By MARC McDONALD
Talk radio these days is becoming more and more extremist and frightening. And HateWing spewer Mark Levin is the most frightening and extreme of them all.
Clearly, though, there's an audience for Levin's twisted vision. After all, his latest book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto was a recent No. 1 New York Times bestseller, with over a million copies now in print. And an incredible 1,355 out of 1,538 Amazon customers have given the book a perfect 5-star rating.
Liberty and Tyranny rounds up and recycles the usual arguments for (supposedly) limiting government. It's the same tired, cliched, simplistic arguments that have been trotted out endlessly by today's GOP (a philosophy, incidentally, that was trounced at the polls by the American people last year, who demonstrated that they're sick and tired of three decades of trickle-down Reaganomics).
But Levin couldn't care less what the majority of American people want. He believes that he, and his shrinking GOP base, know what's really best for the American people. Frankly, it sounds like elitism to me. (Which is ironic, because Levin and his ilk are constantly bitching and moaning about the "Liberal Elites" who are supposedly trying to push their views on the rest of us).
What's worse is that in Liberty and Tyranny (as was the case with his other books), Levin tries to justify his extremist beliefs by claiming that his twisted views are what the Founding Fathers called for.
If you read Levin, you get the impression that America today (a modern industrial superpower with a population of 300 million people) should be run exactly the same way it was run in the 1700s (when the U.S. was a sparsely populated collection of 13 rural colonies).
This is True Freedom, Levin would have us believe. Never mind that back in the 1700s, most Americans weren't free at all. After all, millions of blacks were enslaved. Indians were persecuted and murdered. And the majority of the population (women) couldn't even vote.
Is a 1700s-style government what Levin really wants for today's America? Well, when it fits his arguments. For example, any non-defense government programs, of course, ought to be abolished. Everything from Social Security to the FDA to the FAA to Medicare. Never mind that the American people overwhelming support all these programs. Levin wants them all abolished.
The problem with Levin is the inconsistency of his arguments. Levin, you see, has absolutely no problem with America's massive, out-of-control Pentagon budget. (Never mind the the fact that the Founding Fathers were opposed to a standing army during peacetime, as well as the fact that the U.S. got along just fine without the Pentagon for much of our nation's history).
Although Levin claims to be in favor of a smaller, less intrusive government, he has no problems with pouring trillions of our tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy and powerful "defense" contractors. So much for Eisenhower's warning about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.
But what did Eisenhower know? He was only an American hero and decorated military general who won World War II for America. No, let's ignore Eisenhower's words of wisdom and instead listen to cowardly chickenhawks like Levin (who never served in the military).
Incredibly, for all his talk about "fiscal responsibility," Levin has no problem with corporate welfare. In Liberty and Tyranny you won't read a word about the hundreds of billions of tax dollars that the likes of Halliburton have collected in closed, no-bid corporate welfare over the years.
Nor will you read a word about how corporate America these days pays little tax (in fact, two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay zero federal tax these days). But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims U.S. corporations face a crushing, heavy tax burden.
One wonders what the Founding Fathers would have made of Levin. Although he claims to speak for their vision for America, I get the feeling that the likes of Thomas Jefferson would have been appalled at Levin. Jefferson, for example, rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ and famously wrote papers attacking the absurdities of the Bible. The Founding Fathers in fact were not Christian. But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims that they were.
And yet Levin hijacks the Founding Father's views and would have us believe that they'd support things like George W. Bush's illegal, immoral $3 trillion War of Lies in Iraq. So much for George Washington's warning to the young nation to never get involved in overseas military adventures.
Bush, in fact, shredded the Constitution that Levin claims to support. During the Bush years, Levin fanatically supported Bush through all the outrages, from embracing torture as official state policy to warrantless wiretaps.
For Levin to turn around and claim in Liberty and Tyranny that he supports the philosophy of the Founding Fathers is sickening and grotesque. The Founding Fathers would have despised a dangerous demagogue like Levin.
Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto has been a huge success for Levin. It even has a near-perfect 4.5 stars on Amazon. In 1,538 customer reviews, the book has garnered a perfect 5-star rating from an incredible 1,355 customers. Levin often touts this fact on his radio show.
The wingnuts definitely know how to play the Amazon ratings game. Check out a book by anyone from Al Gore to Michael Moore and you'll see endless one-star "reviews" by wingnuts (who, instead of actually reading the books in question, simply leave a short one-sentence attack on the author).
Yes, Liberty and Tyranny has been a big success. But for that matter, so was "Mein Kampf."
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