Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lunatics running the asylum

If Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, and Mitt Romney think that by setting aside the hot button issues, their “Conversation with America” will cause the Republican Party to attract a larger membership, they are fooling themselves. The majority of the GOP has moved much further to the right, choosing to circle the ideological wagons to make the Republican Party pure, refusing to set aside cultural issues, and continuing to spew hate for all who think differently than they do – which means no room for moderates or independents. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Newt Gingrich continue to pine for the “good old days” - defending a string of failed policies that they advocated for decades.

And then there are the crazies:

The newest star of the ‘conservative’ media, Glenn Beck, is whipping the crazies into a frenzy. Since moving his show from CNN to Fox, Beck has turned up the volume and offered a combination of ignorance, manic fear-mongering and weepy nationalism. His goal is to give credence to every conspiracy theory about Obama and the Democrats that comes down the road. He has become a Pied Piper of far-right lunatics, luring out resentful and paranoid right-wingers with his nightly diatribe of fear and hate.

When not telling people that Obama is going to take away their guns (a lie), or claiming that Obama is planning to move to one world currency (another lie), or touting books written by John Birch Society nutcases, Beck spreads the lie that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is secretly constructing concentration camps into which Americans will be herded and perhaps exterminated, once martial law has been declared. During one particularly loony performance, Beck claimed that because of President Obama's policies, America is becoming a fascist dictatorship (while showing videos of Nazis marching in the background). Of course he provided no evidence for his claim, but he put on a heck of a show while saying it. When he was called out on his lies, Beck backed off and admitted it was all bogus – that he was saying it all just in fun. If Obama really was moving the nation towards fascism, then how is a critic like Glenn Beck still on the air? What makes Beck, and Fox News, so evil is that uninformed people believe this stuff. People do not understand that entertainment news is not about news – it is all about making money.

In response to warnings by Glenn Beck about America’s descent into fascism, Jon Stewart had the best response:

I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing. And I feel for you, because I've been there. A few times. In fact, one of them was a bit of a nail-biter. But see, when the guy that you disagree with gets elected, he's probably going to do things you disagree with. He could cut taxes for the wealthy, remove government's oversight capability, and invade a country that you thought should not be invaded, but that's not tyranny. That's democracy. See, now you're in the minority. It's supposed to taste like ___! (Expletive removed.)

One thing that is so remarkable about far-to-the-right-wingers like Beck is that they are throwing tantrums about the stimulus bill and raising taxes on the extremely wealthy (by just 3%) but do not care about warrantless wiretapping of American citizens or the lack of healthcare for over 44 million Americans or schools that are crumbling.

Have these discontents looked at their most recent paycheck? Even though their taxes have just recently dropped, these folks still feel oppressed by government. I believe their frustration really comes from the fact that when they cried "socialism" most Americans did not seem to care. Now they are screaming "fascism" in the hope that it will pull Obama down, and still their words do not cause a majority of citizens to rise up. Why is this? In a poll released in April, Rasmussen Reports found that just 53 percent of Americans say that capitalism is better than socialism (with 20 percent choosing socialism and 27 percent unsure). Young adults prefer socialism by 33 percent with 30 percent undecided. Most voters do not think that a little socialism (as in Medicare and Social Security) is a bad thing.

In the meantime, charges from ultra right-wing talking heads that Obama is a socialist or even a fascist (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck) is not hurting his job approval ratings which are steadily above 60 percent. These right-wingers are angry and frustrated that few people are listening. Democracy can be very frustrating when you lose.

Besides Glenn Beck, there are more right-wingers going off their rockers, seeing imaginary communists and fascists behind every tree:

*Michelle Bachman (R-MN), an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, went on the radio to claim that the Obama administration is planning to herd young people into re-education camps.

*Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) whipped up an April 15 Austin, Texas tea party crowd by talking about the blood of tyrants.

*Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) said, "I think the people of Illinois are ready to shoot anyone who is going to raise taxes ..." (He was referring to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposal to raise the state tax rate to 4.5 percent from 3 percent, coupled with an increase in the personal deduction.)

*Rick Perry, the Republican governor of Texas, strongly implied that the Lone Star State is considering seceding from the Union because of Washington's ‘oppressive’ stimulus spending. Yet, just this week he asked the federal government for millions to help combat their swine flu outbreak.

*Spencer Bachus (R-AL), in confusing socialism with communism, said, "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists." When pressed by a reporter, Bachus said there were 17 "socialists" in Congress, but when asked for specifics, Bachus named only one legislator – Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist," whose vision of a socialist ‘safety net’ is more like Stockholm (Sweden) than Moscow (Russia). It allows for wealth but also cares for the down-trodden.

*Rush Limbaugh (Republican pundit) said, “I hope he (President Obama) fails.” It would be one thing if Republicans were simply arguing intelligently that Obama's stimulus plan and budget will fail. That would mirror how Democrats felt about the Iraq war – a doomed mission that would cost far too many human lives for the lie of WMDs. Contrary to what these loonies are saying, Democrats never said they wished for Bush to fail; they just thought he would. Wishing for President Obama to fail is the mark of an ideologue with blinders on – making his ideas more important than the people of this nation.

These right-wing nuts do not seem to understand that the more extreme and shrill their hateful rhetoric grows – the more they scream “fascism” – the less convincing they become to the broader public. They are becoming more ridiculous in the public eye with every extreme word shouted and every stupid stunt pulled. They are causing the ranks of the Republican Party to be decimated at a time when our country could use a viable opposition party with intelligent arguments.

Having Democrats in control of the White House and Congress seems to have caused the ultra right-wingers to lose their minds. Actually, I have been noticing the loony tunes for years, but their screaming has become excruciatingly loud since the election, causing a majority of the general public to finally realize just how crazy, self-centered, and immoral these GOP leaders are.

The Republican tent will remain small as long as the far-right-wing lunatics are running the asylum.