18 Sep 2009

Glenn Greenwald Goofs

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Ah, I knew his perfect streak couldn’t last. In this post Glenn Greenwald tells us that all the people who are protesting the government lately are mere dupes of Fox News. If you want the full context, you have to read his post itself; there’s too much quoting of quoting going on for me to reproduce here in a coherent fashion. The quick version: GG quotes a NYT writer (Douthat) who compared the current right-wing anger to the furor over the 1994 crime bill, which contained funding for “midnight basketball” and the like. Douthat quoted GOP pollster Frank Lutz who said “Every day that the Republicans delayed the bill, the public learned more about it — and the more they learned, the angrier they got.”

Then GG says:

In other words, the 1994 fury over the crime bill was driven by the belief that the Clinton-led federal government would steal money from middle-class Americans and give it to “midnight basketball” programs, i.e., “welfare” recipients. The racial and class-war components of that fear-mongering campaign were manifest: Bill Clinton wanted to steal the money of “‘middle-income Americans playing by the rules” and transfer it to the inner-city…

In that sense, Douthat (and Luntz) are correct when they say: “That’s exactly what’s been happening now.” Just as was true for the 1994 crime bill, the right-wing fury over health care reform is motivated by the fear that middle-class Americans will have their money taken away by Obama while — all together now, euphemistically — “having someone else benefit.” And this “someone else” are, as always, the poor minorities and other undeserving deadbeats who, in right-wing lore, somehow (despite their sorry state) exert immensely powerful influence over the U.S. Government and are thus the beneficiaries of endless, undeserved largesse: people too lazy to work, illegal immigrants, those living below the poverty line…

This is the paradox of the tea-party movement and other right-wing protests fueled by genuine citizen anger and fear. It is true that the federal government embraces redistributive policies and that middle-class income is seized in order that “someone else benefits.” But so obviously, that “someone else” who is benefiting is not the poor and lower classes — who continue to get poorer as the numbers living below the poverty line expand and the rich-poor gap grows in the U.S. to unprecedented proportions. The “someone else” that is benefiting from Washington policies are — as usual — the super-rich, the tiny number of huge corporations which literally own and control the Government. The premise of these citizen protests is not wrong: Washington politicians are in thrall to special interests and are, in essence, corruptly stealing the country’s economic security in order to provide increasing benefits to a small and undeserving minority. But the “minority” here isn’t what Fox News means by that term, but is the tiny sliver of corporate power which literally writes our laws and, in every case, ends up benefiting.

Hey Glenn, why are you giving Fox News the right to define what the tea party people are mad about? And why do a NYT writer and a GOP pollster get to determine what the public anger right now is “like”?

In most of his posts, GG does a great job of thoroughly documenting the views of his intended target. In particular, he is great when he rips the heck out of inane talking heads who mindlessly repeat the latest talking points, even when polls and other objective measures show that these talking points are completely bogus.

So if GG wants to document that the people in the tea party protests don’t get that it was really Goldman Sachs and other investment bankers who benefited, he should, say, interview some of them, or give links to YouTube footage of the events. Maybe he can link to a comment board at Glenn Beck’s site where 70% of the comments say, “More money for Goldman but none for working moms!”

I am NOT saying that racial and class stereotypes are absent from all this. Of COURSE if you are a racist Republican, you are going to get really whipped up into a frenzy when the first black president presides over a deficit of $1.5 trillion and tries to take over health care.

Also, of COURSE Fox News and Dick Armey are going to try to tap into this outrage and mold it to their ends.

But so what? Those two observations don’t prove what GG and everyone else making these points think they prove. Obama really IS pushing fascism, if that term is to mean anything. And those tea parties were entirely opposed to BAILOUTS first and foremost. There weren’t signs saying, “No more food stamps!” or “End PBS now!”

Remember, the thing that really sparked the tea parties was Rick Santelli’s rant. He wasn’t mad about investment bankers, it’s true: He was focused on people getting their mortgages picked up by Uncle Sam. So it was largely middle-class people he was mad at. And the reason that so outraged people, was that they really understood the logic there; there was no plausible argument that, “The world will end if your neighbor doesn’t get bailed out of his mistake in buying too much house.”

Last point: The public was WILDLY opposed to the Paulson plan. So what the heck are Glenn Greenwald et al. talking about, when they say, “This is all just about a black man.” ?!?! People didn’t want that cracker Paulson giving $700 billion to his Wall Street buddies.

The feds went ahead and did it anyway, and people were fuming. But again, many modest Americans weren’t quite ready to storm the Bastille, because after all really smart guys were telling them that this just saved the world financial system. But then the car companies, and mortgage relief, and a $787 billion stimulus, and on and on.

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