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The Beck Week That Was; A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama

Reported by Guest Blogger - April 19, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Aunty Em

Last November, when I had the supreme honour of meeting Glenn Beck and shaking his hand, he told me (and several hundred Beckerheads) that the very next day, in The Villages, he’d be announcing a 100 Year Plan for saving America. As noted at the time, the Chinese only had 5 Year Plans. As it turned out he didn’t really announce “The Plan” the next day, just teased The Villagers about “The Plan,” which he said would be coming in the fullness of time. However, he did announce that he’d be monetizing the plan, by releasing a book (possibly called “The Plan)” and a series of all-day re-education camps, the first of which happened just a few weeks ago in Orlando and came off sounding more like an old timey Billy Graham revival meeting than a political seminar.

“The Plan” has been gestating for the last 5 months—which seems strangely appropriate, since that’s also the length of time a ewe needs to produce a sheep, the perfect analogy for the average Beck viewer. This week Beck gave birth to “The Plan,” which he’s still calling “The Plan,” and the entire week was spent pontificating on government expenditures, and where money can be saved, as envisioned by Beck.

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He opened the week with a funny:

Americans have been saying for a long time, they just want to know the truth. They just want to know the truth, even if it's hard, and they're willing to do it. Well, OK, all right. Today, we're going to tell you the truth. We're going to tell you the truth.*

If you’ve been following this column for any time at all, then you know that the words “Glenn Beck” and “truth” are almost always mutually exclusive. Generally “the truth” is really “opinion” wrapped around so much verbiage that it’s hard to know where one begins and the other ends.

After a whole bunch more yadda, yadda, yadda about how the Great Depression was caused by Progressives and how the New Deal only prolonged the agony, he said:

The Forgotten Depression forgot no more. To know where you are, you've got to know your history, where we've been — and we'll be able to see the future. Get the history you never learned. We have produced a couple of documentaries on this for my Web site at GlennBeck.com. The full story on the Forgotten Depression and much, much more in documentary form; Insider Extreme available only to GlennBeck.com subscribers. Check out our many documentaries on the progressives, the Forgotten Depression, and "Doomed to Repeat." It will truly blow your mind. Check it out now. Right back in a minute.

As he tossed to commercial, it was hard not to see that he’s also monetized his little mini-documentaries and is using his program as one giant commercial to drive people to his web site. (According to a recent WaPo article his digital income is worth twice as much, at $4,000,000, than what he earns from his loss leader tee vee show.) In other words: If he’s whetted your appetite for more, it’ll cost you. Brilliant!!! It’s not for nothing that The Beckinator pocketed $32,000,000 in the last year. Good for him. In this Capitalist society, he’s the ultimate success story: a drunken drug addict on the brink of suicide who finds salvation in the Mormon church, turns his life around, and becomes the biggest tee vee sensation since Tiny Tim married Miss Vickie on the old Johnny Carson show.

He began by saying, “This week, I'm going to show the path to restoration, but it will be a path that is drastic. We are all going to feel the pain of treatment.” Glenn, I feel your pain already. Yet, as The Plan progressed through the week, one would have been hard pressed to find any proposal that would have Glenn Beck making any personal sacrifice to keep this great country great.

Monday was all about taxes. I’m not an economist myself and, as I have often said, “Numbers are my natural enemy.” Yet I read enough—and understand just enough—to know that the Laffer Curve has been thoroughly debunked by people a whole lot smarter than I am. Which is why it was so amusing to see Beck not only touting the Laffer Curve as the answer to our taxation problems, but dragging out Dr. Art Laffer hisself to explain what this debunked economic theory consists of. Laffer, you see, was a former economics advisor to President Reagan, he of the “Trickle Down” theory of taxation, who famously drew the first version of the Laffer Curve on Dick Cheney’s cocktail napkin all the way back in 1974.

Reagan’s economic policies were so successful that George H. W. Bush was forced to go back on his election pledge of “Read my lips: No new taxes.” “Some people say” this is what led to his defeat for re-election, allowing Bill Clinton to take the White House. The surpluses gained during the President Clinton years were squandered by President Bush’s tax cuts on the top earners in the country, while supporting two very expensive wars on the other side of the world. There’s no denying that the Bush II economy policies sent the deficit into freefall, forcing him, and later President Obama, to use stimulus money to prop it up.

None of this should be new to Beck. Back in 2007, long before he became an Olbermann punching bag, Justin Fox of Time Magazine was saying, “If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues.”

But that’s just one voice, right? Not really. Plugging the words “laffer debunked” into the Googlizer returns 103,000 hits, with the Time Magazine article at the very top. Yet, that doesn’t stop Beck from using this debunked economic theory, and the debunked economist, to bolster his “truth.”

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “And so it goes.”

The rest of the week was devoted to which parts of the federal budget can be cut. However, Beck’s “The Plan” doesn’t take a scalpel to the budget. He’s using a blunt chainsaw to try to sculpt a Venus De Milo. Wait! Maybe that’s how she lost her arms.

Tuesday
the suggestion was to privatize Social Security and make massive cuts to Medicare. Wednesday it was to abolish the Department of Education. Thursday he took a hatchet to Defense spending (which admittedly is a bloated budget) with a very bizarre notion:

If I were king for a day, here's my policy on defense:

• We mind our own business: We wouldn't be pushing anything on other countries

• The enemy of my enemy is not my friend

• Nothing is in our interest if our values and principles are gone. Why do you think they hate us in the Middle East? Maybe it's because we don't stand for anything

• Don't screw with us, because...

• When we fight, we fight to win: We'll bring the full force and might of the U.S. military and wipe you off the face of the planet

• We're coming home — and we won't waste our time rebuilding your country either. You messed with us? Your bad

Our defense budget needs to reflect that attitude. We can reduce the waste in our military and still be a lethal force.

It's time to shift our money out of foreign aid and long-standing commitments. We are not an empire, we are a republic. And it's time we start acting like the republic that we were meant to be.

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Aside from the fact that a republic with a king is a oxymoron, there’s not a whole lot in that list that Progressives haven’t argued in favour of for many years, except for that “wiping you off the face of the planet” stuff.

There are also mutually exclusive comments in the quote above. On one hand he says “Nothing is in our interest if our values and principles are gone. Why do you think they hate us in the Middle East? Maybe it's because we don't stand for anything” and then he adds later, “It's time to shift our money out of foreign aid and long-standing commitments.” If we go back on our long-standing commitments, doesn’t that mean our “values and principles are gone”? Doesn’t it mean that we don’t really stand for anything? Just asking.

Friday he suggested abolishing the Department of Agriculture.

It’s clear that Beck has put a lot of thought into this. It’s just sad that the entire enterprise is based on a house of cards that collapses when any intellectual acumen is applied to his so-called “truths.” The cuts that he’s proposing won’t hurt the upper middle class, or the rich, or the uber rich. Heck, if you’re nailing down $32,000,000 year you can afford to do away with your Social Security benefits, send your kids to private school, and pay for your own Health Care Insurance. The deprivations Beck suggests will hurt those at the bottom of the economic scale who don’t have the means. This puts the lie to his statement made at the beginning of the week that, “We are all going to feel the pain of treatment.”

Let’s not forget that he’s also on record as saying, “I could give a flying crap about the political process. Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage.”

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BECK BITS: Not everything that happens in BeckWorld, takes place on his tee vee show. In other Glenn Beck news this week…

► Glenn has a new Best Friend Forever. He went on record to say how much he likes Madea, aka Tyler Perry. While Beck may admire Perry’s entrepreneurialship, somehow I suspect Perry, who supported Obama, might not return the favour.

At WaPo: Sally Quinn, who founded and co-moderates the “On Faith” blog on that site, sat down with Sojourners’ Jim Wallis to talk about social justice and, more specifically, why Glenn Beck is going after him so hard. Once again Wallis proves he is the better man by turning the other cheek, while Beck keeps promising to attack Wallis some more. And, because 20 hours of airtime per week is not enough time for Glenn Beck to trash Jim Wallis, his executive producer Stu Burguiere followed up on the same blog to attack Wallis all over again. This essay Beck laughingly referred to as an “editorial” on his radio show. It’s not. It’s simply another attack.

One wonders how many cheeks Wallis has to turn.

► Midweek the New York Times and CBS published the result of a recent poll about Teabaggers. There weren’t many surprises in the numbers, but they were interesting all the same:

• While only 18% of Americans are Tea Party Supporters, those who are are predominately white married men over the age of 45.

• They are more likely to get their news from Fox (49%).

• While 59% have a favourable opinion of Glenn Beck, that’s almost half-again as many who have a favourable opinion of pageant-walking half-Governor Sarah Palin at 40%.


TVWeek posted its annual list of the “10 Most Powerful in TV News.” Not surprisingly Roger Ailes takes the top spot. He’s followed by Steve Capus, president of NBC News; Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC; and Mark Hoffman, president of CNBC, all tied at number 2. Tied at number 3 are Jim Walton, president, CNN Worldwide; Jon Klein, president, CNN/U.S.; and Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN Worldwide, responsible for HLN. Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports holds down the Number 4 spot (I’m starting to sound like Casey Kasem) and Comedian Jon Stewart is Number 5 on the list. Where’s Glenn Beck? He’s tied at Number 7 with Loofah Lad, aka Bill O’Reilly, ahead of Barbara Walters and the women of The View (#8), N.S. Bienstock Agency (#9) and Christiane Amanpour of ABC News and Candy Crowley of CNN, tied at 10.

► Two amusing items from the Glenn Beck Radio Drama Theatre, both captured by Media Matters. 1). “Beck thinks the government "could be reading" his email and is sure he has a file at the White House.” Paranoid much? However, he’s probably right on the latter point. The White House would be foolish not to have created a file on a man who lies about it 20 hours a week. 2). Beck to census workers: “Have a good time trying to get past the dogs in the gates.” This follows his revelation that the only info he gave on the 2010 Census was the number of people who live in his house. It would be highly amusing to see him made an example of, but that would only play into his feelings of victimhood.

► Lastly this week, Media Matters asks the musical question, “Did Glenn Beck just post a new ratings low for 2010?” Using Neilsen data (and a DailyKOS chart) going back to The Becketeer’s arrival on Faux Noise, the unmassaged numbers show that Beck has shed close to 1.5 million viewers since his mid-January high of 3.5 million. Could his audience be tiring of the same old thing day in and day out? I know I am.

With all my love,
Aunty Em

* Transcripts from the Fox News website, which is notoriously inaccurate.