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. Bron,

      You were right about that second Lofgren article, I found it both breathtaking and scary considering his ease in expressing what I’ve been trying to say for years. My hats of to him and to you for linking it.

  1. Working Man: Very good. I have a minor point of disagreement with Lofgren, in that I think his assumption that the Democrats are helpless is flawed. I think the Democratic ineffectiveness is calculated; that they are content to let the Republicans do the heavy lifting on the evil component, while they shout and stamp their feet for the cameras, but ultimately do nothing. I do not think Obama ‘caved’ to big Insurance and big Pharma, I think he negotiated with them and got what he wanted in return for what they wanted: No public option, and no end to profits.

    1. “I do not think Obama ‘caved’ to big Insurance and big Pharma, I think he negotiated with them and got what he wanted in return for what they wanted: No public option, and no end to profits.”

      Tony C.,

      I think the records from that time pretty much back your statement up.

  2. Bron: Do I have a right to my life?

    Not unconditionally. You have no absolute right to your life. Look around you, people are jailed for life, people are put to death. Even in Vietnam, American citizens were coerced into military service and forced to fight and die or be put to death for treason, refusing orders, or desertion.

    Your right to life is a conditional guarantee of society; that if you obey their laws then they will provide deterrents to criminals that would take your life. Police, law enforcement, imprisonment, and punishment are those deterrents, which we provide collectively to all persons.

    That should answer your question: Your right to life is obviously subordinate to society, because they can strip you of your right to life. Particularly if you commit crimes, but even without that. Drafted Vietnam era soldiers were not guilty of any crimes, yet were forced into a military whose commanders could choose to expend their lives to accomplish their military objectives.

    Is that not clear to you?

  3. Tony C. 1, February 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    … Your rights mean nothing if nobody is obligated to protect them or obligated to respect them. That protection, in modern society (versus ancient tribal society) means taxation and obligations to the state that can be compelled. You do not get rights without being subordinate to the state. Any idea that rights exist independent of a society that is obligated to protect them is pointless philosophical drivel. A society is not just a collection of individuals, it is a collection of individuals bound by obligation to protect each other and respond with force to the rights violations of their members, even if the violation is irreversible (murder, arson, rape, etc) and even if they must risk their own life to respond.

    Which means your rights represent an obligation of everybody else, and in turn to be fair you are obligated TO everybody else. All for one, and one for all.
    ====================================
    As Idealist707 indicated, very well said.

  4. TonyC,

    As I have today mentioned to Dredd, my medical issues take up all my energy such that I do not read as carefully as I would like to do.
    I’m gonna lurk more instead.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  5. Bron: We dont give up liberties,

    You still have it completely backwards. Liberties and Rights are not the same thing. A Right is a protection and a promise of retaliation for those that violate it, and you will have NO rights without a society behind you to keep that promise. Liberty is something else; you can have liberty without having any rights because you can wander a wilderness alone without any protections from other humans, if you are killed, robbed or raped then nobody will retaliate against your aggressors for that action. There are several places on this planet where you can still go it alone.

    Also, the point is not to eliminate the emotion from dispensing justice; that is just a side benefit. The point is that government, by representing all of the people, represents the maximum force we can muster to stand against a criminal.

    Finally, you prove you have it backwards; you never had a “right” to be judge, jury and executioner if there was no society to defend it. Without a government you have the liberty to be judge, jury and executioner, and that is the liberty you give up by joining a society where government monopolizes that function. (That isn’t true of all governments, even ours: we still have provisions in which citizens can justifiably use lethal force to prevent an assault on another person, for example.)

    You surrender certain Liberties as a member of a society, and in return you gain certain Rights (promises by society.)

  6. Idealist: The distinction I was making is that in early tribal societies without money, our societal obligations were met more physically, for example by joining together to punish a thief, or being obligated to fight battles to protect the village against predation. In modern society, we do not meet our obligations by joining a posse, we pay taxes that hire professionals to do our soldiering and to investigate crimes, apprehend criminals and mete out punishment.

  7. tony c:

    we give government some power to protect us and to dispense justice without the emotion that would come if we did it ourselves. We dont give up liberties, we give up the right to be judge, jury and executioner.

    Government should only get the minimum power necessary to protect individual rights and no more. We have far exceeded that point.

  8. Worth repeating many many times.

    “Your rights mean nothing if nobody is obligated to protect them or obligated to respect them. That protection, in modern society (versus ancient tribal society) means taxation and obligations to the state that can be compelled. You do not get rights without being subordinate to the state. Any idea that rights exist independent of a society that is obligated to protect them is pointless philosophical drivel. A society is not just a collection of individuals, it is a collection of individuals bound by obligation to protect each other and respond with force to the rights violations of their members, even if the violation is irreversible (murder, arson, rape, etc) and even if they must risk their own life to respond.

    Which means your rights represent an obligation of everybody else, and in turn to be fair you are obligated TO everybody else. All for one, and one for all.====================TonyC.

    I have descríbed this otherwise and was not congruent withTonyC.
    Now I am. I would only demure and say that even tribes had/have their internal person to person duties to support a set of obligations.

  9. Bron: To elaborate, if nobody is obligated to protect the rights of anybody else, then “rights” are superfluous. If Alice is defrauded by Bob, Alice can just murder Bob. Bob’s “right to life” is meaningless if nobody is obligated to retaliate against Alice for Bob’s murder.

    On the other hand, suppose Alice is assaulted by Bob attempting to rape her. We might say she is justified in killing Bob by self defense, and her own right to life and her own body. But so what? If nobody is obligated to protect Alice from being murdered in retaliation by Bob’s brother Charlie, and nobody is obligated to punish Charlie should he murder Alice, then Alice’s self-defense justification is toothless, it means nothing to anybody but her own conscience and perhaps the regard of her friends. But that doesn’t give Charlie any reason to not act against her.

    A “right” to life, liberty, property, speech, privacy or anything else is either meaningless or toothless if the violations of an individual’s right does not result in an obligatory response that carries a significant risk of punishment by the rest of society, without discrimination based on wealth, ability to pay, stature, or how widely liked or despised the victim may be. Without that human interactions are just gang vs. gang, Hatfields ambushing McCoys, warlords vs. warlords without any rules except survival of the most cunning, ruthless and lethal.

  10. Bron: People enter into society to protect their rights not to subordinate them to the state.

    It is impossible to do one without doing the other. Your rights mean nothing if nobody is obligated to protect them or obligated to respect them. That protection, in modern society (versus ancient tribal society) means taxation and obligations to the state that can be compelled. You do not get rights without being subordinate to the state. Any idea that rights exist independent of a society that is obligated to protect them is pointless philosophical drivel. A society is not just a collection of individuals, it is a collection of individuals bound by obligation to protect each other and respond with force to the rights violations of their members, even if the violation is irreversible (murder, arson, rape, etc) and even if they must risk their own life to respond.

    Which means your rights represent an obligation of everybody else, and in turn to be fair you are obligated TO everybody else. All for one, and one for all.

  11. The religious right-wing is dominated by religious conservatives and controlled by corporate interests who often have great disdain for the beliefs of those who vote their way.

  12. With respect to any Pee Party guy, ask this and look at their stated politics: Would they have been with King George or with George Washington at the time of Valley Forge. You know that most of them would be with King George and drinking wine with the Redcoats in Philly when our Patriots were out there in the winter at Valley Forge. And they have the gall to employ the terms Tea Party. Yeah, London Tea Party.

  13. Excuse me, I have to comment on this one: “I was shocked to learn from you that I am being manipulated and a dupe; I thought that I came by my beliefs through thinking and reasoning.”

    Well manipulating and duping people would hardly be worth it if they were not given to concluding that they came up with their attitudes by thinking and reasoning, would it? Do we see any of these snake oil pols going around saying, “Now dearie, you get all scared for nothing so I can make money off your ignorant behind, OK?” No indeed. We see them saying: “Think for yourself, Mrs. America, and you will come to the conclusion that those liberals are stealing your bread and water and selling you down the river and they’re gonna let a horde of Mohammedan rapists grab your babies if you don’t vote Republican, so reason it out and give us the vote before your life is dismantled before your disbelieving eyes.”

  14. tony c:

    “I do not believe individuals have the right to pursue those objectives at the expense of, or in complete disregard of, the same rights as other people…”

    I dont either, if they did it would negate that whole individual rights thingy.

    But people have a right to grow a business or whatever pursuit they wish to do as long as no ones rights are violated.

    You are much too worried about society and not the individual.

    People enter into society to protect their rights not to subordinate them to the state.

  15. Bron: 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.

    I think you and I have very different interpretations as to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think those rights only exist within the confines of a collective society; I do not believe individuals have the right to pursue those objectives at the expense of, or in complete disregard of, the same rights as other people in the collective.

    That is because I do not believe “rights” have any real, pragmatic meaning absent a collective to provide the backbone for them. So, your rights to life or liberty or the pursuit of happiness are protected but subordinate to the collective. For example, we have a volunteer armed forces these days, but if nobody volunteers, the collective can, as it has in the past, conscript soldiers to fight to the death, under penalty of death should they refuse. Such soldiers have no “inherent” or “inalienable” right to life that is not subordinate to the collective, because the collective can choose to suspend it and alienate it should circumstances require that.

    To me, the only real rights we have are those our society chooses to protect by doing its best, at great expense, to find and punish those that violate them.

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