Around the Web

A Madison teacher tells her second- and third-graders that Scott Walker’s actions are basically like racial segregation. There’s no other word than evil for someone who tries to make small children, who are much too young to understand the issues behind this debate, hate another human being over reasonable policy disputes through vicious, preposterous lies that no sound-minded adult could possibly believe in good faith. 

Thaddeus McCotter is officially in the presidential race. I’m withholding judgment, but given how underwhelming the rest of the GOP field is, I’m certainly willing to be won over if he’s got what it takes.

Robert Stacy McCain lays the smack down on a richly deserving scumbag with a history of defaming conservatives. If Taylor was sincerely worried about right-wing bloggers who aid America’s moral debasement, he could have started with the pro-choicers. No need to make stuff up.

Glenn Beck says he’s not playing the game anymore, and is ready to revolutionize the news and information system. Or something. I’m still skeptical that adding a subscription fee to what he’s basically already doing is going to do anything but decrease the number of people he reaches, not increase it.

Fox News Channel’s temporary post-Beck show, “The Five,” sounds really, really lame. “Hey, let’s throw together the C-listers we’ve got hanging around the studio anyway and call it a show!” (With apologies to Greg Gutfeld.)

So, Glenn Beck’s Putting Together His Own Network

And while I like the guy, I’m not seeing the appeal. Maybe/hopefully Beck has some additional content in mind he hasn’t revealed yet, but right now this seems less like a real TV network and more like fancy dressing (and subscription fees) for the stuff he’s already doing. Plus, his TV routine is usually too unfocused as it is – doubling it to two hours is exactly the last thing it needs.

New on NewsReal – Astro-Turfed Talk Radio? Hannity, Limbaugh & Beck Accused of Faking Callers

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Not content to belittle conservative talk show hosts as merely greedy or hateful, leftists have seized upon a recent report in Tablet Magazine to cast them as liars who are scamming their own audiences, as well. The piece reveals a service offered by radio syndicate Premiere Radio, which offers to supply hosts with fake callers, the insinuation being that the next time you hear an enthusiastic fan sing Glenn Beck’s praises, or an idiotic liberal effortlessly dispatched by Sean Hannity, the whole thing might be artificial:

“Premiere On Call is our new custom caller service,” read the service’s website, which disappeared as this story was being reported (for a cached version of the site click here). “We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.”

Gustav Wynn at the left-wing OpEdNews.com reports that the Big Three—Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck—have all unequivocally denied that they’ve ever had actors call their shows, but he’s pretty sure that something fishy is afoot anyway:

Limbaugh sharply rebuked the suggestion, decrying media coverage of the article and denying he had ever used actors on his show as he tried to dissociate himself from the service and any possibility that he staged calls. One could even witness his brain switch gears as he begins to ask his own call screener if he was in on it. This demonstrates how quickly Rush would attempt to insulate himself should it be uncovered someone else was assigning actors to call his show, perhaps in “common purpose”.


So merely by defending himself, Limbaugh implies he’s got something to hide. Why? He just does. After all, he’s Rush Limbaugh.

Next, about 2:06 into the clip he says “over the years” people have “come to him with ideas” to “get in the act” but he “shot it down”. Okay, is this shades of Governor Walker? Who in Rush’s circle of prospective collaborators came to him with these ideas? We don’t know. He didn’t say, protecting their identities from the very listeners he was trying to assuage.

Cheap shot at the Scott Walker-Koch brothers non-story aside, let me remind Mr. Wynn that we don’t subpoena people every time we get a whiff that somebody may have approached them with a bad idea in private.  If we did, we’d never have time to go after real impropriety.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Radical Reading in Education, Part 2

Tonight Glenn Beck alerted his audience to the fact that the problem isn’t limited to Fondy – it turns out the National Education Association’s website has a page recommending the works of an author “widely recognized as the father of, and pre-imminent expert in, grassroots organizing” – Saul Alinsky.

Yeah, that guy.

Paging John Boehner, Jim DeMint, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann…any of you feel like maybe trying to do something about this sort of thing for once?

Who Is the Right’s Charles Johnson?

Looks like others are starting to notice that John Doe debates like a foul-mouthed twelve-year-old. For the record, I think Dan Riehl’s original criticism of Glenn Beck, while valid, was over the top, but it’s hilarious to hear Doe equate him with Charles Johnson, because it seems to me that Doe is the Johnson wannabe, not Riehl.  While Charles Johnson smears decent conservatives as too “extreme,” John Doe smears decent conservatives as not extreme enough.

Olbermann Still Spinning “Life Panels”

Keith Olbermann still insists the “death panel” concern is just one big hoax, in doing so using his ailing father as a prop.  I hate to break it to ya, Keith…

Hilariously, Keith can’t seem to figure out why an “honorable organization” called the Special Operations Warrior Foundation would support the dastardly Glenn Beck. Apparently it hasn’t dawned on him that their standards for truth might be a little higher than his.

Michael Medved: What Does “Get Back to the Constitution” Mean?

Michael Medved is, bar none, one of the most intelligent, knowledgeable, and eloquent guys in all of talk radio—which is why it’s such a shame that he devotes so much of his skill to deflecting substantive criticism away from the Republican Party.  Townhall’s Greg Hengler highlights the following exchange between Medved and a caller (h/t to Hot Air):

Here is a great exchange between a caller to Michael Medved’s radio show who’s obviously influenced by Glenn Beck’s daily mantras like “There is no difference between the two parties — they’re both ‘progressive’,” etc. Without naming Beck’s name, Medved goes off on this caller (read: Glenn Beck). Take a listen:

I’ll be the first to agree that Beck substantially overstates the similarities between Republicans and Democrats (in fact, I’ll go even further and say that Beck’s analysis often comes across as impulsive and poorly thought out), and this particular caller does not make his case well at all.  But while Beck overstates the problem, that doesn’t exonerate Medved from understating it.  He challenges the caller to provide a single example of an issue on which John McCain and Barack Obama were on the same page.

I’ll take that challenge, Michael: not only is McCain’s role in campaign finance reform the stuff of legend, but it could even be argued that he’s even more to the left here than Obama is.

I do believe that satisfies the original challenge, but let’s throw in a second, for good measure: immigration.  McCain is also infamous for his left-wing zealotry in favor of amnesty, and though he may have backpedaled ever so slightly in 2008 for political expediency, he incredibly ran an ad running to Obama’s left here as well, accusing Obama of playing a role in killing 2007’s amnesty bill.

Besides, being somewhat better than the alternative is still not sufficient to rise to the level of good.  Take abortion, for example—when your opponent gets caught red-handed on the wrong side of starving newborns to death in broom closets, it doesn’t take much effort to look good by comparison.

On almost every conceivable issue, John McCain’s conservative credentials have serious flaws, not the least of which was the mainstream conservative Club for Growth’s judgment that his “overall record is tainted by a marked antipathy towards the free market and individual freedom.”

I voted for McCain. I understand that half a loaf is better than no loaf.  I don’t demand 100% ideological purity from every single politician.  But the GOP’s lack of commitment to conservatism is bigger than a handful of isolated blemishes; it’s an identity crisis that caused and enabled many of the Bush presidency’s failings and led to the election of Barack Obama.  Will Medved admit that this is a real, legitimate problem?  How does he propose that we address it?  (And no, throwaway admissions that “Republicans aren’t perfect” don’t count.)

As to the third party question: it’s true that anyone who expects a third party candidate to actually win the White House is delusional, and I’m not aware of any existing third parties that deserve to be taken seriously.  But while many disgruntled conservatives may have mixed-up views of them, a decent third party might be useful in a different way: not as a replacement for the GOP, but as the catalyst for real GOP reform.  As long as Republicans keep limping along on life support, the Beltway types will take their every victory as an affirmation that they’re doing enough right that they’re justified in maintaining the status quo.  It’s doubtful that anything less than a real threat to Republican viability would be enough to force any real self-reflection.

What’s most shameful is Medved’s angry, impatient reaction to the idea that Republicans need to “get back to the Constitution”:

What does that mean?  Stop with the slogans! Talk to me about reality! Americans are out of jobs, there’s 10% unemployment in this country.  We are being spent into oblivion […] so why are you talking about pie-in-the-sky stupidity, fantasy land, kindergarten, childish idiot stuff?  I mean, and you are!

Regardless of Brian’s inability to articulate his message, the fact remains there is no way Medved does not know exactly what “get back to the Constitution” means.  He’s simply too smart, too informed, and too active a conservative intellectual not to.  Take the courts—did the GOP put up much of a fight against Sonia Sotomayor?  Federal influence in education, healthcare, and environmental & workplace regulations have obvious constitutional problems.  In many cases, the GOP has been on the wrong side of these questions, and even when they haven’t, often they fail to make an issue of the constitutional aspect (though there are a few bright spots).  Is restoring a proper understanding of & reverence for the Constitution no longer a major priority of conservatism, in Medved’s view?

This exchange was indeed educative, but not for the reason Hengler thinks.  It demonstrates that, while talk radio personalities like Michael Medved are a tremendous asset in some ways, in others they’re part of the problem.

Goliath Has Nothing to Fear from These Davids

David Frum is promoting David Brooks’ latest column, in which Brooks says:

Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.

This is delusional on several fronts. Brooks’ claim that the GOP is at the mercy of talk radio is totally undercut by his own column’s earlier observation about John McCain’s primary success, despite the longstanding bad blood between McCain and the pundits. But that’s not to say his other claim, that the talkers have no sway with the actual voters, is much better — just ask Harriet Miers, the United Arab Emirates, or the Republicans who wanted to ram amnesty through Congress (all issues talk radio sounded the alarm on) how far they got.

It’s interesting that Brooks attributes the GOP’s decline to the rise of Glenn Beck (who didn’t really hit it big until after Obama’s victory), Sean Hannity (who was a superstar well before any discernible GOP decline, and was doing his usual routine during Republicans’ Congressional gains in 2002 and both of George W. Bush’s victories in 2000 & 2004), and Bill O’Reilly (an independent with hawkish defense and law-&-order sentiments, but also a global-warming believer who spends half his time demonizing oil companies and treating any politician who might give him an interview with kid gloves), and not to what these supposedly-kowtowing Republicans actually did:

Bush and the Republicans spent massively, especially in Bush’s first term. We opposed that, mightily. The president’s most cherished initiative, probably, was the Faith-Based Initiative. We opposed that. Then there was his education policy: No Child Left Behind. We opposed that (mainly on grounds that it wrongly expanded the federal role). He had his new federal entitlement: a prescription-drug benefit. We of course opposed that. He imposed steel tariffs—for a season—which we opposed. He signed the McCain-Feingold law on campaign finance—which we opposed. He established a new cabinet department, the Department of Homeland Security. We opposed that. He defended race preferences in the University of Michigan Law School case; we were staunchly on the other side. He of course proposed a sweeping new immigration law, which included what amounted to amnesty. We were four-square against that.

I am talking about some things that were very dear to Bush’s heart, and central to his efforts—and self-image, as a leader. NR, the conservative arbiter, opposed those things. The Republican party, by and large, supported them—with one glaring exception: the immigration push.

He might also do well to consider that McCain’s failed presidential bid was hardly in the mold of a Limbaugh broadcast, or, if he’s really feeling intellectually curious, he could ask himself what effect a primary field divided among multiple candidates with partial claims to certain aspects of conservatism (Romney on economics, Huckabee on social issues, Giuliani on terrorism, etc.) might have had.

David Brooks is dead wrong, but we shouldn’t be surprised that David Frum is enamored — these days Frum dreams of a new conservatism that looks suspiciously like liberalism, and spends more time hyperventilating about TV personalities’ occasional missteps than extremists in the White House.

(Cross-posted at The HF Blog.)

Of Frogs and Fatwas

Little Green Freakshow Watch: Charles Johnson runs selectively-edited footage in a post entitled, “Glenn Beck: Frog Killer.”  Beck responds to the controversy, during which he states the title of Johnson’s post.  The conclusion?  “Glenn Beck Lies About LGF.”  Honestly, at this point what can you say to somebody like Charles Johnson, aside from either “go to hell” or “please seek psychiatric help”?

As to the original controversy that led Beck to ruthlessly murder that poor, rubber frog—Beck’s contention that John McCain winning the election would have been worse for America than Barack Obama’s victory—it’s a view I was once sympathetic to, but I ultimately came around (mostly due to foreign policy) and voted for McCain.  As bad as McCain is on the issues, I think it’s safe to say he wouldn’t be putting 9/11 Truthers or deranged eugenicists in positions of power.  He wouldn’t be redefining the standard for acceptable deficits.  And most importantly, a McCain Administration wouldn’t abandon missile defense, sell out Israel, underestimate Iran’s threat, waver on Afghanistan, or side with tyranny over democracy in Honduras.

As to the idea that McCain-backed liberalism wouldn’t be opposed to the degree Obama-backed liberalism is currently: I think there’s probably truth to that at the congressional level, but not at the grassroots.  How far did George W. Bush get on Harriet Miers, amnesty, or the United Arab Emirates deal?

I was wrong then, and Glenn Beck is wrong now.

Around the Web (Extremist Edition)

Think your neighbor might be a racist?  Via Power Line, here’s a handy chart that helps you find out (Newsweek can help in that regard, too).

The Washington Post reports that the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit has struck down some major campaign finance restrictions; political advocacy groups “are now free to accept unlimited contributions, to spend unlimited funds independently supporting or opposing federal candidates.”  Interestingly, this particular suit was first filed by the pro-abortion Emily’s List, yet the report stresses that the ruling could be “a boon to groups tapping into the fervor of anti-Obama activity and ‘tea party’ events.”  Regardless of whose ox is being gored, the fewer restrictions on participation in the political process, the better.

Via Hot Air, even more reasons to distrust David Brock’s con men at Media Matters: first, they accuse Hot Air of “smearing” Van Jones by making the true statement that he was a 9/11 Truther.  Of course, in order to support this lie, MM needs to selectively omit pesky language about “immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”  Second, they’ve been caught selectively editing video of Glenn Beck discussing the recent ACORN sting operations, removing precisely what they accuse Beck of not saying.  Unbelievable.

Speaking of Glenn Beck, conservative-hating conservative David Frum has been on the warpath against Fox’s newest rising star.  David Horowitz has been sticking up for Beck, and catching Frum in a lie or two in the process.  Frum has nothing to say about the substance of Horowitz’s arguments, aside from complaining that Beck’s apparently too cozy with Ron Paul.  Is he?  I don’t know—it’s late, I’m not Glenn Beck’s spokesman (I tend to think he does more good than harm, but he’s unquestionably eccentric), and I’ve got better things to do than watch old cable news interviews.  You can decide for yourself if you’re so inclined.  I will say, however, that I strongly disagree with any conservative who gives so much as a second’s airtime to this lunatic, and Beck deserves criticism for that, no matter how defensible some of Paul’s domestic-policy ideas may be.  But is a TV host being overly-friendly to certain guests grave enough to warrant the kind of purge Frum (ironically, given his big-tent worship) demands?  I don’t think so.

Earlier this week, Frum also linked uncritically to this HuffPo piece claiming that Beck has supposedly lost over half his ad revenue…without mentioning it’s a reprint of the press release from Color of Change, the guys behind the boycott.  Neither did he mention that their claims are crap.

Lastly, in case you haven’t noticed, alleged onetime conservative (and current pathetic toad) Charles Johnson has incurred the wrath of Robert Stacy McCain for his rank smear-mongering.  Here’s Stacy’s latest.  Required reading?  Nah, but it’s darn satisfying.  Oh, how I love the smell of smoked weasel in the morning…