Ugly Poo-Poo

I’m not sure why the ongoing fever pitch of ugly behavior in these Untied States of America is causing any sense of surprise among anyone who’s been paying attention.

The reactions and the stories you’ve been seeing of late are not new and they are not random or accidental. The spitting on a congressman and the gay and racial epithets hurled as reported last weekend, you don’t think that’s the same force that drove James W. von Brunn to make his way to the Holocaust Museum in June 2009? You don’t think the same force that caused Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s Rochester office to get pelted with a brick is the same force that caused Raymond Hunter Geisel’s arrest for allegedly threatening to assassinate then-candidate Barack Obama in August 2008?

There is an ugliness brewing in America. It is a nebulous, corrupted, churning cloud of poo-poo. And it is billowing. It is not random, and it is not by accident, and it is not merely driven by racism, though that is one of its most powerful currents. Paranoia, fear, anti-abortionism, ignorance, economic despair, there are so many ingredients in this shit-storm that Martha Stewart would have trouble divining a recipe from it. But it’s there, and I emphasize that it is not there by accident.

Remember this?

Remember, then-candidate Obama had been a child when Bill Ayers was blowing shit up. And yet, Prudence Palin was one of the most out-front and most unspoken when it came to America’s newest “ism.” In fact, I’d say that in this, the post-Dubya era, she was the pioneer of talking as ugly as you can to whip up a frenzy.

Guess what she’s doing today?

She’s campaigning for John McWeirdsmile in sunny Arizona.

Despite John Boner’s lame protestations of late, his party is one that does not take this ugly cloud seriously. But, as our good friend Rachel Maddow pointed out to us, such firing up by our political leaders can have horribly tragic consequences. Go on, watch it, and be sure to perk up your ears at 3:45.

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Jon Stein-Beck

If you watch one embed on the Series of Tubes today, please make it the following:


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro – Progressivism Is Cancer
Daily Show
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Political Humor Health Care Reform

Then this:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Conservative Libertarian
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

Jon Stewart has never, and I mean never, been so on the mark.

The Brit Hume Puzzler

I don’t know why I bother to read Tom Shales.

I usually don’t. Dude’s got the sweetest job in the world, but he’s not very good at it. But in today’s column, he took on Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger Woods’ religious faith. In case you missed it:

Shales is onto something to start:

It sounded a little like one of those Verizon vs. AT&T commercials—our brand is better than your brand—except that Hume was comparing two of the world’s great religions, not a couple of greedy communications conglomerates. Further, is it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesn’t really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?

Later on, though, Shales misses the boat entirely. Just watch.

The easiest mistake to make would be to associate Hume’s off-the-cuff, off-the-wall remark with the pathology of Fox News, a cherished target of the left just as the left is a cherished target of certain Fox personalities. Some of us cling to our faith that there is no institutional bias at the network, and that the business of Fox, to paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, is business.

Sorry, Tommy. Hume’s comments here actually further belie institutional bias on the part of Fox “News.” Look, I’m the last guy to begrudge Mr. Hume his faith, especially since—as Shales mentions—he came to it via a poignant personal tragedy, the suicide of his kid. But your average broadcaster on the set of your average cable news setup would never feel comfortable saying what Hume said. Sheri Sheppard of “The View,” okay, maybe. But I don’t think Wolf Blitzer would feel comfortable offering Woods such clumsy spiritual advice on the set of “The Situation Room.” And I guarantee you won’t be hearing any such thing out of John McLaughlin’s set—and he’s been an ordained priest.

No, no, Mr. Shales. It is well-documented that Fox “News” has made its way by forging a spiffy new newsroom culture, a culture that thrives on politics that driven by Christianity’s sometimes uncontrollable lust to evangelize. That Hume felt perfectly free to throw Buddhism under the bus on the air live was just the latest of many thousands of symptoms of this network’s “pathology.”

Hear, Hear!

From this week’s Group, 2009 Year-End Awards edition. The category: “Enough Already!”

John McLaughlin: Free trade—enough already! A bad idea, that’s right, a bad idea during the worst economic crisis since World War II, and when unemployment is double-digits, free trade is not the golden fleece. Limited protectionism is the golden fleece.

The Balloon Boy Joke Formula

Over at the Huffington Post, they have a list of “Balloon Boy Jokes.” I do not have to read any of them. I have created a formula whereby anyone can invent a perfect “balloon boy” joke.

Take an old joke. Tell the old joke, inserting “balloon boy” as the joke’s protagonist. When the punchline rolls around, just make a sort of scared screaming noise and a hand gesture that indicates that you are floating away.

For instance.

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Balloon Boy. Balloon Boy who? Auuuuuugh!

How many Balloon Boys does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Auuuuuugh!

So this Balloon Boy walks into a bar, and he says to the bartender, he says, “Auuuuuugh!”

Or even:

Hey. I fucked your dog. I shit in your purse. I’m out of here. Auuuuuugh!

Sure. It’s silly. But it’s not nearly as silly as the story itself.

Bonus Points: If you work in the sound of a child throwing up.

A Reality Show Pitch

This new trend of disgraced politicians attempting to redeem themselves/make a fast buck by embarrassing the hell out of themselves on reality television has me thinking: If it’s good enough for Hot-Rod Blagojevich (and/or his lovely wife Patti), and if it’s good enough for Hot-Tub Tom Delay, whose recent appearance on Dancing With The Has-Beens was absolutely horrifying, then why not build an entire reality television program based on this premise?

I’d call it “A Confederacy of Dunces.”

You’d haul guys like the indicted Delay, Gov. Mark Sampson, Sen. Larry “I Am Not Gay; I Never Have Been Gay” Craig, President Bill Clinton, Sen. John Ensign, Eliot Spitzer, Newtie Gingrich, Rep. William Jefferson, D.C. Councilman and former Mayor Marion Barry and other disgraced civil servants, into a small-scale House of Representatives littered with cots. The group is halved into teams and quarantined to separate chambers to hold political conventions, where they must name their party and develop stances on a slate of political issues. Bear in mind, in these political parties, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Delay might be in the same party.

After the 20 minutes of allotted time, they are sent back into the chambers, where they hear an address from President Carrot Top. Following this harrowing day, they visit the commissary, and then they sleep.

The next day, they call the session to order. They must negotiate a difficult obstacle course in order to determine who is the majority party. This designation of course changes from week to week based on humiliating contests. They are then tasked with creating legislation, each party adhering to the planks in the political platform it created.

I think this thing has legs.

A Useless Fact I Should Know Off The Top Of My Head

Parapharased from Wikipedia:

The theme music to Countdown with Keith Olbermann is the opening eight beats of the second movement, a scherzo, of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, the “Choral”. The theme is a historical reference to NBC’s pioneering newscast Huntley-Brinkley Report with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, which featured the scherzo of Beethoven’s 9th over the credits.

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