Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Corn-pone Nazis On The March

The recent sayings of Todd Akin have suddenly thrust the nation’s attention on something that has been flying under the radar for a long time – much of rural America outside of big cities and exclusive resorts is spiraling into sheer and utter madness. Akin took much of the focus off of Ted Cruz, a person who looks to be a shoo-in candidate for one of the 102 seats in the United States’ central governing body (read that last part over again until it sinks in):
If polling trends are accurate, Tea Party crush Ted Cruz, who thinks there is a conspiracy to rid America of its golf courses, is about to toss over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a GOP U.S. Senate runoff election. Dewhurst, an out of touch multi-millionaire who thinks Phoenix is the number two kidnap capital of the world behind Mexico City, has spent almost $20 million of his personal fortune for what may be a huge embarrassment. The shame won't be Dewhurst's alone, however. Governor Rick Perry, who needs rich guy supporters in the U.S. Senate for his next presidential run, (yes, that will happen), has endorsed Dewhurst.

Cruz is a conspiracy theory character. He is convinced billionaire George Soros is funding a secret agenda to shutdown golf courses because they harm the environment and is conspiring with the United Nations to eliminate national sovereignty and private property. Cruz is convinced sharia law is an enormous problem in the U.S. and that extending unemployment benefits creates more unemployment and that churches ought to be able to keep their tax exemptions even as they endorse candidates from the pulpit.

People are starting to realize that these are not isolated nut cases, this is what the party believes. And this is not a fringe party; it’s a party that has almost exclusive unitary control of multiple regions of the country, over half of the nation’s governorships, and roughly half the seats in the national governing body (House and Senate), along with much of the judiciary. They may retake the executive branch as well, and as you may recall, the last time they owned the executive branch the economy was brought to its knees and two wars of aggression were launched. What’s scarier is that more and more of the party is comprised not of people who cynically use the useful idiots of the white working classes to gain power, but of true believers:
The United Nations scoffed on Friday at claims by a judge in Lubbock County, Texas, that U.N. troops could invade the southern U.S. state to settle a possible civil war, which the judge warned could be sparked if Obama is re-elected in November.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, when asked if the United Nations had any plans to invade Texas.

He was responding to comments from Tom Head, a county judge in Lubbock who told a local Fox News station on Monday that taxes needed to be raised so the county could prepare for contingencies if Obama was re-elected for a second term.

"He (Obama) is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N. What's going to happen when that happens? I'm thinking worst case scenario -- civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe," Head said.

"What's going happen ... if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops, I don't want them in Lubbock County. I'm going to stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say 'You're not coming in here,'" he said.

And Head told Fox News that he has the backing of his local sheriff. "I've already asked him 'Are you going to back me?' and he said 'Yeah I'll back you.'"

Now I want to point out that these are not nobodies, nor are they homeless lunatics ranting on streetcorners. They are JUDGES, SHERIFFS and A CANDIATE FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE. Add to that the wealthy political backers such as the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who are able to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.

And it’s not just social extremism. They are also pondering a return to the nineteenth-century gold standard in the middle of a depression. And they have their own celebrity supporters:
Hank Williams Jr has become the second musician in as many weeks to accuse Barack Obama of plotting to destroy the United States. Just days after Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine claimed Obama had "staged" this month's shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Williams offered his own polemic against the US president, falsely accusing him of being a Muslim.

The son of Hank Williams made his remarks during a recent performance at the Iowa State Fair. As the crowd chanted "USA! USA!", Williams Jr grabbed the microphone, Metromix Des Moines reported, declaring: "We've got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him!" The comments were reportedly met with "loud and enthusiastic" cheers.

Charles M. Blow ponders why any single woman would consider voting for Republicans, given their patriarchal attitudes towards women:
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson — who has made a number of appearances on Fox News, founded a Tea Party group in California and is also the founder of a group called BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) — recently gave a speech (I hope it wasn’t a sermon), in which he said:

One of the primary reasons that it is over for America is because women are taking over, women are taking over, they’re in high so-called powerful position, they’re now running companies, they’re making decisions.
He then pointed out that he was not referring to all women:

The are some, a few out there that are logical women and can make sound decisions, but most cannot.
He prattled on nonsensically for a while, adding that “women cannot handle power, it’s not in them to handle power in the right way” and “women have been degraded, women are now degraded, they have no shame.”

I’m getting upset just transcribing this, so let me just get to the meat of it. Here’s the part of his speech I wanted you to see:

I think that one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should’ve never turned it over to women.

Why? Because “they’re voting in people who are evil.”

Now, on BOND’s website, both Sean Hannity and Dennis Prager, another conservative radio host, are listed as members of BOND’s advisory board. The Web site attributes the following endorsement to Hannity:

BOND has played an instrumental role in helping young men and women build lives which will help inspire the next generation. BOND continues to fight the good fight standing for the values of God, family, and country, and are deserving of our support.

What’s interesting about this statement is two things: one the complete and utter contempt for democracy. Their belief that democracy is only valid if it chooses candidates they approve of, otherwise it is utterly useless barrier to power to be tossed aside as a pesky inconvenience. Sound familiar? This seems to fit right in hand with the Republicans' desire to supposedly stamp out vote fraud by requiring IDs which disenfranchise minorities, the elderly and college students, while turning a blind eye to actual documented accounts of election tampering by their own operatives. And let’s not forget the move toward voting machines made by companies owned by conservative Republicans and the intentional understaffing and underequipping of poorer and urban-based polling stations (but not of white suburban ones).

Can we trust a party contemptuous of the very idea of democracy to uphold it? Why?

The other is the viewing of political opposition not just as people who have opposing ideas of how the country should be run, but as inherently evil. When a political party gets that Manichean world view, it is no longer a political party, but an authoritarian movement. When it starts spewing violent eliminationist rhetoric and accusing its opponents of not just bad ideas, but actually being traitors to the country, you had better start getting worried.

Yet there has been no consequence of this flight to radicalism, the Republican voters have just adjusted their beliefs to conform to their party. Part of this is the sophisticated manipulation of language and use of propaganda which the Republicans have wielded so well, learned, ironically enough, from earlier mass movements such as Fascism and Communism. So even as Republicans radicalize, their followers still diligently turn out and vote for them, putting ever more extreme and incompetent people into positions of power. They have not been consigned to the political wilderness or minority status like the British National Party (whose views are perhaps less radical); they continue to dominate the two-party system, no matter how extreme their political beliefs get. So why would they back off?

Then there is the theory that these characters truly do reflect the actual character of the voting public. Between greedy CEOs who want their taxes reduced, religious fundamentalists who want women to bear children under force of law, barely-literate racists who hate “Kenyan Muslim Socialists” and gun-toting lunatics holed up behind electric fences -  this is the true character of the American people, and these candidates are merely reflecting that unfortunate fact. At heart, Americans are fundamentally a greedy, mendacious, spiteful, hypocritical, racist, ignorant mass of crabs in a bucket, and we get the exact politicians we deserve. You can talk about money all you want, the American people are choosing to put these people into positions of power and influence, and as this article points out, many of them actually believe the same things:
We’re currently experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, a siege of wildfires, and the hottest temperatures since records were kept.  But to Republicans in Congress, it’s all a big hoax. The chairman of a subcommittee that oversees issues related to climate change,  Representative John Shimkus of Illinois is —  you guessed it  — a climate-change denier.

At a 2009 hearing, Shimkus said not to worry about a fatally dyspeptic planet: the biblical signs have yet to properly align. “The earth will end only when God declares it to be over,” he said, and then he went on to quote Genesis at some length.  It’s worth repeating: This guy is the chairman.

On the same committee is an oil-company tool and 27-year veteran of Congress, Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas.  You may remember Barton as the politician who apologized to the head of BP in 2010 after the government dared to insist that the company pay for those whose livelihoods were ruined by the gulf oil spill.

Barton cited the Almighty in questioning energy from wind turbines. Careful, he warned, “wind is God’s way of balancing heat.”  Clean energy, he said,  “would slow the winds down” and thus could make it hotter. You never know.

“You can’t regulate God!” Barton barked at the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in the midst of discussion on measures to curb global warming.

The Catholic Church long ago made its peace with evolution, but the same cannot be said of House Republicans.  Jack Kingston of Georgia, a 20-year veteran of the House,  is an evolution denier, apparently because he can’t see the indent where his ancestors’ monkey tail used to be. “Where’s the missing link?” he said in 2011. “I just want to know what it is.” He serves on a committee that oversees education.
In his party, Kingston is in the mainstream. A Gallup poll in June found that 58 percent of Republicans believe God created humans in the present form just within the last 10,000 years —  a wealth of anthropological evidence to the contrary.

Another Georgia congressman, Paul Broun,  introduced the so-called personhood legislation in the House — backed by Akin and Representative Paul Ryan — that would have given a fertilized egg the same constitutional protections as a fully developed human being.

Broun is on the same science, space and technology committee that Akin is. Yes, science is part of their purview.
 The Crackpot Caucus, Timothy Egan, New York Times

In the twentieth century there was another political party of violent thuggish brawlers led by men with weird ideas and conspiracy theories that everyone wrote off as a joke. They also had the backing of wealthy industrialists and lived in a nation where the economy was unraveling. They also embraced war and excessive nationalism, used violence and intimidation against their opponents, despised science and the arts, burned books and conducted witchhunts.

Now can you finally understand how the Germany voluntarily embraced Nazism?

How can anyone expect such a country to survive? This increasingly looks like a nation on the verge of a civil war. Can anything turn around this political descent into paranoia, radicalism and madness?

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