Friday, December 30, 2011

Mr Sock Puppet Throws an Adolescent Hissy Fit

In the early part of George W Bush's second administration, widdle Glennie Gweenwald woke up one morning to find his voice had changed and his balls had dropped. Widdle Glennie had become a man. Something had changed him. Something that had been waiting over thirty years to happen.

Widdle Glennie had reached political puberty. So he decided to write a book. It was a book about which he'd thought long and hard. The title of the book was How Would a Patriot Act? Defending Values from a President Run Amok, and in that book, widdle Glennie revealed some things which he'd never admit publically today. Perhaps he thinks that people didn't read his book, and if they didn't read it, they wouldn't know that he confessed - things like, he trusted so much in the government of his country and the ability of elected representatives to adhere to the Constitution that he didn't really see any importance in voting at all, his trust was that great. Great and unquestioning, like a child's:-

I never voted for George W. Bush—or for any of his political opponents. I believed that voting was not particularly important. Our country, it seemed to me, was essentially on the right track.Whether Democrats or Republicans held the White House or the majorities in Congress made only the most marginal difference. I held views on some matters that could be defined as conservative, views on others that seemed liberal. But I firmly believed that our democratic system of government was sufficiently insulated from any real abuse, by our Constitution and by the checks and balances afforded by having three separate but equal branches of government. My primary political belief was that both parties were plagued by extremists who were equally dangerous and destructive, but that as long as neither extreme acquired real political power, our system would function smoothly and more or less tolerably. For that reason, although I always paid attention to political debates, I was never sufficiently moved to become engaged in the electoral process. I had great faith in the stability and resilience of the constitutional republic that the founders created. All that has changed. Completely. Over the past five years, a creeping extremism has taken hold of our federal government, and it is threatening to radically alter our system of government and who we are as a nation. This extremism is neither conservative nor liberal in nature, but is instead driven by theories of unlimited presidential power that are wholly alien, and antithetical, to the core political values that have governed this country since its founding.

Then came 9/11 and, like many others, life for widdle Glennie changed significantly, and so did his attitude:-

I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president's ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president's approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance.


During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president's performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.

Quelle surprise! Widdle Glennie not only supported the Iraq invasion, he supported the President and was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking one must always defer to the President's judgement in national security matters. He supported, succinctly, the Bush Doctrine ... in every respect, Charlie.

The preface to widdle Glennie's book goes on to detail how when he, like a lot of the rest of us who hadn't trusted George W Bush from the getgo (and it would seem that widdle Glennie wholly approved of all the uncertainty and dodgy machinations surrounding the hanging chad scenario in Florida which ultimately resulted in the Supreme Court handing George Bush the election), suddenly realised the real intention behind the Iraq invasion and all events emanating from the 9/11 attacks as a badly disguised ruse to encroach upon American civil liberties.

Suddenly, in 2005 no less, the boy had become a man. Widdle Glennie took a total interest in the political happenings of the day, developing a blog and writing to the extent that a mere six years later, the media feeds his ego by hanging on his every word and treating him as a pundit in veritas.

In any other country, a Greenwald would be sneered at by the political media as, at worst, a glorified blogger, at best a dilettante. Instead, in the United States, where socialites, social climbers, soccer moms, sportscasters, comedians and such hoi-polloi can claim credence as viable voices in political commentary without any real and direct experience with politics or political journalism at all.

A gig in Salon and slavish attention accorded widdle Glennie by the likes of The Guardian, along with various and sundry MSNBC talking heads pretending to listen attentively to widdle Glennie, stroked his ego and turned the child, overnight, into Mr Sock Puppet, who trolls the internet, looking for mentions of his name and dipping his toes into people's conversations to stir up a bit of ad hominem commentary to those poor souls who happen to disagree with his own view of the world, which is always right and always anti-Obama at the moment.

It's all so drearily puerile.

What's even more puerile on the part of the media is that Mr Sock Puppet is taken for a bona fide Progressive, when he's anything but.

Matt Osborne in his OsborneInk blog does a brilliant job in deconstructing Mr Sock Puppet as the leader of a gang whose political acumen is terminally stunted in teenage psychology to the extent that it would appear that Mr Sock Puppet is extending his disillusionment with Big Daddy Bush onto the shoulders of the man whom he has perceived to be Big Daddy Barack.

Bush and Obama are one and the same, and - oh - the new hero for change is Ron Paul. But as Matt painstakingly explains, not only is Ron Paul not what he appears to be - and Matt shows this by revealing aspects of Paul's agenda which Mr Sock Puppet and sheeple following conveniently chose to omit; indeed, sheeple following carefully ignore some things about Mr Sock Puppet, which would make any tried-and-true Progressive cringe in the nether regions:-

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.

It doesn’t matter who is in power. Obama and Bush are “the same” the way Al Gore and Bush were “the same.” Glenn Greenwald’s narrative of power is anarcho-Randian, and therefore very popular on the internet. In his story, power is always the enemy of freedom, can never be used to protect or promote freedom, and therefore its use is never, ever warranted.

Thus Greenwald also elides the UN Security Council resolution on Libya from his story. Ron Paul would elide the United States from the United Nations. We used to call that view “fringe,” but in today’s Republican field it might be a centrist position. Surely that, too, would be Obama’s fault? See, I already know how this story ends.

With reference to the last point, here is Mr Sock Puppet's hero, appearing in a propaganda pitch for the John Birch Society some twenty-odd years ago, with the emanating brief that the US was better off out of the United Nations organisation, which was a sinister front for an entity intent on taking over the world and sublimating our sovereignty - even down to creating a new world religion:-

But, of course, as Matt Osborne would say, Mr Sock Puppet elides Ron Paul's conspiracy theories, just as Mr Sock Puppet elides admitting the fact that his entire strop with the President - which is a strop of such immense proportions that it borders on euphemistic racial dog whistling (Mr Sock Puppet was the first of the big mouths to refer to the President's supporters as "Obamalovers")- is merely the teenaged hissyfit of a daddy-adoring kid who finds out his old man's feet are made of clay.

Mr Sock Puppet needs to grow a pair and grow up.


  1. Nice commentary on Greenwald.