Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Is Conservatism A Cult?

(Before we begin today, for those of you who missed the White House Correspondents' Dinner, click here -->

From the not-so-objective Pew Research Center, a post that surprises no one:

"The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although the Democrats are better regarded (47 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable), the GOP’s problems are its own, not a mirror image of renewed Democratic strength.

"Americans’ values and beliefs are more divided along partisan lines than at any time in the past 25 years. The values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than the one between men and women, young and old, or any racial or class divides.

"But while members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more conservative and liberal, respectively, a bloc of doctrinaire, across-the-board conservatives has become a dominant force on the right. Indeed, their resolve and ultra-conservatism have protected Republican lawmakers from the broader voter backlash that is so apparent in opinion polls."

As "people are waking up and recognizing the far right-wing media for what it is, and the dangers it poses to this country," Conservatism, the vast, right-wing criminal conspiracy hiding under the front groups of the Republican Party and Tea "Party," has all the earmarks of a cult, according to Thom Hartmann in his piece at, "The Right Wing Cult Machine Exposed:"

"Far right Conservatism has become a cult, and Rush Limbaugh is its leader.

"By definition, a cult is a group or sect bound together by adoration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

"A cult promises you redemption. It tells you that if you do what it says, and as it believes, you will be protected from the evil people that are out to get you and the rest of society.

"A cult purges the non-believers. And it actively tries to vilify all those who are not part of the cult, saying that they're doomed and destined to go to hell.

"So how did Limbaugh become the leader of such a large, and influential, cult?

"Like with any cult, the power that Limbaugh has over his flock as grown over time.

"Right wing radio started out in conflict with mainstream society, and outside of mainstream politics.

"What was once a little cult guided by Limbaugh has transformed into a massive cult that today has enveloped much of the Conservative movement.

"So how did this transformation occur?

"Well, like cult leaders do, Limbaugh offered up a theatrical flair, and accompanied that with a marketing genius.

"He offered his followers redemption. He offered them protection from what he told them they should fear – liberals and feminists. He demanded ideological purity, and absolute devotion to the ideology of far-right 'conservative' corporatism. And he vilified all those who didn't see things his way.

"Limbaugh then managed to convince his followers that faith in his word was more important than facts. No matter what everyone else said, if Rush said it, it must be true. Only information that supports Limbaugh's positions can be believed, and everything else is just lies.

"Since his first successes, he's been followed by a succession of other right-wing cult leaders, from Glenn Beck to Mark Levin to Alex Jones.

"Which brings us to today.

"Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing talk radio cult have conjured up such a large following that they're helping the Koch Brothers drive the polarization within the Republican Party, and within America's political discourse.

"Ironically, so says Frank Luntz, a top Republican consultant and campaign guru.

"Earlier this week, Luntz told a group of college students at the University of Pennsylvania that Limbaugh and his fellow right-wing talk-radio cult leaders are 'problematic' for the Republican Party because they're responsible for the stark polarization within the party.

"In a secret recording of his comments, Luntz can be heard saying that, 'And they get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it's really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It's only on the Republican side...[inaudible]. [Democrats have] got every other source of news on their side. And so that is a lot of what's driving it. If you take—Marco Rubio's getting his ass kicked. Who's my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He's getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He's trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn't the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him. That's what's causing this thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing coy.'

"Basically, Luntz was saying that the right-wing media and its cult following are not serving the national political debate and not helping the Republican Party widen its appeal beyond its declining base of aging boomer cultists.

"But no matter what Luntz says, Limbaugh and the rest of his right-wing media pals will continue to rally their followers, and continue to vilify those who dare think otherwise.

"They will continue to paint President Obama as America's anti-hero, using terms like 'socialist' and 'Muslim' to further scare their cult followers into seeing things their way.

"The good news is that there are still some semblances of a normal, and non-cult media in America.

"Unlike the right-wing media, real media – and even progressive media – is not cult-like. It talks about ideas that are widely accepted (social safety net, clean environment, nondiscrimination, a solid middle class), and that are not in conflict with the rest of society.

"It's not based on fear or faith. It's based on facts. And it respects other beliefs and ideas, instead of vilifying them.

"And perhaps, most importantly, real media doesn't fear or hate our government, and certainly doesn't suggest we should be armed and ready to attack our own government.

"Sadly, that cult is coming dangerously close to having complete control over the Republican Party and much of the political discourse in our country.

"Thankfully, people are waking up and recognizing the far right-wing media for what it is: a cult."

Or are they?  From an ABC post, "'Obamacare' Perplexes Many in US: Poll

"A new poll finds that many Americans are confused about the health care overhaul legislation commonly called 'Obamacare.'

"The Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a non-partisan study today finding more than 40 percent did not even know the law was in place.

"'Four in ten Americans (42%) are unaware that the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is still the law of the land,' the report says, 'including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don't know enough to say what the status of the law is.'

"The survey showed public opinion on Obamacare is at its second-lowest rating in the past two years.

"Less than half - 40 percent - of adults viewed the ACA favorably, whereas 35 percent said they viewed it unfavorably. Another 24 percent said they did not know or refused to answer.

"Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, one of the original crafters of the bill, earlier this month predicted a chaotic implementation process for the Affordable Care Act. "I just see a huge train wreck coming down,"Baucus, D-Mont., said."

AND, an article from, an essay on yet another indication of right-wing stupidity that may preclude them from "waking up," "Faked Moon Landing? Conspiracy Beliefs Fall Along Party Lines," by Benjamin Radford:

"A new national poll reveals that Americans differ along political party lines even in their endorsement of conspiracy theories, including the belief that President Obama is the Anti-Christ and the idea that global warming is a hoax.

"The poll found, for instance, just 15 percent of Democrats believe a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order; compare that with 34 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Independents who believe the same.

"As one might expect, the more far-out the conspiracy theory, the fewer people endorse it. Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which conducted the research, noted, "Most Americans reject the wackier ideas out there about fake moon landings and shape-shifting lizards."

"Even so, 20 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama is the Anti-Christ, compared with 13 percent of Independents and 6 percent of Democrats who agree.

"Some other highlights include:

"— 58 percent of Republicans think global warming is a hoax, whereas just 24 percent of Democrats said the same. [The Reality of Global Warming: 10 Myths Busted]

"— 15 percent of the respondents believe the pharmaceutical industry conspires with the medical industry to fabricate new diseases for profit, and the same number believe that secret mind-controlling technology is added to TV broadcast signals.

"Democrats, Republicans and conspiracy theorists

"The difference in endorsement between self-identified Democrats and Republicans is less surprising than it may seem at first glance; many events producing conspiracy theories have important political implications that make them more or less likely to be believed depending on your worldview.

"For example, the recent Sandy Hook conspiracy theories were framed by believers not as merely a tragic school shooting but instead as a hoax perpetrated or coordinated by the Obama administration (or gun control groups or other powerful, unknown organizations) to scare the public into supporting gun control legislation. Similarly, conspiracies involving the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and whether or not President Obama is a legal U.S. citizen clearly have political implications.

"Other common conspiracies — such as whether a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico (21 percent said yes), or the moon landings were faked (7 percent said yes), or that Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 (5 percent said yes) — have little implications for people's everyday lives. [The 10 Craziest Conspiracy Theories Explained]

"The Conspiracy Mentality

"The image of the bug-eyed, tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy believer is largely a stereotype. There is no single profile fitting all conspiracy theorists, but generally what the conspiratorial mind sees as misinformation and lies, others see as merely perfectly ordinary incomplete and inaccurate information or misunderstandings. Conspiracy believers tend to be skeptical of coincidences, instead seeing a reason or hidden purpose behind seemingly random events.

"Sometimes evidence showing that a conspiracy theory is false has a measurable effect on public belief; for example, soon after Obama released his long-form birth certificate proving that he'd been born in Hawai'i, the number of people believing he'd been born outside the United States dropped by half, according to a 2011 Washington Post poll.

"Often, however, no amount of evidence can deter true believers from conspiracy thinking. There is no shortage of documentation about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, and questions from so-called '9/11 Truthers' have been repeatedly answered but to little effect.

"In many cases, in fact, conspiracy believers endorse contradictory theories. Recent studies by researcher Karen Douglas at the University of Kent suggest a reason why. She and colleagues asked 137 students to rate how much they agreed with five conspiracy theories about the 1997 death of Princess Diana. The results were surprising — and contradictory. As Douglas explained to LiveScience, "The more people were likely to endorse the idea Princess Diana was murdered, the more they were likely to believe that Princess Diana is alive." To many conspiracy theorists settling on one definitive theory (for example whether bin Laden or Princess Diana is alive or not — and if they aren't, how or when they died) is far less important than knowing that something has been covered up and is being kept secret.

"Research suggests that in some cases belief in conspiracy theories can actually be psychologically adaptive and beneficial, as the very premise of conspiracies implies a powerful, hidden force at work with some overarching grand design. Conspiracy theorists see a hidden hand behind the world's major events, including social and political changes. Even though conspiracy theorists claim to want to expose the conspiracy and thwart its goals (such as establishing a New World Order), some take comfort that the world is not merely random — that things happen for a reason. Though conspiracy believers don't feel in control of the events, they feel that at least someone is (or a small cabal of powerful "someones" are).

"The survey, conducted by the Public Policy Polling group, sampled 1,247 registered American voters by telephone from March 27‑30 and was not paid for by any political organization."

Have the Conservatives with their unlimited resources and unrestrained wealth beaten us?  Have propaganda, lies, and the relentless pursuit of aristocratic privilege won the Class War?

There are times when we despair of the People ever waking up and smelling the coffee rather than the Tea Party, and the only way to save the world it seems, much less our democratic system, is to criminalize Conservatism.  Recognizing the Conservatives as a criminal cartel rather than a political party with all the safeguards of the First Amendment is the first step to saving us from the greediest and most power-hungry among us.


"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Christopher Hitchens