Posts Tagged “rightism”

Columbo facepalm, via ButterfunkThe line between ideological ferocity and childishness is a thin one. It might even be so thin as to be non-existent. Consider that the very reason a lot of people cling to arbitrarily-assembled packages of notions is that they’re desperate for easy, simple answers to problems they find incredibly vexing. They can’t emotionally handle that they’re vexed, so they latch onto whatever they think explains why they’re vexed and grants them the right to tell everyone what to do about it … and to rage and fume at whoever it is they decide is vexing them.

After having spent about a decade as a Republican activist, I can tell you that a lot of these folks are very immature. But for those who haven’t dealt with these people as much as I have, it can be hard to see just how pervasive this immaturity is. Well, here’s an example that turns out to be very public. Time magazine reports on what someone did in the urinals at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference this weekend (WebCite cached article):

President Barack Obama made a cameo at a conservative conference in Washington on Friday—in the restroom.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, which draws some of the biggest conservative icons and presidential hopefuls looking to make inroads with the grassroots, was heavy on criticism of Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. And small figurines of Obama’s head, first spotted by the Huffington Post‘s Igor Bobic, were placed inside the urinals in the mens’ restroom outside the conference hall where the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were addressing a crowd of several hundred.

Here’s the photo Bobic tweeted (cached):

'Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014' / posted by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

‘Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014′ / by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

Well done, guys. Really. I mean that. Thanks for putting your childishness on display for all to see. Now we truly know what sort of character you have … which is to say, you have none. You must be so proud!

Note, this example and discussion of Rightist immaturity shouldn’t be taken as an assertion that Leftists can’t be juvenile. Of course they can! A lot of them are. I don’t deny that at all. It’s just that, in this case, it’s Rightist childishness we’re talking about. And we’re talking about it in the context of a conference run by a religious organization, where one would expect attendees to behave with far more maturity than one would find elsewhere … since we all know that religion automatically makes adherents upright and moral.

Or does it … ? Hmm.

Not to mention, the fact that there are some immature Leftists doesn’t grant Rightists license also to be childish. To believe so is to fall for the “two wrongs make a right” fallacy.

Photo credit, top: Butterfunk; middle: Igor Bobic of HuffPo, via Twitter.

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Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckI’ve blogged before on the phenomenon of demonstrably-erroneous ideas that just will not die out, no matter how often they’re refuted. And I cited the “birther” delusion … i.e. the idea that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not entitled to hold office … as a prime example of this. His birth certificate from Hawai’i has been checked out and is fully legitimate (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here).

But the Birthers, you see, don’t give a flying fuck about that. They just know, you see, that he’s not really an American. And they intend never to let go of that idea, no matter the facts. (One way they do this is to dismiss all fact-checking Web sites as “biased,” even though neither of the sites I linked to above avoids pointing out Obama’s exaggerations, misstatements, and lies. So they aren’t “biased” in the President’s favor.)

Because of the persistence of the “birther” delusion among their constituents, GOP politicians are constantly dancing around the subject, trying to appeal to “birtherism” without saying something that will make them look like total morons in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unfortunately, despite their wishes, there is no viable way to do that. Any conciliation to “birtherism” is, by definition, moronic.

That said, there are some who simply don’t care that they look like total morons. Among them, as MSNBC’s Maddow blog reports, is Jeff Duncan of the great Biblical state of South Carolina (WebCite cached article):

As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was a guest on Rick Wiles’ unhinged radio show the other day to discuss some of the major issues of the day, including the host’s fears that immigration reform may lead the government to implant biometric scanners in U.S. citizens. Wiles specifically asked Duncan whether lawmakers might “pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers.”

Duncan initially tied to laugh it off, saying that people should have voted against Obama during the last election but Wiles refused to let it go, saying “if we know they are lying about all these other things, why not go back and say ‘well, maybe the first scandal was a lie too?'”

And with that point, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed, saying “there you go; I’m all with you, so let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.”

A recording of Duncan’s comments is provided by Right Wing Watch via Youtube:

Sadly, this is yet another example of GOP insanity. I wonder how long it will take these guys to get over the fact that Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. My guess is, they won’t. Hundreds of years from now there will still be lunatic Right-wingers screaming to high heaven that the US had an ineligible president in office for 8 years.

The best thing for everyone, of course, is for Republican officials, and the “birtherist” masses to whom they’re appealing, to just fucking grow the hell up and get over the fact that someone they despise was elected president. Maturity is the only solution to this mass delusion. Unfortunately, even grown adults tend to resist maturity. More’s the pity.

P.S. I’m well aware that Rachel Maddow and the Right Wing Watch are both ideologically-driven Web sites, and tend to avoid such sources, however, in this case there’s primary-source evidence to back up the report of what Duncan said. I suppose RWW could have faked this recording … but barring evidence to the contrary, I doubt they did so.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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Mother Jones / Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory EverConspiracy theories are common in the US. Lots of Americans really love them. The more ideologically-inclined they are, the more likely they are to cling to them. It stands to reason that the Far Right has built up something of an industry of various and sundry Barack Obama-related conspiracy theories. Among the most commonly-heard of these is the “Birther” movement, which claims Obama was born in Kenya, is not a US citizen, has offered a fake birth certificate falsely indicating he was born in Honolulu, HI, and therefore is not a legitimate president. I’ve blogged on the fiercely-irrational — and childish — Birthers many times and have noted their wild suppositions have no basis in fact. There’s also the widespread belief that Obama is not a Christian, but is secretly Muslim, and wants to hand over the US to the Muslim Brotherhood so they can force shari’a law on the country.

Both the Birthers and “Muslimers” are, sadly, politically influential; GOP officials routinely give winks-&-nods in the direction of Birtherism (even if they also claim they think Obama is American). And Oklahoma voters approved a needless amendment to their state constitution to keep shari’a law from being implemented there.

Yet another conspiracy theory which has a lot of traction these days involves a United Nations proposal called Agenda 21. Mother Jones reports the GOP caucus of the Georgia state senate gathered to hear about how Obama’s infernal plan to force this proposal on the country (WebCite cached article):

President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”

Here’s video of part of this paranoid presentation, courtesy of Vimeo:

This conspiracy includes a wide range of elements sure to make the Right perk up its ears: The United Nations, Barack Obama, mind control, socialism, environmentalism, and more. Obligatory links between the Obama administration and the regimes of Mao and Stalin were offered up, too. Georgia’s Republican state senators could hardly help but drool over the Rightist paranoid fantasy they were hearing.

What these folk don’t comprehend, are a few salient facts: First, Agenda 21 is non-binding. It’s basically a whole lot of hopes, dreams & wishful thinking, and nothing more. Second, Agenda 21 isn’t new; it’s been floating around for 20 years, with no sign yet of being forcefully implemented on anyone.

But third — and perhaps most importantly — even if the UN wanted to make Agenda 21 binding on its members, there’s no way it can do so. It’s perhaps the single most useless and ineffective organization on the planet, incapable of doing anything of significance. Consider the UN’s history: Its attempted interventions in places like the Levant and Korea have accomplished absolutely nothing, even after several decades. Let’s be honest here: Agenda 21 is dead; it always will be dead; and it was dead long before any of the insipid yammering dolts who infest UN headquarters in New York ever dreamed it up. And that’s because nothing the UN tries to do ever goes anywhere.

Another factual problem with the scenario cooked up here: The RAND Corporation “Delphi technique” is not a method of “mind control.” It’s actually something else entirely … i.e. a way to estimate future demand for something. And since RAND itself doesn’t make a secret of it (cached), I don’t see how it could be used as the fuel for a clandestine plot to take over the population and turn them into Obama’s automatons.

This article thoughtfully includes a link to a chart of myriad other Obama conspiracy theories that have been trafficked over the last few years. Read it, check out the links in it, and be amazed at the vast range of incredible delusions the Right has been spinning.

Photo credit: Mother Jones.

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Thomas Jefferson MemorialI’ve already blogged about the militant Christofascist pseudohistorian David Barton … whom the Right continues to call a “historian,” even though he is absolutely no such thing. That’s to be expected; Rightists generally have only a very loose grasp of history in the first place, so they’re hardly able to tell the difference.

But Barton was drawn up short today — by his own publisher — because, as NPR reports, his most recent book contains demonstrable fabrications and lies (WebCite cached article):

Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday [cached]. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that “basic truths just were not there.” …

“Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,” historian Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. “The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right.”

The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.

Religious Rightists have had more than a little difficulty, over the past few years, with Jefferson. He’s one of the best-recognized Founding Fathers, but was also openly disdainful of religiosity and dogmatism. While they revere the Founding Fathers, Jefferson’s decided lack of piety is something the R.R. apparently can no longer stomach. Rightists in Texas, for example, have purposely skewed the public-school curriculum so has to downplay Jefferson and the Enlightenment as a movement. Barton’s book appears to be a reverse of that effort, intended to make Jefferson’s impiety and irreverence go away.

I expect Barton and his fans to portray him as a martyr to the faith and complain that Thomas Nelson caved in to “political correctness.” They will refuse to believe that Barton’s books are full of lies, and will instead convince themselves that everyone who tells them so, is the real liar. That Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, and that critics like Throckmorton are evangelicals themselves, will not matter to them one iota. They will still refuse to believe Barton has lied to them. Communal reinforcement is a powerful thing and it can lead to delusional thinking; Barton’s popularity is proof of that.

I should conclude this post by giving Thomas Nelson credit for this action; it surely has cost them a great deal. I also have to give props to Barton’s evangelical critics like Throckmorton; I’m sure their flocks will be none too happy they’ve sided with “the Enemy” against the great “historian” Barton.

Photo credit: chadh, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. You gotta love the irony of the title of Barton’s book. He obviously intended it to refer to “lies” being told about Jefferson by other folks … particularly those evil “secular humanists” … but in truth, the “lies” are Barton’s own, and they’re contained within the pages of the very book that pretends to debunk them. How contemptible!

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Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckAs I’ve blogged a number of times already, Birtherism is a delusion that simply will not die. A frequent mantra of Birthers is that Obama has never produced his birth certificate. That, however, is factually incorrect; he has done so, and did it prior to his election in 2008. See FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here for the evidence. (Note, neither of these fact-checking sites is “biased” towards Obama and the Democrats; recently, for instance, FactCheck pointed out tall tales told by him and by his party, and Politifact has a running “Obameter” listing promises he’s made, and has not shied from listing some as broken.) Oh, and that Kenyan birth certificate you may have heard about? It’s a fake (cached).

Making this situation worse is that denial that Obama is a US citizen has become religionized, and inextricably linked to the claim that he’s a Muslim. So the delusion has taken on an added dimension and, essentially, doubled in scope. Yes, that’s been covered by FactCheck (cached) and Politifact (cached), too — but again, the deluded Right-wing Birthers don’t give a fuck about facts.

Birtherism among Rightists has become so strong and pervasive, that GOP leaders refuse to confront it any more. If anything, they make excuses for Birtherism and wink in its direction. A recent example is House Speaker John Boehner, who did exactly this during his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday (WebCite cached article). When host David Gregory asked about persistent Birtherism, he said:

David, it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people.

That’s an interesting claim on Boehner’s part, since he’s been telling Americans for the last couple of years that Obama is a vile, wicked socialist, and he hasn’t “listened” to any Americans outside of the extreme Right-wing. After having told us what we’re supposed to think about Obama and the Democrats all this time, suddenly he declares he’s unwilling to tell us what to think? What a fucking hypocrite! At any rate, he continued hedging:

Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word.

That’s all well and good, but it’s hardly a dismissal of Birtherism. Then, having said that, he veered back toward his original position:

MR. GREGORY: But that kind of ignorance about whether he’s a Muslim doesn’t concern you?

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can’t–it’s not my job to tell them.

So the Speaker slalomed from, “I’m not supposed to tell people what to think,” to “Obama said he’s a citizen and a Christian,” to “People have a right to be deluded.”

Well, Speaker, you’re correct in that Americans have a “right” to be deluded. No doubt about that. The right to be a fucking ignoramus is undeniable. But you — as a leader in your political party — have a moral and ethical obligation to inform them of the truth. Even if it’s not a convenient truth to tell, and — yes — even if they don’t want to hear it. This is not a question of anyone’s “rights.” This is a question of what the objective facts are and what his duty is, as the leader of the Republican party in Congress.

In other words, it’s a question of fortitude and leadership.

Boehner has purposely chosen to keep his party chock-full of childish, delusional, paranoiac imbeciles. Just because he’s too much of a sniveling coward to tell them to knock off their Birtherist bullshit and shut the fuck up about the President not being a citizen or a Christian.

Way to go, Speaker. What outstanding courage you’ve shown! Why, you’ve demonstrated perfectly the kind of character it takes to lead the Right in the US.

It’s time for everyone on the Right — starting with Speaker Bonehead and the rest of his sanctimonious Rightist rabble in the House — to grow the hell up, stop telling demonstrable lies, and move on to something else, fercryinoutloud.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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Gov. Sarah PalinThe darling of the tea party and the extreme Right, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is known for her (many) public statements, which she makes on Facebook, on television, and Twitter, among other places. Often her jabbering is merely useless drivel; sometimes it’s downright stupid or dishonest. Usually, though, she just spews rigorous, mindless Rightist rhetoric, nearly all of which is indistinguishable, in its essence, from the mindless Rightism of other Rightist politicians and pundits.

It’s rare when she says something truly meaningful and revealing, but she did so just a little while ago, as Slate reports (WebCite cached article), emphasis mine:

“Both of their messages, too, those conservative common sense messages that they had on how to get the economy back on the right track were really good. They were sound. They were sound because they were in opposition to President Obama’s message.” —on Rep. Paul Ryan’s and Rep. Michele Bachmann’s State of the Union responses, to Fox News’ Greta von Susteren, Jan. 26, 2011 [cached].

Now, I’m sure Mrs Palin never intended that this little remark could be as revealing as it is. I doubt she even realizes the depth of what she said. She’s not alone in this regard … I’m not hearing many people in the mass media reporting on its true significance.

Nevertheless, what she has done, in this little quip, is to admit to the great secret of all ideology, which is that the truth of any matter is irrelevant … what matters is only that one says the opposite of one’s opposition. Facts are irrelevant to ideology; only opposition is important.

I have long said that this is the inherent danger of all ideologies … every last one of them is merely an arbitrary package of ideas intended to dodge and swerve around one’s opposition. They’re artificial, never fact-based, and only opposition-based. Ideologies infantilize, they never inform, and that is their sole purpose.

I’d like to thank Mrs Palin for stating this usually-unstated principle explicitly. It’s rare for a public figure to be revealingly honest.

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour.

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Bill O'Reilly in a furyIdeologues are nothing if not predictable. One of the things they always do, when caught saying something they shouldn’t, is to refuse to admit any error. Concession is not in their vocabulary.

Bill O’Reilly, the ferocious Rightist and religonist ideologue, is no exception to this rule. Last month he declared that God must exist because tides are inexplicable. That was an astoundingly stupid thing to say, because tides are quite explainable and are well understood.

But as a rigid ideologue, O’Reilly is pathologically incapable of admitting this. So, just like any other rigid ideologue, after having dug himself into an intellectual hole, he grabbed a bigger shovel, and kept right on digging.

In a video response posted on his private “insiders'” Web site, he declared that, while tides are explainable as a result of the moon, they nevertheless prove God’s existence, because — after all — where did the moon come from? Youtube now has video of his stupidity:

The problem here is that we have a lot of good leads as to the origin of the moon, and hardly require a God to explain its existence. Once again, science has already dared to go, where Bill O’Reilly fears to tread.

Keep it up, Bill. Stay at it much longer and you just might be the first to tunnel your way to China!

As an aside, O’Reilly charges money for access to his insiders’ Web site. A big “WTF?” leaps to mind; people actually pay for this kind of drivel and bullshit!?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Crooks & Liars.

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