Actions In Congress
On Many Issues
Between 150 and 200 enthusiastic people -- many carrying signs -- attended a "Tea Party" rally at noon Thursday in front of the Greene County Courthouse.
Speakers affiliated with the Greeneville Tea Party Committee were careful to note that the event was non-partisan.
However, there were a number of comments critical of the policies of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
The majority of those present stayed when the event continued past the noon hour for another 30 minutes.
Most signs dealt with taxes. "End Obama's War on Prosperity," read one. "Read the Bill Before You Vote Me More New Taxes," said another.
The event featured three main speakers and a musical group. All were interrupted for applause and cheering.
The Rev. David Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, was applauded when he said, before his prayer, "I still believe America is a Christian nation."
Greeneville attorney Jeff Cobble talked about the U.S. Constitution and the limits on federal authority it set up.
Kyle Moore, husband of Leah Moore, one of the event's organizers and its emcee, read an essay by Rush Limbaugh Jr., father of the conservative radio talk-show host, on the risks that the Founding Fathers took in creating the United States of America, and the terrible price that many of them paid.
Walter Willis, a 20-year-old about to start college, not only led a very good band, "The Willi," in patriotic music, he also gave the stirring concluding remarks.
Willis said he was initially disappointed that the tea party was not scheduled for July 4, Independence Day, until he read a letter written by John Adams to his wife, Abigail.
In the letter, Adams told his wife that July 2 would no doubt long be celebrated because of the actions taken by members of Congress on that day. "So I'm proud to oblige Mr. Adams by celebrating America's founding today."
Willis said this country's founders "weren't perfect, but they knew how to do what's right."
The young man went on to say, "I find myself wondering how we have squandered" America's legacy. Some blame the current administration, "or the last one," Willis said, "But I have a theory that the real culprits are you and me," who have forgotten the sacrifices made in the country's past and "lost passion for truth and justice."
Americans know more about celebrities than their elected officials, he said, "and vote religiously on American Idol," but do not show up when local and state officials are chosen.
Later, U.S. Rep. Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, said Willis' comment was "right on," and pointed out that less than 10 percent of registered voters turned out for a recent contested election in Johnson City.
Willis said "this rally is a great place to start" the work that is needed to get the country back on track, but urged those present to remember, "This is not a sprint, it's a marathon."
He predicted "a long, uphill battle" to get the nation back to its first principles, "However, by the grace of God, we will."
He addded, "Let Greene County be the place where liberty is held dear," and where people begin to make sacrifices and take on seemingly impossible issues, so that their children and grandchildren will have a legacy.
Several elected officials were in the crowd, including Rep. Roe, state Sen. Steve Southerland, R-1st, of Morristown, and state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, but they did not speak and were not recognized by any of the speakers. Former Congressman David Davis of Johnson City was also present.
Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles welcomed
the crowd. Broyles noted that this country's founders "valued justice and freedom above all else."
He added, "That spirit still lives in the hearts and minds across America."
Broyles speculated that the crowd was present "for the same reason I'm here," because America is "following, I feel, the wrong path."
The mayor was applauded when he said, "We can -- together -- straighten it out."
Broyles then turned the microphone over to Leah Moore.
Moore said, "It's good to be in a country where we can come together" in a public place and air grievances. She was applauded when she added, "Never let (that right) be taken away from us."
Leah Moore noted that, when President Obama was interviewed on C-Span on May 23, he was asked, "At what point do we run out of money," in view of huge stimulus spending.
She said Obama answered, "Well, we're out of money now."
Moore noted that the first six months of this year has rolled up a projected $956 billion budget deficit that is estimated to reach $1.75 trillion by the end of the year.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Obama administration policies will cost $9.3 trillion over the next decade, which does not include costs for health care.
The federal government is now borrowing 46 cents of every dollar it spends from China and other foreign lenders, she said.
Those figures "are appalling at every level," she said, "so what I want to know is: why would anyone in this country not stand up and protest against that?" Applause followed.
Cobble spoke next. He reminded the crowd that the first tea party was also in response to taxation.
"We are in a terrible, terrible financial crisis," Cobble said, and "debt is not the only reason," citing "unfunded mandates" in Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare.
He was applauded when he said, "We must again regain control of our government," primarily the federal government, but also at every level.
Moore had noted that the rally was bipartisan, and Cobble said, "Those who know me" already know that he is as quick to criticize Republicans as Democrats.
Cobble said Article VI of the Constitution states that "this Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land," and pointed out that it does not say the federal courts will be the law, or make the law.
He noted that Article I, section 8, lists 19 powers that the federal government has, through Congress, and then read them. He noted that the list does not include the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, or Housing and Urban Development, or Social Security. Those areas are, or should be, Cobble said, reserved to the states, and the people.
"Congress has exceeded its authority," but that can change, he said. "There's an amendment process," he said, adding, "Those who make the laws are also bound by the laws," to considerable applause.
Leah Moore said she felt "compelled" to come back to the lectern to talk about the "cap and trade" bill passed last Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives. She said a 300-page amendment was added to the bill at 3 a.m., and approved, though few had read it.
Later, she returned to the microphone carrying the actual amendment, which she told The Greeneville Sun had been provided by Rep. Roe. The amendment was actually 743 pages, she told the crowd.
The Waxman-Markey Bill is "a tax, a big tax," on carbon dioxide, effectively taxing 90 percent of the energy used in the U.S., she said.
"We as humans emit carbon dioxide," she said, causing a man in the audience to shout, "And the trees love it."
For more information on the Greeneville Tea Party Committee, go to http://www.greenevilletn.net.