Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Populist radio host decries campaign corporatism

Campaign records show industrialists' backing of “grass roots” Tea Party organizers locally

Austin – Jim Hightower's proposal for this sea change year of conflict – 2012 – between the world's largest corporations and the common man.

You remember him - the common, garden variety man?

He's the one who got his human rights from God, while corporations – those paper creations which live in filing cabinets in Secretary of States' offices from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong - got them from the U.S. Supreme Court in a “landmark” decision handed down in 1886.

They got another little boost in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Citizen United v. FEC. The holding is simple enough. Since a corporation has the same rights as a human being, then corporations should be able to spend their money directly on political advertising under the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

Done. To be filed under "No sooner said than."

Jim Hightower's solution: “Make every politician wear their backers' logos on their suits like NASCAR drivers do!”

The populist former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, liberal columnist and radio pundit says this time the hogs are in the ditch – we aren't invited to the barbecue - and the only way to get those hogs out is “to spread the facts about how the wealthy wield power.”

Mr. Hightower blames America's economic woes on the bailouts of big banks and investment brokerages, insurance companies and automakers.

“Our economy didn't crash because government is too big to succeed but because Wall St. banks were adjudged too big to fail – so we saved their butts with our tax money.

“Who sold this madness to the American people? Some of America's wealthiest corporations, CEOs, and foundations – they are behind the lobbying, the propaganda, and the tea party itself.”

Say what?

Hey, I think the Democrats were in on that, too. It took their Congressional votes and Senatorial support to get that little heist in motion and on the road.

But we'll let that go, for now. Still too early and too close to call.

Mr. Hightower does have a point, to say the least.

“Let's start with the Koch brothers, David and Charles. These guys made a large fortune by inheriting a medium-sized one, and using it to bully their way up to become two of the richest 20 people in America. They are also far right-wing, laissez-faire extremists who fund groups with benign names like Americans for Prosperity..and – those two corporate billionaires are the moneybags behind the supposed 'grassroots' tea party movement.”

There is some local indication that what he is saying is the truth here in Six Shooter Junction.

A careful but quick and cursory check of campaign finance records shows that District 57 State Representative Marva Beck bestowed $3,000 on founding president of the Waco Tea Party Toby Marie Walker on Nov. 1, 2010, the day before the election.
A lot of the Beck campaign's funding came from the ultra-conservative Texans for Lawsuit Reform organization, a coalition of business interests which is fighting the influence of trial lawyers such as former Democratic Representative Jim Dunnam.

Mrs. Beck, a construction company operator who builds natural gas processing plants and booster stations for pipelines, defeated seasoned Democratic Representative Jim Dunnam, a veteran of the gerrymandering wars.

Republican McLennan County Commissioner Ben Perry, a former Woodway police officer and insurance man, defeated long-term Republican Ray Meadows for his seat on the Commissioners' Court.

He bestowed at least two $600 payments on Ms. Walker's Waco Tea Party co-founder, Mike Simon during his campaign. Old line real estate operators and financiers backed Mr. Perry's bid to defeat Commissioner Meadows.

That was then. This is now. The dash for cash is on because it takes walking-around money to get out the vote.

Waco Tea Party activists served as interlocking directors of various Republican clubs as well as their grass roots Tea Party movement.

Shortly before the election, they made moves to purge certain activists from their ranks, as did other Tea Parties throughout the nation.

The money gamble paid off.

Newly elected conservatives in the state house and in Washington have held firm to keep from spending any more than they have to for education while allowing defense spending to go forward as before on the national level.

At the state house, they refused to touch the fabled “Rainy Day” fund of oil and gas royalties stockpiled the last time those commodities paid off big.

As Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill often said, “All politics is local.”

He might have added that it takes walking around money to get the job done, no matter what interests from which side of aisle one may represent and advocate.

Oh, yeah, Mr. Hightower wrote all this in a mailing advertising his newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He stuffs it as chock full of prose liberally studded with thorny rhetoric as sharp as a prickly pear and logic that bites back as hard as a jalapeno – and has for quite awhile.

The price: $10 - “a ridiculous price for a whole year.”

His take on where the money comes from and where it goes:

“You should know which companies are backing Republicans and which are behind Democrats.

“Hint: Time Warner, Costco, and Google are on one side -

“Exxon-Mobil, Home Depot, and News Corp are on the other.”

One more hint: McLennan County Republican Chairman Joe B. Hinton is a retired Vice President of Exxon-Mobil.

1 comment:

  1. I don't believe the leadership of the Tea Party taking payoffs from candidates makes the whole movement AstroTurf but it did wind up being financially rewarding for Toby and Michael.