Fortunate Son Burn: To Fox News An Anti-War Song Is Anti-Military

In a never ending quest to find artificially negative themes with which to provoke their mentally unstable viewers into irrational panics, Fox News latched onto the broadcast of an HBO tribute to veterans on Veterans Day. The atrocity that caught their attention was a performance by Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and Zac Brown, of the classic 1960’s song “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And it was literally, according to Fox, an outrage.

Fox News Fortunate Son

What ruffled Fox’s chickenhawk feathers was their addled interpretation of the song as anti-military. And what made the song anti-military was that it was allegedly anti-war. Fox pounded that view into their audience all day with segments on Fox & Friends, where co-host Anna Kooiman said it was “a slap in the face” to veterans; on Outnumbered, where it was characterized as an “outrage;” and on The Five, where co-host Eric Bolling called the choice of material “a mistake.”

First of all, the song is not anti-war. It is anti-elitist privileged classes that exempt themselves from the burdens of society. It explicitly criticizes the rich and powerful who vote themselves tax cuts and shield their kids from the dirty business of defending the freedom that they exploit. The song’s title should make it obvious enough that the hacks on Fox wouldn’t need to struggle to figure it out.

Secondly, even if the song were anti-war, that does not translate to anti-military in any sane person’s mind. Some of the most anti-war people you will ever meet are soldiers and veterans. This makes perfect sense because they are the ones most affected by war. When military conflicts are averted they remain safe and their families are spared the anxiety of separation and potential tragedy.

For Fox to contrive an anti-military spin to the concept of anti-war requires them to adopt the view that in order to be pro-military you must be pro-war. That is ludicrous on its face. In fact, the opposite is true. Anyone who is truly pro-military wants every possible measure taken to avoid sending America’s sons and daughters into battle. Once in battle, support for the military is expressed by wishes for the safe completion of their mission and return home. No supporter of the military also supports an enduring war.

Nevertheless, the confused anti-military viewpoint of the talking head set is precisely what Fox News wants to project to their dimwitted audience. They obviously have no grasp of the real nature of patriotism, and they are even worse when they pretend to be rock music critics.

For your entertainment pleasure, here is the awesome version of Fortunate Son performed at the Concert for Valor:

D’Souza’s America: Conservative Crybaby Whines About Oscar Snub

Finally, Oscar Sunday is right around the corner. And what better time for a right-wing loser to whine to the press about how the Academy failed to recognize his brilliance and shower him with undeserved praise?

Dinesh D’Souza turned his critically reviled book of falsehoods about President Obama into a crockumentary called “2016: Obama’s America.” While the film found an audience of gullible Teabaggers anxious to consume anything derogatory about the President, more sensible viewers found the film to be riddled with lies and fabricated mythology.

Not surprisingly, a so-called documentary that failed to adhere to the most basic tenets of truth, also failed to garner much support for recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Thinly veiled propaganda screeds that have no factual basis rarely win Oscars.

Rather than exhibiting some measure of dignity and enjoying the financial rewards of making a film popular with conspiracy nuts, D’Souza has chosen to blast the Academy and its members as hopelessly biased for not seeing what a humongous slab of talent he is. Even worse, D’Souza slammed the filmmakers who actually did produce works of quality that earned them Oscar nominations.

D’Souza: I join most Americans in leaving them in deserved obscurity. I haven’t heard of any of them, and like most people, I haven’t seen them.

What class. And what a demonstration of intellectual integrity he shows by disparaging films he admits he has not even seen. Then again, what more should we expect from a man who was forced to resign as the head of King’s College (a Christian institution) for having an affair, which he denied even as he admitted that he was engaged to a woman who was not his wife.

Dinesh D'Souza

In the hypocritical world of sanctimonious piety peddlers, preachers embroiled in sex scandals, like Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard are forgiven. Politicians like Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, and David Vitter, who have had to explain their own adulteries and whore mongering, know that Fox News will always be there to defend them. Every conservative sinner is granted a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. Too bad they don’t have their own Oscars (yet) to award themselves statuettes for Best Smear Job by a Dishonest Hack.

R.I.P. Andy Griffith. Not Just A Face In The Crowd

Lonesome Rhodes: Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers – everybody that’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. […] They’re mine! I own ‘em! They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for ‘em.

If you haven’t seen this movie, now would be good time. An amazingly prescient take on the then-new medium of television, and one of the best screen performances of all time.

America’s Barack: Get A T-Shirt That Celebrates The Obama Recovery

America's BarackWould you like to wear your heart on your sleeve? Crass Commerce, the eShop for News Corpse, has this original design on T-Shirts and stickers. America’s Barack!

Your purchases will help to maintain this web site and it’s mission to expose right-wing bias in the media.

Our nation has been struggling to recover from the economic calamity that a conservative philosophy thrust upon us. Tax cuts for the wealthy and dangerous deregulation led directly to the Great Recession of 2008. Now we are beginning to dig our way out of that hole, and it is due to an agenda of stimulus and investment in the American middle class. We need to stay on this path and that means staying with a forward-looking administration that understands that prosperity is the byproduct of a financially healthy middle class that has money to spend in their communities.

The Constitution begins “We the People” not “We the Corporations.” (And no, corporations are not people). We are America, and America’s Barack!

Born And Bred In Brooklyn, U.S.A., They Call Me Adam Yauch But I’m M.C.A.

The Beastie Boys may be remembered best for fighting for their right to party. But they were a groundbreaking trio of rockin rappers who cared about music and the world they lived in. Even if it was a World Gone Mad.

Adam Yauch passed away today at the age of 47 after a three year battle with cancer.

R.I.P. M.C.A.

Fox News: In Touch With America – Of The 1940’s

Conservatives have been clamoring for the past three years or so that they want to “take America back.” The problem is that they want to take America back 50 years – or more. Evidence of their fixation on yesteryear was poignantly exhibited this morning on Fox and Friends when the hosts featured a segment about a fundraiser for President Obama.

Male Host: We’ve heard a lot about civility recently , and that’s why we maintain only the highest standards of civility on this program. But there’s a kind of a crazy moment at one of these Obama fundraisers. An entertainer named Cee Lo Green I believe, who must be very popular and hip because I’ve never heard of him ever before.
Female Host: It makes you long for the days of Sinatra, doesn’t it?

Cee Lo Green, of course, is a Grammy-winning artist whose novelty song “Fuck You” was a huge hit. It’s hard to grasp how anyone not living in an underground bunker waiting for Armageddon could have never heard of him. And why Frank Sinatra, a known pal of Mafia kingpins, is morally preferable to a guy who harmlessly and humorously cusses, is not readily apparent.

Nevertheless, Fox is intent on demonstrating the highest moral standards by featuring this story at the top of their Fox Nation web site, as if it were the most important news item of the day. And in their coverage they seem to have no problem with posting, uncensored, the very language that they are condemning:

“Donors at one of President Barack Obama’s fundraisers in Atlanta on Friday received at least one message loud and clear from the Obama campaign: ‘Fuck you.’ Singer Cee Lo Green, best known for his solo career and his work in the musical duo Gnarles Barkley, was entertaining guests at the $500-per-ticket event at Tyler Perry Studios when he prepared to launch into a performance of his song ‘Forget You.’

There was only one problem. Green decided, apparently at the last minute, to sing the uncensored and decidedly unpresidential version of the song — titled ‘Fuck You’ — instead.”

Note to Fox News: The song is not called “Forget You.” That was a sanitized version that Green recorded after the song unexpectedly raced up the charts. And if you’re so incensed by the use of foul language, why did you subject your hypersensitive readers to it – twice?

Thank goodness we have Fox News monitoring the moral fitness of society’s art and entertainment. We know that they can be relied upon to uphold the values that all Americans share (because we all think alike), while keeping up with contemporary culture (as long as it stops at 1950).

Mitt Romney Takes Pot Shots At Big Bird And PBS

Big BirdOne of the right’s perennial targets has been public television and programs that benefit the arts. They have relentlessly criticized these institutions and sought to deny them federal funding. They have even accused them of being socialist vehicles intent on indoctrinating America’s young. Now Mitt Romney joins the battle with a pledge to stop funding PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts (video below).

When Romney says that he wants to “stop certain programs…even some you like,” he is referring to programs that are of significant value to average Americans, but that he can live without because his quarter of a billion dollar net worth enables him to acquire whatever he wants. Romney demonstrates how pitifully out of touch he is by proposing to eliminate funding for PBS, a network that provides educational programming that is not available anywhere else, certainly not in commercial television. He is explicit in what he plans to do:

“We subsidize PBS. Look, I’m gonna stop that. I’m gonna say that PBS is gonna have to have advertisements. We’re not gonna kill Big Bird, but Big Bird’s gonna have advertisements.”

Despite his denials, killing off Big Bird is precisely what his plan would accomplish. There is a reason that commercial TV does not produce the sort of programming seen on PBS. For-profit networks have to cater to advertisers in order to stay in business. By necessity they are more concerned with generating profit than with quality programming. Take a look at tonight’s primetime schedules of the cable nets that were supposed to compete with public television:

  • Bravo: 8:00pm Top Chef: Texas; 9:00pm Top Chef: Texas; 10:00pm Top Chef: Texas
  • Discovery: 8:00pm Sons of Guns; 9:00pm Sons of Guns; 10:00pm Moonshiners
  • Learning Channel: 8:00pm Toddlers & Tiaras; 9:00pm Cheapskates; 10:00pm Toddlers & Tiaras

That’s not exactly entertainment designed to enrich America’s children. It’s a jumble of insipid reality programs that repeat ad nauseum. It’s Real Housewives, Swamp Loggers, Hoarders, and info-mercials. If Big Bird were required to rely on advertisers for funding it would not be long before Sesame Street was just another avenue on the Jersey Shore.

That’s the free market model for public broadcasting that Romney and the right advocate. It’s a model that would replace Bert and Ernie with Kim and Chloe. Is that really the example we want to set for our kids?

Leave It To Blather: A Holiday Memorial To The Media Madhouse

In honor of Independence Day I offer this reprise of a video I produced almost five years ago that embraces the naive wisdom found in the Golden Age of American television. Is this a great country or what?

Who would have thought that after 50 years the Cleaver brothers would be looked back upon as media visionaries? The insight and stark analysis preserved in this video unmistakably marks them as the intellectual peers of Minow, McLuhan, and Colbert.

The video above contains an actual clip from Leave It To Beaver. In the episode’s customary moralistic epilogue, the boys tackle the same defects in television news that Jon Stewart so elegantly skewered in his now famous Crossfire appearance.

Seeing this icon of innocence and family values humorously addressing a media problem that persists 50 years later, illustrates just how entrenched these problems are (and how easy they are to make fun of). But the fact that we’re still laughing at the same jokes is a bit disheartening. It’s not exactly an affirmation of progress.

The parade of prattling pundits that populate the closing credits are only a taste of the Blathering Class that infects our national discourse with deceit, diversion and division. And yet, people watch. Are we gluttons for punishment, addicted to conflict, or just starved for knowledge and hoping some will inadvertently reveal itself?

I don’t know. I guess I watch too much TV. Have a Happy Froth of July.

The Great Suppression: Republicans Clampdown On Art

The Republican Party likes to pretend that they are the defenders of individual freedom in America. Of course, that is a pretense that has never true. Their vocal protestations about government being “on your back” only apply to regulations aimed at corporations and taxes on the wealthy. The GOP has no problem with government leaping onto the backs of women seeking reproductive health care, or gays who want equality in marriage and military service, or kids who want to attend school without someone else’s religion forced down their souls.

In short, the GOP wants businesses to have the absolute freedom to run rampant over a population that is straight-jacketed by federal guardians of morality. And that constricting philosophy extends to the free expression of artists as well. Conservatives have long-held the view that the creative community is dangerous and subversive, and they must be silenced. They acted on those views when they blacklisted artists in the 1940’s and 1950’s. And today they are pressing hard to shut down public broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. But it doesn’t stop there.

There have been some recent incidents that ought to stir outrage among Americans who value free expression and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Public figures have been stepping on the rights of artists in an official capacity and it is repugnant and un-American.

A few years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell was scheduled to give a speech at the United Nations to make the case by the Bush administration for going to war against Iraq. Prior to the speech he had aides cover up a tapestry depicting Picasso’s painting, Guernica. Powell was not going to make an argument for war in front of such a powerful and iconic anti-war statement.

Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, held press conferences in the Justice Department in a hall where the statue “Spirit of Justice” had stood for decades. In 2002 he ordered that the statue, a female representation of justice with one bare breast exposed, be covered by a drape. It’s not clear whether he was worried more about this being embarrassing or arousing.

Earlier this year, Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, had a mural removed from the Maine Department of Labor. The mural depicted scenes of Maine’s working citizens and the history of labor in the state. Obviously it has no business taking up space in the Labor Department.

And just this week, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin removed a painting from the governor’s residence. The painting was of children from diverse backgrounds and was meant to remind the residents of that home, which belongs to the people of Wisconsin, of the impact their work has real families. Now Walker won’t have to be concerned with that unless he runs into some in person, in which case he’ll have much more to be concerned about.

The brazen insensitivity of public officials censoring messages that were meant to inspire openness and a devotion to service is appalling. These people are not only offending the artists and the citizens whose views are being represented, they are astonishingly tone-deaf to the political backlash that was easily anticipated.

Republicans can’t seem to get enough censorship. It weaves through the party from state houses to the White House. There is even a current speculative candidate for the GOP nomination for presidency in 2012 who has a low regard for free speech.

Rudy Giuliani: An exhibition of paintings is not as communicative as speech, literature or live entertainment, and the artists’ constitutional interest is thus minimal.

That was Giuliani arguing in court to ban artists from displaying their work on the streets of New York City. His argument is that, while evangelists predicting the end of the world and banjo pluckers strumming out strains of My Clementine are protected by the Constitution, artists are not. That’s all America needs now is a president who doesn’t think that art is communication or that it is protected by the Constitution. Welcome to the Dark Ages.

FLASHBACK: Pope Preaches Media Ethics

I just stumbled on this article I wrote in January 2008, while searching for something else. I am reposting it here for no good reason other than that the message from the Vatican is just so damn awesome, unexpected, and rarely told.

Who knew that the Roman Catholic Church observed something called “World Communications Day”? Well they do, and the theme for the 42nd annual observance to be held on May 4, 2008, was addressed in a speech by Pope Benedict XVI. He had some interesting things to say about the media. To begin with he recognizes the massive shadow cast by modern media conglomerates.

“Truly, there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalization, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development.”

He goes on to warn that the media’s potential for positive contributions in society can be undermined by their basest tendencies, and that they…

“…risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day. This is what happens when communication is used for ideological purposes or for the aggressive advertising of consumer products.”

He is starting to sound like a fairly radical advocate for reform. He introduces the notion of “info-ethics” that, like bio-ethics, would serve as a guide in the practice of principled journalism. But he isn’t through yet.

“We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate ‘self-promotion’ or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences. Should it not be a priority to ensure that they remain at the service of the person and of the common good…”

Well that settles it. The Pope has fallen in with the subversives who are calling for a wholesale restructuring of media’s place in society. A key goal of reformers is to insure that the media does not “end up in the hands” of manipulators and those who fail to acknowledge an obligation to the public interest. And if that’s not enough, tell me that this isn’t a slap at Fox News:

“Today, communication seems increasingly to claim not simply to represent reality, but to determine it, owing to the power and the force of suggestion that it possesses.”

Alright, maybe I’m reading a bit too much into that, but if I had presented it as a quote from Bill Moyers or Bob McChesney, it would have been entirely believable. The same would be true for the following:

“The media must avoid becoming spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, true scourges of our time. Instead, they can and must contribute to making known the truth about humanity, and defending it against those who tend to deny or destroy it.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s great to see a mainstream spiritual leader like this articulate an agenda that is so anti-materialism and pro-truth. I wonder if the faithful will get behind these ideas and pursue, with a missionary zeal, the reform of a system that demeans humanity and freedom of thought and will.

Noxious Irritation: Andrew Breitbart’s True Hollywood Horror Story

How Hollywood Drove Andrew Breitbart To The Mad Hater’s Tea Party

Andrew BreitbartAndrew Breitbart just released his new book, “Righteous Indignation,” that opens a window into his innermost impulses and ambitions. It reveals the complex circuitry of his character that succeeds in being both self-loathing and Narcissistic. Breitbart takes us on his journey from unrequited Hollywood wannabe to Tea Party overlord and along the way establishes that his book might better have been titled “Noxious Irritation.” If anything, his indignation is aimed at a community that he desperately wanted to be a part of, but which wanted nothing to do with him.

Growing up in the Tinseltown suburb of Brentwood, Breitbart developed an early obsession with show business and celebrity. He writes with a palpable glee of having had the same tennis instructor as Farrah Fawcett and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The most trivial association with stardom sent him twirling, as when his family, “once rented out our motor home to John Ritter from Three’s Company. I bragged about it in school for weeks.” But despite his glamorous aspirations, the first forty pages of the book describe a young man seething with self-hatred. And judging from his own account it was deserved. He paints a picture of himself as an ignorant, alcoholic, loser.

Contine reading

Glenn Beck vs Glee/My Chemical Romance

We already know that Glenn Beck is a delusional paranoid whose analysis of world affairs is on a par with a lobotomized baboon (no offense intended to baboons). And we have already witnessed his hallucinatory ramblings about commie-infested art planted throughout Manhattan. But now Beck has assumed the role of music critic and the results are just about what you would expect.

On his program yesterday he set off on a tirade against an episode of Glee that featured the cast performing “Sing” by My Chemical Romance. Of course, he divined a meaning to the segment that could only exist in his decayed brain. His dementia was so complete that he kept going back forth from praising the show as brilliant to condemning it as a nightmare:

“I’ve watched it in stunned horror combined with a sense of admiring awe. It is a brilliant, brilliant show. Very, very, very well done. But it is a horror show.”

With his standard demeanor reeking of shock and fear, Beck attempted to convey the danger that he saw in this evil teenage music. He displayed a few of the lyrics on screen to illustrate the horror that these demonic rockers were imparting to our innocent children:

Cleaned up corporation progress, dying in the process
Children that can talk about it, living on the railways
People moving sideways, sell it till your last days
Buy yourself the motivation, generation nothing
Nothing but a dead scene, product of a white dream.

Reading those words, I couldn’t quite figure out what Beck was so worked up about. Was it the insinuation that corporations were involved in something nefarious? Was it the ambiguous reference to a “white dream?” Beck never really explained it himself. He simply said that…

“This is propaganda and it’s an anthem. It’s an anthem saying, join us. How can you and I possibly win against that?”

Win against what? An anthem calling for what? Joining what? Beck never says. So I went to the source. I looked up the song on a video that contained all of the lyrics. I’ll report, you decide:

So far as I can tell, this is song that inspires self-esteem and the determination to stand up for yourself in the face of critics and bullies and the martinets of conformity. It’s a call for pride in individualism and a rejection of corporate mandates of style and character. It’s a tribute to the honor of outcasts and those whom society regards as defective.

No wonder Beck is afraid. The more kids listen to this message, the harder it will be for them to be manipulated by commercial evangelists like him; the harder it will be to sow doubt and insecurity; the harder it will be sell useless crap that promises to make you popular and desirable. This song is an assault on the crass consumerism that fattens Beck’s wallet and those of his sponsors.

This song’s refrain is seemingly dedicated to Glenn Beck: “Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.”

[Update] My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way responded to Beck on his blog. My favorite part:

“I’m actually shocked that no actual fact-checking was done on the lyrics. I mean Fox is a major news channel, covering factual topics in an unbiased and intelligent – oh wait-“

Well said.

What If Atlas Shrugged And No One Was There To See It?

The film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s soporific paean to malevolent ego-centrism, has finally been released to the throngs of slobbering Tea Baggers desperate for some cinematic validation. Sadly for these pathetic flim(flam) buffs, this flick hardly fills the void in their lost souls.

Atlas ShruggedThe movie is being released as “Part 1″ with the promise of two more in the unlikely event that this one turns a profit. But the circumstances of its production foretell its dreary fate. Producer John Aglialoro has stated publicly that he was forced to commence production a few days short of the expiration of his rights to the book. As a result it was hurried into production without a script or a cast. He also admitted that casting was difficult because “Talent agencies were not sending us many of their top people.” Apparently no one of note wanted to be associated with a project that had been aborted on numerous occasions. That’s why one of the most popular books of the last half century is coming to the screen with unknown TV talent in the leads. The director complained that he didn’t have the necessary time to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s almost as if the principals are preemptively making excuses for why the movie sucks so bad. And they aren’t the the only ones who think so. The reviews have been merciless:

Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the big screen. They should have waited longer.”

Kurt Loder, Reason Online: “The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.”

Peter Dubruge, Variety: “Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave.”

Washington Post: “Nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”

Some of the most damning criticism highlighted above comes from those who might otherwise be considered the film’s target audience, for instance the Wall Street Journal (Fox’s newsprint cousin) and Reason Magazine (the imprint of Randian Libertarianism).

From the start the film’s prospects were dim. It was an independent with little backing and decades of false starts. In order to preserve his rights, Aglialoro bankrolled the project with $10 million of his own money. Without a heavyweight distributor they had to be creative. So they hit up the Tea Party circuit for support.

A trailer for the film debuted at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. It was screened for such cultural tastemakers as John Boehner, and Andrew Breitbart (yes, that was sarcasm). Then they brought in the big guns: FreedomWorks, the AstroTurf Tea Party organizers sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers. Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks went to work promoting the film via his Freedom Connector social network (which has been prominently plugged by Glenn Beck), and a massive email list. It doesn’t appear to have worked.

The boxoffice for the opening weekend, timed to coincide with the federal tax filing deadline, was middling at best. The movie pulled in $1.7 million for three days from 300 screens. The take dropped nearly 50% from Friday to Sunday, which doesn’t bode well for increasing the number of screens in the weeks ahead (and the universally dreadful reviews won’t help either). The filmmakers are already touting the per-screen attendance numbers, but what they fail to acknowledge is that per-screen sales are generally higher for limited releases because more people are funneled into fewer venues.

[Update: Weekend #2 - Tea Baggers stayed away from Atlas Shrugged in droves. The movie earned half as much money as the previous weekend despite playing in 165 more theaters (+55%)]

The truth is that the Tea Party marketing has been less than spectacular (perhaps because the Tea Party doesn’t actually exist). If FreedomWorks has a couple of million people on their mailing list and all of the film’s viewers were FreedomWorkers (not likely), then 90% of their supporters ignored the call to action. The weak turnout by the Tea Party set mirrors their weakness at the annual Tax Day rallies where mere dozens bothered to show up.

The affinity for Ayn Rand by the Tea Party has always been a bit of a mystery. Sure, there is a shared hostility for government, particularly when it endeavors to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide for the general welfare. Both Rand and the TP’s despise efforts to aid society’s less fortunate, whom they believe deserve to suffer. But how do predominantly Christian, patriot, Tea Partyers justify their idolization of an anti-American, atheist who regards compassion as evil and selfishness as the pinnacle of human values?

Ironically, a key theme of the book and the film is the rejection of society by the wealthy business class who mysteriously disappear. There is a correlation to that plot point in contemporary America as we have already witnessed the disappearance of business luminaries like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernard Ebbers, and John Rigas, to name a few. It doesn’t appear that society has suffered from their absence. Yet there is another industrial titan who not only hasn’t vanished, he is masquerading across the airwaves as a presidential candidate. I’m not sure Ayn Rand would approve of this, however, the popularity of Donald Trump at Tea Parties is perfectly understandable. He is the ultimate manifestation of Randian politics: a greedy, conceited, selfish bully. But for every Tea Party supporter there are probably twenty other Americans who wish that Trump would “go Galt.”

There is another curious irony in the marketing strategy for the film. Tea Partyers and other Rand fans were furiously emailing appeals to their friends and Facebook buddies to implore them to see the movie – not because they considered it great cinema, they hadn’t seen it yet – but because strong ticket sales would somehow validate the book’s principles. In Rand’s world money equals truth. They regard the quality of the film as secondary to the need for boxoffice success in order to advance their agenda and to prove the power of the Tea Party as a consumer/political force. In other words, these Utopian free marketeers were afraid to trust the free market to decide the film’s fate.

Alas for them, it will anyway. And in the end, all anyone will remember of this drivel is that, when moviegoers were presented with a poorly planned, shoddily executed load of dreck, the audience shrugged.

This is far more entertaining:

Piss Beck

BREAKING NEWS from the delusional world of Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue:

Beck: Have you heard this reported yet? Palm Sunday. Four people from an anti-Christian group attacked two pieces of religious artwork in France.

There may be a very good reason why you haven’t heard that reported yet. If you were to go to the Guardian web site that Beck referenced you would find a story that says…

“When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.

Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an ‘anti-blasphemy’ campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon.”

You see, it was not “an anti-Christian group” that attacked the artwork, as Beck stated. It was a group of Catholic fundamentalists. So either Beck is lying or he never actually read the article. Furthermore, it is curious that Beck would condemn an attack on a piece of artwork that he surely regards as blasphemous. Is he defending “Piss Christ” as free expression? That would be an enlightened position for him to take and thus, unlikely. In any case, he still shouldn’t accuse anti-Christians of the vandalism when it was Christians who were responsible.

I wonder if Beck would still condemn the vandalism if he knew it was Christians who committed it. I also wonder if Beck will correct this “mistake” as he frequently brags that he will always put his corrections up front. We’ll see.

Flashback: Beck’s last excursion into art criticism was a hilariously demented tour of the art in Manhattan architecture that he said was loaded with subliminal socialist messages. He saw these messages everywhere and particularly in structures built by the notoriously communist Rockefeller family.

Obama Billboard: More Tea Party Hate Speech

Another billboard has popped up on another highway that once again displays the repulsive character of the Tea Party faction of the Republican establishment.

This billboard was spotted in Colorado, on the I-70B between Grand Junction and Clifton. It features four caricatures of President Obama in poses popular amongst Tea Baggers: a Muslim terrorist with explosives strapped to his chest; a pimp/thug; a Mexican/illegal alien; and a gay man. So in one image the “artist” manages to reveal himself as a racist, a religious bigot, anti-Latino, and homophobic. The picture also displays the four Obamas “gambling” with America’s treasures and principles. And to top it off it refers to Democrats as “rats.”

This revolting display was put up by a cowardly sleazeball who wishes to remain anonymous. The person responsible is obviously ashamed of his viewpoint, and is afraid to embarrass himself by being associated with it. The same is true for the artist who, while identifying himself (Paul Snover), the sniveling jerkwad attempts to pass off any connection to the work as that of his anonymous patron:

“He was wanting to represent the influences he saw the president as having in his administration”

The truth is that Snover is also a right-wing crank and Tea Bagger. He is a member of uber-rightist web communities like ResistNet and Campaign For Liberty. His Facebook page shows that he “Likes” Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally and the Our Country Deserves Better PAC who launched the Tea Party Express. The fact that Snover can’t take responsibility for the highly charged opinions in his work illustrates the spinelessness of the movement with which he associates himself.

This billboard is presently being defended online by conservatives throughout the blogosphere. They laud the artist and the anonymous patron as heroes who are merely saying what the rest of America is thinking. Of course that’s a delusion on their part. However, the next time anyone from these right-wing quarters tries to argue that they aren’t racist and hateful, send them a link to this billboard. That should shut them up. It won’t, but it should.

The Art Critics Of The American Taliban

Taliban Art CriticAt the Loveland Museum Gallery in Colorado a controversial work of art was attacked and damaged by a woman offended by the content. The work that incited Montana resident Kathleen Folden to travel to Colorado to deface the art contained a representation of Jesus who appears to be receiving oral sex. What do these extremists want? At least he wasn’t engaging in intercourse, and Christine O’Donnell would be pleased to know that he wasn’t masturbating either.

Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya created the work entitled “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals.” He described the piece as a statement about religious and political institutions, not beliefs. But that didn’t assuage Folden who was arrested after she took a crowbar to the piece, shattered the glass frame, and ripped the print, while shouting, “How can you desecrate my Lord?”

Islamic jihadis around the world could be heard celebrating Folden’s act of intolerance. Her behavior was perfectly in sync with Sharia law which forbids the depiction of God. Perhaps she was inspired the Taliban, who destroyed several historic sculptures of Buddha after they assumed power in Afghanistan.

The only people praising Folden more fervently are the American Taliban of the Christian Right, along with the censorious denizens of the Fox Nation and other rightist web bunkers and culture warriors. It’s ironic because these are the same people who are so vocally defensive about the Constitution and the freedom it provides. It is these hardcore conservatives that always pretend to be so concerned about freedom of speech and religion, and the protection of private property. They are the first to condemn the censorship of artists who portray the Islamic prophet Mohammad. They say they want smaller government, but they want it to remain big enough to suppress thought and actions that they disapprove of.

Another irony is that Folden, the art mauler, was wearing a t-shirt that reads: “My Savior is Tougher Than Nails,” with a reference to Revelations 1:18. Apparently nails are no match for her savior, but paper hanging on a wall is a mortal threat.

Folden’s ill-conceived vandalism is not going to further her cause. More likely it will make a media star of Mr. Chagoya, and enhance the demand for his work. (I wish some nutcase would slash up some of my work). Furthermore, her disgraceful intolerance serves as a case study for what we can expect if we allow that brand of fundamentalism to become entwined in our cultural and legal institutions.

So thank you, Ms. Folden, for demonstrating so clearly the sort of repressive, small mindedness our nation seeks to avoid. Thank you for being a repulsive and ignorant jerk whose stupidity will set back the efforts of other neanderthals like yourself. Thank you for helping an obscure artist gain some much needed attention. Your court-ordered compensation to the artist and the gallery will also be welcome, I’m sure. And no doubt society will benefit from your incarceration. Thanks again, goodbye, and good riddance.

Banksy Smacks BP In The Gulf

The mysterious and uber-talented artist Banksy has struck again. This time he has transformed a coin-operated kiddie ride at a Brighton Pier into a statement about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. (h/t Treehugger)

The oil can has a BP logo prominently displayed, but that doesn’t stop the kids from enjoying a day at the beach.

The Eight Most Irritating Conservative Celebrities

Art InsurgencyOrdinarily I wouldn’t go out of my way to chastise celebrities for articulating an opinion. In fact, I believe that artists were meant to express themselves and that they are capable of shaping insights in ways that enable people to relate. Contrary to the censorious right-wingers who reduce artists to court jesters whose only value is to amuse, I support the rights and obligations of all people to exercise their freedom of speech – even artists who are often the best at doing so.

However, the uber-conservative magazine Human Events posted another typical rightist paean to the “shut up and sing” nonsense practiced by society’s self-appointed defenders of virtue and approved thought. Their slate of “The Eight Most Irritating Liberal Celebrities” contains some of the brightest and most charitable people in the entertainment business, including in descending order:

  • Robert Redford
  • Matt Damon
  • Al Gore
  • Janeane Garofalo
  • Joy Behar
  • Michael Moore
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Roger Ebert

Suffice it to say that Human Events took liberties with the facts. They disparaged these fine, talented people with innuendo and misrepresented their positions and thoughts. They resorted to juvenile insults akin to calling people dumb or fat. They even mocked Ebert’s recent bout with cancer.

Since these are some of the most popular public figures of the day, America doesn’t seem to agree with the folks at Human Events. The irony of that is made clearer when you compare them their counterparts on the right. And therefore, I give you my list of…

The Eight Most Irritating Conservative Celebrities:

Ben Stein
This hybrid actor/pundit’s career was literally built on his being irritating (Bueller?). In the years following that electrifying debut, Stein escalated the breadth of his annoying personality to embrace a free market fantasy that revealed the shallowness of his reputed expertise in economics. Throw in a heap of sexism and a willingness to whore himself out as a spokesperson for disreputable credit schemes and you have a recipe for chronic distemper.

Mel Gibson
Gibson demonstrated his theatrical gifts early in his career. His roles in “The Year of Living Dangerously” and “Mad Max” proved he could tackle depth, action, and humor. Unfortunately, his filmography after that became an almost non-stop succession of vengeance, violence, and scenery chomping as a stand-in for emoting. But what’s worse was his submersion into cultist Christianity and anti-Antisemitism. Nothing is quite as irritating as overt hate-speech.

Chuck Norris
Having to watch this no-talent hack embarrass himself through his atrocious movies is bad enough. But having to endure him on the campaign trail is just cruel. His lame attempts to portray Mike Huckabee as a superhero fell as flat as the notion of himself still claiming that mantle despite his advanced age and decrepitude.

Stephen Baldwin
What can I say? Baldwin was never not irritating. He built on that reputation by starring in unreality shows and begging for donations to “restore” himself from bankruptcy. Clearly Stephen’s brothers hogged all the talent in the family and selfishly left him a miserable loser and a wretched failure. Come to think of it, he may be more pathetic than irritating.

Jon Voight
This one-hit wonder has managed to keep his name in the papers by having a very public feud with his more famous (and more talented) daughter, Angelina Jolie, and by drinking the Glenn Beck Kool-Aid by the gallon. With a prominent ignorance of history and government, Voight still mouths off about socialist conspiracies and Constitutional abuses that exist only his Beck-infected brain.

Dennis Miller
One of the saddest stories in the entertainment world is the tale of the once promising newcomer who winds up a pathetic has-been and resorts to desperately grasping for attention by any means he can muster. Even if it means becoming a toady for the likes of Bill O’Reilly and dressing up as a born again neo-con. Miller’s new persona is devoutly conservative, but he retains his penchant for indecipherably obscure references. Listening to him is like sitting through a Xenophanic allocution on Byzantine incandescence.

Ted Nugent
Approaching the nadir of irritatability is the Motor City Jackass himself. Nugent has become a cartoonish proponent of guns and animal massacre. His rants against government spending and social welfare are high decibel testimonials to selfishness and coldhearted disinterest in anyone less fortunate than he is. During the 2008 campaign Nugent brandished machine guns on stage and made obscene threats directed at Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. His behavior crossed the line from irritating to abusive, hostile, and unconscionably grotesque.

Victoria Jackson
To wit…..

Nuff said.

If the editors at Human Events want to get into this battle they first need to explain how they can criticize the left for embracing their Hollywood allies, while simultaneously latching on to their own decidedly less talented batch of elitists. They ought to think twice before provoking a “Battle of the Irritating Stars.” when they have a far more annoying roster of vexatious celebrities. And it is notable that most of their idols are rejects who have no current career opportunities save for appearances on Fox News and at Tea Parties.

[Update] Tim Graham, the Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, has posted a response to this article at NewsBusters. He took a shot at me, referring to News Corpse as a “vicious media-criticism website.” I regard this as a compliment considering the source. NewsBusters is the model for vicious media-criticism websites.

State Of Shock: An Artist Examines The Hatred In Media And Politics

Political commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have been stretching the limits of civility for years. They compare their ideological adversaries to Nazis and Stalinists and assert that they are deliberately trying to destroy America and all that is good in the world. They openly hope for the nation to fail and even for it to be attacked by Osama Bin Laden again.

Fletcher Crossman, a British artist currently residing in the U.S., has opened an exhibit at the Eye Level Gallery in Charleston, SC, that explores this hostility and projects it out to its darkest conclusions. The pieces include Glenn Beck swinging from a noose over a gloomy New York skyline and Rush Limbaugh feasting on a pile of infant corpses. Interspersed are images of the media portrayal of similarly gruesome events including the assassination of President Obama. The media is not a peripheral addendum to the exhibit, but an integral part of the unfolding message. Crossman described the role of the media in comments to a local Charleston reporter:

“I use the media to not only progress the story, but to point the role that mainstream media has in adding spin to any issue,” said Crossman. “When you begin to study [media outlets] you begin to realize how even when they change a word or two, how twisted an idea can become to the public. It’s powerful.”

These works appear to be an inspirational and prophetic look at the consequences of hateful and irresponsible rhetoric. They are uncompromising in their judgments of fear mongering demagogues and their enablers in the press. They are beautifully presented in both concept and execution. Here is some video of the exhibit:

This is the sort of work that can have a profound effect on viewers. It can stimulate conversation and provoke action. It needs to be seen by as broad an audience as possible. I congratulate the artist for his insight and talent, and I hope that he can arrange for the exhibit to tour the country and gain exposure.