Last week was the Western Conservative Conference, a sort of low-rent CPAC created by the Western Center for Journalism, which was created by Joseph Farah and out of which the Worldnetdaily grew. In addition to a roast of Joe Arpaio that included pointing to Hispanic waiters doing their jobs in the ballroom and yelling “Get him! Sic ’em!” to Arpaio, it also peddled the usual paranoia and gold scams. Oh, and Floyd Brown ran the whole thing.
The man behind the Western Conservative Conference, Floyd Brown, has never been very good at helping the GOP build bridges. In 1988, he created the infamous “Willie Horton” ad that has dogged his party’s outreach efforts ever since. But Brown’s interests and achievements are more diverse than scorched-earth political advertising. He has been a Zelig-like presence on the right for the better part of three decades, zig-zagging his way through and connecting the worlds of conservative organizing, publishing, opposition research, campaigning, fundraising, marketing, and predatory investment advice.
A co-founder of Citizens United, Brown now runs a marketing company, Excellentia Inc., helping clients “achieve success in the conservative and Christian marketplace.” He works as a traveling speaker for groups like the Oxford Group claiming to offer “insider” stock tips and advice. He also pushes gold coins and municipal bonds, sometimes in mutual exclusion of the other, depending on his audience.
All of which makes Brown a perfect impresario for today’s conservative grassroots activist circuit, where organizing and politics can seem incidental to the interests of an interlocking constellation of thinly veiled data mining, fundraising, and precious metals operations. This was sometimes the case in Phoenix, where an older, nearly all-white group of activist-attendees from Western states paid $399 to train under the tutelage of organizers from Heritage Action and the Leadership Institute, as well as hear national figures pitch gold coins and radio shows. The bold-face names who appeared live or by video included Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry, and embattled National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who was welcomed despite being under fire for racist attacks on President Obama.
I would suggest that Nugent was welcomed because he’s under fire for racist attacks on President Obama.
The conference began on Friday night with a keynote speech by Trevor Loudon, a dour New Zealander who has found steady work peddling stories of a modern-day Red Scare on the Tea Party circuit. As attendees lined up for drinks and baby carrots, Loudon sketched out the contents of his most recent book, The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists, and Progressives in the U.S. Congress. It is Loudon’s belief that “98 percent of the Democratic Party” is far-left, anti-American, and actively working toward an economic collapse to allow communism “a second chance.” With his haunted imagination and lottery-ticket approach to numbers, Loudon evokes the South Pacific-accented ghost of Fred Schwartz, an Australian anti-communist speaker who made a good living on the Bircher circuit of the 1950s and 60s selling books and warning of Reds under every bed.
Like Schwartz, Loudon believes he has a crucial role to play in uniting the American Right and positioning it for victory. “Here’s what you need to do,” Loudon told the crowd in Phoenix. “You need a new Reagan coalition and a Reagan type leader that inspires people, like Ted Cruz. And Cruz should promise the following cabinet to unify the right: Allen West, VP; Rand Paul, Treasury; Sarah Palin, Energy; Scott Walker, Labor; Herman Cain, Commerce; John Bolton, State; Health and Human Services, Ben Carson. Attorney General, Mark Levin. Education, David Barton. U.N. — nobody. Everybody gets something. It would energize the whole movement.”
The next morning Brown hosted a breakout session entitled, “Is An Economic Collapse Coming?” He opened with another question: “You may be wondering, ‘Why are we holding a meeting on economic collapse?'” But it’s unlikely anyone in the room found the subject, or its gold-dealer sponsor, out of place. Wherever conservatives gather these days, gold dealers are close at hand. Even the NRA’s annual meeting now offers seminars on buying gold as a form of “economic self-defense.”
Listening to Brown tout his “training as an economist” (by which he meant his bachelor’s degree) and riff on gold’s imperviousness to “counterparty risk,” it was tempting to admire his career as a journeyman pitcher of junk in the conservative gutter league. “First, please, I beg you, limit your exposure to bonds,” said Brown. “They have performed extraordinarily well over 30 years. But sometimes when it has been the best, it is preparing to be the worst. Please, please, please, try and limit your exposure to bonds. Not even CD’s and Social Security are safe anymore, because they’re protected by the government — and the government is bankrupt.”
At that very moment, as he pitched gold by trashing all government-backed paper, Brown was pushing city debt as an investment in his capacity as “Chief Political Analyst” at a website called Capitol Hill Daily — “The Unofficial News Source of Every Wealthy Congressman.” The site currently features an article by Brown hyping stock in a fund specializing in municipal bonds called Invesco CA Value Muni Common. “Political insiders are sinking their money into one niche investment that could shoot to the moon following a municipal bond bailout,” it states. “[Muni bonds are] as close to foolproof as it gets, since both the Fed and Capitol Hill have the muni bond market’s back.”
Meanwhile, back in Phoenix, Brown’s anti-bond rap was so thick you could see the trace of a cringe on the face of Jim Clark, his fellow panelist and CEO of the panel’s sponsor, the Arizona-based Republic Monetary Exchange. When Clark spoke, he dialed back some of the alarmism of Brown’s talk, but warned the retiree crowd that the government was coming for their IRA’s…
Loudon was followed by onetime Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, who warned of a solar electromagnetic pulse that could “shut down this country, and within a year, 90 percent of the country could be dead, effectively.” Louden nodded sagely along, likely doing the mental math of how to hold back the Chinese Army with so few Americans. Jim Clark, the gold company CEO, looked relieved when it was finally time to wrap things up by reminding the gathered to roll their 401k and IRA accounts into gold.
“Outside the door, my colleagues can explain to you how to do that,” said Clark. “We have videos.”
Oh, and then there’s this bit of paranoia from speaker Trevor Loudon:
You can’t just escape [to the hills] with a few chickens and survive. The bad guys of this planet — Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, North Korea and their Islamic allies — are going to come here, folks. The Chinese have every aquifer in the U.S. mapped out. They know that some of them flush out nuclear radiation very quickly, and some of them hold them for a long time. They need to know where they can settle their people. The Russians have an unreliable army — too many drunks and Moslems — but they will nuke the hell out of the continental United States. The big regret of the U.S.S.R. is that they didn’t take out the U.S. during the Great Depression — a former KGB agent told me this — and this time they have a plan. They will invade Alaska and parts of Canada. Then the Chinese will send their people across the Pacific in wave after wave. Their friends in Latin America will be invited up into the southern United States for looting rights. The left will welcome this, which is why 90 percent of Obama’s cuts are to the U.S. military, the only thing keeping the world together.
Sounds totally credible.