Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beck frames voter's choice as progress vs. "Homer Simpson"

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On his Fox show of September 14th, Glenn Beck framed the choice voters have this November in stark contrast. Watch this lengthy clip:

After this segment, Beck, as he continued his "line" of "Friots," he made the case that the riots were coming not because our children were being protected or restaurants were no longer going to list toxic food on their menus. No, he pointed to the European Communists who were engaged in a small percentage of the violence that he documented in Europe lately. That's not a line of analysis; that's a jump of subject matter. That would be two different lines. As Homer Simpson would say, "D'OH!"

For someone reading this without any understanding of who Homer Simpson is, welcome to Planet Earth. The Simpsons are a cartoon family, the creation of Matt Groening. Homer is the father, a pathetically stupid alcoholic, husband of Marge and father of three children. He works at a nuclear power plant that is owned by a greedy and unscrupulous man, Mr. Burns.

Beck also claimed that the financial crises in European states is due to the "Cloward and Piven" theory demonstrating again, that he does not understand the argument that Cloward and Piven were making in 1966.  It did make for some convincing and exciting propaganda though. Supporters of Beck, who believe that he is on to some unique understanding about Cloward and Piven, need to understand how Beck misuses their theory routinely. In this show Beck argues that the financial crisis of modern states will lead to a global government. That's not a mere misunderstanding of C and P's theory, it's an utter transformation of it. This is Glenn Beck's theory; Cloward and Piven's argument had nothing to do with the creation of a new layer of government. Like many things that come from Beck's mouth, including "facts," Beck's line of "Friots" is absurd. Entertaining, but absurd.

Another absurd and deceitful point Beck made in this choice was the notion that the Democrats or the President believe that the free market is bad. During a speech on August 18th this year, Obama said, "I want business in this country to succeed. The free market -- the free market is the greatest wealth producer in our history. We were built on entrepreneurship and private enterprise. And if you are a responsible business owner, I will do everything I can to help you grow and prosper and hire more employees."(1)  Beck's framing of this choice was deceitful, but that is not unusual.

A different framing of this choice Beck contrasted is offered below, but first a progressive perspective is provided by Bill Maher in this brief clip that was republished by Mediaite:

Maher's notion that people (voters) would hand the government over to those who want to apply leeches to our problems is apropos to Beck's and the Tea Party's ideas of rejecting all government solutions to the country's problem. However, the choice voters face are not all the same. Beck and Maher's choices apply where the American people are choosing a Democrat or a reactionary, Tea Party Republican. Where the choice is between a Democrat and a conservative Republican, a more appropriate notion would be returning to the doctor who misdiagnosed you for the last 30 years after his "medicine" almost killed you.

Treatment by leeches, going back to the old doctor because your improvement is not fast enough (after 30 years of mistreatment) or sticking with the new doctor who is providing gradual recuperation: those are the choices most voters have this year. Tea Party Republicans will complain that they're not applying leeches to the economy, but (to use the President's framing of this debate) it is getting the car out of the ditch and then handing the car keys to Mr. Burns! Homer Simpson's boss is the perfect symbol to help frame the Tea Party's political economy. (He is not real, but it works in Glenn Beck's unreal world.)

Beck argues that government is the problem, but if it were not for government's response under both Bush (TARP) and Obama (the stimulus package), the economy would be in much worse shape than it's in. However, when people are hurting, it's tough to run a campaign on "what if" even if the experts do say that the stimulus package "reduced our pain." 

the Homer Simpson of commentators

If Glenn Beck wants to shove burgers and fries down his gullet and feed McDonald's fast food to his family, nobody is stopping him. The fact is obesity is a national health problem, but for Beck, no problem is too big to ignore. That is the Libertarian/reactionary belief system. It seems that Beck craves the poisons of corporate America. He is what he eats.

In this segment, it seems that Beck is pushing the "Homer Simpsons" to riot. Beck's legions of followers can't have their obsolete and inefficient incandescent light bulbs, so break out the riot gear. Gasoline cars may become - need to become - a dated form of transportation, so march on Washington to protect the petroleum industry. (The Koch brothers will pay for the buses.)

Mr. Burns is the Man who shoves "Homer Simpson!" Beck didn't understand: by saying that, he undermined the entire Libertarian, small-government argument against government protections. The purpose of government is to protect the public interest (security, liberty and justice), and it's precisely people like Mr. Burns that threaten the public interest.

One of many books Beck is turning into required reading is Sunstein's Nudge. One take on it that should not be taken seriously is Glenn Beck's. His reactionary and ignorant (uneducated) perspective will nudge or shade his understanding, his orange truth, of what is written. Beck's ongoing assault on Cass Sunstein as "the most dangerous man in America" has been analyzed previously,  is one not shared by actual conservatives.

Conservatives have repeatedly praised Sunstein(2)

Instapundit's Reynolds: Sunstein is "an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country." In a May 1, 2009, post, conservative blogger and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds wrote of Sunstein's nomination to serve as the head of OIRA:
I've known Sunstein for a while -- in fact, my first introduction to Barack Obama was when he guest-blogged for me -- and while he and I disagree on plenty, I think he's an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country. Since I'm not going to get someone who agrees with me about everything from the Obama Administration (heck, I didn't get that from the Bush Administration) that ought to be enough, and I think that efforts to block his appointment are both unfair and not very smart. If they succeed, he'll be replaced by someone whose views are probably farther to the left (or at least more partisan and pliable), and who will almost certainly be less admirable and honest.
Volokh: "Sunstein is brilliant, thoughtful." In a January 8, 2009, post headlined "Volokh Conspiracy Guest-Blogger Nominated to High Government Office," libertarian law professor Eugene Volokh wrote:
Well, OK, his guest-blogging isn't what he's famous for, but allow me to be parochial here, and point to Cass Sunstein's posts from last year. I agree with Todd Zywicki that Sunstein is an excellent choice. Sunstein is brilliant, thoughtful, and ideologically probably as good as libertarianish/conservativish people like me can hope for from the new administration.
WSJ editorial board: Sunstein "brings important qualifications"; Obama "has made a savvy choice." In a January 10, 2009, editorial, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote:
We still don't know much about how Barack Obama plans to overhaul our financial regulatory system, but his reported appointment of Cass Sunstein to an important post is a promising sign.
Mr. Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School, is no conservative -- far from it. But his writings on regulation and the herd mentality deserve a voice in the incoming Administration. From his new post as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs inside the White House, he would have an opportunity to put into practice some of the ideas he has written about as an academic.
Odds are that you've never heard of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, but it plays a central role within the executive branch in vetting regulatory proposals. Mr. Sunstein brings important qualifications to that role, and Mr. Obama has made a savvy choice in putting him there.
Former Bush Solicitor General Olson: "I respect him enormously." In a September 11, 2009, post, writer Tim Mak reported that former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson said of Sunstein:
"Cass is one of the most brilliant, creative and productive lawyers I have ever known, and a true gentleman. I respect him enormously."
Former AEI president DeMuth: "[I]t is a shame that his appointment as President Obama's regulatory chief has been delayed for so long." Mak also reported in his September 11, 2009, post:
One of the conservative experts on regulation who knows Sunstein best is past American Enterprise Institute President Christopher Demuth. In an email to NewMajority, DeMuth wrote in praise of the Sunstein selection: "[Sunstein] has publicly and privately supported the most high-profile conservative judicial nominees in recent years, and it is a shame that his appointment as President Obama's regulatory chief has been delayed for so long."
These conservative views of Sunstein show in stark contrast just how far out of the mainstream Glenn Beck and his supposed 30,000,000 followers are. Beck isn't the most dangerous man in America, but he may have the worst judgement of anyone on television besides, perhaps, the hosts and participants of "Jack-Ass."

In conclusion, voters are faced with a choice this year. Either the American people give the President's party more time to get the badly damaged economy back onto firm ground and on the road to sustainable growth, or we will have a grid-locked government, something that the Republicans want. As Beck said in this segment, "People can be stupid and greedy, but they figure it out." Do American voters want to hand the reigns of government to the "stupid and greedy" Mr. Burns and his ilk and hope that they eventually "figure it out?" Really?

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2) Media Matters for America May 27, 2010.