nothin's scarier than a blank page

27 May 2011

The Glenn Beck Program, May 27 LIVEBLOG

It's a Friday show.  Usually these are soft.  We'll see.
(I type while I watch.  It's messy.  It's part of a bigger project that may or may not pan out.  If you think it's lame, don't read it.)
I'm on a weird Pro Palin kick, and I sorta want to just read about her instead of watching Beck today.  Oh well. On a similar note, I don't think I'm gonna make it to the R Convention next summer.  I want the real race to start NOW.  All of the talking about who might run and who could or couldn't win is killin' me.  I need to read up and find out if/when the deadline is for announcing that you're running.  I betcha $100 that Palin announces one day prior.


Hello America.  Welcome to a special edition.  He's sitting with the Founding Father's pic behind him.  Mentions some early America data, women would vote, blacks were judges, etc.

Clips of reactions too old series.  Old way of teaching history = deconstructionism, teach the negatives.  Now clips of old FF shows.  IS THIS A CLIP SHOW??

Women of theRevolution show -- what took many by surprise -- that women could vote.  (I knew that!)  States gave women voting rights.  Property ownership = right to vote, so that's how they got it.  Most women were voting Federalist.  Anti-Federalists wiped them out when they had the power to do so.  Also surprising, some women served in military.  Shows pic of an Eowyn.  Another one, Molly Pitcher.  At the end, she was commmissioned as a ,<rank>, given military funeral.

Black FFs -- Slavery was there, but also in elected office, millitary leaders.  Battle of bunker hill painting = bunch of white guys.  unless you know where to look.  points to Peter Salem, a black guy, who was the hero of the battle (doesn't look it in the painting).  Battle of lexington pic.  Rev Jonas Clark church, called together boys, said "let's go! defend our town!"  it was a mixed church, equal # black/white.  not shown in painting.  washington crossing delaware -- there are black guys.  prince whippple.  marquis de lafayette.  black guy standing next to him, this guy is james armisted.  he was a double spy, may have won the war.

The point isn't so much that this stuff happened, but that we are intentionally NOT teaching this information to people.  WHY?

First black judge.  He was the other guy riding with Paul Revere.  (wentworth chessil?  southern accent saying the name, didn't catch it.)  Rev Haynes (Haimes?) first black preacher.  ina white church.  ordained 1785. first black to receive masteters degree.  first black speaker of the house early on (didn't catch year).  paintinng of influentioal black men.

Relationship of Founder w AfAmericans?  N/S different.  But the Founders, the ones who put it together, came from a world that we don't understand.  We're striving to get back to it.  Shows obits of blackmen from back in the day.  High praises in these obits.

It's not to say that slavery & Jim Crow didn't happen.  We got taught that in school.  But we didn't teach the good stuff.  And so many other things.  Jews in the revolution.  8 yr old boys (like John Q Adams) fighting in the war.  (Jesus, can you imagine?)


Okay, he summed up the four shows that were the most Aha! (2 on women, 2 on African Americans).  Mostly clips.  Makes me wish he'd put out a DVD of Founding Fathers Fridays. Anyways, does this mean he was laying the base, and the rest of the show will talk about other stuff?

Taking yesterday as a cue, is this a way to talk about focusing on the good and bringing that back (rather than teaching sleg-hatred of the country via history?).

It's like Beck wants to make it okay to have American pride.  Okay to be patriotic.  Show that patriotism isn't just for racist hicks.

Much of the African American early history in America really shakes the narrative we teach.  A shame we don't use that..

The first war on terror.  This is round two on war on T.  We actually sent ships to the same in 1700s, up until 1816, for 32 years we fought muslim terrorism.  Madison dedicated 60% of budget to this.


Kicked off the Series w Sam Adams, (more clip show.  gah.). In "Faith, Hope, Charity", he's faith.  Brits called him Father of the Revolution.  They destroyed him.  Beck says he had amazing faith in god.  beck quotes an Adams speech.  You look crazy, don't show it to the public.  "They eyes of the people are upon us."  Don't show it to the people or we're done for.  Ira Stoll wrote Samuel Adams, a life.  He's why Adams is "Faith".  Stoll says Adams really thought God was on our side, like the Jews/Israel.  The Brits called him the puppetmaster.  These guys all defended religion.  You can be as religious as you want; you can be whatever religion you want.  "There is no America as it is today without Samual Adams".

next: Hope.  "You're watching the GB special on FFFs.  More in a second
So... it IS a clip show.  I am disappointed by this.  At least, Sam Adams was the only one I caught last summer when he did these, so I'm enjoying seeing the goods.
I am so fucking sick of this Shirley Temple commerical.  I hate Media Matters for killing Beck's commercial support with their thuggery and forced boycotts.

newsbreak: last astronauts to do a spacewalk ever.  i think it's so fucked up that nasa's done.  certainly says something about the state of the country.


People are hungry for their ownb history, just they're hungry for the Constituion.  Mention of yummy Federalist papers.

HOPE: George Washington is Truth.  Beck's favorite.  known as The Indespensible Man.  everyone was bickering, stuff was falling apart.  here's washington.  all he wanted to do was go to mt vernon and be a farmer.  his country had him serve for year after year...  they cam knocking at his door.  "we need you, the whole thing is falling apart." "have i not yet done enough for my country?"  most of the choices he made, he didn't want to do.  he was revered for it.  they knew that in the end, he didn't matter to him, doing the right thing.

Comparison to Obama's "hope".  There is no figure in the history of this nation that represents hope more than Washington, says guest.  We have writers today who say Founders were deists/atheists, but Founders esp Washington said this country was created because of the intervention of God.  (intervention?  did I catch the right word?)  "It was god who used us to do this."  No evidence that he feared death.  He was afraid that he wasn't up to the tasik, didn't have what America needed.  He sucked at being general at first.  He grew into it.

Could someone like Washington be in office today?  the two guests say no.  Think someone is looking for someone like Washington to lead us, to fix the country.  He was unanimously elected time and again, even though he never wanted it.  BUt there was something in him.  When we started, we were divided.  But only one man is the Father of our Country.  No presidents come close to the role he played (right guy, right time).

next, charity!  Franklin!  And then, life after Founding Fridays.
I was always taught --always, relentlessly -- that the founders were deists.  (especially franklin).  this is collegiate education.  i was taught in rhetoric classes that the common language was to include God.  (Thomas Paine, once glorified, ended up being hated for not including God stuff in his writings for the French Revolution.  he had included God in the american writings.)  I can't not trust and believe my collegiate mentors.  I can't help but consider that it could be wrong.  It's very confusing.  I'm able to question the "truths" I learned as a child.  It's harder to questions the stuff I learned as an adult.

Ben Franklin.  First foreign embassador, first spy, inventer, (list of other awesome stuff).  CHARITY.
Kite, on the money.  Franklin created the nation's first hospital.  PA didn't want to do it. Ben said "if i raise half, will you match it?"  Assembly took the bet, because they didn't think he could do it.  That hospital is still operating today.  Also started first library.  Started first volunteer fire company.  Organized first militia (10,000 members).  Join or Die -- the broken snake.  That was him.  1754.  The French are stepping up to drive us into the sea.  Indian raids.  Militia system isn't enough.  Franklin's publishing the most important paper.  Starts circuolating the idea of an American militia/army (working w brits).  he started debates, arguments, got the discussion going.  then, in june, a conference with leaders of colonies.  a month before, Frankin published the snake.  based on a french myth that they all knew.  snake parts can rejoin after death.

next: most influential guy, so how come no one knows who he is?
I'm trying to be a smartypants and guess who it is.  All I can think of is Thomas Paine, but how do people not know who Thomas Paine is?  I wonder if he's really a buried gem or a lesser known that Beck likes.  I wonder if I know him.  I wonder if my knowing him -- or not -- will make me trust the information more/less. (I'm smart if I know him?  Beck didn't surprise me and is less smart if I know him?  etc)

There wouldn't be a revolution without... George Whitfield.


He was the most known guy then.  Instigator of the Great Awakening.  Michael Jackson.  Strained relationship w most preachers (Church of England) who didn't really care about the poor.  His message here, he was overtly involved in crisis between brit and colonies.  1764, came to here and said "there's trouble coming"  said "there is a deep laid plot against your civil and religious liberties, your golden days are at an end, my heart bleeds for you."  When franklin testifies about stamp act, something about whitfield.  He was true patriot, not just in words but in actions.

Beck: The Founding Fathers series may have come to an end, but now it's your turn.
Oh yeah!  I remember this guy!  (linked to wiki, above.)  He really was the Beatles.  Tens of thousands gathered to hear him.  His voice was super loud.  Then people would pass back what he was saying to the people behind them, and again and again...

There's still good ways to get good history.  Look at the bibliography.  Look for books citing original sources.  Go see it, too.  (Thinkin about Palin's current speaking tour, where she stops at meaningful spots.)
David Barton (wall builders), that's the guy who's been making a lot of comments.

Beck: Thank you.  Respect Memorial Day weekend, but remember what it's all about.  Then men and women in our armed forces.

Me: What a wonderful start to Memorial Day Weekend.

God is a Doorknob, part 3

I didn't really consider Beck again -- in general, at all -- until January.  Egyptians were rioting in the streets.  I was stunned and obsessed.  I started to watch the news all day long.  I work at home, and I like to keep the TV on as background noise.  At first I flipped around to different channels, getting different people's takes on things.  I ended up on Fox more than anything else.  And at 4:00, I ended up watching Beck.

With Egypt, it seems that Beck hit a reset button of sorts.  He talked about the daily news, but he also talked about it in terms of what it meant to the web of alliances in the Middle East, which meant he talked about history.  That's when I found out that much of Beck's show is teaching history in light of and as it relates to the most current events.

I had never had a strong understanding of politics in the Middle East.  I knew the basics, I knew enough, and I didn't really care beyond that.  They have oil, they hate us, sometimes they try to kill us, and they're all of the way over there.  Beck helped to teach history, but he also helped provide a framework for me to then learn more on my own.  Tackling the Middle East is a daunting research project, but Beck broke it into manageable pieces and provided me with tools to finally research and learn about the complex issues and history of the region.

While I was studying on my own, I was also devouring news about current events, and there still seemed to be something missing that all other media sources were neglecting to highlight.  I've studied rhetoric at the undergrad and graduate level, and in social movement theory, social movements have leaders.

Who was leading the riots in Egypt?

Yes, yes.  I know.  It was the wonder of social media that allowed the protests to magically unfold.  But someone sent that first tweet.  Someone had some kind of foresight.  Some must have a plan.  

Worse, if the unicorn-glitter-magick of social media really was the only instigating force, then there would be no leader to continue the work once the regime fell... and all of those hopeful people, drunk on democracy, would be at the mercy of any crafty leader who would want to exploit them for personal gain.

Beck saw that.  I think that's when I fell for him.  When Beck drew out the infamous map in which he showed that, in a worst case scenario of the entire world falling apart, Russia might control Australia, I fell for him.  I remember Rachel Maddow skewering him for that map, and I understand how it appears ludicrous.  Any full extension of a worst case scenario looks ludicrous, but his basic sentiments were spot on: something's missing from these protests, we should not be so quick to praise them without critical analysis, the horizon may not be pretty.

And, whatcha know, he was right.

to be continued.
(I've written this section while sleepy, so I hope I captured it right.  An edit may be needed.)

God is a Doorknob, part 2

I didn't really consider Beck again -- in general, at all -- until January.  Egyptians were rioting in the streets.  I was stunned and obsessed.  I started to watch the news all day long.  I work at home, and I like to keep the TV on as background noise.  At first I flipped around to different channels, getting different people's takes on things.  I ended up on Fox more than anything else.  And at 4:00, I ended up watching Beck.

With Tunisia, it seems that Beck hit a reset button of sorts.  He talked about the daily news, but he also talked about it in terms of what it meant to the web of alliances in the Middle East, which meant he talked about history.  That's when I found out that much of Beck's show is teaching history in light of and as it relates to the most current events.

I had never had a strong understanding of politics in the Middle East.  I knew the basics, I knew enough, and I didn't really care beyond that.  They have oil, they hate us, sometimes they try to kill us, and they're all of the way over there.  

Beck did the thing he does -- set up an argument, build, build, build, set a new argument...  But he started from a (somewhat) fresh base, and the stuff that wasn't fresh, he backed up to give a brief explanation.

I was not excited about the Egyptian rallies.  I found it intriguing, and it got my blood racing, but I was suspicious.  My collegiate studies in social movement theory taught me that something was missing from the equation.  Even with the addition of social media to the equation, some thing was missing.  

Beck named it for me.

It's not so much WHAT Beck named, it's that Beck saw it, too.  All of these different networks and talking heads were saying this and that and Ooh! Democracy!, but I definitely saw that something was missing.  Now, I'm not saying that I'm the smartest person in the world.  I'm not saying that I know more than those people on TV.  And I'm not saying that I'm right and they are wrong. 

I just didn't understand how my perspective wasn't even being discussed as a throwaway "those[insert name] crazies think BLAH".  

But there was one guy who named it.  Who named what was wrong.  Beck.

to be continued

God is a Doorknob, part 1

Perusing (someone else's) old blog, I noticed this comment:
Being a atheist conservative, I find [Glenn] Beck bothersome and, frankly, meaningless.

Being an atheist conservative who has some strange breed of intellectual crush on Beck, I found the comment bothersome -- and intriguing.  In general, I find it confusing and a little embarrassing how much I like Beck right now.  I look forward to his show each day like some do [did] with Oprah.  How did this happen to me?

Here's some history.  A year ago, I had no idea the Beck existed.  I spent the summer with extended family at lake houses in northern Wisconsin.  Fox News was the main channel watched.  It wasn't intolerable, but I wasn't exactly rejoicing about it.  Mostly I'd play computer games on my laptop, glancing up here and there if something caught my ear.

We watched TV as if we were participants.  Three of us: Mom, Dad, me.  Two remote controls.  At any given time, someone would pause the DVR (or, in my case, wave my hands in a "timeout" sign and wait for someone to pause the TV for me).  Then it was that person's turn to play pundit -- agreeing with their own anecdote, pointing out outlandish inconsistency, fallacy!, I call shenanigans!.  Someone was bound to agree or disagree, and to need to express it.  These breaks would last for one minute or as long as half an hour.  It took us a long time to get through a single program, even with fastforwarding through commercials.

Two programs were always watched.  Bret Baier's straight news and O'Reilly.  In retrospect, I had nothing to complain about.  Even if I were a die hard progressive, those shows are NOTHING to complain out.  Now, if they had been exposing me to, oh, Hannity, that would have been a shock.  They eased me in slowly.

I've always had a love affair with colonial Americana.  Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin...  These are men of legend.  They are also plain, American men.  They had flaws.  They were human.  They saw "truth" in a manner that I can barely conceive.  They invented ideological frameworks.  They took basic values, and they changed the world.  I have a deep love of the Founding Fathers, and I have a difficulty expressing it in words.

My friend R asked me about the whole Founding Fathers thing, asking, "is it like the Bible?"  I'm not sure if she meant the infallible part (no), the cafeteria style of turning a blind eye to weird stuff (sorta), worship (not really).  I was surprised to find out that she, a law student, didn't have a love for the people who created the goddamn government.

So, I love the Founding Fathers.  My mother mentioned that I might like this Fox guy, Beck, who also really likes the Founding Fathers.  This piqued my interest.  At the time, Beck was doing a series where he profiled different Founding Fathers every Friday.  The next Friday was Sam Adams, who is a particular favorite of mine.  He's the first FF who I fell in love with.  We taped it, and I was excited to watch.

I was horrified.  This weirdo said all sorts of shit about Sam Adams that I didn't agree with.  Most importantly, he focused on Adams's faith.  All of my studies of Sam Adams glanced over his time in seminary (which, for the times, was really more like going to college than anything else).  The Sam Adams I loved was a rabble-rouser.  He did the circular letters, sneaky tricks with fake letters to newspapers that helped frame public perception to be pro-revolution.  He wore a red cape and spent time in bars talking up trouble, getting people excited about ideas.  He was not some man of God.  What the fuck.

Beck quoted Adams talking about God.  But everyone talked about God then.  The concept of Atheists were... they were not.  Period.  Theists, like Franklin, were edgy enough.  People especially used God in public oration.  It's just something you did.  And it was something to which your audience responded.  Like people who go to church only on Christmas and Easter, or who only say grace when their in-laws are visiting.  Or thanking Jesus at the Grammys.  You thank Jesus at the Grammys, that doesn't mean that you are a man of the cloth.

I paused while I watched with my mom, and I said bad things about Beck.  She didn't argue back, with the exception of raising an eyebrow when I said that I probably knew more about Sam Adams than this hack.

I saw some Beck off and on that summer.  I thought the individual shows were interesting.  My problem?  I critiqued that he built strawman arguments.  "He states X like it's fact, and then he builds from there.  I agree with all of the logical conclusions he's drawing; however, I don't believe X.  He never proved X.  How can this be legit?"  The answer?  "He already proved X in a different show."

And indeed he did.  But I wouldn't know that until later on.

I found him interesting.  I thought his chalkboard thing was interesting.  We always FF'ed through commercials, so I didn't get a good idea of the full extent of the whole Buy Gold thing.  There was something about him that I liked, that I found intriguing, that drew me to him... a something that I couldn't put my finger on.  I didn't have the words.  I got a kick out of his younger sense of humor.  Younger, compared to O'Reilly anyways.  I liked his expressive face.  I liked that he talked about the world and events in the world, but he didn't necessarily focus on the minutia of the day.  I liked his energy.  

Even so, I was not yet ready to like Beck.

I returned to home that fall, and I got together with a progressive friend, J.  He's one of my smarter friends, and he particularly knowledgeable about politics.  Not just events, but also theory.  In some parallel universe, I would have fallen madly in love with his brain, but in this world, I appreciate our unique relationship.

I mentioned that I had spent the summer being exposed to Fox News -- to which he groaned -- and I mentioned Beck by name.  He immediately got angry, talking about how much he hates the guy.  "He's a shyster.  Mormon, ex-shock jock.  Now he's selling this conservative shit.  It's all an act.  He's got 'em duped, and he's making a fortune.  And don't get me started about the 'buy gold' scam!..."  

I had no idea who Beck was in the world of the Left, and I was actually surprised that J not only knew so much about him but that he felt such strong contempt.  I didn't know any of the background that he was talking about.  I didn't say much more.

to be continued