Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Failed Punk

"My name is James, I work in video activism and journalism. I've been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort. Abby, who works for Anderson Cooper of CNN, a network notorious for journalistic malpractice, wants to lull me into thinking she's my friend so she can us me to hurt my career.

Instead, I've decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I'm going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath. Please sit back and enjoy the show." [Excerpt from document obtained by CNN.]
I thought we had heard the last of the creepy, conservative costume fetishist, but James O'Keefe is back with a dildo boat and a story that could have been ripped straight from a rejected 80's teen flick script.

His recent undercover video scheme was to "embarrass a CNN correspondent by recording a meeting on hidden cameras aboard a floating "palace of pleasure" and making sexually suggestive comments."

The juvenile lameness of this plan is one thing -- that little twit honestly thinks he can seduce anybody? I puke at the thought.

But the horrific misogyny is beyond belief. A 'fake' kidnapping and rape is a clever little prank in his mind? As Cord Jefferson wrote in his blog:

Being males, they didn’t think about how scared Boudreau might be while stuck alone at sea and surrounded by strange men showing her pornography. Being white, they didn’t consider—as I had—the justice system’s especially rigid intolerance for crimes involving white women and black men. They simply went for it—and it’s no surprise their plans were thwarted by a woman.

A very basic definition of privilege is being able to do things without considering the consequences. And like natural gas, one of privilege's most dangerous qualities is that it's easy to miss, even if it surrounds you. James O’Keefe does what he wants every day, and yet he still works to destroy organizations like ACORN—which tried to empower minority voters—because they’re “cheating,” and it’s not fair.

What would be fair is if the MSM stopped treating O'Keefe as if he has any credibility. I would think that after the revelations about spliced ACORN tapes and the bungled Watergate reenactment everybody would realize that James O'Keefe is truly a failed punk.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yahoo Paranoia

"I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control."

"OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?"

"Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."

I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much."

— From Tea & Crackers: How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster by Matt Taibbi.

This Rolling Stone article -- I wish I could quote the entire thing -- is a must read. It's not only a lengthy study of the narcissism and delusional thinking of the teabaggers, but also an illumination of the Rand Paul phase of this whole tea party aka GOP thing.

Rand Paul is, of course, the political neophyte son of Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Last May, Rand won the Republican Senatorial primary race in Kentucky. One thing I cannot ignore about this man is his position on the 20-year-old American's with Disabilities Act. He wants to gut it, and as I stated four months ago, "I feel threatened every time some politician feels more empathetic toward the 'free speech' of a business owner versus the basic rights of the disabled. I know it's hard for libertarians to understand, but in 1990, a federal law increased my rights."

And yet at a recent Sarah Palin rally, Matt Taibbi observed, "every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters."

fail owned pwned pictures
(Grandma's new wheelchair under a Tea Party government.)

Do these elderly white people never think about consequences? Not only are they fighting to get functional government programs cut, but they're supporting the people who will take away their basic rights. So even if Janice gets a free scooter from the government, she won't be able to take it anywhere! No ADA means no curb cuts, no ramps, and any theater, restaurant or business can slam the door in her face.

On the other hand, at least they'll find out what it really means to be an oppressed minority.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Booty Snatchers

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." — Carl Sagan.

Wired has a new feature called Tinfoil Tuesdays. Okay, I'll put my hat on.

This week's story is UFOs Neutered Nukes, Officers Claim. Seven retired Air Force officers called a news conference to say they encountered UFOs that rendered U.S. nukes temporarily inoperable during the Cold War.

Obviously, these extraterrestrials are concerned about the survival of the human race and want us to abandon our nuclear arsenals... or so it would seem.

Every generation tries to imagine the motives of other-worldly beings. I recently read The Eerie Silence, and author Paul Davies points out that each generation projects their own fears and priorities onto the invading aliens. H.G Wells popularized the notion that aliens would value real-estate and mineral resources; wealth in Victorian times meant physical stuff. But a century later, we found ourselves in the middle of "the information age," so we reasoned that aliens would place no value on gold and diamonds, but instead their source of wealth would be knowledge.

Unsurprisingly, our benevolent Cold War visitors wanted us to disarm, but I have to wonder what the concerns of year 2010 aliens would be? If they're still worried about nuclear missiles, they might want to invade Iran or North Korea and save us the work. Better yet, use that nuke neutering device to permanently switch off all nukes, not just a handful.

Or maybe a modern alien fable would be about taxes. Imagine the aliens as teabaggers -- scary thought.

Or maybe the alien civilization would be organized as a giant corporation looking to suppress individual freedoms, bribe politicians, and get billion dollar bailouts...

Space aliens should be the least of our worries right now.
"Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering." — Arthur C. Clarke.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Update

I'm trying to think of something good to say about the month of September, but basically the weather is unbearably hot and I have at least five birthday presents to buy for family and friends. However, September also means new episodes of Saturday Night Live.

I admit I've had a grievance with SNL for about two years now. I thought their portrayal of NY governor David Paterson as a hapless blind buffoon was cheap and beneath them. The fact that some of my favorite cast members participated in the mockery griped me even more. This was my original rant from December 2008:
I usually don't torture myself with morning radio shows. Listening to morning "zoo crews" or whatever they call themselves now is like reading the dumbest YouTube comments but without the "thumbs down" button.

But you've probably guessed why I'm writing this. I did listen to a morning radio show this morning... for a few moments... before I hit the off button.

The topic was Governor David Paterson's comments about this Saturday Night Live Weekend Update skit that mocked his blindness. The first predictable and juvenile joke the deejays made was along the lines of "oh my god, he's blind! He can't even watch the show!" The genius morning hosts, not catching the irony, proceeded to play the the SNL skit for their listeners... on the radio. They played the SNL skit on the radio -- that primitive device without pictures.

Then they went on with some other blunt ignorance scratching their empty skulls pondering why blind people would even rent DVDs or go to the movies.

But I think the attitude that annoys me the most is the idea that nobody should be offended by the SNL piece because "it's just a joke." The reality, however, is that comedy is part of our discourse now more than ever largely due to shows like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. These shows, through humor, change attitudes, and that's truly awesome.

Minorities like the blind and the disabled also try to change attitudes. A spokesperson for Paterson said, "this particular 'Saturday Night Live' skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities." People with disabilities struggle every day to create a new consensus that they are capable, smart, and ready to work.

The SNL skit failed because it reinforced the old hindering consensus -- the blind are hapless, clumsy, disoriented. The comedian portraying Paterson repeatedly wandered in front of the camera. The real David Paterson, however, is described as "rarely out of step with his surroundings and seems comfortable in virtually every setting."

I think the best humor is not merely comic relief. The best humor changes the way we view our world, breaks the established order of things, forces you to question your habits and prejudices. Nothing was daring about the SNL skit. It was a lazy reinforcement of the Mr. Magoo stereotype.

I'm sad that Amy Poehler's goodbye message was combined with this lousy humor. I'd like to see the real David Paterson on SNL's Weekend Update. He can at least show them that no matter what way you hold the charts, the economy still looks like crap.
Well, I see they took my advice! On Saturday night, Paterson made a guest appearance on Weekend Update to set the record straight:

And Amy Poehler was there too to say she was sorry. I guess you can call that closure.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rally To Restore Sanity

Leave it to The Daily Show to give us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. I nearly jumped out of my chair (that would be quite a feat for me) when Jon Stewart announced the Rally to Restore Sanity.

And yes, it's an actual Washington D.C. rally to be held on October 30, 2010 and ending around 6pm because people have other things to do. If I could make it, my correctly spelled sign would say "I don't quite agree with what you say, but I don't believe you're Hitler." It's so kind of the people at TDS to design these signs for us.

The video announcing the rally isn't up on the official site yet, but it's something you certainly want to watch. Meanwhile, you can watch the full Bill Clinton interview where Bill talks about how to get the economy going again.

But that rally is going to be cool. Oh, and I bet the geese fly in v-formation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Sweeter Name

The Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the U.S. FDA to rename "high-fructose corn syrup." The new image-enhancing name, if the FDA approves, will be "corn sugar."

As if sugar doesn't have its own image problem. You'd think the corn refiners would be a little more savvy. They should go for a name like "awesome veggie sweetener" or something.

However, while the FDA is open for suggestions, I'd like to propose "subsidized addictive corn syrup."

I'm going to stop short of jumping on the bandwagon proclaiming "if only we could rid ourselves of the evil HFCS then our obesity problems would be gone!" I'm not that simple-minded, and I'm not that good at chemistry either. I can't really sort through the science behind the whole HFCS-vs-sugar debate. There are too many junk studies with inconsistent results.

The politics though are another thing. High-fructose corn syrup, derived from corn, is more economical in the U.S. because corn production is heavily subsidized. The FDA recognized HFCS as safe in 1976. Soft drink makers in the U.S. switched to using HFCS in 1984.

I remember it was around 1985 that I saw the first bucket-sized serving of cola. I naively thought it was family size and honestly wondered how difficult it would be to pour it into smaller cups for serving. Oh well.

It's common now. Any kid can pick up a 64oz serving of liquid candy before school, gulp down 800 calories before the final bell rings, and then stop on the way home for a refill costing less than $1.

It's cheap and full of calories, and the numbers show we're consuming more glucose-fructose mixtures.

(Image via Wikipedia.)

The little downward dip at the end there is promising. Are we wising up? Learning moderation is the key? Is this why the corn refiners want an image change? I don't think the new name is going to change anything.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Have Come and Gone

Nine years have come and gone since September 11, 2001. I thought things were getting better. I mean, despite the senseless wars, I thought we were losing some of that irrational fear that gripped us in the days following the terrorist attacks.

But now I believe that fear and bigotry were laying dormant in some Americans as we were preoccupied with oil spills and unemployment.

In the last few months we've seen some crazy fear-mongering over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque," which was quickly followed by some idiotic hillbilly pastor organizing "burn a Quran day." I can only conclude that many misguided Americans honestly believe that we are at war with the Islamic faith. It makes me literally sick to see religious intolerance becoming part of our mainstream political discourse.

We are just as irrational as ever.
The story of how one lone idiot, pimping an 18th-century brand of community terrorism, held the media hostage and forced some of this nation's most powerful people to their knees to fitfully beg an end to his wackdoodlery is an extraordinary one.
I suppose that quote from Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post would make one think first of Osama bin Laden, but Linkins is of course referring to the aforementioned hillbilly pastor, Terry Jones.

Terry Jones has certainly found a way to make himself famous. Pat Robertson is surely jealous that some novice nobody trumped him on anti-Muslim rhetoric?

But what I've found most dangerous about the media's elevation of this story is the ability of one little fanatic in the U.S. to engage and enrage fanatics on the other side of the world -- bypassing all statesman, military Generals, and responsible adults. Consequently, the Secretary of Defense had to call this nimrod and tell him to shut up!

And though the Quran burning was canceled, I think the damage is done. Religious fanatics have been provoked into another round of hatred and intolerance. Haven't we learned anything?

President Obama wants us to know that "This is a difficult time for our country. And it's often in such moments that some try to stoke bitterness -- to divide us based on our differences, to blind us to what we have in common. But on this day, we are reminded that at our best, we do not give in to this temptation."

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gates of Hell

First they said it was a plane crash. Now they're sure it was a high pressure gas line.

I started to see the live news coverage around 6:45pm. A residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California was on fire, and it is still on fire as I type this. Dozens of homes were incinerated tonight. I suppose for some it happened in an instant. I can't speculate on what the death toll will be, but I know it will be bad.

I've been glued to the TV. Our local CBS station has done a commendable job. Not once did I hear the word "terrorism" though I admit it went through my mind. It probably went through everybody's mind. The San Bruno neighborhood is a few miles from the San Francisco International Airport -- so the logical explanation was an aircraft.

But it was a gas line. I've heard some horrific eyewitness reports which I won't go into. I keep thinking about people sitting down for dinner and never knowing what hit them.

When you think about that, it's kind of hard to feel safe anywhere, you know?