Tag Archives: stupid

Hitler As 2010 Political Analogy Of The Year

The Nazis are the best thing that ever happened to Hollywood action movies, but they were a pox on American political conversation in 2010.  I don’t know if there are awards given for rhetorical devices, but maybe Hitler and the Nazis should have accepted one for 2010.

On this subject:

I’ve long felt that the Daily Show’s ability to find obscure video clips containing very specific details or references is just short of magical.  Hell, it is magical.  Anyhow, Jon Stewart recently paid his staff tribute while simultaneously pointing out, yet again, that FoxNews is a morally-and rhetorically-bankrupt rage dispensary.  It’s beautiful viewing.

In case you’re not familiar with this great law, Godwin’s Law is a wonderful internet-age adage worth familiarizing yourself with.  I love that message boards have been around long enough to generate such hilarious and depressing observations on human behavior and discourse.

This XKCD comic is where I first learned about Godwin's Law

Tea Party: Congress To Only Speak Words Found In Constitution

Washington, D.C. – Leading Tea Party activists have announced plans to seek a prohibition on members of Congress from speaking any words that were not printed in the Constitution.  “Our Founding Fathers established a vocabulary of freedom and liberty,” said Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.  “The election clearly stated the nation’s desire to return to a more purer vocabulary.”  Words not found in the Constitution include the name of any foreign nation, “Internet,” “health care,” “air force” and “President Obama.”  The GOP countered with a proposal that would force members of Congress to not wear anything Adam Smith would not have worn.

some things I learned from movies over Thanksgiving break

To be fair, the movie was reasonably funny. And I love me some Patrick Warburton voice acting.

Lesson: Jerry Seinfeld’s dramatic range is no greater as an animated bee than it is when he plays himself in a sitcom.

Worth seeing, but keep expectations moderated.

Lesson: It is more difficult than you’d think to create a movie ending where everything goes off the rails in a satisfying manner.  Adaptation and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are the shining examples here.

The dragon looks like a Pokemon ripoff.

Not sure why it wasn't funnier.

Lesson: A good way to test-run your animated kids movie: Put four boys ages 5-11 in a room with the movie and some blown-up balloons.  If, by the end, they’ve stopped watching the movie and are playing with the balloons, your movie probably isn’t very good.

white Christian wish fulfillment

Lesson: To be honest, I only saw about 30 minutes of this.  But I have never seen a more patronizing and exploitative 30 minutes of mainstream cinema.  Good lord.  The fact that this movie won awards and drew so many theatergoers is a bigger harbinger of this country’s demise than any economic indicators.

update: edited for spelling and because I calmed down a bit

Fighting Back: Honking Taxis

Premise: car honking is irritating and way too prevalent in Philadelphia.  It lowers everybody’s standard of living and increases testiness.

Contributing cause: taxi cabs who honk at anybody they think might be looking for a cab.

You! Standing on the sidewalk and sort of near the curb! Need a cab?

Seriously.  I don’t know anybody who doesn’t know they need a cab until a cab honks at them.  This isn’t Junior Mints you’re selling.  (“Want a Junior Mint?”  “Um, yeah, sure!”)  You either want a cab, or you don’t.  I also don’t know anybody who tries to hail a cab in any manner other than standing on the curb, watching traffic, and raising a hand when a cab is spotted.

So, cab driver: is the person you’re honking at doing this?

The time-honored method

 

If not, they’re probably not looking for the services of a taxi.

But we know cab drivers will not stop their pointless honking.  Most of them don’t even read this blog.  So here’s how we fight this:

If you see a cab, raise your hand and hail it.  When it pulls over, wave them off.  If they get mad, say, “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t looking for a cab.”

Repeat until everybody hates everybody.

Republicans To Repeal Obama’s Fantasy Football Victory

Washington, DC – House Republicans today announced their intent to fight President Obama’s expected victory in his fantasy football league.  Obama’s points-per-reception league team, “Malia’s All-Star Leopards,” holds a comfortable lead over Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke’s “Hasselbeck4Evahs.”  Behind Wes Welker, Roddy White, Michael Vick and draft-day steal Arian Foster, Obama expects to claim victory when the regular season ends on January 2nd.  Republicans plan to undo Obama’s victory by “rolling back” the league point rules once they claim control over the House in mid-January.

Brushing aside accusations of pointless obstructionism, Sen. Jim DeMint criticized Obama for trying to “sneak in” his victory during the lame-duck session.  “We intend to introduce legislation that will bring the value for receptions back in line with what average Americans think they’re worth,” McConnell said.  “Everybody knew Arian Foster was going to have a monster season, and I believe the American people deserve to know why the most liberal administration on Earth let him fall so far in the draft.” 

This comes on the heels of House Republicans successfully blocking Obama’s attempted purchase of Marvin Gardens during a family Monopoly game, calling it “yet another government takeover.”

an irresistible compulsion to post this

All sorts of cognitive dissonance in creating this montage

2005 Kanye West: “President Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

2008 Kanye West: “I’ll let [Taylor Swift] finish.  But Beyoncé had one of the greatest videos of all time!”

2008 President Obama: “He’s a jackass.”

2010 President George W. Bush: “[Kanye’s comment] was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”

An annoying hip-hop personality puts his foot in his mouth twice.  One President dismisses him in 3 words.  Another President declares it one of the worst moments of his 8 years in office.

There are several orders of magnitude difference between the first "lesser than" symbol and the second in this statement.

Sensationalist Journalism Legitimizes Debates That Never Should Be Legitimized

This video was posted on CNN yesterday with the headline, “Is Obama an Islamic Sympathizer?”  The sub-description of the video is, “CNN’s Anderson Cooper talks with a panel about whether President Obama’s views are ‘un-American.'”

The several-minute video is Anderson Cooper hosting 4 panelists: Paul Begala, Ari Fleischer, David Gergen, and Fareed Zakaria.  Cooper’s lead-in to the piece, and presumably the genesis of the entire video, is this poll:

A poll worthy of discussion, apparently

Cooper asks each panelist in turn what they make of this.  The first two, Begala and Fleischer, both agree that it shouldn’t be taken seriously and is nothing more than an indicator of the bitterness of America’s current political landscape.  The following two, Gergen and Zakaria, turn the conversation into a brief discussion of America’s tolerance or intolerance for Muslims and Obama’s role in that.  As you might expect, nobody really agrees with anyone, different viewpoints are offered, and the impression you get at the end is that America is a big country and some people really don’t like Obama but most Americans are reasonable.  Astounding!

What drives me up the wall about this video is the branding.  I clicked on the video because of the title, “Is Obama an Islamic Sympathizer?”  CNN’s webmasters gave it that title precisely so that it would draw page views, which generate revenue.  Of course, no one in the video agrees with that question, and they pretty soon stop talking about entirely.*  But the title legitimizes a debate which, in my view, should not be legitimized.

*(Not before Cooper offers this leading question to the first panelist: “Or do you really think that the numbers say that people think the President of the United States supports Sharia law?”  Which is, of course, very different than being an ‘Islamic sympathizer.’  I’m a doormouse sympathizer but I don’t let them eat my cereal.)  

Does the video discuss the various ways one can be “sympathetic” to Islam?  Does it discuss what it means to have “un-American views?”  No.*  Does anyone in the video even bring up the concept of a President with un-American views?  No.  The video would more accurately be titled, “Is American Politics Religiously Divided?”  But in going for the controversy and ad revenue, CNN legitimizes the “debate” over Obama’s patriotism and whether being “sympathetic” to Islam is an acceptable stance in this country.  It doesn’t matter that the content of the video mostly ignores the question and certainly doesn’t endorse it.  It is merely the presence of the question, prominently displayed on CNN.com, which legitimizes it as a question worthy of national discussion.

*(Again, the damage is done in the asking.  The question is raised by the headline, and you have to watch the video to find out that no, ultimately, Obama’s views are not un-American.  Or you would find that out, if they even addressed the question.  Perhaps we should post this discussion: “Is CNN Run by the Mob?”  Inclined readers can wade through 4 pages of comment board posts to find out that no, it isn’t.)

There are people in this country who fervently believe Obama wants to impose Sharia Law.  They point to CNN and say, “See?  The debate continues.”  I believe in freedom of speech, but the attention being given to that viewpoint and similar views is out of proportion to the number of people who legitimately believe it.  I believe others do not actually believe such things, but stoke this fire because it furthers their own political agenda.  The debate over Obama’s secret Islamic objectives is even less of a debate than the “debate” over global warming.  Yet a mainstream news outlet like CNN legitimizes the “other side” of the debate for…what?  Ad revenue.  And the national political debate suffers for it.

The problem is that the wackos don’t give the rest of us the same deal.  If you went to a website trumpeting the Obama-as-Muslim cause, you would not see a video called, “Three Reasons Why Obama May Be Christian.”  Even FoxNews does not have videos titled, “Is Obama’s Economic Policy Paying Dividends?”  No, at Fox you get links like, “How Much Will the Transition to Digital Medical Records Cost You?” and “Stimulus Plan in Hindsight: Did Obama’s Agenda Hobble Economic Recovery?”

The New York Times or CNN would not be muckraking to report on the Obama-as-Muslim conspiracy theories, or the elected officials who doubt global warming, or any other sign of these nutty times.  But there is a way to cover such trends and people that does not legitimize their viewpoints.  When the paper covers a house fire, it doesn’t use the headline, “Was House Meant To Burn Down?”

I believe the Obama-as-Muslim theorists are not only wrong, but the promotion of that debate materially hurts America’s pursuit of our diplomatic objectives and increases anti-American sentiment abroad.  There are stakes here.  But the media’s pursuit of bad news and provocative opinion creates a positive feedback loop which gives these fringe perspectives more clout than they deserve.  They can then point to the phantom debate created by the media coverage as a retroactive legitimization of what we dun been sayin’ since way back when Grandpop told us that de Foundin Fathers knew that dark-skinned folk ain’t mean to live in democracy.  Now we just glad we’s gettin some attentun fer it.

We need and deserve more sophisticated consideration from those organizations and individuals who, in these divisive times, sit in the control room of our national attention.