Republicans are Assholes.

Democracy rests on the premise of an informed electorate.
When one political party dedicates itself to ignoring science in favour of mythology and bald-faced lies, and the media either gleefully repeats those lies or fails to call them out, instead playing ‘he said – she said” rather than doing their job, it ought to surprise no one that the American experiment has come to this: Paul Ryan is a budget wonk, Mike Lee is a Constitutional scholar, Joe Barton is the science maven, Louis Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann are not daily chased down the road by gangs of sane people swinging sticks with nails driven through them…and these ignorant, lying vandals, who commit treason against the very idea of a political commonwealth, are fully prepared to burn it all to the ground if their ignorant, hateful, contemptible and cruel “demands” are not met regardless of the will of the people.

Anti-Tax Stupidity

Some brainless cretins are sharing a list of specific taxes levied over the years, followed by this:
“THINK THIS IS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed 60 years ago, & our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had a large middle class, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.”

As if taxes are the reason for the shrinking middle class and the growing national debt. I fkn detest stupid people who forward stunningly myopic, shockingly ignorant tea-party anti-tax bullshit that fails to account for, oh….let’s see: That North America, in the wake of WWII, had absolutely NO manufacturing competition ANYWHERE ON THE FKN PLANET; had not just had the guts bombed out of its continental infrastructure; sent millions of men to college on the GI Bill; engaged a truly MASSIVE set of road and infrastructure projects…
That without regard for the various and sundry forms of levies enacted since those halcyon days, the top corporate tax rate was 35% and the top marginal personal rate for income was 90%. Now the same people who spread this anti-tax horseshit want the corporate rate eliminated completely and the personal rate cut to to something less than what Mitt Fucking Romney pays in a year he knows people are going to see his return.
That 60 fkn years ago, “Made in China” meant shitty plastic nesting dolls, not clothes, cars, computers and every-fkn-thing else.
That 60 fkn years ago, people could get a job in a factory in Cleveland and not worry that the equipment would be shipped to Indonesia next year.
That 60 fkn years ago we had half the population driving on new roads and being served by recently constructed infrastructure instead of double the population scaping by on crumbling roads and rotting infrastructure…not to mention unfunded middle eastern wars, massive tax cuts for the rich, corporate welfare, rising CEO salaries coupled with slashed worker benefits, lower pay packages, no job security and a rising cost of living.

Bumper sticker simpletons, without the basic tools for constructing a cogent thought, seem more than sufficiently supplied when paving over vast swaths of real problems with asphalt made of shit and sheer stupidity.

FISA Warrants

It’s worth noting that there are primarily two very different groups lighting their hair on fire and screaming off in all directions over the revelation that the security apparatus created pursuant to the Patriot Act is compiling a database directly from the servers of all major communication companies: The paranoid right wing conspiracy idiots who think Alex Jones is a prophet, and arrogant Liberals who smugly assert that anyone who disagrees with Glen Greenwald is a fucking Obot traitor slightly more evil than the bastard spawn of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.
Whenever these two gangs of assholes come together, one is well served by shooting one’s reflexes full of something potent and giving the matter closer consideration.

The depth and breadth of the collected data reminds one of that TV commercial for some video-on-demand service: a weary traveler checks into a motel and asks, “Do you have cable?”
The clerk replies, “We have every movie ever made, in any language, ever.”
The man looks perplexed. “How is that even possible?”
Oh, it’s possible, Toto. It’s possible and they’ve been at it for some time. Every phone call, every email, every tweet…all of it is logged and turned over to the government. There is an important distinction here, and I will return to it later: The fact of the call is logged, the content is not. More specifically, the source of the communication (ISP, phone number, twitter handle), the recipient (email address, phone number…) and the date/time of the communication is logged. The specific content of the communication (at least pursuant to this particular warrant and this particular program – PRISM) is not.
This is emphatically NOT to suggest that there are not other covert operations under the auspices of the NSA that ARE pulling message content out of the ether for analysis. Project Echelon has been public knowledge for some time. It employs supercomputers to analyze the content of electronic communications looking for specific keywords, and flags those for closer examination. If you send an email to your sister telling her, “Jimmy really bombed in the school play,” the proximity of the word “Bomb” to the word “School” will probably result in some junior G-Man having a peek at you.
If you turn out to be a suburban housewife from Maine, they probably won’t dig any deeper. If you turn out to be a Saudi exchange student studying chemical engineering, they may very well look a little deeper. I’ll come back to this, later, too.

To those convinced that the government has already crossed the line into tyranny (and especially since the Kenyan Usurper began his plot to turn America into a communist, fascist, secular Muslim drug orgy), this “revelation” is all the proof they need. They never needed any before, but now that they have something at which to point while they sputter their paranoid fantasies, they feel vindicated.
They were unreasonable idiots to begin with, and they’re still unreasonable idiots. They’re just more convinced, if such a thing is possible.

But let’s break this down into manageable pieces. The first screaming point of the unhinged left is the alleged invasion of privacy, so let’s examine this in some detail.
Years ago (and I mean many years ago), I was offered a client card by my regular supermarket. Each time I went through the checkout, they would swipe the card and I would accumulate “points” useful for discounts, as well as air miles (which I never collected or used). Nevertheless, I soon began receiving offers from my supermarket chain for products that demonstrated a rather intense and particular knowledge of my lifestyle, habits and circumstances. They knew I had a dog (Science Diet); when my girlfriend was menstruating (Tampax); that she was on the pill (prescription filled at in-store pharmacy); that I bought environmentally considerate products; that I had thing for fish sticks; that I had no children (never bought school supplies); my preference for beer and liquor; the red meat unbalanced nature of my diet. They knew what size underwear and shoes I wear, what brand of deodorant I use, and a thousand other things that most people would consider none of their fucking business. Any information the government might possibly discern by knowing who I phone or email, and when, absolutely pales in comparison to the information my local supermarket was able to accumulate about the most “private” details of my life. So, the idea that this data grab pursuant to a FISA warrant is some sort of new, unheralded breach of anyone’s privacy is ludicrous. Compared to what corporate America already has on you, the government is playing fucking catch-up.

The big knob on which the unhinged right seems to want to gnaw is that this amounts to some sort of investigation in which each and every citizen of the United States is, without any form of reasonable or probable cause, the subject; that the government is now using this data from the dot.coms and the Ma Bells to go after anyone it deems troublesome, or just to generally troll with a massively over broad net looking for evidence of wrongdoing. In a word, bullshit.
The government is not compiling a list of all of YOUR phone calls. They are compiling a database of EVERYONE’S phone calls. They don’t give a flying fuck that you called the HIV testing lab, then your doctor, and then your insurance company. They don’t care if you’re fucking around on your wife, calling in sick so you can play golf, or planning a surprise party with strippers for your brother-in-law.

When the next twisted jihadi freak show, or Minute Man militia asshole, or god-walloping abortion clinic bomber gets nabbed, the government will then have the ability to discover who the suspect was communicating with and when; who those people frequently call…and by virtue of accessing that information, better know where to devote their investigatory resources most effectively. This is precisely what we should WANT the government to be doing.
Is it open to abuse? Of course it is…and this is why there must be some form of oversight and control – to ensure that this data mining is not employed for improper purposes. But the data cat is well and truly out of the privacy bag. It is already being compiled, bought and sold and used in ways you cannot imagine and probably wouldn’t like very much. The only question now is how are we going to ensure that the collected data is not misused. Well…misused in ways that might be more troublesome than your local Whole Foods knowing your wife’s due date and that your daughter has herpes.

In the Wake of The Boston Bombing

Media is flying with wild speculation about the Tsarnaev brothers. Someone posted some links on FB (reproduced below), supposedly in support of various conspiracy theories. I reproduce my response here:

-snip-

Not sure what you mean when you use the word “verified”.

The Salon bit is good. I don’t think you read it. It has nothing to do with anything else you posted, or it debunks most of the other things you posted…or, at least, provides a convincing argument that many of them are the rantings of a variety of stupid people. Good piece, though.

The Democracy Now interview is also good. It offers no evidence that there is any reason to suppose these two bombers were pawns of the FBI – in any way directed, controlled, incited, influenced or anything else.
The question of how the FBI goes about identifying and preventing terrorist attacks; the means they employ; the ways they may be argued to have engaged in entrapment in other cases is an interesting topic and says a lot about what America has become. In fact, the definition of entrapment was previously addressed in this thread.
In any case, the problem identified by the transcript is that the FBI is setting up innocent people to arrest for plots that don’t exist because the patsy is just some mentally ill individual… or gang of idiots. None of the investigations or arrests described in the interview involved anything that went beyond plotting and/or paying an informant. No bombs went off, no one was shot.
What appears to have transpired in Boston is not that. It’s beginning to look as though it’s just the opposite problem. The FBI missed one. They had a reason to look at this guy – they were ASKED to look at this guy. They LOOKED at this guy. And this guy and his brother blew up the Boston Marathon. They weren’t Saudis, or Yemenis, or Syrians or Lebanese or Egyptian. They weren’t from a place that American foreign policy was directly fkng over…they were from a place that Russian foreign policy had directly fkd over. They flew under the radar.
In any case, it certainly doesn’t even try to make the argument that this was some sort of false flag event.

The Global Research piece is similar to the Democracy Now piece. I agree that there should be no rush to scream RADICAL ISLAM! That is shallow, knee-jerk, often dangerously racist. Once again, it laments true cases where unstable individuals and bumbling idiots were led into ill-conceived plots that did not happen. And that these cases grew out of sending agents provocateurs into Muslim communities to troll for and incite victims.
One supposes the implication here is, at least in principle, to lend credence to the idea that we ought not dismiss allegations that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was such an agent, or under the direction and influence of such an agent.
The only evidence for THAT is the word of the mother, which amounts to little more than a confirmation of the timeline already presented by the FBI, all the facts as we know them, and wild speculation for which there is no evidence, and about which the Global Research article makes no claims.

The MotherJones article only restates what the FBI has already said – they looked at Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the request of a foreign government. They didn’t find anything. The mother’s aforementioned wild speculation, for which there is no evidence beyond her word, is formed into a question and used as the headline for the bit. I find it unsurprising the any news website would publish such a piece, but it doesn’t “verify” anything…well, except that his mother said something.

The photo you posted that reads “Most obvious false flag yet” is pure Alex Jones. There’s never a need to deconstruct Alex Jones. You just have suppose he’s right and it falls apart under its own weight. You previously posted a list of questions in this thread. Perhaps you missed the response.

____

1. why would guilty individuals stay home and wait to be caught?

Because they’re not very experienced at this sort of thing; thought they would never be ID’d / caught. They were barely out of high school, with no military training or criminal backgrounds. Idiots get caught.

2. how did the cops catch em so fast if they didnt know who they were looking for to begin with

Surveillance cameras and a shitload of man hours. Witnesses (including one who lost both his legs) saw them drop the bags and walk away. Photos were released, suspects were identified. After that, it was only a matter of time.

3. suspects mom claims FBI had been watching son for about 3 yrs, since he became religious. how could someone under surveillance pull off such an attack?

What the suspect’s mother says is not a very credible source. “Under surveillance”? There’s no remotely reasonable basis to make that claim.

4. witnesses report bomb drills in athletes village b4 attack

Alex Jones ALLEGES that that there are witnesses who say that. The only person I’ve heard SAY that is Alex Jones. Not credible.

5. search for images of men in cams, with huge backpacks and hats with Craft Int. or Seal team logo on it, watching the whole thing go down calmly…

More Alex Jones.

6. more than half of US terrorism cases have involved entrapment, usualy by FBI, who even admit in court to supplying potential terrorists with bombs/weapons (ie. the fbi plans it, finds someone stupid enuf to do it, then busts them)…

Two competing tests exist for determining whether entrapment has taken place, known as the “subjective” and “objective” tests. The “subjective” test looks at the defendant’s state of mind; entrapment can be claimed if the defendant had no “predisposition” to commit the crime. The “objective” test looks instead at the government’s conduct; entrapment occurs when the actions of government officers would have caused a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.
Providing someone with materials is not entrapment. If someone approaches an undercover agent asking to get hold of explosives, and the agent provides materials to the suspect, that is not entrapment. Further, if an agent approaches someone and says, “Hey…I have a bunch of explosives. Do you want to blow up a government building?” and the suspect responds, “Fk yeah! Give me the bombs!” THAT ain’t entrapment. It is only entrapment if the suspect would not have engaged in criminal behaviour BUT FOR the actions of the government. Cooking up a plot and waiting to see who wants to play does not qualify.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that either of these brothers had any contact with any government agents whatsoever in relation to planning or executing the bombing, or the subsequent running gun battles throughout large chunks of MA.

7. always easier to see a false flag after the event when you find out its objective–there always is one: see if the govt uses this attack as an excuse to: increase security, station active troops on US soil (already happening), us drones in the US (already happening), attack or assassinate someone they blame for being involved in the attack (like they did in yemen after the underwear bomber) or start another war…

If these things – troops operating domestically, drones operating domestically, and killing “enemy combatants” (even American citizens so deemed) in foreign countries – are already happening, why would anyone need a false flag operation in order to do them?
Start another war? With whom? Chechnya? I don’t generally care to quote Paul Fucking Wolfowitz in order to make an argument that has nothing to do with seeing that treasonous piece of shit indicted for war crimes, but there REALLY aren’t any targets in Chechnya.

I would add one small comment to the discussion of entrapment. When an agent of the government provides explosives to someone who is of a mind to use them…it is still NOT entrapment. It does, however, demonstrate a serious lack of good judgment. It would support the argument that the government thus becomes a co-conspirator, but it is not entrapment, per se, if the “patsy” possessed a guilty mind.

Where Tamerlan Tsarnaev got the explosives he used will be a focus of the investigation. I consider the possibility that he got them from an agent of the government a literally incredible allegation.

Salon – How Boston exposes America’s dark post-9/11 bargain

Global Research -The Boston Bombings in Context: How the FBI Fosters, Funds and Equips American Terrorists

Global Research 2 – Mother Says Sons Are Innocent

Democracy Now – “Terrorists for the FBI:” How the FBI Uses Informants to Surveil and Entrap Americans

Mother Jones – Was the FBI Monitoring Boston Bombing Suspects for Years?

The Future of the GOP

Barring some hideous event that changes everything between now and Tuesday, it would appear that President Barack Obama will win a second term. This presumes that voting machines in Ohio haven’t been jiggered and Hispanics and blacks are permitted to vote, neither of which are entirely safe bets. Nevertheless, if Nate Silver turns out to be worth his effeminate weight in gold leaf, the GOP will have four more years to try and figure out how to get their vicious junkie hands back on the steering wheel. And there’s the rub.

A goodly chunk of the batshit mad Good Old Party will insist that Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough; that if only they’d had a real, bred-in-the-bone Tea Party, Guns, God and ‘Merca Conservative, why, it would have been a landslide.
A rather less crazed faction will, however, recognize that putting Michelle Bachmann on the top of the ticket would best serve one purpose – getting out the Democratic vote and driving every independent voter from the 49th parallel to the Rio Grande to join them. And in this factional divide lies the death of the Republican party. They have no candidate that can possibly win a Republican primary fight and then pivot to appeal to the general electorate. There is no such animal and they have no one to blame but themselves. This is the result of inviting racists, homophobes, Christo-facists, gun nuts, birthers and conspiracy theorists into the big tent; of using Fox News to lie and pander to the mouth breathing, ignorant pig people upon whom they have relied to win every election since Reagan…perhaps all the way back to Nixon.

Look at the slate of candidates they shuffled through in a desperate attempt not to nominate Mitt Romney, each of whom, at one point or another, led the pack and were destined to carry the Conservative banner: Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Perry. That’s not a political primary, it’s a confederacy of dunces!
Some begged for Sarah Palin. Others longed for Chris Christie, but after his praise for President Obama following hurricane Sandy, he’s going to be Excuse #1 why Romney lost and they’ll never forgive him for it. Given that the GOP has collectively managed to pretend that the entire Bush administration never happened, they’ll certainly be able to forget the self-inflicted, fully automatic gaffe strafing with which Mittens peppered himself.

So, who’s left…or rather, who’s right? Bobby Jindal? Tim Pawlenty? Marco Rubio? Jan Brewer? Orly Tate? Rush Limbaugh? Who could possibly be the ultra-Conservative golden child the crazed Republican freaks in tri-corner hats could support, and then make any serious effort at winning a general election?

If you thought this was a particularly strange presidential election, featuring an unprecedented degree of lies, twists and flips, brother…wait and see what rough beast slouches towards 2016.

There Are No Good Reasons to Vote Romney

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the Northeast US coast, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was effusive in his praise for the response of President Obama. Given that Christie has been one of Mitt Romney’s most staunch supporters, and in view of the utterly poisoned nature of American presidential politics, this came as something of a surprise. After all, Michael “Heckuva Job” Brownie – the Bush FEMA appointee who mangled the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans – had crawled out from under a rock to accuse the president of jumping the gun. This served to remind everyone of the stark difference between the incompetence of the previous administration and the steady hand of the current POTUS.

And what does Gov. Christie reap from his cohorts for the sin of saying something true; for not twisting reality in a partisan effort to score political points? The racist, homophobic, misogynistic blowhard Rush Limbaugh accused Christie of “Man love” for Obama, and Rupert Murdoch (he who employs phone hackers and Hannity) tweeted veiled threats that Christie better get back out there and endorse Romney without reservation.
Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani opined that the president, having overseen the response that prompted Christie’s praise, should still be on the ground in New York and New Jersey because people don’t have easy access to gasoline yet; that the president’s almost constant direct contact with state government, first responders and emergency coordinators would somehow be more effective if he were personally carrying gas cans door-to-door. And this serves to remind people of nothing so much as the desire of hacks like Giuliani to engage in dishonest slander no matter what reality might demand.

Sadly and pathetically, this is what the Republican party has become.
Is it not enough that they held the American – the GLOBAL – economy hostage over the debt ceiling, demanding that the Bush tax cuts be extended or they would burn it all to the ground?
Is it not enough that Mitt Romney is blatantly lying about…well, generally everything…but in these closing days, specifically about Jeep moving their production to China?…a claim that prompted the Vice President of the automaker to respond, “You’re full of shit!”
Is it not enough they want to repeal health care for 30 million citizens, cut food stamps, force women to carry to term pregnancies that result from rape, and start another war in the middle east?
Is it not enough that they want to return to the economic policies that permitted Wall St. bankers to profit while betting against the same ginned up financial products they were hawking as AAA-rated investments, bilking pensioners and municipalities out of billions?
Is it not enough that want to deny civil rights to gays, drum them out of the military, bust unions, fire teachers, deny 9/11 first responders health care, and cut benefits to the veterans they eagerly sent off to fight a bullshit war over lies and “American exceptionalism”?
Is it not enough that after ignoring hard intelligence that forewarned of the 9/11 attacks they now accuse the president of failing to provide aid to American diplomats in Benghazi, and do so in stark contradiction of the facts?
Is it not enough that, even in the wake of a devastating hurricane that the vast weight of scientific opinion indicates was tied to rising global temperatures, they insist on “Drill, baby, drill”, fracking, and demand a pipeline so they can suck up tar sand petroleum from Alberta while condescendingly scoffing at renewable energy investment?
Is it not enough that the average Republican voter is either an ignorant, illiterate racist buffoon who thinks President Obama is both stained by his attendance in Jeremiah Wright’s church AND a Muslim, a communist who is too friendly with the bankers, and intent on taking away their guns and religious freedom? No, they PANDER to these morons. They make ads specifically designed to stoke the fear and hatred that can only exist in the mind of people who don’t know what they’re talking about AND lack the foundation to understand even if you tried to explain.

You have complaints about President Obama’s first term? So do I. But I’m willing to bet half of the complaints you hear from people who seem certain are based on lies.
The one that pisses me off the most: “Gitmo is still open.”
It wouldn’t be but for Republican obstruction.
There are a few solid points for which Barack Obama may be well and truly taken to task, but if you’re going to criticize, at least have the sack to do so based on reality. There’s room: drone strikes, kill lists, not repealing the Patriot Act, not frog-marching half of Wall St. into court in handcuffs and sending them off to share a cell with Bernard Madoff.

But of one thing I am absolutely certain: The man who killed Osama bin Laden, rescued the global economy from total collapse, saved the auto-industry, extended health care to 30 million citizens, passed equal pay, repealed DADT, and managed to get both China and Russia to cooperate with crippling sanctions against Iran deserves a second term, especially when contrasted against the craven, mendacious, flip-flopping, 47%, no tax returns, Cayman Islands bullshit that is personified by the creepiest goddamn candidate since Richard Milhouse Nixon, and his lying little zombie-eyed granny starver Gilligan.

The next president of the United States will appoint at least one, perhaps as many as three, Supreme Court justices. If you have a vagina, or are gay, or have the slightest concern about dark money in electoral politics, or would like the right to bargain collectively, or might like a say in whether or not you will be pregnant…the choice is not only obvious, it’s no choice at all.
One would have thought the GOP could never find a candidate more appalling, more frightening, more utterly unqualified than Sarah Palin. One would have been wrong.

Any country that would permit a Mitt Romney candidacy ought to be embarrassed.
Any country that would elect a Mitt Romney will get exactly what they deserve.

Romney – Missionary Position

During the second debate with President Obama, Republican candidate Mitt Romney held forth on his faith in god:

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

Leave aside any altruistic notion of sleeping under mosquito nets, working on an irrigation project in the morning and teaching hungry children in the afternoon. Mitt did his missionary work in France. And he did it as a means to dodge service in Vietnam. ALL Mormons are required to spend two years in the missionary field – it was not really volunteerism at all. AND Mormon missionaries have but one goal: recruit people to join the patently ridiculous scam and cult that is the LDS. These are all true, and all very revealing about the character and mind of Mitt Romney, which in turn, says some very shallow and ugly things about America.

I take as a premise that those who make god claims are wrong. If there is to be such a word as god, then it is the god of Einstein and Spinoza. The Prime Mover, if there is one, has no preference for beef over lobster, and takes no notice if you don’t either. Those who claim that “god demands” anything have no way of knowing such things, and no evidence upon which any thinking person ought to take them seriously.
Anyone who relies on the bible, the torah, the koran, or Chicken Soup for the Soul as a basis for secular government (or in support of bigotry, oppression, misogyny, homophobia, child abuse…or to reject science) ought to be disqualified from running for office.
Sadly, almost the reverse is true. No one could hope to win the office of President of the United States without an avowed faith in Jesus. It is at least conceivable that a Jew might be able to pull it off (same Pater, but the lawyers are demanding DNA tests); a Mormon is making a run at it (again same Pater, but Filios does an encore show in Missouri), but you can forget about anyone who wears a turban or bows to Mecca five times a day. Religious faith is rampant in America, it is deeply felt, Jesus rides the big float, and no one gets to be POTUS by blatantly rejecting the sincerely held beliefs of the majority of voters. That these beliefs are rooted in a pastiche of obviously false myths full of morally repugnant and inherently contradictory foolishness is beside the political point.

Mormonism, in terms of its faith claims, is a special case. As utterly unlikely as it is that any set of religious claims might be true, Mormonism is yet even less likely.
Compare it to the beliefs of any garden variety evangelical Christian. There is a set of things that must be true if the Christian faith is to be objectively demonstrated as fact: The world and everything in it was created in six days, talking snake, virgin birth, resurrection, all the animals on the ark…there are plenty of other things, but that will do. It would seem long odds.
Mormonism also requires that all of these things be true, but there is long list of other things that must also be true. It may seem odd and pointless to graph a scale of how silly these additional god claims are – I mean, they’re being graphed against a talking snake! – but even so, the tenets of the Mormon faith are objectively weirder than chatty reptiles. That doesn’t matter, though…it is enough that there are additional claims – equally unlikely to be true – that form part of the LDS belief system. As a simple matter of logic, Mormonism is less likely to represent a set of true claims.

Mitt Romney spent two years in France, dodging the draft, and trying to persuade Parisians to tithe to the LDS.
I have some experience with the faithful, and with Mormons. Watching Mitt making his political pitch is exactly like listening to one of Salt Lake City’s intensely sincere young Elders try to sell you on the angel Moroni. That’s what’s so goddamn discomforting about it. You not only don’t believe a single word that’s coming out of their mouth, you wonder how in the name of buckyballs they can.
But they seem so sincere! And asking them a question – any question – only makes it worse. The circular logic, the avoidance, the insistent and incessant platitudes – nothing like a real answer. And it always comes back to, “Trust me. I KNOW how this works. What I say is true. I know how to make it all better. You just have to believe.”
If you ask them any sort of foundational question – about the golden plates, Joseph Smith, the posthumous baptism of Jews killed in the Holocaust, or the Mormon church’s funding of Prop 8, they get very impatient, with much repressed sarcasm invite you to attend a meeting, and move on the next potential voter.

There’s a goal. For the missionary, it’s converts. Mitt Romney is very used to selling things that are obviously untrue to people. He does so by insisting that they are true in the face of all reasonable evidence to the contrary. Everyone around him believes in these things…or they say they do…and being rich is proof of god’s blessing. Whether he actually believes those things, who can say? Perhaps not even Mitt. It doesn’t matter. If he does believe those things, he is a dangerous lunatic. If he doesn’t believe those things, he is a dangerous con artist.
But that desperate sales pitch…of a sort that makes one wonder just whom he’s trying to convert. He gets the approval of his masters in the church by pumping up the numbers, the group gains the confirmation of an increase in believers; more members, more money, more power…who cares if any of it is TRUE? This is the Romney campaign from stem to stern.

If you wonder if Mitt Romney is capable of separating his faith from his manner of governing, there’s your answer. His entire campaign is constructed in the same way he pitches membership in his cult. It doesn’t matter if what he says is factually accurate; if any of the underlying structure is congruent with reality. It’s the pitch. It’s TRUE damnit! I KNOW how things work. TRUST ME!
The tone, the impatience, the revealing words spoken behind closed doors – 47% of the people just aren’t going to accept the truth of Mormonism. Romney’s goal is to find those who can be converted. Asking him questions about his tax cuts, his health care plan, the loopholes – heaven forfend anyone should simply point out any of his many outright lies – results only in more boilerplate platitudes and pitch-line talking points. Salvation is yours if only you believe.

There are other ways contemporary American Conservatism behaves like a cult – from its cartoonish reliance on demonstrable falsehood to the vetting and shunning of anyone who doesn’t toe doctrinal lines, but it’s the sales pitch that has drawn my attention here – that deeply uncomfortable manner that emanates from Mitt Romney is understood in terms of his religious training. There’s something in it that reeks of Romney trying to convince himself of the platform on which he stands. Were he to take a critical look at the policies advocated by his cult, the entire substrate of his worldview would disappear like Moroni’s golden plates. It is necessary for Mitt to convert others – to chant Hare Krisha-like the trickle-down mantras – because, without their confirmation, the questions he can’t answer would be too loud to ignore.

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