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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The unhinged

Westboro Baptist Church members, ever seeking new ways to prove their vileness, has been barred from protesting the funerals of the children shot in Connecticut. (Church members believe that homosexuality creates school shootings. They also seem to think that making themselves universally detested will somehow cause gays to go away.) Hackers have now targeted this detestable group.
The Twitter accounts of two prominent members of the hate-mongering group were apparently infiltrated this week by members of the infamous hacker collective UG Nazi.

On Monday, confirmed that 15-year-old whiz kid "Cosmo the God," a prolific member of the UG Nazi "hacktivist" group, had successfully carried out a takeover of @DearShirley, the Twitter account opened by WBC spokeswoman Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper.
I don't approve of cyber-attacks of this sort, but in this case, I can't work up much outrage. Even Black Lotus, a web security firm hired by the Church, has decided to donate the money they've received to charity.

But the Westboro Baptist Church is simply one symptom of a larger problem. Although I doubt that this sect considers electoral politics to be of much value, there are still millions of fundamentalist voters out there, and Fox News continually fuels their paranoia. Even though a recent NYT story says that their influence is waning, their intolerant, inflexible stances continue to deform our democracy. Note, for example, the tale of this chronic Fox News watcher who felt inspired to burn a mosque on the theory that all Muslims seek to kill Americans.

We shouldn't neglect the allied problem of Ayn Randism, an irrational belief system which tends to attract fallen evangelicals. Objectivism, like fundamentalism, is a cult -- and, as we all know, those who escape one cult often get suckered in by a rival sect. The Ron Paul forums demonstrate that Randroids and Jesus voters share an addiction to absurd conspiracy theories. The two strains are as alike as makes no difference when it comes to economic philosophy.

Both the Christian conservatives and the Libertarians are determined to undermine the very idea of government, just as they both deride any scientific data which does not conform to their biases. Although Ronald Reagan was willing to countenance tax raises to combat a recession, modern conservatives scream like banshees at the prospect.

Andrew Sullivan -- not my favorite pundit in the world -- has published a righteous rant that has many people talking:
But the current constitutional and economic vandalism removes any shred of doubt that this party and its lucrative media bubble is in any way conservative. They aren't. They're ideological zealots, indifferent to the consequences of their actions, contemptuous of the very to-and-fro essential for the American system to work, gerry-mandering to thwart the popular will, filibustering in a way that all but wrecks the core mechanics of American democracy, and now willing to acquiesce to the biggest tax increase imaginable because they cannot even accept Obama's compromise from his clear campaign promise to raise rates for those earning over $250,000 to $400,000 a year.

And this is not the exception. It is the rule. On abortion, the party proposes that it be made illegal in every state by amending the Constitution. Torture? More, please. Iran? It should be attacked if it merely develops the technological skill to make a nuclear bomb, let alone actually make one. Israel? Leading Republicans don't just support new settlements on the West Bank. They show up for the opening ceremonies!

Gun control? A massacre of children leads to a proposal for more guns in elementary schools and no concession on assault weapons. Immigration? Romney represented the party base - favoring a brutal regime of persecution of illegal immigrants until they are forced to "self-deport" - or rounding as many up as they can. Climate change? It's a hoax - and we should respond by shrieking "Drill, Baby, Drill!" Gay marriage? The federal constitution should be amended to bar any legal recognition of any gay relationships, including civil partnerships. Their legislative agenda in this Congress? To "make Obama a one-term president." Not saving the economy, not pursuing new policies, not cooperating to make Democratic legislation better. Just destroying a president of the opposite party. And, of course, failing.

Then there is the rhetoric. In just the last fortnight, House Republicans have asserted that secretary of state Clinton faked her recent fall and concussion at home in order to get out of testifying on the Benghazi consulate attack. And then the Weekly Standard quotes a Senate Republican staffer saying: "Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite."

Enough. This faction and its unhinged fanaticism has no place in any advanced democracy. They must be broken.
Fellow blogger Dakinikat offers an interesting account of her own encounters with the wacky side of the American body politic. She once ran for office as a Republican:
The position of Senator of the Nebraska state unicameral is nonpartisan which is how I got marginally beat by a combination of Michelle Bachmann/Sarah Palin whacko that had lived in the state less than a year and ran one the nastiest campaigns in the state’s history that was primarily fought from church and parish pulpits. She was brought in by the fetus fetishists who were in full on purge mode by the early 1990s. Nearly every elected official I spoke to was not very big on them but feared them and said they agreed with them just to make their re-elections easier. Having two catholic parishes, two big barn evangelical churches and some Southern Baptists run a religious witch hunt on you is absolutely traumatizing. It’s worse than dealing with the Taliban because at least the Taliban wear beards and are easy to identify. No one wants to believe they have a whacko living next to them in a suburb and that’s the hardest thing to fight about them. They used to use code words and the tried to fit in. They looked normal. After 20 years of plotting take overs and purges in state after state with no one really taking them very seriously we arrive at the position we are in today. They’ve broken their strings and no longer serve plutocrats that empowered them. We have a democracy that is a duopoly of two parties. One of our parties has gone insane. The result is complete dysfunction.

It’s not like the establishment republicans don’t deserve this. They really let it happen. They laughed at their crazies and gave them just enough lip service that they thought they’d keep them in their little corners.
The House Republicans are fixing to cook Boehner's goose because the insanely conservative non-starter fiscal cliff proposal he offered wasn't insane enough. One would suppose that the GOP's recent rout in a very winnable election year should have taught the hard right-wingers the value of moderation. Instead, Republican hard liners have -- as predicted -- drawn the wrong conclusion from Obama's victory:
“The stars are all aligning the wrong way in terms of working together,” said Peter Wehner, a former top White House aide to President George W. Bush. “Right now, the political system is not up to the moment and the challenges that we face.”
Never let anyone tell you that we don't have a two party system. The difference between the two parties is, in fact, quite profound: One party is too conservative and corruptible, while the other is insane.

Let us have the wisdom to choose wisely.
At least that Randy Lynn fellow was smart enough not to mistake a Sikh temple for a mosque.
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