Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Glenn Beck does his best Robert Welch impression

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Robert Welch was a retired candy manufacture who picked up Senator McCarthy's mantle in the 1950's and early 60's. Welch's paranoid style included extensive documentation in his assault on President Eisenhower, The President. The book had 100 pages of biography and footnotes. Today, July 12, 2010, Beck's newsletter was headlined, "America: yeah, Barack's a socialist." Beck is on first name basis with the President now?
Beck's documented proof that President Obama is a socialist
honest purveyor of information?

Inside the newsletter was: 

America: Yeah, Barack's a socialist

A new poll out suggests that 55% of Americans would describe Barack Obama as a socialist. It's a high number, although the 
mountain of evidence suggesting he is at the very least a socialist should make it even higher. Newsweek even declared 'we're all socialists now' after Obama's election, so what else do you need? Glenn talks about the latest findings on radio today. ( Transcript, Insider Audio)

The "mountain of evidence" is as follows from Beck's website:

1) Barack Obama Sr. (Dad)

*Communist who saw nothing wrong with government 'taxing 100%' so long as the people got benefits...
  - Obama Sr. on socialism (
  - Overview of the paper (
*Harvard educated economist
*Nairobi bureaucrat who advised government to 'redistribute' income through higher taxes
*Demonized corporations
*Abandoned Barack Obama Jr. when he was 2 years old to continue at Harvard (teaching son that ideology is more important than family)
2) Stanley Ann Dunham (Mom)

*Communist sympathizer
*Practiced 'critical theory' (aka Marxism)
*Influenced by Nietzsche and Freud
*Left Hawaii for Indonesia, Pakistan
*Attended a leftist church nicknamed the 'little red church' because of its Communist sympathies
*Left Barack Obama Jr.
3) Mentor

*Barack's grandparents introduced Barack Obama Jr. to poet and communist Frank Marshall Davis (
*Davis becomes a mentor as young Barack struggled with abandonment by parents
4) College & Church

*Admittedly sought out 'Marxist' professors (
*Admittedly attended 'socialist conferences' (
*Began attending a Marxist church - led by pastor Jeremiah Wright (attended for 20 years) (
5) Career

*Tragedy of the Warren Court: No redistributive change (
*Voted for TARP (
*$787 billion stimulus redistribution bill
*Healthcare bill admittedly about 'redistributing the wealth'
*Single Payer Healthcare proponent (
*President Obama now also President of GM & Chrysler
*President Obama seizes control of insurance giant AIG
*President Obama is leading America to single payer healthcare
*President Obama seized control of Student Loan industry in order to 'cut out middle man'
*President Obama seizes control in massive land grabs
*Repeatedly vilifies 'the rich'
*Obama believes race problems can be solved through redistribution of wealth... he said "race is still an enormous factor in our society. But economics can overcome a lot of racial division."
*Trying to regulate the Internet via FCC
*Forces mortgage co's to cover people who aren't paying mortgage (
*Extends unemployment benefits to 99 weeks (
*Told Joe the plumber 'it's better when you spread things around' (
6) Family, Friends, Advisors & Administration

*Wife Michelle Obama said “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”
*Jim Wallis, Obama's spiritual advisor & forced redistribution of wealth advocate
*Van Jones, disgraced Green Jobs Czar & Communist
*Ron Bloom, Manufacturing Czar & anti-free market
*John Holdren, pro-redistribution of wealth
*Andy Stern, SEIU President & redistribution of wealth fan
*Anita Dunn, fan of Chairman Mao
*Mark Lloyd, FCC 'Diversity Czar'
*Carol Browner, socialist
*Robert Creamer, socialist 

Some of the more absurd "proof" reviewed

How long ago was it that Beck apologized for talking about the President's family? Here he again addresses the President's father, who Barack Obama Jr. barely knew, his mother, with no links or documentation and the First Lady. Apparently, Beck and his gullible followers believe that everyone grows up to be just like their parents. This is what Beck is calling "proof" that the President is a socialist.
Freud               Nietzsche
The list below the President's mother's name includes: "*Influenced by Nietzsche and Freud." It's hard to figure out how this proves Ms. Dunham to be a "socialist" since Sigmund Freud was a psychoanalyst and Friedrich Nietzsche was a rabid anti-socialist. It seems that she was an intellectual, and that in itself makes her suspicious for an anti-intellectual like Glenn Beck. On that segment is the fact that she left Obama. That will make children grow up to be socialist! 

Beck hates "egg heads" except for the ones who gathered in the Philadelphia State House to write the United States Constitution. Those elites, who would not have given Beck the time of day, are revered by Beck; but this is off the track of Beck's extensive "proof" that the President is "socialist."

Newsweek is cited from their hyperbolic headline that declared "we're all socialists now." It's a headline; what else do you need? Reality would be a good beginning. Who in Newsweek's view is "we." Them? Americans? Newsweek was trying to sell magazines more than they were conveying a news story, but for Beck what more do you need? 

Beck doesn't cite what poll he used, so that 55% means nothing. It's common knowledge that pollsters can elicit answers of their choice by how the question is asked. Scott Rasmussen is particularly crafty in this regard, but he's not alone. In this case, it was a poll done by James Carville's Democracy Corps. What the poll shows is 1) Fox has been with their propaganda efforts and 2) 55% of likely voters don't know what socialism is. 

The more Beck's list above is examined, the more it's clear that Beck as a researcher is reaching for straws, any thread that seems relevant whether it is or not.

The two most damning claims

One: Frank Marshal Davis was a poet and a Communist. The link in Beck's note about him leads to an article from Telegraph.co.uk that conveys something different than what Beck wrote. From the story of Davis' and Obama's relationship:

“[Obama's grandfather] had been promising to bring Barry by because we all had that in common - Frank’s kids were half-white, Stan’s grandson was half-black and my son was half-black. We all had that in common and we all really enjoyed it. We got a real kick out of reality.”
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, told the Associated Press recently that her grandfather had seen Mr Davis was “a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African-American experience for my brother".

Is this proof that Obama is a socialist or that he's half black? The article Beck uses as research note in the mentor line above added that in the President's memoir, he wrote this about Davis' advise to Barry when he was thinking about college:

Mr Obama recounts how he visited Mr Davis on several occasions, apparently at junctures when he was grappling with racial issues, to seek his counsel. At one point in 1979 Mr Davis described university as “an advanced degree in compromise” that was designed to keep blacks in their place.
Mr Obama quoted him as saying: “Leaving your race at the door. Leaving your people behind. Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained.”
He added that “they’ll tank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the same.”
Davis seems to be cynical more than realistic since the President got a lot more out of college than training. Still, this isn't proof that President Obama is a socialist. It is an insinuation along with many others items in Beck's list.

Two: Redistribution of wealth is something that Beck constantly equates to socialism. Indeed, socialists seek a more equitable distribution of wealth, but so do many Christians, in Jesus name, and followers of American philosopher John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice. Rawls' approach to "justice as fairness" is contractual along the lines of political philosopher John Locke. Locke was an important to the framers of the constitution as they were writing a new social contract for Liberty.

Socialism involves much more than a progressive income tax or any other progressive tax. At stake for socialist are property rights. There are democratic socialists who have passed by that issue, but socialism at it's core is a challenge to the property rights of not individuals, but of artificial persons, i.e., corporations.

So far the Administration seized control of General Motors not for the love of overturning property rights, but rather to save a major portion of the economy at a time when the country could ill-afford more massive job loses. The stock owned by the American people will be sold back to the market after General Motors recovers, so it is a stretch to argue that the President is practicing socialist overturning of property rights at G.M.

This President seems to be a liberal willing to use government to solve problems. Far more than acting like a socialist, this Administration seems always willing to reach across the isle to Republicans who look across with their arms folded. The Republican strategy going into the midterm elections is to not use government to solve problems and return to the gridlock that we're already teetering on because the Senate rules are obstructing the will of the voters in 2008. If Republicans reclaim Congress this November, virtually no problems this country faces will be solved.

Glenn Beck, like Robert Walsh before him, can keep making assumptions and innuendo until he is blue in the face. The reason Beck can't "prove" the President is "socialist" is 1) Beck can't read minds and 2) reactionaries have called other liberal Presidents, FDR and JFK "socialist" and that of course conveys either deceit or ignorance. Liberalism is not socialism. The line that matters in that distinction does not lie with the top tax rates for the highest income earners. Christians and Rawlsian philosophers can agree with income equity, not equality by any stretch. The most stark line between the two political philosophies is ownership and control of the economic sector. President Obama is on the private side of that line no matter how much Fox "News" and especially Glenn Beck would have their viewers believe otherwise.

A matter of perspective

That "55%" think that Obama is a socialist is moot. Fox "News," a Republican propaganda outlet, repeats this claim constantly; and none of the other networks dispute this. One exception is Keith Olbermann who has pointed out that MSNBC is a corporation, owned by a corporation. Online, there are plenty of progressive viewpoints complaining that President Obama is not progressive enough, much less "socialist." 

The truth about whether Obama is a socialist or not is in part a matter of perspective. (For more on how perspective colors truth, see "What is the truth about Glenn Beck?") More important than the President's influences and his education are his actions as President. Here, it is worth pointing out again the perspective of David Micheal Green. From his website, The Regressive Antidote are the following articles:

From "The Do-Nothing 44th President" is the following paragraph:

Barack Obama has five major problems as president. The first is that he doesn’t understand priorities. The second is that he seems to have little strong conviction on any given issue. The third is that to the extent he stands for anything, it is for maintenance of a status quo that continues to wreck the country in order to service the greed of a few oligarchs. The fourth is that he fundamentally does not understand the powers and the role of the modern presidency. And the fifth is that he maintains the worst communications apparatus in the White House since Jimmy Carter prowled its corridors. In fairness to his communications team, though, he has given them almost nothing to sell. You try singing the praises of bailing out Goldman Sachs one hundred cents on the dollar, or of a health care plan that forces people to buy plans they don’t want from hated insurance vultures. It ain’t easy, pal. Yet, on the other hand, Bush and Cheney had far less than nothing to sell when it came to the Iraq war – indeed, they had nothing but lies – and their team handled that masterfully.[Emphasis added]

For many on the left, this President is not sufficiently changing America; but for a reactionaries like Beck and Robert Welsh 50 years ago, any President willing to use the government to protect the public interests of the American people is "socialist" or "communist" or "radical" or "revolutionary" no matter how much the status quo is actually preserved. The vote for TARP that Beck cites above was legislation introduced by President Bush's Treasury Secretary, and it's an example of super-capitalism, not socialism. That Beck and his followers lack the understanding to know the difference should not be surprising. That it actually worked to help prevent the Great Recession from becoming the Great Depression II does not get mentioned. That untidy fact doesn't fit in Beck's false narrative.

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Anonymous said...

you mean Robert Welch

The Glenn Beck Review said...

You're right; it is Welsh.

Anonymous said...

LOL still wrong in the correction. Try researching before posting. Robert Henry Winborne Welch Jr. not welsh. If the basics are flawed, why believe the rest?

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous; so you want to turn a typo into a "basic flaw." Gee, where would you learn a dirty trick like that? Let me guess, you were/are a young Republican? That's akin to the pseudo-journalism performed by James O'Keefe.

Here's the original Hofstadter article:
Yes, it's Robert Welch. Thank you for your correction. Now debate the substance of this post. Beck does a Robert Welch impression. How do you know Welch so intimately?