Author: Crissie Brown

Morning Feature: Blowing Smoke, Part II – John Birch and Glenn Beck

In the summer of 2006, Glenn Beck told his CNN Headline News audience that Armageddon would come on August 22nd. On August 23rd, he needed a new scare story. (More) Blowing Smoke, Part II – John Birch and Glenn Beck This week Morning Feature explores Michael Wolraich’s Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual. Yesterday we considered the history of persecution politics. Today we look at why persecution narratives are so attractive and persecution politics so successful. Tomorrow we’ll discuss Wolraich’s proposed solutions. Note: On behalf of the faculty, staff, and student body, I’d like to welcome Michael Wolraich to the BPI Campus. He began blogging at TPM Café before opening dagblog two years ago, and is a regular contributor at CNN. Mr. Wolraich will join us for this week’s discussion, and we hope he enjoys his visit enough to stay and pursue one of our many degrees. A Legendary Crank Glenn Beck’s debut in televised paranoia was less than spectacular. In 2006 the long-time radio talk show host landed a job on CNN Headline News, which said he would offer “an unconventional look at the news of the day.” He did. That summer he offered a series of broadcasts predicting that Iran and/or Russia would attack Israel, probably on August...

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Campus Chatter – February 11, 2011

Today in history, greetings, and social banter here. (More) Japan was founded today (660 BCE). Also, Henry VIII was recognized as supreme head of the Church of England (1531), Benjamin Franklin opened Pennsylvania Hospital (1752), and Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts offered his redistricting plan (1812). And the first gold record was presented to Glenn Miller, for “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (1941). The Janitor Professor of Astrology did not Gerry-mander this week’s Bippiescopes, nor will they likely be honored with a gold record. But they’re something to choo on for Valentine’s Day…. Aquarius: Draw squiggly lines across the bedroom floor. Plan something in each district. Pisces: Take a long walk with an old Valentine. Walk back with a new Valentine. Aries: Offer your Valentine a gold record for Chatter New Ah-Choo Choo. And a tissue. Taurus: Buy a bag of Valentine hearts. Compile their sayings into a card. Gemini: Call your Valentine a sweet name. But not “High Fructose Corn Syrup” again. Cancer: That Venus fly trap needed too much explanation last year. Try roses this year. Leo: Tell that special someone “You’re my ode, Valentine.” Remember the comma. Virgo: There’s no reason to sort Valentine M&Ms by color. They all taste the same. Libra: Give your Valentine a stuffed animal. But not a stuffed Godzilla again. Scorpio: Get your Valentine something practical. A fleece-lined thong, for example. Sagittarius: Change...

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Morning Feature: Blowing Smoke, Part I – Jim Crow and Jerry Falwell

Ominous threats of President Obama “indoctrinating” schoolchildren did not emerge in a vacuum. They fit a decades-old pattern Michael Wolraich calls “persecution politics.” (More) Blowing Smoke, Part I – Jim Crow and Jerry Falwell This week Morning Feature explores Michael Wolraich’s Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual. Today we consider the history of persecution politics. Tomorrow we’ll look at why persecution narratives are so attractive and persecution politics so successful. Saturday we’ll discuss Wolraich’s proposed solutions. Note: On behalf of the faculty, staff, and student body, I’d like to welcome Michael Wolraich to the BPI Campus. He began blogging at TPM Café before opening dagblog two years ago, and is a regular contributor at CNN. Mr. Wolraich will join us for this week’s discussion, and we hope he enjoys his visit enough to stay and pursue one of our many degrees. Weep for Your Children Remember the old days, way back when President Obama set out to “indoctrinate” America’s children with an “unprecedented” back-to-school message? Monica Crowley implied the idea came from Chairman Mao. Others called it the first step on a slippery slope toward a Hitler Youth program. In fact it wasn’t unprecedented. President George H.W. Bush and others had before and since had given messages to schools. And...

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Campus Chatter – February 10, 2011

Today in history, greetings, and social banter here. (More) The St. Scholastica Day riot broke out in Oxford today (1355). Also, the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War (1763), the first fire extinguisher was patented (1863), and the first singing telegrams were delivered (1933). And Ron Brown became the first black chairman of a major U.S. political party...

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Morning Feature: Reprise – Conspiracy Theory 102

Claire Sterling was, at least for a time and by some, considered one of the foremost authorities on terrorism. Yet events proved her wrong. (More) Conspiracy Theory 102 – Conspiracies of Conflation For the next two Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’ll reprise a four-part 2009 Morning Feature series on conspiracy theories. Yesterday we explored common reasons people are attracted to conspiracy theories. Today we look at conspiracies of conflation, theories that purport to connect similar but usually coincidental events. Next Tuesday we’ll discuss conspiracies of convenience, patterns of profit that look like conspiracies but aren’t. Next Wednesday we conclude with conspiracies of commonality, groups acting toward a common goal. Note: This series will not attempt to prove or disprove any given conspiracy theory. The series isn’t about donning a tinfoil hat, but asking why we find them attractive, and how we make them. I’ve also edited each article for this reprise. The Arch-Villain. In 1981, freelance journalist Claire Sterling became a conservative icon with the publication of her exposé The Terror Network. The book presented a compelling argument that the Soviet Union was the organizing nexus for all international terrorism. Defeat the Soviets, the book implied, and terrorism will end. Yet the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, and terrorism is still a common tactic of political movements in many parts of the world. Sterling was hardly the first or last to...

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