The Grand Old (Tea) Party – Part 1

When I look back over the last 40 years, the Tea Party phenomenon was inevitable.  Two generations of spoon feeding voters the “government is bad” mantra from the Reagan years had to lead to something.

Add the right wing evangelicals who failed to get what they wanted under Bush – remember David Kuo’s claims the evangelicals were mocked by Bush aides? – who now have apparently decided they’ve had enough of waiting for the GOP to stop using them and start producing…so here we are.

Reports indicate the John Bircher’s are back in vogue co-hosting CPAC – what would Buckley say to that?

So on one side we have a brew of Christian fundamentalists, supposed fiscal conservatives (who had NO problem with Dick Cheney’s “deficits don’t matter” GOP spending spree) and whether they want to admit to it or not (the poster’s – nor the web sites – don’t lie) those who are racially biased – the white supremacists Ron and Rand Paul associate with, along with the Birchers.

The first cousins to the Paul Tea Partiers are the “grass roots” corporate funded (Koch brothers) group that sprung up from ordinary people who were supposedly outraged at the Wall Street bailouts, et al.  that suddenly appeared on the 20th of February – one day after Rick Santelli’s famous “rant” on CNBC.

Much has been reported about Freedom Works and the Koch brothers being the funding mechanisms behind the Tea Party movement.  According to a report prepared by Greenpeace, the Koch Brothers as of March 2010 have dumped over $24.8 million in funding opposition groups against climate change legislation/denial, $5.7 million in political campaign funding and another $37.9 million in direct lobbying.  Follow these links for more information:  Crooks & Liars

But little has been said about when this so called “movement” actually began.  In doing the research for this post, I came across, and, specifically, articles regarding the Origins of the Tea Party, posted by James Scaminaci III on Mar 16th, 2010 and filed under The Tea Party Movement.

One group missing from this equation that doesn’t get mentioned is the Constitutional Studies groups that are the not too distant cousins to the Tea Parties.  The National Center for Constitutional Studies appears to be the grandfather of these organizations.  The organization was started by Willard Cleon Skousen, author of The 5000 Year Leap. A Google search of “5000 Year Leap” will lead you to others.  We have our own group here in Bellingham.  All have this book at the core of their study of the Constitution.  You will recall this book has long been promoted by Glen Beck (along with his gold buying fervor).  Richard Packham has written a critical review of this book with regard to many of its distortions.  Recently, I reviewed a copy of the 101 Questions for the Candidate.  I have not complete my response to all these questions as yet, but if you’re interested, you can click here for the Q and A.  (My responses are preceded by an “A”)

Hats off to James Scaminaci III for his in depth knowledge and research on this topic.

I’ll recap some of it here, but highly recommend readers to go to the complete articles for complete understanding and documentation.

As we know, initially there were two branches of the Tea Party – the libertarian [Ron Paul] wing – these are the white nationalists (who are probably behind the racist posters).  The Libertarian Party of Illinois claims to have given Rick Santelli the idea for the tax day tea parties:

“In December of 2008 the LP Illinois formulated the Boston Tea Party Chicago concept and advertised it through the LPI yahoo and meetup groups, Ron Paul Meetup groups, Campaign for Liberty groups, national tax groups and well as other various peace groups and local / national new sources.”

The second group was allegedly founded in response to Rick Santelli’s “rant.”

The [more than] speculation is that Santelli’s “rant” may very well have been planned.

Records indicate the domain was purchased by Zack Christensen in August 2008 well in advance of Santelli’s Feb 19, 2009 outburst.

Zack Christensen was apparently behind the Bill Ayers story that gave Palin her “pallin’ around with terrorists” talking point.

Christensen on his blog, he states, “I’m Zack Christenson. I produce videos for a think tank.”  So how is it he thought to purchase the ‘Chicago Tea Party” domain 6 months BEFORE Santelli’s rant?  And 4 months BEFORE the Libertarian Party of Illinois claims to have formulated the idea.

Unlike James Scaminaci III, I smell a rat.  This is much too coincidental, although admittedly, Christenson has not uploaded content to this site.

Also, within hours of Santelli’s rant, the domain was purchased.  The owner of this domain is Eric Odom who has connections with the Samuel Adams Alliance (you’ll recall our 1776 Sam Adams was involved in the original “Tea Party”)…that has, according to Scaminaci has been scrubbed from their website.  Within a few short weeks a “network” of “grassroots” tea parties sprung up as if by magic along with professionally prepared signage and a nice motor home and buses all decked out as well.  Clearly the grass roots were not funding these amenities.  Except it wasn’t within “a few short weeks” – it was the NEXT day following Santelli’s rant.   More on that shortly.

From the Leadership Tea Party site the founding members include Michael Patrick Leahy, author of several books, including Rules for Conservative Radicals, What Does Sarah Palin Believe? and What Does Barack Obama Believe?

Mr. Leahy also has connections with Eric Odom according to the Leadership Tea Party:

Michael Patrick Leahy was one of the early leaders of the Tea Party Movement. As co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter, Mr. Leahy joined with Eric Odom and other grassroots activists to organize tea parties in fifty cities on February 27, 2009, a mere eight days after Ric Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC.

Which brings us to Keli Carender, Seattle’s own Tea Party organizer.  Keli Carender was another of the early “founders,” who [surprise!] “As documented by The Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, which started it all in a conference call on February 20, 2009 “ was a participant of this founding call ONE DAY AFTER SANTELLI’S RANT…now that’s some fine organizational work.  Imagine organizing 100 people in less than 24 hours (people you haven’t even yet identified) to join in on the same conference call.  Having organized getting 5 people into one of these – no way it was done in less than 24 hours…it’d take a week or two alone to ID these people (they, after all couldn’t be found at that time by using “tea party” as your Google search term.)

After identifying her name on the list, I had to do some research on her.

In a New York Times article about her on February 27, 2010, they report,

“Ms. Carender’s first rally (February 27, 2009) drew only 120 people. A week later, she had 300, and six weeks later, 1,200 people gathered for a Tax Day Tea Party. Last month, she was among about 60 Tea Party leaders flown to Washington to be trained in election activism by FreedomWorks, the conservative advocacy organization led by Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader.”

One wonders if her “last month” training at Freedom works, was actually in February 2009, especially since her first rally was on Feb 27 (AFTER she participated in the “founders” call.

(The following has been scrubbed from the FaceBook page) – Note “FreedomWorks 9/12!”

She states to the reporter in the Times article,

“Her fiancé, Conor McNassar, urged her to channel her complaints into a blog, which she called Liberty Belle. [aka]

“He didn’t mind hearing it,” she said. “He just couldn’t hear it all the time.”

Since her first entry on her blog starts on Jan 25, 2009 (one month and two days BEFORE her first rally and just 5 days after the Obama inauguration and the same date of Obama’s first radio address to the nation outlining what he wanted in the stimulus package), one wonders just when did she have this epiphany?  The stimulus bill wasn’t signed into law until February 14, 2009.  In January, they were still haggling.


“And she sent an e-mail message to the conservative writer Michelle Malkin, who agreed to announce the protest on her blog and even sent some pulled pork to feed the crowd.”

Note, Michelle Malkin was a participant of the Feb 20, 2009 call WITH Ms. Carender.

Sorry, but the time line does NOT FIT, Ms. Carender.  I have to believe you were plugged in way before your first blog post.

Recently, Ms. Carender has received the 2010 Sammy Award from the Sam Adams Alliance.

Back to the “FreedomWorks 9/12!” Facebook comment above.  Note the date – February 2, 2009.  Glen Beck did NOT announce the 9/12 Project until:

“The 9-12 Project (or 9/12 Project, 912 Project) is a political group created by American television and radio personality Glenn Beck. It was officially launched on the Friday the 13th of March 2009 episode of Glenn Beck,”

Guess that idea wasn’t really hatched up by Glen Beck, but by FreedomWorks, too.

Grass Roots — not so much –  Astro Turf –- without a doubt.  The only grass roots part of this is those who have been pulled into their protests who are being duped by those who have a different motive…unless, of course, those within the tea party would prefer fascism and a Christian theocracy over our democratic republic…

More in the next post.

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