Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Revisited

We received some comments from right-wing sheeplets yesterday with something new for a change, a strident denouncing of our use of Wikipedia for various definitions.

So with the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise as exemplified by this site, we now present in today's post, the Wikipedia entry for "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy."

"Vast right-wing conspiracy

"Vast right-wing conspiracy" was a theory advanced by then First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1998 in defense of her husband, President Bill Clinton, and his administration during the Lewinsky scandal, characterizing the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Clinton's political enemies.[1] The Starr Report found that the Lewinsky affair had not been fabricated. The term has been used since, including in a question posed to Bill Clinton in 2009 to describe attacks on Barack Obama during his early presidency.

Earlier uses

While popularized by Mrs. Clinton in her 1998 interview (see "First Lady Launches Counterattack"  at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/hillary012898.htm), the phrase did not originate with her. In 1991 the Detroit News wrote: Thatcher-era Britain produced its own crop of paranoid left-liberal films. ... All posited a vast right-wing conspiracy propping up a reactionary government ruthlessly crushing all efforts at opposition under the guise of parliamentary democracy.

"David Brock, a conservative-turned-liberal pundit, has said he was once a part of an effort to dredge up a scandal against Clinton. In 1993 Brock, then of the American Spectator, was the first to report Paula Jones' claims. As Brock explained in Blinded by the Right, after learning more about the events and conservative payments surrounding Paula Jones he personally apologized to the Clintons. He documented his experience in Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, wherein he alleged that Arkansas state troopers had taken money in exchange for testimony against Clinton which Brock had published in a previous book. Adam Curtis also discusses the concept in his documentary series The Power of Nightmares. Brock has confirmed Clinton's claim that there was a 'Right wing conspiracy' to smear her husband, quibbling only with the characterization of it as 'vast', since Brock contends that it was orchestrated mainly by a few powerful people. MSNBC also described the comment as once-ridiculed but now taken more seriously by 'many Democrats' who point 'to the well-documented efforts by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife to fund a network of anti-Clinton investigations.'

"...(I)n some of his books, Krugman has used the phrase ('Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy' to refer not to a conservative Republican-leaning campaign against Clinton (or Obama), but more generally to 'an interlocking set of institutions ultimately answering to a small group of people that collectively reward loyalists and punish dissenters' in the service of 'movement conservatism.' The network of institutions provide
'obedient politicians with the resources to win elections, safe havens in the event of defeat, and lucrative career opportunities after they leave office. They guarantee favorable news coverage to politicians who follow the party line, while harassing and undermining opponents. And they support a large standing army of party intellectuals and activists.'
"In Krugman's view, the network of foundations that fund conservative scholarship, the national and regional think tanks and advocacy groups, talk radio media outlets, and conservative law firms through which they pushed their agenda to move the Republican Party to the right, far surpass in funding, size, inter-connectedness or influence anything the Democratic Party or the American liberal movement have at their disposal."

In another story by Matt Bai at the New York Times called "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy," we learn how "...conservatives, over a period of 30 years, had managed to build a 'message machine' that today spends more than $300 million annually to promote its agenda," and one venture capitalist's battle against the machine:

"From the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 until the Republican takeover of 1994, Democrats never lost control of the House of Representatives for more than one election before regaining it, and that only happened twice. They have now failed to control the House in five straight elections. Similarly, for 46 of those years, Democrats ruled the Senate by a margin of at least 10 seats. In contrast, they have spent most of the last decade in the minority, and during that time they have never enjoyed a majority of more than a single vote. More sobering for Democrats, the realignment that began in the 1960's -- when the battles over civil rights and Vietnam began to drive white men and rural voters away from the party -- has finally begun to erode the party at its very foundation: the state and local level, where it was dominant for decades. Thirty years ago, Democrats could claim outright control of 37 state legislatures, compared with only 4 for Republicans; Democrats now control just 17.

'''The deterioration is steady, and it's spreading like a cancer,' says Patrick Caddell, the onetime strategist for Jimmy Carter and Gary Hart, who has been compiling this data from statistical abstracts. 'So much for thinking that if we could just go back to the glorious 90's, the party would be fine. The 90's were our worst decade since the 1920's.'

"We tend to think of the two political parties that have ruled American politics for the last 150 years as being cemented into the framework of the Constitution. In fact, parties, like the political movements that sustain them, have shelf lives. In the 1840's and 1850's, the Whig Party, at various times, controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. By 1860, at a loss to coherently address slavery, the defining debate of the time, the Whigs vanished from the planet like a bunch of pterodactyls, replaced by Republicans. It is not unthinkable that the privatization of Democratic politics is a step toward institutional obsolescence. People like Andy Rappaport and Jonathan Soros might succeed in revitalizing progressive politics -- while at the same time destroying what we now call the Democratic Party.

"What seems all but certain is that the future of Democratic politics will more closely resemble MoveOn.org than it will resemble anything that happens on the convention floor in Boston. On Memorial Day, I spoke with Harold Ickes, who had been running the Media Fund, a 527 charged with airing anti-Bush ads in the period before this week's convention. Ickes -- like his father, who was a close confidant of Franklin D. Roosevelt's -- has spent a lifetime in service to the Democratic Party, reaching its very highest levels. As we talked about the influence that millionaires and independent groups will have in the years ahead, Ickes sounded more weary than excited, like a man who has accepted change in the family business without entirely embracing it.

'''When you go out and talk to them, people are much more interested in something like MoveOn.org than in the Democratic Party,' Ickes said. 'It has cachet. There is no cachet in the Democratic Party.'

'''MoveOn raised a million dollars for a bunch of Texas state senators, man,' he went on to say. 'Plus their bake sale. If they continue with their cachet and really interest people and focus their people on candidates -- boy, that's a lot of leverage. No party can do that. And what the political ramifications of that are -- ' Ickes's voice trailed off.  He shrugged. 'Who knows?'''

A "Vast Right-Wing Criminal Conspiracy" is by defintion illegal, and the obvious conclusion is that we must criminalize Conservatism, the largest political criminal conspiracy in history.

Tomorrow: More on The Political Ramifications of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, Yesterday And Today.


"Do not worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older it will avoid you."

Joey Adams