Here’s looking at the Tea Party rally 4/15, Daley Plaza, 3 to 5 p.m., better late than . . .
Sunny day, 80 degrees or so. Lot of flags and signs. Music blaring from stage, but not much heard where I sit note-taking, near the fountain-filled pool. Not many here. Three pretty girls chatting on edge of crowd. Church bells from Chicago Temple across street. Nice breeze.
Signs: “Americans for Life,” prominent, next to stage. Hand-held: “No cap & trade” “Stop government waste” “Stop socialism” “Protect free speech” “Abortion kills”
On stage, talk-show host Sandy Rios : “Can you hear me?”
She introduces priest, who leads all in prayer. He is Rev. Thomas Koys, pastor of Immaculate Conception parish, 44th & California, author of The Ashes That Still Remain, in which he likens the Dred Scott decision to Roe v. Wade. “None of us asked to be born. . . . All of us come from a divine source.” Beneath him on front of stage, a sign, not his, “Lower taxes, create jobs.” Long, rambling prayer. “Lord, hold back your wrathful hand for a generation more. . . . Lord, give us this grace, how to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” etc. Quiet, respectful audience. He leads all in The Lord’s Prayer.
Gutsy of him, to show up and show his colors, Chicago being what it is. Later we chat. I know him from his days as a temporary deacon, in the year before ordination, when he was assigned to St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy parish, in Oak Park. I remember him giving a thoughtful anti-abortion sermon, the only anti-abortion sermon I can recall hearing, ever.
Sandy Rios leads in pledge to flag, another woman in singing the national anthem. Crowd respectful. Then “God Bless America,” which works better and is better for group singing. The singer, a young woman, has the pipes for both. Rios calls self “reformed liberal,” asks again, “Can you hear me now?” Overly cerebral patter, it being a rally, not a radio program.
More signs: “Abolish Federal Reserve System” “Abortion is child abuse” One for right to carry (handgun) group. Another, from Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice: “End Bush wars.” Another, and maybe best of all: “I listed the federal government as a dependent on my taxes this year.”
Rios moves to stump-speech mode: “This president should never have been elected. He does not love this country. . . . He really does not know America . . . Out with sexual radicals . . . [out with] ACORN . . . SEIU . . . [AG Eric] Holder . . . Fight, fight, fight”
It’s like civil rights rallies in the 60s. Now Catherina (“Katerina,” she is called) Wojtowicz, of Chicago Patriot Tea Party, takes the mike as mistress of ceremonies. She makes passing reference to her making it (last November) as Keith Olbermann’s “worst person in the world.” Olbermann condemned her to hell for questioning the honesty of a woman who said her daughter had died for lack of insurance. The woman had stood next to Congr. William Lipinski in a Southwest Side town hall meeting defending health care legislation while Tea Partiers raised a ruckus and some of them mocked her.
Catherina W., Congr. Lipinski
Southtown Star columnist Kristen McQueary checked out her story, verifying it. The matter became a cause celebre on several liberal blogs, with Wojtowicz getting considerably raked over. At the meeting she also handed back to Lipinski the “Citizen of the Year” award he had given her three years previously.
The cumulative vehemence of libs’ response (to her and “teabaggers”), while standard in these Obama years, also demonstrates her organizing success and the success of tea-party politics in general, I’d say. In any case, so it goes in the South Side political trenches, especially where health-care legislation is concerned. Catherina is something of an Alinsky-style organizer (in a good cause), I would say, based on her Daley Plaza performance, in which she m.c.’d things with gusto and lots of energy.
Catherina introduces a sister “Southsider,” Jan Morino, calling her a “neighbor of mine.” Both have fire in the belly. Morino spouts what is the motto for the day: “We will remember!” in November.
Then Isaac Hayes, running vs. Congr. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois 2nd district, who comes up fiery. He gives a stump speech. “Enough of [Harry] Reid” etc. Plants are among you, he warns. They will try to pick an argument. (None appeared.) “If someone has an argument with a black, it will be told all over the world.” He is a school-choice proponent, listing this issue first on his web site: “The answer is not just more money. The answer is competition.”
Hayes on left
Then Gary Franchi, managing editor of Republic Magazine, whose current issue, #15 has on its cover George Washington on a stallion, pointing a forty-five automatic, his face covered with a truncated red, white, and blue flag. Franchi rails vs. TSA and predicts for the U.S.: “In 30 years a police state!” Ends, as many did, “God bless America.”
Then Carl Segvich, running for county commissioner vs. John Daley, the mayor’s brother. “Socialist government” is the problem. “Thugs” abound. He’s Republican committeeman, 11th Ward, would “restore” sound tea party principles to county board. (Restore?) Is against big government, George Soros, “career thugs.” He names others, Dems and Republicans, calls them “useful idiots.” Don’t call this the Daley Plaza, but Chicago’s Civic Plaza! Fiery! Runs vs. the “Obama way.”
Next three speakers, younger guys, are relatively soft-spoken, following the fire-eaters. But the core 75 or so listeners in front pay attention. One speaks for home-schooling, is off and on quickly. Another pulls out a guitar and sings a “freedom song.” Shades of 60s rallies again.
Lucy Weir, “here as a mom from the Southwest Side,” sees big government as “a big dog” running toward her kids, whom she wants to protect. “The American dream is on life support.” Abigail Adams — the nation’s first Second Lady and second First Lady — is her heroine, like Weir a “mom” and “a working mother.”
Shaun Kranish promotes the right to carry guns, “an American right,” especially in Illinois and Wisconsin. Says “most street officers” support it. “We must depend on ourselves to protect ourselves.” This summer Mayor Daley “will have a stroke” when the Supreme Court knocks down the Chicago law. Gun control “is not about guns, they want to control you.” Shows holster in which he legally carried his 40-calibre pistol recently in Wisconsin. Like Carl Segvich and others before him, he calls Mayor Daley out. Catherina urges all to join NRA.
Lionel Garcia, Tea Party candidate for state rep in 6th district, Political Action Committee Chair at Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Cook County, Republican committeeman for 16th Ward. Tea Partiers are “old, angry, white?” he asks. Look at him, he says, angry but neither old nor white. “Cook County is not a lost cause.”
Rose Hamilton, Mexican-American from Edgewater, grew up on Taylor Street. 69 years old, is for legal immigration, not amnesty.
Dick Walsh, founder-director of Americans for Life, says State Sen. Bill Brady, Republican candidate for governor, “our hope for Illinois,” called to say he couldn’t make it. White-haired, lean, Walsh is in full cry, sparing not his throat.
Cedra Crenshaw, of Bolingbrook, “Illinois’s Sarah Palin,” was trying to get enough signatures to run as a Republican for state senator, 43rd district, against Dem Arthur Wilhelmi. She reads a good speech, quickly and well, but it’s a lot to absorb this day at Daley Plaza. Started her involvement by attending and reporting on school board meetings. She’s for school vouchers. Wants forensic audit before any more taxes. “One mom taking on the machine.”
An accountant. “Do we need more lawyers or more accountants in public office?” A good line. On her Twitter page, she asks, “Are you [black readers] as outraged [as I] about the fact that black offenders get other black kids hooked on drugs? Stop blaming the white man.” Looking good to this West Suburbanite.
David Smith, Illinois Family Institute, a Christian. Crowd is considerably thinner, down to half what it was. He elicits from its fringe the day’s only heckling. Brief flurry. The guy gives it up.
Carol Ann Parisi, from NW suburban Palatine, quotes Reagan saying we have a rendezvous with destiny (! FDR said it first) but gets Emund Burke right, about evil succeeding when good men do nothing.
Mary Ann Hackett of Catholic Citizens of Illinois: Obama’s executive order saying no health care bill money to be used for abortion is “nothing but a piece of paper.” Expect this: “unborn babies used for spare parts.” Asks, “We will now pay for women to kill their own children?” Asks about conscientious objection to contributing services to abortion, as by nurse or physician. Cites $7 billion in the bill for community health centers as expected provider of abortions, thanks to prominence of Planned Parenthood in the Obama government, foresees school-based clinics distributing condoms in the schools.
Catherina does her last two intro’s:
* Barbara Ballard, emphasis on last syllable, a physician, retired Army officer who teaches at DePaul and Benedictine universities, an ex-nun, running vs. state rep. Kevin Joyce, 35th District (father of five, coaches football at St. Xavier U.), whom Catherina calls “worse than Pelosi.” He is son of South Side politico Jeremiah Joyce, who C. says “owns Daley.”
Ballard tells Gov. Quinn, “Open the books,” demanding a forensic audit, as has been done in Kansas and Texas. “Ring the bell for Ballard and you will be served!” she concludes.
* Elgin Franklin, black guy, running for U.S. senate, who spoke only briefly.
Cedra did submit 2100 signatures in time to meet the deadline. 1000 were needed for the State Senate requirements. She could still be challenged, but it appears right now that she will be on the November ballot.