As I observe the "civil discourse" debate, I’ve pointed out the left seems peerless in their ability to be uncivil. And opinions like mine have sent the left scurrying to find some example that would rebut that conclusion – something so outrageous that it would force those on the right, like me, to abandon the premise and admit the right is just as bad.
And yesterday I thought they may have found it. Today, not so much. The subject is a segment by Glenn Beck. Full disclosure – I don’t watch Glenn Beck. I don’t listen to Glenn Beck. So I was open to the argument that he might have said something that would indeed provide an example of the rhetoric some folks on the left were attributing to him.
Here’s the snippet of a Beck segment that some lefty sites have been using to make their claim:
"Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.
"I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don’t. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep’s clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.
"You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.
"They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.
"Here is my advice when you’re dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say."
Oh my, Beck is saying "shoot them in the head" (assuming the “them” is the left and he’s instructing his viewers to do so). Well at least on the first quick pass. But then, when you read it for meaning, it just doesn’t quite add up. It is the way it is worded. It seems to be saying what the left claims it says, but not really. You’re left not quite believing it.
Enter Patterico who does what apparently the left wasn’t able to do – or found inconvenient to do: obtain the entire segment’s transcript. Make sure you read it all.
In a word, it provides context. I know, what a concept, eh? And it completely demolishes the contention claimed by the left. They really didn’t want to look beyond the snippet of words they had. Context was inconvenient to their disingenuous claim. In fact, it flips it on its head.
When you read the entire segment, you suddenly realize who Beck is talking about – and it isn’t an incitement to the right to go shoot anyone in the head as the lefty sites insist.
As Dan McLaughlin notes the "you" Beck talks about is the Democratic leadership in Congress. And McLaughlin says:
I’m almost embarrassed for anybody gullible enough that they fell for this one.
Yup. I’m not surprised, naturally. But I’d be embarrassed. And that doesn’t even begin to address those who used this to try to spin it into something it isn’t. In their case it isn’t about “embarrassment” but about their credibility.
Of course I’d be interested to hear the opinion of those who eschewed context in this case to comment on something Paul Kanjorski said. You know Kanjorski – the former Democratic Congressman who had to temerity to publish a piece in the NY Times lecturing the rest of us on "civil discourse" in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting? A few months back, speaking of then FL candidate for governor Rick Scott, he said:
"Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida.
The context of the quote is he was upset that a guy who was involved with a company that was involved with one of the largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud scandals in history wasn’t in jail. Legit bitch, but even in that context, does it excuse the language? I mean if you want to be internally consistent and all.
The left? Crickets.
And in the realm of inciteful and violent rhetoric, it kinda makes the Palin cross-hairs map seem, oh, I don’t know, silly in comparison, doesn’t it?
So? So the left remains peerless in the rhetoric realm and are also adding to their lead in the “deceitful claims” department as well.
As we enter October, now is the time to begin to pay close attention to election polls. As the November election date approaches, more and more people will turn their attention to them and the polls will begin to more accurately reflect the probable outcome.
But there are other polls out there that are interesting as well. They give indicators, moods and trends which, when combined with election polls help better explain why one candidate is surging and the other faltering.
Two of those catch my notice today. The first is the POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll. While it may mean absolutely nothing in 2012, the most important year for Obama, it does provide a snap-shot of the mood of the electorate. In it pollsters found:
- Only 38% say Obama deserves re-election and 44% will vote to oust him out
- Voters trust congressional Republicans to create jobs more than Obama by an 11-point margin
- Republicans hold a 4-point edge in generic ballot
The significance is the difference in his job approval rating (42% – an all time low) and his "deserves reelection" rating. The latter is the most significant, and it says he’s a one term president – for now. Remember, in politics, it is all about the confidence one has in the leadership. This poll could be considered a lack of confidence vote as it concerns Obama right now.
The fact that voters ‘trust’ Republicans to create more jobs than Democrats by 11 points isn’t so much an endorsement of Republican economic policies, but a rejection of Democratic ones. They’re deemed to have failed (and that failure, I would claim, is directly connected with Obama’s reelection number).
You have to wonder if Republicans are able to do a marginally better job on the job front (or the economy begins to rebound naturally and they get some credit) whether it will also pick up Obama’s reelection numbers.
The last number – 4% on the positive side for the GOP on the generic ballot – simply reflects the facts the other two numbers do. Voters are deeply dissatisfied with Democrats. That doesn’t mean they’re wild about the GOP though.
Some other news from the poll concerns the media preferences of the electorate:
- 81% of those polled get midterm election news from cable news channels
- 42% say Fox News is their main source – more than CNN (30%) and MSNBC (12%) combined
- Bill O’Reilly seen to have greatest "positive impact" of opinionated media personalities with 49%, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are second and third
- MSNBC personalities largely unknown – 70% have never heard of Ed Schultz, 55% haven’t heard of Rachel Maddow
Now this is interesting stuff for many reasons. One is it provides proof that the left’s attempted demonization of Fox News has not worked at all. I wonder how that’s going to sit with the White House. In fact, it seems to have been a dismal failure. What the left would characterize as “right biased media” apparently rules.
Secondly, I find it hilarious that the “stars” of the left are unknown to the majority of those polled. And remember, the 30% who say they have heard of Ed Schultz (I’d be one of those) don’t necessarily listen to him (I’d also be one of those). John Stewart, however, did quite well on the “positive impact” side of things.
Last – is Limbaugh’s star being eclipsed by O’Reilly and Beck? I realize that O’Reilly, for some reason, has held the top spot on cable opinion shows for some time, and Beck does both radio and cable while Limbaugh only does radio, but that’s interesting info if correct. However, regardless as to the ranking of those three, they apparently convincingly own the “positive impact” category of “opinionated media”. Wonder what Hannity thinks about all this (and not being really in the running?)?
And as an aside, despite their declining circulation numbers, newspapers remain the most important news source for likely voters:
Despite steady declines in circulation over the past decade, newspapers are more influential than national news broadcasts when it comes to news on the upcoming election, with 72 percent of respondents saying they turn to newspapers or their websites.
Local news did better, at 73 percent, and conversations with friends and family was the second-most-cited source, at 79 percent. Radio was cited by only 58 percent of respondents, and non-newspaper websites and blogs by 39 percent.
Anyway, all of this makes sense when you view the results of the other poll. And, given the majorities who’ve never heard of the liberal show hosts, I’m not sure it would be any different if it was the Republicans in control and failing as dismally as the Democrats are. When that was the case, those folks were on the air and apparently few were tuning in to hear what they had to say.
Why? Because for the most part, Limbaugh, Beck and O’Reilly talk about getting government out of our hair, making it smaller and less costly. That resonates. That reflects the mood of the country. It is also something you’re not going to hear from the Ed Shultz’s and Rachel Maddow’s of the world.
There’s a free clue (and one that should be obvious by now) to any politician or political party that wants it.
Call in number: (718) 664-9614
Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.
Subject(s): What will President Obama say Wednesday night. Van Jones – he goes after Glenn Beck with a boycott and it is Jones who ends up going home. Afghanistan – the popularity of the war is waning just as Obama is upping the forces there. What’s the prognosis?
UPDATE: Technical difficulties prevent this week. We’ll be back next week.
UPDATE [Dale]: Actually, we won’t be back next week. Or the week after that. I’ll be in Alaska. Podcast will resume after get back, in three weeks.
In the wake of the Van Jones resignation, Keith Olberman – MSNBC’s laughable miniature pit bull (he thinks he’s a big dog) – has apparently declared war on Glenn Beck. He does so, appropriately, on the Daily Kos:
I don’t know why I’ve got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.
No, even now, I refuse to go all caps.
No, sending me links to the last two Countdowns with my own de-constructions of his biblical vision quality Communist/Fascist/Socialist/Zimbalist art at Rockefeller Center (where, curiously, he works, Comrade) doesn’t count. Nor does sending me links to specious inappropriate point-underscoring prove-you’re-innocent made-up rumors.
No, rocket boy wants new stuff – probably like the fake police report that was circulated earlier last week alleging Beck was a rapist and a murderer.
And, in case you’re wondering, carpet bomber Olberman isn’t satisfied with just Beck, he wants Beck’s producer and Roger Ailes as well.
Now really – is Keith Olberman clean enough that he wants to put himself in the position that the other side might decide to do the same with him? And to what end is such a campaign aimed?
Frankly, I’ve seen enough of Olberman that I don’t want to know any more about him – but there are those who will differ, and dig. Does he really want to reduce his already miniscule TV presence to this? Trying to dig up dirt on another personality who apparently buries him in the ratings. How’d that work out with Bill O’Reilly?
Tuesday we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated email address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his tv enablers, Ailes (even though Ailes’ power was desperately undercut when he failed to pull off his phony “truce” push).
This becomes necessary after this in order to prove various cliches about goose and gander, and to remind everybody to walk softly and carry a big popsicle, and most particularly to save this nation from the Oligarhy of The Stupid.
I keep wondering if somewhere somebody named Ollie Garhey thinks he’s in charge now. Or, even more entertainingly and societally satisfying, if somebody named Ali Garhi does.
Despite the worn-out snark above, I am in earnest here.
Worn out snark and such clever word play – you just have to wonder how anyone resists this guy. Why aren’t his ratings through the roof? Why isn’t he blowing away those Fox freaks at whom he takes such frequent and obviously jealous aim?
Ah, yeah, perhaps it’s the sheer spectacle of someone who seemed to have talent – or at least seemed to have it until he went political – reducing himself to this chosen role?
And make no mistake about it – our favorite “earnest” muckraker is the one who has made himself exactly what he is recognized as being today – a left-wing toady who plays fast and loose with the facts, thinks he’s far more clever than he is and doesn’t yet realize that the few who watch him aren’t laughing with him, but instead at him – when they bother to watch at all. No serious person would ever turn to Keith Olberman for anything but his entertainment value – a living parody of the ego-in-overdrive “journalist” without a clue.
[And no, this isn't a defense of Glenn Beck - I don't watch or listen to Beck either]
In what I can only surmise is the latest talking point to emerge from JournoList, Glenn Beck has replaced Rush Limbaugh asthe token leader of the Republican Party, against whom all manner of mud will be slung. Reminiscent of the Clinton years, talk radio hosts are being assailed as the progenitors of hate, and even being blamed for recent shootings such as that in Pittsburgh. All of this nonsense, of course, but the smears will be cast about by lefty cohorts just the same.
The most recent offering is from Michael A. Cohen writing at Politico, entitled “Extremist rhetoric won’t rebuild the 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.
Frankly, that is all you really need to read of Mr. Cohen’s piece to understand what he is on about. The short version is that rightwing leader, Glenn Beck, is spreading dangerous conspiracy theories that hurt the GOP and the nation. The problem, as always, is that the charges just aren’t true.
Taking them one by one from the cited paragraph, here is what Cohen asserts are the product of “the feverish mind of a conspiracy theorist”, and why his assertions are false:
(1) “the government wants to remotely control our thermostats”
I don’t know to which Beck comments Cohen is referring, but the fact is that the California government proposed exactly such a law:
Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.
The proposed rules are contained in a document circulated by the California Energy Commission, which for more than three decades has set state energy efficiency standards for home appliances, like water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators. The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers’ preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities’ suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers’ wishes.
Clearly, it takes no “feverish mind” to grasp the fact that such programs are being considered.
(2) “the relaxing of the ban on stem cell research — as well as efforts to prevent global warming — is reminiscent of Nazism”
Well that does sound pretty bad. At least, until you track down what Beck actually said. In an interview with Professor Robert George of Princeton University, Beck rehashed why allowing progressive political interests to be in charge of steering “science” in the name of the public good was not necessarily desirable:
GLENN: I tell you, it’s so disturbing. I’m getting a lot of heat today because yesterday on television I talked about this and I said, you know, it was the progressives and the scientists that brought us eugenics. The idea that science — if evolution is true, then science should be able to help it along, and it was the guys in the white jackets. It was the scientists and the doctors that brought us the horrors of eugenics and it’s because –
PROFESSOR GEORGE: Glenn, can I fill you in a little bit? Because you are absolutely right. Let me tell you a little bit of the history. It’s fascinating. Those guys in white coats were not even during the Nazi period. These weren’t guys working for the Nazis. This was years before the Nazis during the Weimar Republic.
GLENN: It was here.
PROFESSOR GEORGE: When progressive, as they were then called, doctors and lawyers and others, decided that there were some lives unworthy of life. And two scholars, a guy named Bending and a guy named Hoka (ph) who were not Nazis who were opposed to the Nazi federy and so forth, they saw them as really sort of lower class thugs. But these two guys, a law professor and a medical professor, wrote a book called Lebens unwürdig von Leben, life unworthy of life which was a roadmap for taking the life destroying the lives of retarded people, people regarded as inferior because of their low intelligence or physical impairment or so forth. That was the roadmap. It was before the Nazis. You are 100% right.
GLENN: And a lot of this stuff, I mean, started here originally, did it not? Didn’t some of the original thinking –
PROFESSOR GEORGE: Well, it didn’t just begin in Germany. It’s certainly true that there was a strong eugenics here among the elite, among the progressive, the people who regarded themselves as the forward thinkers. Just the name, one figure from my own field of philosophy of law, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the great American jurist and philosopher and eventually Supreme Court justice who was with the program entirely of eugenics before the Nazis gave it a bad name. So it was here in America just as it was in Germany.
GLENN: So here’s what I’m afraid of and, you know, call me crazy, but whenever you unplug from ethics and you put science at the top and then you surround it with a bunch of progressive elitists, that usually doesn’t spell, you know, spell out anything that’s good.
With respect to the dangers of separating ethics and embryonic stem cell research, the conversation also included this tidbit:
GLENN: The guy who started embryonic stem cell research, I heard a quote from him yesterday, said if you haven’t — if this whole concept of research on embryos hasn’t given you pause, then you haven’t thought about it enough.
PROFESSOR GEORGE: Oh, yes, that’s Jamie Thompson you are quoting who was the first person to isolate human embryonic stem cells. He is a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin. And he said that in explaining why he had done path-breaking work, very important pioneering work to create alternative sources of pluripotent stem cells, pluripotent just means like embryonic stem cells, cells that are able to be manipulated to become any sort of cell tissue so they would be very useful in regenerative medicine if all things work out. But Thompson was explaining why he went down another path and created a technology for which he’s likely to win the Nobel Prize called induced pluripotent stem cells which can be created without using embryos or destroying embryos or killing embryos. So yes, even somebody like Thompson recognizes that there’s a huge ethical issue here. But President Obama’s just swept past it, just swept past it.
To be fair, whenever Nazism or fascism enters the fray, noses are sure to get bent out of shape and even clearly expressed thoughts will be missed. However, as easily surmised from the snippets of conversation above (much less the whole thing), it’s quite clear that Beck was not comparing stem cell research to Nazism, but instead warning against allowing progressive scientists to drive the debate without regard for the ethical issues. By referencing an historical consequence of blindly following such advice, Beck is simply making a useful comparison to illuminate his point. Nowhere does he compare stem cell research to Nazism.
(3) “the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be setting up concentration camps”
Of all the accusations leveled at Beck by Mr. Cohen, this is the most egregiously false. In my opinion, the charge would fairly support a suit for defamation against Cohen, even under the heightened “actual malice” standard set forth in New York Times, Co. v. Sullivan. Far from asserting that FEMA was setting up concentration camps, Beck actively and thoroughly debunked the conspiracy theory [HT: Allahpundit]:
How Cohen could make the assertion he did is simply bewildering. Even the barest amount of research would have shown how wrong he was. If nothing else, Cohen should immediately retract his claim and apologize to Beck.
(4) “the country is on the path to socialism or possibly fascism but definitely some “-ism” that should be avoided.”
After delving into pure libel, Cohen quickly steers into idiocy. The assertion here is that Beck’s opinion that the Obama administration policies are grounded in statist/collectivist ideology is a conspiracy theory. Missing from Cohen’s analysis is any mention of the last eight years of BusHitler! droning. Nor is there any explanation as to how an opinion regarding the underlying ideology of the President’s governing philosophy could be a conspiracy theory. Typical of liberals nowadays, Cohen simply likens any mention of similarities between Obama’s agenda and actual socialist/fascist/statist policies as fear-mongering worthy of no examination, and what’s wrong with socialism anyway? Apparently ignorance of recent events is not Cohen’s only forte, as he is also seemingly unaware of anything that has happened over the last century or so.
Regardless of how one might feel about Glenn Beck, and whether you agree with him or not, he is being unfairly smeared by Mr. Cohen. The sorts of attacks set forth above will only broaden in scope unless confronted, and they will be used to discredit any similar veins of thought no matter how tangential to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or any other strawman leader the left chooses to hang around the necks of those opposed to statist politics. Hit these rhetorical bullies in their lying collectivist mouths now, or face the unfortunate consequences of letting them drive the agenda and control the language of the debate.