I’m still waiting for the miracle we were promised, but all I saw was a guy preaching Jesus. Sorry, but that’s no miracle in my book.
On today’s show, we’ll look at what Glenn Beck delivered, and what he didn’t, with a guy who’s been studying the would-be messiah and his ilk for a while now. Will Bunch, a senior write at the Philadelphia Daily News (also the man behind their Attytood blog), and a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, has spent the last couple of years visiting the strongholds of the RWNJs in America, trying to figure out what they’re all about.
The outcome is in his new book, “The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.” And yes, he did attend Saturday’s gathering of Whitestock. We’ll have lots to talk about.
To get it all started, here’s Will talking about his new book:
In our second hour, Victoria Jones will give us the latest news courtesy of the Talk Radio News Service. I’m sure we’ll have time to talk about her latest piece for Huffington Post, “I Have a Nightmare: Glenn Beck as Phony Messiah (Politics and Religion Don’t Mix)”
It was a fairly mixed bag for the Sunday shows. Fox News obviously focused on the Beckapalooza event in DC over the weekend, but Meet the Press (sans David Gregory) looked at the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and This Week opted to take themselves out of the news memes altogether to look at education in the US.
One of the things that I think was notable from the Sunday discussions is how many of our politicos—Democrats too—get locked into the same old thinking, even when that thinking has not helped us up to that point. It’s discouraging to see them not look towards more progressive solutions but to ape Republican memes.
First up in the “old school solutions” is Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/rebuilding-nola-contrast-between-new- (our video person recording MTP had a problem with the recording so it’s the MSNBC embeds)
Before Landrieu appeared, Brian Williams talked to Brad Pitt, who has a foundation that builds safe, sustainable and green homes for lower-income people. Think about that—homes that invest in a green economy, that supersede building standards so that Ninth Ward residents aren’t left homeless again, and whose energy bills will be significantly lowered, thereby giving residents more disposable income to reinvest into the economy. That’s a smart, forward thinking holistic approach to the issue. And then comes Mary Landrieu.
Landrieu appeared with her brother, who is now the mayor of New Orleans, and one of the things that she advocated for is the lifting of the drilling moratorium—not for the oil companies, but for the “little guys” like “Big Al’s Sandwich Shop”. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just crap. The Gulf Coast is not yet recovered from the Deep Horizon spill and certainly couldn’t cope with another one—and there is little indication that the issues that led to the disaster (strong federal oversight, safety precautions, redundancies, etc.) have been resolved and she leaves out that it isn’t little “mom and pop” energy companies that can afford deep water drilling. Plus, despite the way Landrieu characterizes it, there is no guarantee that oil BP was getting would go to the US at all, but instead be sold on the open market to the highest bidder. Landrieu’s whole pitch sounded like nothing more than the obscene greenwashing ads by the American Petroleum Institute saying that now is not the time to raise taxes on energy companies, because “people” are struggling.
As I see it, New Orleans is at a do-over moment. They can go back to the old way of doing business and cross their fingers that they can weather the next storm, or they can charge to the front of the green economy: bring green manufacturing to the Gulf Coast. Invest in rebuilding using this technology and employ people of the Gulf Coast. Training people to manufacture, install and maintain technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, etc. brings jobs that can only be done in the US to the Gulf Coast and all those support businesses will still have industry to support. The Gulf Coast could be the model for the rest of the country to divest themselves from a petroleum-based economy. But Landrieu, heavily dependent on campaign donations from Big Oil, is still advocating for the same wrong answers.
And then on This Week, we had Education Secretary Arne Duncan, American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and DC public school Chancellor Michelle Rhee discussing the state of education in the US.
Here’s the thing: there’s no arguing that things need to be fixed. In comparison to other countries, the US is abysmal in education. We are matriculating barely literate kids who have little ability to think critically. But the frustration lies in the same Republican framing where we focus on the teachers and discuss merit-based pay.
Personally, I think this focus is part and parcel of the Republican desire to union bust, including the teachers’ union. Here in California, we’ve got the 8th or 9th largest economy in the world, and almost half of our state budget goes to education. Yet I’m here to tell you that very, very little actually gets down to the classroom. I had over $200 for each kid in basic supplies I had to purchase this year. There is some bloated bureaucracy above the teachers that I do think needs to be focused on, but making this about teacher pay ignores the problem.
And if all other things were equal, perhaps merit-based evaluations would make sense. But how do you tell the teacher who is in an inner-city school with kids whose parents aren’t involved or are too busy with multiple jobs to survive, whose students often come to school with an empty stomach (in many impoverished areas, the free school lunch is the only meal these kids regularly get), who live in dangerous neighborhoods (or may even be homeless) that he or she deserves less pay because the students don’t score as well on tests? How do make allowances for that? How do you give children whose circumstance of birth is not their choice an equal opportunity?
And sadly, there’s no push back on this. There’s no discussion about how to get more parental involvement (which every teacher will tell you is critical for student success). There’s no discussion about valuing education (something we almost sneer at here now; being smart is “elitist”) or giving teachers more free reign, rather that forcing them to “teach to the test”. So once again, Democrats adopt Republican framing and ignore the big picture solutions.
But with all the sadly blind stuff from Republicans being co-opted by Democrats, that means Republicans need to go even more crazy right to distinguish themselves from the Democrats. Which brings us to Joe Miller, Republican/Tea Party senate candidate from Alaska.
Joe tells Bob Schieffer that he thinks that Social Security and Medicare are un-Constitutional.
Oy. What do you say to this level of idiocy? Actually, my hope is that no one says anything to him and he keeps saying stupid stuff like this all the way to the election. The majority of self-identified tea party members are over 50 years old. Go ahead and tell them they shouldn’t have Medicare and Social Security and should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and take care of their own retirement and health care costs. Go ahead. Let’s see how many votes he gets with that.
And then my personal bugaboo, the thing that gets my teeth on edge every time: the willful misunderstanding of the First Amendment. SE Cupp appeared on Fox to defend those protesting the Cordoba House by saying the “liberal media thought police” (who?) are telling people they can’t have certain opinions.
And this goes for Sarah Palin, Dr. Laura and all these other right wing whiners who invoke the First Amendment: the First Amendment guarantees that the GOVERNMENT will not shut you up. It does not guarantee that other citizens won’t criticize you for your words. It also does not guarantee you a national platform from which to speak. And frankly, I think if you are so thin-skinned as to not be able to stand someone criticizing your words, maybe you should consider how wise your words are. If you don’t like being called a racist, then look at what you’ve said that would make them call you that. It’s not the liberal “thought police” telling you to do that, it’s living in polite society. If you don’t want to be called a sexist, don’t refer to women as “bitches” , if you don’t want to sound intolerant of others, don’t act as if all Muslims are America-hating terrorists. And if you don’t want to modify your manner of speaking, don’t get upset if people call you on it. That’s just them exercising their First Amendment rights.
Check back after the show for the podcast link!