Man In the Mirror

Frank Rich lit up the Opinion section of today’s New York Times in the view of an admittedly avid fan. This tour de force—“The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party” is its straightforward title—mercilessly laid waste to the troglodytic creeps and their benefactors who fouled our nation’s capital yesterday. Whatever one’s opinion of that feckless lawprof called Barack Obama, it certainly doesn’t permit Glenn Beck’s monumental stupidity and treachery. In the contest for all-time ignominious affronts to the Lincoln Memorial, the appearance of Glenn Beck’s fat, casually-dressed person beat a clinically depressed Richard Nixon’s late-night rap session going away.

Vive la révolution!

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

In the interest of full disclosure: I’m a progressive Democrat who for a long spell had nice things to relay about the Tea Party movement. This may be a bit difficult for some to understand but for a time the Tea Party movement was a “spontaneous, leaderless” development. Despite the movement’s libertarian underpinnings, opposition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, ObamaCare, and corporatist policies of this sort presented the beautiful potential for coalescence of contrarian liberals and populist conservatives. While we were always destined to depart from each other on proper solutions for combating the badass recession, its resultant unemployment crisis, rising health care costs, and so forth, we were joined in contempt for this rotten bipartisan ruling class.

I considered myself a bohemian Tea Party person, attended rallies, and was treated graciously. (At this year’s Tax Day protest, however, one reactionary dragon on stage did refer to the president as a Muslim in no uncertain terms.) Unfortunately the movement has been devoured by Dick Armey, et al—as mercilessly as one can envision the fat Mormon annihilating ham hocks, turkey broth and sweet potato pie on Thanksgiving. This is tantamount to some hideous left-wing oligarch wrapping his tentacles around the progressive… Oh, nevermind.

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The Historical Fiction of Glenn Beck

Honestly, I couldn't get through the whole thing (there is a shorter video over at Crooks and Liars). I did make it to the point where I caught Glenn Beck saying that more preachers died during the American Revolution than any other group and that "England hated the preachers" going on to say that "in fact, if you were a preacher you were most likely to be killed during the American Revolution" presumably by the British.

Well, there were 4,435 combat deaths on the American side during the Revolutionary War. All told, there were some 10,000 total deaths from disease and malnutrition among American forces in the various army camps. Of these I'm sure more than a few were preachers but I only know of one, Rev. Ebenezer Baldwin, A.M., the pastor of the First Congregationalist Church in Danbury, Connecticut who died of a fever unrelated to combat in October 1776. His death is well-known because he was one of the first chaplains in General Washington's army.

The suggestion that the British went around massacring civilians, much less clergymen, is simply a despicable lie. Yes, the London papers described the colonial revolt as a "Presbyterian Uprising" and yes, Congregationalist ministers in New England played a pivotal role in fomenting the American revolt especially in the critical years of 1774-1776. I have a two volume set in my library entitled Political Sermons of the Founding Era, 1730-1805 that points to the important contributions made to American political thought by American clergymen before, during and after the Revolution just as the clergy played a critical role in the English Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century.

As Dr. Ellis Sandoz, a political scientist formerly at Louisiana State University, writes in the preface, "the early political culture of the American republic was deeply influenced by the religious consciousness of the New England preachers."  He adds, "indeed, it was often through the political sermon—the 'pulpit of the American Revolution'—that the political rhetoric of the period was formed, refined, and transmitted."

Jonathan Mayhew, D.D., the Congregationalist preacher at the Old West Church in Boston from 1747 until his death in 1766 is credited for the phrase "no taxation without representation" during his vigorous opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. His fifty-five page sermon in 1750 commemorating the centennial of the execution of Charles I entitled A discourse concerning the unlimited submission and non-resistance to the high powers  (pdf) is one of the most influential political essays on the nature of civil liberties in American history and considered by historians as the key political treatise written in colonial America. In the sermon, Mayhew explored the idea that Christians were obliged to suffer under an oppressive ruler, as some Anglicans argued. Mayhew asserted that resistance to a tyrant was a "glorious" Christian duty. In offering moral sanction for political and military resistance, Mayhew anticipated the position that many ministers took during the conflict with Britain. But Mayhew's key point rested on the ancient freedoms of the pagan pre-Christian Britons.

The English constitution is originally and essentially free. The character which J. Caesar and Tacitus both give of the ancient Britons so long ago, is, That they were extremely jealous of their liberties, as well as a people of a martial spirit. Nor have there been wanting frequent instances and proofs of the same glorious spirit (in both respects) remaining in their posterity ever since,--in the struggles they have made for liberty, both against foreign and domestic tyrants.--Their kings hold their title to the throne solely by grant of parliament; i.e. in other words, by the voluntary consent of the people.

No historian is going to dispute the view that clergymen played a role in the Independence movement but Glenn Beck is suggesting that the clergy were the driving force. Nothing could be further from the historical record. John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian, was the only active clergyman among the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It's true that Presbyterian and Congregationalist ministers, and hence their congregations, were largely for independence. However, it also true that many Quakers, who don't have ministers but rather believe that anyone may be called to pastoral ministry, and most Anglicans remained loyal to the Crown. Ministers of the Church of England were bound by oath to support the King and the Quakers were pacifists. It bears reminding that only a third of colonials were for independence, a third opposed and a third indifferent or neutral. Regionally at the start of the war, New England was the one area most for independence and the South the most loyal to the Crown.

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Beckamania

Via The Guardian:

Glenn Beck, conscious that so many of these events are judged on the numbers of those attending, looked out on a crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial all the way up the Mall to the Washington Memorial, and put the figure at more than 450,000.

Jim Hoft, who blogs at Gateway Pundit, decided to round that up to an even 500,000. One attendee over at Free Republic "safely" estimated the crowd at a cool two million. Another conservative website, Ace of Spades, was more circumspect, only 300,000 were in attendance.

Meanwhile back on Planet Earth, CBS News decided to hire professionals to estimate the size of Beckamania.

An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.

The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. Beck and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the rally.

Beck, who predicted that at least 100,000 people would show up, opened his comments with a joke: "I have just gotten word from the media that there is over 1,000 people here today."

The area around the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington during a rally organized by conservative commentator Glenn Beck is seen in this aerial picture taken Aug. 28, 2010.

AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally's high point.

There are more photos at the CBS site but you can clearly seen big patches of green grass. Just for the record, the National Park Service stopped counting crowds in 1997 after being accused of underestimating the size of the Million Man March in 1995, so we are forced to rely on independent services like AirPhotosLive.com.

 

Now compare the above with the photo from the March on Washington back on August 28, 1963. A quarter of a million people attended that day. One in four that day were white. At Beckamania, ninety-eight in a hundred were white. In 1963, 0.0013228 percent of the US population was present to hear Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech. At Beckamania just 0.000281 percent of the US population came to hear the ramblings of a certifiable pair of morons. 

Honestly,  the only thing out-sized about Beckamania on Saturday was the ego of Glenn Beck himself.

 

Time to counter hate and intolerance

Today, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are speaking at the same place Martin Luther King gave his historic speech. Meanwhile, the continued elevated controversy over the so called “ground-zero mosque” is evidence little has changed since 9/11. Time to counter hate and intolerance.

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Ban Glenn Beck from Ground Zero

The logic, if there is any, of the conservative critics of the Park51 Project is that a mosque anywhere near Ground Zero would be terribly offensive to the 9/11 victims' families. Well, you know who is a lot more offensive to the families of 9/11 victims -- Glenn Beck.

Beck has said in the past that he "hates" the 9/11 families. He said on his program in 2005 that he is "so sick of them." That they should just "shut up" because they are "always complaining."

That seems so harsh that it literally seems unbelievable. Well, listen for yourself:

 

So, if we're banning things from near Ground Zero, then banning Glenn Beck makes more sense than anything else. The Park51 Project is actually trying to heal wounds, spread a moderate form of Islam and reach out to everyone in the community. And they certainly have never said anything nearly as offensive about the 9/11 victims or their families as Beck has.

Plus, Beck works for the man who apparently funded the Park51 Project, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. So, if the same man who is funding the mosque is funding Beck (as the second largest shareholder in Fox News, Prince Alwaleed is in essence signing Beck's paychecks). And if Beck thinks that the mosque should be banned from the area because of its questionable funding, shouldn't Beck also be banned under the same logic?

So, for all of these reasons, it makes all the sense in the world to start a movement now to Ban Glenn Beck from Ground Zero. I hope you'll join me. So, if you see him anywhere around there, tell him to "Get! Get!"

Sign our Twitter Petition to show your support: http://act.ly/...

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