Sarah Palin shouldn’t be pretending Glenn Beck is normal

No one much will ever likely care that Sarah Palin endorsed Glenn Beck in a puffy little capsule bio for Time Magazine’s 2010 list of 100 influential people, but I think it was a bad move for her – in what it required of her and and what it seems to say about the direction she’s heading.

Supporters of Palin and fans of Beck – or would it be fans of Palin and supporters of Beck? – will be happy to see them “together,” and enemies of both will be happy, too, if for different reasons. Getting closer to Beck may help Palin and other politicians with a wing of the conservative movement (or Beck’s x-million viewers and listeners), but I don’t see it helping with anyone else – to put it charitably.

For those keeping score on what everyblogger thinks about anything, I won’t pretend neutrality on Beck. Though I felt he played a mostly positive role in 2009, I was dubious of him even then, and am less and less able to approve of his impact on national politics and the national political discussion. In my opinion he gets too much wrong, and gets it wrong in a divisive and offensive, not to mention paranoid and kitschy way. His Christian-themed Fairey-ized Founder posters, for example, are no credit to the subjects, and you would have to be a conservative who despises Barack Obama and all of the Obami already – or just insensitive – not to understand immediately what a cheap, bizarrely combative, and insular gesture it is to use the images as an everyday backdrop: The depictions aren’t innocent, positive celebrations of the Founders: They’re disses of Obama and all of those “cancerous” progressives who are progressing – everyone with me – progressing toward what? The gulags! Concentration camps! Che! VAN JONES IS A COMMUNIST!! Anita Dunn loves Mao! (Play tape excerpt thousandth time.)

Governor Palin describes Beck as “like the high school government teacher so many wish they’d had.” Well, maybe on the surface, on the level of style – you don’t make $30 million+/annum if a lot of people don’t find you congenial – but, if I had a kid at school, and his “government teacher” came on like Glenn Beck, rightwing or leftwing or just plain peculiar, I’d have a problem with that. I’d have a problem with a high school teacher who said, as I heard Beck saying the other day before I had a chance to switch him off after Cavuto, “don’t trust anyone, everything you hear is wrong,” with the inescapable subtext “except for and from me, Glenn Beck.” I think he might have been talking about the Puerto Rico statehood plebiscite bill, which he apparently has some number of his fan-supporters believing is part of the big cancerous progressive plot progressing toward what? The gulags! The concentration camps! Euthanasia! Woodrow Wilson was a RACIST! TIVO my next show!

America, Sarah Palin should not be pretending that Glenn Beck is normal. Maybe you’re a fan or supporter of Glenn Beck with a tolerance for criticism that has allowed you to read this long at least. Maybe, objective sort that you are, you can admit further that GB’s not precisely normal – middle of the road, mainstream – and that someone led to his show by Sarah Palin might begin to wonder about her, or, more likely, have whatever pre-existing doubts about her judgment and where she’s coming from confirmed.

It would be clear to such a someone within a short while that Glenn Beck does not, again quoting Palin, “desire to teach Americans about the history of the progressive movement.” That’s ridiculously bland, a phony whitewash. Glenn Beck wants, as he has said, to destroy the progressive cancer to the last cell, and he insists that politicians (like Paul Ryan) adopt his language. Beck is not “doing to ‘progressive’ what Ronald Reagan did to ‘liberal’ – explaining that it’s a damaged brand.” Toyota is a damaged brand. No one is running around saying that Toyota is driving us, where?, to the Gulag! Buy Gold! Catch me and Bill O’Reilly live in your town! (For $160/seat.)

Ronald Reagan did “damage” the liberal brand, but he didn’t do it by treating liberalism as sub-human, a lethal disease. He declared the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” not the Democratic Party. Liberals were “our liberal friends,” “our friends on the other side” – and sometimes “our” golfing and drinking buddies, too. Aside from reflecting the fact that Reagan had liberal friends and even a few liberal/progressive notions from time to time, Reagan’s cordiality and openness gave him the political advantage over all those on the left calling him an “extremist” and using other brain-switched-off terms for him.

And those people who don’t bother to ring up Glenn Beck’s red phone? They’re not, as Palin puts it, “self-proclaimed powers that be.” They’re supposed to be the duly elected President of the United States and his administration. I’ve never heard them “proclaim” themselves “powers that be.” If they happen in fact to be the powers that are, they were proclaimed as such by Congress, after the tabulated votes of well over 100 million citizens in 50 states reached Electors, empowered as per Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, and the 12th and 23rd Amendments of the Constitution.

If and when someone replaces our current “powers,” it will, one may hope and expect, be by the same process, and it will very likely require many millions of those same citizens changing their minds. If polls and anecdotes are to be trusted – poll after poll and anecdote after anecdote – a lot of those citizens seem to have doubts about Sarah Palin, in part because they, perhaps wrongly perhaps rightly, consider her a captive and symbol of what Glenn Beck also represents to them.

Furthermore, if the current powers that be are replaced by ones more to Beck’s and Sarah Palin’s liking, it will be presumably through that same system that new winners will be proclaimed and invested with responsibility. At that point, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will probably feel disappointed if the new powers don’t receive the respect they’re due from leaders and followers on the electorally vanquished other side. But a further erosion of respect is what Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin seem to be pursuing in their rhetoric, and, I’m forced to conclude, what they’re currently progressing toward.

I’m not arguing that conservatives need to denounce Glenn Beck and all his works – though, given his ratings decline from the commanding heights and his dependence on escalating political melodrama, we might anticipate some truly excessive excess, the hammer of nonsense finally exploding the anvil of desperation for a story, someday requiring one or more rightwing Sister Souljah moments from ambitious politicians, if only to make up for past conspicuous acts of self-interested ring-kissing. On that day, those who’ve established some healthy separation, in an abundance of good conservative caution, would be less likely to be hit by burning debris, trapped in the flaming pyre, or tumbled over and trod upon by those rushing panickedly for the exits.

In the meantime, America, politicians interested in distinguishing themselves for their clarity of mind, seriousness of purpose, and honesty should be willing to call out Beck, or anyone else, as they really see him. If they prefer to pander to his crowd and kneel before his mediatized eminence, or if they simply remain non-cognizant of everything that makes Beck Beck, then we’ll be forced to draw a different set of conclusions about their character, their capacities, and their aims.


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150 comments on “Sarah Palin shouldn’t be pretending Glenn Beck is normal

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  1. AS opposed to who, CK the impartial arbiters of Sawyer, Williams, and Couric, or the ratings powerhouses at MSNBC and CNN, sarc, The ones who heard Biden, say he recalled FDR addressing the nation on TV in 1929, and said, how insightful that was. Who paint tea partiers as
    terrorists, but terrorists, specially the left wing variety as misunderstood idealists

  2. The progressive impulse does lead eventually to gulags if followed. Beck is only wrong in presenting that endpoint as imminent.

    I personally find him too “hot” for easy viewing; but I don’t think he is as far over the top as you do.

    We do, after all, have a president who has effectively nationalized sizable industries and who clearly believes that the goal of tax policy is to level outcomes even if at the cost of maximizing tax revenues.

    As far as not believing anyone, that’s simply common sense. Start believing politicians and pretty soon you’ll get to believing truly preposterous things, such as that John McCain won’t fold on border control once he wins his election in October, or that Barack Obama always intended to hold tax increases to those earning over $250K.

  3. @ JHM dba “Sniper”:
    I think Kristol Minor lost his grip on S.P. a long time ago, assuming he ever had one, and I’m pretty sure Kristol Minor is very wary of Glenn Beck, maybe even more wary than he is of the Pauls (K.M. criticized S.P.’s endorsement of Ayn Rand Paul). It’s in no major R’s interest to start a war with GB. Luckily enough for me, I’m not a major R, so I can say whatever I happen to think.

  4. @ narciso:
    Any of that is supposed to make GB look responsible, intelligent, sane, or anything but embarrassing and problematic for conservatives?

  5. Beck flies a little off the tangent, I’ll admit, but he has been more right than wrong about this adminstration. It’s a little like James Angleton’s ‘Wilderness of Mirrors” dealing with insane, counterproductive policies
    which are mightily are under be reframed as logical. WE can frame it
    as inexperience and/or stupidity, but there is always a potential payoff
    will all of these projects

  6. Sully wrote:

    The progressive impulse does lead eventually to gulags if followed. Beck is only wrong in presenting that endpoint as imminent.

    The “progressive impulse” has reigned in this country politically for around half of the time that this country has existed politically (if not longer, depends on your definition). Last I checked, we were the ones who helped destroy the Gulagers.

  7. longer, depends on your definition). Last I checked, we were the ones who helped destroy the Gulagers.

    The size of our prison population is becoming problematic to a casual observer,is it possible that “Big” Government is producing too many laws which incarcerate way too many people?,I understand that the drug laws are the big factor in producing an American Gulag,if we are allowed to call it that.

  8. @ Rex Caruthers:
    I’m no fan of the drug war, our incarceration rate, or the conditions of our prisons – all of which in my view, especially the last two, qualify as a standing rebuke to conservatives and liberals alike.

    Maybe everyone should be willing to spend two days in the County Jail every few years, or two days in the state pen, or two days in Supermaxx, just to get a real taste of what their fellow citizens – including ones picked up on trivial charges or wrongly arrested or convicted – are subjected to. Would be good for (most of) them and good for the jails, too. And if they’re not willing to spend even two days in the general population, then maybe there’s something very wrong with our prisons.

    All that said – the prisoners aren’t there because they questioned the wisdom of their leaders or distributed unapproved writings or were suspected of having done so.

  9. All that said – the prisoners aren’t there because they questioned the wisdom of their leaders or distributed unapproved writings or were suspected of having done so.

    That’s right,many are there because they took a plea to avoid a longer time in jail waiting for trial,and the various threats if they don’t take the plea,scaring the BJ out of them.

  10. @ Rex Caruthers:
    You’re preaching to the converted. Even worse if they make the mistake of standing up for their innocence and get convicted. A good friend of mine spent a year in jail for that, on a charge which, if he had pleaded out, he likely would have gotten community service and a fine. (Drunk driving, except he wasn’t driving. Long story.) The hitch was that the conviction would have cost him his job for the county. So he fought, and lost. Also spent $1,000s on a lawyer – advertises on the radio – whose entire defense consisted of accompanying my friend to court and lamely trying to get him off on a technicality.

    Wish Glenn Beck could get as interested in this subject as in George Bernard Shaw toying with the idea of euthanasia nearly 100 years ago.

  11. So why use Gulag, talk about inflammatory language, unless the British
    the French also do so. Supermax, who accidently gets sent there, with
    Yousef and the Unabomber.

  12. @ narciso:
    I use “Gulag” because Beck continually associates progressivism with Bolshevism (as well as Nazism, of course) during his “progress towards what” rifs. Or were you criticizing Beck?

  13. Yes, because we’re talking about policy, like taking over industries, shutting down others, dictating how much can make, how much you can contribute to charity and to which charities are eligible. After all we can’t keep “our air conditioners at 72 in the summer, or have the
    biggest car or the biggest house” or words to that effect

  14. narciso wrote:

    You didn’t mention dictating how much value your money will lose every year by Inflation;I wonder why Inflation is never mentioned as a primary sin of Government,maybe because Conservatives are as guilty of that Trespass as the Progressives.

  15. CK MacLeod:

    You seem to put an awful lot of emphasis on maintaining the legitimacy of the US government. What you miss is that legitimacy involves more than just being freely elected.

    For instance, suppose that I am elected dogcatcher with 60% of the vote in a free and fair election. I proceed to find the five most vicious Rottweillers in the pound and take them door to door demanding everyone give a “protection fee.” What makes me illegitimate is not the election, which I won fair and square, but the fact that I used my office for purposes which are legally forbidden.

    Sound farfetched? How about a policeman, promoted through legal means by a freely and fairly elected municipal government, who does shakedowns for money? Unlike the dogcatcher scenario, this one happens quite frequently.

    When Obama, Reid, and Pelosi ram through legislation that contains an unconstitutional mandate to buy medical insurance, they are themselves an illegitimate government, as surely as if Obama had become President in a military coup.

    This brings us to your obsession with believing the government to be legitimate. I believe that this obsession results from something we argued about in a different thread: your belief in the government having a monopoly on violence.

    As I pointed out then, the government has neither a moral nor a legal monopoly on violence. You legally have the right to self-defense, or to defend others. While there have been some who have claimed otherwise, they are on the far-out authoritarian fringe; in fact, the overall trend in recent years has been toward more freedom of self-defense, more Castle Doctrine and similar laws, and more freedom to carry arms in public (open, concealed, or both, depending on the state).

    I would even go so far as to say that you have the right to kill officers of the law in self-defense in some unusual circumstances. For instance, if an officer in plain clothes breaks down your door and starts shooting your kids one by one, you have the right to shoot him, since he is far exceeding his legal rights as a law officer. (This is not debating the wisdom of such a defense, only the moral and legal rights).

    Obviously, this scales up; if a crowd protesting a government action meets a Tiananmen Square type massacre by the military or policemen, they have a right to defend themselves. Once again, this is not judging the practicality of such a defense, only the morality and legality of it.

    So, as you see, I do not believe in the government as the Keeper of the Sacred Flame of Justifiable Force. You might think that this means that I live in a shack in the Rockies with my 500 guns, my million rounds of ammo, and my Timothy McVeigh poster saying “I AM the Revolution!!!” but, in fact, I’m not. As I’ve stated, I don’t think it’s practical or wise to start an armed conflict with your government.

    I am much more open to more practical ways of resisting tyranny. I refer you to the 55 mph speed limit: like the overwhelming majority of drivers, I didn’t join the Interstate 80 Militia and storm the DMV or the Highway Patrol; I simply drove 65 mph until the federal government eventually got a clue and changed the law.

    Nevertheless, unlike you, I am willing to call a spade a spade, and to call an illegitimate government an illegitimate government, since I don’t feel the need to justify that government’s monopoly on force. I would argue that this is one reason there are more leftist revolutionaries than rightist revolutionaries: the leftist feels the need to believe in the moral authority of his government in a way that most rightists do not. This is also why rightists like yourself who believe in a governmental monopoly on violence tend over time to become authoritarian.

  16. Last I checked, we were the ones who helped destroy the Gulagers.

    Actually, the USSR was brought down by a massive defense buildup by the Reagan administration. It was no coincidence that Reagan was the most anti-“progressive” President of the past eighty years.

    In fact, most of the Left was openly siding with the USSR and its clients against Reagan. Edward Kennedy sent a messenger to Moscow to try to persuade General Secretary Andropov to work hand-in-hand to defeat Reagan’s reelection bid. The Left started a “nuclear freeze” movement that, if successful, would have stopped the US buildup in its tracks and given military dominance to Moscow. Tip O’Neill repeatedly killed attempts by Reagan to aid anti-Communist revolutionaries in Nicaragua. The Left opposed a missile defense shield.

    In short, the “we” that destroyed the Gulagers was the right wing of the Republican Party. The rest of the “wes” were effectively on the USSR’s side.

  17. When Obama, Reid, and Pelosi ram through legislation that contains an unconstitutional mandate to buy medical insurance, they are themselves an illegitimate government, as surely as if Obama had become President in a military coup.

    We have a system to decide whether the mandate is constitutional or not. By your argument, the Bush-Cheney admin was illegitimate – at least in the eyes of those who, along with the Supreme Court, disagreed with its proposals for handling detainees. I suppose that the Cleveland Administration and the Congress of 1894 were “illegitimate” in your eyes, since the Income Tax Act was found to be unconstitutional. There would be an argument for declaring virtually the whole of US history “illegitimate.”

    If believing that the government of the United States is legitimate is an “obsession,” then I’m happy to be as obsessed as the vast majority of my fellow insane citizens.

  18. Ken Wrote:unconstitutional mandate to buy insurance

    (To be determined,just your opinion,not a fact)

    and to call an illegitimate government an illegitimate government

    (Just your opinion,not a fact)

    Ken,is this the first/only illegitimate government is US history?

  19. @ Ken:
    I think pretty soon you may have it worked out that YOU or maybe your uncle Jake brought down the USSR.

    Reagan played a role. The Pope played a role. The senescence of the Communist leadership and the imbalances of the Soviet economy played a role. The active opposition of leaders in both parties over the course of decades played a role. But that’s all secondary to the point I was making.

  20. @ bob:
    Well, it’s hard to say, from my perspective, which conclusion would be most charitable to her. I think she’s smart enough to know that she was playing a little make-believe, kind of like Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond. So I think she made two mistakes: dishonest flattery, and of an undeserving figure, because she wants to maintain her marketability to his audience.

  21. No, I think she is quite sincere, remember she was the official on the oil commission who suspected that her boss was corrupt so she asked
    the attorney general for permission, and resigned when she couldn’t share the results of her investigation. The city council person who challenged the mentor that brought her on the council, Carney.

  22. Why are you pretending Palin is “normal”?
    She is just doing the same thing you are….
    She believes in Beck because they share white conservative christian greivance ideology…they share belief in “real” america…..and probably pre-trib fundamentalist christian theology.
    Beck believes god should run the American government…that is a Mormon belief….and Palin does too.

  23. I am a Hispanic Catholic, nishi, but I guess you can peg me like a bitter clinger, for that. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
    As with most of Jeff Goldstein’s threads you entirely miss the point.

  24. @ strangelet:
    Can you point to any place where I suggested Palin was normal? She’s also about as far from normal as just about anyone.

    I’ve always sought to judge her by what she does. I held open the possibility that by now she’d be on a different course than she seems to be on. I don’t harbor any regrets about giving her a chance, and I still think she has made a positive contribution and can still be of great service.

    If for now I choose to distance myself from her or even oppose her, it won’t be while trying to do to her and her supporters what you try to do – which is the mirror image of what you accuse them of. If you have a problem with Palin’s “real America,” don’t be a hypocrite and imply you have access to “more real America.” America’s a big nutty place with room for Palin and strangelet both.

  25. @ narciso:
    My judgment is that she has many admirable qualities. She ain’t a saint. She’s quite capable of fibbing to make a positive impression. The only other conclusion, I’m afraid, is that she’s so far out of the mainstream, or so indifferent, that Beck really does seem normal to her. I find the fibbing easier to believe. My criticism is about what she seems to be trying to achieve – or avoid – with it.

  26. @ CK MacLeod:

    This is good. Palin could be working for Cuban statehood, something that would provide many benefits to the US, while strangelet also could advance our nation by helping with the Texas secessionist movement.

  27. My point, Ck is why jump to the conclusion that she’s insincere. The other conclusion actually fits her record, as I think I’ve pointed out.
    This isn’t particularly new either, she called attention to the Breitbart
    investigation of Lloyd and Jones, even before she signed with Fox.

  28. @ CK MacLeod:

    The “progressive impulse” has reigned in this country politically for around half of the time that this country has existed politically (if not longer, depends on your definition). Last I checked, we were the ones who helped destroy the Gulagers

    Because a geometric function initially approaches its limit slowly doesn’t mean it won’t eventually approach that limit rapidly.

    None of us know precisely where we are on the curve that leads to the government controlling everything because it has been ceded responsibility for the results of everything.

  29. I think Glenn Beck will get along just fine, and his already enormous, massive audience will continue to grow without our dear Tsar’s blessings.

    Today, he spent about an hour reacquainting many of us with Sam Adams and John Adams. It was a tremendous mitzvah, as my Bubba Rivka would say. He spoke about the brave leaders of our revolution, how much they believed in their righteous cause, how much many of them sacrificed to do this for us. Unless you were already a specialist in our colonial history, you probably learned a lot between five and six PM this evening.

    Teaching a growing audience to revere our Founders is a good thing, is it not?

  30. Sully wrote:

    None of us know precisely where we are on the curve that leads to the government controlling everything because it has been ceded responsibility for the results of everything.

    What’s your evidence of any such curve at all?

  31. Ditto, Zoltan, I mean where else are you going to get a look at the likes of Samuel Adams, the distinction between who we have pretended
    to exalt, like Shephard Fairey’s Obama posters, and the legacy of our
    founders, like Adams, like Washington, Jefferson, Beck is really in the tradition of Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin, a pamphleteer and a polemicist, as opposed to whom exactly. He’s largely self educated, like another subject of contempt of the establishment. the voice of
    Cape Girardeau, Missouri

  32. AS opposed to the miniscule audiences of MSNBC, CNN and Headline News, each one chasing a test pattern, then again it could be burn
    out after such a momentous fiasco as this health care leviathan

  33. @ CK MacLeod:
    “And “growing audience” no longer applies. Beck’s ratings are down 30% from the beginning of the year, 50% from their peak. ”

    Problem solved then, no? Beck will find his level, and his arguments will enter the converging streams of contemporary argumentation. To say he is wrong about this or that, that he falsifies this or that, is ignorant about this or that, is one thing–that’s using his celebrity to advance what you see as more wholesome arguments. But you seem to speak of Beck as a contagion to be quarantined, and it seems to me that you know that such public ideological health campaigns are futile. Isn’t there room for Beck as well in this big nutty America? And for people who like Beck? It’s entirely reasonable to take liking Beck as an indicator of political reliability or seriousness (it may leave you with no one to consider reliable or serious, but that’s up to you), but Beckians are not a cancer on America, are they?

    It’s also possible that today’s “liberals” are not the same as Reagan’s drinking buddies–which may be part of the reason there is someone like Beck.

    “At that point, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will probably express disappointment if the new powers, and their fan-supporters, don’t receive the respect they’re due from leading figures on the other side.”

    The fans of Beck (and maybe Palin) are those whose biggest fear is that the new powers, if they come, will expect and rely upon respect from leading figures on the other side. That is, that they will allow reversing what can be reversed of the ongoing catastrophe to be held hostage to outmoded notions of comity and civility.

  34. If they are receiving that kind of respect, McCain Graham, Chafee,
    as they saying goes, you’re doing it wrong. An example is the “Publication that Luce Built” now the sanctuary of the likes of Klein,
    Halperin, et al, who make the renaissance courtier’s seem like bitter
    skeptics

  35. adam wrote:

    Isn’t there room for Beck as well in this big nutty America? And for people who like Beck?

    Absolutely. I don’t advocate eradicating Beck til there’s not a single cell of him left. I believe we can co-exist with Beck. For that matter, if he merely advocated quarantining progressivism or rolling it back, he’d give me a lot less to worry about.

    The fans of Beck (and maybe Palin) are those whose biggest fear is that the new powers, if they come, will expect and rely upon respect from leading figures on the other side. That is, that they will allow reversing what can be reversed of the ongoing catastrophe to be held hostage to outmoded notions of comity and civility.

    “Ongoing catastrophe” is a bit much. Poland 1943-4, Cambodia “Year Zero” – now those were ongoing catastrophes.

    I’d have to know what you mean by “expect and rely,” and what the Beckians would replace “outmoded… comity and respect” with. Are you anticipating or advocating a breakdown of the basic constitutional compact – that losers in the democratic game will or should cease abiding by (respecting) the results?

    Isn’t one of the chief complaints against the Obami, and chief cause of their declining political fortunes, that they have proceeded in a partisan and exclusive, cheatin’-hearted, extra-legal, non-traditional, etc., manner? Selling themselves as one thing – patriotic consensualist moderates with conservatively liberal goals, who’d hear all sides and reach the best decisions – but governing as evil partisan progressives? Adopting the Obama methods to attempt to reverses Obamism increases the risk of meeting another reversal amidst a heightening crisis.

    Meanwhile, the Beckian rhetoric turns the other side into the enemy, and motivates them to fight as though their backs are against the wall. At the same time, the Beck-backers here have convinced themselves that the evil progressives will stop at nothing to get their way. So that’s a formula for civil breakdown, or would be if it was based on an accurate depiction of social and political forces.

    In the above ways, which parallel the simple homespun verbal tropes in Palin’s little puff piece, the Beck-Palin rhetoric erodes the legitimacy of the political process, though not everyone is as explicit about this view as Ken above.

    I heard Beck the other day call for “the least possible government.” I believe that would be no government at all – for a little while. We’d never get there, as there are political and economic forces in the world that would be happy – or compelled by self-interest – to step in long before we reached zero state. So that’s a silly fantasy – “the least possible government” would still be a lot of governing, mostly by people we have no reason to like very much.

    Eliminating progressivism to the last cell is a silly fantasy. After the amputations and excisions were done, there’d be a lot less left on the operating table than thrown away.

    Returning to a never-existent period of perfect constitutionalism may be an even more ridiculous fantasy, since there are historical examples of chaos and societal breakdown, but no evidence of some Constitutional Eden (or of a pre-Constitutional one – not even the indigenous tribal cultures come close to qualifying).

    So unless we’re going to flame out dreaming the impossible dream, after us the deluge, we’re more likely to continue stuck in history, trying to make the best of it, adjusting the course of the ship of state, all in it together, strangelets and Palins, Becks and Obamas, no exit – Lindsey Grahams and John McCains brokering the compromises, since total victory for either side isn’t possible without the elimination of the other side – and no one (hardly anyone, no one I take seriously) advocates that.

  36. Apparently CK, we are not supposed to describe what they are trying to do, I like her idiom of speaking better, no surprise, because she is
    the more optimist of the two. despite everything that has happened in two years, is it somewhat progressive, small p, I suppose, but it is more constitutional than what is currently being offered.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand the strange one, not really, she must be a parody of the post modernist genre, Ot, Avatar kind of grows on you, when you only have to pay a buck to see it.

  37. @ narciso:
    I’m not sure that we’ve arrived at an accurate description, or at any rate anyone has presented a convincing description of “what they are trying to do.” I think “they” are made up of a coalition.

  38. @ adam:
    One thing you’ve done is get me to take a long look at my concluding paragraphs and try to fiddle them into something that says what I mean to say more clearly, and doesn’t try to say too much. I mainly wanted to focus on the immediate questions around SP’s choices. I think for now I’ll strike out the latest version of the last paragraph. I’d delete it if it hadn’t made for an interesting speculative point of departure on your part. Maybe I’ll figure out a better approach tomorrow.

  39. @ CK MacLeod:
    I think that anything that the federal government does for quite a while to come will have its basic legitimacy contested by a large part of the population–too much so for it to have any success. I have my own views on who started it, but that doesn’t matter now. I also think that, partly because there is no consensus, but also because the tasks the government is now setting itself demand a level of competence and resources that it is incapable of provided. Attempts at solutions will generate more problems and demands that those new problems be solved, demands which are progressively less likely to be met. This is especially the case with attempts to regulate large chunks of the economy–health care, financial regulation, immigrant reform, etc.–but I think our ability to have a serious foreign policy has been severely impaired. And so the Grahams and McCains (interesting, no Democrats on that very short list) are going to be increasingly irrelevant. You ridicule the call for the “least possible government,” but why? That slogan acknowledges the need for government–you might take it as a call for an “audit” of all government functions: what is the government trying to do, what is it doing successfully, what is it actually capable of doing, what level of consensus is required for it to do one thing or another moderately successfully, etc. Would it be so hard to make a list of things the government shouldn’t be trying to do?

    You want to keep patching up the center, and I think the center is dead–Beck is just a symptom of that. Certainly for a while people will keep respecting the formal, nominal results of elections, while getting busy undermining the substantive legitimacy of the “leading figures” and policy proposals of the other side. The only way to arrive at a new consensus is to scale back dramatically, and for that to happen not only does one side has to lose decisively but the other side will have to know how to use its victory. I don’t say this is very likely, just that it’s the only way things will still be holding together a few decades from now.

  40. Total strawman argument. Anyone who thinks Beck is normal is out of touch. And I extend Sarah Palin the courtesy of believing that she is smart enough to know how weird Beck is. Maybe you’re disappointed that she didn’t write that he’s a little wacko. Maybe that wasn’t what Time wanted from her. Or maybe she just gives her audience credit for being able to pick up on something so obvious. Maybe she felt that if she went there her audience would wonder why she’s beating a dead horse and talking down to them. But why do you feel the need to beat this particular dead horse?

    I think there is a much more important question. That is, is Beck right. I think that he is generally close to the mark. But he requires critical listening. I believe he’s correct in the broad strokes. But some of his specifics are not as credible or certain as he believes them to be.

    And I am impressed by the breadth and depth of his reading about American history. I value that greatly because Americans have been growing more ignorant about history. I suspect that he is inspiring people to read and learn more. And that will have a more profound and positive effect on our country that will outweigh and out last any of his strange tics and odd conspiratorial patterns of thought.

  41. @ narciso:Jeff has gone utterly tharn as far as I can tell.
    The problem with all of his arguments is the social compact of “real” america has failed.
    That is why we have increasing inequality, and the apocalypse of greed that caused the WS meltdown.
    A new social compact that reflects the FACTUAL demographic makeup of the electorate is evolving.
    As long as conservatism ferociously resists the new social compact it becomes increasingly irrelevent. Clingingly bitterly to originalist interpretations of the constitution garners no votes in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial pollity.
    The GOP/Tea Party/conservative movement is nearly pure christian at this point.
    Is that a good thing?

  42. “America’s a big nutty place with room for Palin and strangelet both.”

    But I am not executing a head-fake run on the presidency.
    You will see.
    Dr. Manzi thinks Palin is a symptom…I think she is a disease.
    A disease that is going to kill conservatism in America unless you can reject her.
    You will have to be reborn in the phoenix fire to get away from her nuttiness.

  43. You test everybody’s patience, Kate, including Jeff and Darleen who still let you post there, as I see you have a hatred for those who
    flee from any despotism, like those Vietnamese in Orange County
    and Houston, I’m sure you feel the same about my paisans in little
    Havana, and kindred spirits from Maracaibo in Doral, who don’t get
    this ‘wonderful Democratic revolution’ thingy. We’re all bitter clingers
    that way.

    Now CK, by they, since I cut my teeth on the American Spectator, that’s why I found Hilyer’s offering particularly offensive, you would
    know that those who are recipients of the “Strange New Respect Award” is who I meant. Charmin Charlie is already way in the lead

  44. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security [emphases supplied].

    Sic scripsit Thomas Jefferson, 4 July 1776.

    “[A]bsolute Despotism” is certainly provocative. The extent that it may apply to our current predicament, if it applies at all, is clearly debatable. Yet it’s not unreasonable to ask just what might amount to cautionary flares, let’s call them, sent aloft alerting us to a developing “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object”? Could they, possibly, include the income tax of 1916, which exposed the resources of the citizen to confiscation as and to what extent might seem condign to the Federal government? Or was it the further mandatory confiscation of wealth entailed in the Social Security Act of 1935 or in the Medicare legislation of 1965? Each of those actions of Congress was popularly supported, no doubt. Nonetheless is there “a design,” a political purpose, evident? When, as has recently transpired, a further intervention into the wholesale provision of health care was congessionally mandated without majority support, did a despotic design announce itself at last and more or less bald-facedly? Looking ahead, if cap-and-trade were enacted, with its contemplated relentless and minute meddling into the most mundane activities of everyday life, might that qualify at all as evidence for a political program intended to suffocate elemental economic freedoms?

    Despotism introduced by a sequence of governmental self-aggrandizements rather than in one fell, tyrannical swoop is still objectively despotic to those in its path. If Glenn Beck is alarmed by the broad sweep of a “train” of events and draws attention to it in melodramatic ways, is it prudent to discount those events because of mannerisms? Glenn Beck functions in a mass medium. If he wants to use posters of the Founders and sentimental cliches to awaken citizens to what is occurring in Washington, he is doing no more than what the medium requires him to do.

    Continually picking at the scab of unfortunate tone or problematic polemical gesture, as Colin has done, is decadent. Especially when, as he has on many occasions troubled to admonish those who disagree with him, what’s supposedly important here are the votes of the undecided and even the sensibilities of persons unknown on the Left, who might, gasp, stop up their ears to a message they are already absolutely deaf to, a wholly tendentious argument that suggests to me no more than this: Colin K. McCleod is personally offended by Glenn Beck. The residual Leftism in Colin McCleod bristles at Beck’s infelicities of expression; the larger public is merely being swept along by the powerful undertow created by CKM’s personal doubts. In the context of an enormously consequential struggle to shape public opinion that sort of objection to the tactics of Beck and Palin rises no higher than a vain and, in this case, literally self-serving hypothesis.

  45. Right, Joe NS, and Sam Adam’s words makes Jefferson seem like Lindsay Graham, from some of what I gleaned at night from Glenn.
    I used to take the left spokesman like Stewart, Colbert, and Moore
    less seriously, because honestly they were either ignorant or craven,
    no one would fall for their garbage, well what’s the line that says fool me once. I admit, I find Beck a little too jeremiad at times, but then
    again, sometimes you have to cry ‘Fire’ so people don’t get burned

  46. JoeNS, If the income tax, SS and Medicare were enacted with popular support, and continue to have popular support, where is the despotism?

    If Health Care reform was lawfully enacted by properly elected officials, where is the depotism? If it does not have popular support, what prevents its repeal? Do we really want to have a call to arms every time somebody doesn’t like a law?

    If the people transform the country into a progressive society, and retain the Contitutional mechanisms for the continued alteration of our govt, where is the depotism? Are the people only sovereign if their govt conforms to your point of view?

    Jefferson approved of the alteration of govt. The Constitution is, if anything, a blueprint for the continual alteration of govt so as to make the extreme step of its removal, unnecessary. The Constitution does not specify ideology, its specifies function and process.

    Get upset. Rally your confreres. Raise money. Engage the political process. Use hyperbole, distortion and rhetoric. Vote.

    Then maybe, consider getting off your high horse.

  47. @ CK MacLeod:

    None of us know precisely where we are on the curve that leads to the government controlling everything because it has been ceded responsibility for the results of everything.

    You asked – What’s your evidence of any such curve at all?

    I answer – The fact that both the Socialist Internationale and the Nationalsozialist versions of Progressivism travelled along that curve to its ultimate destination. The U.S. only temporarily departed the curve when FDR failed in his attempt to pack the supreme court and thus make the constitution into whatever he wanted it to be. He tried to do that, of course, because he, as a progressive, was supremely sure that One People and One Country were best served by One Strong Leader.

    Lest we get lost in remembrance of the grandfatherly FDR, it’s always good to remind ourselves that he was, after all, the same FDR who established gulags for Japanese American citizens after he made himself President for Life. The country was lucky when he died in 1944.

  48. @ CK MacLeod:

    “I held open the possibility that by now she’d be on a different course than she seems to be on.”

    I wonder if you could elaborate on that, CKM. Could you outline briefly the course you hoped Palin would be on? I already know that part of the description is the negative element “not endorsing Glenn Beck.” I’m looking for the positive (in the sense of what she WOULD versus would NOT) be doing — in terms of her policy expressions (e.g., her Facebook posts on public issues, her candidate endorsements), not administrative political choices like running, not running.

  49. @ bob:

    How is it you missed this?:

    Despotism introduced by a sequence of governmental self-aggrandizements rather than in one fell, tyrannical swoop is still objectively despotic to those in its path.

    I’ve as much as admitted that what we are witnessing is not textbook dictatorship. So what is the purpose of your series of rhetorical questions? To refute a claim that’s not been made? You’re pushing on a rope here.

    Of course one must vote, rally, and so on. The substance of the post seems to me to be the inadequacies or failings or outright stupidities of Glenn Beck, as well as Sarah Palin for applauding him. But Beck’s approach to persuasion is just another way of going about the politics of the matter, one suited to a mass audience.

    I’ve no idea really what the hell “high horse” you’re babbling about, unless seeing the issue in constitutional terms reflexively qualifies as overreaching. I don’t think so. Whether the Federal government has presumptive or derived rights to intervene so often and so massively–and with coercive power, mind you–in decisions better addressed by the States or, God forgive me for bringing this up, by private citizens, is a constitutional matter. The Supreme Court of the US had to be invoked to license several of the interventions I mentioned, so there’s that; with persistent effort, it could be brought to reconsider them. In fact, with health care and the proposed EPA regulations intended to intimidate Congress into legislating a radical energy policy, it may very well come to that. So, I’ll stick to my high horse, thank you. You’re welcome to rock to and fro on yours.

  50. If Americans want the fruits of Socialism,Universal HealthCare,Social Security etc etc,and vote for those who grant them those fruits,Yeah though they deny Socialism,and sing the praises of Palinistic Beckian Randian freedom and good old dog eat dogism,If IT Quacks LIKE A DUCK/AFLAC

  51. No, Rex, we cannot let that happen, particularly in the dishonest circuitous way that it’s being proposed, because this country is the
    last best hope, who else would be left standing. Among other things
    because it doesn’t work,

  52. J.E. Dyer wrote:

    Could you outline briefly the course you hoped Palin would be on?

    Not GB-ing down my neck and telling me it’s sane.

    I’ll give your question some more thought, and try to respond as time permits.

    @ Joe NS:
    If you’re going to persist in overtly personalizing these discussions, you could at least do CK MacLeod the courtesy of spelling his name right. This thread is not exactly the first time you’ve encountered it. If some arthritic condition prevents you from handling the letters “a,” “c,” and “l” properly, and upper and lower case, you might try copy and paste from any of the numerous comments on the thread. “McCleod” brings to mind a schoolyard taunt. I’d like to think you can do better.

    The 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 – according to all of the procedures meant to record a virtual consensus, as specified in that document that people like Glenn Beck and his defenders pretend to revere except when it’s put to uses of which they don’t approve. In your and Beck’s rendering of history, the transformation of a tiny agrarian republic into a continent- and globe-spanning massively urbanized and con-urbanized neo-empire, with liberty and social services for all, is a despotic conspiracy, summoning all the minute men and women to Sam Adams dress-up and sophomoric invocations of the Declaration of Independence. Consensual democracy, conspiratorial despotism. Same initials. Main difference: whose ox-like self-regard is being gored.

  53. You’re reading much too much into what Sarah wrote, and in a particularly negative way, kind of the way I was about Avatar,
    for 400 million dollars (Dr. Evil pinky raised), it’s not half bad, even considering all the embedded assumptions. She never said Beck was normal, you don’t end up on that list if you are normal, you more likely than not are gifted in someway. I frankly would have thought that the Nuge’s writeup on her, would concern you more.

    When given a choice between listening to Frum, Brooks, Moran, Buckley, and Goldberg, Hanson, Steyn, Nordlinger and others, well you know where I and not a few of the Zombie Horde stand

  54. @ CK MacLeod:

    “Meanwhile, the Beckian rhetoric turns the other side into the enemy, and motivates them to fight as though their backs are against the wall. At the same time, the Beck-backers here have convinced themselves that the evil progressives will stop at nothing to get their way.”

    Frankly, it looked to me like getting the health care bill passed in March fit the descriptions of both fighting as though their backs were against the wall, and stopping at nothing to get their way.

    I was thankful at the time that the “deeming” mechanism was not resorted to, as that would have been a clear, watershed break with the observance of rules — Congress’ rules for operation — that the American people have the right to expect.

    But the arm-twisting, take-no-prisoners approach in the face of substantial — majority — and growing public opposition to the bill was worse than merely falling short on consensualist moderation. In rhetoric and action, the bill’s proponents, from the president on down, have made it clear they intend to force its provisions on the 100% of the American people who will be affected by it, regardless of the consistent majority in the polls that opposes it.

    The enormous size of the bill is another aspect of the legislation that is both anti-consensualist and alarming in an absolute sense. A bill of such immense size and detail, passed on entirely partisan lines, is inherently one that contains thousands of provisions written by partisan ideologues — only partisan ideologues even have the urge to include so much detail in a document that will coerce others — as well as basic, garden-variety pork.

    If it is argued that we’ve had lengthy legislation before, if never legislation of quite this magnitude, that leads back to Sully’s point. I agree with it. It was the decision points in the past, at which we accepted a growth in intrusiveness and detail in our WAY of legislating at the federal level, that have set us up for the health care bill of 2010. A lot of people objected at those decision points in the past, because they foresaw something like the events of 2010.

    And their philosophical opponents argued, just as you do, that all that was happening was the American people were expressing what they wanted to do with government. How could there be anything wrong with that? (For one thing, it’s a whitewashing of the character of the developments, since there has been strong opposition to every expansion of the federal government’s programmatic activity.)

    I notice you cite Poland 1943-44 as a true “ongoing catastrophe.” I assume you are speaking of Auschwitz. That was a terrible catastrophe, but genocide is not the only catastrophe it’s worth changing our course to avert. I would emphatically disagree that only genocides are catastrophes worth being alarmed and concerned about — or calling “catastrophes.” I would also point out that the great majority of them have ensued on wars and insurrections that created other kinds of catastrophes, for millions of people, that were worth averting in themselves. Indeed, the only ones I can think of that don’t fully fit that pattern are the ones in Rwanda and Darfur. But everywhere else, from Armenia to Ukraine to the European Jews to Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, genocides were part and parcel of war, civil war, and consolidation of power for political movements. Even if they hadn’t produced genocides, those movements would still have displaced millions, torn them from their homes, stolen their goods and livelihoods, left them wandering and destitute, incarcerated and tortured them, browbeat them, denied them freedom of political and economic choice, and driven them to flee, if they could, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s political decisions and the use of government force that produce these consequences.

    And they are foreseeable. No catastrophe simply erupts inexplicably from a peaceful, consensual situation in which no one can foresee something bad on the horizon. The slow-motion build-up to a catastrophe is the bitterest time, in retrospect, because of all the things that might have been done to forestall it

    It is time that has erased our memory of regrets on that head about historical events prior to WWII’s prelude, as if it was only that war that some statesmen and analysts saw coming. One of the bodies of prescient work largely ignored in today’s popular media, of course, is that predicting correctly how Soviet Marxists would behave, from 1917 to 1991. But HINDSIGHT analysis of threatening patterns, and acknowledgment of those who understood their import early on, has been a cottage industry in the West for centuries, treating conflicts from WWI back to the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century. With the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, the significance of national political movements to that dynamic has become its own area of analysis, separate but closely interrelated.

    Why am I going into all this? Because it’s speaking as if there is no history of political movements and their activities producing bad consequences, to imply that it’s illegitimate to watch patterns and issue warnings. Regardless of what we call it, the pattern of wanting more government to coerce more people to do more things has always led to bad consequences. It has already done so in the US, although right up to the last couple of years, we have been able to outproduce the burdens laid on us by government at all levels. But we may have reached the tipping point at which, under our regulatory constraints, we can no longer outproduce the burden of government.

    Adherence to the limitations imposed by the US Constitution is what has slowed down the progress of government encroachment over the last 100 years. The original Progressives were very explicit about that: that constitutionalism was a hindrance to the implementation of their agenda. It was what stopped FDR, when the Supreme Court declared key elements of the New Deal unconstitutional. If that had not happened, a great deal of actual socialism — not just the Glenn Beck “This is SOCIALISM!” type measures, but genuinely socialist provisions of the NIRA — would have remained in place. The fact that they were rejected by SCOTUS is one of the most important developments that prevented us from going down the path of unchecked, centralized federal power faster. (It’s why FDR then tried to expand and stack the Court.) I sense that you express often a view that soft socialism hasn’t led to hard socialism in America yet, and people are being alarmist to say it will — but it’s the very constitutionalism that you find unrealistic and radical that has held the harder socialism in check, as evidenced by the SCOTUS New Deal strikedown.

    If the brake of the Constitution, such as it still is, is effectively lifted, there will in truth be nothing our government can’t do to us, and make itself illegitimate thereby.

    If you already agree that government basically can’t make itself illegitimate, as long as it presents the appearance of observing certain forms in taking its decisions, then you’re in the happy position of being mentally prepared for this development.

  55. “Adherence to the limitations imposed by the US Constitution is what has slowed down the progress of government encroachment over the last 100 years.”

    I wonder. The fact that the Constitution had no Balanced Budget language was the loophole for the government to use debt to create all sorts of mischief.

  56. Some things seem axiomatic, that they didn’t have to be spelled out, although Franklin seemed to be channeling the words of both Alexander
    Tyler and even earlier Cicero, when he said ‘a republic if we can keep it” They didn’t think there would be such widespread contempt of the
    founding traditions of the nation, or maybe they did. How long was Athens democratic opening, before it fell to Alicibiades and Cleon, not to mention the Council of 30

  57. @ Rex Caruthers:

    That argues FOR my point, RCAR. I don’t necessarily agree that a balanced budget clause per se could have saved us from deficit spending. But your point parses as saying that a balanced budget clause/amendment, PLUS a political and judicial attitude affirming constitutionalism, could have.

    Constitutionalism is what saved us from the federal government imposing price floors on consumer goods, and confiscating profits across industries to “reinvest” according to the agenda of federal agencies. Both, provisions of the NIRA, along with a long list of others. Passed by Congress and signed by FDR. Objected to strenuously by Republicans in the Taft-Coolidge mold. Struck down by SCOTUS. I consider that a good thing.

  58. @ narciso:

    You’re certainly channeling the Founders in asking that question, narciso. One of the chief examples of How Not to Constitute a Government was the democracy of ancient Athens.

  59. “They didn’t think there would be such widespread contempt of the
    founding traditions of the nation, or maybe they did.”

    They did. They were trained in the Classics: They knew that humanity when broken down to the individual is a “ME FIRSTER” ,multiply that ME/FIRSTISM by your nations population and you get a force greater than what culture and education can contain. They never concieved of that MEFIRST force multiplied by 300000000,how could they?
    I sincerely recommend a breakup of the USA similiar to the USSR breakup,in which citizens can chose that government/culture they need to pursue their happiness. I will never be happy in the world of Glenn Beck and Zoltan Newberry, and they will never be happy in mine. I respect them their pursuit,but one nation is no longer big enough to allow us all that pursuit. Step one,divide in two,and then redivide from there as needed.

  60. Constitutionalism is what saved us from the federal government imposing price floors on consumer goods

    Farm Subsidies??? plus a million other interventions,
    Please

  61. How is that practicable, Russia started as a strictly ethnic enclave, the Kievan Rus and the Duchy of Muscovy and consumed the former Tatar states, the Caucasus, et al. With much larger diversity, the US
    is much different in makeup. There is something to Beck’s focus on
    Samuel Adam’s understanding of religion and other institutions

  62. J.E. Dyer wrote:

    Frankly, it looked to me like getting the health care bill passed in March fit the descriptions of both fighting as though their backs were against the wall, and stopping at nothing to get their way.

    If we can’t maintain any distinction between gaming the system and “stopping at nothing,” then we’re lost in the midnight in which all opponents are gray fascists, especially when they win. The rhetorical slide begins here, in combination with the selective historicizing that makes a warmonger of Woodrow Wilson and vast majorities of living and breathing Americans doing what came naturally to living and breathing Americans – adjusting the course of their government – into vast orc armies in the grip of Sauron.

    I wasn’t thinking only of Auschwitz, but, since you bring up the topic of genocide, it’s odd to have this fanciful discussion of the perfectly good and free America laid low by the fiendish orc-progs, in cross-generational conspiracies of centralizing soul-destroying cowardice, when the constitutional idyll that preceded the first embers of progressivism was accompanied by and conditioned upon the extirpation of several pre-existing nations, and the enslavement of a race. So you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t regard the health insurance mandate as the greatest threat ever to the pristine American soul.

    I’m not interested in unburying my tears and flagellating my patriotism at virtual Wounded Knee. I’m merely pointing out that history seems to work in many directions, not any one in particular. The imposition of false but narrationally convenient linear developments on the great what-was is one progressivism that truly deserves to be considered obsolete.

    For instance, your summary:

    Regardless of what we call it, the pattern of wanting more government to coerce more people to do more things has always led to bad consequences.

    It’s still not clear to me how you cope with the fact that, according to your own narration, the progressives have run more and more of everything according to that scheme, and yet over the same period our little country has risen to pre-eminence. The broad overview and takeaway is that the period of “wanting more government to coerce more people to do more things” has also been the period of the greatest and best national enterprise known to history (I mean that, take it as an apology for sounding like an America-hater in regard to the Natives and the Slaves).

    Now, you may say that the great rise was in spite of, not because of the ideology of progress. I find that unlikely, and, rather than seeing progressivism as located on the path to the Gulag and the Concentration Camp, I see it as the successful and very American set of imperfect compromises that kept us off that path, at the precise time that all over the world others were rushing down it en masse. But even if you refuse to consider Social Security as one alternative to Socialism, rather than a step toward Socialism, it takes a stupendous and all-embracing amnesia to miss the fact that from, say 1880 to 1920, or from 1850 to 2010, unimaginably vast simultaneous and interconnected transformations in all social, cultural, political, and economic realms, vastly disturbing as well as vastly expansive and innovative, were occurring. The new demands on inherited institutions of self-government were equally vast. Of course government and expectations of government changed, mightily. Some things were gotten mightily wrong, no doubt. How could you expect anything else?

    Back to our reality:

    The Dems won big in ’08. They acted big in ’09-’10. I’ve referred to it as a moment of hypertrophied progressivism, progressivism at its moment of perfect self-contradiction and transformation into its opposite – for as much as I’m compelled to play the role of “defender of the great concept” on these threads, I consider myself an ardent opponent of Obamism.

    The opposition rallied against the neo-progs and pushed them hard, and now has an opportunity, if they have the wits to seize and exploit it, to reverse ’09-’10 over the course of ’11 – ? . That’s how things are supposed to work. If the opposition fails, then American governance may be re-conceptualized in the neo-progressive image. That, also, is how things are supposed to work – human beings, human passions, and human ideas being imperfect, we can reach the wrong consensus, too, and no piece of paper will stop it, though some pieces of paper can aid us in the work of reversing that bad consensus – but we’ll need a legitimate government, and an insistence that all sides abide by legitimately achieved decisions, to do the work we’d prefer to see done. Undermining the legitimacy of those institutions with exaggerated and one-sided claims and calumnies will do us no favor in the long run – unless we’re much more eager than the Founders were to settle the issue by violence.

  63. @ CK MacLeod:

    So sorry about the misspellings. I can’t explain them, since I’ve correctly spelled “MacLeod” dozens of times before.

    No particular event of the ones I cited constituted an act of despotism, true. But that’s part of the frog-in-hot-water problem the country faces. Jefferson spoke of a long train of usurpations. But were they even that, and were They–a constitutional Crown-in-Parliament government–intending despotism? They certainly didn’t think so. The colonies had non-voting representatives in Parliament (Benjamin Franklin was one, I think). George III was not remotely like Louis XIV or even Fredrick Wilhelm IV. There are more people residing in American territories today (I’m one of them) than inhabited all of British North America in 1776, excluding the Indians, but we have no more than non-voting representatives in Congress. We do not consider ourselves despotically treated; nor are we in any way that pertains to our status as residents of territories. It cannot be solely the fact of this or that level of consensual involvement with “abuses and usurpations” that determines the reality of the danger perceived by Glenn Beck (or myself) but their nature and if they do in fact demonstrate a clear and unsettling trend.

    By the way, although the court acted in 1913, didn’t the actual legislating of the income tax wait until 1916? Nor, in that regard, do I think that the absolutely unforeseen, unannounced, unanticipated (then), and pervasive expansions of the income tax, along with that nasty innovation called withholding, are really addressed by saying, matter-of-factly, “Oh well, it was legally passed, so what’s your beef?”

  64. I consider myself an ardent opponent of Obamism.

    There is no such thing,you may be an ardent opponent of Obama,but O has no philosophy except for OppOrtunism. Are you an ardent opponent of opportunism? That really isn’t possible for you,being a dyed in the wool capitalist.

  65. Why is it we continue to have ‘epistemic closure’ about how we got here, as we know now, Kanye West’s whine about Katrina, wasn’t accidental, it was carried forward by Van Jones’s crew, the same who like Ahab, are still going after Beck’s sponsors, and in various ways every spokesman of the right. Delay was targeted with an spurious indictment, which succeeded in knocking him out of leadership. Libby was similarly knocked out of his office, because they needed a scalp and ‘good friend’ Richard Armitage was willing to provide it. AS you see from the Rec Brow, the facts about how this disaster in the Gulf came to be, are not as black and white as the media will suggest, but rest assured the media will do everything to play this game of ‘hangman’ against one of our likely
    path to economic development. The frauds behind the promotion of AGW are vast and rather clear.

  66. @ Joe NS:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    As for the long train of abuses and usurpations as experienced in the late 18th century, and what might or might not be going on today. Who can say? In the meantime, I find it amusing to consider that Jefferson may have envisioned some kind of “baggage train” or some such – simple wagons perhaps hitched together carrying pots and pans, pulled by beasts of burden, tended by farmers whose right and left shoes would have been interchangeable – while the modern reader must on some level have images of modern transportation networks stimulated deep in the brainpan, or anyway the train that on occasion interrupts a daily commute.

    We know that TJ couldn’t ring up George or George’s secretary or secretary’s secretary and complain about that morning’s abuse or usurpation, but y’all in St Croix can, voting privileges in Congress or not.

    Sometimes you boil the water, sometimes the water boils you, but not all actions on the stove are pre-meditated frogicide. Sure there are dangers. Always have been, always will be. Part of having some element of free will and giving our fellow citizens the right also to be wrong. It’s a disease whose symptoms must be managed, and even encouraged, to inoculate us against worse ones, and forestall, worst of all, the cures.

  67. @ CK MacLeod:

    [I]it takes a stupendous and all-embracing amnesia to miss the fact that from, say 1880 to 1920, or from 1850 to 2010, unimaginably vast simultaneous and interconnected transformations in all social, cultural, political, and economic realms, vastly disturbing as well as vastly expansive and innovative, were occurring. The new demands on inherited institutions of self-government were equally vast.

    That is an expectoration of fact-free hand waving that is in some opaque manner meant to illustrate the necessity of so-called progressive political innovations. When in history do we witness the absence of those tiresome vastnesses? From the founding to the Civil War an entire continent was settled. Roads were built, canals dug, and the railroads spread to every town in America east of the Mississippi. By the 1880s at the latest the US had surpassed Britain in industrial might. The electrical grid and gas-lines were being laid down. From the cotton gin to the telephone, inventions cascaded and were quickly put to use on a mass scale. Overseas trade was exploding, with American manufactures traveling everywhere. Yet the Federal government remained, until the 1930s, a rather distant presence in American society and American business. The country also had several times experienced definite ups and downs. Judged by the drop in economic activity alone, the depression of the 1870s was worse than that of the 1930s. Neither FDR nor a New Deal was required to remedy matters.

  68. @ Joe NS:
    I don’t see how any of that is supposed to constitute an argument at all, nor why I should be obligated to defend the New Deal or FDR – though I’ll happily volunteer that he wasn’t a Hitler or a Stalin in my view, and may have been instrumental in preventing a real American fascism or communism from spreading.

    As for the historical argument, the people of this country – you know, those pesky Americans – experienced massive alterations in their lives, and widely came to view those changes, at least the positive ones, as “progress.” Those who believed government needed to modernize as well, not least out of self-defense from other powers affecting people’s lives for good or ill, eventually came to be known as political “progressives.”

    One major reason the Federal Government wasn’t a “presence” in the “daily lives” of Americans up to the 1930s would be sheer technological limitations. The first radio speeches weren’t given until the 1920s, for instance, and even then the technology needed years to come into general use. From around 1900 through 1920, the federal government’s actual reach and power expanded, in accordance with the rise of the country on the international stage, among other things. This process was greeted with great enthusiasm by many in those years, suspicion and fear by a smaller number, somewhat as today in some respects.

    Anyway, I consider that a narrow and ahistorical definition of “presence.” When the Federal Government opened up Kansas and Nebraska to settlement, there weren’t x-thousand little Obami passing out forms and dreaming of future thermostats to tax, but the influence of government on the daily lives of those Americans was total: Those daily lives would have been completely different if not for acts of the Federal Government. Same can be said, all the more, for the daily lives of the prior inhabitants of those lands.

  69. Neither FDR nor a New Deal was required to remedy matters.

    Right,just a big bad war that put everybody back to work on the Federal Payroll. And that may be the Endgame for the current possible Depression that may be in its early but formative stage.

  70. CK MacLeod:

    If believing that the government of the United States is legitimate is an “obsession,” then I’m happy to be as obsessed as the vast majority of my fellow insane citizens.

    The issue wasn’t that you believed the government to be legitimate. It’s that you seem to believe–based on what you’ve said in this post and previous ones–that it is a moral necessity for the rest of us to believe it so. That if I don’t accept Obama, or Bush, or Clinton, et al, as legitimate, I am undermining the “authority” of the Presidency. Honestly, if Obama’s Presidency is that unstable when he has 2.5 million men under arms, he’s got much bigger problems than yours truly.

    BTW, this also relates to your severe overreaction regarding Beck’s Founder posters. It’s called humor.

    Exit question (with apologies to Allahpundit): why do you react so harshly to my nonchalant, nonviolent refusal to give the President more credit than he deserves, yet you barely raise an eyebrow at Strangelet’s genocidal fantasies?

  71. One major reason the Federal Government wasn’t a “presence” in the “daily lives” of Americans up to the 1930s would be sheer technological limitations.

    Not so fast. Newspapers were far more important in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In many communities two, three, and four or more papers appeared every day in multiple editions, which were avidly read, debated, and disseminated (Toqueville remarks on that somewhere). The telegraph started linking the nation in the late 1840s. The country had all the technology and media it needed to learn about doings in DC had there been one-one-thousandth going on there that impacted them, that could take their money or by changing a law or introducing a regulation put them out of business and out of work.

    As to “presence” versus “influence,” same practical diff. I don’t care which you use. But the use to which you’re putting influence here is too broad to be of much value in that it is hard to see how it distinguishes Kansas sodbusters from us or any other American who has ever lived since colonial times with respect to the government. We are all “influenced” by government in this thoroughly trivial way: the Federal government is a fact, like the height of the Empire State Building. But in a million ways never dreamed of before the 1930s, Americans are living with the demanding presence of federal rules and regulations if only in the mountains of paperwork that businesses of every stripe must fill out sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, sometimes even daily under penalty of fine.

  72. Another thing, CK: among the supposedly false claims by Glenn Beck, you casually include two that are not only true, but not even particularly controversial.

    Van Jones was a Communist; he has said so himself. Worse, he became a Communist in the early Nineties, when it had already been discredited–quite recently.

    Also, Woodrow Wilson was a racist. He spoke admiringly of The Birth of a Nation, a movie celebrating the founding of the KKK; and he ordered the segregation of the previously integrated District of Columbia.

  73. The quibble is regarding Van Jones own statements to the East Bay Express, regarding events after the LA riots, he may have exaggerated for street cred, coming from Yale Law. AS for Wilson, his actions are rather clear, I used to think he was the big pacifist, reluctant to intervene, that is the legend, Milton Cooper indicates his imperialistattitudes are almost parallel with his time at Princeton, as with TR, the “Paul Wolfowitz” of the McKinley administration. REgardless this crazy cast of character, the Chavez approving FEC ‘political officer’ the protege of Ehrlich as Science Advisor, other characters like Susstein, and assorted exemplars of the liberal menagerie. Kansas, Nebraska, a possibly infelicitous example

  74. …the constitutional idyll that preceded the first embers of progressivism was accompanied by and conditioned upon the extirpation of several pre-existing nations, and the enslavement of a race.

    Accompanied by? Yes. Conditioned upon? Not hardly. The Indian nations were decimated by disease far more than by murder. As for slavery, it is a particularly vile lie to say that the Founders loved the system of slavery. The issue of slavery almost killed the Constitution, because it was considered so reprehensible by virtually all Northerners, and even some Southerners. The 3/5 compromise was actually negotiated as a check on the power of white Southerners, who had wanted to augment their political power by counting slaves fully in the census.

    Also, the slave states were frankly a poor fit in the nation. They had close ties to Britain and France, and practically none to the northern states. They had few technological innovations; consider that even the cotton gin was invented by a man from Massachusetts!

    (Ironically, this is directly related to the present Republican dominance in the South, though not in the racial way leftists claim. Rather, the failure of the South to enter into the Industrial Revolution until the 1960’s saved them from the worst abuses of “progressivism” and labor unions, so that when the economy finally took off, it didn’t have so many taxes, regulations, and labor contracts. The current Republican base in the South is not rednecks, but businessmen–many of them displaced Northerners).

  75. @ Ken:
    It probly is a “moral necessity” in a constitutional republic to accept the government as legitimate until and unless lawful opportunities for redress of grievances have been foreclosed. There’s no statutory or constitutionally ordained penalty for acting unconstitutionally, or some requirement for ejection from office. It’s not a high crime or misdemeanor – in itself – though it’s of course possible to imagine unconstitutional acts that rise to that level. You’re of course free to believe that the government has acted illegitimately, as am I to believe that reaching that conclusion on the basis of a given supposedly or arguably unconstitutional act is a bad standard. Among other things, if accepted as a compulsory doctrine, it would mean that any president interested in retaining office would need to suborn or coerce the Supreme Court ahead of time. Conceptually it would already amount to a violation of separation of powers even before a wary executive or congresspeople acted to defend themselves and their prerogatives.

    As for strangelet, I’ve criticized her many times for intemperate and antagonistic rhetoric, and even specifically for the “genocidalism” on a recent thread, although I later withdrew the remark, since I don’t see her that way really and had only been trying to make a point. She seems bigoted to me, and vindictive about “WEC”‘s, but I don’t think she’s dreaming of anti-WEC laws and WEC concentration camps. I don’t see any comment on this thread that cross any lines in that regard. Perhaps you can point me to what you find unacceptable.

    I never said that Glenn Beck’s claims against Van Jones and Wilson were “false.” I certainly implied that he goes about propagating them in an exaggerated, misleading, and, to me, absurdly ridiculous way. I plan on getting to Wilson soon (in more detail than in the review of Liberal Fascism), and one of our regular commenters has been promising to swoop in with a vengeance against my sadly unconvincing apologetics, so perhaps we can save that for later.

  76. It’s still not clear to me how you cope with the fact that, according to your own narration, the progressives have run more and more of everything according to that scheme, and yet over the same period our little country has risen to pre-eminence. The broad overview and takeaway is that the period of “wanting more government to coerce more people to do more things” has also been the period of the greatest and best national enterprise known to history…

    It’s simple. The U.S. was already a technological and economic powerhouse at the time of WWI. With a populace familiar with both weapons and machines, it was fairly simple to create, almost overnight, a military that could deal a death blow to the Kaiser’s army. After that war the US returned to isolationism, and then in WWII almost overnight created another military to defeat both Germany and Japan.

    It was not Wilson or Roosevelt’s policies that allowed the US military dominance; it was the already existing economic dominance and the resourcefulness of the American people.

    By the time the negative effects of “Progressivism” were becoming obvious, in the late 1960’s, it was also having a negative impact on the US effort in the Vietnam War. To some extent the “Progressives” were turned back during the Reagan years, with the top tax rates cut to 28% (now 34%), and this probably gave the US economy enough of a boost to allow it to slip past the finish line in the Cold War.

    Keep in mind, too, that it didn’t hurt that the other countries vying for preeminence–mainly the Soviets, but you can include the UK and France here too–were much farther on the road toward socialism, so it’s not at all surprising that the US was at the top of the class. However, we would have been even more powerful if we hadn’t followed the “Progressives.”

  77. The current Republican base in the South is not rednecks, but businessmen–many of them displaced Northerners).

    Japan Inc owns/controls the South.

  78. @ Ken:
    De Tocqueville’s description of the extirpation of the natives – not the same as their murder – is to my knowledge unsurpassed. You should read it. The rest of the history of the extirpation of the native tribes is needless to say a broad subject. It’s self-evident the preservation of their ways of life as they had pursued them and the expansion and settlement of the United States were incompatible. I think that fairly expresses how both sides saw the situation as it developed at the time. The removal of the Indians was a condition of the realization of America’s manifest destiny.

    I’m not some lefty calling up Michael Medved and asking for trouble. I’m familiar with the arguments you’re making, and have been known to make some of them myself from time to time, on this very blog.

    The “peculiar institution” was, during the period I was referring to, a mainstay of cotton farming and other forms of agriculture, the basis of the economy of the South. De Tocqueville’s rather good on that, too, as a matter of fact, though unusually pessimistic for him.

    Needless to say, whole libraries have been devoted to both subjects, so I doubt we’ll discover anything novel about them here. I stand by what I wrote.

  79. CK MacLeod: you are interpreting what I said in almost the opposite way that I intended it.

    First of all, just because I think a government has sacrificed its legitimacy does not mean that I support overthrowing it violently, or even peacefully like the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. It does mean that I feel no compunction to obey unjust or unconstitutional laws. I guess I just don’t put the government on as high a pedestal as you do; to my mind, there’s a reason our form of government is known as a “republic” rather than a “presidency.”

    Second, you are naive if you don’t think Presidents already coerce Supreme Court Justices in order to get their way.

  80. @ narciso:
    I get the impression you haven’t finished the Cooper book. Wilson flirted with imperialism early on, during the period you mention and when it didn’t matter much, but the description of him as a reluctant to go to war, anti-imperialist in every way that counted once he took power, and virtually obsessed with achieving and ensuring peace – in that specific sense a “pacifist” – is very much supported by the later chapters. TR, almost to the day he died, excoriated Wilson for his failure to swing the big stick.

  81. Japan Inc owns/controls the South.

    A bit of an overstatement. However, I’d rather have Japanese companies selling Americans products made in America, than have them selling Americans the same products made in Japan.

  82. Ken wrote:
    Japan Inc owns/controls the South.

    A bit of an overstatement. However, I’d rather have Japanese companies selling Americans products made in America, than have them selling Americans the same products made in Japan.

    That’s great,Ken,except in either case the money flows back to Mother Japan to repackage those greenbacks to use against our interests. The South was was perfect location for Japan to sink her teeth into us,idiot workers willing to work for nothing,and insolvant state governments willing to sell the rights for Japan to entrench itself for peanuts. Bottom line,the South has always been the home for the cheapest labor possible. PS,it was the reaction to the Civil Rights act that turned the Dixicrats into the the power center of the Republican Party

  83. Speaking of Van Jones, do you folks know that he has taken a position at Princeton University as a visiting scholar? This comes a few years after Princeton became Cornell West’s sanctuary after Larry Summers suggested he try a little serious scholarship at Harvard rather than behaving like a privileged gad fly, handing out A’s and composing off the cuff hip hop lyrics.

    Soooooo, your always gentle frem visualized an orange and black Statue of Liberty on that campus with a poem after Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” at its base.

    THE NEWEST COLOSSUS

    America the mean, so mean, we blame
    Her arrogant power ignominious, over sea and land
    Look here, you racists, you will be banned
    A mighty brother’s gonna bring you shame
    He’ll torch your banks and dish out blame
    Give them the wealth, we’re militant, you mothers!
    Give them the wealth for all the brothers!
    Acorn, Van Jones, Cornell West: They’ve all been framed
    Keep all that free enterprise stuff, cries she
    With sneering lips, “Give me your fired, your slick,
    Your radicals, broke and yearning for some cash.
    Free paychecks for the bitter revolutionary cliques.
    We’ll teach your young elite to hate, and other trash
    We’ll smash your once great campus, brick by brick

  84. Thanks to Goldman Sachs and BP,the Democrats have a fighting chance in Nov. That’s a shitty deal,but Drill Baby drill.

  85. @ Zoltan Newberry:
    Reminds me of Amiri Baraka, actually – you wouldn’t have to do too much to the poem to turn it into a “real authentic radical attacks the sellouts & Amerika, too” piece.

    Anyway, well-plied, Comrade Newberry.

  86. I didn’t ‘read the whole thing’ as Glenn Reynolds would say, on Cooper, I glanced at several parts, including that instant. Btw, I noticed that Newsweek, that publication put together by the Harriman and co, is being very savagely dismissive of “Democracy in America” although not as much as the interview with Peter Carey, who sympathizes with the Times reviewer, that what De Tocqueville feared was democracy, or actually Sarah Palin

  87. @ narciso:
    Contentions had a post on what I believe would be that same ridic Newsweek reading – was that the one where they claimed that A deT was indifferent to slavery? Must have been reading a badly abridged version if so. Perhaps we can agree that DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA will likely be read with interest for much longer than last week’s Newsweek.

  88. Yes, Friday was a slow day, so I started the creative process then, and just finished it about 3 hours ago.

    With such wunnerful and appreciative frems, what more could an Alpha Man ax for? If you really, really like it, my brothers (do the sisters like it too?), you hab mi permicion, amigos, to highlight it on this wunnerful zombie website somehow, (next to the masterworks of Lord Sully?) or even share wit frems at hot air, etc.

  89. They (Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, GQ, Esquire, have become almost
    a rightwing parody of a left broadsheet would be. The most recent issue which has Governor Perry on the cover, is remarkably clueless
    in understanding the right’s motivations, except in Hofstadlerian terms.

    When I first read Charles McCarry’s Better Angels back in the late 80s, the portrait of a left wing intelligentsia, being so virulently against the right, including a David Gregoryish anchor, called Patrick Graham, it seemed satirical. When McCarry updated it in 1995, it seemed less so, now in 2010, it doesn’t even really catch up to reality

  90. The original Progressives were very explicit about that: that constitutionalism was a hindrance to the implementation of their agenda.

    This is where we begin to diverge I think in our understanding of progressivism and the progressive era. When you refer to “original Progressives” with a capital “P” it appears that you’re referring to the Progressive Party, which never held national power, and managed to elect only a handful of representatives to the House and Senate. If you’re referring to the original little P progressives, you can read through tons of material on and by them, and never encounter the question of constitutionalism. It just didn’t have much relevance to the things they were dealing with, or, on the occasions that it did, they sought changes through constitutionally valid means.

    As for the theorists, they’re a different matter. Wilson, as a 29-year-old author seeking to make his mark, entertained a number of ideas – a parliamentary system, the necessity of not revering the Founding as a quasi-religious dispensation, various versions of “socialism” (in quotes because the meaning of the term was still in play in those days) – but he wasn’t “original Progressivism.” He wasn’t even a nominal political progressive, though in those days people interested in new thinking and life styles generally might have called themselves “progressive.”

    Croly, Dewey, TR, and others writing and speaking during the 1900s and later all had a lot to say, and some took the question of Constitutionalism head on, but they spoke for themselves, in their time, not for “real, existing progressivism” in toto.

    So who precisely are you referring to – check your Pestritto anthology if that’s your source, please – when you described the O.P. as anti-constitutional? You don’t identify them, instead you skip ahead to FDR, not remotely an O.P., then move to this observation:

    I sense that you express often a view that soft socialism hasn’t led to hard socialism in America yet, and people are being alarmist to say it will — but it’s the very constitutionalism that you find unrealistic and radical that has held the harder socialism in check, as evidenced by the SCOTUS New Deal strikedown.

    I don’t find constitutionalism radical. I find radical constitutionalism radical, and contradictory to the spirit of the constitutional project and the American project, and therefore untenable.

    The Constitution is the fundamental rulebook of our national political game. To implement socialism in the U.S. might require amendment of the Constitution, or a revolution. The former would allow for Constitutional Socialism – not something I favor, but not something “outside the rules.”

    A few years back an NFL progressive might have thought that an instant replay rule was necessary to preserve the integrity of the game, and the physical safety and other personal interests of the referees, in an age when millions of people watching on TV could see clear as day that a critical call was wrong. A radical NFL constitutionalist would have said, no, the rules are the rules, they can’t be changed, and wanting to change them shows that you’re a lousy fan, and if we keep on changing the rules then the game will be destroyed. It was good enough for Unitas, it’s good enough for me.

    Eventually, as we know, the NFL progressives won the argument, and, though there were problems with the application of the rule, and though there may be a few people who will never accept it, the rules were changed.

    There’s no objective standard for saying that the progs were anti-rulebook or anti-NFL. They believed in changing the rulebook, and, following the by-laws of their organization (I don’t really know exactly how the decision was made), they got the rule changes they sought. Both sides were equally “constitutionalist” in that sense, and the game goes on.

  91. Ck, have you missed the last year, this administration through the stimulus, cap n trade, the financial deformation bill, is to pass through
    statute and court action, what would ordinarily require an amendment

  92. @ narciso:
    Not the subject I was just discussing, narc. I was referring to the period ca. 1880 – 1920 – original (P)rogressivism. I haven’t seen a case as to the unconstitutionality of all of 2009-10, not to say I doubt that one could be made or would be surprised to learn one has been made.

  93. Now your quibbling, TR was not a Progressive, but he certainly implemented progressive policies. He was not a Socialist neither
    was Bismark, but they each had a disdain for unrestrained liberal capitalism, as did Schmoller, Wagner, et al. Hayek’s argument
    against Keynes was based in parton his experience in the 20s,
    where some degree of planning had permeated the culture

    One might say that Nixon although he cited Disraeli was more of
    a Bismarkian sort, and in the end, there can be. . . it didn;t work
    out.

  94. TR was indeed a Progressive, with a capital “P.” He was effectively the founder of the national Progressive Party, running as its candidate in 1912 (at least read the Cooper chapter on “the Great Campaign”). He also happened to differ greatly on many issues from other Progressives, not to mention other progressives, which is a testament to the difficulty of assigning some particular coherent theory or obligatory praxis to progressivism vis-a-vis constitutionalism or anything else.

    Unlike socialists or communists, progressives weren’t as a rule anti-capitalist, though they were, with few exceptions, against pure laissez-faire capitalism. They were a reform movement, not a revolutionary one, and the constant attempt to render them as revolutionaries, virtual revolutionaries, creeping revolutionaries, revolutionary stalking horses, etc., mainly serves to make the renderer out as a reactionary.

  95. hmm.

    i don’t think glenn beck is so awful. and i don’t see how one could regard him as “problematic” unless they are the sort who sees officials, academics, and punditainers as occupying the same strata of a political movement. to the extent that that can be assumed of conservatism, that is a large part of conservatism’s problem. a conservatism in which sarah palin is a contender for the role of standard-bearer is one in which glenn beck – problematic bits and all – is a ray of hope. i could more easily take him seriously as a presidential candidate than palin.

  96. Thank you, CK!
    Finally someone (of sound mind) has the cojones to take a swipe at Glenn Beck, Inc.
    I have watched almost every minute of every show since he came on Fox News. At first, it was due to my brother’s insistence that Beck’s radio show was the bee knees. Well, after viewing for a few weeks it became clear to me that the guy’s education is via Google, WikiPedia, and a dozen researchers on his staff. He is so wrong about so much history and its CONTEXT, it’s frightening. In fact, I have written elsewhere that IF I were a parent, I wouldn’t allow my kids to watch him unless and until they had read the real history – THEN we would discuss it. Beck’s book “Arguing With Idiots” is the same way – He takes an hisroical fact or two, links them together, and then proclaims that a vast progressive conspiracy is being unveiled before our very eyes. I still haven’t finished the book – It’s way too cumbersome to “argue with an idiot”.

    BTW – Have you noticed that Beck stopped advertising himself on his own show for free just as Roger Ailes took Sean Hannity to the woodshed?

    ~(Ä)~

  97. THe same historians that blame Harding and Coolidge’s tax cuts for the depression, whereas the McCumber and Smoot/Hawley tariffare more at fault, who state that the New Deal got us out, who paint Nixon as evil, Reagan as clueless, despite he presided over an economic boom and the fall of the Soviet Union .and W as the combination of the two. Yes let us rely on them, to tell us the truth.

  98. @ Rocketman:

    More piling on Glenn Beck because he is not John Locke! What pathetic rubbish. Rocketman, as is depressingly routine, does not pause to provide us with a single instance of what exactly is so “wrong about so much history and its CONTEXT,” that “it’s frightening.” Boo hoo. Rocketman is frightened, poor lass. Of what, for God’s sakes? And then to add the spectacular imbecility that children must be prevented from viewing Beck!!! As if that were a blow hot struck for freedom of inquiry, when it is the most mindless form of pointless censorship that can be imagined. Glenn Beck is not a purveyor of pornography that a responsible parent must guard against. What faux and repellant high-mindedness. What–may I say this?–preening crap.

  99. (chuckle)

    Huh? I’m not “piling on” anyone. Glenn Beck, Inc. woeful.

    Okay, Okay … Here’s the easiest and (should be) the most obvious question:
    How much has Glenn Beck, Inc. educated you, or anyone else for that matter, on Karl Marx the man? How about das Kapital (I’d bet money Glenn Beck, Inc. has never read it) or the milieu, er, Zeitgeist in which he wrote and formulated his ideas?

    ANSWER: Ö

    A few days ago, Glenn Beck, Inc. mentioned “Critical Theory”, nbut failed to mention that it is synonymous with “Conflict Theory”. Why is that? I’m guessing that he hasn’t a clue.
    Anyone can read The Communist Manifesto in less than an hour. There’s a wee bit more to the story than that.

    To be sure – I am as conservative as one can get.
    Trust Me.
    I am educated enough to recognize a counter-productive ideologue when I see, hear, and read one.

    I lost ALL hope in Glenn Beck, Inc. when the entertainer labeled GW Bush a dastardly “progressive”.

    And what’s the beef with Teddy Roosevelt? Geez, man … get a life.
    TR served his country.
    Glenn Beck, Inc. – Not so much.

    BTW – I DO give Glenn Beck, Inc. credit for exposing POSOTUS “czars”.

    GOP Attack Squad
    Proud Member Since 1972

    ~(Ä)~

  100. @ Rocketman:
    Since you’ve replied to Joe, I’m not going to “moderate” his comment. I’d just put it in the pending queue ahead of asking Joe to get rid of the insults, but have now restored it. Sorry about his lack of manners.

  101. No they are not the same Rocketman, even though are related, Critical theory stems from the Frankfurt school of Adorno, which gave us Herbert Marcuse, one of the leading inspiration for groups like the SDS. Conflict theory is more generalized. If that was Obama’s mother’s
    focus as part of her anthropological focus, it explains a fair amount
    about the formation of his thought processes

  102. @ Rocketman:

    Come now, Das Kapital? How much may any man of flesh and blood address that slab of pernicious Hegelianism on a TV show? I’m afraid that simply listing the topics Beck addresses without supplying his opinions of them is inadequate. If they’re intellectually threadbare–as I’m perfectly willing to admit in advance they might be–I don’t have cable, so I couldn’t say–but Glenn Beck is not running a Great Books seminar ala Mortimer Adler.

    If Beck is unwilling or even unable to address the fine points of the labor theory of surplus value does that in itself require that he be ignored or scorned? Who the hell on earth understood Marx’s sophomoric economics besides Karl Marx?

    As to the one substantive illustration you provide, I yield to no one in my high regard for George W. Bush. The iron integrity he exhibited in Iraq and as regards committing the nation to the absurd Kyoto Protocol must be praised to the skies. We should all be eternally grateful, in my opinion. But George Bush was first of all a Christian conservative, and he hearkened to the gospel call to enact the so-called “corporal works of mercy”–you know, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison–insofar as it is in one’s power to do so; and lest we forget, GWB was President of the United States for eight years, which interregnum provided him with ample opportunity to act upon that particular commandment, as he did numerous times with regard to Federal aid to education, AIDS in Africa, and, with less conviction or sense, subsidies for senior-citizen purchases of medicines.

    So Beck’s criticism of Bush, as simple-minded as it undoubtedly is, might only be a clumsy reminder of another, preeminently Christian admonition: Apodite oun Kaisaros Kaiseri, “Render thou then to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” kai to theo tou theou “and to God what is God’s.” Bush did not always adroitly separate the responsibilities of the man from those of the office.

    What I am urging is that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, however, cartoonish and unsophisticated their policy prescriptions might be–and they are definitely not always so impaired–should not be contemned as if they were anything more than they ostensibly are: the product of cable television and AM talk radio rather than that of Charlie Rose or Alistair Cook. Their positions, however tendentiously proffered, may all be defended. The sometimes crazy uncle is still my uncle, and so I owe him at least an attempt to understand him that I do not owe, say, Barack Obama.

  103. @ narciso:
    Please name the historian, or even the pundit, who blamed the Depression on Harding/Coolidge tax cuts. I’m really curious to see such a case being made. I have some vague recollection of someone comparing minimal margin lending requirements to tax cut policy as stemming from the same ideology and encouraging bubble economics, but what you describe is something different. And which historians “state” that “the New Deal got us out” of the Depression? Even lovers of the New Deal and Roosevelt, the ones with which I’m familiar, make the much more conservative claim that the New Deal was a “bold” response or series of responses to the Depression, that held the country together and did all sorts of wonderful things (which would have been wonderfuller if not for the evil arch-conservatives, but that’s another argument). The “it was really WW2 and/or time that changed things” position is widely held, in my observation, not some secret truth bravely maintained by the rightwing illuminati.

  104. No probs, CK. Those of limited abilities of’times fall back on the ad hominems. I enjoy your writing at Hot Air.

    Re: The variety of Marxist theories, schools, etc. They are all intertwined. “Conflict Theory” more clearly makes the point that Glenn Beck, Inc. was attempting to illustrate. Don’t tell anyone, but I aced the comprehensive essay exam re: Sociological Theory in grad school. It’s worth noting – IMHO of course – That the University of Chicago has become one of the Midwest’s better conduits for channeling the “Frankfurt School” et al..

    Glenn Beck, Inc. is becoming increasingly irrelevant as many people have noticed that his GIANT leaps in “logic” and “connecting the dots” is nothing but demagoguery. Were I a history teacher/instructor/professor, Glenn Beck, Inc. would drive me nuts.

    Having never seen a train wreck live and in color, I watch Glenn Beck, Inc. Must be the voyeur in me.

    ~(Ä)~

  105. Joe NS wrote:

    If they’re intellectually threadbare,m as I’m perfectly willing to admit in advance they might be–I don’t have cable, so I couldn’t say–but Glenn Beck is not running a Great Books seminar ala Mortimer Adler.

    Wait a second. You never watch Glenn Beck? All this on behalf of something you know little or nothing about firsthand?

    Hilarious.

  106. Joe: “I’m afraid that simply listing the topics Beck addresses without supplying his opinion of them is inadequate. If they’re intellectually threadbare,m as I’m perfectly willing to admit in advance they might be–I don’t have cable, so I couldn’t say–but Glenn Beck is not running a Great Books seminar ala Mortimer Adler.”

    ‘Nuff Said.

    ~(Ä)~

    .

  107. I would throw in economists like Galbraith, into the mix, under the general rubric of inequality, creating the conditions instead of the usual turns of the business cycle, It took true handiwork to turn it into the Great Depression, like with Smoot Hawley, the subsequent fall of Creditanstalt, etc

  108. @ CK MacLeod:

    The fact that I do not in my present circumstances have access to Beck does not mean that I do not occasionally “catch” his show in other venues, at the local beach bar, for instance. A few years ago, when he was on CNN, I watched him with some regularity.

  109. @ Rocketman:

    “The fact that I do not in my present circumstances have access to Beck does not mean that I do not occasionally “catch” his show in other venues, at the local beach bar, for instance. A few years ago, when he was on CNN, I watched him with some regularity.”

    You’re sprinting clownishly for the goal and you have no ball in your hands.

    ‘Nuff said?

  110. @ Joe NS:
    The comment highlighted by Rocketman and me strongly suggests that you do not consider yourself able to respond on the content of his current show. My suggestion is that you spend some more time at the beach bar before next rising up for the defense – and on the attack against others more familiar with the case.

  111. @ CK MacLeod:

    Colin, Rocketman’s diatribe, to which I was responding, is completely non-specific as to time. The only concrete reference he makes is to Beck’s criticism of Bush–perforce the only thing I responded to or could–as being a “progressive.” I’m pretty sure that that particular jibe is not of recent, i.e., post-CNN, vintage. Moreover, has Glenn Beck–his style, his mannerisms–changed dramatically in transiting to Fox? He was okay but then went off the rails? I doubt it.

  112. I guess Joe didn’t “catch” the Glenn Beck, Inc. show the other day when the entertainer was trying to make the point about the Big Three tire makers attempting to “put the little guy out of business”. The set-up, a basic fact … And then tuned because after this commercial break we’re gonna blow the lid off THIS one TOO! I couldn’t wait.

    (commercial break)

    The point he was trying to make was NOT served by his illustration and Glenn Beck, Inc. had to make a correction NOT a “clarification”. The Beckster was 100% wrong. At least HE was man enough to admit it, Joe.

    ~(Ä)~

  113. @ Joe NS:
    Joe, read my virtual lips: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re basing your opinions on assumptions and speculation.

    It’s now a little more understandable to me why you would be going on and on in this furious, “preening” and “high-minded” craptastical defense of the intellectually indefensible and politically very highly questionable. I’d like to be able to say that someday you might sit down and watch GB on Fox closely, and feel a little embarrassed about ever having passionately defended that, but over recent days you’ve just about convinced me that your ideological commitments and prejudices are too deeply embedded even to be touched, much less dislodged.

  114. @ CK MacLeod:

    I haven’t defended Beck “passionately” or “furiously,” but I have defended him because, as I said, while not in a position to watch his current show regularly, I have seen it and know perfectly well that the true load of crap being shoveled here is the contention that this man is somehow different in any important way from what he ever was. He’s “imperfect,” “emotionally unstable,” “cartoonish”–I’ve said all those things and more, based on my observation of the man. First question: Those characterizations amount to a furious defense? Second: Do you understand English?

    The one concrete example offered by Rocketman, re Bush, I responded to in detail. He has not bothered to re-reply to that. That’s ok. He’s not obliged to. What’s not okay is that, instead, he offers up some jumble about tire manufactures that is utterly incoherent. And I defy you to clarify it on the basis of the actual comment. If I don’t understand Rocketman’s latest illustration it’s not because I didn’t see the show.

  115. @ Joe NS:
    The “fury” in your posts is mostly what you direct at others who have the misfortune of actually being familiar with the subject at hand. Rocketman described an incident. I didn’t witness it, but it strikes me as the usual Beck, and I didn’t find the description hard to understand at all. It seems to me that when you have difficulty “understanding English,” your reflex is to blame others and then insult them.

    FYI – Beck seized upon Jonah Goldberg’s LIBERAL FASCISM sometime last year (a work whose flaws I discussed at https://ckmacleod.com/2010/04/09/on-re-reading-liberal-fascism-defining-fascism-down/ ). Since that time, he has also had the distinguished, very rightwing scholar Ronald Pestritto, whose critique of progressivism JG borrows from, on his show as a guest. To critique Pestritto, you may need to consult other scholars – you can get some hints here. (Incidentally, I believe that the image that accompanies that article is manufactured, and salon.com should be ashamed if so – Beck if not.)

    Beck is also basking in the glow of high ratings and his new Fox following, and he would hardly be the first person in the history of the mass media to have been “promoted” above his competence, and to have his weaknesses exposed under the intensified glare of fame, perceived widening influence, and mega-bucks.

    All of the flaws you concede, and others, have been magnified by the attention he’s received, and by the requirements of his shtick (as I try to suggest in the concluding paragraph of the top post). It’s a familiar story – the classic American media model being “Howard Beale,” or, if you prefer literary references, “Elmer Gantry.” Other literary and historical precedents are, of course, numerous. What’s lacking so far is the climax – though sometimes the Beck-Gantry-Beale types simply fade away. Rush has avoided either fate, so far (though he’s come close to blowing up and has had to weather a catastrophe or two), I think because he’s a lot smarter than Beck, and guided by a larger political purpose and a deeper understanding of it.

  116. Using Michael Lind as an authority, there CK, he’s kind of the Texas species of Brooks/Frum, or Wilentz. Brinkley

  117. @ narciso:
    That’s just ad hominem, narciso, against Lind. His article describes the intellectual pedigree of Beck & Goldberg’s polemics. On that point, it would make little difference whether Lind is a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, top organizer for the Communist International, or resident in a suburban prison for the criminally insane. Can’t it go without saying that you can disagree with someone on one or several points without presuming he’s incapable of constructing a bibliography?

  118. Things are more or less OK here.

    But you guys should ease up on Joe. If he’s anything of a logician, all that he need do is watch some more of Beck’s program to realize how badly Beck stretches the information, some of it quite good, that his researchers hand him.

  119. @ fuster:
    (I can’t go chiding some commenters for attacking others, then leave up comments like the one from RagnarD that consist of nothing but insults – knowing what likely will eventuate, sooner or later – you know, broken windows.)

  120. I still award a style point for “pecksniff”

    Rags, don’t go away, just bring a little more meat with the garnish.

  121. @ narciso:

    including Jeff and Darleen who still let you post there

    ????
    Jeff lets me post there because i amuse him, and loathe Darleen with the fire of thousand sons.
    She has NO say, Protein Wisdom is Jeff’s House.
    While Jeff was on sabbatical she almost got banned at Beldar’s for her shameless defense of the YFZ patriarchy daddies.
    She slimes the Protein Wisdom brand with her intransigent stupidity and raw hatred of our President.
    She posted a vile cartoon about Obama raping lady liberty that got one of Jeff’s professor’s to dissassociate himself from Jeff and the website.
    I was a regular contributor to PW (ax Jeff) but im not giving him another dime until he gets that two-digit harpy grandma off the front page.
    >:(

  122. @ fuster:
    I think “pecksniff” is an O’Reilly word, or a contraction of an O’Reilly word – don’t ask, if you don’t know, not worth it. In contracted form “pecksniffian” reads as vulgar. Don’t know if that was the intention. Style point, maybe. No points for congeniality.

  123. @ CK MacLeod:
    I spent decades playing street ball with dopers, dealers, cops and, worst of all, firemen. I don’t readily succumb to the vapors and am not baffled by the connotations.

    I would, however, be deflated to find that Rags picked up the word on FOX, rather than from reading

  124. Yes, I’m sure that professor was equally upset at that village voice cover, with accompanying article by Mssr. Perlstein, of Bush as vampire
    draining the Statue of Liberty. Our host is way too congenial to the asuang likes of you, yet admonishes some of us, for style points.

    Lind was a Young Fogey, who became persnickety at some of Pat Robertson’s more il advised commentary, and before long was taking
    up Gore Vidal’s whole shpiel. Some of his recent observations on politics
    are unintentionally funny, from the snippets I’ve gleaned here and there

  125. @ narciso:

    This is good, narc. We must never bypass an opportunity to upbraid the Tsar for excessive congeniality.

    Never far is it from congeniality to the fringe of appeasement!

  126. I’m sure that professor was equally upset at that village voice cover, with accompanying article by Mssr. Perlstein, of Bush as vampire

    So what?
    What has that got to do with the price of tea in china????
    All you guyz EVAH have is “the left does it too.”
    EVERY SINGLE OF YOUR ARGUMENTS is PeeWee Herman….
    “i know you are but what am i?”
    Even Goldberg’s celebrated “magnus opus” Liberal Fascism is one long windy “i know you are but what am i”

    Grow up.

  127. We must ever be on guard against congeniality, and it’s everyone’s duty.

    They smell it on us and think us weak and, bob’syouruncle, we’ll be seeing our Emperor bowing to the Nipponese.

  128. Or the movie which predicted a Bush assasination, or the book by Nicholson Baker, or the suggestion by Charlie Brooker of the Guardian
    along those same lines after the 2004 election, one could go on and one Kate. I regard Obama despite his truly horrible associations, as an inept ingenue, a sorcerer’s apprentice playing Alinsky, which logical results.

    SArah is scrupulously honest, there is no side to her, she believes in the country, and what it can accomplish. It stems from her faith and family. She has run into trouble, not because of the silly caricature that they did of her during the campaign, but precisely
    because they know se would storm the ramparts if need be

  129. strangelet wrote:

    Grow up.

    that’s pretty awesome, but I like have this old record where the guy
    yells out ” Get a harelip” at another guy?

  130. It’s about propriety, dear Kate, the left was willing to entertain that
    Bush either MIHOP or LIHOP, the two schools of 9/11 denialism. We were quite lucky that the only that really came close to fruition, was that of a young Arabian lad who was the valedictorian of his own homegrown madrassa in Virginia.

  131. Predictably, as blogs are wont to proceed, this discussion is heading in a variety of directions.

    Some other recent gems from Glenn Beck, Inc. –
    “At the time of the American Revolution established the United States, ALL of Europe was socialist.”
    WTF !?!
    Behind Glenn Beck, Inc. was a chalkboard (natch) that had a time line (natch) that showed the progress (is it okay to use that word anymore?) of democracy in America with the flat line of European Socialism.

    :rolleyes

    Any my regular clueless favorite when referring to corruption, sleaze, etc., according to Glenn Beck, Inc. –
    “Both sides do it.”

    Excuse me, but the Dems have written the book on sleaze and continue to add on chapters.

    Re: Sarah Palin? I’m with CK on that one.
    She seems like a truly decent human being. She is great for the base and will be a fine contributor to the cause, BUT she just isn’t POTUS material. That’s nothing to be ashamed of because most people aren’t. Sorry, Palinistas.

    And Finally … Another disturbing Glenn Beck, Inc. regular feature is his flirtation with PaulBots. That does ZERO for whatever credibility Glenn Beck, Inc. is trying to muster.

    ~(Ä)~

  132. @ Rocketman:
    I think one of your original comments – about GB’s method of stitching together facts in a distortive manner – is more indicative of his overall approach. Getting stuck on isolated factoids tends to serve his purpose, encouraging relatively trivial skirmishes while leaving the the main action unaffected. In that, he practices a crude version of what intellectually more sophisticated polemicists and partisan scholars do. He gets away with it because his national “high school class” may not know very much at all about the subjects he covers, and is happy to absorb information in a way that, in scapegoating others, seems to boost them.

  133. Yeah the Paulbot thing, creeps me out, I don’t quite get that, and Glenn’s ‘both parties are the same’ schtick, is inconsistent, when he
    talks up Santorum and Romney, But what he has been able to present
    of Breitbart and Seton Motley, and other such figures, is the important
    thing

  134. CK MacLeod wrote:

    @ Rocketman:
    I think one of your original comments – about GB’s method of stitching together facts in a distortive manner – is more indicative of his overall approach. Getting stuck on isolated factoids tends to serve his purpose, encouraging relatively trivial skirmishes while leaving the the main action unaffected. In that, he practices a crude version of what intellectually more sophisticated polemicists and partisan scholars do. He gets away with it because his national “high school class” may not know very much at all about the subjects he covers, and is happy to absorb information in a way that, in scapegoating others, seems to boost them.

    That, CK, is one of things that bothers me most about him:
    Glenn Beck, Inc. (who’s back to advertising his own side job) takes a brief slice of time & history and makes huge logical leaps. America’s “Great Leap Forward” IS Glenn Beck, Inc.
    I view it this way –
    Glenn Beck, Inc. likes graphs, time lines, etc. to make his sloppy historical points. It’s akin to slicing off the top of a bell curve and forget the etiology, forget the milieu, but LOOK what happened!

    Like I wrote, Glenn Beck, Inc. is educated by Google, hysterical e-mailers, and a crew of pretty lame researchers.
    Does Glenn Beck, Inc. make some important points? Yes.
    Has Glenn Beck, Inc. been successful in waking up some people? Yes.
    Is there a place in the national debate for Glenn Beck, Inc.? Yes.

    Is Glenn Beck, Inc. a font of intellectual and historical knowledge? NOPE.

    IMHO of course.

    ~(Ä)~

  135. Actually doesn’t it seem the reverse is true, doesn’t Rogers, Van Jones,
    the other Jones, Holdren, et al, indicate a great deal about how policy is being conducted, focusing on minor points, really is beside the point

  136. narciso wrote:

    doesn’t Rogers, Van Jones,
    the other Jones, Holdren, et al, indicate a great deal about how policy is being conducted

    No, narc, it doesn’t indicate much. Might more likely indicate how patronage is distributed.

  137. Patronage is a goal, I’ll admit but of their pet projects, which have little economic benefit, to the larger community

  138. @ narciso:

    So where do you get the evidence to say that the appointment of the mentioned folks to the variety of posts is an indication of the administration’s formulation of policy?

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TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

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