The Watering Hole: Friday March 22, 2013; CPAC Defined

The annualized nonsense of last weekend’s 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (aka CPAC) was stimulating, although probably not in the way the country’s far right wingnuts hoped it would be. I didn’t pay that much attention, of course, caught only a snippet here, a blog there, comments now and again made by obviously sane people, plus a handful of stupid comments made by attendees. Oh, and yes, I did see that photo of Sarah Palin sipping a giant soft drink of some sort — her attempt to mock New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the size of sugar-laden soft drinks. Also saw a shot of Donald Trump wearing that squirrel pelt skull cap as he spoke to a giant crowd of three or four attendees. I heard a brief clip of Romney clarifying once again — in case anyone missed it in the last two years — what an ass he truly is. And somewhere, I ran across a snippet of Rand Paul trying to sound as upside down as his father always did (and, from what I could tell, he succeeded perfectly). Oh, and I almost forgot (actually, I DID forget, till just now) — the NRA spokesperson (he is NOT a spokesman, not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination . . . in fact, using the word ‘person’ even bothers me) Wayne LaPierre was there too, spouting his incessant thesis that real men need assault weapons, ’cause if you wanna BE impotent you gottta LOOK impotent and ACT impotent! As I said: last weekend offered a brief encounter with annualized CPAC nonsense — which pretty much sums the extent of my involvement. Lucky for me, for my sanity.

But the main impact of the silliness came late last Sunday night (or maybe it was early Monday morning — I wasn’t wearing my glasses so couldn’t see the clock). In any case, I caught myself recalling something I’d read once, so I looked it up to see if it was as close to a ‘definition’ of CPAC-style conservatism as I thought it might be and lo, yes indeed it was exactly that. Here it is, a (slightly modified) summary of today’s CPAC/Tea Party/Republican/Right Wing politics, aka the conservative agenda:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Conservatives tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in conservative regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of conservative nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under conservatives, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in conservative nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a conservative nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a conservative government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Conservative nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under conservatives, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in conservative nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Conservatives almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in conservatives for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in conservative nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Conservative nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

OK, so by now the ‘slight modifications’ I’ve made to the original document are, most likely, painfully obvious. And yes, it’s true, I did indeed make a pair of very simple adjustments: I changed every occurrence of the word “fascist” to conservative”, and every occurrence of the word “fascism” to “conservatism”. Aside from those two details, the entire balance of the original document, entitled The 14 points of Fascism, is reproduced verbatim. For those interested in further defining details, a second article on the same topic entitled What is Fascism? may also prove worthy of review.

Fascinating it is how simply changing two words can result in a detailed synopsis that most ably summarizes the obvious aims, goals, intents, and methods which are clearly implicit in and often even spoken by today’s Republican Party. The GOP was once — and not all that long ago — far less extreme in its political philosophy than it is today. In fact, today even such “conservative” political stalwarts as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would very likely be cast off as traitors to the party’s current . . . umm . . . fascistic philosophy.

One of the more curious aspects of today’s conservative movement in the US is its loudly professed and complete disdain for “government” — even as its adherents attempt to USE government at all levels to impose official restrictions on a wide variety of every day activities. They have, for example, gone after women’s reproductive privacy via their attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, to either restrict abortion or ban it completely, to impose totally unnecessary medical procedures (e.g. transvaginal ultrasounds) when a pregnancy termination is sought, and even to attempt either restricting or outlawing completely hormonal contraceptives, all such actions parcel to their attempt to ultimately declare the fertilized egg to be “a person”  and thereby endowed with full constitutional protection.

Meanwhile, they also work diligently to eliminate anti-poverty programs which feed children already born, along with other programs designed to provide such children (and their families) with the means of obtaining medical care; and speaking of children, conservatives refuse to work toward the banning of military-style assault weapons even as they ignore the recent murder, by military-style assault weapon, of twenty school children, each of whom was six or seven years of age, students at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (along with six adults). Guns are more important than children, after all, except when the “child” is but a fertilized egg — at which point both gun and fetus enjoy apparently equal Constitutional protection, a protection which clearly does NOT apply once the child is born and reaches the age of, say, six years. Or so.

And on yet another front there is the movement’s attempt to overturn a major provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act via a case which is currently under consideration by the US Supreme Court. At the same time, of course, conservatives work feverishly at the state level to pass bills which they hope might even further suppress the voting rights of minorities (who traditionally vote Democratic). They’re also attempting virtually every means possible to either destroy labor unions or to minimize their usefulness; they’re trying to defund public education even as they work to fund private school enterprises with public tax revenues; they promise to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to deny equal marriage rights to the LGBT community; and lest we forget, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has ruled that “Corporations are people, my friend” — and are therefore free to contribute virtually unlimited cash to election campaigns, the vast majority of which is ‘invested’ in those candidates who fully support unlimited corporate power and freedom from government regulation.

So much for their “keep the government off our backs” thesis. A fascist-style government has proven to be, in fact and across the historical spectrum, far more intrusive in the lives of ordinary people (see above) than is any form of government (socialistic included) that places the needs of ordinary people FIRST, and the needs of the powerful, the wealthy, and the corporate “people” on the bottom rung.

The World English Dictionary defines fascism as:

1.     any ideology or movement inspired by Italian Fascism, such as German National Socialism; any right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism
2.     any ideology, movement, programme, tendency, etc, that may be characterized as right-wing, chauvinist, authoritarian, etc. (boldface highlights added)

Sounds like classic American (so-called) Conservatism to me. Maybe it’s high time we start calling a spade a spade? I suggest changing the name of the Conservative Political Action Conference to something more appropriate and descriptive, maybe something like Fascists United by Conservative Know-how — Y’all come now . . . Y‘heah?!

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind . . . I just did!