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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Ministry of Fear

Normally, I'd just laugh it off. After the election of Barack Obama, the right was pretty much guaranteed to lose their freakin' minds. Never ones who lean toward moderation -- despite the adopted title of "conservative" -- the American right could be relied on to react to last Tuesday's undeniable electoral defeat with a renewed call to lunacy. And, being modern American Republicans, this madness manifests itself in feverish paranoia. The fear monger turns to fear because he's fearful himself -- fear is all he knows, so it's the only tool in his toolbox. Never mind that it didn't work at all during the election campaign and resulted in further losses for the party, attacks based on fear are what Republicans turn to.

And since the fear is seldom rational, the reasons given for the fear turn out to be lies. Typical of this fear-based politics are the right wing blowhards in the media. "I fear [this] is the guy that has these radical associations 20 years ago," Sean Hannity told his audience last week. Obama, cast as a terrorist before the election, is still a terrorist today.

"The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen," Rush Limbaugh blustered into his microphone Thursday. "Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression." That's right, he's not even sworn in yet and the economy is all Obama's fault. And don't worry, the sheep will fall for it, ridiculous as it is. They always do.

James Rainey writes in the L.A. Times, "[Limbaugh] also assures us that the Democrat welcomes 'economic chaos' because it gives him 'greater opportunity for expanded government.' In a time when the nation calls out for cool leadership and rational discussion, Limbaugh stirs the caldron, a tendency he proved in a particularly grotesque way last week when he accused Obama's party of plotting a government takeover of 401(k) retirement plans." Of course, there is no such plan.

But people who treat Limbaugh and Hannity as gospel are either stupid, crazy, or both already. Their bobbleheaded audiences agree with every word as a matter of principle. They're the people who think you get to choose what's true, the people who come to belief without any evidence, the people who buy anything that lines up with what they want to be true. Of course, I've just defined chumps. Limbaugh and Hannity may have some influence of their audience, but their audience won't influence very many.

None of this is really new. Go to Media Matters and go back through their archives -- you'll find similar claims going back to when the site was founded in 2004. Right wing media lies in an attempt to get their audience to crap their pants. It's what they do and it shouldn't surprise anyone.

But the stupidity and paranoia and lies don't end there. If it were only right wing media, we could dismiss it as preaching to the choir. But this attempt to get people to fear their new president goes much farther.

Associated Press:

A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may - may not, I hope not - but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

"The Obama transition team declined to comment on Broun's remarks," AP reports. "But spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama was referring in the speech to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure -- an idea endorsed by the Bush administration."

"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun said. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road."

Actually, Hitler wasn't elected. He was appointed. Kind like the guy in the White House right now, who originally won the presidency in a lawsuit. And, yes, you are comparing Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler, clearly and unquestionably. That kind of makes you a horse's ass, Paul.

So this is it, this is the next four years. While everyone else is trying to get something done, the Republicans will be in permanent campaign mode. And Republican campaigns -- as we've been so recently reminded -- are smear campaigns. Every hour of every day will be spent making stuff up to make the president look dangerous. If that's not good for the nation, so what? They don't serve the nation, they serve the GOP. Having lost using this strategy, they plan to continue it. They're terrified, they have to do something, and fear is all they know.