Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Don't Do Oral*

A little note from the management: I just got home after undergoing some pretty major oral surgery.

I currently look like a stroke victim because of the novocaine and I'd soon be in very serious pain were it not for the bottle of Vicodin that's going to be my best friend for the next 48 hours or so.

Bottom line: I probably won't be of much use for the rest of the day.

Sorry, kids.

*Any comments left by women which attempt to either confirm or strongly refute (rowr!) this statement won't be published. Probably not.


"In God We Trust"

The Catholic Church summed up pretty brilliantly by Matt Taibbi:

"When I see a Catholic priest chanting his ridiculous incantations and waving his holy smoke over someone’s gravesite or at a wedding, the vibe I get is exactly the same as the one I get watching a plumber groan and moan and babble gibberish about all the different things wrong with your kitchen pipes, when in reality all he had to do was replace a washer. It’s the same as picking up your car after an oil change and listening to the mechanic rattle off a list of charges totaling thousands for the nineteen extra things he looked at under your hood, just out of concern for your safety… And when you protest, no, there was nothing wrong with my alternator, I’m not paying for that, he tries to bullshit you — oh, yes there was, trust me, if we hadn’ta fixed that, your car woulda died on the highway within a week.

That’s all the church is. They’re a giant for-profit company using predatory salesmanship to sell what they themselves know is a defective, outmoded, basically unnecessary product. They’ll use any means necessary to keep their market share and if they have to lie and cheat and deflect and point fingers to keep the racket going, they’ll do it, just like any other sleazeball company."

That's just my favorite excerpt from a must-read piece that's as incisive as it is incendiary.

True Slant: Taibblog: The Catholic Church Is a Criminal Enterprise/3.27.10

Listening Post

Read this site regularly and you know that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are just about my favorite band around. Their new album, Beat the Devil's Tattoo, is damn good -- but for some reason I woke up this morning and wanted to hear this.

And thanks to Vevo, the video now exists on YouTube -- embeddable and high-quality.

Here's Weapon of Choice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

"For years I've suggested that racism was in decline and yeah, there are some, you know, incidents that still happen with regards to racism, but most of the claims I've said for years, well, they're not really real. But I realize now that I was wrong. For I now too feel the pain of racism. Racism has been dropped at my front door and the front door of all lighter-skinned Americans. The health care bill the president just singed into law includes a 10 percent tax on all indoor tanning sessions starting July 1st, and I say, who uses tanning? Is it dark-skinned people? I don't think so. I would guess that most tanning sessions are from light-skinned Americans. Why would the President of the United States of America -- a man who says he understands racism, a man who has been confronted with racism -- why would he sign such a racist law? Why would he agree to do that?"

-- Doc Thompson, filling in for Glenn Beck on his radio show

Actually, the real Quotes of the Day are from Jason Linkins and the readers over at HuffPo, who are crapping bananas over this blatantly racist comment.

You know, I've been more than willing to be part of the pile-on when one of the right-wing types says something genuinely racist -- and Lord knows it happens on occasion. But a little tip for the other side: Nobody's going to listen to you when you rail against something truly hateful if you work up the same amount of outrage over something that's obviously a freaking joke.

On that note:

Related: DXM: Why So Serious?/4.25.08

Tuesday Is Recycling Day

Because this quickie piece from late 2008 actually spells out in a more articulate manner what I was kind of getting at with the Sunday Sacrilege "prank" post from a couple of days ago.

"Citizen Dicks" (Originally Published, 12.8.08)

I'm sure I'll get a couple of good solid eye rolls from people who accuse me of going out of the way to drag my favorite quixotic windmill into this debate, but bear with me.

The Supreme Court has just shot down an emergency appeal filed by a New Jersey man who claims that -- and stop me if you've heard this one before -- Barack Obama can't be president because he's not a U.S. citizen.

The court, wisely, didn't even bother to comment on its decision or the case in general -- it just threw the whole damn thing out.

Although no one in their right mind expected the suit to survive its date with the high court, the fact that it made it as far as it did is mind-boggling. For months now, the least in touch with reality among the far right have been propagating the rumor (and it's never been anything more than a rumor) that Obama's birth certificate is invalid and he actually holds a foreign citizenship. In response, several credible and non-partisan sources -- most noteworthy, the Annenberg Political Fact Check -- have investigated the claim and found that it's utterly without merit. Obama's birth certificate and citizenship are completely in order and any claim to the contrary is flat-out nonsense.

But has this absolute confirmation of the facts and denunciation of conspiracist wishful thinking stopped the far right nutballs from repeating the lie over and over again in the hopes of making it true?

Of course not.

While the New Jersey case has been blown out of the water, there remains another appeal still out there -- this one from a Philadelphia man who makes the same dubious assertion: that Barack Obama can't be president and shadowy forces within the government and media are (successfully) covering it up.

It seems incomprehensible that someone can be almost literally hit over the head with the facts and yet still hold to a conviction which stands in direct opposition to them. There's a word for that sort of thing: insanity.

Yet we as a culture not only allow this kind of bullshit thinking to often go unchecked, we actually condone it -- as long as it's called by a more socially palatable name. Like, say, "religious belief."

Whenever anyone asks me what my objection is to having personal faith in the idea of a benevolent god -- what's the harm, even in the absence of hard evidence -- my answer is always the same: Because we don't apply that same lax standard of proof in any other facet of our daily lives. Believing in something wholeheartedly while demanding no tangible evidence to back it up is -- unless you're schizophrenic -- strictly the domain of religion. We live in a world in which it's been deemed completely normal for a person to buy into the most outlandish set of assumptions without asking for concrete evidence -- while every other part of his or her life is still expected to abide by the rule of reason.

The problem with this notion is that if one element of our lives is immune to logic, then logic itself holds no real value. If we arbitrarily choose to apply it to one thing but not another then what power does it have?

I've said it before but it bears repeating: the truth matters.

It matters because it's the yardstick by which we measure our common reality. Without an agreed upon set of facts to provide a foundation for our experience -- as well as a method for ascertaining them -- society itself would be in danger of collapse. There are some things we simply have to accept as true or false. And the only way to differentiate between the two is to apply the same burden of proof across the board.

Wishful thinking isn't enough to make God real.

The same way it's not enough to make Barack Obama a foreigner.


DXM: The Speed of Lies/8.28.08


This is pretty much the entire reason for YouTube.

I challenge you to watch this and not question about half-way through it whether you've gone insane.

The Enemy Within

Remember back in July of 2007 when a U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the NYPD trumpeted the capture of four men they claimed had been trying to engineer "one of the most chilling plots imaginable" in New York City: the detonation of fuel lines under JFK airport? Chances are you do, the same way you likely remember every other self-congratulatory press conference held over the past several years in which the government announced with supposedly appropriate bombast that it had thwarted an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Thing is, though, quite a few of these plots -- to say nothing of the more than a dozen times that the terror alert level was raised based on nebulous information and with politically suspicious timing -- turned out to be a lot of horseshit. It's not that the actions of some truly dangerous people weren't uncovered; it's that there were more than a few times that the would-be terrorists hyped as being directly related to al-Qaeda turned out to be more like the Keystone Kops, their plans for mass destruction nothing more than the product of a lot of bravado and maybe a little too much to drink.

The point, though, is that you always heard about it -- shouted far and wide across the media landscape -- when the United States had supposedly foiled a terrorist attack from outsiders. We're always eager as hell to call someone not from this country who desires to attack us and spread fear and chaos a terrorist -- as well we should. What we're not as eager to do is call someone from within this country -- like, say, a far-right, white Christian militia member who believes the government is evil -- a terrorist even if he or she hopes to accomplish the same goal.

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that nine members of an ultra-right Christian militia group known as Hutaree had been arrested across the Midwest on charges of seditious conspiracy and the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. Investigators claim the group was planning to wage war against the U.S. government -- a war that would begin with the murder of a Michigan cop, followed by a coordinated attack on that officer's funeral procession. The hope, supposedly, was that the strike would inspire a bloody, Turner Diaries-style uprising against the government. Needless to say, relatives of those arrested deny that the group is dangerous, one of them going so far as to make the not-very-reassuring statement that if the good people in Hutaree were going to kill somebody they would've done it already. It's a bit of a dubious claim, regardless, considering that a quick scan of the material posted on the internet by the group and its leader, David Brian Stone, reveals them to be every bit the standard paranoid white-guy gun fetishists with delusions of militaristic grandeur who've occupied a tiny portion of the cultural imagination for decades.

Back in late 2008, right around (surprise, surprise) the election of Barack Obama, one member of Hutaree, a guy who menacingly called himself "Pale Horse," posted a video on YouTube which showed him armed with a Kalashnikov and spouting all kinds of extreme-right bromides about how the U.S. was in peril and it was time for freedom-loving people to arm themselves, etc. etc. Whether or not he was ever truly on the verge of trying to turn his revolutionary fantasies into cold-blooded reality is anybody's guess. But that's not really the point; the point is that even after, say, the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City or the Austin IRS building plane crash -- Timothy McVeigh and Joe Stack's proven actions -- many in this country are still reluctant to label an American citizen a terrorist. Maybe it's because to do so would cause all kinds of cognitive dissonance, since it would put that person on the same level as the foreign insurgents raging against their own governments oversees whom we're more than happy to call terrorists but who refer to themselves as merely freedom-fighters (a lack of distinction, ironically, that militia members here at home have accepted for years).

What's really ironic, however -- and more than a little frightening -- is that not only will yesterday's announcement be unlikely to stick in the minds of many Americans or in the media's collective consciousness; it'll actually go a long way in fueling anti-government sentiment. In the absence of widespread outrage that it's entirely possible a burgeoning new anti-government movement bent on redneck revolution may be out there plotting murder and mayhem, the movement itself can only flourish under the weight of a federal law enforcement crackdown, since such action just proves the point of those who believe the government is comprised of jack-booted thugs who aim to trample free, decent, heavily armed Americans. In the cataractous eyes of guys like "Pale Horse," the fact that the feds are willing to arrest the Hutaree group only shows how much Hutaree is necessary to fight off the feds.

Remember, Oklahoma City was considered a direct response to both Ruby Ridge and Waco. And while each of those impetuses may have indeed involved gross federal overreaction, it doesn't change the fact that until we admit that there are potential domestic terrorists among us -- not patriots, terrorists -- and refuse to let that be deflected by the contrived indignation it may incite from one group or another, we'll continue to be at their mercy.

We need to stop hedging and call those Americans who want to wage war against our nation or simply kill other Americans in the name of a political end what they are. Because there are far, far fewer of them than there are of us.

Listening Post

It's always a good day for some Duncan Sheik.

Here's Earthbound Starlight.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man."

-- Ricky Martin, coming out via a post on his website

Whoa, he's -- gay? Is there nothing left I can believe in?

Next you'll tell me George W. Bush isn't really a fighter pilot or a cowboy.

Speaking of which, this picture suddenly gets a whole lot funnier.

The Whites of Their Ideals

As usual, Frank Rich steps up to the plate and knocks it into the parking lot. From his must-read op-ed in yesterday's New York Times:

"How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far...

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan 'Take our country back!,' these are the people they want to take the country back from."

Rich's eventual point is spot-on: The tea baggers who hold out for some kind of revolution to return them to their rightful place as the entitled rulers of the land are doomed from the start. They've already lost, because the actual demographic make-up of the country is changing so drastically that those whose hegemony they're defending -- good, old-fashioned white people -- will soon be in the minority. They know this, and it scares the hell out of them.

Playing for Keeps

Back in May of 2006, I wrote a piece for this site and the Huffington Post that was inspired by a pretty unusual experience and which attempted to convey that same feeling in the most expressive way possible to readers.

In a column called "Second Thug Life," I tried to dissect all the fuss over a video game that had recently been released and was racking up unheard-of sales figures. I'm talking about Grand Theft Auto IV. The piece started with a first-person description of the game through the eyes of its main character, Niko Bellic. I did this for a simple reason -- because I'd been playing GTA4 since its street date and found it to be, in no uncertain terms, the most immersive video game I'd ever seen. Something so breathtaking that it was tough to fully wrap my brain around it. Play long enough and you get lost in the expansive, gorgeously rendered world of Liberty City and in the character of Niko Bellic and his journey from cautious, fresh-off-the-boat immigrant to the criminal underworld's last man standing. Yeah, it sounds crazy -- unless you've actually experienced it.

Well, an article in the Guardian from a couple of weeks ago took the basic premise of what I wrote and literally pumped it full of speed -- and the result is both engrossing and disturbing.

The Guardian UK: "Video Games: The Addiction" by Tom Bissel/3.21.10

DXM: Second Thug Life/5.6.08

Quote of the Day

"(Jesus Christ guides us toward) the courage that doesn't let us be intimidated by the chatting of dominant opinions."

-- Pope Benedict XVI during yesterday's Palm Sunday mass

The comment is a thinly veiled reference to the current shit-storm swirling around the pope as accusations that implicate him personally in priest sex abuse cases in both the U.S. and Europe continue to make headlines, with some now calling for his resignation.

It's so great to see the pope -- who as you know is the little guy in all of this and not the head of one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the world -- put everybody on notice that he won't be pushed around, not by the media and definitely not by a bunch of guys who were essentially gang-raped by priests as kids.

Man, arrogant defiance and a laughable attempt at claiming victimization. From the Catholic Church. Who'd have thought it?

Listening Post

There was a period there in the mid aughts where Ryan Adams was releasing a new album every other week. From anybody else, this would seem silly and self-indulgent, but considering the kind of music Adams generally makes, it was a godsend. I'll readily admit that his 2004 epic Love Is Hell -- which was originally dismissed by Lost Highway records as being so tragic and mournful that no one would want to hear it -- has been a constant companion to me over the past year-and-a-half or so, as I was forced to watch helplessly as my relationship with my wife disintegrated all around me. Songs like Political Scientist, Afraid Not Scared, Avalanche and The Shadowlands are just elegiac masterpieces of loss, damage and grief.

In late 2005, Adams released his solo follow-up to Love Is Hell (he put out two albums with the Cardinals in between) called 29. On that album were a couple of the most gorgeous songs of the decade -- Night Birds and Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part. Hearing this music, thinking back to when it first came out -- what my life looked like then -- it still opens a hole inside my chest.

Here are two from Ryan Adams -- Political Scientist and Night Birds.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gratitude Check

Just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who helped out during our big Spring Pledge Drive. Thanks to so many of you stepping up and showing your support through book purchases and donations via PayPal, the drive was a big success.

It really just humbles the hell out of me that you guys enjoy this site enough to put a few of your hard-earned dollars toward it.

A couple more shout-outs to some especially generous readers: Alexander Stinson, Trish Kozniak, Sarah Michaels and Frank D'Angelo -- I cannot thank you enough for your kindness.

Another three months and we'll do it all over again, and always remember that you can give or pick up a book at any time -- both the donation and the Dead Star Twilight links are over in the right-hand sidebar.

Oh, and thanks to you kitty lives.

Bonus Sunday Sacrilege/Quote of the Day Combo

"Shut the fuck up."

-- Unidentified player at this year's NFL Scouting Combine to Florida Gators star quarterback and painfully sanctimonious evangelical Christian Tim Tebow, after Tebow requested that everyone in the room bow his head in prayer before taking the 12-minute Wonderlic exam

Quote of the Day

"Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn't enough."

-- New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur on Facebook

Levasseur has already begun the process of groveling for forgiveness, saying, "I would like to deeply apologize for the insensitivity of this post. It was a poorly thought out comment, posted in jest on my private Facebook page." Meanwhile the sonic blast of outrage and righteous indignation was almost instantaneous; just check out some of the comments over at HuffPo calling for this poor doof's head.

Of course it was a really dumb thing to say, given that the guy's a state representative and all. But you know something -- it was also damn funny.

Christ, lighten up, people. It's not hate speech. It's a freaking joke.

Sunday Sacrilege

You've gotta figure that pranking a born again Christian would be like taking candy from a baby -- a baby with Down Syndrome -- since they've already made it clear they'll believe pretty much anything.

Just watch, and try to comprehend what it would be like to go through life convinced that something like this could actually happen at any time.

(via Christian Nightmares)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Democrats in America were put on earth to do one thing: drag the ignorant hillbilly half of this country into the next century, which in their case is the 19th -- and by passing health care, the Democrats saved their brand. A few months ago, Sarah Palin mockingly asked them, 'How's that hopey-changey thing workin' out for ya?' Great, actually. Thanks for asking. And how's that whole Hooked on Phonics thing working out for you?"

-- Bill Maher

Sure he's giving the Democrats way too much credit, but at this point I'll support almost anybody who can successfully thwart a Republican party that's completely lost its fucking mind.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

From 1954, it's Lumber Jack Rabbit.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Future Perfect

Two examples of how the future is finally becoming that thing we were promised in the movies.

The Impress flexible display:

And the new HTC Evo 4G smartphone -- which features a camera under the screen, enabling face-to-face video calls:

I have the HTC Droid Eris and it's a terrific phone -- but this thing just wastes it.

They Eat Their Own

For some reason I didn't really bother getting into this, but right after the health care bill vote last Sunday, former Bush speech writer David Frum wrote a shockingly honest piece on how America's conservatives had just gotten their asses handed to them -- and how they had no one to blame but themselves.

If you haven't read it, I really suggest you take a look.

Well, suffice it to say that Frum's right-wing overseers and peers are responding to his self-criticism and examination with all the restraint, dignity and introspection you'd expect.

Mediaite: David Frum Says He Was Fired for Writing His "Waterloo" Column/3.26.10

Project Office Mayhem

Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 69

George Takei Likes His New TV

Quote of the Day

"What we do know is that when leaders on either side of the aisle go with this over-inflated rhetoric and they tell us it's the end of the world, it's Armageddon, the Marxists have taken over Washington, it's the end of the world as we know it, we're moving into socialism -- when they say things like that, that maybe some of them don't believe, and then the fringes believe it, and then they go out and do stupid things, well, I mean, it's all kind of tied together isn't it?"

-- Shepard Smith, ever the lone voice of reason at Fox News

What I love is that Shep tipped his hand to the reality that it's not both sides of the aisle screaming about Armageddon, Marxism and socialism.

Listening Post

You probably recognize this as the song from the Kia commercial featuring the sock monkey and Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba, but it comes from the British indie band The Heavy -- and it's a damn cool track.

Perfect to start your Friday, here's How You Like Me Now?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How To Not Flame Out

Reading, Writing and Revenue: The Reckoning

Hey, where the hell else can you get the poetry of Hannah Giles, jokes about priests diddling deaf kids, a screed against America's tweens and, occasionally, honest-to-God political and media analysis?

That's how I'm setting up tonight's plea for your hard-earned dollars. Need I remind that we're now halfway through our big Spring Pledge Drive around here, and that means you only have a few days left to listen to my digital panhandling.

As you know, there are a couple of ways you can show your support for this site. One is to buy a copy of my book, Dead Star Twilight. It's available as an e-book that can immediately be downloaded to your computer by clicking here.

The other way is to make a donation via the Paypal electronic tip jar in the right-hand sidebar of this screen.

To everyone who's already contributed a few dollars to keep Deus Ex Malcontent going strong, I honestly can't thank you enough. I do, however, want to say a special and public thanks to Helen Stepp, G. Gwaltney, Thomas Bott and Sophia Salanga for especially kind and generous donations; they're so very much appreciated and I promise not to use the money to buy hookers.

As you can see from the picture, I don't need one. (Although the cash is still necessary being that Hannah's nowhere near the prostitute I figured she'd be -- kids these days.)

Just a couple of days left in the drive so thanks again everyone and keep the love coming.

Dangerous Mindless: Update

So somebody sent a threatening letter containing a white powdery substance to Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner of New York -- who's been an outspoken proponent of health care reform.

Hazmat units are conducting tests on the powder and thirteen people who came into contact with it are being decontaminated.

In case you're looking for the right word to describe this, let me see if I can help you out: terrorism.

CBS News: Anthony Weiner's Office Receives Threatening Letter Containing White Powder/3.25.10

Picture of the Week

From Alert Reader Joaquim, taken outside a Catholic center in Barcelona.

Hey, nobody can argue it's not truth in advertising.

Her Mind Is Aglow with Whirling, Transient Nodes of Thought Careening Through a Cosmic Vapor of Invention

You know, I have to admit, I sat up pretty late last night trying to come up with something clever to do with this item.

I thought maybe I'd do a "Hannah Giles Orders Take-Out Chinese" theme, which would feature the bikini-clad Princess Leia to Andrew Breitbart's Jabba the Hutt -- Hannah Giles -- using all sorts of flowery metaphors and generally ostentatious vocabulary in the pursuit of the most mundane of tasks. Or maybe a fake ad for the "Hannah Giles School of Creative Writing," which would ostensibly offer to teach the neophyte the kind of poetic mastery of the English language that Hannah makes seem so effortless.

But it was Simon Owens over at Bloggasm who made me realize that you really can't beat up on Hannah Giles and feel good about it. She's just a dumb kid who got in way over her head. Yeah, she played an all-too-willing role in pretend provocateur James O'Keefe's ridiculous "take down" of ACORN -- a toothless non-profit that could barely afford to keep its fucking lights on, much less act as some sort of left-wing mafia enforcer; and sure, she really seemed to enjoy riding the wave and bathing in all the warm encomia from the right that followed her and Jimmy's little sting. But in the end, what the conservative media did to her was, ironically, what you'd expect to see done to the character she played in the now famous videos. They used her -- like a prostitute. Everybody did, to some extent.

So no, I'm not gonna pile on. That said, she does at least deserve to have the piece she penned for Breitbart's Big Journalism site regarding the dismantling of ACORN as a national organization -- her humorously florid pep talk to Right America about the need to keep fighting the good fight -- circulated far and wide. It's, well -- colorful.

Here's a chunk of it:

"Let me tell you something: If you know what is right, if you know what is pure, and if you can but for a second imagine attaining and sharing those things, then you must will all your power seek it out. If you do not, then the memory of that moment you imagined will forever itch inside your head and ache inside your heart until you are ruled by fear and tormented by regret...

We live in a quick cruel world that demands we bolt out of dreamland and wipe nostalgia’s sweet kisses away. Principles and beliefs are ageless only so long as those who possess them see to it they are not forgotten. Societies will always tend towards all things bad if the powers-at-be do not lead wisely and are not held accountable by the people.

The future is a blank canvas, a giant glowing question mark held in place by eternity. This is something that would send most people into a tailspin of wonder ,anxiety and fear. But to others, this makes life a bit simpler, an unknown future ought allow us to fully operate and thoroughly enjoy the present moment.

Challenge: take a step back and look at life on the Grand Scale. We are but specks of dust, here today gone tomorrow. What kind of spec are you going to be: The kind that gets swept under the rug? Or the mote that flies into the eye of deceit, threatening to agitate it beyond repair and forcing it to submit to truths brutally thorough cleansings?"

So, yeah. See, here I am -- not piling on at all.

Incidentally, the responses to the piece in the comment section are what you might expect:

"This lady can write. This has to be some of the most profoundly stirring prose I've read in some time."

-- impeach them all

"Great writing Hannah! You are truly an inspiration to me! I'll do what I can to be that "fly in the eye of deceit" from this end. I know you'll hold up yours! God bless you. God bless James. I have every confidence that we will win this war against this President of 'God damn America' Barack Hussein Obama and his comrades who are trying to enact a coup d'etat on America. Darkness is always overcome by the light."

-- Once always a marine

And with that, I'm doing what anyone in my position would do -- taking my laptop outside and ceremonially setting it on fire. Just not sure I'll ever be able to reach the lofty standards set by Cormac Giles there, so I don't see why I should even bother anymore.

Wait, does that count as piling on?

Suffer the Children

As much as I hate to mention American Idol twice in one day, I just can't resist the opportunity to gloat over being at the tip of the spear in what I hope is a burgeoning movement.

And when I say "tip of the spear" I mean it, given that, yes, I was preaching this gospel two years ago.

This morning in Salon, Mary Kelly recaps Tuesday's Idol showdown and proclaims goofy, talent-deficient heartthrob Tim Urban this year's tween sensation on the show. For the record, I think she's way off base; it's harmless David Archuleta doppelgänger Aaron Kelly -- who seemed to experience his first little orgasm while pressed up against Miley Cyrus during their hug -- that's sure to nail down the obsessive tween vote over the next several weeks.

Regardless, at the end of her piece, Kelly makes the following entreatment at the prospect of the 12-year-old vote determining the future Idol winner:

"God help us all if I'm right. Parents, take your cell phones away from your children until they develop a brain!"

If that sounds vaguely familiar to regular readers of this site, that's because back in 2008, when Idol came down to nothing less than a battle between good and evil -- David Cook vs. David Archuleta -- I said this:

"Tonight, David Cook will face off against Disney/Pixar's latest CGI creation, David Archuleta.

The choice here for anyone who likes even relatively decent music is simple: Cook is already a fucking rock star; Archuleta is the lost Jonas Brother.

The problem, however, is that Archuleta will win and we'll all suffer accordingly as by this time Thursday, his sickly sweet baby face, puppy dog eyes and wispy voice will be all over the goddamned place -- unless parents across this great land of ours take decisive action.

It's simple, really. Tonight at 9PM EST, as the phone lines open and the voting begins, I propose the following: TAKE YOUR CHILD'S CELL PHONE AWAY.

That's right, prove to yourself that you're not completely beholden to your kids; that you haven't abandoned all control and allowed children to dictate the trajectory of our pop culture; that you won't let your fucking kid make a decision that you and your fellow adults will be forced to live with for months. (Think I'm wrong? Just wait until your whining tween begs, no, commands you to keep your hands secured to a life-sized effigy of Archuleta longer than any other suicidal parent in your neighborhood, all in an effort to win tickets to see Little David live -- a concert you'll be forced to attend I might add.) I realize that whether he wins or not, Archuleta will still be the golden calf of America's young, female 'Purity Ball' set, but tonight parents have the power to take a stand that will actually benefit their kids in the long run -- by making it crystal clear to them that life is all about disappointment, and no matter how much they cry or how strongly they've been led to believe that the world revolves around each of them, in the legendary words of Mick Jagger, you can't always get what you want.

Tonight's your chance to get your balls back, parents.

Don't blow it."

So see, I'm the leader of a goddamned revolution -- and I don't even need a blackboard.

Just for the hell of it, here's the extended piece I wrote leading up to the 2008 Idol finals. I'm reprinting it because I have a bad feeling that we'll see a virtual rematch this year, with the hellaciously talented Crystal Bowersox facing off against -- well, probably Aaron Kelly or Tim Urban. Whichever one gets the iCarly panties of the tween girl crowd the wettest.

"Kids Incorporated" (Originally Published, 4.24.08)

David Archuleta's going to win American Idol -- you may as well get that through your head right now.

It doesn't matter that he's a short, somewhat frumpy kid who always looks like he just got his ass kicked for his lunch money at recess, or that his willowy voice conveys all the passion and soul of Muzak, or that he actually admitted on national television -- without even a hint of irony -- that John Farnham is one of his favorite artists, or that Michael Jackson is already trying to figure out a way to get his smooth young body to Neverland. None of it makes any difference, because Archuleta has the one thing that matters -- tragically, the only thing that matters these days: The unwavering worship of every 13-year-old girl in America.

The tweens are legion, they are powerful, and they will see to it that David Archuleta is crowned boy king of the pop culture universe. In a couple of months, they'll have his face plastered everywhere you look -- and only the little girls themselves, and maybe NAMBLA, will have reason to rejoice over it.

But here's the thing: It doesn't have to be like this.

Never has there been a seeming eventuality -- in this case, a cultural zeitgeist -- that was easier to stave off.

All adults have to do, is take back the world from their kids.

Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about, because it's become impossible to ignore: A generation of parents who spoil their children rotten -- hubristically buying into the notion that their specific spawn is somehow special and deserving of society's deference -- combined with the technology that gives every computer or text savvy kid a voice, whether he or she deserves one or not, has conspired to hijack a good portion of what we see and hear. It's a Wiki world, one in which a vocal majority can literally rewrite the rules and twist reality to suit its needs, and right now, the tweens are the most vocal -- and what they need, apparently, are crappy, overproduced, Disneyfied Stepford Teens to scream for and sing along to.

This is why Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers are all but inescapable right now -- and why David Archuleta is next.

Last night on American Idol, that palisade of democratic instant gratification, Carly Smithson got the hook, while utterly forgettable, high-all-the-time retard Jason Castro lived to annoy another day. The reason Smithson was sent packing, particularly as opposed to Castro, is obvious: she had nothing to offer the wild-eyed tween girl demographic. Without at least a portion of this fan base, no one on Idol stands a chance these days. Talent doesn't matter, nor does personality; all that really counts is the innate ability to give America's cell phone armed rugrats something to either fantasize about or aspire to.

I've always had an issue with parents who allow their children to take over their lives, turning them into frazzled, Nickelodeon-watching, Wiggles-vs.-Zach & Cody-debating, shadows of their former selves -- the kind of people who once listened to The Clash and now have no issue with mortgaging the home to buy Mylie Cyrus tickets. It's one thing to let parenthood change you -- to rightly make your kids a priority; it's another thing to completely forfeit your identity and become nothing more than an extension of your child's tastes. In years past, this kind of sloughing off of the various predilections that make someone an adult didn't have the far-reaching effect that it does today; before the age of viral transmission, YouTubed kingmaking and iRule, prepubescents didn't really have the ability to inflict their will on the rest of us. But all that's changed now that text messaging and the internet have allowed for the creation of a hive mind -- and what's worse, one that's turned Generation-Y into one big conduit/amplifier for whatever's been cleverly marketed in its direction. It's no longer a kid grabbing Mommy's sleeve and screaming, "I want that!" It's a kid hooking into the Borg and joining with every other kid in the country, then voting and calling and posting and commenting and asserting power in every way possible until his or her request is no longer a request but a demand, and one that's been handily brought to fruition. In the chaos theory of popular culture, all it takes anymore is a few butterflies flapping their wings to start a tempest that becomes a juggernaut. The tweens decide what they want, the parents follow, the lapdog media that are always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing trumpet it, and before you know it, it's unavoidable -- on every TV and radio and in every magazine and department store across the nation.

The easiest way to change this would be to simply stop allowing them to have such a deafening voice. Believe it or not, adults are still in charge; they can say "no" once in awhile, or take away the cell phones attached to their children's ears, or pry their hands away from the computer keyboards. The bottom line is that what a bunch of little Veruca Salts want, particularly when it comes to entertainment, is what the rest of us are getting stuck with -- and I didn't grow older, endure bad relationships, a drug addiction and various harsh disappointments, and now pay an exorbitant rent and $4.15-a-gallon for gas so that I can have David Fucking Archuleta rammed down my throat by some lovestruck 12-year-old.

To twist a lyric from The Doors -- they've got the numbers, but we've got the guns.

Or in this case, the plugs.

Pull 'em.

Quote of the Day

"I can't think of anyone more compelling than Sarah Palin to tell the story of Alaska. I'm thrilled to reunite with Discovery on this project, which brings together one of the most fascinating figures of our time with one of the most wondrous places on earth."

-- Reality TV Svengali Mark Burnett on getting the greenlight from TLC for eight episodes of Sarah Palin's Alaska

Oh, come on, like you didn't know from the beginning that this was her destiny. This dingbat's entire existence has been a bad reality show for years.

Now if we can just get the Octomom to run for president, the post-modern circle will meet at both ends and the portal to hell will open.

Hear No Evil

The New York Times: Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed To Defrock American Priest Who Molested Deaf Boys/3.24.10

There are so many possible jokes here that it's time for another game of "Tasteless Comment Roulette" where you choose your favorite from the following or make up one of your own:

1. "I don't know, sounds like this guy was defrocked quite a bit to me."

2. "Hmm, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany choosing to look the other way while atrocities are being committed -- where have I heard that before?"

3. "Hear the one about the priest who molested a bunch of little deaf kids while the Vatican did nothing? Yeah, neither did the victims."

4. "Oh well, the pope can always keep with tradition and run off to Brazil if it looks like the law is closing in."

Listening Post

There's a pretty good chance you've never heard of Platinum Weird.

They were a one-off project put together by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics in 2004 that was known largely for the clever hoax concocted to sell the band to an audience that was guaranteed to know nothing about them. (Obviously it didn't work that well.) Stewart devised a plan in which Platinum Weird would be promoted as a band that was actually created back in the 70s and had performed one legendary gig at Mick Jagger's house before dropping off the face of the earth. The reason they'd supposedly broken up was that their mystical female lead singer had suddenly vanished. The joke was that the one gig the band played wound up influencing everyone from the Stones to Elton John to Fleetwood Mac, and Stewart even put together an elaborate back story on the internet that included film clips on YouTube of today's singers talking about how inspired they were by the music of Platinum Weird. According to the fictional story, Stewart eventually met a young singer in New York who, strangely, knew the words to even unreleased Platinum Weird material, supposedly because she'd wound up living next to the band's original elusive frontwoman for several years; he ultimately put the band back together with her as vocalist.

Of course these days, the most famous thing about Platinum Weird is the identity of that young singer and songwriter -- the one who actually recorded with Stewart and had worked with him on the project from the very beginning.

Kara DioGuardi.

Sure she talks a lot about her storied career as a songwriter while judging on American Idol, but if you've ever been curious to actually hear her in action, now's your chance.

Here's Platinum Weird -- Will You Be Around.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Identical Tweens

You're welcome.

Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber

Dumping Grounds

Gawker: The Eight Types of People to Unfollow on Twitter or Defriend on Facebook/3.24.10

Reading, Writing and Revenue Revolutions

It's been another busy day around here, which makes me feel not-quite-so-ashamed about coming to you with my hat in my hand.

Yes, it's time for another reminder that we're smack in the middle of our big Spring Pledge Drive -- where I ask you to show your support for this site by contributing a few of your hard-earned dollars toward it.

There are two ways to do this, as you know. One is to buy a copy of my book, Dead Star Twilight. It's available as an e-book that will immediately download to your computer. All you have to do is click here and you can be reading in no time.

The other way is to make a donation via the Paypal electronic tip jar in the right-hand sidebar of this screen.

I've been trying to come up with clever ways to get the holdouts to show a little love, I mean besides just busting my ass to make Deus Ex Malcontent the best darn blog on the whole internet. I thought I might offer my writing services to anyone who makes a really big donation -- you know, write a short story of personal erotica for you ladies and maybe threatening letters to the boss for you guys. (My New Year's resolution this year was to stereotype more.) Let me know if something like that floats the ice in your scotch; I'm sure it can be arranged.

Anyway, thanks as always for reading. The numbers have been through the roof lately.

Oh yeah, and kitty's still very much alive.

For now.

Gone of the Dead

Hey, kids, guess who's back at the top of HuffPo's Living page today?

It's our good friend Doc Bob Lanza, with excellent news if you happen to be a cat trapped in a closed box with a vial of deadly acid.

The Huffington Post: "Do You Only Live One? Experiments Suggest Life Not a One-Time Deal" by Dr. Robert Lanza, MD/3.24.10

Oh, then there's this little bit of irony -- brought to you by Gawker.

Dangerous Mindless

And so it begins.

The Huffington Post: Extra Security for Members of Congress After Activist, Tea Party Threats/3.24.10

Fox News: FBI Investigates Possible Threats Aimed at House Democrats/3.24.10

Atlantic: After Threats and Vandalism, Democrats Meet with Capitol Police/3.24.10

(Update: Cesca actually puts it all together with some great commentary in his latest piece for HuffPo.)

Quote of the Day

"Actually, Beck is worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well -- a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend."

-- Cokie Roberts on Glenn Beck

Fox News has already released an official response to Roberts's comment, and I'll give you just one guess as to what it sounds like. If you said, "Why it's snarky as shit, as if the person who issued it was a 20-year-old frat douche and not a spokesperson for one of the largest, ostensibly most respected media companies in the world," congratulations, you win. Fox says: "Isn't Cokie best known for lying to her viewers?" That's a reference to a really stupid thing she did 16 years ago: She stood in front of a green screen during a segment on ABC's World News Tonight and pretended to be at the Capitol. Think the kind of thing The Daily Show does every night, only not played for laughs.

Still, leave it to Fox to patronizingly dismiss 30 years as an award-winning journalist -- including stints at The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, as senior analyst for NPR and co-host of This Week -- as well a public battle with breast cancer and say that what Roberts is "best known" for is one fuck-up.

They really should trademark that kind of smarmy condescension.

Here are a couple more examples:

DXM: Act of Neo-Contrition/11.12.09

DXM: The More Things Change.../11.14.08

By the way, maybe James Cameron had the real line of the day. The Hollywood Reporter today quotes him as saying, "Glenn Beck is a fucking asshole."

Fault Lines

I'll make this quick. The subject admittedly deserves deeper thought and a much more analytical and articulate tone, but I just don't want to get too far into it.

I rarely like to generalize when it comes to the supposed differences between the sexes; it's so often the stuff of hack comics and the authors of mindless self-help books. But what I'm about to bring up we've witnessed far too often in our culture to simply dismiss as a few random coincidences.

Would somebody please explain to me why when a man cheats on his wife, women seem to come from out of nowhere to shout about how it's another example of men being untrustworthy pigs; to rally around the victim with words of encouragement that always go something like, "You don't deserve that, you can do better than him"; to link arms and stand in solidarity with their "girlfriend" -- but when a woman cheats on her husband, even serially and in a way that causes the maximum possible humiliation, the man is often expected to plumb the depths of his own soul to try to ascertain what he might've done wrong in the relationship that would lead to his wife feeling that she needed find love or sex outside the marriage?

I ask this because a quick skim of the blog posts popping up like rodents in a game of Whack-a-Mole over at the Huffington Post reveals that -- surprise, surprise -- a whole lot of women seem ready to dole out advice to poor Sandra Bullock these days. Granted, I don't know a damn thing about what did or didn't go on in the home of Bullock and her husband Jesse James, and yeah, I'm the first one to blame the hell out of James for what he did; it was reprehensible. But if the roles were reversed and it was discovered that she'd been the one rampaging through the bedrooms of half the city, would people -- women particularly -- have been as quick to come to his defense? And if a man dared to say to Jesse James, "Dude, fuck her -- you don't deserve that," wouldn't that person automatically be tagged as some kind of one-dimensional sexist ass for not digging deep and considering the reasons she might've strayed?

I get the impression that with women, there has to be an excuse -- with men, it's just the way things are, and maybe the male sex bears a lot of responsibility for stupidly perpetuating that ridiculous stereotype.

Now of course Bullock's a celebrity and therefore almost every rubbernecking fuckwit who's parasitically attached him or herself to that community feels like they have a stake in what happens to her -- like it's their God-given right to stick their nose into the whole sordid mess. And maybe it's simply a case of the person who's more famous being the one coddled; if James were the Oscar-winner and his wife had cheated, people might be rushing to his defense. But when it comes to the way men and women react to infidelity, the response we're seeing right now really does seem like a kind of macrocosm of the way a lot of cases like this go.

So again I ask -- why?

Math Problem

For the country as a whole, trickle-down economics haven't worked. At least they haven't worked for most Americans who aren't ultra-rich -- the middle-class and underprivileged entreated to sit beneath the the table of the wealthy and wait for the scraps to fall, to "trickle down" as it were. More than any other socio-political paradigm, this overarching pseudo-Randian belief that wealth should and will flow top-to-bottom, from the elite to those who supposedly benefit from their actions and largess -- espoused and imposed nationwide by Ronald Reagan -- has been the defining ideal of the last thirty years. It's been the one factor that's remained constant throughout the tenures of five presidents. Despite plenty of lip service paid to a constantly expanding economic inequality in this country -- with, as the zero-sum cliché goes, the rich seeming to get richer while the poor get poorer -- no one's ever attempted an honest-to-God sea change in the way America practices capitalism.

Maybe until now.

Today there are a couple of really interesting articles highlighting inequality in this country and what's being done about it. I'll say right off that bat that I'd be one of the first people to agree that while the Declaration of Independence stakes its claim on the notion that all are created equal, it doesn't mean that all are entitled to reach the same level of status. Equal human dignity at birth and throughout life won't guarantee equal wealth, power or prestige; it just doesn't work that way. I'd also agree that we don't outright punish people for striving to be the best or get the most they can out of life, provided they're not breaking the law or depriving others of the same opportunity. But you're a fool if you deny that something is very wrong in this country when a tiny portion of it -- the insulated elite -- are allowed to seemingly run roughshod over a middle-class that's dwindling in numbers. There were always the very rich in our nation, and it helped to make us powerful -- but there was also a strong middle-class to provide a foundation for the American dream. More and more, that foundation is weakening -- due in large part to an entire way of thinking, fomented by a government and media that themselves have become tools of the super-rich, which held that the quest for wealth above all was the greatest good and that anybody could get to the prize at the end of the rainbow.

Today's New York Times looks at how, despite what many claim is a payout to the insurance industry, the new health care reform bill is actually the first major piece of legislation in thirty years to attempt to turn the tide against the very ideals of Reaganomics.

From that piece:

"Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.

Speaking to an ebullient audience of Democratic legislators and White House aides at the bill-signing ceremony on Tuesday, Mr. Obama claimed that health reform would 'mark a new season in America.' He added, 'We have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.'"

The article goes on to spell out the ways in which the Reagan-era's laissez-faire attitude toward big business practices and corporate excess contributed to our current Great Recession. But make no mistake: A minor step in the direction of changing our views on Greed-is-the-Ultimate-Good economics doesn't mean we're all suddenly all living in Utopia (as if something like that would even be possible). A short piece in the Examiner Online gets into not simply the current fight over extending unemployment benefits to the 14-million Americans still without jobs or severely underemployed but details what would've happened had the money given wantonly and without restriction to failing Wall Street titans instead been put in the hands of average Americans.

"Think of all the trillions that have been spent on banks and insurance giants yet underemployment has reached record levels. I mention this stat on occasion because it shows you just how much money has been wastefully thrown at corrupt and insolvent financial institutions. According to numerous reports, the US Treasury and Federal Reserve have pumped upwards of $14 trillion to support failing financial institutions. There are approximately 100 million households in the US. So if you divide that $14 trillion by 100 million and that means that each and every US household could have been sent a check for $140,000. Just think of what the American consumer would have done with $140,000 in their checking account. Instead of a failed trickle-down economy, we would have had a robust trickle-up economy."

Of course this is a pie-in-the-sky notion, but as an object lesson it goes a long way in showing how our government's priorities have always been the people at the top -- and how its efforts to appease them have rarely benefited the rest of us. No, contrary to the knee-jerk idiocy you'll hear from the tea baggers, this isn't a suggestion that socialism is the way out; as I said, not everyone can be assured an equal standing in our culture, nor should they be. But the massive inequity just can't be overlooked or disregarded.

Far too many of us are getting screwed by this system -- and we're tired of it.

Listening Post

From Ottawa, Canada, this is Amos the Transparent -- Lemons.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reading, Writing and Revenue Reloaded

Yet another reminder that we're well into our big Spring Pledge Drive.

It's been a pretty decent day for material around here (today's extended piece is even cross-posted over at HuffPo right now) so I figure I can go ahead and give you the extra hard sell. If you're a fan or just a casual reader of this site, I hope you'll be willing to step up and show a little love for it -- and for the sad, humble shut-in who puts it all together for you day after day.

You know how it works: If you haven't done so already, please pick up a copy of my book, Dead Star Twilight. It's available as an e-book that can immediately be downloaded to your computer by clicking here.

If you've already read it, and have bought twelve more for your friends and family, feel free to make a donation via the Paypal electronic tip jar in the right-hand sidebar of this screen.

To those who've already made generous contributions, I just can't thank you enough. To everyone else, please know that if you don't give me some money I'll behead that kitten in the top left-hand corner of the post -- the one I kidnapped and am now holding hostage in the name of my God. Look at him. He knows I'll do it, too.

His fate is in your hands. I know you'll do the right thing.

Not Just a Bill

Lo-Down and Out

Define irony: Ed Litvak is now making his living as a blogger.

For those with short memories, Ed was my former supervisor at CNN -- the executive producer of American Morning -- who fired me because in my spare time I wrote for this site. This blog.

Within in the past week, three people have sent me a link to Ed's own little internet venture -- it's a hyper-local Lower East Side-based news blog he started with his wife called "The Lo-Down" -- ostensibly so I might indulge in a little good-natured schadenfreude. For the record, Ed doesn't have to worry about whether or not he's violating CNN's draconian policy against writing online by doing what he's doing; if you'll remember, he was fired by his superiors 13 days after he fired me. Also for the record, and contrary to the devilish wishes of my friends, no, I'm not going to use this opportunity to knock my old boss. Yeah, it's an amusing twist of fate that Ed Litvak dropped out of network TV and resurfaced among the lowly blogging underclass -- but, hey, so did I, and I did it for a reason: After being unceremoniously canned, I turned my back on a really tough and toxic lifestyle in favor of doing something I love. Even though it's seemingly poetic that the guy who swung the ax is now doing essentially the same thing I was and still am -- especially after punishing me for it in the first place -- it's not like I can blame him for it.

I was always honest about Ed. He may have been a woefully inadequate manager of American Morning, but I didn't dislike him personally. On the contrary, I thought he was a decent enough guy.

So, if you happen to live on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, go ahead and give Ed's site a look.

See? I can be nice -- and now I've done my good deed for the day.

The Lo-Down: News from the Lower East Side

Quote of the Day

"This is a big fucking deal."

-- Vice President Joe Biden to President Obama during the signing of the health care reform bill into law

You know what? He's absolutely fucking right.

How great is it that that's gonna go into the history books?

(Update: Bonus Quote of the Day: "What Biden actually said was, 'I have a big fucking dick.' Still, inappropriate to the occasion." -- Andy Borowitz on Twitter)

Welcome To the Real World

As much as I occasionally disagree with Eric Boehlert's inexplicable willingness to engage in petty bickering on Twitter, there are plenty of times that I can't dispute the arguments he's making. Like right now.

He posted a piece over at Media Matters this morning that tries to deconstruct the right-wing "nervous breakdown" we've witnessed in the lead-up to the health care reform vote, and what might still be to come. Hidden within this lengthy column is a really good little point about how the conservative media feedback loop contributed to the absolute shock the right seems to be experiencing at the moment in the wake of its crushing defeat. I've mentioned before that we now live in a country in which each side of the political aisle can go about its business -- day after day after day -- never hearing an opinion that's contrary to the one it's already biased toward. Both the left and the right have their own respective sets of media bullhorns shouting their own respective sets of "facts," which means that the extreme on either side can often be blinded to the reality of what's happening outside the little fantasy realm it's constructed.

That said, I'm not going to play a game of false-equivalence; the right tends to stay on message infinitely better than the left, and that can often mean that the right is more susceptible to being deafened by its own echo chamber. Why are Fox News's ratings through the roof? Not because there are millions and millions of people out there who make Fox a part of their recommended daily allowance of assorted news and information, but because among those who consider themselves die-hard conservatives, Fox is the only news source. Fox is the McDonald's French Fries of news organizations: Nothing else tastes quite like it and, as such, it's its own separate and specific brand. If you love McDonald's fries, there's only one place to get them. From the beginning, FNC adopted a brilliant business model in which it would cater to the belief system of one select audience -- an audience that had always felt disenfranchised and which very much wanted to see its belief system catered to -- and it's reaped the rewards of that decision ever since.

The problem, of course, is that when you watch and listen to one view of the world -- with blinders on to anything that might contradict that strict position -- and you do it pretty much 24/7, you lose not only perspective but a handle on reality. For months now, all Fox viewers have seen -- and heard parroted by Rush Limbaugh, and read at Breitbart, Drudge or RedState -- is that health care reform was doomed to fail. That was never offered as a mere opinion, mind you. Fox News's audience had it presented to them as fact: The health care reform bill is socialism, therefore millions and millions of people are taking to the streets to stand against it, therefore it's destined to fail and fail miserably because this is America and in America the good guys always win -- and we're the good guys. Oh, and you can trust us because we speak for the entire country. Listen to this message every minute of every day, with no dissenting opinion or opposing facts, and what would you think if you were suddenly told that health care reform had actually passed? You'd think exactly what the right is thinking now -- that somehow the evil opposition must've stolen the vote or otherwise engaged in underhanded malfeasance on a grand scale and in defiance of the will of the American people. And you'd be very, very pissed.

These people see deception and corruption and treason because that's the only possible explanation for why they were wrong all this time. It's not because Fox and Rush told them only what they wanted to hear and what they'd hoped was true, and it certainly wasn't because there was an entirely alternate reality out there in which a majority of Americans didn't agree with their way of thinking -- a reality they never sought out because taking the blue pill and hooking into a world in which their personal biases were constantly stroked was much more comfortable. No, it's nothing like that; it's that Barack Obama -- a Muslim foreign national who palled around with terrorists and stole the White House through the dirty work of ACORN -- along with the Democratic Congress committed high crimes and misdemeanors by forcing an unpopular bill on the country, Third World dictatorship-style.

But just because you choose not to see the outside world doesn't mean it isn't there.

When you consistently only hear one side of the story, that wake up call's a brutal one. Conservative Americans just got it, and they're furious about it -- and from the way it looks, they're going to turn over and go right back to sleep.

Tuesday Is Recycling Day

In honor of the lovely Kate Gosselin's debut on Dancing with the Stars last night, here's a recent favorite. The offer's still open, my darling.

"And Now, an Open Letter To Kate Gosselin" (Originally Published, 8.27.09)

Dear Kate,

You don't know me, but I felt like I just had to reach out to you after watching your appearance on Larry King Live a few nights ago. I know you've been through a lot over the past several months: the cruel tabloid headlines, the negative assumptions about you, the betrayal, the impending divorce, seeing your estranged husband cavorting with whores in Ed Hardy t-shirts, your kids' refusal to sit the hell down and shut up when Mommy tells them to, people making fun of your haircut -- I know it's all been eating you alive inside and turning your well-established sense of self upside down. It's hurt me for so long to watch you held up for public ridicule -- to see the once-vainglorious Kate Gosselin reduced to groveling for mercy in the face of those who would take joy in knocking you from the pedestal you so richly deserve to sit atop. But when you looked right into Larry King's lifeless eyes (an act of incredible bravery in itself) and told him, "I'm lonely," well, that was all I could take.

I know you're in pain, Kate.

I know you feel like no one understands.

But I need you to know something -- I do.

That's why, right here and now, I want to tell you that there's someone in this world who gets you completely, who loves you entirely -- and who wants to be with you forever.


Yes, me.

A little about myself: I'm a 39-year-old underemployed writer and journalist with over ten years experience -- on and off -- dealing with women like yourself, Kate. Women others would call, well, let's just say "difficult." (Only the crassest and most Philistine would refer to your kind by that other word.) And let me be clear: When I say that I know how to "deal" with you, that's in no way meant to imply that I have an intact spine and would be willing to make an effective stand against you should I feel that you were trampling me underfoot and crushing my fragile ego. On the contrary, you can consider me already very well housebroken -- an easily malleable lump of human wet clay that will never so much as raise his voice to you when you publicly emasculate him for not picking out the right paint color for the living room or maybe rubbing your feet clockwise instead of counter-clockwise at the end of the day.

Life with me would be the Kate Show all the way. My balls are well accustomed to that particularly cold area at the back of the refrigerator anyway; why break with tradition?

Speaking of shows, I have a couple of children of my own. Just think of the possibilities: Kate and WHO? + 8 + 2. It would be like The Brady Bunch for Generation Meth.

I even think you're really hot. No joke. You're a total babe. I don't even think it's important that you, for once, stand up straight.

Katie, my sweet, you don't have to be lonely anymore. I ask only that you please think about my offer. I honestly believe that if you give it a little serious consideration, you'll come to the only possible conclusion -- that I'm the man for you. I have the skill, the will, and, most importantly, the complete lack of self-respect in the face of a spiteful woman -- and I'm totally ready to be the next Mr. Kate Gosselin.

Hey, I used to produce for Ashleigh Banfield.

I Love You,

Chez : )

(For entertainment purposes only. Not meant to either A) endear myself to Kate Gosselin, or B) cast aspersion on anyone who's been in my life over the past decade or so -- except maybe Banfield.)

Spreading the Disease

I don't know, I'm pretty sure most of these countries can legitimately consider this a declaration of war.

The New York Times: MTV To Begin Marketing Jersey Shore to 30 Countries/3.22.10