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Tax Day Tea Party

I attended the Chicago Tax Day Tea Party at the Dirksen Federal Building downtown today. Weather conditions were mild - cloudy skies, temperature 49F, light winds off Lake Michigan.

At the Dirksen Plaza, about 5,000 were in attendance (this from organizer John O'Hara, who was on MSNBC after the rally). Crowd was mostly white (did not notice persons of color). Age range included preschool and school-age children to people in their 60s. Most were in their 30s and 40s, and equal number of men and women were present.

Signage was colorful and mostly homemade. Slogans included the following:

- Socialism Trickle-Up Poverty
- Wasteful Spenders Cut Them Off
- President Obama Are You Listening?
- Repeal Federal Reserve Act
- Take My Liberty Give Me Debt
- Taxed Enough Already
- Big Government Big Taxes Big Mistake
- Freedom Is Not A Privilege It's A Right
- I Am John Galt
- Stop Spending My Child's Future (AmericanLiberationFront.com)
- Honk If I'm Paying Your Mortgage
- Leave Something For Our Troops to Come Home To
- Real Conservatives Don't Get Talking Points From Fox News (from group We Are Change Chicago)
- The Road To Hell Is Paved With Stimulus Packages
And two more signs with the Obama Campaign icon of a sunrise, but with dark clouds, lightning and rain falling on withered crops: Marxism Yes He Can, and Hope? Nope!
- Taxed America Is Really Pissed

Before the rally started music with tax and money themes played on loudspeakers: Beatles' "Taxman", Pink Floyd's "Money" and Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run".

The program began around noon. The most prominent speakers included WLS-AM radio's Roe Conn and Mancow Muller, and they spoke first. Conn praised parents who pulled their kids from school to attend the event. Muller praised the "working people" attending the rally, while bashing President Obama and those supporting him.

In between speakers people chanted "USA! USA!", "No More Taxes!", "We Must Lead!"

Other speakers were Joe Calomino for the Illinois office of Americans for Prosperity (AmericansforProsperity.org); Jonathan Koenig (The Capitalist Pig at Fox News); Lisa Rogan, freelance writer, self-described "classic liberal"; John Tillman (WeMustLead.com); Christina Rasmussen; Kevin Dijon, self-described "lifelong Democrat" from Cleveland; and rally organizer Eric Odom.

From the speakers: Criticism on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to raise state income taxes 50%. Alarms that Congress is planning to spend a reported $12.6 trillion on bailouts. Concerns that personal liberty is threatened (a big issue based on the signs present). Only Koenig called attention to the fact that the spending started under the Bush Administration, and that was greeted by some boos. And calls that the grassroots action present in today's rally must be continued the next day, next week, next month, and into the future.

Most interesting speaker: Dijon, who cited "The Simpsons" Monorail episode as an example of massive project funding that doesn't work. He cited sports stadiums and convention centers built with taxpayer funds that don't attract the revenue promised.

Missing from the rally who started the whole thing: CNBC's Rick Santelli. Santelli was invoked only once by speaker John Tillman, calling him an example of one person who can make a difference.

The rally ended at about 1:15 p.m. Another rally was scheduled from 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. today at Navy Pier.

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