The Clocks Are Striking 13

On the same weekend that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and insisted they were “reclaiming the Civil Rights Movement,” Frank Rich — in The New York Times — wrote about the weatlthy trinity who are giving Beck and Palin their financial mojo — Rupert Murdoch, and the Koch brothers, David and Charles. And, wrote Rich, these three are not a new species:

You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our president.

Jane Mayer, in the New Yorker, recently exposed the cabal. And she reminded her readers that David and Charles’ father, Fred, was one of the original Birchers — who considered Dwight Eisenhower a Communist agent. Rather than reclaiming the Civil Rights Movement, the elder Koch claimed that the movement was part of a larger conspiracy: “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he wrote.

Paranoia is nothing new in American politics. On the day following Rich’s column, Paul Krugman wrote that, during the Clinton administration, Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife were funding the same army. They were on the march then, claiming that (somehow) Hilary Clinton was implicated in Vince Foster’s death. The difference this time is that The Paranoid Army has more money and a bigger megaphone. “It will be an ugly scene,” Krugman wrote:

and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990′s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering from the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930′s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.

Facing the same kind of opposition, Franklin Roosevelt met his detractors head on.”The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty,” he said,” is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”

Murdoch and the Kochs would like Americans to believe that they are leading a popular revolt. Their strategy rests on the assumption that voters will forget that Beck — who said Saturday that “we must be better than what we’ve allowed ourselves to become” — also said (of President Obama) “I believe this guy is a racist [with] a deep seated hatred of white people.” The trinity is also betting that Americans will forget that Sarah Palin recently defended Laura Schlessinger’s use of the word “nigger” and advised her to “reload.”

It’s as if Martin Luther King had been a spokesman for the Klan. And that Americans — or at least a significant number of them — now live in an Orwellian alternative reality, where War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength — and the clocks are striking 13.

Owen Gray grew up in Montreal, where he received a B. A. from Concordia University. After crossing the border and completing a Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, he returned to Canada, married, raised a family and taught high school for 32 years. Now retired, he lives — with his wife and youngest son — on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. This is cross posted from his blog Northern Reflections.

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Author: OWEN GRAY, GUEST VOICE COLUMNIST