Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The day after Labor Day this year, Dick Armey, the former House member whose name has become synonymous with the right-wing agitprop group "Freedom Works," walked into the organization's D.C. offices accompanied by his wife and an aide packing a prominently displayed revolver. While the aide escorted the top two Freedom Works employees from the premises, Armey told three other employees they would have to leave.
But on September 10, less than a week after his banana-republic-style coup, the five dislodged employees were back on the job, and Armey had been persuaded to leave Freedom Works for good, his decision motivated by an $8-million-dollar bribe paid by a secretive Illinois billionaire, Richard J. Stephens, who has quietly exerted increasing influence over the tea-party-identified "think" tank in the past couple of years.
The mainstream media have generally been playing this internal power struggle among fascists as the "conservative movement" searching for a "new path" in the wake of its crushing defeat by Obama in November. But what it tells me is that there never has been a grassroots "conservative movement" in this country, just a handful of rich pricks who have been gaming the system, attempting to control and intimidate the national media, and running astroturf operations like the Tea Party.
This has been going on since the late sixties, and whether it's the Koch Brothers' Americans for Proserity, or Dick Stephens's Freedom Works, or Murdoch's Fox News Network, the strategy is the same -- dominate the conversation by shouting down the opposition, use tactics such as character assassination when the facts are not on your side (they never are), and keep repeating the same lies, Goebbels style. Assume that the voting public is stupid enough to be fooled, and will willingly believe and repeat whatever horse apples they're fed.
It's worked, up to a point. There have been times in the past 40 years, most notably during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, when our home-grown aristocrats have exercised complete control over the political process. Even when they don't control the process they manage to disrupt it, and we've all been treated to political arguments with people packing a snoot full of Fox, repeating what they've been told to think in that intellectual bottomland, and acting like they've just said something brilliant.
This armed-coup at Freedom Works is just one more gift of the 2012 election -- the gift that keeps on giving. Paul Krugman, bless his economist's heart, had the most cutting comment on Dick Armey's clownish pratfall, in his New York Times blog:
The problem, clearly, is that despite its Tea Party status, FreedomWorks had failed to implement the security measures libertarians have been recommending for schools. If only the staff had been carrying concealed weapons, and those not armed had been trained to launch human wave attacks on gunmen, none of this would have happened, right?