He likes his money, he don’t mind the smell

For the sake of argument, I’m gonna take some issue with the Boss Lady, even though I know we’re all pretty much on the same page.

I’m not sayingGlenn Beck isn’t extreme but I do not agree that he is nuts. I’m not saying Pat Buchananisn’t a racist, but I don’t agree he’s just a senile old throwback. Like I said last week, I don’t thinkSarah Palin’s a rocket scientist but she has a undeniable talent and the drive to use that talent in service of an agenda.

I confess I can’t count the number of times I’ve called these folks and their ilk batshit or fruitloops or deranged. Those are just words sure, but when we pathologize these people, we are taking away their conscious responsibility, in some cases distorting the agenda they serve. Even in jest, we’re putting them in a context apart from the industry that pays and plumps them and pimps them out, and apart from the audience they’re spoonfeeding and riling up. If we are at some tipping point, the right frame’s more important than ever.

In short, I don’t give a shit about arguing over Glenn Beck’s mental health. I worry about the corporations that fuel him and I worry about the people listening to him. The tension of the accountability that loops back and forth on that spectrum is what we have to focus on. The man who signs the front of the check is accountable, the man who endorses the check on the back is accountable, and the man on the couch listening to the product is accountable.

Yeah, I said it: those people “out there,” listening to Beck or Palin or Lou Dobbs? I have to think twice about calling most of them crazy too. Whether the people on the extreme ends of the opposite political spectrum are angry, uneducated, willfully wrong, or “low information voters,” most of them are not mentally ill. I think when we call them crazy, we are actually making them less frightening than they really are.

As for birthers? I concede, those people are crazy.

Weeks like this, I think maybe it’s time to agree withthis guy.

Seriously. It’s time to retire ol’ Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” and go with a song that more truly represents the America of today: post-crash, pre-apocalypse, meth- and money-addicted, heading down the highway to self-destruction.