Well...this was to be expected:
Send Me Everything You Can Find About Glenn Beck
by Keith Olbermann
Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 10:14:03 AM PDT
I don't know why I've got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.
No, even now, I refuse to go all caps. [How kind -Ed.]
No, sending me links to the last two Countdowns with my own de-constructions of his biblical vision quality Communist/Fascist/Socialist/Zimbalist art at Rockefeller Center (where, curiously, he works, Comrade) doesn't count. Nor does sending me links to specious inappropriate point-underscoring prove-you're-innocent made-up rumors.
Tuesday we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated email address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his tv enablers, Ailes (even though Ailes' power was desperately undercut when he failed to pull off his phony "truce" push).
This becomes necessary after this in order to prove various cliches about goose and gander, and to remind everybody to walk softly and carry a big popsicle, and most particularly to save this nation from the Oligarhy of The Stupid.
I keep wondering if somewhere somebody named Ollie Garhey thinks he's in charge now. Or, even more entertainingly and societally satisfying, if somebody named Ali Garhi does.
Despite the worn-out snark above, I am in earnest here.
The wacky Glenn Beck is a big-time media personality more than capable of holding his own against the likes of Keith "Sports Guy" Olbermann. So I assume he has prepared for what's coming.
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Ace explains why Olbermann spells oligarchy wrong. It's because he's so damn clever:
(H)e keeps spelling "oligarchy" wrong to make fun of Glenn Beck, who attempted to create an acronym out of "oligarchy" but didn't include a word for the "c." Honestly, it's my guess that word was "communist" but he abandoned it before going live. Nope: Commenters tell me the word was "czar," and further tell me he deliberately omitted it to "set up" his liberal critics. I don't get that last bit myself, but that's what I'm told.
You know the persnickety dick who catches you in a typo in an online spat and then won't shut up about it for six weeks? Yeah.
Yes, well, that's show biz. But in the realm of serious politics, the need to cast a cold eye on Barack Obama's Team of Czars is no less necessary now that Van Jones is out the door. Beck's next "targets," according to that diminutive link to Dave Weigel in the middle of Olbermann's post, are "Regulation Czar" Cass Sunstein, EPA director Carol Browner, and FCC "Diversity Czar" Mark Lloyd. Olbermann's headline is a play on Beck's tweet (which...uh... goes all caps) asking his 117,000-plus followers to send him information on the trio.
I don't know much about Browner or Lloyd just yet, but I have read a fair bit of Cass Sunstein's work over the years. He's no Van Jones, which makes him much a more formidable opponent.
Rest assured, Sunstein, whose official title is director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is no communist and he's definitely not a truther. But he may be no less radioactive. Weigel writes: "How has Sunstein become so controversial? Basically, conservative Websites have read his iconoclastic, theoretical writing and pumped up the bits that sound really strange." The trouble is, for whatever reason, liberal academics and policy makers do not regard Sunstein's writings as iconoclastic or strange at all. Sunstein is mentioned from time to time as a possible Supreme Court pick. As head of the White House's low-profile but highly influential regulatory affairs office, he is now in a position to put his theories into practice.
Ed Erler reviewed Sunstein's Republic.com in the Summer 2001 edition of the Claremont Review of Books. The book is an extended brief for regulating the Internet that builds on the arguments Sunstein laid out eight years earlier in Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech. The bottom line, according to Erler:
Sunstein concludes that the Internet is in need of regulation because free choice does not always produce genuine freedom. Nothing characterizes Sunstein's concept of freedom more than Rousseau's injunction that men must be forced to be free. In fact, Sunstein seems to believe (with apologies to Socrates) that the unregulated life is not worth living.
Sunstein revised his thesis somewhat in Republic.com 2.0, published in 2007. He eventually repudiated some of the more controversial notions he advanced in the first book, notably the idea applying some sort fairness doctrine to the Internet. But, the fact remains, the former professor of law at the University of Chicago and Harvard has a problem reconciling unfettered political speech with his "progressive" understanding of liberal democracy.
Naturally, Sunstein is also a big believer in the concept of positive rights. He wrote an entire book on the subject, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever, published in 2004. Shep Melnick, reviewing the book for the CRB in the Fall 2004 edition, summarizes Sunstein's view thus:
Cass Sunstein's goal is straightforward: he wants the Supreme Court to revivify the eligibility- and benefit-expanding constitutional doctrines advocated by Justices Brennan, Douglas, Fortas, and Marshall (for whom he once clerked) in the halcyon days of the late Warren Court.
Sunstein's most recent book, Nudge, co-written with University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler, is a manifesto for what the authors describe as "libertarian paternalism." I haven't read the book, but here is the abstract of the law review article on which it's based.
The idea of libertarian paternalism might seem to be an oxymoron, but it is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behavior while also respecting freedom of choice. Often people's preferences are ill-formed, and their choices will inevitably be influenced by default rules, framing effects, and starting points. In these circumstances, a form of paternalism cannot be avoided. Equipped with an understanding of behavioral findings of bounded rationality and bounded self-control, libertarian paternalists should attempt to steer people's choices in welfare-promoting directions without eliminating freedom of choice. It is also possible to show how a libertarian paternalist might select among the possible options and to assess how much choice to offer. Examples are given from many areas, including savings behavior, labor law, and consumer protection.
All of that is a far cry from signing a petition suggesting the Bush administration had foreknowledge of 9/11, or that the federal response to Hurricane Katrina was tantamount to pre-meditated murder, or laughably, that Republicans are "assholes." Sunstein is a serious scholar whose arguments and policy prescriptions need to be confronted seriously and scrutinized carefully. He is certainly more paternalist than libertarian, but that shouldn't be a surprise from this administration.
It's hard to know where Sunstein does the most harm: Influencing generations of students from his ivory tower perch, or making rules from the west wing of the White House.