Double-Barrelled Hypocrisy (Tea Party edition)

A “self-made” man named Ron Johnson is a Tea-Party backed candidate running for Senate in Wisconsin against Senator Russ Feingold.  Johnson pushes the boundaries of caricature and parody as it is, his rally cry, according to The Awl, is: “First of all, Freedom,” but he doesn’t stop there: pimping a full-blown Atlas Shrugged fetish as well as his belief that climate change theories are “lunacy.”   But what Johnson can’t stand most of all is BIG government.  Johnson characterizes government spending and subsidies as “a threat to our freedom,” while insisting that “government doesn’t create jobs” etc. until you look closely at his background, as Abe Sauer from the Awl did, and find out, predictably,that “his company received millions of dollars in industrial revenue bonds.”   TPM goes into the specifics:

“In 1979 a company called Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies, owned by Johnson’s brother-in-law, received a $75,000 development grant from the city of Oshkosh to build a rail spur to a plant it was building. One of the conditions of the grant required WISS to hire 11 people in exchange for the funds. Just a few months later, WISS became Pacur — the company Johnson owns today — and the factory was opened. The factory itself was also built with the help of a $1 million government-issued development bond.”

The hypocrisy is so brazen it would be funny if it wasn’t, sadly, putting the excellent, progressive Senate career of Russ Feingold in peril.  I just assume people like Johnson are pathetic, lying hypocrites and wait for the revelation to come and prove it, and it always does.  The only thing ever truly in doubt is the depth of their hypocritical dishonesty.

Sauer’s excellent piece in the Awl dissects the dissonance and Orwellian “doublethink” inherent in someone basing their whole sales pitch on being a gritty self-made Horatio Alger style hero steadfastly against evil government handouts, yet owing their entire success and livelihood to precisely those evil government subsidies and handouts.   There is a further, more openly comedic, layer of hypocrisy and doublethink in Johnson’s story, painfully omitted from his campaign bio, which is:

“the story goes that after moving to Wisconsin ‘Ron started a business called Pacur with his brother-in-law’ and he has said he built his business from ‘from scratch,” from “the ground up.’  But what Johnson’s campaign doesn’t often mention is that the candidate was set up with the business by his billionaire father-in-law. Uppity Wisconsin has unearthed evidence that Johnson’s firm Pacur is the beneficiary of less-than-market-driven business from its main client, Daddy Inc.”

This is indicative of a pattern you see in Right-Wingers from Tucker Carlson to Aubrey McClendon echoing that infamous quote uttered by Molly Ivins regarding George W. Bush: “He was born on third base, and swears he hit a triple.”  The gods and giants of nepotism are always on hand to give you condescending, paternalistic advice about hard-work and the merits of slogging through hardscrabble American days and nights with the aid of your father’s million dollar cane collection. It’s a cottage industry.  So to recap: Government subsidies for me and/or the random machinist in Racine, WI-horrible and antithetical to American Way of life; but they magically become indispensable, ingenious tool of capitalist creation and moxie when employed by Ron Johnson and his ilk.  Got that?  Here’s the most Orwellian exchange and ridiculously implausible language destruction in the whole damn episode, a textbook example of how doublespeak is the new norm in our political ‘discourse,’ as reported by WKOW in Madison (emphasis mine):

The Oshkosh plastics factory owned by Republican senate candidate Ron Johnson was built, in part, with the assistance of a $1 million government-issued industrial development revenue bond

According to records provided by the city, the money was loaned to Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies – Pacur’s previous name – a company owned by Johnson’s brother-in-law…

The funds were used to buy land, construct the building and buy equipment at the new factory, which Johnson said he co-owned on day one…

Johnson’s campaign says the money is a loan from private investors.

“‘I believe we’ve thoroughly covered industrial revenue bonds earlier on,” Sara Sendek, a Johnson spokeswoman, said. “It does not utilize taxpayer money or put taxpayers at risk.'”

See if you just grit your teeth and stare off into space, while insistently, yet always serenely and professionally, repeating that “What appears Black is, actually, White” you may be able to win a seat in the United States Senate at the expense of one of the few members of that body who actually puts the concerns of his constituents into legislation.

Yet another layer of Johnson’s loathsome Orwellian doublethink dissonance is that like all Tea Party ciphers he is ostensibly, openly a fierce critic of the bank bailout, until you look at his campaign donations and strangely enough you notice a lot of contributions from the very banks he swore should not have been bailed out.  Again, the Awl reports:

“For example, the cash Johnson received from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC on August 27 and the American Bankers Association PAC on July 8 and July 30 came from, amongst others, hardcore Treasury bailout beneficiaries such as JP Morgan Chase, SunTrust, Bank of America, Regions Financial, Zions and First Horizon. The money Ron Johnson received from the Bluegrass and Senate Majority Fund PACs came, in part, from one of the greatest bailout beneficiaries of them all, Goldman Sachs. Despite statements about staying out of politics this cycle, Goldman donated to both PACs on March 31 of this year. On June 24, Ron Johnson’s campaign received two $5,000 donations from the Bluegrass PAC, a day later the campaign received two donations from the Senate Majority PAC in the same amounts.

To be clear, while it may not be the backbone of his funding, some of the very bailout money that Ron Johnson has criticized is now funding his campaign.”

There you have it: The New American Way in Politics.

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