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WASHINGTON — Thousands of patriots traveled from up and down the coast and even the Midwest – on short notice and in the middle of the work week – to come to the nation's Capitol to attend a pair of tea-party rallies and make their voices heard.
They also came to hear a roster of conservative politicians and well-known figures including Glenn Beck, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., as well as Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Steve King, R-Iowa, Dave Camp, R-Mich., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz.
Two topics dominated the day: investigating the IRS and stopping amnesty. But there was one theme: Take back America.
The rally that began at 9 a.m. on the lawn in back of the Capitol was organized by King and billed as a "press conference" on amnesty.
The speakers at that event then moved to the lawn in front of the Capitol at noon for the "Audit the IRS" rally organized by the Tea Party Patriots.
Sen. Cruz garnered big cheers when he said, "I'm confused. The New York Times told me the tea party is dead. The IRS told me the tea party is dead."
Turning serious, he said what the IRS did was an outrage, adding, "The Obama administration has a pattern of abusing power and covering it up. President Obama needs to tell the truth."
"The best solution? We need to abolish the IRS," concluded Cruz.
Cruz asked "what on earth" was the head of the IRS doing when he visited the White House 157 times? "We haven't had 157 Easter Egg Rolls," referring to former IRS Director Douglas Shulman's explanation before a congressional committee.
"We still don't know which individuals were targeted" by the IRS, said Cruz.
So he has set up an email address for people to contact if they believe they were targeted.
That address is: IRSTarget@Cruz.Senate.gov.
Glenn Beck's address to the crowd was as much sermon as political speech, with as many mentions of God as the Founding Fathers.
And he came to proclaim a gospel of optimism in hard times.
"The good guys always win in the end," preached Beck.
Proclaim liberty throughout the land, do your best, he said, and the "rest is in the hands of God."
Beck drew much applause when he announced, "I still believe in truth, justice and the American way."
When he asked if America is still worth defending, the crowd erupted in a chant of "USA, USA!"
But Beck admonished them it is easy to chant "USA" but far more difficult to defend its principles.
Noting the greatest generation has almost passed, he asked, "What will be said about us? Will we defend the ideas that made the nation great?"
"Our forefathers came here not for free stuff but for freedom," he dryly observed.
Invoking the name of Martin Luther King early and often, Beck said the reverend didn't get his inspiration from Ghandi or Enlightenment philosophers or liberal thinkers.
“What they all did was not progressive or new; it was ancient,” he said. “Hollywood, Woodstock and the hippie culture was not the source of the power of the 1960s civil rights movement; it was God and God alone.
“It was God that led those men and women risking their lives over that bridge in Selma, Ala. — not Janis Joplin, not Columbia University, and it sure the hell wasn’t a labor union," Beck preached.
“It wasn’t John Lennon that taught people about peace and peaceful resistance – that job fell on the shoulders of the a Jewish carpenter a long time ago.”
Beck said the government is no longer the one protecting our rights, it is the one threatening them, and "those are exactly the same abuses MLK marched against and our Founding Fathers fought against."
The talk-show host had some advice for those looking for local leaders and finding none. MLK didn't seek permits to right wrongs, he "got off his butt and marched," advised Beck. If you look around and don't see a leader, maybe you should become one, he suggested.
Beck also accused America's political leaders of becoming drunk with power.
"I actually like Vegas better than Washington," he said, drawing big laughs.
"At least Vegas has the decency to admit its full of crooks and hookers," he cracked, prompting even bigger laughs.
Turning his ire from the politicians to their messengers, Beck had tough words for the mainstream media.
"Let me tell the media something. You shield the powerful," he said. "What you are doing is no more than public relations."
Beck maintained he is not violent and insisted he is not anti-government, but, "we will not be silent one day more. We belong to God. And I have a feeling he will not be silent much longer."
"I answer to only one king, and His will be done. There is no such thing as social justice, only God can balance things out," said Beck, explaining how he sees politics in relation to religion.
And then he issued a call to arms, saying, "MLK's time has passed. This is our time. Lock arms. Stare down the bullies with the armor of God."
Sen. Paul picked up that theme, saying, "We're sick and tired of government bullies and we need to send them home. We didn't attack them, they attacked us."
Event organizer and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin warned that America's leaders have developed a lust for power and authority, saying, "They've transformed the IRS, an agency most people fear to death, into a weapon against us because we wanted a better America."
"Our government is too big and powerful," she charged.
Rep. Camp, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means and is investigating the IRS abuses, promised, "We will get to the truth and we will hold those responsible accountable."
"The IRS audited me one too many years in a row," said Rep. King. "And I thought, I'd like to get rid of the IRS. I don't need them looking through my books. I don't need them telling my pastor or my priest what he's going to be able to preach from the pulpit. In fact, it's not even the government's business how much money you make. That's a part of freedom."
Rep. Salmon cracked up the crowd by taking a picture "to prove them wrong" when the mainstream media reports "only 12 people and a three-legged dog showed up."
He also quoted John Wayne as saying,"Life is tough, but it's a lot tougher if you're stupid." That, Salmon said, is why we should abolish the IRS.
Salmon also said the "IRS must not be investigated by Eric Holder," and he called for an independent counsel.
Referring to the conservatives' attempt to stop an amnesty provision, Rep. Gohmert pointed out gridlock isn't a bad thing when you are trying to stop a bad law.
Our Founding Fathers "believed gridlock is a good thing," he observed.
Gohmert said they wanted to make it tough to pass laws because they knew more government meant less freedom.
Rep. Jordan joked, "Maybe the FBI (director) would know who is leading their IRS investigation if they spent less time investigating the death of Jimmy Hoffa."
That was a reference to testimony last week by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who, as WND reported, told Jordan he didn't know who was leading the IRS investigation.
Jordan couldn't believe his ears, asking, “You do not know who is the lead investigator on the most important issue before the nation?”
Rep. Graves was short but sweet, getting right to the point: "We will throw the IRS overboard like a box of British tea."
Rep. Bachmann explained her former career by saying she became an IRS tax lawyer because the best way to defeat the enemy is from the inside out.
Rep. Kelly used a story to illustrate his point, remembering he once asked his father how he got through all those battles and hardships in World War II.
His father looked at him with disbelief and simply said, "It wasn't optional."
Kelly said that's the same situation Americans face in taking back their government and their country.
Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center had a message for the Obama administration: "It's time to tell the nation's top cop it's time to go."
He began a chant of "Fire Eric Holder!"
Bozell also had advice for conservatives on how to handle the mainstream media.
"Give them a big kiss and tell them, 'Do your damn job!"
The crowd then spontaneously turned to the row of about cameras about 50 feet from the stage and began chanting, "Do your job!"
It wouldn't be the last time they did that, on this day.
Darla Dawald of the Grassfire/Patriot Action Network got straight to the point, telling the crowd, "Get out there and take back our country."
"If you want the yahoos out," get the voters to come to the polls because "all politics is local," she added.
The crowd then began chanting, "Abolish the IRS!"
Becky Gerritson, president and founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party in Alabama, shot to YouTube and talk-radio fame when she testified before the House Ways and Means Committee June 4 and delivered a scathing indictment of the IRS:
“We aren’t here as serfs or vassals. We’re not begging our lords for mercy. We are born free American citizens and we’re telling our government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for our well being and monitor our speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. The post that you occupy exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty and you have faltered.”
At Wednesday's rally, she was just as poignant but much more succinct, suggesting simply, "Defund the IRS, lock the door and turn out the lights."
She said after her testimony she received thousands of emails, including some from Democrats, saying they were shocked and upset by what she experienced.
Gerritson summarized the tea party's fight versus the government with a comparison to "Lord of the Rings," saying its "the shire versus Mordor."
An attention-grabbing moment occurred halfway through Cruz' speech. Organizers began playing music through the loudspeakers over his voice, as they had done to some previous speakers to keep their remarks brief.
But, instead of speaking louder and faster like those who preceded them, Cruz had the cool presence of mind to do just the opposite.
He stopped speaking completely and just smiled.
He was on a roll and had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and he knew it.
By doing nothing, Cruz seized control of the situation, calmly and confidently, and let the crowd do his work for him.
They cheered and cheered until the music stopped.
Then Cruz, with dignity intact, simply said "God bless you" and picked up where he left off and spoke until he had had his say.