Diary of a Douche

September 30, 2010

Glenn Beck - crying ... again

To call Glenn Beck polarizing is to be euphemistic.  He’s an ethically bankrupt self-promoter who uses his public poopdeck to manipulate the morally-fragile and marginally lucid among us.  At times his behavior straddles the line of criminal such as inciting violence, insurrection and murder.  This week the New York Times Magazine has a 10-page feature article on Beck, the self-described “rodeo clown” and “recovering dirtbag.”

Beck is alternately frightening, entertaining and fascinating.  Whether it be peddling fear like a tent-revivalist preacher or using his radio and TV shows as his personal therapy or condescendingly treating his fans as rubes for his own financial gain, Beck epitomizes the proverbial train wreck.  And one can’t help but wonder, What the …..fuck was THAT?! As The Buffalo Beast – who named Beck the most loathsome person in America – wrote: “Even the leather-winged shouting heads at Fox News look like intellectual giants next to this bleating, benighted Cassandra.  It’s like someone found a manic, doom-prophesying hobo in a sandwich board, shaved him, shot him full of Zoloft and gave him a show.”

Beck’s self-description of being a “recovering dirtbag” reveals, in fairness to him, a respectable degree of self-awareness.  He’s a former alcoholic and (hard) drug addict; he smoked weed daily for 15 years (which is a habit he could probably benefit from resuming today); he fired an employee for bringing him the wrong pen, and he once called the wife of a radio jockey – on air – to ridicule her recent miscarriage.  So, yeah, dirtbag seems to be an adequate description.

Perhaps Beck’s most curious quality is that he incessantly contradicts himself and has an absolute lack of personal accountability for what he says.  His most celebrated inflammatory and contradictory comment was when he said President Obama has a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,” and then continues, “(but) I’m not saying that he doesn’t like white people.”

In 2006 Beck interviewed Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in the House of Representatives.  Beck said, “I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you.  Because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’ And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.”

After stating on his show that he doesn’t believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, Beck continues, “He needlessly throws his hat into the ring to defend the ground-zero mosque. He hosts Ramadan dinners, which a president can do. But then you just add all of this stuff up — his wife goes against the advice of the advisers, jets to Spain for vacation. What does she do there? She hits up the Alhambra palace mosque. Fine, it’s a tourist attraction. But is there anything more to this? Are they sending messages? I don’t know. I don’t know.”

what I'm not saying Beck puts in his ass

See what I’m saying?  It’s the What the …..fuck was THAT?! phenomenon that is present in everything Beck does.  Yet Beck absolves himself of responsibility for his comments with meek qualifiers that he doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s saying.  It’s like me offering, “I’m not saying Beck puts gerbils up his ass, but a lot of people think he does and that’s something we need to keep in mind.”

Beck’s former high school drama teacher explains Beck’s irresponsible rhetoric thusly:  “When he says, ‘I am not perfect,’ he seems to escape accountability for his various points of view. Yet he expects others to be accountable for their point of view without seeming to allow them the ‘I am not perfect’ exception.”

Beck’s paranoia is palpable.  The Times author says he’s “acutely conscious of his personal safety” and Beck’s behaviors certainly bear this out.  He travels with security guards just to walk down the street; he wears a bullet proof vest at public appearances; he wanted to build a six-foot wall around his Connecticut home, and his FOX show includes a regular diet of conspiracy theories.  It’s enough to almost make you feel sorry for him.

But Beck’s stock in trade is demagoguery.  Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, wrote a soon-to-be published book about Beck aptly titled Tears of a Clown.  In the book Milbank “writes that in the first 14 months of Beck’s Fox News show, Beck and his guests mentioned fascism 172 times, Nazis 134 times, Hitler 115 times, the Holocaust 58 times and Joseph Goebbels 8 times.”  I have to wonder if Beck and his viewers recognize the irony of invoking Goebbels and the Nazis so often in his demagogic rants.  Probably not.

The reason neither Beck nor his audience would recognize the irony is because they are rank and file members of the anti-intellectualism ultra-conservative contingent.  Contributing to the irony of Beck, he often uses a chalkboard on his program and speaks to his audience as if he’s a teacher.  But Beck, like brother-in-douchebaggery Rush Limbaugh, is not a college graduate and says of himself, “(before 9/11/2001) I didn’t know my butt from my elbow.”  Of course, that statement implies he has since discerned his ass from elbow, which is highly debatable at best.

Beck has started his own “school,” Glenn Beck University, which is hosted on his personal website.  This is where his fans go to presumably learn the anatomy of the aforementioned asses and elbows.  People at Beck’s events describe themselves as “students of history” or “historians.”  When the author asked a Beck fan if he was affiliated with a college, the fan responded, “Yes.  Glenn Beck University.”  Well, there ya have it.  This is Beck’s personal contribution to the dumassification of America.

To put an exclamation point on the anti-intellectualism of the Beck demographic, the author tells of an anecdote from a Beck event in Alaska.  “Sitting in the row behind me was a truck driver named Jerry Cole, who was from Fairbanks and wore an ‘I (heart) Woodrow Wilson’ T-shirt with a slash through the heart. ‘He was the start of the Progressive Era,’ Cole said of the long-dead president. ‘He believed that college intellectuals should decide how the world should be run.’”  Good lord!  These people think stupidity is a badge of honor.  “Take your fancy diploma and sophisticated book larnin’ and get the hell outta my country —  you godless, unAmerican commie!”

Not to leave his lack of ethics to question, Beck is a shameless and blatant cross-promoter.  “He spoke constantly on the air about his Washington rally before and after the event. He invites viewers and listeners to visit his Web site and, better yet, the Glenn Beck Store (“Restoring Honor” photograph books can be preordered for $35) and become an “insider extreme” member for premium video and audio links. He recently started a new Web site, the Blaze, which he also mentions on his television and radio shows.”  Beck combines his demagoguery with his financial interests when he scares the audience into fearing economic collapse, touting the value of gold, and then selling special, over-priced Glenn Beck gold coins at Tea Party events.

Perhaps the most appropriate and fitting irony could be Beck’s demise.  He became a cult of personality because of his outrageous, polarizing and offensive rhetoric yet it’s that same rhetoric that has put his employer in a quagmire.  Beck is what is called in the industry “empty calories” in that his ratings are enormous but he’s a killer for advertising revenue.  296 advertisers will not let their commercials be played on Beck’s show and FOX has a difficult time selling ads for The O’Reilly Factor and Fox and Friends when Beck appears on those shows.  Beck’s contract expires next year and FOX is a corporation with a bottom line.  Moreover, a number of FOX insiders worry that Beck makes it difficult for them to present the channel as a legitimate news organization.  (Their concern is understandable, but when did FOX ever pretend to be a legitimate news outlet?)

Beck is a moron and a lunatic, that much is certain.  But I’m curious to know why people actually like him.  Is it because Beck’s a monolithic fuck up and fellow fuck ups identify with him?  Is it because Beck hates the same people they hate?  Is it because they find comfort in a person who is as mentally unstable and stupid as them?  Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things and we can get an insight from a comment of a Beck fan: “Thank you for giving us a voice.”

The poopdeck gives Glenn Beck the rating of: Batshit.  Utterly, insanely Batshit.

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China Called; They Want Their Supreme Court Back

September 29, 2010

Supreme Court - on loan from China

On October 4, this year, the Supreme Court will begin its new session.  Sitting on the court for the first time will be Elena Kagan, former U.S. Solicitor General and Dean of Harvard Law School.  Kagan’s appointment was hotly contested by Senate Republicans, as usual, because she is not as fascist as they would like, and Reich-Wingers are just assholes in general.

The GOP has not only been quarrelsome and unreasonably belligerent towards Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, they’ve also held up or blocked an absurd amount of other federal judicial nominations for no reasons other than standard obstructionism and their desire to turn the U.S. into a quasi-democracy.

An analysis of the federal judiciary reveals a shocking dominace of convservative judges and Republican appointments.  Republicans have appointed 60% of all current federal justices including two-thirds of the Supreme Court, and George W. Bush appointed a whopping 40% of all federal judges serving today!  10 of the 13 circuit courts are controlled by Republican-appointed judges while one circuit court is evenly divided.  By the time Bush left office in January 2009, the Senate had approved 322 of his 333 nominations, a 97% approval rate.  So far, however, only half of Obama’s nominees have been approved.  But this is expected from the Party of No! whose explicit mission is to halt the government and cripple the Obama presidency in a cynical attempt to regain power.  As Republican Senator Trent Lott said, “The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail.  So far it’s working for us.”  But, hey, at least he doesn’t pretend to care about the country; he wears his douche right on his lapel.

As the new SCOTUS session begins, this is a good time to review the composition of the court and what implications its rulings will likely have on society.  The New York Times ran a good piece on the court in July and it’s worth reviewing now.

First, the article identifies the qualities that define conservative and liberal courts.  Liberal courts will make rulings that favor criminal defendants, unions, people claiming discrimination, or civil rights violations.  Conservative courts will strike down economic regulations (shout out to Wall Street!!!) while favoring prosecutors, employers, and the government.  So, er, yeah, conservative courts favor big government and big business while liberal courts favor … citizens and fair capitalism.  Imagine that.

The current court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, is the most conservative court in history.  While courts cannot be defined by individual cases, they can be assessed by trends and the Roberts trends are unambiguous.  Among the highlights: the Roberts court issued conservative opinions in 65% of its cases last year.  By contrast, the Warren court (1953-69) – considered to be the most liberal in history – made conservative rulings 34% of the time.  The Roberts court consists of four of the six most conservative justices in history (Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas).  According to former justice John Paul Stevens, every justice appointed since 1975 – including himself – has been more conservative than his predecessor.

The ramifications of such a conservative court are stark and broad.  According to the article:

“If the Roberts court continues on the course suggested by its first five years, it is likely to allow a greater role for religion in public life, to permit more participation by unions and corporations in elections and to elaborate further on the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Abortion rights are likely to be curtailed, as are affirmative action and protections for people accused of crimes.”

Moreover, the Roberts court is responsible for disposing of campaign finance reform legislated by Congress.  This ruling classified corporations as people, declared campaign donations to be free speech, prohibited caps on campaign donations, permitted foreign peoples/corporations to donate to American political campaigns, and allows donors to remain safely anonymous as well as not requiring politicians to reveal the people/corporations who are financing them.  Democracy for sale?  You betcha.  If you didn’t already think the Fortune 500 controlled this country, you should be convinced by now.

For decades we’ve been hearing the Reich-Wing echo chamber whine about ‘liberal, activist courts.’  That meme is the typical mindless rhetoric popular amongst conservatives and, shockingly, despite having the most conservative court in history, 30% of Americans think the Supreme Court is still not conservative enough and 50% channel their inner-Goldilocks and think the court’s ideology is “just right.”

The Supreme Court was dealt a death blow with the appointments of Roberts and Alito.  Don’t ever let it be said that GW Bush didn’t fuck us on the poopdeck in every way he possibly could.  It’s going to take generations for us to recover from the damage he inflicted, if we ever recover at all.


Amnesty?

September 29, 2010

After an unusually wet spring, the yard has been besieged by acorns.  When I’m not dodging a torrent of nuts hauling ass from 100 feet at a rate of 32 feet per second-squared, I’m precariously walking on a sheet of acorns not unlike a frozen pond.  These are treacherous days in the yard, indeed.

But squirrels are not in short supply.  So what’s the problem here?

Javier

It’s apparent to this dude that my local squirrels have become lazy and spoiled, no doubt an uninspired lot resulting from generations of nut wealth.  I have a solution.

Since Mexican squirrels are willing to do the work that American squirrels won’t do, I propose a one-time amnesty for all Mexican squirrels currently here out-of-status.  After seven years of acorn removal services and no criminal infractions, the out-of-status squirrels will be provided a reasonable path to citizenship.

Careful analysis demonstrates an adequate food supply and nesting options for the influx of squirrels while the accrued population density and rodent shit will be of negligible consequence, thus resulting in a net-benefit for the yard.


Blessed Are The Dumb

September 28, 2010

Pope Creepy II scans crowd for little boys

It’s news to no one that those who reject science are overwhelmingly religious.  The anti-evolution crusaders, the Earth is 6,000 years old Young Earth Creationists, the Man-Walked-With-Dinosaurs morons (they even have their own museum!), the climate change deniers – all religious fanatics or mentally ill.  (Redundant?  You decide.)  And now we have evidence that these holy rollers are even ignorant of their own beliefs.

According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and reported by the AP, atheists and agnostics know more about religion than the followers of the world’s major religions.

From the AP article via Netscape:

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.”

As expected, education was the greatest predictor of religious knowledge; those with the most schooling performed best on the survey.  Here we must also note the inverse correlation between education and religious beliefs.  Is it a wonder the religious-right in American politics has demonized education through short, easily-remembered slogans such as “the northeast, liberal elite” or “liberal academia”?  The rabid anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party is, no doubt, a pandering to the religious fundamentalists whose very faith is predicated upon profound stupidity.

The survey also found that bible thumpers do not know that public school teachers may use Biblical passages as examples of literature (I personally recommend any of the frightful passages from Leviticus and Deuteronomy for the Halloween season), but they are aware – furiously so – that teachers cannot lead students in prayer.

Beyond the obvious implications of this – socially conservative, populist politics, etc. – we should note that our Supreme Court consists of six Catholic justices, four of whom are of the hellfire variety (I’m looking at you, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts!).  Thank, er, Yahweh for the three Jews on the court.

Take the survey for yourself here.


Xenophobia Is Stewpud

September 24, 2010

I know American culture warriors are a proud lot, but I suggest they open their minds and tame their xenophobia.  They may like it.


Jon Stewart’s October Surprise

September 17, 2010

On October 30, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will be headlining competing rallies in Washington, D.C.

Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity is described at its website:

“Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t.”

Colbert’s counter-rally, The March To Keep Fear Alive, will be a tribute to the conservative status quo:

“America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance.”

For those of you who have absolutely nothing else to do with your time, further reading can be found here:
Time: Jon Stewart to Rally for Sanity. Good Luck With That!
NPR: Comedian Jon Stewart To Host ‘Rally To Restore Sanity’ On National Mall


Lions and Tigers and Bears! O’Donnell!

September 17, 2010

Now that Christine O’Donnell is the Republican nominee for the Delaware Senate seat, the media have been working on her narrative.  Some of the highlights thus far:

Coed dorms are a slippery slope to orgies and menage a trois

O’Donnell explains how masturbation is the same as adultery

courtesy of cbs.com

An ex-aide was  ex-gay but has now been infected with gayness again  (this aide clearly demonstrates that heterosexuality is a house of cardsThanks to Kelly B for the link.)

Cancer is an act of God and the (big government!) spends too much money on AIDS

Evolution is a farce

O’Donnell bought a mattress with campaign funds.  She pays much of the rent on her town house with campaign funds claiming that it is her campaign headquarters.  Apparently her bedroom is also her office.

Here’s the takeaway lesson from the success of people like Sarah Palin and the emergence of people like Christine O’Donnell: need a job, need money, but have no discernible skill set?  No problem.  Just get involved with Republican/conservative politics.  Problems solved.

The GOP: Stupidity is a virtue!