CPAC Day 2 - Anarcho-Capitalism, Free Pizza, and the Queen of Conservatism
cross-posted from The Animals Blog; author Daniel Denvir is on assignment for AlterNet at CPAC
So many people are giving out so many beer cozies, especially the candidates for president that I have never heard of before—you know who you are. Note to the left: more beer cozies.
There were some things I wanted to say about Michelle Bachmann yesterday morning. But I’d rather describe the music that was playing before she took the stage.
It started with “Pump the Jams” and then, to be sure somewhat incongruously, YMCA, and then to Eminem saying “fuck”; and then someone else: “If you think it’s too loud, bitch, get the fuck out.” And then Biggie: “Hands up, mothafucka’, hands up!” A disturbed look on older people’s faces, intrigued nervous confused smirk on younger faces, as if their conservative elders would soon turn to them and say, “is this what you listen to??” I have no idea what that was all about.
There’s a guy in colonial garb with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag who regales cadets from maybe West Point over the history of his snake flag.
Another guy says, “My 10 year old son will think that’s cool.”
This is DC’s biggest convention center/hotel. And in some divine effort to make life more interesting for me, the Marriot booked a United Steelworkers political action conference at the same time. “I’ve never seen so many young people involved in a movement,” a wistful union-jacketed guy from Colorado told me. Shit.
There are so many contradictions that periodically break through at CPAC. There’s the gays, of course. GOProud, the conservative gay group, co-sponsored the event, which lead most religious right organizations to pull out in protest. There are the guys passing out “10 Reasons Why Homosexual ‘Marriage’ is Harmful and Must Be Opposed.” And then there’s Andrew Breitbart—the video auteur who
dressed up like a pimp spread the video of two people dressed up as a pimp/prostitute to make ACORN look bad and then got arrested breaking into Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in Louisiana—who hosted a party with the gay rich white dudes. I have so many questions still not answered, like, do gay Republicans tend to oppose abortion? I need to ask someone.
“Governor Good Hair!” one of the three people sitting across from me at the bar says, mocking Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
“I’m an anarchist,” says one. “No you’re not.” “Yes, I am. I’m an anarcho-capitalist!” “Do you support the constitution?” “No! I consider it a coup.” The other two turn to each other in disbelief. “That’s a very dangerous position.”
“Next month, Mitt and I will have been married for 42 years,” according to Mitt’s wife, who was introducing the former governor of Massachusetts, Mormon, and one-time enactor of universal healthcare.
Mitt Romney, by the way, is not a talented public speaker. Though he does have the jaw line to match the steel coiffure. He leaned pretty heavily on insults about food items: Obama should “tear up the organic vegetable garden and put in a Bob’s Big Boy!”; or Obama is saying, “let them eat cake? Or is it—let them eat organic cake?”
Yay obesity! To be fair, the crowd looks healthier than your average American. Your average attendee can likely afford to eat better than Bob’s Big Boy, unlike your average American. More on that later.
Romney says he wouldn’t need to ask Summers and Geithner for economic advice, since he’s a businessman (and not a business, man?). Perhaps he wouldn’t need a cabinet at all. That would be independent, and fiscally prudent. Oh, and he called job fairs “Obama’s Hoovervilles.” And the recession is making people not get married. And if people don’t get married, they won’t be like Mitt Romney 42 years later. Buyer beware!
A summary of other speeches: Europe and journalists suck, and America is exceptional. Amazing. A light unto the world. Amen.
Back to Romney: “There is a unique American genius…that has saved the world from the unimaginable darkness that could have occurred.” And given all the rad things that our awesome country has done for the rest these sorry motherfuckers, Romney will “never apologize for America.” It’s not clear who didapologize for America, but whatever. Never ever say sorry—especially if you’re wrong.
Back to the journalist lounge, there’s free pizza. One man jokes to a woman in an embroidered Tea Party shirt: “What’s a libertarian? A Republican who likes to watch porn.”
Speaking of porn: Ron Paul gets the youngsters really, really excited. The “platinum” seating that people pay a lot of money for right in front of the stage are alone in not clapping as Paul denounces American imperialism. The conservative establishment doesn’t know what to make of these longhairs, who stay up late reading obscure Austrian economists while hitting the bong, that they share today’s right with.
Then off to a day of immigration coverage (full article coming tomorrow). I go to a movie made by Citizen’s United, the conservative film group that won the Supreme Court case that overturned all campaign finance laws. A Chicana protagonist’s childhood is ruined when her beforehand normal father gets sucked into migrant smuggling after helping his family members come to California and then her house becomes one of the two biggest human smuggling safehouses in the state. Then she gets married off to a 50-something year old at age 17 and escapes to an anti-immigrant organization. The most tragic part of illegal immigration, ladies and gentlemen, is when it hurts the Hispanics. Those illegals are real monsters.
Then footage from immigrant rights protests that mainly focus on white anarchists with masks on talking about ending the state and its borders. This truly strikes fear into the hearts of the also white people who are sitting next to me.
“We knew that the ACLU would sue,” says the guy who drafted Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. “We did not know that the Department of Justice would sue. Then I realized my mistake was we were only looking at the ACLU lawyers outside the Obama Administration!”
Phyllis Schlafly, who some guy introduced as the “queen of conservatism,” got a lifetime “Courage Under Fire” award for leading the successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment and other such nefarious liberalisms. The trophy is an actual gun that has something to do with Charlton Heston. The old woman tears up in an Oscars-type way, cradling the rifle.
There’s right-wing folk music and an invocation by a minister who fulminates against cultural relativism and John Maynard Keynes.
“Lord, you know that what we need is not another stimulus package…but the outpouring of your holy spirit.”
That’s my favorite part of scripture for sure, the part about keeping money away from the poor. Don’t know about ya’ll heathens.
By nightfall, things were getting hairy. I needed a drink to steady my thoughts as I finished this epistle to you, dear reader. A paunchy man with various right-wing buttons and stickers yelling “you don’t ask for prices at a place like this” shoved me aside and ordered. I think about saying something about working for a living and knowing the value of a dollar, and then it occurs to me: this is not a man who’s out to make friends. Then again, the radical right isn’t really into making new friends. They think that everyone already agrees with them.
Politics aside, a shout out to the nice righties that I met. Especially the media people who brought us pizza and helped me with the internet.
I already posted about this amazing interaction I observed: a conservative Jewish man gave me this “Obama and the War Against the Jews” book, and then three minutes later he got into an argument with two old-time straight-up-bigot-style conservatives who said, “Jews are the most oppressive people ever” and other ethno-religiously disparaging remarks. The right-wing pro-Israel guy then threatened to beat up the anti-Semites and the anti-Semites, who looked like traveling salesmen and were wearing Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty stickers, threatened to call security and “have his booth shut down in five minutes.”
CPAC is a political circus, and an odd and tenuous ceasefire is observed between more old guard and neo-con conservatives and the legalize-drugs-stop-the-war-gold-standard Ron Paul youth mob. And many many other stripes.
Lots of USA flag-themed clothing. But also a woman with purple hair and a sticker for antiwar.com, a conservative anti-war website and lots of libertarian college students. I saw another woman wearing a t-shirt that reads “Cops Say Legalize Drugs—Ask Me Why.”
Amongst the more traditional conservative crowd, aspiring young men address their elders with “sir!” The big, free, and yellow NRA tote bags look very closely modeled on the ones that you shop with at Ikea. Iowa Representative Steven King, who is currently leading a House investigation of American Muslims, regrets the Founding Father’s priorities, arguing that the “Second Amendment should have been the first.”
There is a man in one session who pronounces “legislature” like it begins with the word “leg”—maybe seven times.
The lamestream-mainstream liberal media came in for a lot of abuse, of course, suggesting that the teeming masses of journalists in attendance are gluttons for the punishment. “The media ought to be ashamed of itself,” many many many speakers blared. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. But there’s free coffee, pastry and bananas.
Walking into the Citizens United (the massive right-wing film operation that won the Supreme Court case overturning campaign finance rules) blogger lunch, I’m looking for the free lunch but am instead greeted by a man in an ape suit wearing a sign that says “Debt.” I get that this is a sign opposing deficit spending but I just don’t get the concept overall—but no matter. Food. I pick up the bag marked veggie, though I’m slightly concerned that I am outing myself in a pretty obvious way. “I eat meat,” I would say. “I just also like vegetables.” Are these bags poisoned? Newt Gingrich is talking.
How to make it into Hollywood as a right-wing person. At this session, there are whispers back and forth. “There are so many cars that they’re sending people down to the zoo and making them take the shuttle.”
“Oh! I saw your tweets!” another girl exclaims.
There are lots of women with the Ann Coulter look: statuesque, blonde (maybe dyed) hair, tight black dress.
I always hate sitting in a room waiting for a meeting or event to start. But never as much as this. The room is small and packed with at least forty people, and the atmosphere is chummy. I’m dreading the moment the young woman in the seat next to me makes an introduction.
My last event was interrupted by a live feed of Donald Trump’s surprise speech, where he announced that he might run for president. Because he is successful. And successful people should notbe scared away from seeking higher office by jealous and defeated people. That is what’s wrong with America. He suggested that we raise taxes on “other countries” instead of on Americans. I’m not sure how that squares with other countries’ taxation authority, but it was an applause line—though not for Ron Paul people. Trump made a promise: elect him president and the rest of the world won’t have America to kick around anymore.
He then he said, “By the way: Ron Paul cannot be elected. I’m sorry to tell you that.”
Boooo!!!!! I was near the Ron Paul youth mob.
Finally, Dick Cheney presented Donald Rumsfeld with a “Defender of the Constitution” award, which qualifies the Bush Administration for second time as farce.
I have only heard George W. Bush mentioned once by name, unlike Reagan. Reagan. Reagan. Birthday cakes, stamps and commemorative lectures. Visit the ranch!
And unlike Reagan, whose face is everywhere, Bush’s visage is just not here. Anywhere.
Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were both met with thunderous applause save for grumblings and a few heckles from the Ron Paul crowd. It seems that people on the right have thrown Bush under the bus: they blame W for whatever went wrong and can then conserve people like Cheney and Rumsfeld as movement icons.
I don’t even have time to delve into Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s opening remarks. More tomorrow, and real life articles with substantial reporting soon.