Thursday, March 27, 2008

Glenn Beck is an idiot--Olympics edition

That Beck is an idiot is hardly a new or surprising thing to say. Glenn Beck's whole public persona is that of a loud mouthed idiot brother-in-law. It is people like Beck who have made "angry white guy" and "conservative talk radio" synonymous. Nevertheless, his latest conspiracy screed is so incoherent that it should make even the most die hard conspiracy nuts cringe in embarrassment for the genre.

The background of Beck's comments is a recent news story that the Pentagon had accidentally sent some parts for a nuclear warhead to Taiwan. Back in late 2006, the government of Taiwan ordered four replacement battery packs for UH-1 Huey helicopters from the Defense Logistics Agency, a branch of the US Department of Defense. Instead of batteries, the DLA sent four trigger assemblies for the warheads on Minuteman ballistic missiles.* We only even knew the parts were missing when the Taiwanese military went looking for their batteries and instead found missile fuses. The mainland Chinese are extremely sensitive about weapons sales to Taiwan and have protested.

Beck, of course, sees a conspiracy at work here. He thinks we intentionally sent those bomb parts to Taiwan in order to sell tickets to the Olympics.

This is the CNN transcript from his March 25 show. It's a rush transcript, so some of the incoherence will be due to transcription error. But even shifting the maximum blame possible to the transcription service can't save Beck.
The Pentagon discovered a little bit of an oopsy when they found out what happened today. It was revealed that we mistakenly shipped nuclear triggers to Taiwan. How exactly -- where did I put those nuclear triggers? Why are we shipping them. Who`s shipping them? How did it happen? Sending nuclear triggers to Taiwan. Kind of a big deal because it might piss China off just a bit.

Apparently, we`ve decided antagonizing companies [countries?] that have 1.3 billion people, not a good idea question was, why do we ship these triggers? The bigger question to me is they`re nuclear triggers. Why would we put them in a box in the first place and then send them to Taiwan.

In the last paragraph, he called the shipment an "oopsy" and "mistaken," but the true paranoid conspiracy nut knows there are no mistakes. Someone sent those triggers intentionally. "They" wanted Taiwan to have those triggers as part of a larger, no doubt sinister, plan.
I do have a theory, it`s the only one that makes sense. The Olympics are coming up, right? Nobody seems to care. You know, back in the '80s, when I was growing up in the 70s, we had the Soviet Union, it was fun to root against them.

Got that? Back in the eighties, when the rest of us were living through the Reagan years, Beck was still growing up in the seventies. He's trapped in some weird time warp ten years behind the rest of us. This could explain a lot.
You know, would we boycott those Olympics? No. Would they boycott ours? No.

On the other hand, maybe he missed the eighties completely. If He had lived through that decade he might remember that we did boycott the Moscow Olympics and the Soviets did boycott the Los Angeles Olympics.
The miracle of ice happened, right? People cared about the Olympics. It was great, we had an enemy. Well, we`re still acting now like Russia is our friend, they`re not and Al Qaeda doesn't really have a strong 400-meter relay team despite all the training they seem to produce with the monkey bars. That`s weird but we`ll get into that later. So, why not ignite tension by sending nuclear triggers to China`s enemy. And suddenly, everybody cares about the triple jump again.

Is he trying to be funny? I can't find a video of the show, so I can't tell. Even if I did have a video, I probably wouldn't be able to tell. As I have often said, conservative humor is no laughing matter. That goes double for Beck.

Whether or not he's trying to be funny, one thing that stands outin his babbling is the nostalgia for the Cold War. The Conservative coalition of the Reagan years was largely held together by fear and hatred of Communism. Conservatives need an enemy. For the last last fifteen years they have variously tried to use American pop culture, liberal values, Islam, Darwin, and hordes of brown foreigners as a unifying enemy, but none has worked as well as Communism to hold the old coalition together. By rebranding the Party from the conservative party to the fundamentalist Christian party, they have managed to combine the first four of those boogey men into a coherent narrative, but it has been at the risk of driving secular conservatives out of the party. Beck seems, jokingly or not, to be suggesting that if they could only get a good hate going for "Red" China things might return to the good old days. If that is the conspiracy, then he's part of it.

* This is an incredible mistake. The triggering mechanism is the hardest part of a nuclear weapon for aspiring members of the nuclear club to manufacture or acquire. It is on par with the nuclear fuel itself. The triggers should have been kept under the tightest security. Instead, they were misplaced and no one even knew they were missing for three years. How did this happen? There will be an investigation, but one fact already leaps out. The Defense Logistics Agency has privatized the management of their parts inventories and this most secret of secret technology was left in the hands of an insufficiently supervised contractor.

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