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Glenn Beck

Will Hollywood Be Crushed by Fidel`s Resignation?; Media Going Soft on Obama; Author Expands on Liberal Fascism

Aired February 19, 2008 - 19:00   ET


GLENN BECK, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Tinseltown bids farewell to a legend, as Fidel Castro steps down as Cuba`s president. Oh, how will Hollywood ever recover?

Plus, Barack Obama`s cult of personality. We`ll take a closer look at what makes him so appealing to the masses. Does style trump substance?

And Britain nationalizes Northern Rock Bank, wiping out thousands of shareholders. How soon before it happens here? We`ll get some progressive answers.

All that and more, tonight.


BECK: Well, hello, America. The day has finally arrived. Fidel Castro is gone. I personally think he`s dead, but the news is that he`s just retired, handing over the reigns to his spry 76-year-old brother, Raul. I think it`s only fitting that we might pause for a few minutes for a tribute that gives Fidel Castro his due.


BECK (voice-over): In a world of dictator wannabes, Fidel Castro was the real thing. So, it`s with a tearful eye that we say adios to Cuba`s el presidente as he retires today after a 49-year reign of terror that any other self-imposed, socialist leader could be proud of.

Let`s take a fond look back to the Fidel everybody loves, none more than our own Hollywood elite. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg called the lingering dinner he shared with Fidel Castro, quote, "the eighth most important hours of my life." Oh, I`m sure, Steve. But that`s music to the ears of thousands of Cubans that Fidel killed or imprisoned. Hey, Steve, compared to Cuba, "Jurassic Park" is Disneyland.

After his three-hour meeting, actor Jack Nicholson said Castro was, quote, "a genius." I`d like to tell Jack that Castro built a reputation on killing first and questioning later, but maybe Jack just can`t handle the truth.

Chevy Chase said he believes socialism works and explained Cuba proves, quote, "It`s conclusive that there have been areas where socialism has helped keep people stabilized." Sure, Chevy, a lifetime of poverty is stable, but I`m not sure the impoverished Cubans would agree that means socialism is working.

Ah, the list goes on and on. Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Shirley MacLaine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Costner, they have all visited Castro and acted like teenage groupies begging for an autograph.

Just so you know, guys, Castro`s red carpet, actually a white carpet, soaked with the blood of his own murdered countrymen.

Farewell from Tinseltown, Fidel, and good luck to your brother, Raul, who steps in to continue your tireless effort to deny human rights, torture political prisoners, and ban free and fair elections. Raul, you do your part, and American movie stars will do theirs by continuing to kiss Castro`s ass.

And Fidel, when you get a chance, which I hope is some time soon, say hello to Satan for us, will you?


BECK: Let`s go to Michael Medved now. He`s a syndicated talk show host.

Michael, I don`t understand the love affair with these dictators. You`ve got it with Castro and Chavez. The progressives in the early 20th century, they were all up with Lenin and Stalin and Mussolini. What is it that they -- that they love about these guys?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Castro`s a special case, because he has cultivated these people, and he has a lot in common with them. I mean, one of the things that apparently he talks about with visiting movie stars is Castro -- how do you put it -- has a Clintonian appetite for the fair sex, and this is an item that he clearly shares with some of the visiting dignitaries.

BECK: I -- I think I just threw up in my mouth just a little bit. I mean, Michael, jeez. Um, OK...

MEDVED: But it`s a perfect -- what you were saying is so profoundly true. I happen to know some of the principals in Hollywood who are Cuban- American, who tried to tell Tinseltown the truth about this monstrous individual. People like Nestor Almendros, an Oscar-winning cinematographer, people like Andy Garcia, who made a fine film about the real brutality of the Cuban regime, called "The Lost City."

And yet, the movie stars are so invested in seeing Cuba as a demonstration that communism works and it works beautifully. It truly is pathetic and sickening. I hope they all have a good time at the funeral.

BECK: I mean, I don`t understand why they don`t -- why they don`t hate him just for making people drive really old cars that can`t be good for the environment.

You`ve got Spielberg saying it`s the most eight -- the eight most important hours of his life.

MEDVED: Yes, I wonder how -- what Mrs. Spielberg thought about that.

BECK: Yes.

MEDVED: You`d think maybe the honeymoon. Who knows?

BECK: Unbelievable. You`ve got all these people in Hollywood that wear these Che T-shirts. Do they miss the fact that Che came over to Cuba, rounded up a bunch of people, including poets and artists and everything else, and slaughtered them?

MEDVED: Yes, they missed that profoundly. That`s why they`re continuing to recapture the "magic of Che" in movies. There`s a forthcoming film starring Benicio Del Toro, Oscar-winner, directed by Steve Soderbergh which glorifies Che. There was a previous film about Che, which my brother and I included in our list of the 50 worst movies of all time, called "Che," starring Jack Palance as Fidel Castro, a truly awful film.

The fascination here is so bizarre, especially when you talk about the 3 million heroic Cuban Americans who voted with their feet and have come here to this country, enriched this country enormously and will be celebrating tonight.

BECK: Michael, here`s what`s so bizarre. Hollywood, they`re always talking about, you know, the poor or the downtrodden, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They`re the ones that are leading the way for us to give trophies to every loser in school. You know, "Oh, you came in 14th place. Here`s a trophy!"

Yet, this weekend they have the Oscars, and they`re also -- actors are both male and female now. I`ve been yelled at here in New York: "I`m an actor, not an actress." Yet, there`s still best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

This place is completely upside-down every step of the way. They`re rich, and yet, they want to point out and say, like Chevy Chase, socialism works. Look at this, it stabilized people economically. Yes in poverty!

MEDVED: OK, here`s the secret, Glenn. I`ve struggled with this for years, as you had. The secret is that many people in the entertainment industry feel guilty about their olden wealth. They know that they earned it in an arbitrary way, not because they are so much better than somebody who`s still working as a waiter in Beverly Hills, but they earned it out of luck.

They believe that all of capitalism works that way, that people have goodies showered on them, not because of their own hard work and creativity, but because of good fortune and luck. That guilt produces this fascination with socialism, which, by the way, the Obama campaign...

BECK: Yes.

MEDVED: The Obama campaign in several offices, they had posters of Che Guevara on display there.

BECK: I know, I know, I know. Thank you so much, Michael.

Now, the trade embargo, is that going to remain in place? The answer is yes, at least for now. Many are hoping this change in Cuban leadership is a hopeful sign for a more democratic form of government for the island nation. I say, no way. They`re going closer to what China is doing right now.

Raul is going to be in charge. You know, big brother Fidel has set the bar pretty -- pretty low for you, Raul. I mean, maybe you should be a little more receptive to change, or at least cut back on the torture and the murder kind of stuff.

Michael Smerconish, he does morning radio on Talk 10 AM, WPHT, The Big Talker, our affiliate for radio. Also the author of "Murdered by Muima [SIC]," he is -- Muima [SIC]. I can`t say it! "Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice."

Mike, first, let me start with this. I`ve got a picture of you with...


BECK: That`s disturbing. Why would I have it? There`s you and Fidel Castro, believe it or not, not superimposed. You go in there as somebody who was a Hollywood fan?

SMERCONISH: No. I`m still waiting for my Hollywood break. I was there theoretically as a journalist. I was there covering for the "Philadelphia Daily News," a discussion between Senator Arlen Specter and Fidel Castro.

And yes, it was one of those long dinner, entertaining kind of evenings. I didn`t come home a fan of the guy, but I did...

BECK: Did you find him charming? Did you find him a genius?

SMERCONISH: I -- no, but I did find him to be engaging. I can understand how he survived, apart from all the violence.

But what I came home convinced of, Glenn, is that this embargo is an abject failure. I mean, what it`s achieved is the purpose that it did not set out to do, which is, it`s kept him in power. It gave him a built-in excuse to blame the standard of living on the Americans. And we ought to get rid of it if we really want to get rid of Castro, Raul, or whoever is to follow them.

BECK: You know, some people are saying today -- well, like Bush -- he`s saying that, hopefully, there will be a little more democracy there. I don`t see this coming. I think the world is moving towards a system that`s -- like that`s being set up now in Russia, that`s being set up in China, where you`ve got a dictator at the top, but you open up the -- the economic bands of a country.

I think they`re going to open up some of the economic power of this country, but they`re still going to be stomping on their people. Agree or disagree?

SMERCONISH: Agree, probably, but Glenn, here`s the twist. And you can appreciate this, because you`re a political junkie of sorts. Florida holds the key. I mean, the answer here, and we`re in the midst of it right now...

BECK: I`m tired of Florida holding the key! They always choose wrong.

SMERCONISH: But they do -- but they do hold the key in this respect. Every candidate running for president every four years go down, they go down and they all thump on their chests and they try and outdo one other relative to their beer muscles against Fidel Castro.

BECK: Yes.

SMERCONISH: And consequently, everybody pledges that they`re going to maintain the embargo, maintain the embargo, and therefore, it never changes. But the embargo is the reason he survived, not the reason why now he`s out of power.

BECK: The go-to-war vow that so many of these countries have, like China and Russia. Russia right now is beating its chest. Chavez will come up, and he`ll beat his chest up in Cuba. Raul can beat his chest. You say it`s because of the embargo.

The scariest thing for me is that these countries who like to beat their chest -- Cuba can`t do anything. They have no money. But if they -- if they couple their system, like China is coupling their systems together, they not only have the dictator to do it, but they also have the ability to buy bread and butter and keep their people in food and bullets, to be able to cause real problems for us.

Do you have a -- are you more concerned today than you were yesterday about having Cuba, an enemy, this many miles south?

SMERCONISH: NO. No, I`m not. And my wife has the solution. She says fly a 747 over Cuba and drop out some Gameboys and give their kiss -- their kids a little taste of what it`s like to be an American growing up in a capitalist system.

I think if we want them to change from within, it`s not to shut them down economically -- and by the way, Glenn, the embargo`s a fraud. Did you know that I flew to Havana on a subsidiary of American Airlines? There was a Christmas tree in the lobby. I mean, there are signs of Christianity, believe it or not, there. When I dried my hands in the men`s room, I looked closely at the dryer. It said "made in Illinois." I drank Coca- Cola. A Michael Douglas movie was playing in the Times Square.

I mean, they`re all going through these subsidiary companies and doing business. We`ve got to end the charade.

BECK: OK. Michael Smerconish, thank you very much.

Coming up, Clinton/Obama. The race has hit a new low. Now they`re arguing about whether or not he`s plagiarized speeches. I swear, I felt like reading "Sam I Am" to both of them. Treat them both like 4-year-old kids. We have the latest on the race, coming up in just a second.


BECK: Well, they rejected two bids, private bids to take over Northern Rock Bank. The British government decided to step in and nationalize the bank. Great. Now as we face our own economic crisis, can we expect our own government to do the same here? It would be awfully progressive of us. All that and more in tonight`s "Real Story" coming up.

But first, let me just talk a little bit about Barack Obama. I want to go to John Ridley. He is the political commentator for National Public Radio and "Esquire" magazine.

John, do you think that -- well, first of all, let me start with the plagiarism thing. This has been driving me crazy. This is the dumbest thing I`ve ever heard! It`s not plagiarism. He knows the guy who gave the speech. He said, "Hey, can I use that line?"

He says, "Yes, it`s a great line, use it." That`s not plagiarism. What`s the difference between that and having a writer write it for you?

JOHN RIDLEY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, that`s the thing, Glenn, is I think a lot of people assume that these politicians write these speeches. They`re riding the train from Gettysburg and they write it down and give the greatest speech ever.

BECK: Right.

RIDLEY: These days are long gone.

BECK: Right.

RIDLEY: These lines are tried. They`re tested. They`re run by people.

And by the way, I would say this whole thing is a non-troversy. I think it`s just as hysterical for Obama to accuse Hillary Clinton of stealing lines like "get fired up and let`s go," and "let`s turn the next page."

BECK: Yes.

RIDLEY: I mean, does she owe him a buck every time she says, "Good morning?"

BECK: Kick the tire, and put the hood up. I mean, how many times have people said something like that?

Now, so we have that out. We both agree on this.

I think the media is giving Barack Obama a free pass, and here`s where. If -- first of all, there`s not a lot of substance here. He just started coming up -- coming out with substance. He`s -- he`s got fans who are crying when he walks out on stage. I don`t even know -- I don`t even know why. I mean, you know -- why, exactly? What exactly has he said that is just so amazing that I just cry like he`s a Beatle or something?

So you`ve got the -- you`ve got the media kind of, not really even wondering, gee, are his fans kind of zombie-like at all?

RIDLEY: Well, I don`t know if I would say they`re zombie-like. I would say without a doubt...

BECK: The media would about talk radio fans, and my fans don`t cry when they see me.

RIDLEY: Well, I`m not going to speak to your fans. I`m sure they`re wonderful people, Glenn.

But I would say, look, Obama is electric and he connects with his words, and that`s the real difference. And you`ve got to go to guys like Bill Clinton -- love him or hate him, he connects with the words. Ronald Reagan, love him or hate him, he connects with the words. And that`s what makes Obama a transcendatory, if that`s a word, politician, that he`s really taking the rhetoric to another level.

Should people be questioning some of that rhetoric? Should people in the media be going after what he says and digging a little deeper? Absolutely.

BECK: Well, I mean...

RIDLEY: But for the average American, they just love what he says and how he says it.

BECK: Well, I`ve got to tell you, they don`t know what he`s saying. I mean, I just saw his economic package. He just announced it last week. And when I saw it, I about fainted and started to cry.

The other thing is that they do on -- with the media, giving him a free pass, is nobody is questioning him about his relationship, really, with his reverend. Mitt Romney, good heavens, they couldn`t stop asking questions about his relationship with God and his church, but this guy has a reverend who has said racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. He gave an award to Louis Farrakhan as a man that, quote, that "truly epitomized greatness."

On the Sunday after September 11, he said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies and -- and I quote -- "the 21st- century white America" got a wake-up call on 9/11. He also keeps calling America the great white west.

Shouldn`t this say something about Barack Obama`s character, that he listens to a guy like this?

RIDLEY: Well, I can`t answer that question for Barack Obama or for his reverend. I would say this. I think those kinds of questions, Glenn, they`re fair game.

And it`s odd to me that the media, or people in the media, don`t ask tougher questions of Barack Obama, but I would say probably the reason is that a lot of guys in the media -- excepting you, of course, Glenn -- are just white guys who don`t want to look like they`re beating up on Barack Obama.

BECK: I don`t feel like I`m beating up. I just think we should ask honest questions of each other. Am I a racist because I want to?

RIDLEY: I don`t think that you should feel like a racist. I think you should ask those tough questions. And frankly, Obama can stand up to tough questions, so let`s ask him.

BECK: Thank you very much. We`ll have you on again.

Coming up, part two of our weeklong special examining of the true meaning of fascism with the author of "Liberal Fascism," Jonah Goldberg, next.



BECK: We have talked over and over again on this program about the nanny state. I, for one, am tired of the government-knows-best attitude, and it`s getting worse and worse every year.

There`s a new book that is a revealing look at the nanny state and a whole lot more. It is called "Liberal Fascism." Joined once again by its author, Jonah Goldberg.

The nanny state. When I saw a story come out of California about Californians, many of them, actually willing for the government to control the thermostat in their house, I thought, oh, my gosh, what have we come to?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "LIBERAL FASCISM": I know. I loved that, because it was a perfect metaphor. They literally wanted the state to control the air they breathe, you know? It was perfect!

And we`re seeing more and more of that around the world. In Canada, you have people being denied surgeries. In Great Britain you have people being denied surgeries if they`re fat, just simply saying you don`t deserve these kind of surgeries.

BECK: Well, Mississippi, they were talking about a new law where restaurants would have to refuse service if you were obese. You couldn`t have certain things. Did you read that?


BECK: You didn`t -- you wouldn`t have to give them service if they were obese. What is that?

GOLDBERG: Yes, and it`s important, because there are two things that are going on. One is there`s a very serious snobbishness to the progressive mindset, this idea that we need to take care of the little people. The little people can`t control their own lives, and therefore, we know what`s best for them.

And then there`s actually a green-eye-shade public policy here, which is that the more the government is picking up the tab for your health care, the more the people running the government feel obligated or permitted to determine how you run your own life, because they`re picking up the tab.

BECK: But you know what? That one actually makes sense. That one actually kind of works, because if we`re paying for health care, and you`re doing something stupid, well, then I shouldn`t have to pay for you.

GOLDBERG: Right, but then we should stop paying for health care.

BECK: Exactly right. Exactly right.

GOLDBERG: And you look for issue after issue after issue. Wherever there is a problem -- you know, when Hillary Clinton says that she`s not for big government, then why is it there`s not almost a single social program that she doesn`t have a government program for? Why is it that progressives, their answer to any social problem is an expanded role for government?

BECK: Well, just last week they were talking about -- what was it? -- the trailers for Katrina victims.

GOLDBERG: Right, right.

BECK: They have them all in -- and they`re trying to get them out because the air has formaldehyde in it and, you know, people are getting sick, and they said the government is not telling us the truth. They`re telling us it`s no big deal. They`ve been passing this off.

And I thought to myself, this is a government program. Here it is. This is the way it works. And yet, people still want that nanny state.


BECK: It`s only going to get worse when they control everything.

GOLDBERG: Right, right. And it`s -- you know, what is the old proverb about, you know, if you`re digging -- the sign of insanity is you`re digging a hole and you keep digging to get out of it, you know?

Whenever we run into one of these, you know unintended consequences of, you know -- and well-intentioned unintended consequences of one of these government programs, the response seems to be, oh, more government programs.

Barack Obama`s solution for our education problems in this country is to say, well, we haven`t spent enough on education. We`ve been spending, you know -- we`ve been spending money on education...

BECK: Let me tell you something. We have spent enough money on education.

And you will get quite an education, and the truth on fascism and its history and the connection to the progressive movement in his new book, "Liberal Fascism." Jonah Goldberg.

Back in a minute.


BECK: If you`re a longtime listener of my program or viewer, you know that I`m against the death penalty. But I`ve got to tell you, I`d kill every child molester in the country. A little tough? Actually, the one place I thought would agree with me would be Texas, but some now in Texas are questioning a child predator law.

We`ll have that story next.

Now, last fall, I told you about the first run on the bank in years. It was lines of people that were forming outside branches of England`s Northern Rock bank. My point at the time on this program was this is likely only the beginning, because loaning banks taxpayer dollars with the hope of, you know, them covering up their underlying problems is just -- it`s not going to last. So, now we see what happens today when that well runs dry.

Despite receiving $49 billion in emergency loans from the British government, Northern Rock bank now has been nationalized, which is a fancy way of saying that the government has taken over and stuck the people with the bill. That`s all just to prevent the bank from collapsing. That means the British government is now responsible for running a bank with $222 billion in assets and 6,500 employees.

The "Real Story" is we, America, following right in their footsteps. Over a matter of just a few months, the British government went from lending Northern Rock money and then to guaranteeing their risky loans, to now completely owning them.

Now, think about what our own government has done just recently. They have already massively increased loans to the banks. They`re now moving right now to stage two, guaranteeing or outright buying their riskiest loans.

One of these plans, which, not surprisingly, is being pitched by a bank, would allow delinquent borrowers to refinance the loans that would be guaranteed by the government. Guess who`s on the hook if those delinquent borrowers stop paying? You.

Senator Chris Dodd has even proposed something similar. He actually wants to resurrect a federal agency from the 1930s to buy up all of the bad loans and make taxpayers take on the risk. Just what we need, bigger government, more spending, and more bad debt. Yes, now it`s fixed.

A few months ago, anyone proposing plans like this would have been laughed right out of the Capitol, but now they`re actually having hearings on these things. Senator Chuck Schumer even called the bank`s proposal "an interesting idea that we`re looking at seriously."

Chuck, come on, man! Go back to grandstanding in front of a gas station and leave our banks alone, will you?

This proves just how much letting politics trump economic common sense is trouble. But it also proves something worse -- we are following right in England`s footsteps to a place where no one is ever allowed to fail, where the government stifles all competition, and it`s a place we used to call a socialist state.

Congressman Scott Garrett is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Congressman, come on, please help me out on this. How does anybody that you work with think that taking over a bad bank will actually help or save the economy?

REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: It is amazing to think that that`s where we`re getting to, but you know, this is not the first sign of this. For the five years that I`ve been in Congress now, I`ve been waving the flag about another institution in this country, and that is the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

BECK: Yes.

GARRETT: They`re basically connected to the federal government, and the taxpayer`s on the hook. Upwards now to almost $7 trillion -- that`s with a "T" -- trillion dollars in debt that they have collectively. And with what`s going on now, the House, just as you -- this is a new factoid you can add to the point, to your list there -- you know, the House and the Senate passed legislation just a week ago that raised their limits as well as far as what loans they can get into, so they can get into the jumbo loans.

So they`re going to be over 75 percent of the market. So what`s going on -- yes.

BECK: And you know what? Nobody learns their lesson this way.


BECK: Do you know today that at Northern Rock bank, you can still get 125 percent loan for a house? You can still -- and their slogan -- I love this -- their slogan is "Business as usual."

GARRETT: Yes. Well, Alexander Hamilton had the idea of having a national bank in this country. And we saw what happened with that. The government should not be in the business of running banks.

And the problem is that some financial institutions have just gotten so large that they realize they`re so big that governments can allow them to fail. And that`s what happened in this situation, that`s going to happen over here in the United States with some of our larger financial institutions, and there will be congresspeople and senators who will placate to it and say, sure, we`ll bail them out.

BECK: So then what happens? We can`t take on all this debt. What happens? We just print more money, and...

GARRETT: Well, thank you. That`s what happened right now with our own government, as far as we`re just spending too much money.

And what`s the best solution for any government, of course, is if they`re not taking in enough revenue right now, print more money, you create inflation, which is bad for the poor person, but great for the government at the end of the day, because more money comes in. So we have to look to another alternative than what`s been done in the past.

BECK: Congressman, are you frightened at all? I...

GARRETT: I`m very frightened.

BECK: I see our country. I see people -- my listeners, my viewers, they make fun of me. They`re like, oh, Glenn, you`re so paranoid.

My father said to me about a year ago -- he said, "Glenn, the United States of America, it will never fail, it will never be into this trouble. We`ll never repeat the Depression."

I said, "Dad, we`re making the same mistakes over and over again." We can`t just print money and just, and just -- and then just have all of these candidates that are running for president say, oh, and we`re going to have health care and we`re also going to have a new green corps and we`re going to have all of these programs.

When does it end?

GARRETT: Hopefully, it ends with this next presidential election, and the people will be alert to these issues and vote the right way. But we also said for centuries there will always be an England, there will always be a Bank of England, but what happened over there, of course, is what you normally see in third-world countries -- a nationalization of a financial institution.

You don`t see that in the first-world countries, and this is the first time -- you`ve talked about your report a year ago -- that was the first time since around 1860 or 1866 that you had a run on the bank. That can happen here, too, if we take actions like Schumer and other people are talking about.

BECK: Congressman, we`ll be watching closely. Thank you very much. You let us know how we can help.

GARRETT: Appreciate it.

BECK: Now, new reports out today that say U.S. banks, which have already written off over $120 billion -- and remember, no, that`s all, we`re fine after that -- they`re now preparing to write off upwards of another $203 billion. Now, I don`t know about you, but these numbers are so big, so enormous, they don`t even mean anything anymore, you know? But the "Real Story" is, they are going to mean something to you pretty soon, especially if you have a kid that goes to college.

You probably have never heard of something called auction rate securities. I honestly hadn`t until over the weekend when I started doing some homework on them. This is a little corner of the credit market that just might prevent your child from getting the student loan that they need.

In the last few weeks, these auctions, which help large borrowers like, you know, towns and municipalities and financial aid companies raise money, they`ve had almost no demand, no buyers. Now, those who were lucky enough to raise any capital at all have been forced to pay sky-high interest rates, some places up to 25 percent. Everybody else, like student loan providers, just shut out.

So what does that mean for families who were depending on that money for college? What about the other areas of credit that most of us just take for granted, like, you know, going out and getting a car loan or credit cards? Are those also at risk of drying up?

Jane Kim is a personal finance reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."

Jane, thanks for being on the program.

What is -- first of all, let me start with this Michigan student loan. It has been suspended. That`s never happened before, if I`m not mistaken.

This is a big, big deal, right?

JANE KIM, PERSONAL FINANCE REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right, it is a big deal. I mean, it`s unprecedented in some ways.

You`re seeing a lot of lenders having trouble raising money for student loans, and that`s having a big impact for families, because these - - as these loans -- as these lenders have trouble getting demand for loans or funding for the loans, they aren`t unable to make these loans to families and students. And the loans that they are able to make are much more expensive than they used to be just a year ago.

BECK: OK. Jane, will you help me figure something out? Because you would know the answer to this, and honestly, I`m a dummy when it comes to this stuff.

The Fed keeps cutting rates, which means money`s getting cheaper. They keep dumping more money. They keep printing more money, making it available.

The banks then take that money. But then there`s no liquidity, there`s no money to actually loan to people. Even if you have good credit right now, nobody can get a good loan. It`s only getting worse.

What are they doing with the money? Are they just covering the bad assets? Are they holding onto it because they`re afraid of the bad loans that they do have?

KIM: Well, that`s a big part of it. I mean, that`s what`s so ironic about the situation.

Their cost of funding is getting cheaper, but at the same time, they`re seeing higher delinquencies, they`re seeing a lot of their loans go bad. So they`re keeping more of those cost savings in their back pocket as reserves.

So even though rates are coming low -- rates are falling, and it should be getting cheaper for a lot of borrowers out there, for a lot of -- for a lot of new loan -- a lot of the new loans have much higher interest rates than they used to before.

BECK: So when does this affect, you know, me going out and buying a new car and getting a car loan? When does this affect my credit card?

KIM: It`s already starting to happen. If you`re in the market for, say, a new car loan, if you`ve got stellar credit, there`s actually some good news here. You can find better deals than you have been able to in the past.

But any minor blemish, or if you`ve got stuffed credit, you`re going to likely have to put down a bigger down payment, you`ll need a higher credit score in order to qualify for the same loan. The same thing goes with credit cards.

Lenders are tightening up their credit standards. They`re seeing higher delinquencies. They are charging more fees, hiking up interest rates, and they`re being a lot less generous with the credit lines than they used to be.

BECK: And they are still making tons of money.

KIM: Yes.

BECK: Jane, thanks a lot.

KIM: Absolutely.

BECK: That`s the "Real Story" tonight.

Now, coming up, federal sex offender law, is it too tough? Believe it or not, that`s what some people say in Texas.

You`re kidding, right?

The details next.


BECK: Is it just me, or have you noticed common sense isn`t all that common? I mean, I think it`s -- I think it`s just about dead. Somebody should be doing CPR on common sense.

The latest example is the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act approved by Congress and signed by the president. Now, I was all excited when I heard about this thing. I thought, oh, that`s great. I have a zero tolerance for sexual predators -- sexual predators. Kill them or lock them up forever.

One chance and you`re out. That`s it.

Now, the law does a lot of things right, but it is so sweeping that it could require some juveniles as young as 14 years old to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years for having consensual sex with another juvenile. Don`t get me wrong, I think 14-year-olds having sex is a bad idea. I don`t think it`s a sex crime, however, worthy of a lifetime Scarlet Letter.

Teenagers who experiment with sex are stupid, but most of them are not sex offenders. Seems like common sense to me. And thankfully, some clear- thinking legislators in Texas agree.

Florence Shapiro is a Republican state senator from Plano, Texas.

And I`ve got to tell you, Senator, I would think that the good people of Texas, where it`s just all common sense, would be, A, no tolerance at all for sex offenders, and B, doing exactly what you`re doing now, and going, wait a minute, if you`re 14 and you`re having sex with a 13-year- old, that`s not a sex offender.

FLORENCE SHAPIRO, TEXAS STATE SENATOR: You`re absolutely right, and I think you`ve hit the nail right on the head. The rest of the law is a very good law, and it does give you a very good database all around the country.

The problem is, in addition to that -- and you said 25 years -- the truth of the matter is there is a possibility of a lifetime registration. Think about that.

I mean, you`re talking about a 14-year-old, as you mentioned, that now is going to have the Scarlet Letter on them from that day forward. Think about continuing in high school, think about going to college, think about trying to live in a neighborhood, think about trying to get a job. We have pretty much told this 14-year-old child -- and this is a child -- your life`s over.

BECK: OK. What is the spread? Because we were just talking about it during the commercial break, that I don`t know what the spread is here on the age. I mean...

SHAPIRO: Two years.

BECK: It`s two years?

SHAPIRO: It`s two years.

BECK: What should -- what do you think it should be under 18? Once you`re over 18, man, you`re having sex with a 13-year-old, a 12-year-old, bye-bye.

SHAPIRO: That`s right. That`s right. I agree with you wholeheartedly.


SHAPIRO: I mean, there is a big difference, and you cross the line when you reach that age of adult, which is 18. Seventeen in some states.

BECK: OK. All right. So what is the spread underage? Should there be any kind of -- for instance, a 13-year-old having sex with a 7-year-old, I think that shows real problems. A 13-year-old having sex with a 13-year- old or 12-year-old doesn`t necessarily show psychological problems.

SHAPIRO: Well, and I think the problem here is that what we have to recognize is that these are children. And in this society, which unfortunately has become very lax and very lackadaisical, we`re not giving them the proper attention that they need. But the statistics show that a juvenile sex offender with the proper treatment -- and there is a proper treatment for juveniles -- with the proper treatment has a very, very low recidivism rate. An adult sex offender has almost a third, 33 percent recidivism rate over a five-year period.

BECK: I don`t think you can cure them, myself...

SHAPIRO: I don`t either.

BECK: ... and I don`t...

SHAPIRO: Oh, no, there is no cure. I absolutely agree with you.

BECK: Yes. OK.

SHAPIRO: There is treatment, though. And you can change a child`s behavior pattern, because they really haven`t matured enough.

You just look at the Supreme Court decision where they were talking about capital punishment for children under the age of 18, and they very clearly said that these children are not mature enough to make those kinds of decisions.

BECK: Senator, thank you very much. Best of luck to you. We`ll follow this case in Texas.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.

BECK: Now time for tonight`s "Real America," brought to you this evening by CSX.

When a parent first hears that a child is going off to war, sometimes there is just complete despair, but one mother decided not to focus on the sadness. Instead, she wanted to focus on helping her son.


BECK (voice over): Patti Patton Bader calls herself an ordinary mom who just wanted to do something for her son stationed in Iraq.

PATTI PATTON BADER, SOLDIERS` ANGELS: When they get on that plane and leave America soil, your breath just stops. You can`t breathe. Nothing is the same. And you feel powerless until you can do support things, until you can do things to help them.

BECK: Immediately, Patty started sending her son Brandon (ph) care packages. But she never imagined those small packages would help so many soldiers.

BADER: Brandon (ph) called and he goes, "Yes, mom, we`re getting the packages. It`s wonderful." e goes, "You and a couple of the wives are the only people sending things, and so I`m sharing. So we`re completely out."

And I said, "OK, don`t worry, son. More packages on the way."

And I hung up the phone and I turn to my husband, and I said, "We`re going to need more people involved in this."

BECK: What started four years ago with Patty and her friends sending letters and packages to soldiers, has grown to the nonprofit organization called Soldiers` Angels.

BADER: We started out with about 800 members. We now have 180,000 volunteers. And there`s a lot you can do at Soldiers` Angels.

If you don`t have a lot of money, you have some time, help us write letters. Our letter-writing team is putting out over 20,000 letters a month.

If you don`t have a lot of time, you have some money, give us a donation. And if you`re in between, like I am, help adopt a soldier. Send a car or letter a week, a couple of care packages a month to one soldier, one-on- one.

You know, they equate having their names called at mail call to Christmas. So, all year long you can provide a Christmas for them, which is fantastic.

BECK: Now, Soldiers` Angels is supporting over 90,000 soldiers. An ordinary mom -- well, maybe. But one ordinary mom doing extraordinary things for our troops.

BADER: May no soldier go unloved. May no soldier walk alone. May no soldier be forgotten, until they all come home.


BECK: You know, I have to tell you, I get calls all the time from people on the radio show, and they say, Glenn, I`m just one person, what can I do? How can I change anything? There is a story that shows one person really does make a difference.

You want to find more stories like this one? Click on and look for the "Real America" section.

Tonight`s "Real America` sponsored by CSX. It`s how tomorrow moves.


BECK: You and I both know tonight`s an important night. It`s an election that will dramatically affect your everyday life. It will cost your personal economy thousands of dollars, and it`s an election in which you have absolutely no real voice in.

I`m not talking about, you know, the fact that there`s no conservative candidates on the ballot. I mean, your decision in that election`s not going to affect your life. I mean, politicians are going to do whatever the hell they want to anyway.

I`m talking about Blu-ray versus HD DVD. In case you don`t know all the details, there`s been this format war, trying to figure out which one will be the next generation of higher-tech DVDs.

Basically, it`s an opportunity for you to spend a lot more on slightly improved items that accomplish the exact same thing -- you`re watching a movie. It`s kind of like organic food, you know?

Finally, the battle is over and Blu-ray is the victor. Earlier today, Toshiba, makers of the HD DVD, announced that they will no longer develop, make or market their HD DVD players. In other words, if you already bought one, oh, it sucks to be you, doesn`t it?

There are about 600,000 HD DVD owners in North America feeling kind of like you right now. Even though there should be movies available for at least a little while, but the Blu-ray has always had the advantage because they`re in every PlayStation 3, meaning that the super geeks who are willing to spend all this money to watch "Transformers" in the highest quality possible probably already had the PlayStation 3 anyway.

But most importantly, I think this is the first time in history I didn`t go out and buy the wrong thing. Yes, yes.

I`m the type of guy wholeheartedly embraced the Beta player instead of the VHS back in the `80s. You know, when I finally gave up on Beta, I skipped the VHS. That thing`s not going to last.

Have you seen the laser disc? Yes. Yes, I had one of those. Used them as Frisbees after a while.

This time, I`m actually not the idiot. I feel kind of good about myself.

I actually waited to see which format would win before I wasted all that money on upgrading. And now that Blu-ray is the winner of the format war, I feel free to invest my money in something that really, really matters, finally seeing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" with 1,080 lines of resolution.

Oh, don`t you just love capitalism?

Now, we know that if liberals were in control, they would have mandated the reel-to-reel tape player in the `70s and we would still be stuck with it today.

If you want to see what else is in store, from Hillary or Obama, Jonah Goldberg has all the details for free in our e-mail newsletter. Don`t miss it. Sign up at It is free, kind of like some weird socialist program which we should probably rethink.

From New York, goodnight, America.