Last week I noted that Glenn Beck's new book, Arguing with Idiots, is a tour-de-force of straw-man attacks. Beck debates with "the idiot" throughout the book and has little difficulty smacking down "the idiot's" laughably absurd arguments, but only rarely does he provide examples of actual people making the silly arguments he attributes to "the idiot." As I wrote at the time, Beck is essentially arguing with himself, and boasting about how he's winning the debate.
Well, I had the rare opportunity to experience this same process first-hand as it leaped from the static pages of Arguing with Idiots to the vibrant world of talk radio. Today, Beck responded to a "stupid blog" that criticized the free-market health care pitch he made in Arguing with Idiots. He didn't mention the "stupid blog" by name, but since I'm so eager to put a name and face to "the idiot," I'll assume for the moment that "the idiot" is me, and Beck was responding to what I wrote yesterday about his exhortation of retail health clinics as a free-market solution to rising health care costs.
Here's what Beck and what I guess I'll call the "radio idiot" mockingly said this morning:
RADIO IDIOT: I read in your health care chapter in your dumb book, you don't even address how to cure my child's specific illness. You don't even address it.
BECK: Is this a serious critique?
RADIO IDIOT: Yes it is! Your solution for every illness is to go to Wal-Mart. You can't cure my son's impossibly rare disease at Wal-Mart.
RADIO IDIOT: Really.
BECK: I was sure that you could perform all major surgeries in the frozen food aisle at Wal-Mart.
Beck has a point here -- it would be very stupid to fault him for not addressing how to cure impossibly rare diseases in his book. Thankfully, my critique didn't come anywhere close to doing that. I specifically mentioned the plight of professional baseball player Sal Fasano, whose son has hypoplastic heart syndrome, because that is exactly the kind of serious medical condition that is primarily responsible for driving up health care costs. Beck's example of a free-market solution to rising health care costs -- retail health clinics at Walgreens -- dealt only with minor health problems, and thus didn't address the primary drivers of rising health care costs. Here's what I wrote, word-for-word:
A 2006 study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that the five most expensive health conditions to treat were heart disease, cancer, trauma, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions, and that these five conditions alone accounted for 31 percent of the total growth in health care spending from 1987 to 2000. To what extent can retail health clinics defray the expense of treating these conditions? Beck doesn't say -- indeed, it doesn't appear as though he even considered it.
Nonetheless, Beck goes on to smack his newly created man of straw right in the face:
BECK: Do you know why I didn't address your child's incurable disease in the section about Wal-Mart in Arguing with Idiots?
RADIO IDIOT: Yeah, I know why -- because you have no answers! No answers!
BECK: No, it's because that's not what that section is all about. It's not how to cure the individual children's illness, it's not about catastrophic scenarios. That particular few paragraphs is about how the free market causes new innovation and cost reduction.
RADIO IDIOT: How convenient for you.
BECK: That overarching principle is the best long-term way to attack health issues, big and small. Wal-Mart was just a good example of the small.
Beck and the "radio idiot" go on to claim that I said the entire chapter was about Wal-Mart (I didn't), and that I "cherry-picked" Beck's arguments (I didn't). You get the idea.
The bottom line is that Beck isn't interested in addressing what real people are saying. It's much easier to just make up the other side's arguments, make them sound stupid, and then heroically portray yourself as the arbiter of sense and reason.
From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
From the Drudge Report, accessed on September 29:
From Roger Hedgecock's September 28 WorldNetDaily column, headlined, "Dead Census worker: Victim of open borders?"
Two weeks ago, Census taker Bill Sparkman died choking, hands and feet bound, hanging naked from a tree in a remote site in Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County, Ky. Someone had scrawled "fed" on his chest with a felt-tipped pen.
Last week, Sparkman's death became fodder for more attacks on "right-wing violence." Bloggers wanted to "send the body to Glenn Beck," and a Time magazine piece speculated that Sparkman was a victim of the culture of another McCain-voting Southern state
Now it looks more like Sparkman was yet another victim of illegal drug operations on national forest land, and possibly also a victim of our still open border with Mexico.
Taking the Census in our national forests is dangerous business. Law enforcement sources say meth labs and marijuana plantations are "prevalent" in the area of Sparkman's death. Did he stumble across a drug operation in the Daniel Boone National Forest? No one is saying for sure, but the locals believe it.[...]
Our open border with Mexico has been changing American society in a number of unpleasant ways. These fires, these destroyed national forest lands, and maybe even Bill Sparkman's death, may just be the latest way.
Politico's Ben Smith debunks an American Spectator "report" that White House political director Patrick Gaspard held that same title in ACORN's New York office years ago. According to Smith, it "just isn't true."
But, Smith is quick to point out, "The Spectator piece is a model of the sort of guilt-by-association Google work in which partisans of both sides specialize."
Really? Seems to me the noteworthy thing about the Spectator isn't the "guilt-by-association," it's that the Spectator was wrong about the central fact of its "report." Do "both sides" really specialize in that? To the same degree? How about giving a comparable example?
But Smith doesn't bother. The Left and the Right are exactly the same. Isn't it obvious? Don't you remember all those false claims liberals made about George W. Bush being a murderer and a drug runner and a secret Kenyan? The false claims they made about Karl Rove working for Blackwater? No? You don't? Those things never happened? Well, anyway: the Left and Right are exactly the same.
On last night's Hardball, host Chris Matthews led a lengthy discussion about Bill Clinton's weekend comments noting that conservatives are leveling baseless and outrageous attacks on Barack Obama, just as they did to him during the 1990s. That isn't particularly surprising; Chris Matthews is obsessed with the Clintons, and even more obsessed with anything that allows him to bring up the Lewinsky story.
But in dismissing Clinton's comments about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" working against him in the 1990s, Matthews ignored a key part of what Clinton said. Matthews reacted throughout the show as though Clinton had blamed his relationship with Monica Lewinsky on the right-wingers. Here's Matthews:
Do you remember when Hillary Clinton said the Monica Lewinsky story was a frame-up, a conspiracy by the right to make her husband look like he had a sexual entanglement with the young White House staffer? Well, now Bill Clinton said that conspiracy of the right continues. Is he trying to spin away his scandal by identifying himself with President Obama? ... Bill Clinton that says the conspiracy that sort of created the Monica mess for him is still at large and is going after Obama. ... Pat Buchanan, your thoughts about this "vast right- wing conspiracy" which Hillary Clinton blamed for the trouble her husband got in. I don't buy that. I think he got into his own trouble.
And so on. Now, here's the clip from Sunday's Meet the Press that Matthews played during his show:
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Your wife famously talked about the "vast right- wing conspiracy" targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was. I mean, they're saying things about him -- you know, it's like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff they did.
That last part -- the part where Clinton points out that conservatives accused him of murder -- went completely ignored by Matthews. Just pretended it didn't exist, so he could focus on Lewinsky, and mock Clinton for saying he was wrongly accused.
What makes Matthews' disappearance of the bogus murder allegations all the more absurd is that those allegations were made, among other places, on Chris Matthews' own television show.
Here's an exchange between Matthews and Gennifer Flowers from the August 2, 1999 edition of Hardball:
MATTHEWS: Now what do you think of Hillary's sort of role here in this role of offering herself up as the therapy nurse, and he's the jade--juvenile delinquent from the troubled background, and she's looking out for him all these years, and she ought to get rewarded for that with a Senate seat?
Ms. FLOWERS: Well, in the first place, I--you know, I hope that she does not succeed at becoming a United States senator from New York. I think that would be a travesty. We've had enough of these people, these criminals, these liars, these murderers. We need to get them out of political office, please.
Ms. FLOWERS: I--I--well, there is a Clinton death list if anyone would like to go to my Web site and--and take a look at it.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have your Web site here, www.genniferflowers.com. But what will they find if they go there in terms of murder? I didn't know that one.
Ms. FLOWERS: Well, there are--there are a number of deaths associated with Bill Clinton and the--and--and his administration and his operatives. And--and there's a--there--I would just suggest that they go on and take a look at it, because...
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president ordered the killing of anyone?
Ms. FLOWERS: I believe that he did, and I believe that I wouldn't...
MATTHEWS: In what case?
Ms. FLOWERS: ...I believe that I wouldn't be sitting here talking with you today had I not become high profile, as I did. Even though I didn't do it on purpose, it saved my life.
MATTHEWS: And who did he try to kill that you know of? Give me one hard case.
Ms. FLOWERS: Look--well, I would tell you that Jerry Parks, who was the head of his security when he was involved in the campaign, was shot five times and on a major thoroughfare in Arkansas because, according to his son, he had claimed to have videos and photographs of Bill Clinton with other women, as well as Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Right. But you don't know there's any connection.
Ms. FLOWERS: I don't know for--I didn't hear Bill get on the phone and call and place the order to have this man killed, no.
MATTHEWS: Well, that's not--you sort of need evidence like that to accuse even this guy, your--a guy you don't like, perhaps, of murder, don't you?
Ms. FLOWERS: Well, I--well, I think if it looks like a chicken and walks like a chicken, perhaps it's a chicken. I mean, come on.
MATTHEWS: Well, perhaps, perhaps.
Chris Matthews knows damn well there were, as Bill Clinton says, a bunch of right-wingers running around accusing him of murder and making other ridiculous and false claims. Matthews knows this happened because he played a key role in promoting this crap.
This isn't really a surprise, of course. Matthews has long been a key practitioner of the media's Clinton Rules (Rule Number 1: You can say anything you want, no matter how false, as long as you say it about the Clintons. Rule Number 2: If any allegation against a Clinton turns out to be true, you behave as though all allegations have been proven true....)
I'm very confused.
Last week the Post's Paul Kane reported that Dems weren't landing as much Wall Street donor cash, in part because there was a "de facto boycott" of the Democratic Party by wealthy donors. Why? Because they were turned off by the party's anti-big business rhetoric. (Too "antagonistic.")
At the time I noted my surprise since I haven't been hearing any kind of populist-driven anti-business rhetoric coming out of the White House or Congress. And indeed, Kane himself didn't provide any quotes to back up his claim about the supposed big business bashing that Democrats were doing.
But the real confusion comes in the form of a new Politico article, which claims Democrats, and especially Sen. Chuck Schumer, are drowning in Wall Street money. And Dems are positively lapping Republicans in terms of cashing Wall Street checks.
Wall Street money rains on Chuck Schumer
Note this passage [emphasis added]:
Of the $10.6 million the [financial] industry has given to sitting senators this year, more than $7.7 million has gone to Democrats.
Maybe Kane and the Post could update the report about that Wall Street "boycott" of the Democratic Party.
During a discussion on FoxNews.com's Freedom Watch, senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed that the White House is taking "an aggressive role in local politics" and wondered if "secession movements" are the answer to maintaining "freedom." Guest Lew Rockwell - a regular on FoxNews.com - said that "we need to return to the original American principles of secession, of nullification, and of interposition."
What far-right bloggers lack in common decency them make up for in blinding ignorance. And FDL's right, this is just beyond belief, even for the morally-challenged GOP blogosphere.
The blogger is Dan Riehl and his twisted premise about the census worker who was recently tortured to death in Kentucky and was found with "fed" scrawled across his chest, is this:
Was Census Worker Bill Sparkman A Child Predator?
Classy the way Riehl puts the dead man's full name right in the headline next to "child predator," right?
Keep in mind, Riehl quickly admits he doesn't have the slightest idea why the census worker was killed, and that the "child predator" thing is just, y'know, a hypothetical. He's simply "speculating" and "keeping an open mind." But he's gonna float it anyway. And then he's gonna open up his comment section to more right-wing crazies who are invited to invent conspiracy theories blaming the murdered census worker for his own death.
Question: Is anybody within the right-wing blogosphere going to denounce this kind of heartless idiocy from a high-profile hate merchant like Riehl?
UPDATED: Right-winger Roger Hedgecock, based on no facts, suggests the census worker was killed because of a "our still open border with Mexico."
From the September 29 Washington Times editorial, titled "Sex scandal double standard":
When Republican Rep. Mark Foley was caught chasing congressional pages, he got exactly what was coming to him. In a blizzard of coverage (1,400 stories, according to Google news), Mr. Foley's creepy behavior was examined from every possible angle. Nobody wanted to hear that the congressman's stupid and objectionable behavior was confined to e-mails and text messages. His immediate resignation didn't quiet the furor. When two years of investigations found no crime, the results got barely a peep.
Whether the press feeding frenzy around Mr. Foley's disgrace was justified or not, the explosion of coverage was certainly understandable, even predictable. That reality is what makes coverage of Kevin Jennings, President Obama's "safe school czar" something of a mystery.
Mr. Jennings brings all the sleaze of Mr. Foley. Sex and the underaged? Check. An older man? Check. Potential misbehavior by a government official? Check.
And the Jennings case brings a lot more: A "safe schools czar" who failed to report a statutory rape? An education leader who encouraged a 15-year-old student to be comfortable with sexual abuse? A federal official who ignored a law requiring him to report even the possibility of a crime?
And it is not just sex, there's a political angle, too. Since taking office, the Obama administration has been hammered by repeated breakdowns in its vetting process. Appointees who don't pay taxes. An appointee who signed on to accusations that the previous administration was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And now an appointee who thinks sex between an adult and a 15-year-old is no big deal.