Do you think Glenn Beck has gone too far?

Have you been following the "brawl on the right" between Glenn Beck and William Kristol?

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That is the way he is???

Delilah cut Sampson's hair and forced him into servitude and demise, powerful is woman, strong and vigilant, she brought her men off battlefields to carry them on her back to safety or to burial

Glenn Beck is walking toward a cliff -- or running, or skipping. The question is, will Fox News go flying over the edge with him, or give him a push?

For years, Beck has pitched various conspiracy theories with a rather predictable thrust: The left is out to take over and/or destroy the United States. (The relationship between assuming control of the country and scheming its decimation has always been a bit fuzzy.) And his targets have been sinister lefty outfits that are not household names: the Tides Foundation, ACORN, and others. As long as Beck stuck to this classic tale -- secret commies undermining this great land of ours -- he wasn't much of a problem to most conservatives and his patrons at Fox. Sure, some conservative commentators (such as David Frum) derided Beck. But Beck was more like the crazy uncle in the attic who could be ignored. And Fox News could bank the revenue Beck generated without worry. Good ratings forgive much.

But only so much.

The Egypt uprising has raised the stakes for Beck -- and Fox. In the past two weeks, Beck has viewed events in Egypt through his own rather warped filter. He claims that the rebellion is not about the people, not about democracy. Instead, he says, it's a move by radical Islamists to take over Egypt, as part of a larger plan to install a caliphate that stretches from the Middle East through Europe and toward the United States. And he contends that "uber-leftists" and Islamic extremists are "plotting together" toward this end. Last week on his radio show, he declared, "Groups from the hard-core socialist and communist left and extreme Islam will work together because they are both a common enemy of Israel and the Jew. . . . Islam wants a caliphate. Communists want a communist new world order. They'll work together, and they'll destabilize. Because they both want chaos."

Austin Powers, anyone? But it gets better. This grand cabal also includes . . . the Establishment. Beck points out that Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush refrained from bombing "ancient Babylon" during their respective wars against Iraq. "Why?" he asks. "Because the Bible tells us that that is the seat right there of power of a global evil empire," meaning that Islamic caliphate. Bush father and son each wanted to preserve the heart of a radical Islam caliphate? That seems to be what Beck is saying.

Beck depicts the Egyptian revolution as nothing more than a dark development in a covert three-dimensional global chess game that only he can suss out. The implication is that good Americans ought to fear and oppose the protests led by Egyptians calling for Hosni Mubarak's departure and democratic reforms. And conservatives who endorse the demonstrators' call for change and reforms are nothing but useful idiots doing the work of the clandestine Islamic-communist cabal.

This latest Beck craziness, now that it is not focused on lefties, has become too much for some conservatives. Bill Kristol, the top-dog neocon, gripes:


[H]ysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He's marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.


Beck fired back with a semi-quasi-coherent retort:


People like Bill Kristol, I don't think they actually stand for anything anymore. All they stand for is power. . . . And really, times have changed, Bill. Times have changed. It's time to see the world as it really is and to see how these big government solutions and getting into bed with dictators is really something the left does and not something that the right should do.


Get into bed with dictators? That's certainly something Kristol and the right did during the Cold War, when they supported autocratic regimes around the world, as long as these governments were anti-communist. But in this instance, Kristol is advocating opposing an autocrat in Egypt. What's Beck talking about?

Beck's problem, though, is not that Kristol has finally realized Beck is preaching nonsense. It's that now Beck has to expand his conspiracy to include Kristol, a prominent Fox News contributor, as either an active participant in the mighty plot or an unseeing buffoon exploited by the evil masters. And not just Kristol, but everybody else at Fox News who doesn't report and decry the Bush-assisted Islamic-communist plot against the United States. For Beck to be true to his cause, he will have to assail other conservatives who don't join him, for, my friends, this is about survival.

Beck cannot sustain his conspiracy mongering without roping into the conspiracy those on the right who either dare to challenge him or who are too dumb to see what's what. And that includes the rest of Fox News. After all, how could Bill O'Reilly, during his pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama, not ask the president about his role in the left-Islam plot to create a caliphate? O'Reilly must be in on it -- or a naif. And the rest of the Fox network, too! If Beck is serious, his conspiracy theory must engulf the network that pays him.

Meanwhile, Fox faces a challenge: How long can it continue to air the ravings of a fellow denounced by sane conservatives? I once was a commentator at Fox News and worked with Roger Ailes. The guy likes to make money; he likes to cause trouble. But he also likes to be regarded seriously. (Ditto for Rupert Murdoch.) Beck is making it increasingly tough for Fox to claim it is a reality-based outfit (even by its standards). As Beck veers more into Bircher-land, can Fox stand behind him?

Time magazine's Joe Klein reports:


I've heard, from more than a couple of conservative sources, that prominent Republicans have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes about the potential embarrassment that the paranoid-messianic rodeo clown may bring upon their brand. The speculation is that Beck is on thin ice.


Beck ought to be. Especially since his ratings are dropping.

As Beck becomes increasingly unhinged and lost in conspiracy-land, he may well become a litmus test for the right -- and a measure of whether the leaders of Fox News care about any claim to respectability. Should Fox throw him out of the coop, Beck will still have a cult-like following that he can service via his syndicated radio show, website, and books -- and still make tens of millions of dollars a year. He won't crawl off to an undisclosed location. But he will no longer have the imprimatur of the right's main media outfit. And what better confirmation that the conspiracy is vast, oh so vast

Buckeye he's a regular guy when not under the lights.

Delilah cut Sampson's hair and forced him into servitude and demise, powerful is woman, strong and vigilant, she brought her men off battlefields to carry them on her back to safety or to burial

Buckeye he's a regular guy when not under the lights.

Delilah cut Sampson's hair and forced him into servitude and demise, powerful is woman, strong and vigilant, she brought her men off battlefields to carry them on her back to safety or to burial

Frank Rich notes the one thing that's absolutely deadly to right wing pundits: the slightest touch of civility.

SIX weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It’s Gabrielle Giffords’s own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. ... Glenn Beck’s ratings at Fox News continued their steady decline, falling to an all-time low last month.... Sarah Palin’s tailspin is also pronounced. It can be seen in polls, certainly: the ABC News-Washington Post survey found that 30 percent of Americans approved of her response to the Tucson massacre and 46 percent did not.

Gee, do you think that, in the wake of Tucson, the rhetoric thrown around by the likes of Beck and Palin just might not be all that funny? That's a high price to pay for a wake up call.

He is a straight talking man..take or leave him..


Sweet G

Delilah cut Sampson's hair and forced him into servitude and demise, powerful is woman, strong and vigilant, she brought her men off battlefields to carry them on her back to safety or to burial

He always does, but that is part of his way to get things going, that is his ways, is someone doesn't like him.. turn him off..


Sweet G

Delilah cut Sampson's hair and forced him into servitude and demise, powerful is woman, strong and vigilant, she brought her men off battlefields to carry them on her back to safety or to burial

To judge by the results of their budget-slashing, all-night tea party a few weeks back, Republicans must have swarmed out of their caucus and onto the floor of the House of Representatives with a single rallying cry on their lips.

Women and children first!

No, that's not whom Republicans vowed to rescue in their maiden legislative voyage. That's whom they targeted for harsh, family- and health-destructive spending cuts.

They threw in infants, too.

And whom did the new Republican majority spare altogether from the budget ax??

Read on. Especially if you think our food system needs an overhaul. And especially if you're a parent working hard to make sure your kids eat right.

This is not about reining in Washington's spendthrift ways. We're certainly open to smart ways of doing that here at EWG. Rather, this is a wake-up call for effective food populism as it reaches beyond the farmers' market and into the hard bottom line of food policy and politics.

The legislation passed by House Republicans in the wee hours of February 19 (no Democrats voted for it) slashed $747 million -- about 10 percent -- from the 2011 budget for the Special Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants and Children. It's commonly known as "WIC."

A Brief History of WIC

WIC was created in 1974 to provide a very modest but crucial measure of food assistance to low-income moms and little kids who are at "nutrition risk." The risk can be a medical condition -- anemia, underweight, overweight or a history of pregnancy complications or poor pregnancy outcomes. Or the risk can be nutritional -- failure to eat an adequate diet or poor nutrition habits. The risks are assessed by a health professional when applicants are screened.

To qualify for this modest assistance, recipients must be poor -- very poor. WIC rules require that applicants' income be at or below 185 percent of the poverty line. In practice, WIC participants are much, much poorer -- 68 percent are at or below the poverty line, which for a family of four this year is $22,350. Fewer than 14 percent of Americans are that poor today, even as we struggle out of the Great Recession.

WIC gives pregnant women and recent moms information about good nutrition, and it has had impressive success encouraging women to breast-feed. They also get checks or vouchers to purchase specific foods designed to supplement and improve their diets: infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vegetables, milk and cheese, peanut butter, whole wheat bread and so on. By most measures, WIC has been spectacularly successful in improving the health and well-being of the children it serves: studies have shown that birth weights increase, dental costs drop and cognitive abilities improve. WIC children are also less likely to be underweight but are not at increased risk of being overweight.

For the moment, let's leave aside important debates about the nutritional benefits of some of the foods that get purchased with a fraction of WIC money. The bigger point seems clear: A program to get better, healthier food to low-income expectant moms, their infants and their toddlers should be a no-brainer cornerstone of good food policy. All the more so since in recent years, more than 2.2 million WIC participants have redeemed at least some of their benefits at farmers' markets each year.

WIC Payments Average Just $41 Per Month

Considering the good they do, WIC benefits nonetheless are minimal -- about $41 per month per recipient, on average -- and they are temporary. Just ask yourself how you'd give a nutritional boost to an expectant mom or a two-year-old for about a dollar and thirty-six cents a day.

The program has enjoyed strong bi-partisan support throughout its history. Today WIC serves more than 9 million people. Sixty percent are kids between the ages of one and four years. Another 18 percent are newborns and infants not yet a year old. The remaining 20 percent of WIC beneficiaries are pregnant and postpartum women.

If you're wondering why an "environmental" group would concern itself with WIC, it's because food is the central environmental factor in public health.

If science has established anything about child development, it is that sufficient food - good, nutritious food - is perhaps the single most important determinant of the future health and well-being of these little people. Everything from their stature to their emotional development to their very ability to think is shaped by the adequacy of the nutrition they receive in those early months and years, and during their explosive growth in the womb.

So what would a 10 percent cut in WIC spending mean? One option would be to lop roughly a million people off the program's rolls -- 78 percent of whom would be infants and toddlers under five. Alternatively, the meager benefits could be made even more so, by cutting them to, say, $1.22 a day.

No Cuts to Subsidies for Agribusiness

But here's the real rub when it comes to food policy.

While the House Republican budget contemplates damage on that scale to a food program for poor kids during the worst economy in 80 years, it cut not one penny from the country's farm subsidy programs -- at a time when the farmers who receive the subsidies are enjoying record-high crop prices and incomes..

Just one category of that spending, the automatic "direct payments," totals more than $5 billion every year. Even top farm policy leaders in Congress have said the direct payments are hard to defend because taxpayers provide them even when farm prices and incomes are sky high, as they are today and have routinely been for the past five years. You don't even have to be a farmer to collect.

By cutting just a fraction of what we spend on direct payments, crop insurance and other farm subsidies, we could have held WIC harmless and continued to give a little help to deserving poor little kids at serious "nutrition risk." And farmers would still have an exceptionally strong safety net in place.

The subsidy lobby prevailed over supplemental food for low-income women, infants and children by arguing that the subsidy stream is part of an inviolable "contract" between subsidized farmers and the taxpayers they soak. That contract is the "farm bill" Congress passes every four or five years; the next round is in 2012.

Of course, the subsidy lobby never hesitates to shred that sacred contract when it is a matter of getting billions of dollars more money than a farm bill authorized, whether for "disaster aid" (an annual pleading) or "economic emergency" (the rationale for doubling subsides in the late 1990s and early 2000s).

Washington insiders all know that with the Senate and White House opposed and in Democratic hands, many of the cuts House Republicans so gleefully approved last month will never become law. Let us hope that's the case for the draconian cuts to WIC-- and to other programs the good food movement should stand behind, including support for organic agriculture and farm conservation.

Even if the House budget is pure symbolism, what's the message? For those of us who want a fair, equitable food system that begins to help the country heal its dietary and environmental woes, the House Budget resolution symbolizes an unacceptably lopsided and wrong-headed approach to food and agriculture policy.

If you agree, there's no time like the present to say so to the people who represent you in Washington.

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