Line of Fire

Astroturf Anarchists

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 The phony spectacle known as “Occupy Wall Street” continues to unfold with the help of the mainstream media and President Obama’s allies at Moveon.org and the union leadership of the SEIU and AFL-CIO.  

The chaotic incoherence of  the “protesters” with no clear  message, little diversity (they appear to be almost exclusively white), and a proclivity towards odd rituals and an apparent antipathy towards freedom of speech (if you’not seen this video, yet, you must watch a group of young white “protesters” who refused to let Civil Rights icon John Lewis  speak at their Atlanta event) can best be described as “astroturf by useful idiots.”

In New York City, hundreds of these protesters were arrested for disrupting traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Soon, several hundred followed with an assault on police barricades. In Washington, dozens stormed the Air and Space Museum, causing officials to close down that facility.

Despite this disruptive tactics, the protesters have been encouraged by the President .

In contrast to these heavily covered and highly orchestrated events where “hundreds” show up, the Tea Party was organic. I know, because I was there at its origins, as were these 96 other founding mothers and fathers of the Tea Party movement.

All of this brings us to the consideration of this question as an  interesting topic to consider for a future Voices of the Tea Party: Why does the mainstream media continue to misreport the organic nature of the Tea Party Movement while failing to report the true astroturf nature of these left wing anarchist events?

 

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published in July. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

As We Go Forward They Go Backward

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The Tea Party is familiar with the often-cited four-step pattern of political change: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” With some of the most powerful people in the world calling us hobbits, barbarians, terrorists, SOBs, and wanting to send us straight to Hell, I think it’s safe to say we’re firmly in stage three of that process. We are but a single step from victory in our principled cause.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, as the Tea Party progresses toward that victory is that the Big-Government champions we oppose regress along that same pattern. This struck me in observing the response to the recent Attack Watch website President Obama launched in a lame attempt to help his reelection cause. Many conservatives chose to mock the website and the President (see a hilarious parody here). In fact, parodying the absurdities of the Left is becoming quite an art form now among conservatives.

This is a stunning reversal in light of the change pattern. A mere two and a half years ago when the Tea Party was just getting started, I feared the Big-Government champions had already reached stage four and nothing could be done to stop them from ultimately transferring all the power from We the People to We the Government. The Tea Party organized its protests across America, but we were largely ignored. Stage one.

As our movement exploded, though, the media and politicians could no longer pretend we didn’t exist and we were promptly upgraded to being laughed at and then attacked. Stages two and three.

Conversely, it’s now clear to me that the Big-Government champions actually had never reached stage four; and as we advanced, we relentlessly attacked their ideology and policies, pushing them back to stage three. Their subsequent counterattacks have mostly been weak and even downright absurd.

Now we’re officially laughing at them, downgrading them further to stage two.

That’s not to trivialize the collective danger they still represent and national destruction they are capable of inflicting, especially as the bill for their reckless fiscal policies comes due; but I thought it important to note that in less than three years, a new and spontaneous grassroots movement of liberty has taken three of four steps toward victory while knocking a century-old movement of government control back two steps.

None of us should rest, though, until the Tea Party finally achieves the total reversal, entering the fourth stage of victory ourselves and rendering the Big-Government champions so powerless that we can ignore them.

Jon Wakefield is a leader of the Richmond, Virginia Tea Party

The Priesthood of Academia

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Nothing illustrates the low station to which academia in America has descended better than the recent rash of ”studies” of the Tea Party movement. These studies are all of a certain type–pre-determined conclusions desperately in search of any kind of data that can be claimed as supportive. Academics, who once were honest seekers of the truth, now behave more like priests defending the orthodox theologies of the left.

In June of last year, I pointed out the fallacies of one such study, conducted by Professor Christopher Parker of the University of Washington. Last October, the University of California at Berkeley held a laughable conference of academics, none of whom apparently either knew or had ever spoken with a tea party leader. That gathering came to predictable echo chamber conclusions. Also last October, Professor Jill Lepore, who teaches at my alma mater, Harvard,  advanced a loopy theory in her book, The Whites of Their Eyes, that the modern Tea Party movement arose as a consequence of issues surrounding our nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. No one but Professor Lepore saw one bit of evidence to support that theory.

Now comes an article in Logos Journal  from Joseph Lowndes, an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon, with a predictably ”progressive” pedigree (a B.A from Antioch and a Phd. from the New School of Social Research) whose primary source of information about the Tea Party movement is a widely discredited screed from a rabidly left wing think tank in Kansas City. There’s not enough space in this article to document the litany of factual errors found in Professor Lowndes’ essay, but I’ll document some of the most easily dismissed to give you a flavor of the intellectual laziness that characterizes today’s left-wing academics.

Lowndes begins by making this assertion:

“The Tea Party movement is the latest reincarnation of antigovernment populist rage, triggered by Obama’s election and given shape and content by Seattle blogger Keli Carender’s “porkulus package” demonstration, NBC business news editor Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and other protests against anti-recessionary spending, most of which were organized by  FreedomWorks…

Had Professor Lowndes bothered to do even the most preliminary research, he would have quickly discerned that the first protests of the Tea Party movement on February 27, 2009 and April 15, 2009  were organized by an informal group known as the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, of which I was a member. Folks at FreedomWorks may have shown up on a few of the organizing calls, but the protests themselves at the local level were organized and managed by independent groups that sprang up organically across the country.

Next, Lowndes trots out the old and thoroughly discredited charges of Tea Party racism. He cites this statement from my June, 2010 article that skewered Professor Parker’s study:

“ The Tea Party movement has rejected the discussion of social issues as an unwanted distraction that will hurt the movement’s ability to accomplish its constitutional and fiscal objectives. I know this because I helped start the movement, and I have participated in hundreds of conferences calls where this position has been deliberated and confirmed – both publicly and privately – innumerable times.”

He then follows my quote with this fantastic and disconnected assertion:

“The quote is revealing for the emphasis Tea Party leaders have placed on avoiding racial issues, but also for the essential admission that racial identification run so deep that the effort required deliberation over hundreds of conference calls.”

Ignore for a moment the grammatical errors in the sentence (“racial identification run so deep” as opposed to the proper “racial identification runs so deep”), and focus for a minute on its meaning. Conflation of “social” with “racial” is a wide stretch, even for an academic eager to provide even the most spurious evidentiary claims to support his theological convictions.

Professor Lowndes then relies upon a thin article to make a comparison between today’s Tea Party movement and the Liberty League of the 1930s:

“Looking back, the widely discredited Liberty League of the New Deal era looks nearly identical to the very influential Tea Party today.”

I read the same article by David Woopner upon which Professor Lowndes bases this assertion. I also investigated the claim and easily identified the dramatic structural differences between the top down Liberty League and the bottom up Tea Party movement. Only someone who knows little of either the Liberty League or the Tea Party movement would make the claim that the two are “nearly identical.”

Lowndes concludes:

“[T]he Tea Party is merely the most visible manifestation of the assault on equality, freedom, and democratic rule.”

Clearly, Professor Lowndes is so steeped in his biases he has to actively work to ignore the facts that the Tea Party movement is the most vivid example of democrat rule in modern American history. Professor Lowndes is not alone. Indeed, to my mind, he and his academic colleagues show the same narrow mindedness towards the Tea Party movement that priests of all religions have exhibited throughout history to attack and condemn ”heretics” possessed of the ability to think independently. Now, that’s a worthy topic to consider for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Solyndra Scandal Proves That Under Obama, Washington Has Become a Criminal Enterprise

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When does legally authorized theft become illegal theft?

While “crony capitalism” has been a problem in Washington for more than a century, it has been more often the ethically challenged but legally authorized variety of theft that characterizes so many politicized regimes. It’s beginning to become obvious that under the Obama Administration we have gone beyond crony capitalism to what can only be described as a full blown criminal enterprise, blessed, sanctioned and supported by the political operatives in the White House.

Revelations surrounding the improper guarantee of more than half a billion dollars in Stimulus loans to the now bankrupt “green job” Solyndra solar panel manufacturer by the Obama Administration suggest what many of us have suspected for a long time. Loan guarantees for “green companies”–a bad idea from a public policy perspective, but nonetheless legal–are supposed to follow certain guidelines. Such was not the case with Solyndra, whose main investor–venture capitalist George Kaiser–was a politically connected “bundler” who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Immediately after Obama’s inauguration, Kaiser and his cronies began lobbying the White House and Vice President Biden to “expedite” a half a billion dollar loan for their failing solar company.

Everyone knew it was a bad deal. Analysts at the Department of Energy had run the numbers and concluded that Solyndra would run out of cash in September 2011, even if it secured the half a billion in government guaranteed loans. Why? They were selling their products at a price that was half the cost it took to produce them. If you’re losing money on every sale, you can’t make a profit by increasing the volume!

According to a caller to Mark Levin’s program yesterday, everyone who worked at the Solyndra plant knew these flawed economics made their shiny new plant obsolete and doomed from the outset. These economic facts did not dissuade the political operatives in the White House from forcing the loan guarantee through. When Solyndra declared bankruptcy earlier this month, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the half a billion dollars in guaranteed loans, no one was surprised, not even the political operatives who rushed the deal through.

It’s the Chicago way, apparently. Al Capone would have loved this setup. Talk about return on investment! Just bundle a few hundred thousand dollars for the Obama Campaign, and voila, you get to use half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money as you see fit…until it runs out.

Look for more true stories of illegal crony capitalism to be exposed for the remainder of the Obama Administration. Today’s business press reports that Solyndra may be only the tip of the iceberg are likely just the beginning.

All of this is to suggest an excellent follow up topic to Amy Handlin’s upcoming Voices of the Tea Party e-book, Crony Capitalists in Our Back Yards. I would like to see an e-book on Crony Capitalists in the Oval Office.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published in July. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

One Hundred More Years?

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This past Friday, Team Obama stepped on to the court in my backyard and at my alma mater, the University of Richmond. I’m happy to report that the home team, the Richmond Tea Party, showed up to defend our fine city, peacefully demonstrating outside the Robbins Center where President Obama spoke. Some of his cheerleaders—the college students who haven’t yet figured out that they’re about to enter a workforce in which their demographic suffers from the highest unemployment rate—trotted out the old standby chant of, “Four more years!”

I thought, Four more years of what? Big-Government policies that squash freedom and eventually topple economies?

While President Obama has certainly slammed the accelerator to the mat on those types of policies since 2009*, he simply is serving the same economic ideology that has increasingly governed both major political parties for a hundred years. The ideological degrees vary, the faces and the rhetoric change, but it’s the same message we’ve heard in America for far too long.

In 1910, the progressive Theodore Roosevelt (a Republican) said

“We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably attained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had [emphasis mine], but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.”

And so began the century-long (and counting) war among the classes, the purpose of which is to expand governmental control over our lives.

There was no need to watch President Obama’s big speech before Congress on Thursday, because we’ve already heard it from him consistently since he stepped onto the campaign trail in 2007 (which he has never left). The only things that change are some of the numbers behind the policies and the focus group tested phrases used to describe those policies. But when you fan away all the smoke, you find nothing but old fashioned class warfare. This drives much of what our President does.

Instinctively, he knows this, because in his speech he insisted, “This isn’t class warfare,” after earlier advocating making “the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.” Audible laughter from Congress ensued, as it did around America because the majority finally sees through this President. They know the only tactic he has left to convince us to support a stimulus package of $447,000,000,000 after the abysmal failure of the last one is to convince us that greedy rich people who don’t want to “pay their fair share” must be forced to open their wallets for the “good of society.”

President Obama is merely the latest in a long line of Big-Government politicians to play class warfare politics, pitting classes of Americans against each other, teaching many contempt for the rich while coveting what they have earned. This is how we end up with redistributive policies, such as a 70,000-page tax code, much of which is meant to reward and punish political allies and opponents; the Community Reinvestment Act that was involved in helping blow the housing bubble that burst, leading to the financial crisis of 2008 (which hasn’t yet been solved); and Obamacare, which is loaded with new taxes and regulations, further hammering an already crippled economy. These examples, along with many others, collectively are why America is now speeding toward an economic black hole that we soon may not be able to pull back from.

Those University of Richmond students who want “Four more years!” should take a few moments to realize that they’re actually riding a shuttle that was launched a hundred years ago. It has accelerated and decelerated in varying degrees over that century, but the ultimate destination is clear, as they’ll soon learn when they attempt to enter the over-regulated workforce full time.

I believe a valuable addition to the Voices of the Tea Party series would be an e-book explaining to college students the fruits of the policies many of them support. Then when they graduate into firsthand experience in a managed economy, maybe instead of wanting “A hundred more years!” they’ll open their eyes and will join the Tea Party’s efforts to immediately turn the shuttle around and speed in the opposite direction, treating all Americans equally and fostering cooperation rather than contempt, throwing out our entire tax code and replacing it with a uniform tax rate, removing government from the housing and health care industries—and many others—and allowing the free market to naturally produce more prosperity for all our people. If we choose this over class warfare for the next hundred years—or even ten—we may not only survive this fiscal crisis but thrive again and restore America to her basic founding principles that made it the greatest nation the world has ever known.

*I believe the Obama presidency has always been a race against time. His goal was to transfer as much power as possible from the people to the government and that by the time the American public woke up to his game it would be too late for them to stop the power grab. But what he—and no one else—anticipated was the birth and rapid development of an enormous non-partisan movement dedicated to restoring America to the founding principles of a limited government and an empowered citizenry. We the People have put our lives on hold to ensure that we preserve some form of freedom for our children and teach them to expand it when they take our place.

Jon Wakefield is a leader of the Richmond, Virgina Tea Party.

A President Who Will Just Get Out of the Way

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After a century of Presidential extra-constitutional activism that’s reached a new peak under the administration of Barack Obama, the nation is signalling it’s time for a change. The will of the country, as evidenced by the calls for Constitutionally Limited Government coming from those of us in the Tea Party movement, is to elect a President who, in domestic matters, will just get out of the way. On matters of foreign policy, we are looking for a President who will defend our sovereignty, as specified in the Constitution.

How does the current crop of Republican aspirants stack up ?

Ron Paul, of course, meets the standard of getting out of the way on domestic matters, but his isolationist views don’t square with the Constitutional requirement to defend our sovereignty.

Rick Santorum’s social agenda calls for a more intrusive federal state in those areas.

To my mind, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and John Huntsman all advocate varying degrees of federal intrusiveness in the domestic arena–nowhere near Obama’s level, mind you, but still beyond this tea partier’s comfort zone. In addition, Huntsman sounds a bit isolationist.

That leaves Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann.

Both Cain and Bachmann advocate policies that are quite consistent with non-interference in domestic policies and defense of our sovereignty in the international arena.

The mainstream media is reporting that the Tea Party movement is enamored of Rick Perry, but he has weaknesses in two areas. His 2007 position advocating mandatory Gardasil inoculations of Texas school girls is not consistent with the “get out of the way” sentiments on domestic policy, and his apparent support for open borders fails the test of defending our sovereignty in the international arena.

Despite these two significant weaknesses, Perry has one critical advantage over both Cain and Bachmann. The office he’s occupied for over a decade–Governor of Texas–is constrained by limits imposed on executive authority in the Texas State Constitution.

Whether it’s those constitutional constraints or Perry’s natural philosophy that has led him to largely stay out of the way on domestic economic policies in Texas, the results have been the same. Non-interference in business by the executive branch of state government there has helped give Texas the best record of job creation in the country by far over the past decade.

Perry’s rise in the polls may be evidence of that old maxim: It’s better to be lucky than good. Perhaps Perry is both. We’ll be watching this closely as the Presidential campaign continues over the next year. All this is to suggest, once more, as has been previously suggested in this space, that a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that offers a guide to the 2012 Presidential contenders would be most welcome.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Crony Capitalists at Solyndra Lose Half a Billion Dollars of Taxpayers’ Money

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Crony Capitalism has been a problem in America since Alexander Hamilton’s unsuccessful attempt to promote the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures in the 1790s. The first really big Crony Capitalism scandal exploded in the 1860s and 1870s, when the Pacific Railway Act sponsored by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican President enabled a scoundrel by the name of Thomas C. Durant to steal about $23 million from the $56 million the Federal Government loaned the Union Pacific Railroad. 

Durant’s scheme was simple. He controlled Union Pacific, the recipient of federal largesse, and also controlled a company called Credit Mobilier, the contracting firm Union Pacific hired to actually build the railroad that extended from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Promontory Point, Utah. Credit Mobilier simply dramatically overcharged Union Pacific for its services, then paid outrageous dividends to its shareholders. It was, of course, a mere coincidence that Durant had been a business client of the attorney who became the Republican President who signed the Pacific Railway Act — Abraham Lincoln.

Fast forward to 2011, where another politically connected operator who reportedly donated over $100,000 to the various Obama campaigns and entitites, just blew through half a billion dollars of Federally Guaranteed loans. David Keene has written a great article describing this Solyndra debacle.

Instead of getting out of the business of picking winners and losers–an economic policy that is clearly unconstitutional–the Obama Administration is doubling down. It’s giving away even more money to politically connected donors who support Obama’s left wing policies.

In light of this continued trend, it’s good to see that the Voices of the Tea Party will be offering a new e-book on another aspect of Crony Capitalism that’s just as bad as the federally subsidized Solyndra fiascos. I speak here of local and state Crony Capitalism, a topic that New Jersey Assembly Member Amy Handlin addresses in her new e-book, Crony Capitalists in Our Backyards, which we will release in October. Handlin specifically describes a set of actions local grassroots organizations can undertake to stop these practices, which makes her e-book especially interesting for those of us in the Tea Party movement who like to fix problems once they’ve been identified.

UPDATE: September 8, 2011

Now comes a report this morning that the FBI raided Solyndra’s offices this morning and that the company’s founders have visited the Obama White House 20 times in the past two years!

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Gibson Guitar and the Resurrected Blue Eagle

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In April, 1934, a 49 year old Polish immigrant, Jacob Maged, who had been operating a one man tailor and cleaning shop in Jersey City, New Jersey, was jailed for three days and fined $100. His crime? He had refused to comply with the National Recovery Administration’s “code of fair competition,” which dictated that no one in the cleaning business could charge less than 40 cents for pressing a suit.

The codes had been drawn up by the larger drying and cleaning businesses, in cooperation with the bureaucrats operating under the control of Hugh Johnson, the hard drinking profane administrator of the agency authorized by Franklin Roosevelt to implement the National Industrial Recovery Act, one of the cornerstones of the First New Deal. Compliance with the codes was signfied by the placement of a placard with a Blue Eagle–the symbol of the power of the NRA–displayed in the windows of businesses that voluntarily agreed to accept the codes.

For those independent businessmen who refused to voluntarily comply with the code, it was tough luck. The law allowed the Federal Government to imprison and impose stiff fines on “ruthless competitors” like Mr. Maged who wouldn’t play ball. The uncooperative Maged insisted on charging 35 cents –a pricing policy that had kept him in business for 22 years–and Hugh Johnson and his local minions were upset. How dare this independent operator defy the authority of the Federal Government? As a reward for his defiance, Mr. Maged, who was barely making a living to begin with, was jailed for 3 days and fined $100. He only earned his freedom by meekly accepting the government’s pricing rules.

Last week, when agents of the Federal Government raided the Nashville, Tennessee plant of Gibson Guitar, the premier guitar manufacturer in the world, memories of similar tactics of intimidation designed to force independent businesses into compliance came to mind. The circumstances were significantly different, but the tactics were the same.

Unlike Mr. Maged, who had openly defied the NRA rules, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly stated he’s trying to comply with the business codes imposed by the Federal Government. While the NRA rules were ultimately determined to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the unanimous 1935 Schechter Poultry decision, no such challenge has been brought against the law which the Department of Justice claims Gibson has violated.

According to the Department of Justice, Gibson in 2009 illegally purchased ebony wood in Madagascar. The protectionist and corrupt government of Madagascar has decreed that only ebony finished goods can be purchased from their country, and Gibson, so it is claimed, purchased unfinished ebony wood purchased in Madagascar. The raid, which Gibson’s Juszkiewicz said has already cost the company over $2 million, was apparently designed to find evidence of unfinished ebony, and documentation that Gibson knew that the unfinished ebony was purchased in Madagascar illegally.

Why was this illegal? Because in 2008, Congress passed the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008,  a law that President Bush signed updating the 1900 Lacey Act that made it illegal to purchase bird feathers in violation of local law. Now, wood cannot be purchased in violation of local law. The United States Department of Agriculture website describes the law in more detail

The Federal Government, in effect, has decided to become the enforcement agency working on behalf of the protectionist policies of the Madagascar and Indian Governments.

Just as the NRA used the threat of imprisonment to reign in independent businessmen during the NRA era, today, the Department of Justice is using the same threat to intimidate regular workers. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Federal agents first raided Gibson factories in November 2009 and were back again Aug. 24, seizing guitars, wood and electronic records. Gene Nix, a wood product engineer at Gibson, was questioned by agents after the first raid and told he could face five years in jail.

 Mr. Nix went to Madagascar in June 2008 on a trip organized by environmental groups to talk to local officials about selling responsibly harvested wood to makers of musical instruments. Afterward, in emails later seized by the government, he referred to “widespread corruption and theft of valuable woods” and the possibility of buying ebony and rosewood from Madagascar on “the grey market.”

Though the legal basis for this intimidation is different than that which justified actions taken against Mr. Maged almost eight decades ago, the motivation remains the same. Obama’s Department of Justice, like FDR and Hugh Johnson’s NRA, is motivated by an insatiable desire to require submission from those businesses it doesn’t like, and has little regard for their liberties.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

A Secular Theocracy

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This is the third post in my continuing series on the Tea Party from a Christian perspective. My goal is to convince my spiritual brethren who are skeptical of our movement that they actually belong on its front lines. I believe an e-book (or a series of them) with the same goal would make a valuable addition to Voices of the Tea Party. This is merely one Tea Partier’s view on how our core principles relate to my faith. 

Click here to read part I and here for part II.

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A few weeks back, I wrote a post about why the Tea Party isn’t just a fiscal movement, but a moral one as well. It inspired someone to write a comment under the alias “Richmond_Progressive,” asking me if I wanted to impose a theocracy in America. In thinking about it, I decided this topic deserves a post of its own, as Big-Government progressives often level this charge at Christians who try to play a role in shaping our government. 

As a member of the Tea Party, I’m no stranger to silly characterizations of what I actually believe. The accusation that I might support a theocracy, though, takes the silliness to a new level, fit for a fictional world from the mind of George Orwell.

I’ve never heard a single conservative in America, Christian or otherwise, even hint that they support a theocracy in any form. Most Christians I know support the Tea Party core principle of constitutionally limited government, which is about as far from a theocracy as a functioning government can get.

Now, I don’t know if the progressives actually believe their own rhetoric when they level this charge, or if they’re simply trying to scare people away from all things conservative and religious. I suspect it’s a combination of both.

Regardless, here’s the truth: I—and many Christians like me—believe in the maximum freedom possible under the minimum government required to protect us and our property. I do not believe in legislating morality; it is God’s role to teach us right and wrong and our role to live by his standards. This is best done in a free society with minimal government intervention.

Now—contrast that with the system supported by those same progressives who attack people of faith. It is the progressives who desire a Big-Government command and control structure—one that is Almighty and the Owner of All Things; one that will be our Hope, Provider, Great Physician, Judge, Ruler, One and Only Savoir; and one that is Worthy of All Praise. It is they who want to apply these attributes of God to a government structure. Despite accusing Christians of wanting to impose a theocracy, it is their desired system, not ours, that greatly resembles theocratic rule. They are building a secular theocracy in which government becomes God for everyone, whether we like it or not.

Maybe it’s time for us to reverse the narrative and start asking them about why they want to impose a theocracy, while we just want to be left alone to live our lives.

Jon Wakefield is a leader of the Richmond, Virginia Tea Party.

CEOs Unite!

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Howard Schultz’s campaign to persuade fellow CEOs not to make any political donations until there’s an “acceptable” plan to reduce the national debt has gained a few more adherents.  For the moment, Schultz’s idea remains a “voluntary” boycott of political donations among like minded CEOs, but don’t be surprised to see Schultz try and extend this boycott beyond CEOs. 

As I wrote in this space previously, Mr. Schultz has the right to promote such policies, but he has no right to keep me or anyone else from donating to any political candidate we choose.

Mr. Schultz is trying to use voluntary ”moral suasion” to bring others around to his point of view, but I can’t help but think that the real objective is something else.

I note, for instance, that the two biggest donors among the CEOs who’ve signed up for Schultz’ boycott plan – J. Crew CEO Millard Drexler and Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb– like Mr. Schultz, have given generously to President Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past. 

J. Crew’s Millard Drexner, for instance, is a heavy hitter among Democrats. A brief search of the Federal Election Commission records of individual donors shows that he’s given over $15,000 to the Democratic National Committee. Other stalwart liberals he’s donated heavily to include Al Franken, Jeff Bingaman, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

Whole Foods’ Walter Robb is an ideological match for Drexner. He’s a big contributor to Tom Harkin, Christie Vilsack, Tom Vilsack, Harry Reid, Democratic Senatorial Committee, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama.

Two other CEOs who’ve donated less, lean heavily Democratic. Zipcar CEO  Scott Griffith, for instance, has donated to Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has one Republican–Mitt Romney–on his list, but has also given to John Kerry and Chuck Schumer.

J.C. Penney CEO Myron Ullman, the sole “Republican only” donor on the list, gave John McCain a modest contribution in 2008, and George W. Bush a modest contribution in 2003.

I also note that in his public statements so far, Mr. Schultz has merely stated that we need a long term plan to reduce the national debt. He’s carefully avoided the particulars of his solution. Does he, for instance, have specific federal expenditures he wants to eliminate? Or, does he want to increase taxes?

So what’s really going on here?

Frankly, I don’t mind if Howard Schultz and these five CEOs stop giving political donations to the politicians that they’ve supported in the past.  I don’t see a tea party friendly name on the list of any of these folks, and I doubt I ever will.

The cynic in me says Schultz’ campaign is merely a stalking horse for proposing tax increases.  We’ll be watching for future announcements from Mr. Schultz to see if my cynicism is justified.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

The views presented on our guest blogs are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Broadside Books. We thank all of our guest bloggers for their thoughtful perspectives.

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