Tag Archives: Glenn Beck

Restoring Honor Rally: When Libertarianism and Religion Collide

It has been an interesting year.  It started with the 9/12 March on Washington in 2009, and finished with the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally of 2010.  Those two events are bookends to the blurry whirlwind that was one year of my life:  parenting, traveling, listening, reading, blogging.

The 9/12 event was not the beginning of my interest in politics.  Shoot, I’ve been conservative/libertarian since age nineteen (based on that old adage, I must have no heart).

But 9/12 was just . . . overwhelming.  A turning point.  On that morning, my family and I walked out of our hotel and towards Pennsylvania Avenue with no idea what we would encounter.  We did not expect to get swept into an ocean of families like ours, so wide and so thick I could not move nor see past it.  I did not expect that sea to wash over Pennsylvania Avenue for hours.

9/12 was the kind of rare thing that fills your soul.  To the brim.  One day, you are alone in your dismay at the political landscape and the state of your government generally.  The next day, you are not.  Not alone.  Not dismayed.  Worried?  Maybe.  But motivated to do something.

I could see my own surprise, gratitude, and hope mirrored in the expressions of everyone around me that day.

Fast forward now to the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally.  This experience was certainly similar to 9/12, with one big difference.  This time, I am not surprised in the least.  Not surprised by the size of the crowd, or by the vastly different attendance numbers reported.  Not surprised by the way some media outlets equated the rally with the counter-rally, by lumping their numbers together.  Not surprised by the mischaracterizations, the twisting of facts (these links are via Legal Insurrection).  In fairness, one lefty blogger charitably offered that most of us are “probably not bad people,” although we still must be battled in order to “save civil society.”  Oh my, that sure sounds serious.  And sorta fear-mongery.

Anyhoo, having listened to Glenn Beck somewhat regularly this past year, I was not surprised by the religious nature of 8/28.  I mean, he’s been getting increasingly preachier and preachier all year long.  If you are a regular listener, you have noticed.  

And if you are a born-again, baptized-in-the-water believer, you probably don’t mind.  Even if Glenn Beck is a Mormon, a fact which some folks think should cause other Christians to recoil in horror.  (Hello, isn’t that a bit divisive?  Especially from that all-inclusive, all-tolerating left side of the political spectrum.)

Other folks also seem a bit flummoxed by the religious nature of the 8/28 event.  In the New York Times, one commentator describes it this way:

“Instead [of a political event], Beck served up something considerably stranger. This was a tent revival crossed with a pep rally intertwined with a history lecture married to a U.S.O. telethon.”

Well, yeah.  Fair enough.  But to me, it didn’t feel strange.  The event felt as natural as attending my parent’s nondenominational church or mass at my kids’ Catholic school.    We came, we shared a little fellowship with those around us, we prayed at bit, sang a bit, coaxed the kids into enduring boredom a bit, and that’s all.  Just like church. 

But with a slightly larger crowd than the usual congregation.

I kinda wondered what the not-openly-religious type of libertarian would think of the Restoring Honor Rally.  The approach of two thinkers, Glenn Reynolds and Nick Gillespie, can be found in this concise nutshell of Insty info.  Read the whole thing, and watch the Reason.com video embedded therein.  They are fair enough assessments.  A little reserved perhaps.  (As long as it’s Tocquevillian, it’s okay in Professor Reynolds’ book.)

But for the record:  nothing whatsoever about the rally left me reserved or unsettled. 

I am grateful for Beck’s melding of libertarianism with religion.  Mostly, the right side of politics has always had separate camps:  the religious right and, well, the rest.  I have never felt entirely at home in either camp.   Which is why I branded myself a “Christian libertarian” a long time ago. 

Then along comes Glenn Beck, an ex-pop music radio DJ, recovering alcoholic, and Mormon, who seems to be building a bridge between those two camps. 

I like it.

Okay, a bit of housekeeping before I sign off.  One, Tim Cavanaugh’s take is well worth reading, but here is my favorite line:

“the real reason I and my fellow coastal elites are wary of Glenn Beck is a lot more basic: He’s the fat kid you don’t want to be seen with at the lunch table. I’ll admit it! I find Beck a little bit creepy and gross and needy, and he gives me this sense that things are not going to end well.”

Ha!  Once again I say:  fair enough.

Next, guess what?  The President still does not take us seriously.  Yawn, no surprise there.

Finally, as far as that whole “saving civil society” thing goes.  Just look at the difference between the D.C. Mall after the Restoring Honor Rally, as compared to post-Obama inauguration.  Then tell me once again who is the more civil group, the lefties or the righties?  Just sayin’.

P.S.  My favorite parts of the rally were:  1) Alveda King, and 2) Amazing Grace with bagpipes.

The Illusion of Choice

Reckon the whole Nudge thing is old news, but it really struck a chord today. 

I was listening to Glenn Beck during my jog.  Cass Sunstein was the topic.  Audio was recently discovered, in which Sunstein promoted the idea of internet site linking to opposing views, voluntarily or by mandate if necessary.  Pat or Stu (I can’t tell the difference between them, sorry) explained, tongue in cheek, that Mr. Sunstein doesn’t want to mandate any particular behavior.  He prefers “altering the choice structure.”

Altering the choice structure.  I’m well familiar with that technique.  As the mom to two young boys, I’m a pro.  Long ago I dubbed it “The Illusion of Choice” (draw out the letter “u” when you say it:  “the illoooooh-sion of choice”).  

Here’s how it works.  Want to leave the park or the birthday party in 15 minutes with minimum fuss?  Ask your child, “Are you ready to leave now, or do you want me to give you another 15 minutes of playtime?”  “Fifteen more minutes!” he will quickly respond.

Plan to serve a vegetable at dinner, about which your child usually moans?  Pair it with a vegetable he hates even more, and ask:  “Do you want the brussel sprouts, or the spinach?”  “Spinach!” he will quickly choose.

See?

It’s the illooooooh-sion of choice!  And it works a charm.  They don’t even realize what I’m doing.

Do you see my next point?  (Really, comment and let me know ‘cuz I’m curious.)

The Illusion of Choice is a tactic a parent uses on her child, to manipulate him into complying with the very thing he would normally resist.  Perfectly appropriate for a parent to use this slick little trick on her child. 

But is this the way adults should treat other adults?

‘Course not.  It is not based on mutual respect.  It does not acknowledge the inherent right of an adult to make his own choices, good or bad.

“Choice architecture” is simply a form of parenting.  Paternalism.  As a recent New York Times article on Sunstein puts it,

“behavioral economists have replaced the rational actor in economic models with an often befuddled character — bedeviled by impulses and sentiments, overwhelmed by choice.”

So, this befuddled man should be guided.  Nudged by those who know which choice is best.  Like me:  the mom who knows her son should leave the park soon, and eat some spinach.

This is a real problem, people.  Alarms should be going off in your head.  Robots, with arms flailing, should be repeating “Danger, Will Robinson!”  Because Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wants to treat you like his child.  And people out there agree with him.

That New York Times article quoted above is certainly enamoured:

“Many innovative ideas — among them, some of the corrections proposed by behavioral economics — are still hypotheses. Like Sunstein, their brilliance comes with speculation, and it comes with whimsy.”

This blog on Social Capital is favorable as well (whatever the devil “social capital” is):

“In Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler‘s wonderful book Nudge (2008), they note that individuals’ choices can be influenced by countless factors that people are unaware of . . . .”

Even this intelligent blog, which does criticize Sunstein and the New York Times article, still seems guilty of taking the guy too seriously. 

Libertarian paternalism.  An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

Meeting Cody Weber Part II

The following is my response to Cody’s friendly comment

It is good to meet you.  Publicly declaring my politics is a fretful experience.  To face a rather harsh YouTube video, refrain from lashing back, learn more about the person, and end up finding the common ground.  A positive thing in my book.

Glenn Beck sounds fake to you, okay.  But it doesn’t mean his listeners are being duped.  I listen to the radio show for two reasons:  the facts I get, and the humorous bantering between Pat, Stu and Glenn.  They work well together.  Sometimes he gets too Chicken Little, and sometimes he gets totally spun up about things I could care less about.  So I turn it off.

I usually don’t watch his TV show, as by 5pm I’m sick of politics and my family is home from work and school, dinner must be made, etc.  Funny, I made a point of watching 3 days in a row after watching your video.  In order to best answer, why do I listen to him?

Facts are the answer.  I do check them myself and have not found lies.  

Cody mentioned two Beck statements he felt were lies.  First, concern over whether the President swore on the Bible or the Koran.  I was not stateside back when this issue arose.  I can’t find anything dispositive at this point.  The recording at issue has been removed by YouTube.  In my experience, anti-GB folks do tend to be rather reflexive and take statements out of context. 

The other claim was about John Holdren advocating birth control in drinking water.  It is true, albeit from the 70’s, so whether Holdren still holds that view is debatable.  I remember listening to Beck talk about this.  His point was, why doesn’t Mr. Holdren distance himself from this creepy opinion in that old book?

I really don’t mean to turn this into a snopes.com “Beck said this,” “no he didn’t” back-and-forth argument.  But since facts are the reason I listen, I figured I should address the concerns you voiced about untruths. 

I totally get being completely turned off by personality.  I am that way about Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.  Ick.  But you can’t discount all the facts Beck provides every day, unless you steel yourself against your dislike, and listen or watch on a regular basis yourself.  After all, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on facts provided by Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews off the cuff.  I would watch for a week and take notes, do some research, and then comment on their offered facts.

You and I probably have a lot of common ground.  But make no mistake:  we also disagree on important points.  I do not think the separation is only in our heads.

The Constitution is not just an excuse for our current political battles.  It is the underlying thing at issue most every time.  Deadlock is usually a good thing.  And there are plenty of things that rightly we ought to fear.  We have entered a time when the many basic Constitutional provisions are being abrogated.  We have reached the point where we must ask the basic question:  is our government to be limited, or is it not?

Meeting Cody Weber

I am subscribed to Lee Doren’s Facebook page, and a few days ago, I happened to see his response to a YouTube video about Glenn Beck.  That is how I came upon Cody Weber’s video.

Not surprisingly, my first reaction was annoyance.  After all, it was two minutes of insults about Glenn Beck and his listeners.  Then, I followed the link to Cody Weber is Things, and . . . well, things got more complicated.  

On Weber’s website, I was not insulted.  I was introduced to a dedicated father and aspiring artist with gorgeous photography in his portfolio.  I found a video journal that gives an intimate peek into Cody Weber’s home life. 

The sounds of Mario Party DS, the cereal bowl with a built-in sippy straw, the cartoon characters, and the bathtub routine:  all so familiar.  They transcend politics to create a bond between me and this Cody Weber character, whether I want it to or not.

Cody responded to Lee’s initial response, and I watched that one too.  There are so many things I want to discuss.  But, I can only focus on one this evening:  the Constitution, and why it is not outdated. 

In the second video, Cody explained that “the Constitution was written while slavery was still very much part of our culture, and we evolved from that.”  In other words, the Constitution’s relevance must be questioned, because those supposed “founders of liberty” were content to leave so many without an iota of freedom. 

The slavery issue is valid, and I have wrestled with it myself.  I finally started reading some American history.  It really helped.

The thing is, the Founding Fathers were great men, but . . . they were only men.  Imperfect

The Founding Fathers were saddled with their own perspective, their own limited lifespan.  They were concerned with their own rights as Englishmen, not with the rights of the whole human race.  For good reason, they were focused on the way the British–their own country and brethren, no less!–were trampling on the liberty of American colonists.

But.

In freeing themselves from British tyranny, the Founding Fathers managed to build a lasting framework, i.e., the Constitution.  The United States of America, as a people, then managed to use the Constitution and apply liberty, not just to those original Englishmen, but to every single citizen regardless of race, creed, or sex.  The people did so, not by ignoring the Constitution, but by lawfully amending it.

We cannot dismiss the Constitution on the grounds that slavery renders the document meaningless.  Or shall we also dismiss every wise word from the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabians and the Egyptians?

Cody continued, “you have the ‘Old America,’ the Americans that feel they must uphold the Constitution at all costs, and then there is the ‘Young America,’ this new America that is trying to change things.”

But this logic presumes that all new things are better than old.  We all know better than that, Cody included.  If the value of a concept decreases with age, how do you explain the continuing popularity of beer?

Since Cicero lived from 106 to 43 B.C., shall we discount his wisdom?  He said:

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions . . .

A universal and unchanging rule of law.  That is the standard our Founding Fathers sought when they wrote the Constitution.  That is an important value of any true conservative.

Imagine if we did not have this unchanging rule of law.  Imagine that we had no Constitution.  Imagine the following “Nightmare Scenario:”

The year is 2014.  A Tea Party-fueled conservative backlash against Democrat-led changes in healthcare, the financial sector, and immigration has led to the election of Glenn Beck as the 45th President of the United States.  Enraged by American idiocy, several radical Islamic terrorist groups have attacked the U.S.  It is worse than the prior 9/11 attacks.

President Beck has already cajoled the new Republican majority in Congress to pass laws suspending the 5th Amendment, profiling all persons of middle eastern descent, and also targeting any persons who espouse hateful, un-American liberal rhetoric.  A new bill, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act, will prescribe how to manage these traitorous people. 

In order to constitutionally uphold the previous administration’s healthcare, finance, and immigration laws, the U.S. Supreme Court already held that the Constitution is a living document.  They explained that the Constitution must be interpreted in the context of modern times, because we have evolved so much in the last 220 years.  A lower federal court has already used the context of repeated terrorist attacks as grounds for upholding suspension of the 5th Amendment.  Good luck getting President Beck’s other new laws declared unconstitutional. 

See?  We all need to love and preserve the Constitution.  Left and right, up or down.  If one administration ignores an eensy little part of this rule of law, then the next administration may ignore or contravene some other part.  Maybe a part that’s pretty important to you.  Without consistency, the rule of law is meaningless.

It’s getting late.  I gotta wrap up.  Greed was a recurring theme for Cody Weber, so let’s end with the wisdom of Milton Friedman.  Here is a video clip from the Phil Donahue show in 1979:

Bibliography:  I relied on material in The Five Thousand Year Leap and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers in this post.

UPDATE, 30 April:  Found a solid article relevant to this post, Defending Glenn Beck.

My 8 year old is smarter than a liberal, part 2

One of Glenn Beck’s topics lately is the propoganda taught to children in America’s schools.  I watched his episode about it last week, and it had good information.  He was got real dramatic about it (surprise surprise), and described the indoctrination as shocking.

Shock is a sentiment I don’t share, though. 

Why?  Well . . . my first introduction to the words “liberal” and “conservative” was in 7th grade social studies class.  The teacher wrote them on the chalk board like this:

conservative=stingy                              liberal=generous

It always stuck with me, this memory.  I remember feeling skeptical, and noticing our social studies book didn’t say that.  (Not that I was some political savant.  My wariness probably stemmed from the fact that this teacher was a sour, humorless ol’ fishwife.)

Nah, the idea of propaganda in school does not shock me.  Shoot, I already see it in my boy’s 2nd grade curriculum, at a Catholic school.  A lovely little Catholic school.  I like this school, and I like his teachers.

But.

I have noticed that the curriculum is more comprehensive on recycling and the environment, than it is on Presidents Lincoln and Washington.  I sure as heck noticed the day his class covered taxation.  (I thought it a bit weird for 2nd graders to learn about taxes at all, what is your take?)

One day, I did the usual, “so what did you learn about” routine with the elder son and his classmate on the way home, and they said taxes.  Oh, really.  Huh.

“What did you learn about taxes?” I ask.

“Oh, that they are good because they help people.”  Both of them answered this way.

Nah, indoctrination does not shock me. 

Look.  I do not believe anyone in this school has nefarious intentions.  It’s just that the available curricula is so thoroughly soaked by left-leaning theory.  And teachers do tend to be left-leaning.  I haven’t asked the teachers about their political affiliations, and I don’t want to go there anyway.

I went into overdrive that night, attempting to write a 2nd-grader-appropriate pamphlet:  taxes for 2nd graders.  Finished that bad boy before bedtime too.  I made my son read it aloud, which he did cheerfully, all the while chuckling at my fervor on the subject.  He took this pamphlet to school the next day, and his teacher stapled it into his “interactive notebook,” but never commented about it directly.  That was fine with me.

So I reckon that the next time we relocate, we will have to do more than just find a nice Christian school.  Political indoctrination will only increase as the grades increase.  We have to find a school without the usual, left-leaning curriculum.  Hoo-boy how much will that cost?

Look folks, please understand.  I do not talk politics with my 2nd grader.  I do not think it is age-appropriate.  He is still learning the basics.  Nevertheless, sometimes me and his Dad talk about politics within his earshot.  I do listen to AM radio while we are in the minivan.  Once in awhile, the kids must suffer through the Glenn Beck TV show during dinner.  (“Not Glenn BECK!” my 4 year old groans when that happens.)  Oh, and the kids have attended some Tea Party events.

The good news is, I don’t think there is any harm being done.  The elder one sure impressed the socks off me this morning. 

Mancow was on the radio while we were on the way to school, really ranting about the nanny state and the proposed federal 18% soda tax.  My son asked, what is that guy talking about?  I explained how the government wants a new tax on soda, and the idea is that it will make us healthier.  (Just read the linked Reuters article; they seem to have sussed out how much weight We the People will lose and everything.)

Without missing a beat, my son scoffed, “they will just make us poor.”

Yep.  My kid is smarter than a liberal.

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