Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Monday, March 02, 2009
  It Figures
Playboy (via Barry Riholtz) presents very strong evidence that CNBC's Rick Santelli's call for a "Tea Party" in response to the Obama Home Foreclosure Plan, was, in fact, part of a scheme funded by the neo-gilded-age masters, the Koch brothers.

Millionaire Trader-cum TV Commentator + Right Wing Radio Host and Producer + Gazzillionaire's Wingnut Welfare Funds = GOP version of "Populism."

Thanks for catching this. I have my suspicions that most of the "protests" arising from the "grassroots" of the right wing are, like just about everything else on the right side of the aisle, completely planned and funded by a cabal of super-rich and super-conservative types (for some reason, I'm thinking Texas oilmen primarily).

And the biggest marches against the Iraq war were organized by ANSWER, which was founded by the leadership of the Workers World Party, a group so far to the left it split with the Socialist Worker's Party largely because the latter had a problem with the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

Unless the "Tea Party" protesters are actually being paid to show up (I'm pretty sure they're not; and their protests don't seem to be "funded" to any significant extent) how would your claimed facts be even half as damning as this? Or do you think opposition to the war was illegitimate or phony because the war opponents were Stalinists and their dupes?
Dave - If the Tea Party had been sponsored by some group funded by the Koch brothers, rather than being astroturf, I would give your comparison more weight. It seems pretty damn clear that the Chicago Tea Party rallying cry was not some spontaneous TV moment, as it was billed.

And, for the record, ANSWER may have sponsored the marches, but I can assure you that the 100s of thousands of participants, were not being duped into supporting Stalinists.

Whereas, I pretty firmly believe that the several hundred tea party participants, were indeed dupes of a conservative media astroturf campaign.

I have no doubt that those who dumped tea into various bodies of water dislike the mortgage bailout plan, but I think that, unlike the war protests, the larger motive was intentionally hidden.
The Tea Party protests seem to me to be obviously done on a shoestring, not funded by any group to any significant extent. Were the tea party protesters fooled about that which they were protesting? Were they bussed to or paid to protest? Were the ANSWER protests more spontaneous?

Other than your opposing one cause and not another, what exactly do you mean when you say that one set of protesters was "duped" and another was not?
ANSWER did not hide their sponsorship.

The Koch brothers did.

All the little rallies around the country are, indeed, spontaneous. They are not part of "Chicago Tea Party" that Santelli called for. But they are not protesting foreclosure relief. They seem to be more a general protest of Obama and the stimulus. This is about Santelli's call to arms. It was completely manufactured and *secretly* sponsored.
So the actual "little rallies around the country" are legitimate grass-roots protests, but "Santelli's call to arms" is a faux populism, and somehow more relevant than the actual rallies.
IMHO, if people march on behalf of a cause they understand (such as at both Tea Party and Anti-War rallies), then they are authentic grass-roots protesters, unless they are bribed or coerced to show up.

If there is something unseemly about a corporate interest (e.g., Koch) creating a front group (e.g., Tea Party USA or some such), then the unseemliness is at least equal for the parallel of a Stalinist/Maoist interest (Worker's World Party) creating a front group (International ANSWER). How could the equation be otherwise, unless you think that corporate interests are less legitimate than Stalinist/Maoist ones?

(Yes, it was widely known that ANSWER sponsored its rallies; it was not widely known that ANSWER was founded by the WWP, and that ANSWER was headed by people who though the Socialist Worker's Party was too moderate in its leftism.)
So let me get this straight - our old friend DWPittelli is complaining that a group that is quite left-wing openly sponsored rallies that were primarily (though not entirely) center to center-left affairs, and since the group's origin is not well known (because, y'know, it was apparently over five decades ago) this is somehow equivalent (or worse, in DWPittelli's opinion) to a quick Astroturfing by some insanely rich and insanely right-wing types who went to great lengths to hide their involvement in a call-to-arms by an anchor who is clearly auditioning for the Fox Business Channel.

It's nice to see people are still standing up against The Scourge Of Maoism. I don't know about you, but has Maoism even been a threat in the past 20 years? Everyone knows it has been discredited (much like libertarianism/Objectivism); ANSWER was willing to go beyond Maoism and sponsor anti-war rallies which drew a wide swath of support from all over the spectrum. I can't see that the "Tea Parties" (subsidized by the Kochs or no) have pulled support from anything but the Rich White Douchebag segment.

Sure, some (though not all) of the "Tea Party" rallies were grassroots, but there is more than a bit of astroturf in the Right "Populist" movement in general.

Oh, and those little rallies do pale in comparison to the anti-war rallies of earlier this decade. If this is grassroots action, I'd fire the gardeners.

(Well, we now know that reading Atlas Shrugged doesn't make you smarter.)
Pre-emptive response: Oh, sure, there may be some non-rich or non-white types supporting the "Tea Party" movement, but I'm going to wager the number of non-douchebags is miniscule. Douchebaggery crosses all other dividing lines.

Indeed, Wes. The general left-wingism of ANSWER was apparent to all, as is the general right-wingism of the Chicago Tea Party and other "Tea Party" groups.

But the fact that ANSWER was a front group for, and created by the leaders of, the Stalinist/Maoist WWP, was not a fact "open" to most war protesters.

Nevertheless, if one opposed the war in Iraq, one was not in any meaningful way a dupe for marching in that cause, even if one did not know of the march's Maoist backing. Just as, if one is opposed to a further quadrupling of the deficit in order to fix the economy which was in part screwed up by Bush's large deficits, then one is not a dupe for marching against the "stimulus" even if one does not know who spent some money on the organization of the Tea Party groups.

Maoism has indeed been discredited, but not so much that it doesn't have proponents creating major front groups and leading large rallies. Maoism is also currently little more of a threat than is Nazism, but I wouldn't knowingly march in a rally called by a Nazi front group either.

Finally, thank you for the silly ad hominem; it shows you know the weakness of your "argument," such as it is.
I was referring to Mr. Santelli, but if the shoe fits...

OK, fine then. Let's lay the cards on the table. You want an ad hominem? You got it, bucko.

I have no problem with you personally. After all, I have (in the political parlance of our time) "had a beer with you." Your wife was a friend during my time in North Adams. By all accounts, you're an excellent father and a decent gardener.

But politically, you're an entitled Randroid douchebag who clutches his pearls at brusque language and acts like not behaving by Oxford Debating Society Rules makes one less of a person. Just because you remain calm while expressing odious and dangerous ideas doesn't make them less odious and dangerous. ANSWER isn't a thousandth the threat to this country as the viewpoint espoused by the Santellis, Kochs and Limbaughs of the world, and you most certainly know it. But no, this doesn't line up with your preconceived notions about wealth and work (hint: the latter is waaaaaaay more important than the former), so you prattle on about Commies! or whatever (I'm waiting for your list of 55 or 80 or 208 names) while doing your level best to muddy the waters and hide the real malefactors here.

You and I both know that there is never any danger of an outfit like the Workers World Party (and while many of the founders of ANSWER were indeed members of the WWP, calling it a "front group" is a tiny bit disingenuous; there were many other groups involved, and if Wikipedia is to be believed, ANSWER is now run by a separate group than the WWP) gaining actual political power here in the US. There is, however, a danger of actual far-right types taking over here (see Palin, Sarah). So yeah, decent people are more outraged about the Kochs hiding their influence over ANSWER clearly touting theirs.

And where was this outrage over deficit spending when Bush was rackin' it up in his War Against Brown People What Don't Worship JEEEEEzus!?

News flash, doofus: You ain't gonna be in Galt's Gulch. The fetishization of the wealthy is more dangerous to society* than Maoism, by a long shot. (And for the record, fascism *is* a bigger threat than anything communism has put up in about two decades.)

You're way smarter than this; quit hiding behind the smokescreen of Unfettered Free Enterprise and Industrial Strength Capitalism Über Alles and see what these rich douchebags are really about.

Of course, I am wasting my time here. You'll make some noise about "civility" and "ad hominems," and chuckle with your libertarian comrades about how you really showed that dumbass with the foul language, and that everyone knows there Are No Threats From The Right and a marginal tax rate (Marginal! My God! It doesn't even apply to the full amount!) of 39.6% means the Hammer and Sickle is being hoisted over the Capitol and how dare poor people have cellphones and clothes that don't look like a hobo from a Walker Evans photograph and whatnot.

And I stand by what I said about Atlas Shrugged. I can't decided if it's evil philosophy disguised as atrocious writing or atrocious writing disguised as evil philosophy. Anyone who ranks it among even their top 100 books should never be taken seriously in our public discourse ever again. Criminy, it makes Mein Kampf and The Sayings of Chairman Mao look rational. It almost makes Thomas Friedman look like he's making sense.

So, in summation: While I like you just fine personally, politically you can feel free to do what Dick "Dick" Cheney suggested Sen. Patrick Leahy do back in 2004 or whenever. Either that, or start using your powers for good instead of evil.

Wow, that felt good. Greg, feel free to delete if you feel it's not up to the standards of your blog.

*Margaret Thatcher once said there is no such thing as society. I suspect DWPittelli agrees. Sad.

This comment has been removed by the author.
And which one of us is being intolerant, illiberal even?
Ah, yes. The "intolerant of my intolerance" feint.

I'd say more, but Dear Old Morehead State is playing for a conference berth, and quite frankly, that's more appealing.

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