue the newspaper industry. Maybe if their content was better I would almost buy the Herald. But I just don’t think it’s delivered in my neighborhood, but I do pick up the Herald a fair amount. But it’s like — if it’s failing it should fail on its own, just like every other bad business should fail. You know? AB: When about did you start developing your critique of the media? Did you always have a critical eye toward the media, or when did that start? PH: I guess I’ve always had a critical eye — like I said when I was growing up they were all liberals. But I guess getting crystallized about it I guess maybe in the last four, six, eight years. It’s within the last decade that I’ve been getting like — people are really just not getting the information. AB: A lot of things you were bringing up in your critique — I don’t mean to keep cutting you short but we’re getting close on time — you mention in terms of Fox or in the Globe with climate gate that you were waiting and waiting for it to appear. What role do you think the emergence of the Internet and the proliferation of sources of media play in that? For example, your ability to say oh the Globe isn’t covering something. PH: Or the fact that it’s there. I mean the fact that there’s alternate sources — of course you always have to be concerned with the alternate sources whether they’re really true or not. But I think that’s something that’s changed — I think that’s why there’s a backlash. I think to a certain extent that’s why the Tea Party’s been so successful is that there is an alternate media, there is a Fox News, there is an Internet — people are able to be informed via other means. And I think that is something that maybe we should harp on it more, but keeping people informed — I think the Tea Party, even within our own group we’re trying to figure out how to inform more. And Christen’s always careful to say we’re not going to send you a boatload of e-mails a week, but maybe if we — there’s a lot of Web sites out there that you can get a lot of information from. But I’ve just been thinking maybe that if we could be a portal for some of that — and I mean we do have links up to Heritage and Drudge and those various things. But maybe a part of that is talking about things and it needs to be more grassroots because like I said we’re mal-informed, we’re misinformed, dis-informed. It’s not a matter of you’re being provided with both sides of a story and you can make a decision — of course Fox lives off of it but it’s true “We report you decide”. If you’re only reporting one side of the story, or you’re only reporting half the story how is the decision possible. And I think that is so — the American electorate — that’s how we elected Obama. It’s so — we weren’t — I mean, okay, they kind of blew up Jeremiah Wright, that wasn’t supposed to be a big thing but he spent 20 years in the church — and his association with Ayers and Dohrn and all these people. It’s like, if it was a conservative — even the real estate dealings with Rezco — all those things it’s like if they would play those up in the media the way they would play it up for Republicans, it would change the landscape — it would make you question things. I mean I would love a debate between a Joe Liebermann and a McCain — very different people, very different positions on things, but they’re staunchly pro-American. Liebermann is very liberal, but I respect him as a man and especially for his stance on the war and his support of Israel and etc. It’s something that, you know, even the media these days does have a certain tendency to portray America in a bad light. I mean during Bush they were — it was not allowed to be taking photographs of the coffins, you know, from the war areas. It is now. I mean, okay — that’s just wrong. It’s a certain amount of privacy for the people — the families involved. And — I understand the idea; I don’t want to be suppressing these but to a certain extent they arrive on an Air Force base and there’s no reason to make it a public spectacle. Like those Southboro Baptist people or whatever, Westboro — those Kansas nut-jobs that just want to make a spectacle out of things. They don’t — I don’t know. I see the media as not serving the American public — it’s supposed to be the fourth estate — it seems like it’s more of an extension of government right now. AB: What do you think — what are your opinions of journalists as opposed to the media? PH: I guess that depends on the journalist. If there’s one that has a sincere desire to relay facts that’s — I’m fine with that. If it’s somebody with a point of view or even asks questions in such a way that you can tell that they are digging for a specific answer — that’s not journalism, that’s trying to develop a story. That’s creating a story if you’re not dealing with the facts of an issue, if you’re trying to extract a point of view, or not necessarily a point of view but facts that point in one direction and ignoring other things, you know are you writing your own story or are you writing what’s really going on? AB: So the media, generally speaking, your opinion is that it’s liberal and that it’s... PH: It has an agenda. AB: And that agenda tends to be denigrating to America and shifting liberal. What do you think is behind that? Why do you think the media — what do you think is the motivation of the media to do that? PH: It’s a good question. That’s kind of hard to answer — I think it probably goes to a certain extent to the general loss of the feeling that America is an exceptional country, that it’s a great place — kind of a loss of feeling. And I know in the media you probably deal with dirty cops or whatever so you get to see the seedy underside of things, and you hear about companies that do really bad things, but maybe to a certain extent because they’ve been colored by having to deal with the seedy undersides of things — I don’t know. AB: So kind of bitter? PH: I think it’s a certain amount of bitterness, but I think too, though certain ownership people — people who own the media have agendas and they will push it. The New York Times being exceptionally one of them. Not that I’ve ever really looked at it — but Mass Resistance I think? — that’s really big on, basically when the New York Times bought the Globe they wanted to push a very homosexual marriage agenda in Massachusetts and they did. And if you read the Globe, if you look at the Globe. The normal hometown paper in Kansas won’t show Bill and John getting married, but here we do. And it is a change of a mindset, so I think to a certain extent it’s not necessarily that the attack, that — I think the liberal mindset is being pushed across the board. I think journalism is one of the leading parts of it. I think, to a certain extent, it’s also being pushed by the education system, because, you know — so I guess it’s a general, there are a number of institutions — especially universities, I don’t see universities as being a hotbed of conservatism [laughter] far from it. AB: Okay, I know I have 15 minutes and then I need to have you gone or let you go, so finally we’ll move to the Tea Party. It might feel like I’ve not asked you much about it, but I feel I’ve been getting a lot. What drew you to the Tea Party movement as opposed to doing activism on your own or some other form of activism? PH: Well, like I said, my father passed away last February — so the first thing I went to March 20th or March 27th, it was the Newburyport Republicans were attending a Tierrney town hall and they were standing out. I said, protesting my liberal congressman, I’m up for that. So I made up some signs and went out. April 15th came along, and I was getting involved but I was always a lone wolf. Actually I wasn’t really part of the steering committee until way up in October or so. I was pretty much a lone wolf — I drove down to DC by myself. But the message resonated with me; it was about going against the issues that were going to be most radically changing the country in the quickest fashion. I guess, you know, Fox News was fine with playing them up, you got a lot of information about them. It was — and I guess I was picking my information from Fox News, although I was paying attention to the mainstream media, I wasn’t getting a negative impression, plus I knew the people — they were great people. It’s not like — I’ve met a few people, like I say, stay away or you know that’s fine or you know okay. But great great great group of individuals. AB: Were you involved in the McCain campaign or what were you feeling around election time? PH: Election time I was not a McCain supporter. AB: Who did you support in the primaries? PH: I voted for Romney — not that I was exceptionally in love with him but. AB: The best of the pickings. PH: The best of the pickings — that had a good shot at it. I liked Thompson too, he was pretty okay. A little lackluster — kind of the old white guy feel, I guess. AB: And I don’t want to go too deep into this if you’re not comfortable — but you’ve mentioned about your father passing. What role did that play in you going toward activism? Was your activism kind of something to... PH: Well, he had always been active in it. Like I said, that’s kind of what he did as a career. And about 2000 he moved up to New Hampshire and became a state legislator up in New Hampshire. AB: Oh, wow. PH: He only served one term before — he had lung cancer, which took his life finally. AB: So it was a long illness? PH: It was, he actually survived bladder cancer seven or eight years before — chain, heavy smoker. Wouldn’t even — because he was in the hospital with lung cancer for three weeks he finally couldn’t smoke anymore. [laughter] AB: I know of people like that too. PH: Yeah. You know and we always talked politics — it was a very political family, very very very conservative. And I mean it wasn’t a matter of — well to a certain extent it’s kind of funny, my stepmother said you’re kind of picking up the torch for him to a certain extent. Actually, the older Gadsden Flag, which I actually misplaced for a period of time and it turned out Christen had it — but kind of a — I guess not necessarily a passing of the torch, per se. But I think probably, would I have been more active after Obama got elected? Well, actually the Tea Party didn’t get started until March 2009, but it was. There was a lot of stuff going on before then I guess. I was spending my weekends going up, they lived in New Hampshire — I spent a lot of time up there. So it wasn’t a passing of the baton in a conceptual sense, but it was more of a “this is done, now there’s other things to be doing.” I don’t know if it was a vacuum in my life, per se, but it was something that I felt strongly about — knew he felt strongly about it, and it’s a strong feeling in my family. But it was also just the realization of the urgency of what’s going on. So, I guess, it was more — I don’t think it was causative timing, it was more coincidental timing. AB: So you were focused on that, obviously, with your father, and then like you said it was a vacuum situation when you get out, you look at the fast pace of things and decide you have to act. PH: Well I knew about the fast pace of things, but it was... AB: But you didn’t have time to do anything. PH: I didn’t have time to do anything about it, right. AB: So, just a couple more. What about the Tea Party do you feel the media consistently gets wrong or misses? PH: Gets wrong or misses — wow, there are so many things that fall into that. AB: You can send me an e-mail with the extended list. PH: If you asked me to sit down and write down a lot of things I probably could, but I guess the things that hit me are the racist concept, kind of the indication that we’re crazies or something — some of the talking heads will label us outright crazy. And not the fact that we’re trying to address issues — kind of punching in on the personalities or trying to label us fringes as opposed to realizing that, hey, we’re talking about a lot of issues where there are a lot of Americans who feel the same way that we do. It’s not realizing that it’s kind of the spirit or the voice for a lot of people’s frustration and anger and concern and outright, sometimes even outright shock of the things that are going on. So I guess missing that or misrepresenting it. I think to a certain extent it’s probably more misrepresenting it. I think it’s a conscious decision on their part — not that there’s a media conspiracy or anything, but there is a mindset that feels the need to marginalize us. And they have to go out and they have to interview — what was it Obama, a couple months ago, called us “teabaggers?” I’m sorry, that’s kind of been labeled as offensive for a while. I actually had to explain that to my stepmother — she actually wanted more details than I was willing to give, so I was like oh my god. I just got as far as, and then she said oh I got it. But it was [pause] AB: An uncomfortable conversation. PH: Well it wasn’t horrible but almost kind of funny — but it’s just an attempt to marginalize, and it’s purposeful. And it’s — I mean deal with the issues, that’s what we’re supposed to be this changed political tone that’s supposed to occur. I haven’t seen it. It’s actually been much more — we are exceptionally polarized. I mean the Congressman grabbing that student the other day and the guy getting his finger about bit off. You know I actually [waving his hand, which is missing its forefinger digit] — I’ll make that joke sometimes. The other thing that bugs the crap out of them is that we’re supposed to be violent. I’m sorry, it was a Tea Party person who got their finger bit off, it was a black conservative that got beat up. And it’s this student who gets man-handled by a Congressman. I actually lost a finger [showing it again] so I like to say I wasn’t that guy. Because that’s part of the misinformation too — we’re the violent ones, we’re the racist ones. No, I’m sorry, the black conservative guy who got beaten up by union thugs, the union guy who bit off a guy’s finger — against us. What you’re hearing are whispers of violence, suggestions of violence — not actual, not something where they’ve got some YouTube video which there’s plenty of on our side. It’s just suggestions that’s carrying the day. Those guys — you heard about the Brandeis thing. AB: No I don’t think I’ve heard of this. PH: The Brandeis talk? Oh my goodness I’ll have to send you that link. It was a swastika with a big red x across it talking about neo-Nazism, a transatlantic perspective. They were talking about organization and Nazis and Europe and then they were talking about racism in America and militias and the Tea Party. How does Michael Graham’s mom get labeled in with the militia? I’m sorry, that’s — we actually went and sat and listened to that. And the guy they had up there was just a political hack — all the other people up there were either professors or whatever. The guy who was doing the Tea Party and militia movement in Idaho or whatever hadn’t even graduated from college — he was just some political hack working for some hacktank for like 20 years. My goodness! And this is an intellectual conversation at Brandeis. AB: When was this? PH: Yeah, I’ll send you a link. It’s scary. And actually what’s funny is they ended up apologizing and Michael Graham — I love Michael Graham; I like Todd Feinburg, I find him more intellectual. But Michael Graham is bombastic. [laughs] AB: Gets your blood pumping. PH: Yeah, but he nailed them. And I guess they had a lot of people calling in — they took the swastika down, the circle with the cross it was funny. But yeah, the violence is just something that’s — the violence has been done to Tea Partiers, it doesn’t originate here. I mean, yes sooner or later there’s going to be a nut-job. If it happened in Boston I could probably remember seeing the guy and said I guess I could have expected that — not that anybody comes to mind, but if I saw his picture like a year later, like his mug shot or whatever, I could probably say I remember seeing him and he did strike me as a little odd. But it’s not the majority — it isn’t. AB: My last question is: Is there any question I didn’t ask or anything else that I should have asked or anything else that you think is important about the Tea Party that I haven’t heard from you or witnessed in the events that you’ve seen me at? PH: No, I don’t think so. I guess maybe a minor discussion of like the groups are people that seem to be attracted to it, because that’s something I do find interesting. There’s a cross section of libertarians; people who come from my — from conservative backgrounds; there’s even some conspiracy, somebody from the Lowell Tea Party sent out something about the Bilderbergers [sic] okay. You know conspiracy theorists or whatever. There’s Alex Jones people — actually I saw a Facebook post which I printed off and need to look at before I throw out my papers for the week. I guess Alex Jones got on and made the Tea Party look really great [ironic inflexion] — like we’re a bunch of nut-jobs, you know. I guess it’s just the interesting cross-section of what I’ve seen in the Tea Party, you know. And I guess I don’t see that many blacks. I mean Austin’s girlfriend, or fiancé I don’t know, Kat is a black. I know other blacks in it — there was one that came down with the Tea Party Express. AB: From DC. PH: It’s not a racist group — but we do gather a lot of people. Christen is very much socially conservative — I guess maybe that’s the only thing, but you were interviewing me, so I guess I understand that. But it’s interesting to see the cross-section of it. A lot of people stand up during meetings and say I’m a Democrat, former Democrat or whatever and I just can’t take it anymore. Even a few union people — Scott Brown. I guess I’m surprised you didn’t ask about Scott Brown, I guess. Because in Massachusetts that’s almost kind of a normal thing. On election day — some of the things I remember about that — there were actually a lot of union people who supported Brown and we were doing standouts for him in the last debate and there were all these union people there hired, $50 a head. Flemming and Hayes, if you haven’t looked at their stuff, they put out a lot of stuff, but you should look at they had one of the guys with the 40-foot Coakley signs turn around and say, ‘Yeah, I was paid $50 to be here I’m voting for Brown anyway.’ So I guess those are the only two things that I would say are pretty interesting — but I know you were primarily interested in my demographics or whatever. AB: Well, less demographics and more your cultural and intellectual... PH: Where I’m coming from. AB: Right. PH: Sure, intellectual underpinnings. AB: It is interesting you mention the different strands — the libertarians, the conservatives, the conspiracy theorists. I feel like those are the three strands I’ve been able to identify as well. PH: Well, the LaRouche people are off on the fringe. AB: Well, yeah, but. PH: But I don’t detect any, you know, militia types. AB: There are fewer militias in this area, I think that’s part of it too. PH: Yeah. I’m just saying — actually my brother in law, I don’t think he’s a part of any militia, but he does have a safe room in the bottom of his house that he built himself. If need be that’s where I’ll be going — that’s just the way he is; he’s a Vietnam vet, Olympic caliber marksman, trainer. Very opinionated. Well a lot of people who came out of the Vietnam War, that’s a very different perspective. AB: Yeah it is. PH: Sometimes I guess people who come from a military background make a certain level of people who have conservative leanings as well. I mean if you fought for the country I mean not that I was involved with fighting for the country directly, but didn’t mind wearing the uniform, loved being in the uniform. But if you’ve ever been in a war situation and fought and seen people die, it really makes you appreciate it. — Interview conducted by A.J. Bauer —

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