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“From Warmongers To Conspiracy Theorists”: CPAC 2015 Wants You To Know: You Are In Terrible Danger

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day-long performance from an improv troupe whose hat has only one statement in it: you’re in terrible danger. But that doesn’t mean you’re in terrible danger right now. Right now, there are seminars. About the danger. I have been to them, as part of my quest to be America’s Most Impervious Man. I don’t even care to what.

After a lunch consisting of a bowl of nails and a mean old dog, I attend the “America at Risk” seminar featuring speakers “Callista Gingrich” and “Newt Gingrich.” Technically, this statement is true, because they speak, and their words come out of speakers. Unfortunately, neither are here. Instead, after spending approximately one jillion dollars to attend CPAC, everyone in the Gaylord Hotel’s Chesapeake Rooms 4-6 gets to watch a $9.99 DVD. From 2010.

“America at Risk” is a well-shot piece of propaganda, with appropriately sinister documentary music and Ken Burns-esque pans across pictures of bad people. At one point, we are informed that, in 2009, “There were over a dozen terrorist cases in the United States.” The vague wording really works for me. I immediately wonder which of the dozen involved that white Nazi from Maine trying to build a dirty bomb or the white Nazi patriot shooting people at the Holocaust museum. Then I realize that these terrorist “cases” probably did not include white people, militias, separatists or sovereign citizens, since the number would probably be off by an order of magnitude.

Still, I enjoy seeing Marc Theissen claim that waterboarding works, that the Muslim Brotherhood controls one third of all mosques in America, and listening to a man explaining that we are currently experiencing Islam’s “third great jihad.”

Of course, what I enjoy is irrelevant. What the audience revel in is hooting at the screen whenever Barack Obama says anything divergent from what they agree with. “Islam has a proud history of tolerance”, Obama says in 2009. “Yeah where?” answers the audience, who call him an “idiot” and “liar,” before subsiding with a lot of sheeshes and head-shaking. “We see it in Andalusia, during the Inquisition,” Obama goes on to say. “Yeah, when they killed everyone” adds someone who does not seem to be aware that neither history books, the Muslims of Cordoba or Barack Obama can hear him.

I eventually leave the room and start heading to the other side of the Gaylord, where former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Montana Representative Ryan Zinke answer the question: “When Should America Go to War?” And, folks, lemme tell you, it is all the dang time.

Watching these guys is amazing. Bolton, inventor of FreeRepublic.com’s mandatory mustache, opened early with, “We should have stopped Hitler at the Rhineland in 1936.” Cotton says, “If any state in the west had stood up to Adolf Hitler,” then sort of trails off into nothingness, perhaps remembering 1939-1945. When talking about how extreme force acts as a deterrent, Cotton says, “America is like Rome,” without mentioning Rome’s unnecessary wars of profit that served as a distraction from domestic political unrest. Churchill’s name comes up twice.

Bolton’s core thesis is that, “American strength is not provocative. American weakness is provocative”. Hence the allusion to Rome and the old Roman expression, Si vis pacem, para bellum. He then says that, “This is not a debate between interventionism versus non-interventionism, or between unilateralism or multi-lateralism,” which seems fairly obvious as soon as he starts talking about unilaterally going to war to stop anything he can think of. Cotton adds that the world has to know that we are willing to go to war to defend our national security interests, especially against trans-national terrorist groups. In a span of only few words, he has defined US interests as “everything everywhere.”

When asked if he would have supported the Iraq War, Cotton says he would have agreed with “Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who made the right decision to support president George W. Bush.” This audience hoots, too. That is, until Zinke says that he would not have supported the 2003 invasion. The comment stings, since Zinke was a Navy SEAL and also opened his comments moments earlier by noting that he’d been to more funerals than there were people in the packed room. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Somewhere after the actual veteran has Debbie-Dowernered things, the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano tells the assembled crowd that “we need to get back into the missile defense business in a big way.” What a funny way of phrasing that.

Still Bolton is on his game. You don’t get to be the Ur-Stache by being a slouch. “The war was correct,” he says, saying that Saddam would have had uranium-enriching centrifuges up and running immediately. “This saved the world from a nuclear disaster,” he says, which is a good job, considering all the other disasters just around the corner.

He then goes on to explain that we should have spent the last ten years better integrating the Baltic states into NATO, to discourage further Russian expansion.

“We’re past that,” he says, sadly. “That’s why we’re in such danger.”

 

By: Jeb Lund, The Guardian, February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, CPAC, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Do We Re-Elect Them?”: Voters Should Consider Exactly What Republicans Believe, And What They’ve Promised To Do

When you buy a new car, you dodge the sketchy salesman, read up on consumer ratings, get a feel for the ride. When you get married, you think about growing old with a person, love beyond lust, do a life gut check. And when you elect a federal lawmaker next month, you go against everything you believe in to reward the worst Congress ever.

How else to explain the confit of conventional wisdom showing that voters are poised to give Republicans control of the Senate, and increase their hold on the House, even though a majority of Americans oppose nearly everything the G.O.P. stands for?

The message is: We hate you for your inaction, your partisanship, your nut-job conspiracy theories; now do more of the same. Democracy — nobody ever said it made sense. Of course, November’s election will be a protest vote against the man who isn’t on the ballot, a way to make a lame duck president even lamer in his final two years.

But before buyer’s remorse sets in, voters should consider exactly what Republicans believe, and what they’ve promised to do. It ranges from howl-at-the-moon crazy talk and half-truths to policies that will keep wages down and kill job growth.

Let’s start with the Republican Ryan Zinke, a square-jawed former member of the Navy SEALs who is likely to be the next congressman from Montana. Earlier this year, he said, “We need to focus on the real enemy” — that is, the anti-Christ. And who should that be? Why, Hillary Clinton. O.K., he’s just one talk-radio spawn from the Big Sky state. Lock the man up in a room with Ayn Rand novels and the tomes of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and he’ll be right in the head.

But Mr. Zinke is not a lone loon. More than one in five Republicans last year told a pollster they believed that President Obama was the anti-Christ.

It’s harmless hyperbole, you say. The 114th Congress will not take up the matter of what to do with the Beast at the end times. But they will hold crucial votes on whether one of the world’s largest users of energy — us — can curb carbon emissions enough to mitigate climate change. Here Mr. Zinke is practically a lefty in his party. He says climate change is not a hoax, which puts him at odds with 58 percent of Republicans who believe that it is.

But then, he says that the matter is not “settled science.” Oy vey. One more time: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming over the last century is very likely because of human activity. It is settled, except in the science-denial party. Only 3 percent of Republicans in Congress have been willing to go on record to accept that consensus. Good thing gravity is not under discussion.

You say you favor raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10, as did 73 percent of those polled by Pew. Yay, let’s do something about income inequality! But the Republican leadership will not let this come up for a vote. Nope. Never. It’s locked in the closet, with compromise. And in Iowa, just to pick one race that could make a huge difference in the lives of millions, the Republican who is close to taking the Senate seat of the retiring Tom Harkin is against raising the federal minimum wage. That would be Joni Ernst, a Koch brothers tool, who has also pledged fealty to the anti-tax absolutism of Grover Norquist.

Americans want their politicians to meet in the middle. Well, most. If you wonder why Republicans will not budge on common-sense issues supported by a majority, it’s because the other party supports those ideas. This year, another Pew survey found that 36 percent of Republicans believe the Democratic Party is a threat to the nation’s well-being. You don’t compromise with a threat.

The biggest issue is the economy. But here, it seems many voters don’t know what to believe, and what they do believe is wrong. What’s the unemployment rate? A poll this month found that 27 percent of people pegged the jobless rate at 9 percent, and nearly one in five said it was closer to 12 percent. The rate is 5.9 percent.

On Obama’s watch, the stock market went on a record run and 10 million new jobs have been created — more new jobs than in Europe and Japan combined. The president gets no credit for this, because people don’t feel it. Wages are flat. Economic anxiety rides the October air.

The Republicans have no jobs plan, as Speaker John Boehner indirectly acknowledged this week with a five-point tweet that listed … nothing. But they talk about austerity and cutting spending, exactly what Europe did to catastrophic effect.

There is one more deep-held red state belief that could explain our national cognitive dissonance. Two-thirds of Republicans think people can be possessed by demons. We don’t need a new Congress. We need an exorcist.

 

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, October 8, 2014

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Congress, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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