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I Don’t Know if This Is Ignorance or Transcendence April 16, 2010

Posted by monty in news, politics.
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Bob Cesca is one of my favorite writers, and for my money he’s doing the best job of anyone at unveiling the drooling, gibbering, psycho ward lunacy and racist dumbfuckery of the contemporary Republican party.

Cesca’s currently busy tilting, Don Quixote-style, at the Glenn Beck windmill, hell-bent on revealing him for the huckster and charlatan that he is.  I’ve long believed that Beck is engaged in a bit of quasi-Andy Kaufman performance art, and the only thing that keeps me from being completely in awe of him is the fact that so many of the people who watch him take him absolutely fucking seriously.  And that is, in a word, frightening.  Given a second word, it’s also irresponsible.  It’s one thing to spew lies with a nod and a wink, when your listeners know you’re not serious and are in on the joke. But it’s another thing entirely to do what Beck does, which is purposely deceive his fans, who choose to remain willfully ignorant, and who tune in to Beck because he gleefully pours gasoline on even their most unintelligible conspiracy theories.  Because, you know, fomenting anti-government violence and bigotry is fun.

Anyway, Cesca’s been writing some exceptional stuff about Beck recently.  Here’s a link to his most recent piece for the Huffington Post, which is, as usual, spot-on.

Bob Cesca (Huffington, Post, 4/14/10): Exposing Glenn Beck as a Dangerous Fraud, Part 2

And, for those who haven’t clicked the link on the right, here’s Cesca’s blog, which is full of goodies.


Current listening:

Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here (2010)


Intermission January 6, 2010

Posted by monty in comedy.
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Not to get into the habit of posting a video from The Daily Show on a regular basis, but on last night’s show, Jon Stewart and Aasif Manvi had a terrific conversation about the supposed persecution of Christians.  It’s a nice little follow-up to my recent columns about Brit Hume’s attempted religious conversion of Tiger Woods.  The entire video is worth a watch (hell, it’s only 4:40), but if you’re crunched for time, fast-forward to 2:35 for the key bit.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rulers, Ruling All Things January 5, 2010

Posted by monty in news, TV.
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I suppose it was only a matter of time.  Last night I posted the video of Brit Hume telling Tiger Woods – on a news show, no less – that what he needed to do was renounce his Buddhist faith and embrace Christianity.  I wasn’t alone in feeling that A) if you want to consider yourself a legitimate news outlet, your Senior Political Analyst can’t proselytize, and B) it’s ignorant and insensitive to dismiss an entire religion in front of a Fox News audience whose knowledge of Buddhism extends exactly as far as the statuary at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

But, just like clockwork, rather than admitting it wasn’t his place to give religious advice to Tiger Woods, Hume went on The O’Reilly Factor last night to complain about how he’s the one being persecuted.

I try to be patient with this kind of stuff, but it irritates me on multiple levels.  The problem that I have with Brit Hume has nothing to do with the Christian faith and everything to do with Christians.  There’s a huge difference between the two, and to continue I’m going to have to ask people to forget for a moment that Tiger Woods is a philandering douchebag.  He is, I’m aware he is, but I’ve got bigger to fish to fry than a pro golfer who can’t keep it in his pants.

It’s so pompous and sanctimonious of Hume to talk down to Tiger – and by extension, all Buddhists – and claim that in times of strife, Christ is the only way to go.  I always thought Christians were supposed to be humble, but what we see time and again is this smug superiority, this sense that they, and only they, know how life is supposed to be lived, and anyone who hasn’t drunk their particular brand of Kool-Aid is automatically inferior.  I’ll say it again: I have no problem with Christianity as a belief system.  But too often its practitioners need to mind their own damn business.

The cries of persecution honestly baffle me.  The main problem seems to be a failure to recognize that criticism is not the same thing as persecution.  I’m not saying Brit Hume can’t be a Christian, can’t think Christianity is great, can’t practice his faith, can’t talk about it publicly, and can’t try to convert oodles of people on his own time.  That would be persecution.  What I’m saying (and what others have said) is that Tiger Woods’ religious faith is none of your business, and it’s supremely inappropriate to use your position as a news correspondent to talk seriously about religious conversion.  This isn’t religious persecution.  It’s honest criticism of your journalistic ethics.

To get a better idea of what I mean, imagine, if you will, that Tiger Woods was a Christian and The Today Show‘s Al Roker was a Muslim.  What do you think would happen (especially at Fox News) if Al did the weather report and then said, “I think the only way for Tiger to overcome his marital infidelities is to read the Qu’ran and convert to Islam”?  Fox would throw a shit fit about the liberal media, Christian fundamentalists across the country would burn Al in effigy, and all those people gathered outside the windows at 30 Rock each morning would bear picket signs.  And of course, on a professional level, Al would be dead wrong.

Tiger Woods has exactly one person to answer to, and that’s his wife.  Maybe his religious faith enters into that transaction, but that’s none of our business.  I believe, as I always have, that religious faith is a personal thing.  I talk about my religious skepticism on here, but I don’t for a second believe I’m necessarily right, or that I have all the answers.  I don’t even want to convince anyone to see things my way.  Christianity would be much more palatable to me if the Brit Humes of the world started to realize that you can live your faith and you can practice your faith, but as soon as you start to impose it on others, you’re a nuisance and a pompous twat.


Current listening:

The Pogues – Just Look Them Straight in the Eye and Say … Pogue Mahone!! (2008)

Intermission January 4, 2010

Posted by monty in news.
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Any time Fox News claims it’s a legitimate news channel, just remind yourself of this video:

Back Before We Were Brittle October 21, 2009

Posted by monty in news, politics, TV.
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Whenever someone says he watches Fox News – and says it without a veneer of irony – you know exactly what you’re getting.  It’s actually one of the most revealing things someone can say.  After all, you can admit to liking a crappy movie and still have pretty good taste in cinema, on the whole.  Similarly, you can have affection for a band that you know all the hip kids would ridicule you for, and still feel safe in the knowledge that you’re not a total square.  I have a soft spot for Hugh Grant movies and Elton John, but I also know how much I love the movies of Jim Jarmusch and the music of Radiohead.

But you can pretty much only watch Fox News in one of two ways.  You watch it because you believe it to be true, or you watch it because you just have to see what batshit-crazy things they’re saying today.  Before I go any farther, let me say that I also think this is true, although to a lesser degree, of MSNBC.  I think it’s a bad idea that the news has gotten so politicized that people can safely exist in their own little echo chamber, watching the stories of the day filtered through their own little ideological prism.  Even though I’m much more hip to MSNBC’s vibe, I don’t watch that channel – ever, really – simply because I know I’m going to agree with everything that say.  And while I think that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have slightly more journalistic integrity than Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, I personally think it’s boring to hear my own beliefs parroted back at me.  Some people – Fox viewers, for instance – like that kind of thing.  I don’t.

And that’s why, funnily enough, I’m more qualified to critique Fox than I am MSNBC.  I don’t watch the latter, but I went through a period of just about a year where I watched an awful lot of the former.  Much of this has to do with the fact, and I’ve known this for years, that I’m really only happy when I’m angry about something.  I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but I’d watch Fox News every evening, through the headlines, through O’Reilly, through Hannity & Colmes, precisely because I liked to feel that anger smoldering away in my chest.  Even though I don’t turn on the channel anymore, I still watch clips of O’Reilly and Hannity and Fox’s gift to comedy, Glenn Beck, when I hear they did or said something worth getting my ire up over.

The purpose of this post isn’t really for me to carp about Fox.  It’s old news, pardon the pun, and nothing I have to say about it will be a revelation to anyone.  But I do want to share a link from the Huffington Post, titled “The Ten Most Egregious Fox News Distortions” (and yes, of course I see the hypocrisy inherent in sharing a link critical of Fox that first appeared on a lefty site like Huffington).  The Right can argue until it’s blue in the face about the “liberal media” or the “left-wing media” or “the commie pinko faggot media,” but it would take a truly brazen neocon to claim with a straight face that the network news channels do anything even remotely close to what Fox has done in these ten examples.

Save this link and share it with your misguided friends when they tell you that they watch Fox News to get “the truth.”  Bullshit.  They watch it to get the truth they want to hear.  And there’s a big difference between the two.

The Huffington Post (10/20/09): The Ten Most Egregious Fox News Distortions


Current listening:

Gemma hayes hollow of morning

Gemma Hayes – The Hollow of Morning

Current reading:


Daniel Alarcón – “Florida” (in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2005, ed. by Dave Eggers)