Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful Blogging Challenge

Thankful Blogging Challenge

Day #1: People, places or things…what are you thankful for?

Things I am thankful for :
My Family~  Laurie, Lynell, Sheri and their Families who are my Families :D
My Friends and my Tribe ~
              What Blessing all of you are and you know who you are you sly minxes 
My Critturs~
              What unconditional love looks like

The Scenery~ I live in a Progressive State which hasn't succumbed -so far- to Theocratic or Oligarchic pandering, nor has entirely bowed to H$U$ prohibition.

Cool stuff like a roof that doesn't leak, and a pellet stove that warms the place up.
Down blankets.
Down pillows with Salvation Army stain pillow cases.
Chest freezers full of chicken for the Kidz

Sleepy Time tea with honey
Song Dogs and the Howlelujah Choir


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Makings of the Tea Party Movement

The Makings of the Tea Party Movement

When considering the Tea Party -where they started from, who they are, what they represent, the history behind the movement- I find myself in a garden of Dragon’s Teeth.  

Depending on where you look, which resource you investigate, how far back you go, and how invested you are in the ideology, the Tea Party can either be viewed as the ultimate guide to Citizen Grassroots Organizing, or the epitome of  Corporate shilling. There seem to be three major facets; the roots and the cause, what it could have been, and what it has become; and none of them are black and white. As are many things in life, It’s Complicated.

The Roots:

According to the Tea Party home site, the current Tea Party was created on September 2nd, 2004. However, a recent study has discovered documents from the Koch Brothers’ Citizens for a Sound Economy (or CSE- circa 1984–2004) verifying that the name “US Tea Party” was copyrighted in 2002. and was described at that time by CSE:  “In 2002, our U.S. Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online, and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated.”

More confusing yet, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Tea Party celebrated its’ 5th Anniversary on Feb 19th, 2014,  crediting Rick Santelli’s 2009 Chicago Mercantile Exchange speech (VIDEO) 
against President Obama’s Mortgage Relief Plan as the “spark of the tea party movement.”
 This 2009 Founding date is also cited by the Tea Party Patriots  who claim that “there is one Tea Party movement. Several organizations use the phrase “Tea Party” in their name. Tea Party Patriots is the largest grassroots organization and strives to be the best service provider for local groups. The strength of the tea party movement is the grassroots leaders, activists and organizations – Tea Party Patriots is dedicated to lifting up and strengthening the tea party movement at the grassroots level.” This inception date is also used by The Tea a division of Stop This Insanity, Inc.

Further, people who were actively involved in the Tea Party movement credit Glenn Beck as the originator of the “Modern Tea Party” with his “We Surround Them” broadcast (VIDEO) 
on Friday, March 13th, 2009, which itself was a by-product of his 9-12 Show. .

And then there is the Ron Paul connection. Ron Paul was elected as the first Chairman of the CSE in 1984. According to Ron Paul, the Tea Party began in 2007 at one of his Presidential Campaigns aboard a shrimp boat in Galveston, Texas, on Dec. 16, 2007.   Mr. Paul goes on to say that the Tea Party was taken over by the GOP and thus, its’ message diluted; “What happened after that was that a lot of people came onboard – including Republicans – who watered down some of the beliefs, and certainly changed the opinion of some on foreign policy so that the original Tea Party movement was taken over by the Republican Party, which I think was part of the problem.”

So we have inception dates of 2002 by the CSE; 2004 by the Tea; 2007 by Ron Paul; and several dates in 2009, including The Tea Party Patriots on Feb 19th via Santelli’s Chicago Mercantile speech, and March 13th via Glenn Beck’s show on that date. I discovered a timeline here archived on the Way Back Machine: which was quite informative.

Originally, from its’ self-proclaimed Populist roots, the Tea party was anti Big Business, and anti elitist but since its’ acceptance of funding and control by the Koch Brothers’ CSE,  Freedom Works organization  and other Dark Money organizations, that grand design has undergone a significant re-imaging. Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) was splintered into two Organizations in 2004: FreedomWorks as the Political organization and Americans for Prosperity. (AFP) as the Think Tank Foundation.  After all, Big Business has Big Money, and Free Market Capitalism and its’ funding is the bottom line on all things Political, even –and perhaps especially- grassroots anti-taxation groups. Consider the platform Rick Santelli used for his “average Americans” in his 2009 Mercantile Rant : Ultra-wealthy Wall Street investors who will be “marshalling derivative securities” in opposition to any assistance for those people who were fleeced by the same Wall Street Vulture Capitalists Santelli works for. So is this a Populist Movement? Or is this an Elitist Movement?

It may be helpful here to understand what Santelli was protesting against. Santelli was specifically objecting to President Obama’s Mortgage Plan or “Bail-Out Plan”. But this “Bail Out” Plan was actually TWO plans designed to rein in Mortgage companies and help Americans keep their homes, or leave their homes and avoid foreclosure, under the Umbrella of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,   and originally conceived during the Bush Administration. The two plans are: Making Homes Affordable and the Hope for Homeowners Refinancing Plan  which has been phasing out since June 2011, per its’ intended purpose. However, the ball got rolling under the Bush Administration. On June 17th, 2002, President GW Bush set a goal of increasing minority home owners by at least 5.5 million by 2010 through tax credits, subsidies and a Fannie Mae commitment of $440 billion to establish NeighborWorks AKA the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.  In October of 2004, the SEC effectively suspended net capital rule for five firms - Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley. Freed from government-imposed limits on the debt they can assume, they levered up to 20, 30 and even 40 to 1. In 2007, the Defenders of Freedom Tax Relief Act was presented. It was not passed under this name. Another aspect of the Bill was the TARP, or Troubled Asset Relief Program, also enacted under the Bush Administration  on October 3rd, 2008

As you can see, there seems to be no firm inception date, no specific trigger to light the flames of revolution, and the Tea Party seems to have been protesting against both Republican and Democratic programs equally. At this point, the Tea Party seems to embody Libertarian views. But wait! Does that hold true?

The Cause ~ The Recession and the Affects of Vulture Capitalism 

 So now we have seen how varied the inception dates for the Tea Party Movement are, and some of the social and political influences which have shaped it. Let’s explore the role of money and speculative real estate. 
Understanding the role which mortgage lenders and speculative financiers played in the Real Estate Bubble implosion of 2008 is important. It’s easy to say that unqualified potential home owners were at fault for buying a home they could not afford and expecting others to pick up the slack they could not carry. Your next-door-neighbor’s new mortgage which he used to buy a new car and add a new addition to his house while you struggled to keep your checkbook balanced puts an easy face to the blame. But the pressures which predatory lenders, brokerage firms, and mortgage companies heaped upon our less-fortunate yet still hopeful neighbors should not be glossed over. 
My friend Dianne worked as a courier during this time, from 2003 to 2013.
“Well I wish my memory was sharper. I don't remember the name of the mortgage company, nor the year, exactly. I did not see them, I overheard a conversation as I walked down a corridor towards their cubicles. It was a conversation between a young female and male. She said she was “thinking about their bonuses, and she wanted hers delivered in $1, in a dump truck, to fill up a swimming pool.. Then she would just swim in it”. When I walked in they seemed aware I might have heard and were a bit embarrassed. Like they knew their greed was obvious, and somehow wrong. Clearly the only goal of these people was profit for them.

Many times we would pick up packets, I am assuming they included home equity loan papers, for signature. We were to get a signed receipt of delivery. But the funny thing is many times people would not answer the door, even though they were clearly home. Would not answer the door and accept the paperwork. I can only assume they had been high pressured on the phone, but thought better of getting involved. So when we showed up they didn't answer the door. I don't know what we were delivering exactly, they were sealed envelopes.”

~personal correspondence from Dianne Woni Lea, Aug 2014

I, myself, have had some personal experience with this Housing Bubble, predatory lenders, and the ramifications of not knowing the correct questions to ask. I was very fortunate. I sold my house in San Diego in 2004, just after the peak of California Real Estate boom, but before the crash. My Grandmother had just died, and she was savvy about property and real estate, so when she died, I did not have her sage council available. I had to flail about the brambles of financing barefoot. I sold my home, and paid in cash for a new home in a new State. Then; perhaps foolishly, but in hindsight, perhaps not; I took out a small loan in order to build yards for my dogs.

The first lender I approached informed me that the lowest amount of a loan was $80,000.oo and that they could not approve the $30,000.oo loan I was inquiring about. The second lender was Countrywide Home Loans, a non-Better Business Bureau approved lender.  They did approve me for a $50,000.oo mortgage loan. Bank of America and its Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial units sold billions of dollars of mortgage securities backed by toxic loans and misrepresented the risks to investors. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Last month, Bank of America paid off $16.7 billion dollars in penalties in order to cease State and Federal probes in Countrywide’s involvement in the 2008 financial Crisis Countrywide tried to pressure me into an adjustable rate loan, calling three to four times weekly and on every visit to the lender for signatory signings, there was a huge push to try to talk me into this option. But because I just didn’t understand all the ramifications and have always been resistant to pressuring, I refused, and went with a fixed rate. Then, in 2008, Countrywide tripled my mortgage payments with no warning, and no reasoning. They claimed that I had refused to keep my Home Owner’s Insurance up-to-date, which was not true. Again, fortunately for me, I qualified for President Obama’s refinancing option, and I was able to save my home. I also qualified for President Bush’s NeighborWorks counseling program during this time. That program; while possibly helpful to some; was a huge waste of funding as well as a source of stress and heartache for me. Because I wasn’t upside down on my loan, my “counseling” included this advice: “Sell your home, get rid of your pets; they are too costly; and live in your old broken down Motor Home. You can use the money you get from the sale of your home to fix the coach. We can help you with selecting an agent.”  Shortly after I changed Mortgage companies, Countrywide was caught up in President Obama’s finance sweep of 2008.

So was this Mortgage Bail Out Plan to which many have attributed the rise of the Tea Party a terrible socialist plot designed to redistribute the wealth of America? Or was it a bi-partisan small step to control out-of-control Vulture Capitalists during a time of great financial crisis? Was the Tea Party a self-fertilizing grass roots Protest sprung full grown from the foreheads of concerned Americans? Or a meticulously designed Astroturfed political lobbying organization crafted by wealthy industrialists bent on plutocracy?

When I first embarked on research for this article, I knew it would be lengthy, I knew it would be complicated, and I thought it would be rather simple to explain once everything was laid down chronologically. How naïve. The more I dug, the more those dragon’s teeth produced warriors designed to obfuscate, complicate, and defy my efforts at simplifying.

What It Could Have Been~ the Tea party as seen by real citizens. What they did right, and how they missed the boat 

We have explored some of the basic issues of the Mortgage roots which are claimed to have been the trigger for the Tea Party in current understanding. What about the citizens who were involved in this 2009 inception? What drove them?
The Tea Party has been described by many as a grassroots movement to discuss effective ways to lower taxes and address the deficit. Regular citizens concerned about their tax increases and concerned that they were bearing the brunt of fiscal responsibility for others’ unsustainable desires to own property gathering together to discuss what could be done to begin to affect the change they believed was needful. This facet of the Tea Party was an assembly of like-minded neighbors meeting in their living rooms, and in the coffee shops nearby.  Engaged citizens looking for a way to not lose their homes and dreams, looking for a way to make our Government once again work for US, looking for a way to affect chance, gathered and discussed and engaged in the Political process. I think if the Tea Party had focused on this inclusive bipartisan platform rather than turning their attentions to highly partisan socio-religious issues, as well as championing Corporate “Rights” over Citizen Rights, that this movement could have been a force for positive forward advancement rather than the hugely divisive morass we see today.

 Jody Haynes PhD., a published molecular geneticist  also helped me understand more about what he believes the Tea Party offered:
In the spring of 2008, I started hearing about Glenn Beck’s “We Surround Them” media event, and I found a group here in Miami that was meeting to watch his live show and discuss politics with like-minded individuals. After that showing, I was hooked on the 9 Principles and 12 Values of Glenn’s 9-12 Project, which, collectively, were “designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created” (Glenn Beck, 2008). I created the “we-surround-them-miami” Yahoo e-group and began attending meetings of what was then an informal Tea Party. I participated in the Tax Day protest at the main post office here in Miami, waiving a sign that read “CHANGE: That’s All We’ll Have Left in Our Wallets” on one side and “America’s Cup Runneth EMPTY” on the other.
~personal correspondence from Jody Haynes’ essay: “The Lesser of Two Evils- Personal Political Introspection of an Average American Citizen

 (AUTHOR CORRECTION: Glenn Beck’s “We Surround Them” broadcast was on Friday, March 13th, 2009, and uploaded to Glenn Beck’s webpage on Wednesday, Apr 1st, 2009 at 9:26 PM PDT)

Even tho there are many parts from these interviews that I disagree with personally, if the Tea Party had stuck to this Populist theme; inclusivity, bipartisanship, and a willingness to work together across party lines to address what we all know are weaknesses in our Political system; I wonder what gains we might have achieved? Can you imagine? I remember the feeling across the County after 9/11, that we were all Americans. That we were all in this together. That if we pulled together in a bipartisan manner, there was nothing we could not overcome. I was a card-carrying Democrat when 9/11 happened. I did not support or Vote for GW Bush. However, on 9/12, President George W. Bush was MY PRESIDENT. He was our AMERICAN President, not the REPUBLICAN President.

So this facet of the Tea Party could have been so empowering for our Citizenry. It could not, however, stay the course. The grassroots Tea Party ideology was swallowed up by something darker. Something greedier in nature, and more Machiavelian.  Something distinctly un-democratic and in some areas, un-Constitutional.

I began to discover a dichotomy in the Tea Party, an imbalance between Elitism versus Populism, between what we are being told about the intent, and what issues about which we are purposefully being kept in the dark. 
American Populism is defined by its’ antipathy to Big Business and Big Government. And while the Tea Party claims it is a Populist movement, they have repeatedly sided with corporate interests over private interests in policy stances against Big Government, rather than a balance –however precariously we may achieve that balance- between Big Business and the Big Government designed to counter the undue influence of said Big Business. I found a fascinating video from the UCBerkeley Goldman School of Public Policy’s Center on Civility and Democratic Engagement (VIDEO) 
which references a 2011 poll taken by the American National Elections Studies . During this video, Henry E. Brady indicates that roughly 18% of the cross section of respondents identified as Tea Party Supporters. (Poll data referenced in the “2010-2012 EVALUATIONS OF GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY STUDY” Also according to that poll, 70% of Tea Party supporters were registered as Republicans. And over 60% of these respondents stated that they viewed Wall Street unfavorably. So, considering the strong corporate influence and funding of the Tea Party Movement, can the label “Populist” still apply?

What it could have been: An Interview

Kim is a Professor of English at a Florida College of some repute. She’s an erudite, non-partisan, highly intelligent person whom I have known since the late 90’s. She is  not an easily swayed minion, leashed to an ideology which she has not examined; she, like her husband Jody, is a professional, used to scrutinizing and disassembling fact from fiction. She sat down with me to discuss her involvement in the 2009 face of the Tea Party Movement:

Kat Wolfdancer 
I would like to ask you to tell me about your experiences of the Tea party. I’m writing an article about them, and frankly, I want it to be FAIR AND BALANCED and you are the ONLY person I know who has a real life experience with the grass roots beginnings uncolored by rhetoric.
Kim Miles
As for the grassroots tea party movement I was involved in, it was comprised of democrats, republicans and independents who had some conservative leanings (fiscal, not so much social) and were concerned about government expenditures and government control. In other words, they had some libertarian viewpoints to some extent, being concerned about how big the government was growing, increased taxes (something that concerns us all), wasted moneys (pork), unsustainable programs and the number of people on government assistance vs those paying into the government to assist the other half (again, unsustainable), etc. anything else?
Kim Miles
Oh, the average age of those involved were 35-70, with most being mid 40s to mid 50s. Not a lot of young people. That was about the only consistent demographic. Equal numbers of males and females in ours. Cross section of dems, GOP and independents. Another consolidating factor is that we were all concerned about skyrocketing government expenditures regardless of who was doing it. That it was being done was the issue and that we couldn't continue in that vein was the concern. The one objection to Obama was his idea of "spreading the wealth." Everyone found that concept offensive in that the implication is that half the working population (in large part, the middle class) would be taking on the burden of those not working and on government assistance. It's not that we object to those in need. It's that (1) there are so many scamming the system and getting a handout when they don't need it (we all know of people who have bilked the system and have gotten away with it) and (2) the continued increase of those on government assistance is unsustainable. I'm squarely middle class (below $100K with a combined income) and my taxes are exorbitant. If my husband and I filed independently or divorced and filed single, we would both likely qualify for government assistance of some sort (I know I definitely would). Being married and having no children or home mortgage deductions (house is paid off) actually hurts me when it comes to taxes. I would be better off single and with kids as far as our current government is concerned. It's set up in such a way that it encourages dependence upon the government as opposed to independence from it. And as long as that continues, we will have people sitting in line with a hand out desired rather than trying to better their lots in life. And that appeared to be one of the biggest bones of contention with those in our grassroots tea party circle.
Kat Wolfdancer 
I really want to explore what the Tea Party -before big money got involved, and before the media/special interests did their spin of events - STARTED OUT AS .. Because surely they did NOT start out as this corporate-driven profiteering vulture capitalistic pseudo religious amoeba that it is today ...
When you have time, describe one of the first meetings for me.. Take me there .. Make me a believer of where the Tea party started.. I'm already halfway there because of the inclusiveness and the fiscal issues.
Kim Miles
Nope. It had libertarian ideals for the most part. Smaller government. More for the people ideals and less government.
Kat Wolfdancer 
Today's Tea Party isn’t at all like that ... Did you guys meet in various living rooms? What were some of the topics discussed? How did you advertise the idea? How did you connect? It sounds like what it started out as -the idealism - was utterly bastardized for private corporate profit
How did that happen? When did it happen? Were you still active when it happened? What did you think about that? How can such a GRAND and inclusive idea get so brutally high jacked?
Kim Miles
We met to watch one of Glenn Becks "we surround them" episodes. I know liberals have a skewed version of Beck but he hit on much of what many of us were feeling at the time. He didn't pull punches between Bush or Obama. He wasn't for one party or another. He spoke to some of the concerns that people not fixated on parties had--a growing government, a growing debt, and a growing dependency on government. We met at a hotel lobby to watch the event. Networked with people of like minds. Put aside party demographics in our concerns for America and being American. We staged protests that were peaceful in solidarity of a smaller government and less expenditures. This was about 2008-9, I think.
As for how things can get hijacked or twisted....anything can. Look at our two leading parties for a perfect example. Both are so far up their own party line that they have lost touch with being American first and foremost.
Kat Wolfdancer 
I've actually watched SOME of Beck's shows.. and a couple of times I have walked away with a feeling of respect for him, and sometimes not .. Still, I think when we put party aside is when we -as Americans- wind up doing great things.
Kim Miles
Yep. I agree.
Kat Wolfdancer 
How did you feel when the Koch Brothers started pumping so much money into the Party and pushed it into religious moral -ism ? (I don’t know of a better term for that .. It seems to me that the whole "we must govern through the Bible" push that prominent Tea Party political members are advocating ... the push to theocracy What do we call that??)
Kim Miles
I didn't know about it till later. The Tea party itself was a loose party with no one group leading or outing rules into place that governed tea party operations, per se. I think the Koch brothers were one tiny faction that gained so much notoriety because of a liberal media wanting to discredit the tea party as a whole. They became the tea party. But they were not the tea party nor were they the grassroots movement. They simply capitalized on it and on the media attention.
It's like saying that any radical faction of the dems or GOP are representative of their respective parties. It's not true, but it makes for a better media spin.
Kat Wolfdancer 
I forgot to ask you what year you STARTED getting involved with the Tea party? I know you said when you went to the G. Beck gathering that was in 08-09 ish but was that when you first started getting involved?
Kim Miles
Yes. It was at the beginning, before the tea party actually had the name "tea party." I'm not sure when the official term "tea party" was coined but it was after that gathering.
Kat Wolfdancer 
So the Glenn Beck gathering was your introduction to the movement?
Kim Miles
Yep. I went to the wiki page on the tea party and some of what it has on it is actually correct. What its agenda is...
The interesting thing is the debate on its origins. Wiki attributes it to Ron Paul. I guess about the only way you can do that is by looking at it historically and in hindsight. Ron Paul was one who was disenchanted with the way things were going. But so were many Americans. Most of us, in fact. I think he got thrown into the "origins" simply because he is a figurehead. The movement began later. Glenn Beck appealed to many with his condemnation of the way things were being run in Washington, with the divide between the parties, with the party line usurping what was best for America, with the growing debt, with the growing government, etc.
Kim Miles
Wiki also claims that some referred to it as a grassroots political movement while others referred to it as astroturf. This is true. However, it WAS a grassroots movement--an uncoordinated movement of the people in objection to the government. The astroturfing and "teabagging" terms were first promoted by media in a disparaging attempt to downplay and disparage people's angst and were then promoted and repeated by politicians who desired the same (e.g., Nancy Pelosi). When the movement kept gaining ground both by Dems and GOP, the teabagging and astroturf comments stopped. It was not a fake movement created by corporate America as people tried claiming in an effort to diminish it. It was a sound movement that gained popularity with many of the masses--one that was slanted and skewed by most media outlets to diminish its validity.
Kat Wolfdancer 
hmmm according to US History (dot org) It was Rick Santelli's Chicago Mercantile’s rant which was the "name sake" not Ron Paul. Ron's libertarian views most certainly helped SHAPE the party, but according to the research I've been doing, he wasn't the "father of the party"
And I agree, originally it WAS a grassroots movement. I do not believe it is now, tho. It's been highjacked by Corporate interests .. which seems SO ironic to me ..
Kim Miles
So this guy Rick S is supposed to have started the tea party???
Kat Wolfdancer
No he seems to have coined the current phrase.
The Party itself seems to have been natural grassroots extension of the Populist Movement.
But I still have a long way to go to make sense of the "Wikis" vastly dichotomous opinions on just what where when ...
Kim Miles
Hmmm. I don't know whether he was the first to coin the phrase. All I can say is that much of the media hopped on the "tea party" name because of the original one. Kinda like every political scandal now has "gate" in it. LOL
Kat Wolfdancer
yeah interesting that. Shaking my head.
This is going to be a difficult article for me to write QUITE!! a challenge because to do it RIGHT, it is challenging me to re-examine everything I THOUGHT I knew!!  ah the lessons which come to us, eh ?? laughing at myself.
Kim Miles
BTW, Rick S is dead on at what people were so disenchanted about. You can't spend your way into prosperity. It just sticks in the craw of any rational person that spending what you don't have will yield more. I understand the theory behind the economics but do not understand the practical application of it. LOL
BTW, one of the things that I thought was so great about Obama at first was that he was hiring professors. But that very thing is also what had me becoming very concerned.
As one who has been in academia for more than three decades now, I know what professors are like. Most have theoretical application/understanding but have little practical application/understanding. The more PhDs he hired, the more concerned I became. Some theoretical info is good but it has to be tempered with practical, hands-on application to work. IMO, he hired too many people, too quickly who had little hands-on, practical application and had mostly theoretical ideas. That is scary for any business and government is big, ginormous business.
Kat Wolfdancer
That's a great point ... Theory is all well and good, but you DO have to have some time-in-title with .. well, "real life" practical application.
~Personal correspondence from Kim Miles Aug 2014

What the Tea Party has become The Corporate Connection

As you can see, the Tea Party is a convoluted hybrid of strange bedfellows, dichotomous definitions, idealism, ideologues, and righteous revolution which seem to be manipulated since its’ inception by special interests. Let us now explore what the current Party’s political platform is, the politicians which champion its’ current causes, and the financial backers.

Currently, in many areas, the Tea Party has more in common with the Patriot movement than anything vaguely resembling an inclusive, American ideology. It is a long fall from where it began – if we could actually pinpoint where it began- to where the Party is now. What the Tea Party has presented itself as publicly, and what my research has uncovered, are two vastly different realities. Rather than a true grassroots citizen-led campaign, the Tea Party has been subverted into a Corporate Astroturfing   scheme. Thanks to this long-term plan of misinformation, deceit and manipulation, understanding what the Tea Party is –and subsequently what it no longer is- is a snarled confusing muddy mess, and the deeper I dig, the more Hydra heads I uncover.

Moreover, according to yet more records recently released by Source Watch,  CSE was the major funding for these efforts, and share dominant figures from the 1987’s Tobacco industry with the modern day Tea Party. “Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry's anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.” From the study by Amanda Fallin, Rachel Grana, Stanton A Glantz for the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education called “To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party”  which also states; "If you look at CSE, AFP and Freedom Works, you will see a number of the same key players, strategies and messages going back to the 1980s. The records indicate that the Tea Party has been shaped by the tobacco industry, and is not a spontaneous grassroots movement at all.”

For an organization which has presented itself as a Citizen-backed grassroots upswell, the Tea Party has some serious Corporate financing. Freedom Works   and Americans for Prosperity  with its’ significant amount of political influence  continue to sink massive amounts of money in grooming Tea Party politicians, and electing Tea Party candidates. (FreedomWorks= Grand Total Spent on 2014 Federal Elections: $1,598,530 Americans for Prosperity = Grand Total Spent on 2014 Federal Elections: $732,347 ) It is notable to point out that both of these Organizations are tax-exempt designated 501(3)( c) organizations.

In a 2010 New Yorker article called “Covert Operations”,  reporter Jane Mayer explored the depths of the Koch Brothers’ involvement in politics, including their founding and support of the Tea Party movement. She writes:
“The 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 movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”
Mayer also interviewed David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser, who said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”

Also telling is the depth of the Koch Brothers’ donations. Again from this article:

“Only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics. Public tax records show that between 1998 and 2008 the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than forty-eight million dollars. The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by Charles Koch and his wife, along with two company employees and an accountant, spent more than twenty-eight million. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than a hundred and twenty million. Meanwhile, since 1998 Koch Industries has spent more than fifty million dollars on lobbying. Separately, the company’s political-action committee, KochPAC, has donated some eight million dollars to political campaigns, more than eighty per cent of it to Republicans. So far in 2010, Koch Industries leads all other energy companies in political contributions, as it has since 2006. In addition, during the past dozen years the Kochs and other family members have personally spent more than two million dollars on political contributions. In the second quarter of 2010, David Koch was the biggest individual contributor to the Republican Governors Association, with a million-dollar donation. Other gifts by the Kochs may be untraceable; federal tax law permits anonymous personal donations to politically active nonprofit groups.”
Who knows how much of that private lobbyist money has been funneled into shaping American Politics and politicians? Only the Koch Brothers themselves. Who knows exactly how much went into funding, training and supporting the campaigns of Tea Party members? Again, only the Koch Brothers and their tax lawyers know for sure. But what is clear is that the Tea Party has been funded and continues to be supported by severely deep pockets with personal financial interests in the outcome of our America political system. And the American people continue to be kept in the dark about the depth and breadth of that influence.

According to a PEW survey

“And while more than half of registered voters (54%) said that corporations make too much money, Tea Party supporters were inclined to see corporations as making a fair and reasonable amount of profit. Indeed, Tea Party supporters took this position by a 2-1 margin (62% fair profit vs. 30% too much profit).”

The Tea Party Nation enthusiastically supported the Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited campaign financing from Corporations.
“The Citizens United decision? It saved the First Amendment. It saved freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the United States.”

Frankly, I believe the Citizens United issue has been abused, and I would rather that more focus would be placed on citizen input and less on corporate influence; especially if those corporate interests and influence affect their own personal and economic investments. (Can you say “Conflict of Interest”?) However, having briefly studied this issue, I can’t –quite- agree with any restrictions on 1st Amendment rights. My biggest issue is that I am not quite sure how Corporations have Constitutional Rights. Nevertheless, it is a bit of a sticky wicket. There is no doubt that the backlash from the McCain-Feingold Bill –or Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002  as it is formally named - has affected unreported and less accountable outside group money which has made the voices of the Tea Party supporters much stronger, less transparent and more strident.
So it begs the question; how can information such as this be weighed against an originally stated purpose of Anti-Big Business, and an anti-Elitist platform?

The Tea Party defines itself and its’ platforms 

Even its’ own definitions seem to be antithetical. All claim to be “The Tea Party”, but, for example, the Tea has considerable and open foci on social issues, such as open involvement with the Oathkeepers, , America as a Christian Nation, Citizens United, Anti-Gay Rights, Women’s Health issues and Voter’s Rights; while the Tea Party Patriots claim they do not address social issues. “As Tea Party Patriots focuses on the three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets, we do not take a position on social issues.  As an organization, we are neither opposed to, or in favor of, issues surrounding these questions, and will not expend our resources on them.Yet, upon examination of their Calls to Action section, there is quite a bit of social elements being addressed, such as immigration, the Hobby Lobby ruling, Citizens United, and Constitutional Amendment repeals.

According to the Tea Party Patriots, which claim to represent the Tea Party Movement
“What unites the tea party movement is the same set of core principles that brought America together at its founding, that kindled the American Dream in the hearts of those who struggled to build our nation, and made the United States of America the greatest, most successful country in world history. [sic] Very simply, three guiding principles give rise to the freedom necessary to pursue and live the American Dream:
1) Constitutionally limited Government or your personal freedom and your Rights2) Free Market Economics or Economic Freedom to Grow Jobs and Your Opportunities3) Fiscal Responsibility or very simply, a Debt Free Future For You and Generations To Come.”

Yet according to the Tea home site,  the Tea Party stands for:

any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America.” By those who [sic] “possess a strong belief in the foundational Judeo-Christian values embedded in our great founding documents.”
According to THIS sect of the Tea Party, “You will be upholding the grand principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.” [sic] by supporting these:

15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs
1. Illegal aliens are here illegally. 2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable. 3. A strong military is essential. 4. Special interests must be eliminated. 5. Gun ownership is sacred. 6. Government must be downsized. 7. The national budget must be balanced. 8. Deficit spending must end. 9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal. 10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must. 11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory. 12. Political offices must be available to average citizens. 13. Intrusive government must be stopped. 14. English as our core language is required. 15. Traditional family values are encouraged.
From the site: 
“Stripping your freedom is not a pipe dream but a reality! Fema Camps are already built and waiting for you!  They’ve been practicing for Martial Law and the great round-up of citizens in the 300-acre fake city Obama had built in Virginia. Do NOT dismiss this under any circumstance. It is serious.Here’s what they are going to do:Grab our guns and leave us defenseless!
Grant amnesty to tens of millions more illegal aliens to kill your vote!
Extinguish free-speech, crush it anywhere it exists! Intern unlimited numbers of US citizens without cause!
Brand conservatives and the Tea Party as terrorists!
Teach our children that sexual perversion is normal!
Strip your wealth by taxing you to death and give it to the world to consume!
Make all private homes government housing!
Outlaw certain foods and gasoline-powered vehicles!
Bypass then reduce and eliminate Congress!
Make states accountable to the UN!
Reduce our military by 90%!
Remove our borders! –

And then there is the Tea Party Nation, a Conservative Social Networking Group, who states:
 “Tea Party Nation is a user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God-given individual freedoms written out by the Founding Fathers. We believe in Limited Government, Free Speech, the 2nd Amendment, our Military, Secure Borders and our Country.”

The Tea Party Nation’s founder, Judson Phillips claimed that voting rights should be restricted to property owners. 
The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn't you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you're a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you're not a property owner, you know, I'm sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.” 
This segment of the Tea Party supported the Operation American Spring, and is one of the spearheads calling for the arrest and impeachment of President Obama for negotiating for the release of Bowe Bergdahl. The Tea Party Nation was also the organizer for the 2010 National Tea Party Convention, which paid Sarah Palin $100,000.oo dollars for her appearance out of the $549.oo per head ticket price.

And yet another head, The Tea a division of Stop This Insanity, Inc., an interesting PAC which has been raising money voraciously but spending only a portion of what it raises. Stop This Insanity Inc was founded in early 2010 as a political action committee in Arizona by Todd Cefaratti and Ron Dove, who then became the Treasurer and Human Resources manager, respectively. The PAC was terminated in November of that same year in the midst of losing a lawsuit with the Federal Election Commission  They claim that the Tea was created in 2009, however, the “Stop” PAC , of which the Tea is a project, was not registered until 2010, and its’ DBA "The Tea Party," was not registered until December 20, 2012, according to the Arizona Secretary of State Charitable Organizations System. They are still actively soliciting donations.
The Tea also developed quite a bad reputation with other Tea Party groups after raising money ($469,000 between January and October 2010), and then not helping to fund either rallies nor candidates. Instead, a significant portion of the funds collected in that 2010 year, $189,759, went to online marketing.
These folks claim their aim is to raise funds to support:
“The Tea Party Movement is a grassroots movement of millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. Tea Party members share similar core principles supporting the United States Constitution as the Founders intended, such as:
  • Limited federal government
  • Individual freedoms
  • Personal responsibility
  • Free markets
  • Returning political power to the states and the people

As a movement, the Tea Party is not a political party nor is it looking to form a third political party any time soon. The Tea Party Movement is, instead, about reforming all political parties and government so that the core principles of our Founding Fathers become, once again, the foundation upon which America stands.”

At the Tea Party Caucus for the 113th Congress Chief strategist and Executive Director of The Tea Niger Innis told Breitbart News in April 2013 that the Tea Party was evolving the movement to the next level, where it can infiltrate the halls of Congress and change Washington from the inside.
“We realize it is not enough to just critique Washington,” Innis said. “We need to be in Washington to impact Washington. It’s not enough to throw stones at the beltway from the outside. We have to [have] players inside the beltway and that’s what we’re doing.” Also from that interview; One person inside the room said the members determined that “they can’t abandon the Republican Party because it would mean total political irrelevance for the foreseeable future. So they stamped out the idea of a third party, going rogue.”
Therefore, that person said, the plan is that the Tea Party members will fight internally to make the GOP more conservative, forcing it to the right to make it better and stronger.

Now, all taken in all, it seems mendacious to state on one hand that the Tea Party stands for small government in matters capitalistic, yet supports government interference in matters of social behavior. The role of Conservative Christians should not be overlooked in the makings of this social and political phenomenon. Mark Rozell, a public policy professor at George Mason University who has written extensively about the religious right, commented there have been repeated battles between social and fiscal conservatives in the 1990s and beyond.
"Now the word 'conservative' is accepted to mean generally small government in the economic sphere but an activist government on social issues," he said.
A 2011 PEW Research study states:
The analysis shows that most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party. But support for the Tea Party is not synonymous with support for the religious right.”
Another Poll by the Public Religion Research Institute claims: 
“There is a large constituency overlap between the Tea Party and white evangelical Protestants. Nearly half (47 percent) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement also identify as a part of the religious right or Christian conservative movement. [PRRI, November 2010]. Fully three-quarters (75 percent) of those who identify with the Tea Party movement describe themselves as “a Christian conservative.” [PRRI, August 2011]”

So while Tea Party members are overwhelmingly self-identified as Conservative Christians, only about half of Conservative Christians are inclined to identify as Tea Party members. Again, this wide variance makes it difficult to get a clear understanding of just what the Tea Party aims to achieve.

What platforms does the Tea Party espouse? What do they stand for? Which one speaks for the Politicians who self-identify as Tea party members? Who speaks for the People? And finally, what about everybody else?

The Tea Party Politicians and Platforms 

Now let us explore the Politicians who either self-identify as Tea party members, or who are supported by, or who support the Tea Party. A few of the more prominent politicians who identify as Tea Party members include Sen. Ted Cruz of TX, Gov. Scott Walker of WIS, Rep. Michele Bachmann of MINN, Rep. Louie Gohmert of TX, and Sen. Rand Paul of KY.
In the House:
The Tea Party Caucus in the US House of Representatives
In the Senate:
The Tea Party Caucus in the US Senate
I find it interesting to note that today, 2014, the Tea Party Caucus has only 5 members in the Senate: Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).  Notably absent is Sen. Ronald H Johnson (R-Wis), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa) who chose not to join the Tea Party this year. 
Some of the more vocal supporters of the Tea Party are
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Ted is running for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016.  

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WIS)

Scott was running for the GOP Presidential nomination for 2016, but he has dropped out of the race due to very low support. 

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MINN)
On May 29, 2013, Bachmann announced that she would not seek re-election to her Congressional seat in 2014.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Rand Paul is also seeking the GOP Presidential 2016 nomination. 

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

What all of these politicians share in common are:

  1.     All are in support of a Federal ban on abortions.
  2.     Support of significant tax breaks for Corporations ala Reaganomics’ “Trickle Down” economic plan.
  3.     Opposition of Civil Rights for Gay Americans
  4.     Voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) –that is, those who COULD Vote on this issue, Gov. Scott Walker is not included in this.
  5.     Supports the privatization of our Public School system ie: Charter Schools
  6.     Disagrees with the science of Climate change and opposes all efforts at curtailing environmental degradation and regulation of corporate polluters.
  7.     Supports drilling on public lands and leasing those lands to corporations for private gain.
  8.     Supports unregulated Free Trade. Believes that the market must be allowed to self-regulate.
  9.     Opposes any regulations on gun ownership, including a Federal Background Check. Believes the 2nd Amendment “protects” and trumps all others.
  10.     Supports significant MediCare cuts
  11.     Opposes the ACA and have voted to repeal, modify, or defund it in all 54 congressional votes. (This does not include Gov. Scott Walker who was not able to Vote in these congressional Votes, but did refuse to accept any of the MediCaid monies from the ACA)
  12.    Supports and has signed Grover Norquist’s “The Tax Payer Protection Pledge” a partisan “document” opposing any tax increases of any kind which was developed during the Reagan Administration in 1986.
  13.    Opposes contraceptives on the basis of them being “abortifacients”; a notable and confusing exception being Sen Rand Paul’s publicly stated support of birth control and the Plan B contraception, and his introduction of the Sanctity of Life Bill – or “Personhood Bill” S. 583. (more here:
  14.   Supports and signed the Cut, Cap and Balance Act

Now compare these individual stances with the Tea Party platform at large (note that this depends on which Tea Party you're looking at) :

In researching this article, I have learned a great deal about my fellow citizens. Some of this is hard to swallow: I find it difficult to believe there are so many uneducated people who have no desire to do their own research and make up their own minds, but more than willing to have some talking head fill up their hearts with hate and discontent and divisiveness and conspiracy theories. Not ALL supporters –especially the ones at the “2009 beginning” of this movement- are uneducated. In fact, that beginning of this movement has a common thread: distaste for the non-transparency and rampant abuse of our Governmental system of checks and balances. And can we blame them? Some of the actions of our Government have not been transparent, rather, they have been covert behind closed doors and backroom deals. And some of the technology which we now find invaluable has made this even more apparent and difficult. We now can get our news unfiltered –and consequently un-edited and un-Vetted- within minutes of its occurrence. The Media at large seems more prone towards sensationalism, subjective spin and the “Making of the Next Big Scandal” than it is researching and reporting in as objective a manner as possible. (But that is another article) Our Government suffers from the biggest lack of approval and trust ever in the History of the US. (13% at the start of 2014)  after the shellacking Ted Cruz & the Tea Party suffered from the enforced Government Shut-Down of Oct 2013 ) However, historically, Americans do not like being manipulated. And is certainly not my place to make up your mind for you, or attempt to sway your decision making. I just wanted to try to discover what this beast is, challenging my own concepts, and perhaps clarifying some of the finer points of the history of the Tea Party. Although I obviously have my own opinions, and I am sure they are fairly clear within this article, nevertheless, I truly have Faith in the integrity of the American people. Now it is up to us, your Basic Generic American, to decide where our Country goes from here. Will we decide to embrace our Founding Fathers’ inclusionary and visionary ideals? Will we decide to burst out of the bonds of polarization and choose to encourage new ideals, new visions, new innovations, even if it cramps our comfort zone? Or will we isolate ourselves from our fellow Americans and support divisiveness, unchecked greed, partisan Politics, the status quo, and control via fear? Will we learn to think for ourselves and examine for comprehension what the media gives us? Will we decide to demand accountability and transparency in our Government, in our Corporations, and in our Media at all levels? Only our Votes hold the key. Have you registered to Vote yet? See you at the Polls !

Kat Wolfdancer 
Thinker About Town