Richie Rich: The Class Warrior
Wingnut pundits like Lowry always whine about ‘class-warfare,’ but it is they who are the class-warriors. Top-down class warfare — that is, for benefit of the rich. These Bizarro-World Robin Hoods have always been loyal servants of what Theodore Roosevelt called “the Wealthy Criminal Class,” which, in modern context, means the freewheeling reaches of Corporate America. The whole wingnut economic project is about rolling back America to the age of the Robber Barons, and thanks to the complicity of the press and various neoliberal pundits and politicans, the project has gone smashingly. Lowry has shown his support for (another TR phrase) the “malefactors of great wealth” in the following ways:
Lowry is a great hater of poor people. He argues that the overwhelming cause of poverty is poor peoples’ own indolence and promiscuity. Here’s Lowry via Pandagon:
Poverty in America is primarily a cultural phenomenon, driven by a shattered work ethic and sexual irresponsibility. Child poverty would be nearly obliterated if every household had one adult working full time and married parents.
And if you don’t agree with that assessment, well, then you’re just a fakey homo fag:
You can argue with the particulars of this program, but if you’re not talking abut how to increase work and marriage among the poor, well then, you’re not serious about addressing poverty. You’re just some guy with pretty hair saying pretty words because you like the way they sound.
That was the weirdest insult to end a column in recent memory. And awfully stupid, coming from Wind-Swept Rich.
– like John Edwards!
According to Lowry, the stagnation of wages has had “little to do” with causing or exacerbating poverty. In fact, he argues, it’s workers’ greed for more wages and benefits that has sabotaged great companies from within. So of course raising the minimum wage is a “non-solution to a non-problem.” Lowry’s solution to poverty is the same as his solution to Katrina, and it’s a social conservative’s wet dream: Shotgun marriages:
Let me see if I understand what Lowry is saying. The problem is not that women are giving birth to kids too early. Oh no – that’s a good thing. The problem is that those they had sex with aren’t forced to marry the mother. So if we had shotgun marriages – poverty in America would be eliminated.
What a clever plan!
Ah yes… if only little Johnny had a father who flipped burgers and was married to Johnny’s mother who then could stay home with little Johnny. You think I’m being flippant? Lowry actually believes that a parent who works full time at minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour nationally, isn’t poor because of the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps. According to Lowry, then, little Johnny has it made and is on his way to Harvard!
Even when there are jobs available, moreover, poor mothers often face tremendous barriers to getting and keeping them due to a lack of viable transportation from where they live to where they might work, to say nothing of the fact that someone’s got to take care of the kids while mom’s on the job. If conservatives were serious about putting America to work, they’d be trying to do something about this, too. Meanwhile, the various income supplements Lowry refers to as making work an effective anti-poverty tool — food stamps, refundable tax credits, etc. — are also stuff the right is against, as you’ll see, for example, if you look at the President’s plan to balance the budget by cutting housing vouchers.
Well, of course, Lowry is in the business of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”:
On the one side, of course, we meet the objections from religious and social conservatives wary of working mothers and viewing daycare and other social services that might benefit working parents as an encroachment by the ‘nanny state.’ Thunders National Review editor Richard Lowry: “The mass entry of women into the workforce has acted to dissolve the family in general.”
(Lowry sneers back to the effect that Liberals hate marriage unless it’s for homosexuals.)
Lowry’s incoherent and hateful prescriptions for alleviating poverty are perhaps better understood when you consider that his general economic stupidity has been pointed out by people on the center- left, center, and right. But it’s a weaselly sort of dishonesty rather than garden-variety wingnut stupidity that causes Lowry to so often move the definitional goalposts, especially on matters pertaining to Social Security.
Seriously, what a wingnut jackass. Lowry was terribly excited at the prospect of ‘reforming’ Social Security:
Mr. Lowry: It’s been extraordinary the way the Social Security debates have played out. Very interesting things happened when Bush rolled out that plan. The first significant thing was that he was rolling it out at all. The second was that Gore went after it in the traditional way that Democrats have, total scare-mongering and demagogic attacks about throwing our seniors overboard. That attack just did not take at all and what Gore ended up doing was re-tooling his own Social Security plan to move it in the direction that Bush was going. The distinction now between the two plans is that Bush is taking part of the actual payroll tax to fund people’s private accounts, and Gore is leaving the payroll tax the way it is and giving people a private savings option outside the system. That’s why Gore says his plan is Social Security plus and Bush’s is Social Security minus. But the fact is that both parties now acknowledge that the rate of return is a disaster and that people can be taken care of better if they actually save and invest for themselves. That’s a huge change in the politics of our country.
And then four years later:
RICH LOWRY: Well, [Bush] hit on his two main points that we are going to hear a lot going forward: one, that the current system is unsustainable and will not be there in its current form for younger workers one way or the other. And two, personal accounts offer a more attractive option for younger workers than just maintaining the current system.
So Lowry was ready to help Dear Leader, even if he didn’t always keep up with the latest talking points. Lowry tried to spin Social Security privatization as a means to help minorities and to sock it to the wealthy. Talk about chutzpah: it doesn’t get any better than a right-wing hack using progressive-populist language to try to sell a privatization scheme whose sole purpose was to benefit Wall Street. But then, Lowry’s the kinda guy who thinks the AARP is a front for left-wing vultures, so he’s obviously capable of any sort of batshittery on the subject.
But the subject of seniors leads inexorably to the subject of health care. It is only because of the wealthy criminal class that America, alone among first world nations, does not have a reasonably fair health care system. So of course those other countries must be demonized:
[T]he welfare state sort of sap[s] people’s vitality
And the demonization goes double for those Americans who support the human right to health care:
[SiCKO]‘s not just an attack on the insurance industry, but on our way of life.
The only reason to fantasize about Cuban health care is to stick a finger in the eye of the Yanquis. For the likes of Michael Moore, the true glory of Cuba is less its health care than the fact that it is an enemy of the United States. That’s why romanticizing Cuban medicine isn’t just folly, but itself qualifies as a kind of sickness.
Michael Moore set out to make a movie attacking the American insurance industry and ended up attacking the American character.
Liberals agitate for more government programs knowing that they create their own self-perpetuating constituencies and chip away at our culture of self-reliance. For now, that culture is still robust, as American exceptionalism remains stubbornly exceptional.
If you really want sweeping French-style social-welfare programs and repressive tax rates, your only alternative is to, like the American expats Moore glorifies in his movie, move to France.
Lowry is such a corporate whore. Wal-Mart, oil companies, the vaccine industry — such virtuous entities must be defended against the evil Democrats. In fact, so evil are Democrats that they’d completely and remorselessly destroy the economy by doing such things as raising the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the wealthy, and starting to “take whacks at ‘free trade.’” And how’s this for self-pity:
[T]he media sort of treats, you know, conservatives who think a low tax environment is good for the economy as some sort of Neanderthals.
(No, Rich, they don’t — but they should.)
Lowry advised Democrats that if they were any less servile to corporate interests than he, it would amount to political suicide because it would alienate the allegedly gigantic investor class of folks who might have some money in 401(k)s and should therefore imagine themselves as peers to the Rockefellers. (The wingnut trope of “building an ownership class” is precisely designed toward inculcating this mentality, the theory being that if you let the peons split one percent of corporate stocks, they’ll quit supporting their own liberal interests and sign on to whatever Wall Street wants.)
RICH LOWRY: Let me go back to the Gore populism. I do think in the short-term it has helped him with his image but in the long-term I can’t believe it’s a winner for him because this kind of rhetoric runs directly counter to the most important demographic change in this country, which is the rise of mass investment. And most people in this country aren’t fearful and worried about powerful corporate interests. They own pieces of powerful corporate interests, whether they’re pharmaceuticals or whether they’re Microsoft or whatever. So I think in the long run, this is a loser message for Gore[.]
Well, remember, this is Rich Lowry. So then Enron, Adelphia, etc. “happened”. Ooops:
LOWRY: Well, a couple things here. One, you are right about the investors. And the fact is, Republicans, throughout most of 90′s, were touting the investor class as a great thing for them, and I think on the whole, it will be, but this is an instance where it really could come back and bite them. If investors feel sour, you know, in the fall of this year, it could be a real problem for Republicans.
Now, the campaign against Harvey Pitt, I think, is totally political grandstanding. I mean, the idea that Harvey Pitt has done something in the last 18 months that somehow secretly signaled to all business leaders that they can be criminals I think is totally ridiculous. And the fact is, the market has, to some extent, to be self-policing, because there are not enough regulators in the country to sit over the shoulders of every accountant in America.
(Damage control!) Please disperse. Nothing to see here! There is no quid-pro-quo, corporations do not buy politicians, blah blah blah:
RICH LOWRY, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: Yeah. Well, this will test the theory of whether we can have a political scandal without any real political wrong-doing. And the fact is, all reporters sort of these days work off the “All the President’s Men” model. It’s follow the money all the time.
So it’s sort of this knowing and simplistic and tiresome cynicism where if the president of the United States says, you know, I believe we need more energy supply and we need to subsidize energy sources and drill more, because that’s a good thing for the country, most reporters say, no, no, no — that’s not what he’s really up to. He’s been bought off.
KURTZ: So in the world according to Lowry, Enron and companies like it give millions of dollars to politicians not because they’re trying to buy anything like access, but because they’re just being nice to their ideological soul mates?
LOWRY: Well, Enron made a lot of bad investments, and soft money was probably one of them.
KURTZ: So you think — and in fact, just last Sunday Bob Schieffer and Cokie Roberts said the way that Bush should respond to this would be to come out aggressively for campaign finance reform. You think journalists are using the whole Enron debacle as an excuse to push their favorite pet issue?
LOWRY: Sure. It’s the most tired cliche in the business. You know, and the reason why governments listen to companies like Enron is because big corporations are important. Any administration that crafted…
KURTZ: But why do they give them all this money?
LOWRY: They think it gets access. It gets you a nickname. It gets you nice notes. It does get you into the meeting.
But the fact is, both administrations did things to help Enron, but both administrations did things that helped Enron that played to ideological type. The Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Treaty because their liberals. The Bush administration wanted to deregulate because they’re conservatives. There’s no scandal here.
KURTZ: Well, who in Washington has not gotten Enron money? I mean, you have the top administration officials, you have lots of members of Congress, you have all these consultants and academics…
TAPPER: And Arthur Andersen money, too.
KURTZ: Exactly. And so, you seem to be taking sort of a narrow view of this, Rich, in the sense that if President Bush and Dick Cheney…
LOWRY: I’m never narrow, Howard.
TAPPER: He’s very broad-minded.
KURTZ: If President Bush and Dick Cheney didn’t do something specific to help them stave off bankruptcy, then where is the political scandal — whereas the broad view, maybe journalists justifying the pursuit of the story, is about the relationship in which they would help Enron in many ways, not in any small part because of the campaign contributions.
LOWRY: Well, no one can point to specifically anything they got that they shouldn’t have gotten. And, you know, the fact is, Enron backed Chuck Schumer, the Democrat in the 1998 New York Senate race. Why? Because Chuck Schumer agreed with Enron on deregulation. Companies that support deregulation are going to give money to candidates who support deregulation. There’s nothing inherently corrupt about that…
LOWRY: Yes, all journalists love that story of campaign finance reform, and it was because they’re all sort of beholden to the Bob Woodward view of the world, which is follow the money and money explains. Well the world’s much more complicated than that and politicians have a lot of different pressures on them rather than money including their own ideologies and temperaments. And you know I think there’s — I disagree with Paul, there’s been a lot of attention on the Cheney energy plan, but I would disagree with the characterization that somehow that energy plan must have been bought or it was just a creation of Enron.
You know Bush and Cheney, the whole idea of that energy plan was to create a greater supply of energy. So of course you’re going to talk to Enron. You’re also going to other big energy companies. There’s no scandal there.
But what’s really hilarious, considering the above, is when Lowry accuses Liberals and Democrats of being the real elitists, the real corporate whores, the true representatives of the wealthy and spoiled classes. Like when he wrote this:
Bizarrely, it is the Democrats who most strongly support a lax immigration system that acts as a subsidy to business interests eager to hire workers at the lowest wages possible and to upper-middle-class Americans who don’t want to pay too much to have someone mow their lawns.
In addition to the alleged ethical infractions that have dogged him in the press recently, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has one overriding, unspoken sin — he’s déclassé. In this, he has some of the same broad characteristics as George W. Bush: Texas, conservatism, Christianity, lack of — ahem — verbal subtlety.
But it’s when Chickenhawk Lowry purports to speak in his pseudo-populist voice for the armed forces that he’s truly pathetic:
Now, whatever you say about his landing on the aircraft carrier, whether that was a political stunt, whether it was premature, you could see the very real connection between those guys and George Bush. And that`s because Bush is a “red state” American. When he goes on vacation, he doesn`t go out to Martha`s Vineyard to hang out with intellectuals and celebrities. He goes to clear brush on his ranch. And that`s the kind of thing folks in the military connect with more naturally than Bill Clinton.
And most pathetic of all:
During the Q&A, an audience member noted that the US military was aiming its recruiting efforts at low-income young Americans and noted this was not fair. (One faculty member later told me that the Connecticut National Guard was engaged in a very active recruiting effort at this state school but had not done so at more pricey schools in the area, such as Wesleyan and Brown, my alma mater. I wonder why.) Lowry dismissed the idea–popularized in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11–that the war in Iraq is mostly being fought by low-income Americans who have been driven into the military by a lack of other opportunities. Instead, Lowry said, a surge of “patriotism” had swept through young American adults after 9/11, compelling them to sign up to fight for their country and the noble cause of promoting freedom and democracy overseas. I asked him whether this surge of “patriotism” had flowed through the offices of National Review? Had it depopulated his staff? How many interns had it claimed? Lowry did not answer this question.
Macho Macho Editor
In October 2000, at a Cato Institute symposium on the presidential election, National Review Editor Rich Lowry spoke of a “war on masculinity” in America and asserted that Bush appealed to the voters because he exemplified an action-oriented, nonintellectual manly resolve.
That’s the robust, barrel-chested, alpha male Rich Lowry of the Bush Cult of Contrived Masculinity —
“Maybe we don’t want a presidential candidate who can pronounce Kostunica or recite the constituent parts of Yugoslavia,” wrote National Review Editor Richard Lowry.
Sometimes, especially at National Review, the animus against braininess has overlapped with a crusade for traditional manliness — the idea being that book learning is for wimps.
Appearing on the Fox News show On the Record to discuss a recently released documentary about Bush on the campaign trail, Lowry hailed him as “a more traditional, red-blooded guy” than Al Gore: “He’s tough. He’s manly….He’s not very reflective.” To Lowry, it turns out, even familiarity with “hip” pop culture products such as Sex and the City — a familiarity that Bush, in the documentary, appears to lack — denotes excessive intellectualism and elitism. “Bush probably knows more about NASCAR, which is more tuned into what most Americans care about, than any of these reporters writing about him,” he commented.
…And he means what he says (in what he no doubt imagines is a rugged baritone). So Al Franken challenged him to a fight. But Lowry declined, though he couldn’t ever quite own up to the truth that he is a weenie projecting his own neuroses on others:
Franken’s challenge, naturally, has a political point. He saw me on C-SPAN the other day giving a talk in which I decried the way liberals and feminists are promoting the feminization of America, and called for a defense of traditional notions of masculinity. Franken now thinks I should prove my own manliness by grappling with him in a garage.
This makes a certain amount of sense. If I had to choose a male representative of the feminization of America to punch, the former SNL comic, who has always vaguely reminded me of Richard Simmons, would do as well as any.
[I]n summary: Rich said on C-SPAN that Democrats had sissified politics; I challenged him to a fight in my parking garage; he demurred like a little girl; I wrote about the incident honestly in my book; he wrote a column that gave his readers a totally misleading characterization of my book, which he later admitted he hadn’t read; I challenged Rich to another fight; he demurred again, but challenged me to a contest of ideas. So here we are.
Spinsanity basically called it a draw, but in their “serious” way neglected to opine on, much less condemn, Lowry’s original gender-based critique of Democrats (though they did bother to note Franken’s mockery of Lowry’s entirely evaporated machismo).
OK, so Lowry has bashed Democrats as being girly-faggy-pinko-appeasers. Franken busted him on this. They debated and in that debate Lowry wrote:
So outraged is he by her outrageous name-calling, Franken calls her, quite seriously, a “nutcase.” A spectacularly successful author, Ann Coulter is not crazy, although her argumentative brilliance can be tinged with intemperance.
This, coming from Lowry, is as rich and precious as unicorn sashimi. Lowry had clean-up duty to perform after one of Coulter’s more famous meltdowns: her call to “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” And what a sloppy clean-up job it was:
The column was obviously written with some degree of anger, rage, and grief and she probably went a little far on certain things but the essential point I think is accurate that the most drastic possible measures are called for.
But this pathetic bit of Lionel Hutz-esque advocacy got Lowry absolutely nowhere:
The column outraged the public, but conservatives, including National Review editor Richard Lowry, ascribed Coulter’s column to grief over the loss of a friend in the attacks. But the following week, Coulter was at it again: “Congress could pass a law tomorrow requiring that all aliens from Arabic countries leave….We should require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males.” This time Lowry spiked her column. Coulter responded by calling Lowry and his staff censorious “girly boys.” Lowry then dropped her as a contributing editor.
Was it merely Coulter’s ‘intemperance’ that caused her to attack Lowry’s masculinity as he has attacked that of Liberals? Who knows, but it’s nice to see wingnuts attack each other and it’s very nice to see the sticks they throw at Liberals suddenly morph into boomerangs. At any rate, Ramesh Ponnuru’s opinion on the Lowry-Coulter contretemps is worth noting:
To my knowledge, NR has never read Ann Coulter out of respectable conservatism; we merely stopped running her column after a public dispute about our editorial practices.
Well, sure. What I’m getting at is that Lowry must absorb such insults from a fellow wingnut because they are too precious for the movement to give up. Lowry has to forgive Coulter for being Coulter, because he’s basically a Coulter, too. Case in point is when Coulter called John Edwards a faggot, and Lowry was right there to defend her from cruel, unfair lefties. He might as well have been defending himself. And in a way, he was.
And the same goes for his taking it so easy on other writers under the NR masthead. I’ve already mentioned how Lowry publishes discredited Lysenkoists, but he also publishes serial liars, lying liars, statistically-illiterate nimrods, government-funded propagandists, and all-around jackasses (a list, by the way, that still doesn’t include even more pathetic excuses for pundits like JPod, Mark Levin, Doughy F. Pantload, and K-Lo). Some well-meaning people occasionally call on Lowry to exercise a bit of journalistic decency in his supervising editorial role, but why should he? He’d just be applying standards to them that he doesn’t apply to himself. Short of plagiarism and publicly criticizing NR editorial policy, wingnuts who work for Lowry’s rag are pretty much given carte blanche. Probably because it’s, somehow, the macho thing to do.
Richie The Geek: Political Prognostications You Can Bet On!
Remember what I said about Rich Lowry’s spectacular and hilarious capacity for massive wrongness? Yeah? Well, there’s a good formula for it. Dave Weigel — in the context of Lowry’s bold predictions of George Allen’s coming triumph –
George Allen was supposed to be the man — kosher to both the anti-tax right and the Christian right, he was the subject of preseason, groundwork-laying paeans like Rich Lowry’s November 2005 profile in National Review, which came complete with a socialist-realist cover photo of Allen engaging in the leaderly (to conservatives) pastime of throwing a football.
— has devised something called “the Lowry Test”:
If Rich Lowry believes something will happen, it will, in fact, not happen.
Good Call Rich!
Rich Lowry, Editor of the National Review, 3PM:
BOLTON NOMINATION WILL PASS THE COMMITTEE 10-8 TODAY
Committee Puts Bolton on Hold
Fox News rattled on that after just taking the reigns of the House of Representatives, Pelosi — who had promised five day work weeks — was already feathering her nest and making things more comfortable by taking off Monday for football.
Fox didn’t stop there. They also had some talking heads on board, of whom National Review’s Rich Lowry was one, to further lampoon Speaker Pelosi for this take a day off slip.
Well, Fox owes Pelosi a prime time apology — and maybe a panel of experts on following to discuss why Fox uses the “Drudge Report” as a primary new source and didn’t run the traps on a story it was giving huge profile to — and on which it organized a panel of Pelosi-bashing pundits.
Drudge broke the story Sunday evening after seeing a House release noting that there would be “no business” on Monday. Then he let his imagination take over and started the attack on Pelosi and House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer.
But as Raw Story has reported, the request for the day off came from Republican Minority Leader John Boehner[.]
“He really shows maturity beyond his years,” said Richard Lowry, editor of the National Review.
Lowry said he runs into a lot of George Will-wannabes trying to break into national journalism circles at a very young age, but “few of them can actually pull it off. [Domenech] just seems to be just a couple steps in front of everyone else.”
With such a history (and I haven’t even got to the best example yet) of boneheaded predictions, you might think that Lowry would be just a little hesitant to criticize others for theirs (which are of course relatively few and minor in comparison). But you’d be wrong:
OH, MAN, IS DEEP THROAT EVER PAT BUCHANAN!!! [Rich Lowry ]
Speaking of Josh Marshall, check out this amusing post from 2002.
Posted at 04:58 PM
Yeah, bwahahahaha, Rich. That kind of gloating just means that the Divine Baker will make extra sure that the Pies of Reckoning flying toward your face will be that much more custardy and creamy…
Next: “We’re Winning”
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