General Question

SeventhSense's avatar

Who is really behind the Tea Party?

Asked by SeventhSense (18904points) August 23rd, 2010

The basis of the tea party as a grassroots organization of disgruntled citizens seems to be accepted among the general population. Catchwords such as socialist to describe our president have become second nature. Yet who is backing these and other anti government, anti environment, anti regulation and anti health care initiatives with tens of millions in lobbying and obfuscation?

This month’s New Yorker did a nice expose on one such source of funding: the Koch brothers. The two collectively are the third richest individuals in the nation and Koch Industries is the second largest corporation in the country. They have donated millions in philanthropy and that can’t be dismissed but their efforts to support the “libertarian” cause and consistently undermine scientific fact that does not support their industry aims is staggering. It’s a fascinating article and quite captivating in exposing what may be the real face of this “grassroots movement” on the right.

P.S.- My latest avatar notwithstanding, I have never been a member of the Communist party or any rebel faction in the Latin American jungle.
I will admit though Che is the t-shirt king with Tony Montana a close second.

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41 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

it may be that no one really knows. Someone lit a little fire and the little followers are doing all the dirty work for them. The only thing the TP agrees with me is the complete unfettered access to any firearm I want. After that they are full of crap.

Nullo's avatar

Nobody is ‘behind’ the Tea Party. It has financial supporters, certainly: nothing moves without money, and people want movement. But that’s far from the same thing.

Ivan's avatar

Fox News?

SeventhSense's avatar

The tea party it has been clearly demonstrated is not a grassroots movement not unlike global warming ignorance. These are sophisticated efforts from industry lobbyists.

Please read the article before commenting people or at least skim through the first few and last few pages.

Cruiser's avatar

@SeventhSense I got a much different feel for what you just pointed out in that they are strongly poised against lobbyist and special interests as are most Libertarians and Tea Partiers…

“Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.”

SeventhSense's avatar

Ironic isn’t it that their support is directly influenced by money which dictates the course of their agenda?

jrpowell's avatar

Where were these people when BUSH rolled out TARP?

All the sudden they care about the deficit? Something doesn’t add up. Oh… The president is black. That makes sense.

woodcutter's avatar

i don’t think the fact that The pres is black has anything to do with it. That is a cop out

DeanV's avatar

@johnpowell Don’t forget he is also Muslim and born in Kenya.

Kraigmo's avatar

There are 2 types of tea parties:

1. The Republican Shills: They are fed up with illegal immigration because their radio or TV told them to be. They feel the Republican Party alone isn’t fighting this issue hard enough, thus they need to be bolstered by the Tea Party. They favor strict social controls as well as strict immigration policies. They generally favored the Iraq War (since they think it has to do with ‘security’), but they are distrustful of the banker bailouts.

2. The Anti-New-World-Order Libertarians: They are fed up with globalization, as well as immigrant welfare and corporate welfare. They are sick of both major parties, and they want a reduction of government globally, nationally, and locally. They generally were against the War in Iraq and against the bailouts of the bankers.

Though I think the Tea Parties are based on cartoonish twists of legitimate concerns… I would certainly trust the 2nd type far more than the 1st type.

SeventhSense's avatar

Kind of like this huh? Sounds like a wonderful world where the rich kill us:
From the article that I wish someone would read:

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

Read more

zenvelo's avatar

Rick Santelli started it with his rant on CNBC. FOX promptly ran with it, sponsoring “spontaneous” rallies. Palin/Bachman and friends found a convenient way to be in the spotlight and get airtime. And people like the Kochs found a “grassroots” movement to fund.

Ron_C's avatar

I notice that the tea party people want less government except for the part where they benefit. Like the senior citizens picketing to keep the Government away from my Medicare.

The Koch brothers want to get rid if the part of government that regulates their pollution and particularly seem interested in making sure that money isn’t “wasted on the poor”. Like good old Reagan said, “not having things is what being poor is all about” and the Tea Party people want the make sure that all of the government resources go to the rich white guys. There isn’t much difference between them and the rest of the neo-conservatives.

Free wheeling business and banking practices are the cause of our loss of industry and financial crisis. There is no place in hell bad enough for those people to be sent.

ETpro's avatar

@zenvelo Has a good point. Who knows who may have put Santelli up to it, or if it was just genuine rage boiling over. The Great Recession has created more than its share of national angst. But there is no dount who was poised and ready to pounce the moment Santelli’s rant got the ball rolling. Rupert Murdoch put Fox News and all his vast Media empire to work covering it almost nonstop as a “news” event, promoting each new rally to turn out ever larger crowds. Former Republican Congressman and House Majority Dick Army, now turned lobbyist, put his PR Firm, FreedomWorks to work providing buses, signs, publicity and organizing events.

FreedomWorks does not disclose who funds it, but it is VERY well healed, and it is an easy guess that its support of tax cuts for the richest Americans and deregulation of pollution generating industries makes it a darling of Koch Industries, big oil, and billionaires who are convinced that the poor and middle class are getting way too much of the money that they ought to have for themselves.

Some of the original Tea Party activists have actually noticed this move toward astroturfing and taken exception to it. But the enormous reach of News Corp, the RNC, and the vast right-wing echo chamber will find plenty of willing replacements. It’s all astroturfing, as the link @jaytkay so amply documents.

Ron_C's avatar

Another thing, the Tea Party movement is a grand misdirection worthy of a great magician. While claiming that there is a left wing conspiracy, they are perpetrating a grand ultra-right wing scam. They actually convinced ordinary citizens that they should protect ultra polluting industries, the military industrial complex, and the prison industrial complex while blaming immigrants and liberals.

The scheme is as brilliant as it is evil.

Cruiser's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t think it is ironic at all in fact I think all of them Tea Partiers, Libs and including the millions of unemployed are motivated by the sudden lack of money in their wallets and that is what is driving a lot of the new political blood not some pure-bread philanthropist.

Ron_C's avatar

@Cruiser you are correct in that there is a rage against government and especially big international industry. Unfortunately the forces of the right and international industry co opted that rage and is using it in their favor. If people were really smart, they would be supporting progressives and liberals who have been working to correct the mistakes, and down right dishonesty of the previous administrations since Reagan. Unfortunately, people are not smart and they can no longer receive a decent free education because the schools were one of the first institutions attacked by the right. What do you think voucher programs and the undermining of public education are all about. An ignorant populace is easily mislead.

Cruiser's avatar

@Ron_C I kinda agree with you but you can’t have your cake and eat it too like the Dem and Rep both do! Corporatocracy infects both parties to the hilt and the Kock brothers could very well be the gift horse of the Libertarian/Tea partiers but that initself doesn’t make it any less right or more wrong than either other party!!! Politics is infested to the rafters with greed and corruption plain and simple!! Until there is a top to bottom campaign reform, the blowhard with the loudest bullhorn and trumped up headlines will always win. We the people don’t matter and haven’t for a long long time.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser Hear! Hear! on the threat of Corporatocracy. They just have SOOOOO much money to buy politicians with. In 2009, Washington lobbyists alone devoted $1.4 billion to buying America. That works out to $1.3 million for every hour Congress was in session.

This is probably drifting off topic, and we might want to start a different thread to delve into it in more depth. But it is a real problem. Lots of Americans are aware something is terribly wrong. Some of the Tea Party rage is inspired by that. But not enough have yet figured out what the real problem is. The Media and the Parties are largely being used today to keep us artificially at each others throats over phony issues of left hates right while the man behind the curtain is siphoning off the wealth of this nation into a few very fat bank accounts.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro What fewer people realize is that these big corporations feather their nests by supporting both Dem and Rep candidates and quite heavily at that!

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser Of course they do. Currently they pour more to the Republicans thant to the Democrats. They were not thrilled with the limits on credit card abuses that Obama passed, for instance. No longer can they hit you with penalties over and over again for the same single mistake. No longer can they jack up interest with no explanation or warning. But both parties have been corrupted almost beyond repair by money. I’d like to figure out what we do to take our country back and restore the American Dream.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro To me it really comes down to limits on how much money they can not only accept for their campaigns but accept from anyone source. To many favors come with these donations and if we take the politicians off the hook from having to repay these expensive debts I feel it could make a difference. After all the all do it so why not take the money and run with it. Take away the excessive money amounts involved and maybe just maybe we could have an honest election on merits alone! I know I am a dreamer but something needs to be done.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser Unfortunately, while the Constitution is perfectly up to limiting money in politics, our current Supreme Court is not interested in what the constitution says of in hundreds of years of judicial precedent. Instead, what the Corporations want, they get.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s get back to the topic at hand, folks. While this campaign reform discussion is great, please take it to an appropriate thread. Thanks!

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro & @ETpro now that the campaign limits are off for corporate sponsors, I suspect that the Tea Party, Democrats, and Republicans will have different messages but the same ultimate end, complete control over government, media, and the working environment. To me, the Tea Party marks the official end of independent thinking and the end of any real democracy that survived WW2.

There is no longer any right or wrong except what our corporate leaders deem. Ironically, the demise of America hasn’t been a communist take over, or collapse because of moral decay, we were just purchased by the highest bidder. We didn’t even get the money, the bidders just paid themselves.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I get perplexed when I see this supreme court decision trumpeted like is a death sentence for free thinking of the common man?? I mean corporations make profits not unlimited profits and certainly are not going to put money behind wild eyed political concepts and like we have already covered often hedge their bets play both sides of the fence. That being said this supreme court lifting limits on corporations using their money to further a cause as a good thing that any corporation can do not just right leaning institutions.

Cruiser's avatar

@laureth What you should have posted was a link to this page and note who this K street Lobbyist represents. Does Karl Koch ring any bells?

Either way…it is a sinister element of our political system and I will say it again and often that “K” street needs to be bulldozed and made into a park with a pretty fountain.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser I am not the least concerned with corporations putting up money for loony-tunes policy initiatives. The ones that have the financial clout to actually influence nationwide political outcomes are the only ones who will change much of anything. So ask yourself, what would likely be on their wish list. Certainly, it is going to be things that will make them more profitable. An end to any restrictions on monopoly would be one such initiative. Getting rid of minnimum wage and worker protection laws would boost profits. Eliminating all regulation and safety inspection would boost profits. Being able to carry on price fixing legally would be very handy. An end to organized labor of any kind. No right to strike. The list is pretty frightening.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I hear what you are saying from the goodness of your heart…but we as in the US of A has to face the facts. What worked in years past will not fly anymore. The US has given away it’s kingpin status in the world and lacks the clout and backing to dictate to the world economy what is best for it. Yes it does come down to profits which are vital to the “survival” of our largest source of domestic employment.

What enabled the banks and automakers to not only survive this last economic catastrophe but even pay back the bailout moneys that kept them afloat?? They cut expenses to the bone and I mean to the bone! One of the best things I have seen this administration do was to tell the big three automakers to turn around and to go back home and leave their private Leer jets behind and then come back to discuss Government support for their survival.

I don’t see any corporation looking for elimination of safety standards or worker protection laws to make more profits, but I do see them doing what needs to get done and some of it ain’t pretty and is downright brutal in some forms but it HAS to be done for these companies to survive. Just like my business has had to do and any other business that still has employees and eeking out meager profits.

What I don’t see is Government…ALL forms of Government making the same sacrifices you, I and yes these profit seeking corporations have had to do to survive. It is complete and utter bullshit piled high to the rafters that my state has not been doing and that our Federal Government is doing the complete opposite of what we have had to do and that is sacrifice like no one has ever sacrificed before. And what you now have is a recipe for an epic and emotional push-back the likes this country has never seen before.

Yes corporations need to make a profit in order to be able to hire more people and jobs is what we want am I right? So until our Government, State Government, all Governments wake up and begins to make the drastic changes and necessary concessions and cuts that will give big and small corporations the breathing room they need to make these profits they need we will continue to languish in economic hell or worse for a long time to come.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser I own a small business, so I am definitely not anti business, I definitely understand that I must be profitable to remain in business and employ anyone, and I understanding cost cutting to do that. The world’s largest multinational corporations can do all that without buying elections and turning America into a corporatocracy. In fact, America’s top corporations are now sitting on trillions of dollars in cash reserves.

As a businessman, I also understand that if you are the CEO of a large, publicly traded company, you live or die by the quarterly profit report. If you can increase profits every single quarter by supporting legislation that cuts your costs, and you do not do it, you will be fired and a CEO will be put in your place who will do that. Morality, safety, fair competition; none of those things mean a whit unless ignoring them costs the corporation so much it hurts profits. And so, with the right to influence elections, top CEOs will—in fact them must—exercise that right.

You say, “I don’t see any corporation looking for elimination of safety standards or worker protection laws to make more profits” and that may be true. Perhaps you need to look. Koch Industries and its owners, the Koch brothers have given many millions to block safety regulations, soften standards, eliminate environmental regulations on mountain top removal mining and the dumping of tailing piles into streams and rivers; and funding phony science denying climate change. Koch Ind. is one of the nation’s largest corporations. I could list plenty of other offenders, but you get the picture.

Kraigmo's avatar

@SeventhSense , I was talking more about the participants of the Tea Parties than the funders. And as for the Koch Brothers…. like some libertarians, they are actually social conservatives who use libertarianism as convenient excuse for their personal business they are engaged in and as a philosophical cover for their greed. I think they were major supporters of George Bush for awhile, where they not? That makes their libertarianism very piecemeal and hypocritical. Not that I even agree with Ayn Rand-style libertarian philosophy. But at least most libertarians are far more honest than most Republicans. But the Koch Brothers are far more authoritarian than libertarian. Which makes them basically Republicans. Their laissez-faire beliefs as stated in the New Yorker article notwithstanding.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I have watched corporations from the sidelines for years struggle to stay competitive over all the overseas competition that has the blessings of our government to sell their slave labor goods here in the US. All I see and I am am not blinded by any political party ideals here and I simply see corporations fighting the very bureaucracy that has removed the level playing field that is needed for US corporations to be competitive.

So I see nothing sinister over them supporting legislation that will level the playing field and offer at least a chance to US corps to compete with foreign monster conglomerates of equal and often larger sizes that do not have all these min. wage, health benefit, organized labor add on’s to carry. Yes these corporatocracies may support legislation that appears selfish and self serving but what it really means is US jobs on US soil or these corporations will pick-up and move to more hospitable and competitive climes. The loss of US businesses and jobs to unfair foreign competition is what has been bleeding this country dry and has to stop NOW if our economy is ever going to becomes strong and robust again.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser What you see with jobs flying offshore breaks my heart too. But it is not an accident of stupid government. It is the result of a move to make the USA a corporatocracy. Corporatocracies aren’t set up to help small businesses like yours and mine. They work against us, instead setting up a playing field designed only for the biggest players. Exxon-Mobil is the world’s largest corporation and in 2009 was also its most profitable. That year, Exxon paid NO taxes in the US. But little guys like us are stuck paying the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world while we have to compete with companies that pay none. We can’t afford to put our profit center somewhere like the Grand Cayman Islands and run all our earnings through there. And we small businesses are the engine that spawns nearly 90% of America’s new jobs.

If corporations are allowed to use their money to shape legislation in their favor, we already know what they will do. Little companies won’t influence the legislation because it’s a VERY high stakes game, and we can’t even sit down at the table. The big boys only will shape rules that best suit them.

We already had that happen at the end of the 1800s and up until 1929, so we know what they will do. They formed monopolies, drove the little guys out of any niche they wanted for themselves, hired private security firms like Pinkerton to beat and even lynch workers who tried to organize or ask for safer working conditions. They got rid of any controls over the safety of the products they produced. They got the top tax rate massively slashed for the richest Americans. And they gambled with incredible leverages in the same game of Casino Capitalism we’ve just seen play out again in the Great Recession of 2007–10.

The result was that before the Great Depression hit in 1929, what little middle class America had developed earlier in the 1800s was gone. The wealthiest 1% held nearly ½ of all the wealth of the nation. And that led to the bottom dropping out. Their greed had killed the goose that had been laying their golden eggs. And they will do it again if we’re stupid enough not to learn the lessons of history and stop them.

SeventhSense's avatar

I love the astroturfing. Great term.
I don’t see any corporation looking for elimination of safety standards or worker protection laws to make more profits,...
Perhaps not “directly” to raise the ire of OSHA but can you honestly say that corporations such as Dow Chemical with Substandard overseas lack of oversight are any less unconscionable? Or how about BP who may have barely come within the letter of the law but still failed miserably in assuring the safety of its operations fail safe? Or how about Koch (again for anyone who actually reads the article) who,

In 1999, a jury found Koch Industries guilty of negligence and malice in the deaths of two Texas teen-agers in an explosion that resulted from a leaky underground butane pipeline. (In 2001, the company paid an undisclosed settlement.) And in the final months of the Clinton Presidency the Justice Department levelled a ninety-seven-count indictment against the company, for covering up the discharge of ninety-one tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company was liable for three hundred and fifty million dollars in fines, and four Koch employees faced up to thirty-five years in prison. The Koch Petroleum Group eventually pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of covering up environmental violations, including the falsification of documents, and paid a twenty-million-dollar fine. David Uhlmann, a career prosecutor who, at the time, headed the environmental-crimes section at the Justice Department, described the suit as “one of the most significant cases ever brought under the Clean Air Act.” He added, “Environmental crimes are almost always motivated by economics and arrogance, and in the Koch case there was a healthy dose of both.”

Read more

And why is the basis for survival of an American Corporation always the lowering of standards, the export of labor overseas to “benefit” the American company and the elimination of jobs. Perhaps more importantly than compete for the lowest common denominator we compete for the greatest value. American companies such as the big three were not created solely as a measure of massive productivity and cheap labor and goods but also quality. Countries such as Germany who still have high standards are quite successful in their business models. The goal for America should not be to compete with the substandard but to raise the standard and become a benchmark once again.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro I completely agree. Someone told me that he didn’t see the problem with corporations spending as much as they please on election campaigns. I quote. ”
after-all, corporations are just people, they won’t waste their money and they want the same things we do”. I was amazed, this guy was completely brainwashed.

Now I see where the neocons and tea party people find their consistent 20%. The twenty percenters aren’t necessarily stupid (although that does help) but somehow came completely under campaign and advertising slogans.

How can you oppose self imposed ignorance?

DocteurAville's avatar

I suspect it has to do that they don’t like Obama. Would that be because he is black? I understand people are freaking out as the economy collapses. They seem to forget that all our problem today come out of the Bush administration. Where were they when Bush was getting us in this hole? I guess they didn’t show up much as the effects of that disastrous administration were not showing. We learned that only few weeks before the end of their term… I find it curious that no one talked much about crisis or the swelling deficit as it was unfolding.

The whole thing could be a repuplican job. You just need to have some folks out instigating racist and bigoted views. Misinformation serves them.

Another thing is, Sarah is out there helping them up. As far as I can tell, she is a repuplican.

boxer3's avatar

It’s pretty terrifying how much “control” and influence two individuals appear to have.
Money can do wonders…..Elite look out for the Elite…..

I found this interesting:

“The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights(p4)” I would like to know their rational linked with this.

also :

When President Obama, in a 2008 speech, described the science on global warming as “beyond dispute,” the Cato Institute took out a full-page ad in the Times to contradict him. Cato’s resident scholars have relentlessly criticized political attempts to stop global warming as expensive, ineffective, and unnecessary. Ed Crane, the Cato Institute’s founder and president, told me that “global-warming theories give the government more control of the economy.(p6)”

Maybe they’ll drown first when the glaciers continue to melt.

SeventhSense's avatar

This is the type of corporatism that is most dangerous and that which also gives many large corporations who actually are responsible a bad name. In their arena, objective fact is only true unless it can’t be spun. Yet another reason why it is so vital that we have transparency and openness at all levels of society. If for nothing else than to avoid the perversion of truth.

Nullo's avatar

Lizard men, obviously.

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