Mark Siljander, Republican Ex-Congressman, Wingnut, Religious Fanatic And Traitor... And The Nature Of Conservatism
Mark Siljander, the ugly face of the "respectable" American right
The implication of John Amato's and Dave Neiwert's new book, Over the Cliff-- How Obama's Election Drove The America Right Insane, is nothing to trifle with; they have, indeed been driven insane. I'm not talking about the entire Republican Party, of course, but the tip of the spear... out of their gourds. The rest, at least those who haven't fled, is close behind. Many of us read this week how former Republican Congressman Mark Siljander is pleading guilty to what amounts to selling out the country to Al Qaeda. Actually, he did a plea bargain so that the real treason charges wouldn't be pursued, allowing him to spend a couple of easy years in a Club Fed for former congressmen-gone-bad. It looks like he'll get away with pleading guilty to a couple of obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent charges.
Abdel Azim El-Siddig, a co-defendant who was a part-time fundraiser for the Islamic American Relief Agency, also admitted Wednesday to conspiring to hire Siljander to lobby for the group's removal from a Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of having terrorist ties and reinstated as an approved government contractor. Prosecutors said El-Siddig, of Chicago, concealed this advocacy and didn't register with the proper authorities.
...U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said in a news release Wednesday that Siljander engaged in illegal lobbying for the charity, then used his own charities to hide the payments for that lobbying.
"Siljander repeatedly lied to FBI agents and prosecutors investigating serious crimes related to national security. With today's guilty pleas, all of the defendants in this case have admitted their guilt and will be held accountable for their actions," she said.
When the NYTimes first reported Siljander's indictment in 2008, his former conservative Republican constituents in southwestern Michigan were shocked. Siljander was no ordinary Republican. He was the Michele Bachmann of his day-- a loudmouthed asshole who never tired of out-extremisting everyone else in the caucus. An ill-educated lout who claims to be a PhD but went to a bunch of unaccredited Bible Colleges, Siljander openly professed that God was on his side and wanted him in office. A rapid homophobe, racist and fanatic misogynist, he proposed a constitutional amendment mandating that "the term 'person' shall include unborn children from the moment of conception." He was equally adamant about religion being taught in public schools. So how could someone like this sell out the country for money? NO, HOW COULD SOMEONE LIKE THIS NOT? This is the epitome of what it is to be a conservative.
If Democrats are all about the greater good of the social group, conservatives are all about, me, me, me. "Greed is good," remember. It's what makes the(ir) world go round. So if you can make a few pieces of silver by selling out the nation... well, that's Randian conservatism at its most developed.
After Siljander was defeated in a GOP primary (by Fred Upton, a mainstream conservative who currently holds the seat)-- something that was attributed at the time to a controversial tape he made and sent out to churches urging his fundamentalist base to "break the back of Satan" by praying and fasting for his re-election-- he did what conservative Reps always do when they're kicked out of office; he got an appointed wingnut welfare job (from Reagan) and after that he became a lobbyist. How far is it, really, from selling out the country to corporations to selling it out to terrorists?
Siljander's 42-count indictment included charges of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice for his part in an Al Qaeda/Taliban fundraising ring. He denied everything-- until his confession this week-- and his clueless Michigan former constituents refused to believe any of it. Said one, to the Times reporter covering Kalamazoo, "I don't think he would do that. He's a man of integrity and Christian principles."
Dick Imgrund, the longtime treasurer of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, said he was surprised by the news, noting that the party's evangelical Christian supporters had been among Siljander's strongest backers.
"To find one of them accused of supporting a terrorist group, it's a surprise. It's not what you expect," Imgrund said.
Inside the Main Street Cafe in downtown Three Rivers this morning, Ned Christiansen said he had his doubts about the charges.
"I just find it hard to believe that any American would knowingly provide funds" to terrorists, Christiansen said.
They're missing the point. They don't understand the true nature of conservatism with it's worship of greed and selfishness. Siljander was always a clown-- like so many Republicans are today, from Bachmann and Virginia Foxx, Steve King and Jim DeMint to the freshest crop of future criminals like Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Ken Buck. The themes that Amato and Neiwert were writing about in 2009 in Over the Cliff as bizarre extremism are now part of the Republican Party's platform. Fox and Hate Talk Radio have helped to legitimize ideas that were outside the realm of serious consideration just one year ago, making it quasi-plausible, for example, for countless Republican congressional candidates to insist that President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim out to destroy America. This past weekend, one Republican candidate in Florida, Ross Bieling, was seen riding in a convertible in an Independence Day parade festooned with a sign that said "Glenn Beck is God." Really? God. Not in my world. This world-- and this kind of stuff: Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) campaigning for radical right sociopath Ken Buck yesterday: