Allen Quist rides off into the sunset, courtesy of Ken Avidor.

Rick Perlstein recently wrote an article for The Baffler titled “The Long Con” that nicely describes the addiction of American conservatives to the realms of untruth: not just blatant lies about ideological matters, but get-rich-quick scams and grifting as well, all of which at one time or another is hidden under a pious mask and often seasoned with bigotry.

I thought of this when I saw Bluestem Prairie’s latest limning of the shambling mound of dishonesty that is Bachmann ally Allen Quist:

In Walz cannot have bill both ways, a letter to the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune, the Norseland farmer writes:

Tim Walz is at it again. He’s again saying we need to pass the farm bill now.

But during the latter part of the recent campaign, he said we needed to control federal spending.

So which is it?

The last farm bill, in 2008, had a price tag of $286 billion. This farm bill’s price tag is almost twice that at $500 billion — half a trillion.

You can’t control federal spending and double spending on the farm bill at the same time, obviously.

And none of that spending increase is for farm programs. The increase is entirely for food stamps — a program run so poorly that we have no way of knowing if the benefits go to people who actually need them.

Actually 80 percent of the spending in the farm bill is for food stamps. It’s not really a farm bill at all. It’s a food stamp bill with a farm bill rider. . . . .

Heard it before from Quist? Of course we all have–again and again, along with nonsense about Food Stamps being an important contributing factor for the nation’s divorce rate.


As Bluestem goes on to point out, the sensible people understand that the actual Farm Bill, and not Quist’s bigotry-tinged Bizarro World caricature of it (because in the Republican version of reality, only urban nonwhites ever use food stamps), is more likely to help lower the nation’s deficit by spending judiciously on things like family nutrition. As we all know, spending on preventive care — and keeping problems from occurring in the first place — is far more cost-effective than dealing with problems once they’ve materialized in full force. Family nutrition programs of the sort that Quist derides are just that sort of preventive care.

Quist’s rantings, which apparently spring from various bits of GOP boilerplate talking points and are by no means original to him, aren’t the only bit of reality denial coming from the starboard side of the North Star State’s political apparatus.

In another Bluestem Prairie post, we get to laugh along with BSP’s proprietor Sally Jo Sorensen as we see Evil Dan McGrath, the executive director of the amusingly-misnamed “Minnesota Majority”, penning the following bit of balderdash after his pet project, the voter restriction amendment, went down in flames earlier this month: “Initial post-election research now being conducted by Minnesota Majority indicates that voter fraud likely played a role…”

Reading this makes me think of a particularly pungent passage from Perlstein’s “The Long Con”:

In 1961 Richard Viguerie, a kid from Houston whose heroes, he once told me, were “the two Macs”—Joe McCarthy and General Douglas MacArthur—took a job as executive director for the conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The organization was itself something of a con, a front for the ideological ambitions of the grownups running National Review. And fittingly enough, the middle-aged man who ran the operation, Marvin Liebman, was something of a P. T. Barnum figure, famous on the right for selling the claim that he had amassed no less than a million signatures on petitions opposing the People’s Republic of China’s entry into the United Nations. (He said they were in a warehouse in New Jersey. No one ever saw the warehouse.) The first thing Liebman told Viguerie was that YAF had two thousand paid members but that in public, he should always claim there were twenty-five thousand. (Viguerie told me this personally. I found no evidence he saw anything to be ashamed of.) And the first thing that Liebman showed Viguerie was the automated “Robotype” machine he used to send out automated fundraising pitches. Viguerie’s eyes widened; he had found his life’s calling.

The reality that Evil Dan McGrath doesn’t want to acknowledge is, as I stated in the comments thread for that BSP post, simply this:

Dan McGrath lost because he was unable to convince the county clerks of Greater Minnesota that the yellow stuff he tried to trickle down their legs was lemonade. They knew better — they didn’t get to be in charge of the wherewithal of their friends and neighbors in the area by being stupid.

The county clerks and other county officials have to know what they’re doing, or the county can’t function. It’s as simple as that. And it’s because they can count, and because they know what they are doing, that they got the word out to their friends and neighbors about what a terrible threat this ballot amendment posed.

It’s their comparing notes and then getting the word out that sent the polling numbers for the amendment issue down thirty points from its May highs without a single TV ad hitting the air. In fact, the TV ads, pro or con, didn’t air until after the first poll showing support for the amendment had dropped dramatically; the pro-amendment folks didn’t think they needed to run ads, and the anti-amendment folks didn’t yet have the money to run ads. That all changed when the polls came out.

And that is that.