Attention Phoenix Visitor: I see you hitting this post almost every single day. My curiosity is getting the better of me. What is it that you're expecting to see?
I was in Florida last week.
I spent most of that time in the company of a man dying from cancer.
He’s my father-in-law. He’s 65. It’s not very likely that he’ll live to be 66. He’s got it bad.
It started in his lungs. A dime sized carcinoma, no doubt caused by decades of heavy smoking. He did it to himself, true, but even so they might have cured it then, back when he first noticed the shortness of breath and the discomfort in his chest, back when he was reasonably healthy and had enough strength to survive the treatment - but he didn’t have medical coverage. He could have seen the VA, but he lives in the Florida Panhandle and the closest full VA facility is three hours away in Biloxi, Mississippi. He lost a leg to peripheral artery disease a couple of years ago, he’s on a very limited income, and he doesn’t have the most reliable of transportation – Mississippi is a major trip. And getting an appointment at the Biloxi VA is problematic unless you’re coughing up blood or a Medal of Honor winner. The place was badly damaged in Katrina, it’s underfunded and understaffed and overcrowded and it’s flooded with dying veterans from any of the last seven decades of war and Cold War and conflict. He maybe could have seen a local doctor, he qualifies for Medicare, but he doesn’t have the money for the co-pay and the inevitable prescriptions, and he’s too proud to ask.
So he kept putting it off, figuring whatever it was would get better.
Instead it turned out to be cancer, and by the time he was sick enough to go to the doctor and damn the cost, it had metastasized.
It spread throughout his body, lungs, brain, digestive system. It’s in his back. It’s in his chest and abdomen. It’s in his skull. And it’s eating him alive. He can’t eat. He’s dehydrated. He’s down to about eighty pounds and he’s nothing but skin and bones and haunted eyes. He’s in constant pain, he’s nauseated, and disorientated and he looks like a holocaust victim. It’s horrible and horrifying.
We rented a car and took him to Biloxi and the VA hospital there, more or less against his will. My wife forced him to start chemotherapy. But it’s too late. We all know it, and so does he.
We brought him home after three days of chemo and intravenous feeding and hydration. He felt better for a day or so – mostly the effects of nutrition and liquids in his system for the first time in weeks – and he was looking much more alert by the time we had to leave for Alaska.
Then the chemo kicked in with predictable results, and he stopped eating again. And he wouldn’t take the medication. Chemotherapy takes a heavy toll on a reasonably healthy body, in his wasted state it’s devastating. But there really was nothing else to try, and now either the chemo will kill him, or the cancer will. Leaving aside medical miracles, death is inevitable at this point.
Today as I write this, he’s back in Biloxi, my brother-in-law took him there, again against his protests – and we don’t know if he’ll ever leave the place.
Before his illness, and throughout it, and even now as he lays dying in a VA hospital in Mississippi, he still watches Glenn Beck and FoxNews every single God damned day. He rails against “ObamaCare” and the “socialist takeover of healthcare” and protests “government run” healthcare at every turn. He paraphrases the blatant misinformation propagated by the likes of Beck and Rush and Palin and somehow the astounding irony of it escapes him in as much as the only thing keeping him alive at this point is a government run medical facility. And if it wasn’t for that government run medical system he would have absolutely nothing, nothing, and would have been dead weeks ago – before his daughter and grandson could have visited with him one last time. Even Medicare wasn’t an option, the co-pay for a year of full blown aggressive chemotherapy runs into the tens of thousands of dollars – and there are strict limits.
So, it’s the VA in Biloxi or it’s nothing.
But you see, my father-in-law is one of the lucky ones. A veteran with access to a VA medical facility. As I said, if it weren’t for that, he would have nothing.
Nothing – just exactly like 47 million Americans right now. Nothing. No access to medical care whatsoever.
And this, right here, is Glenn Beck’s crime.
He’s killing people. He’s killing Americans. He is conspiring with the likes of Palin and Limbaugh and the Teabaggers and the Party of No to let 47 million uninsured Americans die. More, he’s brainwashed thousands of people to commit slow suicide. He has convinced them that they don’t want healthcare, that no healthcare at all, that death, is preferable to healthcare reform.
Glenn Beck has managed to convince the slaves to willingly and enthusiastically lay down their lives for the Confederacy.
Beck, and others of his stripe, have brainwashed hundreds of thousands of the nation’s most needy and desperate into killing themselves for the status quo, for a Health Insurance Industry that won’t even let them in the back door, and for rich parasites like Beck himself and Palin and Limbaugh who have made tens of millions, hundreds of millions, off of the poor and the destitute and the foolish and those Americans who will die in agony convinced that they are doing it for Beck’s perverted version of patriotism. This capering bastard will never, ever, have to want for the very best medical care - whenever he needs a yet another detox or a pedicure or chemotherapy he will have the very, very best that all his millions can buy. A private room, with a personal doctor and a pretty nurse to wash his fat ass, with all the finest specialists at hand. He’ll never have to worry how to fill the prescriptions, he’ll never stand in line at a public clinic for generic substitutes or be denied because he can’t afford the medicine. He’ll never have to cut pills in half to stretch them until the next check, or do without food so his kids can have antibiotics, or drive to Mexico in order to afford medicines to save his own life or the lives of someone he loves (assuming that Beck is capable of loving anything other than himself). Nor will Limbaugh. Or Palin. Nor will the obstructionist Conservatives and Yellow Dog Democrats in Congress who will never spend one damned day in a VA waiting room after driving three hours to get there. Not one of these sanctimonious sons of bitches will ever sit in a waiting room full of dying one-legged Vets, or a clinic full of poor Americans, or a hospital emergency room.
And neither will the billionaire insurance company executives who are spending billions more to fund a campaign against healthcare reform and the Administration and who hide behind the skirts of such worms as Glenn Beck.
Glenn Beck is a liar of extraordinary proportion. A rabble rouser. A charlatan. A hypocrite. He is a gross swollen pustule on the ball-sack of humanity. He epitomizes everything that is wrong with pandering to the lowest common denominator. It is no wonder that he despises and ridicules the educated, the intellectuals, the reasoned, the skilled, the compassionate, the honest, the trustworthy, the honorable, the duty bound, the courageous, and the altruistic – he has none of these traits. He’s a self centered travesty of a human being. And any station or network that would broadcast his foul rhetoric is guilty of killing Americans through the weapon of information warfare. What Beck is doing is no different, no different whatsoever, than those sick and twisted Imans and Mullahs who pervert their religion to convince the gullible to strap on explosives and martyr themselves for an insane ideology. Beck grows rich and powerful and more and more grossly corpulent at the expense of the weak and the foolish and the gullible and those most desperate.
And Fox grows ever more powerful.
And Rupert Murdock grows ever richer.
And the poor? And the uninsured? Those who listen to Beck? Those unwitting dupes? What happens to them?
They die, convinced like those Islamic martyrs that they’re dying for God and Country and a higher cause.
But they are not.
Instead they are just another casualty to a grossly swollen ego - the veritable Jubba the Hut of egos - and an unbridled thirst for power, to lies, and twisted half-truths, to unlimited greed and gluttony, and a stupefying hypocrisy writ so large that it nearly defies comprehension.
I sat in my father-in-law’s house and watched this episode of Glenn Beck.
Damned near every single statement that spattered from his clownish mouth like explosive diarrhea was provably false or, at best, a half-truth twisted to support his Attention Deficit Disorder-like stream-of-unconsciousness dialog.
He started out with a screed against Obama’s “land grab” in the western United States, he put up maps to show the areas of Federal lands and compared that against a resource map – which purported to show that the government was only interested in lands that contain the country’s natural resources. Then he directly accused the Federal government of stealing America’s riches from the poor, poor citizens, apparently in order to run up the national debt. Because, you see, “The West is Fort Knox” and if the government got out of the way of industry why we’d pay the debt right off. Somehow, Beck completely failed to mention that those lands by definition are owned by the citizens of America, and that the resources there are not the exclusive domain of robber barons or corporations. Beck implied that those resources are locked away by the Obama administration, and somehow failed to mention that in most cases the exploitation of those riches are leased to private interests, who pay the America citizen for the privilege of use though taxes and leases and permits. Beck failed to mention that when such a system is not in place, when private corporations are allowed to take what they want without regard to future or the average citizen, that they almost always indulge in wanton rape and pillage of the land, leaving behind barren moonscape and desolation and vast toxic wastelands that the taxpayer must clean up. This has happened over and over and over again. Beck fails to mention that a great deal of public owned land in the west is used to graze privately own cattle herds – which produce the steaks that his fat ass consumes with such gusto.
Beck acts as if the Government is stealing the land from us. The fool proclaims the greatness of America and yet disregards that which makes it great – we are the government. You know what happens when we don’t protect the land? When we let industry do what it wants? This. This (I’ve been here, and a more foul place you can’t imagine). This. And this.
Once he instilled the fear that Obama was taking away our land, Beck then unleashed the bogyman of Russia and China in an obvious bid to stir hysteria:
The Obama administration is pursuing 13 million acres through 11 states in the West in the name of "national monuments." Maybe we'll get one of Chairman Mao? How about Stalin? He was good at controlling the lands, I hear. And they are doing this without telling anyone. It's executive order. They don't care about what you think about it.
Actually, for the record, Stalin was pretty damned good at destroying the land, the environment, and the lives of people in the name of unrestricted economic growth – I mean if we’re going to use him as an example. Mao wasn’t much better.
Beck completely failed to mention that public debate over the use of these lands, and the creation of these monuments has gone on for years, decades in some cases. Or that the administration solicited public input and opinion through a wider variety of means than any previous administration – and that it continues to do so. Subscribe to the White House Twitter feed for example, not a single day goes by that the Administration doesn’t ask for input from common citizens. The level of public input into the process is in fact unprecedented. Beck blatantly lied.
And he just kept right on lying:
Here's another one: Do you like to fish? Well, enjoy it while you can because it looks like special interests once again are trumping common sense and the voice of the people. A new report says it's a move to appease environmental groups and, just like before, without the consent of the people and by executive order. We told you he would do this. Heck, The New York Times said he'd do it. The report claims that Obama will "no longer listen to the public" as he tries to prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing on some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes and even some inland waters. So, because a couple of environmentalists want to save the fish, people could lose rights.
It’s far more than a “couple of environmentalists” and we are in immediate danger of losing critical fish stocks to overfishing – believe me, I live in Alaska. I doubt Glenn Beck has ever seen the devastation when the salmon run doesn’t come in. And Beck clearly doesn’t understand what an “Executive Order” is, either that or he is deliberately fanning the flames of hysteria and hatred and obstructionism (frankly I’m not sure which way to bet on that). An Executive Order is not a federal law, it holds power only over those actions and operations of the Executive. Obama could issue an Executive Order to immediately halt all fishing, but the only people who would have to obey it would be government employees who happen work for the Executive Branch of the Federal Government – and then only when they were on duty. That’s the way our government was designed – specifically to prevent the capricious and arbitrary abuse of power of any one person. For a supposed Patriot who waves the American flag so damned much, and for a group of listeners who think they are the only true Americans, they sure as hell don’t know much about their own country, do they?
Beck next took a bizarre swipe at folk legend Woody Guthrie (Woody Guthrie – Communist!)* and the song This Land Is Your Land. Beck called the song a “song about a progressive utopia land with no ownership of property.” He claimed that the song was an “indoctrination,” he didn’t say to what but his gullible listeners no doubt still had “Communist!” ringing in their ears. Beck quoted a couple of verses, verses that were never part of the mainstream release of the song and have long since faded into obscurity:
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Beck very, very carefully emphasized the phrase “relief office,” stopping to raise his eyebrow significantly – he was also very careful not to mention that the song was written at the height of the Great Depression when soup lines and relief offices were a common sight across the land and that the song wasn’t implying that such things were desired but rather were specifically included as an ironic observation that was the whole damned point of the song in the first place. Guthrie was known as the Dust Bowl Troubadour and his songs were observations on the American condition of that time. This Land Is Your Land was originally written as a biting ironic ballad. Guthrie sang of the beauty of this vast continent, of opportunity, and riches, simple and shallow and patriotic on a sixth-grade level – and then abruptly slapped the listener out of his sense of complacency and mindless patriotism by throwing up images of the Great Depression and asking “is this land really made for you and me?” You and me? Us, the poor, the disenfranchised, those without means? Those standing in soup lines, and lost in the Dust Bowl?
How ironic that Glenn Beck would talk over and over again about taking back America for Americans, and condemn this particular song. It was American victims of the Great Depression who inspired Guthrie to write the song in the first place. The same exact sort of people to whom Beck himself is appealling now.
How ironic that Glenn Beck would emphasize Guthrie’s communist sympathies but completely fail to mention that it was because communism was new then, many folks sympathized with the philosophy – until they saw where it inevitably headed – and that in this case Guthrie saw communism as a way to fight fascism, a far, far greater threat in 1940. And in fact, Guthrie’s guitar was decorated with a bold and prominent sticker which proudly proclaimed, “This Machine Kills Fascists!” Then again, fascism being an extreme rightwing position, perhaps Herr Beck has some sympathy for it.
How utterly ironic that Glenn Beck would use this particular song as a lead-in to healthcare reform.
Then, just like the song above, Glenn Beck cherry-picked sound bites from Nancy Pelosi’s recent address before Congress – he didn’t actually have a point, he only used the video clips to make derisive clown faces and to segue into his final rant against preventive medicine and healthcare reform.
I don't want government controlling my diet. I like being able to decide whether or not I stuff my face with Doritos. And how does a health care bill help me eat right? Will there be food police ready to cuff me if I take an extra doughnut? Here in New York they have proposed a salt ban.
Again, for a guy that claims to be a better American than all the rest of us combined (well, except for Sarah Palin anyway) he damned sure doesn’t seem to have a clue about how his own government works. The healthcare reform bill says nothing about “controlling” Glenn Beck’s diet (though that might not be a bad idea). The passage Beck was bloviating about deals with nutritional and health education – you know, the kind of stuff kids get in school, the food pyramid, eat right, don’t smoke, exercise. A huge (heh heh) part of our national healthcare costs are because Americans are fat and out of shape and diabetic and dying of fucking lung cancer. The easiest and cheapest, most immediate and most long term method of directly reducing healthcare costs – and therefore taxes – is to address these preventable problems through education.
Will there be food police? Beck damned well knows better, but he’s engaging in the same kind of hysterical rabblerousing hyperbole that appeals directly to the same dimwitted mob as Sarah Palin did when she coined the phrase “death panels.” It’s a complete and total fabrication, but it speaks directly to the fearful and the ignorant and the very people who have the most to gain from such education.
And that last bit, the salt ban in New York, again Beck demonstrates a profound lack of knowledge when it comes to the basic function of our government. A dozen goofy laws are proposed every single day, at the Federal, State, and city levels. Almost none of them ever get out of committee, let alone get to a vote and are signed into law. And should something like this silly salt ban be signed into law through some perverse freak of fate – it would be almost immediately challenged in court and almost certainly vacated. For a guy who thinks he’s the world’s bestest American, Beck seems to have no faith whatsoever in the American system of law.
There's a place in New York City that makes twice-fried cherry pie. It was banned because it had trans-fats. This pie was made for you and me. Want fatty-fat fat pie? Go to the ChipShop in Brooklyn: 383 5th Ave. You could drop dead of a heart attack, but you'll have a smile on your face. Eat one while you still can!
And again, a lie. The pie was never banned – the menu takes some liberties in the interest of promoting the shop’s stock in trade, namely fried food. The ChipShop is famous, world famous, for everything from Beck’s beloved patriotic twice fried cherry pie to deep fried Twinkies and Snickers bars. ** And it’s doing a booming business – New York’s dietary laws seem to have little effect on the profitably or availability of fried food.
You are being bypassed. Do you see what's happening here? The president can't achieve what he wants by going through the proper channels — so he's just going through the backdoor: reconciliation; executive power. One man, taking it on himself — no Congress, no process, just him and his pen
And bullshit again. No process? No Congress? What the heck have we been doing on Capitol Hill for the last year then? Back door? How’s that? How many damned times does the President have to reach across the aisle? He sure as hell has done that orders of magnitude more than his conservative predecessor – in fact, reaching across the aisle to the opposition is almost his trademark. How many times must he address the public on this issue? Back door? He couldn’t be any more up front. There is nowhere you can’t turn that the President and members of Congress aren’t discussing this. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, primetime interviews, and Larry King. On TV, on the radio, and on the internet. This is how our government works.
But again, facts and reality simply do not matter to Glenn Beck. What matters to Glenn Beck is money, power, fame. The man is a whore in the cheapest and most self-debasing form of the concept, he sucks the public dick for money and he’ll do the donkey show as long as the johns keep throwing dollars on the stage.
He stands up there every day, spewing his falsehoods and his propaganda and filling the minds of his listeners with stupidity and ignorance and hatred.
And as a result, people are dying. His followers are dying.
And Glenn Beck is killing them.
Go to Biloxi, Mississippi and see for yourself.
* One wonders what Beck would make of a song written by an avowed pacifist poet lawyer like, oh say, Francis Scott Key, who defended terrorists such as Richard Lawrence after Lawrence’s attempted assassination of President Andrew Jackson. I wonder if Beck would call the Star Spangled Banner an attempt at indoctrination?
** On this Beck and I agree, the ChipShop’s twice fried cherry pie is awesommmmmmme.