Currently viewing the tag: "Tea Party"

As reported by  Think Progress  and others last month, the right wing Tea Party supporting billionaire Koch Brothers are exploring buying newspapers in an obvious attempt to use their fortune to get a mouthpiece to voters.

Right-wing funders and business industrialists David and Charles Koch may purchase the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. The brothers are “interested in the clout they could gain through the Times’ editorial pages,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Koch told the website that the brothers are “constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors”  

Daily Kos and others have entered the fray by purchasing an ad in the LA Times, after initially being rejected. They did so by refiling the ad, linking their statements to articles printed in the LA Times that noted “the Koch Brothers bankrolled the Tea Party, denied global warming and bought politicians.”

The Los Angeles Times advertising department has reversed its earlier decision to reject an advertisement from Daily Kos and the Courage Campaign urging the Chicago-based Tribune Company not to sell the 132-year-old Times to the billionaire Koch brothers. The ad will run in the main news section of Wednesday’s edition of the Times….

Tribune, whose merger in 2000 with Times-Mirror Corp., the Times’s owner at the time, made it the second largest newspaper publisher in the nation, has been reported to be considering selling the Times, the nation’s fourth most widely read newspaper, to the ultra-right-wing Kochs.

The Hollywood Reporter first broke this story on March 13, 2013. The Tribune Company has recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings and is  looking for a buyer for their newspapers. As the Hollywood Reporter points out, the Koch Brothers represent right wing politics in the extreme. They are billionaires and  own Koch Industries which is currently the second largest privately owned company in the US.

The Koch brothers have long dominated American industry; their holdings include Georgia Pacific paper products as well as major fertilizer, refinery and oil pipeline companies. More recently they have become known for their financial support of Republican candidates, especially those from the Tea Party, and the fight against regulations and legislation aimed at curbing climate change.

The Koch Brothers involvement in the Tea Party however  goes far beyond just supporting them. As Brendan DeMille of the Huffington Post in February wrote in an article entitled, “Study Confirms Tea Party was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaire Koch Brothers“:

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

The Koch Brothers represent a threat to the free exchange of news and information and obviously have a history of trying to push their extreme right wing philosophy and politics at any cost and by any means. Their involvement and purchase in any newspaper or other media ownership poses a real threat to a free press, which we know is an ideal, yet special interests pushing their own extreme political biases over objectivity because they have the money and resources to own the media threatens  our society and basic democratic values  and principles in our country and the world.

The infamous Koch Brothers have entered the 2012 Washington State Governor’s race.  Surprise – they are supporting Republican Rob McKenna. McKenna is running against former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee.

On Thursday, October 18, 2012, Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington filed a C6 with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission that they were spending $27, 985 on a radio ad supporting Rob McKenna.

Americans for Prosperity  was founded by the oilmen Koch Brothers –  David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, both of Koch Industries.

Wikipedia notes that:

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an American conservative political advocacy group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. AFP’s stated mission is “educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing citizens as advocates in the public policy process.” The group played a major role in the Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives, and has been called “one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics.”

Sourcewatch writes that:

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the “Tea Party” efforts.  AFP’s messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Koch’s other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks.

So far the spending by Americans for Prosperity is small potatoes in this state but this could quickly change. Kirby Wilbur, the Washington State  Republican Party Chair, was the state coordinator for Americans for Prosperity in 2010 and they successfully dumped money into last minute mailers against Democratic legislators who did not have sufficient time to respond to the last minute mailers. They are spending lots of money nationally and are doing it without disclosing their donors. This needs to change in disclosure laws.

As the Guardian in a just released articles states:

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-aligned group part-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is building a state-of-the-art digital ground operation in Ohio and other vital battleground states to spread its anti-Obama message to voters who could decide the outcome of the presidential election.

The group hopes that by creating a local army of activists equipped with sophisticated online micro-targeting tools it will increase its impact on moderate voters, nudging them towards a staunchly conservative position opposed to President Obama’s economic and healthcare policies. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is spending tens of millions of dollars developing its local strategy, already employing more than 200 permanent staff in 32 states. …

AFP has already spent $30m so far this election cycle in opposing President Obama and other prominent Democratic candidates and their policies. It says it aims to reach up to 9 million targeted voters in crucial swing states, through the efforts of its 2 million activists.

 

Tea Party members in Congress are ranting against government expenditures while collecting money from the government. Judge them by their actions, not their talk.

As abc NEWS notes in an article entitled “Tea Party Hypocrisy? Some Lawmakers With Tea Party Ties Are on the Government Dole” (You can also access a video by first clicking on this link):

The Tea Party swept into the 112th Congress with promises of cutting government spending. But according to a report out today, at least five lawmakers with Tea Party connections have been longtime recipients of federal agricultural subsidies.

“There’s nothing too surprising about hypocrisy in Washington,” Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, told ABC News. “This particular group, you not only have to look at the hypocrisy but you need to watch your wallet.”

While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms — combining for more than $12 million since 1995 according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

The abc NEWS analysis notes that since 1995 23 current members of Congress, mostly Republicans or their families, have collected some $12,671,166.

Farm subsidies in 2009 totaled some $16.3 billion. Since 1995 some $246.7 billion dollars has been given out for farm subsidies.

“Self described Tea Party Patriot” and Republican Stephen  Fincher of Tennessee received $3,254,324 since 1995.

Republican  Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri received $774,489.

Republican Representative Mark Stutzman of Indiana received $180,000 since 1997.

You can read the summary of the Environmental Working Groups report by clicking here:
Government’s Continued Bailout of Corporate Agriculture.

You can access the list of who received farm subsidies by clicking here:
Total USDA Subsidies in United States 1995-2009

Words have consequences. And words from Sarah Palin and Tea Party fanatics contributed to the tragic shootings in Tuscon that killed 6 people and wounded a number of others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who appears to have been specifically targeted by the shooter.

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party fanatics rallied their supporters with violent rhetoric and images. And while they will deny it, I agree with the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik that the hate and violent talk contribute to an atmosphere that promotes violence being acted out, not just being voiced.

As Sheriff Dupnik states:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” said the sheriff. “And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

When asked by a reporter if Giffords being shot could have been motivated by “prejudice and bigotry,” Dupnik responded, “All I can tell you is that there’s reason to believe is that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol.”

Last year Sarah Palin picked 20 Congresspeople to try to defeat out of 435 Representatives. One of these was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.  Palin graphically and pictorially didn’t just target Giffords.  She put together a map and put gun sights on each of her targeted members of Congress.  The image is and was offensive and got her lots of attention and didn’t seem to hurt her image among her supporters. Many unfortunately accepted it as just part of the politics of today. I think the media unfortunately gave Palin a pass on this one when really  they should have challenged her.

You can see the images on Huffington Post in an article entitled “Sarah Palin’s PAC puts Gun Sights on Democrats She’s Targeting in 2010″. These images crossed the line of rational political discourse and I believe have contributed to the tragedy that occurred in Arizona.  They have no place in politics in America.

Sheriff Dupnik’s comments are right on about the dangers of inciting violent imagery in politics.

And as the Huffington Post reports:

Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin’s decision to list Giffords’ seat as one of the top “targets” in the midterm elections.

“For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.

Gifford’s Tea Party opponent also contributed to the tragedy in Arizona with his radical brand of violence inciting imagry and deeds. In the same article cited above it is reported that:

During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.

We need as a people and a nation to reject this violent hate promoting type of politics as expoused by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. It has no place in a civilized society. It time to return civility and rational discussion to politics and reject the hate mongering and negativity currently being promoted by the conservatives.

Conservatives in the past used similiar outrageous imagery and hatemongering against the blacks in the South to put conservatives in office. Enough is enough.

Update – Jan 27, 2011

I came across this excellent post by Joe Brewer of Cognitive Policy Works. It includes a video entitled “Thom Hartmann on the “Becking” of America”. I think it adds an excellent perspective on the use of violent rhetoric by the right wing and its implications for political discourse and its consequences.

One of the myths fostered by the right wing is that liberal judges are activists and conservative judges are strict constructionists and only follow the law.  The right wing froths at the mouth, painting judges they don’t like as trying to write new law through their judicial decisions.  Yet as Jeffrey R Stone points out in an article in the New York Times entitled “Our Fill-in-the-Blank Constitution” conservatives are grossly misrepresenting the actions of conservative judges when the record is examined.

As Stone points out:

Rulings by conservative justices in the past decade make it perfectly clear that they do not “apply the law” in a neutral and detached manner. Consider, for example, their decisions holding that corporations have the same right of free speech as individuals, that commercial advertising receives robust protection under the First Amendment, that the Second Amendment prohibits the regulation of guns, that affirmative action is unconstitutional, that the equal protection clause mandated the election of George W. Bush and that the Boy Scouts have a First Amendment right to exclude gay scoutmasters.

Whatever one thinks of these decisions, it should be apparent that conservative judges do not disinterestedly call balls and strikes. Rather, fueled by their own political and ideological convictions, they make value judgments, often in an aggressively activist manner that goes well beyond anything the framers themselves envisioned. There is nothing simple, neutral, objective or restrained about such decisions. For too long, conservatives have set the terms of the debate about judges, and they have done so in a highly misleading way. Americans should see conservative constitutional jurisprudence for what it really is.judicial activism

The right wing has done a good political job of framing the issue through its aggressive media advocacy to infiltrate and indoctrinate its message into the news media. The left has not been as successful.  David Brock wrote a book a few years back entitled, The Republican Noise Machine Right-Wing Media and how it Corrupts Democracy, that details how the right wing came to be adept at getting their message out.  The current manipulation of the Tea Party by Republican operatives like former House Speaker Dick Amery at Freedom Works is a current example of the resurgence of the Republican Noise Machine as a backlash against Obama.

Expect in the upcoming effort by President Obama to appoint someone to fill the US Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens that the right wing will vigerously denounce any Obama nominee as too liberal and extreme and that the false mantra of judicial activism will be brought up with any prospective nominee  involved in decisions not supported by the right wing. Keep the Republican Noise in perspective and realize that the volume of noise by the Right Wing, including the so called Tea Party folks, in no way is a valid measure of the truth.

As Media Matters notes in an article entitled “Right-wing media demonstrate “judicial activism” by urging landmark healthcare bill be overturned by courts”,  it is the right wing that is practicing judicial activism.

A 2005 study by Yale University law professor Paul Gewirtz and Yale Law School graduate Chad Golder showed that among Supreme Court justices at that time, those most frequently labeled “conservative” were among the most frequent practitioners of at least one brand of judicial activism — the tendency to strike down statutes passed by Congress. Those most frequently labeled “liberal” were the least likely to strike down statutes passed by Congress.

A 2007 study by Cass R. Sunstein (subsequently named by President Obama to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs) and University of Chicago law professor Thomas Miles used a different measurement of judicial activism — the tendency of judges to strike down decisions by federal regulatory agencies. Sunstein and Miles found that by this definition, the Supreme Court’s “conservative” justices were the most likely to engage in “judicial activism” while the “liberal” justices were most likely to exercise “judicial restraint.”

The Internet is bubbling with outrage at Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna’s partisan decision to try to join Washington State to an effort by 12 other states to overturn the just passed national health reform bill. An indication of the pushback by the public is that the number of people joining the Facebook page Washington Taxpayers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s lawsuit  is growing faster than I can type this post.

Just started 2 days ago the number as of 11:54 AM today is at 12,608 and  now exceeds the number of people on another recent surge of FACEBOOK outrage, people opposing Eyman’s I-1033 which went down to a decisive defeat in  November. The Anti-1033 site, No on 1033 has 12,212.

At 12:15 PM (I took a phone call) the anti McKenna lawsuit page now has 12,713.  The number is growing at a rate of 200 to 400 an hour right now.  Add your name to the facebook page by going to Washington Taxpayers OPT OUT of Rob McKenna’s lawsuit.

It’s 12:29 and the nmber is now 12,766.

Rob McKenna has two Facebook pages up.

Rob McKenna the Politician has 1797 fans.  The site Rob McKenna has 3097. Looks like a lot more people don’t like what Rob McKenna is trying to do to right now than want to be his fan or friend.

I think McKenna made a big miscalculation in joining with the Tea Party fanatics and those in the Republican Party of No in opposing health care reform. This can’t be good news for his ambitions to be Governor. At least you now know where McKenna’s real allegiances are after his many year front of trying to be positioned as a consumer advocate representing the public good.  I guess health care for Washington citizens doesn’t rank up there with the potential for corporate dollars from special interests or wanting to befriend Tea Party fanatics or not being able to be independent of the Republican Party of No’s strategy to say no to everything.

12:40 PM  12,821 – still growing
12:48 PM  12,846

posting now

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