Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Beck’

Glenn Beck recently went to CNN to ask the musical question: What are we doing to do about the resurgent racist right?

We’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to ask the question, “Is every Trump supporter racist?” The answer is no. The more important thing is that they are disengaged, unserious, incurious, did not understand the economic forces underlying their problems, and were easily distracted because of their low threshold for boredom. These qualities allowed them to be easily used by Trump, whose tactics are old and familiar to any person who’s taken one history class. And their disengagement will allow them to be used again by a small but dedicated group of ACTUAL racists to rise to levels of power not seen in this country since the 1920s. Trumpites’ unfocused anger was the problem until last week. Their inertia will be the problem now. They’ll say, “This racism talk doesn’t apply to me” without acknowledging that they unleashed and empowered white nationalists and that, if they think of themselves as good people, they are many times more obligated to call out racists in their own ranks than they realize.

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My wife and I have been provisioning all day for the monstrous Hurricane Irene. How temperamental is she? She keeps changing her category! This storm is such a raging bitch that not only have 370,000 New Yorkers been ordered evacuated, but the New York Times has momentarily given away free storm stories on its Web site. This evil hurricane is already messing with our Web business models!

This has been a summer of firsts for me. Not only have I had my first baby, but three days ago I experienced my first earthquake, and this weekend, I’ll face down my first hurricane, and all at an age where you stop having firsts. It probably also bears mentioning that you shouldn’t be dealing with any of these things in New York City, perhaps even the baby part.

My wife and I are thankfully not in one of the flood zones, but we have big windows on a high floor and are wondering if we will have to be spending the weekend bodily shielding our baby Xander against flying tempered glass.  New York supposedly upgraded its building codes in 2008 to stiffen them against hurricane winds, but in a city where pragmatism must be mixed into politics like milk into chocolate, many existing buildings didn’t have to meet these codes. At the height my wife and I live, there’s a danger of glass, gravel, and other items flying off adjacent roofs (even those of shorter buildings) and creating a debris field. We hear different pieces of advice about how risky it is to stay where we are, but at this point, we have few choices. I’ll let you know if things start flying through our living room.

I’ve spent most of the day stocking up. It’s strange how people predicting the end of the world recently (Glenn Beck comes to mind) have been admonishing you to invest in gold. But after spending the day looking for larder items, I’d say the smarter money is on peanut butter. That and bread seem to be the two items my neighbors can’t live without, and every store I’ve been to today has been robbed of its creamy spreads and whole wheat breads. Where other nonperishable items like beans and soup and Chips Ahoy remained, peanut butter seems to be the rock star staple food of the nascent storm survivalist. How you gonna eat gold, after all, when the flood comes?

When you are provisioning, I’ve found it helps to be counter-intuitive. Most stores I went to had run out of flashlights and D batteries by 2 p.m. today. But if you were willing to walk into one of the tiny newsstands, you found lots of D batteries. And my wife said there were tons of flashlights at Gracious Home. I found it better to look for each prized survival item at the place where it was most novel. Water at the health and beauty store. Batteries at the bodega. Cereal at Bed, Bath & Beyond. If anything, however, today’s shopping lesson was a bog standard lesson in supply and demand. Items that are unremarkable one day become as valuable as silver the next.

Another lesson for you disaster watchers is to listen to the voices in the street for the stirrings of public skepticism. There are a few lone voices out there who insist Mike Bloomberg, our billionaire mayor, is fear mongering and exaggerating the threat of the storm. The city has launched New York’s first mandatory evacuation ever from the flood zones in all five boroughs and mass transit will shut down at noon on Saturday. In a mordant moment at a press conference Thursday, Bloomberg said that he’s asking residents of those areas to leave so as they do not, you know, die. But skepticism of his motives has already risen among those who feel he’s making up for a botched response to last winter’s Snowmageddon.There’s a lot of dismissive sneers by those who say we’re having our chains pulled. New York hasn’t seen a major hurricane in decades.

It makes you think briefly about politics. To doubt something that’s factual (indeed, to ignore myriad satellite pictures and weatherman showing you exactly how Hurricane Irene is going to hand your ass to you) is something damn near instinctual among us. Perhaps political parties grow from these abundant small disagreements more organically than we think. I wrote earlier this year after the Japan earthquake about the need to politicize acts of God, comparing the event to Hurricane Katrina. Is there something good about doubting people who would take you out of harm’s way? Does it help us to constantly question and be skeptical of things insight tells us are true, in hopes of constantly making insight better? Is it better to have a foil political party or group always saying “Nay,” no matter what the question? Is this what actually makes democracy work?

Perhaps we don’t choose the dialectic. Perhaps it chooses us.

I’ll leave with that thought and hope Hurricane Irene does not choose me or my family this weekend. If you don’t hear much from me in the next couple of days (and hate seeing egregious spelling errors sitting uncorrected in the post) it’s because my power is likely down or because my son won’t let me type for two seconds. In fact, I’m amazed I wrote this much.

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Washington, D.C.–Some 80% of Americans said on Tuesday that they “can’t do this anymore,” and made a dramatic exit from some marriage, situation, job, argument or film screening.

Americans everywhere have found refuge to this careworn phrase, one stemming from perhaps every movie on the planet from “Sex and the City” to “Traffic” to “Fight Club,” to express common frustrations of their everyday life and bring closure to some chapter of their lives. In many cases, they are ending a job or a relationship.

“I can’t do this anymore,” said Brayden Horowitz to his girlfriend Sadie Asher. “Haven’t we done too much damage to each other to continue this game?”

“I can’t do this anymore,” said Peter Wilhelm, a vice president at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank to his boss, Stanley Wheel. “The financial services industry is just too wrecked for us to go on.”

“I can’t do this anymore,” said Linda Splevin, on the verge of sending her 8-year-old son Tyler to military academy.

All across the country, experts admit, Americans just can’t do it anymore. The U.S. Happiness Index suggests that a steady dose of geopolitical turmoil, economic uncertainty, rampant unemployment and sexual frustration have led Americans to a dramatic need to take a stand like the one they see made practically every day on television.

“When Miranda on ‘Sex and the City,’ said to Steve ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ she was really speaking for all of us,” said Lacey Weiss, a psychologist at Northwestern University. “People tend to view both their world and their own lives in a dramatic story arc. They love beginnings. The struggle through the middles. They enjoy the high points for as long as they last. But what we love most of all when we’re being dramatic is bringing everything to a sweeping conclusion, likely with music ringing in their ears and the crashing denouement, ‘No, really, I can’t do this anymore.’ It is not just a trite phrase. It is part of our self-mythologizing.”

Weiss said that she planned to give up on her doctorate degree later that month and go get a job learning Chinese.

“I loved being a psychologist, but how long do I have to wait around for an interview like this one to make it all worth while? I just can’t do this anymore.”

The new trend is seen most perceptibly on the MTV hit “The Jersey Shore,” where approximately 67% of the dialogue is “I can’t do this anymore.” (The other 33% being “She’s DTF!” and “Snookie in the house, bitch.”)

“I just can’t do this anymore,” said Hosni Mubarak to the people of Egypt in mid-February. Meanwhile, other people who haven’t been able to do this anymore are Ashlee Simpson, Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet. Comedy superstar Steve Carrell will meanwhile be leaving his hit series “The Office,” also because he can’t do this anymore.

However, pundits have noticed a discouraging number of people who as of this posting can indeed still do this anymore–among them are Muammar Gaddafi, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Kim Kardashian.

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[Update, September 30, 2011: I recently updated this piece with some rigorous copy editing. I apologize to my readers. I have rarely been so proud of a piece I’ve written, only to see that pride eroded by copy errors that sometimes hid or sank my points.]

Have you ever thought of how great it would be if we could just get rid of unions altogether? Why, without collective bargaining rights, the real work of capitalism could be done–a mechanism for unlocking wealth that would make that wealth work far more efficiently, especially by paying workers what they’re really worth: at best, $3.50 an hour.  Such unlocked greatness would make America strong and proud in the way it was back when we had kids working 12 hour days and our food was full of extra human thumbs, earlobes and gizzards.

I’m sorry, does this sound stupid to you? Then I’m not sure why it’s even a debate in the state of Wisconsin, where a new Republican governor completely in the back pocket of a couple of anti-union billionaire industrialists, is working to curtail collective bargaining rights. As long as we’re throwing union people out the window, we ought to at least remember a time when the defenestration was much more literal: The 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is coming up in March. In 1911, 146 employees of the Greenwich Village company were killed in a fire when their bosses had locked them inside to keep them from leaving early. Many had to jump to their deaths from the eighth, ninth and tenth stories. The fire galvanized the union movement and helped usher in modern building codes, labor practices and even the New Deal, depending on whom you ask.

This is when a lot of red staters start to nod that this was just one more in a long line of progressive mistakes going all the way back to our nation’s founding. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to mark the anniversary than by going back with a red marker and erasing all of the “progressive” nonsense that has come about since then.

A lot of people’s antipathy toward unions comes from a complete misunderstanding of their function. If you’re a conservative, you likely buy the argument that stronger unions have given Americans a sense of entitlement, pushed us toward decreased productivity, made our labor too expensive, and thus made American industry less nimble and less able to respond to crises. That’s an awful lot of big words, red staters! And yet, it’s a compelling and simple argument if you only look at one side of the ledger–and trust me conservatives are awfully good at both simple narratives and reading only one side of the ledger. What you won’t find when you blame unions for hobbling business is the increasing sham that corporate governance has become–how executive pay is far out of control compared with those of the lowest-paying salaries, and that executives often game the system. How? By withholding dividends–an increasingly popular corporate gambit since Reagan’s times; by creating excessive stock options, which dilute shares and funnel money away from shareholders; and by simply overpaying CEOs. (Does anybody remember Dick Grasso?) Meanwhile, it’s only the cruel market that decides what you’re worth if you’re a laborer. Unless you’ve got collective bargaining.

Here’s an argument for you conservatives, since you hate Hollywood: Imagine an Eddie Murphy movie that costs $50 million to make. As part of his deal, Eddie gets $40 million gross. The movie makes $90 million. How much did this movie make? Zero. After everyone grosses out (both financially and literally) on two hours of fart jokes, the studio can actually say they have a money loser. The people with net points in the movie get nothing. It was in this way that another film, the phenomenally popular Forrest Gump, was actually a money loser because Tom Hanks and the director got so much gross.

So now imagine, America, that you are getting net points and the richest 1% are getting the gross points. Meanwhile, the price of your labor, with your union bulwark weakening nearby, has been pushed down by the flood of flat earth labor into the market–the freed hordes of Chinese, Indian, Eastern European and South American labor.

And so now we come back to the standard conservative argument about Laffer curves and the idea fixe of Reaganism–which is that Reagan cut taxes and the economy took off for 30 years and that’s all there was to it. Listening to this bullshit after a while is a bit like hearing a schizophrenic compulsively repeat single lines of “Old Mother Leary.” Fire is a wonderful thing, conservatives, but it doesn’t mean you throw it on your roof. Likewise, tax breaks are nice quick incentives for a monetary system but keeping taxes low forever does not make your society or even your economy better. But most people who are insecure about their economics knowledge hold up the Laffer curve as if it’s the college degree they never had, and as if Glenn Beck were the Civics 101 course they slept through.

Speaking of Beck, onto the “Egypt” part of my story–which is exhibit 587 in an exhaustive case, “Glenn Beck Vs. Linear Thinking.”

If you can stomach this video, you’ll see Beck squaring off not only against Bill O’Reilly (Beck is perhaps the only person in the world who can make O’Reilly look like a genius) but against a purely democratic uprising in Egypt. The first thing I thought when the dominoes started to fall in the Arab world was that conservatives might claim a victory of sorts–and make a specious argument that the Iraq War fomented these pro-Democracy movements. So you can imagine my utter horror when a bunch of self-described individual liberties champions like Beck began knocking the Egyptian revolution. Beck’s argument is that it’s not a democracy movement since it could end up in the hands of Islamic extremists. What’s most galling about this video is two American conservatives arguing whether democracy is something America ought to confer on the Egyptians rather than something the Egyptians’ have a natural right to. In other words, Glenn, Egyptian liberty is not yours to give, and the fact that you would say so proves you’re no libertarian but another paleo-con American imperialist. It would be hard to explain to Beck or his spongie followers how even a revolution that was thoroughly Muslim in character is none of his fucking business, but instead the natural inclination of a people who ought to make their own decisions about when to be liberated (unlike the Iraqis whose liberation was forced on them, and so can only be called “liberated” by a morally bankrupt few). In a bizarre turn perhaps lost on everybody but the legions of hard-of-hearing people who listen to Beck, Glenn actually says (around minute 2:23) that American progressives (I would suppose that’s the people responsible for securing fire exits for the Triangle Shirtwaist Co.) are somehow responsible for both Hosni Mubarak and the Shah of Iran. Yes, friends liberal imperialism has built up Hosni Mubarak. Our support of him has nothing to do with conservatives and capitulation to the needs of Israel for a regional friend.

Even worse is the utterly loathsome former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who here makes the disgusting suggestion that Hosni Mubarak was an ally (read: Israeli ally) and therefore was owed our allegiance no matter what. His argument: we didn’t support an Iranian revolution with force, so we shouldn’t support an Egyptian one even with words–even if the two movements are based in the same democratic ideals. Again, of those of you conservatives unable to read between the lines: We cannot support even a Democratic movement that was anti-Israel. (I shudder to think that there’s a person left on this planet to listens to this homophobic, science-bashing, war fan, hate monger–a man who said that poor New Orleans Hurricane Katrina victims should simply have gotten out of town and who seems to be the only person on the planet to have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq).

This was a lot of stray comments, but I impress upon you, long-suffering Beauty is Imperfection reader, that they are motivated by the same idea–the democratic impulse rises naturally in nature, whether it be against union busters in Wisconsin or strongmen in Libya. But just as easily as it is created, it is confused, used, abused, assimilated and exploited by medicine salesmen, tiny generals, wee-brained Fox News employees and even by would-be rapists (my heart goes out to CBS news reporter Lara Logan, a woman so brave she makes me ashamed to call myself a journalist). Democracy is harder than it looks, and it is vulnerable not only money like the Koches’ and brute power like George W. Bush’s but most often simply to lots of lies, lies, lies.

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I love Keith Olbermann, but I don’t have to work with him. As of last night, neither do the staff at MSNBC, who abruptly cut the tether with their basso profundo heir to Edward R. Murrow. Olbermann reminded us in his closing program notes of “Network” and Peter Finch’s famous “Mad as hell” catch phrase as he signed off for the last time and contemplated his departure, using the spare elegant Occam’s Razor-worthy prose for which he’s known. His life would have been easier if he used that trombone-like voice to sell commemorative plates and soap sculptures and gold coins. Instead he used it to civilize us.

So goes the man who finally carved out a space for liberalism in the liberal media. When I think of Olbermann and the way he situated himself in the nightly pundit game, I think of a Josef Albers painting in which shades of whites are contrasted with other whites or a greens with greens. If the media is really so “liberal,” shouldn’t liberal Olbermann have gotten lost in the green screen background like so many Costa Rican macaws in their almendro trees? He didn’t. Instead, he came about as a trenchant and refreshing rhetorical answer to CNN, at a time when that supposedly liberal network was regularly offering up Iraq War coverage under the rubric “War on Terror”–reinforcing the central fiction of the war for less astute viewers and playing right into the hands of the folksy Mr. Haney who operated our country at the time.

Liberals in this country are a bit like Canadians–we’re always apologizing for something we didn’t do wrong. (Sorry, Canadian friends, but I’m quoting one of your fellow Canucks here.) Perhaps libs don’t like to win, as some introspective pundits like to say. Or perhaps we see more sides of an issue, and thus seem ready to yield to people who take pride in knowing one thing so well. Perhaps we’re just all impressed by ruddy faced conviction. Red-staters are so, so, so emotional about the wrong things they believe. That’s why we lie down when the debate turns silly. Anybody who would seriously debate the question “Is America going socialist” is already being suckered and making medicine with quacks. America has been “socialist,” as the right defines it, since long before 99% of Americans were born (and before we were, children worked 12 hours a day in indentured servitude and many workers were locked into their offices). The real question is why is America going down the road of plutocracy. You might see meretricious rules of rhetoric in that, but that’s because the game has been defined by the crazy people in the tricorn hats and those selling gold on late night television to poor conservative suckers. Are they, we ought to ask, plutocrats or anarchists or have they managed to find a horrifying nexus of both as they finally get around to learning only half what they couldn’t bother with in high school civics?”

Across the discursive gap strode Mr. Olbermann eight years ago, with his arrogant “Yes, I’m liberal and I know what I’m talking about so fuck you,” right into prime time television. It’s like what happens when a great new restaurant opens on a block that used to be full of closed-down warehouses. The block has now been spruced up a bit for newcomers, and I doubt Keith Olbermann’s termination will make that much difference. Salon even suggested that his colleague Rachel Maddow, with her cool Vulcan nerve pinches on stupidity, has stolen the march on her pal in liberal popularity. Nobody seems to be worried about a chill in political dissent so much as speculating about how much of an ungrateful and arrogant prick Olbermann was to his bosses. I guess we could roast him for that, but then you might also have to agree that a lot of polite people are ineffective hypocrites who run you down behind your back. Keith is dealing with you in front, where you cause all the trouble.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if Olbermann went to Fox News?” That’s what I thought at first, and it seemed stupid, but now I hear other people saying the same thing. Roger Ailes seems to have a soft spot for house lefties. He gets to co-opt them and further shield his franchise from its image as being more insulated, weepy-eyed, deluded and prima donna-ish than the cast of Glee. And at Fox there seems to be no real problem with “reporters” contributing a bit to politicians, the activity that got Olbermann in trouble at MSNBC a few months ago. Maybe that would be attractive, maybe not. Maybe Keith Olbermann can just start to enjoy his celebrity and sell out at Fox News. Others have done it.

When Olbermann referenced Network and “I’m mad as hell …” , he dropped the reference with such winning self-deprecation I think people missed the satiric undercurrent in that too-much-abused movie reference. Because Keith Olbermann is better compared to Shane, and it’s Glenn Beck who is actually the Peter Finch character, Howard Beale, a man who capably finds an audience that doesn’t know the difference between discourse and showmanship, snake oil and antibiotics. Even when Beck gets around to coming up with an actual fact, he’s usually quick to move beyond it to the real attraction–exorcism. He’s giving his viewers the nightly purging they need when they feel alienated from the political process, powerless to stop forces beyond their control like money and power and recession and unemployment and foreclosure and failure. When there’s blood in the streets, people need a crazy man like Beck to reflect the perversity of their spirit. Maybe Keith Olbermann hates a bit too much too. He even said as much after Gabrielle Giffords was shot and he asked for a tone of civility.

It’s awfully hard to keep calling for civility, of course, when you’ve just been unceremoniously shit-canned. But Keith Olbermann somehow did it with his elegance and basso profundo. Maybe that’s good for an exorcism too.

Come back, Shane. Come back.

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The attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the death of six bystanders in yesterday’s mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona have sparked a debate about how toxic our national discourse has become. That discourse barely had time to neutralize before it turned toxic again a few hours later. Before suspect Jared Lee Loughner was even named as the suspect, left wingers took aim at the Tea Party and Sarah Palin for the gun imagery she has brought to bear (and bears) in our national debates, and her targeting of Giffords in particular. This, they say, wasn’t an isolated incident by a crazy person but the spawn of a right-wing firmament that breeds crazy in crazy nurseries.

A couple of years ago, for instance, Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly repeatedly called Kansas abortion provider George Tiller a baby killer and mentioned him some 28 times on his show. Tiller was later murdered by Scott Roeder, shot in the eye while he was inside his church. The right has since Barack Obama’s election become more ominous in its rhetoric, more martial in its imagery and apocalyptic in its pronouncements. A disempowered group of Americans in 2008 turned to millenarian fury (a sign of their fear). Thus Giffords and others had gotten threats for their support of the health care bill. People were showing up at protests during those debates brandishing guns.

And so there was an anticipation building up among liberals that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, perhaps even a dark wish that it happen to reveal the true animal spirits on the right.

So once there was news of a shooting, it seemed like a good time to immediately assail Palin’s bulls eye imagery, and the crosshairs she trained on Arizona’s Eight District in a 2010 political poster, which Giffords herself called an implied threat. Or for that matter it was worth remembering that Ann Coulter once called Bill Clinton assassination worthy. Or that Glenn Beck has joked about killing opponents and that his whole ideology is based around conspiracy theories that appeal to our country’s many lunatics.

At some point, rhetoric does indeed turn into threat, as I think it did in O’Reilly’s case. The First Amendment doesn’t cover threats. You can’t draw a line through a person’s name and smear it in blood on a poster. But it’s not like the right doesn’t know this. Instead its more clever exponents play with the contradictions. Palin and Glenn Beck do it with an edge of satire that their audience is likely aware of on some level, as obnoxious and destructive as it is to progress, as anathema as it is to people with brains. Yes it’s sad that some dummies do take it seriously (not realizing that Palin is less about policy than media whoredom or not recognizing that Beck is little more than a snake oil salesman/pitch man for gold investments). But the left uses imagery just as often, and with the arrogant vouchsafe that it’s OK for us because we’re right after all. A lot of us called George Bush a war criminal because we thought he had left at least a hundred thousand people dead in Iraq by lying about the reasons for going to war. Are there ramifications of using that language? Could it be used by a crazy person who thinks George Bush is literally a wanted criminal and who might in a deranged state somehow take action on that notion?

This is one reason I can’t blame Palin and Beck for Giffords. And that has made me a very lonely lefty this week.

Call it First Amendment fundamentalism or just sadness about how quickly the situation was exploited. Nobody on the left had the sense to wait a few hours to see who opened fire at that Safeway, and when it turned out to be a moonstruck college dropout/armed forces reject with paranoias about mind control, libs had to spin like mad when they realized they had literally jumped the gun. All of my heroes are now doing the mushy blogs about how toxic our political climate has become and trying with limp avail and flimsy proof to lay it at the feet of Palin.

Yes, Loughner used some right wing symbols about the Constitution being under attack and about the integrity of gold-backed currency. But he was mainly weaving that into a dark, solipsistic ideology all his own, barely recognizable to even NRA members. Who in the hell on the right wing has ever argued about government control of your “grammar structure”?

My heroes Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman have taken this story with the dutiful drudgery of football players taking their positions at shirts and skins scrimmage. Krugman did not offer his usual elegant hard numbers to back up his weak contention that this was an invariable outcome of right wing hate-mongering–but just swiped at Palin in a pro forma rant,  trying to convince us she’s more to blame than people who used to call George Bush Hitler. Before 5 p.m. yesterday, conservatives already had been roused to defensive anger and were in pretty good stead to bat away the arguments that Jared Loughner’s  insanity in any way resembled their own behavior. The anti-bodies had kicked in, and there would be no reason, if I were a right-winger, to listen to the criticism. The left made a prima facie judgment and showed the right it will blame Sarah Palin for anything, even small pox, car wrecks or dog mange.

That makes her stronger, folks.

I’m a leftist, and do believe the Tea Party has created a toxic environment of anti-government panic and often destroyed sensible discourse with meaningless sloganeering. My late mother once told me that in her job as a tax preparer, she came across people who wanted to cash out of all their stock holdings at unattractive bases, take big tax hits or do other forms of financial violence to themselves just because Fox News has told them America had gone socialist. My mother’s prescription: “Fox News should be banned.” And this was a woman who had voted for Bush.

Just another example that conservative thinking is going to do real harm to many disadvantaged people (a lot of them conservatives) in the long run. They will slash necessary programs, push an anti-government agenda that forces more out-of-pocket expenses on poor people, destroy the middle class, accelerate wealth disparity, put us more in debt to the Chinese and force depressions on us if they have to. But it’s hard to prove or see that kind of insidious violence, and that makes lefties want to pin something more tangible on right wing leaders. How about a murder?

The fact is that there are lots of ways to slice the orange on this story. The most horrible is the one none of us dare bring up: We could point to the tragic irony that Giffords is a gun rights advocate and maybe ask if this is a good time to bring up the issue again in our national discourse. We could have taken aim (note the harmless metaphor) at Sarah Palin’s gun stances rather than Palin herself. Instead, we played into her hands and won her more sympathy.

Or we could have noted the irony that Giffords has not been easy to pigeonhole and she’s a good example of our less doctrinaire politicians. The sad thing is that maybe we need more of her, not one less. Our all-too-necessary political center is being attacked when it ought to be protected.

Instead, we liberals painted ourselves into a corner and made this contradictory statement: “The political atmosphere has become too toxic … and it’s the other side’s bloody fault.”

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–*Nobody wants to read about the internal journey of Richard Nixon as he squares off with a menacing satyr character in the afterlife. And it needs more sex in it.

–*Nobody wants to read a story about the ghost of Richard Nixon stuck in our refrigerator.

–*The whole storyline about the 13-year-old girl coming to grips with her sexuality wasn’t really meshing with the story about the invasion of Normandy.

–*It’s really hard to turn corn/ethanol subsidies into drama, no matter how unfair it is.

–*Our protagonist, a member of a grassroots Tea Party organization, really had no valid points.

–*After our lead character had her sixth autistic child, she was really just losing our sympathy.

–*It’s hard to laugh at the subject of abortion. Unless of course the story is really, really hysterically funny.

–*It’s very hard to write inside the mind of a schizophrenic, an infant, or Glenn Beck.

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Washington, D.C. (API) Some 14 months after the party was trounced by the 2008 elections and the landslide victory for President Barack Obama, the Grand Old Party has regained its sea legs once again, and a new party leader has emerged in the person of one Private Forrest Gump.

Republicans searching for leadership at a time when their party is out of power have swarmed around this political upstart whose main claim to fame is that he is a developmentally disabled former athlete and entrepreneur who effortlessly comes up with bland, heartfelt aphorisms.

“Life is like a box of chocolates,” said Gump, thumping one of his favorite old saws for reporters at a press conference. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

“The G.O.P. has been looking for a new face for a long time,” said party consultant Jack Avers. “Bobby Jindal. Charlie Crist. Mitt Romney. Everybody hoped that one of those guys might come and pick up our fallen Republican party standard. But then along comes this poor fucker Gump. Nobody’s got these kinds of bona fides. He makes you feel good about yourself in a way that we haven’t felt since George Bush took office.”

Promising to pick up every American and bodily remove him from harm’s way, Gump launched his political career at a stump speech in Alabama last Thursday amid cheers from conservatives, angry about the direction of the country.

“I am not a smart man, Birmingham. But I know what love is,” Gump announced to rapturous applause from conservatives holding up signs such as “Obamanation” and “America for Americas” and “End the Fed.”

“We want no more tax increases!” yelled an angry member under the stump.

At that, Gump stood up bolt upright, “Well yes, drill sergeant!”

When asked later by a reporter if perhaps anger about tax increases might be misplaced, since middle-class federal tax margins have barely increased since the 1980s, he said, “Well I don’t know anything about that.” Once again, the audience responded with cheers and signs of “Drill, baby, drill” and gunfire into the Alabama night air.

Gump’s apotheosis as new G.O.P. star and conservative pace-setter has provoked a frantic scramble for response from embattled Democrats, whose large and expensive bills to overhaul health care and finance have been widely unpopular. The hostile atmosphere toward Democrats has led at least two senior Congressional Democrats to signal that they would be retiring at the end of their most recent terms, including Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who has made financial services reform one of his signature issues.

“Am I missing something,” said Dodd. “This Gump guy … I mean. He’s kind of not there. Am I smoking crack?”

“Stupid is as stupid does,” said Gump, a witty rejoinder that had Republican stalwarts in the crowd jumping up and down, lighting firecrackers and setting trash cans on fire.

When asked what he thought of possibly extending many of the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid to more American citizens, Gump offered, “Momma always said dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”

“Gump has the right profile,” said Republican analyst Mitch Michaelson.”He’s not your typical elitist East Coast political careerist. He’s of the people. He’s American through and through from the virtuous innocence to the simple piety to not having any idea how the government works. Whatever he’s got, they ought to bottle it. That sort of speaking in non sequiturs and his slack-jawed, sloe-eyed, jittery quality.”

“There’s a fight for the soul of the Republican Party going on,” said Michaelson. “It’s the moderates versus the hard-core conservatives. And just when you think we’re out of the game, here comes this cretin Mongoloid who just steals your heart and makes you believe.”

When asked how he might deal with runaway unemployment, interest rates, huge deficits and two wars being waged at once, Gump was thoughtful.

“Washington. It’s like a whole ‘nuther country.”

Grover Norquist, the famous anti-tax crusader, was confident that Gump could best Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

“Gump has the simple values of Ronald Reagan. The simple communication skills of Ronald Reagan. The simple view of government of Ronald Reagan. Gump and Reagan are both just simple. … We ought to drown the government in a bathtub. Leave me alone.”

Gump’s handlers, David Sheffield and Audra Banks, two Alabama political allies, plan to take Gump on a listening tour through the heartland states.

“People are angry,” said Banks. “They’ve lost their jobs. They think the government wants to get between them and their doctor. They can’t afford anything. They don’t know why this is happening to them. They don’t know who John Maynard Keynes was. They don’t know how stuff is paid for. They don’t know what infrastructure is. They don’t know who sets weights and standards or who builds roads. They’re angry.

“And then they look at Forrest and say, ‘Wow, that guy’s pants just fell down,’ and they feel better.”

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny,” said Gump, “or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

When asked what he would do about recommending Supreme Court investigations into George Bush-era policies on torture, Gump ran away.

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Survivor: the Andean Mountain Uruguayan Soccer Team Challenge

Tina Fey delivers another awesomely written episode of 30 Rock that you won’t watch because you’d rather see Ray J drink champagne off the nude body of a developmentally disabled cocktail waitress.

5 E! Entertainment
Slowing Down For the Kardashians

From the Nokia Theater, the American Music Awards featuring Taylor Swift. Swift and Kanye West perform a unity medley of Elmo’s greatest self-esteem songs.

On Oprah, porn star Jenna Jameson shows she doesn’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention.

Frontline examines how medical marijuana is now being prescribed for glaucoma, hyperactivity in children, anal expulsive personality disorder, low self esteem and poverty.

Lou Dobbs puts up a fence in his own back yard and declares his own house free of Mexicans, at least the ones he’s not married to.

On Larry King, former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean continues to show that she doesn’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention.

9 The History Channel
Catherine the Great is remembered for also being a great lover of animals. A really great lover.

10 MTV
If The Hills were really unscripted, somebody certainly would have killed somebody else by now.

11 CW
Gossip Girl: OMFG! A 3some! WTF? LOL!

11 CW
Gossip Girl: Oh no! ABRT!

11 CW
Two Gossip Girls, One Cup

11 CW
Gossip Girl does not know the difference between good attention and bad attention.

11 CW
Gossip Girl: Hey, did anybody notice that the “threesome” entry on Wikipedia has completely gratuitous threesome pictures? A little off topic, but hey, I’m just sayin’ …

12 Fox News
Glenn Beck doesn’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention. Yet that lack of self-awareness is refreshing, and has allowed us all to relax a bit and once again feel OK enjoying manifestly racist invective. Thanks, Glenn!

13 AMC
After watching Mad Men‘s Don Draper drink, womanize and verbally and physically abuse people, do any of us remember why we ever liked him in the first place?

14 Fox News
After watching Sarah Palin lie, back stab, quit her job, pander to idiots, mangle language, manipulate her family, infight with co-workers, exhibit total ignorance about global affairs and exploit her looks to cover up her lack of substance, do any of us wonder why she’s not starring on AMC’s Mad Men yet?

14 Fox News
Sarah Palin doesn’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention. Or that Africa isn’t a country.

15 HBO
Boogie Nights, a rip-off of Martin Scorsese movies with no ending

15 HBO
Magnolia, a rip-off of Robert Altman movies with no ending

15 HBO
There Will Be Blood, a rip-off of Stanley Kubrick movies with no ending.

15 HBO
The Dukes of Hazzard, a rip-off of the William Shakespeare classic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

15 HBO
The Muppet Movie, a retelling of the legend of Galahad, in which a knight of pure heart in the form of a frog seeks the cup of glory, a frog who embodies a code of chivalry and romance that none of his peers can match and which engenders in him a contempt of the world and it of him, his unworldliness both holy but also cold and tragic.

16 Cinemax
Fellating For Godot

Martha Stewart Presents: How To Throw A Family Fight That Tastes Like Christmas

18 We
We is the channel that celebrates women. Next up, a bunch of catfighting, money grubbing bitches from Great Neck going through the Change.

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Sarah + Palin

Sarah + Palin + book

Sarah + Palin + “Going Rogue”

Sarah + Palin + “Getting Off Point”

Sarah + Palin + “Going Off message”

Sarah + Palin + “Losing Thread of Conversation”

“Sarah Palin” + “Not following discussion”

Sarah + Palin + “Wandering Into A Ditch”

“Sarah Palin” + “folksy”

“Sarah Palin” + “plain spoken”

“Sarah Palin and Tall”

“Levi Johnston” + Playgirl

“Sarah Palin” + “Levi Johnston” + embarrassment

“When will Levi Johnston be in Playgirl?”

“Where can I find the Levi Johnston Playgirl?”

“How can I be in Playgirl?”

Playgirl + Levi + “gay icon” + YMCA

Levi Johnston + “pitcher or catcher”

How will Levi Johnston’s Playgirl pictorial affect Sarah Palin?

Will Levi Johnston’s pictorial embarrass Sarah Palin?

Is Levi Johnston’s pictorial the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to Sarah Palin?

“Sarah Palin” + “Katie Couric” + 2008 interview

“Sarah Palin” + “didn’t know Africa was a continent”

“Sarah Palin” + “lied about firing of state employee”

“Sarah Palin” + “lied about end of life care”

“Sarah Palin” + “doesn’t read newspapers”

“Sarah Palin” + “fails most basic fact checks”

Republicans + “health care bills”

Republicans + “health care bills” + oppose

Republicans + “health care bills” + Nazi takeover + “socialized medicine” + communism + “Glenn Beck”

Why do Republicans oppose health care reform?

“Chuck Grassley” + “ranking Republican” + “Senate Finance Committee” + “health insurance industry” + “third-quarter campaign contributions” + “more than $150,000”

“Grover Norquist” + “tax freedom”+ “starve the beast” + “huge deficits”

Why do we have such huge deficits?

“Iraq War” + “$2 trillion” + “George Bush” + “2003 tax cuts” + “can’t do simple math”

“Glenn Beck” + sociopath + “blunt affect” + “cult leader” + “dissociative thought disorder” + “Peter Finch” + “Network” + “ratings bonanza”

“Todd Palin” + shirtless + “hubba hubba”

“Are Sarah Palin and Todd Palin getting a divorce?”

“Am I going to get a divorce?”

“Am I going to lose my job?”

“Where can I get Viagra?”

“Where can I get Viagra in Jackson, Mississippi?”

“Jackson, Mississippi” + “bus schedule”

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