And I know that everyone who has a Playboy subscription says they "read it for the articles," but I actually do and this one by Thomas Frank completely tears Beck's tactics to pieces.

Here's a small sample:

The funny thing is, Beck’s political views and even his vision of the founding generation are actually repudiated by the very founder Beck loves most. I refer to Thomas Paine, the Revolutionary War pamphleteer upon whom Beck and so many other wingers these days are weirdly fixated. Beck named one of his 2009 books after Paine’s famous 1776 pamphlet, Common Sense—not because of any specific insight, it seems, but because he likes to imagine we are living today under an “out-of-control government” every bit as offensive to “common sense” as that of George III. During his Common Sense Comedy Tour last summer Beck reportedly took to the stage dressed as Paine.

But Paine gave the world more than those two words. And when we open Paine’s even more famous work, The Rights of Man, a defense of the French Revolution, we find that it begins with a denunciation of the very idea of one generation binding future generations. “You must heed the call of generations past,” Beck pontificates in his homage to Paine. “The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies,” Paine slapped back in 1791. “Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.”

Should we read The Rights of Man all the way to the end, we find Paine calling on the English government to furnish the public with old-age pensions, subsidies to the poor, payments to mothers on the birth of children (welfare!) and guaranteed employment for everyone in the large cities. Should we carry our interest in Paine so far as to read his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, we will find—I hope you are sitting down for this, Beck—that Paine proposed a national pension system based on a property tax! Now, hating Social Security is such a no-­brainer on the right—the host himself has called it a Ponzi scheme—that perhaps Beck’s followers can be excused for assuming that old Tom Paine was right there with them down to the last shake of their Ayn Rand placard. Still, they might have bothered to consult the Social Security website, where they will find Paine’s pamphlet reproduced as one of the “key early documents” in the struggle for old-age security.

And there is something more than a little peculiar about a devoted Mormon like Beck being a Paine fan. Until a short while ago Paine was mainly remembered as the man who despised organized religion. Debunking religion’s historical claims was, in fact, the subject of Paine’s most famous work, The Age of Reason (1794), in which the pamphleteer trashes the Bible book by book, describing the story of Jonah, the virgin birth and the crucifixion all as bad jokes on a gullible mankind. In a famous passage this scoffing founder wrote, “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists and fanatics.”

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