By Pierre Beauregard
Ramona Mainstage puts on some pretty fantastic shows for a little country town. It also hosts the Ramona TEA’d forum giving the group a very nice setting to express whatever they want to express from their long disgruntled list of—disgrunts.
Darrell Beck’s guest commentary about Dave Patterson (Ramona Sentinel 9/6/12) has inspired me to share a narrative of my visit to the group that holds the “Nation’s fate…in the hands of ‘We the People’.” I thought I fit in nicely with the Ramona TEA’d group Saturday noon. I am 63-year-old white male Vietnam veteran, member of the local VFW, wearing a Stetson straw, and my neck was a little red from working on our ranch. So I kind of fit in, especially sitting in front of Ranger Doug of “Shootists’ Emporium” fame. Everyone around me seemed an older, very gentle and gentile crowd mixing with each other and going over some of the literature that was being passed around. But there was somebody who seemed to be out of place and it was better off for everyone that “somebody” just kept his mouth shut and spent his time there to listen and learn what all these people were about. That somebody was I.
You see, I am active with Occupy San Diego from the days we occupied the civic center—arranging medical assistance, supplies and occasionally providing food for the occupiers and the many homeless that found safety and purpose within our group, barely missing the pepper sprays. We were standing up for our First Amendment rights so they won’t take away our Second Amendment rights and so forth.
My main purpose for showing up was to listen to Ramona TEA’d members attending the meeting visited by special guests District 77 Assemblyman Brian Jones, Brian Calle of the Pacific Research Institute, and Jones’ guest of honor District 59 Assemblyman Tim Connelly, the man who was arrested at Ontario International Airport for carrying a loaded handgun through security. (Side note: He would not be allowed on a school ground if convicted of a felony).
Brian Calle is an opinion columnist, and the two Assemblymen are self-proclaimed infiltrators of the Republican Party solely representing the TEA Party.
The subject was public employee unions, Proposition 32, and of course Second Amendment rights found its way in as usual. What would a TEA Party gathering be without the discussion of guns?
Brian Calle spoke first, telling horror stories of public employees unions and referring to a particular piece that he wrote for the Orange County Register May 13, 2011, and claim to fame of having it mentioned on Regis and Kelly. He spoke of a few career lifeguards who are making a very good living at the tune of $200,000, benefits included, per annum, not mentioning that a lot of senior lifeguards are fire department employees who have worked up through the ranks. Citing another heart stopper for the gasping crowd, he told of a “meter maid” making over $100,000/year, but concluding his anecdote that the city let go all its employees and “outsourced” to a lower paying private company and was raising revenue for the city by increasing parking citations. He reintroduced the idea that you can hire people at lower wage, and with enough intimidation of job security you set citation quotas, of course dumping the people they replace.
I was curious of his stance on “Prisons for Profit,” whereas occupancy for filling the prison 100% is required and politicians, judges, and local governments profit from the miseries of society, there is another incentive to set quotas.
But unions were their targets this day. A guest approached to comment briefly about his honorable career as a peace officer and the POA (Police Officer’s Association) he belonged to and how it helped maintain benefits he enjoyed as an employee of San Diego. The crowd quickly turned on him, halting his attempt to tell his short story—an ability that appears to be inherent to the TEA party. I believe he left early and I felt a little ashamed of honorable Ramona cititzens.
Assemblyman Jones was next and produced stories how the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the CTA (California Teachers Association) resort to violent tactics and threaten families of employees who are hesitant to enroll—generalized accusations how both unions steal money from some of their members, which of course registered the “OMG’s” and obligatory gasps.
Assemblyman Jones also stated that the most important issue now is to pass Proposition 32, the Paycheck Protection Initiative, another polarizing issue to be championed by TEA Party special interest for large corporations and extreme right politicians who enjoy the lucrative donations from “Super PACs.” Jones declared passing this proposition is more important than his re-election to office.
He concluded with, “the CTA wants to kill charter schools… these are signs and it is time for a revolution. We are opting for a peaceful one first.” I am wondering. Did he silently suggest we “git our guns” and violently overthrow our government if he doesn’t get his way?
Introducing his guest Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, he remarked that it was the “holy spirit” that brought he and Donnelly together, insinuating that God’s work is being done between the two of them. You know, I’ll bet you $10,000 that the people in that audience believe that. After the God reference, Donnelly quickly went into a heated monologue of how the liberal left “hates” the TEA Party and the conservative right especially for their stand on the Second Amendment. The left has nothing but hate, encouraging a few in the crowd to yell back, “We hate them!”
Hmmm. I am a gun-owning liberal and have been imbedded with the most liberal people I know. I have not heard one person say they “hate” anyone. They are angry and they are scared, just like the people in that auditorium.
That auditorium was percolating with fear, fueled by the rhetoric and unsubstantiated stories of a Latino invasion, murder and threats. Donnelly boasted in his heroic stance of parading around the Mexican border, armed of course, and how he faced down the drug cartels. A couple of his “Minutemen type” friends proudly vouched for his self-sacrificing deeds. Maybe he can sit around at our VFW someday and swap war stories with our combat vets. Who knows? They might learn something from Tim.
Finally, at the close of the meeting there was a call for volunteers to be present at our sacred voting polls and make sure everything and everybody runs smoothly. The TEA Party watches over us while we all vote. I can’t wait to walk in and find one of them there. Who do these people think they are?
Pierre Beauregard is a Ramona resident.