Glenn Beck Desecrates The Memory Of Martin Luther King

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King spoke to over 200,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He gave what is regarded as one of the most inspiring speeches on behalf of brotherhood, liberty, and the peaceful struggle for equality. He said in part…

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Later this year, on the very same steps, on the anniversary of that historic speech, Glenn Beck will lead his congregation of predominately white followers at a “Restoring Honor” rally to launch his next book, “The Plan,” a 100 year blueprint for undoing the progress made by people like Dr. King on behalf of equality, justice, and peace.

Subsequent to Beck’s original announcement of this event, he has latched onto a military charity to mask his profiteering with a facade of moral gravitas (and gain a tax write-off). But he has made no mention of the date’s prior association with Martin Luther King. And why would he be expected to? This is the man who recently called King a “radical socialist” and questioned whether there should be a holiday in his name. This is the man who called President Obama a “racist with a deep-seated hatred for white people.” This is the man who calls progressives (like King) “the cancer in America.” The thought of Beck usurping this cherished occasion to further the goals of his Tea Bagging 9/12ers is insulting and unacceptable.

So where is the outrage? Where are the guardians of Dr. King’s legacy? Who will organize an event in our nation’s capital on that day to honor the real meaning that it represents? Will Beck be permitted to tarnish this anniversary with his exclusionary fear mongering and conspiracy brigades?

I don’t expect Beck to endure in his crusade. He has already launched numerous campaigns that he leaves to gather dust when his attention is drawn away by some new, shiny dementia. In just the past couple of years he has announced the following TV jihads:

  • We Surround Them
  • The Re-Founding
  • In or Out 2010
  • Watchdogs
  • 9/12 Project
  • The Plan

Beck & KingBeck’s conspiracy theories erupt quickly and fiercely and they burn out the same way. This is also true for his allegiances to principles. For several months the opening credits of his TV show included a picture of King or a reference to his words. Those are gone now. It was fine when Beck wanted to exploit the reverence for which most Americans hold King, but now Beck finds it more important to insult him and suppress his legacy.

This may be just one day in summer, but it is a day that should be reserved for uplifting recollections of our better nature – not the Apocalyptic negativity of racists and enemies of the poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The anniversary of King’s “Dream” deserves better than to be desecrated by the detestable likes of Glenn Beck and his dark and divisive hordes. It would sure be nice to see King’s supporters show up in DC in greater numbers than Beck’s disciples.

Malice In Wonderland: Fox News Through The Looking Glass

Tea CrusadesOver the past year the Tea Party phenomenon has attracted a lot of attention from the rightist media. From the beginning Fox News took the lead sponsoring and promoting Tea Party events, dispatching their anchors to literally host Tea Party rallies, and donating hundreds of hours of airtime to Tea Party spokespeople and supporters. Fox News is the de facto Tea Party Channel.

Despite that massive PR push, the Tea Party remains quagmired as a niche clan of exclusionary cultists and corporate dupes. But that hasn’t deterred Fox News from their campaign to Tea Bag America. This morning Fox Nation declared that Tea Parties are going on high alert, and posted recruiting calls for Joe the Plumber’s Tea Party Tax Revolt.

All of this got me to wondering where it will all end. With a major so-called “news” network advocating on behalf of the delusional flank of the conservative crusade, it seems to me that the right stumbled into an abyss and has consumed some mighty potent mushrooms. So, with apologies to Tim Burton, I present…

Malice In Wonderland, Fox News Through the Looking Glass:

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Later this month a new Tea Crusade will commence in the form of another AstroTurf sponsored bus tour. The thrid Tea Bagger Express will conclude in Washington on April 15. On August 28, Glenn Beck will headline his “Restoring Honor” affair at the Lincoln Memorial. That’s an ironic event considering the obvious lack of honor of the host. He just starting claiming that it’s a fundraiser for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, but he originally promoted it as the launch date for his next book “The Plan.” Also, the date is the anniversary of Martin Luther’s King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the same location. A couple of days ago, Beck called King a “radical socialist” and questioned whether we should be celebrating a holiday in his name. Now Beck seeks to muddy King’s memory by usurping this historic anniversary to hawk his book. In September Beck’s second annual 9/12 rally will take place on 9/11. This gives Beck another opportunity to tarnish a sensitive anniversary.

Expect all of these events to be aggressively promoted on the Tea Party Channel (i.e. Fox News). And expect there to be more coverage of, and interviews with, Tea Baggers and there proxies in Congress. And above all, expect more confusion, mischief, and deceit on the part of Fox and the right-wing politico-media complex.

I must say that I have to agree with Alice when she said:

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”

The Glenn Beck Blackboard Challenge

Let’s face it…Glenn Beck is insane. He rattles off loopy conspiracy theories that connect dots that only he can see. He makes wild and unsubstantiated accusations against his perceived enemies. He weeps incessantly over unexplained threats to “his” country. And, best of all, he draws pictures of his hallucinations that he thinks makes everything oh-so-clear.

It occurred to me that he might be able to use a little help (OK, a lot of help). So I drew up a few pictures of my own that convey a bit of the altered reality that infests Beck’s brain. This is my contribution to enhancing the understanding of a profoundly disturbed individual going through a very public psychological collapse.

If you are so inclined, feel free to make your own contributions and leave links to your work in comments.

Have at it.

And just to put some perspective on the impact of Beck, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reveals that most respondents don’t know who the heck he is:

“According to the poll, 24 percent have a “positive” view of the Fox News host, while 19 percent view him negatively. Interestingly, 15 percent were “neutral” and 42 percent said they didn’t know Beck or weren’t sure.”

That’s comforting. And I wouldn’t worry about the 24% positive. It’s probably the same deadenders that support Bush, Palin, and Joe the Plumber.

George W. Bush: Lame. Duck!

On what George Bush must think is his victory lap, the president surprised the country he destroyed with one last visit before he slips off into irrelevancy. However, during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, one of the reporters slipped off his shoes and hurled them at Bush.

After the incident, Bush dismissed it saying that it was merely “one way of getting attention.” But in the Middle East, the symbolism of shoes is much deeper than that. Even crossing your legs in a manner that shows the sole of your shoe to someone is considered a supreme insult.

Take this, Bushie…


John McCain’s Smear Campaign

As John McCain’s prospects for election diminish, the incidence of dirty tricks and nasty campaigning are likely to increase. Almost every event and news story in the past couple of weeks has resulted in voters trending more to Barack Obama. Polls show Obama gaining support after the conventions, after the first presidential debate, after the Wall Street legislative activity in Washington, and after the vice presidential debate. With less than thirty days until the election, McCain’s desperation is showing. As the Republican angst escalates they will more aggressively execute the tactics that McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, articulated a few years ago in a newspaper editorial:

“The premise of any smear campaign rests on a central truth of politics: Most of us will vote for a candidate we like and respect, even if we don’t agree with him on every issue. But if you can cripple a voter’s basic trust in a candidate, you can probably turn his vote. The idea is to find some piece of personal information that is tawdry enough to raise doubts, repelling a candidate’s natural supporters […] It’s not necessary, however, for a smear to be true to be effective.”

The onslaught of political mud has already begun. Top Republicans told the Washington Post that:

“Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations.”

It appears that Sarah Palin has been tapped to be the campaign attack Pitbull (with lipstick). This afternoon she made the outrageous and offensive assertion that Obama associates with terrorists:

“Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

This is the sort of garbage that can be expected between now and November fourth. McCain has nothing else upon which to campaign, so he is resorting to slander, lies and defamation. The candid confessions of Republican operatives, including McCain’s campaign manager, that they intend to pursue this strategy, should remove all doubt as to what depths they will sink. And from now on, any attack that emanates from the McCain camp must be viewed through the prism of these admissions.

They have told us in advance that they will be personal and tawdry, and that they don’t care about the truth. These are their words and their stated objectives. We must remember that and make sure that every voter knows it as well.

Just for the record: It may be John McCain who was really “pallin’ around with terrorists:”

Jill Greenberg’s Extra-Real Photos Of John McCain

On assignment for Atlantic Monthly Magazine, photographer Jill Greenberg took a series of pictures of John McCain. In the course of the photo shoot she asked McCain to pose for a set that she had deliberately designed to light him in manner that produced a more sinister, some might say more realistic, appearance. She later delivered the commissioned pictures to the Atlantic and took the others back to her studio for some Photoshop fun. Here are few of the results (and here are the rest):

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Needless to say, this caused an uproar in conservative circles amongst a bunch of hypersensitive hypocrites who oppose freedom of expression.

First of all, Greenberg is a superlative artist with a unique and evocative voice. She has a long record of quality work and a portfolio brimming with inspired imagery. She is also an avowed liberal and has produced work in the past that has attacked Republicans, particularly George W. Bush. That’s not a crime. That’s a civic duty. I myself have quite a collection of political graphics that are sure to offend somebody. The photographs presented in this series are akin to the political cartoons and editorial graphics that have long been a part of our political culture.

However, she is now coming under assault by elements of the right wing media who fault her for “deceiving” the hapless Republican nominee for president of the United States. The fact that he can be so easily duped is perhaps another argument that he is unfit to serve in the White House. Fortunately, he does have the media machine of Rupert Murdoch to run interference for him.

Murdoch’s New York Post (which endorsed McCain) published an article on the photos with a headline that declared Greenberg a “Mac Hater” and criticized her for not airbrushing McCain’s weathered skin and reddened eyes enough. Since when is it a photographer’s responsibility to sweeten a subject’s image, particularly when used as photo-journalism? Ironically, the Post is complaining that Greenberg failed to manipulate the photo in a column where they are chastising her for manipulating photos.

The Atlantic’s editor, James Bennet, appeared on Murdoch’s Fox News to disassociate himself from Greenberg, to threaten that he may sue her, and to announce that he has drafted a letter of apology to McCain. The FoxNews.com article on Bennet’s TV segment took a similar approach to the Post’s, but with an even more tortured spin on what constitutes photo manipulation:

“Greenberg said that the cover shot for The Atlantic article was manipulated to leave McCain’s eyes red and skin looking bad.”

It seems to me that “…manipulated to leave…” alone is another way of saying “not manipulated.” It’s a little like saying, “The appendectomy was performed to leave the appendix where it was.” In other words, there was no appendectomy.

This rhetorical device is a staple of conservative thinking. The notion that something can be altered in order to keep it the same can be observed by anyone following the 2008 presidential election. You hear it every time McCain says “Vote for me if you want change.” Translation: Vote for me if you want another four years of Bush – if you want more of the same.

The hypocrisy of the Murdochites is glaringly present in their selective outrage. Just two months ago Fox News was itself embroiled in a Photoshop controversy. During a segment of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade mocked Jacques Steinberg and Steven Reddicliffe of the New York Times, and featured photos of them that had been digitally altered to create humiliating caricatures. What makes this far worse than the Atlantic incident is that Fox News broadcast their mockery on national television, while Greenberg reserved her pieces for her personal website. None of the Murdoch items, in print or on air, mentioned their own history of photo manipulation.

The big, unmanipulated picture here is that Greenberg is a courageously outspoken artist who is yet another victim of the Dark Agists who seek to stifle free speech. For her trouble she has been dropped by her agency (she says she quit), and is facing litigation. In my view she should be admired for her talent and applauded for her efforts on behalf of creative freedom for all artists and those who love art and, of course, freedom. Remember freedom?

Update: Jill Greenberg has some new photos of Glenn Beck.

America’s Barack

America Is Back!

History was made on August 28, 2008, when Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party to run for President of the United States. On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the manifestation of that dream has come to pass. The fulfillment of this dream is a declaration that we can come back from the dark days of division that characterized the past eight years, and much of the past two hundred. And it is evidence that the people, when inspired, will rise up to take back their country. Barack Obama is merely the reflection of our own hopes and dreams. We are America, and…

America’s Barack

Get Your America’s Barack Stickers and T-Shirts today.

An excerpt from Obama’s acceptance speech:

“For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.”

With that declaration I was transformed from a contrarian bent primarily on defeating John McCain, to an affirmative supporter of Obama. My journey meandered through an attempt to draft Russ Feingold, to an advocate of John Edwards new found populism, to settling for an Obama candidacy that seemed at the time to be too conciliatory.

I dedicated myself to expressing my opposition to McCain via my art and words. (see McCain – NOPE). I have developed quite a collection of anti-McCain/Republican pieces. But, until now, I have not created a single piece that was “pro” anything.

That’s changed. I now have a candidate that I can forthrightly support. Someone who represents ideals that have driven my activism for years. My new work reflects that optimism. It’s a strange feeling for me. I know that a speech that articulates the views I cherish does not necessarily evolve into the actions and accomplishments I seek. But it is critical that the words be spoken. The goals cannot begin to be realized without the vocal intention to pursue them. And Obama is saying the right things.

Another speech by Martin Luther King included a phrase that shaped my life as an artist:

“We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.”

I’m not sure that King meant the arts when he said “creative,” but that’s the way I chose to read it. And it’s one of the first recollections I have of perceiving art as an act of conscience and rebellion. Prior to that I drew a lot of superheroes and hot rods (I was twelve, at the time). I had become radicalized, and I knew that at least part of my work had to be devoted to making a better world.

If Obama continues to speak the sort of truths, and to address the sort of aspirations, that call people to unite for the high ideals illuminated in his acceptance speech, he will radicalize a new generation that will compel him, and his successors, to follow through on the dreams that he, and King, and millions of other compassionate citizens of the world have yearned for.

We ARE back. The people are back. Compassion is back. Justice is back.

America’s BAraCK

Vote For John McCain For A Prison-Tested President

Running for president requires great strength and stamina. The race is long and treacherous. John McCain has been forcefully pushing his argument that he is better qualified for the job than his opponent, Barack Obama. In fact, McCain contends that Obama is not qualified at all. The latest McCain ad says that Obama is “dangerously unprepared” to be president. So what makes McCain so ready to be Commander-in-Chief?

Purely from paying attention to McCain’s press releases and stump speeches, the primary qualification he possesses is his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He repeats the tale of his captivity with every opportunity that presents itself. Even when there is no opportunity, he labors to wedge the story in anyway. It’s the foundation of his policy positions and his excuse for any mistake he’s ever made. So I thought I’d help him out and produce a poster that features his best case for inhabiting the White House:

McCain is the only candidate who can claim to possess leadership forged by prison. While his comrades were fighting in the jungle, engaging the enemy, developing battle plans, and accumulating command skills, McCain was sitting in a musty cell, enduring interrogations (where he eventually divulged tactical information and confessed to war crimes), and generally following the orders of his captors. What better preparation is there for high office in Washington, DC?

McCain shares a legacy of Republican lawmakers who have run afoul of the law. His own brush with the American criminal justice system came via his association with convicted banker, Charles Keating. And his Navy pilot colleague, Duke Cunningham, is presently serving an eight year sentence for conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. McCain’s more recent band of brothers range from criminal figures like Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, to convicted obstructer of justice Oliver North, to pardoned perjurer Scooter Libby, to indicted bribery defendant and Senate pal Ted Stevens.

McCain’s own incarceration was not due to any stateside criminality. He was honorably serving his country at war and was shot out of the sky by the enemy. But since he has raised his captivity as evidence of his fitness to be president, then it’s only fair to place it in the context of others whose imprisonment may have enhanced their character and leadership ability as well.

McCain and his campaign staff have sought to grant immunity to McCain for any misdeeds he might perform. They assert that no one who has served his country the way McCain did could possibly ever do anything wrong. (Tell that to Duke Cunningham). But if that’s true, they better open up America’s prison gates and release the thousands of veterans who sadly went astray and committed acts of violence, greed, and drug abuse. Many of their lives were thrown off course as a direct result of their military service. They returned home to poverty and despair, and many were abandoned by their country when they were in need. But with the criteria that McCain has now introduced with which to measure leadership potential, perhaps we need to reexamine the cons and ex-cons whose incarceration has presumably transformed them into the same sort of leader that McCain is.

It’s not particularly surprising that McCain would chose to highlight this part of his resume, because the remainder of his public career was as a senator who was undistinguished other than as a rubber stamp for the Bush administration. That’s why he has to dig back 40 years to find something to recommend him to a new generation of American voters, many of whom weren’t even born when the Vietnam war was being fought. If residence in a prisoner of war camp 40 years ago qualifies one for the presidency, then how much better is it to have a more recent prison record?

To be clear, I am not comparing imprisonment by enemy captors to that of law breakers. One should evoke expressions of sympathy and gratitude, and the other punishment and, perhaps, mercy. But the actual activity engaged in by prisoners is not exactly a prerequisite for executive management. The solitary and monotonous experience of life in a cell may produce some profound lessons, but none of them relate to governing a country. If McCain wants to persuade people that he is more qualified to be president than Obama, he had better find a more persuasive argument.