“We have the building surrounded. Henry Kissinger, put down the baby and come out with your hands up!”

It’s conventional wisdom that one can find the intersection of wealth and power at the annual meetings of the Bilderberg group. But outside the Fairfax County Police Department’s barriers at the Chantilly Marriott on Saturday, the several-hundred-strong populist rabble gave voice to an unlikelier–or is it?–nexus, of conspiracy theorists, constitutional activists, and the Oath Keepers, and of citizen’s arrests, the Logan Act, and elites who eat gold-plated babies.

I would relate some of the weekend’s highlights, but Charlie Skelton of the Guardian has already done so in a series of pitchperfect blog posts. Skelton highlights the participatory vibe of the event (there must have been one camera for every three people), and the citizen-journalist culture it has engendered:

It’s a kind of live interactive news documentary history wildlife show, a roar of protest from the lion’s den, and everyone feels a part of it. The wall between people and events – that dusty old safety barrier between the news and its consumers – it’s tumbling down around Bilderberg.

This the working media. They’re out here, in the Virginia sun, working hard. Livestreaming, uploading, swapping data, checking audio feeds – in short, reporting the news. And why? Short answer: because CNN isn’t.

Regardless of their fringe views, I’m a big fan of this kind of thing. There was a sheepish kid walking around the protest distributing his homemade documentary about the decline of civil liberties and consolidation of executive power. “It’s about how we’re turning into fascism,” he said when I inquired about its contents, “I try to bring that out.” The vast majority of these people are kind, God-fearing Americans who just happen to believe the globalists have hijacked the government.

That’s not to say the rhetoric didn’t get pretty fierce. One fellow in a cut-off t-shirt railed at the cops through a bullhorn about how the streets would run with their blood if their scheme to take away the Second Amendment were ever fully attempted. But large numbers of ex-military folks, including the Oath Keepers, kept the protest relatively level-headed.

People were taking pictures of every car that entered and exited the compound, whose occupants will eventually be identified and their names posted online. That’s a public service, if you ask me. There are facts on Infowars you can’t get anywhere else, the problem is that there’s a lot of other stuff there too.

In contrast to Skelton’s sympathetic tone, The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein went to make them all look stupid. Weinstein is a solid journalist–despite his neoconservative foreign policy views–but this sort of thing only adds fuel to the populist fire, especially when establishment conservatives like Richard Perle and Peggy Noonan are in attendance just inside the gate.

That kind of connection is precisely how the psychology works for movements like this. I spent several hours playing the devil’s advocate and arguing in favor of the theory of the total ineptitude of government versus its unmitigated evil, but there’s really no convincing these people that there isn’t some secret society or cabal behind it. The absence of transparency becomes evidence of conspiracy. If the FCPD had just gotten out of the way, they probably would have stormed the hotel (peacefully) to make a few citizen’s arrests. What would they have found? Probably not Henry Kissinger eating a baby–he’s been dead for a while now–but David Frum’s portrait of Bildeberg-as-regional-sales-meeting definitely isn’t the whole picture either.

This video is priceless: