The Naked Conspiracist

David Frum offers a reductionist explanation for Glenn Beck's bursts of political paranoia:

Conspiracy theories always flourish during economic downturns. They flourished during the terrible slump of the 1890s (when they captured even so fine a mind as Henry Adams) and again in the 1930s.

I suppose that's true. But they also flourish during economic upturns. Since Frum is specifically attacking Beck for spreading tales of FEMA concentration camps, it's worth noting that the very same fears were previously popular on the left during the booming '80s and on the right during the booming '90s. Frum also mentions that Beck has been handing out a tome by the Birchite writer W. Cleon Skousen. And when did Skousen and the Birchers have their heyday? In the booming '50s and '60s.

"Today's slump -- so vast, so difficult to understand -- opens the door again," writes Frum. But the door was already open. It never closes. If the modal Fox viewer is more receptive to these particular theories now than he was this time two years ago, that might have something to do with the recession. But it has much more to do with the fact that a Democrat is now in the White House.

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  • Glenn Beck||

    I'm a paranoid schizophrenic who has forgotten to take my meds lately, because Rush Limbaugh told me to quit them.

  • ||

    David Frum: A mindless jerk who'll be first against the wall.

  • Taktix®||

    My conspiracy theory:

    Glenn Beck is an escaped Beta version of News Talk Robots designed and built by Roger Murdock to implement an elaborate mind control scheme...

  • TofuSushi||

    Anybody who thinks conspiracies ever die must not listen to enough late night AM radio.

  • Glenn Beckmoose||

    I'm a libertarian, but...

  • ||

    Glenn Beck is a great American doing great work exposing the communist plot to steal our manly bodily essence. If you ever go to one of those Reason happy hours, you won't see anyone drinking water, just grain alcohol or vodka.

  • TofuSushi||

    Off topic a bit, if anybody has not seen Jesse's addendum to his call to throw shoes at ex-president Bush, it is real good. Scroll down and check it out.

  • TofuSushi||

    General Ripper,

    Excuse me oh knighted one, but at the party Friday I had not one but TWO bottles of organic water at the party. Along with some organic vodka.

    The GM veggies were the yums too.

  • Taktix®||

    Lefiti claiming Jesse Walker was drinking pure sweet crude in

    3...

    2...

    1...

  • ||

    The conspiracy theorist is merely conjuring a fantastical conclusion to explain events that are unconnected or connected but not in the way he wants or needs. It is an attempt to impose order on chaotic events and to create meaning by assuming that everything is part of a grand design instigated by a organizing intelligence.

    Sound familiar?

    Conspiracy theory will never die out because it is related to the portion of the human psyche that drives religious belief. Like religious mania, it waxes and wanes in relation to the popularity of magical thinking in the general population.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    The plastic tips on the end of shoe laces are called "Aglets". Their true purpose is sinister.

  • Reinmoose||

    TofuSushi is Jesse Walker?

  • O\'Taktix®||

    Sorry, Sugar O'Free, but I'm copping your idea...

    Beannachtaí na Féile Páraic oraibh!

  • ||

    I guess it's a sign of the times that I'm just happy there's no penis visible on that book cover.

  • ||

    O'Taktix®,

    The "O" is free to all. It is the most loving and open of the vowels.

  • T||

    I guess it's a sign of the times that I'm just happy there's no penis visible on that book cover.

    You're not looking close enough. It's there, along with subliminal messages designed to force you to pick and buy the book. The ice cubes spell out sex, dammit!

  • ||

    "Excuse me oh knighted one, but at the party Friday I had not one but TWO bottles of organic water at the party. Along with some organic vodka."

    Organic foods are an insidious international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. I am not surprised an organization like Reason would be serving such stuff.

  • O\'Taktix®||

    The "O" is free to all. It is the most loving and open of the vowels.

    I'm reminded of the Sesame Street duet featuring Lionel Richie and an overly affectionate letter U...

  • TofuSushi||

    TofuSushi is Jesse Walker?

    See? They are everyplace, all of he time.

    Organic foods are an insidious international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. I am not surprised an organization like Reason would be serving such stuff.

    But . . . but, I was eating genetically modified foods! I do hope the organic water and vodka cancelled out their effects.

    Maybe Ron Bailey can write about that soon?

  • TurnItOff||

    Or, people like watching batshit crazy and severely retarded people on TV.

    see Cramer v. Stewart argument

  • ||

    Beck's just become unhinged as of late. I think once he realized that pessimism and paranoia were doing wonders for his ratings, he ran with it.

    Rather he not, but if it sells, it sells.

  • ||

    This may be a stupid question, but what in the hell is organic water? Water raised in a farm with no fences?

  • TofuSushi||

    Randolph Carter,

    You are thinking of free range water.

  • honey||

    It's like organic honey. But without the bees.

  • ||

    Rex 84 is good. We need to make sure the government can round up a couple of million folks, just in case.

    It was mentioned during the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987, and subsequently reported on by the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987. Lets pretend this didn't happen and just call people who think it did conspiracy nuts.


    Exercises similar to Rex 84 happen regularly.Plans for roundups of large numbers of persons in the United States in times of crisis are constructed during periods of increased political repression such as the Palmer Raids and the McCarthy Era.

    When discussion of such plans are dismissed with ad hominems on the people asking questions it only fuels the growth of more conspiracy theories. Just as bombing a Iraqi wedding party fuels Al Qaeda membership. Bomb enough wedding parties and who is to say that some poor orphaned kid doesn't have a good reason to attack the Pentagon?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug0IL7k3elQ

  • ||

    Organic water is water distilled from human organs.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Gabe,
    It would help if some of the conspiracy "lite" folk (or realists, or whatever you want to call them) would occasionally call out the real wingnuts.

  • TofuSushi||

    Pro Libertate,

    You are thinking of Soylent Water.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Soy-lent. Tofu. Hmmm.

  • TofuSushi||

    CN,

    Yes, TofuSushi is a HUMAN BEING! Not to be confused with an animal ;)

  • ||

    My mistake. Organic water is water distilled by human organs.

  • tekende||

    Since Frum is specifically attacking Beck for spreading tales of FEMA concentration camps

    This, unless I missed something, is complete bullshit. Beck is not spreading tales of FEMA prisons. One day a guy called in and started to ask about FEMA prisons because he had seen "some videos on Youtube" and Beck hung up on him.

    A few days later this was brought up again (I forget why), and Beck said that out of curiosity he'd had some of his research team look into it but nothing very concrete had been found.

    That, as far as I know, is all he's ever said on the matter.

  • T||

    Organic water is water distilled by human organs.

    Well, piss on that.

  • ||

    A FEMA concentation camp couldn't keep an asthmatic quadriplegic in custody.

    Conspiracy nuts amuse me. We Trilateralists laugh about the theories down at the Masonic lodge. You dumb fuckers ain't even close to guessing what we're up to.

  • ||

    I'm reminded of the Sesame Street duet featuring Lionel Richie and an overly affectionate letter U...

    U Really Got a Hold on Me is my favorite Sesame Street bit of all time. It's on You Tube if anyones interested.

  • tekende||

    Regarding my 10:28 comment, I should clarify, this was all on his radio show. I haven't ever watched his TV show.

  • Jesse Walker||

    That, as far as I know, is all he's ever said on the matter.

    Here's the quote Frum cited in his attack:

    "I'm doing a story tonight that I wanted to debunk -- these FEMA camps -- I'm tired of hearing about them -- you know about them? -- I wanted to debunk them. We've now for several days done research on them. I can't debunk them! If you trust our government, it's fine. If you have any kind of fear that we might be heading towards a totalitarian state: look out. Buckle up. There's something going on in our country...that ain't good."

  • ||

    Right, you won't catch me drinking organic water.

  • Jesse Walker||

    P.S.: I am neither Tofu nor Sushi. And he's (mis)referring to a Jacob Sullum post, not to one of mine.

  • tekende||

    Jesse-

    Seriously? That's it? I'd say that hardly amounts to histerical conspiracy spreading. "I can't debunk them" doesn't necessarily mean "it's true".

    Anyway (and this bit is not necessarily directed at Jesse), commentors here on Hit & Run rather routinely say things about the US becoming totalitarian and such, no one here seems to care. Why is it suddenly not okay when a talk show host says similar things? Why is he "unhinged" and "paranoid" but we're not?

  • BDB||

    Glen Beck makes everyone else on Fox, even Hannity, look so calm and, well, sane. Fair, even.

    Was that the reason for hiring him?

  • BDB||

    It's kind of dangerous for Fox though. One day Beck's rantings are going to be taken little TOO seriously by a Timothy McVeigh clone.

  • O\'OO===D||

    "I guess it's a sign of the times that I'm just happy there's no penis visible on that book cover."

    Glandist.

  • ||

    Having worked with FEMA for the last few years, I can say that any one who thinks they are competant enough to set up a Gulag system is dellusional in the extreme.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Jesse,

    Sorry, I misattributed that post.

    PL,

    Right, you won't catch me drinking organic water.

    Nobody caught me either, but I guess I outed myself.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Having worked with FEMA for the last few years, I can say that any one who thinks they are competant enough to set up a Gulag system is dellusional in the extreme.

    Ah, so you are not yet a member of the Inner Party.

  • BDB||

    "John | March 17, 2009, 11:11am | #
    Having worked with FEMA for the last few years, I can say that any one who thinks they are competant enough to set up a Gulag system is dellusional in the extreme."

    See, this is why I laugh at ZOMG! TEH COMING FASCISM/COMMUNISM!

    The American federal government isn't competent enough to have totalitarianism.

  • ||

    The American federal government isn't competent enough to have totalitarianism.

    Totalitarians aren't noted for competence in any area except cruelty. They've discovered a sufficiently savage state makes up for all their other shortcomings.

  • ||

    A guy I worked with used to assist clients with FEMA matters when he was in private practice. This was back in the 90s, mind you. He had only horrible things to say about FEMA then. That truth, that FEMA isn't exactly helpful, is why Florida has generally prepared for disasters without relying much on FEMA's "assistance."

    Crazy to accuse it of hosting concentration camps, of course. FEMA isn't that organized.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Jesse,

    So are the reason offices staying near Dupont Circle?

  • Lefiti||

    Conspiracy theories are related to low ambiguity tolerance. Their appeal is dependent of their explanatory power.

  • McKolohe||

    The best part of Glenn Beck's program is that Shepard Smith rags on him all the time. It's hilarious.

  • economist||

    "Conspiracy nuts amuse me. We Trilateralists laugh about the theories down at the Masonic lodge. You dumb fuckers ain't even close to guessing what we're up to."

    Drink and plan your next meeting?

  • economist||

    Totalitarianism doesn't require competence. After all, the totalitarian virtuoso Josef Stalin took several days before he deigned to notice the German invasion on his territory's western border.

  • ||

    I'm old enough to remember the rumors that Nixon was preparing camps in the desert for hippies and protesters.

  • economist||

    To be perfectly blunt, I don't give a damn about anything David Frum says. He's essentially a Canuck who says that the way for Republicans/Conservatives to come back is to become a modern version of the Tory Party in the late 19th century (or an American version of the Tory Party today, for that matter).

  • economist||

    And for anyone who complains that they prefer the term "Conservative Party" rather than "Tory Party", I say "Screw you, I'm an American and I'll say Tory and any DamnBrit who wants to complain about it can suck it!"

  • economist||

    I drank Irish coffee this morning to honor the holiday.

  • ||

    What bothers me about conspiracy nuts is their lack of gumption.

    Bad: We didn't go to the moon.

    Better: Aliens helped us go to the moon.

    Best: Not only did we go to the moon, we have a secret base there from which the Freemasons rule the world. The Earth, that it.

  • economist||

    Pro Libertate,
    I'll do you one better: The freemasons are all Reptilian Jewish Aliens from the center of the earth and used their Satanic powers to colonize the moon for their secret base from which they will bring about the end of days and the rule of Lucifer.

  • LoneWacko||

    Economist, you fool! It's supposed to be "ReptilianJewishAliens", "SatanicPowers" and "RuleOfMexico"!

  • ||

    economist,

    We're both fools. The best possible conspiracy theory involving the moon is this: There is no moon.

  • There is no Moon||

    Damn! Busted!

  • ||

    Sole Earthers deny the existence of the moon and call pro-mooners, "Lunies."

  • economist||

    We prefer Lunites.

  • T||

    Pro L,

    Nice start. You need a back story, though. Why does suppressing the moon's lack of existence benefit the secret cabal?

  • ||

    T,

    Because the Cabal controls the tides, the moon is just a cover.

  • ||

    The cabal also is behind menstruation, insanity (i.e., lunacy), werewolves, and cheese.

  • Salvius||

    You're familiar with the "full moon effect", no doubt, where people go a little crazy during full moons. That's really a result of the Orbital Mind Control Lasers being taken offline for maintenance every 28 days. The fake moon is a cover-up for that, too.

  • wingnutx||

    I have a small collection of great conspiracy videos HERE.

    "The Arrivals" is pretty much the magnum opus of tinfoil hat documentaries.

  • alan||

    Don't you get it? This article is a self contained conspricy. It is all designed to distract us from the fact Frum is a super maxi pad sized douche bag (don't giggle girls, I appreciate the artistic value of the vagina, not the maintenance and scaffolding that go to make it pretty).

  • alan||

    Fire my editor!

    self contained conspricy

    That was a cut'n'paste error, not a misspell though it resulted in a misspell.

  • ||

    "Citizen Nothing | March 17, 2009, 10:15am | #
    It would help if some of the conspiracy "lite" folk would occasionally call out the real wingnuts."

    This happens all the time. No need to do it in on this forum. People on H&R are still called names for recognizing pure fact such as the Business Wire article from January 24, 2006. The article talks about the $385 million dollar contract that Halliburton got to detain illegal immigrants as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster.

    Business Wire is a legit source. It is perfectly reasonable to say "ok good we need some emergency detention centers"...or "$385 million is not near enough money to imprison 1 million people". But to just ignore the articles these people reference and say they don't exist is not helpful to squashing conspiracy theories.

    If I have to talk to one of the two...those making illogical conclusions from the given data or those refusing to see the data right in front of us AND calling the people who do acknowledge the data as nuts. I choose to side with those who can at least acknowledge the facts and then we can argue about our interpretation of the facts.

  • ||

    Frum,
    Beck speaks to a feeling that this powerlessness is somehow new, somehow a departure from the natural order of things:

    This is your country, you are still in control. … Now you're being forced to bail those people out. There are more of us than there are of them. We surround them.

    It's not a new message of course. In fact, big parts of it seem almost self-consciously copied from Peter Finch's legendary declamation in the movie Network.

    Of course, Finch was only pretending to be crazy. He was an actor performing a role. Then again - so probably is Glenn Beck.




    You mean . . . you mean, we DON'T surround THEM??? We are being mislead???

    But what about Fox News? What's their excuse?

    The same that Faye Dunaway's character had - ratings!

  • ||

    "This is your country, you are still in control. … Now you're being forced to bail those people out. There are more of us than there are of them. We surround them."


    You mean . . . you mean, we DON'T surround THEM??? We are being mislead???


    yes...the course of events are inevitable. You would have to be insane to think you can matter. You will be taken care of. Don't worry your pretty little head, just drink some sodium fluoride for those teeth...and here drink this bottle of suntan lotion to protect your skin.

    PS
    You should beware of those illegal purveyors of vitamin D.

  • Handsome Dan||

    Don't you get it? This article is a self contained conspricy. It is all designed to distract us from the fact Frum is a super maxi pad sized douche bag (don't giggle girls, I appreciate the artistic value of the vagina, not the maintenance and scaffolding that go to make it pretty).

    Don't worry, this is a libertarian forum; there are no women here.

  • The Color-Blind Conspiracy The||

    Solyent Green is purple, I tell you! It's purple!

  • economist||

    Dammit, I say it's high time for a libertarian revolution! Just let me dig out my old copy of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I'll be right back! I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it any more! TANSTAAFL! Alba Gu Brath! Live free or die!

    And refill my Irish coffee, dammit!

  • jester||

    Glenn Beck is a Mormon informed by the Mormon-wing of the great one-world conspiracy. Skousen was a Professor in the Theology Dept. at Brigham Young University.

    At least I understand Mr. Beck's info sources now. Interesting. Mormon leaders have always been behind prohibition. Hence, Beck's irrational support of the drug war.

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