Thursday, December 04, 2008

Chenoweth on Global Warming: The Proto-Palin

-- by Dave

Sarah Palin reminds me, for some reason, of the late Helen Chenoweth -- the congresswoman from Idaho's 1st District from 1992 to 2000. Well, I actually can think of a lot of reasons: Maybe it's the slightly stilted, doll-like delivery in a red business suit. Or the beauty-queen smile. Or the absurd right-wingnuttery she sells with a distinctly populist style. Watch and judge for yourself.

Chenoweth was perhaps best known for being an avid promoter of the militia movement in Congress (though towards the end of her tenure shee made headlines for her extramarital affairs. Indeed, the above video is one I made from a video sold by the Militia of Montana as part of its New World Order conspiracy promotion, titled "America In Peril." It features Chenoweth speaking before an obviously preselected audience, prior to her election to Congress in 1992, as a "Natural Resources Consultant."

This snippet (the video is nearly an hour long) is from the first five minutes or so, and features Chenoweth holding forth on the causes of global warming:

What is some of the programs that the environmentalists are engaging in? Well, some of the programs are programs of fear -- fear that is so broad and so expansive that you and I can do nothing about it.

What about the idea that the earth is warming? You know, we hear that every day -- that the earth is warming. But when we look back, where are temperatures taken? Well, they’re taken from airports. Weather balloons go up from airports, where heat rises from miles and miles of concrete.

And you see, the satellites that are recording data around the globe will tell us that today, the earth is not warming. But you see, what the pseudoscientists -- who have turned into political scientists and lobbying scientists -- are saying is that these issues are so huge that you and I can do nothing about it.

You can almost envision Sarah Palin sitting at the back of the room taking notes. Indeed, as you can see, the camera irregularly pans to the nodding audience members, and one of these happens to bear a striking resemblance to Palin (she's at about the 5:40 mark of the video; you can see a still here). Not that this actually is Palin, but let's just say the imagery is complete.

The rest of the talk is similarly nutty, bizarrely commingling her fundamentalist religious beliefs with a kind of John Bircher conspiracism, all devoted to attacking the environmental movement as the embodiment of Satanic Marxism or something.

Some excerpts:

When we begin to realize what the battle really is, then we begin to focus on what we need to do. Because ladies and gentlemen, the battle isn't a scientific battle. The battle isn’t even a battle for species. The battle isn’t even a battle for certain areas of timber or certain wilderness areas. Only until we're able to understand that this battle is a full-fledged spiritual battle will we begin to understand and have the weapons to deal with it.

You see, always in the past, armies have clashed, and we've had physical lines of battle. We've had armies and armaments battling out back and forth for the conquering of countries. We’ve been able to see over the course of history battle lines drawn and battle lines moved. We've seen countries conquered, we’ve seen countries victorious. But ladies and gentlemen, today as I stand here in front of you, we are in a battle today that is far more insidious and far more dangerous as far as conquering our people, their soul and this great nation than we have ever faced before -- because the battle lines are invisible.

But the battle lines are spiritual in nature. Who are these environmentalists? These environmentalists are a group of people whose members are driven by a certain sect of esoteric concepts, with all the trappings of religious dogma. They believe that nature is God, where we know that the Creator, God Himself, is the one who created nature. And there comes the conflict.

... A man by the name of Marx developed what he called the Communist Manifesto. And ladies and gentlemen, when we understand that that was where the very depths of the darkness of this spiritual war began. They declared war on private ownership in the Communist Manifesto.

... But you see, of greater significance, and in more frightening detail, that manifesto went on to lay out a series of sequential steps by which this would be accomplished. Among the many goals that the Communist Manifesto predicted was the abolition of property and land and the application of all rents of land to public purposes. Today we call it taxes. The abolition of all rights of inheritance. That's a constant battle that we're waging. ...

You see, what the environmental movement is doing is breaking down state and national boundaries. And so with that one enactment, and the listing of that one species, we encompass northern California, Oregon and Washington. The unfortunate thing is that it breaks down the sovereignty of states -- and you see acid is no respecter of the national boundaries between Canada and America. And that’s part of the way we begin to globalize and break down the sovereignty of this great nation.

And ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line is that if we are forced to place our world resources in the hands of a few who are controlling a world government, that isn't what God planned for us, and it certainly is not in our best interest. We will certainly lose our liberties, and it begins with the breakdown of our state boundaries. And that's what the spotted owl issue did.
Because you see, for any land management, they believe in their spirit that we are trying to manage and move in and desecrate their sacred ground. Nature is God to them.

You see, this country flourished very well because we understood the role of God in this country....

Sure sounds like Sarah Palin's political mentor to me.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Derek and the white-power dominoes

[Derek Black, right, with his father, Don Black, center, and Rep. Ron Paul, at the January 10, 2007, "Values Voters" Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.]

-- by Dave

White supremacists have been trying to reinsert themselves back into the mainstream (where once upon a time they were common) for a long time now. One of the chief avenues for this effort has for years been the Republican Party in the South, particularly in places like Louisiana, where David Duke operates, and Mississippi, where the Council of Conservative Citizens has a friend in Gov. Haley Barbour. It's all part of the legacy of the Southern Strategy.

In Florida, Republicans are now being confronted with the legacy of the Southern Strategy in the person of 19-year-old Derek Black:

Derek Black says "of course" he will attend a meeting Wednesday for new members of Palm Beach County's Republican Executive Committee. Never mind that the party chairman says Black's "white supremacist" associations are not welcome and he will not be seated.

"I was elected," Black, 19, says.

Sporting a black hat, the son of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black was seated last week in a restaurant off Southern Boulevard. Sitting next to him was one of his supporters: David Duke, former Louisiana state legislator and another former KKK grand wizard.

"We're going to fight," Duke said. "I know Derek Black is going to fight for his constitutional liberties. That's why I'm here, because I want to assist Derek."

Sorry, says county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein. In the qualifying period in June, Black didn't sign a loyalty oath pledging he would not do anything injurious to the party. And that's not the only problem.

"He participates in white supremacist activities," Dinerstein said. "We're the party of Lincoln. We're the party that says we don't judge anybody by the color of their skin."

There's a familial connection between David Duke and Derek Black: Derek's mother, Chloe Black, was previously married to Duke, and their son is Derek's half-brother. But there's also a strategic connection, in that Duke did the same thing himself in the 1980's and '90s in Louisiana, largely taking advantage of the Republicans' Southern Strategy.

In his book on the Southern Strategy, Joseph Aistrup describes this (cited here):

Using the basics of Reagan’s rhetoric, and mimicking the Reagan administration’s attack on civil rights, Bush vetoed the first version of the Civil Rights Act (1990) on the basis that it represented a “quota” bill. This strategy most likely would have succeeded, except for the emergence of Louisiana Republican and former Klansman, David Duke. David Duke's emergence as a Republican is an unintended consequence of the Southern Strategy’s race issue orientation (Page 1991, B7). Although Republican strategists are fully aware that the Southern Strategy entices voters of the same mold as David Duke (Evans and Novak 1991, A27), they find it extremely distasteful when a racial reactionary leader becomes a Republican candidate, wins a state legislative seat as a Republican, and is one of two finalists in the Louisiana U.S. Senate (1990) and governor (1991) contests. White House press spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said of Duke: “He’s not a Republican, he never will be a Republican ... We don’t like him.”

Aside from Duke’s overt racism, the Duke affair is distasteful to Republicans because candidates like Duke expose how the Southern Strategy’s conservative message can be racially interpreted by many Southern whites, lending credence to Democrats’ claims concerning the racially divisive nature of the Southern Strategy’s issues (McQueen and Birnbaum 1991, A18). However, the most disturbing aspect of David Duke for the Republicans and Bush was that he elicited rhetoric straight from the Bush campaign: Opposing “quotas,” affirmative action, and any type of minority preference; assailing those who are on welfare; and blaming government and special interests for the poor state of Louisiana’s economy.

Sure enough, as Jesse notes at Pandagon:

In true Republican fashion, rather than realize that there’s something fundamentally screwy and in need of fixing given a process in which a white supremacist not only feels comfortable running on your ticket, but wins, they’re instead seeking to throw him off the committee to which he was elected fair and square because of a technicality.

There's a secondary dynamic at work here too: Derek Black and his dad Don were big fans of Ron Paul -- Paul even posed with them for a pic back in 2007, as you can see atop this post (this is taken from Stormfront, and was shot at the January 10, 2007, "Values Voters" Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

Indeed, Stormfront itself was a big booster of the Paul campaign, with multiple threads discussing him and communicating about Paul events. One of Stormfront's editors liveblogged the Ron Paul convention in Minneapolis this year too.

So Derek Black, by seeking to gain an official foothold within GOP officialdom, likely sees himself following not just in David Duke's footsteps, but Ron Paul's too.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Why Bush's presidency was an Epic Fail


-- by Dave

Karen DeYoung at the WaPo had an interesting report on the change of style that Obama is bringing to the White House, particularly in how it approaches the military:

Obama has been careful to separate his criticism of Bush policy from his praise of the military's valor and performance, while Michelle Obama's public expressions of concern for military families have gone over well. But most important, according to several senior officers and civilian Pentagon officials who would speak about their incoming leader only on the condition of anonymity, is the expectation of renewed respect for the chain of command and greater realism about U.S. military goals and capabilities, which many found lacking during the Bush years.

"Open and serious debate versus ideological certitude will be a great relief to the military leaders," said retired Maj. Gen. William L. Nash of the Council on Foreign Relations. Senior officers are aware that few in their ranks voiced misgivings over the Iraq war, but they counter that they were not encouraged to do so by the Bush White House or the Pentagon under Donald H. Rumsfeld.

"The joke was that when you leave a meeting, everybody is supposed to drink the Kool-Aid," Nash said. "In the Bush administration, you had to drink the Kool-Aid before you got to go to the meeting."

There's no better way to lose a war than to have your on-the-ground decisions be forced through an ideological prism. And it was obvious even to outsiders that this was how Bush was conducting the Iraq war -- indeed, it was the decisive factor behind the very decision to invade in the first place. It's even more telling that the military minds involved saw that this was occurring too.

But in truth, this constitutes not merely the entire Bush approach to governance, but conservative governance as well. Thus -- to use one example out of many -- during Bush's tenure there was not a single economic problem that could not be solved by anything other than tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation of the financial sector.

Of course, we now realize that this was simply a prescription for gobbling PCBs after a diagnosis of cancer.

So when we hear conservatives tell themselves that the reason they lost this last election was their failure to adhere to "conservative principles," we know they're continuing to cling to the very reason they lost. Because such adherence inherently means that these "principles" -- that is, conservative dogma about how they believe the world ought to be, particularly the insistence that government itself is the problem, when the reality is that bad governance is the problem -- trump their ability to face realities on the ground.

From the outset, it's clear that reversing that approach is the most fundamental aspect of the "change" that Barack Obama intends to bring to the White House. And that is a very good sign indeed.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]