Thursday, October 31, 2013

How Alan Greenspan Destroyed America


A Blast From The Past:

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: “You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said , chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Mr. Greenspan: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is.  But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

"How Alan Greenspan Destroyed America," an article by Dean Baker at Alternet.org goes further into Greenspan's guilt in the housing crisis, as Greenspan spins and respins his role:


"The former Fed chair is promoting his new book. He should admit his role in the housing crisis, not insult our intelligence.


"Alan Greenspan will go down in history as the person most responsible for the enormous economic damage caused by the housing bubble and the subsequent collapse of the market. The United States is still down almost 9m jobs from its trend path. We are losing close to $1tn a year in potential output, with cumulative losses to date approaching $5tn.

"These numbers correspond to millions of dreams ruined. Families who struggled to save enough to buy a home lost it when house prices plunged or they lost their jobs. Many older workers lose their job with little hope of ever finding another one, even though they are ill-prepared for retirement; young people getting out of school are facing the worst job market since the Great Depression, while buried in student loan debt.

"The horror story could have easily been prevented had there been intelligent life at the Federal Reserve Board in the years when the housing bubble was growing to ever more dangerous proportions (2002-2006). But the Fed did nothing to curb the bubble. Arguably, it even acted to foster its growth with Greenspan cheering the development of exotic mortgages and completely ignoring its regulatory responsibilities.

"Most people who had this incredible infamy attached to their name would have the decency to find a large rock to hide behind; but not Alan Greenspan. He apparently believes that he has not punished us enough. Greenspan has a new book which he is now hawking on radio and television shows everywhere.


"The book, which I have not read, is ostensibly Greenspan's wisdom about the economy and economics. But he also tells us that his problem as Fed chair was that he just didn't know about the flood of junk mortgages that was fueling the unprecedented rise in house prices during the bubble years. He has used this ignorance to explain his lack of action – or even concern – about the risks posed by the bubble.

"Greenspan's 'I didn't know' excuse is so absurd as to be painful. The explosion of exotic mortgages in the bubble years was hardly a secret. It was frequently talked about in the media and showed up in a wide variety of data sources, including those produced by the Fed. In fact, there were widespread jokes at the time about 'liar loans' or 'Ninja loans'. The latter being an acronym for the phrase, 'no income, no job, no assets'.

"The fact that banks were issuing fraudulent mortgages by the millions, and that the Wall Street crew was securitizing them as fast as they could get them, was not top secret information available only to those with special security clearance. This was the economy in the years 2002-2006.

"It was impossible to look at the economy in these years and not see the role of the housing bubble and the tsunami of bad mortgages that fueled it. The run-up in house prices led to a near record pace of construction. Typically housing construction is around 4.5% of GDP. It peaked at 6.5% in 2005. Greenspan didn't notice? Who did he think was going to live in all these units, the building of which had created record vacancy rates as early as 2003?


"And he didn't notice that the spike in house prices had led to a surge in consumption pushing saving rates to nearly zero? He actually co-authored several pieces on exactly this topic with another Fed economist. Between the 100% predictable collapse of residential construction and the plunge in consumption that would follow the loss of the housing wealth that was driving it, we were looking at a loss of more than $1tn in annual demand. What did Greenspan think would fill this gap, purchases of Ayn Rand's books?

"Greenspan had all the information that he could have possibly needed to spot the housing bubble and to know its collapse would be really bad news for the economy. More than anyone else in the country he was in a position to stop the growth of the bubble.

"Suppose that, instead of extolling the wonders of adjustable rate mortgages, Greenspan used his public addresses to warn people that they were buying into an overpriced housing market; and he warned investors that the subprime mortgage backed securities they were buying were filled with fraudulent mortgages. Suppose further that he used the Fed's research staff to document these facts.

"Greenspan could have used the regulatory powers of the Fed to crack down on the bad mortgages being issued by the banks under the Fed's jurisdiction, as his fellow governor Edward Gramlich urged. And, he could have arranged to have a meeting with other federal and state regulators to see what they were doing to prevent mortgage fraud in the financial institutions under their jurisdictions as well.


"Those are the actions that we had a right to expect from a Fed chair faced with the growth of a dangerous asset bubble. That is what Alan Greenspan would have done if he had been earning his salary. Instead, he did nothing. He cheered on the bubble until it burst and then he said it wasn't his fault.

"This man has nothing to tell the country about the economy and the media is not doing its job to imply otherwise. If Greenspan doesn't have the decency to keep himself out of public view after all the damage he has done to the country, then the media should do it for him. The only thing he has to say that would be newsworthy is that he's sorry."

********************

And lest we forget what really happened, a look back to the original scene as we see in an article from The New York Times by Edmund L. Andrews on October 23, 2008 that generated the opening paragraph of today's posting, "Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation.":


"WASHINGTON — For years, a Congressional hearing with Alan Greenspan was a marquee event. Lawmakers doted on him as an economic sage. Markets jumped up or down depending on what he said. Politicians in both parties wanted the maestro on their side.

"But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.

"'Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,' he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Now 82, Mr. Greenspan came in for one of the harshest grillings of his life, as Democratic lawmakers asked him time and again whether he had been wrong, why he had been wrong and whether he was sorry.

"Critics, including many economists, now blame the former Fed chairman for the financial crisis that is tipping the economy into a potentially deep recession. Mr. Greenspan’s critics say that he encouraged the bubble in housing prices by keeping interest rates too low for too long and that he failed to rein in the explosive growth of risky and often fraudulent mortgage lending.


“You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

"Mr. Greenspan conceded: 'Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.'

"On a day that brought more bad news about rising home foreclosures and slumping employment, Mr. Greenspan refused to accept blame for the crisis but acknowledged that his belief in deregulation had been shaken.

"He noted that the immense and largely unregulated business of spreading financial risk widely, through the use of exotic financial instruments called derivatives, had gotten out of control and had added to the havoc of today’s crisis. As far back as 1994, Mr. Greenspan staunchly and successfully opposed tougher regulation on derivatives.

"But on Thursday, he agreed that the multitrillion-dollar market for credit default swaps, instruments originally created to insure bond investors against the risk of default, needed to be restrained.

"'This modern risk-management paradigm held sway for decades,' he said. 'The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year.'

"Mr. Waxman noted that the Fed chairman had been one of the nation’s leading voices for deregulation, displaying past statements in which Mr. Greenspan had argued that government regulators were no better than markets at imposing discipline.


"'Were you wrong?' Mr. Waxman asked.

"'Partially,' the former Fed chairman reluctantly answered, before trying to parse his concession as thinly as possible.

"Mr. Greenspan, celebrated as the 'Maestro' in a book about him by Bob Woodward, presided over the Fed for 18 years before he stepped down in January 2006. He steered the economy through one of the longest booms in history, while also presiding over a period of declining inflation.

"But as the Fed slashed interest rates to nearly record lows from 2001 until mid-2004, housing prices climbed far faster than inflation or household income year after year. By 2004, a growing number of economists were warning that a speculative bubble in home prices and home construction was under way, which posed the risk of a housing bust.

"Mr. Greenspan brushed aside worries about a potential bubble, arguing that housing prices had never endured a nationwide decline and that a bust was highly unlikely.

"Mr. Greenspan, along with most other banking regulators in Washington, also resisted calls for tighter regulation of subprime mortgages and other high-risk exotic mortgages that allowed people to borrow far more than they could afford.


"The Federal Reserve had broad authority to prohibit deceptive lending practices under a 1994 law called the Home Owner Equity Protection Act . But it took little action during the long housing boom, and fewer than 1 percent of all mortgages were subjected to restrictions under that law.

"This year, the Fed greatly tightened its restrictions. But by that time, the subprime market as well as the market for other kinds of exotic mortgages had already been wiped out.

"Mr. Greenspan said that he had publicly warned about the 'underpricing of risk' in 2005 but that he had never expected the crisis that began to sweep the entire financial system in 2007.

"'This crisis,' he told lawmakers, 'has turned out to be much broader than anything I could have imagined. It has morphed from one gripped by liquidity restraints to one in which fears of insolvency are now paramount.'

"Many Republican lawmakers on the oversight committee tried to blame the mortgage meltdown on the unchecked growth of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-sponsored mortgage-finance companies that were placed in a government conservatorship last month. Republicans have argued that Democratic lawmakers blocked measures to reform the companies.

"But Mr. Greenspan, who was first appointed by President Ronald Reagan, placed far more blame on the Wall Street companies that bundled subprime mortgages into pools and sold them as mortgage-backed securities. Global demand for the securities was so high, he said, that Wall Street companies pressured lenders to lower their standards and produce more 'paper.'


"'The evidence strongly suggests that without the excess demand from securitizers, subprime mortgage originations (undeniably the original source of the crisis) would have been far smaller and defaults accordingly far lower,' he said.

"Despite his chagrin over the mortgage mess, the former Fed chairman proposed only one specific regulation: that companies selling mortgage-backed securities be required to hold a significant number themselves.

"'Whatever regulatory changes are made, they will pale in comparison to the change already evident in today’s markets,' he said. 'Those markets for an indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime.'

********************


And after all this time, what had Ayn Rand disciple, husband of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Alan Greenspan wrought?  "The United States is still down almost 9m jobs from its trend path. We are losing close to $1tn a year in potential output, with cumulative losses to date approaching $5tn."

Notice some of the conflation between the two articles, as Greenspan's denials swarm like lying flies over his deadened eyes as the Times article notes, "It was impossible to look at the economy in these years and not see the role of the housing bubble and the tsunami of bad mortgages that fueled it," yet as the second article says, "...he failed to rein in the explosive growth of risky and often fraudulent mortgage lending."


If it's not the Conservatives that are lying our way into another financial disaster, it's the criminal Conservative cartel that spins their lies, as the GOP puppets continue their relentless march into deregulation and Reaganomics, knowing in the meantime that Trickle Down "economics" and deregulation don't work.

Harmless lies or criminal behavior - if you can make the obvious choice, don't forget to make it count when you vote next November.



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"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

Joseph Addison. (English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician. 1672 – 1719.)



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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The GOP Gang War Rages On


As the GOP Gang War rages on, Sean Sullivan's article at the Washingtonpost.com, "Lobbyist’s Tea Party Tweet Sparks New Round of GOP Infighting," and Dante Atkin's piece at the Dailykos.com, "The Final Blow: Americans Think Republicans Don't Care About Them," keep us up with the latest developments in what we hope is the Armageddon of American Conservatism.

First, from the Washington Post:

"In the latest episode of infighting among Republicans, the conservative political action committee the Madison Project criticized a tax lobbyist with the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform on Thursday afternoon for calling tea party activists 'retarded' in a tweet, prompting regret from the lobbyist, who said he shouldn't have used the language he did.

"Early Thursday morning, Ryan Ellis, the tax policy director for Americans for Tax Reform, tweeted at conservative author and columnist David Freddoso:

David Freddoso @freddoso
@RovingPoet @RyanLEllis @philipaklein "What's wrong with 'defunders?' Do you have another word for it?'

Ryan Ellis @RyanLEllis
@freddoso "'I've gotta tell you, man, I'm starting to think these tea party activists are freaking retarded.'
6:05 PM - 23 Oct 2013

"In a statement later in the day, Ellis praised the tea party and said he choice of language was the wrong one.

"'On Wednesday night I had a heated exchange with a few individuals on Twitter, and I used language I shouldn't have. Because this was a personal tweet, it should not be read as originating from anyone other than myself,' Ellis said.

"His tweet was part of a longer conversation that began with Freddoso taking issue with a story suggesting that the health-care law could not proceed without funding from Congress. A back and forth involving several Twitter several users ensued about the use of the word 'defunder' to refer to Republicans who sought to use the recently concluded budget standoff as a vehicle to try to defund the health-care law, known as Obamacare.




"Drew Ryun, political director of the Madison Project, which is often aligned with the tea party, sharply criticized Ellis's tweet in a statement.

"'This offensive remark is exactly what’s wrong with the K Street Republicans in Washington, DC,' said Ryun. 'Instead of fighting for hard-working families that struggle every day to make ends meet, they choose to attack them. We work closely with the Tea Party movement and these people are salt of the earth Americans that take the future of our nation seriously.'

"In another tweet issued late Thursday afternoon, Ellis alluded to his earlier tweet, saying he should not have used the word.

Ryan Ellis @RyanLEllis
"'As someone with a Down Syndrome first cousin, I should not have used the word 'retarded' in any context. It was a throwaway heated term.'
11:42 AM - 24 Oct 2013

"In a Daily Caller op-ed published last week, Ellis slammed Republican lawmakers and groups spearheading the effort to defund Obamacare in the budget showdown.

"Americans for Tax Reform is headed by by Grover Norquist, a well-known activist in the fiscal conservative movement. Norquist recently said that the effort to defund the health-care law 'hurt' the conservative movement.

"Below are the full statements Thursday from Ryun and Ellis.

"Ryun:

"'This offensive remark is exactly what’s wrong with the K Street Republicans in Washington, DC. Instead of fighting for hard-working families that struggle every day to make ends meet, they choose to attack them. We work closely with the Tea Party movement and these people are salt of the earth Americans that take the future of our nation seriously. They are hurting from the costs of Obamacare and feel completely disenfranchised by the Washington elite. The last thing they deserve is to be disrespected by Grover Norquist and his so called ‘conservative’ operation. At the very least, the Tea Party deserves an apology from ATR.'

"Ellis:

"'The tea party is responsible for the grassroots success in the fight to tackle government spending over the past several years. Without the tea party, the Republican party would not have captured the House in 2010. Without the tea party, we would never have ended earmarks. That is why it was so annoying to see a Twitter argument with a couple of people (on my personal Twitter account) end up misrepresented by others. And worse, there was an effort to suggest that I was speaking for Americans for Tax Reform. Both misrepresentations were less than accurate or honorable. I have always had and continue to have the highest regard for the activism and successes of the modern tea party movement. One or two people trying to assert the opposite had to go to great lengths to suggest otherwise. On Wednesday night I had a heated exchange with a few individuals on Twitter, and I used language I shouldn't have. Because this was a personal tweet, it should not be read as originating from anyone other than myself. Last thought: If you don't enjoy Twitter arguments, stay out of them, and for heaven’s sake don’t try to jump in the middle and misrepresent somebody’s overall views. That is a violation of Twitter etiquette.'"



(Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.” Prior to joining the Washington Post in the summer of 2012, Sean was the editor of Hotline On Call, National Journal Hotline’s politics blog. He has also worked for NHK Japan Public Broadcasting and ABC News. Sean is a graduate of Hamilton College, where he received a degree in Philosophy. He lives in Washington, D.C. Follow Sean on Twitter.)

********************

And on to the second article, "The Final Blow: Americans Think Republicans Don't Care About Them.":


"Good going, dude!Over two years ago, I penned a piece here calling for a direct challenge to the intentions of the Republican Party. It espoused the theory that the failures of conservative governance and policies were being masked by an existing narrative in the minds of voters that the Republican Party was that of patriotism, tradition, and small-town American values.

"It's an image that the conservative movement had done an excellent job of cultivating since the September 11 terrorist attacks. In the narrative they promoted, they were the true American patriots who would preserve the country's values and keep it safe from harm, while the Democratic faction that opposed them was at best feckless, and at worst bent on surrendering and letting the terrorists win. And even as corruption, a failed occupation, incompetence and financial collapse swept Democrats back into power in 2006 and 2008, many Republicans still campaigned continuously on the narrative of putting America first, especially in contrast to supporters of Barack Hussein Obama.

"That story, however, may now be at the end of its arc. More below.


If the tea party faction thought that they could lay claim to the idea of representing 'real America' by dressing up in colonial clothes and calling President Obama some sort of foreigner, that idea is now out the window. After the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to shut down the government in a desperate attempt to take away the ability of the less fortunate to get health insurance, their polling took a major hit. Over half the country now thinks that it's a bad thing that the Republican Party controls the House; three quarters of Americans believe that Republican members of Congress don't deserve re-election.

"All of those numbers would be bad in their own right, but there's one that's even worse, as Steve Benen at MSNBC reports:

"The results cover quite a bit of ground, but there was one question in particular that stood out for me: respondents were asked whether they believe the various officials in Washington are more interested in doing what’s best for the country or what’s best for themselves politically. It’s an interesting question because it speaks to something that isn’t often polled: perceptions of motivations.

"I put together the chart above to capture the results, which should terrify Republican officials. By a nearly four-to-one margin, Americans believe GOP lawmakers in Congress aren’t concerned with the nation’s best interests. That’s just astounding.Given the revulsion that the American public feels toward Congress in general, it's unsurprising that Democrats on Capitol Hill are operating at a deficit in this regard as well, even if it isn't nearly as steep as that faced by their Republican counterparts. But what should scare Republicans even more than their own abysmal numbers? President Obama's. Despite every single thing that Republicans have said and done to delegitimize the President, ascribe evil intentions to him, and impute that he does not share American values, a majority of Americans think that he cares about what is best for the country more than being motivated by selfish intentions.

"Yet despite these drastically horrible numbers, some in the tea party faction seem predisposed to favor yet another shutdown, yet another hostage fight with President Obama as the country's economic future hangs in the balance. If that is indeed what they choose to do, the message is very simple: this group of House Republicans simply does not care about this country and its people. It's a stark message, but the polling bears out its resonance. Even though the midterm elections are over a year away, Democrats have the best opportunity they have had in many years to permanently damage the opposing brand.

"The specifics of policy positions are relevant to this opportunity, of course; but far more relevant is the simple fact that House Republicans have placed their political vendettas over the well-being of the country as a whole. The American public no longer trust that these Republicans are the type of people who want to do the right thing, and that is far bigger than any policy issue.

********************


Although "(b)y a nearly four-to-one margin, Americans believe GOP clowns in Congress aren’t concerned with the nation’s best interests," voters' memories are very short and it's up to non-Conservatives to hold the Conservatives' feet to the fire until the 2014 Election.

In politics, timing is all.  And this may indeed be the window of opportunity for the voters to take American back from the Conservatives once and for all.

Generations of Americans rebuffed the GOP after their policies drove the country into the Great Depression.  It took an Eisenhower to break the pattern, as new voters who had no memory of the Crash voted for the seemingly amiable Ike.

The criminals had a toehold in the American polity and dug in, starting us on the way to a new Crash - but this time with a totally wrong move by the Conservative cartel as they shut the government down.

The voters may finally see the "Conservative Movement" for what it is: the vast, rightwing conspiracy to take over the government, the murderous, traitorous criminal syndicate that has purposely caused misery, death, and heartache to millions of their own people for decades upon decades.



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"I had rather be an oyster than a man, the most stupid and senseless of animals."

George Berkeley, also known as Bishop Berkeley (Bishop of Cloyne), was an Irish

philosopher. 1685 – 1753.)


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Desire For Third Party A Reflection of GOP Civil War


The ability of the GOP to remain united as one while the Democrats have been defined as a rowdy group of many disparate factions has been explained here definitively:  the Conservative criminal cartel has one underlying unifying belief, that the rich shall inherit the earth, while the Democratic Party consist of seemingly unrelated groups - labor, environmental, feminists, lgtb, ad infinitum - the non-Conservatives.

But the ascendancy of the Tea Party has led to a new phenomenon that has changed the face of the Republican Party forever, the GOP Civil War.

Yesterday's "twofer," "GOP Civil War! Poll Shows Tea Party Disdains Religious Right" and "Republican Civil War Erupts: Business Groups v. Tea Party," wouldn't be complete without Charles Badger's piece at the horse's mouth, the Washington Times web page, "Desire For Third Party A Reflection of GOP Civil War":


"TRENTON, NJ, October 27, 2013 — The maddening fact about the GOP civil war is that there are no clear good guys or bad guys.

"Today’s GOP consists of at least five distinct coalitions. One is Big Business, comprising the Chamber of Commerce-Wall Street Journal set who hunt 'small varmints' and speak of their love of 'cheesy grits' when in Mississippi.

"A second group are populists, including the Tea Party and the creamy middle of America that forms Sarah Palin and Herman Cain’s political base.

"Populists are often conflated with another GOP coalition with which they overlap: social conservatives. The two groups do pull apart on issues like Israel, genocide intervention, and increasingly, immigration reform.

"Fourth are neoconservatives like Dick and Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, and on most issues, John McCain, of whom George Will acerbically joked, “John is not interested in domestic policy. If it doesn’t fly or explode, he doesn’t care.”

"Fifth are the libertarians. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron and Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth lead this wing.

"Disagreements abound.


"In foreign policy, four are interventionist: Big Business, populists, social conservatives, and neocons. Business supports it for profit motives, populists for patriotism, social conservatives for evangelization, and neocons for hegemony. The libertarians dissent.

"Social policy? Three coalitions agree on 'traditional' American family values: populists, social conservatives, and neocons. Populists out of respect for tradition, social conservatives for piety, and neocons because it’s another thing that makes us exceptional in a world of one-child policies, free needle exchanges, and declining Western values. On this, libertarians are virulently opposed, while Big Business is indifferent.

"On economic policy, Big Business is for corporate welfare while populists are for Blue Collar welfare, and social conservatives for chastity belt welfare — that is, welfare that moralizes. Neoconservatives want leverage welfare — welfare to buy and prop up 'friends' around the world. Libertarians are ostensibly anti-welfare, but they don’t tend to take that to the logical conclusion of abolishing public utilities, schools, libraries, parks, zoning ordinances, infrastructure, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Departments of Health, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Education, Housing, and Transportation.


"The annoyance about these coalitions is that it’s impossible to loathe any of them entirely. Each brings something right to conservative philosophy, but also something wrong.

"Big Business gets right that critiques of Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Box stores aside, the small needs the big in order to exist. Industrial food is the only way to feed almost 7 billion human bodies, and high cost American healthcare is precisely what makes cheap healthcare possible elsewhere.

"Yet they were wrong to engorge the federal code with billions in subsidies for themselves, and painfully un-self-aware enough to popularize the theory that they, “the makers,” are being sapped by the mass of 'takers.' This is grotesquely wrong since average Americans subsidize Big Business to the tune of billions.

"Populism correctly orients the party to a labor theory of value, a focus — at least in rhetoric — on the middle and working class. But that has often meant fanning the unfounded fears of middle-America: fear that their jobs are threatened by foreigners; fear of 'the other' which emerges after disasters, most recently profiling Arab men; fear-mongering over issues like the erroneously-labelled 'Ground Zero' mosque in 2011 and conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood and Common Core curriculum.


"Social conservatism of the C.S. Lewis variety in Mere Christianity is a positive force in the party. However, social conservatism often bleeds into a revival of William Jennings Bryant-ism in American politics, that is exclusionary or anti-science tendencies. It leads to episodes like declining to baptize the baby of an unwed mother (Marvin Winans), saying that vaccines might cause mental retardation (Michelle Bachman), saying that school shootings are God’s wrath on America (James Dobson), or that feminism causes women to kill their children, become lesbians, and practice witchcraft (Pat Robertson).

"Neoconservatives correctly understand America’s crucial importance in the world. But they fail to temper that with realism about our means, ends, and limitations. Worse, American Exceptionalism, in its zeal to drive home the uniqueness of American civil society and religious, political, and economic freedoms, often displays insufficient empathy for the young men on the streets of Karachi or Cairo — unemployed and disconnected — who take up arms not for ideology, but to feed their families.

"Finally, libertarianism is a source of particular tumult. Libertarianism’s critique of the War on Drugs, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the prison industrial complex are enough to make many minority and under-40 Republicans want to form a Hallelujah chorus. But by worshiping at the altar of unfettered liberty in markets, libertarianism lacks Thomas Sowell’s understanding that, 'Social values, in general, are incrementally variable. Neither safety, diversity, rational articulation, nor mortality is categorically a good thing to have more of, without limits. All are subject to diminishing returns, and ultimately negative returns.'

"The same is true of the libertarian God of liberty.

"It’s a pity they don’t see that, or pretend not to.


"These tensions between the coalitions have always existed. But there used to be an understanding between them that they needed each other.

"That understanding has faded as talk of the 47 percent, moochers, and 'I Built This' has made an individualistic ethos ascendant. The same failure to see their dependence on others which compels people to proclaim, 'keep your government hands off my Medicare,' blinds them to the fact Tea Partiers and libertarians are deeply dependent, even codependent on the very forces they bemoan."


(Charles Badger has been a columnist for The Washington Times Communities section since 2013. He is a Republican political strategist, speechwriter, and former aide to a Member of Congress, currently working in disaster relief logistics & communications. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Berea College.)

UnStereopolitical Thoughts by Charles Badger

(Send Charles Badger a message)

*******************


The Big Business Establishment together with the Populists, NeoCons, Social Conservatives, and Libertarians have "played nice" together forever, but after the Shutdown debacle this may be the peak in popularity of the Tea Party, just before the Conservative roller coaster heads down its final plunge - over a missing track into an abyss of destruction.

The criminal cartel is falling to pieces under the banner of gang warfare, the Crips and Bloods splitting into even more fragmented groups, and the question has to be asked: Is this the end of the GOP?

As the supposed Conservative issues are examined more closely, bringing "...something right to conservative philosophy," issues like "American values," "tradition," "anti-welfare/minorities/women," imperialsim in the form of "preemptive war," we find nothing but smoke, smoke to hide Conservatism's true "philosophy," that dreams of a New American Age of Feudalism.

Conservatives are the Takers, and if they can't take it legally they find illegal means to take and keep what ever they want under the aegis of a "political philosophy."

The author's contention, "...that it’s impossible to loathe any of them entirely. Each brings something right to conservative philosophy, but also something wrong," is not quite right.  It's easy to loathe a false prophet, and each plate of empty sub-issues the Conservatives bring to the table is brought only to hide the fact that the Conservative capos have taken the rest of the food for themselves.



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“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”

Napoleon Bonaparte.


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Monday, October 28, 2013

GOP Civil War! Poll Shows Tea Party Disdains Religious Right


A second GOP Civil War?

You betcha.

In "GOP Civil War! Poll Shows Tea Party Disdains Religious Right," an article by Kerry Eleveld at Salon.com, the byline says it all:


"A new poll adds more heat to the GOP civil war — the Tea Party's lack of interest in the religious right's agenda.

"Remember when Evangelicals were the staple of the Republican coalition? Turn them out and you could win any national election. Well, they are fast becoming the fringe of the GOP, based on recently released research from focus groups conducted by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert for Democracy Corps.

"The GOP is now roughly split into three factions: one-third Evangelical, one-quarter Tea Party and one-quarter moderates. These focus groups, which were purposely assembled homogeneously to encourage participation, were chosen because they comprise the base of the Republican Party.

"True, the Tea Party has its own goals and it’s wreaking havoc on the Republican Party and the nation. But what’s striking about the insights gleaned from the groups is that both moderate and Tea Party Republicans view the Evangelical agenda as a total distraction.

"Evangelicals are apparently beside themselves over losing the culture wars. According to the memo, they 'believe their towns, communities and schools are suffering from a deep "culture rot" that has invaded from the outside.' Their main focus is homosexuality, but they’re also concerned about the decline of small homogenous towns.

"But the Tea Party folks couldn’t care less about social issues.

"Gay marriage. Abortion. 'Who cares?' said one Tea Partier from Roanoke.

"Another Roanoke Tea Partier agreed: 'I think it’s not important.'

"A Tea Party man from Raleigh who said he didn’t support same-sex marriage also said it wasn’t the job of the government to intervene.

"'I personally don’t agree with gay marriage, but I don’t think the government should say who can get married and who can’t. It’s not their business,' he said.

"Similar to the Tea Party faction, Republican moderates also showed apprehension about the Evangelical agenda.

"'I can’t sell my kids on this party. I agree with … some of their positions. But the stupid things … for instance, the rape crap they were saying … I can’t sell them on my party,' said a Colorado man.


"'I just tend to be a little bit more moderate on social issues. However I’m a pretty staunch fiscal conservative,' said a Raleigh woman, 'so it’s kind of like, at least among my peers, there’s a change in kind of the conservative group. But it doesn’t necessarily seem like the Republican Party is changing with it.'

"More importantly, Tea Partiers see the social issues as a distraction — meaning Republicans who are spewing anti-gay, anti-abortion rhetoric aren’t likely to endear themselves to the most vocal faction of the GOP.

"'The government, the media, the news media, you know. Of course – it’s gay rights, it’s abortion,' said a Tea Partier from Roanoke. 'What we need to be focused on is the financial situation.'

"Another Roanoke woman observed, 'I think the Republicans have lost so many people to the Democratic Party because of social issues … if we could eliminate that from the conversation I think we’d have an entirely different electorate.'

"Also revelatory was that many of the moderates were 'surprised' that other people in their group weren’t staunchly conservative on social issues. In other words, it’s almost as if they had been biting their tongues on the Evangelical agenda because they didn’t realize that others shared their more moderate views.

"'I was surprised that the group was more moderate on social issues, like I am,' wrote one moderate on a post card distributed following the discussion. 'It seems that this group focused on the fiscal aspect of Republicanism as the main component.'

"One place on which all these groups found common ground was in their disdain for President Barack Obama and his 'socialist,' 'big government' policies. But outside of that confluence, the group dynamics are fascinating. Evangelicals like the Tea Party because they 'stand up' to Democrats, but the Tea Party isn’t even remotely interested in social issues, while moderates despise the Tea Party and are 'largely open to progressive social policies, including on gay marriage and immigration.'

"So where does that leave the GOP? At war, which isn’t news. But the memo notes that in Republican-held districts, Evangelicals currently make up about 30 percent of the electorate while non-Evangelical Tea Partiers account for 23 percent of it. And while moderates 'are not required' to keep these Republican-held districts in GOP hands, Carville, Greenberg, and Seifert conclude that 'these fractures do matter' in the most vulnerable GOP districts."


*******************

In the meantime, Civil War is still erupting as we see in "Republican Civil War Erupts: Business Groups v. Tea Party," an article by Michael C. Bender & Kathleen Hunter at Bloomberg.com:

"A battle for control of the Republican Party has erupted as an emboldened Tea Party moved to oust senators who voted to reopen the government while business groups mobilized to defeat allies of the small-government movement.

"'We are going to get engaged,' said Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 'The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness.' The chamber spent $35.7 million on federal elections in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks campaign spending.

"Meanwhile, two Washington-based groups that finance Tea Party-backed candidates said yesterday they’re supporting efforts to defeat Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, who voted this week for the measure ending the 16-day shutdown and avoiding a government debt default. Cochran, a Republican seeking a seventh term next year, faces a challenge in his party’s primary from Chris McDaniel, a state senator.

"McDaniel, who announced his candidacy yesterday, 'is not part of the Washington establishment and he has the courage to stand up to the big spenders in both parties,' Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a statement supporting him.


"Controlling Congress

"Cochran is at least the seventh Republican senator to face a primary in the 2014 midterms. The intra-party contests come as Republicans seek a net pickup of six seats to regain control of the 100-member chamber that they lost in the 2006 elections. Party leaders are also working to protect their majority in the U.S. House, where they have 232 members to the Democrats’ 200.

"Those goals became more difficult after the Tea Party-aligned House and Senate Republicans embraced a plan tyinggovernment spending to defunding Obamacare. PresidentBarack Obama and Senate Democrats rejected the proposal and had the power to stop it, and their partisan adversaries took the lion’s share of the blame for the impasse leading to the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

"The Republican Party’s favorability was at a record low of 28 percent in a Gallup Poll conducted Oct. 3-6. That was down 10 percentage points from the previous month and 15 points below Democrats. The Tea Party is less popular now than ever, according to a poll released Oct. 15 by the Pew Research Center. Forty-nine percent of U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of the movement, while 30 percent have a favorable one.

"Revised Ratings

"The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that tracks races, changed the ratings of 15 U.S. House seats yesterday, all but one in favor of the prospects for Democrats. After three vacancies are filled in the 435-member House, Democrats are expected to need a net pickup of 17 seats to win back the majority they lost in the 2010 elections.

"Both sides are using the Oct. 16 vote on a bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and lift the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling as a barometer for choosing their targets in next year’s elections.

"In the Senate, 18 of 46 Republicans voted against the final deal. The opponents included Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Pat Roberts of Kansas and John Cornyn of Texas, each of whom face primary contests. In the House, Republicans cast all the 144 votes opposing the accord.


"Hurting Brand

"'They voted "no" because they understand this is a rallying cry' and that backing the agreement could be used against them, Tom Davis, a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman and now director of federal government affairs for Deloitte Consulting, said in an interview. 'This has not helped Republicans. It’s hurt the Republican brand.'

"To improve their odds, Tea Party leaders are fine-tuning their strategy by targeting incumbents in states where Democrats have little or no chance of winning in the general election. In 2012 and 2010, the movement nominated weak or flawed Senate candidates in Indiana, Missouri, Delaware and Nevada who were defeated in the November general elections, dashing Republicans’ chances for taking over the chamber.

"'That’s part of the calculation in challenging Republican Senator Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, where no Democrats hold statewide office,' said Michael Leahy, a Republican activist. State Representative Joe Carr announced in August he would run against Alexander in next year’s primary.

"Volunteer Effort

"Leahy is helping to organize volunteers to knock on doors tomorrow in the state and urge voters to protest Alexander’s support for ending the Washington impasse by backing Carr.

"'Whoever wins the primary in Tennessee is going to sail to victory,' Leahy said in an interview. 'Democrats are anemic here.'

"In addition to Cochran and Alexander, Republican senators who supported the agreement to re-open the government and face primary challenges include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"'The strategy of primarying people like Thad Cochran is more of the same and it means more Senate minorities in the future,' said David French, the top lobbyist in Washington for the National Retail Federation. 'I question the judgment there.'

"French said the federation would back candidates in Republican primaries. Neither he nor Reed would specify which incumbents they’d support.


"Dropping Support

"'There are incumbent Republicans who are on the wrong side of some of these issues,' said French, whose organization spent more than $300,000 on races in 2012. 'There are definitely some incumbent Republicans we’re not going to support again.'

"The chamber has challenged the Tea Party before and Reed said they will follow a similar strategy next year.

"Leading up to the 2012 Republican primary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Chamber of Commerce paid for television ads backing Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Upton was fending off a challenge from Jack Hoogendyk, a former state representative backed by the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks, which posted online a 'Down with Upton' petition. Upton won with 67 percent of the vote compared with 33 percent for Hoogendyk.

"Campaign Spending

"Joining the Senate Conservatives Fund in backing McDaniel’s primary challenge of Cochran is the Club for Growth, another Tea Party ally. The group’s super political action committee, Club for Growth Action, spent $17.9 million on federal races in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Senate Conservatives Fund spent $15.9 million in 2012 and $3.9 million so far on 2014 campaigns. The group, a political action committee founded by former South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, backed Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky in 2010 and Ted Cruz in Texas in 2012 as each won Senate bids.

"McDaniel is the group’s first endorsement in the 2014 elections, and today it pledged its backing to Louisville investor Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell.

"It’s too soon to know whether the boost the Tea Party-backed Senate candidates are anticipating will materialize, said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the Cook Report.


"Not 'Serious'

"With the exception of Bevin, who is spending his own money in his primary race, 'none of these other candidates are really serious yet,' Duffy said.

"'It’s going to take a week or so to figure out how Tea Party voters feel about it,' Duffy said. 'If they are angry, that could give some of these candidates momentum.'

"Democrats are also looking to use the government shutdown battle to their political advantage.

"Rickey Cole, the Democratic chairman in Mississippi, said a Republican civil war presents an opportunity. Cole is pitching party leaders in Washington to help in recruiting a candidate for the state’s Senate contest.

"'Folks are returning my call, but everybody’s got to do a poll to decide which side of the bed to get out of,' Cole said in an interview. 'This race could be a replay of what happened to Senator Lugar in Indiana.'

"After 36 years in the Senate, Richard Lugar lost the Republican primary in Indiana last year to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who had Tea Party support. Mourdock went on to lose to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.

"Targeting Republicans

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which assists candidates, is attacking the Republican House members who are running for the Senate, saying they’re partly to blame for the unpopular shutdown.

"Montana, West Virginia and Georgia Senate contests all feature Republican House members running for seats where incumbents are retiring. In Arkansas and Louisiana, Democratic senators are squaring off against House Republicans.


"'Republicans are immeasurably damaged by this,' said the Democratic committee’s spokesman, Justin Barasky. 'They repeatedly voted to keep the government shutdown. It highlights a recklessness and irresponsibility that all those candidates have.'"

(To contact the reporters on this story: Michael C. Bender in Washington atmbender10@bloomberg.net; Kathleen Hunter in Washington at khunter9@bloomberg.net.  To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net.)

********************


Gerrymandering aside, we've known that 2014 is the year that non-Conservatives are waiting for, and the new split in the GOP Civil War gives the Democrats even more of a chance to win the House back in the "most vulnerable of districts" and to increase the majority in the Senate in the Purple States.

Politics for the Evangelicals like Sarah Palin is easy; cozy up to the Tea Party faction like she's presently doing with Ted Cruz.  Lying is built in to the criminal mind of the Conservatives, but the intellectually challenged like Palin may find it difficult to even know the difference between the two factions.

In any case, we suspect Business As Usual with the factions sticking together unless a Democratic Presidential candidate is able to split their votes in 2016 like Bill Clinton did in 1992.

Next: More On The Civil War



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“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”

Joseph Joubert. (French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his

Pensées (Thoughts), published posthumously. 1754 - 1824.)
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Conspiracy Theories Explain The Right


"Conspiracy Theories Explain The Right," an essay by Arthur Goldwag at Salon.com is a particularly poignant piece for this poster, as he was separated from a long-time friend just yesterday over ongoing disagreements over fringe conspiracists like Alex Jones:

"The conservative mindset is in decline. Stories of cabals and secret plots provide comfort as its power wanes.


"What just happened in Washington?

Ask a true conservative believer, and they’ll tell you that it was the birth of a terrible beauty. They’ll say the GOP’s true leaders, our nation’s future leadership, revealed itself in all its splendid, futile glory—only to be stabbed in the back by a 'thundering herd of chicken-hearted Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) galloping to the Left.'

"If you asked me, I would say that we witnessed a recrudescence of a nihilistic tendency that has never been far from the surface in American politics—a conservatism that is as far from the dictionary definition of conservatism as Obama is from being a socialist. Last fall, on the eve of the election, I wrote in Salon that 'America is becoming more multicultural, more gay-friendly and more feminist every day. But as every hunter knows, a wounded or cornered quarry is the most dangerous. Even as the white, patriarchal, Christian hegemony declines, its backlash politics become more vicious.' Was it vicious enough to strap a figurative suicide vest to its chest and threaten the U.S. with default? If you had asked me at the time, I would have said no. Little did I know.

"Some of the Republican jihadists who pressed for default feel so personally violated by the presence of a black family in the White House that they would just as soon burn it down as reclaim it. And some live in such a bubble of denial—an alternate cognitive universe in which the poor lord it over the rich and white Christians are a persecuted minority, in which a president who was twice elected by an overwhelming popular majority is a pretender, and a law that Congress attempted to overturn more than 40 times was “never debated”—that they have convinced themselves that a default would have actually been a good thing, that it would have restored the U.S. economy to a sound foundation.

"It is a triumph not so much of a conspiracy as of conspiracist thinking. As John Judis wrote in The New Republic last week, even 'lobbyists I talked to cited….Richard Hofstadter’s essay on "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" to explain the rise of the populist right. It’s the kind of reference you’d expect to read in a New Republic article, but not necessarily in a conversation with a business lobbyist.'



"Lest I be accused of falling for a left wing conspiracy theory myself, I want to say a few words about 'conspiracy theory' before I continue. 'Conspiracy theory' is a loaded and frankly a bad term, one that unfairly besmirches any and all theorizing about conspiracies.

"Bracketing all thinking about conspiracies with tall tales and outright delusions about secret societies whose leaders toast each other with blood drunk out of human skulls is unfair and misleading. Some anti-government conspiracy theories—that the Tonkin Gulf Incident didn’t happen as reported, for example, or that the CIA was involved with international dope dealers, are so far from being ridiculous that they turn out to be true. The NSA does have access to your emails. For that matter, a certain amount of toasting with skulls (if not actual blood) has been reliably reported to go on in some quarters.

"Still, there are theories and then there are theories. Scientists know the difference between unfalsifiable ones like intelligent design and genuinely scientific ones like evolution. Theories about political conspiracies are harder to put to the test; absence of evidence, as Donald Rumsfeld once said, is not evidence of absence. In fact it’s the whole point.


"I do think most people know the difference between a 'conspiracy theory' in its pejorative sense—say, that the Fed takes its orders from a secret society of Jewish elders, who cause depressions and wars to further their plan of ruling the world—and its literal sense, such as a serious inquiry into Oswald’s relationship to the CIA.

"Still, truth can be stranger than fiction and we need to respect that.

"If I were to tell you that a cabal of Congressional Republicans had been quietly working with a roster of little-known political organizations since the last election, many of them funded by a pair of shadowy billionaire brothers, to bring the country to the brink of financial ruin, I’d understand it if you thought I was talking about a conspiracy theory. But really I’d be describing the sausage making that goes on in politics today and the blurry lines between lobbying and influence peddling—and even more than that, about the behavior of people who are so blinded by rage, so driven by their own fever dreams about Obama’s plot to turn the U.S. into a Third-World, multi-racial, socialist, Muslim, atheist paradise, that they would pay any cost to ruin his presidency.

"But if there is still any question about what a bad conspiracy theory is, I’d like to submit as Exhibit A one proposed by an anonymous author at the Canadian website Press Core, which was promoted a couple of weeks ago by World Net Daily columnist and Fox News contributor Erik Rush (sometimes known as 'the other Rush') on his radio show. Part of what makes it a classically 'bad' conspiracy theory, besides its tendentiousness, is its meanness. It’s like a push poll; its sole purpose is to propagate a meme that demonizes and delegitimizes the president. I think it also provides insight into the mindset that characterizes far-right thinking these days.

"The Navy Yard shootings in D.C., this theory goes, was a false flag incident perpetrated by the Obama administration to stop the Navy from arresting the president for treason. The victims of the shooting, who were all NCIS commanders, the story continues, had discovered that Obama was planning an even more horrific false flag—he was going to explode a nuclear device in Washington, D.C., to justify going to war with Syria. Some of this “sounds like a conspiracy theory,” the other Rush admitted, but 'a lot of stuff that seemed to some of us like conspiracy theories years ago turned out to be true over the last few months.'

"One way to judge a theory is to look at its source. Is it a generally respected news gatherer or a propaganda mill? Scanning the headlines at Press Core, I couldn’t help noticing another article, this one with the byline Paul W. Kincaid, the site’s editor. The piece reveals that the Vatican, the U.N., and the Third Reich have been working together on a covert and sinister plan to exterminate, and I am quoting now, 'as many as 3 billion people through Vatican unholy wars of terror against Muslim and Jewish states, designer diseases, and famine.'


"This story really astounded me, because it sees both Jews and Muslims as victims rather than perpetrators. That’s not what you usually read on websites of this kind, trust me. Some of the most virulently anti-Islamic websites today, many of them run by Jews, feature stories that could have been written by 1930s anti-Semites like Elizabeth Dilling or Gerald Burton Winrod, except the word Shariah replaces the word Kehilla, and instead of out-of-context quotes from the Talmud about the necessity of lying to the gentiles they are pulled from the Koran and refer to the supposed doctrine of Tawriya. Of course a major theme at those sites is Obama’s suspicious sympathies toward the Muslim world.

"The theories that we file under the unfortunate rubric of conspiracy theories are theories of everything. They have a kind of metaphysical authority, and, in their confidence that everything is ultimately connected, a scope and a moral framework that is almost theological.

"Most of all, they are reactive. Conspiracists are people who feel threatened—in their pocketbooks, their status, or both. Conspiracy theories explain what is happening to them and why, assigning blame to an adversary who is consciously and deliberately carrying out an evil intention.

"Conspiracists use the word “evil” as a noun as well as an adjective; they believe that their adversaries are literally demonic. Much as a Kabbalist believes that God fashioned the world out of Hebrew letters, many conspiracists believe that their enemies sign the catastrophes that they cause in visual, numeric or symbolic codes.

"They look backward nostalgically to what they’ve lost, they look forward with anxious expectation to a bloody reckoning. As a political candidate once said in an unguarded moment, they cling to their guns and their religion.

"Conspiracism turns chaotic events into coherent narratives—surprisingly often, one that hews to the storyline of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an early 20th-century anti-Semitic pastiche that was cut and pasted together by Eastern Orthodox defenders of the absolute monarchy of the Tsar.

"Conspiracy theories’ narratives unfold much as the storylines of massive multi-player online games do. They take place in a universe that’s bounded by hard-and-fast rules and peopled by broadly drawn, cartoon-like characters. Whatever happens is either part of the algorithm or something that one of the player gods has intentionally caused to happen.


"You see this kind of thinking when you read claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged by 'actors,' or that purport to identify the fake blood and prosthetic limbs in the carnage after the Boston Marathon 'false flag' bombing. Like the ancient Gnostics, or the characters in 'The Matrix' or 'The Truman Show,' they believe that God is a Satanic impostor—that the world is a deliberately constructed illusion, the opposite of the place that its designated authority figures purport it to be.

"The Left, I freely admit, is not immune to conspiracy theories. If many of the 'false flag' claims originate with quasi-Bircher populists like Alex Jones, they resonate in some leftist quarters as well. Communist dialectics and the theory of history that undergirds Premillennial Dispensationalism share some attributes; party propaganda was as filled with paranoid conspiracy theories (some of them true) as anything that the organized right has ever produced. But I do tend to think that the very reactiveness of reactionary thinking predisposes it to conspiracism a bit more. This is why as many extreme ideas resonate within the Republican mainstream as they do.

"Conservatives, especially conservative white men of a certain age, many of them living in the states of the Old Dominion and the mountainous West, are feeling beleaguered in this fifth year of the Great Recession. As conservative as his governance has turned out to be in practice, the election of an African American president has tended to exacerbate their feelings of victimization.

"Public Policy Polling has issued a couple of surveys on conspiracy theories this year. And belief pretty clearly breaks down along partisan lines:
  • "34 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Independents believe a global power elite is conspiring to create a New World Order—compared to just 15 percent of Democrats. 
  • Fifty-eight percent of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax; 77 percent of Democrats do not. 
  • Sixty-two percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Independents believe the Obama administration is “secretly trying to take everyone’s guns away.” Only 14 percent of Democrats agree. 
  • Forty-two percent of Republicans believe Shariah law is making its way into U.S. courts, compared to just 12 percent of Democrats. 
  • More than twice as many Republican voters (21 percent) as Democrats (9 percent) believe the government is using “false flag incidents” to consolidate its power. 
  • Forty-four percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Independents believe that Obama is making plans to stay in office after his second term expires. Only 11 percent of Democrats agree.
"Most elected officials who traffic in conspiracy theories are too rich and successful themselves to believe in them; they deploy them opportunistically, to push voters’ emotional buttons. As Michael Tomasky wrote in The Daily Beast last week, 'The rage kept the base galvanized….The rich didn’t really share the rage, or most of them. Even the Koch Brothers probably don’t….But all of them have used it. And they have tolerated it, the casual racism, the hatred of gay people, and the rest….because they, the elites, remained in charge. Well, they’re not in charge now. The snarling dog they kept in a pen for decades has just escaped and bitten their hand off.'


"Back in the winter of 2012, a couple of weeks before my book 'The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right' was published, I was at a party at my sister’s house, and she introduced me to the husband of a friend of hers, a lawyer active in the Democratic party. I told him how conspiratorial memes about the Illuminati have echoed down to us from the 1790s, and how the influence of fringe groups like the John Birch Society extends beyond marginal figures like Alex Jones and Ron Paul and can even be discerned in the GOP’s campaign rhetoric.

"He just laughed derisively. 'What possible relevance do those nuts have today?' he said. 'Nobody cares about them.' Judging from the recent events in Washington, I think it’s safe to say that his complacency was a bit premature."

(Arthur Goldwag is the author, most recently, of "The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right" MORE ARTHUR GOLDWAG.)


*******************

Conspiracists are people who feel threatened—in their pocketbooks, their status, or both. Conspiracy theories explain what is happening to them and why, assigning blame to an adversary who is consciously and deliberately carrying out an evil intention...They look backward nostalgically to what they’ve lost, they look forward with anxious expectation to a bloody reckoning. As a political candidate once said in an unguarded moment, they cling to their guns and their religion."


And I'm sure many of you know that the "political candidate" was President Barack Obama.

"What possible relevance do those nuts have today?," the author's Democratic acquaintance said. "Nobody cares about them."

No one but the leaders, propagandists, and fellow travelers of the Conservative criminal cartel, as the tin foil hat crowd has proven to be a most fertile ground for recruitment.

Without the Uninformed Voter, the Ecumenicals, and the tin foil hat people, the shaky wall of the cartel would come tumbling down.




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"Here is true immorality: ignorance and stupidity; the devil is nothing but this. His
name is Legion."

Gustave Flaubert. (French writer, counted among the greatest novelists in Western
literature. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary. 1821 –
1880.)

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