Archive | Scary Crazy Wingnuts

Like Flies To Honey

Every wacky wingnut in the world is on the teevee today to bemoan the “discrimination” against God-fearing Christians if the courts allow gay marriage. Now Wingnut Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America is on Hardball talking about what this does to “the children” of America and how Christians will be “persecuted” for living their “beliefs.”

You remember that for a very long time, these were the same arguments advanced by the godly right wing against the legalizing of interracial marriage. They seem almost quaint now, don’t they?

The Backlash

Got an advance copy of my friend Will Bunch’s new book last night and just love it! It’s about wingnuts and Tea Partiers, and how they were infuriated by Obama’s election.

Now, my own bosses at Crooks and Liars wrote a similar book, and so did Max Blumenthal. Both of those books were great, but have significantly different slants than this one.

The difference, I think, is the same strength Will brings to his work as a reporter. He’s got the rare reporter’s knack of interviewing wacky folks without condescending to them — he really wants to understand them. And the book is written as a sort of detective story: Where would you begin to learn about the Tea Party and what drives them? He takes all those random moments we’ve caught on the teevee or online, and weaves them into a fascinating narrative about where they came from and what it means.

It’s not out yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon if you’re interested.

Start Talking

I think one of the reasons I’m not as depressed as most people about the insanity in this country is that I directly confront insanity where I find it. If someone standing in line at the supermarket says something misguided, I’ll say, “Why do you believe that?” or “Why would you say such a thing?” I have a conversation.

People don’t always listen to me, but they are a little less likely to feel 100% sure that everything they believe is valid. Imagine if more people did it!

We have many festering carbuncles in this country, disgusting boils of racism, resentment and bile. You have to pop them if we’re going to heal.

For instance, I really don’t want anyone getting away with the assumption that because we both have white skin, I approve of the way they feel about black people or Mexicans. But they won’t know if I don’t tell them.

Confronting this nonsense is the single most useful thing you can do. I’m not saying be belligerent (heavens, no — I’m a double Libra!) but start talking: “Really? No, I don’t feel that way at all, and here’s why.” If they respond with erroneous “facts”, ask them where they got the information. Ask them if they ever verified the information independently, “because you can’t believe what you see on TV.”

Remember what Vaclav Havel wrote: The single most revolutionary thing you can do is refuse the lie.

Moderate Is As Moderate Does


Watch the video and see just how wrong Pat was when he was praising the Bush tax cuts…

One of the reasons I don’t have any respect for Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe is that, while they maintain their thin candy shells of “moderation,” they are more than willing to give protective cover to the far-right fringe of their party. Case in point: Collins was here in Philly this week, raising money for Pat Toomey, the loony-tunes Club for Growth extremist and former Wall Street broker who’s running against Joe Sestak.

Why? Probably because the RSCC figured out a real winger (Sam Brownback etc.) wouldn’t get much love in a relatively liberal urban area like Philadelphia. Susan was happy to come in and do her part in making her party even more extreme:

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a prominent moderate Republican, raised campaign cash Monday for Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Pat Toomey, a conservative who as recently as last year was trying to defeat people such as Collins.

The endorsement could provide ammunition for Toomey against his Democratic opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, as they battle to seize the middle ground and define each other as an extremist.

After a fund-raising lunch at the Union League, Collins and Toomey said they were united around the core Republican principles of lower taxes, limited government, and individual freedom.

Never mind that the Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group that Toomey ran until he declared his Senate candidacy last year, had skewered Collins as “Comrade of the Month” for her vote for President Obama’s stimulus legislation.

“This is a pivotal race,” Collins said. “It is one of those key Senate races that is going to determine whether the Republicans are able to regain control of the Senate or at least increase our numbers so we can be an effective check on the excesses of this administration.”

Toomey, who has made a concerted effort to reach out to moderate Republicans ahead of the general election, said that he believes in the same kind of “big tent” party that Collins does.

“As Republicans, there’s lots of individual items we’re going to disagree about, but there’s a broad theme on which we agree,” Toomey said.

Sestak’s campaign said voters should not be fooled – Toomey is to the right of the Pennsylvania mainstream. It launched “Republicans for Sestak” at an event outside the Constitution Center, where four GOP voters from his Delaware County district praised him.

Toomey is an “ideologue,” while Sestak is a “pragmatic, problem-solving” centrist, said Scott Jenkins, an investor and cochairman of the Republicans for Sestak steering committee. He supported Sestak in his first run for Congress, in 2006.

Toomey’s campaign released the names of 40 Democrats from across the state who are supporting the former Lehigh Valley congressman, boasting that its cross-partisan group was 10 times bigger than Sestak’s. Jonathon Dworkin, spokesman for Sestak, said 40 to 50 people were on the steering committee of Republicans for Sestak.

Tickets to the Collins-Toomey lunch cost $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for representatives of PACs, according to an invitation to the event. The Toomey campaign declined to say how much was raised

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An Oldie But Goodie

A day in the life of Joe Republican:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it, too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation costs because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the country would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the taxpayer- funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberals made sure Dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”

Tea Party Diversity Rally A Big Bust

Organizer Jeffrey Weingarten set the bar pretty low for the Uni-Tea diversity rally today, saying that if even one “other than white” person attended, they’d consider the event a success.

So I guess, by that standard, it was a success. There were at the very most 200 people, counting a couple dozen members of the press (it was hard to get a better count, since the area is also frequented by tourists there to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell).

The crowd was serenaded by The Bangers and their American Heroes and Patriots Tour™ (featuring appearances by Rita Cosby), a mediocre rock band with song lyrics like “Thank God for you/You protect us from terror.”

The lead singer urged people go up to any veterans at the rally “and give him a big hug.” Then he exhorted the crowd: “The left will never be right” and announced ear plugs would be distributed to the crowd “for the left ear only.” (Get it?)

I walked around and talked to a few people in the sparse crowd. Linda Hertzog, 62, a housewife, lives in suburban West Chester, PA and is active in the Valley Forge Tea Party group.

“I’m here supporting my brothers and sisters,” she said. “We’re told we’re a majority white organization, and we have African-American speakers here today. I wanted to support them.”

She spoke of capitalism being “demonized” and insisted the reason corporations were sitting on record cash reserves was because of the “uncertainty” of Obama’s policies. (And here, I find them predictably pro-corporate. Go figure!)

“How many people are in the stock market? We have to protect them,” she said.

College student Matt Hissui, 21, and bartender Brendan Kissam, 25, are self-described gay conservatives. “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you have to be a liberal,” Hissui said.

“I advocate a government so small, it can fit into a clutch purse at the Tonys,” Kissam said. Oo, snap!

Hissui, a libertarian, is all for legalizing drugs — but not gay marriage. (Something to do with Anglo-Saxon law and “morality.”) Although a member of College Republicans, he said, he was frustrated. “The party’s umbrellas is little, they don’t want to expand.”

Mark Hutchinson, 52, of Mays Landing, NJ, carried a New Jersey state flag. He’s a retired chef who, unlike the other attendees I spoke to, has actually been concerned about constitutional issues for a while, through a militia-type website called LibertyandProsperity.org.

He’s most concerned about government spending. When I asked which spending, he replied, “All of it. We don’t need cash for clunkers, buying auto companies. This stimulus spending is nothing but a slush fund for Obama and his cronies.”

I pointed out that war spending dwarfed all that, and asked why that didn’t upset him. He sidestepped the question: “Congress needed to declare war. Congress abdicated its responsibilities.”

While trying to talk to people who have such a narrow perspective does make my head hurt, I do identify with their sense of frustration. It’s that to them, the solution is to embrace an extreme, uninformed ideology that dismisses nuance, and doesn’t leave much room for common ground. (It’s very disorienting to talk to people who have more sympathy for corporations than the unemployed.)

The right wing supplies them with a consistent narrative that validates their worldview, and as I walked away, I thought that it was a damned shame progressives couldn’t figure out an effective way to get their message through. When I said that to my friend R., she quickly set me straight. “They’re Republicans who want to accept the re-branding because Republicans have fucked everything completely up.” So these are not people who can be persuaded with facts they don’t even want to hear from us.

She went on to say:

They’re the perfect storm of non-critical thinking authoritarians who feel disenfranchised and accept blindly that it’s always their fellow victims who are holding them back. It’s not the corporations’ faults they’re unemployed–it’s illegal aliens stealing their jobs, it’s blacks unfairly being promoted over them because of affirmative action, it’s the liberals for demanding regulations to protect their safety or a minimal living wage.

Okay, she’s right. What was I thinking?
(Photo: Lynn Taylor)

More photos here by Ray Skwire.

The End of Capitalism?

Alex Knight in Dissident Voice:

If we go back to 1929, we’ll see some interesting parallels to our current moment. When that depression started, millions lost their livelihoods to pay for the bankers’ crisis. Faith in capitalism sunk to rock bottom. The public flocked to two major ideologies that offered a way out: socialism and fascism.

Socialism presented a solution to the crisis by saying, roughly: “Capitalism is flawed because it divides us into rich and poor, and the rich always take advantage of the poor. We need to organize the poor and workers into unions and political parties so we can take power for the benefit of all.”

Socialism attracted millions of followers, even in the United States. The labor movement was enormous and kept gaining ground through sit-down strikes and other forms of direct action. The Communist Party sent thousands of organizers into the new CIO, at the time a more radical union than the AFL. Socialist viewpoints even started getting through to the mass media and government. Huey Long was elected Senator from Louisiana by promising to “Share Our Wealth,” to radically redistribute the wealth of the country to abolish poverty and unemployment. (He was assassinated.) Socialism challenged President Roosevelt from the left, pushing him to create the social safety net of the New Deal.

On the other side, fascism also emerged as a serious force and attracted a mass following by putting forth something like the following: “The government has sold us out. We are a great nation, but we have been disgraced by liberal elites who are pillaging our economy for the benefit of foreign enemies, dangerous socialists, and undesirable elements (like Jews). We need to restore our national honor and fulfill our God-given mission.”

When people hear the word fascism, they usually think of Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, where successful fascist movements seized state power and implemented totalitarian control of society. Yet fascism was an international phenomenon during the Depression, and the United States was not immune to its reach. General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine in US history, testified before the Senate that wealthy industrialists had approached him as part of a “Business Plot” and tried to convince him to march an army of 500,000 veterans on Washington, DC to install a fascist dictatorship.

Today we are approaching a similar crossroads. When I hear the story of the Business Plot I think about the Tea Party, which has sprung from a base of white supremacist anger, facilitated by right-wing elements of the corporate structure like Fox News. This is an extremely dangerous phenomenon. The tea-partyers have moved from questioning Obama’s citizenship, to now trying to reverse the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, such as the ability of everyone, regardless of color, to enjoy public accommodations like restaurants.

I think it’s fair to name the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Christian Right, etc. parts of a potential neo-fascist movement in the United States. Their words and actions too often encourage attacks on people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks, and anyone they don’t see as legitimate members of US society. Ultimately, many in this movement are pushing for a different social system taking power in the United States: one that is more authoritarian, less compassionate, more exploitive of the environment, more militaristic, and based on a mythical return to national glory. This is not a throwback to Nazi Germany. It’s a new kind of fascism, a new American fascism. And it’s a serious threat.

Quote of the Day

But allowing language from the previous century to keep government from regulating guns, well, that’s different! Link:

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which calls for cracking down on all immigration to the U.S., said that citizenship as a birthright isn’t automatic in many countries in the West.

“We should not allow language from 1868 to enslave our thinking…in the 21st century,” Mr. Stein said. “It is defeating the purpose of immigration control.

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