SocraticGadfly: Greenwald gets clear-eyed yet myopic on #RonPaul

January 01, 2012

Greenwald gets clear-eyed yet myopic on #RonPaul

Yes, Glenn, Ron Paul has pointed out civil liberties issues and other problems that cut across Democratic/Republican lines. But, in your column condemning horse-race narratives and other mainstream media coverage of politics, by calling Ron Paul the only "major presidential candidate in either party" on these issues, or whatever, or quoting Conor Friesdorf about Paul being the only "major" candidate aren't you playing into the MSM and GOP-intraparty efforts to "anoint" people yourself? I'd say yes on the MSM side by talking about "either party" without immediately noting that third parties are different indeed on this issue; I'd say both MSM and GOP on who's "major" within GOP candidates and by whose definition. That's especially true in light of two things.

1. You only mentioned Gary Johnson as an afterthought, in noting he's becoming a libertarian. You fail to describe his campaign in any depth beyond offering a link to a previous post, not noting he's more sensible in some ways than Paul, but even more radical in line of GOP orthodoxy than Paul is.

2. You don't mention the Green Party, either as a party or Dr. Jill Stein or any other announced presidential candidates, and civil liberties issues, at all.

You know better, Glenn. From starting by referencing just two parties, to only posting video clips of Paul, and not Johnson, Stein or others, this gave the impression that, "Gee, if Paul weren't such a racist, I'd support him over other candidates fighting for civil liberties." At the least, it gives the impression that you'd support an economic libertarian over a Green- or socialist-type candidate if the civil liberties issues are equal.

Sorry, Glenn, but this is a big fail. Especially given your sexual orientation status and Paul's iffiness there, you of all people should recognize how selective his civil liberties ideas really are. More here on Paul's anti-gay stance from those infamous newsletters of his past.

(Of course, your pinning of hopes on billionaire independent candidates, rather than third parties, to try to reform the current two-party duopoly, says some things, too. The link is from an Out magazine profile of Greenwald.)

Unfortunately, Ross Douthat falls into the same trap, thinking that Paul is the only candidate crying out about some of these issues. And so does Robert Wright, who may think this isn't a "nonzero" of Paul vs. others

On Greenwald, this is why I really like him 70-80 percent of the time, like him 10-15 percent of the time, but somewhere around 15 percent of the time, sometimes more (such as his refusal to tout any civil liberties organizations besides ACLU, which is problematic given ACLU's current rulership) he's just a "cropper."

This is probably why, since My Yahoo doesn't support Salon's feed of Greenwald, I kind of miss seeing what he was writing on a regular basis, but not hugely.

Visit this blog post, also in comments below, about the Out profile I linked above. The author says, overall rightfully, that Greenwald doth protest too much, and shows how Glenn is ultimately a full-blown libertarian still. True progressives should realize he'll never give the time of day to Greens or Socialists. And, the fact that he still has half a political man-crush on Paul shouldn't be surprising.

I'll probably remove him from my blog roll soon. There's other reasons, including one big one.

Basically, for Glenn, civil liberties defense begins and ends with the ACLU. He refuses to tout other organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights. And, he's never written about the Romero/Strosser "coup" in the ACLU a few years back, well documented by Wendy Kaminer and blogged about by me. It's enough to make me wonder if he doesn't get consulting fees or something from the ACLU when he flies back from Brazil.

And, no, I don't expect him to talk about left-of-center third parties, like Greens or Socialists, in the near future.


JM said...

Gary is even worse than what you describe, apparently:

Gadfly said...

Ohhh, Johnson IS all that, per what you have on your blog link. I was editor of a weekly paper in NM near the end of his first term. He's a piece of art. He is a more consistent libertarian than Paul... and, because of that, arguably more scary.

As for Greenwald, yes, the bipartisanship on a ticket, as well as his fetishization of billionaire candidates, is naive or worse. One more reason I don't hugely miss him from my feeds.

Sheldon said...

I don't know why you think Greenwald should have mentioned Johnson as more than an afterthought. He didn't even manage to get on the Republican debate stage and say the type of things Paul said.

Gadfly said...

That's kind of the point, though, Sheldon. Johnson didn't get on the debate stage for the very "horse race" reasons that Greenwald decries.

Anyway, per all the other stuff in the Out profile, Greenwald isn't that insightful on politics other than his civil liberties focus, it seems.

Sheldon said...

Yeah, but I think you are missing the point and analysis that GG does there. He is simply stating the fact that Paul is the only major candidate to come out clearly against foreign military interventions/occupations. Unfortunately Paul is alone without Johnson in getting into the Repub debates and delivering that anti-war message. By calling attention to Johnson as also a "major" candidate, which he isn't because he couldn't get any more traction with his own Right-wing idiot party, could GG change this?

I think not and I find your critique tortured and desperate--in light of his main other point is that many so-called progressive would be anti-war, would be pro-civil liberty Democrats are giving Obama a pass, and are being less than intellectually honest in falling in line behind the Democratic establishment.

In light of what I read regularly at your blog, I find your critique here just too nit-picky. Go back and read that piece while trying to ignore praise for Paul's anti-war stance and his short changing your favorite libertarian governor. Is is a ruthless and deserved critique of Democrat partisans.
"Then there’s the full-scale sacrifice of intellectual honesty and political independence at the altar of tongue-wagging partisan loyalty."

"Worse still is the embrace of George W. Bush’s with-us-or-against-us mentality as the prism through which all political discussions are filtered. It’s literally impossible to discuss any of the candidates’ positions without having the simple-minded — who see all political issues exclusively as a Manichean struggle between the Big Bad Democrats and Good Kind Republicans or vice-versa — misapprehend “I agree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I support Candidate X for President” or “I disagree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I oppose Candidate X for President.” Even worse are the lying partisan enforcers who, like the Inquisitor Generals searching for any inkling of heresy, purposely distort any discrete praise for the Enemy as a general endorsement."

AND I'm not so sure about the Out profile. Where has GG written about his hope for an independent billionaire candidate? Link please. Maybe he mentioned it in passing in that interview, and we don't know how serious he was about it? Maybe it was a joke? Or maybe he sees anything that can potentially break the two party monopoly as something positive?

I have followed GG for a few years now and I can see his evolution. A few years ago he was liberal Democrat appalled at the actions of Bush on the war and civil liberties, and disgusted with the MM propaganda in service to that agenda. Now he continues to be a ruthless critic of Obama and the Dems policies, which is good. Sure, he might not have a radical political-economic perspective as of yet, but maybe he will come around to that eventually.

I also predict he will be writing more favorably in reference to left-wing 3rd party candidates like the Greens in the coming year, and how the MM media and political system as a whole locks out choices.

GG is indispensible, maybe you ought to wander out of you yahoo feed?

Gadfly said...

Well, we'll disagree somewhat on GG, Sheldon. I think at core, he has always been a libertarian and always will be, appearances of being a liberal Dem to the contrary. The "billionaire candidate" issue? It's in the Out article, on the page I linked, as is his hope for a party-splitting Prez-VP ticket.

His mentioning of both ... AND other things cited in the blog post of JM ... really, read it ...

And, I predict he will write less than 500 words about specific Green Party candidates/issues in the next three months.

Otherwise, Johnson isn't my fav libertarian governor, not nearly as much as a cudgel to beat Paul-tards over the head.

Sheldon said...

Ok, Gadfly, it seems that any mention of Paul just clouds your judgement OR reading comprehension.

I am wondering if you read his follow-up? It is a good description of you, but just in reverse that any mention of Paul and his important anti-war arguments puts you in a counter-partisan frenzy.

Remember when you said there is no Occupy movement in some city in S. Dakota? And lo and behold, using some secret research tool like Google I show that you are flat out wrong.

Well in this case I happened to already know that Greenwald had on several occasions spoke at various ISO (International Socialist Org) gatherings and complimened them on their fired up enthusiasism. See embedded video, first 2 min)

And I am guessing that these speaking events were done with probably a pretty small honorarium, as the ISO is a relatively tiny and poorly funded socialist organization. One that is dedicated to being in opposition to both corporate state parties. So obviously he would indeed give socialists the time of day.

What does this prove? 1, that I am right and you are wrong, he will give socialists "the time of day". Not that he is a socialist, because yes he is rather narrowly focused on on issues of war and civil liberties. But clearly he isn't much of a libertarian in the political-economy sense, becasue he wouldn't be so friendly to socialists.

I did read the Out profile, and I don't find it convincing that the passing reference to the independent billionaire candidate is a meaningful or detailed representation of GG's actual views. The Out pieces says:

"He would also be happy to see a billionaire run without the help of either party, to disrupt the two-party stranglehold."
So what does this actually say or prove? Nothing except that he wants to disrupt the two party stranglehold. We probably both agree that the hedge funded American's Elect thing is a scam. As GG is complaining about the lack of substance in political debate, I would bet he prefers 3rd party challengers with substance.

I just find it ironic that GG ruthlessly critiques the war mongering consensus of the two major parties and their MM propaganda bureau and you complain that he is somehow one of their operators? Or that he is simply a libertarian. Well, an intellectually honest, anti-war, pro-civil liberties libertarian isn't half bad.

Often times GG's posts are so long that I don't finish them. I like to visit blogs like yours for short reads. But now I am considering that after your nit picky, off the mark, non substantive remarks about GG, your snarky and non substantive attitude about OWS, and then your taking the pepper spraying cops side against Riverside students, I am better off taking you off my blogroll and reading more of GG. (not that I am sending you any readers other than myself).

Gadfly said...

Sheldon, several points, not necessarily in order of your last comment.

1. GG and billionaire candidates. Let's say he would love George Soros, because of his strong civil liberties stance. This is the same man that helped crush SE Asian economies in 1998 with monetary speculation, that may have made a killing in the 2008 US financial crisis for all we know, and may have other financial "issues." A left-of-center *libertarian socialist,* to use your self descriptor, would be far, far better than a libertarian billionaire like this who could be worse than not half bad.

Or, say we have some other real libertarian, who in addition to wanting to reduce financial regulations, also would like to abolish min wage laws, gut environmental regulations, privatize national parks (your job) and privatize Soc Sec/Medicare. That, too, would be far worse than not half bad.

2. Speaking of which, I don't think Greenwald writes much on economic issues; I never saw him do an in-depth takedown of Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Soc Sec/Medicare.

3. On "too long," I don't think I'll listen/watch an hour-long video. That said, the caption notes he's talking about socialists and civil liberties. I would venture to guess he's not praising the energy of their economic, unionization or other activities. I assume he "hearts" them for general third-party reasons, just as I occasionally tip my hat to Libertarians as a third party.

4. Re Glenn and Greens, I've never seen him write a word about environmental issues; prolly one reason I've not seen him write anything in-depth about Greens. And, again, I'm not alone:

As you say, it's teh Google. And, speaking of ..

5. I responded to your no "Occupy in S.D." by noting that 3 people showed up for the latest event on your link. OK, technically there is something, but ... really, not a real anything. As for my take on OWS, plenty of people, including plenty of left-of-center people, have had similar takes, whether with snark or not.

6. I don't have to "win" in public, even if it's my blog. So, if you want the last word, fine.

itm said...

Great post,What does this prove? 1, that I am right and you are wrong, he will give socialists "the time of day". Not that he is a socialist, because yes he is rather narrowly focused on on issues of war and civil liberties. But clearly he isn't much of a libertarian in the political-economy sense, becasue he wouldn't be so friendly to socialists.
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