Saturday, March 6, 2010

The TEA Parties: A Mushroom Roots Movement

Eric Alterman at the Daily Beast has a story about a recently discovered PowerPoint created by the Republican Party which shows great disdain for their own members:

Well, this is something. Just when you thought politics could not possibly get any more cynical than phony accusations of “death panels” and “Tea Party” conventions that rip off crazy people with the promise of revolution, we discover that the Republican National Committee thinks its funders are so stupid that they can soak them the basis of “fear,” “socialism,” and tchotchkes.

No really. According to a document uncovered by Politico, RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart gave a presentation at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida, on February 18 in which he explained how “ego-driven” Republican donors could be bilked by a campaign of fear and the promise that only the Republicans could "save the country from trending toward socialism."

The document is breathtaking in the contempt demonstrated for Republican supporters, expecting them to insist that a president who, on the one hand, is accused by his own supporters as being overly cozy with Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry—to say nothing of his hawkish foreign policy—while he's also dubbed the second coming of Joe Stalin. "What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate...?" the memo asks. The answer is apparently a series of cartoons in which Obama is portrayed variously as The Joker, and “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.”
Illusory Tenant points us to a similar story at Politico which also points out the documented proof that the conservatives have only one play in their playbook, the old Fear and Schmear:

The most unusual section of the presentation is a set of six slides headed “RNC Marketing 101.” The presentation divides fundraising into two traditional categories, direct marketing and major donors, and lays out the details of how to approach each group.

The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.”

Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.”

Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”

The slide also allows that donors may have more honorable motives, including “Patriotic Duty.”

A major Republican donor described the state of the RNC’s relationship with major donors as “disastrous,” with veteran givers beginning to abandon the committee, which is becoming increasingly reliant on small donors.

Now I can just imagine my two or three readers who traditionally defend the teabaggers as saying that there is no connection between the Republicans and the conservatives who attend these rallies. I would beg to differ with that.

In both articles, they discuss things like the poster portraying President Obama as the Joker, fighting against socialism, etc. etc. yada yada yada. These are the same signs and posters one often sees at the TEA Parties.

But besides the uncovered plot by the conservatives, there are other reasons to be suspicious of these events.

Fred Dooley posted a video* on his website of the recently held Bonfire TEA Party in Franksville. In it, they would show the occasional clip of one of their guest rabble rousers intoning the usual rhetoric. But as you can see in this screencap, the event was at least partially sponsored by the ironically and inappropriately named Americans for Prosperity.

These are the same clowns that bring you the annual "Defenders of the American Dream" revival meeting. It is pretty common knowledge that the AFP was created and is sponsored by the co-owners of Koch Industries, a multibillion dollar company that is part of oil and chemical industries among many others. Koch Industries has a deep seated hatred for the government, probably due to some degree to the fact that they were slapped with hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments and fines for causing hundreds of oil spills, damaging the environment and not properly maintaining their oil pipelines, which led to an explosion which killed two teenagers.

The two brothers who co-own this company have such a love of money that they have even been accused of cheating their other two brothers when they bought them out.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put the pieces together and see that the whole TEA Party movement is a cynical attempt of the uber-rich to try to regain control of the government from the people. In their effort to do so, they are using all the tools at their disposal, like talk radio and these TEA Parties to play on people's fears, hatreds, and bigotries and plying them with misinformation and flat-out lies to help stoke the fires.

Between the Republican memo and the ultrarich big businesses that are behind the TEA Party movement, the one thing for certain is that these are not the grassroot movements they pretend to be. It would be more accurate to call them a mushroom root movement, since they apparently like to be kept in the dark and feed off of the manure that is being flung at them.

*Do pay attention to the video, and if you can stomach it, watch it all the way through. There are the Obama as the Joker signs, signs spelling tyranny at "tyrrany" and at the very end, the producer puts up his own graphics which reads, "Politicians, you have our we have your's?"


  1. Capper,

    Great use of guilt by association.

    Can't wait for your takedown of Obama over his ties to Bill Ayers & ACORN.

    Keep up the fight!

  2. The problem here isn't extremism. It's called politics. When Bush was in office, he was called the anti-Christ, Hitler, murderer, tyrant, and any other epithet that is used to defame a sitting president. What we have here is a short-term memory and an ignorance of what it feels like to be on the other side of defamation.

    Furthermore, tea parties aren't extreme. They are fiscal conservatives, who for the most part, have resisted the inclusion of social conservatives like the religious right. The liberal media has tried to link tea parties to bomb threats, shootings, and whatever else they can to stop a growing grassroots movement. Sure there are extreme elements in the tea party just like there are extreme elements of fiscal liberalism.

  3. No, Aaron, on the left, it was individuals expressing their dislike towards Bush, admittedly not always in the most appropriate manner.

    What we are seeing now is an organized movement duping its followers and secretly disparaging the ones that are trusting them.

    I know it is sometimes hard for people to accept the reality of a situation, especially if it makes them feel uncomfortable, but the evidence is there.

  4. I think the anger in the Tea Party movement is real, legitimate and founded major concerns over the direction Barack Obama and the Democrats are taking America. However, I will concede that Republicans and other interests are trying to hijack this movement and morph it into a movement that will serve its own purposes. I would caution politicians in both parties not to dismiss the anger. it is real.

  5. Then the anger is misdirected. They should be angry at the ones that created the problems, not the ones trying to fix them.

  6. Actually, I think it's directed at the right people. However, I think that Republicans should share in the blame for where we are as a country. Bush and the neo cons hijacked the Republican Party and turned it into something completely different. The national debt nearly doubled under Bush. Under Obama, we're on pace to double it again in 8 years. This country is going to hit a brick wall, soon. Another financial crisis is coming. The dollar is going to be devaluated and ultimately killed. Both parties are responsible for this. Republicans have engaged the Tea Party movement, but they're hoping their memories are short as they point fingers at a bigger boggy-man, Barack Obama. I for one am not buying it anymore. Both parties have completely failed America.

  7. I understand your points, but would add one. They should be mad at themselves for letting the parties get away with it for so long.

    But then again, the tea people are a bit hypocritical since many will say silly things like "leave my medicare alone". They want the bennies from the gov't, they just don't want to pay for them.

  8. Anon,

    I think you are right about the GOP trying to hijack the tea party, but the great thing about grass roots' movements is that they are separate from the "good ole boy" leadership that has permeated the GOP. GOP leaders are not safe. I've seen tea parties oppose GOP incumbents - it's happening right now in Texas.

    For that matter, I hope there is not marriage between the GOP and tea parties. Tea parties are about fiscal discipline, not foreign policy or domestic morality. They are powerful because fiscal restraint appeals to independents. Once they dabble in social conservatism, they will be a thing of the past.

    Just my two cents.