The Atlantic pushed back against remarks from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican candidates at Fox Business' presidential debate that the United States should bring back the gold standard, noting "economists agree that the gold standard is a bad idea."
Right-wing media personalities like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, who have profited greatly from advertisers selling gold and silver, have pushed for a return to the gold standard for years against the opposition of nearly all economists and monetary policy experts. At Fox Business' Republican presidential debate on November 10, Ted Cruz and other GOP presidential candidates once again advocated for reinstituting the gold standard. The New Republic called Cruz's gold standard proposal "particularly reckless," and ThinkProgress noted Cruz's support for a gold-based money supply would leave the "entire economy exposed to catastrophe" after the senator proposed a return to the gold standard during the October 28 presidential debate on CNBC.
On November 11, The Atlantic addressed many of these critiques, pointing out the volatility a gold standard would create and how the economic consensus is decidedly against returning to this outdated form of monetary policy. The article also noted Cruz's support for gold may be influenced by the millions of dollars gold standard supporter Robert Mercer has donated to super PACs supporting his presidential campaign (emphasis added):
During Tuesday night's Republican debate a familiar topic resurfaced to the dismay of most economists: the case for the gold standard.
Senator Ted Cruz criticized the Fed's ability to manipulate monetary policy (a common refrain among gold-standard advocates) saying, "Instead of adjusting monetary policy according to whims and getting it wrong over and over again and causing booms and busts, what the Fed should be doing is ... keeping our money tied to a stable level of gold
These conversations may be less an attempt to actually convince rivals, lawmakers, or voters that the gold standard is sound fiscal policy, and more about displaying commitment to conservative ideals, wooing big donors, and demonstrating a substantial disdain for current monetary policies.
In general, economists agree that the gold standard is a bad idea. Pegging the dollar to the metal is, in theory, supposed to offer long-term rate stability. But in practice, that hasn't usually worked out. In the short term, linking dollars to gold quantities can produce a currency that's pretty volatile.
The conversations about gold in recent years are perhaps less about the belief that it's actually smart policy and more about condemning and rejecting the power of the government, through the Federal Reserve, to control the printing of money and the setting of interest rates. For some conservatives these powers stand in direct opposition to their preference for small government and their conception of free-market capitalism. Some also see the ability to print money, which can devalue existing dollars, as a form of taxation, another violation of Republican beliefs.
The gold-standard advocates are not only politicians. They include a small but vocal (and rich) minority of Wall Streeters and hedge funders still angry about the Fed's low-interest rate (read: low yields) put in place during the 2008 crisis and lasting until today. This minority is an influential one, especially when it comes to political campaigns, because of its ability to drum up large sums of money. For example, the hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, who favors the gold standard, donated millions to four super PACs affiliated with Cruz's campaign.
Pegging money to gold ounces offers no such protection, and in fact could be quite dangerous. While the commodity has long been considered valuable, it isn't immune to declines. The price has fluctuated significantly over the years, and hit a five-year low in July. As Matthew O'Brien noted in a 2012 article in The Atlantic, the ability to print money under a gold standard relies on how much gold can be found at any given time. That could create an economic disaster that has little to do with actual economic trends. With an economy that's just starting to show some signs of life after the recession, that's a problem the country certainly doesn't need.
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Matt Drudge appeared on The Alex Jones Show, where he pushed bizarre conspiracies and falsehoods, and attacked Hillary Clinton as "old" and "sick." The Drudge Report is a big driver of traffic to Jones' Infowars website and the interview cemented their relationship, with Drudge and a "star-struck" Jones heavily praising each other.
El Papa Francisco está haciendo su primera visita a Estados Unidos esta semana. Antes de su visita, figuras de los medios conservadores han atacado sus esfuerzos para combatir el cambio climático y la desigualdad, calificándolo de "marxista" que es un "peligro para el mundo".
Pope Francis is making his first visit to the United States this week. Prior to his visit, conservative media figures have attacked him over his efforts to combat climate change and inequality, labeling him a "Marxist" who is a "danger to the world."
Larry Pratt, the head of extremist gun group Gun Owners of America (GOA), warned the U.S. federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically" during an appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show.
GOA, which opposes any background checks on gun sales, recently endorsed Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), who has called GOA's support "critical" to his 2012 election to the U.S. Senate and praised GOA's hardline stance on guns in remarks to the group's supporters.
Pratt was forced to leave the 1996 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan after it was revealed he had spoken before high-profile white supremacists at militia gatherings. GOA donated money to a white supremacist group and Pratt previously served as a "contributing editor" for an anti-Semitic publication. Pratt has also suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government.
During a September 15 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Pratt said, "Just like those Minutemen in Lexington, Massachusetts, we've got to be ready at a minute's notice to come to the defense of, as it was, Cliven Bundy or be [it] a milk producer in Elkhart County, Indiana -- could be anywhere where the government thinks they might have an advantage."
He later added, "The Second Amendment requires an adversarial relationship with the federal government. The Second Amendment says, 'Federal government, you can go here and no farther and if you try then the Second Amendment comes into play. To put it a little bit more crudely, we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically.'"
From the September 15 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show:
Fox News' Fox & Friends promoted conspiracy theorist Mark Dice to lampoon Hillary Clinton and her supporters, despite his long history of promoting outlandish conspiracy theories including claiming the federal government carried out the 9/11 terror attacks. Fox & Friends' own network has even previously called him out as a conspiracy theorist.
Fox News hosted Larry Pratt, the leader of far-right group Gun Owners of America, to defend actor Vince Vaughn's recent comments on the Second Amendment, even though Pratt has repeatedly said politicians who support gun safety laws should fear being shot.
In a recent interview with British GQ, Vaughn argued that the purpose of the Second Amendment is "to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government":
"I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual."
During a June 2 appearance on Fox & Friends, Pratt defended Vaughn's insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment, stating, "I think Vaughn's point really needs to be emphasized. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution in order to protect the people's right to protect themselves from tyrannical government."
Fox & Friends hosted Pratt despite his long history of inflammatory commentary and radical interpretations of the Second Amendment. Notably, he has repeatedly stated that politicians who endorse gun violence prevention laws should fear being shot by GOA supporters. During a November 2014 interview, when Pratt was asked about his oft-made claim that politicians should have a "healthy fear" of being shot, he responded: "Sure, that is what the Second Amendment is all about."
Pratt, who is considered to be one of the founding members of the 1990s right-wing militia movement, has engaged in extremism on the gun issue for decades.
In 1996, Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan after The New York Times reported "that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" and published articles about guns the magazine of a white supremacist group. The Boston Globe subsequently reported Pratt "had attended a 1992 conference of militant white supremacists in Colorado in the aftermath of the shootout with federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho," whose attendees included the leader of the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement, a former KKK leader, and Aryan Nation officials. Pratt reportedly spoke out in favor of the creation of "armed militia" units at the meeting.
In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, Pratt suggested that far-right anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh was justified in carrying out the attack as a response to the government's conduct during the 1993 Waco standoff at the Branch Davidian compound. And in 2014, Pratt claimed that President Obama supports stronger gun laws to prevent Americans from using firearms "to keep people like him from becoming tyrants."
In addition, Pratt has proposed that the government itself stages violence and civil unrest. Appearing on right-wing conspiracy theory radio shows, Pratt suggested that the 2012 mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been government-staged events.
More recently, Pratt claimed it was "reasonable" to suspect that Obama orchestrated the civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, going on to argue that police should have shot and killed rioters to bring calm to the city.
Despite Pratt's history of extreme right-wing views, national news shows sometimes treat him as a credible source on gun violence in the wake of mass shooting tragedies. Over the year-and-a-half following Sandy Hook, Pratt made 13 appearances on evening and Sunday cable news programs, even appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss the one year anniversary of the mass shooting.
His reputation also hasn't been enough to scare away GOP presidential candidates. In May, Senator Ted Cruz agreed to remotely address a town hall meeting hosted by GOA.
Despite his history of extremism, Pratt continues to make appearances on cable television to discuss gun issues. When asked why major media outlets continue to host Pratt, freelance reporter Alexander Zaitchik, who has extensively written about Pratt, explained in a video series on Pratt's role in the gun-rights movement, "I think a big part of it is just attention span... and historical memory is getting shorter and shorter," explaining that news outlets "seemed to think he was you know, springing up out of the ground and didn't have this long, multi-decade history of radicalism and extremism." According to Zaitchik, Pratt also moderates his message while appearing on national television, saving his more extreme commentary for the fringe right-wing radio shows he frequents.
During a bizarre appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested the Obama administration is engaging in "Nazi stuff" by using ethnic politics, and wants to confiscate all the country's firearms and put people "in jail for even having them."
Jones, America's leading conspiracy theorist, believes the government perpetrated mass catastrophes like the September 11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, and several mass shootings. Jones has recently been pushing the conspiracy theory that a military training exercise, Jade Helm, is an attempt to create martial law in the United States (it isn't). Jones is an ally of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul and helped launch his political career.
Fox News executive vice president Bill Shine has dismissed Jones, saying he "wishes he had a platform on Fox News ... That's not going to happen, so he should stick with trying to locate the black helicopters." Some of Carlson's colleagues have dismissed Jones as a "nut job radio guy" who owns a "radical far-right Web site."
Carlson, who is also the founder and editor in chief of The Daily Caller, claimed during the appearance that progressives use ethnic politics and identity politics to divert attention from their "policy failures." He said the strategy is "really dangerous," comparing it to countries where there is a violent ethnic divide. He said of the Obama administration: "They categorize people by race in a way that, you know, you can't even imagine -- 30 years ago you would have said, 'Wait a second, that's like Nazi stuff.'"
Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is reportedly trying to downplay his connections to fringe conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones.
Bloomberg Politics' David Weigel reported that when "asked whether he regretted talking to Jones, Paul demurred," stating: "I've been pretty open to doing a lot of interviews with a lot of different people ... And people want to characterize one or two of them, whether they're on the right or left, you know, they're welcome to do it. But I've been pretty open to doing interviews and it's one way to get the information out."
Weigel added: "Asked if he listened to Jones's show, Paul said that he simply didn't listen to much news. 'When I'm brushing my teeth in the morning I turn on the news channel,' he said, 'but I'm busy all day.'"
Paul's suggestion that his connection to Jones was just a random media appearance is disingenuous: Paul has made numerous appearances on Jones' radio program since the 1990s and admitted Jones and his audience were integral to helping him win his first Senate race.
Further, Jones said yesterday that Paul has "been a listener of this show for years."
From the April 9 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show:
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From the April 8 edition of Genesis Communications Network' The Alex Jones Show:
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Conservative media are grossly distorting a recent study on aerosols' climate impact as a "death blow to global warming hysteria." But the study's author himself stated in response that his research does not contradict the scientific consensus on global warming.
A recent study provided new estimates for the rate at which aerosols -- tiny particles of matter suspended in the atmosphere -- deflect the sun's rays, measuring what is known as aerosol "radiative forcing." The study from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, which analyzed data from 1850 to 1950, found that the level of radiative forcing from aerosols is "less negative" than commonly believed, suggesting that aerosols do not cool the atmosphere as much as previously thought.
According to right-wing media, the study represents a "death blow to global warming hysteria." The reasoning behind the claim, which originated in a Cato Institute blog post, is that climate models rely on aerosols to offset much of the projected greenhouse gas effect from carbon dioxide. So if aerosols offset less warming than commonly believed, Cato claims "the amount of greenhouse gas-induced warming must also be less" and "we should expect less warming from future greenhouse gas emissions than climate models are projecting." The Cato blog post was picked up by the Daily Caller, American Thinker, Alex Jones' Infowars, Investors' Business Daily, and Rush Limbaugh. Daily Caller even claimed that the recent study directly disputes the scientific findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, writing: "Basically, the IPCC says aerosols deflect a lot of warming -- the opposite of the Max Planck study's finding."
But the study does nothing to dispute the scientific consensus on global warming, according to the study's author himself. In response to media outlets using his study to make inference's about the climate's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, climate scientist Bjorn Stevens published a statement on the Max Planck Institute's website, debunking the notion that human-induced climate change is "called into question" by his study. He also wrote that his estimates of aerosol radiative forcing are "within the range" of the IPCC's previous findings (which he actually co-authored), and that "I continue to believe that warming of Earth's surface temperatures from rising concentrations of greenhouse gases carries risks that society must take seriously." From Stevens' statement:
A fringe right-wing radio host who believes the government was behind 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and several other catastrophes, has been a key figure in the political rise of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who will reportedly announce a run for president on April 7.
Paul has credited Alex Jones, who heads conspiracy website Infowars.com and an eponymous radio program, for being a vital part of his 2010 Senate campaign. Jones endorsed Paul, turned out followers to his events, and partnered with Paul for fundraising, at one point crashing his website. Since Paul's election to the Senate, Jones has continued to serve as a key Paul booster, including endorsing him for 2016.
The fringe nature of Jones' program is apparent during the introduction of one of Jones' YouTube videos featuring Paul. The video begins with images of Nazi soldiers goose-stepping next to a Nazi flag-draped White House, and a poster claiming the government covered up 9/11. Such material is regular fodder for Jones, who is "one of the earliest and most influential 9/11 conspiracy theorists."
Paul has been a longtime guest on The Alex Jones Show, originating from Jones' friendship with Rand's father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Jones said last year he first interviewed Rand in 1996 and was "probably one of the first people to ever interview" him.
Jones hosted Paul several times during his 2010 Senate race, telling listeners that he "can't stress enough how important this race for the Kentucky Senate is." Jones called Paul the "real McCoy" who will fight "against the New World Order" and "stop the thieving, stop the gang raping" in Washington. Jones said on his January 26, 2015, broadcast that he privately encouraged Paul to run for Senate.