Our friend and sometime contributor Leah Nelson has a post up over at the SPLC's Hatewatch site examining that fringe world between far right and far left -- dominated by the rightist element, in the person of Alex Jones and his proto-Patriot conspiracy shop.
In this case, it's these pseudo-economists who put out conspiracist newsletters to investors -- their most recent theory being that President Obama is plotting to defy the Constitution and ensconce himself for a third term come 2016 -- whose Planet Bizarro version of reality gets a good sharp look:
The star of the show is a fellow named Porter Stansberry, a scam artist/"financial guru" convicted of making over a million dollars selling false "inside tips" (he claimed a First Amendment defense) and was subsequently fined $1.5 million by the SEC.
Evidently soured on the government by his brush with the law, Stansberry has turned from scam artist to antigovernment radical, using various Internet publications to mix dubious investment advice with apocalyptic warnings about a coming era of tyranny that will destroy America.
His most recent insight? According to a YouTube video distributed across a multitude of far-right websites and discussed with great seriousness by figures like antigovernment conspiracist Alex Jones, President Obama is planning to overthrown the Constitution, implement socialism, and seize a third term in office.
According to Stansberry, Obama won’t even have to use force to do it. Instead, the president plans to buy his third term with untold profits gained from mining America’s vast shale oil deposits, which will lead to an era of extraordinary prosperity unlike anything America has seen before.
“All of this new wealth,” Stansberry says, “will seem like a gift from the Prophet Muhammad to the administration of Barack Obama.”
And his supporters will eat it up. Once the black gold really starts flowing, Stansberry claims, the president will execute a Hugo Chavez-like power grab, distributing money and favors to friends, cronies, and political allies, who in return will cheer for him in the streets as he seizes an unconstitutional third term — and, possibly, even a fourth — in office. During his reign of terror, Obama will replace America’s market economy with a socialist dictatorship and “punish and tax those who work hard,” using the wealth they create to “buy favors and luxuries for millions of Americans … who have done nothing to earn it.”
As Nelson explores, Stansberry is hardly alone peddling this scam. Indeed, Nelson goes on to explore in depth how these "anarcho capitalists" are in many regards just the latest attempt by the old far-right Patriot movement to expand its appeal -- mostly by exploiting the pieces of common ground they have with extreme libertarians from the left and anarchists. Be sure and read the whole thing; it's fascinating.
But it often comes down to a very familiar sort of refrain:
The Patriot movement is noteworthy for its followers’ forceful assertion of the right to bear arms, and form private militias willing to face down tyrannical government forces when the time comes. In contrast, Casey, Stansberry, and their sympathizers make a lot of noise about opposing violence, stressing the need to bring about their desired revolution through education and activism.
But in a 2011 essay titled “The Corruption of America,” Stansberry began to sing a very different tune. “The nation will soon face a choice between heading down the path toward fascism … or turning back the power of government and restoring the limited Republic that was our birthright,” he wrote. “What gives me confidence for the future? Gun sales, for one thing. U.S. citizens legally own around 270 million firearms – around 88 guns per 100 citizens (including children) today. That’s a hard population to police without its consent.”
Sounding very much like his Patriot cousins-in-arms — and very little like a proponent of nonviolent resistance — he continued: “[I]f the government attempts to take our guns … my opinion would change immediately. … But that’s one right the Supreme Court has been strengthening recently.”
“It gives me hope,” Stansberry said, “that most people in America still understand that the right to bear arms has little to do with protecting ourselves from crime and everything to do with protecting ourselves from government.”
Yep, we've heard that tune before.