October 30, 2010

PUMPED UP

I barely follow politics lately and try not to let it work me up anymore because I can't waste energy right now being depressed about the direction of our country, but this open letter to Rush at Hillbuzz (via Amritas) got me all pumped up on dorkosterone.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:57 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 03, 2010

DUSTY BOOKSHELVES, MY FOOT

Via The Corner, I had to laugh at this NYT article about the Tea Party Movement.  I think the author is pretty ignorant of her subject matter.  It would be as if I tried to write a professional article on the environmental movement; I am not a part of it, I am fairly contemptuous of it, and I really haven't done the grokking necessary to understand why its followers behave the way they do.  (But I'd like to think I could do it better than she does because I've done it before.)

Her thesis is that "long-dormant ideas" and "once-obscure texts by dead writers" have shaped the movement.  (I find it amusing that she considers Hayek to be obscure, but I digress.)  She says of authors like Hayek and Skousen, author of The 5000 Year Leap, that:

They have convinced their readers that economists, the Founding Fathers, and indeed, God, are on their side when they accuse President Obama and the Democrats of being “socialists.” And they have established a counternarrative to what Tea Party supporters denounce as the “progressive” interpretation of economics and history in mainstream texts.

All told, the canon argues for a vision of the country where government’s role is to protect private property — against taxes as much as against thieves. Where religion plays a bigger role in public life. Where any public safety net is unconstitutional. And where the way back to prosperity is for markets to be left free from regulation.

Heh.

I think she's attributing parts of the movement to these books when really she wants to attribute them to Glenn Beck, but that dead horse has already been beaten, so she focuses on the books he promotes on his show.  I admit that I am out of the loop these days, but I have watched some Glenn Beck lately and I must say that I am impressed with his new approach to bettering America.  My summary of it is that he is moving away from pointing out how much Washington stinks these days and is instead truly trying to encourage Americans to "be the change you want to see in the world."  His plan calls for self-reflection and self-improvement, with a focus on "faith, hope, and charity."  He wants everyone to commit to becoming a better person, and once we're all better people, we will have better people running for office as virtuous candidates for whom we can vote.  We are a nation of individuals, and we will be a better country once we are better individuals.  It's a long-term strategy, something quite interesting to promote nightly on a news show.

Glenn Beck does encourage people to strengthen their religious devotion on the way to becoming a better person.  If the NYT wants to characterize that as "where religion plays a bigger role in public life," um, OK.  I think that's a negative oversimplification of what he's proposing from a journalist who wants to scare readers into thinking he is advocating the blurring of church and state, but maybe I'm nitpicking.  I think the scare tactic of saying that "any public safety net is unconstitutional" is more egregious though.  It's funny because it's technically a true statement, but by not explaining it, the article leads readers to conclude that Tea Party folks are Scrooges who are out to screw the poor.  I have never heard anyone say anything of the sort: they resent the safety hammock, not the net.  And Glenn Beck regularly encourages his following to tithe, either to a church or a charity of their choice.  He wants people to be more charitable, not less.

I just thought the article was an interesting example of someone who is obviously writing outside her level of understanding.  It's a window into the mind of someone who's trying to be objective while writing about something she clearly thinks is simultaneously hokey and dangerous.

It wasn't as bad as it could've been, but the undertone of contempt was clear.  And I bet she thought she was being fair and balanced.

The most interesting part of the article was this, in my opinion:

Doug Bramley, a postal worker and Tea Party activist in Maine, picked up “The Road to Serfdom” after Mr. Beck mentioned it on air in June. (Next up for Mr. Bramley, another classic of libertarian thought: “I’ve got to read ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ ” he said.) He found Hayek “dense reading,” but he loved “The 5000 Year Leap.”

“You don’t read it,” Mr. Bramley said, “you study it."

Across the country, many Tea Party groups are doing just that, often taking a chapter to discuss at each meeting.

I think this would've made a much better thesis.  Glenn Beck is prompting postal workers and regular folks to read substantive books.  I read Hayek last year and found it dense as well; the fact that Glenn Beck's viewers are devouring these intellectual tomes and creating book clubs to discuss them is phenomenal.  People are setting aside their Harry Potter and Twilight for Frederich Hayek!

But one would have to be less contemptuous of Tea Party people to write that story.

Posted by: Sarah at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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