March 22, 2010

Yes, Glenn Beck Says Stupid Shit, But I Want You To Shut Up About It

That's right. I'm officially calling for a one-year-moratorium on the words "Glenn Beck" being spoken by anyone who doesn't actually agree with the lunatic opinions of Glenn Beck. Other banned phrases include "Rush Limbaugh," "Fox News," "Tea Baggers" and "Tea Party." Again, Limbaugh-listening, Fox-watching, tea-bagging tea-partiers are allowed to use these phrases, but liberals are not. Got it?

Banned sentences include any snarky comment about how some folks think we're living under socialism because of health care reform and how some people say Obama's a communist/fascist/terrorist/whatever. As a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I would, I guess, be opposed to enforcing this ban through anything as dramatic as public floggings for people found using the banned phrases/sentences/jokes, but if we could get together enough people to make it work, I'd be in favor of enforcing it through shunning and other social sanctions.

I'm not calling for this moratorium because I'm sick of hearing the same tired predictable stupid lines over and over again from my mainstream liberal friends, although, to be clear, I certainly am. I'm certainly not calling for it because I think that Obama actually is any of those unpleasant things ending with "ist" or because I doubt for a second that the Tea Party crowd is fucking nuts or that the people who regard the health care overhaul as creeping socialism are phoning in from an alternate dimension. As a matter of fact, I heartily agree with all of those points.

No, I'm calling for the moratorium because, if mainstream liberals cut these phrases/sentences/jokes out of their vocabulary for a year, they would be forced to stop hiding behind this garbage and actually engage with real arguments about how their guy has been managing the country for the last year or so, and what the Democratic-controlled Congress has and hasn't been doing for more than three years, and stop evading the real fucking issue. Talking about Glenn Beck is an intellectual crutch that liberals have been hobbling around on for far too long.

Example:

Beyond any reasonable doubt, George W. Bush was by 2006 guilty of many impeachable and prosecutable offenses, not least invading and occupying a sovereign nation under false pretenses, constantly violating the Geneva Convention, and detaining American citizens without trial or charges for years. When Nancy Pelosi was swept into the Speakership in 2006, she announced before even taking office that Congress would not be doing its Constitutional duty. They would not be punishing these severe illegalities in any way. Impeachment was "off the table." Thanks to her, Bush continued to have his way with the world for two more fucking years and he may never face legal consequences for what he did.

Better yet, Pelosi and Reid kept signing the empire's checks. In the years since 2006, they could have cut off funding for Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and brought the troops home any fucking time they wanted to. If they had, the anti-war majority of the voting public would have applauded until their hands bled. None of that happened. The Democrats kept voting for war funding and working-class kids kept coming home in flag-draped coffins for the sake of oil, empire and fucking bipartisanship.

One might have thought that Obama couldn't have found a way to improve on the Pelois/Reid record of continuing Republican war policies, but he found a way, even keeping Bush's Secretary of Defense in office, as sure a signal of bipartisan unity in the cause of killin' Arabs as one could hope for. In case that wasn't good enough, he kept us in Iraq, escalated Afghanistan (twice!) and went on a killing spree in Pakistan against "suspected terrorists" and anyone unlucky enough to live in the same villages as suspected terrorists that made George W. Bush look like Cindy fucking Sheehan.

But hey, you know what?

Not only have I not much been hearing my Democrat-votin', MSNBC-watchin' liberal friends spend any time criticizing these policies in the last year, I haven't even heard them invest any particular time or energy in defending or rationalizing President Hope 'n' Change's continuation of the worst of George W. Bush's empire-building, civilian-bombing mania. You know why fucking not? Because all the people who marched against the war in 2003 and still have those leftover "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" stickers from the Bush years on the bumpers of their cars have been too fucking busy going on and on and on about how nutty the Tea Partiers are, too busy dropping oh-so-ironic references to how "I guess we're living under socialism now, according to Fox News" and engaging with the rest of that nonsense. Why think or worry or argue about how rapidly Barack Obama has been racing to make LBJ look like a starry-eyed liberal pacifist, or what you can actually do to end the wars--now that the strategy of voting the loyal opposition into office has been proven to be an absolute non-starter in that regard--when you can devote all of your political energy and anger to the subject of how stupid and hyperbolic and creepy the fringe-right opposition is.

(LBJ had a fringe-right opposition too, folks, but back then anti-war lefties didn't devote themselves 24/7 to going on about how stupid and crazy Goldwaterites were and how ridiculous and offensive it was that the John Birch Society thought that President Johnson was a closet commie. They knew they had better things to do with their time, like organizing resistance to Johnson's vile genocidal war in Vietnam.)

Reading Facebook status updates and liberal blogs and Salon.com and the rest and watching MSNBC and talking about politics at the bar and listening to arguments on the street, I've seen and heard the equivalent of thousands of hours of mockery of right-wing paranoia and bluster about Obama being a "tyrant" and the like. With a few honorable exceptions like Glenn Greenwald, though, I've heard fucking pitifully little from the liberal left about Obama's actual civil liberties record, from setting up Bagram as the new Gitmo to decreeing absolute immunity for CIA torturers to continuing the practice of extraordinary rendition to asserting a stronger version of the state secrets doctrine than Bush and Ashcroft ever did to moving towards creating a permenanent legal framework for indefinitely detaining "suspected terrorists" without charges or trials to declaring the right to unilaterally assassinate them anywhere in the world, on Presidential say-so, without checks, balances or legal processes of any kind. For the last year, Obama's been merrily continuing and deepening the civil liberties violations of the Bush years, and that's a fucking uncomfortable subject for the legions of Obama-voters who used to talk about how Bush should be impeached for his attacks on the Constitution, but it's cool. You don't have to talk about the real attacks on civil liberties if you can spend your time lampooning the unhinged claims from the right that banning insurance companies from excluded people with pre-existing conditions from coverage amounts to Stalinism.

And yes, please, let us fucking talk about fucking health care. Jesus.

I know a lot of you out there who have been devoting your time to railing against Glenn Beck agree with me that health care is a fundamental human right, that Tommy Douglas, who introduced socialized medicine to Canada, is getting blow jobs from angels while he eats doghnuts and watches hockey forever and ever in heaven, and that the continued existence of the private health insurance parasites on this side of the border is a profound national disgrace.

Now, you'd think that anyone with those opinions would be pissed about the new law, passed by the House late the night before last, mandating, legally forcing us all to buy the product of those private health insurance parasites. You'd think that the prospect that poor people who, even with what subsidies are provided for in the bill, will have to do a lot of tricky financial juggling to buy insurance, may end up being fined for refusing to line the pockets of insurance company stockholders and may even end up going to prison if they don't pay their fines, would have liberals rioting in the streets. You'd expect, at bare fucking minimum, that folks would be chaining themselves to the doors of their Congressmen's offices to protest their votes in favor of the mandate, and that a few insurance company offices would have been burned down in anger over one of the biggest private corporate power grabs in living memory.

Naaaah.

OK, but what about the guarantees in this legislation that women absolutely won't be able to use federal funds for life-saving abortions? What about President Hope 'n' Change's solemn promise to Bart Stupak to sign an executive order mandating that no poor woman who receives any subsidies to help her buy the health insurance she's now legally mandated to purchase will be able to use said health insurance to exercise her basic civil right to decide whether or not to stay pregnant? You'd that, after fucking decades of saying that the single most important reason to vote for Democrats in election after election, no matter how shitty, war-mongering or generally worthless any given Democratic candidate has been, is the overwhelming, over-riding need to protect abortion rights from Republican assaults, Obama's liberal base would be foaming at the mouth in anger over this betrayal of basic feminist principles. You'd think that legions of rabidly pro-choice Democrats would be lashing out at the Obama administration and the spineless Congressional Democrats and denouncing their votes for this bill and sending big fat campaign checks to Ralph Nader For President 2012.

Naaaah.

OK, maybe those were terribly unrealistic hopes, but what about the public option? If you'll recall, not six fucking months ago, the received consensus liberal opinion was that the public option was Essential, that any reform package that failed to include it would be meaningless, that this was where we needed to draw a line in the fucking sand. Without a public option to compete with private insurance companies, there would be no real progress. A mandate and no public option would make things worse.

You remember that shit? Uh huh? Well, OK, maybe it would be too much to demand that rank-and-file liberals maintain some minimal consistency from month to month, that they conduct themselves in any way much more principled than Ingsok propagandists going on about how Oceania is at war with Eurasia and has always been at war with Eurasia. Maybe it was inevitable that they all quietly break their promises not to support any bill without the public option in it. Fair enough. Fish swim, birds fly, scorpions bite and liberals find excuses to support whatever nonsense the Democratic party is calling "reform" this week. That's just the way the world works.

But. Still. You'd at least expect that the day after this public-option-free, abortion-stifling, private-insurance-mandating bad joke of a "reform" package passed the House, the immediate round of liberal blog posts, Facebook status updates and water cooler talking points would be somber, reserved, full of earnest subdued little explanations about why this sucks but its better than nothing, why the handful of real positive reforms that are packaged in with the mandate and the rest make the large sucky parts of the reform bill worth holding your nose and supporting. This would lead into some serious arguments between people saying things like that and the pissed-off serious left, and maybe some minds would be changed and probably a lot would stay right where they were, but at least people would be arguing about something that actually mattered.

Naaaah.

See, they didn't have to talk about anything as depressing as that. That's the great thing about Glenn Beck, the profound service that the Tea Party movement has done for Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their legions of spineless rationalizing liberal supporters. People like Beck are straw men who walk and talk, perfect golden excuses to change the subject, and make the massive coercive corporate welfare gift to the private health insurance industry that just passed the House sound progressive by talking up just how much Beck and the rest hated it.

Instead of trying to argue for the bill, or explain why it was better than nothing no matter how much it sucked, or even entertain the heretical possibility that it might be, on balance, worse than nothing, the chorus of liberal blogs, Facebook status updates and water cooler talking points all had exactly one note:

"Oh, hey, let's watch Glenn Beck froth at the mouth about this! I guess we're living under socialism now, huh? Haha, yeah, that's what Fox News says! You suppose Rush Limbaugh's really gonna leave the country? Man, he'd better, before Obama reveals that he's a secret Kenyan Muslim Communist Pacifist Fascist and he rounds everybody up for those FEMA prison camps! Haha! God, Glenn Beck is stupid..."

The sublime beauty of this approach is that, in the light of the constantly emphasized opposition from the lunatic right, whatever Obama and the Democrats do sounds progressive. You don't have to engage with an argument you can't win (defending the progressive credentials of the legislation) if you can change the subject and spend all of your time on an argument that a retarded four-year-old could win (what the far right says about the legislation is dumb!).

So, again, a simple, humble proposal:

I don't demand that liberals wake up and smell the fundamental continuity with the Bush era. I don't demand that they display the courage and consistency to oppose legislation that points in exactly the opposite direction from their most deeply professed political values. What would be the point?

I would, however, like to request that, for the duration of one year, they at least talk about these things, and shut the fuck up about Glenn Beck.

5 comments:

Nikki said...

Despite being one of those Limbaugh-listening, Fox-watching, tea-bagging tea-partiers - who listens to Beck far more often than Limbaugh, actually - I loved this. You had me almost cheering out loud for some of the very viewpoints with which I fundamentally disagree.

Admittedly, you lost me (though it was more like I jumped ship) at the words "civil right to decide whether or not to stay pregnant", and I just skimmed to the conclusion from there... but I really do enjoy your writing, Matt. Thanks for this. :)

Nikki said...

...also, I realized belatedly that this one wasn't written by Matt. Deepest apologies.

Matt said...

Thanks?

Anonymous said...

People need to wake up the fact that Glenn Beck is simply another opinion pushing charlatan who is a product of mormon cult theology that he mixes with parts of Catholicism and his personal core as a dry alcoholic. And for the record, he is a Mormon and not a Christian. The two are not the same as one is a cult and the other is a religion. This makes Glenn Beck one very twisted screwed up moron who sold his soul to the lowest common denominator of personal stupidity. The religion of Islam has more in common with Christianity than the mormon cult.

The truth about Beck is that he a dry mormon alcoholic who never got the counseling required for alcoholics. Because he does not possess a single ounce of journalistic integrity, this makes him the perfect abortion poster child for Fox Network. Considering the fact that Beck’s personal views are extreme Marxist Libertarian, his form of patriotism is false and he is a person who has no real substance or depth. As such, I would never allow myself to be one of Beck’s many free blow job recipients!

Glenn Beck consistently demonstrates all the unstable behaviors of a dry alcoholic which include grandiosity, judgmentalism, intolerance, impulsivity, ADD, indecisiveness and blindness to truth. In short, Beck, Limbaugh, O Reilly, Hannity, Palin, O Donnell, Coulter and others like them frequently pervert truth, history, facts, religion and the US Constitution when they open their big mouths. Beck is simply part of a national league of pseudo-conservative idiots who make big money by selling lies and half truths to impressionable fools that occupy the lowest levels of society. Basically…tea baggers and registered republicans who are condemned to repeat the mistakes of history.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck is a tool.