Having lived in what is commonly referred to as the DC Metro Area for a little over six years now, I’ve seen my share of protests. These events have ranged from the lone sign waving lunatic talking to himself about the Trilateral Commission to large throngs of protesters “marching” on Washington in the fine American tradition of petitioning their government for a redress of “grievances”.

I qualify the terms of “marching” and “grievances” because the vast majority of the protests I have seen in Washington have been manufactured. Some have been fairly large in the number of people attending. Still other have had more media people than protesters. Washington has a long history of being “marched on” by one group or another. In times past this usually required that a large throng of people would stop traffic, walk across the Memorial Bridge and up the National Mall before engaging in protesting activities in front of the Capitol Dome. It was generally accepted that the people in the assembled multitude had a general idea about the issues or policies they were demonstrating for or against.

This is no longer the case. These days, “protesters” are bussed by the thousands to within a few blocks of the Capitol at which time they disembark their air-conditioned buses and walk a few steps to the Capitol lawn where network cameras wait to record this “spontaneous” displays of public anger. Oft times the people making up the assembled multitude have little or no idea what they are protesting. They’ve been rounded up by “community organizers” and other organizations, paid a nominal fee, given a pre-printed sign, and told to make noise.

On one sultry, humid afternoon a few summers ago, business took me across the Potomac and into DC. Normally I avoid crossing that river if at all possible as I feel I lose IQ points every time I make the trip. Never the less, there I sat on a Capitol Hill cross street in the company Tahoe when I realized the tour bus in front of me was disgorging its passengers onto the street. Out they came with their pre-printed signs as “organizers” directed them to their pre-positioned protest locations. I didn’t stick around to watch the whole show. I drove my air-conditioned Tahoe over the curb – much to the chagrin of the global warming protestors – and headed back to friendlier territory. What I had just witnessed was an Astroturf protest – something made for media consumption. As it was about an issue the MSM cares deeply about and promotes relentlessly, the “event” was reported to be much more than it actually was.

That’s how “community organizers” stimulate the economy – one $20 bill at a time.

The MSM, Congressional democrats, and Team Obama are quick – too quick – in my view to dismiss the Tax Day Tea Parties as something manufactured by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and promoted by Fox News and Talk Radio. They would have you believe that a wide network of secretive Republicans in dark suits, red ties, and jack boots were deployed across the country with tour busses which trolled the suburbs and soccer fields in search of angry fed up taxpayers. These “operatives” then grabbed their targeted people, lured them into the bus with promises of tax cuts for the rich and a free steak dinner and then deposited them a few thousand at a time at strategic locations across the country.

Oh that the Republican political machine were that effective.

Over at 538, Nate Silver has done Yeoman’s work in figuring out just how many people took time out of their Wednesday to send a contrarian message Team Obama/Pelosi/Reid. Silver puts the number at 262,025. Jim Geraghty crunched some more numbers and came up with 337,682.

I really, really wish Republicans had an actual organization capable of organizing this kind of thing and pulling it off on a national scale. The fact of the matter is, they don’t. It’s not the way they roll.

Back in the days of the Old West, people would put their ear to a rail to determine if a train was approaching. Today, it’s much wiser to check the timetable, as a high speed train will decapitate you about the time you hear the rumbling. The democratic party establishment and their PR firm commonly referred to as the MSM will try – and fail – to dismiss the events of April 15th as little more than a right wing political stunt ginned up in the Fox News Channel’s green room. By the time they realize what they thought was Astroturf is actually real stuff, the train will have come and either passed them by or run them over.

I’m not ready to say that 2010 has all the precursors of 1994, but there is a rumbling out there in the distance.