All right, it is an important U.S. political season. As a registered Republican and a frequent speaker at libertarian gatherings, I remain hopeful that this will be the year that several million temperamentally conservative Americans wake up to the way their movement and the GOP have been hijacked. And that only a shattering drubbing at the polls will send the American right back to the drawing boards — learning to do politics again. Including negotiation about real problems. Oh, but it will be so hard!
The oligarchs who have done the hijacking have ordered up so many narratives, from “birther” paranoia to climate denialism, from preaching “oligarchy is gooood for you” to utter lies about U.S. history. I will explicate the best and most hilariously most damning example below — the George Soros Effect.
But first — In That’s Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America’s Right Wing, Professor Michael Austin examines dozens of books, articles, speeches, and radio broadcasts by such figures as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart, and David Barton to expose the deep historical flaws in their use of America’s founding history. In contrast to their misleading method of citing proof texts to serve a narrow agenda, Austin allows the Founding Fathers to speak for themselves, situating all quotations in the proper historical context.
What emerges is a true historical picture of men who often disagreed with one another on such crucial issues as federal power, judicial review, and the separation of church and state. As Austin shows, the real legacy of the Founding Fathers to us is a political process: a system of disagreement, debate, and compromise that has kept democracy vibrant in America for more than two hundred years, but that regularly comes under attack.. How extreme has been the veer off any path of sane conservatism?
A commenter on the New York Magazine site said: Nothing underscores the change in the Republican Party more than to read Dwight Eisenhower’s 1956 Republican Platform:
PHILOSOPHY: “Our great President Eisenhower has counseled us further: “In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. Government must have a heart as well as a head. “
LABOR: “Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions. “
EDUCATION: “Republican action created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years, to raise the continuing consideration of these problems for the first time to the highest council of Government, the President’s Cabinet.”
FOREIGN POLICY: “We shall continue vigorously to support the United Nations.”
SAFETY NET: The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers.
ENVIRONMENT: “We recognize the need for maintaining isolated wilderness areas to provide opportunity for future generations to experience some of the wilderness living through which the traditional American spirit of hardihood was developed. Added more than 400,000 acres to our National Park system, and 90,000 acres to wildlife refuges.”
All right. Here is one of the most powerful examples of the mad-right’s narrative machine, and how sadly incurious millions of our neighbors have become, nodding and swallowing anything that gets fed to them on Fox. Use this! Ask your crazy uncle what he thinks of a man named… George Soros. He’ll tell you all about Soros! How he is a criminal mastermind with a huge media empire that has suckered millions in Blue America into raving socialist-communist frenzy. Never mind that Soros’s wealth and media “empire” are minuscule compared to the triumvirate of Rupert Mudoch, the Koch boys and the Saudi royal family, all co-owners of Fox. Folks following the narrative call George Soros a “super-leftist” master-demon.
A special moment: they nod in terror when Glen Beck howls “Soros toppled EIGHT foreign governments!” In fact, that’s true! For once, Beck ain’t lying at all. George Soros did help to topple eight foreign governments! He is, indeed, a formidable fellow. Alas, in a sign of how far GOP intellect has plummeted since days of Goldwater and Buckley, not one audience member of the Beck or Limbaugh or Fox riefenstahl-rallies ever lifts his head to ask … “Um… Glen? Rush? Sean? WHICH eight foreign governments do you credit Soros – the “super leftist” with toppling?” In ten years of daring these guys, none of the Fox-ites I’ve confronted has ever been able to name even one of those toppled foreign governments. It just never occurred to them, to ask.
Are you ready to ask? Ready for the list? Here are those eight foreign governments Beck/Limbaugh/Fox credit George Soros with toppling.
The communist dictatorship of Hungary.
The communist dictatorship of Poland
The communist dictatorship of Czechoslovakia
The communist dictatorship of Romania
The communist dictatorship of Bulgaria
The communist dictatorship of Estonia
The communist dictatorship of Latvia
The communist dictatorship of Lithuania
And mind you it isn’t just uber-conservative Beck and Limbaugh who credit Soros with this terrifying feat! The Heritage Foundation and AEI and most conservative pundit-castes have repeated it! Along with many GOP candidates. (Though sometimes the figure is nine since it rightfully should include East Germany.) Indeed, Soros’s relentless efforts to undermine the USSR and communism made up his core life’s work and even many sane modern political observers credit him substantially.
Let’s make this explicit. Glen Beck and all those other right wing mavens officially credit terrifying leftist George Soros with the toppling of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Warsaw Pact, the liberation of hundreds of millions and the victorious end of the Cold War. Huh. I thought it was that other liberal (compared to today’s GOP) Ronald Reagan. In fact, they both share equal credit with Michail Gorbachev and with the plan’s architect – George Marshall. (With Jimmy Carter deserving more of an assist cred than you’d believe.)
Look, the crux here is not who actually tore down the wall. Hey,let’s credit the people of those nations, above all. No, the crux is this: why are the viewers of Fox and Beck/Limbaugh so cosmically stupid that they never — any of them — ask enough questions to notice the tsunami of ironies and contradictions at their Nuremberg Rally? So… um… where does this ghastly example of looniness, incuriosity and knee jerk obedience to declared dogma leave the credibility of today’s monster that has hijacked the once intellectually solid American conservative movement?
Oh, pity Barry Goldwater. spinning 6000 RPM in his grave.
== Make that 10,000 RPM… ==
I have long believed we should be dealing with crises with a multi-pronged approach. The far-left, in opposing even experiments in (say) ocean fertilization, is almost 10% as crazy as today’s entire US right. (Yes, that crazy!) Both sides poison pragmatism, which is portrayed on this page about ways to ameliorate the incredible harm that carbonate-driven acidification is doing to our oceans. But yes, there’s no doubt it is the Denialist Cult doing the worst harm.
Ocean acidification is the silver bullet, boys and girls. It is undeniable. It cannot be armwaved away with Fox-nuremberg-style sieg-incantations. It is pure fact, and caused by human generated CO2. And it threatens our children. Furthermore, those who would sneer us into doing nothing – refusing even to negotiate moderate improvements in energy efficiency that would save consumers billions – are complicit with murdering the future.
Do not let them get away with the tactic of yelling “Squirrel!” and pointing elsewhere to change the subject. Repeat it. “The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid…. “…And if YOU guys keep this up, and the seas die, we will remember you. Yes you. By name.”