I noticed that you linked my blog post about conservative ideology and economics. I like all the other articles you linked. You’ve brought a lot together in this post. Some of your related articles remind me of various issues I’ve been thinking about.
First, Ron Paul said something the other day which was important. Despite disagreeing with domestic social spending (i.e., ‘entitlement’ spending), Ron Paul said it was a bad idea to start cutting with programs that are popular and that are designed to help people (their effectiveness and value being a separate issue). He sees there are bigger issues to worry about and that we should begin with military spending.
Every so often, Ron Paul says something that massively impresses me. This is such a moment. It’s a fact that a majority of Americans support domestic social spending and don’t want it cut. Ron Paul is demonstrating that he isn’t out of touch with the average American, that he puts people above merely seeking his own preferred ideology. He sees that military spending is the more central and much larger problem, a problem which most Americans agree about. Ron Paul is seeking to focus on an area of bipartisan agreement. That is an attitude I respect.
This is how I see it. Let’s do massive cuts on military. Let’s end our military empire. Let’s close down or otherwise lessen the funding for military bases in countries all around the world. Let’s end pointless wars that destroy lives and bring our troops home. Let’s end the profiteering of the military-industrial complex. After we do all that, then we can discuss issues of whether to cut domestic social spending or not, whether to give the rich tax cuts or tax hikes.
“I always find it funny that rightwingers think CNN is liberal. This guy is espousing social conservatism. I have no problem with that. His opinion seems reasonable, even if I don’t entirely agree. But please please don’t tell me this is liberal media.”
I understand the point he is making, but I think he is missing a distinction. In my post, I reference psychological research showing dogmatism is one trait which predicts conservatism. There is a major difference between dogmatic ideology and non-dogmatic ideology. The latter tends to be more open-ended and broadly inclusive, more open-minded and willing to compromise, more intellectually humble and open to change with new data. I’m not saying there is no value to dogmatic ideology. Conservatives would describe it as sticking to their principles and sometimes that is a good thing, but sometimes not.
Some commenters at the Krugman link brought up similar thoughts:
“I do think, however, there is a difference between having core values and being rooted in pragmatic approaches to realizing those values in the world of politics and believing in a “one-size-fits-all” doctrine that reduces complex problems to a single solution”
“Well, yes, but there is a way to tell the difference between the two. The ideologue will go on and on about there received truth without any reference to facts even when those facts clearly contradict what they’re saying.”
One other commenter brought up something which is relevant to what bothers me about ideology, especially in politics:
“In economics, what is referred to by the media as “ideology” is often just self- or class interest. In politics, reference to ideology is often an attempt to identify opponents with an enemy country or bloc – “socialism” still means identification with the Soviet Union/Russia or China to many people.
“Everyone may have an “ideology” at any given moment, but for many politicians the professed ideology can be changed according to partisan needs. Republicans pretend to be concerned now with the deficit, but this will change if a Republican is elected President. The current political debate is not ideological, it is a class conflict. One reason the plutocrats are winning is that those in the opposing class(es) think that they stand to benefit from the “ideology” supposedly adhered to by those who actually dominate government policy.
“The use of the term ideology should be restricted to principles that are consistently applied and not just based on material or political advantage. The media are not qualified to evaluate the validity or sincerity of “ideological” claims, but they can and should evaluate who stands to benefit from particular policies or actions.”
I’m less bothered by ideology, even dogmatic, as principles someone genuinely believes in (depending, of course, on the specific principles). The main problem is that principled/dogmatic ideology is easily used as rhetoric by politicians, pundits, and preachers who seek to manipulate people in order to achieve their ulterior motive. As a liberal, I prefer ideology loosely held because it counters and lessens this danger of rhetoric.
Another aspect of this problem is that rhetoric tends to win over facts which means principled/dogmatic ideology tends to win over ideology loosely held. Liberals, on the political battlefield, are at a disadvantage. This is how the far right has dominated the political narrative for decades. This is why fiscal conservatism has been the dominant ideology, even among Democratic politicians: neoliberalism, supply side economics, tax loopholes & tax havens for corporations, tax breaks & cuts especially for the rich, Two Santa Claus Theory, Starve the Beast, ‘free’ trade agreements, NAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall, deregulation, putting business friendly people at the head of regulatory agencies, cuts on domestic spending such as public services & infrastructure, attacks on entitlement spending & public education, union-busting justified by cost savings, and on and on and on.
Too often, fiscal conservatism is just a superficial facade for social conservatism. I wish politicians would just be upfront and honest, but I realize that is probably asking too much. Politics would be more interesting, maybe even inspiring, if we had real public debate about real issues… instead of endless ideology and manipulative rhetoric, cynical political spin and empty campaign promises… while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while the debt grows and the problems are compounded.
Until recently, there hasn’t been as much public debate about many of these issues. Even now, Obama seems to be, according to his actions and not his rhetoric, more in agreement with conservatives than with liberals. This is an odd situation considering that Obama won the popular vote because he preached a progressive liberalism most Americans support. Polls show most Americans are more progressively liberal than apparently even most Democratic politicians. How can fair debate of real issues happen under these conditions? Why does the mainstream media often pay more attention to a liberal issue when a right-libertarian brings it up?
I was just listening to a speech Ron Paul gave at a Tea Party convention. Some commenters noted it was the first full Ron Paul speech they’d seen from a major news source. Guess what the source is? RT America which is a Russian network that is partly financed by the Russian government.
It’s rather ironic because Americans like to think of themselves as being independent-minded, but you have to turn to a Russian network to get a diversity of alternative American voices. RT America has as guests such people as Thom Hartmann (originally from Air America radio), Cenk Uygur (started the most successful internet news show), and Alex Jones (of conspiracy theorist fame).
I like Ron Paul if only for his sincerity which is a rare attribute for a professional politician. Also, he is far from being stupid… but… His overall repetitive message of big government being the problem comes off as simplistically naive. No one could make such an argument if they knew history and were able to see outside of their own ideological reality tunnel.
I don’t blame Ron Paul per se. He is a businessman and so sees everything through the model of business. His idol is the free market. He honestly believes in it.
People like Ron Paul seem to argue that a free market would solve any problem. The simplest criticism is that a free market has never existed. There are always various people and groups controlling markets. The fundamental concept behind the free market argument is that businessmen have practical knowledge and so are economically smarter than politicians and regulators, smarter than academic professors and researchers. It is claimed that anyone other than businessmen will just mess up everything.
The context of this argument is the idiosyncratic history of America. The US early on was fairly isolated from other powerful countries and many of the communities on the continent were isolated by vast land, but it’s obvious the country wouldn’t remain that way. They didn’t need much of a military or navy. The powerful countries were busy fighting each other. The only reason America won its independence was because Britain was busy elsewhere. The reason the US didn’t need a strong navy was because the French navy defended the waters used by American trade ships. The American sense of exceptionalism arose from this isolation because there was no powerful countries nearby who either were able or willing to threaten us. All the wars we fought early on were minor and easily won.
So, unlike other countries, US markets developed with little regulation. The Boston Tea Party was partly motivated by fighting the collusion between big government and big business. The Founding Fathers intentionally wanted a disconnection between businesses and state just as they wanted between church and state. As far as I know, this was the first large-scale experiment ever to try to develop a free market. This was possible because America as a country grew as industrialization was beginning. The hope was that free markets would regulate themselves through competition and the innovativeness of early industrialization made people optimistic, but this experiment was largely a failure during the Gilded Age… or at least a failure in terms of a democratic society, especially as understood today.
Before the Progressive Era regulation, big business was powerful which led it to be oppressive and sometimes outright violent. They didn’t call them Robber Barons for nothing. Companies back then didn’t have to deal with government interference. There was no regulation and no safety inspections. Some companies even owned entire towns which they ran like anarcho-capitalist fiefdoms. They owned the stores, the hospitals, the schools, the housing. They owned everything. And, of course, workers had very little control. These company towns was nearly indentured servitude because workers could never make enough money to ever save and cost of everything was high.
Ok, but what about vertical oligopolies and monopolies, as MettaliarYanto says in his response? Also, what prevents a “monopoly of force in a given area” your definition of the state?
“[I]f one starts a private town, on land whose acquisition did not and does not violate the Lockean proviso [of non-aggression], persons who chose to move there or later remain there would have no right to a say in how the town was run, unless it was granted to them by the decision procedures for the town which the owner had established.” [Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, p. 270] Is that not such a monopoly, i.e. state, if private?
Is that not such a monopoly, i.e. state, if private? Contracts that employees signed could have provisions forbidding strikes, organizing, etc., agreeing to pay for police, courts, doctors, stores and militaries hired by the employer.
Company towns had every feature which anarcho-capitalists propose, private police, courts, military, etc. Company rules were law. Buying at the company store was required by their contracts. If they sturck or formed a union, they were fired and evicted instantly. The contracts were entered voluntarily, in your sense. Since rights can be waived, exactly what stops this? The British East India Co. was its own state, ruling for centuries. Same with King Leopold’s Congo, run by his corporation.
“Each mining camp was a feudal dominion, with the company acting as lord and master. Every camp had a marshal, a law enforcement officer paid by the company. The ‘laws’ were the company’s rules. Curfews were imposed, ‘suspicious’ strangers were not allowed to visit the homes, the company store had a monopoly on goods sold in the camp.
The doctor was a company doctor, the schoolteachers hired by the company . . . Political power in Colorado rested in the hands of those who held economic power. This meant that the authority of Colorado Fuel & Iron and other mine operators was virtually supreme . . . Company officials were appointed as election judges. Company-dominated coroners and judges prevented injured employees from collecting damages.” [The Colorado Coal Strike, 1913-14, pp. 9-11]
Working conditions were unhealthy and dangerous. It was common for workers to be become sick, to be maimed or killed. If their health became bad enough or they were maimed badly enough, the person lost their job and probably wouldn’t be able to find another. There was no unemployment or disability pay. If the person died, their family lost it’s main source of income and kids would grow up without a parent. Also, many kids went to work early on and so didn’t get education. Because kids were small, they were used in mines. Because kids were cheap labor, they were used in factories. Many kids also were maimed and killed.
Work was hard and brutal. People were forced to work long hours without breaks, without overtime pay, and without any days off. People were forced to take any work no matter how dangerous because there was no welfare. If you lost your job, you became homeless and possibly starved to death. There were more people looking for work than there were jobs. Life was cheap. Basically, businesses had the upperhand. If you were fired for no reason or were cheated out of pay, you had no recourse. There was practically no regulation and no worker protection. There wasn’t yet any established and powerful unions to represent workers. When workers organized, they were fired and blacklisted. When workers attempted to form unions, union leaders were threatened and killed. When workers protested, private police or goons were used to terrorize and brutalize workers.
Despite all of this, so many people were poor and desperate that they confronted this private power even when it meant mass slaughter. Most of these working class people didn’t have guns or any kind of weapons. These people were so poor they owned very little. All they had was their own life to put on the line.
There was no legal guarantee of workers rights. The government mostly left companies to sort out their own problems. When the government did become involved, it was mostly local government and not the Federal government. In these cases, the government usually sided with the companies. But, in some cases, the Federal government intervened and enforced peace. Workers had more to fear from local governments because local politicians were more closely connected with local business owners.
This is similar to the civil rights movement. It was local (i.e., small) government that was acting oppressively and unconsitutionally. And it was the federal government that stepped in to help the average citizen. If businesses and local governments acted morally, the federal government would never have had to take drastic measures. The Federal government was responding to a real problem. People like Ron Paul idolize both free markets and small government, but it was the failure of both that caused people big government to defend their rights and lives.
The other thing these capitalist worshippers fail to understand is that, during the Wild West free market of early industrialization, many businessmen weren’t opposed to government just as long as it served their purposes. Bribery and corruption was common. The so-called free market was rife with cronyism. In the early 20th century, many businessmen supported and did business with fascist states around the world. There was even a planned fascist coup of the US which was linked to some businessmen.
If you want to look for the earliest defenders of consitutional rights and civil rights, you wouldn’t look to big businesses. There were, however, some collectivist communities like the Shakers that operated their own businesses and did so successfully. And there were the Wobblies which was one of the early workers movements. Neither of these was anti-capitalist by any means, but they were against the so-called free market that served corrupt power and oppressed the citizenry. Both accepted women and men, blacks and whites as equals in their organizations. The Shakers and Wobblies were some of the only places at the time where women and blacks could have their voices heard and could hold positions of power.
This was a time when blacks and women didn’t have the right to vote and couldn’t hold political office. Even poor white men had very little power. Industrialization was built on an ownership class with the entire working class treated like secondhand citizens. This was also the era of the genocide and ethnic cleansing targeted at the Native Americans. This is the era of the free market that so many worship as being as being an era of freedom, but the supposed freedom in reality only applied to rich white men. Yes, the rich white men were free from government imposition and free to force their will on everyone else.
The Pinkertons were essentially a privatized force that combined detective agency, mercenaries, and the types of activities now associated with the FBI. Big business at it’s height was potentially more powerful than the Federal government.
During the Civil War, many blacks and poor whites knew a kind of power they never had before. Their was this whole new class of people who were well-trained and often well-armed. The Pinkertons couldn’t just pick on the poor and weak anymore. There is a reason that it was the outlaws and not the Pinkerton agents who were the cultural heroes back then. There was so much corruption and oppression that people were inspired by outlaws who stood up to power and fought back.
I feel frustrated when someone offers up something like the free market. The striving for freedom won’t save us. The problem is that we aren’t free. We are embedded and enmeshed in, intertwined with and integral to the entire world. We aren’t free of anything. The very idea of freedom is one of those many abstractions that keeps us trapped in the Iron Cage of rationality, the bureaucratization of humanity… costs and benefits, ideologies and systems, improvement and progress. It’s not that any given idea is wrong. Free markets, for example, sound wonderful. What frustrates me is the mindset that constantly creates more ideas to be forced on humanity, on reality, on all the world around us. We think that if we just find the right idea or principle, the right method or framework then the the problems will be solved… but the fundamental problems of civilization are never solved… or at least not so far.
Why I feel frustrated is because of people like Ron Paul. He isn’t a radical conspiracy theorist ranting about the government nor is an uneducated ideologue. Someone like him should know about the history of the US. So, why does he act like he is ignorant of this history or considers it so irrelevant that it’s not worth mentioning? I’m not arguing that there is no problems with the unions and regulations created during the Progressive Era, but it would be morally irresponsible to pretend that vast problems didn’t exist prior to the 20th century big government. Americans gave free markets a chance and free markets failed. Why would any rational person (besides rich white males) want to return to the social and economic conditions of the 19th century?
– – –
* As a note, I should point out that there never actually was a free market during the Gilded Age. For example, the railroads were built with government subsidies and land grants. Collusion between politicians and businessmen has always existed since the beginning of civilization. It happens on the local level as much as it happens on the national level.
Also, I’m not arguing that all 19th century businessmen were corrupt. But I am arguing that most if not all of the wealthiest tycoons became successful at least partly through less than moral tactics. There were other businessmen who fought against these Robber Barons, but they aren’t the names remembered because they aren’t the businessmen who formed the groundwork for today’s big business. Some would argue that the Robber Barons only became corrupt because they colluded with big government, but this certainly wasn’t progressive big government. The point is that corrupt businessmen will try to corrupt government, big or small.
“You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”
In the above videos (I think he mentions it in the first one), brainpolice2 mentioned the data of libertarians being mostly white males from the upper middle class. The point being they’re supposedly out of touch with the average person and particularly out of touch with demographics that have in the past lacked political power and representation (minorities, immigrants, women, etc).
I thought I’d seen this data before, but I decided I should verify it. I found some data from the Cato Institute (which certaintly represents wealthy libertarians). Indeed, libertarians are 82% white (80% for all demographics) and 7% black (12% for all demographics). So, that isn’t all that extremely off the average and in fact is the same as what Cato labels as liberal (both groups being below the 83% white and 10% black of conservatives). This is a bit confusing as I’d have to look at their definitions more closely, but one comparison stood out. Cato’s diagram of ideologies puts populism opposite of libertarianism and populism has the highest percentage of minorities at 15% black (and 80% white). The Democratic party tends to draw both liberals and populists which is why there is higher representation of minorities among Democrats.
I suspect, however, that with the Tea Party there has been an increase of populism among whites which oddly has combined forces (at least in part) with the opposing ideology of libertarianism. I think this is because conservatism stands between the two and conservative nationalism bleeds over into libertarianism and populism. Anyway, at least in 2006 when this data was taken, white libertarians were the demographic most opposed to black populism (opposed both in terms of ideology and minority representation).
Some other demographic details:
Libertarians – second most well educated (after liberals), second most secular and least church attending (after liberals), highest percentage of males of any demographic, youngest demographic (youthful idealism?), wealthiest demographic (idealism supported by a comfortable lifestyle?), below average percentage in all regions except for the west where they have the highest representation of all demographics (I’m not sure why that is), mostly identified as Republican.
And let me compare to their opposite ideology:
Populists – least well educated, one of the most religiously identified and church attending (only slightly below conservatives), majority female, oldest demographic, poorest demogrpahic, most southern demographic, Cato doesn’t have the political identification data for this demographic (going by Pew data in “Beyond Red vs Blue”, I’d assume that this demographic would mostly Democrat).
According to Cato definitions, libertarians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative and populists are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. Since I brought up the Pew data, my guess is that these two ideologies would correlate to the Pew Demographics in the following way. Libertarians seem to be a perfect fit for what Pew labels as Enterprisers (which are basically the rich, white, males who vote almost entirely Republican and are the most loyal viewers of Fox News). Populists are probably mostly what Pew labels as Conservative Democrats and Disadvantaged Democrats (which have higher percentages of minorities, females, and the poor), although populists might also be found among the demographic Pew labels as Pro-Government Conservatives (the poor, female minorities who are almost evenly split between Republican and Indpendent).
In conclusion, it would seem that libertarians in the US are simply the rich, white, male demographic of the conservative movement who mostly identify as Republican. If I’m reading the data correctly (from the two above sources), libertarians seem less prone towards identifying as Independent than many other demographics (such as liberals or else conservatives who are some combination of poor, minority and female). Rupert Murdoch, the self-identified libertarian and former board member of the libertarian Cato Institute, is the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the owner of Fox News Channel. Murdoch seems the perfect representative of this libertarian demographic and he seems to have intentionally conflated libertarianism with the Republican party.
Ron Paul is another libertarian who fits the description of rich, white, male Republican. He might be a bit different than Murdoch in emphasizing civil libertarianism slightly more, but I doubt they’d disagree on much. Ron Paul did show his true libertarian colors recently.
Compared to many conservatives, I like how Ron Paul comes off as well-intentioned in his values. I get the sense that he is the complete opposite of the cynical neo-conservative who will use anything, including libertarian rhetoric, to win votes. In the comment section of the above video, there was a mocking portrayal of libertarianism which was on target. Despite good intentions, even someone like Ron Paul often comes off as a bit detached from the average American’s experience.
One of the more pretentious political self-descriptions is “Libertarian.” People think it puts them above the fray. It sounds fashionable, and to the uninitiated, faintly dangerous. Actually, it’s just one more bullshit political philosophy.
– George Carlin
Libertarianism is a fad political ideology for 13 year old boys, first year college students, and white business owners who use the “private property” argument so they don’t have to serve blacks.
This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy.I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility.
After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Then, after spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I drive back to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and the fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.
I then log onto the Internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.
I always wonder why libertarianism has been taken over by rightwingers. I have nothing against Ron Paul’s supporters. It just bewilders me the association between libertarianism and pro-capitalism, between libertarianism and fundamentalism… and what in the heck do pro-capitalism and fundamentalism have to do with each other?
I know it’s an exaggeration, but sometimes it feels like present libertarianism is a movement only for militant gun-lovers, religious fundamentalists, and big business owners. Libertarianism no longer seems like a movement for the average American. Instead, libertarianism has become a haven for those with extreme ideologies and those who could care less about the civil rights of those different from them (the poor, the minorities, the immigrants).
What about the early libertarians who were working class populists?
What about the socialist and progressive libertarians?
What about the hippy live-off-the-land commune-dwelling libertarians?
What about the lovers-not-fighters live-and-let-live libertarians?
What about the drug-using freedom-loving libertarians?
Where are these wild and unruly liberals?
Where are the proletariat populists willing to fight the powers that be?
Where are the Gonzo journalists willing to challenge the status quo?
I’m thinking about people like Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs. This type of person lived life on their own terms and sometimes suffered for it. I’m also thinking about people like Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick. They were free thinkers who weren’t afraid to question the norm, the consensus opinion. All of these people were intelligent. They weren’t leaders of political or religious movements. They were just everyday intellectuals who lived by their ideas and influenced the world through those ideas. They lived in the real world outside of the academic ivory towers, outside of Washington politics.
Another example is Art Bell. He is definitely a live-and-let-live libertarian. He married a Wiccan and definitely had that old school libertarian vibe. He was (still is on a less regular basis) a radio host who would allow almost anyone to speak their opinion no matter how crazy it might sound. To Art Bell, seemingly no topic was off-bounds. He did support Ron Paul (I don’t know if he voted for him), but his views mostly seemed to be liberal.
All of these guys (I can’t offhand think of a female example) were/are of an older generation. I know this kind of person still exists, but they don’t seem to get the same public attention they once did. So, what has changed in society, in the media? Why aren’t these people being heard?
I guess Art Bell is still being heard, but his show is now hosted by someone who most definitely doesn’t share this liberal/libertarian attitude. There are plenty of liberal-leaning libertarians even if the media portrays libertarians as a rightwing movement. Even populism has been recently taken over by rightwingers and they’ve been astro-turfed by corporate interests. Where are the real libertarians, the real populists, the real freedom-lovers? I don’t care about the militia groups or the people who are obsessed about guns as a symbol of freedom and patriotic fervor.
There is too much politics and too much religion mixed in libertarianism these days. Opposite to this were William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson. Sure, they loved guns… but they also loved sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. They weren’t trying to start movements of any sort. They were true independents living their own lives. Maybe it was a different time. Maybe it’s harder to live that way now. They grew up in a time before conservatives started their culture wars, their tough on crime policies, their War on Drugs. Hunter S. Thompson chronicled the ending of that era.
The fundamentalists and the capitalists can take their faux libertarianism and stuff it.
The central question that emerges-and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal-is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes-the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.
There was much to mock about this past weekend’s Tea Party convention: the low turnout, Tom Tancredo’s repulsive immigrant bashing, a conspiracy-drenched documentary claiming the financial crisis was deliberately engineered by radical 1960s ideologues bent on bringing down capitalism, and, of course, Sarah Palin’s keynote lite.
But it would be a huge mistake to dismiss the movement that led to the event.
Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is ugly. Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is race-based. Yes, some of the Tea Party movement is being bankrolled by conservative political groups — and all of it promoted by Fox News. But focusing only on those elements obscures the fact that some of what’s fueling the movement is based on a completely legitimate anger directed at Washington and the political establishment of both parties.
Think of the Tea Party movement as a boil alerting us to the infection lurking under the skin of the body politic.
In his recent piece about the Tea Parties, The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath wrote:
If there was a central theme to the proceedings, it was probably best expressed in the refrain ‘Can you hear us now?’, conveying a long-standing grievance that the political class in Washington is unresponsive to the needs and worries of ordinary Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike were targets of derision.
Though this weekend’s event had a decidedly conservative bent, it was interesting to watch how during the Q&A session after her speech, both Palin and Judson Phillips, the chief organizer of the convention, proudly informed the crowd that neither of their spouses vote Republican.
“Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities – and the people who love them – is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.” — Sarah Palin 2/1/10
Sarah hadn’t seen it herself, because it was in a newspaper. But “a patriot” told her about it. Really. On Wednesday, Rush weighed in. This went beyond party politics. Someone had to stand up for boorishness on principle.
“Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards … I’m not going to apologize for it.” – Rush Limbaugh 2/3/10
He went on to say “retard” or “retarded” twenty-seven times. On Sunday, someone asked Sarah Palin how she liked them apples, and she replied:
“He was satirical in that… Rush Limbaugh was using satire. So I agree with Rush Limbaugh.” – Sarah Palin 2/7/10
Yum. Delicious apples.
Of course, you know all this. The knock on Sarah Palin is that she’s applying two different standards, one for Rush Limbaugh, because he’s a friend, and another for Rahm Emanuel, because he can do the crossword puzzle. But I think there’s something even creepier going on. Here’s what Limbaugh said Tuesday:
“I only hope here that Rahm doesn’t go out and call these people another F-ing unfortunate name out there, folks, because I’ll have to repeat it in another satire.” Rush Limbaugh 2/9/10
Notice how he said “satire?” It’s a quintessential bully move. He said it because she said it when she said it was okay for him to insult her children. He said it to let her know that he knows that he made her eat shit.
The trick about this magic is that it’s not a trick. It is real. We embrace reality stars without reason. And because it is a baseless adulation, no negatives can dilute our affections. Negatives that are said about Sarah Palin have no ballast. No meaningful critique can harm her. Expose her. Or for that matter, even elevate her. She has reality TV star status. Words have no relevance in our relationship to her. We don’t communicate with reality TV stars, and they aren’t required to communicate with us. It’s the unspoken connection, an electronic embrace, it is a fragile relationship, and faulty at best.
To debate Sarah Palin’s abilities and her acumen are meaningless. Words lose their currency. She’s impervious to rational critiques. Nothing can be said to shake a supporter who idolizes her. It is ironic that the vacuum tube brought on the electronic age of communication. A reality TV star lives in some strange vacuum. A shield that seemingly protects them from any rational discourse. Nothing can be said that rivals their TV glow. They burn brightly, and their light fascinates and captivates. And oddly enough, just as you can’t explain their sudden rise to fame, you can’t explain their fade into oblivion. And when we are asked why we cared, we can’t remember. To a reality TV star, their only enemy is time.
There’s trouble brewing between the Ron Paul libertarians who staged the the first modern tea party in 2007 by dumping tea into Boston Harbor, and the neocon war hawks led by Sarah Palin who are furiously trying to hijack their message.
After I appeared on MSNBC talking about Sarah Palin’s appearance at the Nashville tea party convention, several libertarians told me they were unhappy with the exchange.
I said that Sarah Palin’s hawkish message on Iran was oddly out of place in a group whose roots belong to the Ron Paul libertarians, particularly as the anti-interventionist Rand Paul is looking strong in the Kentucky Senate Senate race — and Palin just endorsed him. The woman who appeared with me representing the tea partiers disagreed with that premise, and claimed she was very much an interventionist.
My libertarian friends couldn’t imagine what she was doing on TV representing the tea parties in the first place, and thought it was a sad day when the opposition stated their position more fairly than their supposed allies.
But it underscores a rift between the anti-tax, pro-civil rights libertarians who started the tea parties and the corporatist neocon grifters of the GOP who are now trying to swoop in and capitalize on all of the hype. And in the irony of ironies, tea party-identified candidates are now trying to oust Ron Paul from his Texas House seat.
Even if the turnout wasn’t the 2 million that some conservatives tried, briefly, to claim, it was still enough to fill the streets near the Capitol. It was also ample testament to the strength of a certain strain of right-wing populist rage and the talking head who has harnessed it. The masses were summoned by Glenn Beck, Fox News host and organizer of the 912 Project, the civic initiative he pulled together six months ago to restore America to the sense of purpose and unity it had felt the day after the towers fell.
In reality, however, the so-called 912ers were summoned to D.C. by the man who changed Beck’s life, and that helps explain why the movement is not the nonpartisan lovefest that Beck first sold on air with his trademark tears. Beck has created a massive meet-up for the disaffected, paranoid Palin-ite “death panel” wing of the GOP, those ideologues most susceptible to conspiracy theories and prone to latch on to eccentric distortions of fact in the name of opposing “socialism.” In that, they are true disciples of the late W. Cleon Skousen, Beck’s favorite writer and the author of the bible of the 9/12 movement, “The 5,000 Year Leap.” A once-famous anti-communist “historian,” Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience.
These beliefs are held by various segments of our population. They are absurd. Any intelligent person can see they are absurd. It is not my purpose here to debate them, because such debates are futile. With the zealous True Believers there is no debating. They feed upon loops within loops of paranoid surmises, inventions which are passed along as fact. Sometimes those citing them don’t even seem to care if you believe them. Sometimes they may not believe them themselves. The purpose is to fan irrational hatred against our president.
What are we to make of the recent suggestion on the “respected” right-wing site NewsMax, later withdrawn, that “it might not be such a bad thing” if the U. S. military rose up and overthrew Obama in a coup? That sort of talk belongs on a password-protected neo-Nazi or Klan site, not in a place where ostensibly intelligent people look for information. Where were the editors? What did they think? If they’re “conservatives,” do they support the overthrow of our government by a coup?
I don’t really think so. But I believe they will stoop to almost anything to fan the flames of their cause. And they have created a timidity in the mainstream Republican party, afraid to alienate a “base” it should be ashamed of. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he is said to have observed that with one signature he had lost his Democrats the South. It took moral courage to sign that bill. He did indeed lose the Southern racists, who were to its shame embraced by the GOP — a poisoned pill, it is becoming obvious.
[…] Racism plays a role, but conspiracy theories themselves have an addictive quality. They appeal to a personality type. Many of those who take nourishment from them have, I suspect, a bitter resentment against authority. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do. They’re defiant. Anyone who is in power is lying to them for evil motives. Nothing they learn from the mainstream media can be trusted. Some people may think they’re so smart — but these conspiracy insiders know the real story. They learn it from each other, they embellish it, they pass it around, they “document” it with invented connections, they bond among themselves, and they live in a closed system that seems to validate them.
They lack common sense. Their conspiracy theories cannot tolerate it. Most reasonable people, when they heard Obama wanted to kill their grandmother, simply smiled, because — well, because they knew he didn’t. But the conspiracy people Know Better. That’s the whole point. That’s where the fun comes in. They have a peculiar intensity in their circular reasoning. They cite facts that are not facts, supported by authorities who are not authorities. As my grandmother freely said of perhaps too many people, “They don’t have the sense God gave them.”
Some of this may be connected to the weakness of American education. Yes, I know that there are splendid schools and brilliant, dedicated teachers. See my recent review of such a school. But many good teachers will be the first to tell you that they despair of some of the students sent to them from lower grades. They cannot read, write, spell, speak or think on a competent level. They aren’t necessarily stupid. The schools, their parents and society have failed them. The words “no child left behind” are a joke.
Among the things the schools often don’t instill is a sense of curiosity. Too many kids have tuned out. They nurture a a dull resentment against those who know more. Feeling disenfranchised, they blame those who seem to have more information and more words. Some of these victims may in fact be quite intelligent. Some of them may grow up to become fringers. Read the web sites of conspiracy zealots and you will find articulate people who can write well. Their handicap is that they missed the boat when it sailed toward intellectual maturity, and now they’re rowing furiously in pursuit, waving a pirate flag. Their screeds are a facsimile of reasoned, sensical arguments. They don’t know the words, but hum a few bars and they’ll fake it.
Ever wonder how the right always seems so coordinated in the strategy. How all the multitude of organizations they’ve created all seem to use the same playbook? How they all manage to focus on the same talking points each day, day after day, year after year. Well it’s no accident. But how do they do it?The answer my friends lies in a little known organization with the innocuous sounding name The Council for National Policy. Don’t go looking for an official website because you won’t find one. In fact this “think tank” goes out of its way to avoid publicity:
When a top U.S. senator receives a major award from a national advocacy organization, it’s standard procedure for both the politician and the group to eagerly tell as many people about it as possible.Press releases spew from fax machines and e-mails clog reporters’ in-boxes. The news media are summoned in the hope that favorable stories will appear in the newspapers, on radio and on television.It was odd, therefore, that when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a “Thomas Jefferson Award” from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren’t notified. In fact, they weren’t welcome to attend.“The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting,” reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization that honored Frist. The membership list of this group is “strictly confidential.” Guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the organization’s executive committee. The group’s leadership is so secretive that members are told not to refer to it by name in e-mail messages. Anyone who breaks the rules can be tossed out.What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?That answer is the Council for National Policy (CNP). And if the name isn’t familiar to you, don’t be surprised. That’s just what the Council wants.The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-three years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.
What amazes most CNP opponents is the group’s ability to avoid widespread public scrutiny. Despite nearly a quarter century of existence and involvement by wealthy and influential political figures, the CNP remains unknown to most Americans. Operating out of a non-descript office building in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., the organization has managed to keep an extremely low profile an amazing feat when one considers the people the CNP courts.
Sounds a little tin foil hattish to you? Trust me it gets worse. Founded in 1981, its first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of
popular books about the “end-times” and the Second Coming of Christ. He was also a co-founder of the Moral Majority. In the 1980s he headed the American Coalition for Traditional Values. While heading that group, LaHaye said, “If every Bible-believing, Christ-loving church would trust God to raise up an average of just one person over the next 10 years who would get elected, we would have more Christian candidates than there are offices.”
A list of former and past members reads like a who’s who of conservative Christian Right activists, anti-tax and anti-government activists, billionaire right wing philanthropists and GOP office holders, past and present […]
Thirty-one Republican members of Congress co-sponsored a resolution in October 2009 honoring O’Keefe and partner Hannah Giles for “display(ing) exemplary actions as government watchdogs and young journalists uncovering wasteful government spending.” Nobody inside the right-wing world cared if O’Keefe and Breitbart allegedly edited out exculpatory portions before releasing the tapes. They don’t care that he and Breitbart refuse to this day to release all of the unedited videotapes so independent observers can determine just how manipulated they were before posting them online.
So the moral is obvious: To get on Fox News, you concoct a video that makes Democrats look bad. End of story. But of course, that’s not journalism.
Don’t just take my word for it. In the wake of the ACORN videos story last year, a few voices within conservative media actually pointed out the obvious. James Taranto, a member of the far-right Wall Street Journal editorial board, included this boulder-sized caveat in his otherwise fawning interview with O’Keefe’s mentor and employer, Andrew Breitbart, last year:
The approach Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. [Hannah] Giles used — lying to prospective sources or subjects — is grossly unethical by the standards of institutional journalism. Almost all major news organizations, including the Journal, strictly prohibit it.
Fox Business’ Rebecca Diamond made a similar point during an interview with O’Keefe last November:
But, James, if you want to be considered a real journalist and not just a conservative activist — just doing stuff on behalf of your conservative agenda — you can’t pretend you’re somebody you’re not. … If I did that, Roger Ailes would probably fire me because it’s unethical as a journalist, as a real journalist.
Which brings me back to Buckley. If you rewind to the time of the National Review’s founding in the 1950s, Buckley had to decide how to treat the emerging right-wing influence of the radical John Birch Society, which at the time was convinced Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent, that most of the U.S. government was run by communists, as were the health care and education industries. As Buckley biographer Sam Tanenhaus explained to Bill Moyers on PBS last year, at first the National Review indulged the John Birch Society because it was fanatically anti-communist, which bolstered the conservative movement.
Then, finally, in the mid-1960s (and yes, it took way too long), Buckley said “Enough.” As Tanenhaus recounted last year:
And he said, “We can’t allow ourselves to be discredited by our own fringe.” So, he turned over his own magazine to a denunciation of the John Birch Society. More important, the columns he wrote denouncing what he called its “drivel” were circulated in advance to three of the great conservative Republicans of the day, Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Senator John Tower, from your home state of Texas, and Tower read them on the floor of Congress into the Congressional record. In other words, the intellectual and political leaders of the right drew a line.
“We can’t allow ourselves to be discredited by our own fringe,” said Buckley, referring to the conservative movement as a whole. Today, however, rife with would-be lawbreakers and committed name-callers, “conservative journalism” faces the same fringe conundrum.
I can be quite opinionated… as anyone knows who knows me. I’m not shy about my opinions most of the time. But my opinions are ususally nuanced and I don’t tend to shove them in people’s faces. I’m open to listening to the opinions of others.
On the other hand, I can be outright aggressive in stating some of my opinions. Some statements seem so obviously true based on the facts that I find irritating anyone who denies them… which isn’t to say my opinion is black and white even in those extreme cases.
I don’t try to hide my liberal bias. Part of my liberal preferences are just my personality and some are based on research I’ve done. I can’t help but be who I am and so my inborn liberal tendencies do cause me to be a bit unfair in my assessments at times. Usually, though, my desire to be fair and reasonable wins out.
My liberal bias particularly shows when I’m talking about certain topics related to conservatism. I don’t like Fox News, Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, etc. I don’t like them not simply because they’re conservatives, but because they represent the worst of conservatism, the worst of mainstream, the worst of human nature in general… and I’ve written many blog posts with examples and data to back up this conclusion. That said, I’m not therefore promoting Democrats as a better solution to what ails the world.
Yes, Fox News is propaganda, Roger Ailes is a Republican operative, and Glenn Beck is a political hack… then again, I don’t generally trust any mainstream media. I find other mainstream news sources less annoying, but I never let my guard down when checking out the news. My annoyance with Fox News is that it’s slogan is “Fair and Balanced” which is an obvious lie. The other mainstream news outlets don’t make such ostentatious claims. No news source is fair and balanced… which doesn’t mean that reporters shouldn’t strive towards this ideal.
Anyways, I prefer alternative news sources because you have a better sense of seeing what you get and getting what you see. In mainstream media, any story has gone through numerous layers of people who decide what to approve, who decide how to present it, and who edit it down. The final product often is closer to fiction than reality. In the alternative media, there is less funding and so there are less layers between you and the information… and, if there is a bias, it tends to be more obvious.
In the political realm, yes, George W. Bush was one of the worst presidents that we’ve ever had and yes Karl Rove was a sinister mastermind… then again I don’t generally trust any mainstream politician. I pick on the Republicans partly just because their evil behavior can be just more blatantly obvious (the Patriot Act being a prime example. When Bush told a lie or was trying to obfuscate, it was obvious because he lacked (or maybe just pretended to lack) political slickness. Some liked Bush because he appeared to have no pretense and just said things as he believed. Assuming that is true, a lie blatantly told annoys me all the more because it insults my intelligence. The way Bush acted seemed to me like a child pretending to be a grownup, a child playing at some game… ya know, the whole Texas cowboy act or his wearing a flight suit. Whatever game Bush was playing, he wanted us all to play along and just ignore the man behind the curtain (ahem, Karl Rove).
I don’t assume that Obama doesn’t lie or that his policies are entirely motivated by some higher moral sensibility. However, Obama does seem to take the moral authority of his position seriously. He is just another Washington politician, but at least he makes his lies sound pretty and he inspires us in the process. Ultimately, I doubt the end result of Obama’s presidency will be much different than the end reult of Bush’s presidency. I’m of the opinion that presidents have a lot less power than we like to think. Politics is just politics. The politics we typically see in the media is just a show and there are people behind the scenes pulling the strings. But, with Obama, for a brief moment I can suspend my disbelief and let myself be carried away by the rhetoric. If we must have evil politics, it might as well be entertaining and uplifting.
So, am I being unfair to conservatives? If most of the mainstream media is propaganda and if most Washington politicians are evil, then why spend more time complaining about one side or another? I know I’m being biased in my liberal preferences, but I do complain about both sides even if my complaints about one side tend to be stated more strongly and more often.
The reaon for this is partly just my response to conservatives and mainstream culture in general. When Bush lied, why didn’t the mainstream media question the administration and do real investigative journalism? Why did the American public buy into it hook, line and sinker? Why do many conservatives still believe the lies? When Obama lies (or simply doesn’t live up to his promises), everyone is all over it.. the media obsesses over it, the rightwingers attack him, and the leftwingers complain that he isn’t progressive enough. Why did Bush get a free pas so often? Because of 9/11? Because he was a “War President”? Is Obama not a “War President”? Bush campaigned on bipartisanship and then acted entirely partisan when in office, and what was the response? There was a public call for national unity and Democrats bowed to his every wish and command. Obama campaigned on bipartisanship and then sought bipartisanship in office, and what was the response? There was Fox News attack-fest and the Republicans went into obstructionist mode.
When I look at what goes for mainstream liberalism, it seems fairly moderate. There are, of course, the polls that show most Americans favor a moderate form of progressivism, but that isn’t entirely what I mean by this. Obama seeks bipartisanship and his actions seem to be pretty much a carryover from Bush. Obama is a progressive in words only. Obama is just a politician. The so-called liberal media bias is only liberal in that it supports a liberal status quo. Mainstream America is slightly liberal and the media reflects that and shapes it to an extent, but there aren’t any flaming communists or populist progressives in the mainstream media. Social liberalism is just the natural tendency of modern society. Democratic and capitalistic idealism tends lead towards social liberalism. It isn’t any scheme of the “liberal elite”.
On the other hand, when I look at mainstream conservatism, it’s been moving towards more extreme manifestations. Maybe this is just the fundamentalist response to modernism as many have pointed out (e.g., Karen Armstrong). Ever since taking up the Southern Strategy, conservatives have been fighting against the liberalizing elements of modern society. They do succeed to an extent in obstructing and in riling up populist anger, but they seem to be fighting against the very nature of our society. Some conservatives try to explain their failure by claiming Republicans such as Bush have moved away from true conservatism. That is fair as far as it goes, but true conservatism hasn’t been allowed within the GOP for a very long time. What I consider true conservatism are the “live and let live” libertarians. The people who don’t want other people trying to control their lives and tell them what to do… whether it’s big government, big business, or big religion. Despite what they may think, the moral conservatives aren’t the true conservatives. The desire to control public morality inevitably leads to big government and the oppression of civil rights.
Maybe liberals have strayed just as far from true liberalism… I don’t know. I guess that I tend to emphasize social liberalism which oddly can at times be fairly in line with true conservatism. I think of social liberalism as being true liberalism. From my perspective, true conservatism and true liberalism have more in common than either have to their mainstream equivalents. The mainstream equivalents do talk the talk (Republicans call for smaller government and Democrats call for progressive change), but they don’t walk the walk. I’m more forgiving towards the Democrats in that they seem closer in their ideology to the actual emerging public opinion. Republicans too often just complain about the world, and their attempt to portray their complaint as populist is unfounded.
My ultimate bias towards liberalism isn’t in liberal ideology itself but in the overall liberal attitude. I’m an intellectual liberal which isn’t necessarily the same thing as a political liberal. However, there seems more similarity between the two than not. Mainstream liberals seem on average to be more intellectually respectable than mainstream conservatives. You can find intellectual liberalism within the conservative movement. Buckley attempted to make conservatism more intellectually respectable, but Bush was definitely the intellectual bottom of the barrel. Nowadays, within the conservative movement, the best examples of intellectual liberalism probably can be found among the libertarians. The problem is that the intellectually liberal libertarians recently haven’t had a place at the GOP table. Instead, the anti-intellectuals have become the loudest voices of the conservative movement. That bugs me more than anything.
I’m fine with someone calling Keith Olbermann a ranting pundit if they so wish, but Olbermann isn’t merely the leftwing equivalent of Glenn Beck. Unlike Beck, Olbermann isn’t an anti-intellectual. Even the more intellectual conservatives on Fox News such as Bill O’Reilly don’t seem all that impressively intellectual. I haven’t come across a popular rightwing equivalent of Noam Chomsky, for instance. I’m not saying that all conservatives are stupid, but I am saying the smart conservatives tend not to be as popular within the mainstream conservative movement.
So, if more conservatives were willing to embrace intellectuality instead of moral righteousness, then I’d be a lot less critical of the conservative movement. My complaint isn’t against conservatism as a general category. True conservatism, in fact, seems quite appealing to me. I wish more conservatives would think for themselves. I see the Tea Party being promoted by the Republican Fox News and being taken over by the Republican agenda. I’d love to see a true conservative protest movement. When liberals protested the Iraq War, no media outlet promoted the movement and the protest remained independent of mainstream politics. During Bush’s reign, you had to look to the Peace Protests in order to find the true conservative outcasts. But, now in Obama’s reign, it seems true liberals have less of an outcast status.
Liberals seem more willing to embrace difference and self-criticism. If there had been as many conservative critics of Bush as there are now liberal critics of Obama, then we might’ve been able to avoid at least some of the mess we now find ourselves in. I’m critical of conservatives lack of criticalness (and by criticalness I don’t mean calling Democrats names), but maybe it’s just not in the nature of conservatives to be self-critical.
I was having a discussion (in the comments of an Amazon.com book review) with someone who seems fairly conservative but who says they aren’t Republican. This person’s views of liberals, however, seem traditionally conservative and this person didn’t make any statements that would contradict mainstream Republican views. The review in question was of a book by Cleon Skousen who has been popularized by Glenn Beck. So, it’s likely this person is either a Beckhead or a Tea Party protester… or maybe they just heard of Skousen through the conservative grapevine.
Skousen is representative of the far right in his association with the John Birch Society. The John Birch Society was so far right that the staunch conservative Buckley kicked them out of the conservative movement. Skousen was mostly a forgotten name until the recent rise of the Tea Party (or rather its recent promotion by Fox News).
My understanding is that the Tea Party was originally inspired by Ron Paul’s libertarian movement.
The Republicans saw Ron Paul as competition because he is closer to traditional conservatism than they are. Beck helped undermine Ron Paul’s movement, but later apologized after Beck had become the de facto leader of the Tea Party. Beck is a dissatisfied Republican who has turned to conservative thinkers such as Skousen who have been kept outside the Republican fold for decades, and apparently now that Buckley is gone those outside the fold are trying to get back in again. There is a weird struggle going on between the Republicans and the Tea Partiers, but unfortunately no matter which side wins the libertarians will be the losers. I saw a poll that showed Republicans considered libertarians only slightly less negatively than liberals.
I can see some attraction to libertarians such as Ron Paul and I sympathize some of the Tea Party’s complaints (even if not the ideological targets of their complaints). Even so, I just can’t stand Glenn Beck. I partly just don’t like Beck’s lack of intellectual depth (along with his fear-mongering and race-baiting), but more annoying is that Beck works for Fox News. Fox News is headed by Roger Ailes who has for decades been one of the major players in the Republican party (much credit can be given to him for the success of movement conservatism). I think Fox News’ interest in the Tea Party is a Republican ploy to take over this movement of dissent… which would mean the genuine complaints would get lost in talking points of Republican campaigning.
Despite the loony wingnuts, my sense is that there probably are quite a few reasonable and maybe even moderate people within the Tea Party movement. A while back, I posted a video (several videos in fact along with my own commentary) of someone who seemed reasonable and was complaining about what happened to the Tea Party once it was popularized (and practically taken over) by Fox News. Here is the video in question:
According to a Pew poll, the demographic that is the most loyal Fox News audience are rich white men… which also happens to be the demographic of those who run Fox News (how convenient). So, I don’t think Fox News actually has the average Tea Party protester’s best interests in mind nor do I think Fox News is genuinely promoting the complaints that drew many people to the Tea Party movement.
I may be a liberal, but I have libertarian leanings and I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. During Bush’s administration, the liberals and libertarians joined together to protest the Iraq war. What did Fox News do? It (meaning the Fox News pundits such as Beck) defended the administration, ridiculed the protesters, dismissed the 9/11 families, and categorized Truthers as loony conspiracy theorists. Ron Paul was against the Iraq war which is a major reason he attracted the ire of Republicans and Fox News. The Peace Protest movement was even larger than the present Tea Party movement. Republicans and Fox News thought protesters were the scum of the earth, but when a Democratic president was elected based on a populist message of hope by a majority of Americans all of a sudden Fox News overtly started advertising for and generally promoting the Tea Party protests. Fox News was fine with the Patriot Act and only now do they worry about the government having too much power? Pardon me if I think this is a bit disingenuous.
So, Beck has been doing his best to popularize conspiracy theories and make them respectable once again for the conservative movement. The problem is that, in becoming dissatisfied with the GOP, Beck just went even further right. I prefer my conspiracy theorists to be equally critical of both the left and the right. Forget Beck. Give me Alex Jones. Compared to Beck, Alex Jones’ theories seem quite reasonable to me. Alex Jones truly stands outside of the mainstream and doesn’t pull any punches. It’s easy to see the biases of Alex Jones, but Beck is different as he works within mainstream media. Considering that Beck paid by the rightwing spin machine (otherwise known as Fox News), I can’t even know to what extent he is being honest or, even if he does genuinely try to be honest, to what extent he is being manipulated by his corporate handlers. Fox News is run by News Corp which is one of the wealthiest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world. If there is a worldwide conspiracy, I’m sure News Corp is one of powers behind it.
Better than Alex Jones even, give me Robert Anton Wilson or Art Bell. Robert Anton Wilson made conspiracy theories truly entertaining. Art Bell, of course, is one of the greatest libertarian talk show hosts to ever be on air and he is a true libertarian… a “live and let live” kind of guy with a strong dose of openminded curiosity. Art Bell said Fox News sucks for its treatment of Ron Paul.
I started listening to Art Bell back in the 1990s. I wasn’t even all that interested in politics at that time. I suppose I’ve always been fairly liberal in my predisposition, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve researched politics enough to have any clear opinions. I don’t remember exactly when I started getting more interested in politics. I remember attending some political meetings at the University, but other than sating my curiosity I didn’t care too much about any of it. I saw OutFoxed when it came out and that was my first awareness of blatant media bias and political spin.
The one and only time I voted for a president was for Nader in 2000. The reason I voted for Nader was because I heard him speak. It was the only time in my life when felt convinced that a politician genuinely believed in what he was doing. Nader seemed like a truly moral person. My voting for him wasn’t an ideological decision but was instead based on an assessment of his character. For whatever reason, not even Obama inspired me as much. Obama made inspiring speeches, but Nader inspired me simply for what I sensed about who he was. I have no desire to vote for the lesser of two evils and I refuse to play the rigged two-party game… not that I dislike Obama (I actually do like him as a person to some extent) and I can think of many people who would make much worse presidents (ahem, Palin).
The only political movement I ever was involved with was the Peace protests. At the University of Iowa, students and locals had set up a Peace Camp and they were there for quite a while. I hung out at the camp almost every day even when it was cold. It was the first time I felt like I was a part of something that mattered. Bush, of course, was the worst kind of politician. I’m drawn to pacifist idealism, but more importantly it seemed obvious to me how the Bush administration was lying. I still don’t understand why Bush’s lies weren’t questioned much at the time even by supposedly liberally-biased mainstream media. Even today, many conservatives still believe some of Bush’s lies that have been disproven for years. It truly bewilders me. And the Patriot Act… my God! The Patriot Act almost made me lose all hope.
It was funny that at the time when everyone was blaming Nader voters for Bush’s election. I knew Bush was bad news, but I had a theory about how good might come out of it. Even before Bush was voted into office, I knew he would be one of the worse presidents and I thought that it likely could lead to inspiring liberals to put forth a truly progressive presidential candidate later on. It turns out that I was more or less correct in that Obama’s progressive message indeed did get popular support after the horrors of the Bush regime. However, I didn’t predict how the horrors of Bush would linger on even after he was gone (Patriot Act, Guantanamo, etc). I didn’t believe in Obama’s hope hype, but I did want to believe that change was actually possible. I’m open to the hypothetical scenario that Obama might live up to his own progressive speechmaking, but going by his record so far it doesn’t appear all that likely. This is one time when I wish my cynicism would prove wrong.
These days, I’m not involved in politics at all other than writing about it. Obama and Bush, Republican and Democrat… it all seems the same to me or not all that different anyways. I just think of myself as a curious observer. I still listen to Art Bell’s show but now it’s hosted by someone else. Over the years, I have at times noted the wide spectrum of the audience of Coast to Coast AM. The callers and guests consist of liberals, new age gurus, pro-drug activists, Wiccan priestesses, Satan worshippers, Catholic preists, libertarians, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, cranks of various sorts, and even time travellers from the future. The slant of the show, since Art Bell started it, has always seemed socially liberal and politically libertarian. Art Bell himself used to be married to a Wiccan and he was the prototypical independent-minded libertarian.
I’ve recently been thinking about Coast to Coast AM in terms of the Tea Party. Art Bell was a supporter of Ron Paul. I suspect that libertarians and Tea Partiers probably represent a significant portion of Art Bell’s fan base. I’m also a fan of Art Bell, but I’m always wary of conservative libertarians adoration of Ayn Rand and I’m even more wary of the Beckhead Tea Baggers. On the other hand, I don’t think of myself as a Democrat. Many Democrats hate Nader voters like me as much as Republicans once hated Ron Paul supporters. I feel like I’m in a weird niche. The closest I come to finding a view that I identify with might be Noam Chomsky, but I recently met a Chomsky fan who was a rabid atheist and I don’t much like rabid atheists.
Part of me wishes I could be a libertarian, but in the US the libertarian movement has been taken over by pro-capitalists and the religious right. Of the conservative libertarians, I’d prefer the pro-capitalists because at least some of them are socially liberal. I read Ayn Rand in college. I liked her fiction somewhat, but then I read her nonfiction and it really turned me off. I just don’t understand the proseletyzing of free market idealism. As I see it, a free market has never existed and probably never will. Yeah, it looks good in theory… many things look good in theory.
Maybe I should just forget about all of the various movements and just think of myself as an independent.
I think I was happier when Republicans were in power. Republicans are just blatantly evil in how they abused power. Democrats in some ways just seem more sneaky. Plus, with Democrats in power, the libertarian movement has become even more conservative because of all the people no longer wanting to identify with the failed and failing GOP.
It pisses me off. I’ve been a critic of mainstream politics for much of my adult life. I’ve always been attracted to conspiracy theories about secret societies, alphabet soup agencies, the military-industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, and the One World Government. I can’t say I necessarily believe in any given conspiracy theory, but the general attitude appeals to me. I can’t stand that the likes of Beck has become the mainstream representative of conspiracy theories. Beck may be mainstream, but he is more whacko than some of the cranks that I’ve heard Art Bell inteview. I’m sure Beck means well and all. It’s just that he seems like a dupe. Maybe I’m being overly critical. Am I wrong to mistrust the change of heart of a supporter of Bush and the Patriotic Act? Beck says he leans towards libertarianism, but I’ve never heard him criticize imprisoning American citizens as enemy combatants or criticize the torture of suspects that may or may not be terrorists. If that is leaning towards libertarianism, I’m sure glad Beck isn’t leaning away from libertarianism. How can Beck be considered the voice of populist dissent, the defender of constitutional rights?
Okay… there was a point to all of this. My thinking was partly incited by the discussion I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The person (who I shall call “he” from now on) I was debating seems like a typical conservative in seeing liberal bias everywhere. He mentioned the documentary Indoctrinate U which is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.
The person on Amazon.com seems reasonably intelligent and capable of critical thinking to some extent, but his views of liberals is rather simplistic… maybe he hadn’t been exposed to many liberals besides encounters with strangers on the internet and portrayals of “libruls” on Fox News. I assume that this documentary represents his own views as he seemed to be using it to support his arguments. This is the type of conservative that befuddles me. He says he isn’t a Republican even while espousing very conservative views. He seems somewhat moderate in his attitude all the while saying he wants to read Skousen who represents extreme conservative bias. All in all, he seems be in the general vicinity of the audience of Fox News (which apparently exists in an alternative dimension from the one I happen to occupy).
I’m fine with criticisms and disagreement. I’m not one to denounce Beck or the Tea Partiers for feeling that the government doesn’t represent them. I agree with their general sentiments. I agree that there is a bias in the media and in education and in the mainstream in general, but what is up with seeing a conspiracy everywhere which is led by some kind of liberal elite (be they Socialists, Communists, Marxists, or Nazis… or, even worse, maybe all of them combined).
I did end up watching the entire documentary. Basically, it’s a conservative version of a Michael Moore production but not quite as entertaining. Many examples are presented with little context. In response to one of the reviews, the maker of the documentary admitted to being biased and thought it unfair for someone to criticize his bias.
Why is it so hard for people to look at the real sources of oppression and propaganda? What is the point of blaming one party or another, one president or another, one mainstream news source or another? One group wants to blame big government and the other group wants to blame big business, but a little bit of research shows that there isn’t any great distinction between the two. The family and financial connections, the revolving door, the inherited wealth and social position… power is power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Conservatives buy guns in fear that the liberal elite are going to destroy democracy or something, but who are they going to point the gun at? When the oppressive forces come (assuming they aren’t already here and haven’t been here for a long time), they’ll come for conservatives and liberals alike. Anyways, I doubt even the gun-toting paranoids will see them coming because the new form of political oppression probably won’t come by overt force.
There is no liberal propaganda scheme to brainwash the children of conservatives. The professors and news reporters really aren’t all that liberal (compared to true socialists and progressives) and anyways most of them are just as deceived (or more so) than the rest of us. The conspiracy (whatever it may be) is systemic to our entire society. This is why someone like Derrick Jensen probably is closer to grasping the actual conspiracy than any outright conspiracy theorist.
Why are conservatives so afraid of the government now with Obama in Washington? Obama hasn’t even come close to passing anything as scary as the Patriot Act. Obama is no more a Communist than any other president. I just don’t get all of this paranoid fear-mongering. Yes, there are real things to be afraid of, but I don’t see much point to all of this blind rage and righteousness, all of this ideological warring. Many, many people have been warning about conspiracies for decades… yet we’re all still here and the political game continues. What is behind this sudden sense of urgency? Is it just the economic downturn that gets conservatives all riled up? Mess with their jobs, their money, their houses… and there will be a revolution.
In this first video, Noam Chomsky says we should take the Tea Party seriously because the problems these people speak about are very real. It’s just that these people don’t understand the actual cause of their problems.
In this second video, Chomsky says:
“The protests are being organized by pretty much the same sectors that are creating the crisis.”
That is something that I’ve noticed. Without Fox News and Glenn Beck, the Tea Party wouldn’t exist as a popular (not populist) movement. There is a question, however, that must be asked. Who runs Fox News? Roger Ailes is the American president of Fox News Channel and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group. What did Roger Ailes do in the past? He was the media consultant for several Republican administrations since the 1970s. Roger Ailes used as a campaigning tactic the creation of fake town hall meetings.
Is it any surprise that Fox News has been caught numerous times reporting larger numbers of people than actually attended Tea Party protests?
Is it any surprise that Fox News has used footage from other entirely different events to make the numbers seem larger?
Is it any surprise that Fox News has used its own employees ro encourage Tea Party crowds to yell louder for the camera?
Yes, the Tea Party movement has been taken over by the rich and powerful. But there were people protesting before Fox News ever took notice. When Fox News pundits like Glenn Beck were ridiculing Ron Paul, the followers of Ron Paul were trying to create real change in the political scene.
I appreciated the comments by the guy in the last video. The media only ever presents the crazy people who swarmed the Tea Party when Glenn Beck and friends started promoting it. It was only at this point that Glenn Beck tried to make nice with Ron Paul… only after having undermined his entire movement. I have libertarian leanings and I appreciate true libertarians, but Fox News is no friend of libertarianism.
I miss Art Bell. Coast to Coast AM isn’t the same without him. Maybe Art as an interviewer wasn’t always the most patient listener, but for sure he had character.
In the following video, he says that Fox sucks because of their treatment of Ron Paul. How true, how true! If you want a true master of paranoia and libertarianism, forget Glenn Beck. If you want true freedom-loving populism, forget the Tea Party. Instead, listen to some old Coast to Coast AM shows with Art Bell.
I’m sure Art Bell interviewed Ron Paul at some point, but I couldn’t find any audio of such and event. So, here is the new host of Coast to Coast AM, George Noory, interviewing Ron Paul.
Just for the fun of it, have sounds of hell and JC.