In yesterday’s post, we described the Tea Party “movement,” which isn’t a movement at all, but rather a disparate collection of angry folks who are disturbed by the economic plight of the country and the size of the government. It can best be described as an astroturf movement that has been manipulated by a few billionaires and large corporations.
As one astute writer for the Guardian wrote: [Here]
The Tea Party movement is remarkable in two respects. It is one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has ever seen. And it is the biggest astroturf operation in history.
Astroturf events are those that are manipulated to look as if they are spontaneously inspired, created and organized at the grassroots level, but in reality are manipulated from above and out of sight by elite, special interests. The tragedy about the current tea partyers is that they are being run and funded by the very folks that they are denouncing or, as the Guardian writer put it,: [Here]
It [The Tea Party] is mostly composed of passionate, well-meaning people who think they are fighting elite power, unaware that they have been organised by the very interests they believe they are confronting.
The main puppeteers in this election are large corporations and the Koch brothers who own and operate a HUGE privately held enterprise called Koch Industries which makes $100 billion a year in oil refineries, coal, chemical plants and logging. The brothers control, own, and direct their business and are both worth $21 billion. David Koch coyly described Koch Industries as “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” And that’s just the way they want it. [Here]
Before father Fred died (1967), he wrote his will in such a way that the estate could avoid large estate taxes by mandating large annual charity contributions. Thus, over time the Koch brothers became adept at the charity giving-and-getting influence game. The brothers have given huge amounts to public charities, such as the opera and medical research, particulary cancer research. (David has prostate cancer which is in remission, but when it comes out of remission, he hopes one of the institutions that he has funded will have had a breakthrough and will give him more years on this earth. Ah, it's nice to be rich, isn't it?)
Father Fred was a founder of the John Birch Society, the rightwing group that imagined Communists lurking everywhere. The extreme conservative philosophy continues today with the Koch brothers’ lavish funding of rightwing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. They have also created the Cato Institute which is devoted to espousing libertarian and neoliberal economic points of view. The Koch brothers also fund the Mercatus Center at George Mason University which is now a center for espousing Friedman’s economic theories, a role that the Economics Department at the University of Chicago once filled.
Two groups that the Kochs have funded in this current election cycle are Americans For Prosperity and Freedom Works. They have the organizational ideas and the resources and the money to pull the strings of the tea partyers. These organizations are the puppet masters, but the Koch brothers pay their salaries.
The names of these organizations are all so innocuous, aren’t they? And they all sound alike--Americans For Prosperity, Freedom Works, Tea-Party Express, Tea Party Patriots.
And what is all this sound and fury about? Make no mistake. The Koch brothers want a Milton Friedman-styled, free-market American economy and in order to achieve it, there would have to be: Privatization (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Public Education, etc.) Deregulation( Environmental standards, SEC, etc.) and Government downsizing (no Dept of Ed., etc.) In effect, let the markets prevail with no regulations or trade barriers. Throw out the protections citizens have fought for and won in a saner climate with a saner Congress and a more forceful WH. and a less ideological SCOTUS.
We have just seen what one SCOTUS decision (Citizens United v. FEC) can do. With unlimited anonymous funding (the Kochs and corporations) and complicit media outlets (FOX and News Corp), the only thing that stands in the way of a neo-liberal grasp of power in this country is an intelligent, alert and knowledgeable citizenry who can smell skunks in the bushes and snakes in the grass.
We’ll know more on Tuesday....