If you have the misfortune to be out of work or retired or simply tuning in your television to get the NCAA brackets and happen to pass “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, you may see the “Joe” for whom the program…of dubious value to anyone…is named. You may also see Patrick Buchanan. Now, the “Joe” is an immediately forgettable person, who apparently went to law school and was a Congressman for a term or two.
Buchanan is the self-styled former Republican staff person, television political commentator and, using that modest celebrity, a one time marginal Presidential candidate. Of course, so did Pat Paulsen, a comedian. He ran several times. Buchanan ran on the platform…publicly stated or not…of 1950s Republican Reactionary politics. He got a handful of votes, even with all the money and the television exposure.
So, it was not surprising a few days ago when both these Neocon Republicans happened upon the same word…the new word, apparently developed and passed around from Republican Party headquarters to all the GOP’s talking heads. The idea is those new members of Congress, supposedly given some kind of “mandate” to cut taxes, and apparently to eliminate unions, harass farmers and close public schools, should be called “Populists.”
To one of the lame-brained writers who came from some obscure Right Wing blog that probably sounded good. But it is contradictory and idiotic. It is as if we called Franklin Delano Roosevelt an Arch-conservative Reactionary. This is how far off they are.
So what did Joe and Pat, the Bobbsey twins, have to say that had any significance at all? They referred to certain Republicans as the “new, Populist” Republicans, referring to the Tea Party members. It is not surprising. Most people don’t know what to make of the Tea Party. We know, however, that the Tea Party works for the nation’s billionaires, particularly the Koch brothers, to accomplish their legislative agenda. That ain’t Populist, folks.
But it leads to incongruity, which leads to nutty behavior. Take the leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, Michelle Bachmann. She has said that there are many members of the House of Representatives who are “anti-American” and should be investigated. But, as serious as that is, she won’t help the Country out by specifying who is working undercover to damage America. Of course, she might mean “anti-American-religious.”
You see, Michelle Bachmann is a graduate of that famous law school, Oral Roberts University, now Regent University. Unfortunately, when Michelle Bachmann graduated, neither was accredited. Then she obtained, she says, a Masters in Tax Law from William and Mary, which is puzzling to William and Mary because they do not and never have offered a Master’s degree in tax law or in any legal specialty.
But, speaking of Tea Party members and Neocons and Regent University Law School, we do not want to leave the impression that it is still unaccredited. It was accredited in the late 1990s, and later ranked 136th among law schools. Still, that didn’t stop George W. Bush, who never did take much of a stand on intellectual achievement or or academic accomplishment or things like acreditations from appointing a former Regent faculty member as head of hiring for his administration. That opened the door for Regent graduates.
The Bush administration, beginning in 2001, two years after the law school had finally been accredited, hired 150 recent Regent graduates, including Monica Gooding, the principal Deputy Director of the Department of Justice to Alberto Gonsalves, until he resigned in disgrace. Gooding graduated from Regent Law School in 1999, spent a year on George Bush’s campaign in opposition research (“dirty tricks”) and then became the Deputy Director of the Justice Department. Not Populist but Political cronyism. This was a Rove and Cheney White House.
It is not surprising then that she later took the fifth and was given immunity for some of her testimony during a Senate investigation of the scandal involving Karl Rove’s mandate that she fire 9 U.S. attorneys who failed to bring phony investigations against Democratic candidates in their territories. By the way, her undergraduate degree was from (not kidding) Messiah University. By the way, no one went to jail and no Tea Party members are talking about investigating or indicting anyone for tampering with the electoral system.
So, whatever the Tea Party Republicans are…and it is pretty clear that they are not intellectuals…(Palin and Bachmann?) they are definitely not Populists. They are the opposite of Populists. They are bought and paid for by two specific groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Those groups are funded by Right Wing billionaires like David Koch, Philip Anschutz and William Mellon Scaife.
These men are not Populists. They are the Right Wing billionaire elitists who sponsor Americans for Prosperity and virtually every level of Republican politics. They want to do away with all environmental and financial regulations, with election laws, with public education, with unions and with taxes of any kind. They see themselves as a ruling minority, a nobility of sorts, a limited group of which they would be one hundred percent of the membership. Thanks to the imbecilic Tea Party members (except perhaps some who have learned the truth in Wisconsin and Ohio) they are succeeding in their vision of a billionaire run oligarchic society.
These new Tea Party Senators are not always the brightest bulb in the room. Ronald Johnson, the Tea Party Senator who purchased his 8-million-dollar Senate seat from Wisconsin voters is an example. He discovered that arrogance is not enough in Washington. Sometimes the guy with the really fast draw gets pissed at you.
In a recent hearing on the budget, he got snippy with the Democratic co-chairman of the President’s Commission on the Budget, Erskine Bowles stating that “…I’m kind of a reality based guy, one who looks at real facts and figures.” Bowles then in an offhand way, quickly said, “Me too.” Then Bowles, noticeably irritated at freshman Johnson’s attitude, proceeded to rattle off a set of numbers and calculations on the past, current and future budget from memory that corrected all of Johnson’s assumptions, answered questions he hadn’t even known enough to ask and left him on his back in the middle of the street with numerous bullet holes in his shirt.
It isn’t merely this morning Joe guy and Buchanan who are trying to set this up. Another gaggle of Right Wing columnists and cowering back-room boys,are sitting around planning to call the Tea Party members “Populists’ with a giggle and delight at fooling the hicks once more. There is clearly a movement by Neocons to legitimize as populist legislators a group of paid political operatives for the Koch Family, Anschutz, Scaife, Coors and others.
Stop for one second and think. Who voted for more tax breaks for millionaires in the middle of a huge recession when 14 million are still out of work, 50 million do not have health insurance and we are fighting two wars? Who gave tax breaks to millionaires while demanding that teachers pay more (not just a little more but $8,000 more) out-of-pocket from their hard earned income in benefits which were originally negotiated in lieu of pay? Who is trying to kill affordable health care and has so confused and obstructed the plan that almost half of all Americans poll against their own best interests?
Answer—not just Republicans but the Neocon Republican Tea Party members who now want you to think of them as Populists. If they are so dedicated to the People, why aren’t they talking about rolling back the tax breaks on the 1% who own 66% of all stocks and bonds and who will earn, this year, right now, 55% of all income in this country. Why aren’t they talking about cutting back the military, speeding up the end of the two wars and adding tariffs to bring jobs home to America?
Because they pretend to work for their constituents but actually work only for the top 1% of Americans. This year, 3 million people will earn as much as 270 million American families. Ok. But why can’t they pay taxes to help out during a Recession that many of them (the financial millionaires and billionaires) created?
You have to be stupid not to see the logic…or a royalist, or a Nazi. You have to work for the king (or the rich) against the people or for “the Party” against the people in order to understand why some people think that a few should get rich while others starve. We are not even talking about poverty. We’ve always had poor people. But now some people, millions, are desperate. More than one in three people now goes to a food bank sometime during the year.
Worse yet, we are at war. In previous wars, Populists all agreed that we needed to raise taxes to pay for our wars. In the First World War, we raised taxes on the top incomes (above what would be about $5 million today) from 7% to 25% to 97%. We did the same thing in World War II when we had bigger debts and deficits than we have now. Until the Kennedy presidency we had 91% marginal taxes and a 74% top rate after he cut them.
The same people who supported George W. Bush support these Tea Party people. And the Tea Party people support the same things George W. Bush did. They want to cut Social Security make Medicare more expensive, eliminate collective bargaining, cut money for Medicaid and repeal affordable health care for the rest of us.
Who are the people behind the newly elected Tea Party House and Senate members? The Koch family…oil and chemicals. Anschutz…oil, media and chemicals. Coors…a lifelong, vicious anti-union activist. Scaife…oil, mining, timber, media…hated Clinton for building an economy with 23 million jobs.
Scaife paid millions to finally get Clinton impeached for lying about an affair. Rupert Murdoch is also involved. He’s the media Machiavelli behind all these guys. Their industries advertise in his almost unlimited media properties. In turn, he gave a million bucks to help elect Republican governors, and more than that in free media coverage on Fox News…the Republican Propaganda Channel.
He makes announcers and commentators who couldn’t get arrested without his help…into multi millionaires by simply making them give up any conscience that they might have had. Hannity was a zero, and O’Reilly was a gossip columnist…still is…and Beck was a drunk a druggie and a loser at life. All they had to do was say whatever his sidekick, the former Chairman of the Republican Party, Roger Ailes, writes for them.
It is easy money if you have no scruples. And that is what this group of Right Wing, Republican Tea Party House members and Senators is all about. Collecting big paychecks and big campaign contributions from the Kochs, Anschutz, Coors, Scaife, and numerous others.
They are not Populists. Bob LaFollette’s great-great grandnephew follows in his tradition as Secretary of State of Wisconsin. Doug LaFollette is a Democrat. That is the Bob LaFollette tradition. It is patently foolish and quite likely just another lie by the Right Wing….Michael Barone, Charles Krauthammer, others…Right Wingers…that the traditions of LaFollette, which were for laborers and farmers, would extend to Barry Goldwater and then to George W. Bush…whom all these Right Wingers supported.
That is patent nonsense. Bob LaFollette would never have tried to take health care away from farmers, give huge tax breaks to businesses, and then use the hole in the budget to intimidate teachers by threatening huge layoffs and eliminating collective bargaining. This is the opposite of Populism. If LaFollette was sun and light, these guys represent dark night of the soul.
The great traditions of Wisconsin that have made its university respected both here and abroad, and the tradition of public education, with a union system that is 2nd in the country…2nd in the United States in measurement of state educational systems came from LaFollette.
These tea party members and, for that matter, any Republicans these days, are not, could not possibly be, Populists. Populism is simple. It means government of the People, by the People and most of all—for the People. Not for billionaires, not for partisan political hacks, not for Right Wing Religious nuts, people who think the government should cater only to white Protestant Christians.
The Tea Party Republicans, the Neoconservative Republicans and any person who calls himself or herself a Republican today is the farthest thing from a Populist. These people have shown by their votes, by the people with whom they associate, by the legislation that favors their constituents and by those whom they denigrate that they believe in government by wealth and power.
They believe in the power of large international corporations, of the wealthiest of the managerial and landed classes, and a large standing military, with war at least whim of a ruling elite. Consequently, by definition they are not Populists but Plutocrats, period.