Tuesday, November 30, 2010
This could very well be the greatest thing ever.
And no, before anyone starts accusing me of hypocrisy when it comes to my constant drumbeat against irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric, of course I don't want to see the real Sarah Palin disemboweled and cut in half and neither should anyone else (not to mention the fact that Gwar has done this sort of thing with effigies of dozens of politicians and celebrities by this point).
But between this and Joe Scarborough's figurative evisceration of her in today's Politico, her little fingers are going to be worn out from Tweeting and Facebooking phony outrage so hard tonight.
"If we have to pay the Kardashians a million bucks to get back online, how much will it take to keep them off? "
-- Mary Elizabeth Williams, summing up perfectly the irony of tomorrow's planned "Digital Life Sacrifice," in which several already overexposed celebrities will boycott their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, essentially going dark, until one million dollars is raised for charity
"Admire Assange or revile him, he is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency. Having exposed military misconduct on a grand scale, he is now gunning for corporate America. Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we’ve been discussing. Energy? Plenty, on everything from BP to an Albanian oil firm that he says attempted to sabotage its competitors’ wells. Like informational IEDs, these damaging revelations can be detonated at will."
-- From a new cover story in Forbes magazine which claims that Julian Assange and Wikileaks' next target for exposure will be American mega-banks and global corporate interests, beginning in the early part of next year
I'm not the biggest fan of Julian Assange; I think he's an arrogant prick whose pious overtures are largely self-serving, and I think he's got a hard-on for sticking it to the U.S. specifically. But I'll definitely say this: It's one thing to take aim at governments; they operate under a certain set of rules and they're generally cognizant of the consequences of their actions. The easiest way to wind up face-down in a shallow grave somewhere, though, is to "meddle with the primal forces of nature" and take on the truly powerful in this world -- the people who don't see red or blue or colorful flags, only green. It's a noble fight, but it's one almost guaranteed to get him killed.
Over the years, strangely, Sammy Davis Jr. has become my favorite member of the Rat Pack. I think it has less to do with the fact that he was such a brilliant, fully-formed entertainer than it does with his ability to reach depths of subtlety that his crooning counterparts couldn't dream of. This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about; just listen to the heartbreaking intricacies of his voice on this song, from the album he did with legendary Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida.
Here's Speak Low.
Monday, November 29, 2010
"I praise you 24/7!!! And this how you do me!!! You expect me to learn from this???How??? I'll never forget this!! Ever!! Thx Tho."
-- Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson, appearing to blame God via Twitter for the fact that he dropped a potentially game-winning touchdown pass yesterday against the Steelers
I can't even begin to express how much I love this. Tell me that after all the shameless groveling that sports stars do before the almighty whenever they win -- as if God gives a shit what the NFL standings are or some other such nonsense -- you haven't waited to see somebody turn around and put the blame on God when he loses. In fact, I'm pretty sure comic Jeff Stilson once did a really good bit about this kind of thing. "We were doing great, until Jesus made me fumble!"
It's a Big Piece of Land Where They Bury People After They've Died, But That's Not Important Right Now
Everyone has his or her favorite Leslie Nielsen quote. Mine was from the Police Squad series, when Frank Drebin breaks into the bad guy's office after assuming a false identity for the entire episode. When the guy turns around and finds him there, he asks, "Who are you and how did you get in here?"
And he answers, in that trademark Nielsen deadpan, "I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."
So long, Leslie. That's a hell of a legacy.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
"(Obama) said that Thanksgiving is about the Indians saving us, with their agriculture and everything else. The true story of Thanksgiving is socialism failed. Of course we showed them gratitude! We shared our bounty with them, not because we didn't know how to make it. It was because we first failed as socialists. Only when we turned capitalists did we have plenty. The Indians didn't teach us capitalism."
-- Rush Limbaugh
I've really got to give Limbaugh credit -- it takes a hell of a lot of skill to be this much of a self-parody.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
"This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system and I'm very disappointed in the outcome."
-- Convicted money launderer Tom DeLay
Translation: "How dare you convict me. I was a politician, therefore what qualifies as criminal behavior for everybody else is basically just, you know, the way the world works for guys like me."
Suck it, DeLay -- hope the Sisters treat you extra special in the laundry room.
By the way, my favorite description of Tom DeLay comes courtesy of Matt Taibbi, in his book Smells Like Dead Elephants:
"What made Tom DeLay different is that Tom DeLay was a little guy. He had more in common with Bill Clinton (whom not surprisingly he despised, probably precisely for this reason) than with Gingrich or Norquist or Bush. He came from the dirt of the South, with a drunken reprobate for a father and nothing but white trash in his family tree. Unlike Clinton, however, DeLay was not blessed with personal gifts -- looks, brains, charm. Instead of Oxford and Yale, DeLay dropped out of Baylor after being inveighed in a childish campus-vandalism scandal. His pre-politics career as a rat and bug killer was marked by a continual failure that has to be considered shocking in a state so teeming with vermin. An exterminator failing in southeast Texas is like a pimp failing in Bangkok during tourist season."
So, yeah, a little something to be thankful for today.
This little clip has become something of a yearly tradition around these parts.
On this, the day that we celebrate the beginning of the first -- but certainly not last -- great American land swindle, I ask you to remember the plight of flightless birds everywhere. Sure, that farm-raised turkey is now on your plate, but at one time it had dreams of majestically taking to the skies, just like so many of its feathered brethren.
Just like the poor Kiwi.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
"This speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policy. But obviously we’ve gotta stand with our North Korean allies."
-- Sarah Palin on Glenn Beck's radio show
Now, of course this is just a slip of the tongue. But if Glenn Beck were to follow his usual line of "logic" -- the one he so ridiculously employs whenever discussing, say, Barack Obama -- then Palin's comment would be proof of the fact that she's secretly a Manchurian Candidate who will rise to power only to immediately hand us all over to her communist dictator overlord.
(Adding: You know, every time I go back and read this quote I ask myself if this blithering idiot can say anything without completely fucking it up. But very much to his credit, Cesca lays out in ominous terms why, knowing what we know about the slavish American worship of the cult of mindless celebrity, we underestimate her presidential prospects at our own peril.)
The cavalcade of holiday reruns continues with a piece that I have a feeling is going to become something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here (along with the "Poor Kiwi" short, which will run tomorrow as usual).
"Feast of Burden" (Originally Published, 11.25.09)
Last month while in Washington D.C., I ate at a place downtown called Founding Farmers. If you live in the D.C. Metro area you're probably, at the very least, familiar with the restaurant and if you'd like I can give you a minute to stop salivating. Yeah, it's that good.
Founding Farmers's claim to fame is that it's a certified "green" restaurant, which means that in addition to closely monitoring its carbon output in an effort to reduce the strain on the environment, the food it buys and serves comes only from family farms, ranches and fisheries. Self-proclaimed foodies will recognize this distinction given that the green-market trend has been all the rage over the past couple of years; a lot of America's most famous chefs have jumped on top of the nearest tables to shout to the masses about their decision to forgo large farms in favor of nothing but locally grown product.
So do all those steps taken to promote sustainability make a difference in the taste of the food at at place like, say, Founding Farmers? Honestly, I have no idea. The meal I had was spectacular and it's always nice to know that while I'm enjoying it I'm also behaving responsibly -- given that I'm probably having a couple of drinks and will almost surely not be behaving responsibly later in the evening. But considering the fact that high-end restaurants almost always seek out the best and freshest ingredients anyway -- whether they're locally farmed or not -- does the extra flair of going green-market really show on the plate? I'm not talking overall quality or various health considerations here -- just taste.
I bring this up because with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I want to throw a question out there: Do you really care where your food comes from?
Before you answer, know that I don't mean would you just shrug it off if you knew that Upton Sinclair's severed right leg had been hefted into a meat grinder somewhere and then sprinkled over your Campbell's Minestrone. I mean, if you know that the food you buy at the grocery store or order at the local TGI Friday's has passed USDA inspection -- and it tastes good to you -- do you spend a lot of time worrying about the conditions in which it was grown, farmed or raised?
In case you haven't heard, the "publicity sluts" at PETA -- the words of the group's, ahem, "controversial" leader Ingrid Newkirk, not mine -- are once again at war with NBC. You may remember that earlier this year the network refused to air an ad during the Super Bowl that featured girls in lingerie nearly pleasuring themselves with vegetables; the tag line of the thing was "Studies Show Vegetarians Have Better Sex." (For the record, I haven't seen these studies myself.) Now PETA's been shot down again by the NBC suits, this time over an ad the group had hoped to air during -- wait for it -- the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The commercial opens with a family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner, but when the little girl at the table is asked to say grace, she thanks God for the turkey, which came from a farm "where they pack turkeys into dark little sheds for their whole lives, where they burn their feathers off while they're still alive," and where the turkeys "get kicked around like a football by people who think it's fun to stomp on their little turkey heads." The girl then gives special thanks "for all the chemicals and dirt and poop that's in the turkey we're about to eat."
What a precocious little scamp, that kid. I know somebody who won't mind being sent to her room without supper.
Obviously, NBC standards and practices brought the ax down on the ad like it was the soft flesh of a turkey's neck. Even more obviously, it doesn't matter one bit -- PETA never really intended to get the thing on the air anyway. As far as the group is concerned, the controversy over once again having a commercial banned from network television is as valuable in pushing its message as actually getting it broadcast. Although it admittedly would've been entertaining to watch the fireworks had an unsuspecting America suddenly seen its parade -- and its Thanksgiving preparations -- interrupted by Little Miss Turkey Shop of Horrors.
Was NBC right to shoot down the ad? Yeah, actually -- it was. It's rare that I choose decorum over a little good-natured subversion, but even I'm capable of accepting that there really is a time and a place for everything. You don't beat the viewers of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, many of whom are children, over the head with incendiary political messages -- particularly not ones that deal in turkey feces. First of all, if your supposed goal is to stop people from eating turkey on Thanksgiving then the ad's completely ineffective anyway, given that there isn't a soul out there who's going to throw out his or her entire meal at 10am on Thanksgiving morning -- even if the kids are now crying at the thought of little turkey heads being crushed underfoot. If PETA's intention were really to make a difference on Thanksgiving day, the ad would've been running for weeks now.
Beyond that, though, the ad itself is somewhat disingenuous -- which isn't a surprise if you know anything at all about PETA. It ends with the tagline "Go Vegan," which essentially means that entreaties made to viewers to consider their own health when they sit down for dinner -- you know, all those chemicals and dirt and poop -- are nothing but, pardon the pun, red herrings. Vegans generally don't choose not to eat animal products out of a concern for their own well-being; they do it out of a concern for the animal's. It would've been one thing if PETA had been pushing vegetarianism; an argument can be made there that eating vegetables is, for the most part, less dangerous in the long run than eating red meat, or even chicken or turkey, these days. But the reality is that PETA doesn't really give a crap about you, or your family for that matter -- all it cares about is the animal you want to have for dinner. PETA doesn't want your Thanksgiving turkey to be treated more humanely in the days and months leading up to you eating it -- it doesn't want you eating it at all.
There's been a lot of debate recently over a new book called, pointedly, Eating Animals, by entirely too pretentious best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer. In it, Foer retreads ground already well-broken-in by guys like Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, and Michael Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma. The main gist of Eating Animals is that the industrial agribusiness system in this country -- the big "factory farm" as we know it -- is slowly poisoning both us and the environment. Foer makes plenty of points worth giving serious consideration to -- admittedly, it's a daunting notion to entirely trust a profit-based leviathan like the American factory farm industry with the food we put into our bodies -- but it should surprise no one that he approached the material with a conclusion already well in mind and is hamstrung by his own sanctimony and desire to push a personal agenda. Still, that's not stopping some of the usual suspects within the always delightful liberal intelligentsia from glomming onto Foer and his findings; after all, if you happen to agree with his agenda, why wouldn't you?
Environmental activist Laurie David, who produced Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, took to the pages of the Huffington Post a few days ago to slam a write-up of Eating Animals (a book she calls a "game-changer") by the New York Times. David was furious that the author of the book review had the temerity to ask a question that rightly gets leveled at PETA and animal rights activists quite a bit -- namely, why when there are people who are starving around the world, people who could ostensibly be fed by large farms, should anyone really worry about the plight of an animal stuck in a cage that's too small? David's evisceration of the writer was based around an argument that really caught my attention. Her point: Caring is not a zero-sum game. According to David, there's room to care for both the humans suffering from hunger -- and other various tragedies and crises for that matter -- and the animals suffering in factory farms.
Except there isn't -- not for everyone.
And here's where I answer my own question from earlier: No, I just don't have the time or the inclination to concern myself with how the animals I eat are treated.
I of course don't want to see animals tortured needlessly, but as heartless as this may sound I think I'm like a lot of Americans when I say that I actually do have only a limited reservoir of empathy and compassion and I've learned to personally prioritize the way in which it's dispensed. The reason for this isn't so much that I honestly just don't give a damn, it's that I understand that if you let every injustice claw at your insides you eventually lose the ability to function. Call this a cop-out or a defense mechanism or what have you, I simply have more pressing issues to concern myself with than whether the bacon I ate for breakfast was comfortable up until its untimely death. Once again this will sound awful, but as long as you're not slaughtering the thing in my front yard, I'm good. I eat meat -- and turkey and chicken and fish and just about anything else -- because I enjoy it. I'm an adventurous eater and always have been. As Anthony Bourdain famously said, "My body isn't a temple, it's an amusement park."
This way of thinking is also very likely the reason that I don't spend too much time dwelling on just what might be in the food that I eat. I actually do eat quite healthy these days, but not healthy to the point where I pick apart every little thing to ensure that it's never been near a chemical or pumped with an occasional preservative. Admittedly, both Jayne and I are much more careful about what we feed Inara, but she still eats animal products and neither of us lets it paralyze us with fear or make us run screaming into the streets at the horror of a cow being bled out.
Why? Because I believe that a person's wants and needs are more important than the well-being of cattle. Call me a savage -- that's just the way it is.
But that's obviously not the way PETA thinks. In the eyes of PETA and Ingrid Newkirk -- who's been called everything from a demagogic militant to a full-on sociopath, with good reason -- the safety of an animal, any animal, is not only as valuable as the wants and needs of a human being; it's just as important as the very life of that human being. Newkirk after all is the same woman who once wrote Yassir Arafat to plead with him to stop using donkeys in suicide bombing attacks (while ignoring the people he was killing); she's the same person who backs the terrorist Animal Liberation Front in its campaign to free research animals that save human lives every single day; the same woman who wants to ban seeing-eye dogs; the person who wrote to Al Gore to lecture him on the fact that he eats meat, which she claims is antithetical to caring for the environment; the one who says fish should be called "sea kittens."
The woman who believes, "The smallest form of life, even an ant or a clam, is equal to a human being."
This is the kind of lunacy Ingrid Newkirk espouses and acts on day after day after day.
But here's the thing: Ingrid Newkirk may be completely off her rocker, but she's by no means stupid. She has to know that her methods, tactics and beliefs will do little more than rally millions to stand not simply against her cause but vehemently against it. Newkirk and PETA don't just antagonize those you would think they're hoping to win over -- they create an army of people who out-and-out hate them. Trying to hit America in the face with turkey torture during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is not what you'd call a good P.R. strategy. It's a great way to make people despise you and your cause -- which doesn't save one single animal. All it does is feed your gargantuan ego and your need to, literally and figuratively, stir the pot. It seems as if these people aren't activists so much as narcissists -- as if theirs is at times an entirely self-indulgent endeavor.
That's too bad, because you would think that the plight of defenseless animals would be an easy sell -- and, yes, a necessary one.
Although I've already admitted that I have the ability to put that plight out of my mind and just enjoy my meal, which I'm sure is why PETA is hoping to force me and millions of others to confront the realities of the modern American food chain.
The thing is, it still won't change my mind about my Thanksgiving dinner or anything else I choose to eat.
And I doubt I'm the only one who feels that way.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
You know, I honestly don't have a problem with a journalist proving that she has a sultry side. But it would probably be a good idea for the person in question to prove that she's a journalist first -- otherwise what's the big deal of a shot like this? If Megyn Kelly commanded even an ounce of respect before she stripped down for GQ, this would be both surprising and sexy as hell. Seeing as how she's just another idiot blonde TV star, though, who gives a crap? They pose for these kinds of pictures all the time.
The least surprising item ever: the prospect of Christine O'Donnell fulfilling her destiny and taking her rightful place at Mama Grizzly's side.
And that Mobius Strip just get more and more loopy.
Gawker: Christine O'Donnell May Dance with the Stars/11.23.10
"Wow! I am suprised at the vitriol I read here. I too will pray for you sir and hope that you find joy in something good for once. I research what Glen Beck says thoroughly and find he speaks the truth. I have observed his 'rantings' and find them heartfelt and honest. Of course, the Huffington post that you work for accepts major cash donations from George Soros who has a beef with Glen for exposing his plan for the U.S. monetary system. How much are YOU getting paid to deride him sir? Your boss also says the same things that Mr. Soros says. Post this if you are truthfull and honest, sir, and take your best shot and please, please, keep your comments to that which you can prove and cite sources. As I said before, my prayers are for you and those you work with."
-- Brad Roe Sr.
Yes, every time my weekly Soros check clears I literally pour that big bag of money onto the bed and roll around in it naked, à la Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal. It's a testament to just how hilariously gullible Beck's zombiefied acolytes are that they'll believe the Soros-as-Evil-Puppet-Master meme even so far as being willing to buy into the idea of him paying out a legion of hapless relative pipsqueaks like me.
The interesting thing is that this is the piece Brad is commenting on -- from, oh, you know, March of last year:
"The Glenn Beck Show Generator" (Originally Published, 3.18.09)
Swallowed as a single, sour dose, the average episode of Glenn Beck's nightly cable show goes down like liquid acid and produces just about the same result. To the uninitiated viewer, watching an hour of Beck's psychotic ravings, crackpot conspiracy theories, maudlin tales of personal tragedy, and generally demented sky-is-falling routine must feel a little like stepping out of reality and into a Dali painting. But while no one jumps the crazy train as far off the rails as Beck these days, there is a certain method to his madness -- you just have to take a couple of steps back and look at the big picture for it to come into focus. As with any kind of seemingly incomprehensible insanity, there are patterns amid the chaos; the hallucinatory mania that fuels Beck's delusional behavior actually adheres to a pretty strict set of rules, even if those rules are based on fantasies and thought processes only Beck himself understands.
In other words, there's a blueprint to his batshit luancy. His shows follow a relatively by-the-numbers formula. In fact, once you crack the code of crazy, just about anybody can put together an episode of the Glenn Beck show.
Give it a try yourself. Just follow the simple multiple choice format below.
Open & Welcome: Glenn says hello, thanks everyone for watching and spends a few minutes...
1. Repeatedly asking the director to zoom in on his face while he screams about how the United States is on the "road to socialism."
2. Misappropriating the works of Ayn Rand.
3. Adjusting himself in his seat and creepily stroking his nipples while making faces which would indicate that he's taking no small amount of pleasure in it.
Glenn then welcomes his first guest (who agrees with everything he says):
1. Dennis Miller
2. Art Bell
3. His psychiatrist
Followed by a second guest (who disagrees with everything he says):
1. Dennis Kucinich
2. Al Sharpton
3. Shepard Smith
Glenn points his doughy finger and tells the guest he's/she's...
1. An enemy of the state.
2. A "scumbag."
3. Melting right before his eyes.
Then, apropos of nothing, he compares Barack Obama to...
2. The 9/11 families -- whom he still hates.
3. Troy Sullivan, the kid who lived up the block from him as a child and would come by when no one was home and make him dress up in his sister's clothes for "afternoon tea," although there was never any tea -- just pain, so much pain.
...And blames him for...
1. ABC's decision to cancel Twin Peaks.
2. His erectile dysfunction.
Glenn then boasts about...
1. The overwhelming public response to that ridiculous "912 Project" initiative.
2. The numbers his show is pulling down at Fox, particularly in comparison to what he was getting at CNN.
3. What a friend he has in Jesus.
...And introduces a brand new segment of the show with the obligatorily muscular sounding name:
1. "The War Chest"
2. "The Men's Room"
3. "The Tool Box"
The goal of which is to...
1. Map out various apocalyptic scenarios since the inauguration of Barack Obama, as a service to America's paranoid survivalist sociopath community.
2. Prove that the moon landing was a hoax.
3. Impress Sarah Palin.
Next, once again apropos of nothing, he blurts out something random and completely irrational, like...
1. "There it is! Do you hear that? Don't tell me you can't hear that!"
2. "We surround them!"
3. "The government!"
...And claims that _____ is _____:
1. FEMA/constructing internment camps for America's dwarf population
2. global warming/bullshit
3. he/so fucking high
He then begins to cry uncontrollably because, in his personal life...
1. His wife Tania is finally divorcing him.
2. His AA sponsor committed suicide.
3. The hemorrhoids are back.
Finally, he composes himself, smirks, chuckles, and reminds viewers that...
1. He's so fucking high.
2. Due to a tachyon bombardment created by Ozymandias, he doesn't, in fact, have the ability to see the future.
3. It's all an act to get ratings.
Glenn thanks his sponsor...
...And plugs his...
2. Radio show.
3. Ears against the voices.
Close & Goodnight: Glenn says, "Thanks so much for joining us tonight, and remember to tune in to the show tomorrow for..."
1. "Day 1,113 of my sanity held hostage."
2. "My exclusive interview with an angry chimpanzee dressed as Lyndon LaRouche."
3. "The end of days."
Toss to Special Report with Bret Baier, go home and sleep it off.
Four years or so ago, this was the inaugural Listening Post -- the first video I ever posted on this site.
It still stands as probably my favorite Foo Fighters song -- and there are admittedly so many great ones to choose from.
Here's Best of You.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The Daily Mail: Folk Legend Joan Baez Injured After Falling from Treehouse/11.20.10
It's as good an excuse as any to bring back this sucker (and yes, I'm busy as hell at the moment so sorry for all the reruns):
"What a Long, Strange, Thoroughly Obnoxious Trip It's Been" (Originally Published, 9.1.09)
I'll never forget it: On July 13th, 1985, folk legend Joan Baez walked onto the stage at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium -- site of the U.S. half of that day's massive Live Aid concert -- looked out over the crowd of rowdy kids, lifted up her voice as if she were a pastor at a revival and said triumphantly, "Children of the 80s, this is your Woodstock and it's long overdue."
I'll also never forget my reaction as I sat on a couch with my teenage friends, all of us watching the show live on MTV:
"Fuck off, hippie."
At first glance, my swift and admittedly crude dismissal of an icon of 1960s counter-culture might seem the product of my youth, immaturity and overall lack of ability at the time to appreciate the positive impact that Joan Baez and those like her had on the generation that followed them. You know something though? I'm now almost 40, and although there are those who would tell you that my level of maturity remains that of a teenager, I gotta say -- I don't give any more of a crap about Joan Baez today than I did in 1985. Looking back on it, I still consider her little more than a silly, pompous 60s cliché.
It's standard operating procedure, practically a rite of passage, for each new generation to fiercely rebel against the one that preceded it -- regardless of the optimistic nonsense that Pepsi's highly paid ad agency would have you believe. But for anyone unlucky enough to follow those who came of age in the 1960s, defiance to some extent has felt all but impossible. This is because, quite frankly, the 60s marked a high point in the evolution of American society as a whole and set an inapproachable standard across so many aspects of our culture -- music, art, political activism, even the act of defiance itself -- and it did this despite being one of the most turbulent periods in our nation's history.
And how do we know this?
Because for 40-some-odd years, the fucking Baby Boomers have never stopped reminding us.
Never in the history of this country has there been a generation that's cast a longer shadow without really having done anything to earn it than the children of the 60s -- specifically the so-called Woodstock Generation. For the most part, they're thoroughly undeserving of the immortality they've pretentiously bequeathed to themselves. But for God's sake, don't ever say this to the True Believers in the Boomer-Woodstock nostalgia aesthetic; they'll immediately begin lecturing you on the seemingly self-perpetuating legacy of the 60s protest movement, the brilliance of Abbie Hoffman, and the philosophical importance of shitting outdoors in the mud while Canned Heat plays Going Up the Country somewhere at the other end of the farm.
In case you hadn't already noticed, all this free love for the era of free love has really been pegging the meters lately thanks to the 40th anniversary of what was known officially as the Woodstock Art and Music Festival ("Three Days of Peace, Music and a Complete Lack of Hygiene"). Yes, it was 40 years ago that a bunch of hippies descended on the tiny town of Bethel, New York to drop acid, whirl around in circles and make memories that would last not only their lifetime but everyone else's -- because it was just that important.
If you weren't able to be there for whatever reason (you were part of the oppressive establishment or, you know, hadn't been born yet) the Woodstock folks need you to understand that, dammit, you should wish you could have been.
Such is the real legacy of the 60s, as filtered through the haze of bong smoke still looked back on with fondness by many of those who were there: It introduced the most narcissistic, self-congratulatory, self-indulgent generation this country has ever seen. A group of people political satirist Christopher Buckley jokingly calls "The Un-greatest Generation."
But once again, don't tell them that. As far as they're concerned, they own the goddamned world -- and to some extent they do, and have since they first went from being counter-culture warriors to being shallow, shameless Wall Street capitalists in the 1980s. When Wavy Gravy gave way to Gordon Gekko. When the Baby Boomers ascended to a position of real power in America, it was almost a certainty that they would do what they'd done since the 60s: shove their values (which always came down to one thing: them), their culture, and their nostalgia for their own childhood down our collective throats, allowing the rest of us the opportunity to fully grasp and revel right along with them in what they already knew so well -- their lives ruled. It was this gargantuanly egocentric attitude that gave us the "Me Generation" during the 70s and went on to bankrupt parts of this country, both financially and morally, in the 80s and beyond. No wonder "my generation" (no pun intended), the so-called Gen-X, eventually decided that the only way to fight back was to abandon all that phony, ultimately self-serving conscientiousness and just not give a shit about anything.
But we never could escape the warm bath of encomium flowing from a media machine designed not just to chronicle but glorify the Boomers as they made their way through life -- from their self-reflective 30s (the tedious navel-gazing of Thirtysomething and The Big Chill), through their ascendency to their rightful place at the very pinnacle of American society (the too-much-is-never-enough Clinton presidency), now into their autumnal years (story upon story devoted to how they're "redefining" retirement -- bringing the same level of self-indulgence to it that they've brought to every other period in their lives). To drop a phrase from a generation that existed long before theirs, the more things change the more they stay the same.
The reality is that although the 1960s themselves were an extraordinary time and I'd never devalue some of the truly impressive accomplishments that took place during that era, it would be great if we'd all be allowed to, well, get over it. An adherence to the standards supposedly set in the 60s has at times done far more harm than good. Think the 60s protest movement -- the way in which people are encouraged to protest, highlighting individualism (making my point perfectly) -- really has any relevance to today's climate? You're out of your fucking mind. When what was called for in the lead-up to the war in Iraq -- what would've been truly effective -- was a show of strength through unity and, yes, conformity among activists, what we instead got was what we've always gotten since the 60s: a bunch of dumb-asses in face paint and colorful t-shirts acting like buffoons. Needless to say, this struck fear into the hearts of absolutely no one in the political and media establishment. All it proved was that those who were opposed to the impending war would never be able to get it together enough to make a successful stand against the people calling the shots.
So why did we engage in this thoroughly impotent form of activism? Because we'd been taught since birth that "this is how they did it in the 60s, man!" (regardless of the fact that it can easily be argued that the real reason for the Vietnam protests in the first place was that none of the hippies wanted to get stuck going to war -- 'cause, wow, bummer man).
Big fan of those ridiculous Jesse Jackson-led marches? Do those really accomplish a goddamned thing? Not quite. And yet we allow Jackson to continually hijack any real dialogue and chance at lasting understanding simply because he's a 60s icon -- one who's always at the ready to inject himself into any public fight simply because it will get him on TV (making my point yet again). Or how about this one: Think about how every political or cultural scandal since 1972 has ludicrously been dubbed "Something-or-Other-Gate" -- named for the Watergate break-in ordered by late-60s pariah Richard Nixon.
The 60s is the decade that just won't die.
Those who lived it have spent the last four decades looking down their noses at the rest of us and saying, "You're welcome."
Joan Baez's comment at Live Aid was more revealing about an entire mindset than even she probably realized. So much that's happened since the 1960s has been compared against the standard supposedly set in the 1960s. This is especially interesting when you consider something: Live Aid was actually about alleviating world hunger; what was Woodstock about? You guessed it -- them. They came up during a time when maybe being an individual could be perceived as a threat to the squares in the establishment -- but did that ethos have to continue throughout the rest of their lives, even well past the point that they actually became the establishment? Did the Woodstock generation ever really grow up?
Look, Dennis Hopper is now a card-carrying conservative. The last Kennedy brother is dead. American Express is now aiming retirement package commercials at you featuring a smiling, gray-haired couple saying, "Never trust anyone over 90!" -- officially making you a walking punchline. Taking Woodstock came in 9th at the box office over the weekend.
The trip's over.
Will you please go away and leave us alone now?
Sunday, November 21, 2010
A conversation yesterday at Lou's Beer Garden, North Beach, Miami:
Votar: So how'd that go?
Me: She's very cute. She gave me her number and told me to text her something "interesting." Does that mean I should send her a picture of my penis?
Votar: "Interesting," huh? You should text her a dissertation on tachyon particles.
Me: And a picture of my penis.
Votar: Of course.
Me: Actually maybe I can combine the two. I'll stick my penis into a shoebox and call it Schrodinger's Cock.
Votar: She can't observe it without changing it.
Me: Well that's a given.
Votar: A quantum physics dick joke -- impressive.
Friday, November 19, 2010
"Jon, I told you so! I mean, I might disagree with you but I'd never think you were crazy or hateful... One side sticks to the facts, and the other side is close to playing with its poop."
-- Keith Olbermann, who Jon Stewart implied was as guilty of amping up the lunacy as his right-wing counterparts, chiding Stewart after Hutt-like Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes referred to him as "crazy" and called NPR managers "Nazis"
(By the way, yes I'm very much aware that Phil Griffin over at MSNBC once again suffered a brain aneurysm and suspended one of his hosts -- this time Joe Scarborough -- and I'll have something to say about it later this weekend. Although I could easily just re-rack the Olbermann piece from a couple of weeks ago.)
Since today sees the nationwide theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, I figured I'd bring back this minor classic from the DXM archives: Throughout the course of this site, I've written quite a few things that immediately earned me an avalanche of bitter indignation from readers. But nothing -- and I mean nothing -- topped the unrestrained venom aimed my way when I "gave away" the ending of the final Harry Potter book (which is to say, when I made something up and claimed that it was the ending of the final Harry Potter book). Here now, both of the offending columns, and a link to the original "spoiler" post -- where you can read for yourself the hilarious outrage that ensued.
"As a Service to the Community..." (Originally Published, 7.20.07)
Ron dies. Hermione dies. Harry sacrifices himself to destroy Voldemort.
They're all reunited in the Deathly Hallows Ghost World, along with Harry's dead parents -- so in essence, it's a happy ending.*
Oh, and Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time.
Now go do something constructive this weekend.
(*Is this correct? Supposedly, but who the hell knows. Either way, if you feel like your life has just been ruined A) you deserved to have it ruined, and B) you needed to get out more anyway.)
(UPDATE: As it turns out, I've just received word that in fact EVERYONE dies in the end -- meaning you as well. Apparently, the final page of the book has been coated with a tactile cyanide complex designed to kill the reader immediately upon finishing the story. Have no fear, though, Muggle -- at least you'll be reunited with Harry et al in the Deathly Hallows Ghost World.)
"Reviled About Harry" (Originally Published, 7.26.07)
I've been thinking a lot about a guy named Bill Cosford over the past few days.
If you lived in Miami during the seventies, eighties and early nineties, chances are you recognize the name -- likewise if you happen to go to the University of Miami or have gone there within the past decade or so (as the on-campus theater was officially dedicated to him in 1995).
Cosford was the film critic for the Miami Herald from 1973 until 1994 when, following a ski vacation in Colorado, he contracted pneumonia which killed him in a matter of days. During his lifetime and particularly his tenure at the Herald, Cosford was known both for his love of good movies -- as well as the better aspects of pop culture in general -- and for his scalpel-sharp wit, which he wielded unforgivingly in his reviews and occasional columns, making him seem at all times like a slightly more misanthropic version of Hawkeye Pierce.
Never was his brand of merry troublemaking better on display than when, in a column decrying the loss of criticism as an art form, he figuratively bitch-slapped ready-and-eager-for-prime-timers Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for putting themselves above the films they were charged with reviewing. (If I remember correctly, he essentially told them where they could shove those thumbs.) This brought a quick, angry and entirely condescending response from Ebert who, in predictable fashion, ran down his almighty resume, which includes an oft-touted 1975 Pulitzer.
The Herald printed Ebert's letter, along with Cosford's rebuttal which read simply: "Are you the bald one or the fat one?"
Bill Cosford was the evil antithesis of Dr. Seussian dingbats like the late Joel Siegel. He was Bill Maher with a pop culture jones. He was a punk with a pen.
Needless to say, he was also my fucking hero growing up.
My worship of Bill Cosford as a teenager was so fanatical in fact that upon enrolling at U.M., the second thing I did was attempt to sign up for a course in film criticism which he taught as an adjunct professor. (The first thing I did was get myself a show on WVUM, U.M.'s radio station and a campus institution that I would quickly attempt to destroy from the inside-out through a series of on-air pranks, profane humor and generally juvenile and despicable behavior. For the record, they let me keep the show for five years, which was two years longer than my actual collegiate career.) Unfortunately, when it came to actually getting an audience with Cosford, I apparently wasn't the only one with an apostolic respect for the man: I found myself locked out of the class.
Which simply meant that I was forced to take it without officially being enrolled.
When Cosford found out about this, I'm pretty sure he had the locks changed on his condo.
It took almost no time for me to realize that my wholly on-spec endeavor was worth the unnecessary effort; his class had a more profound and lasting effect on my Anschauung than most of my other classes combined (ie: Ethics in Journalism, given the state of the media I would eventually become a part of, was worthless; Institutional "Manipulative" Psychology, given the state of the media which I would eventually become a part of, was not.) Bill Cosford's take-no-prisoners, authoritarian view of criticism -- as well as the wise-ass nature of the way in which he hammered it home -- was absolute, and over time it became a philosophy that I learned to both adhere to and perpetuate.
Cosford's view was that he had no view, only the truth.
As far as he was concerned, the word of the analyst -- be his or her topic social, cultural or political -- was nothing short of gospel.
He taught those in his class that they were never to dilute their assessments by referring to them as simply "assessments;" you never said "I believe that..." "As far as I'm concerned..." or "In my humble opinion..." In the Cosford-Kai Dojo, your opinions weren't humble, they were fact -- and you defended them as surely as you'd resist the notion that the earth wasn't round. It would be easy to disregard such audacity as sheer arrogance, and no doubt many readers did, but to those under his tutelage, even as briefly as I was, this dogma became yours. You learned your craft -- learned about the topic at hand so that you could make an informed observation -- then you issued your edict. You never shied from healthy debate, but at the same time you never waffled.
If you ruffled a few feathers, so be it -- that's part of your job. You forfeited your position among polite society when you signed up to be an honest and critical writer in the first place.
I had assumed by now that I understood this fact and was well-acquainted with the bitter "reward" reaped from infuriating a certain portion of the general public.
And then I went and pissed off the Harry Potter kids.
By now, those for whom the conclusion of the Harry Potter and the... series is nothing less than an event of life-or-death significance are probably aware of how the final chapter unfolds. As I'm not one of the former, I can in no way attest to the latter, but I do know this: My entirely made-up "spoiler," which was published merely as a kind of adolescent joke last Thursday, wasn't even close. That's fitting, seeing as how it was never intended to be.
It was, as I said, a joke, and one that in no way put anyone's enjoyment of his or her beloved weekend diversion -- no matter how rabid that particular Potter-head might consider him or herself to be -- in any sort of jeopardy.
Yet given the level of unbridled bloodlust that flooded my comment section, e-mail and MySpace account, you would've thought that I'd not only divulged the real ending of the latest and final Potter tome, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but actually tied J.K. Rowling to a chair and forced the Potter Nation to watch me squirt her down with lighter fluid and burn her alive -- along with, apparently, its collective childhood.
I might've feared for my life had the threats of physical violence I received not come from, well, Harry Potter fans -- but it was disconcerting nonetheless for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that an averagely-written children's book had the ability to inspire such maniacal devotion among those who had, in every other facet of their lives, stopped being children a decade or so ago.
It's this fact that comprises my main argument against the Harry Potter phenomenon. It's a little like Christianity: The book that it's based on isn't awful per se, but the extremist adoration that it inspires is utterly creepy. (I wouldn't be surprised, in fact, if a couple of millennia from now, the world is overrun by warring factions of Potter "believers" who've adopted this fantastical crap as a religion.)
I suppose it should be mentioned that I did actually read the first couple of Potter books -- at the suggestion of a friend of mine who was in her mid-20s at the time and had assured me that they were an exceptional read; I didn't much care for them, although I'm certainly willing to acknowledge that the later chapters may be more up my alley, so to speak. As I said, though, my issue isn't so much with the books themselves as with the otherwise intelligent adults who behave as if the fate of this fictional character is inextricably linked to their own. While there's quite a bit of sense to the ubiquitous argument that Pottermania is inherently a good thing simply because it happens to have encouraged an entire generation of kids to read, the argument that invariably begins with, "Well, I grew up on these things," is ridiculous at face value; I grew up enjoying a lot of things that I abandoned as the years and -- believe it or not -- levels of maturity piled on.
I liked Duran Duran as a kid. They've released plenty of material since the heady days of Rio, and yet I haven't waited in line at midnight for any of it, nor have I mindlessly shouted down those who want to know why I never grew the hell out of such a questionable phase.
If that analogy doesn't work, let me try another one -- one sure to generate even more unnecessary controversy and hostility among the fanboy crowd: Star Wars was the be-all-end-all when I was seven years old; looking back on it now it isn't half as brilliant as I remember, and with the exception of the inarguably excellent Empire, every movie in the series since has been average at best -- despite an overall claim to have grown with its audience.
No, I didn't dress up as Darth Vader and hit the Ziegfeld early for any of them -- and it's not just because I didn't feel like being rightfully and mercilessly mocked on national television by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
It's because I grew out of it.
To those who never could say the same of Harry Potter, that's certainly your choice -- although from what I've read, I'm not entirely sure that the epic tale of the boy wizard is any more worthy of such glorification from adults than, say, M. Night Shyamalan's last idiotic "fairy-tale," which was filled with just as much mythical nonsense as the Potter saga (although admittedly a hell of a lot less ill-advised hubris).
But to hitch your very happiness to such a silly diversion, and to live in fear that someone might take that away from you -- might "spoil" your shot at "joy itself" (an actual quote from one outraged reader) -- simply by saying something you don't want to hear?
That's more than a little crazy.
Last week, I was out to dinner with a group of friends when the subject at the table turned to music, in particular, albums that changed our lives. I mentioned that the first record I ever bought had been Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (an album that was, up until the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller, the best-selling in history). For some reason, this elicited laughs from one person at the table, a guy from Jersey -- go figure -- who insisted that I had no idea what I was talking about.
He asked me why I held the album in such high regard, and I answered him.
Why was Fleetwood Mac's Rumours one of the best rock albums ever recorded?
For the same reason that it's inexcusably ludicrous for otherwise sane adults to attack somebody for making a joke that purports to give away the ending of a fucking kids' book: Because I say so -- and because it happens to be right.
Who knows, maybe Bill Cosford would've disagreed with me on both counts.
Read the angry comments to the original post here.
In case you haven't figured out from a few of the recent Listening Posts, I'm going through an interesting little phase right now where I'm listening mostly to old jazz standards and late 60s-early 70s soul.
With the latter in mind, here's Curtis Mayfield -- Freddie's Dead.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I'm really beginning to think these people emit some kind of subliminal signal that's eventually going to lead to the complete downfall of the United States.
Fox News: Man Shoots TV After Bristol Palin's "Dancing with the Stars" Performance/11.17.10
"You're running your mouth just to talk shit... Your such a faggot... Sorry that all you guys are jealous of my families success and you guys aren't goin to go anywhere with your lives."
-- 16-year-old Willow Palin via her mother's official press secretariat, Facebook, and continuing the Palin tradition of dignity, class and restraint
Willow apparently took offense to some of the taunts of her "friends" during the premiere episode of the Palins' new reality show on TLC earlier this week -- that would be the reality show not currently airing 24/7 in real reality (and if the Charlie Kaufman-esque meta-Mobius strip doesn't have you dizzy by now, you apparently own stock in Dramamine).
There's probably going to be a lot of talk about the supposed homophobic slurs being angrily volleyed by young Willow -- who, if you need a Palin clan refresher course isn't the chunky one on Dancing with the Stars and isn't the one with Down Syndrome -- but my favorite part of the above quote is actually the kid's defiantly condescending shot at everyone who didn't have the arbitrary good fortune of having a desperate septuagenarian cynically pick their mom out of obscurity and hand her a winning ticket in the pop culture Powerball. Oh yeah, and everyone who doesn't have a mother whose naked ambition and self-obsession is so all-consuming that she'll do just about anything to keep her and her Beverly Hillbilly brood in the spotlight.
By the way, and I know I'll catch hell for this but it was honestly the first thing that came to mind: Now that Willow's 16, and from the picture above a rather attractive 16 at that, how long before she follows in her family's reality TV evolutionary footsteps and winds up "accidentally" posting naked pictures -- or a sex tape -- of herself on the internet?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
""Happy birthday @sn00ki."
-- Senator John McCain, via Twitter
Cesca makes the astute observation that, considering this isn't the first time McCain has done this sort of thing, if Jersey Shore had premiered a year earlier, he may very well have picked Snooki as his running mate.
Either way we all would've wound up with a brain-dead reality TV star.
"From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used 'refudiate,' we have concluded that neither 'refute' nor 'repudiate' seems consistently precise, and that 'refudiate' more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of 'reject.'"
-- Statement from the New Oxford American Dictionary, rationalizing its seemingly inexplicable decision to choose Sarah Palin's completely made-up word "refudiate" as its word of the year
You know, when smart people begin caving to the barrage of demands from unbelievably dumb people, that tells you we're well into Idiocracy territory.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois is now seeking the chairmanship for the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Here, in a hearing from 2009, he lays the groundwork for the argument that he's completely qualified for that position.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I'm right in the middle of Matt Taibbi's new book, his opus really, Griftopia -- and there's no adequate expression possible for how good it is, both as a read and as a benchmark for our times.
While Taibbi's brutal and often laugh-out-loud funny insights about the condition of our economic and political landscape -- and indictment of those who created this fucking mess -- provide the crux of the book, it's a minor tangent he goes off on about Ayn Rand that really had me nodding my head. I'll explain why in a minute, but here's what he had to say about Rand, whom he calls "a bloviating, arbitrary, self-important pseudo-intellectual who recalls the gibberish-spewing academic twits in Woody Allen spoofs," and whose philosophy of "Objectivism" he mercilessly derides as being "a crackpot antitheology dedicated to legitimizing relentless self-interest... a grotesquerie that hit the Upper East Side cocktail party circuit hard in the fifties and sixties."
"One of the defining characteristics of Rand's clique was its absolutist ideas about good and evil, expressed in a wildly off-putting, uncompromisingly bombastic rhetoric that almost certainly bled downward to the group ranks from its Russian emigre leader, who might've been one of the most humor-deprived people ever to walk the earth.
Rand's book Atlas Shrugged, for instance, remains a towering monument to humanity's capacity for unrestrained self-pity -- it's a bizarre and incredibly long-winded piece of aristocratic paranoia in which a group of Randian supermen decide to break off from the rest of society and form a pure free-market utopia, and naturally the parasitic lower classes immediately drown in their own laziness and ineptitude.
The book fairly gushes with the resentment these poor 'Atlases' (they are shouldering the burdens of the whole world!) feel toward those who try to use 'moral guilt' to make them share their wealth. In the climactic scene the Randian hero John Galt sounds off in defense of self-interest and attacks the notion of self-sacrifice as a worthy human ideal in a speech that lasts seventy five pages.
It goes without saying that only a person possessing a mathematically inexpressible level of humorless self-importance would subject anyone to a seventy-five page speech about anything. Hell, even Jesus Christ barely cracked two pages with the Sermon on the Mount. Rand/Galt manages it, however, and this speech lays the foundation of objectivism, a term that was probably chosen because 'greedism' isn't catchy enough."
I bring this up for personal reasons, actually, because to be honest I never really bothered reading a lot of Rand when I was young (which from what I did read always seemed to be the only period in a human life when something that ridiculous might be absorbed and regarded as anything other than pseudo-philosophical pabulum). Looking back on it, though, I'm sorry I didn't get to know Ayn Rand's beliefs a little better, because as it turned out the person I wound up falling in love with in 2002 was a fan of Rand to the point of her online screen-name being a direct reference to one of Rand's characters and what seemed at the time to be a strange, almost romantic infatuation with John Galt.
I always just figured this made her wonderfully literate. Jesus, what little I knew.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I'm a sucker for war movies and I'm even more of a sucker for alien invasion movies, and that's why this brand new trailer for the upcoming Battle: Los Angeles just made my nerdy little day.
Yeah, Skyline seems decent, and I really like the Strauses' way with visuals. But this just looks bad-ass -- and with its epic apocalyptic scope set to eerily plaintive, robotic music, it's a fantastic trailer.
Oh, hell yeah.
Happy Friday, kids -- now pull up some floor and enjoy Sly and the Family Stone's Hot Fun, Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey and I Wanna Take You Higher.
And remember to leave your keys in the fishbowl as you walk in.
You know, Madonna was on Ellen a couple of days ago to lend her two cents to the fight against the current "epidemic" of bullying in America, officially signifying that the whole Heathers-esque anti-bullying fad that's been sweeping the nation has finally jumped the shark. This can only mean that the inevitable pro-bully backlash will soon begin. So prissy little outcasts everywhere, get ready to be dragged kicking and screaming into the giant steel cage your school gym has been converted into, where you'll be beaten savagely by jocks wielding cafeteria chairs while hundreds of NRA-supporting parents in camouflage t-shirts and "Big Journalism" baseball caps look on unashamed.
Remember, everything in our culture these days is cyclical, and it's only a matter of time before people have had enough of being made to feel like they need to defer to the Glee kids.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
There's something going on in South Florida right now that might be worth paying close attention to.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Yesterday, every public school in Broward County -- all 300+ of them -- were locked down for most of the day after a "credible threat" was apparently made against them by someone who called in to a local radio show. Turns out that radio show belonged to Joyce Kaufman -- a conservative talk show host who, last July 4th, took to the mic to say that "if ballots don't work, bullets will," and who recently ranted that America is in danger of "losing our culture" to illegal immigrants.
The latest is that the police have the suspect in custody who reportedly made the threat -- according to his wife, his claim was that he was going to shoot up a school or a government building -- and that he's being anything but cooperative.
On the surface, this reads like yet another case of some far-right firebrand with a microphone urging revolution and, not surprisingly, finding that somebody in her audience is willing to take her up on it. We've seen it before -- we know that we will absolutely see it again. But here's the twist: Joyce Kaufman was recently picked to be the Chief of Staff for incoming Florida Republican Congressman and Tea Party darling Allen West (they're pictured above). She was going to Washington, DC with him.
I say was because, as this story began breaking just a couple of hours ago, Kaufman immediately backed out and said that she won't be taking the job.
Let me go back to the beginning. Every kid who goes to a public school in Broward County, Florida had to be locked inside his or her classroom yesterday. For hours. Because one wingnut psychopath may have promised violence at the irresponsible and incendiary goading of a conservative talk show host.
More to come.
(Update 4:26PM: Here's the official write-up from the AP: MIAMI (AP) — A conservative radio talk show host tapped to be chief of staff for incoming U.S. Rep. Allen West is stepping down from her congressional job a day after 300 Florida schools were locked down when a threat was linked to her show. Joyce Kaufman announced Thursday that she would not be West's aide. Kaufman said on her show that she wants to avoid any repercussions to the Florida Republican, but she didn't elaborate and hasn't returned telephone messages. Kaufman has drawn fire for some of her comments. At a recent tea party rally, she told the crowd that if "ballots don't work, bullets will." Police have said the message to Kaufman from the suspect mentioned gun rights but they have refused to release its contents.)
So the picture of the stalled Carnival cruiseship, the Splendor, being towed into port is certainly a good one -- and there's nothing wrong with the cable networks milking it for all it's worth.
What's really annoying, though, is that you know that the second the passengers on-board the ship clear the gangplank and step onto dry land, they're gonna be descended on by reporters from every media outlet in the United States -- all of whom will breathlessly pelt these people with the kind of questions that make it seem as if they've just come out of a Chilean mine after 69 days.
As if, after a couple of days at sea with no power on a luxury-liner, it turned into Lord of the Flies-style savagery, with horny college kids beating pensioners to death with the arms of slot machines, then eating them for sustenance. Like the clean-up crews are gonna board the ship and find that the dark interior state room hallways look like what the Colonial Marines found at Hadley's Hope in Aliens.
If nothing else, it'll be entertaining.
"The false equivalency model is fully deployed by the left on the Wikileaks matter. Vietnam and Afghanistan are not equatable. Because Vietnam was a total clusterfuck does not mean Afghanistan is as well. If your country is at war, that fact alone does not justify giving aid and comfort to an enemy solely to oppose 'war.' Ellsberg survived because by the time he leaked the Papers the public had largely made its determination that Vietnam was unjust and unnecessary. History has verified that conclusion. Imagine if Ellsberg had leaked in 1967 instead of 1971. Manning is now in the unenviable position of hoping for a Vietnam-like outcome in Afghanistan. Otherwise, by the time he is released from Leavenworth his anus will have the circumference of a coffee cup.
-- Namron, on the Greenwald/Manning/Wikileaks saga
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
So this is kind of entertaining.
Last night I got an e-mail that was cc'd to about 50 or so indiscriminate addresses; it seemed to be trying to find its way into the hands of, among others, Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Matt Drudge, Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, O'Reilly's little Renfield-like producer Jesse Watters, Dana Milbank at the Post, and, yes, Keith Olbermann. What it contained was a link to a blog post currently running over at Newsbusters -- the right-wing media watchdog site created by professional uptight pencil-dick Brent Bozell -- which claimed that a Huffington Post contributor had inadvertently pulled back the curtain on MSNBC's prime time operation and admitted the ugly truth about it.
Can you figure out where this is going?
Yeah -- that Huffington Post contributor was me.
The post was written by Jack Coleman, whom I've never met and who may be a decent-enough guy for all I know, and it essentially used one line from the piece I put together on Olbermann's suspension last week to make a point I guess he felt needed to be made -- one which, not surprisingly, confirms what I have to assume are his own firmly-held biases.
Here's what he wrote:
"Wow, how'd that one slip through?
Writing about Keith Olbermann's 'indefinite suspension'/extended weekend away from MSNBC, Huffington Post blogger Chez Pazienza provided a rare moment of illumination at the left-wing site when he wrote this in a post titled 'Playing for Keith' --
'NBC's dilemma has always been how to draw the line between the outspoken free-for-all on MS and the supposedly dignified proceedings at NBC News proper. Maybe this will be the event that finally forces the NBC suits to fess up and admit what everybody already knows: MSNBC prime time isn't a news block; it's opinion. (emphasis added) And there's nothing really wrong with that.'"
Coleman goes on to make the claim -- and I feel like he really has to reach for it -- that the above quote somehow refutes Rachel Maddow's entire argument that MSNBC is, at its core, a news operation which traffics in facts (as opposed to Fox News, which she says is almost strictly a tool for partisan propaganda). Apparently, my willingness to state pretty categorically that MSNBC's prime time eschews traditional objective newscasting in favor of editorializing -- and that this fact should be fairly obvious to anyone with a set of ears and two brain cells to rub together -- makes me akin to Joshua's trumpet, bringing down the walls of Jericho.
This of course is horseshit.
I won't dare say I was misquoted or that my comment was taken out of context because each of those is a tired conceit, but thankfully I don't really have to bother going that route; any idiot can see the point I was making. Just because something or someone traffics largely in opinion doesn't mean that the opinions being expressed aren't based on actual facts. Maddow's argument in response to Olbermann's suspension was a good one -- that the system of checks and balances in place at NBC News was designed to ensure that those who worked for the network adhered to the highest journalistic standards. Yes, a new generation and a new paradigm now bends and even breaks those rules -- and that's a good thing -- but the fact that they exist at all proves that NBC ostensibly gives a crap about being fair. I have no doubt that Fox News also has some set of standards in place, and that perhaps at one time it even mattered. But if the network brass used to be able to make the argument that, yes, Fox's prime time could occasionally be an editorial Thunderdome but its daytime programming was always straight down the middle -- "fair and balanced," as it were -- that time has long since passed; Fox's blatant and oppressive partisan bias infects so much of what it does on a daily, hourly basis that it's simply impossible to take seriously as a responsible news network anymore.
While Keith Olbermann managed to get himself in trouble for making private campaign contributions to a couple of political candidates he happens to agree with -- Fox News employs as contributors and gives a public forum day after day after day to the political candidates and prospective political candidates it happens to agree with. It not only funds the campaigns of those running for office under the Republican and Tea Party banner (to say nothing of helping to foment the Tea Party movement by promoting and sponsoring its rallies); it reaps a financial reward of its own -- via ratings-based ad revenue -- from putting these people on the air, creating an Ouroboros in which politics and the media are interchangeable head and tail.
MSNBC is a news operation that features a well-defined block of advocacy and opinion, which means that news is still at the core of what it does.
Fox is a non-stop engine of advocacy and opinion that occasionally sprinkles in some actual news, which means that bias is always at the core of what it does.
Both have their share of booming partisan voices, but there is a damn huge difference.