A Close Eye

The excellent digby links to a Glenn Beck idiocy and asks:

If you haven't seen this yet, take a look. And then tell me this guy isn't somebody we should keep a close eye on.

Well, Digby and everyone can keep a close eye on whomever they want but, Beck is not even a trivial character with regard to what the policy of our government will be. Hell, Beck is not even Dobbs influential, much less Limbaugh. And to be clear, I think neither of those "comedians" matters either.

I'll concentrate on what's happening in Washington - the problems are too big to think about anything else right now imo.

Speaking for me only

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    I think the people most worried (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:50:55 PM EST
    are thoughtful republicans.  as they should be.

    Extremist rhetoric won't rebuild GOP

    Watching Fox News' new sensation Glenn Beck is not for the faint of heart. It is a disquieting entree into the feverish mind of a conspiracy theorist who believes, among other things, that the government wants to remotely control our thermostats, that the relaxing of the ban on stem cell research -- as well as efforts to prevent global warming -- is reminiscent of Nazism, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be setting up concentration camps and, finally, that the country is on the path to socialism or possibly fascism but definitely some "-ism" that should be avoided.

    and she is right about his ratings (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:52:30 PM EST
    being through the roof.  it is very troubling.

    Relative roofs (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:19:56 PM EST
    O'Reilly at his best get 3 million viewers. Beck gets what?

    for a new show (none / 0) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:22:32 PM EST
    he isnt doing badly:

    "Glenn Beck's Show Averaages 2.2 Million Viewers - Brings Fox News Back From Dead"

    and the fact that he has any is troubling.


    The fact he is on TV is troubling (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:23:53 PM EST
    but not worth "keeping a close eye on" imo.

    But to each his own.

    Crazy nutters like Beck have been around forever.


    that is true of course (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:25:05 PM EST
    but have you ever actually watched him?  I honestly think he is taking it to a new level.

    this is a serious question (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:54:04 PM EST
    even though it will sound like snark. How do you keep from hating the people that like to watch that guy? Not the ones 'keeping an eye on him', like Digby, but the ones that really watch him for either news or entertainment. I have to work with some of these people, and I cannt maintain any respect for them once I hear them start praising Beck and Limbaugh.

     I agree with BTD that they are not a serious threat to governance, but they sure are a royal pain to me every day.


    I would suggest working on your (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 09:50:56 PM EST
    ability to feel sorry for people who have so ceded their ability to think and reason that they can fall under the sway of someone like Beck or Limbaugh or O'Reilly; think of them as pod people, perhaps.

    Where the Becks and Limbaughs affect governance is when these non-thinking ciphers march to the voting booth to express whatever it is they have been programmed to do.

    I am convinced that the one thing our schools are lacking is an emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills - with all the emphasis on passing mandatory tests, gobbling up facts and figures in order to properly fill in the bubbles on standardized tests, critical thinking is a dying skill.  And the loss of that skill is beginning to be felt in so many areas of our lives.


    Your last paragraph about what (none / 0) (#49)
    by hairspray on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 10:52:00 PM EST
    hapened to critical thinking skills is right on.  I am not sure however, that I wouldn't implicate the TV and materialistic consumption of things like "game-boy" and the "shootum ups" on video games more than school.  I watched one of my grandsons "fighting WWII" on his video game for a long time.  What this taught him, you can guess.  Until we get the consumption/materialistic mindsets back down to a minor level in the lives of our children, I am afraid they young we count on to lead our country will be like the Obamabots we have seen this last year.

    I don't think Digby is suggesting ... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Demi Moaned on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:53:36 PM EST
    that Beck or his ilk are or will be influential
    with regard to what the policy of our government will be.

    The danger of such people is their ability to foment violent civil unrest. I think the risk is genuine, especially if our economic troubles worsen.

    Foment civil unrest (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:19:22 PM EST
    Well to me that is just plain silly.

    Well, last Saturday morning you weren't on (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:37:53 PM EST
    the phone with a relative residing in Pittsburgh, listening to the sound of automatic weapons fire coming from nearby in the neighborhood and explaining that "no, it's a semi-automatic weapon;  that means he has to pull the trigger each time a bullet comes out.  He just has a fast index finger.  Stay inside and away from the windows, OK?"

    Nor, for that matter, were you last spring the recipient of an NRA-sponsored push poll which set about planting the idea - in no uncertain terms - that "liberal Barack Obama will limit your ability to buy guns and take away your gun rights."

    As to both of these, I was.

    Beck is a public menace.  He is spouting false, misleading and malicious propaganda designed to do one thing:  create a mindset in the weak-minded plebs who watch him that Obama is going to take their guns and the only way to deal with it is to preemptively lash out in violence (in thought, word or deed) against this threat.  Beck's script tracks closely to the pre-election propaganda and reinforces it.  To see how effective it and he have been, all one has to do is look at the spike in gun and ammunition sales since it became clear Obama would win.

    Ironically (or maybe not so ironically) the result of the pot-stirring Beck and his colleagues have undertaken is to make exactly the kind of regulation, restriction and confiscation more likely.  This, by the natural, predictable and anticipated reaction - revulsion - against guns and gun owners in the aftermath of a full half-dozen mass shootings (in the US alone*) since March 10.  

    The idea that Beck and his ilk are fomenting civil unrest may be "silly" to you, but I suggest it's only "silly" because of a lack of carefully thinking it through.  The wingnuts know, in the aftermath of the debacles they created,  that the only way they can make themselves competitive in regaining power is to make the country ungovernable and then blame it on Obama.  That is the underlying motivation here.


    *  I am aware of 3 more in Germany since then - the Badische teenager who massacred a bunch of people, a Bavarian guy who shot up a courtroom (they do not have metal detectors in their courthouses) the other day, and another guy who shot his family and himself.  The first two involved licensed, legal weapons and the last, the guy had applied for his license but couldn't wait.  In Germany, guns are seriously regulated - more than the most stringent state in the US.


    Well (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:42:23 PM EST
    Tell me how Beck "made" the guy do it?

    Was it the same way Marilyn Manson made the Colombine killers do it?


    What he does is (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:50:26 PM EST
    create a mindset in the weak-minded plebs who watch him that Obama is going to take their guns and the only way to deal with it is to preemptively lash out in violence (in thought, word or deed) against this threat.  

    He's a propagandist, pure and simple.  That's what propagandists do - persuade and create a mental/emotional environment in their listeners/viewers such that atrocities such as took place in Pittsburgh are seen, by the perp, as not only justifiable but justified and not only rationalizable, but rational.


    Sorry (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:53:20 PM EST
    I am not buying that Beck is the reason for what happened in Pittsburgh.

    Not "The" (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:06:12 PM EST
    but "a" reason.

    Do you also (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:22:20 PM EST
    dismiss connections between Hate Radio, The Turner Diaries and the OKC bombing- I mean there's no clear link there either but again there's a rather clear realationship- I guess the left wing equivalent would be the store riot which occured in Harlem in I believe the late 1980s.

    Connections? (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:51:39 PM EST
    Why would I dismiss connections? I dismiss CAUSALITY.

    It was mental illness, period! (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by JoeCHI on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:49:46 PM EST
    The civil rights movement didn't make Charles Manson a murderer.  Mental illness did.

    Jody Foster didn't make Hinkley an attempted murderer.  Mental illness did.

    Further, I don't like the way the left is attempting to use this tragedy in an attempt to silence Obama's critics any more than I liked Bush using 9/11 to silence his critics.

    If anything, the left should be making the argument as to why we need comprehensive health care so that the mentally ill can get the help that they need.


    48 Deaths in Last Month (none / 0) (#26)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:44:14 PM EST
    Seems like a surge of crazies is happening to me. Not sure about the reason, although the gloom and doom of economy may have the most to do, as well as the change in leadership from R to D.

    A US black president has upset some psychos as well.

    If anything Beck et al are popular because of the nut cases rather than the other way around, imo.


    "Not sure about the reason" (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:46:38 PM EST
    Precisely my point.

    Take the Binghamton shooting for instance. Clearly no one is attributing that to Beck?


    Perhaps (none / 0) (#45)
    by robert72 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 07:49:25 PM EST
    you can rationalize the 40(? I've lost count) drug related shootings in quiet Vancouver, BC, so far this year? No talk radio, no left or right bias, just plain violence.
    And, don't forget, there are lots of leftie crazies, too. Listen to Olbermann, if you can stand it. He is just as crazy as Beck - who is very crazy.

    did you check out the Boehlert piece (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:24:09 PM EST
    Digby linked to?

    Nope (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:36:48 PM EST
    What did he say that would change my view on this?

    Read it (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:45:13 PM EST
    Not convinced.

    A lot of Marilyn Manson-like blame it seems to me.


    Well, that's the concern (none / 0) (#19)
    by Demi Moaned on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:30:15 PM EST
    I certainly expect we'll see more of these gun rampages in the coming months and years. It doesn't take a huge increase in the frequency of them to have a big effect on civil society.

    i think the worry (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 04:57:05 PM EST
    is less about effective political influence and more about the fact that it only takes a couple nuts some fertilizer and some fuel to scar this country, and Beck has a bigger platform for more paranoid views than anyone but Limbaugh (Beck's views are far less lucid). I'm almost certain that Digby, Niewart and others are more concerned by his ability prod those previously content to rant on the net and shortwave radio into something truly horrific.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:18:56 PM EST
    The idea that it takes a Beck for that is absurd imo.

    You give him too much credit, such as it is.

    This smacks of the type of nonsense the Right would write during the Bush Presidency to me.


    "Beck's views are far less lucid" (none / 0) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:00:35 PM EST
    they are also far more provocative and nutty. usually.

    I have mixed (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:28:13 PM EST
    feelings about this kind of stuff. People ignored Limbaugh and he did a lot of damage to the country. Maybe Beck is so whacky that he just attracts the "black helicopter" crowd. I can't say because I haven't watched him.

    People should start pressing for the fairness doctrine to be reinstated if this is a big concern imo.

    For the most part, I think people make (5.00 / 8) (#24)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:41:13 PM EST
    a serious mistake allowing the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs and others of their ilk to distract and take the focus away from where it belongs - on what is actually going on in the government and in the halls of power: in the Oval Office, the West Wing, the Congress, the DOJ, and places like the Pentagon and the CIA and the NSA; while Beck and Limbaugh are trying to make Obama into an evil Muslim apologist, and turning stem-cell research into Nazi-like experimentation, Obama is busy extending executive power in ways that actually affect real Americans and undermine the democracy in ways we cannot fully comprehend, and millions of people are going without health care while the powers-that-be figure out how to protect the insurance industry.

    I don't know what's wrong with people - are they just stupid?  Do they just not know how to think anymore?  Do they just not care?

    I'm starting to think it's "all of the above."

    All of the above, (none / 0) (#37)
    by lentinel on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:03:46 PM EST
    and in addition, imo, a kind of numbness - a weariness of endless war and an acceptance of our absolute powerlessness to do anything about it.
    Add to that fear. Fear of losing one's home, one's job, one's savings. And if that doesn't keep us busy, there's always the fear, be it real or government-generated, of someone ready to kill or poison us lurking in the shadows ready to pounce.

    Add to that a corrupt media - feeding at the trough - issuing a torrent of mind-deadening swill.

    It's enough to make anyone stupid.


    I agree wholeheartedly (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by lentinel on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:44:55 PM EST
    I don't want to keep an eye or an ear anywhere near Beck.
    If it weren't for left-wing websites linking to his stupidity, I would never have to see his baby-fat face. But they do. Obsessively, imo.

    NPR All Things Considered, this (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:49:24 PM EST
    afternoon, included an interview of a gun shop owner in Texas.  The guy really takes this stuff seriously and opined, homeowners must stock up on ammunition--look at how the government is socializing the banks, automakers, etc.  What next?  The government will make it impossible to buy ammo to defend oneself.

    Like Beck (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:53:41 PM EST
    These gun dealers are exploiting wackos in order to get rich.

    they absolutely are (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 08:59:01 PM EST
    The guy in the next cube at work seriously stocked up on ammo and bought another gun after the election because the gun dealers are telling people that Obama will curtail the right to sell guns, so they better stock up while they can.

    These people are sooo stupid. And they're armed.  Great.


    and as far as him not effecting policy (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:04:30 PM EST
    that politico piece also says this:

    "However, Beck's paranoid style is seeping into the discourse of conservative politics, which should be of concern to Republicans."

    and not just republicans if they ever regain any power.  and they will.

    See: Bachman, Michelle (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:13:12 PM EST
    Actual member of congress and if possible even crazier than Beck.

    And utterly without influence (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:20:23 PM EST
    on policy.

    on one level I agree with you (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:28:03 PM EST
    even that in some ways it is in our interest to keep him on the air spewing his insanity.  that was really the thrust of that Politico piece.
    on the other hand it is disturbing to think he may cause other nutters, like the one recently, to act out.
    but as long as the have the first amendment there is nothing to do there.

    This to me is like (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:36:05 PM EST
    blaming Marilyn Manson for Colombine. I do not like it.

    Marilyn Manson anecdote (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:53:58 PM EST
    My younger half-brother was an alienated high school student in Rome, Georgia and got suspended for the day for wearing, you guessed it, a Marilyn Manson t-shirt to school (public school, mind you).  My dad, a fiery lower-east-side-tenement-raised New Deal progressive, old enough to be the kid's great-grandfather almost, marched right down to the school and read them the riot act so hard they had to rescind the suspension.  He's the only contributing columnist to the local newspaper whose photo they don't publish with his columns -- for safety's sake, as he's had a few nutcases make death threats.

    But I digress.  More than a bit.


    If the face of the Republican (none / 0) (#36)
    by MKS on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:57:54 PM EST
    Party becomes Beck, Limbaugh and Bachmann, so much the bettter for Democrats....

    Not just politics (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by MaryGM on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:26:04 PM EST
    ...but elected politicians.  Michelle Bachmann, as a sitting representative, is telling her constituents and right-wing radio audiences that Obama is going to indoctrinate your children, Hitler Youth-style.  And because of Americorps of all things!

    I agree with BTD in that the policies enacted are important and will ultimately affect the entire world, but figures like Beck are clearly fulfilling a dangerous, id-fueled need in a lot of people.  And in uncertain times, that's particularly alarming.


    It's even (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:31:21 PM EST
    more of a problem because we have a President who wants to hold hands with these people because he thinks he can heal them. No, no, no. These people must be defeated and that's all there is.

    Let's compare (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 05:51:49 PM EST
    After the 1936 election, Coughlin increasingly expressed sympathy for the fascist policies of Hitler and Mussolini as an antidote to Bolshevism.[15] His CBS radio broadcasts became suffused with antisemitic themes. He blamed the Depression on an "international conspiracy of Jewish bankers", and also claimed that Jewish bankers were behind the Russian Revolution. On November 27, 1938, he said "There can be no doubt that the Russian Revolution ... was launched and fomented by distinctively Jewish influence."

    He began publication of a newspaper, Social Justice, during this period, in which he printed antisemitic polemics such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Like Joseph Goebbels, Coughlin claimed that Marxist atheism in Europe was a Jewish plot. The December 5, 1938 issue of Social Justice included an article by Coughlin which closely resembled a speech made by Goebbels on September 13, 1935 attacking Jews, atheists and communists, with some sections being copied verbatim by Coughlin from an English translation of the Goebbels speech. At a rally in the Bronx in 1938, he gave a Nazi salute and said, "When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing."

    On November 20, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, when Jews across Germany were attacked and killed, and Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues burned, Coughlin said "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted." After this speech, and as his programs became more antisemitic, some radio stations, including those in New York and Chicago, began refusing to air his speeches without pre-approved scripts; in New York, his programs were cancelled by WINS and WMCA, leaving Coughlin to broadcasting on the Newark part-time station WHBI. This made Coughlin a hero in Nazi Germany, where papers ran headlines claiming "America Is Not Allowed to Hear the Truth". On December 18, 1938 two thousand of Coughlin's followers marched in New York protesting potential asylum law changes that would allow more Jews (including refugees from Hitler's persecution) into the US, chanting, "Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!" and "Wait until Hitler comes over here!" The protests continued for several months.

    Coughlin had 40 million listeners in 1936.

    Beck has 2 million viewers in 2009.

    Let's keep things in perspective.

    Thank you (none / 0) (#39)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:07:43 PM EST
    In the end, his show only makes his idiocy obvious to more people.  And, come on, he's on network zero for nutjobs, a network that pretty much advertises itself as such.  Irrelevant but loud.  

    This might be O/T (none / 0) (#41)
    by dk on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 06:25:16 PM EST
    but, BTD, did you know that you and Helen Thomas were kindred spirits?

    I think he has to be very daring, [but] I think he plays it very safe, very cautious, which is probably smart, but I'm not sure he's going to really be as bold as I want him to be," said Thomas, who is known for voicing critical, usually liberal opinions during press conferences. "I want to see a real transformation--a caring for the people, not just giving a $700 billion bailout to Wall Street while Detroit suffers.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#44)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 07:32:41 PM EST
    I may give people too much credit, but I believe that most people see Beck as an entertainer.

    If people are going out and buying guns and shooting stuff and people up, it's probably more a function of the ECONOMY -- and post traumatic stress from things like the war -- and things like poverty/job loss, than of Glenn Beck.

    Glenn Beck will not turn people toward violence.  If people are going to be violent, they had the violence in them in the first place.

    Anybody spouting anti-government... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:41:10 AM EST
    rhetoric is gonna be popular right now, even someone as ideologically inconsistent (aka full of it) as Mr. Beck.  I find myself agreeing with him for a 5 minute stretch at a time.

    And that has more to do with our govt. than Beck.  If you're not mad at Uncle Sam for a littany of reasons there is something wrong with you, imo.

    On the left (none / 0) (#52)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 11:19:40 AM EST
    ...we have Olbermann and Ed Schultz, who just got his own show on MSNBC, which has clearly chosen to become Fox News for Democrats. I don't know if this is good or bad, I don't take any of them seriously and find them all to be both deeply misinformed and deeply dishonest.

    I've watched Beck (with a kind of appalled fascination) and I really don't believe that anyone much takes him seriously. He doesn't even present as a serious commentator, he pretty clearly presents himself as a clown (unlike Olbermann who presents as a serious person but is a clown). On an anecdotal level, I have friends and neighborhood acquaintances who are devoted, Fox-watching, Republicans, and they never quote Beck. They barely talk about him and then it's in a joking way.

    He doesn't get half the respect accorded Sean Hannity -- yes, Hannity is the one that digby should be "watching," because he's the one Republicans really do admire, listen to, and take seriously. Every one of my Republican friends/neighbors is big on Hannity, a little less so on O'Reilly (who's mostly for entertainment purposes) and Beck barely registers.