Skousen in Dialogue

You may have read the Salon article on Cleon Skousen, a great influence on the thought (?) of Glenn Beck. The article references Dialogue’s review of one of Skousen’s books, The Naked Capitalist. This roundtable review is one of the fieriest and most fun things that has ever been published in Dialogue, I think, so I’m linking to it from here so you can read the whole thing (the Salon link is to an incomplete version.) Here it is. Enjoy! Discuss!

Comments

  1. Beck is going so extreme, I wonder if before long he’s going to get the explicit distancing of the church from his projects that Skousen got from President Kimball?

  2. It was nice to see Quigley denounce Skousen’s terrible analysis of his book.

  3. God bless Lou Midgley. That was about as thorough an evisceration as I have ever seen in a book review.

    Kudos to Dialogue for pulishing this in the first place, and props to Kristine for a timely reminder. It boggles my mind that Skousen’s book was once used as a textbook in the religion department at BYU.

  4. Thanks, Kristine, now my nightmares have Glenn Beck assuming the mantle of Cleon Skousen at a Tea party rally! Apart from that scary vision, a fascinating look at how little reason and thought goes into some of these conspiracy theories.

  5. Fascinating! Thanks for pointing this out, Kristine.

  6. Mark–yeah, Midgley was fierce–kinda makes Dan Peterson seem soft and cuddly by comparison :)

  7. what should we make of President David O. McKay recommending to the saints to read Skousen?

  8. As little as possible.

  9. Fair enough.

  10. Sorry, that was more flip than it needed to be. I think it’s too easy to look back and dismiss people’s fears about Communism as overblown; it’s impossible to know how we would have reacted in that situation. Clearly, plenty of wise men and women were made foolish by their fear. I don’t see a problem with understanding President McKay as belonging to that group, on this issue, at least.

  11. When has America not been riven by fear?

  12. Well, right. In 50 years, some of our terrorist alarmism will probably look really dumb (some of it already does), as will our terror of gay marriage, daycare, and swine flu. Fortunately, we’ll all be dead so it won’t be so painful when our grandchildren mock us on their blogs :)

  13. They won’t mock me. :)

  14. Uh, let me rephrase that. There is plenty to mock, but they won’t mock me for fear. :)

  15. Kristine,
    I would love it if Dialogue would do some articles/research on communism fears from within the LDS church. I really think it’s an interesting topic. Our church isn’t unique in making fearful cold war propaganda sermons, however it seems to me we like to cling to them. I’ve sure seen a lot of them quoted (and misquoted) lately.

  16. Julie M. Smith says:

    Kristine, yours will definitely mock you for thinking that they would be using blogs in fifty years, instead of Cyber-Kinetic Reality Chambers or whatever.

  17. I suspect they’ll also still be mocking me about the dishtowel I just set on fire while I was typing blog comments on my laptop next to the stove.

  18. mmiles, that’s a good suggestion. There have been some, over the years, but mostly focused pretty tightly on Ezra Taft Benson. A broader comparative perspective would be illuminating.

  19. Having grown up in the 50s and 60s, I can tell you that the damn Commies were in fact out to get us back then. And I grew up in a household that watched what Tricky Dick Nixon did to Helen Gahagan Douglas in the California Senate race in 1950–and who disagreed strongly with those members of the BYU faculty who were still warning (in the early 1960s) “And don’t forget what they did to our Senator McCarthy.” It’s an enigma (or maybe a Riddle) who said that.

    Still, the Soviets were a fearsome threat–and not just for a few weeks in October 1962.

    I read Skousen’s Naked books when i was in my late teens–found them in the house of some friends I was visiting one summer. Most of the Commies whose pictures we saw in the newspapers were not people you would want to even think about seeing naked, and I was relieved to find out that Skousen’s books didn’t have any photographs. At least no nekkid ones.

  20. Mark,

    Do you notice any difference in the language of those who hyped the fear of communism in the 1950s to those who have hyped the fear of terrorism now?

  21. After seeing the hatch job Skousen did to J. Robert Oppenheimer, I question his judgment. For those who want to know more, there’s some very good reading about Oppenheimer in “Dark Sun”.

    I think the over focus on Communism caused many LDS types to overlook other important issues.

    Skousen also blamed Solomon’s fall on old age dementia. Somehow, I think that getting dementia would not cause someone to loose their exaltation.

  22. Thanks for linking to this, Kristine. Definitely fascinating. Dan Combs did his MA thesis on Mormon anti-communism a few years ago, “Official LDS anticommunism, 1901-1972 : the articulation of an LDS conservative ideology,” at BYU. I don’t think it’s available electronically, but last I heard he had submitted an article based on it to Journal of Mormon History. Hopefully, it’ll be in print soon.

  23. Little Birdie Told Me says:

    Jamal asked:

    “Beck is going so extreme, I wonder if before long he’s going to get the explicit distancing of the church from his projects that Skousen got from President Kimball?”

    You didn’t hear it from me, but when the Freedom Festival people recently approached the Church’s philanthropic arm (the LDS Foundation) for their traditional donation to the Stadium of Fire, they were turned down because the event had become so political with MCs like Hannity and Beck. They were told they wouldn’t get any more $ from the Church until they got rid of Beck and made it non-partisan.

  24. Thanks Kristine. It makes me wonder how the patently crazy irrationality of Skousen (and now Beck) ever reached such popularity? It also makes me sad that such intellectual hooliganism has been, and continues to be, associated with our Church.

  25. It seems that in their back-and-forth both Skousen and Midgley were deliberately misinterpreting the other’s statements in the worst possible light. They each played the parts of both pre-internet troll and troll-feeder with distinction.

  26. David G,
    I hope to see that dissertation in print soon. I would like to see 1972 and beyond. I am wondering if it died out from the pulpit with Benson. Yet Bensonites keep pulling up little gems like this.

  27. “Kudos to Dialogue for pulishing this in the first place, and props to Kristine for a timely reminder. It boggles my mind that Skousen’s book was once used as a textbook in the religion department at BYU.”

    It was? That is pretty boggling.

    “You didn’t hear it from me, but when the Freedom Festival people recently approached the Church’s philanthropic arm (the LDS Foundation) for their traditional donation to the Stadium of Fire, they were turned down because the event had become so political with MCs like Hannity and Beck. They were told they wouldn’t get any more $ from the Church until they got rid of Beck and made it non-partisan.”
    If there is any truth to this it makes me very happy.

  28. I was there guys! As a teenager, setting in the LA Coliseum during a large Mormon anti-communist rally. Tens of thousands were there. I can not confirm Skousen spoke, but I am sure he did.
    The times were a cross between today’s terrorist fear, and the Church’s involvement in Prop 8. But the Russians bombs were real and bigger, their talk louder.
    I believe Skousen was given respect due to his backing by Apostle Benson.

  29. Aaron Brown says:

    Wow. Fun read. Not quite as good as Midgley’s smackdown of Joseph Fielding McConkie’s Doctrinal Commentary, in my opinion, but it still ranks up there. Good times.

    So Skousen used to be assigned in BYU classes. Well, gee, thanks Kristine for ruining the otherwise stellar impression of the BYU religion department that I’ve always had in my mind. :)

    AB

  30. Thanks for pointing this out, Kristine.

    Regarding what our descendants will mock us for in the future, I think we should keep in mind that by recording our random thoughts in blog post and comment form, we’re potentially giving them more material to mock. But that’s a good thing. It means that we’re contributing to our family histories, like Kristine and the blog burned dishtowl. So when someone asks what you’re doing while you’re writing comments on BCC (or FMH, or even T&S), you can just say, “I’m working on my family history.”

  31. Midgley’s eviceration of Skousen (and thus, by extension, Skousen’s heir in the Paranoid Fantasy Cult, Mr. Beck) hits the nail on the head. As Midgley notes, all this does is “set brother against brother” and thus has no place in the Gospel of Christ.

  32. Suddenly so much love for Louis Midgley and his methods?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think he was right on in his review of Skousen — everyone should read it who thinks Skousen is insightful. We all know too well that Skousen’s “cult”, as Midgley described it, is alive and well among many these days. But if I’m not mistaken, much ink has been spilled about how awful his review/critique methods are in the Bloggernacle over the years. I guess what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander on these topics. Midgley on Palmer is despicable; Midgley on Skousen is genius.

    The last time Midgley’s name found itself floating around the Bloggernacle, I observed the following:

    For example, in the major Bloggernacle scuffle about LDS apologist Louis Midgley’s response to RT’s response to Midgley’s response to Palmer’s response to Mormonism, no one that I saw actually addressed the difficulties for Palmer’s perspective raised by Midgley in that response, which, as I noted on John Dehlin’s thread about the topic, include the supposed Golden Pot similarities and White Salamander connections, the supposed use of a different Hoffmann translation and the facts surrounding the Carlyle translation, and the coincidence of the Paul Pry pseudonym. The Paul Pry psuedonym should be of the least concern for those following Palmer out of the faith based on anything written in Insider’s View. The points raised by Midgley in that response piece, which echo the points he raised in the FARMS Review piece that RT criticized, are intellectually valid points to make and are in the nature of an undertaking in text-book intellectual history. The closest anyone came to addressing the substance of these counter-arguments that Midgley raised was when John Dehlin just brushed them aside stating that “I don’t feel as though Grant Palmer’s overall mosaic/picture has been discredited at all.” But really, many details discredit it, not least of which is the Carlyle translation issue.

    If people didn’t address the substance of Midgley’s arguments the last time his ideas were at issue on our computer screens, it was supposedly because of his methods — he wasn’t nice enough in his criticisms to warrant addressing his actual counterarguments.

    Perhaps those old discussions can now be reopened and Midgley’s arguments on those points (I think I remember seeing them described at that time as “the worst kind of attempt at intellectual history” or something to that effect) examined for what they are actually saying, as long as we’re loving us some Midgley today.

    Professor Midgley, here’s to your rude interruption of the Tanners having fondue at Lighthouse Ministries with George Smith. And also to your review of Skousen in Dialogue. Both very well done.

  33. aloysiusmiller says:

    This is always the problem with the fanatics of the world. They discredit real worthwhile ideas.

    George Soros and Goldman Sachs deserve real scrutiny and they don’t get it because any real look smacks of Skousen style fanaticism.

  34. Thomas Parkin says:

    I’ve never read Skousen; I’ve barely have had any idea of his existence. I’ve heard the titles of his books. I’ve only once listened to Glen Beck – coming back from SLC a couple weeks ago. He seemed pretty convinced that some power behind the power was going to silence him in some way. It seems likely that is paranoid.

    But this conversation has an undertone of smugness that I’ve learned to mistrust. It smacks of a mental trick of learned to look for whenever politics rears its head: categorize, reduce and dismiss. Whatever supposed facts are brought to the table, there is always something not brought. Whatever flatters us into thinking that, yes, after all, we do have the world figured out, that is what we embrace. And one of my constant fears is that the something not brought is the most important information I could have.

    In the months following 9/11 I had numerous friends, who I know to otherwise be of sound mind, all better educated than me, tell me that George Bush and company were setting the stage to take over the government on a permanenet basis, etc. This was truth, and the evidence was all around.

    Our own fears are always more tenable than the other guys. After all, we are the smart ones, the educated ones, the patriotic ones, the righteous ones, the ones with heart, yes? Yes. Clearly we are.

    When you believe in a devil, you tend to see him behind every curtain. That is a problem. But there is a counter problem: there really is a devil.

    When one’s own Man is in the Captain’s seat, the Man takes on a different demeanor, I suppose. I loved what Camille Paglia recently said in Salon about the left’s willingness to accept authority when it is their own man that has the authority.

    I generally don’t see happenings in light of conspiracies because I think the law of unintended consequences makes controlling global reality impossible. But I think what history does teach us is that people try, people do conspire. The communist experience is only one of the most recent and most successful, and so gets a lot of attention. And the thing _I_ fear is a generation of people so accustomed to living with an a-historical degree of freedom and prosperity they think that it will always be so. This Empire, which we have all been lucky enough to suck at the teet of, all our life, is starting to wind down. That process is going to make some people paranoid, but we shouldn’t let their paranoia make us smug. ~

  35. John, I think Midgley ca. 2007 reads pretty differently than Midgley ca. 1971–the style has overtaken the substance. (And, to the degree I’m capable of self-awareness, I don’t think it has to do with how sympathetic I am to the people he trashes. I’m no fan of Palmer, but still think Midgley’s takedown was obnoxious).

  36. Thomas,

    That process is going to make some people paranoid, but we shouldn’t let their paranoia make us smug. ~

    I can’t speak for anyone else but I don’t denounce Skousen due to smugness. I think the man (and his acolyte Beck) are a danger to democracy. Their demonization of people and organizations they disagree with are highly troubling, mostly because they take on many of the same characteristics of the organizations they denounce the most: communism and fascism. Midgley writes about this:

    I believe that Skousen started his career with the goal of saving the
    rich from big government, but has found that the rich don’t want his help —
    the rich he now discovers control big government and, in fact, are rich partly
    because of big government. Now he wants to attack the rich and especially
    their power base, their wealth. But he is not the first to have it in for
    Capitalists and to want to save the people from their rich masters. This is
    exactly the program of various forms of socialism and communism. It is
    difficult to miss the parallels between Skousen’s program and much of the
    rhetoric of the New Left. But there are other instructive parallels. In Germany,
    where they also once came to believe that they were oppressed by
    conspiratorial bankers who also manipulated the Communists, the program
    was called National Socialism. Under this program the rich would be eliminated
    and power given back to the people (or so they said), the schools
    would be liberated so that the truth could be taught about the evil bankers,
    international ties would be eliminated, churches would be used for national
    propaganda and other purposes. Skousen also wants a political party to
    come to power with the express goal of eliminating the wealth and power
    of the rich (what better name for such a policy than socialism?) and this key
    process is to be accomplished by national governmental action — an appropriate
    descriptive title for his program would be National Socialism.
    There are a host of writers, mostly on the left, who have been arguing

    It is the same with Ayn Rand and her little Objectivist cult, as Jonathan Chait recently explained in a review of two books on Rand:

    Rand’s hotly pro-capitalist novels oddly mirrored the Socialist Realist style, with two-dimensional characters serving as ideological props. Burns notes some of the horrifying implications of Atlas Shrugged. “In one scene,” she reports, “[Rand] describes in careful detail the characteristics of passengers doomed to perish in a violent railroad clash, making it clear their deaths are warranted by their ideological errors.” The subculture that formed around her–a cult of the personality if ever there was one–likewise came to resemble a Soviet state in miniature. …

    Ultimately the Objectivist movement failed for the same reason that communism failed: it tried to make its people live by the dictates of a totalizing ideology that failed to honor the realities of human existence. Rand’s movement devolved into a corrupt and cruel parody of itself.

    Such movements of extremism, on either side of the political spectrum are dangerous to democracy.

  37. jf,
    Those were Bloggernacle days never to be forgotten…

  38. Thomas Parkin says:

    “Their demonization of people and organizations they disagree with are highly troubling”

    Unfortunately, Daniel, this is sword which, in my experience, cuts every way. I’ve been politically liberal, and still register Democrat and own to left leaning sensibilities; and I’ve flirted with Neo-Conservatism (the real thing, not the bug-a-boo.) But now my journey to the a-political is complete, because I’ve Seen All Good People … . To the same degree that a person is politically partisan,- whether that is to Ayn Rand or John Kennedy or Edmund Burke or Tom Paine, or Machiavelli or Trotsky, or Obama, or whoever else someone gets convinced can do no wrong – I don’t trust that person’s political thinking. It has a blinding ray, one I want badly to be free of. I’m not sure where that leaves me. Trying to glean facts from the various fogs, maybe … when I’m paying attention, which isn’t always. ~

  39. Indeed Ronan. Those were the halcyon days, or, in the words of Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) in The Hunt for Red October — “the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin”.

  40. Thomas,

    #37,

    I think there is a difference between certain groups. Some of them accept aspects of reality and work within the world, while others reject reality and try and set up artificial worlds. I don’t see JFK, Burke, Paine, Obama or Machiavelli as ones who reject reality. I do see that in Ayn Rand, Skousen and Trotsky (and Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, etc). These groups attempt to create an alternate reality that just doesn’t work and is unsustainable. They have half truths in their ideology but not enough to take seriously. The only reason I take them seriously is because there are enough people out there who prefer this alternate, skewed unsustainable world.

  41. #35: Daniel, I think we agree, when ‘demonization’ appears, by whomever or whenever, be on alert.
    I also feel, if we (Americans, Mormons, you/me, etc.) are going to debate/discuss Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, or Fascism, all must improve their understanding as to what these terms mean in today’s world and in the past.

  42. “Their demonization of people and organizations they disagree with are highly troubling”

    As opposed to the demonization of conservatives and their organizations in this thread.

  43. I don’t think any conservatives have even been discussed in this thread.

  44. Beck is going so extreme, I wonder if before long he’s going to get the explicit distancing of the church from his projects that Skousen got from President Kimball?

    Probably not until the press starts to raise the Mormon connection more overtly.

    Of course were I Romney or Huntsman with aspirations for a Presidential run I’d not be happy with Beck.

  45. “Of course were I Romney or Huntsman with aspirations for a Presidential run I’d not be happy with Beck.”

    Yup. Beck has more or less guaranteed some seriously awkward discussions about race and the Church, should Romney become a candidate.

  46. Dear John B.,
    What specifically are you referring to? Or are you just being paranoid?

  47. Thomas Parkin says:

    Daniel,

    Point taken. JFK would certainly not be as frightening as Stalin, or Ayn Rand, for that matter. :)

    But my point is more to the believer than the believed in, and more to my ability (or anyone’s) to cull much reality from political discussions than to the relative danger of political movements.

    In short, I’m not sure how much this thread, or any given online discussion, can tell me about Skousen, or Glen Beck, etc., because, if for no other reason, the deck seems to be pretty stacked against them. I see most discussions in the political realm, certainly on BCC, as opportunities for group hugs and / or _exactly the kind of minimizing of human dimension that you’re talking about._ One doesn’t need to be a potential demagogue to do it, everyone is doing it and all the time, too.

    I’m not probably going to be a fan of Trotsky, but one gets a very different picture of his virtues reading Christopher Hitchens or even George Orwell than one gets reading, say, a pro-Soviet lefty in the 1930s. Someone is demonizing, but someone else is refusing to demonize the demon … and I can’t make heads or tails out of any of it.

    Anyway – off to find a pillow. ~

  48. @ Thomas Parkin #33 and #37
    Thank you for the most insightful comments I’ve read in the comments to this post.

    I saw a post at the coyote blog the other day that made me laugh and nod in approval about the various messages of the political parties.

    Democrats: The people in power can’t be trusted. You need to remove them and put our guys in charge

    Republicans: The people in power can’t be trusted. You need to remove them and put our guys in charge

    Libertarians: People in power can’t be trusted. You need to remove their power and be in charge of yourself

    The problem, as I see it, is centralized power (esp w/o accountability), and what the various parties have done (and do) once they get a hold of that power. It subsequently it turns the people in the out-of-power parties paranoid. In my opinion, it’s important that people not get distracted by partisan sniping, and don’t ever forget the following:

    “Don’t ever give Janet Reno a power you don’t want John Ashcroft to have.”

    About communist paranoia, of course, communist Russia *did* murder millions of people and had an expansionist agenda. It led to a lot of paranoia, but I have a hard time condemning the people who responded in a paranoid fashion.

    Islamo-fascist terrorists *did* kill thousands in NYC. I lived and worked downtown in NYC and watched the towers fall as an eye-witness and I will tell you that I felt extreme paranoia for quite a long time thereafter – every time I drove through the Holland tunnel I had a nagging feeling that I was vulnerable to a bombing. I’d tell myself I was being unreasonable, but after watching with alarm what people are capable of doing to one another, you wonder if at some point you’ll be the victim of it. I didn’t mind the “police state” feel that NYC had for a long time thereafter. I felt more secure.

    Perhaps fears get overblown and turned into conspiracy theories that see a monster lurking in every corner.

    But perhaps extreme centralized power is something to be wary of, and we should be wary of it even when “our guys” happen to be in power.

    I listened to Air American and watched Olbermann during the Bush years, and I will say that I haven’t heard Beck say anything that reached the level of offensiveness I heard there. Beck is over the top, yes, and I think he crosses the line from time to time, is over-dramatic, and he’s definitely not my cup of tea so I don’t watch him much. But, please, partisan taint seems to lead to blindness in the discussions I read at BCC. We tend to “see no evil” on our guy, and so, instead, can only see evil in those who oppose our guy.

  49. Tim Seattle, WA says:

    Regarding Skousen… and churches leaders paranoia of communism:

    Since the war in Heaven we have had the struggle between Free Agency and Totalitarianism.

    Can anyone point out to me when that struggle has ended at anytime in history?

    Paranoia, lol…..you all sound like my stock broker mid 90′s…”Don’t worry about, we have some NEW rules, some NEW tools now, that others just didn’t have before…those poor outdated saps.”

    Give me a break, read Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap, read his The Making of America….and see if you have done anything as good in your life…if you have, show us…otherwise jump on over to the movie critic section and have at it.

  50. Steve Evans says:

    “Can anyone point out to me when that struggle has ended at anytime in history?”

    It just did, as you made your blanket authoritarian dumbass comment.

  51. Tim Seattle, WA says:

    Classic response to a good question, insult the person asking and name call.

  52. Louis Midgley says:

    Friends have pointed to this blog. I have sort of enjoyed reading it. I am a bit amused that I can now be seen as a good guy for confronting the rubbish being sold by Cleon Skousen and yet still be stereotyped as a really bad guy for telling the truth about Grant Palmer. I have yet to discover anyone who could find fault with the substance of what I wrote in “Prying into Palmer.” Oh, I have heard that I should not have told the truth about his motives, sources and strange CES career. But those who make that judgment simply do not understand that dealing with such issues is exactly what constitutes intellectual history. There simply would be no such thing as intellectual history if those sorts of things somehow were not the appropriate subject matter. I may, if I find time, comment further. I will say that I have not paid much attention to Glenn Beck. I am, you must all understand a kind of Neanderthall Republican. But I can’t stand the rhetoric of Republicans running for office or talking on the radio or TV. I am, I will not only admit but boast, a classical liberal. If you want to understand where I am coming from, I suggest you read the “Preface” to Leo Strauss, Liberalism: Ancient and Modern (Basic Books, 1968), pp.v-ix. Please remember that I taught the history of political philosophy for 36 years at BYU. The two courses I taught at least once or twice a year were on (1) the Federalist, and (2) Alexis de Tocqueville’s simply wonderful Democracy in America. I have little time for the strange battles for public office. My attention was first drawn to Skousen when I read his Naked Communist. That seemed to me to be a remarkably poor book. It provided a model for how not to write about a topic. But his fondling of a bizarre conspiracy theory is what got me to pay really close attention to his endeavors.

  53. I think that the Church leaders were right about communism. It only looks like paranoid thinking if you are being a Monday morning quarterback.

    There were literally tens of millions of deaths in the 1900′s that were directly caused by communist leaders. I have lots more to say about this but will hold back.

    Drex Davis is right.

  54. Steve Evans says:

    Tim, you’re new here. Let me explain: you’re a visitor here to our little cocktail party. Don’t barge in and expect anyone to respect you. Show some respect yourself first, and demonstrate to us why your voice should be one we listen to. Until then, try lurking instead.

  55. Also, regarding Beck.

    I have listened or watched both Air America and the line-up at MSNBC enough to state that I see no difference between them and Beck when it comes to over the top rhetoric. You can easily take most criticism of Beck and insert Olbermann and you will be dead on.

  56. I listened to Air American and watched Olbermann during the Bush years, and I will say that I haven’t heard Beck say anything that reached the level of offensiveness I heard there.

    That’s a baldfaced lie.

  57. You can easily take most criticism of Beck and insert Olbermann and you will be dead on.

    Olbermann is an ass and a blowhard. But the above statement is completely false.

  58. I think that perhaps a more direct way of making the point, Tim, is simply to note that the 5000 Year Leap and the Making of America are terrible, terrible history.

  59. Tim Seattle, WA says:

    Brad,

    see now that’s interesting to me, becuase I have just read both in the last 6 months for the first time, thought they were great…and wonder why you think they are terrible, and what books you would point me to in there place?

    Eager to learn more all the time : -)

  60. Steve Evans says:

    Tim, you’re really a dink. Beat it.

  61. “Give me a break, read Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap, read his The Making of America…”

    I have, and they offend me as a historian. You can honestly pick almost any history textbook and it would be leaps and bounds better.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    …and, lest you think this some badge of honor or validation of your convictions, let me just point out that there are number of conservative voices on this thread who are capable of expressing themselves in a thoughtful engaging way. You’re being singled out and put into moderation not for your views, but for your remarkable inability to express your views without sounding like a prick.

  63. Pick up any standard, peer-reviewed textbook on US history or World history written in, say, the past 25 years. On the period of the founding and the constitution, try Gordon S. Wood’s Creation of the American Republic or the slightly more compact (with a slightly more refined argument) The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His Revolutionary Characters — a series of biographical sketches of several of the key founding figures — is also excellent, as is his lengthier biography of Ben Franklin. For a more technical analysis of the construction of the constitution as a legal text, check out Forrest McDonald’s Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution and Herbert Storing’s What the Anti-Federalists were for: The Political Thought of the Constitution.

  64. Brad I would contend that both are A&^ and blowhards. Really only the politics are different. Beck has far more listeners and is frankly more powerful politically. The House just voted to defund Acorn.

    But they both use half truths and serious amounts of spin to make their respective cases.

    I am also not a Skousen fan and find the guy to be really really out there on a fringe

  65. Tim Seattle, WA says:

    Ben

    Just read both of them, when you say better, what do you mean, stylistic writing? format? or are you saying that the history itself is just wrong? I am confused.

    I myself learned a lot from both books, things I had never known before or at least forgotten about completely. I found them both very easy to read and understand, compared to other history books I have read in my search for the founders, like a few I have by David McCullough, a guy how is popular today.

    What am I missing?

  66. All of this is just to underscore the point that as reliable and fact based history, Skousen’s books are terribly, ridiculously, laughably, embarrassingly bad.

  67. Tim,

    Steve is largely right. I am as conservative as they come and get a fair hearing at BCC.

  68. I think the proper locution would be “what books you would point me to in that there place?”

    I’m trying really hard, but I keep seeing images of Cleon Skousen fondling that damnable bizarre conspiracy theory. How on earth am I supposed to get any work done? Thanks, Lou!

  69. bbell,
    Beck’s relationship with facts and truth is much more flexible than Olbermann’s, and while KO unfairly ridicules his opponents with spurious logic, Beck’s far more sinister agenda comes much closer to calling for rebellion based upon ridiculous premises.

  70. Tim Seattle, WA says:

    Brad,

    I have copied those down, I am really interested in following up on these. But I guess i am still honestly curious, is the info in the 5000 year leap wrong or something? or is it depth and style, format, what is it that I may not be getting that it sounds like some here can clearly see?

    If you just telling me to keep reading to gain more insight, sure I get that, but if your saying something more, would love to understand that too.

  71. While Beck and Skousen can be over the top, shouldn’t we also note that both have been right on a few occasions? I recall the Air Force quoting Skousen’s Naked books in some of my training. And if you had been in some of the classified meetings I was in back in the 1980s

    Glenn Beck was key in exposing the problems with czar Van Jones and with ACORN. Clearly those aren’t issues being brought up by a total moron.

    So, I hope we can keep things in perspective. While we may not agree with their conspiracy theories, some of the things they’ve written/said are of value.

    As for Lou Midgely, I’ll note that he’s also responsible for bringing down Bill Hamblin’s Morm-Ant email list almost 20 years ago, by insisting on having a rant with Brent Metcalfe. So, even he has a few screws loose on occasion.

  72. @ Brad
    You say, “That’s a baldfaced lie”

    to my comment

    “I listened to Air America and watched Olbermann during the Bush years, and I will say that I haven’t heard Beck say anything that reached the level of offensiveness I heard there.”

    I’m curious. Just what exactly did I HEAR?

    Just wondering if you’ve bugged my house, track my car radio dial or television set, share a pair of ears with me, or inhabit my mind?

    Did you happen to miss this part of my comment?

    “Beck is over the top … I don’t watch him much.

    But even if you did, I’m not quite sure how you can call me a liar when talking about my OPINION of what I’ve HEARD.

    Back to the point of my topic, and thanks for underscoring it . . . we tend to “see no evil” in our guy, and so can only see evil in those we perceive as opposing him . . .

  73. @bbell, it was the senate who voted to defund acorn. as of this morning nancy pelosi hadn’t even heard of the senate vote (or so she claimed).

  74. rameumpton,
    When you characterize an organization as being Obama’s brownshirts or a kind of proto-Gestapo, and it turns out that a couple of their employees are corrupt or that they have a more progressive social agenda than Fow News’, you don’t exactly get credit for making the right call.

  75. Drex:

    If you’d read Skousen, you’d know that people like Brad know more about you than you care to realize, and using that information, they’ll ultimately get you.

  76. Drex, I don’t think you’re evil or that anyone is faultless. I think Beck is, orders of magnitude, more extreme, paranoid, and outrageous than Air America or Olbermann, and that people who claim otherwise based on extensive experience are not telling the truth.

  77. “it turns out that a couple of their employees are corrupt”

    And Abu Graihb was just a “few bad apples.”

  78. And, for the record, I think Beck’s far more extreme than most rightwing opinion makers.

  79. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Mark, you’re killing me.

  80. Drex: The House just did the same 345-75

  81. No, Tim. Abu Graihb is evidence that Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney (!) were opportunistically conspiring to systematically undermine goodness in the world and enslave people, to destroy America, trash the constitution, and implement a regime of fascism, socialism, and radical community organizing!!!

  82. Of course I was being facetious, but you have to admit that this Acorn thing appears to be a wee bit more systemic than merely a couple of corrupt employees. I believe another video has surfaced, from San Diego I think.

  83. The House just did the same 345-75

    Wow. Maybe that really does exonerate Beck by verifying his claims that ACORN were the footsoldiers for implementing a conspiracy to slowly transform America into a socialist/fascist totalitarian dictatorship.

  84. @ Brad
    Oh, so is that what I heard?

  85. Drex,
    You’re either lying about the scope of your acquaintence with Air America radio and Glenn Beck, or about the nature of what you heard. Or you’re just lying to yourself about their comparative similarity.

  86. Thank you everyone for participating. I’m going to close the comments now.

  87. @bbell
    Wow. That was *fast* . . . this must be incredibly politically toxic to get that kind of movement.

    I hadn’t checked the news in a while, so that’s for updating me.

  88. rameumpton,

    #70,

    While Beck and Skousen can be over the top, shouldn’t we also note that both have been right on a few occasions? I recall the Air Force quoting Skousen’s Naked books in some of my training. And if you had been in some of the classified meetings I was in back in the 1980s

    1. Just because the Air Force makes you read it doesn’t make it true or right.

    2. Classified meetings? Might you be willing to share? :)

  89. Drex, sorry, I’ve closed the comments.

  90. Ok, I read the article. Lou is really nasty mean here. I was really impressed that Dialogue gave Cleon space to respond. I’m no supporter of his nor conspiracy theories, but this reconfirmed to me that Dialogue has class.

  91. Re ## 35, 52: speaking for myself, I count it a pleasure to inhale the air of superiority that Professor Midgley consistently exudes in his writing.

  92. @Brad
    Enough. And please stop calling me a liar.

  93. It appears that I have failed.

  94. comments are still open.

  95. I will live as if they are closed. No more comments from me. Even if Brad spills the beans on what I have been thinking in the last 10 minutes.

  96. ACORN misbehavior has no bearing on Beck’s credibility or sanity. And as fundamentally weak as the “so’s your dad” defense is, it isn’t even applicable here. If that unhinged woman who judges So You Think You Can Dance starts reading Noam Chomsky and becomes a political personality powerful enough to use the US Congress to browbeat college republicans, then you all can start saying I told you so. In the mean time, Beck is an embarrassment to Mormons and intelligent people everywhere, and his wild popularity is an embarrassment to American Conservatism.

  97. “Give me a break, read Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap, read his The Making of America…”

    I have, and they offend me as a historian. You can honestly pick almost any history textbook and it would be leaps and bounds better.

    Was that intentional? Either way: awesome.

  98. *hides his head in shame. ;)

  99. Steve Evans says:

    Drex (#94): excellent pownage of Kramer.

    That is all.

    Oh, and we may have to shut down comments, at least temporarily. Sorry gst.

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