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Tea Party Robber Barons

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Posted on Oct 24, 2010
Flickr / Fibonacci Blue (CC-BY)

By Stanley Kutler

(Page 2)

Candidate John Raese earned his wealth, he said, the old-fashioned way—he inherited it. With his family, he has extensive, nonunion coal-mining holdings, river barge companies and 25 radio stations in the state. He has been a losing candidate for various state offices, defeated by opponents including Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller. He proudly identifies with the tea party folk: “I was a tea partyer before the tea party existed,” he said. He called movement “the greatest thing that has happened to this country. I am so encouraged by the anger in this country. A lot of us are angry.” Sarah Palin loves this man.

Make no mistake: Raese passionately hates the president and the Democratic Congress. To spread his message, he displays a photograph of his opponent, Gov. Joe Manchin, sitting next to Obama. (The photograph actually was shot at Robert Byrd’s funeral.) His campaign is filled with anti-Obama rhetoric. “Why do I hate Obamacare?” he asked at one rally. “It is a socialist program which will not work. It hasn’t worked anywhere in the world. It will be repealed.” But “Obamacare” is only part of a bigger picture for him. 

Raese’s favorite villain is Franklin D. Roosevelt. He particularly assails the “unconstitutional” minimum wage law, first enacted in 1938. “The minimum wage is something that FDR put in place a long time ago during the Great Depression,” he told ABC News. “I don’t think it worked then. It didn’t solve any problems then and it hasn’t solved any problems in 50 years.” Raese simply favors abolishing the “unconstitutional” law.

Seventy years ago, Republican Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone wrote the opinion in U.S. v. Darby, unanimously sustaining the constitutionality of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), abolishing child labor and establishing a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour. That law sought the “elimination of labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standards of living necessary for health, efficiency and well being of workers.” The decision neatly fit the court’s view that the national government possessed such power and responsibility.


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Raese’s family probably groaned under the burden of having to raise wages in its mines. He is a crude advocate for generations of right-wing grumblings about the transformation of the American nation in the 1930s and 1940s. That undercurrent of alienation now has re-emerged as the well-financed, well-directed tea party, challenging the very legitimacy of so much which has sustained us. Abolish minimum wages, repeal government-run health care programs and privatize Social Security? Of course. The rants are portrayed in the tea partyers’ favorite banner: “Take Back Our County.” However we characterize the current movement, it is clear that truth is the first casualty and the constitutional order is the first prisoner of their war.

Stanley Kutler is the author of “The Wars of Watergate” and other writings.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment

Thought it might be Mencken.

Of course the answer to reducing unemployment is to force all the unemployed to work as day-laborers for $5/hour—special exception to the Minimum Wage laws (which the Teabaggers want ended too).

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By followingsylvis, October 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

In addition to the “media-hype” elevation of faux-grassroots nutjobs, I think it is also necessary to confront the elitist refusal to give recognition to genuine grassroots leaders, who are seen as not flashy enough to be pressworthy.

Good leadership is not flashy, especially at the grassroots level, and a little bit of recognition goes a long way.

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By morristhewise, October 26, 2010 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

There is no more cotton to be picked or assembly line jobs to be had, because of
this change 35 million have become unemployable. Only a government no skilled
jobs program will put them back to work. Unfortunately many tax payers would
rather see them hanging out and doing nothing rather then pay the salaries of job
challenged fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers. It is time for a new change.

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By Maani, October 26, 2010 at 11:27 am Link to this comment


That would be H.L. Mencken.  Might as well add P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  LOL.


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By squeaky jones, October 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

American’ts are to ignorant for democracy. They can not think and chew gum at the same time.

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By robert puglia, October 25, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

it was mencken who said, amongst other things;

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the
intelligence of the American public.”


“All government, of course, is against liberty.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 25, 2010 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

Who said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer”?

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By jonathonk99, October 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment

The people of the Tea-Party are deceiving themselves if they think the
Republicans will bring back the jobs.  The only jobs the Republicans care about
are the ones that perpetuate ecological disaster.  And the Tea-Party better had
watch out because before they know it those jobs will be exported over seas as
well, or else wages will drop dramatically in the face of corporate provocations,
aka campaign financing. 

Either way I agree with everyone.  Money in politics needs to go.  It should be
considered the most important issue in the media and in political debate but will
virtually go undiscussed.

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By cmarcusparr, October 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

“The people get the government they deserve.” Thomas Jefferson

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Peetawonkus's avatar

By Peetawonkus, October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

While the Europeans protest for jobs and dignity, Americans pour out into the streets in angry demonstrations against the very idea of helping the poor and the economically devastated, or putting the slightest restraint on the rapacious super-rich. The Europeans protest actual policies, while our American “dissidents” froth and rant about a fantasy world of “socialist” programs that only benefit shiftless “others” and sneaky, border-crossing ‘Messicans—and, of course, the devil-worshiping Muslims, who are plotting every hour to poison the precious bodily fluids of real Americans and take over the country from within.

The American protesters vociferously denounce the healthcare “reform” bill—not because it is actually a gargantuan corporate boondoggle, but because they believe it is communist Muslim atheist Nazi socialism. They protest against the laughably anemic “financial regulations” that the Administration has meekly proposed for its masters on Wall Street—PR measures, tissue-paper thin, that fall miles short of the kind of mild regulations that operated during America’s greatest periods of growth and broad-based prosperity.

Fantasy is a key component of this elite-funded “protest” movement, which relies strongly on “Big Lies” to stoke the fires of racism, resentment, victimhood and self-righteousness at its proto-fascist core. The primary example of this is of course the entirely manufactured controversy over the “Ground Zero mosque.

Atrocity is the end result of hate fueled fantasy.

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By PRGP, October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

NO corporate $$$ in campaigns.  Period. Then proceed to impeach Roberts and Alito for lying in their confirmation hearings for the SCOTUS.

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By FRTothus, October 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

With each move to the right Obama makes, more is
demanded, and every move has been to the right, every
policy continues the worst crimes, gives the
criminals a free pass, rewards them in fact, and is
criticized for being leftist and socialist (surprise)
by the corporate-owned media. Truth be told, it IS a
form of socialism, but not the one it is accused of
being, but one better understood as corporatism, a
“nanny state” for the corporations, a state of
“rugged individualism” for everyone else.  Record
corporate profits and the “leftist” democrats make
the thieves whole, press for foreclosure in the
courts, do nothing about stopping torture or closing
Gitmo, leave the Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus in
tatters, expand war and arms sales, protect BP, and
we are supposed to vote for these people?  The “tea
party” began as something much different than what it
began as, which had a very reasonable platform to
begin with, which is probably why it was taken over -
the threat to the status quo needed to be eliminated. 
Still, what is not being addressed is how to get the
profit out of politics, why the money matters.  Maybe
the Supreme Court did us a favor. The Law says that
the airwaves belong to the people. This is not about
campaign finance reform, because the fact it requires
financing is the issue.  Media must be treated as a
public utility.  All national TV networks MUST give
FREE and EQUAL air time to ALL of the candidates in
exchange for the broadcast license.  End the need to
raise campaign dollars and we end the bulk of the
systemic bribery.

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