Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
America's Tea Party Phenomenon
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, October 25, 2010
Tea Party.org calls itself "a grassroots movement (for making
Americans aware of) any issue that challenges the security, sovereignty, or
domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America.
From our founding, the Tea Party is the voice of the true owners of the
United States, WE THE PEOPLE."
More below about these PEOPLE, and
their deep-pocketed ability to manipulate minds effectively with
considerable right wing media support.
Another web site headlines
"Tea Party Patriots, Official Home of the American Tea Party Movement, A
community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect
our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!"
mission statement aims at "excessive government spending and taxation,"
stressing "three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally
Limited Government and Free Markets," largely veiled terms to mean whatever
its backers endorse, including incorrectly connecting tea to America's
Blaming taxation without representation and Britain's
1773 Tea Act as the cause is a red herring. It granted the East India
Company monopoly rights on colony tea imports at a lower than smuggled in
price, but retained an unpopular tax. Determined to prevent cargo
deliveries, Samuel Adams and others boarded three docked ships, dumping 342
chests of tea into Boston Harbor. In fact, it was symbolism only, nothing
else, unrelated to revolutionary furor over control of the nation's money.
In 1691, three years before the Bank of England's creation,
Massachusetts created its own paper money. Other colonies followed, called
scrip, backed by the full faith and credit of each state, enabling
inflation-free growth for 25 years without taxes - what could happen today
if freed from banker-controlled money.
It worked then by using money
to achieve growth, not issuing too much, and recycling it back to the states
in the form of principal and interest on government-issued loans.
However, colony-based British merchants and financiers objected to
Parliament. Enough so that in 1751, King George II banned new paper money
issuance to force colonists to borrow it from UK bankers. In addition, the
Bank of England got Parliament to pass a Currency Act, making it illegal for
colonies henceforth to issue their own. As a result, prosperity became
poverty because the money supply halved, leaving too little to pay for goods
According to Benjamin Franklin:
caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament" got
colonists angry enough to spark war. "The colonies would gladly have borne
the little tax on tea and other matters (if) England (hadn't taken their
money), which created unemployment and dissatisfaction."
adherents need a name change, instead of tea, a theme around controlling our
own money, as mandated by the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, saying
only "Congress shall have Power to coin Money, (and) regulate the Value
thereof," not bankers and complicit Fed officials they manipulate and
Promoted as grassroots activism, the party
gained national recognition in media-hyped mid-2009 congressional town hall
protests against Obamacare, banker and other bailouts, fiscal excess, and
bogus claims about Obama's socialist agenda.
Then last February,
its Nashville, TN national convention increased its prominence, highlighting
an agenda to shift America further to the right on the pretext of popular
opposition to big government and fiscal irresponsibility. As a result,
hardline extremists mostly attracted middle income Americans facing lost
jobs, homes, and economic uncertainty at a time they should have shifted
left, not right. Instead of blaming big government, a groundswell for
addressing popular needs should be demanded.
It didn't. Demagogues
took advantage and aroused millions, aided by daily Fox News support and its
lunatic fringe hosts. Among them, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and others rage
against big government, hyping an extremist agenda, spreading fear, and
growing ranks of adherents, largely mindless that their best interests are
compromised, not helped.
Deep Pocket Tea Party Backers
Sourcewatch.org tracked its funders, quoting an August 30, 2010 Jane Mayer
New Yorker article citing David and Charles Koch, billionaire owners of Koch
Industries, a privately owned energy conglomerate with interests in
manufacturing, ranching, finance, and numerous other ventures. In 2008,
Forbes called it America's second largest private company after Cargill with
annual revenues approaching $100 billion. According to Mayer:
anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political
triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to 'educate,' fund, and organize Tea
Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass
Conservative economist/historian Bruce Bartlett said
earlier libertarians were "all chiefs and no Indians." As a result, they
attracted few adherents. Tea Party furor changed things, letting "everyone
suddenly see that for the first time there are Indians out there - people
who can provide real ideological power," and with right-wing media-hyped
support, it resonates and grows. The Kochs took advantage, "shap(ing) and
control(ling) and channel(ling) the populist uprising into their own
According to Sourcewatch, Party strength also comes "from
millions of dollars from conservative foundations," funded by "wealthy US
families and their business interests." Most prominent are Americans for
Prosperity (AP) and FreedomWorks (FW - chaired by former Republican House
majority leader Dick Armey), promoting the same hard right agenda as Koch,
other backers, and Tea Party leaders.
In April 2009,
ThinkProgress.org said AP and FW were the principal Tea Party organizers,
describing them as "well-funded lobbyist-run think tanks," providing the
logistics and major efforts nationally. Media Matters said David Koch
co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), FreedomWorks' predecessor.
For its part, Koch Industries denies FW and Tea Party ties, saying only
that it "value(s) free speech and believe(s) it is good to have more
Americans engaged in key policy issues." Koch admitted it funds AFP.
The Fox Effect
Media power means everything, the best efforts
falling flat without it. Fox provides plenty, sustained from the outset by
its extremist faithful, featuring "frequently aired segments imploring its
audience to get involved with tea-party protests across the country,"
according to Media Matters' Karl Frisch.
Worse still, Fox hosts
Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, and perhaps
others participated live at various protests. Fox literally serves as the
movement's official mouthpiece, including at "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties,"
promoting tax cuts for the rich, masquerading as universal benefits.
Moreover, involved groups claim spontaneous activism for success, but
according to The Atlantic's Chris Good:
landscape (includes) three national-level conservative groups (running
things), all with slightly different agendas." They stress a "bottom-up
affair and that its grassroots cred is real....Conservative bloggers, talk
show hosts, and other media figures have attached themselves to the movement
in peripheral capacities."
Major publications also through
coverage. For example, The New York Times called it "a diffuse American
grass-roots group that taps into antigovernment sentiments," saying it
"burst onto the streets a year ago," belying its top-down control.
Covering its corporate-controlled February national convention, the
Washington Post said "millions of Americans (are) just like" attendees,
suggesting spontaneity about a well planned and organized movement.
On October 10, Washington Post writers Jon Cohen and Dan Balz headlined,
"Beyond the tea party: What Americans really think of government," saying:
The 2010 election's "overarching theme (is over) how big the government
should be and how far it should reach into people's lives....a nationwide
report card (barely gives Washington) passing grades....Today, more than
four in 10 people give the government a D or F."
"I think the less
the government governs us, the better we do," suggested mass numbers feel
like the "stay-at-home mother" quoted. She believes America is going
"socialist," when, in fact, it's swung sharpley to the right, Obama going
Bush one better, yet disguising it as populism, or a variant thereof.
However, credit perceptions, economic hard times, public angst, its
gullibility, big money support, and media hype for growing Tea Party
In a photo essay titled, "Signs of the Tea-Party Protests,"
Time magazine highlighted it, showing mass, sign-waving, Tea Party Express
"Some of the demonstrators came on their own,
but many were affiliated with or inspired by the Tea Party Express, a
cross-country tour that stopped in more than 30 cities, organizing rallies
in protest of 'out-of-control spending, bailouts and the growth in the size
and power of government.' "
Unexplained was a deep-pocketed, well
planned PR blitz, complete with mass media coverage, especially by Fox News.
Also, other events, including Americans for Prosperity's Hot Air Balloon
Tour, its Patients First Bus Tour, and the American Energy Alliance's
American Energy Express, as well as nationwide momentum-building rallies
ahead of the November election. Party backers hope key victories will
solidify a powerful political force, run top-down by and for elitists, not
deluded grassroots supporters, fooled again like so many previous times.
As a result, once again, expect November 2 voters to throw out the bums
for new ones. The cycle keeps repeating, "the bewildered herd" mindless that
they only have themselves to blame, getting the best democracy big money can
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive
Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at
noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.