Tea Party: A Phony Movement Mantled as Legitimate

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

9.12_tea_party_in_DCIn August 2011 I wrote a guest blog titled: Tea Party and the Myth of a Grassroots Movement”.  Using various newspaper and internet sources I showed that the meme created about the “Tea Party” that it was a “grassroots uprising” of ordinary citizens to take back their country from the out of control liberals, was simply not true. The “Tea Party” is a movement fabricated by certain plutocratic corporate interests to maintain themselves as relatively tax free and maintain control over the fiscal state of our country. I’m revisiting it today because of the guest blog I’ve just submitted about CNN and the rest of the news media, in light of a post by Al Gore at Huffington Post, publicizing his new book which deals with the back-story of the creation of the “Tea Party” and its negative influence upon our country. Some of Al Gores’ evidence and that forming the basis of my original guest blog overlap, but the important difference is he’s Al Gore, former Vice President and a centrist. I on the other hand am merely an aging ex-hippy, who remains a political radical. The truth of the “Tea Party’s” inception is not hidden from view and the facts are blatantly out there. What is important though is that the cable news media, press and the Washington punditry continue to describe the “Tea Party” in terms of its meme and myth as a grassroots entity and thus are complacent in a deception of the American people.

Daily we see stories about these “Tea Party” legislators elected to office on all levels of our government. They are falsely portrayed as populists, who are “fed up” and ran for office to “change things” and return to our Constitution. Large percentages of “Tea Party people in polls still believe that Barack Obama was born in Africa and is a Muslim intent on destroying Christianity and America. They see him as a communist, socialist and fascist simultaneously intent on dismantling our capitalist way of life and crushing American exceptionalism. I understand that one can be a reasonable person an oppose Barack Obama’s activity as President. I oppose some of his positions strongly and I voted for him. However, if you believe the “birthers” and those who call him radical names, then I must say in my opinion you are delusional. He is a slightly right of center Democrat, hawkish on foreign policy and deferential to the Corporate Plutocracy. He may be a Constitutional Scholar, but he certainly hasn’t done enough to protect our Constitutional Freedoms. Yet we see this ultra right wing faction of the Republican Party thinking Obama as the anti-Christ and believing they are part of a spontaneous revolution performed in the interests of “protecting” America. Here’s why that isn’t true.

“A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health reveals that the Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests.”

So begins Al Gore’s article in Huffington Post yesterday. The article is titled: “False Spontaneity of the Tea Party”. Mr. Gore goes on to explain that the two organizations mentioned in the report:

“….Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, used to be a single organization that was founded by the Koch brothers and heavily financed by the tobacco industry. These organizations began planning the Tea Party Movement over ten years ago to promote a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products.

The disturbing history of links between market fundamentalists, the tobacco industry and the Tea Party movement is part of an even larger trend that I describe in my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Following the era of Progressive and New Deal reforms that restrained corporate influence in American politics following the infamous Robber Baron Era, market fundamentalists were once again motivated and radicalized by the social turbulence of the 1960s. In 1971, a prominent lawyer for the tobacco industry, Lewis Powell, wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that presented a comprehensive plan aimed at shifting the balance of political power in favor of corporations. President Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court just two months later.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-gore/tea-party-koch-brothers-big-tobacco_b_2689380.html

These same two organizations were also dealt with extensively in my guest blog of August 2011, because their establishment and ongoing work directly led to the “Tea Party” movement by the simple fact that they created it.http://jonathanturley.org/2011/08/02/tea-party-and-the-myth-of-a-grassroots-movement/#more-38049 The information missing about these organizations at the time was just how closely they were connected to tobacco and fossil fuel. Gore goes on:

“Guided by the Powell Memo, market fundamentalists have pursued a comprehensive strategy to dramatically increase corporate influence in American politics. Powell himself worked with other pro-corporate justices to interpret laws in ways that were favorable to corporate interests, most importantly expanding the precedent of corporate personhood. As a direct result, corporate lobbying exploded, increasing from $100 million in 1975 to $3.5 billion in 2010. Corporations also used increasingly voluminous campaign contributions to promote the election of pro-corporate politicians at all levels of government. Wealthy donors founded conservative think tanks to influence public opinion in favor of market fundamentalism. The Tea Party is a clear extension of Powell’s strategy to promote corporate profit at the expense of the public good.”

We see that there has been an obvious, ongoing strategy on the part of Corporate interests to expand their power through the funding of “front movements” disguising themselves as protectors of the rights of the American people. Gore concludes:

“Our democracy has been hacked by this expansion of corporate power, preventing meaningful action on several crucial issues. The climate crisis is an instructive example. The strategic goal of the market fundamentalists to “reposition global warming as theory not fact” has created enough false doubt around the issue to hinder progress. The potential consequences of climate change have never been clearer than they are today. Consider what we saw in America just last year. 2012 was the hottest year in American history and 60% of America experienced drought. Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, caused over $110 billion of damages. Yet Congress remains paralyzed, with many lawmakers even refusing to acknowledge the validity of climate science. The future of our planet demands that we put the sustainability of our planet before corporate profit.”

I must admit that I have been somewhat disappointed by Al Gore since the 2000 election where I thought he didn’t fight hard enough to win the Presidency in light of the Bush team’s shenanigans of cutting off a recount in Florida. His reluctance to take the battle to Congress did great harm to our Constitution. When he came out with his book on climate change and its’ movie, I began to warm to him again. However, since I’m not a fan of the policies of the Clinton Administration, of which Gore was such a prominent role-player, I see him as the kind of Centrist Democrat that has been too easy a “mark” for the forces of Corporate Plutocracy. I must say though that I will look forward to this book he is  publicizing, simply because perhaps even the Centrists are finally beginning to see the threat that this Corporate Plutocracy has upon our Constitution and upon this country’s values.

To get back to where I began this piece the corporate media and its’ pundits have empowered the “Tea Party” by ignoring its roots. While given the fact that so much of the real causes of this country’s current dysfunction comes from the lack of honest journalism, this is not much of a surprise. I can remember a time when I looked to the media to provide an understanding of national and international issues, that time is long past. The only hope that we have as citizens to oppose the complete control of Corporate Plutocracy, known historically as feudalism, is from information derived from the currently independent sources on the internet. If those are blocked, as we’ve seen in places like China, then what hope will we have?

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

This link will take to to the article used by Al Gore: http://bit.ly/WrwSzA

93 thoughts on “Tea Party: A Phony Movement Mantled as Legitimate”

  1. “Blouise1, February 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm
    Tony C.,
    There are so many factors playing into the Revolution that are answered or challenged by the decision to scrap the…….”


    And to generalize, I’ve wondered at times why we feel that we can state facts, etc. , discuss etc. and then feel that we have covered any subject.
    Is it hubris, nonsensical efforts, etc.? Yes, both I feel.

    Back to the discussion.

  2. Paul,

    Do you really want to know where the power came from. Up to a certain date, all extensions of Federal power had to be made through amendments to the Constitution. Too slow, said some. And the they found the key which opened the flood gates. The taxation right. If the law is in some way connected to taxation then it can required registration, regulation etc.
    The simplified version.

    And remember, you can’t reverse history. Not even revolutions suffice. See our revolution, hów has it gone with it?
    Read more?


    Read it. Compelling. Difficult for me to rebut or even agree. You?

    I hope MikeS will take his time to look at it at his convenience


    “Bron1, February 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm
    Mike Spindell:
    I dont think the TParty is over quite yet. We will see in 2014……..”

    From there on you sound like a pamphlet Or a smart parrot. Or a teabagger! Now which is worse?

    You are not worth rebutting, but a little snark can be excreted for you.
    Eat it and be content.

  4. idealist707 1, February 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    You could have saved that bottle of beer. Our host system does it all the time. But I am not blaming it for MY faults in posting on wrong threads.

    I found out for sure when Mike, up-thread, said:


    I goofed up in the publishing of both. The CNN piece was to precede the Tea Party piece. I’m working to correct it…….oopsie.

    As you indicated, it was not a feature, it was an oopsie …

  5. Tony C.,

    There are so many factors playing into the Revolution that are answered or challenged by the decision to scrap the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (the document that gave legitimacy for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War) and move to the Constitution a mere 12 years later.

    Too many factors to introduce, explain, and then discuss here before debating mistakes within the final document. Understanding the whys and wherefores is critical to moving forward with possible changes and amendments. No need to reinvent the wheel if all that needs fixing is a bent or broken spoke or two or three.

    For instance, the bit you mentioned about “male honor” as a perceived brake on corruption by the people who wrote the Constitution is just popular propaganda introduced by historians during a particular scholarly romantic fad phase … like the George Washington/cherry tree myth.

    These guys were cold, hard planters, land speculators, slave owners, lawyers, ship builders, smugglers, Indian fighters, etc. Some were very well educated but none of them would have honestly expected something from someone else that they themselves did not possess … like honor.

    No, the mistakes stemmed from thoughts and ideas far more gritty than male honor.

    The book is 700 and some pages but well worth the read.

  6. Fleisher, anon and other lovers of RWA crap.

    40 per cent of all people are authoritarians. ie they believe in whatever an authority says and always condemn victims, saying it is their fault it they got hurt.

    Now there are many names for a rose but they all stink plutocracy. They have different flavors, pitched by advertizing knowledge to fix different tastes.

    But they are all the same corporate BS.


  7. Crashing the Tea Party
    Published: August 16, 2011

    Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously — isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant.

    Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

    What’s more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

    So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

    More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

  8. Remember the WWW address designation? Now only http is required, and that is not obligatory with most surf programs.

    WWW, the largest blow to American plutocrats since FDR. A paradigm shift for us all. Followed naturally by a phone in your pocket which accesses and uses the WEB. Wonder if W3 is still alive and functioning.

    http? hypertext transport protocol. And Tim Berners-Lee did it. I think he knew what he was creating.

    All off the top of my pointy head.

  9. R’Chard,

    You all will keep the Web, its proper name, as long as you can keep Congress at bay. They have a new bill in the works after Aaron defeated the preceding one. to castrate us all as to the Web being available to the world. With a law in their pockets we know what happens next. The whole world kowtows and does likewise.

    The internet was just that, developed by Darpa to ease the works of fed contractors, it also became at first a playground for nerds, and it was not unti Tim Bernards-Lee used hypertext and other tools to create what we use today. It would have remained a tool for the Fed contractors. Tim was an Englishman working at CERN. He gave it to the world, no licensing etc.

    Now the Web, as we once called it, connects us all and serves both us and commercialism. We can assume that commerce on the net will survive, but probably we won’t.

  10. Dredd,
    You could have saved that bottle of beer. Our host system does it all the time. But I am not blaming it for MY faults in posting on wrong threads.

  11. This place seems warm so I’ll lay my egg here. Hi y’all.
    I have only read the blog by MikeS.

    Agree with MIkeS and Al Gore.

    But my issue is with pols as thieves, bribe takers, spokesmen for one
    doctrine, and takers of campaign bribes to lead the way in a contrary direction.

    My example: Senator Jay Rockefeller, D, of West Virginia and number 2 Dem after Feinstein. A long career in W.VA starting ideally with Vista. led through many steps to power. His name and ev. money did not hurt.


    Look at his life and particularly his Senate career. His “position” on torture versus the bill he sponsored giving clearance to the torturers.

    Excuse a small criticism: Classing a pol as centrist or other LvR designation is doubtful. Until you can show me an honest pol, independent of bribes, pork delivery, etc. then I regard them ALL as traitors to the Constitution and the nation which is founded on it.

    My link hops into the middle of the Wiki article. But take it from the beginning.

    Now back to corporate control of politics and the false fronts they create, in this case the Tea Party.

  12. Jim M. 1, February 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    As lawyers, we are required to deal in hard facts. When I see an article published via Jonathan Turley that builds a case using premises from Al Gore and biased media sources to butress a conclusion, I know it is time to unsuscribe.

    The study was published in a peer reviewed journal, Tobacco Control, which Al Gore had merely read and commented on.

    If you are so prejudiced that you reject scientific studies because you don’t like someone who quoted from the scientific study, then you are likely to become or remain ignorant of a lot of things.

    The study indicated:

    Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party has developed over time, in part through decades of work by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests. It is important for tobacco control advocates in the USA and internationally, to anticipate and counter Tea Party opposition to tobacco control policies and ensure that policymakers, the media and the public understand the longstanding connection between the tobacco industry, the Tea Party and its associated organisations.

    (Journal: Tobacco Control). If you were not so blindingly prejudiced, you could also learn that the exact same mechanism evolved the climate change deniers.

    They are likewise ideologically hypnotized by the behind-the-scenes deceitful players:

    [video index: "GW" means "global warming"]

    29:30 – Marshall Institute
    30:30 – Marshall Institute formed to support Reagan SDI (star wars)
    32:50 – Marshall Institute “cigarettes not related to cancer”.
    36:50 – Marshall Institute does GW denial campaign.
    42:54 – Marshall member Seitz worked for big tobacco.
    47:20 – Singer of Marshall Institute politically attacks GW.
    53:35 – Cigarette smoking is ok rhetoric applied to GW science.

    (The Exceptional American Denial). The Marshall institute was the lap dog of the tobacco industry before it failed in the tobacco deceit wars, then it began to work for Oil-Qaeda to deceive as many as possible about climate change.

    These tobacco/oil people are mass murderers who deceive others as a matter of course, and they have obviously deceived you too.

    You have un-subscribed from reality as a result.

  13. Tony C:

    if you look on the Declaration and Constitution as documents protecting the rights of individuals and take “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the operational principle and use that to inform your interpretation, there isnt really much conflict.

  14. mIKE Spindell:

    Might I also recommend a book about Cornelius Vanderbilt titled “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt”?

    Quite good and a very interesting look at the start of capitalism in this country. It was very egalitarian back then and Vanderbilt fought hard against the existing “patriarchy” of the wealthy, landed gentry who received monopoly rights from the government. In fact he was a party to Gibbons v. Ogden which broke government issued monopolies to favored patricians.

    What we have now is similar to the system we had when Vanderbilt started out. A few wealthy families [corporations now] who received huge largess from the federal government.

    1. “What we have now is similar to the system we had when Vanderbilt started out. A few wealthy families [corporations now] who received huge largess from the federal government.”


      I’ll check the book out. As per your quote, yes capitalism can be a worthwhile system as long as there are built in strong restraints against the wealthiest gaming the system. This has always been the problem, which has been conflated with the belief that not everyone should pay their fair share for the environment that a government creates. Corporations are not “people” and free speech has nothing to do with money.

  15. Blouise: I read the review. What is in the book that you think supports the idea that the Founders made errors in the Constitution?

    IMO, the founders depended too heavily on their “male honor” culture as the brake on corruption. Solemn oaths, embarrassment and self-restraint (often informed by the fear of supernatural reprisal) were their ‘solution.’ (Perhaps combined with the idea that one could be challenged to a duel to the death over any serious violation of one’s promises and duties).

    Add to that their acceptance of ambiguous language or justifications, which we still argue about (like what counts as Interstate ‘commerce’).

    I believe it is one of Adams letters that posits the restraint on the elected Congressman is that eventually he must return to his farm and community and live amongst them. Well, not if never really owned anything before gaining office and then mysteriously becomes a deca-millionaire while in office, he doesn’t (e.g, Harry Reid).

  16. Mike,
    Stop bringing those fact thingees into the discussion! The Tea Party was and is a grass roots movement. Who cares if it was funded by billionaires!

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