Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dick Armey's assault on FreedomWorks

Wow, talk about unhinged fanaticism! Check out this article at the Washington Post on Dick Armey's armed coup attempt at FreedomWorks, the Tea Party group:
The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

The article describes how wealthy - and usually anonymous - men are buying up these supposedly "grass roots" organizations, now that Citizens United has opened up our political system to the highest bidder.

Normally, they stay in the background, hiding their identities. Thanks to all five Republicans on our Supreme Court, they don't even have to use their own money, since corporate donations can be kept anonymous, too - a secret from the corporation's customers and even from its shareholders, who supposedly own the corporation.
The episode illustrates the growing role of wealthy donors in swaying the direction of FreedomWorks and other political groups, which increasingly rely on unlimited contributions from corporations and financiers for their financial livelihood. Such gifts are often sent through corporate shells or nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors, making it impossible for the public to know who is funding them. ...

FreedomWorks has been on a remarkable run in recent election cycles, growing its annual budget from $7 million to $40 million in just a few years and helping lead the tea party movement against Obama’s agenda. The group was among several that rose up last week in opposition to a failed proposal from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise federal taxes on millionaires.

There's a lot more about that in the article, but I wanted to point out the other batshit crazy part of this, the "armed" part:
The partnership came to a crashing end when Armey marched into FreedomWorks’s office Sept. 4 with his wife, Susan, executive assistant Jean Campbell and the unidentified man with the gun at his waist — who promptly escorted Kibbe and Brandon out of the building.

“This was two weeks after there had been a shooting at the Family Research Council,” said one junior staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “So when a man with a gun who didn’t identify himself to me or other people on staff, and a woman I’d never seen before said there was an announcement, my first gut was, ‘Is FreedomWorks in danger?’ It was bizarre.’ ”

Bizarre, yes, but this has become the Republican ideal. It's right out of the cowboy shows Dick Armey undoubtedly grew up watching. Sure, everyone is armed. Supposedly, that makes us all safer, right?

But the rich don't fight their own battles. They bring in a hired gun - literally - to bully everyone else.

In a way, this is a lot like that "reclusive" millionaire who buys up supposed grass roots groups to fight for his own tax cuts. No one ever accused Dick Armey of being reclusive, but he's apparently gung ho for settling disputes with guns - as long as someone else is taking the risk, of course.

As far as I know, he didn't actually threaten anyone. But when you've got gun-wielding muscle at your side, you don't have to. It was just his bad luck that someone else had even more money - and, of course, that we've still got a civilized nation here, a nation of laws.

But make no mistake, civilization is under attack by these right-wing loons. Their ideal is a nation of guns, where might makes right. And where what laws we have are bought and paid for by the wealthiest among us.

Well, if you're rich yourself, you can afford your own hired guns. You can live in a gated community. You can send your kids to private schools, surrounded by armed guards. You don't need Social Security or Medicare or anything else from the rest of society.

Or you think you don't, anyway. That's more fantasy than reality, even for the wealthy. I suggest they check out Somalia if they want to see their ideal world in action. It was America's civilization, built by all of us, that let them become rich and let them keep their wealth and their health and safety.

And as far as the middle class people who support these crazies, well, how dumb can you get?

No comments: