Monthly Archives: August 2010

Orson Beck and the “Big Lie”

Dana Milbank writes for the Washington Post and I enjoy his work.

So now you can too.

Civil rights’ new ‘owner’: Glenn Beck

by: Dana Milbank

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There is a telling anecdote in Glenn Beck’s 2003 memoir about how the cable news host was influenced by the great fantasist Orson Welles. To travel between performances in Manhattan, Beck recounts, Welles hired an ambulance, sirens blaring, to ferry him around town — not because Welles was ill but because he wanted to avoid traffic.

Most of us would regard this as dishonest, a ploy by the self-confessed charlatan that Welles was. Beck saw it as a model to be emulated. “Welles,” he writes, “inspired me to believe that I can create anything that I can see or imagine.”

I was reminded of Beck’s affection for deception as he hyped his march on Washington — an event scheduled for the same date (Aug. 28) and on the same spot (the Lincoln Memorial) as Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic march 47 years ago. Beck claimed it was pure coincidence, but then he made every effort to appropriate the mantle of the great civil rights leader.

Beck as the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream? And you thought “War of the Worlds” was frightening.

It’s been just over a year since Beck famously called the first African American president a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” And now, accused of racial pot-stirring, he apparently has determined that the best defense is to be patently offensive.

“Blacks don’t own Martin Luther King,” he tells us, any more than whites own Lincoln or Washington. “The left” doesn’t own King, either, he says.

No, Beck owns King. “This is the moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement,” he said this spring. “We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and, damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement because we are the people that did it in the first place.”

We are? Let’s review Beck’s history as a civil rights pioneer, a history I’ve studied while writing a book about Beck.

When Beck was a radio host in Connecticut in the 1990s, his station apologized for an on-air skit in which Beck and his partner mocked an Asian American caller and used their version of an Asian accent. As a CNN host a couple of years ago, Beck interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, and challenged him to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

President Obama, who Beck says was elected because he isn’t white, is “moving all of us quickly in slavery,” Beck has asserted. On his radio show, he declared that “you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. . . . You take the name Barack to identify with . . . the heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical.” He accused Obama of seeking “reparations” from white America, seeking to “settle old racial scores.”

Beck has spoken on air about “radical black nationalism” in the White House and “Marxist black liberation theology” influencing Obama. He has further determined that the New Black Panthers have “ties to the White House in a myriad of ways” and are part of Obama’s “army of thugs.”

This is not quite the ideal background for a man who would claim to be King’s heir — and that’s where Orson Welles comes in.

First, Beck employed the hand of God in justifying his decision to co-opt King. He said he chose the date without knowing it was the anniversary of King’s march, claiming it happened because of “divine providence.”

Second, he invoked some selective history, using his Fox News show to deliver a three-part series updating the history of the civil rights movement. “How has the Democratic Party assumed the mantle of defender of minorities, if you know their early history?” he asked. “Dating to Andrew Jackson — this is the 17th century . . . .”

Seventeenth century, 19th century, whatever. He informed viewers that “it was the GOP that took the lead on the civil rights” cause.

Finally, Beck updated the meaning of the civil rights movement so that it is no longer about black people; it is about protecting anti-tax conservatives from liberals. Civil rights leaders, he said, “purposely distorted Martin Luther King’s ideas.” Over the past century, Beck reasons, “no man has been free, because we’ve been progressive.” To his followers, he says: “We are the people of the civil rights movement.”

All that is left is for Beck to drive around town by ambulance.

Dana Milbank’s book, “Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America,” will be published Oct. 5.


…and in a related story of similar ignorance.

PANAMA CITY — A Congressional candidate told local high school and middle school students Tuesday that Islam’s plan is to destroy the American way of life.

“I’m totally against it. If I had my way, it would pretty much be over my dead body,” said Ron McNeil, a candidate for the U.S. House District 2 seat, who was referring to a controversial plan to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. “That religion is against everything America stands for. If we have to let them build it, make them build it nine stories underground, so we can walk above it as citizens and Christians.”

Some people in the audience applauded McNeil’s response. However, one student appeared up-set and asked McNeil what gave him or the federal government the right to tell an American that they can’t build an institution.

“This religion’s plan is to destroy our way of life,” McNeil said.

The student responded by saying he did not feel it was a Christian’s place to determine whether Islam is right or wrong.

“It’s our place as Christians to stand up for the word of God and what the Bible says,” McNeil replied.

Dianne Berryhill, an independent candidate for the Congressional seat now held by Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, also weighed in on the proposed mosque.

“If we were under Muslim law, you girls wouldn’t be sitting here showing any kind of skin. You would be in hot burqas and … you wouldn’t be sitting in school,” she said.

No other candidate weighed in on the controversy during the debate.

The comments came during a forum at North Bay Haven Charter Academy hosted by WJHG News Channel 7. The debate was organized with the help of Tim Kitts, the chief education officer for Bay Haven Schools, but students in all the local high schools, with the exception of New-point Bay, asked the questions.

“The whole idea is that we want children to become informed, knowledgeable citizens,” Kitts said. “They should first know what they believe and why they believe it, and then they can cast their vote.”

Among the other candidates at the forum were Pat Sabiston and Joe Wayne Walker, who are in the running for the School Board District 1 seat, and the three candidates, Jim Barr, Steve Moss and Donna Allen, running for the District 5 school board seat.

Sabiston, who currently holds the District 1 seat, discussed a national model for in-school suspension as a way to discipline students in school and a change in the procedure for purchase orders to save money. Walker expressed the importance of giving children opportunities, even if they don’t want to go to college.

Allen, a longtime school board member, said she found it imperative that school board members be accessible to students and visit schools. Barr, like Allen, finds accountability to students important. Moss addressed the importance of proper nutrition in school lunches, explaining that food has an effect on energy levels, so nutritional food potentially could lead to higher test scores.

In the District 2 Congressional race, McNeil is running against Steve Southerland and David Scholl in the Republican primary. Eddie Hendry and Barbara F. Olschner, both of whom also are running for the District 2 GOP nomination, did not attend. Paul McKain, an independent candidate, and Democrats Boyd and state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, are also in the running. Boyd and Lawson did not attend. Berryhill is running as an independent.

The Congressional candidates in attendance Tuesday all said they were conservative constitutionalists, and each talked about the importance of self-reliance.

“We can’t depend on the government, but we can depend on ourselves,” Scholl said.

The last candidates to debate were four of the five candidates for the District 4 county commissioner seat: Guy Tunnell, Bill Busch, Dan Estes and Derrell Day. Cathy McClellan did not at-tend.

The candidates discussed their plans to improve tourism and the economy. Several of the candidates said the free market would be the best system to make these improvements, and the government should not get in the way. The topic of legalized gambling in Florida and the possibility of building a casino in the area came up. Although a casino could raise much-needed tax revenue, Day said caution must be taken.

“I’m not really interested in new ways to spend money,” Day said. “Every time we get a lot of tax revenue, we tend to waste it, so we have to be very careful.”

Estes said the ideal thing to do with the extra tax revenue is start paying off debt.

After the debate, Lewis and Kitts talked about the quality of the questions.

“What I got from the candidates is that they have not had questions that have been this thought out,” Kitts said.

One student, who posed several questions, commented on the candidate’s performance.

“A few of the candidates beat around the bush,” said Stuart Hilton, a student at Mosley High School. “For the general questions, like regarding property taxes, they did answer the question. That’s politicians for you.”

The primary election is Aug. 24, although early voting already is under way.

If you consider yourself an American watch this.

I don’t care if you like Keith Olberman or not- what is said here is the absolute truth. Listen and think. Paste the following into a new browser window:

An unheard,valid point

The American Muslim Success Story
By: Balko | August 17, 2010

One thing that seems to be overlooked in this Manhattan mosque/activity center scuffle and the broader debate over integration and assimilation is just how well Muslim immigrants have done in the U.S. We don’t have the Muslim ghettos, separatist movements, rioting, and the tense cultural clashes Europe has. There have been some arrests of alleged home-grown Islamic terrorists in America, but there are going to be extremist outliers in any ethnic, religious, or ideological group of 3 million people (the estimated number number of Muslims in the U.S.).

In contrast to many of the minority Muslim populations in Europe, American Muslims embrace modernity, are better educated, and earn more money than their non-Muslim fellow citizens. A 2007 Pew poll suggests American Muslims are also doing just fine when it comes to assimilating and viewing themselves as part of America. According to the poll, just 5 percent of American Muslims express any level of support for Al Qaeda, and strong majorities condemn suicide attacks for any reason (80+ percent), and have a generally positive image of America and its promise for Muslims.

According to the poll, the only subset of American Muslims where support for Al Qaeda and suicide attacks gets unccomfortably high is among native-born African-American converts, many of whom converted in prison. To the extent that this particular subset of American Muslims is more prone to radicalism and less optimistic about America, it has nothing to do with immigration/assimilation problems, and seems more likely to stem from lingering hostility about race. That is, it’s an American problem, not a Muslim problem.

I’m not an immigration expert, so I’m not going to pretend I know everything that factored into it, but it’s worth repeating that the story of Muslim immigrants in America over the last two generations is unquestionably a success story. There’s the temptation to caution that all of the demagoguery and marginalization of Muslims over the Cordoba Center threatens that success, and could shake loose more potent factions of European-style Muslim radicalism in America. But the Pew poll suggests the overwhelming majority of American Muslims held to their sense of place in U.S. society even after September 11 and its immediate aftermath. It’s worth condemning the “Ground Zero Mosque” demagoguery for the naked pandering to fear that it is. But the good news is that Muslim Americans appear to be confident enough with their position here that the escalating hysterics of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, & Co. aren’t likely to budge their general optimism about America.

Just an FYI

Comparing Bush’s Tax Cuts vs. Obama’s Tax Cuts

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Barack, Bush, Democrats, Obama, Republicans, Taxes

Pretty straightforward and helpful for those who don’t realize that they’re taxed at different levels of their income, not just one bracket.

See, I’ve discovered, through the course of just asking around, that many folks don’t realize that they’re taxed at different levels. Many think that if they make over a certain amount of money, all of their money is taxed at that rate. That’s why you heard all that talk about taxes being a disincentive to making more money, which is obviously nuts and was meant to confuse the average taxpayer who doesn’t understand how our system works.

In any event, the graph via Wash Post

And a little more about where this came from:

A Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year — and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation’s millionaires, according to a congressional analysis released Wednesday.New data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation show that households earning more than $1 million a year would reap nearly $31 billion in tax breaks under the GOP plan in 2011, for an average tax cut per household of about $100,000.

Does everybody now understand how big of a giveaway this is to the wealthiest 2%?

Were the rich hurting in the 90s when the tax rate was 39.6%?

Can we all agree that people making between $200 and $500K can take a $400 hit?

And to those who make over $500K, well, you still don’t have to pay Social Security tax on hardly ANY of your income. And since many of the super rich derive their income from investments, which is taxed at 15% since it’s considered long term capital gains, you’re still gaming the system effectively.

Yes, rich people…you’re still rich and you still win.

Meanwhile, teachers, firefighters and cops don’t deserve to keep their jobs according to Republicans, but they want to give $10 billion more to people who are so wealthy that few of us will ever understand what it is to be in that company?

Good times.

Quite possibly the coolest flight attendant ever…

JetBlue flight attendant arrested after leaving plane by emergency slide

By Associated Press

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NEW YORK — A JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, cursed the passenger, grabbed a beer from the galley and then deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane, authorities said.

Flight attendant Steven Slater was arrested at his home in the nearby Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing.

Slater, 39, remained in custody Monday night. His attorney’s name wasn’t available, and there was no home telephone number listed for him. A woman who answered a phone at a previous residence listed for Slater in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn’t speaking to the media.

JetBlue Airways said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.

Slater was working on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh when he got into an argument with a passenger who was pulling down baggage from an overhead bin, the Port Authority said. The luggage apparently struck the attendant in the head, and he asked for an apology, but the passenger refused, the agency said.

As the plane was landing, Slater got on the public-address system and cursed at the passenger, the Port Authority said. Slater then grabbed at least one beer, activated the slide, slid down and went to his car, the agency said.

Port Authority police were notified about 25 minutes later.

JetBlue would not say how long Slater had been employed by the company.

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