Facts are not Fringe!

May 23, 2009

The article below seems to suggest that facts are fringe!  I beg to differ.  You do not define me.  Truth = Freedom!

Nearly time for a torrent of teabags, but liberals question if it’s grassroots or astroturf action

Nearly time for a torrent of teabags, but liberals question if it’s grassroots or astroturf action

[PoliticsinMinnesota.com – I wrote this up for work [1]] One major dynamic of political action these days is the constant battle of perception over whether a given demonstration or political organization is really an authentic “grassroots” wildfire rising up from the people. As one local tea party supporter put it to PIM, this is really a “liberty movement,” not a partisan movement, but are political opportunists of every stripe trying to reshape perceptions?

The first argument from detractors is often a claim that their opponents are really getting played or co-opted by a fake grassroots “astroturfing” operation staged by “the usual suspects,” namely public relations firms, think tanks and the other institutional infrastructures dedicated to propagating ideas and influencing policy.

Overall, it seems like the big national players want to stay on top of emerging movements, regardless of how one wants to analyze “authenticity,” while locally, Pat Anderson and Sue Jeffers, both of whom have strong credentials with Minnesota’s libertarian circles, seem to be in charge of things today. (Anderson is the event’s official media coordinator.)

On the national level, liberal media types and bloggers [2] are rounding up evidence [3] that today’s tax day tea parties have been thoroughly co-opted — not directly by the apparatus of the Republican National Committee, but rather, in their view, Fox News, the big PR firms and other players are “taking over” the staging of the tea parties. On MSNBC last night (video) [4], decidedly liberal analyst Lawrence O’Donnell and host David Schuster attributed the whole scene to conservative luminaries like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. Paul Krugman [5] and ThinkProgress [6] have been all over the case as well.

The leading astroturf suspect at the leftie Talking Points Memo [7] is FreedomWorks [8], which is chaired by Armey, and FreedomWorks’ website currently promotes the demonstrations. (Here’s the messaging kit [9].) Citizens for a Sound Economy created a site that has a retro/amateur look to it [10]. “American Solutions for Winning the Future” also sent out a tea party toolkit [11]. Others have pointed to [12] the Beltway corporate lobby and PR shop Shirley & Bannister [13], which runs a lot of conservative message campaigns, as a player.

Meanwhile, the local anti-tea party message will be backed up by Alliance for a Better Minnesota [14], which is sending a giant inflatable eagle to be towed around the Capitol area by driver Joe Davis.

Around the nation, liberal folks are having some fun of their own, in one case planning to pretend to be reporters [15]. Matt Taibbi jokes about how conservative messaging these days [16] is like a “Farrelly Brothers version of right-wing political agitation … A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded and full of misdirected anger,” arguing that the whole spectacle is designed to redirect anger away from the various financial players that essentially caused this situation.

[Sidebar: For fans of political intrigue, exploring the idea of the “foundation-financed left gatekeepers” (who theoretically keep debates patrolled within “safe” boundaries) is an area with plenty of data points over the decades. Money often comes with strings attached … and MoveOn.org doesn’t seem too interested in advocating policies that would infringe on George Soros’ freedom to speculate on currencies, for example.]

Here’s most of a memo just sent out [17] by Alliance for a Better Minnesota that features plenty of links and references to the mesh of political actors getting involved all over the country — and a reminder that the Minnesota GOP is supporting many of today’s events. [And what better way to round out talk of grassroots and astroturfing than to reference local tea party organizer Toni Backdahl’s Twitters about the infamous Bilderberg Group? [18]]

April 14, 2009

To: Interested Parties, Minnesota members of the media
From: Denise Cardinal, Executive Director Alliance for a Better Minnesota
Re: Minnesota’s “Tea Party” activities on April 15

This memo outlines the facts behind the fiction of the Minnesota “Tea Parties.” Like the other ones around the country they’re organized by DC-based corporate lobbyists who protect big business, including oil companies. Much of this information can be found online at: http://www.savetherich.com. [19]

Freedom Works — one of the lobbying firms behind the tea parties — is headed by prominent D.C. lobbyist and former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Freedom Works:

* Coordinates conference calls among tea party protesters, contacting conservative activists [20] to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”

* Moved to “take over” the planning of local events [21] in Florida [22]

* Provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message [23]” to the public and media.

* Owns several [24] domain [25] addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs [26] — to promote the protests.

Americans for Prosperity run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner [27] in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations [28] — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Americans for Prosperity staff are writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey [29], Arizona [30], New Hampshire [31], Missouri [32], Kansas [33], and several other states.

These Tea Parties haven’t all been peaceful — In Cincinnati reporters “had to seek police protection.”

At a tea party in Cincinnati, “Several reporters and photographers were chased, spat on, and verbally harassed. No one was arrested. [Cincinnati tea protest, 3/17/09 [34]]

The Tea Parties are not really about “average” citizens — but Neo-nazis, militias and secessionists are among the most active organizers.

Fringe elements and extremists are appearing at tea parties:

* Neo-Nazis: http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=581332 [35]

* Militias: http://www.michiganmilitia.com/SMVM/field_reports/2007/apr007/militia_field_day_2009.htm [36]

* Secessionists: http://www.star-telegram.com/elections/story/1305537.html [37]

* Racists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhlLdy3Er4c [38]

Minnesota’s chief organizer is particularly hateful and bizarre; her twitter posts (all sic.) include the following statements (saved PDF is available for reference):

* Geitner, Paulson, Bernanke, Daschel, and even Condi. Rice! Bilderberg 2008 and the beat goes on… working on it since 1907 #teaparty 7:14 PM Mar 30th [39]
* @BarackObama [40] Since you are working for Bilderberg, Trilateral and appealing to the World, your not really working for US. #teaparty
* @BarackObama [41] How come ACORN went global after Katrina and using same oppressive platform in all 50 countries? #tcot #dontgo #limbaugh #sgp 9:18 AM Mar 27t [42]
* @BarackObama [43] is it true that you are just @NancyPelosi [44] (aka Satan) ‘s puppet? Your ears grow larger when you lie! #tcot #teaparty #limbaugh 9:02 AM Mar 27th [45]
* @BarackObama [46] I feel like I have been gang raped by YOU and YOUR LIBERAL thugs! I am not the only one! #tcot #sgp #mntcot #limbaugh #hhrs 6:40 PM Mar 13th [47]
* Citizens across the nation are now demanding @BarackObama [48] to prove that the votes for him were actually from American citizens. #tcot #sgp 9:35 AM Mar 5th [49]
* I am getting my sons 6 month insulin supply ordered… In case of complete ANARCHY! Oh, thats right, the Govt started it! #tcot #diggcons12:41 PM Feb 23rd [50]
* @BarackObama [51] Are you going to change our US Preamble to ACORNs National Preamble? Is ACORN going to take over the UN? OPPRESSED! #TCOT
* @NancyPelosi [52] Satan! I rebuke you! 8:37 AM Feb 21st [53]
* Obama on tv, get ready to feel raped 7:01 PM Feb 9th [54]
* @BarackObama [55] AZ CO FL MI MN MO NV NH NM OH OR PA VA WI No photo id required to vote loop hole, I know the Palestinians will go here #tcot 9:21 AM Feb 8th [56]

More on the Minnesota Tea Parties:
The Tea Parties are not really being organized by “average” citizens — they are being organized of the fringe conservative groups, with strong coordination with state and national Republican groups.. Many are being organized by prominent, long-time local GOP activists, party insiders, or fringe elements of the right wing.

The Bemidji Tea Party is being organized by Kenneth Cobb, the Chairman of the county GOP.

The Willmar Tea Party is being organized by Rollie Nissen, former chair and current board member of the county GOP.

A puff piece promoting this party appeared in the West Central Tribune [57].

Nissen attended [58] the “Grassroots Campaign School,” sponsored by the MN GOP and put on the the Leadership Institute. The Leadership Institute’s annual budget of $8 million is financed by contributions from wealthy conservatives (New York Times, 06/2001 [59]). Numerous conservative foundations [60], such as the Coors-funded Castle Rock Foundation, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, have also provided funding to the Institute.

Among the “resources” offered to Leadership Institute patrons is a documentary produced by the Leadership Institute titled: “Roots of the Ultra-Left: What They Really Think.” A trailer for the documentary and the full script are available here [61].

Sponsored by the Olmstead County GOP with various resources from American Solutions, DontGo, Smart Girl Politics, and TCOT, according to their website [62].

The Duluth Tea Party website [63] uses information and content from the lobbyist groups.

Elbow Lake
The Elbow Lake Tea Party is being sponsored by the County GOP.

The Fairmont Tea Party is being organized by Neal Breitbarth, a local GOP fundraiser, and longtime activist [64]. Breitbarth has attended the RNC [65] and sat on the Rules Committee [66].

In 1994, Breitbarth supported [67] Quist over Carlson at the GOP State Convention.

He was an early supporter of Mitt Romney in the 2008 primaries, and served on [68] the State Central Steering Committee.

Mille Lacs
The Millie Lacs Tea Party also had a puff piece printed in the local paper [69]. One of the local organizers, Wendy Stomberg, says the American Family Association recruited her to organize the tea party. “They sent it to me as an opportunity to express, at a grass roots level, the disappointment at the current administration and the policies that are being placed into law.” The American Family Association is a fundamentalist Christian lobbying group, which has a Minnesota affiliate. The AFA is known for its campaigns against abortion, pornography, and gambling and its unapologetic stance against “the homosexual agenda.” AFA has boycotted American Girl, Family Guy, Campbell’s, and other companies.

Dave and Lisa Otey are also listed as organizers for this tea party. Dave has made comments on the State Budget (here [70] and here [71]).

The Owatonna Tea Party uses [72] video and other resources from American Solutions to promote their event.

Twin Cities
The Twin Cities Tea Party lists many sponsors with fringe conservative ties, including:

* Minnesotans for Immigration Reform
o A member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform [73].
o In response to a comment [74] Liberian president Ellen Johnson made in front of a Minnesota audience, regarding the progress being made in Liberia, FAIR president Dan Stein, said “It is time for people to go back and rebuild their country. . . for Liberians to stay when their country is at peace would be an abuse of U.S. hospitality” More here [75].
o These groups will leaflet the Minnesota state capitol to recruit new members to support anti-immigrant policies [76].
o A part of MCFIR, which put up a billboard [77] in Albert Lea depicting a road sign [78] featuring a family of migrants running across the highway.

* Minnesota Majority
o MPR: Minnesota Majority Under the Microscope [79]
o Minnesota Majority Targets Private Citizen Karl Bremer in Nastygram Campaign [80]
o MN2020: Conservative Extremist Group’s Racist Leanings Exposed [81]

Prominent Republicans involved nationwide include:

* Sen. David Vitter introduces bill honoring tea parties:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/vitter-wants-national-tea_n_183044.html [82]

* Majority Leader Boehner thanked the Cincinnati tea party participants: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56v3qiRgdD0 [83]

* The rallies are being officially supported by Newt Gingrich and his organization American Solutions for Winning the Future.

* At least a dozen other prominent Republicans are scheduled to speak at the April 15th tea parties:

o Rep. David Davis (R-TN) and representatives [84] from Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) office will be speaking at the Kingsport [85] protest.
o Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) will be speaking at the Salt Lake City [86] protest.
o Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and a representative from Rep. Sam Graves’ (R-MO) office will be speaking at the Overland Park [87]protest.
o Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) will be speaking at the Shreveport [88] protest.
o Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) will be speaking at the Jacksonville [89] protest.
o Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) will be speaking at the Wauseon [90] protest.
o Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) will be speaking at the Phoenix [91] protest.
o Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) will be speaking at the Charlotte [92] protest.
o Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) will be speaking at the Brevard [93] protest.
o Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) will be speaking at the Longview [94] protest.
o Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) will be speaking at the protest in Columbia [95].

Other conservative activists will be speaking at events as well, including anti-health reform activist Rick Scott [96] and Joe the Plumber [97].

In any case, here’s the schedule of speakers for the State Capitol today, as we received it:

6:57 – 7:03

Jim Schottmueller

7:05 – ?


7:30ish – 8ish

5 pm – 5:55 pm



Declaration Signing

Post Card Signing

5:55 – 6:05

Billy Franze / Forest Wilkenson

(Billy playing the Star Spangled Banner. During the middle of the song, the color guard (Forest Wilkenson) will make his way to the stage. Once song is finished Forest will recite the pledge of allegiance

6:06 – 6:08

Sue Jeffers Rallying the TROUPS!!!!!

6:09 – 6:14

Barb Davis White

6:15 – 6:20

John Salsbury

6:21 – 6:26

Harold Hamilton

6:27 – 6:32

Scott Nehring

6:33 – 6:38

Twila Brase

6:39 – 6:44

Stephen Parente

6:45 – 6:50

Dave Thomspon

6:51 – 6:56

Bill Jungbauer

Tea Dumping Ceremony

By HongPong 2009-04-15 21:27

URL: http://agonist.org/hongpong/20090415/nearly_time_for_a_torrent_of_teabags_but_liberals_question_if_its_grassroots_or_astroturf_action

[1] http://www.politicsinminnesota.com/2009/apr15/2936/nearly-time-torrent-teabags-liberals-question-if-its-grassroots-or-astroturf-action
[2] http://firedoglake.com/2009/04/13/corporate-lobyists-raising-money-for-tea-parties/
[3] http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/corporate-grassroots-by-digby-following.html
[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYwuugolPhs
[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/opinion/13krugman.html
[6] http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/09/lobbyists-planning-teaparties/
[7] http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/04/freedomworks-long-history-of-teabagging.php
[8] http://www.freedomworks.org/
[9] http://
[10] http://www.usteaparty.com/
[11] http://www.americansolutions.com/General/?Page=a6386a2f-6bb2-4ee5-b230-b46b54c887e4
[12] http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5745
[13] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Shirley_%26_Banister_Public_Affairs
[14] http://allianceminnesota.org/
[15] http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/14/719961/-Planning-Fun-with-Teabaggers
[16] http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2009/04/14/americas-peasant-mentality/
[17] http://allianceminnesota.org/teapartymemo
[18] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group
[19] http://www.savetherich.com/
[20] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHDFWViHL7o
[21] http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/bstein80/how-to-organize-your-own-%E2%80%9Ctea-party%E2%80%9D-protest
[22] http://americansforprosperity.org/032509-kansas-city-tax-day-tea-party
[23] http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/bstein80/how-to-organize-your-own-%E2%80%9Ctea-party%E2%80%9D-protest
[24] http://usateapartystore.com/
[25] http://www.iamwithrick.com/
[26] http://www.usteaparty.com/
[27] http://web.archive.org/web/20040603164236/http:/www.censtrat.com/staffbio.cfm?staff_id=13
[28] http://mediatransparency.org/recipientgrants.php?recipientID=8806
[29] http://www.afphq.org/032409-new-jersey-tax-day-tea-party
[30] http://www.afphq.org/031809-save-date-april-15th-tax-day-tea-party
[31] http://www.afphq.org/033109-afp-nh-host-taxpayer-tea-party-state-capitol-april-15-%E2%80%93-high-noon
[32] http://www.afphq.org/032509-tea-party-registration
[33] http://americansforprosperity.org/032509-kansas-city-tax-day-tea-party
[34] http://www.local12.com/mostpopular/story/Tea-Party-Protesters-Angry-Over-Stimulus/APT0AtMFz0KPlQEyo26n_Q.cspx
[35] http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=581332
[36] http://www.michiganmilitia.com/SMVM/field_reports/2007/apr007/militia_field_day_2009.htm
[37] http://www.star-telegram.com/elections/story/1305537.html
[38] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhlLdy3Er4c
[39] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1421206542
[40] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[41] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[42] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1401103249
[43] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[44] http://twitter.com/NancyPelosi
[45] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1401008543
[46] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[47] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1324678029
[48] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[49] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1283729818
[50] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1241779405
[51] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[52] http://twitter.com/NancyPelosi
[53] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1234230892
[54] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1193872115
[55] http://twitter.com/BarackObama
[56] http://twitter.com/ToniNoBologny/status/1188981006
[57] http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/50556/
[58] http://kandiyohirepublicans.com/patriot10-07.pdf
[59] http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/11/politics/11CONS.html?ex=1108270800&en=2002652617688f67&ei=5070&ex=1094097600&en=3ebea2239042c53a&ei=5070
[60] http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.mediatransparency.org/search_results/info_on_any_recipient.php?600
[61] http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/04RESOURCES/RootsLeft.htm
[62] http://www.olmstedgop.org/webcal/view_entry.php?id=188&date=20090415
[63] http://duluthteaparty.blogspot.com/
[64] http://partners.nytimes.com/library/convention/chome/0814qa.html
[65] http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199909/07_kastem_profile/
[66] http://www.ksum.com/NewsDetail9.cfm?Id=19,5907
[67] http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/18/us/minnesota-gop-session-snubs-governor-and-picks-conservative.html
[68] http://www.gwu.edu/%7Eaction/2008/romney/romneyorgmn.html
[69] http://millelacscountytimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1789&Itemid=31
[70] http://allianceminnesota.org/page/content/teapartymemo/#comment-713
[71] http://allianceminnesota.org/page/content/teapartymemo/#comment-714
[72] http://steelegop.blogspot.com/2009/03/stop-spending-spree.html
[73] http://www.fairus.org/
[74] http://www.wqow.com/Global/story.asp?S=10165301&nav=menu1364_2
[75] http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2009/04/13/anti-immigrant-to-blacks-go-back-to-africa/
[76] http://www.newcomm.org/reports/fair2004.pdf
[77] http://www.mnsirproject.com/billboard.php
[78] http://www.matton.com/images/jpg/pc_200434742-001.html
[79] http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2008/10/minnesota_majority_under_the_m.shtml
[80] http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/2008/03/minnesota-majority-targets-private.html
[81] http://www.mn2020.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7b0DB223BF-B243-4A11-9EAE-1C725BD368D8%7d&DE=
[82] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/vitter-wants-national-tea_n_183044.html
[83] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56v3qiRgdD0
[84] http://www.teapartyrevolution.com/
[85] http://www.greenevillesun.com/story/302461
[86] http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=74290320870&ref=mf6
[87] http://kansascityteaparty.wordpress.com/kansas-city-tea-parties/
[88] http://sites.google.com/site/shreveportbossierprotest/speaker-list
[89] http://www.cassyfiano.com/2009/04/first-coast-tax-day-tea-party-updates
[90] http://www.ohioteaparty.com/node/63
[91] http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/04/congressman_john_shadegg_to_ap.php
[92] http://www.charlotteobserver.com/breaking/story/641295.html
[93] http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/04/prweb2297974.htm
[94] http://www.greggcountygop.com/2009/03/28/texas-taxday-tea-party-gohmert-to-headline/
[95] http://www.nowpublic.com/world/sc-governor-mark-sanford-will-speak-columbia-tax-day-tea-party
[96] http://www.cassyfiano.com/2009/04/first-coast-tax-day-tea-party-updates
[97] http://www.detnews.com/article/20090331/POLITICS02/903310417/1361/Joe+the+Plumber+to+speak+at+Michigan+Taxpayer+Tea+Party


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