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Think Progress

By Josh Israel  on Jun 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Mitt Romney dismissed criticisms that he does not want to hire more teachers, firefighters, and police officers as “absurd” on Tuesday morning, telling Fox News Channel that if elected president, he would not have the ability to control the hiring decisions of local governments:

ROMNEY: Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that’s completely absurd.

But Romney’s comment demonstrates a disturbing lack of understanding of both federal funding and his own published plans. While it is true that teachers, firefighters, and police are hired at the local level, a significant portion of their funding, recruiting, and training comes from the federal government.

Here are just some of the ways the federal government funds:

Teachers

MORE HERE

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I’ve probably written and rewritten this opening paragraph about Glenn Beck and his morning zoo sycophantic sidekick Pat Gray four or five times with various sequences of compound obscenities and ad hominem insults. But I’m opting for more restraint at this point, even though neither of these jackals deserves it. Especially so, considering their latest hand-in-hand plunge into all new depths of awfulness.

By now, you’ve probably heard the news about Gene Cranick and his family, and how the South Fulton, Tennessee fire department stood by and allowed the Cranick house to burn to the ground, destroying everything and killing the family’s dogs and cats. All because the Cranicks failed to pay a $75 fee. While a raging brush fire neared his home, Cranick begged the fire chief to stop the fire before it engulfed his house. He even offered to immediately pay the $75 fee, but the chief refused and the house burned to the ground.

As a survivor of two house fires (technically, one was a gas explosion) my heart goes out to the Cranicks and the nightmare they’re enduring today. But my own experiences are incidental — you don’t have to have survived a pair of house fires to recognize the unapologetic callousness of Beck and his squishy Quatto-from-Total-Recall parasitic twin Pat Gray.

Here’s what happened.

Yesterday on his radio show, Beck and Gray not only defended the fire department’s refusal to save the Cranick’s house, but they also accused Cranick of “sponging” off his neighbors — all the while mocking and ridiculing Cranick’s rural accent. Courtesy of ThinkProgress, here’s the clip:

And the takeaway quote from Beck:

If you don’t pay the 75 dollars then that hurts the fire department. They can’t use those resources, and you’d be sponging off your neighbor’s resources.

That’s right. A matter of days after losing everything they owned, including their home, their pets, family photographs — everything — and all because of a delinquent $75 fee, Gene Cranick and his family were excoriated, scolded and teased by multimillionaire celebrity televangelist Glenn Beck in front of a radio audience estimated at upwards of 10 million listeners.

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The words “government takeover” were originally injected into the discourse by Frank Luntz in the early stages of the health care reform process and have been repeated in the pejorative sense by Republicans across the board.

Despite the fact that thousands of Americans die every month from a lack of affordable health insurance, the Republicans have argued that the government isn’t allowed to “takeover” the industry. It goes without saying that the president wasn’t proposing any such thing and, in fact, publicly denounced single-payer health insurance, but okay. The Republicans truly believe the health care reform bill is socialism and a total takeover of the industry. It’s not.

Likewise, the Republicans and tea party people have been screeching about the bailouts. They insist that the banks and financial institutions (and GM) should have been allowed to fail, rather than receiving emergency loans from the government in order to, at the time, prevent the American economy from being dragged down along with these institutions had they not been hoisted with an infusion of cash.

Speaking of which, the Republicans also loudly opposed the recovery bill, which included, as a total dollar amount, the biggest middle class tax cut in American history as well as a considerable amount of funding for the states. Yet the Republicans, once again, screeched about state’s rights and tried to block the funding.

In his response to the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana famously mocked such obviously hilarious things as volcano monitoring in the recovery bill. Volcanoes? Why should we monitor those?

The dominant centerpiece to all of this outrage has been the Republican idea that the states and the free market should be left alone to deal with problems and crises on its own without “socialist” — or even “communist” depending on which AM radio station you listen to — interference from big government and our America-hating president. No government takeovers. Freedom! Liberty! And no stupid volcano thingees also.

Americans dying from a lack of health insurance? Too bad. No government takeover. The economy about to sink into a second Great Depression? Too bad. No government takeover. The Earth growing warmer due to the burning of fossil fuels? Too bad. No government takeover.

That is until last month.

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Congressman Calls for Investigation into Glenn Beck’s Hawking Gold for Shady Company

Beck works with gold companies to create anxiety, fear and gimmicky solutions that enriches both him and the companies.

May 19, 2010 |

Throughout Glenn Beck’s meteoric rise to become king of all right-wing media, a once-obscure Santa Monica peddler of gold coins called Goldline International has been along for the ride. The support of Beck and other radio hosts — mainly conservatives like Mark Levin and Fred Thompson — who spend 55 minutes creating fear of an economic collapse and then five minutes telling you why coins from a company like Goldline are the only safe haven has helped Goldline become a $500 million company.

This, for example, is what 2 million TV viewers who clicked on Beck’s nightly Fox News Channel show heard on Oct. 6, 2009:

You don’t have any gold, right? This is you. This is you. This is your savings. How much did you lose if you had any money in your 401k? Did you lose, let’s say, I don’t know, 40 percent of it? So, that’s gone. Now, did you know that the dollar has lost nearly 29 percent of its value in the last seven years? Twenty-nine percent. OK, that’s gone. Just gone.

This isn’t an advertisement, although it may sound like one. It’s the editorial content of the show, although at some point during the hour viewers are sure to see an ad for Goldline with their “800” number prominently displayed. Meanwhile, visitors to GlennBeck.com see a big ad for Goldline, while visitors to Goldline.com can see testimonials from Beck for Goldline. It’s hard to know sometimes where Beck — who famously told his viewers to get behind “God, gold, and guns” — ends and Goldline begins.

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During yesterday’s Glenn Beck radio show, Beck delivered a 10-minute monologue in which he hit all of his phony-baloney touchstones — some of them, as I’ve been writing for the last several weeks, are dangerous and some are simply ridiculous. But primarily, Beck was in full televangelist mode about God and something about a “plan” and, in the process, he dovetailed into a little McCarthyism and, as usual, a little historical revisionism. He even shrunk into a defensive bit refuting the accusations that he’s a faker who’s conning his audience.

Now, before you listen to this epic clip courtesy of Media Matters, I should warn you to turn down your speakers, because the over-the-top levels of audio compression and EQ on Beck’s voice (say nothing of the half-dozen or so Beck sound-alikes who also occupy his studio) will absolutely blow out your speakers.

Most radio stations employ some sort of digital processing to make the host or disc jockey sound more resonant, but I’ve never heard a talk show with this much compression. Clearly, the BOOM! is there to enhance Beck’s voice in a way that augments his level of psychological persuasion — the deeper, diaphragm-vibrating low end increases the physical connection between Beck and his audience. A more subconscious aspect of his scam.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The overarching theme of this monologue is that God is speaking directly to Glenn Beck and giving him the plan. It’s classic televangelism, which is commonly seen as nothing more than an exploitation of religious naiveté with the goal of making the televangelist rich. Listen to me. I have the answers. Because God is speaking to me. So give generously if you want to hear what God’s plan is.

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“This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! …So goodbye everybody, and remember please, for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian… it’s Halloween.”

Orson Welles, one of Glenn Beck’s broadcasting heroes. In fact, the name of Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts (officially known as Glenn Beck, Inc.), is based on Welles’ CBS radio show — the radio show that famously aired one of broadcasting’s most legendary hoaxes: The War of the Worlds.

Unlike the various Glenn Beck shows and publications, the Mercury performance of the H.G. Welles classic featured a disclaimer at the end (quoted above), formally noting the fictitious nature of the broadcast. Imagine if, unlike Beck, Welles had never broadcast a monologue postscript revealing that what had unfolded on the radio was purely theater. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the ensuing hysteria during and after the show would’ve been far greater.

Every day, for four hours a day, Glenn Beck is playing out a Welles fantasy — leaping out from behind an array of Carrot Top-meets-Gallagher props and gizmos while shouting BOO! at his audience without taking the slightest responsibility for the ensuing hysteria. In Beck’s case, the “boo!” comes in the form of Joe McCarthy style red-baiting and Lee Atwater style race-baiting — insisting with wildly incomprehensible chalkboard scribblings that Marxists and communists are lurking under our beds waiting to steal our money. Money that’s better served feeding Glenn Beck’s empire of fraud. I mean, just look! Those random words on the chalkboard spelled out the acronym “OLIGARHY!” Run for your lives, and all that. It’s an OLIGARHY!

No disclaimers letting the audience off the hook like Beck’s hero, the vastly more responsible performer Welles did. Beck, like several other Fox News Channel actors in Roger Ailes’ ratings-at-all-costs strategy, presents his show as an honest assessment of the truth without any sort of in-show sign that it’s almost entirely farcical.

One of the most common e-mail responses I’ve received from Beck supporters so far has been, simply: “Prove it.” Suffice to say, I never would have started down this road without some sort of confirmation that my theory about Beck was on the right track. So prior to typing a single word, I spoke with some sources close to and within Fox News Channel and they confirmed exactly what I suspected: Glenn Beck is “a bullshit artist.” A faker. A phony.

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So here goes. Beginning with this post, I intend to expose Glenn Beck as a fraud. A dangerous faker who deliberately manipulates his audience by appealing to their basest instincts. As a man who only embraces conservatism and the tea party movement as a means to furthering his significant personal wealth and career as a successful TV goon.

My theory is as follows. Glenn Beck is engaged in a carefully orchestrated performance that, if taken to its logical end, can only end up in tragedy — a tragedy, not in the name of some great political or social or religious cause, as too many of his viewers might believe, but rather in the name of pure careerism and greed. A tragedy in the name of Glenn Beck’s personal drive for fame and fortune, not to mention the similar motivations of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch.

Right. I get it. I should probably ignore him. Why should I waste time writing about Glenn Beck again? As hard as it is to believe, most days I intentionally ignore Glenn Beck posts and videos on the blogs. My reoccurring reaction is generally twofold. One: he’s exhausting to watch because just as I’m wrapping my head around one line of googly-eyed horseshit, he belts out another ridiculous, melodramatic or dangerous line, and before I know it, I’m faced with a log-jam of crazy, forcing me to scramble for either an oxygen mask or a stiff drink. And, two: why pay attention to the television equivalent of an escaped mental patient screaming gibberish on the median strip at a busy intersection?

But to underestimate Glenn Beck as just some sort of random extra from Cuckoo’s Nest, as I admittedly have done, is a mistake as it barely scratches the surface of what his scam is all about. A schizoid raving street loon tends to command attention purely for the freak show curiosity of passers by, yet the nonsense is rarely taken seriously.

This isn’t the case with Glenn Beck. Several million people every day take his word for it. They’re suckered into buying the ruse. And it’s bad for America.

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Last week, I wrote a piece about the tea party movement and the obvious through-line of race, race-baiting, racism and the use of the Southern Strategy within the movement. The responses were mostly positive and supportive, while the responses from the far-right and tea party people were predictably obnoxious, contradictory and fact-free.

The dominant theme throughout the most outraged responses was, essentially: We’re not racists, but here’s why we’re pissed about blacks and immigrants. For example, here’s a particularly illustrative e-mail, reprinted as it was received:

The Tea Party is NOT about race, it is about me paying taxes to support every non contributing individual that has the ability to pro create. It is not my/our fault that the majority of NON contributors are minority. It is not my/our fault some refuse to learn English, thereby limiting their employment opportunities. Hell, the whole race thing is nothing but bullshit for losers such as Garafolo and yourself to capitalize on. Rest assured Booby Boy we no longer give a damn about what you think do or say The main reason the Tea Party exists is Obama’s Marxist/Socialistic COMMUNISTIC leanings that will ultimately cost me, part of the 50% that pays taxes, as opposed to the 50% that DON’T PAY!! An ideology that will transform this Country into a third world nation. Try having some honest debate Booby and you might gain cred. Until then you’re shining Garafolo’s shoes. Sounds to me like you may be an immigrant yourself with an axe to grind. Is that the case Booby? If so you can always go home! Careful moron that light you’re looking at is a train not the end of the tunnel……

Smart. I have dozens more just like it. Several of them tell me I’m an idiot for suggesting there’s a racial component, followed closely with a line about how I should “go back to Cuba or Africa.” Nope. No racism there. Nevertheless, no matter how unhinged the above message might be, it proves an important point — my point.

Each topic abstractly hinges on race.

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Right off the bat, allow me to be perfectly clear: I don’t want Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or any of the other far-right talkers to be silenced or fired, that is unless their corporate bosses decide they ought to be silenced or fired. And if they are, I hope it’s for a funny reason — like Hannity getting caught on a surveillance camera peeing into the break room coffee pot, or Glenn Beck conspiring with Billy Bibbit to steal all of Charlie Cheswick’s cigarettes.

That said it’s becoming increasingly evident that the recent shooting sprees aren’t just isolated incidents, but are actually part of a dangerous trend. And regardless of whether or not there’s a direct connection with the usual cable news and talk radio suspects, broadcasters like Beck ought to take responsibility for some of their more incendiary remarks — remarks which appear to be ginning up the darker, uglier, fanatical tendencies in an already militaristic, jingoistic, reactionary audience.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. For example:

…in this day and age where we have a lot of fanatics out there, I find the whole concept unbelievably irresponsible. Did you not think that there are people that are going to see this and maybe take an idea like that and run with it? Did you think about that? […] You’ve got to — do you not have a responsibility to think of the impact, the impressions that could be made on people?

That was Sean Hannity on October 26, 2006 interviewing the director of the mock-documentary The Death of a President, a film that dramatized the potential aftermath of a successful assassination attempt against George W. Bush. Hannity was saying in no uncertain terms that merely discussing a violent act might encourage a viewer to do something crazy, and so the purveyor of such a discussion is being dangerously irresponsible.

Oddly enough, I agree with Hannity in theory, though not in terms of context. Hannity and others on the far-right seem to crap their cages only when it comes to works of make-believe. Video games, Teletubbies, Spongebob. Yet real-life cable news networks, according to Beck and others, should be allowed to broadcast whatever insanity happens to achieve the biggest ratings regardless of taste, standards, ethics or professional responsibility.

To wit: on the Monday edition of his FOX News show, Glenn Beck was outraged that anyone would look to his militaristic rants and crying jags — specifically his Obama-is-coming-for-our-guns hysteria — as a possible contributing factor in last weekend’s Pittsburgh shooting spree during which an ultra-far-right maniac murdered several police officers in cold blood because he feared his guns would be taken away by President Obama:

Blaming anyone except the nut job for what happened in Pittsburgh is crazy.

Okay, but here’s the problem. The Glenn Beck who said this on Monday is clearly at odds with the Glenn Beck of Spring 2008 who blamed the video game Grand Theft Auto for “training our kids to be killers” and “our sons to treat women like whores.”

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Without a doubt, many of the attacks from the far-right against President Obama have amounted to nothing more than the political equivalent of speaking in tongues. The attacks are only marginally more coherent than Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland character from Anchorman shouting “LOUD NOISES!” for the sake of shouting something. Anything.

The most ridiculous of the loud noises are the ones that entirely ignore the legacy of the previous president. Specifically, the very same people making the loudest noises about President Obama have also spent the last eight years spastically applauding President Bush’s worst trespasses every step of the way. The far-right’s staggering disregard for the significant flaws of the former Republican president confounds logic when measured against their ridiculous attacks on the current president.

ATTACK: President Obama took a vacation to Hawaii.
REALITY: President Bush set a record for presidential vacations during two wars and a major hurricane.

ATTACK: President Obama’s budget could double the national debt.
REALITY: President Bush’s spending actually did.

ATTACK: President Obama is “shredding the Constitution.”
REALITY: You mean there’s a Constitution left to be shredded?

ATTACK: President Obama chuckled while talking about bailing out the auto industry.
REALITY: President Bush routinely smirked and grinned while talking about the significantly more serious issues of war and military casualties.

ATTACK: President Obama is incompetent.
REALITY: Do I even need to do the list?

ATTACK: President Obama is presiding over a one-party fascist government.
REALITY: This is not a joke.

So. Loud noises!

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