Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Storm Scourge

Today's column for the Daily Banter is, I admit, a bit of a retread of what I posted here yesterday regarding the GOP's inexplicable demonization of government workers like teachers, police and firefighters -- and how it should be forced to account for that view in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

I expand a little bit on the subject.

Here's a quick excerpt:

"The fact remains that Romney would decimate FEMA if elected — because FEMA is a governmental agency and the government is an intolerable evil to today’s Republicans, an affront to American individualism and personal responsibility that should be put asunder whenever and wherever possible. This overarching article of faith extends well beyond big, robust entities like FEMA, though. These days, Republican ire and derision is aimed not simply at the programs and agencies themselves but at the average people working for them. And that’s why I’m curious that no one has, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, forced Romney, Ryan and the rest of the Republican deficit-hawks and archenemies of government to confront another of their recent public crusades.

Read the Rest Here

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"Nate Silver seems to have some weird allegedly statistics-based process where he analyzes the data from polls and predicts which candidate will win a state or an election and he assigns a percent chance they will win it. I don't see any validity to it at all and certainly I don't view it as any kind of 'scientific' process. It entirely seems like voodoo statistics to me and it might as well be entirely made up what he comes up with. Imperfect as it is, and it can only be imperfect, the only real way to predict the results of any political election contest is to conduct surveys and polls."

-- Dean Chambers, founder of the conservative panic-assuaging website "Unskewed Polls," which predicts that Mitt Romney will win by a virtual landslide next week because, well, he will

So there you have it. Translation: Math = voodoo. Brought to you in the form of a barely comprehensible word salad by a guy who's entire "scientific process" involves indiscriminately pulling numbers out of his ass.

We're so far beyond parody at this point. The very notion of "Unskewed Polls" is like a Mobius strip of meta-stupidity. I'm really beginning to think that the entire modern conservative movement is coming from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, who's discovered that somehow what he writes truly does become reality.

Quote of the Day

"I really wasn't pissed -- we just had to lay out some ground rules. You know what it reminded me of? It's like when you speak to your kid, and you're like, let me tell you something: we can disagree, or we can agree, but this is how it goes."

-- Soledad O'Brien on her contentious interview with Rudy Giuliani, one in which she scolded him to "stop putting words in (her) mouth"

I've always really liked Soledad. We worked together on American Morning for a while and I came to know her as the whip-smart talent that she is. Like a lot of people, I'm really enjoying her willingness to let herself off the leash on her new morning show and her ability to treat political bullshit artists with the respect they deserve. Namely, very little.

Listening Post

One of the many holiday traditions around these parts is this one: Every year on Halloween I post this video, one of the most disturbing, nightmarish musical clips pretty much ever.

Directed by the brilliant Chris Cunningham, here's Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy.

Also, this:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Never Forget

By now you probably know that Mitt Romney is refusing to answer reporters' questions regarding his suddenly infamous stance on FEMA offered last year. Today at Romney's "relief rally" in, of course, Ohio, this was the one-sided exchange that occurred between campaign journalists and Romney:

"'Governor, are you going to eliminate FEMA?' a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.

Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.

Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:

'Governor, are you going to see some storm damage?'

'Governor, has Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?'

'Governor, you've been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?'"

But it's right about now that I think Romney, Ryan and the rest of the Republican deficit-hawks and archenemies of government and those supposedly frivolous "entitlements" it dispenses should be forced to face another of their recent public crusades. Over the past two years we've seen something unprecedented in conservative politics: the outright demonization of once-revered government employees, including teachers, police and firefighters. Police. And firefighters. You know -- first-responders. The people who were out there last night risking their lives to save others as Hurricane Sandy pummeled places like New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

This unconscionable show of disrespect has manifested itself in the dismissal of the 9/11 first-responders aid bill as "a massive new entitlement program"; the crushing of teachers' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin; the reduction of pension payments to firefighters and the laying off of thousands of police officers in, ironically, New Jersey; and a general willingness to insult local and state workers as being an overpaid burden on the middle class.

In fact, it was only four months ago that Mitt Romney said this:

"(President Obama) wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."


If yours was one of the 70 homes on fire last night in Breezy Point, Queens, those government employees stared down 80-mile-an-hour winds, waded through waist-deep water and used row boats to save your ass. They carried you down ten flights of stairs in the dark if you were a patient at NYU's Langone Medical Center and needed to be evacuated because the entire complex had lost power. They patrolled flooded streets in the blinding rain, cracking open cars in Lower Manhattan to make sure you weren't drowning in one of them.

They did their jobs -- and as usual, they did them exceptionally.

Show a little fucking respect, Mitt.

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies... The GOP is the party arguing for splurging on a long vacation at the beach rather than repairing the roof. Naturally, they want to have this argument only when it’s sunny and never when it’s raining. There’s no reason to accommodate them."

-- New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait on why it's essential for the Democrats to use Hurricane Sandy to point out the political differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney

I'm not sure I can add anything to that.

Chris Cross

Politically, this really is the quote and image of the day: ardent Romney supporter Chris Christie addressing Fox News's couch-of-dingbats this morning and enthusiastically praising Barack Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy. He's so effusive, in fact, that it's actually a little uncomfortable to watch because you keep waiting for the screen to suddenly go to color bars or a "Please Stand By" slate as you hear Roger Ailes storming into the studio in the background shouting, "What the fuck is going on?!"

It's sad that what should be standard operating procedure -- leaders of different political stripes coming together during a time of crisis -- seems so shocking in our current political climate. Either way, this kind of pro-Obama PR on Fox News, of all outlets, is exactly what the Romney camp doesn't need right now. Although Romney's in Ohio today staging a "flood drive," because apparently, as Cesca said last night on Twitter, Ohio is Manhattan's route to the sea.

The Pulpit Bullies

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at what a vote for Mitt Romney inadvertently rewards: the scorched-earth, hostage-taking politics of the right.

Here's the opening shot:

"One of the realities of modern politics that I’ve never been able to get my head fully around is the desperate desire of the right to revel in the suffering of its political adversaries. I get that I shouldn’t be surprised by it, since it’s the traditional behavioral pattern of most schoolyard bullies, but it’s still always seemed staggeringly unproductive — not to mention dangerous for the country — to rally around a cause or candidate solely because doing so “pisses off liberals.” Things like hypocrisy, the naked contradiction of previously embraced views and the potential detriment to self-interest don’t even enter the conservative thought process these days so long as something provides an opportunity to point and laugh. I think this goes to the argument that modern conservatives seem to be interested only in power for power’s sake, while just about everyone else across the political spectrum is interested in actually governing; it doesn’t matter if they act like children because they’re not really in it to make a difference anyway. Mitt Romney is, in many ways, the living embodiment of this cynical political ethos — or at the very least the current world champion of exploiting it."

Read the Rest Here

Tweet of the Day


If you're interested in seeing some of the best and most surreal pictures from last night across New York City and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic has assembled them all in one place.

They're pretty incredible.

The Atlantic: Sandy After Landfall/10.30.12

Quote of the Day

Listening Post

I'd call this single new, however it's really anything but.

By now, the recording of what was supposed to be My Chemical Romance's fourth record is the stuff of minor rock and roll legend. Following The Black Parade, the band went into the studio with Brendan O'Brien to begin recording what they'd humbly dubbed their "best album yet." They put the entire thing together, then frontman Gerard Way had one of his legendary epiphanies and decided to scrap the whole thing and go back into the studio with a different producer. The result was the band's last album, Danger Days, which had moments of brilliance but was overall a bit of a let-down.

Well, now they've decided to release that previously unreleased "scrapped album" a little at a time. The first two songs from what will eventually be called Conventional Weapons hit iTunes today.

Here's the lead-off track -- Boy Division

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Engulfed Cathedral

The Empire State Building Shines in the Darkness

Obviously there are a lot of other places besides New York City taking a serious hit from what used to be Hurricane Sandy tonight. But however unfair it may be, there's truth to the argument that the press tends to fixate on any disaster striking New York not only because it's a media hub but because there's something primally unnerving about watching helplessly as some of our nation's grandest manmade achievements are laid waste. We like to think of New York City as a citadel which, through sheer fortitude and attitude, remains impregnable. The reality, though, is that it's anything but.

I spent several years of my life in New York City and I still hold it very dear to my heart. It'll always be like home to me. And tonight I'm keeping my friends, family and all New Yorkers in my thoughts -- along with everyone else, the millions of others, affected by this monster storm.

The FDR at 34th St. Underwater

Flood Waters Come Through the Elevators of the PATH Train

Flooded 148th St. Subway Station

The FDNY and Other First-Responders Search for Flood Victims at 14th St. & Avenue C

A Submerged Parking Garage in Lower Manhattan

The Heavily Toxic Gowanus Canal Overflows Its Banks in Brooklyn

Flood Waters Rush Into Ground Zero

Jane's Carousel Along the East River Underwater

Flood Waters Cover Cars on the Lower East Side

The Front of a Building Falls Off in Chelsea

The Con-Ed Power Plant at 14th St. & the FDR Explodes

The Perfect Political Storm

Today's column for the Daily Banter, as you might imagine, has to do with Hurricane Sandy -- and its potential effect on the 2012 presidential election.

Here's the opening shot:

"Well, if you wanted a surprise just before the election, you got one: a late-October hurricane that practically defies explanation and description, a once-in-a-lifetime superstorm named Sandy. The storm is now pummeling the Eastern Seaboard, bringing 90-mile-an-hour winds, blistering sheets of rain and severe flooding to some of the country’s largest metropolises and most heavily populated suburban areas. And the worst is yet to come; as of this writing Sandy hasn’t even officially made landfall yet and its aftermath is sure to last days and potentially even weeks and months. In the end, this will likely wind up being an epic natural disaster. It’s certainly not the time to talk about politics — and yet in some ways it’s exactly the time to talk about politics as well as policy."

Read the Rest Here

Reality Check

Cesca is my partner in quite a few internet endeavors these days so it's rare I come right out and push his stuff here because I really don't have to. His piece over at the Daily Banter today, though, is required reading for anyone still trying to take President Obama down from the left -- over drone strikes, the drug war, supposed broken promises, etc. -- and those still thinking that in the current climate and with political reality being what it is, voting for a Gary Johnson or a Jill Stein is a nice little "screw you" to Obama and the two-party system in general.

Bob lays out in detail the reasons why, as trite a cliché as it may sound, a vote against Obama or an abstinence from the process altogether in the name of protest really is a vote for Romney -- and a vote for a disastrous near-future for this country.

I've always felt that those who relentlessly hector Obama from the left and center-left need to come to terms with the idea of "smart accountability" -- namely that you're never going to get a perfect candidate since that's not the way our system works and it's better to have someone in office who for the most part shares your ideals and delivers you political victories, say, 70% of the time than someone who stands in stark contrast to everything you hold dear and will give you nothing you want.

Anyway, take a look at Cesca's piece -- and be sure to circulate it to the pissy, sanctimonious friends on Facebook who continue to browbeat you about how Obama has let them down.

The Daily Banter: Anti-Obama Progressives are Voting for a Romney Disaster/10.29.12

Quote of the Day

"Mitt Romney is a very different candidate, one with the vision and determination to cut through business-as-usual politics and finally put this country back on the path to the zombie apocalypse."

-- Joss Whedon, who, I believe now more than ever, is god

Listening Post

I like this song because it's got a very nice little 70s light rock vibe to it.

Here's new stuff from Shiny Toy Guns.

This is Fading Listening.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 10.26.12

Join the After Party. Only $6 per month!

This week: God no, Keith Olbermann Is Returning to TV; Egos and Insecurities in Show Business; Our Favorite Celebrity Freakout Tapes; The New Drunk Jeff Goldblum Video; Republicans Cut Funding for Embassy Security; The Stressful Election; How the Blog Was Hacked This Week; The Continuing Saga of Ghostbusters 3; and much more.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 10.25.12

Richard Mourdock and Rape; Reason for the Rape Talk; The Republican Abortion Strategy; Obama and Debate Bounces; The State of Polling; Romney is a BSer; Undecided Voters; CNN and Hormone Voters; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

Listen and subscribe for free on iTunes

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Response Time

This week's Daily Banter mailbag is now up.

The questions:

1. We’ve seen a lot of race-baiting and dog whistles this campaign cycle. Do you think Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “shuckin’ and jivin’” was deliberately in that vein or should we give her the benefit of the doubt?

2. Mitt Romney is now being accused of lying about the value of Staples’ stock to help out the founder of the company and screw over the wife who was divorcing him. Do you think this is the kind of October Surprise that can actually hurt Romney or will no one really care at this stage?

3. Why does anyone still pay any attention to Donald Trump?

Read the Answers Here

Listening Post

Just a little over a decade ago, I was really kind of down on hip-hop. Yeah, there were artists out there doing great stuff, but for the most part the once vital and daring genre had settled into a pattern of MTV-approved same-old-same-old.

Then this album dropped and with its eclectic fusion of rock, soul, chill and general weirdness, reaffirmed my faith in what hip-hop could be.

Here's Pharrell and N.E.R.D. doing Truth or Dare, live.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hating Life

I'd normally say that I hate to mention another online writer more than once in the same week, but when it's Mary Beth Williams I'll make an exception. Her piece running over at Salon right now on dealing with negative comments from trolls is pretty good stuff. It's especially timely reading for yours truly given the amount of righteous indignation I've been on the receiving end of from people I don't know over the past couple of days.

Writing about negative feedback is tough only because by mentioning at all you're giving the trolls what they want (attention) and by writing about how it affects you you're really giving them what they want (the satisfaction of knowing they can get to you). No, I've never worried about whether people love or hate me since I always assumed, as with most internet endeavors, there would be an equal helping of each. The only advice I ever received on dealing with the assholes came from Drew Curtis, who told me after the first couple of times I was published over at Fark, "Don't read the comment from the Farkers."

And that's kind of what Mary Beth's piece is about today -- her decision to stop reading the comments from her own peanut gallery. Yeah, I occasionally revel in people's hilarious and often "gramatically creative" screeds against me, but I also confess that I'm not typically the target of very personal attacks (which isn't to say they haven't ever happened, since they have). Mary Beth, I know, has really been beat up on, often by a rotating cast of regulars who exemplify the standard troll archetype.

Anyway, take a look. It's worth your time.

Salon: I'm Never Reading the Comments Again/10.25.12

By the way, anyone who's read this site consistently for the past several years knows that I myself used to pick on Mary Beth quite a bit. I considered her part of the stable of catty New York-Centric liberal neo-feminists that Salon once cultivated to obnoxious effect. But when she was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a very sincere little piece asking readers to keep her in their thoughts, because even though I didn't agree with her on everything, I read her regularly and wouldn't in a million years want to see her suffer. She wrote to me, telling me how much she appreciated the sentiment, especially coming from a "critic." We became friends. Good friends. While I wasn't too harsh on her early on, I still feel kind of bad because I was wrong about her. She's become one of my favorite people -- someone I love dearly. I'm glad she survived. The world's a better place with her in it.

Q & A

If it's Thursday, it must be the Daily Banter mailbag trolling time. You know how this goes -- I hit you nice people up for questions about politics, pop culture, the media, the reason why it suddenly hurts when you urinate, etc. and Bob, Ben and me try to answer them.

Submit your queries via the comment section of this post, Facebook, Twitter DM or e-mail -- the address is to the right -- and maybe you'll see yourself on the pages of the Daily Banter tomorrow morning.

That's really your only reward -- because God knows you're probably not going to get a straight answer out of any of us.

Happy asking, kids.

Listening Post

Haim is the last name of three sisters from Los Angeles. Their new EP is getting a pretty good amount of airplay on alt radio and admittedly this, the first single from it, is pretty catchy.

Here's Forever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glutenous Maximus

Remember a few months back when I managed to piss off every pothead in the continental United States? Well, that was nothing compared to the wrath I'm now drawing from the celiac disease-suffering community.

My silly little rant yesterday about Jennifer Esposito's fight with CBS over what she claims is the network's discrimination against her because of her struggle with celiac must've been posted on a celiac support website somewhere because over the past several hours I've been pummeled with tweets from people with handles like "@GlutenDude" and "@WheatFree" letting me know in no uncertain terms what an asshole I am and how I should do my research before running my mouth off. Mary Beth Williams is also getting an earful from people who seem to think that we both were ignorantly dismissive of what's in reality a very serious condition.

Look, I was a dick -- I admit that. It's what I do around here a good portion of the time. But both Mary Beth's and my point wasn't that celiac isn't a real disease and that it doesn't cause pain and lead to lifestyle issues for a lot of people. Our argument was basically that by conflating celiac with the more frivolous aspects of a recent dietary fad, it's people like Esposito who may be diminishing the disease and making it easier for those not affected by it to believe that it's not a big deal. Put it this way: For a lot of people -- certainly the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world -- going gluten-free is a choice and nothing more, while for celiac sufferers it's often a necessity. But if you're one of those people who actually has celiac and you incessantly preach gluten-free to everybody -- irrespective of whether they need it -- by making the claim that it'll make them feel less bloated and icky, you're essentially making it appear as if your reasons for not eating glutens have little to do with the actual disease. You're carelessly combining a serious subject with one that's not at all serious and risking being eyed with suspicion.

A friend of mine said it best in a text to me a few minutes ago: You don't see Michael J. Fox out there talking about how you can lose 20-pounds with Parkinson's.

As for trends in medical diagnoses, they absolutely happen -- and not simply because the medical community becomes more "aware" of the disease. Sure, it becomes aware -- and so do millions of average people who then begin self-diagnosing and going to doctors who, provided it's not deadly serious, often shrug their shoulders, issue a tepid, "Eh, could very well be," and, bingo, you're being treated for the disease, syndrome, disorder, etc. Granted it really gets out of hand when there's a commercial out there telling you to "ask your doctor if you have" whatever-the-hell because Madison Avenue has invented a clever acronymic name for an often bullshit condition that Big Pharma has already created a pill to cure. But inject any medical issue into the pop culture blood stream by way of Oprah, People Magazine, and so on -- inevitably leading to mass-media ubiquity -- and you'll suddenly have everybody in our scared shitless, hypochondriac nation checking WebMD to see if the symptoms fit how they're feeling.

Awareness of a medical condition is often a double-edged sword. That's just how it is and how things work now in our media culture. As for going gluten-free, I stand by my original statement, with one caveat: If you're one of those pretentious assholes who's militant in his or her rejection of glutens -- and you're not suffering from a disease like celiac -- just shut the fuck up and eat already.

True Believers

As promised, today's column over at the Daily Banter has to do with Richard "Howling Mad" Mourdock and his BFF, Mitt Romney.

Here's an excerpt:

"Mourdock’s status as one of the new breed of unpolished, ideologically pure Tea Party darlings that have seized the imagination of the right over the past four years — make no mistake, in direct response to the election of Barack Obama — is really what’s at the center of this latest mess for the GOP. He’s like a child. He doesn’t know any better. He just blurts out what’s on his mind. Mourdock’s the picture of unfiltered conservative sincerity. And that’s what allowed him to wipe the floor with longtime Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar back in May of this year: the fact that he appeals to the batshit crazy beliefs and superstitions of the base and, upon winning, immediately throws down the eliminationist gauntlet by declaring that his idea of bipartisanship in Washington is 'Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.' The no-longer-fringe right of today eats that crap up like soma."

Read the Rest Here


That didn't take long at all. Boo-ya.

Quote of the Day

"Vote Rite could revolutionize the way Americans callously fuck over other Americans."

-- From the Onion News Network's story "Hot New App from the GOP Modernizes Minority Voter Suppression"

Howling Mad Mourdock

The Romney campaign has said that the above ad will continue running in support of Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana -- this despite Mourdock being the latest Neanderthal idiot to make a really ill-advised comment about abortion. Surely you've heard by now, but Mourdock said Tuesday night that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen," which echoes in a slightly more delicate manner Tea Party darling Sharron Angle's argument a couple of years back that a rape pregnancy was an opportunity to turn "a lemon situation into lemonade."

Look, don't be shocked by this. Don't be shocked at all. This is what the modern conservative movement believes, lock, stock and barrel -- Romney included. He may be trying to "distance himself" from Mourdock's comments, but he agrees with them entirely and so does his running-mate, Paul Ryan; any concession otherwise is made simply for the sake of political expediency (because an artful politician knows that you can think these things but you can't under any circumstances say them out loud). These people have ceded their ability to be reasonable and humane to the will of a magical deity they believe in to the point of madness and whose demands they expect everyone else to bend to as well.

Chances are this will be my next Banter column, so stay tuned.

The Big Empty

Do I really even need to say, "I rest my case?"

Salon: Trump's October Surprise Is Nothing/10.24.12

This is where I turn my pillow over to the cool side and go back to sleep.

Listening Post

The album version of this song features the always sensual Lykke Li, but alas she probably wasn't able to make it to the BBC 1 Radio Live Lounge for this in-studio performance by Miike Snow.

Regardless, this is a great song -- one of the best of the year, actually.

Here's Black Tin Box.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Assistant Quote of the Day

"See, this is an issue. If you’re talking in one breath about a serious, debilitating disease and advocating that anyone who suspects they have it see a doctor, that’s a world apart from suggesting someone self-diagnose a 'problem' because she could 'lose almost 20 pounds.' It doesn’t help alleviate 'the general disregard' for a disease you’re trying to get people to take seriously. There are already a whole lot of people out there jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon as this month’s Atkins diet — and even more, who don’t understand the distinction between a severe food intolerance and a 'Yeaaaaah, cookies make me bloaty.'"

-- Salon's Mary Beth Williams on gluten-free militant Jennifer Esposito's battle with CBS over claims the network didn't take her "celiac disease" seriously

Back when the whole Atkins diet was turning America into a nation of preachy, particular, overbearing assholes, I joked that I was gonna write a book called Shut the Fuck Up and Eat. The premise of the book would be based on common sense: Eat a little of everything in moderation, get some exercise and you'll be healthy and fit -- no big mystery there.

The whole gluten-free thing is the latest ridiculous food trend to put a stranglehold on our cultural imagination and of course the disciples of it proselytizing the loudest are the people who can most afford flights of fancy wherein they frivolously decide to chop an entire food group out of their diets: Hollywood celebrities. People like the insufferably aristocratic Gwyneth Paltrow. People like the comically melodramatic Jennifer Esposito. Must be nice.

Look, no one's saying celiac disease isn't real, only that it's now fashionable. The number of cases of it have indeed increased over the past few years but that's very likely because impressionable Oprah fans -- the kind of people who can't go ten minutes without consulting a self-help book to guide their decision-making -- are going to their overwhelmed and exhausted doctors in droves with a self-diagnosis already in mind. This is often the reason diseases -- as well as the various "disorders" and "syndromes" that now apparently plague our country -- can become medical trends.

Chris Rock said it best: "We got so much food in America we're allergic to food. Allergic to food. Hungry people ain't allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda's got a fucking lactose intolerance?"

I stand by my statement from years ago: Shut the fuck up and eat.

Or at the very least, just shut the fuck up.

Annie Eat Your Gun

Today's column for the Daily Banter is a doozy, I have to admit. I thought about just going off, but the little gremlin pulling the levers in the analytical portion of my brain won out and I decided to try to be at least slightly articulate.

And so, we have something that takes aim at Ann Coulter and her tweet calling President Obama a "retard."

Here's the opening shot:

"Years ago, when I worked for NBC, there was an upper-level manager who gave me a great piece of advice when it came to dealing with people. I was a likable enough guy overall but had a reputation for occasionally throwing the switch that would thrust me into hot-head mode at warp speed, particularly when the pressure was really on. His thoughts on this little phenomenon stay with me to this day: 'The more influence you have, the smaller the weapon you have to swing to get what you want.' The point is that when you’re low on the food chain, you sometimes have to be bellicose and use a sledgehammer to make yourself heard, but when you’ve already got respect, a title, an audience, whatever, all you really need is a scalpel. You can afford to operate with precision. The flip side of this is that when you’ve risen to the point where your words and actions actually have impact, there’s a hell of a lot less you can get away with."

Case in point: Ann Coulter.

Read the Rest Here

I almost never say this, but if you'd all be so kind as to circulate, I'd greatly appreciate it. There's a cookie in it for you.

Quote of the Day

"The multiculturalism movement must be unmasked for the fraud it is. There are superior cultures, and ours is one of them."

-- Mitt Romney, March 4th, 2010

Yeah, this quote is actually more than two years old, but I just happened to stumble across it while I was digging through the DXM archives looking for something. It's from Romney's book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness..

Jesus, I wonder why Obama's kicking Romney's ass among Latino voters and just about anybody else not white and "real" American.


One of the most inadvertently amusing ongoing memes in media involves the always inadvertently amusing Piers Morgan. Every so often, Morgan decides to exercise his imperial privilege as a CNN host and decree that someone is "banned" from ever appearing on his nightly show. Right now that list includes Madonna, Kelsey Grammer, and Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In other words, given that his show is a low-rated dud hosted by a third-rate international punchline, Morgan choosing to publicly tell these people they can't be on it is like me declaring that Mila Kunis is not, under any circumstances, allowed to perform oral sex on me. He may as well be saying, "You can't fire me -- I quit!"

On that subject, I'd really like to know why CNN continues to keep Morgan around. First of all, he was one of the final bad decisions of the bad decision machine that was former CNN U.S. President Jon Klein, and it's become obvious to everyone that Klein's stewardship and ongoing influence is burning the once-great network to the ground from the inside out. Second, there's the continuing controversy over Morgan's role in the phone and e-mail hacking scandal that shuttered News of the World, led to several arrests and resignations, and generally turned Murdoch's media empire upside down overseas.

Now, guess what? Morgan's under fire again.

The Huffington Post: Piers Morgan Faces New Phone Hacking Claims/10.22.12

Morgan's a cancer at CNN. He's all cost and no benefit. Fire him, for Christ's sake.

Listening Post

New music from Natasha Khan -- better known as Bat for Lashes. Her latest hits iTunes and so on here in the states today, and it's as terrific as I'd hoped.

Here's the first single from the record -- All Your Gold.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Well Mr. Fischer, if that's the definition of 'the gay gestapo,' then I am a proud, card-carrying member."

-- CNN's Carol Costello, who abruptly ended an interview with homophobic radio host and American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer last week, on comments made by Fischer afterward referring to her as part of the "gay gestapo"

For quite a bit of time, I was Carol Costello's producer in New York. When CNN's Daybreak moved from Atlanta to NYC at the beginning of 2005, really only two people went north: Carol and I. The rest of the staff was in Atlanta and the show was produced there but Carol, myself and the skeleton technical crew were all based out of the Time Warner Center. It was an odd experience, with Carol and me often feeling like we were doing shows from some remote outpost; in a business where there always seems to be somebody looking over your shoulder, it was kind of liberating being left to our own devices most of the time. It was certainly an arrangement that worked well for the kinds of personalities Carol and I were. Basically, we were both strong-willed and opinionated and liked not having to deal with a lot of micromanagement.

Knowing this about Carol, I have no problem at all seeing her refuse to let a brainless asshole like Bryan Fischer steamroll her with a bunch of anti-gay nonsense. And that's what happened during her interview with Fischer: He made the horseshit claim that it's been proven there are health risks associated with homosexuality. What made Carol's decision to shut Fischer down so satisfying is that it's the rare example of a TV journalist not allowing a lie to go unpunished. Fischer's contention that the CDC has warned about the dangers of being gay wasn't simply a case of one guy voicing his opinion and that opinion being "censored" by an unfriendly media outlet -- it was a guy trying to pass off fiction as fact, more junk science from a group of people for whom there appears to be no other kind. Like Todd Akin, Bryan Fischer just makes up biology lessons as he goes and throws it all out into the ether, helping to further belief in what's essentially crap.

Carol did the right thing by not letting him get away with it. And for that -- for not allowing a lie to be cast as the truth on a national news network -- Fischer of course insulted her, calling her a member of the gay gestapo. But as Carol says, that's not really much of an insult.

Besides, I'm betting the gay gestapo would have spectacular uniforms.

Misinformed Mitt

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at what could very well be the cause of Mitt Romney's screw-up on Libya during last week's debate.

If this really is the case, it's definitely cause for concern and the best example yet of how media outlets that cater only to conservative biases are poisoning our politics.

Here's the opening shot:

"Last week on the Bob & Chez Show podcast that I do with him, Bob Cesca brought up a fantastic point about the second presidential debate that I have to admit I’m ashamed I hadn’t considered myself. It had to do with Mitt Romney’s epic blunder on Libya, wherein he tried to call Barack Obama out for supposedly lying about how long it took to label the deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi an act of terror. Romney really thought Obama had walked into a bear trap by bringing the whole thing up, since as far as Romney was concerned it took 14 days for the president to call the attack terrorism, but in short order he found that it was he himself who’d carelessly stumbled into the trap, since his attempted 'gotcha' moment was debunked on the spot by debate moderator Candy Crowley; the truth was that Obama had called the incident an 'act of terror' almost immediately after it happened.

The question is, why was Romney so sure he was right? Why was he 100% confident that Obama hadn’t, in fact, mentioned terrorism following the Libya attack until two weeks after the fact?"

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Scottish DJ Calvin Harris definitely made a smart call when he decided to team with Florence Welch for his new single.

Here's Sweet Nothing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

You Got Served

In addition to the fact that he's funny as hell, keeps the welcome mat out for idiots like me and always has a good supply of kick-ass bourbon he's willing to share, this is why I'm glad to be friends with Drew Curtis -- and why I love

The Huffington Post: Soup Kitchen Facing Donor Backlash Over Paul Ryan Photo Op Gets Help from Fark Fundraising Campaign/10.21.12

Good for Drew and Fark.

And fuck you, Ryan.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pants on Fire

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at an idea whose time hasn't come and never will.

Here's the opening shot:

"I realize that I’m fast becoming this site’s resident miserable bastard, devoid of all passion for political discourse and oozing nothing but contempt for the entire process, but can anybody really blame me at this point? If you want to know why I’ve all but given up on trying to effect real change through thoughtful analysis and dialog — why I think our country is politically broken beyond repair — you need look no further than this: Glenn Beck is now selling his own line of jeans. Glenn Beck. Jeans. I shit you not. If the official motto for these things isn’t 'Because It Takes an Ass To Know Jeans' I’m crawling into my bathtub and dragging in a hair dryer."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Obviously, Dethklok is the greatest band in the history of everything ever. Their long-awaited new album is finally here and this is the first single from it.

The song and video are everything the world could have hoped for.

Here's I Ejaculate Fire.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 10.18.12

The Second Presidential Debate; Romney and His Historic Blunder on Libya; Debate Highlights; Epistemic Closure; Dennis Miller; Romney is Neither Good nor Decent; The Weird New Gallup Poll; Bain Capital and Vulture Capitalism; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.

There’s more election talk and other nonsense in this week’s After Party -- Friday at Noon eastern time. If you’re not a member, subscribe already. Only $6 a month. Cancel any time.

Listen and subscribe for free on iTunes

Download the mp3 (55 minutes, 23mb)

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Tweet of the Day

Q & A

It's Thursday, which means that it's time to once again submit your various questions on politics, media, pop culture and deviant sexual behavior to the staff of the Daily Banter and allow us to publicly respond to you in a thoughtful and cogent manner while privately laughing at you.

Yes, it's this week's Daily Banter mailbag troll-fest, where I crawl across glass on my hand and knees and attempt to elicit content from you nice folks.

If you've got a question for Ben, Bob and me, post it in the comment section here, message me on Facebook, DM me on Twitter or just e-mail me -- the address is off to the right.

Answers tomorrow.

Listening Post

Lakisha Robinson -- known by her stage name, Kilo Kish -- is a rapper, multi-media artist, fashion designer and model who perfectly personifies the Lower East Side-Brooklyn scene, one in which you apparently make art simply by existing.

That implied dismissal aside, her music is lush, sensual and narcotic and it throbs nicely along to the beat of New York City.

Listen for yourself. Here's two from Kilo Kish. Above it's her new single, Navy -- below it's Crosstown.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Battle Royale

Today's column for the Daily Banter of course deals with last night's debate -- a debate for which Barack Obama was apparently coached by Samuel L. Jackson -- and its aftermath.

Here's an excerpt:

"On that subject there was my favorite post-debate quote of the night, one of those statements that’s so awe-inspiringly hypocritical that it leaves you stunned that there are still new depths of bullshit to plumb in American politics. After the whole thing was over, Romney campaign manager Stuart Stevens said about Obama, 'He tried to do a somewhat charmless version of Joe Biden, but I don’t think it worked particularly well. When you saw a different Al Gore in every debate, I think people find that disconcerting. One thing they want in a president is a steadiness and a dependability. They see a person one week ago and they see a different person tonight, and they think, what’s next?' Given that Stevens works for Mitt Romney, the most rawly cynical and opportunistic political cipher our system has ever had to suffer through, this is the kind of comment that makes you wish there was a disappointed Bond villain nearby who could pull a lever and suddenly drop him into a tank full of sharks."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Like these guys quite a bit.

It's music from Emperors.

This is Plastic Guns.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Far too many people in this business have accepted the Etch-A-Sketch argument to the point at which whether something is true or not is measured by its effectiveness as a tactic. 'He had to run to the right in the primaries and then pivot to the center in the general' — that's something that makes the political wiseguys look smart, but, taken literally, it means that the entire election process in the world's oldest self-governing republic is a contest to find out who can most smoothly move from one set of lies to another, and it is also a recipe for depriving the people who ultimately will make that decision of the kind of information they need to do so. How this is in any way good for democracy is not for small minds to ponder, I guess."

-- Esquire's Charlie Pierce on tonight's second presidential debate

To quote a famous elderly philosopher from a long time ago, "that is why you fail," political press.

Flipping the Bird

Today's column for the Daily Banter deals with a recent story from the Associated Press that details how the Today show is losing viewers in droves. My take: the exodus is the long-overdue comeuppance for a network that's relentlessly pummeled its talent and audience over the past few years, believing it could always get away with it.

Here's an excerpt:

"I admit that there were several times that I truly thought NBC would suffer immediate audience blowback for its sins, but strangely it never really did; yes, there was some bad press from the likes of me and other more prominent media critics, but in the end business went on as usual for the peacock. And I think ultimately that’s what emboldened the executive assholes at NBC: Each time they did something inexcusable and didn’t face the instant wrath of the viewing public — the kind of outrage that threatened their bottom line — they simply smirked and moved on, believing they were bulletproof and that nothing they did could permanently damage the NBC brand."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

The fact that Brian Molko and Placebo expatriated themselves from England to, of all places, France really speaks volumes about them -- namely, they have a reputation for being arrogant pains in the ass.

That said, they continue to crank out great music.

Live from this year's Rock en Seine festival, here's Placebo's brand new single, B3.

Monday, October 15, 2012

All Apologies

I know you guys are getting sick of me and my fucking excuses, but unfortunately I'm once again kind of out of the loop at the moment. I'm in Northern California on business and I likely won't be back in L.A. until Wednesday.

That said, there's a nice little Banter column running tomorrow morning and I'm gonna try my damndest to pay close attention to tomorrow night's debate. I realize I'm shirking my responsibility to this site and to you very kind people who inexplicably still come here every day in surprising numbers, but all I can say is that I'm doing my best. I mean it when I say that once I get all this work into a steady juggle, DXM is going to come at least semi-roaring back.

Until then, there's my Banter material and anything else I can post to keep you nice folks around.

I really miss writing the way I used to.

Listening Post

A Fine Frenzy is the working name of Alison Sudol, and her latest album, Pines, definitely makes good on the promise of her last couple of musical efforts.

Here's the first single from the new record.

This is Avalanches.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Losing Our Religion

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at a new study which shows that more Americans than ever before are distancing themselves from organized religion, with many opting out of faith in general.

I get into it by way of a personal story:

"Not long after I moved out to L.A. at the beginning of this year, my mother sent a care package after me in the form of a large box containing a bunch of my stuff from back east. Since I had come to California with basically nothing — two weeks' worth of clothes and the assumption that I’d be returning to Miami after a couple of months of freelance TV work and a necessary change of scenery — I was eager for anything I could get my hands on that would make my new apartment on the West Coast feel like a real home. With that in mind, I tore through the box like a kid on Christmas morning, pulling out familiar clothes, shoes, my beloved XBOX and a couple of odds and ends that my mother had just figured I’d want to have around as I set up an entirely new life. As I took inventory of everything she’d shipped me, I kind of marveled at just how well the woman who gave birth to me knew me and still knows me — even now — which would only make sense being that we’ve been putting up with each other for 42 years.

Then I got to the bottom of the box and I stopped cold..."

Read the Rest Here

Q & A

Time once again for you to throw a couple of questions my way for this week's Daily Banter mailbag.

You know how this works: Leave a comment, send me a Facebook message, shoot me a Twitter DM or an e-mail -- the address is to the right.

Bob Cesca, Ben Cohen and I will answer your questions on politics, media, pop culture, deviant sexual behavior and so on with a lot of half-assery.

So have it it, kids. Do your worst.

Narrative Elements

Remember what I said yesterday and last week about the importance of the media narrative in determining who comes out on top in the presidential race?

Steve Kornacki over at Salon is echoing my sentiment pretty closely (minus the profanity and general cynicism about the entire process).

Behold, his thoughts on tonight's VP debate:

"It gets more interesting if a consensus emerges that one candidate clearly won. The reason has to do less with anything specific that might be said and more with with the larger narratives that the political media uses to interpret the race.

The danger for Democrats is that Biden is deemed the loser, which would result in a wave of stories about how for the second time in eight days the Democratic ticket was shown up in front of tens of millions of viewers. At least some of the frustration and panic that marked the left’s reaction to Obama’s performance would be revived, while Republicans – who mostly stopped their public second-guessing of Romney after Denver – would rally even stronger behind their nominees. This would feed and prolong the media narrative that has so far helped Romney sustain his post-debate momentum for a week."

Just like Romney did last week, Biden can help to change the narrative in a near-instant tonight, causing everyone to once again pivot in an entirely new direction. That's just how things work these days. It's frustrating and stupid, but that's the way it is.

Listening Post

A couple of weeks ago I posted something from a new Scottish band called Churches. I got quite a bit of positive feedback from it, so here's another track from them.

This is The Mother We Share.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Liberals are a famously skittish bunch who seem eager to bail on a candidate at his or her first sign of trouble. Republicans, on the other hand, stood by Romney (often grudgingly) during months of losing and nonstop humiliation. It’s difficult to imagine Democrats doing the same for Obama, given the eagerness to tear out hair after one lousy debate performance."

-- Alex Seitz-Wald in today's Salon

Jesus, where have I heard this kind of sentiment expressed before -- over and over again?

Most liberals are, by their very nature, prone to panic attacks and they always seem to be looking for an excuse to question everything they believe in. They're overly analytical, distrustful and condemning of the very figures whose politics they purport to embrace -- particularly if those figures happen to eventually become leaders, given that authority is corrupt by its very nature and is therefore always to be questioned -- and generally pride themselves on their unwillingness to be the sloganeering automatons from that other party, the ones that get behind a candidate and stay there at all costs often winning them elections and policy battles.

They seem to truly enjoy getting their asses kicked -- or at the very least being able to fret over it, post-mortem.

This is why, I have to imagine, it's a hell of a lot harder to be a Democratic politician than a Republican. Being a Republican is easy, especially these days. You adhere to a set of strictly enforced talking points and you stay there, wavering only, perhaps, when your ass is in such a sling that you have to say anything to get elected (see: Romney, version 27.0). Being a Democrat means you have to try to appeal to a wide swath of people guaranteed to either sit defiantly in a corner like babies because you're not pampering them and the singular pet issue they've chosen to hang their entire vote on or at the very least bail on you while screaming, "I told you so," at the first sign of trouble.

It's gotta be like herding cats.

The New Normal

Today's column over at the Daily Banter expands on something I wrote about last week: how the overwhelming mass media freak-out immediately following the first presidential debate was almost guaranteed to change the course of the race (and how it has).

Here's an excerpt:

"Here’s the thing: People are fucking stupid. They’re easily led along. Americans especially love a winner and abhor a loser; it’s hard-wired into our psychology. Those who may have been sitting on the sidelines or who had never seen Mitt Romney as president material suddenly looked at him in a new light, all because everyone — whether on TV or at 140-characters at a time — was saying that he’d stood on the stage with the leader of the free world and had taken it to him. It was a game-changer because so many people with a media outlet, whether a giant corporate news megaphone or an internet connection, were saying it was a game-changer. It became, in an instant, a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

While the new Deadmau5 album is everything I had hoped, I think this one may wind up being the electronic dance record of the year.

23-year-old Anton Zaslavski is a German DJ and mega-producer who goes by the stage name Zedd -- and what sets him apart from many of his contemporaries is the fact that he's a classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist so his dance tracks are often about far more than just dance. There's a musicality there that a lot of other DJs don't really offer -- an emphasis on the quality of the song as much as how well you can move to it.

Case in point, Zedd's new single -- which I can't stop listening to.

This is Spectrum, featuring Matthew Koma on vocals.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Chuck Off

Today's column at the Daily Banter has to do with Chuck Todd's weekend freak-out over the number of baseless conspiracy theories that have been willfully injected into the political bloodstream throughout the Obama years.

Here's the opening shot:

"When it comes to the not-so-subtle art of spinning tantalizing link-bait out of thin air nobody’s better — and by better I mean more shameless — than the Huffington Post. God bless them, they really know how to get you to point-and-click against all better judgment, whether by offering the promise of sideboob or simply throwing up a teaser headline as nebulous but undeniable as 'HE SAID WHAT?!' So with that in mind there was no way I could resist something in HuffPo that implored me to 'Watch Chuck Todd’s Emotional Plea,' one which had apparently happened this past Sunday on NBC’s 'Meet the Press.'"

Read the Rest Here