Saturday, December 30, 2023

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered The Party by Max Blumenthal - Further Consideration Based On Today's Headlines...


Over the last year, award-winning journalist and videographer Max Blumenthal has been behind some of the most sensational (and funniest) exposes of Republican machinations. Whether it was his revelation that Sarah Palin was "anointed" by a Kenyan priest famous for casting out witches, or his confronting Republican congressional leaders and John McCain's family at the GOP convention about the party's opposition to sex education (and hence, the rise in teen pregnancies like that of Palin's daughter), or his expose of the eccentric multimillionaire theocrat behind California's Prop 8 anti- gay marriage initiative, Blumenthal has become one of the most important and most constantly cited journalists on how fringe movements are becoming the Republican Party mainstream.

Republican Gomorrah is a bestiary of dysfunction, scandal and sordidness from the dark heart of the forces that now have a leash on the party. It shows how those forces are the ones that establishment Republicans-like John McCain-have to bow to if they have any hope of running for President. It shows that Sarah Palin was the logical choice of a party in the control of theocrats. But more that just an expose, Republican Gomorrah shows that many of the movement's leading figures have more in common than just the power they command within conservative ranks. Their personal lives have been stained by crisis and scandal: depression, mental illness, extra-marital affairs, struggles with homosexual urges, heavy medication, addiction to pornography, serial domestic abuse, and even murder. Inspired by the work of psychologists Erich Fromm, who asserted that the fear of freedom propels anxiety-ridden people into authoritarian settings, Blumenthal explains in a compelling narrative how a culture of personal crisis has defined the radical right, transforming the nature of the Republican Party for the next generation and setting the stage for the future of American politics.--Amazon


Sodom and Gomorrah, Legendary cities of ancient Palestine. According to the biblical book of Genesis, the notorious cities were destroyed by “brimstone and fire” because of their wickedness. The exact nature of the damning wickedness of the cities has been the subject of debate.--

I wanted to begin sharing this time by beginning with simple facts related to the book and the title. The book obviously caught my attention as I am one who has openly been critical of the actions of this party. This book was written in 2010 and relates to the failed republican presidential race at that time. Upfront, I want to clearly state my belief that if John McCain had been permitted to choose the running mate he wanted, rather than Palin, he just might have had a a better chance in presenting what I would image would have been a much more solid program for his candidacy. And, I believe, be the first time in history that the president and vice-president were from different political parties--what an opportunity that would have been for the nation! The Republican Party would not allow this!
In the chaotic 2008 Republican presidential primary, the Republican base split its vote between Mitt Romney, the economic conservative, and Mike Huckabee, the social conservative, creating space for John McCain, distrusted by all factions, to emerge. McCain wished to have as his running mate an independent-minded politician who could garner votes outside the Republicans’ increasingly narrow sphere of influence. His intention was to name Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who had been the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000. But the movement rejected his appeal to pragmatism, threatened a full-scale revolt, and demanded to vet his running mate as a condition for support. From the Last Frontier of Alaska, a self-proclaimed “hardcore pro-lifer” and “prayer warrior,” Governor Sarah Palin, was summoned to deliver to McCain the political elements he had once labeled “agents of intolerance.” Through Palin, archetype of the right-wing woman, the movement’s influence over the party reached its zenith. As a direct result, however, the party sank to its nadir, suffering crushing defeats in the presidential and congressional races. Palin’s candidacy mobilized the Christian right elements that McCain alienated, but she repelled independents and moderate Republicans in droves, winnowing away the party’s constituency in every region of the country except the Deep South. Palin fatally tarnished McCain’s image while laying the groundwork for her potential resurrection—and that of the movement—in the presidential contest of 2012. The Christian right reached the mountaintop with the presidency of George W. Bush, shrouding science and reason in the shadow of the cross and the flag. But even at the height of Bush’s glory, in his 2004 campaign, a few isolated moderate Republicans warned that the Republican Party was in danger of collapse. Of course their jeremiads were ignored. That year, Christie Todd Whitman published a book titled It’s My Party Too, decrying the takeover by what she called the “social fundamentalists.” A member of a distinguished and wealthy eastern Republican family, with deep ties to the party, she had been governor of New Jersey and head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bush, only to quit when fundamentalist ideologues substituted right-wing doctrine for science in its studies. After the 2008 Republican debacle, Whitman pointed out that even though McCain was not considered a champion of the religious right, his percentage of so-called “values voters” increased by 3 percent over Bush’s in 2004. McCain, the last Republican moderate on the national stage, had lost among “moderate voters” by 21 points to Obama. As soon as Obama took office, the movement camped in the wilderness prepared to take political advantage of the worst economic troubles since the Great Depression by injecting a renewed sense of anti-government resentment. As most people agonized and even panicked over the sudden economic collapse, the Christian right’s peddlers of crisis lifted their hands to the heavens. They had a whole new world of trauma to exploit, more desperate and embittered followers to manipulate, and maybe—just maybe—another chance at power. Republican Gomorrah is an intimate portrayal of a political, social, and religious movement defined by an “escape from freedom.” As Erich Fromm explained, those who join the ranks of an authoritarian cause to resolve inner turmoil and self-doubt are always its most fervent, rigidly ideological, and loyal members. They are often its most politically influential members as well. President Eisenhower described the “mental stress and burden” that animates such movements. His admonition to beware the danger posed to democracy by those who seek “freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions” should be as memorable in history as his caution about the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address. The characters I have profiled may not represent a majority in terms of sheer numbers, but through their combined power, they reflect the dominant character of the movement—and, by extension, of the Republican Party they have subsumed. That party has ignored Eisenhower’s warning and realized his darkest fears. Brooklyn, New York

Right from the beginning, as we learn in the Introduction, the intent of the Party was to do what they wanted. While agreeing to have McCain as the President, it was Palin who opened the major event!

Suddenly, the floor of the 2008 Republican National Convention is in rapture, having just heard vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin taunt Barack Obama as an unqualified elitist, assail the liberal media, and bill herself as “an average hockey mom.” The man at the top of the ticket, John McCain, would speak the following night, but Palin, a charismatic culture warrior, was the spark that ignited the party base.
When the chant finally died down, three country music stars stepped to the stage to perform a patriotic musical mash-up. John Rich and Gretchen Wilson stared deeply into one another’s eyes, singing the national anthem, while Cowboy Troy, an African American singer known as the “king of hick-hop,” stood off to the side, reciting lines from the pledge of allegiance. Gales of spontaneous cheers rose from the crowd when Cowboy Troy proclaimed, “One nation under God.” From my position to the immediate left of the stage, standing next to the Pennsylvania delegation, Cowboy Troy was the only African American I could see among a sea of gray hair and white faces. After the pledge of allegiance, as Rich broke into “Raisin’ McCain,” a honky-tonk campaign anthem that extols McCain “goin’ down in Vietnam town,” a handsome middle-aged black man in a suit brushed by me, heading rapidly toward the arena exit. He was Lynn Swann, the Hall of Fame National Football League wide receiver and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania in 2006. “Mr. Swann, where are the rest of the black people?” I asked him. He paused, shrugged his shoulders, and kept walking. Then, before disappearing into the crowd, he turned and blurted out, “We need to do more.” Earlier that day, I milled around the convention floor and walked the arena hallways, chatting with party leaders and delegates. “These are the real people,” Louisiana GOP chairman Roger Villere told me, echoing an emerging theme of the McCain-Palin campaign. “This is real America.” When I asked Villere the whereabouts of his state’s junior senator, David Vitter, he said he did not know. And when I asked about Vitter’s confession to hiring several high-priced prostitutes, Villere shot back, “David is a moral man, a great senator, and we support him totally.” Vitter, still a religious right favorite, was planning to run for reelection in 2010. Near the press box, I ran into Ralph Reed, a Christian right operative once hailed by Time magazine as “God’s Right Hand.” Reed had harbored presidential ambitions, but his campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor ended in humiliating defeat when his role was disclosed in lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s scheme to trick evangelical leaders into pressuring the Bush administration’s Department of Interior to shut down Indian casinos that Abramoff’s clients considered business competitors. I asked Reed whether he still had a political future. “What do you mean? I never left politics!” he chirped, beaming at me with a pearly smile. Reed and Abramoff’s former friend and ally, ex- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, hosted a private party that evening for Republican bigwigs. DeLay, who stood accused by the Texas attorney general of money laundering, had charged McCain with “betraying” the conservative movement. (One of the DeLay party’s high-profile attendees, Representative John Mica, head-butted an ABC cameraman when a reporter asked him if he was happy to see his disgraced friend.) Then I made my way to the far corner of the convention floor to mingle with the Idaho delegation. I asked delegates where the state’s outgoing senior senator, Larry Craig, was. Craig, rated the third most conservative senator in Congress, had barely eluded criminal charges after soliciting sex with an undercover cop in an airport bathroom stall. “We’d rather not go back and revisit all that,” Governor Jim Risch, running to replace Craig, told me. “I’m really here to talk about our party’s plan for keeping the tax rate low.” From the Idaho delegation, I pushed through a gaggle of reporters and cameramen surrounding the Alaska delegation to meet some of Palin’s constituents. When I approached a young man, the only delegate from the state who appeared to be under the age of fifty, he snapped, “You’re not going to ask about Bristol, are you?” referring to Palin’s pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter, who sat nearby with her fiancĂ©, eighteen-year-old self-proclaimed “fuckin’ redneck” Levi Johnston. I asked about Palin’s support for laws banning abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. “There’s no reason to kill a baby, whether you consider him unborn or born,” the delegate replied. Another delegate, a middle-aged woman, explained to me how her husband took their two daughters on “dates” to “talk about keeping themselves pure until marriage.” (Two days later, the same woman, dressed in a construction worker’s outfit like one of the Village People, bellowed on the convention floor in favor of offshore drilling: “Drill, baby, drill!”) This was a portrait of the Republican Party fully in the grip of its right wing: almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly evangelical, fixated on abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence education; resentful and angry; and unable to discuss how and why it had become this way. Noticeably absent from the convention were moderate Republicans. Senator Lincoln Chafee, legatee of the moderate Republican tradition in Rhode Island, was defeated in the 2006 midterms, and he was endorsing Obama. The last Republican House member from New England, Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut, would lose his seat in two months. None of the great Republican families of the past, from the Rockefellers to the Eisenhowers, were there either. Both of Ronald Reagan’s natural children, Ron and Patti, endorsed Obama. President Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan, addressed the Democratic National Convention in Denver just moments before Barack Obama appeared to accept his party’s nomination. How did a party once known for its “big tent” philosophy become a one-ring circus? How did a Republican Party that had dominated American politics for over twenty-five years become so marginalized? During the 1952 presidential campaign, the Republican nominee and former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower silently observed the attacks on the patriotism of a man he knew was a great American, General George C. Marshall, then serving as secretary of state. His assailant was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, as opportunistic and sloppy as he was vicious. Eisenhower seethed while McCarthy smeared Marshall as “a man steeped in falsehood,” who supposedly harbored at least fifty-seven active Communists within the State Department. Eisenhower loathed everything about McCarthy, regarding him as a dangerous and petty demagogue, but he shrank from attacking him or defending Marshall, fearing that McCarthy’s influence among the Republican Party right-wing base might upset his campaign. Only later, when McCarthy initiated a witch hunt of a phantom Communist Fifth Column within the top command of the U.S. Army in 1954, did Eisenhower strike back. He did so by sleight of hand. “I will not get into the gutter with this guy,” he told aides. He instructed his staff to leak damaging information about the senator’s ethical breaches and invoked executive privilege to stifle McCarthy’s request for notes on the president’s meetings with army officers. McCarthy’s show trial quickly degenerated into a farce, leading to his rebuke by the army’s attorney Joseph Welch (“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”) and censure by the Senate for “vulgar and insulting” conduct. Eisenhower had guarded his party against the far right, defended its essentially moderate temper, and ensured the preservation of its national appeal. By the time McCarthy drank himself to death in 1957, what the historian Richard Hofstadter had called “the paranoid style of politics” had spread into new and growing grassroots conservative groups that sought influence within the Republican Party. These groups cohered into the movement that enabled Barry Goldwater to seize the presidential nomination in 1964, would gain genuine power with the administration of President Ronald Reagan, and would reach their apotheosis under President George W. Bush. Eisenhower observed the early development of the modern American right with anxiety. His experience in Europe had taught him that the rise of extreme movements could be explained only by the psychological yearnings and social needs of their supporters. He understood that these movements were not unique to any place or time. Authoritarianism could take root anywhere, even in America. Eisenhower did not believe that an American exceptionalism immunized the country against the spores of extremism. Eisenhower, famous as a golfer and reader of Zane Grey western novels, was criticized for lacking an intellectual framework or even an interest in ideas. But throughout his presidency, Eisenhower clung to a short book that informed his view of the danger of extremist movements. He referred to this book in the first televised presidential press conference ever, distributed it to his friends and top aides, and cited its wisdom to a terminally ill World War II veteran, Robert Biggs, who had written him a letter saying he “felt from your recent speeches the feeling of hedging and a little uncertainty. We wait for someone to speak for us and back him completely if the statement is made in truth.” Eisenhower could have tossed Biggs’s missive in the heap of unread letters his secretary discarded each day, or he could have allowed a perfunctory and canned response, but he was eager for an opportunity to expound on his vision of the open society. “I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed,” Eisenhower wrote Biggs on February 10, 1959. “Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.” The president then opined that free societies do not necessarily perpetuate freedom; many citizens would be far more comfortable under a structure that provides rigid order and certainty about all aspects of life. “The mental stress and burden which this form of government imposes has been particularly well recognized in a little book about which I have spoken on several occasions,” Eisenhower wrote. “It is ‘The True Believer,’ by Eric Hoffer; you might find it of interest. In it, he points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems—freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” Eisenhower’s tone was one of humility and responsibility. He blamed himself for “purely an error of an expression” if his purposes were misunderstood. And he pointed out that fears of national security during the Cold War were distorted and exploited for political advantage. “It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness except as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.” Eisenhower closed his letter praising the dying man for his “fortitude in pondering these problems despite your deep personal adversity.” He made no reference to God. Hoffer seemed the most unlikely of figures to influence the president. A self-educated itinerant worker, Hoffer toiled on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, earning the nickname “the stevedore-philosopher” for the voracious reading and writing he did away from the job. On the docks, Hoffer encountered droves of tramps drifting in search of work. When the Great Depression set in, some of the most bedraggled misfits he knew morphed suddenly into loyal foot soldiers for strikes led by militant longshoreman union leader Harry Bridges and his allies in the Communist Party. At the same time, when Hoffer looked across the ocean to Germany, he saw a revolution led by failed artists and frustrated intellectuals stirring the rabble with dreams of a transcendent dictatorial order. Hoffer’s experiences at this historical fulcrum provided the basis for his seminal work The True Believer, published in 1951. “A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises,” he wrote, “but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence.” The true believer was at his core an ineffectual man with no capacity for self-fulfillment. Only the drama provided by a mass movement gave him purpose. “Faith in a holy cause,” Hoffer wrote, “is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” Hoffer’s analysis of the political fanatic earned him national cult status, gaining the approval not only of Eisenhower but also of serious intellectuals such as the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Hoffer’s analysis, however, was limited for the same reason it resonated so widely. By positioning himself as a non-ideological voice of the American everyman, the ultimate individual standing alone against a rising tide of extremism, Hoffer conflated the underlying motives of all mass movements together. According to Hoffer, fascists, Communists, black nationalists, fanatical “Mohammedans,” and Southern racists equally shared an extreme sensibility, and therefore he insisted, “All mass movements are interchangeable.” But were they really?

I found myself almost gagging at what I was reading, at least as I saw what was described at the RNC event... Why? It was back in the 1970s, when I got to know David Temple, who was chair of the West Virginia University Department of Political Science at that time. During a discussion about candidates for an upcoming election, Temple was critical of someone--who is no longer important--but, for me, I learned something that day. He said that, if somebody chooses to run for public office, we should expect that individual to be above what the normal individual is about. In character, expertise and experience... Now, my mind reflected on what was happening in this present time when the same party is trying to erase/change the history of America... As recently as this week, one of the candidates for the presidency fumbled, trying to explain away the truth of slavery!

You know folks, I have a hard time understanding the, seemingly, bureaucratic nonsense of the legal system these days. There is only one way to see what is happening in America. First, one party planned for and executed an insurrection against the government of the United States. Anybody who wanted to know about it can see video after video of what happened and, further, the investigation held by Congress in which they verified all that had happened. But that is not enough...

As long as individuals are able to lie, attempt to reframe reality, based upon "Free Speech," then the public is forced to deal with the mountain of lies and disinformation that is spewed by the republican party and, specifically, the former president. Yet, everybody claims that it will have to take the "highest court" to settle the same time that at least two of the Supreme Court Justices are being investigated and have been found to be not following procedure in reporting income (from rich benefactors)!!

Blumenthal begins his historical analysis by going back to 1915 when a man named Rushdoony entered the clergy as a minister in the ultraconservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church and immediately began mapping out a system to restore purity and order to the fallen world Rushdoony invoked the apostle Paul’s defiance of civil court authority. “Don’t go to the civil courts,” Rushdoony said. “They’re ungodly. Create your own courts...”

Moving on to the 1950s when McCarthy created the "red scare" where politicians in the opposing party were accused of being communists... By 1961, the John Birch Society had taken over parts of the party... using tactics such as "Cells were deployed for acts of harassment and disruption that included sending to members of Congress postcards detailing a supposed Communist plot to erect a “Negro Soviet Republic” in the South, infiltrating ACLU meetings to shout down perceived Communist sympathizers..."

In the 1960s we learn of Francis Schaeffer who realized too late that a monster had been created... His son, Frank Schaeffer, a prolific speaker against the acts of the republicans today, found his father sobbing, a young man openly gay had together with his work converted to Christianity. That man had been murdered by "homophobic thugs." Schaeffer lamented to his son that he wished he had been there and that the man would have been saved from the monsters who hated--hated anybody who was different... hated, rather than loved... as Christ, himself requested that we do as his followers...

As you are seeing, the tone of what was found by the writer is stark, dismal, and certainly not about God's Love... I'll leave you with a quote:
The Politics of Guilt and Pity, in which the theologian mocked wealthy liberals. “The guilty rich will indulge in philanthropy, and the guilty white men will show ‘love’ and ‘concern’ for Negroes and other such persons who are in actuality repulsive and intolerable to them,” Rushdoony wrote. Ahmanson read avidly, as though Rushdoony were describing his own life. Still, Ahmanson did not yet convert to Reconstructionist theology, and he gave no indication that he shared Rushdoony’s racism. But through Rushdoony’s scathing critique of “the guilty rich,” he began to release himself from the burden of responsibility to carry on his father’s legacy. 

The book proceeds on covering many of the issues that have been covered in other books; e.g., the control placed on families by James Dobson and the Family Research Council during the 2007 election... From the point of time first investigated by Blumenthal in 1915, we are forced to watch and wonder what is next as each year the level of fear and violence that is both instigated and then commended moves higher than it has ever been. Blumenthal speaks of one of our most respected presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, who saw what was happening. Even then, sleight-of-hand tactics were used to publicly correct the problem at that time... What happened to the ability to disagree, speak truthfully, negotiate, and then come to a consensus for the good of our country?

Bottom line is the fact that the book is a well-researched documentary regarding the behind the scenes evolution of the Republican Party that has come to use religion and stories from ancient times well before the coming of Christ, as religious people worked behind the scenes to have him killed...

It is not difficult to merge the reported findings from Blumenthal, Shaeffer, or the author of The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory. Each of these individuals see through what is being manipulated by public and religious leaders alike who have one purpose only. The claim is that they want to have religious freedom for Christians??? I already have that as do many others, right? See, the key thing is that they want to, as did those who created The Inquisition hundreds of years ago...and the Crusades even further back... and, of course, the Holocaust, even though that was more of an overt political action as opposed to the previous two. When those who claim to be acting on behalf of God lie, cheat, incite violence, and more...then, we must begin to speak out even more than is being done by writers... We need to share documentation, videos and present the facts, as appropriate. Certainly not in some attempt to force Christianity as a national religion. What we see now happening is no different that what has been tried in the past. It will not succeed... The question is, just how much damage to the faith in Jesus will be done for we who know the Truth, yet see Truth being ignored?

God Bless


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