Frank Moraes, Glenn Beck, and Libertarian Insanity

Glenn Beck and Frank Moraes: LibertarianOn this day exactly 52 years ago, radio personality Glenn Beck was born. That just happens to be the exact day that I was born. In most ways, I am not pleased about this. As I have discussed before, his attempt to co-opt the legacy of Thomas Paine was vile. He thinks he’s a libertarian! Of course, he’s done the same thing with Martin Luther King Jr. He thinks he’s not a bigot! Like a lot of modern conservatives, Beck thinks that he is the real radical. In a sense, he’s right. But the radicals of the past who he looks up to were working to help the weak. Beck is a radical in the name of helping the powerful.

I am impressed with Beck in that he is a searcher. Unfortunately, some time ago, he discovered The Truth™. And so all his searching goes into the service of discovering what he thinks is the truth. And it has sent him down the rabbit hole that is the world of conspiracy theories. The basis of everything for Beck is Cleon Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap.

But you have to give the man credit for combining his own bizarre collection of beliefs with a messianic sense. While my father’s girlfriend laid dying, she was glued to Beck’s television show. She had to be there every day — the same way as people in cults. She felt that Beck was transmitting secret truths to her. She died before seeing his downfall. But he’s still hugely successful on the internet. There are a lot of people like my dad’s girlfriend. They never tire of the oracle. I, of course, see him more like this:

A Quick Libertarian History of Frank

As for me, well my life went something like the following. I was raised by a very conservative father and what I would call a swing voting mother. In the fifth grade, I began to see that many of the things that my father had told me weren’t exactly true. It was kind of like conservative radio before there was such a thing. So there was always a kernel of truth, but I didn’t have the context. This created in me a desire to find, as best as possible, the full truth.

This caused me to bounce around a bit ideologically over the years. The problem with ideology is that it tends to create the kind of shortcuts to truth that got me screwed up with my father when I was a kid. That’s because you have this theory about the way the world works and then you simply filter the facts in the pursuit of proving the theory right. Of course, everyone has an ideology. But when it is something ossified like free market fundamentalism or Stalinism, you aren’t as nimble intellectually.

When I was first in college, I thought of myself as more or less a liberal. I worked for the nuclear freeze movement and for Michael Dukakis’ campaign. And then I met my first wife who turned me onto libertarianism. And if that sounds like she was offering me heroin, good. Because libertarianism is a kind of opioid. It’s highly addictive in its facile simplicity and completeness. And as long as you only talk to other libertarians, you will never get over your addiction because you will never want to.

I did, however, talk to a lot of non-libertarians. This was partly the result of my not liking most libertarians. I found them to be mostly conservatives who were unhappy with the purity of the Republican Party. Indeed, that’s how the Libertarian Party got started. And by the end of graduate school, my libertarianism was starting to crack. For one thing, it was so theoretical and went so much against my natural inclinations that it was hard to maintain. As I’ve discussed before, while being a libertarian at that time, I hated it and felt trapped by it.

But then I found an actual physical addiction that was much less dangerous: drugs. But unfortunately, they extended the run of my libertarian habit because I wanted my drugs to be legal. And in varying states of clarity I stayed at that point. But even there, cracks continued to appear. It became clear to me that any libertarian politician was far more interested in cutting my taxes than allowing me my drugs. And even on an economic level, that was a terrible deal for me.

The real turning point for me was George W Bush and the Iraq War. Obviously, as a libertarian, I was fanatically anti-war. Truthfully, as a libertarian, I was far more of a radical than I am now. But I remember that I was working at home during the six months leading up to the Iraq War and I listened to a lot of NPR. And despite what conservatives claim, NPR is about as milquetoast and center of the road as you can get in media. Yet even still, it was clear as day that we were going to war and the Bush administration was just laying out the propaganda in support of it.

I felt I needed to be involved in the fight against that kind of thing. A vote for a libertarian is a vote for a conservative. And there was another part of it: on the drug front, it was the liberals who were actually doing things to help users’ lives. They were the ones supporting syringe exchanges; the conservatives largely continue to this day to claim that syringe exchanges promote drug use. But there was a final thing, which is that I was always on the far left of libertarianism anyway.

Once the dam breaks, things rearrange themselves in a more natural way. Maybe my thinking now is too natural — too comfortable. But I probably will die this way. I only have a few working principles. Mostly, I believe we are all interdependent. Our capitalist system distorts reality, benefiting some and harming others far out of proportion to individual worth. And as a result, yes, we who benefit from the system can pay more in taxes. It’s either that, or we get a whole new system. And I ask my rich friends: which would you rather it be?

And with that menacing thought, I wish myself and Glenn Beck (who I feel sorry for) a happy birthday.

Update (9 February 2016 9:28 pm)

I really don’t appreciate this!

Frank's Birthday Google

I know Google knows all. But I find it kind of creepy.

40 thoughts on “Frank Moraes, Glenn Beck, and Libertarian Insanity

  1. I am so lucky, I don’t share my birthday with a cult leader like Beck.
    I do share it with J.J. Abrams though so maybe that is considered bad?

    I also find the existence of female libertarians to be odd. It seems to me that women, more so then men, understand how important government is in their lives. Without government, there would be a lot of nasty situations that women would be stuck in without any recourse unless they talked their family into helping.

    But what do I know? Besides that I look like a cat apparently.

    • The winner is May 6. That’s like the greatest birthday there is. But yours is also good. Helen Keller!

        • I didn’t catch that. That’s stellar company, right there. It leaps ahead of May 6. Now I think your birthday should be a national holiday. Abrams could run the publicity campaign, he’s very good at publicity.

          • As the Patron Saint (a pope in the Erisan religion once canonized me) of Oreos, it should be a holiday where everyone eats oreos.

              • Since it is about taste and not who did what first when it comes to cookies…Oreos always beats Hydrox.

                  • It is about the childhood-I don’t have a very good sense of smell so naturally do not have a good sense of taste. So most of what I enjoy eating is what I can remember enjoying. And I always enjoyed Oreos more than Hydrox which tasted like cardboard to my younger self.

                    • Are you suing for peace in the cookie war?!

                      For the record: I’m not that fond of either. It is probably because my older sister used to do very disgusting things with them. And I’ve never gotten over that commercial where the girl and grandmother have some race licking the cookies. Ugh.

                    • There is a cookie war? Because everyone knows that chocolate chip wins.

                    • Homemade Tollhouse, yeah. Anyway, the megacorps keep killing off my childhood faves: Hydrox, Lemon Coolers, and the like.

    • Yes, but you weren’t born on the same day as Abrams. He’s perfect fine at his job, which is to destroy anything that is fine and decent in our society. Actually, in the “movie as comic book” world, he’s as good as it gets.

      What is this thing about you looking like a cat?

      • That is true. Not a lot of people were born on the day I was that are interesting enough to have a Wikipedia page.
        Not even me. *sighs*

        I will tell you privately on the cat thing.

        • Several years ago, someone posted a graphic that showed the percentage of people born on different days. It’s posted somewhere on here. I know what my birthday is relative rare. That’s basically what it all comes down to.

  2. Also Gertrude Stein and Norman Rockwell. Not all bad. I got James Naismith and Mike Nichols. Then the guy who founded the WSJournal and that hack John Philip Sousa.

    • I think you are a week behind, my friend. But the point is not that I was born on the same day of the year as Beck; it is that I was born in the same 24 hour period. It could be worse, of course. In fact, it probably is!

      • Oh, drat. Small links on my phone, and unskilled phone-tapping fingers. You still get Berthold Brecht and Jerry Goldsmith.

        Ah, my birthday was in the same 24-hour period as Nixon’s being declared victor over McGovern (not the same day, the same 24 hours.) That’s worse than Glenn Beck. Mayyyyybe.

        Elizabeth does win, though. And it is odd you share the same birthday with Beck. Too bad you can never share a beer over it; I think he’d be interesting to meet in person, if only for the length of one beer.

        If nothing else, these shared birthdays remind us the fault is not in our stars, but ourselves.

        • Oh! I wondered how you got that exactly a week off. Brecht?! I didn’t know that. But I don’t actually care about Beck. It’s fun is all. But it doesn’t mean anything. I could just as easily feel bad that I was born in the exact same century as Pol Pot.

  3. {copy written song} to you!

    I seem to miss this date every year…….since 7th grade to present. At least I am consistent.
    IF you were on Facebook, I would not send wishes in response to their automated reminder…….I see a dozen people each year doing so in my regard as empty and shallow. Someone who really cares about such a thing would not rely on social media to fain affirmation.
    I owe you a Day Of Frank….. lets slate that very soon; you deserve an actual day off.

    WB

      • At first I thought that “protesting fans” where something people brought to protests to keep cool.

              • I have begun to wonder — work mostly gets dropped into Asana. I hardly community with the crew. But money did appear in my bank this morning, so I think there are actual people out there .

                • I had another human in my house tonight so yes, there are other people out there.

                  We had a discussion on the likelihood of LA and NY being rebuilt quickly after the attacks in Independence Day.

                  About your other fans, I thought you kept obsessive track of the number of times people put eyeballs on this thing.

    • I’m planning to work until I am hospitalize and then take the time off!

      Yes, it has been 40 years and neither of us can quite remember the other’s birthday. I have yours down to Sep 2-4. If I were smart, I would just wish you a happy birthday on the 2nd. But we’re guys. We’re not expected to remember this!

      And it is only as of yesterday that finally and officially “Happy Birthday to You” is not copyrighted. A federal judge said the copyright was invalid — as a court should have done decades ago.

  4. Wow. That fact is belatedly cool. Thanks for sharing.
    Sadly, despite being guys, we both know the exact date of our wedding anniversaries.
    Though deserving and timely, I will be unable to declare THAT day the Day Of Frank.
    ……….are we still in the Al Franken decade?
    Miss E. please accept this mention as a salutation.

    • Strangely, my wife does not know the date of my wedding anniversary. And she called a couple of days ago, and I wondered why. She probably thought it was my birthday.

      I think it is still the Al Franken century.

    • I saw a picture yesterday of Franken dancing with Clinton. So yes, it is the Al Franken decade. He is a nice guy too. I really like him.

    • I remember watching that second one in real time. It was so depressing at the time because I was so depressed by that point. I think this was the weekend before the election. The only thing wrong with Franken’s analysis is that we didn’t have a liberal equivalent of Fox News to have a relative of Dukakis call Texas for him and then a Supreme Court say the vote didn’t count.

      And look at little Dennis Miller: he was annoying as a liberal and he’s annoying now as a conservative. I’ll bet being a conservative pays better, which may be the extent of his ideology.

  5. Pingback: Soviet-Afghan War and US Hypocrisy (Anniversary Post)

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