Saturday, June 06, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus Satan

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As I wrote last February, my wife and daughter are big fans of the show "John and Kate Plus Eight," which runs Mondays on TLC.

"J&K+8" tells the story of the Gosselins, who, after having twins, decided to try again and ended up with sextuplets. Personally, I'm amazed that this show didn't end up being called "Jon and Kate Weep and Curse Fate." Judging from the "awwws" coming from the family room, however, there's ­apparently a high cuteness quotient.

I don't watch the show regularly myself; I do occasionally drop in on an episode, but my tolerance for cute is not all that great. I'm more a "Two and a Half Men" kinda guy. With that option off the table, let's just say I get a lot of writing done on Monday nights while the womenfolk bond over all the adorableness.

Recently, however, the Gosselins' lives haven't been so adorable. Rumors surfaced that Jon was having an affair with a schoolteacher. Counter-rumors sprang up saying Kate was having her own affair with one of the bodyguards who travels with her on her speaking and book
promotion tours. US Weekly had the story on the cover five weeks straight, and People wasn't far behind.

If nothing else, the scandals were good for ratings. The recent season opener, which was basically one long buildup to the much-ballyhooed "first time Jon and Kate face each other," drew more than 10 million ­viewers, the highest rating in the show's history. What we got was Kate being angry and Jon looking surly and mopey.

Typically arguments over who's to blame here fall out along gender lines. Women are furious that Jon cheated on poor Kate, while men tend to think Kate's treatment of Jon is a bit nagging and bossy and maybe he was just trying to get out of the house. (That's an opinion, by the way, that absolutely infuriates women. Try voicing it sometime to a female "J&K+8" fan. Bring protective gear).

In Kate's defense, while I've been known to refer to her as "that horrible woman," remember that what we're seeing is the edited version of the Gosselins' life that the producers have chosen to show us. And, since their original target audience seems to be composed of women, the narrative they've chosen is, "Kate is a hero and Jon's practically one of the children." Which means Kate's every snap and kvetch at Jon gets left in, as well as every moment of fecklessness on Jon's part.

This plays well to women, because let's face it: Women love shows that make men look bad. Look, I thought "Sex and the City" was pretty funny, but you've got to admit, every guy in that show, even the guy the heroine eventually ended up with, was portrayed as indecisive, shallow, self-absorbed, etc.

Of course, the real story of the Gosselins is probably a lot more complex than what we're shown on TV. I imagine that having the raw footage of his life edited to make him look like a hapless idiot who can't care for his children without being instructed and chivvied about by his long-suffering wife may be a reason for Jon's unhappiness with the situation. But that's a reason we'll never see or hear. The producers won't let us.

To the extent that I blame either Jon or Kate for ­anything, it's for getting themselves and their kids into this thing in the first place. Look, I can see how, when you're panicking over suddenly having eight kids to deal with, someone coming along with a wad of cash saying "let us film your lives, we'll give you a house and a nanny and a chef" is going to look very attractive.

But then, the devil usually does. Make no mistake, when you make a deal with TV to put your life onscreen, you are, and I don't think I'm exaggerating here, dealing with the devil. And now he's come to ­collect on the account. Let's hope the poor kids aren't included on the bill.

Stay Classy, GOP.

Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) Mocks Crying Child
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama was openly disdainful of a12-year-old boy who wept throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on the Uniting American Families Act, which would give equal citizenship rights to the foreign-born same-sex partners of American citizens. Sessions opposes the bill.

The committee was hearing from Shirley Tan, a Filipino woman who had fled her country after being physically attacked by a man who had killed her mother and sister. Tan and her American partner of 23 years are raising 12-year-old twin sons here, but she was almost deported in April, and has been granted only a temporary reprieve.

As Tan began to speak, one of her sons, who was seated behind her, began to cry, and Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy stopped the hearing to inquire whether the child was alright, and whether he might not prefer to sit in a private room. But according to the New Republic, the 12-year-old's tears only annoyed Sessions, who "leaned towards one of his aides and sighed, "Enough with the histrionics."

Which was a little out there even for Sessions, who enlivens most of the hearings he takes part in by refusing to hide his temper or temper his impatience; no one can say he's not authentic.

No one can say he's not an asshole, either.

Of course, this shouldn't be surprising from the party who thinks it's perfectly okay to demonize and even stalk a 12 year old and his family, if that family doesn't think like them.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The War on Terror is Over And No One Told Me?

Rep. Lamar Smith: ‘The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias.’
SMITH: Let me just say — this is going to sound radical, I don’t mean for it to be radical — but to me, the greatest threat to America is not necessarily a recession or even another terrorist attack. The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias. …

As evidenced, of course, by the fact that Rep. Smith gets to appear on a national network that blasts the right wing party line 24/7 and announce the formation of his "Media Fairness Caucus,"

Hey. remember Dick Cheney? Remember Newt Gingrich? Remember Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough, Glenn "Weepy" Beck, Michael Steele, Michelle Malkin, Lindsey Graham, Tom Tancredo, James Inhofe, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, etc. etc.? You never ever see them on TV or hear them quoted any more. Must be the liberals keeping them from speaking out. And if you give them the slightest chance they'll be on every talk show, news show, Op-ed page and blog to tell you how the liberal press is silencing them.

I ask everyone in the House Republican Caucus completely out of their fucking minds?

The Queen Is Dead

Koko Taylor dies at Age 80.
Grammy Award-winning blues legend Koko Taylor, 80, died on June 3, 2009 in her hometown of Chicago, IL, as a result of complications following her May 19 surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed.

She was one of my all-time favorites. I saw her one time in a little club Durham and I still remember it as one of the best blues shows I've ever seen. She was a tough little woman with a great big voice, singing about love, lust, pain and good times. She was one of the absolute greats.

RIP, Your Majesty.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Something Tells Me "Criminal Mastermind" Is Not The Career Path For You


Man Rapes Girlfriend, Streams It Live on the Internet:

JUNE 3--An Arizona man allegedly used a webcam to broadcast his sexual assault of an unconscious woman live on the Internet, according to police. Johnathan Hock, 20, was arrested Monday and charged with sexual assault, kidnapping, and unlawful surreptitious photo. According to the below probable cause affidavit sworn by a Phoenix Police Department detective, Hock attacked his 20-year-old girlfriend--who had passed out after a night of drinking--in her own bedroom in late-February. As first reported by the East Valley Tribune, Hock allegedly used a laptop connected to the Internet to stream the 30-minute assault, which was broadcast live via the web site. Hock posted frequently to and "is very popular on this site and is well known for his sex related behaviors," witnesses told police.

Arizona investigators learned of the video from a Louisiana woman who had viewed it online. The witness said that while Hock assaulted the woman (whom he had been dating for two weeks), he was "laughing and making comments...about how the victim would never know what was happening to her because she was 'passed out.'"

Yeah, cunning plan there, Jon.

This raises so many questions. Like how this deranged fuckwit wound up with a girlfriend in the first place. Or how someone can learn how to operate a computer, much less figure out how to stream his criminal activities to the Internet, all while being too stupid to figure out that someone was going to see it and report it. I guess it's just as well he is so made it easier to catch the little perv.

And You Thought The Bunny Movies Were Odd

The first scene of RESERVOIR DOGS. With Muppets. NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The New Theme Of Right WIng Racism

Tancredo Claims Sotomayor In "Latino KKK"
Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo: If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino -- it's a counterpart -- a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that's going to convince me and a lot of other people that it's got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is "All for the race. Nothing for the rest." What does that tell you?

Well it tells me that Tancredo's a lying sack of shit for one thing. That's not the "logo" for La Raza. The motto of the group is actually ""Strengthening America by promoting the advancement of Latino families."

It also tells me Tancredo's a hypocrite, since he was notably silent when La Raza (actually, the nation's largest civil rights organization for Latinos) endorsed George Dubbya Bush's pick for Attorney General, namely Alberto Gonzales.

But Tancredo's attitude is a shining example of the new and improved right wing racism, which holds that it's okay, sort of, to be black or Latino, so long as you don't ever act black or Latino, or ever mention being black or Latino, or ever admit that being black or Latino has an effect on your life and your world view. And for God's sake don't ever belong to any Black or Latino church or organization. Oh, and I almost forgot: don't ever have the effrontery to ask that your name be pronounced correctly. Then it's YOU who's the "real racist."

As it turns out, however, someone's actually run some numbers on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's opinions, and, as usual, the facts have a well-known liberal bias:

Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases while on the court of appeals.

Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had ccurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent’s point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.

I'll put those numbers up against one offhand, out of context quote any day.

But, you know, don't let the facts get in the way. You've got a base to placate here, even if it drives a bigger wedge between the Republican party and Latinos, not to mention women. I mean, when you automatically assume a Latino woman is an "affirmative action" pick on the day she's nominated, I don't see how you're going to gain much ground calling anyone else racist.

Enjoy that minority status, boys. Looks like you're fixin' to hang onto it a while.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Next Epidemic: A Primer

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Today, friends, I'm here to tell you about a disease that's affecting people every day. It may even be happening to someone you know and love.

I'm talking about Spasmodic Wingnut Outrage Syndrome, or SWORS.

SWORS is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes impairment of higher brain function in some American conservatives. Sufferers from SWORS experience a near-total loss of any sense of proportion and become prone to manic outbursts of indignation over
trivial events.

For example, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden recently dropped into a Washington burger joint and ordered lunch. Obama ordered his burger with, and I quote, "spicy mustard, Dijon mustard, something like that."

Dijon mustard, it should be noted, is a common item which one can find at the local Walmart. But to someone in the grip of SWORS, even condiments are omens of dark portent. A virulent outbreak ensued when Sean Hannity (who spreads SWORS in much the same way a tick carries Lyme disease) began raving on his show against "President Poupon."

Others were immediately infected, dubbed the visit "Dijon-gate," and demanded to know why MSNBC was "covering up" the president's choice of allegedly elitist mustard. (As a side note, it is not currently known why Democratic politicians' dietary choices are most likely to bring on an attack of SWORS. More research into this is needed.)

Occasionally, long-term sufferers from SWORS begin talking in a sort of private language, a code only they and other people with the disease understand. If a conservative is prone to randomly dropping cryptic references to ACORN, arugula, or presidential birth certificates into political conversations that have nothing to do with these topics, they may be suffering from SWORS.

Other symptoms can include mass-forwarding of angry and poorly researched e-mails, writing incoherent letters to the editor, or hosting national television or radio talk shows, particularly on the FOX News channel.

People who have SWORS are prone to embarrassing public gaffes. Right-wing blogger Andrew "Big Hollywood" Breitbart recently wrote a moving tale regarding his own battle with SWORS. He described an incident that occurred as he was having drinks with his wife at a hotel on California's "ritzy Santa Monica shoreline."

When Breitbart observed a group of young people protesting outside the hotel, SWORS took over his brain. He assumed that what he was seeing was a protest against all things good and true and American, and that the "anti-warriors were ­trying to destroy the peaceful ­seaside vibe and our pleasant Jose Cuervo buzz." He therefore proceeded to rush to a nearby balcony, where an American flag waved. "Positioned next to Old Glory," he writes, "I countered the young punk and reached out my right arm ­directing my middle finger in his direction."

Unfortunately, as Breitbart later discovered when his seizure wore off, the protest was against the enslavement and use of children as soldiers in Uganda and the Congo. To Breitbart's credit, he's actually against those things. And, he admits, he was "a jerk."

Don't beat yourself up, Andrew. You just can't help yourself. But admitting you have a problem is the first step in finding the cure.

So what can we do to stop the spread of this embarrassing and destructive illness? Not much, I'm afraid. People with SWORS are not only resistant to treatment; they often see anyone attempting to ­diagnose the disease as part of the threatening conspiracy that forms the core of their delusion. In fact, it's a sad fact that the very description of the syndrome contained in this column may trigger an outbreak.

If you encounter someone in the throes of a SWORS attack, under no circumstances should you attempt to reason with them. Since irrational outbursts of anger and disjointed rants are the primary symptoms of the disease, injury or extreme boredom may occur. Best just to change the subject.

Fortunately, sufferers are only really dangerous when they hold or are seeking political power. The only thing to do is watch them carefully, try to keep them isolated, and hope someday there may be a cure.

Maybe we should have a telethon.