Western Tree Line Blue Skies wallpaper – Conservative Populism is an Oxymoron

Western Tree Line Blue Skies wallpaper


SC Republicans Boo Newt Gingrich Over Romney Attacks

At a forum hosted by Mike Huckabee with 800 undecided South Carolina Republicans, Newt Gingrich was loudly booed when he criticized Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, according to a Republican who attended the closed-press event.

“They were really angry,” said the attendee. The forum will be aired on Fox News tonight.

The booing came when Gingrich mentioned Romney’s name. I am told Gingrich was gently reprimanded by Huckabee who reminded him that the ground rules for the forum stipulated that the candidate were not allowed to attack each other.

Sometimes, if not most of the time, trying to figure out if there is some underlying logical consistency to conservative thinking is like trying to figure out exactly what that road kill was, raccoon? opossum? Who knows. Romney and his PAC buddies (Restore our Future) have run attack ads against Gingrich. Ron Paul has run attack ads against Gingrich. While Romney still seems to have the advantage – ahead in SC by 21 points – you can bet snips of those ads and sound bites by Sarah Palin, among other conservatives ,will be used against the conservative nominee later this year. In her commentary on the same story Digby adds an interesting find about the very strange brand of right-wing conservative populism – Seismic political activity

It turns out that the booing was because Newtie was being mean to Romney and they’d promised not to be negative in this format. But either way, they aren’t populists as we think of populists. They’re producerists who aren’t used to criticizing any thing but government elites. This is new for them:

Calls to rally the virtuous “producing classes” against evil “parasites” at both the top and bottom of society is a tendency called producerism. It is a conspiracist narrative used by repressive right wing populism. Today we see examples of it in some sectors of the Christian Right, in the Patriot movements and armed militias, and in the Far right.

Producerism begins in the US with the Jacksonians, who wove together intra-elite factionalism and lower-class Whites’ double-edged resentments. Producerism became a staple of repressive populist ideology. Producerism sought to rally the middle strata together with certain sections of the elite. Specifically, it championed the so-called producing classes (including White farmers, laborers, artisans, slaveowning planters, and “productive” capitalists) against “unproductive” bankers, speculators, and monopolists above—and people of color below. After the Jacksonian era, producerism was a central tenet of the anti-Chinese crusade in the late nineteenth century. In the 1920s industrial philosophy of Henry Ford, and Father Coughlin’s fascist doctrine in the 1930s, producerism fused with antisemitic attacks against “parasitic” Jews.

This strain remains embedded in American political life and gets lively during times of economic stress. All kinds of strange tentacles emerge from it. The conservative movement spent a lot of money and many decades making sure their “populists” looked in the “up” direction they wanted them to — limousine liberals and government elites. And they’re very well trained. But this election is the first time in years that we’re seeing some resistance. It’s especially interesting that it’s starting with the conservative political elite in reaction to the crude dominance of the Big Money Boyz. This should be fun to watch.

I’ve read some news reports about some of the tea baggers joining in with the 99% and one from out west where some tea partiers didn’t agree with everything the local OWS was doing but brought them some food. I tend to think it is best not to make too much of this mutual sympathies at the edges because that is largely where it will stay. A site called teapartypatriots.org for example has written several attacks on OWS calling them out of touch and focusing on the wrong targets. Those self anointed tea-patriots sound just like the producerism fake populism Digby references. There are quite a few around me, being in the south. They do not skip a beat in condemning what they see as the “limousine liberals” yet see limousine conservatives as the ever virtuous captains of industry. They’ll point out how rich many senate Democrats are and then turn around and call them socialists. Their style of populism – and it is stretching things to call it that – requires the bizarre ability to hold two contradictory ideas in their head at the same time. Money earned by Democrats is elitists and socialist, while money the vulture capitalist conservatives suck out of the middle-class and blue-collar workers is good clean all-American conservative money. They called Sen. John Kerry a gigolo for having a wealthy wife, but said nothing in 2008 about John McCain’s wealth coming from his wife. The clue that holds this strange and contradictory conservative populism together is frequently ethnocentrism, paranoia about government benefits going to anyone but white conservatives( I never hear the conservatives I know say their elderly relatives would be better off without Social Security or Medicare). They’re against government programs including people of color, or wholly imagined hoards of illegal aliens collecting tons of welfare benefits. Time and again we see that conservatives take full advantage of government programs that range from Medicaid to loan guarantees to government subsidies. Liberals and progressives will always be at a disadvantage in this debate because we can produce all the evidence, the charts, the best logical arguments, examples from history (George Washington forced troops to buy supplies, Abe Lincoln – without benefit of a constitutional amendment that was passed after the fact – imposed the first federal income tax to finance the Civil War). What we’re trying to get through are the layers of denial, deflections, rationalizations and hypocrisies. While there are many conservatives who are capable of physical courage, another problem that twists conservative think is the abundance of moral and psychological cowardice. They are terrified of facts, of science of post Enlightenment thinking. Many of them truly think practical answers to problems through public policy measures – like food assistance, Social Security, student loans, bank regulation like the old Glass Steagall Act – anything that is not pure absolutist capitalism – is the slippery slope to living under the hammer and sickle. Never mind that these programs and regulations actually help keep the economy healthy – we would have had a much easier recession, if one at all if 12 banks had not be allowed to become too big to fail.

Romney, other issues aside, flip-flops aside is the perfect spokesman for exactly the kind of insular populism that drives the Right – Romney and the pathology of Bain

No one can make Mitt Romney look good — not even a crazy man with a program that’s slightly to the right of Juan Peron.  Ron Paul, currently the second most popular Republican presidential candidate, may be nuts but Romney is arguably a lot worse: the standard-bearer of the worst aspects of borderline sociopathic, bottom-feeding American capitalism.

I don’t mean to call people names.  I speak as a bona fide expert on these subject, having covered business and written a book about a sociopath and having known many professionally through the years. I’m merely trying to provide a dispassionate analysis of Romney’s life and career, especially (but not exclusively) his record as a job-destroying corporate warrior at the Bain Capital buyout firm.

[  ]…Here’s one of the better brief digests of Romney as a corporate job-destroyer, written by Josh Kosman, who wrote an excellent book in 2010 on the buyout industry called “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy.” This book is required reading for anybody who wants to understand what Romney did for a living at Bain. He is the living embodiment of how the “job creator” Republican meme is grotesquely misleading, if not an outright lie.

Human beings with a conscience find this appalling, conservatism embraces it. Romney’s most stinging critics – and they seem to be multiplying by the day – are not anarchists or Che t-shirt wearing neohippies, they are capitalists, investors, businesses that have observed the vulturism of the Romneys of America. To these types of corporate raiders businesses are like villages that are to be pillaged. That they occasionally left some villages standing is like saying the fire wasn’t all bad it missed the broom closet. NYT resident conservative David Brooks is typical of the far Right elite. Sometimes he even asks good questions. His answers are abysmal. If this is the best kind of defense conservative word smiths have for Romney, they’re in deep trouble – Will Mitt’s CEO experience make him a good president? The New York Times Op-Ed columnists go to war

What the United States needs, suggests Brooks, isn’t a CEO. We need an aristocrat.

First, successful presidents tend to be emotionally secure. They have none of the social resentments and desperate needs that plagued men like Richard Nixon. Instead they were raised, often in an aristocratic family, with a sense that they were the natural leaders of the nation. They were infused, often at an elite prep school, with a sense of obligation and responsibility to perform public service.

    Whether it is a George Washington, a Franklin or Theodore Roosevelt or a John F. Kennedy, this sort of president enters the White House with ease and confidence, is relatively unscathed by the criticism of the crowd, is able to separate the mask he must wear for public display from the real honest self he knows himself to be.

With this column, Brooks settles, once and for all, the question of whether he himself is an elitist. And not just any run-of-the-mill elitist! No, Brooks is a heroic, truth-telling elitist, with the courage to say what conventional wisdom about American discourse declares verboten!

In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.

    Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.

I wonder, why might Americans disdain elitism? Could it have something to do with our history, our defining identity as a people who rebelled against monarchy? Could it be that one of our core values, at least until recently, is the idea that anyone, no matter what family they were born into, or how wealthy they are, or what prep school they attended, has (at least theoretically) the potential and opportunity to rise to the highest office in the land?

Gosh, just let’s just go to the obvious. The current president was raised in a very modest home by a single mother. managed to get into Harvard based on academic achievement. He succeeded our first Harvard MBA president who was born with a silver spoon up his ass who had tanked three businesses before dad bought him the governorship of Texas. Brooks hopes hat another golden ass-spoon will take his place because it is only those who are most disconnected with average Americans who can relate to average Americans. What did I say about logic and moral cowardice.

And via Paul Krugman, this article from the WaPo – When Romney ran Bain Capital, his word was not his bond

Yet, there is another version of the Bain way that I experienced personally during my 17 years as a deal-adviser on Wall Street: Seemingly alone among private-equity firms, Romney’s Bain Capital was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy. Other private-equity firms I worked with extensively over the years — Forstmann Little, KKR, TPG and the Carlyle Group, among them — never dared attempt the audacious strategy that Bain partners employed with great alacrity and little shame. Call it the real Bain way.

[  ]…This is the moment when Bain Capital would become especially crafty. In my experience — which I heard echoed often by my colleagues around Wall Street — Bain would seek to be the highest bidder at the end of the formal process in order to be the firm selected to negotiate alone with the seller, putting itself in the exclusive, competition-free zone. Then, when all other competitors had been essentially vanquished and the purchase contract was under negotiation, Bain would suddenly begin finding all sorts of warts, bruises and faults with the company being sold. Soon enough, that near-final Bain bid — the one that got the firm into its exclusive negotiating position — would begin to fall, often significantly.

[  ]…The real Bain way may be nothing more than a clever tactic to eliminate competition from a heated auction in order to buy a business at an attractive price.

What is pure capitalism? Absolutist capitalism, capitalism the way establishment conservatives think it should be practiced. This is a textbook example. You always…always..game the system.

Another example of conservatives being neck-deep in government loan guarantees and the right-wing noise machine pretending that conservatives ain’t had nothing to do with it – What Liberal Media – CBS Echoes Right-Wing Talking Points Runs Error-Ridden Report On “New Solyndras”

Default Rate For Loan Guarantee Program Is Much Less Than What Government Budgeted For Losses. Bloomberg reported that the government “planned for defaults of as much as 12.85 percent” for the loan guarantee program, and that as of now, the default rate “is less than 3.6 percent. CBS did not mention this fact. [Bloomberg News, 11/10/11]

Most Of The Loans Guarantees Have Almost No Risk Of Default. To date CBS has not covered a Bloomberg Government analysis of the Department of Energy’s 1705 loan guarantee program, which found that 87 percent of the value of all the 1705 loan guarantees (18 of the 28 projects) went to power generation projects, as opposed to manufacturing projects like Solyndra’s factory. The flawed CBS report mentioned several of these projects among the purported “New Solyndras.” The DOE required generation projects to secure a buyer before receiving a loan guarantee — ensuring stable revenue and significantly reducing the risk of the investment. In fact, Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, has said that these projects have almost no risk of default. [Media Matters, 12/6/11]

[  ]…In fact, Solyndra’s top brass, its board and its paid lobbyists bring close ties to both political parties.

President and CEO Brian Harrison is a registered Republican. Billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama campaign bundler, was one of the venture capitalists who poured private funding into the clean technology startup.

And another venture capital firm, Madrone Capital Partners, which is tied to the GOP-leaning Walton family, was one of 10 firms that helped Solyndra raise about $144 million in November 2008 ( pre- Obama’s election).

In Washington, Victoria Sanville, one of the company’s two in-house lobbyists, had previously worked for four House Republicans: Sam Graves of Missouri, Peter Roskam of Illinois, John Sweeney of New York and George Gekas of Pennsylvania.

Bush Admin. Chose Solyndra As A Finalist For A Loan Guarantee. The Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, then-Executive Director of Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, testified that the Bush administration selected Solyndra as one of 16 out of 143 submissions to move forward in the process. [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

Fox and right-wing bloggers have been in derangement mode over Solyndra for months. They never mention that Bush originated the guarantee and Congressional conservatives voted to pass the bill that included the funds. Its like arguing with children – they stand there with jelly all over their face, empty jelly jar on the table and no way are they going to admit they ate all that jelly, a liberal unicorn flew through the window and ate it all.

of course we can rely on the LIBERAL media to keep the public informed because the broadcast media in particular take their jobs as te people’s watchdogs very seriously ..wink wink – STUDY: SOPA Coverage No Match For Kim Kardashian And Tim Tebow

While U.S. television news outlets have largely ignored the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act during their evening news and opinion programming, they have covered repeatedly and at-length Tim Tebow, Casey Anthony, Kim Kardashian’s divorce, the British Royal Family, and Alec Baldwin being kicked off an airplane.

Last week, we released a study showing that during their evening programming, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN devoted a combined total of one segment to SOPA and its Senate companion bill, the Protect IP Act. (That segment aired on CNN’s The Situation Room. Though Fox News Channel has apparently not touched the story during evening programming, conservative/libertarian host Andrew Napolitano has run several segments vocally opposing SOPA on his program, which runs on the lower-rated Fox Business Network.) The parent companies of these networks, as well as two of the networks themselves, are listed as official “supporters” of SOPA on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website.

STUDY: SOPA Coverage No Match For Kim Kardashian And Tim Tebow


Most of us, certainly those who lean Democrat, are familiar with and sympathetic to PTSD. I tend to think that what we saw with the Marines urinating incidence was a symptom of that – The Banality of Urinating on Taliban Corpses

If you had asked me a few days ago, before news broke that American soldiers have urinated on Taliban corpses, whether American soldiers have ever urinated on Taliban corpses, I would have said: Probably.

You send hordes of young people into combat, people whose job is to kill the enemy and who watch as their friends are killed and maimed by the enemy, and the chances are that signs of disrespect for the enemy will surface--and that every once in a while those signs will assume grotesque form.

War, presumably, has always been like that. But something has changed over the past couple of decades–two things, actually–and they amount to a powerful new argument against starting wars in the first place.

First, there’s the new transparency of war. Infinitely more battlefield details get recorded, and everyone has the tools to broadcast these details. So it’s just a matter of time before some outrageous image goes viral–pictures from Abu Ghraib, video from Afghanistan, whatever. These images will make you and your soldiers more hated by the enemy than ever–and hated by civilians who may identify with the enemy, whether because of national, ethnic, or religious kinship.

Most of these guys are young. They’re in a super stressful situation. They have friends blown apart, maimed for life.. They get angry and stressed. They forget that their actions might be justified on an emotional level, but lose hearts and minds which makes their job harder and more dangerous. It’s the nature of war to act in ways that can be counter productive because of the stress. If America doesn’t want their Marines to act like this then be a little more discriminate about sending them off on ill-defined open-ended missions.