Thursday, September 14, 2006

Glenn Beck is an idiot

I'm only ever inflicted with Glenn Beck — a right wing talk radio dweeb who is now on CNN Headline News — when Logan drags me to McDonald's. He's on at 6 p.m. Central time, so he's always there at supper time.

Tonight Beck was particularly stupid.

He was talking to retired brigadier general David Grange about the "rules of engagement". This is a big conservative bugaboo. Due to "liberals" or, just as bad, "the media", the army is forced to be careful about what it does in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forget the fact that the "rules of engagement" are created by the military with heavy input from the administration. Forget the fact that for 6 years the Republicans have controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency (not to mention recently stacked the deck in the judiciary). The problem are those damned liberals.

So, no indiscriminate civilian deaths. No firebombings. No nukes.

Oh, you think I'm exaggerating by that last statement? Nope.

Beck mentioned World War II. He said that in World War II, "We firebombed Dresden. We nuked Hiroshima. We bombed monasteries." He said that the U.S. destroyed 90% of the buildings on Okinawa, and had flamethrowers. He asked when the U.S. military could start getting serious with terrorists and railed against the U.S. having "higher moral standards". Oh, for the good old days of World War II, when you could kill your enemies without having to worry if they were soldiers, terrorists, women or children.

So, he's setting up the idea that if we lose the war in Iraq (or, as was mentioned by the NATO commander yesterday, Afghanistan) it's because of those damned liberals and their stupid restraints on the military.

He believes that you have to be as ruthless as your enemy when you are fighting someone as ruthless as the terrorists. Interesting theory, particularly since the people who would be hurt the most would be civilians in the occupied countries, and that a number of security analysts believe that just such "collateral damage" is what the terrorists truly want.

Now, I know there have been stupid restraints on the military in the past. The Vietnam war was known for restraints that did little diplomatically while hampering the war effort. However, in an unconventional war against terrorists you can't simply firebomb the hell out of Baghdad!!! Can Beck not see why this would be bad? Could he not see why removing all restraint would get a lot of civilians killed and cement a hatred of Americans?

Oh, wait, right, it's the liberals that are the problem...

He has this theory that precision munitions are a problem for America. His reasoning goes: precision bombs are accurate and allow you to take out a terrorist house while leaving a mosque or school nearby untouched; so terrorists hide in mosques and schools; therefore if a mosque or school is destroyed, it's because America wanted to destroy it. He seemed to think that, therefore, mosques and schools were off limits as far as rules of engagement were concerned. He glossed over Gen. Grange's statement that American troops do attack schools and mosques if they were fired at from such buildings first.

His next guest talked about a couple of different things, including the U.S. military developing non-lethal weapons. Non-lethal weapons are weapons that, well, don't kill people. Or neutralize the enemy without killing so many of them. Some non-lethal weapons are nasty, like lasers that blind, but would you rather be blind or dead? The ultimate non-lethal weapon would stun the target or render them unconscious without major complications.

Beck asked the guest why they were making non-lethal weapons. The guy said, "Two words, 'Public Relations'." In other words, the only reason for non-lethal weapons would be to placate the media. The liberal media, of course. Beck poo-pooed this. In his words he doesn't want non-lethal weapons. He wants to be more efficient at killing the enemy. Yes, he said that, more-or-less in those exact words. He likened the use of non-lethal weapons to the weapons used by adversaries of comic book's Batman. They knock out Batman and leave him behind, and look what happens!

Note that this dimwit hasn't made the obvious connection. He believes (erroneously) that the military can't attack mosques and schools because it would destroy those buildings, and/or kill civilians. He assumes that non-lethal weapons would be used on the battlefield due to touchy-feely liberalism that doesn't like enemy soldiers getting hurt. He doesn't think that maybe they would be reserved for use against, oh, terrorists hiding amongst civilians!

Non-lethal weapons have issues. It's hard to create a weapon that can neutralize a human without killing them, so the best we might be able to achieve is "less lethal" weapons. Still, it beats the military spending money on psychic research (which they have!), something without a basis in scientific fact. At least the end result could be very liberating for U.S. troops. Imagine having a selection of weapons that made the location of a target, from a political stand point, moot.

Perhaps he should pay more attention to Batman. Comic book heroes rarely (in the kids comics, anyway, if not the adult comics based on the same characters) permanently harmed their enemies. They took the moral high ground, using non-lethal techniques. That's why people identify with the heroes. (Yes, this is a fairly insipid argument; I'm just lowering myself to Beck's level.)

Beck gets on this high horse because of information that came out this week where a large group of Taliban members were not attacked in a cemetery by a Predator drone. No one outside the military is exactly sure why; they suspect that it has to do with the rules of engagement. Apparently the U.S. military do not attack cemeteries. Beck can't understand that. He raved that everyone in a cemetery is already dead. The idea that women and children show up to grieve for the lost, or that an attack on a cemetery could easily be twisted by the terrorists does not occur to him, or if it occurs to him he simply discounts it.

This is what CNN Headline News puts on instead of, oh, news. Unfortunately, I'm sure Glenn Beck gets reasonably good ratings, or better ratings than you'd get with just the news.


Mark said...

Yes, Glen Beck is an idiot. And I dispise this trend of Headline News to have Headline Prime. The point of Headline News was to present the Headlines. CNN, the parent network, handled commentary. Now, for six hours in the evening, the only news news you can get, as opposed the Beck's rants, and Nancy Grace's nightly call for a lynch mob, is...shudder...Fox News. We should have spoken up when MTV stopped playing music videos.

Winter said...

Why the name hyperbear?

Just curious.

Allan Goodall said...

Mark, your comment had me howling at the "Nancy Grace's nightly call for a lynch mob" comment and the "We should have spoken up when MTV stopped playing music videos" comment!

The only reason they did this was for ratings. Since they are likely to get better ratings from these fools and their version Entertainment Tonight than from repeating the same news every 20 minutes, I can't see them changing. Have you seen that CNN HN now does "soft news" segments that they repeat ad nauseum?

Remember, the point of television is to sell stuff, and they get more "eyeballs" with Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace than with news.

Allan Goodall said...

Why the name hyperbear?

It's from a roleplaying game I ran back in 1998. The game was set about 40 years in the future. The characters had to go to the north pole to assassinate a super intelligent bear developed by the U.S. military. At one point the characters actually join forces with the bear. One of the characters thought to check the Web for the bear's web site. They joked that the web site ID was "", which I chose as my web site several years ago.

I have thought of doing a fiction story based on the game. It was a hilarious campaign and it works well as a story. The problem is that as a story it works best if I stick to the three main characters. I would have to drop some of the other characters, but I'd hate to hurt anyone's feelings by excising their character from the story.

Michael said...

Hey, I'm sure everyone would understand if you dropped their characters from the story. It's not as if you'd be erasing history or anything. (Hmmm: "The Road to 'Hyperbear'"...)

And it's not as if you'd be dropping Jonny Jihad... [ahem]

I don't think I've ever actually watched a Glen Beck segment. I've flipped past him, but the very sight of him always sets my spidey-sense tingling, so I keep on flipping.

Still, it shouldn't come as any surprise that TV news is devolving this way. I've mentioned before that TV is not very good at disseminating information. What it is good at is presenting conflict (visual or emotional). So viewers would be drawn toward this approach to "news" for all the reasons they're drawn toward reality TV. And, of course, it's a lot cheaper for a network to put on an ignorant, opinionated blowhard than it is to run a journalism-oriented news department.

The big surprise to me is that the media is so skewed to the right that there are no left-wing blowhards on TV, the way you find in Europe (and even in Canada from time to time).

Allan Goodall said...

Hey, I'm sure everyone would understand if you dropped their characters from the story. It's not as if you'd be erasing history or anything. (Hmmm: "The Road to 'Hyperbear'"...)

The problem with fictionalizing a roleplaying game is that it's a creation of everyone within it. As it turns out, the basic plot was dictated by four people. The over arching story, and the plot complications, were mine. The other people that drove the specifics of the plot were you, Dave, and Chris. Dave has some great lines, of course, and he was the one to have the Adventure Team heat out alone with you guys in the other chopper. Your character had the climactic scene. The big plot twist, though, was based on Chris' character.

So, from a narrative standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to limit the story to Johnny Jihad (who I've decided is the POV character), Jerry Wylde, and Franklin from The Bank.

It's just that I hate the idea of eliminating some of the other characters, particularly Liza's. However, when I tried to add her character as a stand alone story it muddled the narrative. It's tight with the three main characters in play.

I might add Delores Del Rio as Jerry Wylde's hired psychic, and just trim out her back story.

I have done a fair bit of work on the story. I've fleshed out the backgrounds of the main characters. For instance, I decided that Johnny Jihad's character in Hogan's Hebrews was named "Le Boeuf", a little double entendre that echoes Hogan's Heroes.

And, of course, it's a lot cheaper for a network to put on an ignorant, opinionated blowhard than it is to run a journalism-oriented news department.

This makes sense, and yet PBS manages to do the best news journalism on TV with The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. I can't imagine that PBS' budget is better than CNN's.

The big surprise to me is that the media is so skewed to the right that there are no left-wing blowhards on TV, the way you find in Europe (and even in Canada from time to time).

People still believe the "liberal media bias", with CBS and the Dan Rather/Bush military career incident as the biggest "proof". Yet there's far more conservative bumpf on radio, and they have a virtual lock on television. The only liberal commentators on TV have programs that are technically humor: Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert.

Scrubs & Shines said...

Free "I Hate Glenn Beck" animation on my blog….Glenn Beck is mental porn, he should be taken off the airwaves and force fed reality by getting a real job, like driving a taxi or joining the military, serve his country and fight in a war he thinks is important. The rest of us know these wars are bull… He’s entertaining if you like clowns. I hate clowns personally! But as a journalist he’s not.