Greetings STORMBRINGERS - Today's post is an interview I've long wanted to conduct. As regular readers of this blog and / or Frum Forum know, David and I are friends. Despite wide differences of background, upbringing, education, profession and way of Life - Dave was educated at Yale AND Harvard Law School; me, I picked up a BSc - with a major somewhere between civil and mining engineering - via credits from my training as a Special Forces engineer sergeant at the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and a couple of upper-level math and science courses - there are significant things we share in common.
Dave and I are both products of the British Commonwealth - Dave of Canada, myself from Australia; we both share a love of knowledge for knowledge's sake - economics, politics, languages, religion - and a fascination with not only the world of Ancient Greece and Rome, but the parallels of those societies to our modern world.
David Frum of Frum Forum
Whenever Dave and I meet it is a fascinating intersection of two worlds. He a Washington insider, friend and associate of some of the most powerful people in the world, a published author and a respected journalist active in both the United States and Canadian political arenas; myself I'm just a soldier - albeit of the greatest Army ever to march across a battlefield - retired from active duty of course but finding myself serving still in a peculiar niche of corporate security of which I'm sure not even the writers of adventure thrillers are aware.
Me, in an earlier life . . .
This 'interview' is really more a discourse of ideas than a proper interview - and I'm afraid it comes out more like STORMBRINGER interviews himself - partly due to it's origin as an email exchange, the first part of which I dropped for personal privacy reasons. I'll pick up the email trail where our email exchange hit a wild vector on the subject of Rush Limbaugh . . .
STORMBRINGER: Have you ever heard the story of Jesus, when He went to that village where they were going to stone the woman to death for adultery? Do you remember what He said? "Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone"
DAVID FRUM: I'm not saying "stone Rush." I'm saying: don't venerate him. He's entertaining I agree . . . but different to say that you admire him. He's not very admirable.
STORMBRINGER: What is there not to admire? What possible negative thing could be said about him? Rush Limbaugh is a great American philosopher and the de facto leader of the Conservative Movement, of course. His message is clearly stated, and he calls the Liberals out for the hypocrites and snakes that they are.
DAVID FRUM: You're teasing me.
STORMBRINGER: I'm dead serious. What could you possibly say about the man that is negative?
DAVID FRUM: Well I've written rather a lot about it! But the thing that surprises me is that you - with your fine mind and your deep reading - are satisfied with what you hear from Rush. He's an adept if not always very accurate or honest simplifier of complex ideas he's absorbed at second or third hand. He's a shrewd player upon angry emotions. But I know you too well to believe that's good enough for you.
STORMBRINGER: I challenge you to point out for me any inaccuracies Rush deliberately spreads, or where he "plays upon angry emotions" - that is not his style; Rush is about objectivity and equal time for our side.
It is the left-leaning mainstream media and the Democrat pol's who are guilty of deliberately spreading inaccuracies and playing upon angry emotions - not Rush. Do you remember after the OK City bombing, Bill Clinton blamed right-wing talk radio; when in fact Timothy McVeigh was motivated by the assault on the Waco Compound, and more recently after the Times Square bomber Katie Curic tried to hang it on a disgruntled middle aged white guy disgruntled over healthcare. Do you remember her saying this?
You are repeating Democrat talking points here David; I challenge you to quantify what you are saying about Rush.
DAVID FRUM: I suppose I wouldn't mind the junk food quality of it so much, junk food can be fun sometimes, if it weren't for what you nicely call "The Dark Energy."
To listen to Rush is to be led into a paranoid fantasy world where President Obama is not merely under-qualified for the job, not merely guided by wrong ideas, but a deliberate wrecker of the American republic, a Marxist deliberately and consciously aggravating the recession for his own evil ends. This way of thinking is false as a matter of fact, and poisonous to those who partake of it.
STORMBRINGER:Please forgive the break in contact; sleep is a rare & vital commodity; this dialogue is long overdue & going exactly where I want it to go we shall have to continue later but for now I have to produce a post for FrumForum . . . Cheers- Sean
(Sean Linnane back again) Sorry about the break in contact - I can only do so much in 24 hours and right now - besides my regular duties - I am mentoring the Absent-Minded Professor. I've never been a handler; now I can see how I must have driven my own handlers crazy. No wonder I never got promoted.
When I refer to Dark Energy it is not a force of negativity because I have by and large purged myself of evil; rather it is an absorbing, seductively unconstrained passion, that cuts into my productivity and
has cost me friendships in the past. This is my Dark Energy.
You seem to be referencing the concept of us Rush listeners / Tea Partiers / Sarah Palin fans as "bitter clingers". Not only is this stereotype patently false, it is the Regime's verbiage. Remember when Nancy Pelosi marched her gaggle of black Democrat Congressmen past the Tea Partiers (just before the signing of the Healthcare Bill) in an attempt to generate an incident - an incident they claimed to have occurred and yet no video of the well-documented event backs this up.
The Tea Partiers are well-behaved, decent Conservative people. It is the Code Pink, Move On dot org, Cindy Sheehan-types who engage in the thought patterns & subsequent behaviors that you claim for Rush listeners.
And yes, President Obama is not only the least-qualified person for every room he walks in to; he IS in fact a Marxist - just look at his mentors Saul Alinsky & Bill Ayers - and listen at what he says, especially when he is off the teleprompters: "America has much to apologize for" -WTF??? And he said this to the GERMANS of all people, within the former Eastern part of Berlin of all places. "Spread the wealth around" - What is that? And then send in the Democrat goon squad to destroy Joe the Plumber as much as possible. The "Bitter Clingers" comment is a fascinating insight on what Barack Obama thinks of people like me.
DAVID FRUM: Sean it makes me very sad to read the (above). it's like reading a letter from inside a cult.
Just start with one thing: what does it mean to say that somebody is a Marxist? Surely that he subscribes to (at least some!)
Marxist ideas: the labor theory of value, capital as the expropriation of surplus value, the industrial proletariat as the final stage of class evolution, the inevitability of socialist revolution, the abolition of the division of labor as the ultimate goal of human history.
Not only is there no evidence that Barack Obama believes any of these things but surely it's obvious that he believes none of them. Yes he's a "spread the wealth" kind of liberal. That's why I voted against him.
But he's nowhere near the liberal that say Lyndon Johnson was. Was Lyndon Johnson a Marxist? For that matter was Richard Nixon a Marxist - he did a lot of spreading the wealth too. Remember, President Obama did preside over the biggest bank bailout in world history for God's sake, precisely in order to preserve - not only the banking system - but capitalism as a whole. If the banks had failed in 2008-2009, and we were now confronting a global depression with US unemployment of not 10% but 20% as in 1932, we might well be talking about the return of Marxism, which otherwise is deader than the dodo.
But to call Obama Marxist is pure crazy talk - ungrounded paranoia. To talk about "factual inaccuracy" in this context is really missing the ocean liner in front of our eyes. When Rush and other hosts talk this way , they have left behind the very concept of truth or accuracy. They've floated after Lyndon LaRouche or L Ron Hubbard into an alternative universe where words do not mean what they mean to the rest of humanity.
Ditto for Rush's talk of "the regime." Unlike his riffs on Marxism, this lacks specific content. But it is certainly meant to make his listeners think that there is something illegitimate, something un-American, something unconstitutional in the duly elected administration and Congress of the moment. This abandons the normal rules of opposition politics, where you fight your opponents on issues, in favor of the kind of mental atmosphere that in other countries would be used to justify a coup d'etat. Fortunately, Rush is too cynical to follow his logic where it really leads . . . but it's nasty stuff even so.
And I am sorry to see you Sean engulfed in it. It just does not mesh with your own thinking power, your own realism about life and politics, your own familiarity with the real world and how it really operates. Free your mind! Don't accept your ideas from a man who himself will tell you that his purpose is to sell advertising at the highest possible price.
STORMBRINGER: THAT'S RIGHT- I'M A MEMBER OF A CULT ! ! ! =D
Our guru is the All-Knowing, All Seeing Maha Rushie and there are more than 20 million of us . . . he teaches us to embrace such outlandish concepts such as laissez-faire capitalism, human exceptionalism; such individual freedoms as Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness . . .
Followers of this cult include Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas . . . shall I continue? . . . at least 80% of the U.S. Armed Forces, practically all of NASCAR and almost ALL Fox viewers . . . Prime Minister of Israel Bibi Netanyahu . . . President George W. Bush . . .
Our High Priestess is Sarah Palin, we spend our days studying ancient, almost forgotten parchments such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers - all based on that obscure, troubling desert-based religious nonsense known as Judeo-Christianity . . .
(You can roll your eyes and moan all about Sarah Palin being a hayseed; I can guaran-damn-tee you she knows more about the oil industry than Barack Hussein Obama and she sure as hell knows we only have 50 states in America not 58.)
Obama IS a Marxist in that he believes the corporation exists as an entity only to benefit the workers; the concept of profit is evil, the nature of productivity is mysterious and unknown to him. Obama believes in a controlled, centrally-directed economy. This is Marxism. Witness: his Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis / when the government bought out GM he handed it over to the unions / his behavior during the oil-spill crisis- no sense of urgency towards a solution, the opposite if anything, he would rather exploit the crisis to punish & hobble the oil industry.
OF COURSE he bailed out the banks; even the Communists need a financial system - his brand of Marxism is not the same as the Khmer Rouge or even the Russian Revolution but the class envy & hatred themes are out there.
Your points about Lyndon Johnson & Richard Nixon are intriguing; Obama is usually compared to Jimmy Carter but if you want to lump him against those two characters that just compounds his dark sinister agenda. One things for sure; neither of their wives EVER blurted out about how they WEREN'T proud of their country.
Obama is a complex, confused soul - this is why he has such difficulty speaking when he's off script; he may be intelligent but he has no original ideas and no expertise at anything beyond rabble rousing.
Then there's the whole Muslim thing. Okay he's not a Muslim but he certainly isn't a Christian, that's for sure. His preacher is an America-hating reverse racist, and his political mentor from the old days in Chicago is an America-hating terrorist who bombed the Pentagon (just like Osama bin Laden come to think of it) . . . I could go on and on . . . this is what we have for a President, during VERY dangerous times.
As far as alternative universe goes that's Obama's view of the energy industry: it exists to kill its customers so it has to be shut down so we can have windmills and solar panels that maybe will give you an hour of TV at night on a GOOD day. I never heard of Lyndon LaRouche but I know of L. Ron Hubbard- he's got us descended from aliens from outer space? Give me a break - bad analogy.
Back in the former Yugoslavia I met a guy who proudly told me he was a Communist. I told him he should go to the States - we've got more Communists there than anywhere in the world. In Bosnia we had the OSCE (Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe) - they lurked around and had incredible political power. Nowadays in the Armed Forces we've got DOJ lawyers prowling around everywhere - a squad of Seals turns in a terrorist murderer prisoner they had to manhandle into submission and they go on trial - these are the modern commissars. An oil well blows and it's an opportunity to destroy an industry, put the executives into a classic show trial as enemies of the people. This is Marxism manifesting itself in America.
Marxist ideas: "Labor Theory of Value" = just like Marx, Obama has no idea of the nature of productivity & profit.
"Capital as the Expropriation of Surplus Value" = "Spread the wealth around."
"The Industrial Proletariat as the Final Stage of Class Evolution" = Obama has dedicated his life to the Liberals' notion of Class Envy & Class Hatred.
"The Inevitability of Socialist Revolution" = We're experiencing it all around us via Code Pink, MoveOn dot org, ACORN, NEA, SEIU, George Soros, etc - the way they've walked all over the Constitution - the whole hate America thing - "Patriotism is dangerous", "bitter clingers" etcetera, etcetera . . .
"Abolition of the Division of Labor as the Ultimate Goal of Human History" = They embrace the Unions; making war on management is a central theme of their agenda.
I'm still very interested if you can quantify any inaccuracies Rush has ever put out - I've been a student of El Rushbo since 1993 and I've never caught him in a falsehood or straying from the truth. Can't say the same thing about the Democrats, however.
Whew! Now you know the way I feel! That's my story and I'm sticking to it . . .
STORMBRINGER: OK I just re-read your email and as you know there's a lot of subliminal communication that gets lost in email . . . Anyway the whole gist of your "cult" meaning came across -
Now Dave you know me and you know I'm not a mind-numbed robot who would slobberingly follow anyone who tried to tell me how to think.
You described Rush's worldview as an "alternate universe." Now you know I've seen the world - a good chunk of it anyway - and I know how it works. The alternate universe is the one the liberals dwell in where if we reached out to our enemies and stopped being the big bad USA they'd love us because everybody knows that peace grows on trees, where European Socialism is the way to go even though we see the Euro's going down the tubes right before our very eyes, where global warming climate change is going to shut the world down despite the fact that we've had volcanoes since the day the Earth began and somehow we've survived . . .
The alternate universe is to think its okay to slander and denigrate George Bush, to write books and produce plays about assassinating him - that's okay, that's to be celebrated in fact - yet to criticize Barack Obama means you're a racist; worse- to be patriotic is 'dangerous' when for years they were the ones who for years were hollering that "dissent is patriotism" - Hillary said that, in fact.
And then it struck me what your not getting probably has a lot to do with subliminal communication - or lack thereof. You're letting Rush Limbaugh's personal style get in the way of the message. Sure he's confident and he has a loud booming voice - he's a successful broadcast professional - his detractors refer to this as bombastic. But he is not a cynic, and he does not transmit lies, falsehoods, mistruths or inaccuracies. He simply would not have enjoyed twenty years os success and be embraced by presidents, prime ministers, Supreme Court justices AND rock star Elton John of all people if what you say & feel about him was legit. Simply does not compute . . . comment?
DAVID FRUM: I know exactly that you are not a mind-numbed robot. That's why it grieves me when you talk like one!
I could give you lots of examples of Rush's misstatements, but here's one you've surely heard many times: His claim that half the country pays no taxes. He means income taxes, but that's not what he says.
Almost all Americans pay taxes, but 80% pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes. And of course they pay excise taxes, gasoline taxes, etc.
But here's the larger point, and it goes to your point about that stupid book about the assassination of George Bush. Fox and talk offer their audience a substitute for politics: an aggregation of cultural grievances based not on any real issue (how do we emerge from recession, how do we deal with the energy problem, how do we compete with China, etcetera) but based on utterly artificial divisions that are more reminiscent of high school than adult life. We laugh when the kids explain that they are Goths, not rockers. It's funny because they are accepting somebody else's pre-invented marketing niche as a substitute for an actual personal identity based on individual thought.
There's a lot wrong with President Obama and his agenda. But it's just madness to describe him as a Marxist. The word Marxist MEANS something - and it does not mean what you suggest it means in your last note.
A lot of people don't properly understand enterprise, profits, and productivity, including Pope Benedict, to name just one, and General Wesley Clark to name another. They aren't Marxists. There are a lot of ways to be wrong.
STORMBRINGER: Actually Rush does a very good job of pointing out exactly what you said right there about taxes; the very same thing, in fact. He DOES say that.
Your take on the whole Rush / Tea Party phenomenon is flawed: we are not hung up on anger. That is the Left: Code Pink, MoveOn dot org, Cindy Sheehan, ACORN, Reverend Wright - these are NOT happy people. We are civil and we are civilized. We have class, we are the productive class of this country.
Anyway what's wrong with advertising? If it wasn't for advertising, we wouldn't have NFL, or NASCAR.
Unfortunately this discourse kind of died here, because Dave and I both are very busy people.
To end on an up note: what I have learned from David Frum is something I never understood before; that thing where the politicians speak in friendly terms of people on the other side of the aisle. I have picked up a certain tolerance and an open-mindedness from Dave - believe it or not - and it is a liberating thing. "Bitter Clinger" is what they call us; it is not what we are.
BTW- David is celebrating his 50th birthday this weekend with a blowout party his lovely wife Danielle is throwing up in Ontario. I can't make it due to mission constraints, but I'd like to take this opportunity to wish Dave a Happy Birthday, and also because it's Friday and I am a Christian Fundamentalist (a.k.a. Messianic Jew), I wish "Shabbat Shalom!"
- Sean Linnane