Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Long Con

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Two weeks ago, the right-wing faithful gathered for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It’s an event where the princes and princesses of Wingnuttia appear to rally the troops, stir the fear, and crack open the wallets and pocketbooks of donors.
It’s kind of like a Burning Man Festival for right-wingers, except instead of weed and hallucinogens, the CPAC attendees are high on paranoia, resentment and belligerence, and the CPAC headliners are more than happy to give them their fix.
Soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann, for instance, gave a radio interview from CPAC in which she claimed that the reason Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently vetoed Arizona’s “turn away the gays” bill was that gay people had “bullied” the American people.
Bachmann also suggested using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to arrest people who “intimidate” billionaire donors to the Republican Party.
Yeah, Michele, it’s totally the straight people and the billionaires in this country being bullied. Why, I heard that just yesterday, a couple of gay people took Gov. Brewer’s lunch money and stuffed her in her locker, and I heard someone pantsed the Koch brothers in the lunchroom.
We’re so fortunate that we have people like Rep. Bachmann to speak for the oppressed, if by “oppressed” you mean “straight, extremely rich white people.” And by the way, Michele, if I was under investigation by the FBI for money laundering and wire fraud, as you are, I wouldn’t be bringing up RICO. It might give them ideas.
When it comes to spreading the fear, however, there’s no one to match NRA President Wayne LaPierre. In a thunderous speech on March 6, LaPierre delivered the kind of doom-laden paranoid rant once restricted to unwashed men on street corners wearing sandwich boards proclaiming that the end is nigh.
We need all the guns we can get our hands on, LaPierre said, because “we know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers and rapers, and haters and campus killers, and airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.”
Wow. I’m sure glad I’m not him. Anyone who walks around this terrified all the time must be miserable. By the way, I’m not sure how a big stash of guns is supposed to help against “vicious waves of chemicals or disease,” but whatever.
No right-wing gathering would be complete, of course, without the appearance of the Quitta From Wassilla, half-term Gov. Sarah Palin.
And once again, Saint Sarah of the Snows did not disappoint. She delivered another parody of “Green Eggs and Ham” (“I do not like this kind of hope, and we won’t take it nope, nope, nope”) that was later revealed to be plagiarized from a chain email making the rounds two years ago.
She then proceeded to plagiarize from the NRA in suggesting a solution to the current crisis in Ukraine. “Mr. President,” she declaimed, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”
Wait, what? Did the Resigning Woman seriously just suggest using nukes to get Russia out of the Crimea?
Naaah, at least not by any real definition of “serious.” Palin knows she’s never going to get within a mile of the nuclear button, just as Wayne LaPierre knows his collection of gold-plated AR-15’s isn’t going to defend us against “chemicals and disease,” and Michele Bachmann knows that billionaires aren’t really being intimidated.
They, and the other headliners at CPAC, are all part of the most massive and successful Long Con in the history of this country: the modern conservative movement. It’s all about filling their coffers with contributions from people in the freest, richest country in the world whom they’ve convinced that a Stalinist gulag is right around the corner and that their stuff is about to be looted from them any moment by Those People.
And it works. Palin’s own “Sarah PAC,” for example, raised and spent more than $1.2 million last year — only $10,000 of which went to actual candidates. The rest went for “operations,” including “consultant costs” and “travel expenses,” according to FEC campaign filings. Nice work if you can get it.
Whatever their original purpose, far right fear-a-paloozas like CPAC, and the conservative movement itself, have devolved into serving two purposes: lining the pockets of grifters like Sarah Palin and Wayne LaPierre, and reminding us why they should never be let near the levers of power.
In both those respects, CPAC was a resounding success.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yeah, You're Just Full of Christ's Love.

Right Wing Watch:

Austin Ruse runs an outfit called the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. According to his bio, "He has briefed members of the U.S. House and Senate on U.N. matters, as well as briefing White House and National Security Council staff. Ruse has also briefed senior government officials, journalists, Church and non-governmental leaders from around the world.He has appeared on a number of national cable network programs discussing UN and Catholic issues, including news programs on CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, and Fox News. Ruse has published in First Things, Washington Times, National Review Online, Weekly Standard, Human Events, Touchstone, as well as newspapers around the world."

So last week he goes on American Family Radio and has this to say about the story of the Duke student who revealed that she's putting herself through college by appearing as an adult-film actress:

That is the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it’s “Sex Week,” they all have “Sex Week” and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot.

Got that? This good Christian Right Winger, whose organization's mission statement says their purpose is "to defend life and family at international institutions," advocates the execution of people with whom he disagrees.

Remind me again of who the fascists are in American politics?

Then, when Right Wing Watch reported Ruse's words verbatim, he lashed out again:

“The pajama boys over at Right Wing Watch have their panties all in a twist about what I said, and I sometimes think that the left is really dumb, these are the low-information voters that make all of these mistakes when they get into the ballot box and all of these mistakes as they go through their lives and one of the reasons is because they are so dumb,” he said.

So after calling people "dumb" and "pajama boys" (whatever the hell that means in wingnutspeak), he "criticized them as “smear merchants” who “call [people] names.”

The Party of Love, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure the Church is proud of its defenders.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Wingnuts: We Don't Want War, But Everything Else Makes Obama a Wuss

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

The Republicans and their captive media are saying a great many things about the Russian incursion into Ukraine, but there’s one thread that runs through it all: It’s not Vladimir Putin’s fault, it’s all Barack Obama’s.
For example, some commentators, such as The Washington Post’s Mark Thiessen and Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin, claim that President Obama’s “weakness” in Syria somehow “emboldened” Putin to invade Ukraine.
Oh, really? What weakness was that? The weakness where, under threat of U.S. bombing, the Assad regime caved and agreed to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpile?
Or maybe they think it was “weakness” not to defy the will of the American people and put American boots on the ground in a complicated, many-sided religious-based conflict which would have us fighting alongside elements of al-Qaida. That would have been insane recklessness and wrong-headed adventurism that would make the Iraq debacle look like the pinnacle of strategic brilliance, but it wouldn’t look weak.
According to a story in The Washington Post, Sen. John McCain called the Russian aggression “the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy in which nobody believes in America’s strength anymore,” even as he admitted that the U.S. “does not have a realistic military option to force Russian troops to withdraw.”
In another forum, McCain suggested sanctions on Russia, which the administration is considering. How much you want to bet if they do what McCain suggests, he’ll still call them weak?
At least the folks at Fox News had a more measured response. “Even if [the president] wanted to help … we simply don’t have the ground forces to do it,” said Bill O’Reilly. “And confronting the Russians in the air would lead to major hostilities that the USA cannot afford right now.”
Frequent Foxista Charles Krauthammer agreed: “Well, obviously it’s beyond our control. The Russians are advancing. There is nothing that will stop them. We are not going to go to war.”
Oh, wait, my mistake. Those quotes from Fox were from 2008, when the Russians invaded another neighbor, Georgia. You know, back when we had a president of Fox’s preferred party, a president who claimed to have “looked into Putin’s soul,” a president who still bears no blame for anything he did in the minds of the right.
Now, when “that one” is in the White House, we have Steve Doocy saying that the president “hasn’t done much” to solve the situation, and Bill O’Reilly claiming that the crisis occurred because Obama has “lost moral authority.
Meanwhile, the Fox Nation website put up a page of video of Putin doing, as they described it, “macho things,” including the inevitable horseback riding with his shirt off. Frankly, the only thing creepier that Putin’s constantly releasing videos of his shirtless self is the right’s panting obsession with his “manliness.”
Perhaps the purest expression of the right wing’s attitude was capsulized by Mister 9/11 himself, Rudy Giuliani. Speaking to Fox’s Neil Cavuto, Rudy revealed that what he really admires and wants in an executive is ruthless dictatorial strong-arming:
“Putin decides what he wants to do and he does it in half a day, right? He decided he had to go to their parliament. He went to their parliament. He got permission in 15 minutes. He makes a decision and he executes it, quickly. Then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader. President Obama, he’s got to think about it. He’s got to go over it again. He’s got to talk to more people about it.”
There you have it, folks. To the right, Obama’s problem is that he’s not more like the dictator Vladimir Putin. Of course, when the president does do something, they scream that he’s worse than Hitler.
I’ve been critical in these pages of President Obama’s foreign policy, but I can tell you this, without reservation: I am so glad right now that he’s president and that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani aren’t.
John Kerry’s gone to Kiev and other capitals to show our support for the current Ukraine government and drum up more, our NATO allies are meeting to discuss how to deal with the crisis, the G7’s suspending preparations for the planned G8 summit in Sochi. And all the while, the president works with our international partners to create further steps to isolate Russia as punishment for its aggression.
Meanwhile, the saber-rattlers claim not to want military action, but criticize every option short of it as puny and weak — even options they themselves have suggested.
As Barney Frank once said, in a saying that should be the slogan of the Democratic Party, “We’re not perfect, but they’re nuts.”