Category Archives: Culture wars

I was wrong about Sen. Al Franken

And I’ll be the first to admit it. I was never fond of his books, his characters on SNL were amusing, but never gratuitously hilarious, and I thought that the same warmed-over smarmy attitude would be ill fit for the Senate, regardless of whether he won the election fairly or not.


Which he didn’t, by the way, if you agree with Bill O’Riley.

But Franken has done a fabulous job winning over, starting with his solid line of questioning with Justice Sonia Sotomayor (though it was a bit cheesy), continuing with his excellent filmed debate with his own constituents regarding health care, in which he only revealed his pretentious liberal side a few times, and then subsequently apologized for it while defending his viewpoint and perhaps swaying a few opponents.


Watch this, it’s pretty enlightening. And no, they’re not an “angry mob” as the video’s title alleges them to be. Sheesh, the left loves its labels.

And just two days ago, Franken proposed Amendment No. 2588, which has the following purpose: “To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.” This is a direct response to the alleged rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, who says that while at a Halliburton/KBR camp in the Green Zone of Baghdad she was raped by several co-workers and placed under guard in a shipping container.

The amendment passed by a vote of 68-30, as it darn well should have, further giving credence to the theory that Franken is a senator who actually has his wits about him, and would like to use his office to actually accomplish something. Also, he made the Republicans look like they’re pro-rape (though 10 Republicans did vote for it). It seems as though Franken really is good enough, smart enough and dog-gone it, I like him.

As for Franken’s speech on the Senate floor…

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Filed under Crime, Culture wars, Government, Health, Military, Morgan

The ugly truth on an ugly issue

Look, I get it. I’m racist, you’re racist, the GOP is racist, Obama is racist, Twitter’s racist…perhaps we’re all, as Avenue Q informed us, a little bit racist. In fact, I think it’s pretty safe to say that everything is racist. Did anyone see Transformers 2? I heard it made some money, and a few swipes at blacks. Has anyone ever watched Lou Dobbs? I heard he might not like Latinos. How many times have you seen a movie that featured a black guy as the funky sideshow, the Asian as the sly, intelligent one (or just Jackie Chan) and the white guy as the gorgeous hero?

Everything’s racist, prejudices are so ingrained into our society that there’s little that we can do to completely expunge ourselves of that. Most of it is subconscious, the subtle tightening of our grip on our backpacks when walking through urban black communities, making the passing assumption that the Korean kid in class is going to be instantly brilliant or casual references to “Mexi-packing” or equating frugality with those of Jewish heritage. Not to deny that it’s not a problem, but there comes a point where there’s simply nothing more to be accomplished by continuing to bring up race issues.

This comes from a completely utilitarian standpoint, so it forgoes the whole, “but if it’s wrong, we’ve gotta fix it!” mentality plenty of folks have. But I’m sorry Jimmy Carter, you fell right into the Republican party’s hands by accusing Obama’s opposition of opposing him because of his race. Yes, the subtext of baseless and tawdry racism was more than evident during the 9/12 protests.

I mean, come on! How stupid can you be? Is anyone going to be swayed by this inane image, carried about during the 9/12 event? What does it offer to the debate other than a ridiculous amount of ignorance and a breathless lack of tact?

I mean, come on! How stupid can you be? Is anyone going to be swayed by this inane image, carried about during the 9/12 event? What does it offer to the debate other than a ridiculous amount of ignorance and a breathless lack of tact?

But calling out those on the right who gleefully stew in their own 1800’s-style opinions on race does nothing but embolden them, and it gives the impression that Obama is trying to use race as an excuse to tar and feather all of his opponents by pigeonholing their opposition into one ugly category (even though he himself hasn’t really done much of that, and I’d doubt that Carter is a well-respected adviser to the current administration, unless peanut-related issues are now vital to national interests).

Admittedly, the race issue is still the skeleton in the closet, but dragging it out accomplishes nothing. It sets the health care debate back, it distracts from environmental policy, it grabs attention away from Afghanistan and it just bottles up the right and shakes them up, irritating them even more than they already are. As morally detestable as it may be, let the race issue sit on the back burner for now, get some legislation done, stow some accomplishments away and maybe then, once some curable ills are remedied, we can solve racism.

But don’t count on it.

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Filed under Culture wars, Government, Media, Morgan, Obama

You lie! You liar! Booooooo!

Welcome to Congress.

The country is in the hands of a barrell of monkeys. And they're not even fun!

The country is in the hands of a barrel of monkeys. And they're not even fun!

Oh, you thought this was going to be something condemning Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s health care address last night? How it was completely against the decorum of presidential addresses, in which the only acceptable response to anything the head honcho says is to either stand up and clap like the live audience of “According to Jim” (they had a live audience, right?), or fall asleep in your chair after Tweeting “Don’t like president, hungry 4 tacos.”

In case you missed it…(just skip to the one-minute mark)

Well, it would be, if the Democrats didn’t show the same lack of class during President George W. Bush’s 2005 State of the Union address…

Do we need to send everyone to the quiet corner again? It’s not like the opposing sides don’t get their cranky responses immediately after the president is done with their address, whether it be in the form of pundits or Rep. Charles Boustany (who may be a doctor, I forgot after the thousandth time he mentioned it). Is it Christmas Eve? Are they so excited to have their voices heard that they just have to blurt their discontent? Do they wake up super-early that morning, creep downstairs in their footie PJ’s and sneak a peek at a leaked transcript of the president’s speech?

To say “sheesh” is, I think, the only way to sum it all up.

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Filed under Culture wars, Government, Morgan, Obama, Uncategorized

Health care? Who cares?

UPDATE: Well isn’t that appropriate? The liveblog didn’t happen, since I was in a meeting for a huge chunk of the speech. Oh boy. There’s competence for ya.

Us. Duh.

Click the link below for the Opinions blog’s live coverage of Obama’s ringing of the bell for round two of this factitious debate! Only here, and only at 8 o’clock.
Obama’s Big ‘ol Speech

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Filed under Culture wars, Government, Health, Morgan, Obama, Uncategorized

Glenn Beck Presents: Art

The gauntlet has been thrown, the faces have been besmirched with soft, white gloves, the noses have been pinched and the spit has flown both ways. And now, Glenn Beck (oh, he does present so much material doesn’t he? It’s a terrible thing to talk about him, but it’s so enjoyable, he is the living embodiment of Howard Beale…just wait until he starts preaching, We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies…The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business.”

Jerry Saltz, senior art critic of New York Magazine, challenged Beck to host two art shows, after his recent guide to New York communist art by free association, and you know he’ll do it. You know it, I know it and presumably he knew it two weeks ago, since he and FOXNews do a pretty good job of being two steps ahead.

Here’s Beck’s segment by the way, in case you haven’t seen it yet. And if you have, look at it again, and carefully analyze his natural showmanship, his gestures, the triumphant echo of his voice on the stage…the man is a born Pied Piper.

Now just what sort of art should Beck include in his own shows?

109773-105562-u-s-agent_large

A gallery of U.S. Agent’s best moments, since the classic Captain America is too much of a wuss and the current Captain America, while an avid gunman, was brainwashed by commies at one point.

death

escher-relativity

A depiction or two of the aftermath of universal health care would fit quite nicely.

rothko

This piece from Rothko, which obviously symbolizes the plight of the true American (embodied by the deep, heartland red in the center) who are always boxed in by the light, more frail, less hardy liberal fascists and separated from their true countrymen (who are currently at Wal-Mart and a bit out of reach). The more feathered edges of the liberal box also represents their lack of backbone, and what’s that in the middle of the liberal square? Oh, the true heart of America, the Republican party (or really just Beck, who never really seems to praise anything anyone does).

glennbeck

And what art show would be complete without a self-portrait?

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Filed under Art and fancy things, Culture wars, Government, Media, Morgan, Obama

We don’t need no education

Keep your kids out of school. And if you are a kid, keep yourself far away from the classroom. Not only just on Tuesday, when king commie fascist progressive Nazi-cuddling Empire-loving Khan-supporting butter-side-down-eating President Obama will be addressing schools that decide to broadcast his subversive message.

And what message is that? Well, it’s actually to work hard, stay in school and all of the typical stuff that my generation learned from Captain Planet and Darkwing Duck. But since no one has actually heard the speech, no one can actually accurately gauge it’s content, unless you’re anybody in the media, in which case you don’t have to wait until Monday, when the White House will release a transcript of Obama’s speech.

Or you could tell your kid to join up with P.A.S.S. Day (Parentally-approved-skip-school-day), a group formed by folks who also, presumably, will also dropkick teachers who even mention that Obama is the current president.

Or you could raise your arms in uproar over Obama’s “indoctrination and grabbing of your kids.” (As called by Glenn Beck) Or you could look at Arnie Duncan, the Education Secretary, and his letter sent to principals encouraging them to show Obama’s video (how dare they! the gall of people in Obama’s cabinet to support Obama!).

Or, and here’s the big one…you could wait until the transcript comes out! Maybe he doesn’t say anything about the kids going out and smashing their capitalist parents beneath ACORN-purchased tanks. Maybe he won’t use hypno-beams to turn all of your kids into homosexual illegal immigrants. Maybe he’ll just tell them to go to class, believe in themselves, strive themselves and drink their milk. But then, even if he did that, someone would find a cow with a spot that looked vaguely like Lenin, and accuse Obama of using communist dairy propaganda.

Though I did hear from a decent source that he just might do that...

Though I did hear from a decent source that he just might use those hypno beams...

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Filed under Culture wars, Education, Government, Media, Morgan, Obama

An ugly golden goose

“If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, we will eat for a lifetime.”

So goes the oft-repeated proverb, but it unfortunately ignores the matter of whether or not the man is question is the least bit fond of fish. Maybe he’s allergic, trying out a new “anti-healthy diet or just doesn’t want the darn tuna. To lather with cliche for a bit longer, we’re told not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but just as often as not, folks seem to do just that.

Perhaps it comes along with the whole, “decadent western civilization thing” or perhaps it’s a component of the perpetually lusty gaze we Americans turn to things we don’t have. Whatever the reason, just because something is beneficial, whether it be a material object or a skill, doesn’t mean that people will want it, even if their personal sacrifice in obtaining said gift is negligible.

Case in point: This show, otherwise titled as "Young Narcisists Want More Sparkly Junk: Why Everyone Under 18 Should be Mailed to Madagasscar."

Case in point: This show, otherwise titled as "Young Narcisists Want More Sparkly Junk: Why Everyone Under 18 Should be Mailed to Madagascar."

Dan Rather, in an op-ed for The Washington Post, echoed his calls for federal hand in solving the current crisis in the transition from old media (newspapers) to new media (tweets from some girl you hooked up with in sophomore year).

“I want the president to convene a nonpartisan, blue-ribbon commission to assess the state of the news as an institution and an industry and to make recommendations for improving and stabilizing both,” Rather said, obviously equating the quality of his commission to the upstanding quality of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

“Why bring the president into it? Because this is the only way I could think of to generate the sort of attention this subject deserves. Academia and think tanks generate study after study, yet their findings don’t reach the people who need to be reached.”

The problem with Rather’s suggestion, which is actually something I’ve considered advocating, is threefold. First, involving President Obama with anything at the moment is guaranteed to drag said thing into a cesspool of partisan bickering and a subsequent bout of amnesia about what the shouting was about in the first place.

Then, Rather suggests moving the study of the media’s evolution away from the academic sector, which sounds fine and dandy, except by involving the feds, you involve…well…the feds. Not only is the entirety of congress focused on solely on health care (and planes! more planes!), but any sort of government involvement in media at this time could be the most counterproductive way to create a trustworthy relationship between the public and reporters.

“But it worked with the BBC! It’s government-funded and is arguably the most highly-regarded news source in the world!” you may exclaim. While that may be true, the BBC also originates from a radically different time, when the populace was a bit preoccupied with the whole “post WWI fiasco,” along with an approach to free speech that was littered with seditious libel (remember, the monarchy actually mattered back then). To even involve the federal government in something as superficially innocent as a collection of assessments and recommendations on the media raises that damning specter of censorship and further speculation of a liberal bias in the media.

Oh. But that already happened.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Culture wars, Education, Government, Media, Monkeys, Obama

Freedom of the press (to charge you)

Rupert Murdoch did it. He pushed the big, red button. After months, maybe years of holding his trembling, anxious hand over it (the button’s pretty darn big) he shooed his butler out of the room, wiped his furrowed brow of the pooling sweat and pressed downward. Flashing lights popped out of the walls, and the signal was immediately sent to Fox’s Internet Golems to push the giant online switch from “Free” to “Not so much.”

Well, they're technically Morlocks, but Golem is currently the PC term. Don't ask me, ask their union.

Well, they're technically Morlocks, but Golem is currently the PC term. Don't ask me, ask their union.

So we now know for sure, that by the end of the fiscal year (aka next June) that all online content coming from Fox subsidiaries will have a handy little price tag attached to it. This makes them the first big player in the post Web 2.0 world to revert back to the limited-access viewpoint, because after all, as Murdoch has made clear, quality journalism doesn’t come cheap (apparently neither does FOXNews’ coverage). The question at hand is whether or not this venture will be successful or blow up in Murdoch’s face, as most Internet fanboys tend to think it will.

Fox ‘n Fans

On one hand, FOXNews has a very different audience and delivery method from the likes of say, CNN or the New York Times. While CNN presents news and then at least markets itself as leaving said news as it is, marketing itself as a presenter of facts and knowledge (though lately they seem to fancy themselves as a televised Twitter advertisement). FOXNews treats its audience differently. With its obvious ideological bend, it presents news and commentary simultaneously, the two contrasting ideas contorted around one another and presented to the viewer.

To some, this approach is entirely off-putting (though not to the brass at MSNBC…) but to those viewers who do enjoy FOXNews’ opinions, the coverage becomes conversational and personal. I personally think that no one tunes into FOXNews for the very latest, most indepth coverage, but instead to hear the opinions of their personalities, to see the anchors tear the left a new one.

Because of this, FOXNews fosters a community to a much greater degree than its competition. When was the last time you talked to someone who was passionate about CNN, who acted encouraged if you praised it or who reeled back and hissed if you sought to discredit it? FOXNews fans have these reactions, because it’s okay to be a fan of the network’s coverage, it’s built and marketed as such. While CNN advertises itself as “the number one name in news,” FOXNews lets communities build around its personalities.

This sort of loyalty might work in Murdoch’s favor in regard to this online plan. Since the network’s viewers already perceive the coverage to be a premium product, logic says that they would also have less of a problem paying extra for said product. Of course, this begs the question as to why anyone who loves FOXNews wouldn’t just watch it on the television, or pick through The New York Posts’ 10 pages of legitimate content at the newsstand and save themselves from online fees.

Those against the plan argue that it will limit the audience of Fox’s online content, thereby limiting both advertising and search engine access, which will then, in turn, further limit ad revenue. On an Internet landscape that’s becoming increasingly connected, Murdoch’s plan essentially creates a digitally gated community (now isn’t that appropriate?), but given the loyalty of his viewers, and his recent success in broadening the readership of The Wall Street Journal, this could work in his favor.

A profitable, vibrant, stagnant media

But, from a ideological standpoint, if the entire news media switches to this model, then you will not only have deep divides between party lines and political philosophies, but further divisions will emerge between news sources, which will only serve to further polarize the nation. I already have a subscription to The New York Times, and with that I receive unlimited access to their online content. Now let’s say the Times made that package marginally more expense, while the rest of the media instituted similar subscription plans. Of course I’m going to either stick with the Times, or with the news source that represents the best relationship between cost and quality. Remember that whole marketplace of ideas? Yeah, that gets tossed by the wayside.

Mmm, yes. As I have always said, "Let one's worldliness be born not from his press' freedom, but by the expanse of his coffers."

Mmm, yes. As I have always said, "Let one's worldliness be born not from the freedom of his press, but by the expanse of his coffers."

That is, unless, you had brilliant individuals who had subscriptions and then used said subscriptions to draw news out of the gated communities and then report on it through independent websites, which everyone who is used to paying nothing for online news would then turn to for information. This would, inevitably, lead to the old-school media magnates receiving even fewer ad dollars, and then perhaps being forced to open up to free models, which leaves us in this whole stinking mess all over again, just with a few more wrinkles and a heightened sense of cynicism.

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Those who repeat the past repeat the past repeat the past repeat the past repeat the past repeat the past repeat the past

Everyone complains about Hollywood’s reticence to create something new. The film industry has essential been a broken record for the past five years, with nearly every blockbuster having been based in intellectual properties that have already been established for decades. Superheroes, I’ve heard, originated in these things known as “comic books” that people would read on “paper.”

That doesn't look like Christian Bale at all...

That doesn't look like Christian Bale at all...

And before making “The Dark Knight,” director Christopher Nolan’s previous three films were all adaptations of previously established films or books. Just look at Tim Burton to see just how ridiculous the latest round of creative regurgitation has become. Did anyone want another “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Planet of the Apes,” or “Alice in Wonderland?” Adding some cliche Gothic-teenager-pandering art style and Johnny Depp doesn’t exactly warrant the pillaging of established and perfected properties.

Besides, those kids whose rooms were filled with “Nightmare Before Christmas” merchandise are all probably too busy sleeping on top of life-sized pillows of that Edward vampire guy to care all that much.

Not to mention their Edward toothbrushes...

Not to mention their Edward toothbrushes...

But at least those films are remakes of things that came out more than a decade prior. The new trend is to remake films that came out oh, say last year. First, the director behind “Cloverfield,” Matt Reeves, signed on to do an American version of the Swedish vampire flick “Let the Right One In.” That’s all well and good…except “Let the Right One In,” came out LAST YEAR. And the idea itself is already based off of a book to begin with!

And now, 2007’s splendid horror movie “The Orphanage” is being remade for U.S. audiences. Sure, the film peaked at 702 theaters in the U.S., but can’t we at least give people a chance to discover the original before we stuff a remake down their throats? It’s interesting to note that both films were foreign flicks, indicating that Hollywood, in all of its creative glory, is outsourcing any sort of original thought, testing the waters to see if it works, and then buying out the rights so that they can water it down and add breasts to the movie’s climax. I mean, c’mon. Even “Avatar,” which I assume will be released alongside Christ’s resurrection, is just “Dances with Wolves in Space.”

Has the national attention span really shriveled to such a small size? This deficit doesn’t just pertain to pop culture, just look at the political landscape, a bizarrely inept and fast-paced zone where Obama is already being written off as a lame duck despite not even having a year under his presidential belt, where the debate on both sides depends on hammering in a single talking point, remaking the same sentence over and over again until it just turns into two idiots blaring a watered-down, pointless message at one another, and then their audiences spit out the same drivel, at which point these placated pundits report their own vomit as news. Weekly polls on every issue determine public opinion, creating our predilections for policies anew each time anything’s approval dips toward 50 percent, ignoring the fact that if you tell everybody that everyone thinks a certain way, as opposed to letting them figure it out for themselves, you’re helping yourself to a predisposed national opinion.

I guess it’s just easier to rely on the thoughts of our forefathers, PR goons and easily-plundered intellectual property than create something new.

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