Posts Tagged ‘Beck’

Limbaugh, Rand Paul, the ACLU and Me

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

We’re just the people. We go to a job or look for one. We pay the bills. We fight the wars. We die in those wars. We’ve come to understand that the only time politicians care what we think is when there’s an election. We’re all V.I.P.s around election time.

Nowadays we have special significance ever since word got out that all our telephone records are routinely made available for scrutiny by the National Security Agency. This, it is clear, could cost votes and shorten political careers so for a while we will be taken seriously.

But usually, we’re just the people. We voted for Obama the first time because, after eight years of Bush, he was like a fresh wind blowing in. We were a little less enthusiastic the second time. And now, five months into Obama’s second term, we find ourselves aligned with Michael Moore and the ACLU, also with Glenn Beck, Rand Paul, and Rush Limbaugh on the question of government snooping into our telephoning history.

We find something dangerous and suspicious about the NSA making notes on who we call on the phone, when we call, what numbers we call, how long we speak. Yes, but government isn’t listening in on the conversation, we’re told by the very same government. That’s supposed to reassure us. But you don’t believe it, do you? Nor do I. 

I’ve been thinking about the words of the great Ma Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” as she tells the son she loves: “Why, Tom – us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people – we go on.”

I wonder if Ma Joad was just dead wrong, and that eventually them people – with their demands for lower taxes, with their specious argument that government should be run like a business (like Enron maybe?), and with their willy-nilly interpretation of the Bill of Rights – will win the war against us people. If us people lose that war, the nation will have been transformed into something unrecognizable.

As has been noted again and again, the framers could not have imagined the United States of the 21st Century. Maybe not, but it’s important to remember that the protections of the Fourth Amendment will live as long as people take the Bill of Rights seriously and do not allow it to become the plaything of those who see nothing amiss with keeping track of your telephoning.

The words of the Fourth Amendment are complicated only to the people who wish they did not exist: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Obama swore to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution and yet, as the ultimate the boss of the NSA, he seems to have done little or nothing to keep us protected from the big nose of government sniffing our affairs. It is not overly dramatic to suggest that never has the Fourth Amendment – and the rest of the Bill of Rights for that matter – been in greater jeopardy than now.

I’m 29 years late, but Happy New Year 1984 anyway.

The Real Facts and the GOP ‘Facts’

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Karl Rove, mastermind of the GOP disinformation campaign

By Emily Theroux

The GOP’s refusal in recent years to deal in the currency of facts has flown in the face of an edict widely credited to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The perspective of the entire Republican Party has been subsumed by a kind of mass denial of reality that relegates “facts” to the last millennium, the enlightened era before America’s own King George W. assumed the throne.

“Bush’s Brain,” diabolical conservative mastermind Karl Rove, first defined the new world order in 2004. During an interview with writer Ron Suskind, Rove stated cryptically and with appalling arrogance that people who lived in what Rove termed “the reality-based community” believed that “solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. … That’s not the way the world really works any more,” Rove opined. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Ever since Rove and his fellow neocons’ immense hubris inspired them to forsake empiricism in favor of empire, they gave loyal followers permission to reinvent themselves as players of “history’s bit parts,” existing in a bubble of misinformation, revisionism, creationism, nativism, and science denial. If the reactionaries aren’t satisfied with the “tangibles” that reality throws their way, they can always swaddle themselves in Karl Rove’s Orwellian cocoon, where black is white, lies are truth, conservatism is compassionate, corporations are people, and the world is 6,000 years old despite the extensive fossil record. When the conservative faithful feel cornered by reason or statistics or scientific evidence, they can opt out of “the reality-based community” any time they choose by flipping on Sean Hannity or streaming Glenn Beck, then retreating into a “fact-free zone” of philistinism and folly.

Sometimes, Republicans are confronted with the embarrassing truth about their stubborn ignorance or outright lies when an issue or policy suddenly proves politically inconvenient for them. Take, for example, the embarrassing necessity for Virginia’s “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell (hoping to be drafted as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate) to backtrack on his “principled” insistence that rape victims, too, must undergo mandatory ultrasounds and be forced to view the resulting fetal images, just like everyone else waiting in line to clear GOP hurdles to obtaining an abortion. When that kind of cosmic retribution occurs, Republican candidates can follow Rove’s dubious lead and choose one or more of the following five options:

1. Change the subject to some bogus controversy you can blame on the Democrats. “Reality-averse” pols like Mitt Romney, who is truly cynical – and fully aware that this ploy is a zero-sum game designed to obliterate his opponent – have deliberately set up these false constructs (the phony “mommy wars,” for example, designed to distract voters from the very real Republican “war on women”). Indeed, everything, to Romney, is a precisely calibrated political calculation. Like a twisted wingnut version of a Bob Dylan song scored by “Turdblossom” Rove, Mitt doesn’t even fart without first testing which way the wind is blowing.

2. Take credit for your opponents’ accomplishments. When President Obama mounts a successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden, tell voters that if it hadn’t been for Bush and Cheney’s meticulous planning (during all of those years after Dubya said he “wasn’t all that interested” in finding bin Laden), the coup of the century never would have happened. When 1.2 million jobs are created since June 2009 under Obama’s watch, count jobs lost before Obama’s stimulus bill took effect so you can say “he” lost 1.86 million jobs; then use phony-baloney numbers of jobs created by Staples long after Romney left Bain Capital so you can claim “he” created 100,000 jobs. When the American auto industry makes a startling comeback after you wrote an editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” claim as much credit for it as your lying mouth can possibly fabricate.

3. Turn your own failures around and blame them on your political foes. Characterize the historic downgrading of America’s credit rating, which resulted from the refusal of congressional Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for months on end in 2011, as the result of “high unemployment, big government, and ‘unsustainable debt’” caused by President Obama’s fiscal policies.

4. Turn to any of the fraudulent “authoritative” foils you rely on to issue “expert” guidance, official policy positions, or “model” legislation – such dynamic, partisan think tanks and lobbying conglomerates as the Heritage Foundation (funded by those clever Koch boys, who are as rich as God) or the furtive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose member corporations prefer to slink around in the shadows so they don’t jinx their cushy tax dodge. Another option: For your next campaign event, call the bogus “activist” operation, FreedomWorks, whose own Dick Armey can rustle up a cast of boisterous “rent-a-redneck” subcontractors before you can shake a stick.

5. Get your “talking points” from focus-group guru Frank Luntz – called the “mack daddy” (translation: biggest, pimpingest bad-ass) of GOP strategists by Current TV’s Cenk Uygur. Then annihilate those dirty Dems by bellowing the bull that every other Republican talking head is bellowing, on every media venue you can get yourselves booked onto for the next four days. You’ll find that you get particularly good mileage out of Faux News, where sympathetic hosts will toss you softball questions, and “low-information” target audiences (who never watch anything other than Fox’s regurgitated extremist pablum) will generally swallow every last disingenuous word you say.



Fate, Fame and Other Stuff

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

At the Governor's Mansion.

At the Governor's Mansion.

By Bob Gaydos

By way of nothing else save the fact that you never know what little gifts life has for you if you don’t pay attention, I offer this brief exchange between two of my least favorite people in the world, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Beck was on O’Reilly’s TV show the other day, talking about the latest Fox News darling, Donald Trump, who has launched a campaign for president that is so outrageous and phony even Beck can’t stand it. In brief, Trump has spent the past week telling anyone who will listen that he’s not sure President Obama is a natural-born American and, what’s more, he suspects the president may be a Muslim. Donald … Donald … Donald.

Beck told O’Reilly: “The last thing the country needs is a showboat … I would hope we could get serious candidates who could shake things up by not saying provocative things, just by stating the truth of what’s going on.”

Honest, that’s what he said.

But wait. Here’s O’Reilly’s response: “But then you and I would be off the air, because we’re provocateurs. We do that every day.”

There is a god somewhere. Now if only someone can explain irony to Fox News listeners.

* * *

The rest of this blog amounts to an exercise in self-reflection that could also be called ego-stroking. Nonetheless, I will not be deterred, especially at these prices.

It started last week when I was writing about a chance meeting I had with then-Senate candidate Geraldine Ferraro at the Ulster County Fair (it’s in the archives if you’re interested). I began recalling other “famous” persons I had met and in what circumstances. Be honest. We all do it, journalists do it maybe more than others because our work offers more opportunities to do so than a lot of other jobs.

Anyway, after deciding that the ego thing didn’t matter — because what was my ego in the grand scheme of things — and rationalizing that it might be good for my sons to get some sense of where my life had taken me, I started my list. Basic ground rules: It must have been an actual meeting, meaning words were exchanged, hands possibly shaken, and local politicians don‘t count except for members of Congress. You need a line somewhere.

The closest I ever came to meeting Glenn Beck was standing around a piano with a bunch of editors and Cal Thomas, singing what were probably old show tunes. I think it was in Philadelphia, but don’t hold me to that. Thomas was Beck before Beck ever thought of being Beck. And brighter. He is an evangelical Christian, a former vice president of the Moral Majority, a longtime syndicated columnist and a regular contributor to the Fox follies. Also, as I recall, a passable baritone with a good sense of humor and, at one time, capable of acknowledging nonsense within his own ranks. On the other side of the aisle, there was the incomparable Pete Hamill and in the middle, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, both of whom came to Middletown.

The world of sports offered encounters with Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach, boxer/TV personality Rocky Graziano (“Somebody Up There Likes Me”), Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer (naked in a whirlpool), champ Floyd Patterson (eating in a restaurant in New Paltz), columnist Milton Richman and, all too briefly, Jackie Robinson (a legitimate thrill).

In the world of entertainment there was the very tall Harry Belafonte at the Concord, the very drunk Clancy Brothers (around a bar after hours in Binghamton), Western author Larry McMurtry, actor Victor Arnold (the hit man in the original “Shaft”) and, in a Woodstock art gallery, an also very tall Henny Youngman (“Take my card, please.”)

Not surprisingly, there are a bunch of political figures on my list, starting with Ferraro’s running mate, former Vice President Walter Mondale (a hello-how-are-ya in Minneapolis). There are the New York governors, of course: The imperial Nelson Rockefeller (he of the middle finger salute), the lanky George Pataki from Peekskill, and the Cuomos — the senior, Mario, who could hold a room hostage for hours, and junior, Andrew, when he was attorney general and when he was messing up the gubernatorial campaign of H. Carl McCall. Also, the other also-rans: Mayor Ed Koch, Tom (Who?) Golisano, Pierre (the Record staff are the rudest people I have ever encountered) Rinfret, Andrew (I don’t stand a Chance) O’Rourke, Howard Samuels (a very cool customer), and Arthur (Hey, I was once a Supreme Court justice) Goldberg. Throw in Marvin Mandel in Maryland and Anne Richards in an elevator in Fort Worth. And of course, a special place is reserved in my heart for Eliot Spitzer, the dumbest smart politician I ever met.

Among senators, D. Patrick Moynihan held court in Goshen and Chuck Schumer showed up seemingly for breakfast every day. Local boy- made-good Howard Mills was the sacrificial lamb for the GOP against Schumer, but Mills always returned phone calls. Senator Hillary never did deign to grace us with her presence, but Rick Lazio was thrilled to stop by for a lengthy chat.

And, giving them their due, Congressmen Ben Gilman, Matt McHugh, Howard Robison, Maurice Hinchey, John Hall (who founded the rock group Orleans and also qualifies as an entertainer) and Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who famously and entertainingly imploded during an interview with the Record.

Among civil rights figures, Jesse Jackson towers above the rest, literally and figuratively, but Floyd McKissick, national director of CORE, was more accessible at Gentleman Joe’s bar in Binghamton.

Oddly enough, perhaps the most famous person I ever had a meaningful conversation with is someone whose name almost nobody recognized, and most probably still don’t know to this day: Norma McCorvey. McCorvey is better known as Jane Roe of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that confirmed a woman’s right to choose abortion.

When I met Norma, she had not only changed from pro-choice to pro-life on abortion, but had joined the Roman Catholic Church and announced she was no longer a lesbian. Life has a way offering surprises.

OK, wrapping it up. Mario Cuomo is easily the most magnetic, imposing famous person I ever met. He could talk about anything at all, intelligently and engagingly, at length. He once made his staff and TH-R editors sit through a two-and-half- hour meeting while lunch waited invitingly in an adjoining room. No one had the guts to stop him. He should have run for president.

But for sheer, humble, who-is-this-guy-and-why-is-he-doing-this amazement, my favorite famous person is David Karpeles. What, you never heard of him? Perhaps it’s time you have.

Karpeles is the founder of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums, which are located around the country in such places as Santa Barbara, Charleston, Tacoma, Duluth, Shreveport, Jacksonville, Fort Wayne, Buffalo and, yes, Newburgh, N.Y. My jaw dropped the first time I visited the Newburgh museum, located in an imposing old bank on Broadway, and I never fail to say, “Oh, my God, he owns that, every time I return.

The web site states: “The Karpeles Library is the world’s largest private holding of important original manuscripts and documents.” You want famous? The Karpeles list of famous persons, I feel sure, is unmatched by anyone, anywhere, not that he met most of them. Still, on a rotating basis at any of the museums, one might see the original draft of the Bill of Rights of the United States, the original manuscript of “The Wedding March,” Einstein’s description of his Theory of Relativity, the Thanksgiving Proclamation” signed by George Washington, Roget’s Thesaurus (as in, Roget‘s actual Thesaurus, Webster’s actual Dictionary, the first printing of the Ten Commandments from the Gutenberg Bible (1450-1455), Darwin’s Conclusion embodying his theory of Evolution in “Origin of Species,” or the Decree of Pope Lucius III Proclaiming the Sacred Duty of the Knights of the Holy Crusades. And about a million more original documents.

I met David Karpeles at the opening of the Newburgh Museum. He is tall, soft-spoken and as unassuming as anyone so rich and generous could possibly be. A math genius and real estate tycoon, he said he and his wife looked around one day and decided they had collected so much neat stuff, it was time to share it and so they decided to open museums where no one else wanted to put them. Like downtown Newburgh. The museums are open every day, free of charge. You think Trump would do that?

In a way, I guess the Beck beginning to this column is connected to the rest. Meeting the likes of David Karpeles, who isn’t really famous, is what makes it possible to put up with the likes of Glenn Beck, who, unfortunately, is. Put that in your fortune cookie.

*  *  *

Any “famous” encounters you’d like to share with our readers?

Bob can be reached at

The Answers are in the Stars

Monday, January 24th, 2011

By Bob Gaydos

I blame it all on the stars. The ones in the sky, not on reality television. If they could have just stayed where they were supposed to stay, where they have been for billions and billions of Carl Sagan years, none of this other stuff would be happening.

You know, thousands of birds dropping dead out of the sky. Dead crabs washing up on the shore of Great Britain. Rightwing blowhards being dropped by conservative radio stations. A leftwing bloviate shown the door by a leftwing TV station. Republicans muttering not so much under their breath anymore that they wish Sarah Palin would just shut up.

Just when we had the sides all chosen up for the game, someone went and moved the stars and suddenly I’m a Taurus, not a Gemini. But hey, I don’t feel like a Taurus. I have been Gemini-like pretty much since I became aware of the signs of the Zodiac. Charming split personality, that’s me. Keep your bull to yourself, Parke Kunkle.

What kind of name is that anyway? Parke Kunkle. Who names a kid Parke when he’s already got Kunkle to carry around? Kunkle is an astronomy instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, which sounds like a great place to get lost for your career. But with the Internet, nobody need be lost forever. So when Kunkle sat for an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune to help fill their Sunday paper, the stars were already aligned for his moment in the sun. (Please don’t tell me how to mix my metaphors. It’s my blog.)

Kunkle told the Sun that the stars had moved. Well, the Sun didn’t know anything about it, so it ran a story about how the Zodiac was all messed up and those signs people follow in the paper every day to help them plan their lives were, how to say this delicately, wrong.

OK, I can feel the scientists out there getting agitated about the stars “moving” references. That’s just a writer’s conceit, see? I know the stars didn’t really move, but it makes it easier to get people into the story than telling them the earth actually tilted on its axis thousand of years ago, altering its alignment with the stars and, of course, altering the signs of the zodiac, which were conceived about 5,000 years ago and are based on the earth/stars alignment. See how boring it can be explaining science? Call it the Fox news approach.

But here’s the real deal: Good old Parke tells us that scientists knew about this starry shift 2,000 years ago. Wow. How come WikiLeaks couldn’t find out about this? Not content to leave it there, with Pisces now Aries and Virgo now Libra, he also tells us there are really 13, not 12 constellations.

The scientists have known about this a long time as well, he says. Apparently they kept Number 13, Ophiuchus (Nov. 29-Dec. 17), secret because 12 signs fit neatly into a calendar year and Ophiucus is a yucchy name to say, much less have to admit to being one.

So there you have it. That’s why the birds dropped dead in Arkansas and Louisiana. It wasn’t the weather or bad food or poor navigation skills. It’s also why we’re having all these snowy days in January. I’m convinced it’s why Andrew Luck, the best quarterback in college football, decided to stay at Stanford for another year instead of coming out to be the first draft choice of the worst team in the National Football League, the Carolina Panthers, who (I could not resist this) truly have no luck at all.

It’s why WOR Radio in New York and WPHT in Philadelphia have dropped Glenn Beck, not because his ratings were falling and advertisers were leaving. It’s also why WPHT also dropped Sean Hannity, who had previously been dropped by KSL Radio, a Mormon station, in Utah. It has nothing to do with Beck ranting about crime around Independence Hall or KSL’s mission statement which calls for advancing “integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.” Its just Aquarius and Capricorn not knowing what’s what or who’s who.

Same goes for Keith Olbermann, the brightest and loudest star in the MSNBC galaxy, getting the quick shuffle out the door to even the sides. Here’s your money, Keith; keep your mouth shut.

The wacked-out zodiac (and what do you think the zodiac killer is thinking these days?) may well be responsible for the recent strange conversation between the president of the American Atheist Group and Bill O’Reilly, who still has a job at Fox news, but who has been told by his boss, Roger Ailes, to “shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.”

The atheists had posted a billboard calling religion a scam. O’Reilly said he could prove them wrong: “I’ll tell you why it’s not a scam in my opinion: Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.”

Atheist: “Tide goes in, tide goes out?”

O’Reilly: “See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out … It always comes in, and always goes out. You can’t explain that.”

Now, had the stars not been out of alignment for thousands of years, O’Reilly may have known, intellectually, that tides rise and fall due to the combined gravitational effects on the Earth caused by the Moon and the Sun. That what the scientists tell us. For thousands of years, how these celestial bodies are aligned has determined the daily rise and fall of sea levels. It’s a scientific fact. You know, the same way that how the stars are aligned with the Earth has determined what happens in our personal lives for thousands of years. …

Actually, it’s all Parke’s fault.