Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More About Paul, Greenwald, and "Civil Liberties"

I posted on this last night; since then, Matt Osborne has posted an excellent piece on the dishonesty of Greenwald's Obama-bashing and Ron Paul praise (including a more in-depth look at the narrowness of Greenwald's notion of "civil liberties"). The whole thing is worth reading, but here's a key excerpt:
Remember, Greenwald says Citizens United is good for civil liberties. But what he means by those two words is very different from what most of us have in mind when we say them. The president has been consistently supportive of voting rights, for example, but that is elided from the Greenwald definition of “civil liberties;” he also elides the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Fair Sentencing Act, the overturn of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the president’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the US Commission on Civil Rights, etcetera.

Contrast that to Greenwald’s treatment of Ron Paul’s record. In his op-ed, Greenwald makes no mention of the congressman’s racist newsletters, his public stance on the Civil Rights Act, his attempt to strip Iranian students of federal financial aid, his evident homophobia, his numerous assaults on abortion rights, his desire to repeal the “Moter Voter” Act, his attacks on the 14th Amendment, etcetera. I regard his stance on the gold standard as a repeal of economic rights — one that William Jennings Bryan would abhor as a cross of gold.

In Greenwald’s story, not one of the issues in those previous two ‘graffs — not even the fight over voter ID bills that would disenfranchise millions of African Americans — count as civil liberties issues, but the supposed right of an American citizen to be free from harm while directing harm to other Americans does.
One point about the Fair Sentencing Act in particular illustrates Greenwald's dishonesty: he frequently cites the "racist Drug War" as a reason to oppose Obama...but doesn't mention that Obama pushed for, and signed, a bill to make the Drug War less racist than it had been before (by reducing the crack cocaine sentencing disparity).


c u n d gulag said...

I think this quote, attributed to many different people (most recently Vaclav Havel, I believe), explains best how I feel about Glenn, who I used to read daily, then less and less often, and now, never:

"Follow those who are seeking the truth.
But always run away from those who claim to have found it!"

I think Glenn's been searching for truth in all the wrong places. Because he's seeking HIS truth, not THE truth.

When you first find that you think that someone you once thought an ally, Obama in this case, is wrong on an issue that is critical to you, and then let it fester into the supposition that based on that and some other things, that person, Obama, is then wrong about everything, then the enemy of your enemy may start to look like your friend.
But, with friends like Ron Paul, why would you need enemies?
You, would certainly, be his. And who, then, would remain your friend(s).

And, if you read my comment on your last post, Tom, I think you know what I mean in leading up to what I'm saying here.

Tom Hilton said...

That's a great quote.

I do know what you mean. My only quibble is that I'm not sure Greenwald ever really backed Obama; he was touting Ron Paul back in 2007.

c u n d gulag said...

I was still reading him once in awhile at that point, and I seem remember he gave Obama some dap for his anti-war stance.
But, as the election was really starting to gear-up was about when I stopper reading him.
Maybe it was stuff like that that made me stop going to him. I know that I haven't read him at all since early '08.

Rob said...

This is what A. Jay Adler at Sad Red Earth wrote on the subject of Glenn:

"He is representative, too, of a kind of Leftism, like the crackpot Right that has been mainstreamed over the past decade, always far more committed to its ideological destination than any honest journey to it."

I thought that summed it up perfectly. And still does.

And like c u n d gulag, I used to read Glenn, but grew tired of his self-righteous and insulting, attitude. The only time I peruse his garbage is when a big story breaks. Then you can always count on him to twist it to his own ends.

Last time I read anything in total was after the Norway massacre. He simply lied through his teeth. And was a hypocrite to boot. As if that's surprising.

Here's a piece I wrote at Open Salon about it, which A. Jay cross posted at Sad Red Earth.

As you can tell, I really enjoy his work on a multitude of subjects, not only exposing Glenn for the fraud he is.

BH said...

I'm a pretty prosaic guy. I regard the following as indisputable facts about the upcoming election: (1) Obama (if alive) will be the D candidate; (2) Paul (alive or not) will not be the R candidate; (3) either the D candidate or the R candidate will get inaugurated in early 2013, even if by some so far unprecedented interplay between popular vote & the Electoral College, the choice goes to the House of Reps. We can like those propositions or bemoan them, but I'll give any odds to any bettors to the contrary on any of the 3. So, I have a hard time getting very worked up one way or the other about Paul as a practical matter. I'm content to leave impractical matters to theorists, purists & enthusiasts.

Speaking of impractical matters: assume that by some wildly unlikely chain of events, Paul did become President. Does anyone really think that he'd be allowed by any Congress of whatever composition to actually implement, say, demilitarization (for shorthand) or legalization of marijuana? Frankly, it seems to me that the only people capable of believing that are the same people who were enraged when Obama didn't immediately wield nonexistent dictatorial powers to implement (insert your choice here).

Tom Hilton said...

@Rob: Good stuff there, thanks for the tip.

@BH: I agree that those are indisputable facts. I do think there is some potential for Paul to have a practical impact, if a lot of disgruntled lefties see him as "to the left of Obama" (to use Greenwald's phrase). I don't think there's a high probability of that happening, but I think it's a non-trivial probability, which IMO makes it worth doing what I can to keep people from being suckered by the Greenwaldian hype.

BH said...

Tom - My apologies. I should have written more carefully, because I didn't mean to belittle your efforts at all, which I agree are well warranted. I only meant to belittle Paul & his cheerleaders, right or left.

Tom Hilton said...

Thanks, and fair enough. I didn't think there was any bad intent or anything, but just wanted to clarify.

Jason said...

My problem with Greenwald are similar to the problem I have with someone like Jane Hamsher. They know that their audiences consist of people who are looking to be told about reasons that they should be disappointed about politics, no matter what's happening. As a result, they constantly, constantly throw bombs. It doesn't matter whether things are going well or not for progressive causes - it will never be perfect, and so people like Greenwald will always remind you of this, of how you should always be disappointed because your politicians haven't achieved your wildest political dreams in short order.

I know that Obama has been disappointing in many ways, but I think he's done mostly the best he could under the circumstances, and I have a realist view about how our political system works. But I don't think Glenn will ever be satisfied by any administration, ever. If Obama magically implemented every policy Glenn ever wanted into being over the course of 24 hours, I think Glenn would complain that it should have taken 12.

Roger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

"Yes, I’m willing to let poor American women die from illegal abortions, let 'victims' of AIDS and cancer die at earlier ages and in unimaginable pain because they're not independently wealthy, let thousands of minorities die in prison or by lethal injection because of racist, corrupt and/or incompentent police departments and state and local criminal justice systems, let states imprison adults for engaging in consensual sex and performing medical procedures, embrace a return to child labor, discrimination in employment and accomodation and unregulated financial markets, and let Muslim children (and anyone who's not American) be killed by dictators, terrorists, sex traffickers and/or American commercial interests in exchange for no foreign aid, whatever drugs my state will allow me to buy, and raw milk."

Without my adopting it, that is at least an honest, candid, and rational way to characterize one's ideological opponent.