Thursday, May 31, 2012
As promised yesterday, my latest column for the Daily Banter is now up and it deals with the four-minute-long piece of political propaganda aired yesterday morning by Fox News as an alleged news item -- and the network's laughable reaction to being called out for it.
Here's the opening shot:
"There’s an old saying that I’m a big fan of: Never try to teach a pig to sing — it wastes your time and annoys the pig. I think of this every time I get the urge to lash out at Fox News for some irresponsible, grossly unethical thing or other that the network has done or has had the gall to broadcast under the guise of being a real news organization. My criticism, like everyone else’s, won’t matter one bit — the attack will just bounce off of Roger Ailes’s prodigious belly like he was Kung-Fu Panda. Not only does Fox News not fret over its many detractors and their grievances, it generally welcomes the outrage as an opportunity to once again let its pit-bullish media relations department off the chain to maul the crap out of the poor bastard with the bad sense to hassle its master. The result is always bloody and the guy who dared to take a swipe at Fox rarely comes out on top..."
Read the Rest Here
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
"I have to tell you even I am shocked by how blatantly Fox is throwing off any pretense of being a journalistic entity with videos like this. Don't be fooled by Bret Baier's Boy Scout smile or all the talk about how some shows are news and some are opinion on the channel. Any news organization that puts up this kind of video is rotten to the core."
-- David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun on the extended "look back" at the Obama administration's time in office, aired this morning on Fox & Friends, which was really nothing more than a four-minutes of blatant Republican propaganda
You really have to see this thing to believe it -- and this is coming from somebody who truly believed that Fox couldn't possibly get any more shameless.
In an almost comically full-of-shit move, the network is now distancing itself from the story -- the one that was lauded by Doocy the Clown and the other two F&F dingbats as exceptional journalism -- and is blaming the "mistake" on a lowly associate producer, essentially throwing a person with almost zero authority within the newsroom directly under the front tires of the bus.
I'll have more to say about this tomorrow at the Daily Banter.
"Terrorists are dangerous, the economy is a real and present danger. But there is simply nothing other than the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience with the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something, which is precious to Jesus Christ, and a living picture of his love for the church into a legally protected justification for perversion and a vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love... They should be put to death. ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should. You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it."
-- Pastor Curtis Knapp of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, who's come up with a Final Solution to the gay problem
You know, other than the fact that it serves as a quick reminder that there's a substantial portion of this country that needs to be nuked from orbit, as it's the only way to be sure, I'm not sure what good comes from even highlighting this kind of shit anymore. Of course there's some demonstrably insane asshole who's based his entire life on groveling and cowering at the feet of superstition who hates gay people because a 2,000-year-old book written by people who were afraid of the sun told him to. And of course there's an entire roomful of dumb, frightened hicks who'll hang on every ignorant word that comes out of his fucking mouth. We know this. We know all of it.
Next step: Gay rights groups will demand an apology and cable networks will begin putting this idiot's pudgy, brain-dead defenders on national television in an effort to concern troll with faux-earnest questions like, "Do you really believe that gay people should be killed?" The circus will begin again and it'll last for a couple of news cycles -- at least until Trump opens his own big, stupid mouth again. But in the end, does it really do any good to try to get people whose thinking is utterly divorced from logic, reason and empirical reality to come around on this or any other subject? Their thought-process is informed and directed by an absolute, unshakable faith in nonsense. Arguing with them is like arguing with a 4-year-old. Although maybe it does some good to make sure everyone on the fence sees just how ridiculous this kind of thing is in the year 2012. I barely know anymore.
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is now up -- it deals with the almost unimaginable massacre in Syria last week and what should be done about it.
Here's the opening shot:
"They say you should never make a decision when you’re angry and maybe it’s best to heed that advice. And yet I can’t help but think that anger — uniform, global outrage that feels like the wrath of almighty God — is what’s required at this moment."
Read the Rest Here
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
The Full Text of My Latest Piece for the Daily Banter
An ongoing meme on the podcast that Bob Cesca and I do involves a debate over how much good actually comes from constantly bitching online. It typically goes something like this: Bob plays the admittedly heroic role of the passionate crusader, a guy who fights injustice armed only with a keyboard and a microphone and who points out the insanity of modern politics with the goal of changing things for the better; I make a couple of shitty cracks, throw up my hands at the futility of it all, then go get drunk. All things considered it works out pretty well for us. He's like a righteous Felix Unger, cleaning things up as best he can, and I'm Oscar Madison, not giving a crap -- or at the very least Jack Klugman on the deck of the sailboat in the opening credits of Quincy, examining the chick in the bikini with a champagne glass in my hand.
I generally think Bob's doing God's work and I'm just being a slacker, but every once in a while I can say without fear of contradiction that, dammit, I'm right: Things are so thoroughly fucked-up that it's incomprehensible that any sort of raging against the dying of the light will make one bit of difference. Case in point: birtherism -- the conspiracy that simply will not die.
Chances are if you don't have a little card in your wallet that needs only one more punch to earn you a free night at Bellevue you thought the whole birther thing was put to rest years ago -- or at the very least, if you're particularly obstinate, last year when President Obama publicly smacked down reality TV asshole Donald Trump by producing his long-form birth certificate. Turns out you're wrong; like Jason Voorhees, who can't be stopped no matter how many times you stab, torch, shoot or blow him up, the thoroughly debunked belief that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and therefore isn't constitutionally eligible to be president just keeps coming back for more.
Within just the past week or so, the secretary of state for Arizona -- a place that I'm convinced is some kind of experimental test bed used by aliens to measure human stupidity -- has threatened to keep Obama off the ballot in November pending an investigation into the authenticity of his birth certificate. Running concurrently with this mind-boggling idiocy is the ongoing investigation into Obama's true upbringing launched by real-life cartoon character Joe Arpaio, whose "threat unit" has now been dispatched to Hawaii to flash their badges as if they hold any fucking authority whatsoever and demand answers in what Arpaio and doddering buffoon Jerome Corsi are sure is the biggest conspiracy in U.S. history. And lest you think that only the ass-backward yokels of Arizona are perpetuating this long-since-decided nonsense, a copy of the platform being proposed by Republicans in Iowa shows that they'll officially demand that any candidate for President of the United States prove his or her natural born citizenship when they meet in mid-June. These aren't far-flung fringe lunatics we're talking about here; these are members of the ostensible GOP establishment -- and they're jumping feet-first into a pool clouded with the warm piss of conspiracist wack-jobs.
The nature of a conspiracy is that it's a self-reinforcing delusion: The less it appears to be real, the harder you look and don't find the answers you're sure are there, the more it proves that there's treachery afoot and that it involves the highest levels of power -- the only ones who could successfully engineer such an exhaustive cover-up. And you need look no further than talk radio clown Alex Jones -- whose latest YouTube video claims that his media contacts have warned him that the upcoming Ridley Scott film Prometheus will contain coded messages about the Illuminati -- to understand that there's profitability in ridiculous fear-mongering, whether it's making money, pandering to a specific audience or simply making yourself an icon among the very, very dumb. The result is always the same, though: A person who truly believes a conspiracy theory will not ever be convinced otherwise. It just won't happen.
Which brings me back to my original point: Why the fuck am I even writing this? I get the idea that it's important to point out to those not in the throes of a rage-and-resentment-fueled hallucination just how morally, ethically and mentally bankrupt the people are who've latched onto this horseshit and who refuse to let go; likewise, it makes sense a certain amount of sense to highlight whenever possible the fact that one political party in this country has aligned itself with this kind of farcical non-thinking. But at some point you just get tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
The first piece I ever wrote about birtherism was published in August of 2008. August of 2008. It's almost four years later -- and we're still talking about this crap. I have a semi-functional cerebral cortex, which means that I'm sick of it by now.
No, really, why the fuck am I still writing about this?
Friday, May 25, 2012
Join the After Party
This week: Topics We Didn’t Get to on The Free Show; More on Rove’s Crossroads Commercial; Special Appearance by Inara; More About the Debt and Deficit; Republican Lies About the Climate Crisis; Tucker Carlson’s Handgun Giveaway; Limbaugh’s Ratings Drop; The Next Food Network Star; We Love It and Hate It; Giada Rumors and Gigantic Alien Teeth; Reality Show Sounds; Anthony Bourdain’s Cannibalism; Tom Cruise’s Monkey; Rock of Ages; The New Paul Thomas Anderson Movie; Scientology; News Anchor Lamp Prank; and much more.
Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and Mafia-style Bust Outs; Cory Booker and False Equivalences; No More Mob Shows; Republican Lies About the Deficit; Real Deficits and Regular Old Deficits; The New Karl Rove Commercial is Silly and Stupid; Everything We Didn’t Get Today to Will Appear on the After Party This Afternoon Including the Republican Lies About the Climate; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
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Thursday, May 24, 2012
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is now up and it deals with the conspiracy theory that simply will not go away -- no matter how many times it's been put down.
Here's the opening shot:
"An ongoing meme on the podcast that Bob Cesca and I do involves a debate over how much good actually comes from constantly bitching online. It typically goes something like this: Bob plays the admittedly heroic role of the passionate crusader, a guy who fights injustice armed only with a keyboard and a microphone and who points out the insanity of modern politics with the goal of changing things for the better; I make a couple of shitty cracks, throw up my hands at the futility of it all, then go get drunk. All things considered it works out pretty well for us. He’s like a righteous Felix Unger, cleaning things up as best he can, and I’m Oscar Madison, not giving a crap — or at the very least Jack Klugman on the deck of the sailboat in the opening credits of Quincy, examining the chick in the bikini with a champagne glass in my hand..."
Read the Rest Here
Somebody wrote to me from out of the blue yesterday -- a guy who used to be a regular at Fire & Ice, which was Miami's only alternative club back when I was a kid -- and he reminded me of this song and how much I used to love it.
Here's Alien Sex Fiend's I Walk the Line.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Chances are no matter where you live you're used to being inundated with ads for really crappy-looking upcoming movies you have no desire to see. If you happen to live in Los Angeles, though, that pummeling is positively inescapable, since this place is ground zero for the unholy work of the film business's promotional machine. The last several weeks saw every billboard, bus bench and ten-story building in sight turned into the equivalent of an odious carnival barker, screaming his lungs out in an effort to get somebody, anybody to see Battleship.
And now that that movie has, well, sunk -- it's time to move onto the next high-profile piece of shit that Hollywood knows it's going to have to ram down the throat of the public if it wants to turn a bad greenlight decision into some kind of a profit.
That movie would be Rock of Ages.
The promotion for it around town right now is simply impossible to avoid. Everywhere you look, there's Tom Cruise shirtless in a fucking cowboy hat, fur coat and sunglasses; an uncharacteristically prudish-looking Catherine Zeta-Jones brandishing a handmade, PMRC-style anti-rock sign; Russell Brand looking like Russell Brand, and the rest of the large and otherwise indistinguishable cast of this Broadway-to-Hollywood nightmare. I've already mentioned here how I'd rather have a screwdriver rammed through my head than see Rock of Ages, but I have to throw the question out there: Who is this movie for?
Millennials don't care about Poison, Def Leppard and -- oh dear God -- Foreigner (it's one of the few admirable attributes you can ascribe to that particular generation). There isn't a latter-day metalhead in the world who honestly wants to see a silly Broadway musical, let alone one that features Tom Cruise doing Glee-ified versions of 80s metal songs in leather pants (once again nicely putting to rest all those gay rumors). Anyone with a hint of dignity who's still somewhat enamored of what's possibly the single darkest period in rock history isn't going to be caught dead anywhere near this thing. Hell, most people who remember that era are still embarrassed they ever kind of liked Poison in the first place; it took two full decades of listening to Radiohead and Miles just to constitute an appropriate penance for our transgressions against decent music and make us feel whole again. So, again, who's it for?
The best I can come up with is 40-something suburbanite women; the ones you never wanted to get anywhere near when they were girls listening to this shit unless it held the promise of easy sex; the ones who've gone on to cling desperately to their youth through the dreck their daughters like (see: Twilight) and soulless, cloyingly nostalgic faux-celebratory horseshit they can see with their equally tragic girlfriends, like Rock of Ages. In other words, the women who still keep Bon Jovi inexplicably and unforgivably away from the state fair circuit after all these years.
I just can't see that crowd being enough to make this movie a success -- but what the hell do I know? As H.L. Mencken famously said, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. And nobody understands that better than Hollywood.
"If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent."
-- Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, backing off a threat to keep President Obama off the ballot in that state pending the outcome of an investigation into the authenticity of the president's birth certificate
That's okay, Ken. Trust me, there's no way possible for you or anybody else to embarrass Arizona right now. Like Bill Maher says, there's nothing wrong with the state that a crippled nuclear reactor couldn't solve.
Incidentally, not that it needed to but Hawaii did in fact verify to the dumbshit, racist yokels of Arizona that Obama's birth certificate is on the up-and-up.
Thank God that's finally settled, right?
Still one of my favorite songs from these guys -- and if you've ever seen the behind-the-scenes clips for this video it's hilarious to watch the members of the band kind of stalk Sarah Michelle Gellar off-camera and wonder why she hasn't spoken to any of them.
Here's Stone Temple Pilots' Sour Girl.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Granted I haven't really been writing as much as I used to, but I still like to think that I'm relatively decent with words -- or at the very least at turning a clever phrase or two when the occasion calls for it. For the life of me, though, I haven't been able to express what it is about Mitt Romney that's so fucking odd. If you listen to me talk about him on the podcast, I'm constantly stammering, looking for the right way to describe the Uncanny Valley-esque revulsion I feel whenever I see and hear him speak and attempt to interact with the world around him -- his creepy and obviously phony facade that hides what truly appears to be a complete lack of human empathy. I'm not saying he's inherently evil or anything, or that there's any sort of willful malice behind his awkward and seemingly sociopathic demeanor; on the contrary, I think he's the least self-aware person who's run for the White House in modern history. Even George W. Bush understood full-well who and what he was; you could see his pathology written all over his face. Romney is a complete mystery, I think -- even to himself.
All of that being said, hats off to Andrew Sullivan, who's come closest to putting into words the undeniable weirdness that is Mitt Romney. I get that some will see his dragging the whole Mormon thing into the mix as a low blow, but I really don't think it is.
From the Daily Beast:
"One gets the sense that Mormons, perhaps because they remain deeply insecure about their religion, make an extra effort to seem utterly great, happy, nice, genial human beings. Hence what’s been called 'The Mormon Mask.' (More discussion of the concept here.)
Romney laughs that way; he also talks as if he’s learned the English language from some tribe of extremely cheerful, mainstream, extremely white Americans from around 1958...
How to overcome the huge gap between what one believes and how the general culture would react if the details of his faith were fully explained? One option: The construction of a personality designed to mimic the least offensive, nicest, all-American persona. So Romney sounds and looks like a focus-group tested model president from 1965. But the focus group doesn’t exist -- except in his own mind and manner every year of his life."
By the way, click the above "Mormon Mask" link and you'll see that I'm not the only person to liken the disconcerting nature of his personality to the Uncanny Valley.
I've never been a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation or any of the movies based on it, but every time I see Romney in a supposedly off-the-cuff moment, this is the first thing I think of:
(via the Daily Banter)
"One of the most bizarre phenomena on Christwire is the existence of returning commenters. There’s a fairly dedicated community of people... who respond negatively to almost every single article, and when confronted by third parties explaining the satire, either ignore them or write strange, evasive answers. But in an odd way, this makes a lot of sense. If the average internet user’s culled RSS feeds form an echo chamber, then Christwire, for those who return to it, could become sort of a reverse echo chamber. It’s designed to be disagreed with, yet never to make so much sense that it might actually challenge anyone’s views. Arguing daily with fictional characters probably accomplishes for some people what watching Bill Maher or Bill O’Reilly every day accomplishes for others: a constant reminder that you are right, and other people are at best, misguided, but more likely, terrible human beings."
-- Rob Trump of Splitsider on Christwire, nicely explaining the little incident I documented here for me
If you haven't seen this yet, it's the funniest thing you'll read all day. I've been following along for the past couple of hours, but HuffPo of course wasted no time collating the Twitter back-and-forth going on between Patton Oswalt and Marc Maron. The two unexpectedly found themselves on the same flight earlier this morning and it's been non-stop comic brilliance ever since.
The Huffington Post: Patton Oswalt and Marc Maron Tweet from the Same Flight and It's Hilarious/5.22.12
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is now up and it deals with the epic freak-out Republicans are having over the latest census figures that show more minority births last year than good old-fashioned white births.
So, exactly who will soon be the minority?
Here's a small excerpt:
"The changing face of America has come to kill the GOP as it’s existed for the past several decades — and the party is not happy about it. Don’t let all the usual macho bluster and tough talk fool you; Republicans are scared right now. Terrified. As in chilled right down to their precious souls — the ones hand-spun by Almighty God just seconds after their dads ejaculated inside their moms. They know their days are numbered."
Read the Full Post Here
The near-biblical sound of the Soulsavers combined with the dark, desperate and occasionally just world-weary voice of Dave Gahan is something truly special.
From the new album, The Light the Dead See, this is In the Morning.
Monday, May 21, 2012
"A guy in magic gym shorts talking to virgin Baptists. Clown, meet college."
-- Bill Maher on Mitt Romney's recent address at Liberty University
Maher's "New Rules" evisceration of Liberty as a phony college is one for the ages.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
"It is not a good thing. The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers."
-- Conservative group "The Eagle Forum," founded by prudish spinster cliché and right-wing crusader O.G. Phyllis Schlafly, on the encroaching immigrant threat to our way of life
Cesca posted this a little while ago and I just had to pop it up here. Never mind the repugnant -- though not the least bit unexpected -- way this group paints all immigrants with the same shit-brown brush and basically dubs them all a bunch of shiftless criminals who are nothing but a parasitic burden on real Americans. What's most interesting about the above quote is that it acknowledges something I've been harping on for quite a while now, namely the fact that the Republican party in its current state is doomed; the changing demographic makeup of the country is going to push it to the brink of extinction, ironically because of the kind of thinking -- the demonizing of anyone who isn't white and Christian -- espoused by the Eagle Forum. Understanding full-well that the rising tide of immigrant political power is going to change this country in striking and irrevocable ways, what do conservatives do? They double-down on the xenophobic rhetoric, try to slam the doors shut and generally tighten their grip on the kind of country they believe is now slipping through their fingers. None of it matters, though. They're eventually going to lose. That's not a matter of opinion -- it's math.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Full Text of the Piece That Appeared Yesterday at the Daily Banter
I didn’t want this to turn into a public back-and-forth, but when I wrote a piece last week for this site on the double-standard when it comes to how news outlets cover crimes which are racially motivated or have the potential to be racially motivated, I knew I might be opening a Pandora’s Box. So with that in mind, and after my good friend and podcast partner Bob Cesca penned a response to my original column here a few days ago, I feel like I want to clarify and expand on my views a little.
First of all, I really do hate the fact that even though my motives are much different and I have to believe more noble than theirs, my opinion gets to be lumped in with the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Bernie Goldberg. I don’t like that it looks like I’m defending them when I’m simply defending a point they’ve made — again, regardless of why they made that point. It should also go without saying that I hope I’m not labeled some kind of racist — or a latent racist, unaware of my own racist feelings, a charge that’s almost impossible to defend against — by those who disagree with me on this. I want to make it clear that while O’Reilly and Goldberg seemed to suggest an equivalence between the incident in Virginia and the Trayvon Martin shooting, I did nothing of the sort; they’re completely different cases and they should have been treated differently by the press.
The issue, though, is larger than an unfair comparison between two separate and distinctive events.
I’m not saying that the media don’t report black-on-white crime. Of course they do. Jesus, in a lot of places — mostly local news markets — it’s almost all they do. The difference — the double-standard — occurs when it comes time to tag a crime as racially motivated or to acknowledge a racial component within a crime. When there’s a possibility of labeling a crime racially motivated, the burden of proof is much higher in a black-on-white crime than it is in one that’s white-on-black. I understand completely the history involved — which Bob outlined nicely — and how and why that can come into play, but I’m still not sure that makes it right from the standpoint of journalistic ethics. From what I’ve seen, it would take a person or a group literally shouting “I hate white people” while kicking somebody’s ass for many in the media to report that a black-on-white crime had racial overtones — and if it didn’t appear at first glance to have overt racial overtones they almost certainly wouldn’t go looking any deeper for them.
Again, I do understand the lengthy and incontrovertible history that deserves consideration, but a group of white people beating up on a black person is automatically very suspicious — as it damn well should be — while a group of black people beating up on someone of another race or ethnicity is deemed, what? Business as usual? Just the way things are? Doesn’t the refusal to even acknowledge the racial element in a story like that — particularly when the coverage would be far different were the roles reversed — speak to Goldberg’s claim that the media may be trying to play a paternal role in protecting a minority community from the bigots who’d automatically label them savages or criminals? If so, is it the media’s job to play that paternal role?
There’s no denying that a news organization can often be influenced, sometimes very quietly, by factors not related to the goal of practicing journalism. On my site I’ve written often about the subtle pressure exerted on news producers to be cognizant of any possible liberal bias within their work — a product of years of accusations and strong-arming by the right — and how that can often lead a news department to overcompensate. True objectivity goes out the window in an effort to ensure that conservative critics are appeased — in other words, in the pursuit of the appearance of objectivity. Likewise, there’s an interesting guideline in place in many newsrooms — occasionally unspoken but often discussed openly — that tips its cards to the incredibly delicate way the press handles the subject of race and minority crime. It works like this: If a crime has been committed and the only description you have of the suspect is, say, a black male, 5’11″, wearing a white t-shirt, you don’t air or publish the description. Why? Well, because obviously that would mean police are currently on the lookout for six thousand people; the description is worthless. But its vagueness and consequent lack of value isn’t really the reason the description wouldn’t be run; there have been quite a few times throughout my career where it’s been acknowledged in my presence, and admittedly even affirmed by me, that a non-specific description of an African-American suspect is unfair to the black community.
True, a sketch of a suspect that ambiguous would likely be left out of a story regardless of that suspect’s race or ethnicity, but special attention was always paid to those who were wanted by the police and who happened to be black, often in an effort to avoid inflaming racial tensions or giving fuel to bigots. Of course, again, there’s a history to be considered here, a history of black people being unfairly targeted as suspicious due to nothing more than the color of their skin — see, yes, Trayvon Martin — and maybe it does in fact show journalistic responsibility and an acquiescence to the realities of the world to take that into consideration when publishing or airing a news item. I think this is the argument Bob was making in his piece and he could very well be right. But from a perspective that I hope is as dispassionate as it can be, the question of fairness and paternalism again comes up: Is it the job of a journalistic organization to favor one group over another or to treat one group differently in their coverage — to show it special dispensation or handle it with kid gloves not applied when dealing with anyone else?
One final thing before we hopefully put what I think has been a healthy debate to rest: By talking about this issue I want to make it clear that I’m not at all personally outraged about the double-standard in black-vs.-white press coverage nor am I crying that I’m being racially persecuted, as O’Reilly and Goldberg most certainly were. I’m a white guy living in the United States of America — I’ve got it fucking great. I’m merely pointing out that the double-standard exists and that there’s a very strong argument to be made that it does actually defy the rules of a responsible and unbiased press. Am I hedging a little because of the sensitive nature of this subject — wearing those kid gloves, as it were? Sure am. Is it somewhat cowardly to allow any kind of potential pressure or backlash to influence what I say or the way I say it? Perhaps.
But that was sort of the point I was initially making. Or at the very least, the question I was asking.
Join the After Party
This week: Big Dumb Battleship; RIP Donna Summer and Mary Kennedy; The Kennedy Curse; Goodbye to the Ron Paul Campaign; Libertarianism and Selfishness; Ayn Rand; Efficient Mitt Romney Endorsements; Mitt Romney Thinks Hitler’s Coal was Rad; Mitt Romney Lied About the Deficit; Keynes and Austerity; A Car That Runs on Water; The Cure for Cancer; Letterman’s Pitch for Obama; and much more.
Friday, May 18, 2012
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is up and it continues the debate over the double-standard in how the media covers crime stories that may or may not feature a racial component.
Here's the opening shot:
"I didn’t want this to turn into a public back-and-forth, but when I wrote a piece last week for this site on the double-standard when it comes to how news outlets cover crimes which are racially motivated or have the potential to be racially motivated, I knew I might be opening a Pandora’s Box. So with that in mind, and after my good friend and podcast partner Bob Cesca penned a response to my original column here a few days ago, I feel like I want to clarify and expand on my views a little."
Read the Rest Here
Race, Racism and Media Double-Standards; How Should the Press Report on News with a Racial Component; Bill O’Reilly Compares Norfolk Assault to Trayvon Case; Drudge and Zombie Breitbart Spread Birther Story; Wingnut Suggests Obama is Gay; Everything Else from Today Will Be Covered on Tomorrow’s After Party; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
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I'm on a really odd little early-90s metal kick right now and this is one of those bands I first got a free cassette for -- yes, a cassette -- at the Foundations Forum in L.A. (A hard-rock, metal and grunge convention that lasted for about ten years, very likely until the organizers ran out of hotels willing to host it). I popped it in, gave it a listen and actually came away liking it quite a bit. Still do.
Yeah they had a couple of big hits, but this was always my favorite from them.
Here's Ugly Kid Joe -- So Damn Cool.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
"This is a great American success story gone horribly wrong. Eduardo Saverin wants to defriend the United States of America just to avoid paying taxes. We aren't going to let him get away with it."
-- Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York
Chuck Schumer making a ham-fisted old-guy reference to "defriending." That just gives me douche-chills.
This afternoon, Schumer and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced legislation known as the Ex-PATRIOT act, which stands for "Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy."* The bill is aimed at slapping a hefty financial penalty on any American who leaves the United States for the purpose of avoiding taxes and ensuring that that person isn't allowed back in the country. It comes in response to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship ahead of Facebook's IPO, reportedly in an effort to get around having to pay taxes on the billions he's going to make.
Jesus, is there anyone associated with the founding of Facebook who wasn't a complete asshole?
*There's apparently someone in the Capitol whose job is specifically to come up with really clever acronyms for bills. I want that job.
I'm probably the only person in the civilized world who never quite came around to Gotye's massive hit Somebody That I Used To Know -- an introductory track so culturally inescapable that even those insufferable kids on Glee covered it within weeks.
But what can't be denied is that Gotye has talent -- overall, his Making Mirrors record is pretty damn good.
Here's any other song from it besides that first single.
This is Eyes Wide Open.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
As promised, my latest piece for the Daily Banter deals with the conspiratorial freak-out from the right that you could've seen coming from a mile -- or at least a week -- away.
Here's the opening shot:
"Well, that didn’t take long.
Following a week that saw President Obama publicly throw his weight behind same-sex marriage — leading Newsweek to publish a for-shock-value-only cover declaring him 'The First Gay President' — his mortal enemies within the right-wing nutjob contingent are reacting exactly the way you’d expect."
Read the Rest Here
I seriously doubt that I'll see this in the theater simply because it takes a hell of a lot to get me drag myself to a movie I'm actually dying to see, but I have to admit that I'm kind of intrigued by Snow White & the Huntsman.
And this striking video, featuring the perfectly cinematic music of Florence + The Machine, increased my interest by a thousand or so.
Here's Breath of Life.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
"Actually, while I’m not sure about the claims by the various people who have reported that Obama has at least participated at times with them in homosexual acts, this certainly lends some credence."
-- Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute on why President Obama might have publicly expressed support for gay marriage
I'll have more on it tomorrow in the Daily Banter, but I just had to get this little gem out there. Oh, and this is actually kind of the least insane thing he said on the subject of homosexuality.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drink myself into a coma.
So if you're a regular reader you know that last week I posted a piece here and over at the Daily Banter mothership that defended Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Goldberg's position -- though not O'Reilly and Goldberg themselves -- on a possible double-standard when it comes to the media's reporting on crimes in which there may be a racial component. Chances are you also know that it started a minor debate in the comment section of the full post here between myself and Bob Cesca -- as well as a couple of other people.
Well, Bob's now posted a lengthy response to my piece over at Banter -- one that takes a different view than mine, which is of course fine as we don't agree on everything, nor should we.
Give it a read.
The Daily Banter: Black-on-White Crime and the Reasons for a Double-Standard/5.15.12
It seems not even worth it to get too pissed about anything relating to Kim Kardashian and her repugnant clan.
I admit that over the weekend I got an e-mail from a PR agent which enthused in hilariously over-the-top language how excited my readers would be for the upcoming season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians because you'd all be getting an inside look at Kim's new relationship with the now officially irredeemable Kanye West. Yeah, I wrote her back -- wanting to know if she drinks herself to sleep every night and was actually tearfully mouthing the words, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry -- what have I done with my life," as she typed out the press release. Aside from that tiny bit of resistance, I know it's useless to bitch about what the inexplicable ongoing success of these whores -- and I'm speaking as much of the men in the family as the women -- has to say about America as a society and where our once-great empire stands at the beginning of the 21st century.
Still, gotta give a big standing-o to Jon Hopwood, whoever he is.
His, let's face it, honest assessment of Kim Kardashian -- remember, famous for being pissed on by Ray J -- in her IMDB bio is as brilliant as it is thoroughly refreshing. I guess you fight the little battles where you can, eh?
Uproxx: Kim Kardashian's IMDB Bio is AMAZING/5.14.12
Monday, May 14, 2012
Kelsey Warren is a talented-as-hell guy whom I've known for more than 20 years, going back to the period in our lives when he was the general manager of WVUM in Miami and I was the biggest pain-in-the-ass problem child in his DJ pool. His band, Pillow Theory, made an appearance in my book, Dead Star Twilight, and he remains one of my closest, dearest friends.
Late last year, Pillow Theory released an EP called Meltdown which you can download on iTunes and this is the new video for the single from it. Support this guy, please -- he's one of the good ones.
Also, sorry for the continued absence. I'll be working pretty much through the entire day and night to meet a deadline and should finally be freed up beginning tomorrow. If I'm still alive.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Full Piece That Ran Yesterday at the Daily Banter
Every once in a while I apparently like to see to it that my progressive street cred takes a huge hit and, well, I guess it’s that time again. The line to angrily show me the error of my ways forms to the left — just, please, not the face, eh?
In case you haven’t been watching Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox recently — and I can’t in good conscience suggest that you do — his latest indignant crusade involves the search for answers in the beating of a pair of Virginia newspaper reporters by an angry mob a few weeks back. The two reporters were white; the people who attacked them, throwing rocks at their car and eventually sending both of them to the hospital, were reportedly all black. What got O’Reilly’s dander up was the fact that the paper the victims work for — the Virginian-Pilot — ran the story not as a news item but as an opinion piece two weeks after the attack. It never bothered to report the initial story; it only chose to comment on it well after the fact and when it did, it stated only that the reporters were beaten by a mob, with no mention of what seemed to be a glaringly obvious racial component. O’Reilly even sent his little Renfield, intrepid professional asshole producer Jesse Watters, down to the Pilot’s offices to confront the paper’s management about what he sees as an intentional oversight and ran an interview with at least one man in the neighborhood where the attack happened who claimed that anger over the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida might have played a role in the beating.
To top it all off, a couple of nights ago O’Reilly brought on Bernard Goldberg — who by the way is probably the most impressive surrogate for Fox’s audience of embittered old white people from among its stable of regular guests — to discuss how liberal media bias contributed to the unwillingness to broach the subject of race in the story. From Mediaite, here’s what Goldberg had to say:
“Here is what it is really about. It goes beyond journalism, it’s a much bigger issue. It’s about white, usually white liberal paternalism where they say, ‘Well, we really can’t hold black people up to the same standards as we hold white people up to. That’s why we are not putting it in the paper. They are different.’ So two things happen after that. One, the newspaper, the media, they don’t want to air that kind of dirty laundry because it’s kind of embarrassing for the black community. And two, they don’t want to give ammunition to the bigots who probably would say, you see, that’s how they all behave. Now look, we hate, we detest the bigots. But a newspaper has a responsibility to cover legitimate news.”
O’Reilly himself then went on to bring up what he calls an undeniable double standard when it comes to the coverage of the Virginia attack: “You can’t tell me that MSNBC, if it were reversed, wouldn’t be every show, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, on and on and on,” he said.
Now make no mistake: Bill O’Reilly isn’t the least bit concerned with justice, fairness or, most assuredly, journalistic integrity — he’s just throwing red meat to his viewers to feed their white resentment, persecution complexes and the overall delusion that they’re the victims of “reverse racism.” Here’s the thing, though: He’s right about this. And so is Bernie Goldberg. Intentions be damned, almost across the board they’re both right.
Was flat-out racism really a factor in the decision by a large group of black people to attack the Virginian-Pilot’s two white reporters as they sat in their car at a red light? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else at the moment. But to not acknowledge at all the racial component of a story like this requires powers of self-deception — or at the very least the ability to twist yourself into a pretzel of rationalization — that border on superhuman. Again, no one should be claiming that race played a role in the attack, but it’s entirely fair to ask the question why so few in the media are willing to question whether it did — and to do it seemingly as part of a general rule about bringing up race when it’s a black-on-white crime. O’Reilly may be a pompous buffoon, but I dare anyone to challenge his assertion that were the races reversed in the case in Virginia — had it been a group of white people who attacked an African-American man and woman in their car — it would’ve been the lead on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show every night since the day it happened.
I want to stress one more time, because it’s that important: I have no idea whether race played a role in this recent attack and I won’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it did. But it’s a news outlet’s job to dispassionately report the facts, even if it’s to impress upon the public that not enough is known about a news item to make a judgment call. But the press generally doesn’t do that when it comes to issues of race and violence, not when the victim is white and the assailant is black. As Goldberg says, they’re holding the two groups to different standards when it comes to what they’re willing to say about them without unequivocal evidence. When a power-drunk white guy in Florida shoots an unarmed black teen, it’s asked whether the attack was racially motivated. And it should be. When an angry mob of young black men and women attack a couple of white reporters, trashing their car and sending them to the hospital, the possibility that the attack was racially motivated isn’t even discussed, out of fear of offending anyone or fueling an ugly stereotype. And, again, it should be.
Why? Because that’s a news outlet’s job.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
-- President Barack Obama
Whether you believe this decision to be politically motivated doesn't really matter -- the bottom line is that it's historic, it carries significant risk for any sitting president up for reelection, and it affirms in no uncertain terms Obama's ongoing commitment to gay rights in this country.
Yesterday's blow struck against both basic civil rights and the march of progress by the scared-shitless yokels of North Carolina means almost nothing in the long run. As I've said many times here -- freedom expands. And no matter how many asinine laws are passed out of ignorance and prejudice, the genie is already out of the bottle and gay marriage will become a reality throughout the nation eventually.
It's only a matter of time -- and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Adding: Andrew Sullivan's take on this is, not surprisingly given the subject matter, especially lovely and powerful.
Adding Further: This. The president needs to draw the line between himself and his opponents in the Republican party as distinctly as possible right now. And by taking the stand he did, he couldn't have made the choice any clearer.
"I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view."
-- Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, who defeated long-time Republican Senator and relative moderate Dick Lugar in yesterday's Indiana primary
So there you have it. Today's Republican party summed up in one neat little sentence. It's no longer about politics or compromise or working together for the good of the country -- it's about obstruction at all costs and rabid, eliminationist fanaticism. And it's going to doom the United States government to gridlock until the inevitable finally happens: the Republican party as we know it purifies itself into extinction.
My new piece for the Daily Banter is up and it deals with Bill O'Reilly's latest bit of faux-indignant theater.
But my take on it doesn't necessarily go where you'd think it might.
Here's the opening shot:
"Every once in a while I apparently like to see to it that my progressive street cred takes a huge hit and, well, I guess it’s that time again. The line to angrily show me the error of my ways forms to the left — just, please, not the face, eh?
In case you haven’t been watching Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox recently — and I can’t in good conscience suggest that you do — his latest indignant crusade involves the search for answers in the beating of a pair of Virginia newspaper reporters by an angry mob a few weeks back. The two reporters were white; the people who attacked them, throwing rocks at their car and eventually sending both of them to the hospital, were reportedly all black."
Read the Rest Here
My girlfriend and I spent this past Saturday at the KROQ Weenie Roast, which featured, as usual, a stellar lineup: this year, Coldplay, Incubus, Garbage, Silversun Pickups, Pennywise and a special appearance by Soundgarden.
Thanks to the very kind largess of Pete Parada -- all-around great guy and drummer for the Offspring, who also happened to be playing -- we got not only tickets to the show but all-access passes. As usual, hanging with Pete was a blast and there's no denying that watching the Offspring and Soundgarden from the side of the stage was one of those little rock and roll fantasies come to life for yours truly.
Here now area couple of highlights from the show -- at least the ones currently uploaded to YouTube from the actual KROQ video feed.
First up, all of the Offspring's set (wish I could do something about the hiccups in the video).
Here's Garbage doing Vow.
And finally, Coldplay -- Yellow.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
This band was the quintessential mid-80s one-hit-wonder and eventually its frontman, Brent Bourgeois, would go on to a mildly successful career in Christian music. (For the record, his pre-Christian self-titled solo album from 1990 remains a quiet favorite of mine.)
After all this time, though, this one little song is still just so damn good.
Here's Bourgeois Tagg's I Don't Mind at All.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Friday, May 04, 2012
If you argue with the fact that the Beastie Boys changed the face of hip-hop -- that they've been pioneers, a group always years ahead of their time -- and that Adam "MCA" Yauch was a vital part of that brilliance and ingenuity, there's something very wrong with you.
Thank you for everything, MCA -- you will be sorely missed, man.
Rolling Stone: Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch Dead at 48/5.4.12
You're hearing a lot of the same sentiment on Twitter right now regarding the death of MCA: This one hurts. And it does. A lot. Like so many, I can only speak about my personal attachment to the band and its music and, quite frankly, both have been an integral part of my life for 25 years. Imagine that -- 25 years. When I was a senior in high school, Licensed to Ill was the unofficial theme music of my class -- the wild-eyed, balls-out party record that seemed to give us all tacit permission to break every rule imposed by adults with both middle fingers held high. Seeing the Beasties on the Licensed to Ill tour -- at a stop in South Florida in which I had to buy scalped tickets and during which the audience actually pulled pieces of drywall off the back of the arena to fan themselves with because of the intense heat -- remains one of the best concert-going experiences of my life. In college, the band I played in worshiped the Beastie Boys. The college radio station I worked at, WVUM, had a rotating cast of kids who all worshiped the Beastie Boys. The band followed me throughout my life, getting older with me, growing with me, always being great, always being vital, never getting dull and forever being a symbol of my transition from impetuous, arrogant youth to only slightly less impetuous and arrogant adulthood -- they were always there. I realize I'm rambling here, but maybe that'll help make it clear how badly this really does hurt. The Beastie Boys have always been more than a band to me, more than an audaciously powerful force in hip-hop and in music in general. They've felt like mine -- the true voice of my generation. And it's devastating to lose one of them because it feels like losing a friend.
The Full Piece that Ran Yesterday at the Daily Banter
Let’s start with the obvious: HBO’s new series Girls isn’t for me. What I mean by that is that I’m not its target audience. I’m not a millennial; I’m not female; I’m not a Brooklyn hipster who’s perpetually drowning in his or her own insufferable ennui; I don’t recognize even a hint of myself or my life in any of the dingbat characters or torturous scenarios the show traffics in. I’m sure Lena Dunham is a nice enough person, but there’s nothing about her that makes me think she’s someone I really need to take seriously as a creative talent, let alone the supposed voice of her generation (God help them all).
Granted, I lived in New York City for quite a while and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t familiar with the kind of “girls” Dunham and her cast try to represent for the TV audience; the city is crawling with them. I just don’t think they’re interesting enough to merit the representation. On the contrary, my reaction to any encounter with them typically lies somewhere between cringing painfully and going full-on Inspector Dreyfus whenever somebody mentioned Clouseau’s name.
With that in mind, though, I think that the criticism Lena Dunham’s been on the receiving end of from some in the black and Hispanic community is unfair. In case you haven’t been following -- and for your own sake, I hope you actually have better things to do than concern yourself with this kind of “controversy” -- a host of socially conscious journalists of color, many of them female, have complained that Dunham’s show is too “white,” that none of the titular girls on Girls are black or brown. The argument is a little dumb at face value, simply because Dunham herself is white and it’s not like that’s something she can change -- and while New York City, both real and the depressing hellhole depicted on the show, is indeed a melting pot, let’s be honest and admit that it’s not exactly unlikely that people like Dunham’s character on the show and her small cadre of friends would all be the same shade of white.
Hell, the show wouldn’t be what it is -- cloying and insipid -- without the pervading stench of white privilege and the ability for characters to mumble complaints about the kind of shit only privileged white kids have the luxury of complaining about. It’s been a common refrain among critics of Girls, but it’s a show about white people problems -- and like everyone else, I say that as derogatorily as possible -- and trying to shoehorn a demographic into the equation which undoubtedly brings a different set of concerns to the table would be a ham-fisted nod to political correctness and little more. There wouldn’t be anything the least bit honest about Dunham taking that tack -- and anyone willing to admit to the world that she’s this tiresome, irritating and unsympathetic is honest if nothing else.
Please understand that I’m certainly not saying that women of color don’t occasionally obsess over some of the same trivialities that a show like Girls attempts to address; everybody has his or her own version of navel-gazing. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a larger forum for shows that either catered specifically to black and Hispanic female audiences or were able to draw the parallels between all women without trying to force the issue in an effort to ward off exactly the kind of criticism that’s been leveled at Dunham. Those upset about the show’s lack of color, so to speak, have a point when they argue that a series like Girls with an all-black or all-Hispanic cast would very likely never be given the cachet of a time slot on HBO -- but again, it’s not like that’s Lena Dunham’s fault, and again, it’s not as if she should be required to adjust her vision for the show simply to satisfy the PC police.
It’s a show about a Lena Dunham-type character and the people she interacts with. And if you’re not included among those people, trust me, you shouldn’t be complaining. You’re a hell of a lot better off.
Shepard Smith and Politics is Weird; Roger Ailes and the Fox News Channel Mission; Al-Qaeda Thinks Fox News Should ‘Die in Her Anger’; John Edwards is a Scumbag; Michele Bachmann Endorses Romney; Limbaugh and Flight Suits and Osama Bin Laden; The 2004 Fearmonger Edit; Composite Girlfriend Gate; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
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Thursday, May 03, 2012
"Kate Hudson is officially worse than cancer."
-- Salon's Mary Beth Williams in a text she sent to me yesterday immediately after sitting through a screening of A Little Bit of Heaven, in which Kate Hudson plays a woman battling cancer
Since that text, I've been waiting for Mary Beth's "review" of this movie to be published. Well, it's now up -- and as somebody who still has a crush on Hudson's Penny Lane character in Almost Famous and yet can't help but regard her with nothing but shame these days, it's everything I'd hoped.
Cesca's running the same item over at his site right now -- and so are a lot of other people -- but I'm gonna put this up because I think it deserves to be seen far and wide. Ladies and gentlemen, in case you haven't seen or read it yet, I give you an excerpt from a recent sermon by Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church (of course) in Fayetteville, North Carolina (of course).
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, 'Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,' you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too Butch you reign her in. And you say, 'Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'
You say, 'Can I take charge like that as a parent?'
Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that."
So, yeah, beat your gay or gay-acting kid. It's not child abuse -- it's God's will.
You know something? Let me make something clear. If you happen to live in Fayetteville, North Carolina and you pass Pastor Sean Harris on the street, just walk on over and punch him in the fucking mouth. You say, "Can I take charge like that as a decent human being and somebody who believes in defending the rights of the innocent against intolerant, Bible-thumping cunts?" Yeah, you can. I just gave you a special dispensation.
Incidentally, Pastor Sean is now "retracting" his comments, saying they were a joke. Uh-huh. Fuck you, pal.
It's being called Sex and the City for the aptly named Generation Y -- which means you probably already know what I'll think of it.
Still, does Lena Dunham's Girls really deserve all the criticism being heaped on it? No, not all. It doesn't deserve to be called racist -- insipid and irritating, that's a different story.
My latest piece for the Daily Banter takes the show apart.
Here's the opening shot:
"Let’s start with the obvious: HBO’s new series 'Girls' isn’t for me. What I mean by that is that I’m not its target audience. I’m not a millennial; I’m not female; I’m not a Brooklyn hipster who’s perpetually drowning in his or her own insufferable ennui; I don’t recognize even a hint of myself or my life in any of the dingbat characters or torturous scenarios the show traffics in. I’m sure Lena Dunham is a nice enough person, but there’s nothing about her that makes me think she’s someone I really need to take seriously as a creative talent, let alone the supposed voice of her generation (God help them all)."
Read the Rest Here
Remember, kids: To "Like" and RT is to care.
After what seems like forever, Norse gods of ethereal loveliness Sigur Rós will release a new album at the end of the month. It's called Valtari and this is one of the first tracks from it we've been able to get a listen to.
This is Ekki múkk (Moving Art).
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
"The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to, uh, reproduce."
-- Jodie Brunstetter, wife of North Carolina State Senator Peter Brunstetter, on why her husband backed an amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in their state
I'd say something obvious about how repugnantly racist and bigoted this kind of comment is, but to be honest I just can't stop staring quizzically at the photo of Jodie and Peter to the left there.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't they in a same-sex marriage?
The Full Piece that Ran Yesterday at the Daily Banter
In case you missed it, Rachel Maddow handed Alex Castellanos his ass this past Sunday morning. It happened on Meet the Press during a debate over whether the Republicans are currently engaged in a legislative “war” on America’s women. While I’m not a big fan of calling what the GOP is doing an all-out war -- only because I feel like that term has been run into the ground — there’s no doubt that what we’re seeing from the right at the moment is the latest fusillade in an ongoing push to turn back the clock to time when women were largely free to come and go as they pleased but were also fully aware of their place beneath the white guy power structure. They were often highly regarded, but their rights were still little more than the largess of the real people in charge -- which is the definition of condescension.
Speaking of which, it took all of a couple of seconds into the discussion for Alex Castellanos’s big orange face to contort into a smug smirk and for him to begin patronizing the hell out of Rachel Maddow, and needless to say Maddow wasn’t having any of it. First, Castellanos tried to interrupt her several times and did it in a manner that seemed to suggest that he and his hyper-Republican take on things should be the objects of deference because, well, they represented obvious common sense. To her credit, Maddow didn’t make it personal and firmly asserted that she be allowed to finish her point despite Castellanos’s supposedly uncharacteristic behavior as someone she considered a friend. Castellanos followed that up by filibustering on the ways in which the Democrats are creating wedge issues designed to pit various groups of Americans against each other because they don’t have any strong policy points to stand on or victories to tout. Yeah, he said that with a straight face.
What’s interesting, though, isn’t the fact that Castellanos proved once again that he’s a shameless turd who’s really in no position to lecture anyone on political ethics -- it’s the deft way that Maddow smacked him down, using not empty rhetoric or robotic talking points but indisputable facts and figures. She used math, which made her wide-eyed shock understandable when Castellanos actually did dispute it all -- when he took issue with proven reality. We’ve seen that kind of thing before from the right, but it’s still an astonishing sight to behold.
Over the past couple of weeks on the podcast and radio show Bob Cesca and I do, we’ve discussed the role of progressive commentators on Fox News -- more to the point, the kind of progressive they always seem to trot out to supposedly counterbalance the army of right-wing blowhards that are Fox’s stock-in-trade. Bottom line: liberals on Fox News are always tomato cans. They’re either pencil-necked weenie clichés like Alan Colmes -- who’s certainly a bright guy, but one sure to confirm every preconceived image the NASCAR Nation has about progressives -- or they’re slovenly, slow-witted schlubs like Bob Beckel, a guy who always looks like he’s one step away from wetting his Depends when he goes on one of his rants after being ganged up on by the cast of reactionary doofs on The Five. Fox knows full well that if it brought a Rachel Maddow or a Thom Hartmann on to debate a clown like Greg Gutfeld or Steve Doocy, it’d be a massacre -- one Fox News couldn’t prevent or deflect short of pulling the plug on the camera and putting up color bars.
Why? Because as I’ve said many times lately -- what should really be a Democratic campaign slogan somewhere -- the Republicans have nothing. They’ve got nothing. They don’t have a thing in the way of policy other than screwing a substantial portion of the American public while standing obstinately against anything and everything President Obama wants. They’ve got horseshit bumper sticker sloganeering and shameless fear mongering aimed squarely at aging white people who feel like they’re losing the country bequeathed to them by the Founding Fathers. They’ve got a pervading desire to re-fight culture battles long-since decided in the minds of most Americans and in doing so to return this country to some hyper-idealized version of what we were in the 1950s.
And when it comes to the ubiquitous mainstream media pundits who act as political surrogates for their cause, they’ve got people who either support them in a full-throated manner or who simply enable them by being largely impotent. At least that’s what we see on many so-called news networks -- and that’s why it’s so important when people like Rachel Maddow beat the living hell out of hacks like Alex Castellanos on national television. She proved that when it comes to actual facts, the GOP these days doesn’t have a leg to stand on, regardless of how hard it and its advocates may try to prop it up. The more honest -- and uninterrupted -- interaction that people like Maddow have with the pundits and politicians the Republicans send out to speak for them, the more it’ll be shown to everyone just how flimsy their case is to the American people.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is now up -- it deals with Rachel Maddow's deft smackdown of vaudevillian hack Alex Castellanos on Meet the Press this past weekend, and why we don't see more of that on network and cable television but should.
Here's the opening shot:
"In case you missed it, Rachel Maddow handed Alex Castellanos his ass this past Sunday morning. It happened on Meet the Press during a debate over whether the Republicans are currently engaged in a legislative 'war' on America’s women. While I’m not a big fan of calling what the GOP is doing an all-out war — only because I feel like that term has been run into the ground — there’s no doubt that what we’re seeing from the right at the moment is the latest fusillade in an ongoing push to turn back the clock to time when women were largely free to come and go as they pleased but were also fully aware of their place beneath the white guy power structure. They were often highly regarded, but their rights were still little more than the largess of the real people in charge — which is the definition of condescension."
Read the Rest Here