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December 25, 2011 11:47 AM Teabaggery and Gold-Buggery

By Mark Kleiman

So the latest bit of filth Ron Paul signed but says he didn’t write was a pitch for an “insider” investment newsletter warning of a “coming race war” and “the federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS.”

This should presumably put “paid” next to the Ron Paul account and leave anti-Romney Republicans looking for yet another flavor of the month.

But there’s a broader point here, not raised in any of the coverage I’ve seen: the relationship between right-wing politics and pure con artistry.

The hard-core, true-wingnut, John-Birch-Society, Tea-Party faction of the GOP contains a disproportionate share of conspiracy believers; that’s one reason Glenn Beck appeals to them. Some of these folks are convinced that a ring of “insiders” knows what’s really happening, and can make profitable investments as a result.

So scammers like Dr. Paul can fleece these sheeple by promising to bring them the inside scoop that will allow them, too, to make a killing by buying or selling the right securities and commodities. After claiming that his terms in Congress left him with a network of “sources” from “House and Senate Committees, the White House, the Treasury, the Fed, the Justice Department, and even the IRS, Paul (or his ghostwriter) promised his intended victims:

… I give you the facts and analysis – and specific recommendations – you need to protect yourself, and dramatically increase your wealth, in the spastic economy of the 199os … as the only former high official to publish a financial letter, I supply facts and analysis available nowhere else.

The “investment letter” racket represents a substantial source of income for wingnut pundits and websites. And some of the fanaticism about returning to the gold standard comes from people who fantasize that their own Krugerrands will suddenly appreciate sharply as a result.

To my knowledge, there’s nothing even vaguely comparable on the other side of the aisle.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the University of California Los Angeles.

Comments

  • markg8 on December 26, 2011 11:59 AM:

    Let's look at the content of the letter shall we? What he was trying to scare investors into believing was some nefarious plot by the GHW Bush administration to track individuals' income and expenditures subjecting anyone with substantial amounts of cash to a new type of intrusive IRS audit and long lines to trade in your old money for new. This paranoid nonsense was all predicated on the issuance of the "new money" which was much harder to counterfeit, a problem Paul decided didn't exist. Never mind that laser printers were making it way too easy for anyone to print up batches of the old $20s to cash in at the 7/11 and Iran was busily forging $100s by the boatload. Does anyone remember standing in line for hours "with sore feet and a sore back, your patience worn thin two hours ago" to exchange your cash for "pinkbacks" and a bunch of nosy questions from a government bureaucrat? Me neither. Reading this garbage ought to be reminder that Ron Paul is wrong about virtually everything.

  • Robert on December 26, 2011 3:59 PM:

    There is almost a perfect feedback loop "between right-wing politics and pure con artistry."
    The 'con-artists', the Bachmans, Pauls, Gingrichs, Santorems, Limbaughs, Becks,the "prison planet' guru, etc. dish out the far right red meat nonsense and the 'marks', the gullible conspiracy believers and sullen, fearful haters on the far right and to some extent libertarian left, pay directly and indirectly to lap it up because it reinforces their world view.

  • Kathie on December 27, 2011 6:24 PM:

    See: Amway

  • mishanti2 on December 29, 2011 10:37 PM:

    I just spent about an hour or so reading some of these newsletters. He is a racist homophobe and shouldn't be elected dog catcher. If he didn't write them then why the heck did he let them go out for all those years under his name? And if he did write them he should stand up like an adult and apologize for being an idiot and scammer.

  • Matt McIrvin on December 31, 2011 8:55 PM:

    The closest left equivalent I can think of is alternative-medicine quackery, the political component of which is somewhat more often left-wing than right-wing. But the political association isn't as strong (and some right-libertarians are definitely into this stuff as well).

  • Brian T. Raven on January 06, 2012 10:00 PM:

    Thank-you Mr. Kleiman for doing what the MSM has been so reluctant to do - exposing Ron Paul for the dangerous kook that he is. That he has been such an accomplished kook for so long, and about so many things, should have found its way into the National consciousness. But, sadly, this is not the case. Shame on the MSM. Also, it doesn't speak well of his competitors for the crown that he has sometimes seemed more reasonable than they.

  • Brian T. Raven on January 06, 2012 10:16 PM:

    Thank-you Mr. Kleiman for doing what the MSM has been so reluctant to do - exposing Ron Paul for the dangerous kook that he is. That he has been such an accomplished kook for so long, and about so many things, should have found its way into the National consciousness. But, sadly, this is not the case. Shame on the MSM. Also, it doesn't speak well of his competitors for the crown that he has sometimes seemed more reasonable than they.

  • John Randle on January 10, 2012 9:38 PM:

    A Romney presidency represents the total victory of mega-corporations, the Kochs and John Paulson to operate without accountability to any nation, to operate without regulations or fair taxes but demand American taxpayers pick up the trillion dollar tabs for our military when their excesses result in international threats to their operations. Each day you waste on an ancient fool like Ron Paul and the rest of those GOP Tea Party screwballs makes the path for Romney and the 1% that much clearer. Look no deeper than his Restore Our Future PAC to understand what matters to him.

  • smartalek on January 14, 2012 6:46 PM:

    In other words, people who are not terribly bright, easily misled, and prone to be skeptical about many mundane matters but wildly gullible when it comes to certain fields, shockingly turn out to be not terribly bright, easily misled, and prone to be skeptical about many mundane matters but wildly gullible when it comes to certain fields.
    Film at 11.