The Great Cons


gold4So, it turns out that the Glenn Becks and Bill O’Reillies are trying to undermine the nation’s financial security so they can make a private bundle in the gold market. This isn’t an accusation from a partisan group. It comes in today’s Politico, the moderate-to-conservative online political news outlet.

We should all stop and think about this a moment. The shrill voices of right wing talk TV and radio are being paid by gold retailers to attack President Obama and national efforts to pull out of the recession. But it’s not just Obama who is undermined. It’s all of us. There’s a expensive, well-coordinated effort to trash confidence in the U.S. economy. And these guys claim they are the voices of patriotism. Here’s how Politico puts it:

The dire tone sounded in the ads often echo the occasionally apocalyptic economic forecasts of the shows’ hosts, many of whom have endorsement contracts with the gold retailers, appear in their ads, or have had their executives as guests to trash the economic course set by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, and to preach the attractions of gold…

…And it’s become an increasingly profitable synergy for everyone involved – the retailers, the networks and an array of hosts including O’Reilly and Beck, as well as radio talkers Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller, Fred Thompson and G. Gordon Liddy.

I encourage you to read the who story at Politico. It’s chilling.

One reaction to this might be a cynical shrug. “Of course,” the cynic will say. “Everybody’s in it for the money.” First of all, that’s simply not true. Is your pastor, priest or rabbi in it for the money? No, we can’t dismiss this anti-American con as just another example of greed. It is worse than greed.

In a very real sense, Beck’s pitching for extremist tea parties was just part of a grassroots marketing campaign for gold sellers, a campaign he’s paid to do, a campaign that boosts profits from his own gold holdings. Beck and company have played upon the paranoia and fear of some Americans to make a profit. I know it seems like this isn’t that much different from what, say, the pharmaceutical industry does with its ads telling us all the diseases we should worry about and buy their drugs to overcome.

But drug ads don’t seek to undermine the U.S. economy. They may want to profit from our illness, but I assume they’d like us to have the money to buy their drugs.

Author: Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith has spent the past 30 years in journalism and politics, where he’s made a name for himself as a writer, campaign manager, activist, think tank analyst and, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says, a “legendary political consultant and all-around good guy.” “There’s no one like him,” says author George Lakoff. CNN commentator Paul Begala says, “He has unmatched experience, a graceful pen (or pixel nowadays) and deep insight into the best and worst of us.” Novelist Sarah Bird speaks of his “lucid and lyrical” prose. And, she says, he’s fun. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says Glenn writes with “grace and abundant humor” and “uses his colorful experiences in Texas to enlighten us all.”

Smith led Ann Richards’ successful 1990 campaign for Governor of Texas. He worked for former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Earlier, Smith was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. He’s coordinated national campaigns for groups such as In 2004, he authored the highly acclaimed book, The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction. He also wrote Unfit Commander, a book that detailed George W. Bush’s mysterious disappearance from military service.

In 2004, Smith was featured in the film, Bush’s Brain, a documentary about Karl Rove. Smith provided commentary on Rove’s role as then-President Bush’s senior advisor. He has made numerous media appearances with Chris Mathews on Hardball, Joe Scarborough, Brit Hume, and many others. He writes a regularly for top national web sites, including FireDogLake and Huffington Post.

As a senior fellow at George Lakoff’s prestigious Rockridge Institute in Berkeley he studied, wrote and taught on the power of metaphor and narrative in political communications. He also lectured on religion and politics at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley. As a sponsor and organizer, he has pulled together numerous national events with progressive religious leaders. He also organized a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in New York City as well as “Freedom and Faith” bus tours, which was a nationwide campaign for social justice and progressive values.

Smith’s play, Double Play, which explored American Western myths and legends, was held over to sold-out audiences. He’s even written and performed songs in the Americana tradition, such as his best-known song, “Helping Marty Robbins,” a tribute to his hometown, Houston.

Most recently, Smith is the creator of DogCanyon, a political and cultural web site covering state, national and global issues from a Texas perspective. DogCanyon is an exhilarating and unique site that gets the connections between politics and culture and explores both the personal side of politics and the ups, down, craziness and beauty of “life its ownself,” as humorist Dan Jenkins would say. DogCanyon offers heartfelt personal essays, hard-hitting political analysis, and, most importantly, laughs.

As Paul Begala said, Smith writes in “the finest, firmest, fearless tradition of Texas essayists like Molly Ivins.”

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