Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This sounds like a....

The ever envelope-pushing FOX Network will be debuting a new show this Fall called, "If Women Ruled the World," that sounds simple enough. FOX sends a bunch of people to a remote island, puts the women in charge, then sets up cameras to, presumably, watch the men suffer. Or watch the women bicker. Or watch whatever gender stereotypes will no doubt be perpetuated in this train-wreck-waiting-to-happen. And we'll all watch, as the world gets turned "upside down."

And yet something seems off. A remote island. Dominant women. Subserviant men. Things being turned upside down. It kinda sounds like a porno movie. Right? Has FOX finally jumped the shark of bad taste? Will they actually air pornography and call it original programming? I, for one, think that is exactly what would happen...if only they could.

At the Pitch:
Producer- "Okay, so, it's a remote, primitive island, and the women rule the men, and then they all start fucking each other."
FOX Exec- "Woah, woah. I love it. Really. I do."
P- "Great, great."
FOX- "But--and here me out, here--take one step back."
P-"Uhhhh, I don't follow."
FOX- "Let's just cut it at: the women rule the men."
P- "So they never start fucking each other."
FOX- "No, no I don't think they do."
P- "But that's the heart of the show."
FOX- "Look. I love the everybody fucking each other. I think that's great. Not sure it'll get past the censors."
P- "Well, can they at least wear a bunch of torn clothing and be sweaty and oily and totally toned and hot and--"
FOX- "Yeah. Yeah, we can do that. That's totally different."

Here is the actual Press Release, for your reading pleasure.

What if it was "a woman's world"? What if women made ALL the decisions? If men were their obedient subjects?

These questions and more will be explored when a group of strong, educated, independent women, tired of living in a man's world and each with a personal axe to grind, rule over a group of unsuspecting men used to calling the shots on WHEN WOMEN RULE THE WORLD.

The unscripted series will reveal how women and men react in a world where women are in charge and men are subservient, and each gender's ability to adapt to a new social order will be put to the test.

The participants will be brought to a remote, primitive location where the women will have the opportunity to "rule" as they build a newly formed society – one where there is no glass ceiling and no dressing to impress. For the men, their worlds of power and prestige are turned inside-out and upside-down. And for these women, turnabout is fair play!

In order to win, the men must accede to the women's every demand, 24/7. Here, women command and men obey. Over the series' duration, the men will be eliminated by the women until one last man is standing.

How will the men react? How will the women treat the men? Can women effectively rule society? Will the men learn what life is like for some women in today's world? Will this new society be a Utopia or a hell on earth? And in the end, who will be man enough to succeed in the new social order?

Mariuana is everywhere, where was you brought up?

CNN today highlights a new study saying that...wait for kids are abusing prescription medication! What?! No! Not college kids! Apparently students have set up "black markets" of drug sharing on campuses accross the country. How could this have happened? These kids have found a way to relax, dull pain, reduce anxiety, increase academic performance, and, if they're the lucky ones with a prescription, make a little money on the side. Which they will spend on beer. Which is not a drug.

How could we ever have seen this coming?

The study says how kids are abusing Vicodin, Vallium, Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax, potentially even more than they are abusing mariuana. Then it goes on to say, and this is priceless, that college kids are abusing prescription pills because, according to CNN, they "percieve them as safer [than marijuana]."

Now, I don't know what kind of douchebag kids they surveyed, but I've never been in a dormroom and heard someone say, "No, I'm gonna pass on that joint. It's dangerous. Gimme a Vicoden-Adderall-Xanax cocktail. Man, you guys are crazy smoking weed like that. Ow, my heart really hurts all of a sudden."

Also, what kid is "abusing" prescription drugs, ostensibly because it makes them feel good, or provides escape, or whatever, but doesn't like to smoke weed. Just as it's absurd to claim that kids think that prescription drugs are safer than weed, it is equally ridiculous to claim that kids who are naturally drawn to one substanance won't naturally be drawn to another one. I'm willing to bet that 75-90% of college kids that buy pills from their friends for recreation/academic use also smoke a fuckton of weed.

But wait, there's more. This kills me too. The articles implicitly claims that pills are easier to get than pot, which is, at least on every campus I've ever been on, is like saying Pepsi is easier to get than Coke. Maybe...but the difference is statistically irrelevant. And I don't think it's even true.

Then, one doctor claims that pills are prefered over weed, because with pills, "[college students] don't have to go to the streets and deal with some guy they don't know and get marijuana where they don't know what's in it."

2 things about that. First, where is the token campus drug-dealer? Come on, colleges. What college kids are trolling skid row looking for a "marijuana fix?" The guy you buy weed from lives down the street from you, and he's probably in your Philosophy of the Mind class. Second, when can we as a nation just fucking accept that if you buy weed from someone you don't know, it's not gonna fucking kill you. There's this weird meme in our society that there are people spiking their stash with rat poison and they can't wait to sell it to you. Now, I'm sure that you can find stories where shit like that has happened, but 95% of the time, the worst case scenario is that it's just shitty weed. Not homicide weed.

Now, in writing this, I admit to engaging in no illegal activities, and these opinions come to me from going to high school and college and living in New York and having my eyes open to what is around me. This CNN bullshit is just so far off base you have to say something about it. But this is all just stuff I heard about.

"Good News" has gotten so relative lately

Douglas Macgregor, a former Army colonel, said today that under Donald Rumsfeld the Special Ops was turned into a "giant killing machine." Macgregor expects we'll see changes with Rummy's departure and a new head of Special Ops. One of the changes, Macgregor said, was that in the future, "The emphasis will be on, 'If you have to kill someone, then for God's sakes, kill the right people [emphasis added]."'

That really seems like it should go without saying.

Rummy: Men, go out there and get the job done.
Spec Op: Who is our target, sir?
Rummy: Just start shootin'. Bang bang.
Spec Op: Shouldn't we try to kill the right people?
Rummy: Say again?
Spec Op: The right people, sir. Isn't that who we should try to kill?
Rummy: Look, I created a "giant killing machine." What about that don't you understand?

In a related story, Joe Torre announced today that in the future, the NY Yankees will attempt to play only the team they are scheduled to play on that day. "No more playing baseball games were not even supposed to be involved in anymore," Torre said after a humiliating defeat by the Astros and the Cardinals. Torre went on to say, "under Steinbrenner, the Yankees have been turned into a giant killing machine. Too bad we can't play baseball very well."

Support "Support the Troops"

The Democrats recently sent a war funding bill to the White House with no Time Tables or mechanisms for withdrawl attached. Many liberal activists wanted Majority Leader Reid and the rest of the Senate Dems to vote down a bill that many saw as a blank check for the President. Joe Biden, however, voted for the bill, saying, "As long as there are troops who are in a position where, if we don't fund them they are going to be hurt, I'm not going to cut off funding" (via thinkprogress). Joe Biden is right. His clear mischaracterization of de-funding shows he understands the importance of building strawmen, and then knocking them down. Allow me to explain myself.

Whenever anyone, be them Dems or Repubs, politicians or pundits, talks about de-funding, they speak of it as though one day American soldier will run out of ammo, and that'll be that. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If congress decides to stop funding a war, they speak with the military and set a date at which the troops can be brought home. After that date, there is no funding for the war, but by that time, we have no more soldiers in combat.

Sen. Russ Feingold articulates his position thusly,
"[Congress] must use its power of the purse to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq. Mr. President, let's not be intimidated by the intentionally misleading rhetoric of the White House and its allies when they try to prevent any discussion of any real action by Congress to end the war. This isn't about "cutting off funds for troops." It's about cutting off funds for the war...By setting a date after which funding for the war will be terminated -- as I have proposed -- Congress can safely bring our troops out of harm's way."

Feingold is virtually the only member of Congress to explain and de-mystify the argument for de-funding, while people like Joe Biden continually buy into the "Support our Troops, gotta fund the Troops, their funding is gonna run out and they'll be stuck in Iraq", paradigm. And I love Biden for that.

He gets it. He gets that it's not about "Support the Troops" the military strategy, it's about supporting "Support the Troops" the ad-campaign. And that's who America needs as its next President. Someone who understands the importance of slogans and images, not logic and empirical data.

Biden understands that slogans and marketing are responsible for America's prominence in the world today. McDonalds' "I'm lovin' it" and Nike's "Just Do It" have led to American Hegemony all over the world. His faith that "Support the Troops" could have the same outcome militarily that other slogans have had economically is historically grounded.

Sure, maybe it'll take some time, but why actually support the troops, when you can "Support the Troops." Biden gets it. And the Senate Democrats who voted for the no-exit funding bill, including Majority Leader Reid, get it to. The only people who don't seem to get it are 45% of Americans who support defunding. And 57% who support a funding bill with time tables, which Glenn Greenwald expertly explains are indistinguishable from de-funding.

So Feingold, Greenwald, nearly 60% of American taxpayers, shut up. If we turn our backs on our ad-campaign, we're admitting defeat. Yes, a Democratic Congress could bring the troops home at any time, by simply refusing to fund the war, but how would that look? It might maybe potentially be characterized as weak. For some reason. Much better to capitulate and continue funding a war you were elected to end. Support the banners. Support the bumper stickers. Support the lawn signs. But for the love of god, let it stop there.


I'll tell you one thing I love about America: High Fidelity. That is a great movie, set in a great American city, with great (mostly) American music.

I'll tell you one thing I hate about America: High Fidelity the Musical. That is a piece of trash, and also the most cripplingly ironic tragedy of all time. They took a movie about how important great music is in your life and they turned it into showtunes.

In the movie there's a great line that goes, "If you really wanted to fuck me up Laura, you should have gotten to me sooner!"

In the musical it goes,
"Top 5 break-ups of all time
Number 5 (big smile) Sally Jane..."
Next thing you know there's Jazz Hands making an appearance.

I did this bit at a show once and someone came up to me and said, "You know, first of all it was a book, and it was by a Brit."
I said, "well, the fact that we took it and made it awesome and also totally shitty makes it even more American than before."

Look at what we did with beer.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Atheists and Polls

Atheists and Polls

"The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."

Gallup recently conducted a poll asking voters whether or not certain characteristics would keep them from voting for a potential candidate. Here are the results. The format is a little screwy, but it should be clear.

Yes, would
vote for

No, would not
vote for












A woman









Married for the third time



72 years of age



A homosexual



An atheist



What blows me away is that 53% of voters, according to this poll, would not vote for an atheist. Why are people so afraid of us? It's absurd! Atheists don't believe in the immortality of the human soul, which means that this life is all we get, which means in general we want to make this life as good as possible.

57% of people would vote for someone 72 years old. Doctors at Duke University conducted a study researching the link between a certain set of genes and the age at which Alzheimer's develops. In this study, the average age of patients who developed Alzheimer's was 72.8. I'm not trying to claim that John McCain or any other specific candidate has or will be diagnosed with this terrible disease, I'm just saying that 72 is old. Your body can start to shut down, especially if you're genetically predisposed to certain diseases, and especially if you have the most stressful job in the world.

But we can't vote for an atheist. Godforbid. They might start a War or something.

You know what the best reason to have an atheist in the Oval Office is? We don't have to worry that they're going to think they're talking to god. If they start hearing voices and crafting policy around them, we'll know that he or she has lost his or her mind, and we can remove him or her from office.

The first quote in this post is from Thomas Jefferson. The second is from Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Compare and Contrast

In my last post I wrote about John Derbyshires's repulsive statements regarding the students at Virginia Tech.

ThinkProgress notes today that Iraqi students hung a banner in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the VT shooting. The banner read:

"We, the students of Technology University, denounce the attack at Virginia Tech. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims who faced a situation as bad as Iraq’s universities do. The sanctity of campuses must be protected around the world."

The reaction of students whose world is flooded by violence, is a call for restraint and peace. The reaction of a war monger is a call for more aggression, more violence, and more delusions of greatness on the battlefield, whether that battlefield is domestic or international, real or imagined. This tells us all we need to know about those who continue to support the war, and support American Imperialism in the world.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

John Derbyshire: Hero

This has been making it's way around the lefty blogosphere, but here it is anyway. From The National Review Online

Spirit of Self-Defense [John Derbyshire]

"As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.
Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy. "

For a little more context, Derbyshire has also said the following.
"I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one." The original article is here. The quote is about 3/4s of the way down. His explaination is here. My favorite part is this: "A lot of the people who howl "Homophobe!" at me whenever I write anything about this topic are people who have to swallow a bucket of pills eight times a day just to stay alive. Is it any wonder I have trouble taking them seriously?"

This man still has a job. Don Imus doesn't. In an earlier post I compared Imus to Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and argued that their language was more deliberately offensive. Whether calling victims of a massacre cowards qualifies as hate-speech or not, in the court of public opinion it seems that Derbyshire should be held as the pinnacle of dishonest egotism and hateful self-promotion.

Also, as DailyKos notes, he's wrong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Mirror

From ThinkProgress

As ThinkProgress has reported, there is good reason to believe fired U.S. attorney Carol Lam was targeting the White House’s connections to MZM contractor Mitchell Wade, who pled guilty to paying more than $1 million in bribes to former Rep. Duke Cunningham. Despite no record of having ever received a federal contract, Wade’s firm received a $140,000 contract in 2002 to provide a system to screen the President’s mail.

Here is picture of Wade.

And here is a picture of Oliver Platt, who played Warren Beatty's assistant in Bullworth.

Of the two, I prefer Platt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus' Kindred Spirits

Everyone is up in arms about Don Imus' inflamatory remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, made last week. CNN is reporting that Imus is losing sponsers, and he's already been suspended from his show for 2 weeks. There is talk that he'll lose his show altogether. I'm not that familar with his work, but he does have a history of making racially insensitive remarks, and if he does get taken off the air for this, it may show that there are material consequences for shooting your mouth off like this. Much like Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN after ridiculously claiming Donavon McNab didn't deserve all the media attention he was recieving, it may be time for Imus to step down.

I think the outrage surrounding Imus right now is appropriate, but he doesn't have the political clout that many other talking heads do, many of whom have said equally or more offensive things in the recent past. Here are some examples.

On his Feb 12th 2007 radio show, Glenn Beck (who also has a regular show on CNN) said that Obama, "is colorless...he might as well be white." The transcript is chock full of ignorance and is so violently anti-historical it is truely astounding. It's as though Beck is oblivious to America's complicated racial past. He talks about how "whites" don't see Obama as "black," and therefore, in Beck's eyes, Obama is "colorless." Seriously? And Beck repeatedly asks "can I even say that?" as though he knows someone will take offense, but he has no idea why.

Another Beck gem.

An elected official being asked to prove he's not working with our enemies. This story didn't get the attention it deserved. And it's on CNN. It's a major show.

And of course, "comedian" Rush Limbaugh again.

Good ol' Rush mocking Michael J. Fox and his advocating stem cell research. This story got a little bit of play, but no where near as much as the Imus stuff. Also, yes, Rush resigned from ESPN, because he said something stupid that got a lot of attention. But he also says a lot of stupid stuff that doesn't get a lot of attention, but should, because like it or not, he exists more or less in mainstream society.

These are three recent examples of amazing insensitivity and ignorance regarding Black and racially Mixed people, Muslims, and the disabled. It's a good thing that Imus' remarks stirred the kind of controversy that they did, but Limbaugh and Beck speak, either officially or unofficially, for an entire movement. They pull mainstream discourse to the right, and are far more damaging and relevant than Don Imus. If we saw the concentrated anger directed at Imus now directed at the bigotry of the right-wing machine, then we might be able to truely reshape the national discourse. Until that happens, we'll see things like this for some time in the future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

2 devastating videos

Here's a video that sums up the evangelical mindset pretty well.

And here's a video that sums up the tragedy of the Iraq war pretty well. I could do without the reedit at the end, but this was the best version I could find.

Why the juxtaposition? Well, besides the obvious connection between the Bush's admissions of speaking directly with God and our country's adventurism in the Middle East, I think there are a few other points to be made.

When viewing the first video, if I am alone, is to my first instict is to rub my temples and sigh quietly. If I am with friends, my instict is to mock loudly and attack the speaker with rationality. Either way, though, I am, and I think a lot of people are also, ultimately dismissive. As with the Left Behind series and James Dobson speeches, I often try to see these viewpoints as the marginal and extreme voices that they are.

When I saw the second video I was stunned. You can see what this occupation is doing to members of American families who return home in the best of possible circumstances. Finally, more than four years into this disaster, we are seeing this kind of footage in Mainsteam Media outlets.

I think history will show that Bush and Co took us into Iraq primarily for Economic and Strategic Military reasons, not because of any imminent threat and certainly not with the decievingly benevolent goal of "spreading democracy." Yet the support he recieves from Evangelicals and Born-Agains, such as those shown in the first video, who believe in a Manichean concept of Good vs. Evil, allow Bush to employ the rhetoric he does. That extreme, by many accounts insane, position gives Bush a constant base from which to work, and from which to pull American discourse further to the "right." That's why watching these videos of crazies spewing anti-rational nonsense must be taken seriously.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Identify Problems, Ignore Context

Jacob Weisberg has an interesting column in Slate today. I'm not all that familiar with his work, but from what I understand he places himself as a moderate, existing above the "partisan politics" of ideologues on either side of the so-called American political spectrum. In a recent post, Weisberg writes in a recent column,

"For many opponents of the surge, being able to blame Bush's supporters for blocking action is an ideal impasse. Happily helpless, Democrats and liberals can blame the president for getting it all wrong without assuming any responsibility for what happens next."

Here, Weisberg propagates the media narrative of the Impotent Democrat. The "Happily Helpless" link does this even more blatantly, as one might expect from the title. He does offer some criticism of the Republicans and Bush, but most of his work falls snugly in the mainstream concept of moderate Pundittry. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post about why we should be wary of these kind of political commentators here.

So, back to today's column. Weisberg's thesis is that there are 4 "unspeakable truths" concerning Iraq, by which he means there are four truths, that everyone knows and accepts, and yet, for some mystical reason the Wesiber never articulates, the candidates can't speak these truths without being crucified on the public stage. These truths are
1. The war was a mistake
2. Wounded soldiers are victims as much as "heroes"
3. American lives lost in Iraq have been "wasted"
4. America is losing or has already lost the war.

I happen to think that these Weisberg's analysis up to this point is very astute. He provides examples of candidates, both Dem and Rep, who have been castigated after saying one of these, or who have all but said one but continue to dance around the issue.

Where Weisberg falls unforgivably short is in connecting the next dot, which is not the final dot, but a dot in an entirely new paradigm, by not addressing why this should be the case. Why should it be that candidates can't say what is already present in the zeitgeist, not to mention factually supportable? Well, it's because of the media, and people exactly like Weisberg himself.

By writing at Slate, who employs Fred Kaplan and Christopher Hitchens, two of the Iraq war's most vocal supporters, and continuing teh media narrative of weak Democrats himself, Weisberg is complicit in a system that takes its cues from what seems to be the case, rather than what is the case, or even what could be argued is the case.

To paraphrase Greenwald's argument, candidates don't want to claim lives have been wasted or that the war was a mistake because they don't want to seem to not support the troops, or be weak on defense. What is actually the case couldn't matter less. The current administration has by all accounts weakened America's security, and there is no indisputable that people knew about the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed, not to mention the cuts to Veteran's Benefits this administration has pushed through. That doesn't matter, though, and Weisberg fails to address that problem. He has the obligation to address why these truths can't be spoken, and the answer is obviously both the conservative noise-machine as well as the mainstream media that refuses to question is most basic assuptions about both political parties, what the public actually wants and deserves to hear, and about the fundamental role of the media itself.

Although Weisberg makes correct points in his column, his failure to understand his own complicit position and the media at large's postion in this problem is an unforgivable oversight.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


We live in highly polarized time. This is more evident than ever following I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction yesterday on 4 of 5 counts of perjury. The real crime, here, is how the Liberals are handling the verdict: by dancing in the streets. Seeing Joe Wilson on Countdown last night you would think his national soccer team just won the world cup. Watch the sickening clip here. This blog got word that just outside the frame is a home-made torch to make sure the night turns out right. Rush Limbaugh thinks the Wilsons may even be behind the whole thing. For them it's just another excuse to party.

Unsurprisingly, the Dems can't stick to one scandal and get something done. They also have to pounce on the Walter Reed scandal. Rep. Waxman was practically doing keg stands at the hearings he was so thrilled. Look Whack-man: you're the chairman of the Commitee for Oversight and Government Reform, not the chairman of undermine the president and don't support the troops commitee.

Which brings us to the purging of US Attorneys for what appears to be political gain. Look Democrats, leave it alone. Just pick a scandal and stick with it, okay? Typical flip-flopping from the left, "The Walter Reed Scandal is more important, the US Attorney scandal is more important..."

Next thing you know they're gonna make a scandal out of nothing. Oh wait, they already did. Ann Coulter, god bless her, is a big-hearted conservative whose only crime is caring too much. But what do the scandal-hungry Scandal-crats do? They go on a witch hunt and demonize her just because she engaged in a little playful hate-mongering. Yes, she called John Edwards a faggot, but you know what? She didn't call Obama a n*****. I mean, that's gotta count for something. She didn't call Hillary Clinton a Leftist, which, to Clinton, counts as a slur. All I'm saying is that last year, when she said, "raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences," she was criticized as well, but look what happened. She was invited back to CPAC as a keynote speaker. She's the little bigot that just won't quit, god bless her.

So you know what, Scandal-crats? But your balls back on the nightstand where they belong, otherwise this Pandora's Box you've opened will consume us all. You don't have time to focus on the wire-tapping scandal, various Guantanamo Bay scandals, that pesky disappearing money this blog wrote about earlier, and a plethera of other scandals still unknown. Back out while you still can. And someone get that beer bong away from Whack-man.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

It takes one to know one

The Reverend Jerry Falwell, the man responsible for such quotes as "I believe the pagans, the abortionists, the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians...helped this [9/11] happen," is, remarkably, still speaking his mind. All you abortionists out there can breathe a sigh of relief though, because now Falwell is taking aim at the environment. What, you might ask, is the looniest position one might take on global warming? From the AP wire:

The Reverend Jerry Falwell says global warming is "Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus" from evangelism to environmentalism.

Who's to blame? I don't knooooooowwwww............SATAN?! Can Falwell's mania retroactively make the church lady not qualify as satire, and instead be seen as a prophecy of things to come? It remains to be seen. The article continues:

Falwell told his Baptist congregation in Lynchburg yesterday that "the jury is still out" on whether humans are causing -- or could stop -- global warming. But he said some "naive Christian leaders" are being "duped" by arguments like those presented in former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth. Falwell says the documentary should have been titled "A Convenient Untruth."

Yes, "A Convenient Untruth." You know what I think that's a good name for? Falwell's particular brand of venomous, hateful Organized Religion. It's convenient that Falwell can know what "God" is saying to him, and to no one else, and then Falwell can turn that into a financial and political Powerhouse. That is reeeeeaaaalll convenient. The article concludes with this gem:

Falwell said the Bible teaches that God will maintain the Earth until Jesus returns, so Christians should be responsible environmentalists, but not what he calls ... quote ... "first-class nuts."

Yeah. You wouldn't want to look like you're crazy. Blame Satan. Collect check. Wield influence. Repeat.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mind on they money and they money on forklifts

Back on Feb 7th, Henry Waxman (D-CA) questioned unequivocal failure and Medal of Freedom recipient Paul Bremmer in front of a Congressional Oversight Committee. The congressional session focused on 8.8 billion dollars spent in Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority that remained unaccounted for. How do you get rid of almost 9 billion with no answers as to where it went? Well, here's a good way to get rid of half of it.

That money, it turned out, was loaded onto cargo planes by forklifts in the form of $1,$5, $10, and $20 dollar bills. In case you're wondering how much 4 billion dollars weights, it's slightly over 363 tons. Yes, tons of small bills were flown into one of the least stable regions in the world, to be distributed by one of the most notoriously corrupt administrations in our nation's history, with no systems of accountability in place. Here's one of the original reports on the story from Reuters.

One of my favorite tidbits of reporting on this story came from Tim Grieve over at Salon:
"Rep. Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is predictably but not unreasonably apoplectic about the shipments. 'Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?' he asked during a hearing on the Hill Tuesday." I think the word apoplectic is hilarious. Also hilarious is the Daily Show's take on the story, available here.

I bring this almost month-old story up now because the New York Times published an Op-Ed today criticizing the coverage of this story by the Mainstream Media (MSM). I was surprised to say the least that this Op-Ed came out now, too late to serve as effective damage control, yet too high profile to be seen as anything but. A NY Times link will expire after a week or so because of that TimesSelect bullshit, but I'll give a quick synopsis of what seems like a pretty one-sided account of what happened in Baghdad.

The author of the piece is John B Taylor, former UnderSec of the Treasury and author of the book Global Finacial Warriors: The Untold Story of International Finance in the Post 9/11 World. The first part of his argument appears to be that in post-Saddam Iraq, there was a great danger of the Iraqi financial system collapsing, and that until new Iraqi money could be printed we needed to essentially flood the country with American dollars taken from Saddam's own frozen bank accounts. The second part was to print new Iraqi dinar once some sort of stability had taken told.

Now, not being an economist, I can't really attack this plan on economic grounds, and in the best-of-all-possible-worlds one could see how this theory might work. The problem that critics of this program had, including Rep Waxman, is that, according to Paul Bremmer himself, no one knows where the cash went. "Iraqi Foreign Ministries lacked good payroll records," Bremmer admits at the hearing. Contrast that with what Taylor writes in today's NY Times.

"During April, United States Treasury officials in Baghdad worked with the military and the Iraqi Finance Ministry officials — who had painstakingly kept the payroll records despite the looting of the ministry — to make sure the right people were paid. The Iraqis supplied extensive documentation of each recipient of a pension or paycheck. Treasury officials who watched over the payment process in Baghdad in those first few weeks reported a culture of good record keeping."

So either the Appointed Head of the CPA doesn't know what he's talking about, or Taylor is lying. Taylor doesn't respond directly to Bremmer's testimony in front of Congress at all in his piece. He simply pounds forward, claiming, "This success paved way for the second stage of the plan." I'm sorry, but if you are attempting to refute the media's coverage of this topic, you simply have to directly address the the genesis of the controversy, namely Bremmer's testimony.

Anyone who has worked for this administration, especially concerning the allocation of funds to Iraq, has a greater burden than usual to prove themselves trustworthy. Taylor skirts the issue, instead opting to describe the plan, claim it works, then deride the media's coverage of it. By failing to address Bremmer's words as he said them, Taylor fails to clear up the issue at hand, and adds only another temporary distraction to full public disclosure of just how wrongly the Iraqi war funds were spent. I mean it was forkloads full of cash, you gotta prove you know where it's going...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Neal Boortz: Batshit Crazy

Wait...what's that...what's that smell? It's kind of, I don't know, it smells like...oh, I remember, that's the smell of batshit crazy. That's right. I thought maybe it was something else, but no, it's just batshit crazy. Here's the source.

It's Neal Boortz, right-wing scream-o-phile and radio show host. In this clip, Mr. Boortz makes the astonishing claim that the Teacher's Union is more dangerous than Al-Queda with a nuclear weapon. Let's all take a deep breath and then continue.

Was that enough time? Okay, keep scratching your head. I am. So, let's see here. The Teacher's more dangerous...than Al-Queda. Hang on.

Ohhh, sweet whiskey. You make it all go away.

Okay. Now, I'm not one to champion the fear-mongering that goes on in the media about how dangerous Al-Queda is. Whatever it was before 9/11, whatever it was immediately after, and whatever it is now is impossible for the average citizen to know. That "Al-Queda" serves as an invisible enemy against whom we can wage unending war should give anyone cause for suspicion about what the organization actually is, and what they are actually capable of. That said, I'm pretty sure that "Al-Queda" with a nuclear weapon is scarrier (I live in NY) than the TEACHER'S UNION, of which several of my friends are members.

Why would a person with the capacity for rational thought turn his back so resoundingly on the basic tenets of logic and run screaming into the forest of pure delusion? For that I have no answer, but that is how I've heard an acid trip described. And it's hard to tell, but I think I can see a sort of existentialist despair in Boortz's eyes as he claws desperately for some semblence of grounding, a common symptom of drug-induced extrasensory phenomena.

Maybe the fumes of the batshit crazy he spread all over himself cut off the oxygen to his brain. Or maybe, just maybe, he got paid a lot of money to go on TV and say hateful, dispicable things. And if it is the second option, let me say this: Fox News, call me, because I think hospital volunteers secretly carry Bird Flu, and we must shotgun their brains out like the advancing zombie menace they are.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Colbert and Silverman

Sarah Silverman's new program, aptly named The Sarah Silverman Program, has once again thrust her into the national spotlight, and with her come the inevitable controversies surrounding her act. Once known for her half cute, half bitchy supporting roles (Seinfeld, School of Rock), Silverman's noteriety began to grow in mainstream culture after her appearence in The Aristocrats, in which she deadpans, "[talent agent] Joe Franklin raped me."

For many, Silverman's joke was the highlight of the movie. The Aristocrats joke is intended to be as offensive and shocking as possible until the punchline, which stays the same no matter who tells it. Silverman, however, didn't exactly tell the joke. She told a joke in the same spirit, one that was as offensive as possible, but without the familiar punchline to soften the blow. Jesus is Magic brought her abrasive and ironic sense of humor to the silver screen, and solidified her position in society as the woman willing to speak the unspeakable.

Silverman's jokes are meant to push our buttons: "I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a jewish girl." Some argue that by confronting us so blantantly with racist, sexist, anti-semetic, etc. stereotypes, Silverman subverts them by showing us their absurdity. My take? That's possible. More likely, I believe, is that Silverman has an ear for the offensive, and she's a talented enough jokesmith to make her punchlines work. As far as I can tell, her offensiveness is a sort of end in itself. An end that may cause the audience member to rethink his or her assumptions about people, but an end nonetheless.

In contrast, Stephen Colbert's irony comes from a specific philosophical viewpoint: "I don't trust books; they're full of facts. I'm more of an opinion man." Where Silverman's Doctor-Rape joke relies on Jewish stereotypes, I'm not sure what, if anything, it actually illuminates. It shocks, but does it ask anything from us other than the knee-jerk response, "oh my god that's offensive." Colbert's joke, on the other hand, dripping with as much irony as Silverman's, subverts the so-called pundit class by showing how ridiculous talking heads who run their mouth with no supporting evidence are.

I think Silverman is funny, but ultimately I'm not sure she's more sophisticated than the following formula: "say something offensive, reframe it to sound even more offensive."

"I don't care if you think I'm racist, I just want you to think that I'm thin." That is a pretty good joke though.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Who is afraid?

From this weekend's Meet the Press

If America actually nominates him and then votes for him for president and elects him, this will be a sign that we are a good and decent country that has healed its racial wounds. Now, Jesse Jackson had a same subtext, but Barack Obama is a much different politician than Jesse Jackson—much less threatening, much more appealing, and he actually has the ability to carry this off. (from Glenn Greewald's excellent blog.)

That was Roger Simon, Chief Political Columnist for The Politico, a beltway online mag. I don't know much about Simon, but some preliminary research shows he is still claiming that McCain is "a straight-shooter" and that McCain is "honest and authentic enough to tell you what you don't want to hear." Media Matters has the video here. That, coupled with some false indignation regarding John Kerry's "botched joke" tells me as much as I need to know about him for now.

Greenwald makes an excellent point when analizing the above quote:
One could say, I suppose, that Jesse Jackson was more ideological and further to the left than Obama is -- though I think that is far from clear at this point. But even if one believes that, in what conceivable sense was Jesse Jackson "threatening" in a way that Obama is not? Jackson -- whatever else one might think of him -- is a Christian minister whose speeches almost invariably were grounded in religious concepts of faith, hope, charity, and aiding the impoverished and disadvantaged, and were free of racially inflammatory rhetoric, or any type of notably inflammatory rhetoric. Even for those who disagreed with Jackson politically, in what sense could he be viewed as "threatening"?

What do we as a culture mean when we say Jesse Jackson is threatening? He's not a criminal. You could even nominate all 47 members of the Wu-Tang Clan and I don't think anybody would actually think Method Man is gonna come to Whitey's house, sew his asshole shut, and just keep feedin' him and feedin' him and feedin' him.

So, threatening how? Jackon threatens to increase visibility for marginalized groups and their needs? Well, yes, although no one could actually come out and say that worried them.

Does the fact that Jackson is "more threatening" than Obama mean that we as a culture could live with our white daughter bringing a 19 year old Obama home after her Freshman year at a high end liberal arts college, but the idea of Jackson taking her away is too much to bear? Why should that be the case? Is is a matter of skin tone? Are we really no further than the days of "passing"? A man like Simon sees Obama as Black like black people should be Black. For Simon, being more Black than Obama is threatening, and therefore marginalized, but Obama is acceptable, which we know because he is "less threatening."

The same as the Biden post below, maybe Simon could explain himself given the chance, which is another discussion entirely. It's just interesting to push these words a little to see the underlying assumptions.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Balanced like me after 8 beers

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released Bush 2.9 Trillion dollar budget for the year, which includes, among other things, an increase in "Defense" spending, cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and an extension of the Bush tax cuts. The best part is that he is claiming the budget will be balanced by 2012, but only in the most elusive of ways.
Here is the catch: funding for Iraq will decline over the next few years, according to the budget, but this will not correspond to a decrease in American involvement in that region, according to Nation Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. We are not going anywhere, but the war will get cheaper, and then the budget will be balanced. Just like me after 8 beers. I am walking, but there is nothing sustainable about it.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Libby Trial

Like many people who sit at a computer all day with little do to, I have become fascinated with the Libby trial. It's a complicated case with a lot of ins, lots of outs, but luckily Patrick Fitzgerald (Special Prosecutor) is adhering to a strict drug regiment. It's looking more and more likely that when Libby testified before the grand jury several months ago he perjured himself, which to me sounds like something after which he should have to change his underwear.
But that's beside the point, at least for me right now. What I find most interesting about this case is how good the White House used to be at presenting itself as a unified entity, all its various parts acting in beautiful harmony to create the most evil possible. Now, after Ari Fleischer's testimony, that the administration was just as succeptible to all the pitfalls of a normal, slightly less evil office.
At one point, Libby was afraid he would be sacrificed to save Rove's oily hide. Fleischer was so worried about what he superiors asked him to do that he refused to testify before being granted immunity, like a common mob rat. Judy Miller, the disgraced New York Times journalist, is now turning against Libby. Sure, she wasn't technically a part of the administration, but their goals would've been impossible without her invaluable propoganda.
Why oh why did I assume that these monsters worked in harmony? Was it my desire to believe in an all-powerful cabal, a kind of Super Villan that is unstoppable, so why even try? It's certainly tempting to create larger-than-life enemies. This reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Marge paints Mr. Burns naked. She explains herself by saying something to the effect of, "he's evil, but he's a man, and he'll die."

Climate but not Change, Global but not Warming

I was reading a news story yesterday that I found on either or that profiled scientists who were prohibited by the current administration from using the words "climate" and "change" and "global" and "warming" next to each other. They were speaking at a Congressional Oversight hearing, and they could say the word "climate" but they literally weren't allowed to say "change" afterwards. The worst part was that these scientists weren't so called "climate change sceptics." They were honest-to-god scientists whose hands were tied behind their backs by ideologues.
Comedy and Politics has a solution for these scientists: charades.
Sure, they can't say, "All available evidence points to the fact that humans are causing global warming," but they can act out:
2 words
first word
2 syllables
first syllable
[sounds like] make "snow" angels
audience eventually gets "snow," shortly after gets "glow"
first word
second syllable
scientist walks around miming humourously large testicles swinging back and forth between his legs
audience eventually gets "glo-ball"
See...that's not so hard. If these scientists want to get the word out, they have to take some risks and think unconventionally. I mean, they were at a Congressional Oversight hearing. This is all basically make-believe anyway. What's Congress going to do, pass a non-binding resolution asking the President be blinded by science? So, Scientists, take a cue from Congress: play charades.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Joe Biden, what is wrong with you?

Joe Biden (D-DL) announced yesterday that he will be running for President in 2008. He then went on to make some pretty harsh statements about Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, followed by a characterization of Barack Obama which was condecending at best, thinly veiled racist at worst. With Obama, Biden said, "you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy ... I mean, that's a storybook, man." Biden has since apologized, but continues to insist he was taken out of context.

The MSM and blogosphere has hooked on to the word "clean" as the most offensive word in the statement. On the Daily Show last night, Biden said he should have instead said "fresh," at which point I wanted a beat to drop and Joey to start rapping along with that Outcast song.
"O-bama fo' Presi-dent
he's just so fresh and (so fresh and) so clean clean"
Sadly, that didn't happen.

Refering to a black man running for president as "clean" is certainly a bit of a head-scratcher (or just racist), but the Chicago Tribune pointed out their problem with a different word: articulate. Usually I have problems with the Trib's Editorial Board, as they are right-wing hawks, but this time they were right on. They write:

Note to Biden. Well-spoken black people hate it when white people call them “articulate.” It’s the modern-day version of what white people used to say back in the day when they thought that by saying “He’s a credit to his race” they were saying something that a black person would welcome hearing.

Those dated words, like Biden’s comments, were patronizing at the very least. And they also appeared to carry some pretty negative assumptions about the majority of the race.

This also reminds me of a Chris Rock joke that goes something like,

"White people are always saying how Colin Powell is so well-spoken,
he's so well-spoken...HE'S AN EDUCATED MAN!
What kind of voice were you expecting to come out of him?!"

The issue here is that these words, "clean," "articulate," don't really make sense when applied to other candidates. Think about how strange it would be if John Edwards came out and said,
"Joe Biden is a really clean guy."
"Yeah, clean."
"I'm sorry, I don't think I understand."
"And he's articulate."
And so neither do they make sense when applied to Obama, execpt in the way that as a black man, some white people feel the need to characterize him with these "positive" words that, as the Trib editorial points out, are historically problematic as well as just plain stupid.

The most complicated issue here, I think, is that Biden was trying to be a good guy. I think he was trying to be complimentary, and "straight-forward," and I don't think he's a racist in the way that Bush ("doesn't care about black people") is. That doesn't excuse his poorly worded, awkward re-entry into Presidential Politics, but I do think that given the chance, he could elborated on his initial statement to get to something closer to what he meant, and futher away from the insensitive condescention that actually came out of his mouth.

PS- Biden has also said some really insentive things about Indians working at 7-11s, and something else really stupid that escapes me at the moment. So, maybe he doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt after all.

Will Cheney Resign? is reporting a rumor today that Cheney will resign, Condi Rice will move to VP, and John Negroponte, the former Intelligence Czar who recently transfered over to the State Department, will become the new Sec. of State.

The question on everyone's mind right now, of course, is: do we here at the Comedy and Politics blog believe these rumors are true?
Well, it's complicated. See, earlier this week Fox News reported on a story published in Insight Magazine, a rightwing rag, that claimed that Barack Obama attended a Radical "Madrassa" in Indonesia as a child. A "Madrassa," as they defined it, is a school that indoctrinates children to the tenets of radical Islam, and therefore we as a country might not be able to trust Obama.
The Insight report, the thing that started this all, cited an unnamed source as the basis for these claims. CNN, surprisingly, debunked this story by sending a real live reporter to check it out, and found that the school is less than harmless. Not that this should be an issue either way (oh my god, he was raised in a religous setting!), but it is a perfect illustration of how a rumor can become a story which can become front page news.
Now, however, we find ourselves in a similar position.
In this analogy,, which, by the way, is short for COMEDY CENTRAL Insider, which is reporting that Cheney might resign, is Insight Magazine, and we, who are taking this story and running with it, are Fox News. Let it be known that a recently created blog has the same journalistic integrity as News Corp.
We say, let's do this thing. If every comedy blog out there, The Apiary, Best Week Ever, A Special Thing, The Facetime, took this story and made it front page news, maybe CNN will eventually spend some of Ted Turner's money debunking it.
Because, honestly, at the end of the day, fuck CNN.

Why Christopher Hitchens is Right

In this January's issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens turns his still lucid mind to a question that is more relevant today than ever before: Why Aren't Women Funny?

Or, rather, he phrases it as a conclusion (Why Women Aren't Funny) as opposed to a question. I, for one, say good work Mr. Hitchens. A lesser man may have learned his lesson after predicting that invading Iraq would be a great idea, but you, sir, are still drawing conclusions as grounded as they are nuanced. Don't let one wrong move get you down. Bravo.

Hitchens rightly begins his article with a joke.
Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: "He's really quite cute, and he's kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he's so funny … " (If you yourself are a guy, and you know the man in question, you will often have said to yourself, "Funny? He wouldn't know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce bĂ©arnaise.")
Ahhaahahahahahaahhahahahah. Yes! In your face upscale lobster entree! If Hitchens didn't wield his rapier wit so effortlessly and effectively one might start to believe that it is in fact Hitchens who isn't funny. Lucky for him, he doesn't have to worry about that.

Hitchens then goes on to outline his argument clearly and succinctly on me see's clear, somewhere...well, it seems that these truths he takes to be self evident:
1. Wit is a sign of intelligence
2. Women are really in control of men
3. Women are smarter than men
a. Proof: They don't laugh at poop jokes, ever
4. Women don't have to be funny to attract men. In fact, they don't have to do much of anything.
5. Women don't want to threaten men by being funny, and therefore intelligent. That's right. Women, who are in charge, don't want to threaten men, who are subservient. It makes sense after 6 whiskeys, trust me.
6. Bearing children makes women unfunny, because they don't have time to be funny. Also bearing children is a very serious and painful job. No time for banter at 3 centimeters.

Hitchens hits a home run with these last two. He simultaneously praises the fairer sex for being more sophisticated and in control (so why are they always complaining! Am I right guys?), and also biologically incapable of keeping up with men in the humor department. It's that kind of drunken incoherence that makes his argument so powerful. Sure, a logician would say that the Hitchens' reasoning is violently fallacious, but as long as that logician is a man then Hitchens can make a pun on fallacious and fellatio and all will be well.

Christopher Hitchens, thank you. You've taken a complicated social observation (that when performing traditional gender roles men are valued for their intelligence and women are valued for their beauty and ability to perform domestic functions) and, hilariously, illuminated and clarified the issue at hand, namely that women aren't funny, with a few exceptions. Some dyes, a fat chick or two, and Lucile Ball made the cut, which is by the way Hitchens' call to make. Those who say you are a whiskey-guzzling traitor are wrong. You are a visionary. A double-visionary.


I spend most of my day reading about either comedy or politics, and, seeing as one is often inextricably linked with the other, I decided to start this blog. Hopefully this site will be a little funny and a little political, but not too much of either. Enjoy.

ps- The first two blogs are lifted from my comedy group's myspace blog. Just to get things started.