Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

By W.D. Noble

The Puppet-Masters

With the health-care debate entering a new phase due to the passage of the bill, the Right – as led by the Republican party – has, in turn, raised the twin-standard of misguided patriotism and religion on-high. Last month, the online political magazine DailyKos released the results of an independent poll of some 2,000 self-identified Republicans. The results were shocking in the extreme to every one of my Progressive/moderate friends –  but not to me.

The Daily Beast’s John Avlon discusses a similar poll in an article released this week – this one was conducted by Harris Group at the height of the health-care debate last week (again, over 2,000 people with a margin of error that’s plus-or-minus 2%) – and the results are the same. Again, they were no surprise.

In prior articles here, I’ve pointed out the dangers of the Republican party and its bedfellow, extremist Christianity – not the party I remember from the days when my parents were both members, and the concepts of Eisenhower conservatism still held sway – not even the party of Richard Nixon, which, while Nixon himself was corrupt, also gave us the EPA and the first glimmers of the concept of national health care.

I’m speaking of a Republican party which has been co-opted by the extreme religious right – a party which is controlled not by reasonable people, but by religious puppet-masters, accountable only to their notion of ‘god’.

Both the Kos poll and its followup as reported by Avlon underscore this issue well. Some of the results are here:

What should leap out at you from these partial results is the overt racism and homophobia of the respondents – plus the 23% who believe their state should secede from the Federal union outright.

It gets worse.

Fully 67% believe that the ‘only way to “heaven” is through Jesus’. 77% believe that the Christian/creationist view of the beginning of the universe as explained in the book of Genesis is the only view which should be taught in public schools.

57% of Republicans (32% of Americans; overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim. 45% (25%; overall) believe that the Birthers are right – Obama isn’t even a citizen. 38% of Republicans (20%; overall) believe that “Obama is doing the same things Hitler did.”

Scariest of all is this — 24% of Republicans – and 14% of Americans, overall – believe that Obama is the ‘antichrist’.

Put another way – while it’s possible to be a conservative Christian without being a Republican, it’s impossible now to be a Republican without being a conservative Christian – and being an extremist Fundamentalist/Dominionist is even better.

Not Your Backyard Tea Party

The Tea Party, fresh from a convention which featured input from Eagle Forum (Phyllis Schlafly’s organization, which has advocated “family friendly” actions such as rolling back Roe v. Wade; making the Ten Commandments an integral part of American law, and establishing ‘border security’ to prevent ‘third world diseases’ from entering the United States), and VisionAmerica (which seeks to politicize religion across the country through the efforts of extremist pastors nationwide), didn’t waste time telling the nation last month that they were (in the words of keynote speaker Sarah Palin) the “keepers of conservative values and good works.”

The Tea Party movement is now viral. With nearly 80% of Americans self-identifying as ‘Christian’, this is a huge power base from which to draw – and with their philosophy being based on ‘god’ and money, they are drawing support from some of America’s wealthiest Conservatives.

Combining a religious core – with arguments impossible to counter by reason and logic – and a wealthy power base which is all too willing to contribute because the core is literally preaching a gospel of ‘prosperity’ to those who serve “god” (read: ‘take the country back for Jesus and the conservatives and “god” will bless you, financially’) – and you have the makings for a genuine theocracy.

It would be easy to dismiss them as insane – they take orders from an Imaginary Friend who tells them to take over a political party, then a country, all in ‘His’ name – then begin disenfranchising large numbers of its citizens from their basic human and civil rights in a religious orgy of ‘purification’.

We dismiss them, however, at our peril.

Health Care and the Republicans

Nothing has driven the Republicans into the arms of the extreme Right more than the issue of health care.

The last poll taken prior to this week’s vote was too close to call – literally, within the margin of error. Americans are divided – polarized; even – over the concept of health care reform. The defeat earlier this week of the Republican agenda, however, is far from a victory for Obama and the progressives.

“We need to defeat these bastards,” said Rush Limbaugh on the passage of the health-care bill. “We need to wipe them out.” This rhetoric is echoed by most of the mainstay conservative pundits.

The second tier is just as vitriolic, if reflective of their lack of education. “This is an ‘ism,’ ” said John Gambling of WOR radio in New York City. “Communism, socialism, fascism, whatever you call it, that’s not what this country was designed to be.” No one contacted Mr. Gambling to inform him of the fact that the three ideologies he mentioned are vastly different things, with different governmental systems, goals, and outcomes.

Such technicalities are not of much concern to the average ‘hatriot’ (a word coined by Avlon in his book, “Wingnuts – How The Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America”). In point of fact, a lack of education in general seems to be a prerequisite for belief in conservative wingnuttery – the same Harris poll quoted earlier found that ‘…education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped. It’s a reminder of what the 19th-century educator Horace Mann once too-loftily said: “Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge.“….’

While the White House is clearly not worried about such challenges (Article I; Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution allows for Congress to pass legislation which, among other things, provides for the ‘general welfare’ of the United States and its citizens), this isn’t stopping at least sixteen state attorneys-general from filing lawsuits against the passage of the health-care bill, citing failure to fund the program and the requirement that citizens begin purchasing their health care starting in 2014, or face an IRS surcharge.

The Tea Partiers? They’re behind these efforts – along with anything else which might serve the New Republican Agenda.

The agenda? It’s working itself out – in a process eerily similar to the beginnings of revolution.


Republican Gomorrah – Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party” – (Max Blumenthal; Nation Books – 2009)

Kingdom Coming – The Rise of Christian Nationalism” – (Michelle Goldberg; W.W. Norton & Co.; 2007)

Health Care Reform – The Tea Party Goes To Court – (Andrew Cohen; Atlantic Magazine – March 23rd, 2010)

Is Health Care Reform Constitutional? – (Randy Barnett; Washington Post – March 21st; 2010)

Republicans Push Health Care Repeal – (Andy Barr; Politico Magazine – March 22nd, 2010)

Health Care Bill Passage Triggers Eruption From Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and John Gambling – (David Hinckley; N.Y. Daily News – March 22nd, 2010)

Tea Party Convention’s Racial Brouhaha: Obama Won Because Jim Crow-Era Law Not On Books – (Brian Kates; N.Y. Daily News – Feburary 5th, 2010)

Five Lessons From The Tea Party Convention – (Jay Newton-Small; Time Magazine – February 8th, 2010)

VisionAmerica – (Website)

Eagle Forum – (Website)

Morning Feature: The Tea Party and the GOP Are A Religious Movement – (N. Crissie; DailyKos – Feburary 4th, 2010)

Scary New GOP Poll – Harris Poll Reveals Republican Attitudes About Obama; Health Care – (John Avlon; The Daily Beast – March 24th, 2010)

By astranavigo

Astra is one of the clever monkeys occupying space on the Third Planet From The Sun. While it was an early wish of Astra's to be one of the first to go to Proxima Centauri, he knows this is not to be; instead, you can find him here (some of the time) using simple tools to create communication. Holding up a mirror and saying 'Looky! Mistofer Emperor! Y'ain't wearin' no clothes!" is but one of the services he provides here. Others are subverting prevailing wisdom, peeing in people's Cheerios, trashing on their Imaginary Friends (he does this a lot,) and shifting paradigms without benefit of a clutch. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he'll never have to learn the true meaning of some of his dystopian fiction.

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18 thoughts on “After The Health Care Debacle – What Now For the Republicans?”
  1. I read the Harris poll and then re-read it and couldn’t absorb what I had just read … I mean, I understood it but how the hell did we get to this place. I really do believe that there is a small group of rich conservatives, who have regular meetings, who are actually trying to turn America into the christian IRAN. Same religious control and of course, the added benefit of controlling commerce and then targeting whom to starve or just kill .. I read a book on the history of the 20th century conservative movement, all religious based with some radical business owners who have been working towards this since the early 1900’s. There was also a fiction book about conservative business, targeting the courts as a long range plan to control where America was heading .. when I read it it seemed far fetched, but maybe not … the picture at the top of the page, that man should have been arrested. The Republican party knows no compromise, they are jihadists now with only one goal, to make America a religious state with no freedoms for anyone but the “chosen” few. We are in big trouble because reason is no longer a strategy that can work … thanks !!

  2. I enjoyed reading what you wrote, if my answer doesn’t make sense, Grainne will explain what I meant to say … al the writers on this great site are way too smart for me … I am out of my league here .. but like to have a say none-the-less.

  3. Rich – while I don’t follow or support conspiracy-theories and the like in general (the scarier thing, to me, is that human-nature is repeating itself — no one is in charge, and sooner or later power – the real kind – will lie in the streets), you make a couple of germane statements.

    First, there IS a ‘ruling class’ here in America, and they have squat to do with the political parties. Jeff Sharlet’s book, “The Family” brings this out – in point of fact, religious conservatism chased the coattails of power, and now they are in a position to speak for that power. I’ve long maintained that while you can get a person to fight for a cause, you can’t get them to die for one unless they believe they’ll go to a better place.

    It’s not that the ruling-class is going to do any dying for any causes – they’re going to be the bank behind the group which organizes the fodder. Looking back through human history, you’ll find that while it’s not always been this way, things have turned out that way such a preponderance of times that it’s the way to bet.

    Second, you’ve made a comparison which is now being made with more frequency – the fact that the extremist Christians in America are really not much different than the extremist Muslims in their own countries. An hour or so of casual research and reading will bring so many substantive parallels between the two that it would be very hard not to reach the conclusion that they are philosophically, morally, and ethically the same, and that the current conflicts in which we’re engaged up to the hatband are more religious than political in scope.

    We should pause at this point and realize that the concept of ‘god’ does, indeed, bring comfort and solace to many, and that for most religious people, their belief is just that – a source of personal solace. The extremists on either side number around 20%.

    Now – that said, we should remember that Lenin and Hitler took over their respective countries with a core-cadre of around 5%.

    This is why these people are so dangerous – because they exercise influence disproportionate to their numbers, and they are very well organized.

    Connecting the dots here isn’t hard, especially if you’ve a rather-dispassionate knowledge of history. These are the kind of people who gave us National Socialist Germany (complete with “Gott Mit Uns” on the army’s belt-buckles); they gave us Joan of Arc, extra-crispy; the Inquisition, and about a dozen-odd other atrocities which we could easily remember over a cold beer.

    If these people manage to cross any metaphorical Rubicon, we’ll be in the position of other docile peoples throughout history who’ll say, “But – but – but — it just couldn’t happen here!!

    As I’m fond of saying — sleep well….


  4. Is John Gambling ready to re-design Webster’s dictionary? With all the isms he’s so adverse to, will “capitalism” be dropped from his vocabulary or will it just be replaced with the phrase, “free enterprise”? What about “conservatism”? I would think that was a dirty word also, since it’s often linked with environmentalism. With all these changes, it seems the word “republicanism” has just marched right out the door.

    Media exploitation has generated this state of affairs. Not that the media had any partiality in what it covered; but it wanted news; big news, small news, any news at all that would attract viewers. After satiating themselves with the invasions of private homes, capturing the scandalous lives of celebrities, there was very little scrap material left for their reality shows except doomsday prophets. Ah, the shocking exaltation one must feels who assumes at first we’re trapped in an endless spiral of debt and poverty, only to discover there’s a way to true material prosperity by preparing the throne for God on Earth. Yeah, i believe history has repeated itself a few other times in that aspect as well, generally leading to an aristocracy of entitlement.

  5. “Media exploitation has generated this state of affairs….”

    Karla, while I’d like to agree with you (it would be neat and tidy to have one boogeyman to blame), art follows life, not the other way around.

    This problem has been brewing for years – the Neoconservative movement has a broad base of appeal with a core of (mainly religious) rabid proponents.

    The dirty secret is that they’re poorly educated (due to a variety of reasons), have a correspondingly narrow worldview, and as a result are much more prone to believe the likes of a World Net Daily than a New York Daily News.

    Poor education, combined with a misguided patriotism and a rabid, politicized/weaponized religiosity have created a New American – the antithesis of the rebellious teenager, this people are in their thirties through their fifties, they have assets which they are not shy about spending for The Cause, they have focus, they’re angry, and they really believe the phrase, “By Any Means Necessary.”

    Makes tattoos, piercings and pink hair look benign.

    “Ah, the shocking exaltation one must feels who assumes at first we’re trapped in an endless spiral of debt and poverty, only to discover there’s a way to true material prosperity by preparing the throne for God on Earth.”

    You are beyond right here, Karla. As I’ve said many times before, it’s possible to get someone to fight in a cause with words and ideas, but a person’s not willing to die for it unless they believe they’re going to live forever in a Better Place.

    These folks have gone us all One Better – they’re going to bring about their ‘god’s’ plan right here; right now – and the benefits are amazing. All of the Christian Reconstruction books are chock-full of this premise, and they appeal to people who believe not only in this new ‘imago of a psychopathic god’ (to quote Auden), but in the blueprint they believe this god has created for America.

    This is an argument which is impossible to counter with reason and logic. No amount of media can create this; the support for this mindset was born in the border-ridings of England and brought here before the Revolution; the fires were fanned during the First and Second Great Awakening, along with a good strong dose of old-fashioned Calvinism.

    What we’re going to have to admit is that while we’re dealing with a philosophical belief which is, by most sane standards perverted, we’re also dealing with one which has nearly four hundred years of history; cannot be refuted with reason or logic, has broad appeal, and which will lead America absolutely, completely and utterly over the cliff in a political Lemming-migration of Brobdingnagian proportions.

    Our response must be equal to the challenge, or we’re going to lose.


  6. I was being flippant with my media crack, but not completely. What has always been a background noise of religious fervor, has been brought to the forefront. The only was this can be accomplished among an educated people, is to push media propaganda. When you have Christian fanatics occupying major news spots and prime time television, you have a subliminal message that there must be some credibility to what they have to say, or they wouldn’t be on major networks. Hitler cranked up his rise to power through media stunts; scattering flyers from airplanes, parachuting into crowds with the cameras rolling, dominating the press. People mimic what they see as the prevailing attitudes. When it was no longer popular to be racist, those who were, couched the behavior and language to hide their prevailing racist thoughts. When hippies became a popular cult, everyone jumped on the band wagon. Their sincerity in who they were was only a reflection of what the media said was vogue. That’s why they are called mainstream. They simply go with the popular notion.

    I think one reason so many people are clinging to their new found Christian Right religion is because of an overall impression that globally, civilization is about to collapse. End of the world predictions have always been with us, but with the invention of the atom bomb and the intellectual understanding of nuclear power, eminent doom became a very real possibility. Add in a bit of earth history, environmental studies and a general knowledge of the political climate, and the anxiety increases.

    Sure believing you’ll be saved because you’re on the right religious path is comfortable; as comfortable as becoming an alcoholic so you don’t have to face your personal issues. But i’ll wager a year’s salary that the Christian kid fighting in Iraq will have no greater a chance of survival than the young Muslim kid he’s shooting at.

    On the health care issue, however, the most foolish thing the crafts people of the bill could have done was leave in the clause “mandatory insurance”. The bill immediately became unpalatable for many Americans because they’ve already seen the effects of mandatory insurance for vehicles and home owners. It’s the insurance companies that most closely need to be targeted, yet they’re being cut in for the largest slice of pie.

  7. “The bill immediately became unpalatable for many Americans because they’ve already seen the effects of mandatory insurance for vehicles and home owners. It’s the insurance companies that most closely need to be targeted, yet they’re being cut in for the largest slice of pie.”

    This is why I’m still on the fence as to its overall value.

    Forcing people to buy something only makes criminals out of honest people. In the end, this bill solves the problem for people to whom Obama wanted to pander — something he’s proven he’s very good at doing.

  8. A little OT here-
    The picture speaks so very clearly, the mind~set of the extreme. Misrepresenting fear for the few that will cower from it.

  9. Oops.
    That wasn’t a spear at the photo the author has used either.
    it is a sad fact.

  10. Anna, I get your point. It IS a sad thing – because the people who are acting this way are acting out of ignorance, which, along with its handmaiden, unreasoned fear, are perhaps the scariest things in the world.


  11. [quote=Karlsie]On the health care issue, however, the most foolish thing the crafts people of the bill could have done was leave in the clause “mandatory insurance”. The bill immediately became unpalatable for many Americans because they’ve already seen the effects of mandatory insurance for vehicles and home owners. It’s the insurance companies that most closely need to be targeted, yet they’re being cut in for the largest slice of pie[/quote]

    I just *knew* that something like this would happen – thus the reason I was opposed to the bill in the first place! You see, government doesn’t look out for the benefit of the common person but rather the benefit of the special interests they are allied with: I’ll admit that the health care situation here wasn’t pretty before, but government *never* makes things any better – it only redirects rotten situations to benefit the political class and the social elite that give them funding.

    There’s no situation so terrible that a bunch of politicals can’t fuck it up even more…

  12. The Republicans need to get right with God! First the Republicans wanted to give Obama his Waterloo defeat over healthcare but instead they gave themselves their own Waterloo defeat by not participating in the debate of ideas and by becoming the party of obstructionist. Waterloo defeat refers of course to the defeat at Waterloo put an end to Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French and was the culminating battle of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon’s last. Republicans get right with God or get ready for future losses and Rush Limbaugh I real hope you enjoy your new home Costa Rica!

    Answer to your question is no, its in their nature, just like it was for republican Senator Larry Craig (ID) and republican Senator Roy Ashburn (CA) to act out their nature.

  13. Will, we’ve talked before about the splintered society. While the Republican party is receiving its death blows; the once illustrious party of the upper middle class whit-color worker, now the watering hole for inspired Christian; The coffin nails on the Democratic Party are also being nailed shut. All it would have taken for Obama to win back the support of his Constituents was to leave mandatory health insurance out of the health care package. Instead, he succumbed to greed; for the second time. The fractures have become an earthquake zone. I don’t think his tenure will end peaceably.

  14. Karla, while the Republican and Democratic parties we grew up with have, indeed, destroyed themselves, they’ve been rebuilt – the Republicans with a brand-new image based on a good dose of right-wing religious extremism, and the Dems with a good dose of ‘too polite to fight’ and ‘compromise before standards’.

    Whether any of us like it or not, we’re in a new era – it will take much more than we’ve endured thus far to effect real change; remember that in France, the currency had to collapse entirely before the citoyens marched on the Bastille.

    Blumenthal’s book, “Republican Gomorrah” paints a dark and scary picture of the present Republican party and its new goals. It’s a mistake to rule them out as wingnuts.

    Obama? He’s pandered to several groups in their turn and brought about no real consensus because he’s perceived as weak. The elections this November will be an asswhuppin’ of (dare I say it?) Biblical proportions; the Republicans will justify the change made in their party, because they are focused and working toward a very serious goal; the classic Liberal establishment simply does not take them seriously enough – and the result, as you pointed out so well, will not be peaceable nor pretty.

  15. [quote=Karlsie]All it would have taken for Obama to win back the support of his Constituents was to leave mandatory health insurance out of the health care package. Instead, he succumbed to greed; for the second time. The fractures have become an earthquake zone. I don’t think his tenure will end peaceably.[/quote]

    But if he *had* left out that portion he would have failed is *real* constituents – the special interest groups that fund the campaigns of the political class. He succumbed to greed because he, just like every other bastard in Washington, is *greedy* for the cash that the lobbyists connect them with.

    Will his tenure as president end after this term? Probably. But it won’t mean jack shit as he will be replaced by yet another political that hungers for cash and power…

  16. Our major issue in this country is our two political parties. Our forefathers knew that a two party system would be our downfall and took steps to try to stop this type of politics, and thus anyone who seriously thinks that politics isn’t corrupt or slaves to Corporate America hasn’t not been paying attention. George Jr. will go down in History as one of the worst administrations in history and I could go on for hours showing why, but my point is that the Obama administration has offered nothing different (besides health reform, granted) and has in fact continued nearly every single Bush program. Obama has almost the same political donors and thus has the same pressures as Bush did. Health reform will turn out to be the most expensive and destructive waste of tax payer money ever. I just wish I could offer a better alternative for other frustrated people, but I can’t and those that think that the tea partiers are the future, remember that Sarah Palin is an important figure to them.

  17. Thanks. some greatinfo here, keep it up .I cannot really leave a more constructive commentas i’m a bit out of my depthbut I will be checkingback here for further updates.

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