Search This Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Deconstructing Glenn Beck

From the July 27 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: Clarence Thomas. Clarence Thomas. That's what the Contract with America was -- I mean, that's what it was about? Really? Hmm. I completely missed that.
Now, he's got friends that say things like that. There's his friend. There's Barack Obama's good friend that says things like that, and he has some really, really extra special friends, also.

Well, deconstructing Glenn Beck is almost surreal here. We all know that he is about to do a high tech lynching of an uppity nizzle that just happens to be the President. Otherwise, why would he allude to Clarence Thomas? It’s odd really, in 1991 a conservative black being attacked for sexual harassment charges while he was at the EEOC during his supreme court confirmation hearing. This does not appear to be either a bigoted, or politically biased, positon taken by the Democrats in the Senate. This irrational start is only prelude. The only other real parallel here is that both are successful men black. So perhaps his point, or his cover, is that the Democrats attack black men too.

MICHELLE OBAMA [video clip]: For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.

So she is proud of the involvement of people in the political process, unlike the apathy and defeatism of the past 40 years. I can see that she is black. Does that shade the meaning of her words somehow? Isn’t it more instructive that as a child she was proud of the political involvement she saw? The mood changed with the assassinations ending with that of MLK, but she did not say that.

BECK: We have demonstrated President Obama's desire for racial justice. But how is he setting out to achieve it? Exactly the way a community organizer would: through intimidation, vilification, bullying, a system, an underground shell game.
Look how he has handled different things. Gates -- he calls the cops stupid and racist before he admits, he says, "I don't know all of the facts." But he jumps to the conclusion that the cops are racist.

I am quite dumbfounded that so few can see that Glenn Beck’s rhetorical style is full of intimidation, vilification, bullying and the posing of arguments that are a shell game of fallacies, but then he would say he is not the President or a Senator. So that makes it all OK because he only talks to millions of people daily. It is OK that he rallies hate, fear and war mongers and promotes power, money and glory hoarders through his bigoted millennial paranoia.

Maybe I overstate the case, but stupid acts don’t make you stupid, nor does jumping to conclusions make you a racist. Otherwise, Glenn Beck would have been dismissed as a stupid racist long since. The President did act rashly by not suggesting that the cops appeared to be jumping to conclusions that made their acts appear stupid. This is a slip that Glenn Beck makes with every other sentence.

BECK: Health care -- oh, those evil, greedy doctors that are ripping tonsils out at will. And it's also no longer about access -- universal access. It's about preferential access.

In a free country with a democracy even the socialists and communists have a voice. Our constitution allows for every one to speak. It does not allow you to be a fear monger and yell fire in a crowded teatre. Facts, real facts, do not name call, do not appeal to fear, emotion, authority, past practice, popularity, patriotism or any other fallacy. Appeals are the hucksters trade. I do not want snake oil. I want universal health care like every other modern nation in the world enjoys. I want a government not afraid to stand up to the tyranny of small shallow minds. I want a government that stands for real values, not slogans, sound bits, and video clips, which are the hobgobins of little minds.

Glenn Beck needs to be dismissed. Especially considering his most insidious of all liar's tools, guilt by association, that is his, and all the little minds at FOX, most popular fallacy.

BECK: His green policies -- it's easy to say he wants to bankrupt the evil, earth-killing coal industry. But now he's got a czar who's a self-avowed communist to make sure that it happens. Our president is not just bankrupting our country; he is fundamentally transforming it as he promised, and he is doing it to the core.

So what happened to freedom to think? I see Glenn Beck’s thought completely bankrupt here? The coal companies are not evil and earth killing, but the people that run them that think like Glenn Beck could indeed be evil. In the past the coal companies surely were so. If you don’t work to make your workplace and product safe until people die, then you are evil. If you don’t work for your investors to find valid alternatives when you know you are going down a slippery slope, then you are evil. However, this does not necessarily currently apply to any of the coal companies that Barack Obama appeared in advertising for, promoting the possibilities of clean coal.

If we nationalized the energy and transportation grids and redistributed 300 million shares to the people would that be socialism, communism or a democratized capitalism? Would that be evil? Talk to the Appalachian population about their B & O taxes and see if they wouldn’t prefer that model.

BECK: In the next few years, I promise you, America will look more like ACORN in structure and less than anything that our founders had in mind. Obama handles every issue like a community organizer would, and he wants to create a civilian army.
Anybody remember this from the campaign? A civilian army in the form of community organizers, more well -- I'm quoting him -- "more well- funded than the military." Last year, he said, and I quote, "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we have set. We have got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, and just as well-funded. You gotta be kidding me. If you want a government-funded civilian army of ACORNs, well, you're gonna be a happy camper very soon if America keeps sleeping.

Community action organizations are just that, they organize the community to get involved in the process instead of sitting back hopelessly and helplessly getting told by the backers of the likes of Glenn Beck that they should buy gold and prepare for the apocalypse. The apocalypse his backers fear is that someone might wake up and see that we don’t have to be slaves to the marketplace of war, fear and hate which help make us a country of self centered narcissists interested more in our appearance than the welfare of our neighbors. If you don’t see the logic in this, then just picture any professional wrestling star as you look in the mirror saying, “consumer patriot” five times.

BECK: Keith Ablow is here. He is a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor.
Keith, am I jumping the gun here? I just see this ACORN thing and also the thing at the White House as a sign. This guy has real issues with race, real issues.
ABLOW: Unfortunately -- and I really mean it, Glenn -- unfortunately, I have to agree with you. I don't think you're jumping the gun. Americans had as their fondest hope and prayer, I think, that they were electing a colorblind president who could embrace everyone equally. I think that was the hope. I think it was the hope -- more than some of his policies -- that here was a man who could treat everyone equally.

You mean like universal health care and rights for gays?

ABLOW: Instead, I think we get a transparent president, in this case, whose feelings about white America are coming forward again.

BECK: Yeah.

ABLOW: And I don't know -- listen. As a psychiatrist, I'm trained to look at facts and say what fits and what doesn't, what's a theory that can hold water as to someone's personality and nature. You have someone who sat in a church with a pastor who called white people the devil, whose wife has not been proud of this country in her adult life until quite recently, who calls a Cambridge police sergeant stupid without knowing the facts, and whose friends are community organizers with questionable pasts.

Sad fact is that psychiatrists are not trained to look at facts. Psychiatry is a practice. A practice that revolves around the notion that people that cause a problem, have a problem and the cure is to agree with the psychiatrist. Yes, exposure to radical notions like those expressed on FOX News day in and day out could brainwash a person, but that does not mean it will.

ABLOW: And so, you add all that up, and say, look –
Questionable pasts? You mean like Glenn Beck's? One that might make him a poster child for the need to things to be black and white because his past impulse control issues leading to his need for structure and control at all times. This would also explain his choice of religious affiliation matching his worldview and his frequent shows of bigotry.
BECK: Questionable pasts?

I will not commit the fallacy here of 'look at you, you are one to talk'. The fact is that the past leads people to decisions. It does not determine them. Those decisions do influence your actions, but again, they do not determine them. It is only when you remain stubbornly blind to your past decisions and remain unaware of your own biases do you let them control you. The most affected by this lack of introspection appears to be Glenn Beck and Doctor Keith Ablow.

ABLOW: -- there's more than an apology necessary here. This is a question of introspection. The president needs to look at himself and say, "Do I have prejudice that I wasn't even aware of, perhaps, toward white people?"

Physician heal thyself.

BECK: Well, he's not -- you know what? He's not going to do that. I think he's one of the more arrogant people I have ever witnessed in the office. I mean, I -- I don't think he is -- this man has absolutely no fear, and no fear of the American people -- no fear in a good way, like as in fear God. No fear for the office of the presidency of the United States.

This arrogance appears to be a projection much like the rest of what Glenn Beck has to say.

Why President Obama Deserves the Nobel Prize

The creator of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was not a war profiteer except in the minds of those that don't read history. The perception that he was lead to his creation of the Nobel prizes. He created the Peace Prize as an act of atonement for that which was yet to be done in his name. The Nobel Peace Prize was the most nebulous of the five prizes created and from his last will and testament was to be for those that during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
The world is filled with hate, fear, hopeless and helplessness. T here are those that would profit from this by making war, creating more hate, fear, hopelessness and helplessness and thereby making more profit. So we must not forget Theodore Roosevelt’s words as he accepted the 1906 Nobel Peace prize:
There is at least as much need to curb the cruel greed and arrogance of part of the world of capital, to curb the cruel greed and violence of part of the world of labor, as to check a cruel and unhealthy militarism in international relationships.
These were no idle words from a Liberal Republican that would become a Progressive. He would go on to say:
No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.
Elihu Root, Republican defender of the robber barons and Peace Prize winner of 1912, also found atonement in arbitrating peace after profiting from defending theft:
The humanitarian purpose of Alfred Nobel in establishing the peace prize which bears his name was doubtless not merely to reward those who should promote peace among nations, but to stimulate thought upon the means and methods best adapted, under the changing conditions of future years, to approach and ultimately attain the end he so much desired.
The first Democrat to be the benefactor of the Progressive Era, was the Conservative * Woodrow Wilson, the 1919 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He commented on the peculiar grouping of prizes thusly:
There is indeed a peculiar fitness in the grouping of these Nobel rewards. The cause of peace and the cause of truth are of one family. Even as those who love science and devote their lives to physics or chemistry, even as those who would create new and higher ideals for mankind in literature, even so with those who love peace, there is no limit set. Whatever has been accomplished in the past is petty compared to the glory and promise of the future.
What is most notable about these three highly successful men who fought long for the common man is that they were awarded the Peace Prize for a single meager attempt at sustained peace, although frequently they achieved larger victories otherwise, ultimately they failed to prevent the two world wars. The small accomplishment of the year prior to the prize is its rationale and only shows an expression of the winner’s intent to achieve peace. It was an intent that shaped each of their life’s work from that day forward.
It is with these thoughts that I measure the Peace Prize that was won by President Obama. Alfred Nobel established it to atone for his perceived wrongs that he had not committed, but the future surely would commit. Each winner through one or a few small deeds in the prior year backed by a lifetime of thought and speech changed the temper of their times, each turned to the plight of the common man and ultimately to peace to give back what was so bountiful in their life, each was involved in war as much as they were involved in peace, each was as much a thinker as a doer, each may share Nobel’s intent to atone for perceived wrongs beyond what can reasonably be expected. Such is the character of a Peace Prize winner; such is the character of each American that has won the prize. I am proud of our country as the beacon on the hill that all look up to and most proud when we earn it.
For a look from the other side you might want to click here.
* Note that in the election of 1912 of the three candidates running Theodore Roosevelt was considered a socially liberal Progressive and was mostly Republican in regard to being a hawk on the war, whereas Woodrow Wilson came from a Conservative Southern Democratic background and was a social conservative, who happened to have some progressive ideas. Of the two, todays liberals would consider Theodore Roosevelt more of a liberal and Woodrow Wilson more of a bigot.

The Nobel Peace Prize, The Excluded Middle & Not Glenn Beck

Aristotle said that people are political animals, that is to say they are social animals. The recent Rasmussen Reports: on whether the President deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and whether it is political is an absurd poll. The poll itself was obviously done only for political purposes and the questions reflect that purpose. If we asked how many people believed in aliens and then asked if those aliens where likely to backing a Right Wing or a Left Wing agenda would have similar results. We could substitute any random idea for aliens here, but aliens will do. The real point here is that the idea that the prize is politically motivated has always been true. What hasn’t always been true is that political motivation was not always a dirty word meaning that there was a hidden partisan agenda behind the selection. A valid visible political motivation would include that he deserved it due his attempts to change the world’s view on peace itself. This can be seen by his acceptance speech, which has now disenchanted the Left as much as his nomination disenchanted the Right.
The reason that such distinctions are important is that they illustrate an alarming trend in thought in this country. What is wrong with the poll is not the questions it contains, but the questions/options that are missing. It includes no middle ground, no alternative options. The question of the political role in the prizes can be presumed to have one connotative meaning and imply that the only alternatives are that it is rigged or not rigged. The answer that it is rigged flies in the face of it being considered the most prestigious award that can be given. So one of my premises must be wrong or the law of the excluded middle is wrong. The premise that people that think the prize is political, meaning it is biased, is flawed. The implication that it is connotatively construed as bad does not hold unless we would consider that people are paying more attention, think it more prestigious, yet think it is biased. Some would actually have you entertain this as true even though they don't know the difference between Republican Theodore Roosevelt and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt.
So let us consider the idea that the political motivation is a bias toward the left. The oft-quoted error is that there was no Republican president that has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Theodore Roosevelt was a liberal Republican President that won the prize and became Progressive after the disenchantment of his party with him. The progressive roots of the Republican party run deep from its inception and those roots have been lopped off each time they looked south, Woodrow Wilson was a conservative Democrat that had some progressive ideas which emerged as he abandoned his Southern roots. Nothing is black or white. The error in thinking is the same as in the poll. It is the fallacy of the excluded middle.