Saturday, September 19, 2009

Glenn Beck and The New American Idiocratic elite.

Hi everyone,

Glenn Beck only, finally, got my attention once I'd read something he'd actually written. Makes me a dinosaur in the age of McLuhan but, strangely, I feel pretty good about it. Anyway, I initially thought Beck was just a mouthpiece for his owners' party line, but it turns out things are worse. He's what Augustine would have called incorrigibly ignorant.

And thus, we can start to see the outlines of our new idiotcratic elite: King Rush and Beck as Court monkey.

Saturday's column.

Missing ‘Common Sense’

The New American Idiocracy and its elite skip over key parts of Paine’s wisdom

While watching Congressman Wilson indulge his inner Draco Malfoy during the President’s speech to Congress, I wondered whether common sense had simply failed here in America. Maybe PT Barnum was right about us; maybe “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Forty-one percent of Americans believed in the death panel nonsense. Twenty-five percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution. Twenty-five percent believe in astrology. Two full years after the Sept. 11 attacks, a USA Today poll found 70 percent of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was responsible. Not encouraging.

Worse. A lot of Americans, right now, believe Glenn Beck understands “Common Sense.”

Glenn Beck has been a very naughty boy. He complains that Obama’s stay-in-school speech to students is “indoctrination” because, in his universe, urging kids to stay in school, do their homework, and study hard to become productive members of society is the sort of ideological proselytizing no American should have to hear. He’s been busy calling the president a racist and, more recently, Swiftboating members of the current administration: the first one an African American, the most recent one Jewish.

It’s his job.

I initially thought Beck was just a true-believing lock-stepping Moonie shill for his bosses at Murdoch’s News Corporation and thus, merely stupid, but last week I had the misfortune to read his recent pamphlet. It’s appended to the front of Tom Paine’s revolutionary classic “Common Sense.” I assume the editor stuck them together to lend Beck’s refrigerator-door finger-painting the appearance of, for lack of a better word, competence.

Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Tom Paine.

Beck claims that the solution to our political woes is for America to return to moral virtue as a guiding principle. Sounds good, if you don’t think about it too deeply.

Unfortunately for Beck, about three pages into “Common Sense,” Tom Paine writes this: “Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.”

Let’s read that again: Paine says the rise of government is rendered necessary by “the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.”

Paine understood full well, as did the Founders, that you cannot rely on “moral virtue” to govern the world because everyone has a different idea of what moral virtue is.

The voices we have to listen to in order to create a just society and a responsible government are not those shrieking about “moral virtue,” soaked as they are in the kerosene of human fear, but to the voices of reason. Reasoning, I might add, is a lot more work. Sorry about that.

Anyway, why would Beck do something this stupid? I have two hypotheses: 1) he doesn’t care so long as the money rolls in and 2) he knows most of his readers will endure about one paragraph of Paine’s 18th century prose and fall asleep before they realize Beck doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

The reality, of course, is that my little crumbs of criticism hardly matter for, even though Beck doesn’t understand a lick of “Common Sense,” his book is a big best-seller. When a fundamentally flawed understanding of one of the most important texts in American history can stand in for thoughtful political insight and make money, PT Barnum starts to look like a genius. When we’re willing to believe anything, anything stupid can happen.

For instance: last week, when the president addressed the nation’s school children – as Presidents Bush and Reagan had before him – our local school district had to send out an e-mail to quell rumors that children would be dressed in Obama t-shirts, Obama masks and forced to participate in some kind of Obama Indoctrination Day celebration.

What’s even more interesting than the fact that someone, maliciously, started this rumor, is that so many people believed it – enough people, in fact, that their complaints kept local school kids from hearing the president of the United States tell them to work hard and stay in school. Some of these people, no doubt, embody the contradictions in Glenn Beck’s version of “Common Sense.” Fortunately, there is an American political theorist more insightful and relevant than Glenn Beck, who summarizes perfectly our predicament with regard to the enemies of good government and common sense. It’s the 1930s Sunday cartoons character Pogo, of course, whose most famous maxim carries the most common sense of all: “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”

Although, more and more, I'm thinkin' not ALL of us.



Kevin Scheunemann said...

"inner Draco Malfoy"

That's loaded name calling. Kudos for creativity.

So let me get this staight: Joe Wilson deserves to be vilified for actually catching the President in a complete whopper of a lie, simply because he lacked decorum (which I'll agree with BTW)


Radical left wing ACORN can continues to fleece taxpayers with highly illegal and fraudulent activity with barely a mention---thats OK?

Anonymous said...

I've tried to watch Glenn Beck. After a few minuets, I'm so nauseated I just can't anymore. According to "Roberts Rules of Order" Rep. Joe Wilson was out of order. He must have thought he was at a staged town hall meeting the teabaggers, 9-12's, truthers, etc. trashed. Anyway, the appropriate time for the rebuttal was the Republican response that followed President Obama's speech. Rep. Wilson didn't give the response, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)did. A doctor himself. Boustany was actually one of the House members to propose the creation of Sarah Palin’s infamous “death panels.” He is a co-sponsor of the bill that would enable Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling (section 1233 of House Bill 3200), and he has explicitly defended the bill. Last month he explained that these counseling sessions between doctors and patients are “good medical practice” and insisted again that these services be provided: “This happens every day, multiple times, in hospitals across the country. It's a very important issue.” That whopper of a lie? The reasons we sent our children to Iraq to war of a past president ring in my ears. Reasons that caused 4316 American dead as of June of this year. Estimates of Iraq deaths very from 110,00 to 1,033,000. Larry T.

Quetsch said...

There was that poem in Pogo... Quoting from memory, I may be changing a few words:

If we should climb the highest steeple
And take a look at all the people
And shoot the ones not wholly good
As we, noble shooters, should,
Then there would be one problem still:
Who would there be left to kill
->> US <<- ?

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin City Was Unwitting Birthplace Of 'Death Panel' Myth
07 Sep 2009

A Wisconsin city has a pioneering program with Medicare reimbursements, which has essentially made it the birthplace of the "death panel" myth. The Washington Post reports on La Crosse: "This city often shows up on 'best places to live' lists, but residents say it is also a good place to die -- which is how it landed in the center of a controversy that almost derailed health-care reform this summer."

Other Side said...

Radical left wing ACORN can continues to fleece taxpayers with highly illegal and fraudulent activity with barely a mention---thats OK?

Er, what does this have to do with Joe Wilson's breach of decorum, or Glenn Beck for that matter?

And, your statement about ACORN is just plain inaccurate.

Kevin Scheunemann said...

"Other side"

If you cannot admit ACORN is a corrupt organization, we live in completely different worlds as to what government corruption means...

I don't believe politicians should hand out money to people breaking the law and advocating child prostitution.

If that is not government corruption, then literally nothing is.

You can probably stop obsessing about anything the previous administration did if "ACORN is just dandy".

apc said...

Mr. Scheunemann, At times during the course of various campaigns last year, I defended ACORN, and I feel pretty foolish now for having done so, although in fairness, I was defending their voter registration programs, which promptly fired people who turned in bogus voter apps. I don't think many of us defending ACORN were even aware of some of their other functions. I know I wasn't.

On the other hand, you're defending Joe Wilson for "catching the President in a complete whopper of a lie." There was no lie, other than Wilson's. His idiotic outburst came when the president pointed out that no one in the country illegally would be covered. This was in fact the absolute truth, not a "complete whopper of a lie."

And Other Side is right. ACORN has absolutely nothing to do with the lie that Joe Wilson blurted out. That's right, Joe Wilson was lying, not President Obama. I don't normally like to feed nincompoopery, but your allegation that the president and not Joe Wilson was the liar was just too much for me to take.

Anonymous said...

We needed to get ACORN into a discussion about Glenn Beck didn't we? The Department of Justice, inspector general is planning a investigation into ACORN. President Obama is calling for an investigation into ACORN. There is bi partisan support to end all funding to ACORN in Congress. More than a dozen state and local authorities are also scrutinizing ACORN, including Maryland's attorney general. This is how a democracy works. Now, if the neo cons would demand a investigations into Xe, the company formally known as Blackwater. Just what does Xe mean anyway? Larry T

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark, take a look at this gem on YouTube. Glenn Beck hasn't gotten better with age...

Larry T

Mpeterson said...


Xe means "Keep funneling taxpayer dollars to us Mr. Cheney and we'll keep making sure your friends get elected."

Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck get the key to his hometown. Aaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Larry T.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This clown needs a red nose.

Larry T