Monday, October 12, 2009
In Defense of Glenn Beck
by Jonah Goldberg
For a self-described rodeo clown who frequently admits he isn't that bright, Glenn Beck must be doing something right. A de facto leader of the populist backlash against President Obama, he made the cover of Time magazine, with his tongue sticking out no less. His books are immediate best-sellers. His radio and TV shows have stratospheric ratings. His one-man comedy performances draw packed audiences, and the proceeds from his numerous ventures have him making north of $20 million a year.
But perhaps his most impressive feat is his ability to unite a broad coalition of liberals, media scolds and conservatives under the single banner of Beck-hatred.
Now, before I proceed, I should disclose the fact that I like Beck personally and that his support for my book "Liberal Fascism" was a huge boon, helping to push it to No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list. As a Fox News contributor, I have appeared regularly on his show. Whether that gives me more, or less, credibility when I say I cannot defend some of the things he says is for others to decide.
Still, much of the anti-Beck backlash (He's an extremist! He's paranoid! He's hate-filled!) from the left is hard to take seriously. First, this is a crowd that lets Michael Moore and Janeane Garofalo speak for them, and that celebrated the election of unfunny man Al Franken to the Senate. If you think it's racist to oppose Obama's health care reform efforts, it goes without saying that you'll think Beck is an extremist. This is what liberals always say about popular right-wingers, including Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley. For over 20 years liberals, including Presidents Clinton and Obama, have insisted that Rush Limbaugh is everything from an unpatriotic hatemonger to an enabler of domestic terrorism. It makes sense that they'd give Beck the same business.
Or consider Jon Stewart, the legitimately funny host of "The Daily Show." Stewart is reminiscent of Will Rogers -- a humorist who was nonetheless anointed by the National Press Club as the "ambassador at large of the United States." The liberal establishment swoons over him. The Television Critics Association bequeathed its award for outstanding achievement in news and information to a show that isn't even a news show. Times columnist Frank Rich seems to have a man-crush on the Peabody comedian, while Bill Moyers of PBS insists that "you simply can't understand American politics in the new millennium without 'The Daily Show.'" The hosts of NPR's in-house press watchdog show, "On the Media," claim Stewart as their role model!
Stewart's M.O. is to launch lightning attacks as a left-wing pundit and then quickly retreat to his haven across the border in Comedystan, but Beck must be pelted from the public stage for blurring the line between theater and punditry? Really?
Over at MSNBC, which until recently floated no end of paranoid theories about neoconservative plots, Beck is boogeyman for his sometimes bombastic rhetoric about fascism and whatnot. Some complaints have merit, but this is the same network whose favorite conservative pundit is the populist Pat Buchanan, not even a Republican, who has written a book explaining why World War II was a mistake and how Hitler craved peace. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann's shtick is far more dishonest: He pretends he's Edward R. Murrow reincarnated when he's really Al Franken with more important hair.
The conservative criticism has more bite. Many conservatives believe Beck is undermining conservatism with his often goofy style and his sometimes outlandish and paranoia-tinged diatribes. In an ode to conservatives such as William F. Buckley, my friend Charles Murray writes, "Don't tell me that we have to put up with the Glenn Becks of the world to be successful. Within living memory, the right was successful. The right changed the country for the better -- through good arguments made by fine men." Murray is nostalgic for conservative leaders who were, like Murray himself, soft-spoken intellectuals.
There are problems with such nostalgia. First, there has always been a populist front on the right, even during the "glory days" when Buckley was saying he'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phonebook than the faculty at Harvard. Moreover, whatever Beck or Limbaugh's faults, they are more cheerful -- and more responsible -- warriors than the populist right-wingers of yesteryear. The Tea Partiers may be rowdy and ideologically diffuse, but their goals -- like Beck's -- are indisputably libertarian. And from a conservative perspective, popular libertarian uprisings should be preferable to the sort of statist populism so often celebrated on the left.
Most important, popularity is what the intellectuals were fighting for: to create a conservative culture (Americans describe themselves as conservative over liberal 2-1 ). By definition, making conservatism popular means making it less stuffy and intellectual and more accessible. Not only is Beck good at that, he actually gets people to read serious books in ways Buckley never could. Why defenestrate him from the house of conservatism merely to preserve the rarefied air?
Besides, why should conservatives support an unfair double standard? Liberals never see the antics of their more flamboyant celebrities as an indictment of liberalism itself. Perhaps it's time conservatives adopted a more liberal standard.
Crime, Census and Censorship
There are serious problems with the administration of the U.S. census. Americans have good reason to be wary of the stranger's knock on the door. Unfortunately, anything critics say about the federal census can and will be used against them in the court of left-wing opinion.
First, the disturbing news about the government's most recent census travails: According to a new General Accounting Office report, botched fingerprinting by ill-trained employees led to the hiring of some 36,000 census workers with insufficient background checks. "More than 200" of those workers may have had serious criminal records, according to the GAO. The investigators revealed that: "…of the prints that could be processed, fingerprint results identified approximately 1,800 temporary workers (1.1 percent of total hires) with criminal records that name check alone failed to identify. Approximately 750 (42 percent) (of those) were terminated or were further reviewed because the Bureau determined their criminal records -- which included crimes such as rape, manslaughter and child abuse -- disqualified them from census employment."
Gulp. This comes on the heels of the Census Bureau's admission that it is uncertain of the final cost of the 2010 decennial census, and that it faces ongoing problems with handheld computers used to collect data. The failure of the handheld devices will increase census costs by up to $3 billion, officials told a House subcommittee last month. On top of that, NewMajority.com blogger Tim Mak points out, the bureau is grappling with cost overruns of nearly $90 million related to verifying its address list.
Then there's the troubling alliance between the Census Bureau and the aggressively partisan Service Employees International Union -- whose many leading officials and organizing tactics are inextricably intertwined with the disgraced personnel and methods of the ACORN community organizing racket.
GOP Congressmen Peter Roskam, Patrick McHenry and Mark Kirk pointed out in a letter to Census Director Robert Groves that the SEIU donated more than $4 million to ACORN in 2006-07. ACORN founder Wade Rathke, who covered up his brother's million-dollar embezzlement of ACORN funds, is the "Founder and Chief Organizer" of SEIU Local 100. In Chicago, SEIU Locals 1 and 880 have contributed $230,000 to ACORN groups in Illinois and Texas. Many of their offices are co-located.
Given "SEIU's intimate financial relationship with ACORN," which the Census dropped from its partnership contracts after last month's prostitution sting video fiasco, "you should take action to protect the public from the corruption of the 2010 census," the GOP critics wrote. Their warning has gone unheeded.
Instead, Groves, the SEIU and several pro-illegal amnesty groups recently launched "a historic campaign" to target "the estimated 50 million Latinos living in the United States." Inclusion of the massive illegal alien population has resulted in a radical redrawing of the electoral map. More people equals more seats. More illegal immigrants counted equals more power -- for ethnic lobbyists, Big Labor and the Democratic Party.
Alas, watchdogs can't call attention to the politicization of the census enumeration process and its bureaucratic woes too loudly.
Three weeks ago, a part-time census worker was found murdered in rural Kentucky. Bill Sparkman was tied to a tree by the neck (his feet touching the ground when discovered), and the word "fed" had been scrawled on his chest with a felt-tip pen. Police are still investigating and haven't ruled out three possibilities: suicide, accidental death or homicide. "We're not responding to any of the speculation, the innuendo or the rumors," Don Trosper, spokesman for the Kentucky State Police, told the Christian Science Monitor last week. "The Kentucky State Police concerns itself with facts."
But this hasn't stopped rabid opportunists from convicting outspoken conservatives in the media of the unresolved crime/non-crime/incident. The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan immediately fingered "Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk-radio cohorts." Author Richard Benjamin acknowledged that the area where Sparkman died is an infamous drug haven, but zeroed in on "anti-government bile" as his favored culprit. Benjamin singled out GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for her criticism of ACORN and the Census.
"Progressive" talk-show host Stephanie Miller blamed the Tea Party movement for inciting violence. Echoing the unhinged liberal base, New York magazine indicted conservative talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh and other "conservative media personalities, websites and even members of Congress."
They did this with abortionist George Tiller's shooting in Kansas, the Holocaust Museum shooting in Washington, D.C., and the Binghamton immigration center shooting in New York. Motives had yet to be determined and bodies were still warm, but that did not stop the liberal stampede from redefining conservative political expression as an incitement to violence.
This cynical move to demonize criticism of the census is part of a larger drive by the left to muzzle limited-government advocates at every opportunity. Who needs the Fairness Doctrine? The criminalization of conservative dissent is well underway.
What is really happening to the US economy? : The administration's attempts to revive the US economy by encouraging consumer spending will fail. If consumer spending were to rapidly expand the result will be a highly unbalanced recovery that will keep the higher stages of production depressed resulting in another 'rustbelt'. It is now self-evident that the administration is at a complete loss as to the recession
Can an increase in spare capacity reduce the rate of inflation? : Given large idle capacity and still growing unemployment most experts are of the view that the Fed can pursue aggressive monetary pumping without igniting the rate of inflation. This is an extremely dangerous error
Are increased savings prolonging the US recession? :The recession has America's economic commentariat lamenting the 'problem of insufficient consumer demand' and the rise in savings. What they are giving us is the paradox of thrift, one of the oldest and gravest fallacies in economics
Unmasking Obama:It is now abundantly clear that the image of Barack Obama sold to the American electorate was tightly edited, air-brushed, and exaggerated. He has worn a series of masks - eloquent orator, brilliant scholar, centrist, and literary sensation. All of these masks are coming off as he copes with a job for which image will not suffice
Stop the spending and cut the taxes : There was a $787 billion stimulus package, $700 billion in TARP funds and a variety of Treasury and Fed initiatives that, according to Bloomberg News, add up to $11.6 trillion in taxpayer exposure - all as part of an effort to revive the economy. And what does the US have to show for it? 10 per cent unemployment
Barack Obama's dance with despots : We have a President most avid plaudits come from two-bit, tin-horn Marxist dictators who have spent their entire adult lives imprisoning, murdering, and maiming their enslaved minions. And to make matters worse, that President - Barack 'Sorry-to-be-an-American' Obama - is in lockstep agreement with all of what Castro says and much of what Castro does
Why I Became A Conservative : Becoming a conservative in Liberal Land has its costs: ' I lost my husband. I no longer speak with my feminist mother and my liberal siblings. Eight years after my epiphany, and 33 years after moving to Los Angeles, I sold my home and business. I said good-bye to the few friends and family I still had, and left Los Angeles for good
Obama Should Keep Bush Tax Cuts to Get Presidency Back on Track: "President Obama may have bigger problems on his hands than reforming healthcare. For the first time, the Washington Whispers poll tested the public's appetite for continuing the Bush tax cuts, which start expiring next year, and it topped healthcare reform as the No. 1 idea that could help Obama reclaim his presidency. Over one third of those in the poll from Synovate eNation said keeping the tax rate low will help the president, just edging out his top priority at 33 percent: doing whatever it takes to reform healthcare. But continuing the cuts doesn't seem likely, since he campaigned against them and ridiculed them in his recent healthcare speech to Congress. The findings in our poll are similar to others recently that show Americans eager to keep taxes low while they wait out the recession."
Double-dip recession may be ahead: "A "V" recovery is one in which a sharp drop is followed by an equally sharp rebound. The dreaded "W" describes an economy that plunges, then recovers, luring investors into the market and businessmen into new investments, only to drop again before a final recovery, with substantial losses all around for the prematurely optimistic. The optimism engendered by soaring share prices in the quarter just ended came to a screeching halt when the Labor Department issued a jobs report so grim that the Lindsey Group consultancy warned its clients not to read it "without a bottle of Prozac handy." A spate of bad news followed. Factory orders down year-on-year by some 20 percent; a mortgage market functioning only because the government is guaranteeing about 80 percent of those written; consumer credit so tight that it is falling at the fastest rate since the crisis began two years ago, and credit increasingly unavailable to small businesses; Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner forced to be economical with the truth lest the dollar collapse and proclaim that a strong dollar is "very important to this country;" Goldman Sachs predicting that high unemployment will drive down wages and purchasing power. And that's only in the short run...."
Antisemitism at Britain's major Leftist newspaper: "Here is a little quiz. The Guardian has posted up a list here of everyone who has won the Nobel Peace Prize since its inception. Q: Which three names are omitted from the Guardian list (even though they do appear on the Nobelprize.org list which the Guardian has purportedly reproduced)?*** A: Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. And what is the common link between these three names? Precisely. It appears someone at the Guardian actually went to the effort of removing the names of the three Israeli statesmen who won the prize. Facts are sacred? ***Update, 1650: Lo and behold, the three Israeli names have now been added to the Guardian list."
Iran: Israel's threats "inexplicable": "Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, sent a letter of protest to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonin which he wrote that "there is no explanation for Israel's continuing threats against Tehran". He was referring to an interview given by former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh to the Sunday Times in which he said that if Iran were not further sanctioned by this Christmas Israel would attack the country. Sneh told the paper that if Israel were forced to attack the Islamic Republic on its own it would do so, remarks the Iranian ambassador deemed "irresponsible". He said he hoped the UN would take steps against such comments. "Remarks such as these, stated once in a while by Israeli leaders, are no more than sorry excuses aimed at avoiding supplying answers regarding Israel's nuclear arsenal and deflecting public awareness from the crimes and terror Israel commits in the region," he said."
No homosexual condemnation of pedophilia?: "With justification, gays frequently object to conflating their sexual preference with pederasty. But that's why it would be welcome, in the midst ofthis weekend's gay pride events, for some gays to express their opinion on whether Kevin Jennings is an appropriate choice to serve as President Obama's Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education. Jennings, of course, is the man who failed to report an illicit sexual relationship between a 15-year-old student in the school where he worked, and an older man. He also wrote the forward to a book titled, "Queering Elementary Education" (read his essay here; it obviously encourages bringing sex and sexual orientation curricula into even the earliest years of school). Now, it appears, Jennings was also fan of one Harry Hay, a staunch defender of the National American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). Right. A guy with Jennings' background and associations has no place anywhere near a school -- or accepting taxpayer dollars for a post in the Department of Education. From his history, it seems that he is far, far too comfortable entertaining the possibility of adults having sex with children. Will anyone in the gay community be willing to stand up and draw the line between one's own sexual proclivities (whether straight or gay), on the one hand, and implicitly condoning the acting-out of those proclivities with children?"
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:38 AM