Monday, September 21, 2009


Frank Rich on Glenn Beck

Apropos of my recent email exchange with Glenn Greenwald, I found this paragraph from a Frank Rich column (HT2LRC) interesting:
“Wall Street owns our government,” Beck declared in one rant this July. “Our government and these gigantic corporations have merged.” He drew a chart to dramatize the revolving door between Washington and Goldman Sachs in both the Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner Treasury departments. A couple of weeks later, Beck mockingly replaced the stars on the American flag with the logos of corporate giants like G.E., General Motors, Wal-Mart and Citigroup (as well as the right’s usual nemesis, the Service Employees International Union). Little of it would be out of place in a Matt Taibbi article in Rolling Stone. Or, we can assume, in Michael Moore’s coming film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which reportedly takes on Goldman and the Obama economic team along with conservative targets.
Rich's discussion is particularly ironic, since Greenwald had quoted Matt Taibbi himself, explaining why all the tea party and town hall protesters were morons for ignoring the big-business influence in DC.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that Glenn Greenwald has listened to Beck's radio program about as much as I listened to Al Franken's. I know some of you are astounded that I even listen to Beck, because you've sampled Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, and thinks it's the same thing.

But no, it really isn't. Now as I finally admitted to myself by this post, it's all an act. (Or let's say, 98.6% an act.) But the act is pretty interesting, for such a mainstream program. Yes, Beck spends a lot of time ranting about ACORN. But how GG can refer to it as the "ACORN 'scandal'" (i.e. with "scandal" in quotation marks) is beyond me; have you actually seen the video?! It's unbelievable. It's like when people flipped out about tax dollars funding that "art" of a crucifix submerged in urine. It's true, that artist didn't get as much money as defense contractors. But you can understand why taxpayers would flip out about that, and it would be ridiculous to accuse them of hypocrisy for doing so.

Back to Beck: Yes, he spends a lot of time ripping ACORN, and part of the reason (besides the comedy) is that ACORN is quite obviously an organization that will mobilize to elect Democrats in 2010--and Beck quite proudly says he opposes their agenda. (In other words, Beck's not making a secret of taking measures on his show to prevent the advancement of the Democratic leadership's agenda. Nothing hidden on that front.)

But Beck also spends a ton of time ripping Goldman Sachs (remember this?) and General Electric. In fact, anytime he mentions GE, they play a jingle that says, "GE...we bring e-vil to light."

And yes, GE owns Fox's competitors, duh. But Greenwald and Taibbi simply do not know what they're talking about, when they say Glenn Beck focuses his listeners' ire at poor minorities instead of big corporations.

Last point: What do I mean when I say Glenn Beck is not Sean Hannity + self-deprecating humor? Well, recently Glenn Beck was telling his listeners that it was getting close to the time when they should seriously consider engaging in mass civil disobedience, to go in the streets to protest the takeover of their government by special interests (which included big money guys like Soros, it wasn't a "codeword for black people"), but that it was essential they do it peacefully like Gandhi. Now OF COURSE you can say, "Oh he's just saying that for ratings." Right. But isn't it interesting that that's the way he is trying to get ratings, by telling people there comes a point at which they need to start breaking laws? This isn't the Excellence in Broadcasting Network.


You know they're getting desperate when they pull the irrelevant, old-news Frank Rich out to try to perform a intellectual mob-style hit on this whole thing.

Wince-worthyingly pathetic.
Why we should win: Did anyone notice that of all the various recent hit jobs (Greenwald, Rich, Floyd Norris) and/or the old hit jobs (Yglesias, Quiggin, Krugman, DeLong), it is absolutely clear that these guys have no familiarity whatsoever with ANY aspect of multifaceted Austrian Economics?

Why? Because anyone who actually bothers to think it all through will end up converted. And then you can’t make big bucks in the establishment media anymore because you are now officially a “wingnut”.

Austrian Economics is like Kryptonite to establishment writers. They themselves are intimidated by group-think and intimidation is the only response that they can ever muster to Austrian School arguments.
My father watches/listens to Beck. According to him Beck has used the "imperialism" word and has been saying he's having to reconsider his opposition to Ron Paul's non-interventionism position. It could all be "product placement" but it is interesting that they feel the need to produce this particular product at this particular time.
"I am going to go out on a limb and say that Glenn Greenwald has listened to Beck's radio program about as much as I listened to Al Franken's."

This is false. Over the past 6 months, I've watched Glenn Beck's show more than any other political talk show by far. That's true for numerous reasons, including the fact that I purposely expose myself to outlets with other views and don't make comments about things unless I'm certain I know what I'm talking about.

As for Beck's alleged small-government and anti-corporate sentiments, he was FOR the Wall St. bailout and argued it should be larger -- was FOR the Patriot Act and virtually every other policy of empire-building and civil-liberties infringement during the Bush era.
It's always dangerous for libertarians to defend someone like Beck. The youtube link provided by Mr. Greenwald is informative.

I think Dylan Hales put it best here at Takimag:

"Still I believe Beck does have value because of the many people who do listen to what he has to say. Richard is right to criticize Beck’s bizarre support of the financial bailout and I’m very skeptical about the motivations of the so called 9/12 movement. Nonetheless Beck is the only corporate media figure that has had multiple TakiMag contributors on his show. He’s the only talk radio blowhard who talks about monetary policy. He is also the only professional motormouth who has openly apologized for many of his previous stances.

Talk radio - and to a lesser extent cable news - are mediums that are geared toward a captive audience of identity obsessed party line voters. Most of them are incapable or unwilling to think outside of the traditional Republican vs. Democrat narrative. While Beck is not a member of the Alt Right, he is certainly not a shameless GOP shill or an easily compartmentalized movement conservative. The millions of Beck devotees are guaranteed to learn more about forbidden subjects listening to Beck than they will learn from listening to Hannity or reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page. This doesn’t make him an ally, but it makes him useful - or if Richard prefers a useful idiot."

At the same time, the fact that Republicans are generally complete hypocrites does not necessarily refute their position when they (finally) adopt a libertarian anti-Obama position, like on Obamacare or "stimulus" or climate change.
Wow, that video was pretty brutal. Thanks Mr. Greenwald.

I knew Beck had been a pro-war guy. I didn't realize he was for the bailout at the time. Wow. I'm almost impressed that he can so confidently tell his viewers how he's been predicting all this for years etc., as if his views haven't morphed.

(BTW I just started listening to him heavily probably about 9 months ago or so. So I wasn't a listener during the TARP debate.)

And I apologize for saying you don't listen to him. I still think you should have at least clarified that he does mention evil corporations (all the time), except to say that his tune was different a year ago.
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