Archive for ‘Steve Benen’

May 13, 2009

Is Rush racist?

Every conservative discovers, sooner or later, that to criticize liberal ideas is to be adjudged guilty of some “-ism” or diagnosed with a “phobia.” Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of race.

Steve Benen has one of those “a-ha!” moments with a segment of a recent Rush Limbaugh monologue:

“The [economic] deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps. But in the Oval Office of the White House none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return to it to the nation’s quote, ‘rightful owners.’ Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on.”

RAAAAACISM! (Remember, bloggers, there are five A’s in “RAAAAACISM!” Some of you have been slacking off and trying to get by with four.) Benen pronounces Limbaugh’s suggestion “nauseating,” but as always, we must ask the question, “Is Rush right?”

Would any honest “progressive” deny that the aims of their redistributionist economic program — to tax the evil “rich” for the benefit of the sainted “poor,” in Robin Hood fashion — are motivated by notions of “social justice”?

Is it not a fundamental tenet of this “social justice” ideology that the wealthy gain their riches by the exploitation and oppression of the poor? And is it not furthermore true that, vis-a-vis the racial aspect of “social justice,” progressives believe that black people have been especially victimized by capitalist greed?

From such a chain of premises, it follows that a policy that purposefully hinders the private free-market economy and expands government entitlement programs — the “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” as it has been called — is to some degree intended by the authors of the policy as “forced reparations,” just like Rush says.

In other words, is Limbaugh being denounced as a racist merely for describing this policy accurately?

In The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell describes how liberals employ “mascots” and “targets” to advance their policy aims. By positioning themselves as defenders of “mascots,” liberals set a rhetorical trap whereby any attack on their policies is denounced as an attack on the (allegedly) victimized and downtrodden people whom those policies are supposed to benefit. Ergo, anyone who criticizes the cost of Medicare is accused of wishing to deprive the elderly of health care, and anyone who criticizes affirmative action is accused of hating women and minorities.

The problem, of course, is that this prevents rational discussion of policy. Limbaugh would surely argue that black people would benefit more from a flourishing private-sector economy — which offers them jobs — than they would benefit from an expanding program of entitlements, which offers them only government handouts.

Furthermore, we have seen that the “Cloward-Pivens Strategy” brings disastrous results for the poor people its architects claim to care so much about. Go read Fred Siegel’s The Future Once Happened Here if you want to see how this kind of liberal policy has devastated America’s great cities and brought misery to the urban poor.

If liberal policy is demonstrably bad for black people — as Limbaugh, Sowell and Siegel would argue — then in what sense is it “racist” to oppose liberalism? In fact, given the clearly evident socio-economic disaster inflicted on the black community by decades of liberal policy, is it not liberals themselves who ought to be attempting to defend themselves against such accusations?

The real problem with modern liberalism is the concept of “social justice.” As Friedrich Hayek explained, “social justice” is a mirage, a will-o’-th’-wisp that, however enthusiastically pursued, can never be achieved. And “social justice” harms those it aims to help, in part because it destroys the only legal and economic system — free-market capitalism — wherein the downtrodden have ever been able to improve their fortunes to any great degree.

The great irony of all this is that, even if you favor government aid to the poor — or perhaps, especially if you favor such aid — the health of the free-market economy should be paramount in your considerations.

After all, government can’t conjure money out of thin air. Ultimately, government can only spend on aid to the poor what it takes from the private economy in taxes. So if liberals pursue policies that harm the private economy, they’re killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. (Anybody tried applying for food stamps, health care or student loans in Zimbabwe lately?)

So the accusation of “racism” against Rush Limbaugh is transparently false, its entire rhetorical basis being the liberal conceit that only mala fides (bad faith) can motivate opposition to liberalism.

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April 12, 2009

Memo to Steve Benen, et al. (Or How to Deal With a ‘Progressive,’ If You Must)

Dear Mr. Benen:
In pursuance of the JournoList-approved Meme of the Day, that the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party rallies are not legitimate “grassroots” events, you quote Oliver Willis:

“When people were protesting the Iraq War, they didn’t have $500 a plate fundraisers. Then again, they didn’t have sponsorship from Fox News, the backing of corporate lobbyists and the attendance of prominent conspiracy theorists like Alan Keyes.”

Given that this is self-evidently an ad hominem attack, I will begin by responding with the question: Who is Oliver Willis?

Full Name: Lloyd Oliver Willis, Jr.
Age: 31
Date of Birth: 12/06/77
Place of Birth: Silver Spring, MD
Blogging since: December 2000-present
Work: Web Producer for Media Matters for America.

And, of course, Who is Media Matters? Which is to say that Mr. Willis is a paid, full-time, professional propagandist for his “progressive” cause. It is his job to promote stories favorable to his cause, and to derogate stories unfavorable to his cause. Q.E.D. (And what is your job, Steve Benen? Let us not digress.)

What is the substance of Mr. Willis’s accusation here? That the Tea Party movement is illegitimate because:

  • Fox News has given it favorable coverage;
  • Supporters are holding fund-raising dinners;
  • “Corporate lobbyists” are involved; and
  • Former Ambassador Alan Keyes will speak at one of the events.

This set of (non-randomly-selected) facts Oliver Willis contrasts with the protests against the Iraq War which, the reader is intended to assume, were legitimate grassroots events because similar facts did not apply. Which therefore raises the question: Who sponsored the protests against the Iraq War?

Having reported on the Iraq War protests, I know the answer to that question. In fact, I covered the very first major anti-war protest in D.C. after 9/11, the so-called “S29” demonstrations on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001.

Sponsors of that protest included the International Action Center — a front for the Marxist splinter Workers World Party — as well as the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Maoist front group Refuse & Resist, and the Communist Party USA-affiliated Young Communist League, with support of the CPUSA-linked National Lawyers Guild.

Furthermore, I know that the S29 demonstration was actually planned before 9/11. It was organized as a protest against “globalization” during the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings scheduled that weekend. Because of the 9/11 attacks, the commie organizers just switched the topic. So what had been intended as just another commie protest against an international free market (i.e., capitalism) like the notorious 1999 Seattle riot instead became a commie protest against “U.S. imperialism.”

All of that was a legitimate “grassroots” movement, per Oliver Willis.

Fuck you, sir.

Sincerely,

Robert Stacy McCain

P.S.: I don’t know about anyone else, but my participation in the Tax Day Tea Party is not sponsored by Fox News or “corporate lobbyists.” As every regular reader knows, my fundraising approach is direct and simple: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards! Or else I’ll ask you to speak to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Just had to delete a comment by a “Concern Troll.” Nice try, Anonymous: “Oh, I’m a loyal reader and you shouldn’t be so nasty to other writers. Blah blah blah.”

Yeah? Well, guess what, Anonymous? If you were such a loyal reader, you’d know that I routinely punk-smack people that piss me off. Steve Benen has forfeited any claim to respect by shilling for Media Matters while pretending to be an honest broker.

If you arrogant leftoids think I’m so stupid that I can’t spot coordinated messaging, and if you think I’m so naive that I can’t recognize the “concern troll” tactic, you’ve got another think coming.

UPDATE 6:40 p.m.: Over at The American Spectator blog, I’ve added some Cold War historical context to this. One of the problem we have is that relatively few Republican media operatives have ever studied the tactics of Communist subversion, and there is today very little institutional memory about that stuff, especially among younger conservatives.

The fact is that the old CPUSA propaganda methods have never ceased to be used by the Left. Saul Alinsky learned these methods and taught them to a generation of “New Left” activists (although many leaders of the New Left were “Red Diaper babies” who didn’t really need to be taught). Groups like Media Matters are merely replicating in up-to-date fashion communication strategies that worked for the Old Left in the 1930s and ’40s, and for the New Left in the 1960s and ’70s. (The smear campaign against Joe McCarthy was a classic example.)

Consider Kathy Shaidle’s shock of recognition when I described the “diamond pattern” tactic by which a handful of Communist operatives could manipulate public meetings. If you’ve studied the old CPUSA subversion methods, you learn to recognize the repeated use of the same familiar tactics.

Why do you think I’m so angered by “conservatives” who attack Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter? Nothing is more important to the Left than to destroy the prestige of effective conservative leaders. And nothing is more helpful to the Left than “conservatives” who assist them in such efforts, because everyone is more sympathetic to arguments made by their friends.

One of the ways that the Left destroyed McCarthy was by persuading Republicans that McCarthy was a political liability. All it took was for a few liberal Republicans to heed the Left’s argument — so that McCarthy was attacked from within the GOP — and the Left not only destroyed McCarthy but effectively undermined U.S. anti-subversive investigations for 40 years.

This is not to say that Limbaugh, Coulter or anyone else is above criticism. What it means is that your best defense against being manipulated is to understand that there are people trying to manipulate you. The Left has obvious motives for wanting to smear effective conservative leaders, and they have equally obvious motives for trying to persuade “conservatives” to assist them in their dirty work.

The Left has no moral scruples as to their methods. Their reasoning — and if you would read The Vision of the Anointed, you might begin to understand this — is that the “progressive” cause is so intrinsically moral as to justify even the most vile acts committed to advance the cause. (Pol Pot: Progressive Activist!)

The Left understands that the conservative constituency adheres to a bourgeois ethos of Judeo-Christian morality, civility, etc. Thus, any “scandal” or attack that makes a conservative leader or conservative movement appear disreputable by bourgeois standards will have the intended effect of undermining morale and cohesion among the Left’s opponents. The Left never heard of a “fair fight,” but fairness is intrinsic to bourgeois ethics, and so the Left is always winning battles by employing tactics that would be considered “scandalous” if employed by the Right.

Of course, the Left will cry “red-baiting” and “McCarthyism” when you accuse them in this manner, but if you watch them in operation long enough, and if you understand the history of the Left, you see the continuity from the “Popular Front” of the 1930s and ’40s, through the Cold War era, and into the 21st century.

It’s not “conspiracy theory” to say that the Left is engaged in coordinated messaging. As the JournoList revelations showed, it’s simply a statement of fact. So when you see Steve Benen hyping the same “the Tea Parties are a Murdoch hoax” meme being hyped by Oliver Willis and Jane Hamsher, you don’t need to wonder whether they’re all singing unison by accident.

And the fact that Left is using these dishonest methods to attack the Tea Party movement should tell you something else: Every conservative should be there on April 15!

WOLVERINES!

UPDATE 7:20 p.m. ET: Note the method: Why is James Dobson “far right”? The objective of the Think Progress propagandist is to imply that Dobson (and other social conservatives) are extremists, part of a fringe movement. This is an invitation to “moderate” or “mainstream” (i.e., respectable) conservatives to jettison social conservatives. This tactic of portraying powerful allies of the Right as disreputable “extremists” is certainly not new, and was used against both Goldwater and Reagan.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m. ET: William Jacobson on Oliver Willis:

Yet another irony lost, a blogger who works for a media organization promoting opposition to a protest movement because the protest movement is promoted by a media organization.

UPDATE 11:20 p.m. ET: Jimmie Bise: “I think I’ve detected a theme here, haven’t you?” Also, a little advice on dealing with trolls.