Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Listening Post

These guys are always hit or miss for me. Some of their stuff is brilliant, some of it's kind of average. This brand new single falls somewhere in the middle, but I give the band credit because frontman Justin Furstenfeld really is a semi-functional loon, and that's refreshing these days.

Here's new Blue October -- The Chills.

Assistant Quote of the Day

"Quick, to the batshitmobile!"

-- Jon Stewart, reacting to Rep. Allen West's quick and assured response that he was "ready to drive the car" after watching a clip from The Town aimed at pumping up House Republicans during the debt debate

The Lion King

From last night's Letterman.

I'm totally on board with this idea.

Adding: For those who saw last night's episode of Louie, a great description of the second half of it, from New York's Vulture section: "'Pamela' may be the least funny Louie in recent memory, but it’s also the most affecting; every one of us, at one point or another, has made the kind of desperately lovelorn pitch Louie throws at Pamela. But that’s the sort of plea you make when you’re young. Watching a middle-aged guy fall so hard for someone and realize it’ll never work, is a rarely seen, deeply felt kind of heartbreak." If you missed it and you don't have it DVRd, kick yourself.

Quote of the Day

"The Republicans created the Tea Party. They rebelled. They devolved. And they have a plan."

-- Oliver Willis via Twitter

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 7/29/11

One Flew Over the Debt Ceiling; The Madness of the Debt Negotiations; Boehnerville; John McCain and the Tea Party Hobbits; John McCain Created the Tea Party; Republican Violent Rhetoric and Right-Wing Extremism; Paul Broun Wants to Bend the Laws of Physics; Michele Bachmann’s Husband; Religion and the Norway Massacre; Stupid Palin Thing of the Week; and much more! Brought to you by Bubble Genius!

Listen and subscribe on iTunes (FREE)

Download the mp3 (79 minutes, 35mb)

Happy Birthday, Inara

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Listening Post

Tomorrow, Inara turns three years old.

Sometimes, when she's here with me, I sing this to her at bedtime. Or at least I try to.

Here's Billy Joel's Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel).

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"I have no doubt that we will not lose the full faith and credit of the United States... That's why I refuse to be a party to deceiving the American people yet again. I won't do it. I will vote against any proposal that includes tax increases or raises the debt ceiling."

-- Michele Bachmann, speaking today

Michele Bachmann believes that homosexuals aren't born that way and can be reprogrammed to be straight people. She believes that The Lion King was gay propaganda. She believes that abolishing the minimum wage will create jobs. She believes that Terri Schiavo was never actually in an irreparable vegetative state. She believes that climate change is a hoax and that carbon dioxide is "harmless." She believes that evolution isn't real, that "intelligent design" is, and that most scientists agree on both counts.

And she believes that the debt ceiling doesn't matter, that a potential default isn't imminent and that the whole thing is a scam made up by the Democrats.

Yup. Michelle Bachmann is somebody you really want to be listening to right about now.

Wire Trap

Not to be too cliché, but, Jesus, just when you think it couldn't get any more disgusting:

"The News of the World hacked into the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, an abducted and murdered 8-year-old girl, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

It was the hacking of 13-year-old Milly Dowler's phone that turned the long-simmering phone hacking scandal into a full-blown crisis. The news of Payne's hacking is, in some ways, even more shocking, because it was her daughter's murder by a pedophile in 2000 that led News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to launch a crusade for a sex offender's law in Britain known as 'Sarah's Law.'

Payne grew so close to the paper, and to Brooks, that she wrote a column for its final issue, paying tribute...

'The NOTW team supported me through some of the darkest, most difficult times of my life and became my trusted friends,' she wrote. 'One example of their support was to give me a phone to help me stay in touch with my family, friends and support network, which turned out to be an absolute lifeline.'

According to the Guardian, it is that phone -- personally given to Payne by Brooks -- which may have been hacked."

Just a reminder of the kind of illegal and reprehensible behavior Murdoch's people engaged in, in case that little story had fallen off your radar.


It's rare that I provide any disclaimers around here, but this is absolutely NSFW. It is, however, the funniest thing you'll see all day.

Watch it now before the C&D order arrives from Wrigley's team of lawyers.

And careful. I hear those things burn when they get in your eye.

Savior Indignation

"No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder."

-- Bill O'Reilly on Norway shooting and Christian extremist Anders Behring Breivik

If you're curious, it's called the "No True Scotsman" argumentative fallacy. It's also, even as a straightforward claim, tremendous bullshit, as a good portion of history has demonstrated.

As for the so-shameless-it's-comical hypocrisy in how an avowed Christian mass murderer is treated by these people versus how any self-described Muslim killer is -- it's really not even worth going into.

Adding: By the way, the montage of Fox News talking heads Stewart runs through -- culminating in Hannity's final, hilarious bit of punctuation -- is why The Daily Show could easily make the claim that it's got some of the most ferocious journalists in the country on its staff.

Fault Lines

The Nation's Ari Melber spells out simply and concretely what the debt ceiling fight is about (and here's a hint: both sides aren't equally to blame for it):

"This fight started with a partisan threat to sabotoge the economy in order to extract policy concessions, but then, when Democrats offered most of the concessions, it ricocheted and morphed into something else: a high-stakes lightning round of intramural GOP posturing. Right now, we are living through a Republican primary for economic policy. The results may hurt the nation -- an externality that Republicans have widely acknowledged, lending bite to their bark -- and no one seems to know what you do with an army that wants to keep fighting after there’s no land left to conquer."

Melber goes on to pick apart the "balance bias" America's journalists regularly engage in and how, especially when it comes to the debt ceiling story, its inherent dishonesty screws us all.

Quote of the Day

"It was reported that television ratings for the trial were extraordinary. Clearly, the broadcast of an official and serious court proceeding such as this trial where a young girl was dead and her mother faced the death penalty devolved into cheap, soap-opera-like entertainment."

-- Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the Casey Anthony trial, in a ruling this week that will keep the names of the jurors in the case secret until public outrage over the verdict subsides

Cheap, soap-opera-like entertainment. You think?

While it may seem a little presumptuous, it's really not that much of a stretch so let's call this what it is: The judge in the Casey Anthony trial is basically keeping the jurors hidden because there's a legitimate threat to their safety in the atmosphere created by irresponsible, narcissistic goons like Nancy Grace. I get the ratings thing; I know that bloodthirsty outrage makes for great television. But in this case it's flat-out dangerous. Everyone, including the judge who presided over the Anthony case, understands this and has directly or indirectly castigated those who've fomented this climate. And yet CNN continues to allow Grace -- by a wide margin the worst offender -- to have a forum on its air. The lack of journalistic ethics is just mind-boggling.

Listening Post

I love this video because watching the kids gather around in whatever New York City park they shot this just makes me smile. Here's an impromptu live performance from the Last Royals.

This is Crystal Vases.

Below is the studio version of the song.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rick Dross

Rick Scott perfectly personifies everything that's wrong with the far-right and with the unfocused Tea Party rage that thrust a bunch of maniacal idiots into power in the 2010 elections. He's a guy who made a fortune as the CEO of a massive for-profit health care company but who was forced out when that company was found guilty of fourteen felonies and had to pay the government back $600 million in a Medicare billing scandal. In other words, he basically operated a criminal enterprise. Since beating Democratic opponent Alex Sink by a razor-thin margin last year, he's pretty much run Florida into the ground -- an admittedly impressive accomplishment given that it was in such bad shape to begin with -- and made himself a man with almost no friends or supporters to speak of. Rick Scott is, no bullshit, the most profound and expansive case of buyer's remorse in the history of Florida politics.

If you're curious as to why he's so universally regarded as a guy who couldn't manage a 7-11, just watch his performance on CNN this morning. Christine Romans, and eventually a smelling-blood-in-the-water Ali Velshi, pound him into paste over both his inability or unwillingness to answer questions about the debt ceiling debate, and, apparently, his lack of knowledge of what the debt ceiling even is.

This man is the governor of the fourth most-populated state in the country.

Mediaite: Two CNN Anchors Try, and Fail, To Get Florida Governor Rick Scott To Answer Their Debt Ceiling Questions/7.27.11

By the way, as I mentioned earlier today, watch how quickly Scott employs the go-to GOP talking point about how government needs to be run like a business. And then ask just about anyone in Florida how well that's worked out for them under Scott's administration so far.

Assistant To the Quote of the Day

"I’m not comparing my situation to the gulag, but I speak truth to power. You’d think liberal baby boomers would support me. Isn’t that what the ’60s were all about? Do we really want political prisoners in America?"

-- James O'Keefe, indirectly comparing the terms of his probation which keep him in New Jersey unless otherwise authorized to the confinement of Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn

You just knew that O'Keefe would have a persecution complex and that he'd express it in the most melodramatic terms possible. Read the New York Times article this quote came from -- his laugh-out-loud silliness doesn't stop there.

Course now that I think about it he may have a point. At least in the gulag you're not surrounded by this.

Network Reporter

Dave Itzkoff is one of my favorite writers over at the Times. His first book, Lads, about his time coming up in the magazine world writing for Maxim and Details, was terrific and I've paid close attention to him ever since.

So obviously, this is kick-ass news when you consider both the author and the topic.

Media Bistro: Dave Itzkoff Lands Deal for Book on the Making of Network/7.27.11


You had to know that something like this was coming.

The Huffington Post: House Democratic Leaders To Obama: Invoke the 14th Amendment/7.27.11

The reaction by the right to that kind of move would be seething, homicidal rage directed toward the White House and the Democrats. I don't even need to elaborate on that.

Of course there's an argument to be made that, really, not a thing would change.

This is what it's coming to. Unbelievable.

Dead Rising

Epic and haunting, Wye Oak's Civilian isn't simply one of the best songs of the year, it was made to be used in a movie or television trailer.

And thankfully, the people contracted by AMC to advertise the new season of The Walking Dead knew that.

Above is the trailer, below is the original version of Civilian.


I like Peter Berg -- I really do. I thought The Kingdom was a smarter-than-it-should've-been action movie, The Rundown showed a good amount of comic flair, and of course Friday Night Lights was flat-out terrific.

But this -- this honestly looks like it could very well be the worst movie ever made.

Gawker: Please Sink This Battleship/7.27.11

The tagline should be: "Battleship: You knew it was going to suck, but you had no idea it would suck this hard."

Debt or Alive

Playing the role of the harbinger of doom today will be Oliver Willis -- and I find it hard to disagree with him or anyone else who feels this way anymore.

"We face gigantic problems in the country and in the world. But our political machinery is simply incapable of even acknowledging the problems, much less fixing them. An economy paralyzed by job loss is being discussed as a debt problem, for Christ’s sake... We are doomed."

How bad is it right now? How shameful and embarrassing? Our government is seriously putting us in danger of defaulting, which will not only create economic chaos for us -- potentially thwarting any hope of a recovery and in fact very likely plunging us into an all-out depression -- but the shockwaves for the global economy could be calamitous. What's more, it's doing it over an entirely made-up crisis, mostly because the GOP and the Tea Party, I truly believe, would be willing to burn the whole country to the ground as long as it meant that Obama would be forced out of the White House.

Worrying about an eventual problem like the federal deficit instead of dealing with the immediate and grievous problem of nationwide unemployment is an almost incomprehensible lapse in logic. The Republicans are constantly lecturing about how Washington supposedly needs to conduct itself the way businesses and average American families do -- well, how many businesses and families do you know that put aside dealing with a crisis happening today in favor of one that will happen years from now? Even worse, who would be flat-out stupid and stubborn enough to do it knowing full-well that taking care of today's problem would actually help solve tomorrow's? If the economy begins running at full-capacity again, the deficit could be hacked down piece by piece. We've done it before -- as recently as the 1990s.

I swear, there are moments right now when I think we deserve to be invaded and have our government taken away from us for the greater good of everyone. We're now a threat to the entire world -- and isn't that the reason we always give for why a sovereign nation needs to be overthrown? Of course I don't really want that, but at what point will all of this finally stop?

All That You Can't Leave Behind

Both of my favorites are on this list -- All I Want Is You and Where the Streets Have No Name -- but I would've put them at two and one, respectively. Still, you look over these ten songs and realize that you're very lucky to have had this band in your life throughout most of it.

Rolling Stone: Readers Poll: The Best U2 Songs

Quote of the Day

"I’m ready to drive the car."

-- GOP Rep. Allen West of Florida

West reportedly stood up and said this after watching a clip of -- prepare to make the disconsolately confused Daffy Duck face -- Ben Affleck's The Town, which House Republicans have apparently watched as a kind of motivational tool during the current debt ceiling debate. The scene in question features Affleck's character approaching Jeremy Renner's character and saying, "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is; you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people," to which Renner responds, "Whose car are we gonna take?"

Get it? Allen West says he'll drive.

So the Republicans are watching a movie about bank robbers to get themselves pumped for battle. And this was leaked presumably to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, so that everyone could know just what kind of testosterone-filled bad-asses the GOP is made of. And Allen West is, of course, assuming the role of the murderously crazy guy in the movie, the one who goes down in a hail of police gunfire. I swear, if this weren't so catastrophically sad it would be hilarious. You just can't make this kind of adolescent crap up anymore.

Still, there's never been a better metaphor than whack-job Allen West being handed the keys to a car -- which he'll then drive right over a cliff, with all of us in it.

"We're gonna hurt some people."


Update: Affleck is now responding to the fact that the House Republicans appear to be his new biggest fans by saying, "I don't know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation." He then goes on to suggest the GOP watch another film he starred in, one he feels is more appropriate for them: The Company Men. I've actually got an even better suggestion, the most obvious one of all.

Listening Post

A couple of weeks back I posted Chase & Status's Hitz, from an album which I called one of the best of the year so far. Here's another track from that record, and it's equally fantastic.

This is Time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Assistant Quote of the Day

"The greatest concern to the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition is the integrity of the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge that was signed by 39 House Members and 12 Senators, and whether voting for the proposed deal constitutes a Pledge violation... We hold that is does violate the pledge, on several grounds."

-- From a declaration issued today by a coalition of more than a hundred Tea Party groups which warns that any vote for John Boehner's debt ceiling proposal constitutes a violation of a pledge signed by dozens of Republican lawmakers

This is what it's come to. The Republican party is completely beholden to these people and terrified of the threats made by them. And these people are blithering idiots who honestly don't think that a U.S. default would be a big deal -- that it's some kind of hoax like climate change, evolution or the death of Elvis.

They'll willfully cause this country to be plunged into economic catastrophe if the GOP doesn't immediately disavow their insanity. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Pledge Hammer

Quote of the Day

"What was the point of giving a prime-time address to the nation, without an Obama plan?"

-- Former CNN correspondent Ed Henry's very first question in the White House press room as a newly minted Fox News correspondent

I see the obligatory reeducation camp regimen, as usual, worked splendidly.

Actually, Henry was always a bit of a weasely little hack, so this isn't that far a jump for him.

Incidentally, I love people who continue to make the diversionary argument that it's somehow the responsibility of the President of the United States to come up with a plan to solve the debt ceiling fight. The last time I checked, the executive branch didn't create legislation; the president is not a lawmaker. Obama submits proposals for the budget and makes it clear what he will and won't approve on this current fight -- and he has, more than once -- but ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to put together a sensible plan. And as for the howling about how Obama spends too much, as the House Republicans are so fond of saying, Congress controls the purse strings -- hence why the GOP pulled them wide open during the Bush years without even a peep of complaint. Regardless, Obama has made his position clear from the start and has in fact moved to the right since then, at his own peril. The House Republicans, meanwhile, refuse to compromise on the most important issues standing in the way of meaningful progress here and are the ones who have brought the country to the edge of catastrophe in the name of shameful dick-swinging.

Listening Post: Nostalgia Edition

Sorry, folks, but this one can't wait. I had no idea Duncan Sheik recorded and just released an entire album of 80s covers and for that I'm kicking myself. But then again maybe it's better I didn't know because my reaction when I came across those 12 songs was nothing short of overwhelming. I love Sheik anyway and have since the start of his career, and his choice and performance of covers is pretty much legendary at this point, but this -- this just blows me away.

Here now, just a few tracks from the album.

Talk Talk's Life's What You Make It:

Howard Jones's What Is Love?:

The Psychedelic Furs' The Ghost in You:

Also on the album, Shout, Stripped, Love Vigilantes, Kyoto Song and a whole lot more.

Poster Children

I can't even tell you how much I love the Someecards site.

This made me seriously bust up laughing at least five or six times.

Mock the Vote

This should surprise no one.

Bloomberg: Republican Leaders Voted for Drivers of U.S. Debt They Now Blame on Obama/7.26.11

And remember that this story didn't come from Mother Jones -- it came from Bloomberg, not exactly a bastion of hardcore commie thinking. More than that -- it's the truth. Remember that concept?

Ceiling Our Fate

From a good piece by John Avlon in the Daily Beast today:

"This is a political crisis manifesting itself as a fiscal crisis. Deficit reduction is no longer the real goal. Principled differences have been abandoned. Instead, there is just the struggle to survive politically without taking the nation off a cliff. It is a failure of divided government, and that’s why the two prime time speeches last night offered a preview of campaign 2012...

As you watch this drama play out over the next seven days, don’t forget that this is an entirely forced fire-drill. The debt ceiling has been raised more or less automatically in the past -- 77 times since JFK, including 18 times under Ronald Reagan and 7 times under George W. Bush. Republicans were not rushing to the ramparts then -- consistent with their heightened concern over deficits that comes only when Democrats are in the White House...

Nonetheless, this is the first time in American history that the debt ceiling vote has been held hostage by hyper-partisan politics. It won’t be the last. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to put this genie back in the bottle."

Avlon's final point is something I've grappled with quite a bit over the past year or so -- the idea that there's really no way back at this point and what we're witnessing right now is the new model of politics. Get used to this kind of dysfunction on a massive scale because the often civil -- and occasionally begrudging -- compromise that was the hallmark of the political system of our parents' generation has been shot full of holes and now lies bleeding on the ground, I think well past the point of resuscitation.

The question is, why? What created the furious polarization that's so intransigent that it honestly, as we're witnessing right now, has the potential to flat-out drive this country off a cliff? I realize I've worked in the media for years so I tend to see things through this prism, but I really do think it's the sheer volume of ostensible "press" outlets that's to blame. I've said this more than once but it bears repeating yet again: The internet has made everyone a king, turned the whole world into wannabe journalists and the problem has become that you can't tell who's full of crap and who's actually telling the truth anymore; what's more, it's that constant flow of information from everywhere you look that's rendered the truth, seemingly, more or less moot. Everyone presents their view as fact; each person or outlet uses those kinds of "facts" to further bolster his or her views; the noise grows louder and louder; the sides diverge and every single subject becomes politicized, able to be regarded as a this-or-that fight and fiercely argued over by an endless, ever-increasing supply of partisans; no one even hears the other side anymore because it's now possible to get your news in ways that do nothing but confirm your already intractable biases; objective reality vanishes.

Put it this way: Nothing Lawrence O'Donnell says on MSNBC matters one bit in the big picture because no one but those who already subscribe to the beliefs he espouses are watching and if they are they don't believe a word of it. He's wasting his breath for an hour every night. Fox News? Don't even bother going there. It's an entire network created for the sole purpose of and thoroughly devoted to preaching to one very specific choir -- which is why no matter what happens in the real world, viewers of Fox will never see it, at least not the way it really happened. They'll get the funhouse mirror version of events as filtered through the talking points that come down from the top and trickle directly into the mouths of Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy.

Last night, President Obama called for compromise, a position for which he's taken plenty of heat from his own party -- maybe fairly, maybe unfairly. John Boehner, on the other hand, did exactly what his base expected him to do, what it demanded of him. He stood frozen in place, a man determined to burn America to the ground if that's what it takes to make his political point, protect his base's perverted values when it comes to taxes for the ultra-wealthy and ultimately return a Republican to his rightful place in the White House. He knew he could do it because he knew he could blame the president for it and his base would never know any vividly contrasting reality because all it would hear is the version of the story presented by Fox News. Which is why the people Obama spoke to were those Americans he called "collateral damage" in this ridiculous battle between the two extremes -- the independents who are fed up and who've had enough of this crap.

The problem is, they'd better get used to it. It's not going to get any better. This is just the beginning.

Picture of the Day

From Sunday's New York Times, a breakdown of how the federal deficit became so huge.

Any questions?

Now shut your pie-hole, Boehner.

Listening Post

The new Thievery Corporation record hasn't left my main playlist since the day it hit iTunes; it's probably the best complete album they've ever done.

From that, here's Take My Soul, with LouLou on vocals.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Debt of Attitude

I'll make this quick.

There's no arguing with the fact that what we all just witnessed outlined in pretty clear terms the dynamic that's been going on in Washington for the past several months in regard to the debt ceiling fight. Obama was not only reasonable, measured and -- I can't believe I even have to say this -- mature, but he made it clear that he was a man so willing to compromise for the good of the country that he's consistently fending off fire from many in his own party who feel like he's somehow selling them out. Boehner, meanwhile, was a petulant, haughty adolescent, someone not the least bit interested in genuine compromise and who's more than willing to forgo honest dialog in the name of cheap theatrics, bad jokes and brutish partisan intransigence because he knows it's what his party demands at this point.

I tweeted this a little earlier but it can pretty much be broken down like this: Obama: "We need to compromise and stop being petty children for the sake of everyone." Boehner: "Fuck you."

Interestingly, though, it was an aesthetic point that caught my eye almost immediately -- and one Chris Matthews pointed out on MSNBC a little while ago during the wrap-up coverage of the speeches. It was in bad taste enough, I thought, that Boehner chose to speak minutes after the president, despite the fact that it was always sure to prove Obama's point flawlessly that thanks to the House Republicans and their tea bagging overlords, DC has turned into nothing more than an embarrassing and endlessly mock-worthy circus. But there was something specific about the way Boehner spoke -- the surroundings he set for himself -- that bugged the hell out of me. He stood at a podium, with flags behind him -- a similar setting to the president's own speech. The implication was inarguable and thoroughly offensive: it gave the impression that the Speaker of the House was somehow on the same level as the President of the United States -- that this was a battle of equals.

Since the very beginning, the right has sought to utterly diminish and delegitimize this president; as a collective movement, it's treated him with disrespect and derision, called him an anti-colonialist-Marxist threat to the country who isn't even from this country and who wants to indoctrinate our children into the cult of socialism. They've made up lie after lie about this guy, and they've showed him and the office he occupies so little respect that they've felt they can stand up and call him a liar during a State of the Union address.

And tonight, in yet another breathtaking insult, John Boehner stood there as if he held the same authority as Barack Obama. As if he were America's other president.

I'll say this one more time for the cheap seats: I don't approve of everything Barack Obama has done during his presidency. He's by no means perfect. But what we saw tonight put into perspective the monumental differences not simply in vision but in sheer seriousness between Obama and the people he's up against.

Sorry, but at this moment every American has no choice but to take a side -- and I'm on Obama's side on this, 100%. Ironically, that is the compromise position. As for Boehner, screw him and the disgraceful bunch of uncontrollable babies under his purview who are holding this country hostage. Enough is enough.

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"The next thing that I would like to be publicly acknowledged is not just that they’re ideological -- they’re not just the TV equivalent of The Weekly Standard or something -- they are actually a power base within the Republican Party."

-- Gawker's John Cook on Fox News

Cook and Gawker are filing suit against the office of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today. The reason: They want access to e-mails between Christie and Fox News Chief Roger Ailes because Cook believes it's very possible that Ailes is secretly advising Christie on his political career. The thing is, he is advising him -- and he's not even bothering to do it in secret. Fox News is the power base of the Republican party and when Ailes gives you advice, which he has to Christie, you generally take it because Fox stands as your personal megaphone and propaganda engine and Ailes can make or break you.

Remember what I said last week about the danger of having a direct connection between a massive media corporation and American politics? This is what I was talking about.

Picture of the Day

This is not something I photoshopped. It's apparently an honest-to-God ad from a porn site.

And it is -- in so many ways and for so many different reasons -- the greatest thing in the history of everything ever.

Poor Kyra.

(h/t Alert Reader Fausto)

He's the Establishment, Man!

If you thought that my largely even-handed piece last week on the departure of Cenk Uygur from MSNBC would be met with magnanimity and an interest in healthy debate, free from petty dismissiveness, over at the Huffington Post -- well, you obviously don't read HuffPo much. While there were a few comments that could be called thoughtful and engaging, a good portion of them sounded like they were written by people who had just been forced to gargle a tall glass of cat piss.

The biggest argument seemed to be that Cenk's unrefined, blunt-instrument delivery -- which I think works alright on his internet show but is a little irritating on television at six o'clock -- just proves how genuine he is and constitutes a much-needed breath of fresh air on cable news.

"Mr. Pazienza..­..sorry you don't appreciate the straight-f­orward... and honest style of journalism that Cenk Uygur embodies, but maybe you need to get over that."

-- LelioRisen

"I completely disagree with this person'a assessment of Cenk. Everything he said he backed up with facts. He's REAL."

-- efffox

Then there were the people who specifically zeroed-in on my use of the word "polish" to describe what Uygur lacks.

"'I don't think Uygur's a very polished broadcaste­r, so from that perspectiv­e I can understand why Griffin might want to relegate him to MS's basement for a little while.' Yeah, we are all looking for 'polish' vs adherence to principal in our reporters."

-- zlohcuc

"Does the author mean polished like most of on-air hosts on most of the networks in the U.S. who don't know what questions to ask and do not listen to the answers given for proper follow up but look good doing it? That kind of polished?"

-- gysgt213

For the record, and I've made this clear here a couple of times, saying that Cenk isn't polished was a really nice way of not saying that he sounds like he's talking with a mouth full of marbles. What he's saying is decent -- it really is. How he's saying it needs work, and his combative delivery just makes his deficiencies when it comes to enunciation more pronounced. I'm certainly not saying that he should be banished from network news for all eternity; I'm saying that he needs to learn to be passionate without letting it consume him to the point where it highlights his faults as a broadcaster and therefore works against him when it comes to trying to effectively get his point across, and that's simply something you learn with training and over time.

Then, of course, comes the inevitable guy who accuses me of working for Fox.

"More importantly Chez. Who pays you? Roger or does Rupert pay you directly. This was a hit piece on MSNBC if I ever read one. The snide comments about being yelled at, bellicose, lame at broadcasti­ng, nonstop left handed remarks about KO, Shultz, Cenk, and others."

-- Liberalbuzz

But the number of people who had one very specific word to describe me -- presumably for having the gall to not offer what they deemed an unequivocal defense of Cenk -- well, just see for yourself.

"This from a guy with 20 years inside establishm­ent news. Hmmm..."

-- HeevenSteven

"'presumabl­y, nobody wanted to be shouted at for four minutes by a crazy guy who couldn't stop flailing his arms in their direction' C'mon, that is absurd! Uygur is nothing but respectful with guests who are respectful to him... Get with the program, Chez."

-- Aber

Rersponse: "He's establishm­ent, what do you expect. Both sides are "50/50", always."

-- MyMindSpray

"HuffPost's tone is set to defend the establishm­ent. Impressive­! Why don't you tell us why Phil Griffin is more credible than Cenk?"

-- Genna

"'It's one reason I respect Cenk so much - he sticks to his principles first.' This would be the reason Chez, and any number of other media figures critical of people like Cenk have a problem, you see. Because he maintained his integrity, even at personal cost. While the ones griping are those who've sold theirs off a piece at a time for a little more cash and notoriety. People who wholly abandon their principles for mere profit of one kind or another are always upset with someone who won't, no matter the pressure. Because it makes them realize what weak, hollow, and pathetic excuses for human beings they really have become. Everyone should be just like them, so they don't have to feel bad about being a sellout."

-- Asmodeus

That last comment I actually responded to, which I rarely do. All I wrote was, "That's pretty rich. You don't know much about my history, do you?" The idea that anyone should have to pass a political purity test is obscene to begin with, but to call me in particular "establishment" is fucking ridiculous. Like Cenk, I whipped right around and publicly bit the hand that fed me -- burning not just a job but potentially my entire career to the ground -- immediately after being fired by CNN for blogging. Speaking my mind, and the suicidally stupid need to go on speaking my mind, cost me a whole hell of a lot. It's a breeze to be ferociously vocal about your views -- and to criticize those who aren't -- when you're hiding behind an online handle and posting comments at the Huffington Post. Try doing it when there are serious negative repercussions that threaten your livelihood and everything you hold dear. If you can't do it then -- or until you're even in that position -- shut your goddamned trap.

This guy had a decent question (although he was apparently trying to get it to read the way Cenk often talks):

"Wait a moment, first you say he got a big of an ego, and then you say 'To hear Uygur address his online audience about the whole thing, you get the impression that at least on some level he really did feel like he had a responsibi­lity to the people who put him in the position to be moved up to the big leagues in the first place, and he didn't want to sell them out or let them down.' So which one is it, integrity or ego. ?"

-- Zacky Ahmed

Why can't it be both? You think it isn't possible for someone with a healthy ego to have integrity as well?

Then, needless to say, came the Sharpton defenders.

"Don't knock Rev. Sharpton! He doesn't have the experience as Cenk didn't, but give him a chance. I'm sure he will improve if he's allowed to stay. This is a new venue for him and hopefully, he will find coaches to help him refine his presence on TV."

-- madatnewsmedia

"Sharpton's rhetorical style may differ because of his background as a minister but there is nothing incoherent about him. I think Pazienia may not be experience­d in listening to a diverse group of speakers."

-- db08

The problem with Sharpton is that, unlike Cenk, it's not just what he says and how he says it -- but who he is. Cenk makes good points, he just does it poorly sometimes from a broadcasting perspective. Regardless, his passion is commendable and I do believe he's 100% sincere in his beliefs. Sharpton is on TV because nobody likes seeing himself on TV more (besides maybe Gloria Allred, but if I get into that we'll be here all day).

Quote of the Day

"Every time a woman gets involved with me I feel like she's opening the box from Hellraiser. 'Child, your suffering will be legendary even in hell.'"

-- Comic Joe DeRosa on this morning's Opie and Anthony Show

Listening Post

A month or so ago I posted Cold's Stupid Girl, a really great song co-written by Rivers Cuomo. At the time I said that it stood out among the band's material, because the rest of their stuff was basically generic hard rock of the Nickelback/Creed school.

Well, something about being that close to Cuomo's weirdness must've lit a spark under them, because Cold's brand new album, Superfiction, is one of the year's best little surprises. It's powerful, catchy and it shows the band doing some pretty serious evolving.

Above is the first single from Superfiction, Wicked World -- below are two more tracks, the first has singer Scooter Ward doing a pretty good Alex Turner (from the Arctic Monkeys) impression, and the second actually sounds quite a bit like Coldplay.

It's So Long, June and Flight of the Superstar.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"You would replace him with a person who would extinguish you."

-- Openly gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, talking to Jimmy Lasalvia of the gay Republican organization "GOProud," who was trying to make the argument that Michele Bachmann would be better for America than President Obama

I'm telling you, Thomas Roberts is one bad-ass, tough-as-nails, hardcore gay motherfucker. I wanna be this guy's twink.

Quote of the Day

"This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan. 'There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we’ve got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it’s become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we’re dealing with global nest of snakes.' It would be a good opportunity, in light of this attack and talk about huge cuts in defense."

-- Jennifer Rubin in a Washington Post column published yesterday afternoon

Oh yeah? Would it be a good opportunity, Jennifer? Especially now that the guy who bombed Oslo and shot up a camp full of kids, killing 91 people, is supposedly the person pictured above: all blonde hair, blue eyes and otherwise looking like he could be Alexander Skarsgard's live-in boyfriend? Now that we know that that suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is apparently a right-wing extremist who aligns himself fiercely with Christian fundamentalism, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration activism and who, police say, appeared to be lashing out at Norway's famously free and open society and progressive politics? Still wanna call for a war against those kinds of people: crazy, violent, white Christians?

See what a reactionary tool you look like jumping to conclusions in the pages of one of the most powerful and respected newspapers in the country?

On behalf of Muslims, Arabs, and anybody else brown -- apology accepted, you hack.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Day Music

Inara vs. Priest

While flipping through channels one night at her grandmother's home recently, I came across a Judas Priest live show on Palladia.

This was Inara's reaction to it.

Dark Humor

Last night I tweeted that the most hilariously shocking line that's probably been uttered on any TV comedy in years was tossed out on Louie.

This is what I was referring to -- the line about the nuts.

Time: Louie Watch: Your Beloved Racist Aunt/7.22.11

Noose Corp: Update

I'd say,"Poor Rupert Murdoch." But not only has he played a pivotal role in perverting modern journalism but he's a colossal asshole to boot, so I just can't feel bad about any of this.

You reap what you sow.

The Huffington Post: U.S. Justice Department Prepares Subpoenas in News Corp Inquiry/7.21.11

Prometheus Unbound

The first footage of and details about Ridley Scott's new Alien offshoot, Prometheus, are revealed at Comic-Con.

It all sounds amazing -- but why am I more interested in seeing Charlize Theron doing naked push-ups than anything else? Apparently, judging by this headline, the editing staff at io9 feels the same way:

io9: First footage from Prometheus Made Our Space Helmets Explode/7.21.11

Angry Words

This week on the podcast I say that I can clearly imagine Allen West as a serial killer. Like I can picture in my mind the cops busting in his front door and finding him sitting quietly on his couch while all over the living room floor is what's left of his family after he's pulled a Delbert Grady. He's that kind of crazy.

Thankfully, Stephen Colbert is more tasteful than I am. And I have to assume more wisely concerned about being permanently ostracized from society.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show 7.22.11

My Debut, Y'all; Cenk Uygur Fired from MSNBC; Ratings Don’t Matter on Cable News; The DC Media Cocktail Party Circuit; Huffington Post and The New Civility; The Debt Ceiling; Americans Want Tax Increases; Deficit, Shmeficit; Tea Party Nihilism; Rush Limbaugh Denies the Existence of Heat; Allen West is a Serial Killer; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

Listen and subscribe on iTunes (for free, no less)

Download the mp3 (74 min, 31mb)

Listening Post

It's always cause for celebration when there's a new TV on the Radio video. And when it's Friday.

Here's Caffeinated Consciousness.

The Boys of Summer

It's like having old friends return -- just when you need them most.

Welcome back, boys.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cash Into Me: Day 4

Yet another friendly reminder that we're in the middle of our big Summer Pledge Drive around here. I know that most of you are naked in a bathtub filled with ice right now, but when you finally reduce your body temperature back to human levels, please take a few minutes to show a little love to this site.

If you feel like you can contribute, the best way to do it is to click the link in the right-hand sidebar of the screen and drop some money into the electronic tip jar. Remember not to bother with my book, Dead Star Twilight, at the moment because I'll be adjusting the availability of it pretty soon and you'll want to wait until that happens.

Now you know that from this point forward not only will you be able to read my genial wise-assery here at DXM, but once a week you'll have the opportunity to let me whisper sweet, sweet vulgarities in your ear as co-host of the newly rechristened Bob and Chez Show podcast, which I'm doing with Bob Cesca. And isn't that worth something to you?

To those who've already helped out during our pledge drive, your contributions are appreciated and I can't thank you enough for them. Also, another special round of shout-outs -- this time to Gordon Jennings, Chris C. and the lovely Rhonda -- for going above and beyond the call of duty. Your generosity just humbles the hell out of me.

As always, thanks for reading, kids.

Show Time

So now that Bob's gone ahead and made it public via Twitter I guess it's my cue to do the big reveal here as well.

I'm going to be the permanent co-host of the online radio show and podcast that Cesca's been doing for quite some time; what used to be The Bob and Elvis Show will now be The Bob and Chez Show (with much respect to Elvis Dingeldein, who made the decision to leave the show a couple of weeks ago).

Bob grew up worshiping Don and Mike. I grew up worshiping Neil Rogers, Stern and Opie & Anthony. This should be real interesting.

The first official installment of the new show will be available for download tomorrow morning. I'll pop up a link to it here.

The Choke's on You

This is my favorite thing of the day and certainly the best and most Freudian typo -- if that's even what it is -- I've seen in many, many moons.

From the comment section of a post currently running at HuffPo written by Laura Ingraham called "7 Revolting Things About American Culture," comes a person who decided to add an eighth:

"People who line up to actually buy books from Laura Ingraham and other load mouth hate mongers like her."

Calling Laura Ingraham a "load mouth." Isn't that basically what got Ed Schultz suspended a couple of months back?

Turk Off

Well, as somebody who's never met a bridge he couldn't plant 600 pounds of explosives under, I'll say this for Cenk Uygur: The boy's got some industrial-sized balls on him.

Rather than even wait for a planned teleconference to explain his sudden departure from MSNBC, Uygur -- who always seems to be on a Red Bull IV drip anyway -- took to the comfortable environs of his Young Turks YouTube channel last night to basically fire a couple of impressive parting shots at his former employer. He claims that despite respectably sturdy ratings for the 6PM show during his six months or so at the reins, MSNBC president Phil Griffin made the decision to "go in a different direction" with it, basically relieving him of the show with the promise of a lower-profile on-air gig in a slot as yet to be determined. I've said before, numerous times in fact, that I don't think Uygur's a very polished broadcaster, so from that perspective I can understand why Griffin might want to relegate him to MS's basement for a little while. But of course, Uygur says that his technical skills as an on-air host weren't the primary reason the network decided to cut him loose at six.

He says it's all about his politics and his often combative defense of them.

According to Uygur, Griffin told him that "people in Washington" weren't happy with the tone of his show. Cenk of course takes that to mean that he was upsetting the merchants' carts in the temples of political power; Griffin says that by "people in Washington" he meant NBC producers who were having trouble booking guests because, presumably, nobody wanted to be shouted at for four minutes by a crazy guy who couldn't stop flailing his arms in their direction. Uygur goes on to say that at one point Griffin warned him that while he was content to rail against the establishment, MSNBC in fact is the establishment, and that that had to be kept in mind at all times. Whether this conversation really took place doesn't matter one bit because what Griffin supposedly said is a revelation about on par with finding out that the sky is blue. MSNBC, which is now part of the largest media conglomerate in the world, vertically integrated like no other, is the establishment -- well, no shit.

Whether Cenk's wounded pride was a factor in his decision to turn down MSNBC's consolation prize we'll never know for sure; obviously he's got a bit of an ego to think that he has the ability to scare the Beltway types to the point where they'd lock themselves inside their homes. But he's not lying when he says that whatever money he was being offered to stick around was almost certainly a hell of a lot more than he gets being an internet superstar. (I also couldn't help but nod knowingly at his mention of the various high-end "perks" that come with working for a corporate media behemoth; suddenly feeling like you're James Bond is nothing short of intoxicating.) So yeah, he definitely walked away from a nice paycheck and that alone could speak volumes about the purity of his motives. To hear Uygur address his online audience about the whole thing, you get the impression that at least on some level he really did feel like he had a responsibility to the people who put him in the position to be moved up to the big leagues in the first place, and he didn't want to sell them out or let them down.

Since making a conscious decision to lean to the left, MSNBC has been precariously walking a fine line between giving its progressive voices the freedom they need to be effective as hosts and understanding that that freedom will often have them saying and doing things that will make the network's corporate overlords want to drop a hundred-thousand-pound anvil on the whole place. Again, MS is the establishment -- which means that while guys like Phil Griffin want their anchors, reporters and contributors to work outside the box, they need to make sure they work inside a slightly larger box. Uygur was a bit of a loose cannon on-air, but not so much that it should have cost him his job; Ed Schultz is infinitely more bellicose as a host and astonishingly he's still firmly in place in prime-time, despite a couple of recent, entirely predictable hiccups. The difference, I think, is one of inelegance. Even Schultz's occasionally obnoxious outrage has been carefully honed to the point where it's not quite the blunt instrument wielded by Uygur. While I'm not a big fan of Schultz's, he's a better broadcaster than Uygur. The same goes for the dearly departed Keith Olbermann, who was kept on for as long as he was only because of his immense and undeniable talents as a television host. Olbermann pissed a lot of people off, from his peers to his managers to the overlords in the adminisphere; MSNBC's decision to finally cut him loose wasn't a case of Olbermann saying things management didn't want him to say as much as him infuriating everyone in his path. Griffin just decided he wasn't worth the hassle because his ratings were great but not that great.

And that's really what it comes down to. Cenk's numbers were decent, but they weren't through the roof, in MSNBC's mind not good enough warrant giving him time to develop in a hugely important spot in its line-up. That plus his deficiencies as a network broadcaster -- and that includes his tendency to appear as if he's always one step away from challenging his political adversaries to a roshambo in the parking lot -- probably sealed his fate at six. What does all of this mean for his apparent replacement, Al Sharpton, a guy whose jarring on-air pauses and inability to complete a coherent thought make Uygur look like Murrow? Name recognition and novelty factor aside, he'd better hope his ratings are damn good -- and that they stay that way.

Still, in the end did Cenk apparently stand up for what he believes in -- and what his online audience expects of him -- in the aftermath of his demotion? Sure looks that way.

And for that he gets to walk out with his head held very high.

Listening Post

Yesterday I posted the fantastic new video from the Beasties, for a song which I'd put up earlier as an audio clip. So today let's hit you with another video for an advance audio file that was posted here a couple of months back, from another legendary band.

Here's the bad-ass new clip for Janes Addiction's End To the Lies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Look, I've never been a huge fan of Cenk Uygur as far as his being a broadcaster -- I think I've made that pretty clear. While I do agree with some of his politics, I'm not into shouting and I am into being able to distinctively pronounce each and every syllable in a word. Nothing personal against the guy, I just didn't think he was ready for prime-time, as it were, and wanted to see him do a little more work online before somebody pulled him up to the big leagues.

That said, I don't feel strongly enough about him to cheer the fact that he just lost his plum gig at MSNBC, as de facto host of the network's 6PM hour. I'm especially not going to be doing the Snoopy dance if it turns out that MS really is pushing him out in favor of Al Sharpton, as all speculation is pointing toward.

Cenk's a little annoying. Sharpton is a shamelessly corrupt narcissist without an ounce of broadcasting talent to speak of. He's been disgraced and discredited over and over again and has no business being anywhere near an NBC studio, much less having his name on an NBC show and an NBC paycheck.

Needless to say, Uygur's apparently less-than-thrilled with being given the boot and he'll supposedly be talking about it tomorrow via a press teleconference. If Sharpton takes his place? Well, then the rest of us get to be pissed as well.

Cash Into Me: Day 3

Another friendly reminder that we're in the middle of our big Summer Pledge Drive around here. I know that a good number of you don't have any money at the moment because the paper stuff spontaneously caught fire and burned up along with most of your other possessions and of course the coins are too hot to touch -- but if you have a couple of bucks the solar flare hasn't cooked just yet, I hope you can see your way clear to throwing them at a silly website instead of buying a room air conditioner for you and your family.

If you do feel like you can contribute, the best way to do it is to click the link in the right-hand sidebar of the screen and drop some money into the electronic tip jar. Remember not to bother with my book, Dead Star Twilight, at the moment because I'll be adjusting the availability of it pretty soon and you'll want to wait until that happens.

As far as I know, the big announcement I've been sitting on for the past week or so will be revealed tomorrow. I have to admit that I'm kind of looking forward to spilling the details because what's happening is something I'm excited about and I hope you'll think it's at least mildly cool too.

To those who've already stepped up and helped out during our pledge drive, your contributions are very much appreciated and I'm humbled that the nonsense I spew here is important enough to you to actually pay for. I can't help but think that there's something very wrong with you -- but I'm incredibly grateful. A special shout-out to Helen Stepp, Matthew Graves, Fausto R. and Joss for going above and beyond the call of duty. You guys rule.

And so do the rest of you for reading.

Assistant Quote of the Day

"When I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool."

-- Rep. Allen West writing in Red Country

Yeah, I get what you mean, Allen...

I especially like that last one, which seems like a pretty nice sentiment until you realize that Psalm 109:8 essentially translates into a prayer for Obama to die. Man, Allen, you're totally right -- these people with Obama stickers are idiots. What's more, you know they screw a lot and are constantly creating even more uneducated white-trash assholes, making them, as you said, a real danger to the gene pool.

Oh, wait -- you were talking about people with pro-Obama stickers? My bad.

Seriously, is there ever gonna come a point where West's cup of dangerous crazy finally tops off?