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Mar
25

Your daily apocalypse

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Rush Limbaugh’s popularity during the Clinton administration prompted some restaurants to create “Rush Rooms” where you could listen to el Rushbo piped in over speakers while you washed down your burger and onion rings with iced tea. Two Minutes Hate that lasted for hours. A daily dose of outrage to get the juices flowing.

In an interview at Salon, historian Rick Perlstein looks at how other conservative hucksters such as Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck peddle outrage and miracle cures. The practice has its roots in evangelical culture and in Richard Viguerie’s mass marketing:

What he ended up mastering was a rhetorical style which is very familiar to viewers of Fox News, in which the apocalypse is right around the corner, and his innovation was to intimate that you could help stop it with a, y’know, $5, $10, $50 donation. His business model, as was very soon discovered, was taking 95 percent to sometimes even more than 100 percent of the take for his own purposes and profit and giving in only a minuscule percentage of the proceeds to the ostensible beneficiary, whether it was a fund that supposedly helped FBI officers injured in the line of duty or sending Bibles to Africa or supporting something like the National Conservative Political Action Committee.

Perlstein responds to Huckabee’s diabetes ad:

Let’s not forget 1988, when Pat Robertson won the New Hampshire primary. A lot of this stuff comes from Evangelical culture, which is a culture of witness, so the hawking of miracles is absolutely baked into the cake. Someone like Pat Robertson was followed by a figure like Pat Buchanan or any number of candidates in the last two or three Republican primary seasons, who make a lot of noise by doing decently well in early polls but then fade out once the seasoned pros take over and the money becomes preeminent.

If this historical pattern holds, Mike Huckabee, if he does well early, will flame out before the second or third inning but I see no impediment whatsoever for him to be disqualified by the conservative rank-and-file, simply because this stuff has been going on without much complaint since the 1970s. This is part of the hustle, right? If Huckabee can claim to have been victimized because of his activities, he can always claim it’s the conspiracy of the liberal elites… and then it’s off to the races.

Like Flannery O’Connor’s bible salesman, except selling reverse mortgages and diet pills via multilevel marketing.

“Aren’t you,” she murmured, “aren’t you good country people?”

What’s infuriating is that now everybody’s getting in on the daily apocalypse style. This DCCC appeal came in from Nancy Pelosi last night:

Thomas — I don’t have much time:

The House is voting TOMORROW on the Republican budget.

Paul Ryan, blah, blah, blah …

That’s why I’m coming to you. We need to raise $80,000 more before the vote tomorrow to show our Democratic strength.

Are you ready to fight back with me before it’s too late?

Hang on tight to your wooden legs.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Media, National
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Mar
13

Behold, the relativist wasteland

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A number of people have taken shots at David Brooks this week for his essential cluelessness about people who are not David Brooks. Over at Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi calls Brooks’ “The Cost of Relativism” his “10 thousandth odious article about how rich people are better parents than the poor.” Taibbi writes:

Brooks then goes on to relate some of the horrific case studies from the book – more on those in a moment – before coming to his inevitable conclusion, which is that poor people need to get off the couch, stop giving in to every self-indulgent whim, and discipline their wild offspring before they end up leaving their own illegitimate babies on our lawns:

Next it will require holding people responsible. People born into the most chaotic situations can still be asked the same questions: Are you living for short-term pleasure or long-term good? Are you living for yourself or for your children? Do you have the freedom of self-control or are you in bondage to your desires?

Yes, improving your station is a simple matter self-discipline and of pulling yourself up by those bootstraps, if you have the boots. Can’t find a job? Pull together some investors and start your own business. Personal responsibility … yadda, yadda, yadda … achieve the American Dream.

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Feb
26

No Truth In Pravda Either

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The Daily Show
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At Crooks and Liars, Heather writes:

I was wondering when Jon Stewart was finally going to get around to responding to Megyn Kelly’s comments following the news that he was going to be leaving The Daily Show that he “hasn’t been a force for good” and that “in his later years he got a little nasty,” and Rich Lowry whining that Stewart was mean to those poor picked on, downtrodden conservatives.

And Fox News, media organ for the right? Well, one could say about Fox News,

As the names of the main Communist newspaper and the main Soviet newspaper, Pravda and Izvestia, meant “the truth” and “the news” respectively, a popular Russian saying was “v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy” (In the Truth there is no news, and in [Fox News] there is no truth).

Perhaps Stewart’s critiques sound false to them because they’ve lost the ability to hear themselves. So says Politifact:

Fox News promotes the most false information among TV news outlets, according to a fact-checking watchdog – and the problem is only getting worse.

Politifact regularly examines claims made on air by pundits, hosts, or paid contributors and rates those statements by accuracy.

The latest scorecard showed more than 60 percent of the claims made on Fox News were mostly false or worse – and half of all claims were either demonstrably false or outright lies.

The result of a “chronically angry war for ideological purity,” as Stewart said.

Categories : Media, Popular Culture
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Feb
25

A flash of sanity in a weary world

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Willy Wonka: [touching the gobstopper Charlie has just set on his desk] So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Liberals may not be ready to hand her the chocolate factory over it, but on MSNBC’s All In last night, Chris Hayes literally applauded Laura Ingraham for speaking sanity to Fox & Friends star power. Mediaite as the clips:

“I don’t think we should jump every time the freaks with the ACE bandages around their faces put out videos,” Ingraham told the Fox hosts on Tuesday, adding that the U.S. should not be reacting “emotionally” to threats from ISIS, Al-Shabab or other terrorist groups.

“Amen, sister,” Hayes replied, literally applauding Ingraham’s commentary. The host said he was “incredibly gratified” to see Ingraham make the same arguments he’s been making on his show all along, that “everyone needs to keep calm and stay rational in the face of what is obvious emotional manipulation” through use of propaganda.

The ability of those terrorists groups to “murder people they have captured and even make videos of those murders does not correlate in any meaningful way to the actual threat they pose to Americans here in the U.S.,” Hayes reminded his viewers.

Ingraham’s pro-clearheadedness comments bookended her seeming to approve allowing Mall of America shoppers to come packing AR-15s. But I guess Hayes figured, these days you take your sanity where you can find it.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : International, Media
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Jan
17

Please Don’t Flog The Bloggers

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Why, how Enlightenment of them:

The case of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes has been referred to the Supreme Court by the king’s office, the BBC has learned.

Blogger Raif Badawi’s wife said the referral, made before he was flogged 50 times last Friday, gave him hope that officials would end his punishment.

A second round of lashings was postponed for medical reasons.

The punishment of Badawi, who was also fined and sentenced to 10 years in prison, caused international outcry.

Badawi established Liberal Saudi Network, a now-closed online forum that sought to encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia in 2008.

Ah! Can’t have that. Nope.

(Cross-posted from
Hullabaloo
.)

Categories : International, Media, News
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Jan
07

There’s many a slip twixt the cop and the news clip

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Writing at Wonkette, Shrill picked up on a story the other day that I missed:

Anyway, on New Year’s Eve, the New York Police Department requested the public’s help in finding a man who grabbed an MTA worker, threw her on the ground, throttled her, and then ran away with a jaunty and satisfied smirk on his face.

Being the New York subway system, surveillance cameras captured the play-by-play. Turns out the attacker was an off-duty police officer. But here’s where Shrill turns it into a man-bites-dog story:

The hilarious coda to this story is the treatment of this story in the news by the New York Daily News. Here’s the headline from the story they wrote before they knew that the culprit was a police officer:

thugs everywhere

And here’s the lede of that story:

A hulking brute grabbed a 28-year-old MTA employee up in a bear hug at a Bronx train station, shoved her onto the platform and began choking her in an unprovoked attack – then ran away smiling, authorities said Wednesday.

Here’s the story after they found out that the culprit was a police officer:

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Categories : Media, News
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Jan
03

“Over to you, welcome to the fight”

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Bill Moyers’ show may have signed off last night, but as Digby noted, he’ll continue at his website to do what he’s done for so many decades. Moyers closes out his show with a message both of apology and encouragement to the next generation:

BILL MOYERS: Mary Christina Wood reminds us that democracy, too is a public trust – a reciprocal agreement between generations to keep it in good repair and pass it along. Our country’s DNA carries an inherent promise for every citizen of an equal opportunity at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our history resonates with the hallowed idea – hallowed by blood – of government of, by, and for the people. Our great progressive struggles have been waged to make sure ordinary citizens, and not just the rich and privileged, share in the benefits of a free society. In the words of Louis Brandeis, one of the greatest of our Supreme Court justices, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Yet look at just a few recent headlines: this one from “The New York Times”: “U.S. Wealth Gap Is Widest in Decades”. From the website Alternet: “Just 40 Americans Own As Much Wealth As Half the United States.” From Slate.com: “The Great Wealth Meltdown: Middle-Class Families Are Worth Less Today Than in 1969.” And from “The Economist”: “Wealth without workers, workers without wealth,” pointing to the reality that “for all but an elite few, work no longer guarantees a rising income.”

So as the next generation steps forward, I am tempted to think that the only thing my generation can say to them is: we’re sorry. Sorry for the mess you’re inheriting. Sorry we broke the trust. But I know in my heart that’s not what they ask or expect. So instead I recommend to them the example of Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, another of my heroes from the past. He battled the excesses of the first Gilded Age a century ago so boldly and proudly that he went down in history as “Fighting Bob.” He told us, “…democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle.” I keep asking myself, what if that struggle is the palpable reality without which this world would be truly barren?

So to this new generation I say: over to you, welcome to the fight.

Speaking of Wisconsin, I guess my 80-something aunt in Milwaukee (who still canvasses) won’t have reason to call me on Saturdays anymore to ask if I caught Moyers’ show. Over to me.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Nov
14

Hannity will have a conniption

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That right-wing bugaboo, political correctness, can actually enhance creativity, says Dr. Jack Goncalo, associate professor of organizational behaviors at Cornell. He took hundreds of test subjects, broke them into small groups, and asked some at random to be “politically correct” or “polite.”

All were then asked to spend 10 minutes brainstorming business ideas. Creativity was measured by counting the number of ideas generated and by coding them for novelty.

Contrary to the widely held notion that being politically correct has a generally stifling effect, the results showed that a politically correct norm actually boosted the creative output of mixed-sex groups …

Although political correctness has often been associated with lowered expectations and a censor of behavior, the new culture actually provides a foundation upon which demographically heterogeneous work groups can freely exchange creative ideas, Goncalo said.

Setting boundaries and norms for behavior reduces uncertainty and made men and women more comfortable sharing creative ideas. The effects were reversed in same-sex groups where behavioral expectations are presumably more defined. The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman writes that PC norms apply peer pressure to prevent people from behaving badly who otherwise might:

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Nov
11

Cutting in on Rush’s action

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Somebody’s got his declining ratings in a wad. Rush Limbaugh is threatening to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

The legal threat is the result of DCCC fundraising appeals sent out in the wake of Limbaugh’s on-air comments about a new policy at Ohio State University that instructs students to get verbal consent before having sex. The DCCC highlighted one particular sentence from his commentary — “How many of you guys .?.?. have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?” — saying it was tantamount to condoning sexual assault.

Limbaugh says the DCCC took the comment out of context and twisted it in its fundraising appeals. “We love opinions, but this crossed a very bright line,” said Limbaugh’s spokesman, Brian Glicklich, in an interview. “They lied about his words. They quoted something specific and out of context, and it is a lie.”

Uh, that’s Limbaugh’s business model, pal. Is Rush suing for defamation or patent infringement?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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