Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Can Glenn Beck know the future?

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This uncertainty of the future is one of the main marks of the human condition. It taints all manifestations of life and action.”
–Ludwig von Mises

On Beck’s May 3rd TV program on Fox News, he showed his viewers two books, written by Marxists, he claimed, which describe what is happening on the streets of Greece today (demonstrations and riots over government austerity) and, he argued, what our future holds. We are to believe that Beck is a prophet. Can Glenn Beck really know the future?

Below is a graphic of a time line showing the past, present and the future:

time graph

The past is a straight line in that there is only one actual series of parallel events even though historians can give us many different interpretations of our past. Thus, there are liberal, conservative, radical and reactionary interpretations of the past, just as there are liberal, conservative, radical and reactionary interpretations of current events.  Every historian brings his or her values to the project of history. See the earlier post, “What is Glenn Beck Politically? for more details about how the four basic values are arranged.

The future is generally thought of a something we plan for, hope for, strategize about, move in a different direction from the past and present line (or for conservatives not move in a different direction).  The struggle with every bill before Congress is whether we want change or not, whether we want a lot of change, a little change or no change. The range of politically viable options is determined by public support and the leadership of the President, whomever that person is.

The future is open to changes in direction but limited by the constraints of politics.  How much change is possible is limited by the number of votes a bill or amendment to the bill can garner.  The future is open to unexpected events such as the attacks of 9-11 or the explosion and sinking of the Gulf oil platform along with the consequent oil that is still spilling as this is being written. Life can take surprising and unpredictable turns.

We can get an idea of what direction we’re going by having a good understanding of where we are which is likely the reasoning Beck uses to claim that riots in the streets are in the near future for America.  Much of Beck’s concern for the future and his dire prediction regards the national debt of nearly $13 trillion and unfunded liabilities of about $107 trillion.

If you actually click on the $13 trillion link, you’ll see a graph of our debt as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product.  Right now the debt is just under 80% of our GDP, but just after WWII the debt was just over 120% of the GDP. If that were Beck’s only concern, he could be challenged to take a look at history and grasp that the post war years witnessed unprecedented economic growth and prosperity in the country despite that huge debt.

However, it’s the unfunded liabilities that are a concern. They are the difference between what will be collected in taxes based on current law and in Medicare premiums vs. what has been promised in law (legislation) in benefits for current and future retirees.  Beck made a big demonstration during his show of 5/5/10 of what every tax payer would have to make based on extremely high tax rate of 70% if we were to pay for these liabilities in one year! That’s typical Beck deceiving his audience again.  These unfunded liabilities stretch out for many years into the future when they will have to be either adjusted down (reduced benefits) or paid for with tax increases that will stretch out for decades or most likely both. The way master deceiver Beck explained it was sheer nonsense, useful for frightening  his viewers, but not for anything else!

Beck, the regressive reactionary, has made no secret of his view that government services for the elderly and poor in this country are a “cancer” that needs to be cut out of our (federal government’s) body, the Federal budget.  What he doesn’t understand, and this is true of many conservatives and reactionaries, is that these programs were put in place not to ruin Capitalism or the free market, but to stabilize Capitalism and protect it politically from Socialist candidates who were gaining in popularity during the Great Depression.

The welfare state isn’t Socialism as many–including Beck–charge; it’s the only way Capitalism can survive in a democratic order! The charge of “socialist” or “Marxist” Beck tosses at anyone to the left of center (and even the center in some cases) is patently absurd. Sometimes he’s right, but often he’s earning his moniker, fear-monger-in-chief.

The leftward direction of the near  future is certainly going to be different under the Obama Administration than the rightward direction would have been under a McCain Administration, and that is the nature of political choice. We do have more debt now because this Administration is using the true and tried strategy of deficit spending to serve as an employment bridge to get us back on track to economic growth and prosperity.

It's actually Overton's Window that illustrates how public support for change, progressive or regressive, decides the direction the Republic moves into the future. Real conservatives generally want to move along a straight line, continuing along the path that we're on, the path in the same direction.

The debt and the unfunded liabilities are only going to explode and cause the economy to tank again if they are not dealt with after the recession.  Beck’s solution to this, which he offered on his 5/5/10show, is to–I’m not making this up–cut taxes (what?!?) and slash government spending (of course).  That would not only make the deficits bigger (less income) but make his prediction that there will be massive protests and rioting on the streets across America come to fruition quickly.

In fact, that’s the problem with his regressive agenda altogether; progressive programs have become very popular. People can get hoodwinked into this kind of false nostalgia to get many candidates elected who would then lead us backward, but not enough will (to make a difference) unless Beck can reach a wider audience and become more influential.

Double standards?

Beck likes to bemoan the crisis mentality of people in power as a means of dealing with issues. Then he turns around within the hour of one show and uses the very same tactic to paint false crisis of a ticking debt bomb that will destroy us if we don’t begin to reverse 100 years of progressive legislation and spending soon. He does not seem to comprehend or acknowledge that complete double standard, but that’s typical Beck.  He doesn’t seem to comprehend much of anything in an accurate or deep manner, but he sure conveys his shallow grasp of reality, his poor models and his turning around of reality (both words and facts) in an extremely convincing manner.  That’s partly what makes Beck both a con man and a scourge on the national policy debate. His supporters actually believe him.

Beck doesn’t know the future. Nobody can know the future with certainty. Even having a pretty good idea of what direction we’re heading requires a deep and comprehensive grasp of the past and present, something Beck’s reactionary bias, untrained (by higher education) mind and Attention Deficit Disorder does not allow for.

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Does Glenn Beck lie? (Volume II)

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It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions.”

Before continuing to criticize Beck’s shows as they run going forward, it’s well worth it review just some of the claims Beck has made in the past.

On April 23rd, Beck claimed that climate change is a “scam” and that there has been “zero warming for over a decade.” The facts are thatduring the last 13 years, we’ve had 11 of the warmest years on record. A graph of this information, which shows increasing temperatures is also available on a NASA site.

On the 26th of April, Beck ended his show that discussed a conspiracy among the Joyce Foundation, Barack Obama and Goldman Sachs as well as making a distinction between equal justice and social justice with the line, “America, you know the truth.”  By “America,” he must be referring to people who do not watch his show.

First, he claimed that an unidentifiable silhouette of Barack Obama, which he referred to as “mystery meat” before he revealed his image, IS, not was, on the board of the Joyce Foundation. That’s not a fact according to their web site. He corrected this the next day.

Next Beck tried to claim repeatedly that when you do not have equal justice before the law, you have social justice.  In fact, if you do not have equal justice before the law, you have injustice, not social justice. Social justice is more about economic policies and protection against big corporations, although in some quarters social justice is equivalent to equal justice.

Referring to the President, any president, any person as “mystery meat”  is just SO NOT funny.  That was so disrespectful.  That was so … Beck.  Calling a human “meat” conjures up cannibalism.  Worse, meat is something we hunt to kill.  Mr. Beck has a lot to learn about non-violence.

On April 29th, Beck claimed that “Fox couldn’t allow me to say things that were wrong.”  Why not?  Lots of people, Fox staff and guests, say things on Fox that are wrong, often. He claimed that Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch would not let him say things that are wrong, but Murdoch did not even know until April 8th that Fox was supporting the Tea Party! apparently Murdoch doesn’t watch Fox.

On April 23rd, Beck referred to the “current onslaught against free speech and points to one group, Freepress, “a Marxist organization” which is “leading” the push for Net Neutrality.  Net Neutrality is what we have now, but Internet providers want to change that and make us pay for certain content and high speed access to some sites. Arguing against Net Neutrality is arguing against the interests of the Internet users in his audience and for the large corporations that want to change Internet access to their financial interest.

Part of what Beck is selling on Fox is greater control of America by the large corporations against the public interest of the American people. Of course, he doesn’t word it quite like that because he is deceiving his viewers.  He is conning them!

Again, on April 23rd, Beck claimed that “freedom of speech is under attack…the person that questions comes under vicious attack.  We know that to be true.”  Rachel Maddow questions the President’s policies on Afghanistan and the secret war in Pakistan, but she doesn’t come under attack.   Last year, before The Glenn Beck Review, this blogger tried to reassure conservatives and reactionaries in comments on AOL story boards that Obama is an imperialist bent on preserving the American empire, but I have not been attacked. Furthermore, The Glenn Beck Review sent overnight letters to six members of the White House staff in late May. The only ones who attack in comments are conservatives and reactionary supporters of Beck.


Beck continues to demonstrate what Joe Klein of “Time Magazine”points out, namely that much of what Beck says rubs right up against being seditious. It has only been lately that Beck began to embrace the strategy of nonviolence of Martin Luther King. Before this recent change, much of what Beck has said was  seditious, or very near to it. Klein pointing this out is hardly a “vicious attack.”   Beck still gets close to sedition in much of his hyperbole, but that will be elaborated upon in another post.

Update, June 30: Although what Beck discusses is still working to make his viewers "mad as hell," his dissent has fallen into a clear legal range. His portrayal of the President only has to motivate one "patriot" in his audience to act on this rage against elected officials. Beck calls for peace and instills violent rage against those Beck perceives to be transforming America into a socialist hell starting at the top. 

NOTE:   Sedition is incitement  of  discontent  or  rebellion  against  a government.

The day before that, on the O’Reilly Factor, Beck claimed that he’s not fomenting rebellion, but “trouble is coming. It will be the French Revolution, not the American Revolution.”  Beck is one of the loudest voices leading this “French Revolution;” but, beside that lack of awareness about what he’s saying, he shows that he doesn’t realize that the American Revolution was not a revolution at all, it was in fact an insurrection against the British Empire.

This doesn’t point to Beck lying as much as it reveals his utter lack of post-secondary education.  Beck isn’t lying; he just doesn’t know history very well. That is usually referred to as ignorance, but because Beck cherry picks the facts out of history that fits his values; one can consider Beck selectively ignorant and selectively informed in part by his selective research team.

On April 19th, Beck was bemoaning that the other media aren’t picking up on his conspiracy theories and claimed, “I don’t think anyone really wants to tell the truth anymore in America…I think we have an honesty shortage in America.” It's noted elsewhere on this blog that Beck doesn't seek the truth. The "Wizard" behind Crime, Inc. is a man that no one from The Glenn Beck Show or Fox News cared enough about to contact. This story was a scoop no media organization cared enough about to confirm. By now it's clear that Beck isn't particularly concerned with the truth either. This is a clear example of hypocrisy.

Furthermore, if a journalist with integrity thought that there was real dirt, something significant to uncover, some genuine corruption to unearth about this President, or any President, their motivation to break the story open, to get the scoop, to have the lead story or the front page headline would be stronger than some imagined desire Beck seems to think mainstream media journalists have to maintain a good relationship with the White House.  It is Beck who suffers from an honesty shortage!

Professional journalists with high standards don’t want to embarrass themselves publishing the nonsense that Beck spews. Beck’s theories may be red meat to the conservatives and reactionaries in his audience that want their fears of President Obama confirmed, but no journalist with professional standards and ethics is going to stoop to the unprofessional standards that are in place at Fox. For elaboration on this, see Newshounds.


On April 6th, Beck slandered Jim Wallis by calling him a “Marxist,” but in fact Wallis emphasizes how people transform their lives by focusing on charity, something that should put him close to Beck’s own philosophy. Slander is a lie about someone.  It’s defamation.

There are many more examples of Beck deceiving his viewers on his Fox show, and in time more of  the lies will be presented in these posts.  For now, we have to wonder why millions of people believe anything that he says.  If a person is shown to be a liar, repeatedly; how does that person continue have any following?

Part of the answer in Beck’s case in his presentation. His pitch, his acting and his persuasiveness are extremely convincing.  When he repeatedly claims that he’s telling the truth, it difficult to not believe him. If he’s as honest as he claims, why does he keep repeating it?

Also, people want to believe the worse about the political opposition.  For millions of people, President Obama is the opponent in a nasty game of politics. For some, the President is seen as the enemy destroying America. Beck is responsible for blurring the difference, for perpetrating the Obama-as-enemy myth. For this and other reasons Glenn Beck has become the biggest scourge on political discussions in America. Television makes Glenn Beck bigger than Rush Limbaugh.

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Does Glenn Beck lie? (Volume I)

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The Beginning of The Glenn Beck Review
(first post on former blog)

This was the maiden post on a blog that is aiming to address both Glenn Beck’s lies, which are numerous, his political values or orientation  and his manner of talking, his style of presentation.  As greater functionality of this site is learned, A Review of  Glenn Beck’s TV show on Fox will become more video and audio oriented.  This is just the beginning.

liar or bumbling ignoramus?

The Internet is crowded with supporters of Beck, but little is available that confronts his nostalgic values, manipulation of his viewers and frequent use of deception and flat out lies on a systematic and regular basis.

On 4/30 Beck launched Founder’s Friday, where he hopes to convey early American history through the framework of his reactionary perspective.  This show focussed on Sam Adams, the insurrectionist, that the British targeted for capture.

NOTE: The American Revolution was not a revolution in a technical sense, it was an insurrection.  Our forefathers fought for independence from the British Empire, from British rule and against taxation without representation in British policy making.

A stern middle-aged man with gray hair is wearing a dark red suit. He is standing behind a table, holding a rolled up document in one hand, and pointing with the other hand to a large document on the table.

“How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!”

”It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”

“It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions.”

The deceptions of Glenn Beck:

Beck begins his show by arguing (again) that around the time of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson, the Progressives began to systematically “undermine” three areas of American life: 1) faith and religion, 2) the Constitution and 3) the Founding Fathers.  He claimed, “We’ve perverted them.”

He asked his audience when they have heard about unconstitutional actions “outside of the last year.”  How about for the eight years that the Bush Administration systematically assaulted our Constitution?  For more details on this, rent the video or read the book The End of America by Naomi Wolf. His question belies his supposed neutrality and claims that Bush was “progressive” and that he was critical of the Bush regime as he is of the Obama regime.

NOTE: All Administrations are “regimes.”  A system of management of government is a regime.

How have we perverted the Founding Fathers?  We studied them in American history classes in high school.  That some–not all–were slave owners was pointed out, but the implicit racism of enslaving people of one race was NOT elucidated at the time.  Unless history books have changed their tone in the last 40 years, we still honor and respect the men who liberated our nation from British rule.  If they take up less time and space in the study of American history then they did 100 years ago, that’s because there’s more American history to cover!  Beck cannot take this into consideration because it does not suit his propaganda, his anti-government agenda.

Beck made no effort to prove his point that the Founding Fathers are being undermined.  He could have researched to see if Sam Adams was studied in the textbooks of 1900, but he did not.  It’s worth researching for any honest, aspiring historian reading this.

Faith and religion have been undermined more by science and warfare than they have been by any progressive.  Science and fact based history cause people to examine their beliefs in light of new information we have about the Cosmos.  People realize that what the authors of the Bible understood about our place in a universe differed radically from a contemporary understanding.

In addition, we know that the Bible was written a full 50 years after the life of Jesus.  We know that there are many similarities between the life of Jesus Christ and then popular Greek myths.   For greater elaboration on this, see the documentary, The God Who Wasn’t There.

The idea that war has helped undermine religion comes from the idea that working women, who entered the work force during WWI and in even greater numbers during WWII, have less time to make attending church and other prayer meetings–even at home–a priority.  Mr Beck can use this idea to argue against  oversea wars…if he continues his re-alignment as a genuine, Ron Paul Libertarian and away from the neo-Conservative he has sounded most like.

You can argue that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were the Presidents that got us into those wars, but they didn’t undermine faith and religion.  The war efforts themselves undermined religion by driving women into the work place.

Recently Beck has been embracing nonviolence, but in this episode he once again compared what the Forefathers were facing (a violent struggle for Independence) with what the political right is facing today and implicitly juxtaposed both with violence.  He could have spelled out the distinction between the violent fight for independence and today’s civil struggle of the anti-government right for less government response to issues, but of course he did not.

Furthermore, Glenn Beck will not use that kind of language (government response to issues) when he addresses the Federal Government, because he doesn’t even recognize  problems as anything that are real (he’s a climate change denialist for example) or worthy of response by the Federal Government
NOTE: For more on denialism, read Denialism by Micheal Specter.

Beck pointed out that, “faith in God motivated Adams to believe that liberty would prevail.”  That may well be the case, but many German grunts felt that their faith in God would lead to Germany’s victory in WWI and II.  Faith in Allah leads Islamic terrorists to believe that their cause will prevail and motivates their suicide attacks!

We can all be glad that something motivated Adams to carry on the struggle; but, whether it was his faith in God or his faith in liberty or his faith in both, history demonstrates that God can motivate people to do some very dangerous and evil things as well as some very good and life-enhancing things.  In and of itself, being motivated by God doesn’t convey much at all.

Beck’s exploitation of God in his narrative and his push to get Americans to re-embrace old-time religion by the force of the state if need be should give freedom loving people pause when we hear what the con man is selling his followers (reversal of all progressive Federal legislation).

There will be more to come on Beck as time permits, but let me point out one blatant lie Beck has told twice and never corrected: on two different shows this year (before this blog began) he claimed that SEIU deemed him the “fear-monger-in-chief.”  Do you remember that claim?  Now Google “fear-monger-in-chief” and see what comes up.  It’s not SEIU; it’s the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  It’s clear that Beck is well aware of their scrutiny of his words because he teased the organization’s staff about it recently.

Did Beck ever rectify this lie?  No, but he’s constantly claiming that he tells the truth!

Why would the Anti-Defamation League scrutinize Beck?  Simple, Beck defames those he disagrees with.   As the ADL put it, Beck seamlessly blends “the main stream with the extreme” to waive a web of information, misinformation and a viewpoint that does not border on paranoia; it crosses well over into paranoia of misunderstood theories and imagined conspiracies.

Finally, it must be stressed that this blog author not opposed to Beck’s freedom to express his nonsense, his bad speech.   Now that he’s somewhat embraced nonviolence, I don’t think that he’s inciting sedition as I once strongly believed.  Until recently, he was violating the laws of free speech.

This blog was inspired by Christopher Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine when he expressed the view of John Stewart Mill who said that the antidote to bad speech was more speech.

John Stewart Mill

There will be more exposure of Beck’s lies, extremist values and viewpoints and manner of speaking in the days, months and–time and health permitting–years to come.

REGRETTABLE IRONY: Beck’s persistence and success with  his viewers will lead to the persistence and success of this Review of Glenn Beck’s Show. That is the ironic condition of this blog.  This Review will fade into irrelevance when Beck fades into irrelevance.  I look forward to that time which cannot arrive soon enough.  High readership and comments are successes I would rather not have to spend the time gathering.  As Beck himself has claimed, I do not want to make this effort.

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What is Glenn Beck's Overton Window?

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The political theory, not the book

The Overton Window is not just the name of Glenn Beck‘s new novel; he took that title from a political theory of Joseph Overton, so named posthumously by Overton’s colleagues at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Joseph Overton

Overton’s tremendous contributions to the Mackinac Center and the free-market movement were tragically cut  short with his  death on June 30, 2003, in an airplane crash. For Beck he was “a brilliant public policy strategist and ardent free-marketer.

In a special opinion piece to AOL News (the caption to the picture above is a link to it), Beck explains what the Overton Window is and why you should care. In that piece Beck explains Overton’s observation that “when public policies in a given area (education, health care) are arranged from freest to least free, only a relatively narrow window of options will be considered politically acceptable.”

Below is a depiction of Overton’s Window as it applies to energy policy:

The Overton Window

The window itself is the darker shade of blue that moves up or down not based usually upon the whims or strategies of politicians but rather “policy change follows political change, which itself follows social change. The most durable policy changes are those that are undergirded by strong social movements.” [Emphasis added] As Beck explains it, “the window will gradually move over time based on a variety of factors, including truth, facts, arguments, big events and misinformation, to name a few.” The Review has demonstrated repeatedly that Beck’s mission is to move that window using misinformation.

Clearly, the Civil Rights Movement moved Overton’s Window down the scale toward greater government involvement with the passing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

Beck argues in his opinion piece that:

If Obama continues to push, he’ll experience what’s called Overton’s revenge. It happened during America’s banning of alcohol through prohibition in the 1920s. People like to drink, and they especially liked to drink during the Great Depression. Prohibition was finally overturned in 1933. Government overshot the window, and the people responded.

An example of one way Beck misinforms comes right from the opinion piece. Beck asks, “Did Obama overshoot the Overton Window with health care? With cap and trade? With bailouts? Only time will tell.” Bailouts? When Obama voted for the TARP bailout, he was a senator. George Bush didn’t have to worry about overshooting the window; he was a lame duck president then. At the time, Glenn Beck supported TARP!

Lawmakers who support policies outside the window are one of two kinds — true leaders who have the rare ability to shift the window by themselves, or politicians who risk electoral defeat because they are perceived as out of touch. This explains why key lawmakers in 2009 and 2010 were reluctant to support a massive federal health care bill seen as unpopular with the people. Officeholders knew a vote outside the window would subject them to the political Furies, as in fact it has.

The Overton Window doesn’t describe everything, but it describes one big thing: Politicians will rarely support whatever policy they choose whenever they choose; rather, they will do what they feel they can do without risking electoral defeat, given the current political environment shaped by ideas, social movements and societal sensibilities.

Questions from The Review are: 1) Is President Obama one of those “true leaders” who can move the window down by the force of his charisma and communication skill, 2) Are the social movements supporting  government policies away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy sources strong and influential enough to counter balance the reactionary Tea Party and Glenn Beck’s reactionary push to “refound America?”

Two examples of the former are Repower America:
and the Apollo Alliance, the group that helped write the stimulus bill:

The United States and indeed the world are faced with a choice. Do we continue along the path of the status quo of global warming, oil spills, oil addiction and declining petroleum resources (leading to energy crises); or are we going to make a push toward sustainable energy development? China is moving in both directions; will the United States be left behind?

Freedom is not the issue. No American had their freedom appreciably diminished when the government spent billions during the Cold War to develop weapons. (The taxes that support government spending are rarely an issue for the right when it comes to national security.) Part of that investment went toward the development of integrated circuitry and microprocessing. That same investment needs to drive the transition toward a post fossil fuel world that the Pentagon recognizes as essential to American security.

Glenn Beck and others on the right have made their choice. This November voters in the United States will make theirs. Between now and then, this choice is bound to be articulated clearly by the President and loudly by Glenn Beck. The direction Overton’s Window moves will be decided largely by you.

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What is Glenn Beck politically?

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We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.”
Samuel Adams

In order to determine what Glenn Beck is politically, what his political values are, we need to first consider the following,  a taxonomy (ordering) of political values:

It’s clear that political values do not follow a straight line from left to right as Beck indicated on his May 3rd show, but rather they form a mandala or, more simply, a circle.  This is a modification of the same taxonomy presented by William Irwin Thompson, and it’s used with permission of the author.

I’m going to further use his May 3rd show to make points about where Beck is politically, but first I want to make some points about the taxonomy above first. The area at the top between conservative and liberals is where the country normally operates.  You can see that slightly liberal Sen. Lieberman is just to the left of the very top (Order) and Sen. Lindsey Graham is just to the right of the top.

At the most left tip of the mandala is President Obama, and across from him is President Reagan.  Both were charismatic and slightly outside of the mainstream, and both presidents brought out opposition in protests. For President Obama, this array of groups is represented by the Tea Party but also includes gun rights advocates, Libertarians and either the wealthy and connected or those who represent them, so called AstroTurf groups.

In Reagan’s presidency, the opposition protesters were nuclear freeze advocates, peace activists, socialists, labor activists (union members), ACORN,  anarchists, Marxists and other progressive activists (those who represented the poor and unconnected).  In Reagan’s time, everything those protesters wanted the Administration to do was ignored, and it’s likely that what the Tea Party wants will likely be ignored today (although if TEA = Taxed Enough Already, then they have the lowest tax rates in 50 years albeit not to their credit).  For Reagan, the protesters were wrong.  Ditto for Obama.

Where exactly one gets placed upon this mandala is based upon judgement about someone and the issue at hand.  For example Congressman Weiner is more progressive on health care reform than President Obama because he favored a single-payer, government run health care insurance plan. It’s likely that on education reform Weiner might be less progressive than the President, so his position on that mandala would be above, not below Obama’s.

Beck likes to roughly equate the Communists and the Nazis, but this is just one more point where he is wrong in his historical and political analysis.  They might both want larger, activist government, but what puts the Nazis on the right, the far, far right, is their racism.  Racism–even Mr. Beck can agree–is an immoral and unjustifiable mental framework of the past.  That’s why they are positioned near the KKK on the mandala.

Although not indicated on the mandala, progressives operate on the left. The further down the left side of the mandala you look, the more progressive actors are. On the right are the regressive actors, and again the further down the right side, the more regressive.

Radicals generally do not want to reform a system; they want to discard it and start over with something new and untried. We often hear of people being described as “radicals” who are not. Islamic terrorists fall into this group.  Nazis and anti-technologists are often called “radicals” or their views are deemed “radical.”  This is a misnomer.  Radicals aim to leap forward; those who aim to leap backward in time, back to outdated modes of thought, are called reactionaries.

Reactionaries do not like the current system any more than radicals, but they are less interested in discarding or destroying the system (of government, the economy and/or culture) as they are interested in returning to some condition of the past.  Thus, the further down the right side one moves down the mandala, the more regressive they are, the further back they want to push the system.  Reactionaries are nostalgic.

How far right?

This brings us to Glenn Beck.  He does not try to hide the fact that he wants to return to a perceived (by him), golden time when government didn’t interfere in our lives, when life was most free and people were generally happier than they are today.  When Beck talks about reforming America, he’s not being a conservative. He’s being a reactionary.

During his May 3rd show, he claimed that “You don’t fundamentally transform something you love,” referring to Obama’s claim before the election that he was going to “fundamentally transform America.”  Beck claimed that instead, he wants the “preservation and restoration” of something you love. Don’t we preserve what’s dead?  When we restore something, isn’t then used mostly if not exclusively for show like an antique care or old painting?

When Beck was strung out on cocaine and alcohol, someone, who loves him, fundamentally transformed him into sobriety to keep him out of jail or the ground, six feet under. Right now, America is addicted to oil as George Bush pointed out. In order to survive, we need to fundamentally transform the energy systems of the United States.  Putting a radical like Van Jones in the position to advise the President about green jobs makes sense to all but those who still have an inordinate fear of Communism.

Beck will never agree to this no matter what amount of evidence he is confronted with; that would go against everything he has made a handsome living on in the last year.

Beck wants us to believe that President Obama is a “radical.”  Mr. Beck, can you then agree that President was a reactionary?  Again, on May 3rd you placed Reagan to the right of the line you used to show the distinction between big government and small government and accurately claimed that “Ronald Reagan took us back.”  Beck conveniently forgot to mention that Reagan also tripled the debt and did cave in to one interest group to use the Federal Government to change our behavior and limit our freedom.  That interest group was MADD, Mothers Against Dunk Driving; and the freedom that Reagan curbed was our freedom to drive after a few drinks.

Why did Reagan act against his ideology?  It was a political decision to be sure; he didn’t want MADD fighting against his re-election.  It also made sense because it is not in the public interest to have drunk drivers on the road.

This is the crux of the argument to be made against reactionaries like Glenn Beck and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul.  There is only one structure, one organization that can effectively protect the public interest, the public in general; and that is government.  There is no one else, no other structure that can do that.

The argument, Mr. Beck, is not between big government and small government as you would have your viewers believe.  The debate is about how much do we protect the public.  What kind of balance is there between protecting the private interests (individual and corporate behavior) and protecting the public’s interest in clean air, clear water, atmospheric stability, park space, road safety, children’s safety and people’s safety when they get sick?

Progressives want a better balance between the public and the private interests; regressives want to tip that balance toward the corporations that put profit before people.  Mr. Beck, regressive reactionary, you can whine and cry and stomp your feet, but your side lost the last election.  Now is the time for change, change we can believe in, change that we need to move forward into a post-carbon energy fueled and thus sustainable economy whether you like it or not.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glenn Beck takes aim at George Soros...

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and misstates the facts again.

On The Glenn Beck Show on Fox June 21st, Beck created a circle of criminal conspiracy.

It's a dastardly tale of "organized crime" that links George Soros, a "spooky" and "evil" man for Beck, to the President for Soros' personal gain. It's so dangerous to discuss that Beck felt it necessary to tell Soros - like he has nothing better to do than watch The Glenn Beck Show - that "I do have a bullet proof car. I just want you to know."

One of the paradoxes of Glenn Beck is that he's paranoid and he incites paranoia, but back to the show.

Beck points out that Soros was one of the people who invested short on the British Sterling and contributed to its collapse. This was in 1992, and Beck added that he spent millions of that fortune of progressive blog sites like Media Matters "where bloggers can earn six figure salaries just to sit around in their underpants and distort conservative words all day." The master of distorting peoples words has a problem with people getting paid to fact check his words. (Beck keeps Media Matters for America pretty busy.)

For Beck, Soros "is one of the guys looking to replace the capitalist system once it has been destroyed."  Beck them played a clip of Soros from October, 2009: "I believe that the system is broke and needs to be reconstituted." While listening to the video clip of Soros, Beck made the following faces:

This is an "adult" listening to a man, who is making serious analysis, that Beck disagrees with. Are these adolescent antics what makes him so entertaining? After Soros noted that the economic collapse of  2008 portrayed the bankruptcy of market fundamentalism of Reagan and ThatcherBeck added "Something went very wrong and we need to reformulate our view of how our financial markets work." Beck added with his Soros' Hungarian accent, "They should all work through me, you see. If it all goes through me, then all my spookiness and evilness can come to full throttle. Did I say that out loud?" Then dropping the accent, Beck added, "Yes you did."

Got that? Beck put words in Soros mouth that Soros didn't say and then claimed that Soros said it. But that's not where Beck got his claims about Soros wrong. Let's look again at the board Beck is using:
Going around the circle starting at the 1 o'clock position, Beck ties Soros' founding of the Center for American Progress, CAP, which is run by John Posdesta, to Soros buying stock in Petrobras (at 5 o'clock). (Podesta, a former Clinton staffer, was selected by Obama to handle his transition team after the election.) At the 4 o'clock position the cloud shows where Soros bought stock in PetroBra, the state-run oil company in Brazil. Then, somehow the oil spill gets inserted into the circle. At the 7 o'clock position, Beck claims that CAP "makes Obama policy."

The Glenn Beck Review called CAP days after this claim and spoke to a blogger named Matt there. CAP makes lots of policy recommendations. Some are used by the Administration; many are not. George Soros does not get involved with CAP.

Beck continued, "One of the policies, cap and trade which goes right to Crime Inc," a conspiracy theory that Beck has elaborated upon without ever specifying what law has supposedly been broken. Then, at the 8 o'clock position, the Administration calls for a 6 month moratorium on "deep water drilling at 1,500 hundred meters. At the 9 o'clock position, Beck points out that PetroBras is drilling at 2,777 meters.
Beck continues, "Obama knows it and loans $2billion to Petrobras. Last stop, at the 12 o'clock position, "Petrobras shareholders get rich. We're back at the beginning, shareholders get rich. You getting screwed." Not so fast, there, cowboy.

Now for the facts. The undergarment wearing bloggers at Media Matters pointed out that the loan was "approved by Bush-appointed bank board. As noted in September 2009, the "bogus" claim that Obama "loan[ed] $2 billion to Petrobras" can be traced to an email that was circulating at the time. FactCheck called the claim "bogus," noting that the Export-Import Bank of the United States approved a "preliminary commitment" to Brazil to finance "their purchases of U.S. equipment, products and services." At the time, "the Bank's Board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by George W. Bush."

The other false claim has to do with Soros position in Petrobras.  Beck summarized the timeline, "Billionaire dumps money in Brazilian oil company; days later the American administration dumps $2 billion in the exact same company. What are the odds Gilligan?

However, from

The message claims that George Soros would "benefit most" from the loan, but that is also a baseless accusation. Soros is a favorite whipping boy of conservatives because of his early financial help to the liberal group And he is indeed a major investor in Petrobras, through his New York-based hedge-fund firm, Soros Fund Management LLC. But the hedge fund recently sold 22 million shares of common stock in the company (which carry voting rights) while buying 5.8 million shares of preferred stock (which is non-voting.) As reported by Bloomberg News, Soros reduced his stake in the company before any of the Ex-Im Bank's promised loan has been dispensed. 
There are plenty of people who watch Beck and believe that he knows what he's talking about. Time and time again, it's made clear that it's just not the case. Beck is the blind leading the blind in their furious rage against shadows, crimes that aren't crimes and vast conspiracies that just do not exist.

Now that's entertainment; but it's also just nonsense.

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