Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
HOW MODERN MONEY WORKS — Economist Alan Nasser presents a slashing indictment of the vicious nature of finance capitalism; The Bio-Social Facts of American Capitalism: David Price excavates the racist anthropology of Earnest Hooten and his government allies; Is Zero-Tolerance Policing Worth More Chokehold Deaths? Martha Rosenberg and Robert Wilbur assay the deadly legacy of the Broken Windows theory of criminology; Gaming the White Man’s Money: Louis Proyect offers a short history of tribal casinos; Death by Incarceration: Troy Thomas reports from inside prison on the cruelty of life without parole sentences. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on how the murder of Michael Brown got lost in the media coverage; JoAnn Wypijewski on class warfare from Martinsburg to Ferguson; Mike Whitney on the coming stock market crash; Chris Floyd on DC’s Insane Clown Posse; Lee Ballinger on the warped nostalgia for the Alamo; and Nathaniel St. Clair on “Boyhood.”
Dick's Fringe Army

Tea Baggers and Birchers?

by JAYNE LYN STAHL

By now, word has gotten out that FreedomWorks, the right wing organization chaired by Dick Armey, that advocates for lower taxes, and smaller government, is the same group behind tea baggers who opposed Obama’s stimulus plan. Protests against the $787 billion congressional bailouts have been widely linked to Rep. Armey, and the Washington, D.C. nonprofit. But, it doesn’t stop there.

If you take a look at at who is behind the so-called Tea Parties, co-founders and major funders of FreedomWorks Charles and David Koch, it is plain as day that the same forces that declared another young, progressive president, John F. Kennedy, to be a traitor are behind the effort to take down the Obama presidency.

Who are Charles and David Koch? They are the sons of Fred Koch, of Koch Industries, a company whose name has come to be synonymous with big oil in America. Charles and David Koch may be found, too, on Forbes list of twenty wealthiest people in the world,. The Koch brothers are heirs not just to Fred Koch’s vast fortune, but to his pet project the far right wing John Birch Society. Back then, as reported by Exiled Online, Los Angeles was regarded by many as the "heartland" of the Birch Society.

So, it should come as no surprise then that it was at the Hollywood Paladium, back in 1961, that JFK warned against those "fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan or a convenient scapegoat…They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism. They objet quite rightly to politics intruding on the military–but they are anxious for the military to engage in politics." Sound familiar? How about this: "Rightists Picket Kennedy Speech–3,000 Parade in Los Angeles in Orderly Demonstration," some carrying signs reading "Disarmament is suicide," and "Veto Tito." (NYT, November, 1961)

Well, what Kennedy called "armed bands of civilian guerillas" are back again, and funded by the same folks as nearly half a century ago, the sons of Fred Koch, founding member of the John Birch Society, and the same way they went after JFK, they’re going after Barack Obama.

It doesn’t stop there. The so-called American Energy Alliance, also in Washington, D.C., has been working overtime to agitate against key climate control legislation sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, and Edward Markey, both Democrats. Reportedly, AEA had, for some time, occupied the same office as Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Yes, that’s right, the same Charles Koch, son of Fred Koch; the Koch of Koch Industries, the nation’s biggest private oil and gas concern. Charles and David Koch, founders of Freedomworks, also own Koch Industries.

As Southern Studies.Org suggests, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation was among those most vehemently opposed to the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, an opposition that had Tea Parties as a symptom when the underlying disease is racism, and cultural xenophobia.

There is little doubt that the offspring of a man whose name was synonymous with the Birch Society would also be behind a movement to call into question the legitimacy of the first African-American president in U.S. history.

The radical right wing "fringes of our society," in 2009, are remarkably similar to those from fifty years ago only instead of Rush Limbaugh, it was Barry Goldwater who suggested then President Kennedy was "riding on the left wheel all the time."

Once the smoke clears from behind the smoke screen that has become the mainstream media, the puppet masters may be seen to be the usual suspects–the Birchers of yore, rearing the same ugly rhetoric all over again.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.