May 26 05:22 AM

Wishing it really was the Twilight Zone

April 28, 2010
(Insert Twilight Zone opening soundtrack...)

Submitted for your approval: The truth. What I heard on the courthouse steps in Lapeer at the second Lapeer County TEA Party Patriots Tax Day rally on April 15.

After a trip down memory lane with regard to the forming of the local TEA party group, the organizer tells the crowd what's evolved since then. She says the 'Big 3' TV stations have all but dismissed them as "extremists" and "racists" and "gun toting" people who start wars and whatnot.

Of course they all know that's not true. They know that despite the dismissals they've been accomplishing "goals." She says maybe everyone's heard of Senator Scott Brown—the Republican elected to a "liberal Democrat" seat that is Democrat no more. Then she adds—really quickly but a little late— "Democrat doesn't matter. That's not important." The TEA Party is not a political party! "Not Republican. Not Democrat. Just American."

Oh. Okay. But that party stuff—that "liberal Democrat" thing is just important enough to mention as an accomplishment from a "grass roots" organization that's apparently concerned with mowing lawns across the country. All the way to Massachusetts, where the "local grass roots" TEA Party takes credit for the newly elected Senator Scott Brown.

And since I, too, am not part of a political party, am "just American," I, too, want to talk about the Good Senator. Senator Brown, who recently announced that he will oppose any attempts to impose a financial crisis responsibility fee on large banks and any Wall Street regulation, including closing down big banks who make risky moves like those that prompted the recent bailouts.

(Memory lane moment: TARP—Troubled—should have been 'toxic'—Asset Relief Program—was implemented by George W. Bush to bailout the "mortgage crisis" created by those risky-move-making banks. Really.)

Anyhow, back to the Good Senator. Six days prior to his election, his campaign collected $450,000 from contributors employed in that TARP-y little risky-move-making world of finance. On his campaign contribution list, which funds are categorized by the sector they're received from, second to "Retired" is "Securities & Investment." Guess what follows? "Health Professionals" Republican/ Conservatives;" "Lawyers/Law Firms;" "Real Estate;" "Misc. Finance" and so on. Here's a peek at how his Top 12 Contributor list plays out from highest to lowest (funds contributed by the organization's PAC, individual members or employees): FMR Corp., Bain Capital, Credit Suisse Group, Country First PAC, Defend America PAC, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, TA Assoc., Raytheon Co., Sullivan & Cromwell, Free & Strong America PAC, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

For those who are interested the majority (almost 80 percent) of Brown's financial sector employee contributions came from outside of the state of Massachusetts, New York City—ya know, that place where Wall Street is—among them. Aside from the obvious (Credit Suisse an, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc.) executives from hedge funds and private equity firms contributed to Brown's campaign.

This is grass roots all the way, ain't it folks?

While the TEA partiers were busy opposing all things Obama, the Supreme Court reversed decades-old legislation limiting corporate contributions to political campaigns.

For 'We the People,' that's a huge blow. Some of "We the People" actually believe in the Constitution, that the government is "By the People, Of the People and For the People." Some of us "We the People" believe corporate and union power should be limited in our "free market system of Democracy."

Among us is none other than the Good Senator John McCain, who in 2002 co-sponsored the now unconstitutional legislation "limiting independent corporate and union expenditures in elections."

Oh well. There are bigger things to worry about, I suppose. Like continuing to be taxed enough already so I can keep on lining the pockets and then prop up those wonderful "free market" bankers, traders, speculators, insurance companies, etc. who now have unlimited access to pay for their chosen politician.

Pass the lemons, please.

Update: 4/26/10. I feel compelled to note that I wrote this on April 16. The letter from Dannette Starr Lowery was received today. In no way am I disparraging what she does nor disputing that her group does, indeed, believe in what they're doing. It's the claim that they're not part of a nationally organized plan that I have a bit of trouble with. Personally, I like and respect Dannette and other members of the Lapeer Tea Party group.Email me at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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