So I'm about 70 pages into Glenn Beck's newest book, Arguing with Idiots, and I have to admit, Beck does paint a pretty convincing picture of an idiot. The premise of the book is that Beck is engaged in an ongoing argument with "the idiot," who comes armed with some truly idiotic statements, such as, "They may not be perfect, but France is doing socialism right -- we should be more like them," and, "Private schools aren't beholden to unions, but they should be closed because they're only for the rich."
It should be noted, however, that in these 70 pages, Beck provides just one example -- just one -- of a real person or group actually making the argument he attributes to "the idiot." The rest of "the idiot's" absurdly simplified arguments add up to a crude caricature of the progressive, socialist, communist, fascist, peacenik, pot-smoking, transgender hippies that, in Beck's mind, are destroying the country.
Page 70 offers an excellent example of what I'm talking about. After three pages devoted largely to attacking teachers who refuse to grade papers in red ink, "the idiot" argues: "If we only put as much money into this country's schools as we do its defense, everything would be fine." Beck offers this riposte:
We are all familiar with the bumper stickers pining for the day that the defense budget goes to the schools and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale, but comparing educational spending with national defense isn't particularly fair, clever, or logical.
First of all, we have to spend on money on defense because if we don't defend our country -- well, the schools won't matter much. Take the Republic of Georgia for instance. Do you really think citizens there are worried about standardized test scores or drunk Russian soldiers driving tanks down their streets?
So we've moved on from Arguing with Idiots to Arguing with Bumper Stickers. I can't tell if that's a step forward, backward, or sideways. Either way, I'm not familiar with those bumper stickers, nor am I familiar with any public education advocates who argue that we stop spending money on national defense. And what does Georgia have to do with any of this? Does anyone begrudge Georgia for spending on its national defense? None of this makes any sense.
To read this book is to watch Glenn Beck argue with himself, and then boast about how he's winning the debate.
Convinced that the possibly stolen contact list of emails and phone numbers belonging to ACORN's CEO represents the key that will unlock far-reaching empire that the cash-strapped ACORN represents, right-wing blogger Erick Erickson returns today with another installment in his (barely coherent) guilt-by-association marathon.
Following the leads provided by the magical contact list, Erickson thinks he's onto a blockbuster story which, to any sane observer, seems to be that activists often keep in touch with one another via phone calls and emails. But he's got bigger ideas. And boy, this contact list only convinces Erickson there's more to the story. Way more [emphasis added]:
For many years it has been speculated that SEIU [union] and ACORN share a common foundation. This seems to suggest as much. In fact, in at least one appearance on the contacts list, an SEIU official has an ACORN email address.
Jackpot. A single SEIU official has a single ACORN email address. Uncanny. It's like Erickson's now Woodward and Bernstein rolled into one.
It seems Republicans are optimistic about recapturing the New York governor's chair in 2010. They see "hope," reports the WSJ. And how does the WSJ know? Republicans said so, of course.
Number of Republicans quoted in article: 3
Number of Democrats quoted in article: 0
Even more awkward for the Journal is the fact that it left out any mention of the brand new polling results, which show Democrat Andrew Cuomo (and NY's AG) currently trouncing possible Republican rivals, if the election were held today:
The attorney general leads Giuliani by 52 percent to 39 percent and has a 66 percent to 16 percent win over Rick Lazio, the former congressman who on Tuesday formally announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz on Monday:
We have two other news stories in today's Post about the substance of what the president said. My job is to be the media critic.
That second sentence is noteworthy because Kurtz often seems to forget this. That morning's column, for example, was more an assessment of Barack Obama than of the media. Today's runs nearly 1,400 words, but if you want to find any media criticism in it, you better bring a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. One section, for example, consists of nothing other than Kurtz printing two paragraphs of Glenn Beck's attacks on Mark Lloyd. Another is all about political peril for Democrats. Another is devoted to reprinting excerpts of other reporters' excerpts of Taylor Branch's transcripts of conversations with Bill Clinton.
Anyway, in playing amateur political pundit rather than professional media critic, Kurtz has been pushing the "Obama is overexposed" theme hard. So I was curious to see if he'd mention the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found only 34 percent of Americans feel that they "see and hear President Obama too much," while 54 percent say they see and hear him the right amount, and 9 percent would like more. Kurtz does mention it, but only in passing -- and doesn't mention that the poll undermines his own arguments that Obama is "overexposed."
I guess that's the kind of thing a media critic would do.
From Ben Shapiro's September 23 column:
Carter was a racist back in his day. Upon his return to Georgia after serving in the Navy, Carter joined the Sumter County School Board, where he supported segregation. He called his segregationist Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox "the essence of the Democratic Party." When Carter campaigned for governor, he labeled himself a "redneck" -- surely a code word in early 1970s Georgia. Obama, too, is a racist -- his spiritual mentor was Jeremiah "United States of KKKA" Wright, he surrounds himself with folks like Van "White People Pollute Black Communities" Jones, and he is married to Michelle "I've Never Been Proud of My Country" Obama.
Previously: Beck: Obama "is, I believe, a racist"
Here's how Time's Amy Sullivan opens a Swampland post:
I don't want to write about John Edwards.
Yes, she does. Here's how I know Sullivan wants to write about John Edwards: I'm reading a blog post she wrote about John Edwards.
And yet here we are, nearly two years after the National Enquirer first reported he had an affair with a then-unnamed campaign staffer, and Edwards is still managing to keep his private screw-up in the headlines. According to the latest reports, the former Democratic politician is maybe, kinda, sorta considering publicly admitting that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's young daughter.
John Edwards isn't keeping his screw-up in the headlines. Politicians don't write headlines. Journalists write headlines. Now, you can certainly argue that speculation that a former Democratic party Vice Presidential nominee is "maybe, kinda, sorta" considering admitting paternity is newsworthy. But Sullivan doesn't want to do that. She wants to write about John Edwards and pretend that it isn't her choice; that John Edwards is forcing her to by ... Well, by not doing much of anything at the moment.
Bull. Sullivan chose to write about Edwards.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, Monday:
Howard Kurtz: The Washington Times is far more balanced since John Solomon took over last year. (Solomon came from The Post, as did its new White House correspondent, Matthew Mosk, and a top editor, Jeff Birnbaum.) In its previous two decades, the Times front-page often resembled a right-wing bulletin board, and its previous editor told me he regarded it as a conservative newspaper.
The Washington Times, today:
The Washington Times has launched TheConservatives.com, a Web site with technology that allows activists to talk up to ideological and party leaders and interact in innovative ways.
TheConservatives.com - a joint online media venture from The Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation - is a tool to "reinvent the right" and help move the public discourse.
"TheConservatives.com creates a cutting-edge new marriage between the social publishing world of bloggers and the social networking world of Twitter, YouTube and the like," said John Solomon, executive editor and vice president for content of The Times. "Most opinion sites today enable thought-leaders to talk down to the masses, but TheConservatives.com empowers users to change the direction of that dialogue, allowing the Joe the Plumbers of the world to speak up to major thinkers, like Newt Gingrich."
UPDATE: I should have included this, from the Washington Times article: "Mr. Solomon said similar Web sites that would appeal to progressive and moderate online readers are being considered."
Oh, they're being "considered"? That's just super.
If I was trying overcome my newspaper's well-established history of acting as little more than a mouthpiece for the conservative movement, I probably wouldn't start by launching a web site called TheConservatives.com and promising that later, some day, if there's time, we'll think about adding a site for progressives.
And please, don't hold your breath waiting for the Times to start a liberal one, not matter what the editor says.
Indeed, it's always fun to watch the WashTimes, proud GOP Noise Machine player, pretend it's not really in the club. It's always good for a laugh when the newspaper goes all-in on on purely partisan enterprises, and then take a tiny step back and announces it's really just a middle-of-the-road news org.
The schizophrenic, Who-us? shtick plays out in today's newspaper:
The Washington Times has launched TheConservatives.com, a Web site with technology that allows activists to talk up to ideological and party leaders and interact in innovative ways. TheConservatives.com - a joint online media venture from The Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation - is a tool to "reinvent the right" and help move the public discourse.
And, wait for it...
[Executive editor John] Solomon said similar Web sites that would appeal to progressive and moderate online readers are being considered.
Just give the WashTimes a few more weeks and they'll launch its new hub of the progressive movement, TheLiberals.com. And no doubt it will be a joint venture with Center for American Progress, right? It will be the awesome-est tool ever to reinvent the left, right?
Well, actually that kind of site is merely being considered, if you want to get technical about it. But no doubt the Rev. Moon, the self-proclaimed sun of God and WashTimes owner, wants badly to become a major player in the progressive world.
From a September 22 post on the Village Voice blog Runnin' Scared:
James O'Keefe, the activist filmmaker who achieved sudden fame for a series of undercover videos recording ACORN workers, has repeatedly said that he is "absolutely independent" and received no outside funding to make his films.
But the Voice has learned that O'Keefe, in fact, has had heavyweight conservative backers who funded the young filmmaker as recently as a few months before his ACORN films were made.
The ACORN videos are actually just the latest of several films O'Keefe has produced and uploaded to YouTube. An earlier film posted in February, "Taxpayers Clearing House" featured nonwhite, working class people being duped by O'Keefe, who led them to believe they had won money in a sweepstakes.
That video was produced with the help of a grant -- said to be about $30,000 [Thiel's spokesman says closer to $10,000 -- see update] -- from Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook -- an investment which made him a billionaire.
Here are tonight's Beck advertisers: