Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Glenn Beck: April Fool

Glenn Beck and his producer on the hunt for alternative energy Image credit: Walter Lantz

Of course, Glenn Beck is a fool any time of year, but since today is so special, why not take a look at his latest foolishness? The first comes courtesy of Think Progress:

For almost a year, Glenn Beck has been warning with increasing panic that America is headed toward socialism. Tonight, he issued a correction: “They” are are not marching the United States toward socialism, Beck explained, but actually fascism:

It all adds up to me, having to admit that I was wrong. Our government is not marching down the road towards communism or socialism. … But now I have to tell you that they’re not marching us that direction. They’re marching us to a non-violent fascism. Or to put it another way, they’re marching us to 1984. Big Brother. … Like it or not, fascism is on the rise.

Though Beck claimed he didn’t mean “Adolf Hitler kind of fascism” and that he was talking about “fascism with a happy face,” he illustrated his point with more than a minute’s worth of Nazi footage, played dramatically on the full screen behind him.

Glenn Beck: I was wrong. We’re Not Marching To Socialism, We’re Marching Toward Fascism

Of course, Beck isn't the first damn fool to redefine fascism so he can invent new ways to insult liberals, but this strikes me as a particularly pathetic example of that pathetic rhetorical strategy. Boiled down to its gooey essence, his argument is:

That kind of socialism that I made up so I could call Democratic fiscal policy socialist? I was wrong, it's really more like this kind of fascism I just made up.

Fox News' dwindling audience numbers might be an indication that even their audience isn't far enough round the bend to fail to grasp this, but there are probably lots of alternative explanations.

For instance, there's Glenn Beck on alternative energy:

[T]he really special moment in the broadcast came when he started talking about wind power as an alternative form of energy with Tom Borelli of the "Free Enterprise Action Fund" -- a right-wing anti-environmental outfit -- about the Obama energy plan, and this burst out:

Beck: You can't make wind energy work without nuclear energy as well. Wind stops --

Borelli: You know that, but Congress doesn't know that.

Beck: Use your common sense! Hey America! Use common sense here! Let just try this out!

Wind, when it blows, makes energy. When it stops, you can't store it, so what's making the energy? Wind energy doesn't work without something else making energy for when the wind stops, which it does -- especially if Al Gore controls the temperature, and all the winds and everything else, so we never have blowy days!


The problem with Beck is that he packs so much ignorance and misinformation into a single rant that it's hard to figure out where to start. Suffice to say that one can easily find out that there are numerous strategies for dealing with the unreliability of wind power[.]

More Beck Babble: Wind Power Needs Nukes To Work

The Crooks and Liars article I quoted goes on to list a few, but I didn't read them. What makes his position so foolish is that you don't store energy when there isn't any. You store it when it's available. There are plenty of means for storing energy that could be, and have, been put to use. If you're not a physicist or an engineer, it's possible that you wouldn't see through that argument, just barely. If you are a physicist or an engineer who didn't see through that argument, sit at the back of the class and start paying attention.

Everyone has to talk about things they don't know about. I can't fault Beck for not knowing what energy is, or that it is conserved. What I do blame him for is not taking a few minutes out of his day to either inform himself, or find someone who knows a lot about the subject already. He could have interviewed Jerry McNerney, a Representative who made a living as an engineer of alternative energy (wind turbines, as it happens). Oh, wait. He's a Democrat, and therefore a socialist, no a fascist. I get so confused sometimes. Instead, he chose a guest who seems to know as little about the subject as he does.

OK, so Rep. McNerney's not acceptable. Let's do something called an Internet search to find authors, scientists, or engineers who have some expertise in this area, and could possibly have answered Beck's absurd statements. Look, here's a college that has an alternative energy engineering curriculum. Maybe he could call the professor in charge? That was the second hit in my first Google search. That wasn't terribly difficult, was it?

It should go without saying, I suppose, but I'll say it anyway - Beck's on TV not because he ever says anything that makes sense. He's on TV because he's useful to the people who control what you see on the TV. As with Jonah Goldberg's presence in newspapers, there's no reasonable alternative explanation. Frankly, this penguin could out-think either one of them.

UPDATE (April 2): Over at En Tequila Es Verdad, Efrique left this comment, which I'll reproduce in its entirety because it's freaking hilarious:

Interesting that Beck seems to have decided that Hitler was a fascist - when of course he was a Nazi. Mussolini was fascist (the fasces, being a Roman concept, having resonance for the Italians wishing for Empire, not the Germans).

Here's a helpful primer for Fox News personnel:
Shirt ColourCountryFought Indy?Rightwing Ideology

I don't think tables work in comments, so hopefully the extra characters will help space it out roughly right (it's fine in Preview, but that doesn't mean a lot)

April Fools

Fortunately, I can make tables in an article.


One Fly said...

"Useful to those that control" is exactly what this is about. Lobbyist's are at the top too but it's the media that got us to where we are at and keeping us there.

Cujo359 said...

Advertisers have some control over what you see on TV, as do people who sit on the boards of the media companies. When the companies that own the media also own other things, as GE does, for instance, there's even more reason to expect what we're told to be shaped for someone else's benefit.

In short, there are many sources of control.

george.w said...

Zounds! You mean that environmental energy like wind and solar are variable? We must alert Congress!

Actually a sufficiently intelligent grid means that wind power becomes practical. Periods of absolute calm are rare across whole continents, and the grid can work with smart devices to price energy and shape demand. Coupled with constant mains energy like nuclear and hydro, there's little danger of outages.

But the system we have now, well. Outages guaranteed, before long.

Beck is such a maroon.

Cujo359 said...

Hi, George W.

Sorry to not have noticed this comment before. Anyway, yes, a modern electrical grid would make wind and solar energy more practical options. So would more imaginative means of storing the energy when it's produced. Beck's a moron because he didn't bother to look into those issues, he just assumed that because the wind isn't always available most places, it's no use.