Bill Maher Exposes Trump As A Giant Con: ‘It’s Beyond Politics, It’s About Sanity

Speculation about the mental health of Donald Trump is becoming a trending topic. Of course, many people have noticed his malignant narcissism and stifling paranoia for years. His fierce obsession with ego-driven trivialities seems to supersede the obligations of the job.

Bill Maher

The situation is so serious that bills are being drafted by both parties to provide for routine presidential psychiatric exams. It’s not a bad idea for any president, considering the pressures of the presidency. But with the election of Donald Trump it’s been elevated to a critical necessity.

Thursday night CNN aired a program with Van Jones interviewing Bill Maher (video below). The subject of Trump’s mental stability came up when an audience member asked this question:

“The President’s been in office barely three weeks. Why can’t you guys in the media and Hollywood give him some slack?”

First of all, on the day that President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the Republican leader in the Senate declared that his top priority was to make him “a one-term president.” Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh announced that he wanted Obama to fail. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters now begging for mercy while Trump is pissing on the Constitution, and stuffing his cabinet with racists and billionaires, is ludicrous.

But let’s get back to Maher’s response. He was justifiable surprised by the questioner’s naivete. He mocked the notion that Trump deserved any slack precisely because of “the things he’s said and done.” Then he explained in detail why Trump’s pretense of being for the “little man” is just “a giant con.”

“What does he do? He gets into office, the coal companies can dump sludge in the river. Because, you know, that’s what the ‘little man’ is aching for. Undoing Dodd-Frank. Because so many of the town halls in Appalachia, people were standing up and saying, ‘Mr. Trump, please get rid of the Volcker Rule. Because if I can’t make certain speculative investments, it’s killing us here!'”

And that’s just for starters. Our billionaire president doesn’t appear to have the slightest comprehension of life for average Americans. His promise to repeal ObamaCare will cause twenty million people to lose their health insurance. The Trump tax plan is weighted heavily in favor of his wealthy pals. Plus, estimates say that it will balloon the deficit by up to ten trillion dollars. He has already reversed a regulation that protected citizens from corrupt financial advisers. His education secretary is opposed to public schools. And he appointed an Environmental Protection Agency director who aspires to eliminate the department.

For these, and many other reasons, Maher made the astute observation that:

“It’s beyond politics, it’s about sanity. It’s about somebody who makes stuff up, who doesn’t read. His information is either anecdotal, or pulled out of his … behind.” […] “Of course we’re worried when the President sees multitudes that don’t exist. As in the illegal voting – three million. That should bother you.”

Indeed, it should bother every American. The President proudly lacks the knowledge required to perform his job. And what he lacks in experience, he makes worse by his determination to invent “alternative facts” that affirm his ignorance. His lying, temperamental outbursts, and vanity make him an existential threat to the welfare of the nation. A recent poll shows that, only three weeks into his term, the nation is split on whether to impeach him. The same poll notes that:

“The Presidency has been so diminished over the last 3 weeks that voters even say Saturday Night Live has more credibility than Trump, 48/43.”

So let’s set aside these preposterous pleadings for Trump to be given a chance. He’s had his chance and blown it on an epic scale. From here on out he must be judged on his actual performance. No wonder he and his staff are so worried.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

LOCK HER UP: Fox News Stands Alone With Praise For Aspiring Dictator Donald Trump

The second presidential debate is now a part of history, and that’s not just a figure of speech. In a campaign that has set ugly precedents and breached common standards of decency from its inception, Donald Trump has once again lowered the bar. He has let his inner dictator emerge in full view of millions of viewers and citizens.

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

During a debate wherein Trump engaged in free-range falsification of reality, there was one moment that stood out. It was an exchange in which Trump took the extraordinary position that as president he would instruct his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: “I didn’t think I’d say this but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it, but if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.
CLINTON: It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.
TRUMP: Because you’d be in jail.

The “situation” to which Trump referred has to do with Clinton’s emails and the private server she used. Never mind that an extensive investigation was already completed by the FBI. While they found some room for criticism, they concluded that there were no actionable violations of the law.

Trump, however, doesn’t care about the law as evidenced by his prejudgment to jail Clinton before any investigation or trial. It’s a position that stands in stark contrast to every legal precept in a democracy. Former Attorney General Eric Holder noted that in a statement saying “In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents.” George Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer agreed saying that “Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. […] Trump is wrong on this.”

For the most part the media recognized the aberrant legal analysis that Trump was proposing. Like much of what he says on any subject, he demonstrated his pitiful lack of knowledge or even basic understanding. Here are a few examples of how the press views Trump’s ludicrous threat.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: We got an excellent moment right now to discuss something I’ve never heard in any of these debates before between two presidential candidates […] One candidate says not only is he going to put forward a special prosecutor to investigate his rival, but he’s going to put her in jail if he’s elected president of the United States. That’s pretty extraordinary.

DANA BASH, CNN: What makes this country different from countries with dictators in Africa or Stalin or Hitler or any of those countries with dictators and totalitarian leaders is that when they took over, they put their opponents in jail.

JOY REID, MSNBC: We need to not speed past the point that an American candidate for president threatened to jail his political opponent. […] This happens in Malaysia, this happens in Uganda. This does not happen in the United States of America.

VAN JONES, CNN: A line was crossed that I don’t know has been crossed in my lifetime, maybe ever. He threatened to jail his opponent. […] He threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he became president of the United States. That is something that I think is a new low in American democracy.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Donald Trump also said, in one of the most provocative comments of the evening, he said that if he was president, he would jail his political opponent. He would put Hillary Clinton in jail. That is the sort of thing that we usually decry in other countries, in authoritarian countries.

PAUL KRUGMAN: Let’s be clear: a candidate for president promised to put his opponent in jail if he wins. Everything else is secondary.

JAKE HOROWITZ, MIC: A few politicians who have jailed their political opponents: Putin, Erdogan, Chavez, Mugabe, Pinochet. Noriega.

DAVID FRUM, speechwriter for George Bush: Who would consent to serve as Attorney General to a president who believed he could direct prosecutions of his political opponents?

By contrast, Fox News presented a somewhat different perspective. Their primetime star Bill O’Reilly gushed that “That’s the smartest thing he did all night because that, just that, coalesced his base back together.” And contributor Scott Brown said that “It was the line of obviously, I think, the election, the debate process. […] it was a home run. I thought he won the debate.” Nowhere on the “fair and balanced” Fox News was there a contrary opinion like that expressed by Clinton’s campaign spokesman Brian Fallon:

“That is the comment of a dictator that you expect to hear in a banana republic — the idea of jailing your political opponents.”

And that pretty much sums it up. Trump has presented himself as a narcissistic authoritarian from the outset of his campaign. His racist proposals to ban immigrants on the basis of religion; his incitement of violence toward protesters; his proclamations that “I alone” can defeat ISIS, or reform the tax code, or repeal ObamaCare, or end street violence. These are all indications of Trump’s belief that as president he can act unilaterally and impose his will the nation. And let’s not forget his open hostility to the media upon whom he promised to seek revenge.

These are the thoughts and actions of a budding tyrant. Anyone who can contemplate putting Trump at the head of the U.S. government and military is playing with fire. Trump has shown us who he is, and it’s a frightening picture of autocratic oppression. If he were to become president, Hillary Clinton would not be the only opponent he would throw in his gulag. Guantanamo would be packed with his critics and any random liberals who offend him.

Bill O’Reilly And Jesse Watters Lie About Van Jones

Bill O'ReillyLast week Bill O’Reilly interviewed his Fox News colleague Jesse Watters about a video Watters had produced wherein he ambushed Van Jones at a green energy convention. The video itself was a frivolous exercise that succeeded mainly in demonstrating how easy it was for Jones to make Watters look foolish.

More interesting was a part of the exchange between O’Reilly and Watters that included a wholly unfounded attribution by Watters that even O’Reilly found unbelievable:

Watters: He [Van Jones] actually said that the EPA has saved more lives than the department of defense and that Republicans want to poison children.
O’Reilly: Jones said that Republicans want to poison children?
Watters: Yes, he did.
O’Reilly: Was there any reason that the GOP wants to commit homicide?
Watters: Jobs. Poisoning children creates jobs.
O’Reilly: Now wait a minute. This guy was working in the Obama administration. He actually said that the GOP wants to poison children?
Watters: We have it on tape.
O’Reilly: Alright. I want to see that tape on Reality Check on Monday.
Watters: OK.

Well, Monday came and went and there was no video. O’Reilly broadcast his Reality Check segment on Tuesday and there was no video. It should come as no surprise that O’Reilly failed to air the video and didn’t even bother to address the fact that he was breaking his promise to do so. The reason for that is simple: There is no video of Jones saying what Watters alleged he said.

The truth is that Jones never said that Republicans “want to poison children.” He responded to accusations that the EPA kills jobs by noting that the EPA actually saves tens of thousands of lives every year by controlling toxic emissions and pollution. Jones suggested that critics be asked “How many American children are you willing to poison per job?” It was a speculative question meant to stimulate discussion about the relative merits of environmental regulation, not an indictment of the GOP as wannabe children poisoners.

This is yet another example of Fox News making irresponsible and dishonest allegations and failing to back them up with evidence. These phony “journalists” have no problem shamelessly making false statements publicly and then simply letting the whole matter drop and hoping their glassy-eyed audience forgets the part where they promised to provide proof. And judging from the non-reaction from the Fox audience, forgetting is something they do willingly.

CNN’s Corporatist ALEC Fluffer Dana Loesch Is All In For Mussolini’s Fascism

The secretive and influential American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been toiling in the political shadows to advance a far-right agenda aimed at enhancing the power of corporations and suppressing the voice of the people. Their so-called “voter integrity” initiatives are thinly disguised efforts to obstruct the voting rights of minorities, students, seniors, and low income citizens. The Center for American Progress authored a study that details ALEC’s operations, it’s ties to the powerful in politics and business, and its pride in concealing its activities from the public:

“Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because ‘you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.’

Recently, a campaign was launched by Color of Change and other activists to hold some of the enterprises bankrolling ALEC accountable for their support of the extremist organization. They include Altria, AT&T, ExxonMobil, Phizer, Wal-Mart, and, of course, the Koch brothers. The campaign has enjoyed some success in compelling Coca-Cola to terminate their relationship with ALEC. Pepsi, Intuit, and Kraft Foods are also severing ties with ALEC.

This citizen-driven movement is effective because free people in democratic societies are entitled to express themselves and redress their grievances with public and private institutions that have an impact on their lives. However, some rightist defenders of the ruling elite are appalled that ordinary citizens have found a way to join together and make their concerns heard. One of those is Breitbart editor Dana Loesch, who had this to say on her radio show in response to Coke’s announcement:

“Coca-Cola decided to side with an admitted Marxist, 9/11 truther, cop-killer supporter […] This is the guy whose company Coca-Cola is siding with. This is what happens. Progressives will target businesses and try to shut them down if they support those who are telling the truth. It’s a fascistic movement. Fascism is alive and well in the United States on the left.”

The alleged Marxist to whom Loesch is referring is Van Jones and her allegations are verifiably untrue. Jones is a firm believer in the ability of free markets to empower people and advance the goals of the American dream. In fact, he wrote the book on it. He never supported the 9/11 truth movement and even proved the allegation to be false. And his efforts on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal cannot be portrayed as supporting a cop-killer if the evidence shows that Abu-Jamal is innocent. Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was rescinded last year in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Also, Jones left Color of Change over two years, so Loesch’s attempt to associate him with this campaign is merely her way of trying to demonize the organization by associating it with a public figure who is hated by right-wingers because of their prior and continuing efforts to demonize him.

With everything that Loesch has gotten wrong in this affair, it is unsurprising that she also doesn’t understand political theory. Her accusations of fascism directed at a citizen effort to persuade Coke and other corporations to refrain from funding an extremist right-wing organization demonstrates her ignorance of the subject. She may want to consult the words of a man who is known to be something of an expert on fascism:

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” ~ Benito Mussolini

So Loesch is aligning herself with giant multinational corporations who are seeking with ALEC to integrate their power with that of government, while simultaneously calling those who oppose such activity fascists. If anyone can plausibly be regarded as having fascist leanings it is the American right. Their obsession with advancing the interests of corporations and wealthy oligarchs, to the detriment of the people, is closer to the fascist model than anything else in the American political spectrum. Why do you suppose that Republicans and the Tea Party are funded so heavily by corporatists like Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, and the rest of the Wall Street One Percenters? And is it just a coincidence that Mitt Romney, the GOP’s likely candidate for president, is from the same fraternity of elitists who want to decimate the government programs that benefit the poor and middle classes? Mussolini also said that fascism is revolutionary against liberalism “since it wants to reduce the size of the state to its necessary functions.” Sound familiar, Grover?

Ordinarily the twisted observations of Dana Loesch would be insignificant and harmless, but for their dimwitted asininity. Her radio show, and her work for Breitbart, are confined to the narrow world of uber-rightists who have already bought into the lies and slander of propagandists like Loesch. The problem is that Loesch is also a paid political analyst for CNN. It is wholly inappropriate for an allegedly credible news enterprise to employ someone who accuses millions of Americans of being fascists simply because they exercise their constitutional rights and participate in civic affairs.

Loesch has also accused the president of “siding with terrorists” and defended soldiers who urinated on the corpses of Afghan combatants. Now she maligns civic-minded Americans as akin to tyrants and perpetrators of torture and mass murder. Is that really the caliber of character that CNN wants to project? Unfortunately, based on the direction the network has taken the past couple of years, with the addition of people like Will Cain and Amy Holmes (of Glenn Beck’s Internet operation), and Erick Erickson (of RedState), it appears to be inescapably so.

Van Jones To Fox News: Cease And Desist!

Lawyers for Van Jones have taken a step that ought to have been taken long ago – by numerous people, for hundreds of offenses. Jones’ representatives have notified Fox News that that he will no longer tolerate the lies and defamation that they have engaged in for the past couple of years. They have sent Fox a cease and desist letter and they appear to mean business:

“For nearly two years, on programs broadcast on and by the Fox News Network, a series of sensational and inflammatory charges have been made against Mr. Jones. Each of these statements is demonstrably, unequivocally, and absolutely false, and each is clearly defamatory as set forth below.”

The letter then proceeds to enumerate some of the instances wherein Fox maligned Jones by falsely asserting that he is a communist, a Marxist, etc. Additionally, Jones was accused of being a revolutionary, a convicted felon, a 9/11 Truther, a cop killer, and a racist. Just this morning, in a response to Jones’ challenge to debate, Glenn Beck portrayed Jones as anti-American and an advocate of “The violent overthrow for a Marxist government.”

All of these charges are false and injurious, and the letter gives Fox until June 24, to indicate their intention to “cease and desist from further dissemination” and to broadcast a retraction. Despite the documentary evidence to support an action against Fox, I do not expect them to comply. That’s not their style. They will dodge and weave and resort to histrionic counterattacks.

In February of 2010, Jones assumed a forgiving stance, telling Beck that “I love you brother.” I wrote at the time that I didn’t approve because all Beck would do is continue to harass and lie about him. Now Jones knows what I knew then. He told Ed Schultz today that he has tried to be a “turn the other cheek” kind of guy, but that he only has four cheeks and he’s running out. He noted that Beck has continued to stalk him even two years after he left the White House, and that he’s had enough.

It took you long enough, Van. In the meantime, Jones can use this legal maneuver, and his debate challenge, to draw attention to his new American Dream Movement, details of which will be released at an event in New York on Thursday, June 23. So stay tuned. And hopefully this will inspire others who have been disparaged by Fox to step up and seek legal remedies.

Glenn Beck Is Afraid To Debate Van Jones

On Saturday at the Netroots Nation conference, keynote speaker Van Jones
spoke about the new movement to Rebuild the American Dream. In the course of his remarks he had a message for his old adversary, Glenn Beck:

Jones: “I issue a personal challenge to my beloved brother Glenn Beck. I will debate you anytime, anywhere, at any point. I’ll give you an hour, you give me five minutes … you got one week left before your show goes off. My phone is ringing. Call me! Call me, Glenn Beck!”

I hope Van is not waiting by the phone. There is about as much chance of this happening as there is of Michele Bachmann french kissing Rachel Maddow. Even though Beck is a relentless self-promoter and this debate could earn millions as a cable on-demand premium feature, Beck will decline. In fact, he already has:

Beck: “There’s really not anything to talk about until you’re honest and you say you want the overthrow of the government as you have in the past. The violent overthrow for a Marxist government. When you’re honest, then people can have a debate.”

That’s like me saying that I won’t debate Beck until he is honest and admits that he is a racist who would like to assassinate that ni**er in the White House. It’s simply a dodge to insure that he will never debate Jones. It has nothing to do with whether Jones is honest (he is) or whether he’s a communist (he’s not). Beck’s sole reason for dodging a debate is because he has a mortal fear of anyone who might engage him with intelligence, passion, and facts. That is Van Jones. And Beck is a quivering lump of cowardice who knows he would be taken apart were he to accept the challenge.

Jones is now escalating the challenge he delivered at Netroots. With the help of, Jones has produced a commercial that he plans to place during Beck’s show on Fox News.

I’m a little conflicted about whether he should actually pay Fox to air this ad. Ordinarily I would not even entertain the notion of contributing to Fox by purchasing ad time from them. However, in this case the ad would be placed on a show that has already been canceled, so it wouldn’t be helping to advance the show’s future prospects. And this might be the only way that Beck’s viewers would ever learn that such a challenge has been issued, and that their frightened Messiah turned tail and ran away. Is this what Beck means by Restoring Courage?

Glenn Beck’s Youth Bashing Crushed By Van Jones’ Optimism

Glenn Beck has spent much of the past two years dismissing young people as ignorant, brainwashed, and/or “useful idiots.” He regards them as societal appendages whose obligation is to be obedient and silent. Most recently he blamed the uprisings in the Middle East on unruly kids led by Google executives and intent on forming alliances with western leftists and Al Qaeda to invoke Shariah law from Tripoli to Topeka.

Today Beck replayed old clips of Al Gore motivating young environmentalists by telling them that “There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know.” That is objectively true for every new generation. If it were not it would mean that civilization is standing still. We are supposed to get smarter as time goes by. Aren’t we?

Not according to Beck. In Beck’s world Gore’s remarks are an appalling affront to parental authority. As is the speech that Van Jones gave at the Power Shift Conference for young leaders this past weekend. Beck played a short video of Jones encouraging members of the audience to be forthright in their advocacy for a clean environment. As usual, Beck cut the video so as to mislead his viewers. What he left was this snippet:

“When you go home, shift the power at the Thanksgiving table. When your Uncle Joe, who loves Fox News, starts talking to you and starts dominating the discussion.”

That’s where Beck cuts it off to insert his response:

“I will tell you this, in a side note. That is why I’m leaving this network. This network has this audience cornered. You are here because it is telling you the truth. We have got to get to the youth.”

First of all, that is not why Beck is leaving the network. He is leaving because he was fired for alienating over 300 advertisers and losing half of the audience. Secondly, Beck doesn’t explain what audience he alleges to have cornered, but presumably it is not the youth audience. In fact, Beck’s viewers, like Fox in general, skew older than any program on cable news. That aside, it is important to hear the rest of Jones’ thoughts to understand the depths of Beck’s intention to deceive. Just following the point where Beck cut the tape:

“When you go home, shift the power at the Thanksgiving table. When your Uncle Joe, who loves Fox News, starts talking to you and starts dominating the discussion, and starts making you feel small, and that your ideas don’t count, and that you’re some kind of bizarre freak, shift the power. Because this movement is not just for Democrats, and it’s not just for lefties. This movement is for everybody. And you have the opportunity to say to your Uncle Joe, ‘Excuse me sir. Don’t you believe in liberty? And if you do, how can you live in a country where every American is forced to be an energy consumer for the rest of our lives?

“Shouldn’t we have the right as Americans to be energy producers?’ Shouldn’t we be able to put up solar panels on our own houses? Shouldn’t we be able to put up wind turbines in our backyards? Shouldn’t we be able, as Americans, to power our own community? Shouldn’t we have the right and the liberty to be energy producers and not be dictated to twelve times a years by energy companies that dictate how much we’re gonna pay for energy, when we’re gonna pay it, how many asthma inhalers we’re gonna have as a consequence? Shouldn’t we have the liberty, as Americans, to power this country in a new way?”

Beck surely knows that the rest of that segment was entirely respectful toward Uncle Joe. He knows that there was no attempt to dishonor the role of parents or elders. He knows this yet he purposefully manipulates the message to cast young people in a negative light. And he has the gall to do this while declaring that he wants to “get to the youth.” That’s a goal he also spoke of in Albany on Saturday, where he said that he planned to build a way to deliver news directly to the youth of America. Does he plan to do that by frightening them as he does his radio and television audiences? Because that won’t work with this demographic. They are far more independent and self-directed. And for all the disrespect that Beck hurls at them, he cannot win them over with lies and fear mongering.

And just for the heck of it, here is Jones’ inspiring conclusion to the speech (which you can watch in full here):

“I love liberty. Given what’s happened with my ancestors, nobody loves liberty more than I do. But the pledge of allegiance doesn’t stop there. The pledge of allegiance says ‘liberty and justice for all.’ ‘Liberty and justice for all.’ And that’s what your movement is about. Liberty, yes, and justice. Justice for the immigrant. Justice for the lesbians and the gays. Justice for the African-Americans. Justice for women. Justice for the rural poor. Justice for the Native Americans. Liberty and justice for all. Shift the power!”

Foxophobia: What If Fox News Finds Out?

Last month I received a fundraising email from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. The Center collects, preserves, and exhibits posters relating to historical and contemporary movements for social change and has a library of more than 75,000 items. The solicitation noted the importance of individual donations due to the difficulty of obtaining funding from the government agencies that administer grants to the arts and archival organizations.

One particular part of the email was jarring for what it revealed about the decision making process of this administration. In an inquiry regarding their grant application, the Center’s director, Carol Wells, sought to gauge their chances of being successful and had this exchange with an agency representative:

Just before our most recent Federal submission we again asked about the political content and were told, “as you are writing the proposal, ask yourself this question:

“What if Fox News found out that U.S. tax dollars were being used to support your project. How would it look, how would it fly?”

HypersensitiveThe notion that Fox News’ mindset should serve as the benchmark for whether prospective arts endeavors are deserving of our tax dollars is insane, and more than a little frightening. And if it is difficult to accept that there is someone presently working for a government agency who is employing that criteria, then how much more frightening would it be to learn that this malignant perspective has spread through much of the body of our government? To be sure, all administrations are sensitive to reactions from the media, the public, and political peers, but for this administration to defer to Fox News, given their history, is mind boggling.

Barack Obama has been under attack by Fox News since before he was even elected. He was the subject of delusional allegations that questioned his patriotism, his citizenship, and his faith. The absurdities Fox promoted ranged from trivial associations with a former preacher to noxious accusations of “Palling Around with Terrorists.” It was a non-stop barrage that continued throughout the campaign and into his presidency where, if you can believe it, it escalated further.

On inauguration day Fox News anchors posited that Obama was not actually president because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office. It went downhill from there. As president, Obama was called a “racist with a deep seated hatred of white people.” He has been castigated as a communist, a fascist, an atheist, and perhaps worst of all, an elitist. The vitriol exceeded all bounds of civility. It was the soil from which the Tea Party sprouted along with the portrayal of Obama as an enemy of the state who is seeking to deliberately destroy the country.

Early on the administration recognized the toxic environment that was being created. There was a short-lived embargo of administration officials appearing on Fox. Anita Dunn, the former White House director of communications, told Howard Kurtz on CNN that Fox News is “a wing of the Republican Party.” Both Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod correctly observed that Fox “is not a news organization.” But the courage demonstrated by these positions quickly dissipated as the White House shifted tactics from confrontation to capitulation.

In one of the first examples of the Obama team folding under pressure from Fox News, Van Jones, a White House advisor to the Council on Environmental Quality, resigned subsequent to a relentless smear campaign by Glenn Beck and others at Fox. Jones was followed out the door by Yosi Sergant, Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts, who was similarly hounded by Fox.

Perhaps the most egregious moral buckling was exhibited in the administration’s disengagement from Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. In a video originally disseminated by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod was falsely portrayed as discriminating racially against a white farmer who had sought assistance from the department. It was later revealed that the video was deceptively edited to give an impression that was diametrically opposed to reality. After being featured in various segments on Fox News and elsewhere, Sherrod was asked to resign. Sherrod told the press that there was an urgency to the request due to the fear that the controversy was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

For his part, Glenn Beck theorized that the whole affair was a premeditated plot by the White House to “destroy the credibility of Fox News?” As if that hadn’t already been accomplished by Fox News itself (and particularly Beck) without any need for help from the White House. Nevertheless, leave it to Beck to concoct a theory that borders on psychosis.

This knee-jerk Foxophobia is evident in policy as well as personnel. Fox’s harping on issues ranging from the closure of Guantanamo Bay to the inclusion of so-called “death panels” in the the health care bill, resulted in those initiatives being abandoned. Obama was often seen in retreat after Fox newsers complained about the handling of the Census, the arrest of a Harvard professor, or the non-mosque that was not at Ground Zero. At times it appeared as if Fox had a greater impact on Obama’s agenda than his cabinet – or public opinion.

By acquiescing to a de facto Fox litmus test you produce scenarios wherein Fox objects to an art exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute, followed by Congress drafting legislation to defend the Smithsonian. Or NPR terminates a correspondent for making offensive statements at his other job on Fox, and Congress moves to defund NPR. Do we really want a network that specializes in conservative tabloid sensationalism conducting political payback like this?

Now, after all of the dishonest, hyperbolic, caterwauling from Fox, Obama is rewarding that network with an exclusive interview preceding the Superbowl. And more disturbing than just the fact that Obama would sit down with this phony news network, the Fox anchor pegged to conduct the interview is not one of their supposed journalists like Bret Baier or Wendell Goler. It is Bill O’Reilly, someone even Fox doesn’t regard as a newsman. In fact, O’Reilly’s boss, Roger Ailes, said that it’s a mistake to look at Fox News Channel’s primetime opinion shows and say they represent the channel’s journalism.” What would Fox think if Obama gave the interview to Rachel Maddow? How would that fly?

Moreover, the real mistake is for any Democrat or progressive to agree to appear on Fox News. They will only be abused while they lend their credibility to a network that hasn’t earned any of their own. Nevertheless, President Obama still sees fit to sit still for a non-journalist on a network that portrays him as an alien socialist bent on collapsing the nation’s economy and the nation itself.

This administration needs to take more seriously the threat presented by a massive, international media conglomerate that has made no secret of its disdain for the President and his agenda. And it is in its own best interest to cease kowtowing to Fox and being so concerned about what they think of his people and policies. Criticisms from Fox should be heralded by administration spokespeople. They should be embraced and repeated (and mocked) at every opportunity. They should be regarded as affirmation that you’re on the right track.

Conversely, bureaucratic flunkies like the one who quoted above, who worry about whether something will fly with Fox News, need to be rooted out and reeducated. If there is a test for whether the administration should proceed with an appointment or a policy initiative it should be based on the merits, not on what will happen when Fox News finds out.

Crime Inc: Glenn Beck’s Corrupt Advertisers

Glenn Beck BlackboardThe past couple of weeks Glenn Beck has been raving about some sort of criminal enterprise that he imagines is being run from the White House. Even with the help of his blackboards he hasn’t ever been able to coherently explain it, but he is convinced that it exists and, as befits his Messianic hallucinations, it is out to get him.

The cabal that Beck has dubbed “Crime Inc” began as an alleged conspiracy contrived by the climate change gang, which includes everyone from Al Gore to General Electric to the United Nations. Lately the conspirators grew to include your church and any institution that embraces social justice (including Beck’s Mormon church). It’s a global syndicate that seeks to collapse international economies and install a one-world government. I assume it’s being run by the Lizard People (whose leader is Barack Obama) but Beck hasn’t gotten to that part yet.

However, it appears that the real Crime Inc is the assembly of advertisers who sponsor Beck’s show (the ones who haven’t yet fled in disgust). As it turns out, many of them are running less than reputable operations that have run afoul of the law. For instance…

Goldline International
This peddler of over-priced gold products is passing itself off as an investment advisor. They advertise prominently on right-wing radio and TV programs that spread fear of an economic meltdown, which they contend gold is a hedge against. The only problem is that they charge far more than the actual value of the gold in their products and employ high-pressure sales tactics. In many cases gold would have to increase in value over 200% for you to just break even. Rep. Anthony Weiner is requesting that federal regulators look into whether Goldline’s highly questionable business practices violate the law.

This is an identity security company that is famous for its CEO who parades his Social Security number around on a billboard mounted to a truck. He also includes it in his TV ads. But now the Federal Trade Commission has “accused Lifelock of operating a scam and con operation. The commission announced, along with 35 state attorneys general, that it had levied a fine of $12 million against the company for deceptive business practices and for failing to secure sensitive customer data.” In short, investigators found that LifeLock failed to provide any of the services they promised.

In addition, an investigation by the the Phoenix New Times revealed that LifeLock’s CEO has had his identity breached multiple times. Losses in the thousands were racked up for the company head who so confidently broadcast his ID to the world. The New Times also uncovered some nefarious activities by another company founder that included gambling debts, arrests, and even identity theft.

Tax Masters
Citing nearly 1,000 complaints, the Texas Attorney General filed an enforcement action against TaxMasters, charging them with unlawful conduct and misleading customers. The action asserts that Tax Masters “unlawfully misled customers about their service contract terms, failed to disclose its no-refunds policy, and falsely claimed that the firm’s employees would immediately begin work on a case.” In addition, the AG charged that Tax Masters failed to even provide the services they promised and refused to give refunds, yet pursued debt collection efforts against clients who canceled their contracts.

Free Score
The first thing you need to know about Free Score is that it is not free. Well, except for the score, that is. But the report that provides you with useful information will end up running you $29.95 per month. It’s a classic bait and switch operation that tags unwary customers for thirty bucks a month for a report that can actually be obtained for free at The company employed conservative hack Ben Stein as its spokesman. That relationship cost Stein his column for the New York Times which does not permit its employees to be commercial shills. Free Score is owned by a disreputable firm called Vertrue that has been the target of actions by both the New York Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive business practices.

These are amongst the steadiest remaining advertisers on Beck’s show. And they appear to reflect the same disregard for ethics and honesty that Beck has made his trademark. It’s rather funny that Beck attacks his imaginary crime syndicate when he has such a close relationship with so many actual criminals. And it isn’t just as advertisers. Beck has long personally acted as a spokesman/shill for Goldline. Even when this violated the guidelines of his employer Fox News. You have to wonder how many of Beck’s other advertisers also have legal problems that have yet to surface. This would be another good reason for reputable companies to cease to associate themselves with Beck. Do they really want to be lumped in with the profligate companies listed above?

Beck’s latest hyperventilations feature a foursome who Beck fears are in cahoots with the White House in a plot to destroy him. Jim Wallis is the head of Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization. After Beck ordered his followers to “run as fast as they can” from any church that practiced social justice, Wallis wrote an item that called on Christians to run from Glenn Beck. Van Jones is the former presidential advisor on green jobs who was once affiliated with Color of Change, the group that initiated the advertiser boycott against Beck. Jones left the group two years before the boycott, which was in response to Beck calling the President a racist. Andy Stern is the former head of the union SEIU, which has joined with Color of Change and to boycott Beck. These three EOGs (enemies of Glenn) have been portrayed by Beck as agents of the President. Never mind that none of them have any association with the White House or any other government office whatsoever. This is classic Beckian conspiracy mongering wherein everything he deems evil is connected to everything else he deems evil.

The fourth horseman of the Beckocalypse is Rep. Anthony Weiner, who just asked federal regulators to look into Goldline. Beck’s response was to launch a web site called, where Beck’s disciples have been tasked with searching for dirt to smear on Weiner while making fun of his name. It’s all very mature.

Since Beck is so concerned about potential criminal activity, I wonder if he will look into the sordid histories of the people and companies that bankroll his show. And for that matter, his boss, Rupert Murdoch, has also been found guilty of improprieties ranging from corporate espionage to hacking into private email and phone systems of celebrities and politicians. Criminal behavior is part and parcel of the way these people do business. When you look at the big picture here, it’s obvious who the real Crime Inc is.

The Glenn Beck Advertiser Boycott Must Be Working

The way you can tell if a protest is effective is when the target of the action can’t stop complaining about it. For two days in a row, Glenn Beck has devoted valuable airtime to castigating the proponents of an advertiser boycott that began last year in response to Beck calling President Obama a racist with “a deep-seated hatred of white people.”

For Beck to divert so much time from fabricating paranoid conspiracy theories to fabricating smears on his perceived enemies is revealing. His anxiety could not be more apparent, even as he pretends that the efforts directed against him are making him happy:

“The fact is, I haven’t felt this good and positive in a long time. Why? Because the boycott attempts are the most transparent AstroTurf attacks I have ever seen or ever heard of.”

Ever? The truth is that the boycotts were initiated by a very small group that most people (including me) had never heard of. Color of Change began the effort with a small email list and a campaign to communicate with Beck’s advertisers. This shoestring effort produced surprising results, getting more than 100 advertisers to refuse to permit their commercials on Beck’s show. [Note: StopBeck later joined the effort further enhancing its effectiveness]

Beck spent the majority of his rebuttal inventing a plot that went all the way up to the White House. The first brick thrown by Beck was at his perennial nemesis, Van Jones. However, while Jones was a co-founder of Color Of Change, he left the organization two years prior to the Beck boycott. That didn’t stop Beck from building his cloud castle of hate.

He then tied Jones to Rev. Jim Wallis of the Sojourners. However, Wallis had nothing to do with the advertiser boycott, then or now. Wallis entered the picture after Beck took an astonishingly stupid stand against social justice and advised his listeners to “run” from any church that advocated it. Wallis responded by calling for Christians who believe in the venerable Christian practice of social justice to run from Glenn Beck.

And of course, Beck had to inject his distaste for working Americans by slandering unions. So he tethered Andy Stern to the boycott effort, although Stern and his SEIU had no part in the year-old boycott until about two weeks ago when they signed on with a new push by

After this hallucinatory construction of a widespread cabal attacking him, Beck capped it off with a wild accusation that it was a high level plot that the President was “coordinating from the Oval Office”:

“Is it possible, maybe, that pointing out every night that there are radicals, Marxists, and communists, in the White House, maybe that struck a nerve? Has someone decided that they must destroy my career and silence me because we’ve stumbled onto something? […] Has there ever been a case in American history…where an American president administration tried to destroy the livelihood of a private citizen with whom they disagree. Can’t think of any.”

Beck’s paranoia led to this declaration that nothing like this had ever happened before. He then immediately contradicted himself by comparing it to Richard Nixon’s famous “enemies list.” The only problem with that comparison is that Nixon’s list was documented and Beck’s delusions still only exist in his twisted cranium. What’s more, Nixon sought to use the power of the government against his opponents, but the Beck boycott relies entirely on the efforts of individual citizens engaging in free expression. Nevertheless, Beck elevates this to an absurd altitude wherein he literally compares himself with victims of Nazi atrocities:

“Where’s the media? Do the rest of you in this business think it’s gonna stop with me? Really? Once they get me what happens to you? Is there absolutely no chance whatsoever that you might be a target at some point in the future? What is that poem…First they came for the Jews and I stayed silent…”

Now they are coming for Glenn Beck. It is so like Beck to manifest his Messianic complex in this fashion. He is the persecuted one that suffers for his congregation. And his stylings are getting more televengelical and Apocalyptic by the day. Witness this fire and brimstone sermon:

It is a bizarre world. It is an upside down, inside out, quantum physics world. […] It is the eve of destruction in America.

I believe in God. I believe rights come from man, and this Constitution, and the founding of this nation, were divinely inspired. These are God’s rights and God’s freedoms.

If we appreciate those rights, if we do the right thing […] we are going to have to pay the consequence for our living and mistreating these rights. But in the end, have no fear, because nothing will thwart Him. Because these are His rights. This was His Constitution. This was His country for His purposes, not ours. And nothing…nothing…will thwart Him in the end.

Hallelujah. This may be the first time I have heard anyone declare that the Constitution was “divinely inspired.” To my knowledge, it has not been included in any version of the Bible. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison have not been beatified, nor is George Washington a saint. But in Beck’s mind a new holy doctrine has been proclaimed. One that permitted human slavery and denied women the right to vote. If the Constitution was divinely inspired, then what right did later generations have to amend it? Were they also the servants of God? And if so, did God screw up when he ratified Prohibition or the right to levy income taxes?

I have said this before, and it is all too apparent that it must be repeated: I genuinely hope that the people who care for Glenn Beck get him the help that he so obviously requires. It is way too tempting for his family and his producers and his hangers on, to hold back and revel in the riches he generates for them. But they will surely regret it when he self-destructs and splatters them all with the blood of their greed.

Now I’m sounding a little Biblical. And so I speaketh not further for the time is at hand for me to shuteth up. For now…..