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The Arizona Shooter, Jared Loughner, has YouTube channel?

January 8th, 2011 • Politics, VideoComments Off

You probably have heard about the unfortunate shooting that took place in Tuscon, Arizona today. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a democrat, was the target. The shooter is now in custody and his name is Jared Loughner. So apparently this guy has a YouTube channel and apparently this is his video.

Be it true, I’m not surprised at his fear.

Beyonce and Lady Gaga Run American Culture into the Ground

November 17th, 2009 • Pop Culture, Television, Video36 Comments »

So okay. Here is the new video for “Video Phone” by Beyonce and Lady Caca. Brace yourself…

We have two ongoing wars. We have our first black president and subsequent racial tensions. We have an economic mess. We have health care debates. We have American soldiers shooting each other in Texas. All this crazy change is in the air and the best these two idiots can offer our country is a song about taking pictures with a cell phone? Where is your sense of purpose?

Oh I know. Say it again. “We don’t care about society. We just want to have FUN!” Just dance, right? And this is the exact thing that leads to apathetic, disillusioned and isolated zombies. Focus on the jiggly girls and make sure you have your own camera phone so you can film your awesome friends getting coked up and drunk while they dance to this song, themselves.

So much can be done with the power of music. Prolific messages, set to creative music, can permeate minds enough to instill truly evolutionary and revolutionary thought. This, however, is neither prolific nor creative. It is not evolutionary nor revolutionary. This is business as usual for record executives that snort cocaine through hundred dollar bills. It’s status quo, bred from a fear of change, and a desire for excess.

Are these girls even people at all? Beyonce has apparently adopted the same empty, soulless appearance of Rihanna. Lady Gaga, it appears, is actually Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Funny how the more they pretty her up, the uglier she really is.

People, we have to fight this crap. It’s not just the point that this “music” doesn’t contribute to positive change. It’s not even the point that this “music” doesn’t say anything at all. The problem is that this music is turning people into stupid assholes. Open your eyes and realize that pop music has sounded about the same for the last twenty years. This is but a tool used by corporate interests to keep you sexually frustrated, mentally dull, ignorant of reality and, most importantly, returning to their product.

Do the world a favor and listen to real music. There’s a lot of it out there…and it’s not on the radio or MTV.

The Difference Between You and I

October 21st, 2009 • health care, Politics, Video85 Comments »

healthcareThere are two primary sides with the loudest voices over today’s media-political landscape. On the right, you have the people fighting for the rights of the wealthy, largely against our president and against a public option in health care for fear of “more government” in our lives. On the left, you have the people fighting for the rights of the middle and lower classes, mostly with our president and for a public health care option. I could pine on and on about which side I agree with and why. Normally I would, but instead I want only to discuss the tactical differences between these two sides.

The tactics of the right have been the most prominent, primarily because said tactic has been simply to be as loud as possible. And what better way to cause people to raise their voices and make them heard (regardless of their message) than to instill in those people either anger, fear or both? And so, day after day, we have talk radio and FOX News opinion pundits preaching to their audiences just that: anger and fear. They do not give intelligent analysis to their propaganda, but intelligent analysis is not the point. The point is that the sky is falling, the government wants to kill or rob you and health care is their ticket to do so.

Coming up over the ensuing weeks, these people have arranged more of these “tea parties” that Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the rest of FOX News have been hyping up. This round is considerably more subdued, occurring high school gyms and Wal Mart parking lots among other tiny locations (a sign your movement is dying, tea baggers). At these things, misinformed Americans of all backgrounds…no…wait. At these things, misinformed Americans of a predominantly European background get together with signs depicting sloppy, victimized slogans and pictures of President Obama as Hitler. They pat one another on the back and cheer on a mixed agenda opposing any change just might be in the best interest of America.

We can’t fully blame these folks for their ignorance. They’re merely doing what the media man recommends. It’s this media man who deserves the full brunt of the blame. Again, they are utilizing anger and fear to mobilize otherwise innocent Americans against better health care, our president, our government and whatever blanket statement these pundits choose to attach to the antipathy. They are creating a mess and asking you to help. That’s the bottom line.

So what’s going on with the opposition then? Until very recently, not much. Those on the left have merely watched in disbelief and sadness. There have been comments made on more liberal news outlets, of course, but not without facts to back them up (the difference between FOX “News” and other news). Mostly, though, there has been little they could do to prevent this American erosion.

Then, last week, Keith Olbermann, host of Countdown, decided to use his platform proactively. Basically, it comes down to this: There are six senators who are on the fence regarding the public option in health care reform. With them, their votes could block a republican filibuster, allowing reform to pass with relative ease. And yet, they refuse to make up their mind due to reasons ranging from insurance lobbying to pure ignorance. As a result, Olbermann has teamed up with the National Association of Free Clinics in an attempt to positively sway those key senators and show skeptic Americans just what can be done when we work for the betterment of our society.

Basically, Olbermann has used his program to ask his viewers and other concerned Americans simply to donate any amount of money to The National Association of Free Clinics. These donations are then going to be used to set up free clinics in the most needy districts of the states under these senators. So far, he has raised several million dollars…enough to set up three free clinics so far. (Little Rock, Arkansas, New Orleans, Louisiana and Kansas City, Missouri are the first to receive them.)

Notice the difference in tactics between the sides of the debate? One sows disarray and fear while the other pushes forth pragmatism and social betterment. What else does a person need to know in order to determine which viewpoint is better for this country?

You can check out a transcript and complete video of Olbermann’s initial idea by clicking here.

You can donate to the National Association of Free Clinics by clicking here.

Capitalism: A Love Story out now!

October 1st, 2009 • Film, Politics22 Comments »

Though previously screened in a few select cities, Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story is officially released today in America. Moore is generally not one to disappoint or steer wrong. Check out the trailer here:

If you’re not familiar with Moore’s previous work, jump in anywhere…

Census 2010: There’s Nothing to Fear but the Fear of Others

September 27th, 2009 • Politics, Video56 Comments »

Census_Bureau_SealAround, if not on, September 11th, part time census worker, Bill Sparkman, was gagged, bound, killed and hung from a tree in rural southeastern Kentucky; the word “fed” scrawled across his chest. His body was discovered by local authorities on September 12th. Only recently has this atrocity been picked up by national news.

According to reports, it is speculative as to why he was killed. The area in Kentucky has a sordid past of anti-government sentiment. An abundance of marijuana fields and meth labs in the area may also have lead to a paranoid, preemptive defense from an owner of said operations.

Information is tight, if existent at all, as the investigation moves on. I, myself, work for the census and have been asked not to speak of the incident during this investigation, as not to hamper it in some way. I intend to do as they have requested, though it’s not as if I have any information to contribute on the topic, anyway. The aspects of the story I have laid out have already been broadcast on national news. What happened is what happened and I sincerely hope the person or people who did this to Mr. Sparkman are soon found out. There is a greater point raised in all this, however. The fear of the census these days, particularly found in the mindsets of republicans, is dangerous.

I’m not saying Sparkman’s death was intrinsically and certainly linked to anti-government sentiment. As mentioned above, he may have simply caught a glimpse of some crazy redneck’s meth operation and suffered the unfortunate consequences of seeing too much. However, whether or not anti-government sentiment was at the root of the killing, it was certainly a factor. Elsewise, why would the killer (or killers) brand Sparkman’s body with the word, “fed?” Obviously, his government service is something the killer(s) intended to bring attention to. Through this marking, as well as leaving the body on display, it seems that whoever did this to him was trying to make a point: “We don’t want no government up in here.” (And that’s probably how they’d say it, too.)

I don’t know if the person or persons who did this watch FOX News, or if they have cable at all. Certainly, though, FOX News, and their various commentators and political affiliates, have been hard at work instilling a fear of the 2010 census into their viewers. Such paranoid direction of animosity resulted in the shooting death of late-term abortion doctor, George Tiller, as he attended church earlier this year. Before that there was a less focused mass shooting in a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gunman, David Adkisson, was admittedly influenced by FOX News commentators and conservative pundits. Whether or not Sparkman’s killer(s) were directly influenced, themselves, by FOX News or their political allies, one thing is clear: These people are creating a dangerous environment for census employees.

What is the census? Obviously, it’s a count of a country’s population. In America, its initial use was to determine the number of delegates each state would be allowed to receive in the House of Representatives. Since then, more questions have been added in order to gather a wider range of statistical information. Such information proves useful in a variety of ways, most of which leads to funding for necessary government programs. An example given by my census crew leader was something like this: If the census finds a particularly high cancer rate in a certain community, then it can be investigated and perhaps remedied.

And yet, more than a handful of right wing wackos insist on perpetuating a dire and irresponsible fear about this useful tool. From FOX News, to Michele Bachmann, to idiots with YouTube accounts, here is but a small sample of some of the fear mongering revolving around the 2010 census:

Aside from that nonsense, these same people are creating a ton of additional myths and lies about the 2010 Census. I remember sitting in my car, filling out my census paperwork and listening to radio host Neil Boortz as he made the claim that no work for the census was currently underway in America. Really, Neil? Why were they paying me and giving me assignments then? He also harped on that immensely wide spread idea that Obama moved the Census Bureau to the Executive Branch of government, away from the Department of Commerce. Again, my name badge, as well as my hand held map system, paperwork and training materials never mentioned any other government body than the Department of Commerce. As hardcore as the census is about keeping their materials up to date, this certainly would be a huge error to miss. That night, I sent Boortz a very professional, well versed and clear letter about the misinformation he was spreading. As I listened through subsequent days and weeks, he never issued a correction, let alone an apology for spreading his paranoia.

None of the questions asked by the census are as intrusive as these nutjobs would have you believe. Michele Bachmann seems to be largely concerned that the census asks for a phone number. First of all, the purpose of this is to prevent mistakes. Sometimes checkers will call and confirm that the visiting census taker actually did his or her job. The phone numbers may also be used simply to obtain additional information or clear up any uncertainties from the interview. However, isn’t it kind of dumb to worry about a government entity asking for your phone number? First of all, higher government powers probably already have it. Secondly, if they don’t have it, they can probably look it up in the Yellow Pages. Yet still, if it’s unlisted there, and they didn’t have it after all, then I suppose simply changing your phone number should put your worries to rest. Right?

The census also takes confidentiality very very seriously. Misplacing anyone’s private information is a firing offense in the census. Making such an error also leads to the assembly of a large, swift team with a goal of sweeping in and finding the misplaced information. A confidentiality notice is given to every person spoken to. Also, though statistical information takes commonplace, individual information is sealed away from the reach of any private or government body for 72 years before it can be retrieved. It was made clear to us in our training that it is illegal for the census to use any information provided for anything other than statistical information (except in the case of reporting child abuse, which we are required to do immediately if we become knowledgeable of its presence). It’s like this: If you robbed a bank, and told the census about it, they would have absolutely no power or ability to turn you in or use that information against you in a court of law.

And yet the fear persists and the danger increases. Personally, I have been greeted with a gun three times while doing my job. One fellow who insisted that I did not count his address on my map voiced a concern that “when it all went down” the government would use the information to shoot lasers to his front door. Seriously. Right before we parted, he made sure to inform me that people would soon begin shooting census workers as soon as they realized what we were really doing. Do we census employees really deserve to be shot? We’re just regular people looking to help out the greater good and make a little money in a tight economy. Some of us teach, work in food service or are retired. Some of us are artists, musicians or housekeepers. We visit homes, ask innocuous questions and fill out paperwork. We’re not devious masterminds in a conspiratorial web…we are bureaucrats…kind of. We woke up in the morning, ate breakfast, and left our homes…not our secret labor camps.

It is evident that the lies and fear regarding the census are being spread around as a result of disdain for the Obama administration. Those of opposing political viewpoints are quick to turn all they can into a supposed conspiracy in hopes of diminishing Obama’s influence and ability. Their hit job on the census is no different. So if you’ve fallen victim to believing the propaganda, please keep one thing in mind before killing a census worker: That person is just like you…except with less paranoia.

David Weigel on Fresh Air

September 23rd, 2009 • Politics, Religion56 Comments »

weigelDavid Weigel sat down with Terry Gross for almost the full hour yesterday on WHYY / NPR’s Fresh Air. This is the guy who covers Republicans for The Washington Independent and he knows his subject matter very, very well.

Basically, the interview was very even handed and straight forward. He spoke largely of the motivations and rationale behind republican political, religious and broadcast leaders today. Frankly, it’s frightening. It’s frightening because it goes beyond political notions of simple dissent, bleeding into true wacko Christian fundamentalism and an increasingly not-so-fringe desire to dismantle the entire American system to “save it from itself.”

It’s a very good listen that, unfortunately, makes you wish it really was all about the money for some of these loudmouthed bozos.

Check it out here: David Weigel: The Remaking of the Right

Public Schools: Obama is Iffy, but McDonalds is Awesome!

September 20th, 2009 • Education, Politics7 Comments »

evil-mcdonaldsRemember a few weeks ago when the more paranoid among we Americans were living in dire fear regarding President Obama’s speech to the school children of the world? They were afraid he was going to mass hypnotize our kids and convince them to do something socialist…like joining Americorps, or giving a dollar to a homeless man. In the end, of course, the President’s message was simply that of inspirational basics. Stay in school…work hard…take your vitamins…whatever.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights…with some NASCAR people to kick it off, ironically.

All that freaking out over this? Okay. Whatever. We’ve come to expect it from the rightwing clowns, but we’ll get into a deeper discussion of clowns later.

My girlfriend’s son from a previous marriage is in first grade. His class did not watch the speech on the day it aired. Instead, the school presumably wanted to check it out first and make sure it was kosher. A few days later, they decided to show it to the classes, but not without a permission slip, signed by each child’s parents. Ridiculous, I know. And indeed, appalling, as my my girlfriend noted across the top of the release.

On the day of the viewing, some of the children had to leave the room. Let me say that again. Because of their parents’ right wing paranoia, several first graders were not permitted to sit in the same room as a television which showed the President of the United States speaking about the importance of being a good person. (And I wonder how many of these same children are familiar with Family Guy or Halo.) Okay. Whatever. People are stupid. We’ve already seen this at the teaparties, 9/12 protest and FOX News. What mattered is that my girlfriend’s son saw it and he was inspired.

Flash forward.

A few days later, he comes home from school hyped on the idea that he wants to sell coupon books. Of course, the reason he wants to sell coupon books is because the company that put the coupon books together came to his school, held an assembly and gave a pep talk about them.

These coupon books are full of “great deals” from a thick stack of corporate entities. They are ten dollars apiece and the more the children sell, the bigger the prizes they get. Apparently, the greatest prize, if they sell 100 of the coupon books, is a free trip to the zoo. So one hundred coupon books at ten dollars apiece basically equates to a $1000 trip to the zoo. So that’s $750 that apparently goes back to the school, leaving about $10 to cover the trip to the zoo and about $240 in the pockets of the coupon publishers. I guess it’s a lesson in capitalism.

My girlfriend’s son noted that as the coupon book people were giving their speech and announcing the “prizes,” the children of the school were cheering at every open moment. He found it particularly amusing that they cheered for the prize of a free dinner at McDonalds. He’s not very big on McDonalds, but even if he was, it’s still a lame reward for generating money for adults.

Okay. Here’s the deal. We try not to disallow him from doing anything that interests him. For better or for worse, he does want to try to flip a few coupon books and we have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is this:

Why did the students need a permission slip to see a self empowerment speech by the President of the United States of America, but no such permission was needed for a sales pitch from a corporate spokesperson? Why is it controversial for President Obama to talk to our children about working hard, but no mind is paid whatsoever to some random school administrator trying to win over our children with free junk food? Isn’t that almost on par with a stranger offering them candy?

This is highly reflective of the backwards priorities of this country right now, and particularly the Southeastern United States where I live. People who are supposed to be adults are teaching children to hate and fear our government, but to respect and love corporations, or at least the consumable products that these corporations are killing us with. These same so-called adults are then turning around and speaking out against health care reform. Effectively, this means they are simultaneously encouraging poor health in our children while fighting against their ability to receive quality care for that poor health.

Come on, America. Are we really that blindingly ignorant, or are we just that stubborn? Either way, it’s terrible parenting.

The Subconscious Worship of the Wealthy

September 15th, 2009 • Television38 Comments »

monopoly-manEveryone’s sick of the excessively wealthy in America these days, right? With their huge corporate bonuses and stockpiles of cocaine, we working class folks can see right through their evils, can’t we? We know that their greed is the primary thing that causes division and strife in this country, don’t we? And if we ever won the lottery, we would never ever ever be like them, right?

Think again. Better yet, think at all. This time, with the television on. Have you paid any real attention to the visual sleeping pills that glow from inside that window? The one that beams directly into your own windows, neutralizing your soul? What’cha been watching?

How about American Idol? What’s that show about? Three millionaires who sit around and criticize others for their abilities (or lack thereof) to sing karaoke pop songs? Sounds terrible. Too bad the rest of America is too smitten to agree. And guess what! It is terrible, from its surface to its core.

Johnny America just wants to be famous. He just wants to sit pretty like Simon or Paula or Randy or Ellen or whoever. So he picks out his favorite, unoriginal, licensing terms approved, top 40 moneymaker, and stands naked before his millionaire idols. He sings his heart out – just like they do in the movies. His idols then crush his dreams or send him up the pyramid with the false hope that one day he, too, may be a golden idol. Schoolgirls and their homeroom teachers go wild. Nevermind that really good band playing really innovative music at the art gallery downtown…the real stuff is right there on your tube. Millionaires making millions off the backs of the naive. As real as insurance companies doing the same.

Switch over to Househunters now. I don’t know if it’s really called that, but I’m sure there is one that is. And who are these assholes? It’s Bob and Cindy! He’s a marketing consultant. She’s a pharmaceutical rep. Together, they are on a mission to find a new place to live – in Belize! Don’t worry though. They plan to strictly adhere to their budget – of three million dollars.

This is a life most of us can only dream of and, indeed, we do. We want Bob and Cindy to make a good choice. A beautiful choice. Nevermind the Mayans that were massacred by rich Europeans so that Bob and Cindy could have their lavish property. After all, that was a long time ago and all the blood has since soaked deep into the earth. What’s important now is that Bob just isn’t sure about the size of the pool and hence they may end up having to go for the house that’s a little bit above their budget.

I haven’t even touched on reality television, where the protagonist marries into the millions, for the millions. Nor have I taken aim at the vast cesspool that is MTV, where corporate CEOs fund the culturally regressive programming their spoiled children model themselves after.

Why do we poison ourselves with this? All over America and much of the world, night after night, we allow big money to tell us what is cool. We allow big money to put their messages directly into our bodies. We give them the viewership they need to charge a higher rate for advertising, to sell us more crap we don’t need, but which makes them more money. And why? Because “nothing else is on?” Because we can’t pull ourselves away long enough to build something, or design something or write a letter?

Everywhere, we play right into the hands of the wealthy. Cursing them while we work, before coming home and meditating on their messages until the day is done.

I do not intend to say that all television is terrible…but most is. In any case, the worst of it has the greatest control on the population. It may be hard to accept, but no matter how much we damn our own circumstances, we’re only victimizing ourselves until we find the power to reject the televised pornography of money that is beamed into our homes night after night.

I know, though. It’s almost impossible to turn away. Just like a car accident…which also has tendency to slow down it’s viewers.

9-12 Protesters: This Has Got to be a Joke

September 12th, 2009 • Politics, Video100 Comments »

I’m beginning this blog on September 12, 2009 – the eve of the 9-12 rally on the mall in Washington DC. This is in the vein of those anti-government “teaparties” that have been popping up with the support and coordination of FOX News and FreedomWorks, Dick Armey’s lobbying outfit. The attendees tend to believe today’s rally, as well as the other tea parties, are simply a grassroots effort made by “true patriots” coming together. It’s so strange that they believe that because they probably wouldn’t be there if they didn’t watch FOX News, and yet the FOX pushing and promotion of these events is unrelenting. So I guess we can just chalk it up to the obvious: They believe whatever they tell themselves to believe, despite evidence against it.

Okay. So what are these people so angry about? We just went through eight years of the Bush regime, spending this country into oblivion so that their corporate buddies could become billionaires. Where were these protesters then?

Oh wait. That’s right. George Bush was a white dude. I guess they just can’t identify with Obama because, well…check out this video:

Can you spot the black guy? (Hint: No. There isn’t one.)

And doesn’t that look like a LOT OF FUN? Sure! They can all be themselves since they are around their own kind. Wanna throw the “N” word around a little? Go ahead. No one’s gonna care. They’ll probably giggle a little.

I’d like to make it known, though, that I am a white guy, myself. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some minority fellow with a chip on his shoulder. Watching the video, though, it’s pretty difficult not to call a spade a spade. But let’s leave race aside. Maybe a few of these overprivileged and/or overignorant folks really do think dumping money into the Middle East makes more sense than dumping money back into America. Maybe race is just a sidebar to their true anger.

But again, where is their true anger based? (Hint: Wherever Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity tell them to base it.)

It seems that the primary issue with these people is about spending. They are absolutely outraged that Obama wants to give stimulus money to each of our states, and also to healthcare reform. Since that’s money that ends up going directly into the needs of the taxpayers, themselves, I’d have to liken this angry teabagging to biting the hand that feeds them.

So we have these “common people,” so sucked into the FOX News spin cycle, and so faithful in its propaganda, that they come to side with corporate entities they know nothing about. Corporations that prey on them. Health insurance companies being the most prominent offenders as of late. It’s these “profit at all costs on the backs of anyone” practices that President Obama is specifically working against, while also trying to throw in a few perks regarding energy and domestic production as well. And though these teabaggers are victims of this exact system Obama is working to change, they blindly fight him tooth and nail. It’s that ignorant rebellion without cause that ruins it for the rest of us.

Okay. Taxation. Where has this supposed increase in taxes shown up? There is no more being taken out of my paycheck then there was in 2008. Obama said from the beginning and still contends today that the only taxes that will increase will be on those individuals making $250,000 or more per year. Granted, some in that bracket may find that off putting, but really, why should they? Is it not fair that they do pay more taxes as a way of giving back to the country that allowed them to earn that much money in the first place? I can also assure you that the majority of those teabaggers at the 9-12 rally are not pulling $250,000 a year. Again, they are fighting themselves.

Health care. I do not understand why anyone would oppose health care reform in America. The need is so evident it glows. Looking at the health systems of all the other industrialized democratic nations of the world, installation of a single payer system in America seems like good common sense. And yet so many for health care reform are willing to compromise by going with a public option, or even just a nonprofit option. Then come these angry, screaming, misinformed teabaggers. Even a public or nonprofit option is not good to them. This is where my blood boils. As an American, in defense of my supposed right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, am I not just as entitled to a public option as anyone else would be to a private option?

That’s the bottom line. For these people, if it’s not what benefits them, then it should not exist around them. If it’s something they choose not to experience, they then insist that no one should. Gay marriage, abortion, any religion that is not Christianity…and now nonprofit health care.

In interviews from the 9-12 rally, I’ve heard people echo the idea that government is supposed to work for the people. I agree. The difference between them and I is that I’m willing to allow government to work the people. After the past eight years, I’d have to concur that it’s time.