Category Archives: Culture Shock

As Y’all Reap …

I'm the ghost of Lee Atwater, and I approve this messageCrooks and Liars ran this yesterday, and I couldn’t let it go unnoticed.

At one of his own town halls last night, John McCain took a moment to tell his supporters that Barack Obama is not the slavering Librul Terrist monster of their racist, paranoid nightmares …

… and the crowed booed McCain for defending the enemy.

It’s utterly fucking terrifying. And the video is made even more unsettling by the fact that we can’t see the woman’s face as she reacts to McCain’s reassurances that Obama is not “an Arab” — she just sputters “he’s not? He’s not?” as though she’s collapsing inside.

Watch the clip. This is what O’Reilly and Hannity and Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing noise machine have wrought — millions of people who believe anything that fits their existing prejudices and respond with unthinking rage when those beliefs are challenged. And right up until yesterday’s refutation, McCain was riding those slurs and insinuations for everything they were worth.

I’m glad to see he’s trying to claw thing back to more reasonable ground, even if it’s an obvious attempt to restore his standing with center-right Republicans now that it’s clear the base alone can’t win the election. Or possibly he’s just rediscovered his sense of shame. (Josh Marshall has some thoughts on that at Talking Points Memo, along with more video of that town hall.)

In any case, John McCain has finally come out and said, on the record, that Barack Obama is not a secret Muslim out to destroy America from within. That should give the two of them some common ground at the next debate.

Like Dave Kovic, but Way Cuter

She's even got the robo-wave downOver at his Scanners blog, Jim Emerson puts his finger on something I’ve also noticed about Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin: Fey’s Palin is a lot more likable than the genuine article.

Sure, Palin’s winking and twinkling is artificial and rehearsed, while Fey actually is cute as a button, but that’s not it. Fey’s version of Palin is a caricature, sure, but she’s also self-aware. She knows she’s a joke, and she’s in on the gag.

Meanwhile, the real Palin is desperately trying to posture as a leader, and appear substantial, while frantically avoiding saying or doing anything that would actually be substantial and leadery.

She offers perky, packaged quotes and memorized talking points and calls it “straight talk” — because things are what we say they are nowadays, dont’cha know! — and her boosters praise her for getting through the debate without soiling herself or running offstage in tears. She’s a champ! She’s unbeatable!

Kate and I were talking about this last night, and we realized that if McCain wins next month, Fey’s got the perfect setup for the fourth season of “30 Rock”: McCain is tragically incapacitated — a blood vessel bursts while he’s cursing out his Secretary of Defense, say — and Jack Donaghy comes to Liz Lemon with the greatest challenge of her career: Step in for President Palin and actually run the country while the real one is sequestered in a skee-ball arcade.

It’s a recipe for wackiness: Signing statements with the word “blerg” in them! Pete and Frank writing the State of the Union speech! Tracy Jordan finding out about the scam, and demanding to be made ambassador to Atlantis in exchange for his silence! Jenna using her sexuality to throw the Saudis off their game during pipeline negotiations! Kenneth becoming a militant Alaskan separatist because there’s nothing to do around the office!

Who wouldn’t want to see that? It’d certainly be a lot funnier than an actual McCain-Palin presidency … and so much easier on the world, too.

Incidentally, the second season of “30 Rock” comes to DVD tomorrow, and is brilliant. Bring it home, and see if you don’t love it so much you want to take it out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Because You Can’t Spell “Palin” Without “P-A-I-N”

Chirpy chirpy cheep cheepI’m spending the week soaking in screeners for an upcoming film festival, so I haven’t had a lot of time to do anything else.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been watching clips of Katie Couric’s interview with Republican veep candidate Sarah Palin as CBS dribbles them out online. In the latest, Couric asks an especially easy questionwhat newspapers do you read? — and the response is, well, the opposite of an answer.

Seriously. Watch the clip. It’s terrifying.

Turns out Sarah Palin is Bush Lite — someone who’s coasted on charm and bullshit long enough in her tiny kingdom that she’s come to believe these feeble tactics are actually personal strengths in the larger world. But Dubya had his father’s people protecting him at every turn; Palin’s backers are a feeble shadow of the Republican machine of 2000, though I suspect even Karl Rove himself would have trouble spinning her inept public appearances.

Anyway, the point I’m making here is that as busy as I might be this week, I’m clearing my schedule for tomorrow night’s vice-presidential debate. I mean, Joe Biden may be a little on the wacky side, but he can speak in complete sentences and use his words to convey complex thoughts. I can’t wait to see what happens when he goes up against the chirpy twerp.

Really, the only downside of Palin’s spectacular flameout is that Tina Fey won’t have the opportunity to continue with her note-perfect impersonation come November. But she’s cool with that.

Because a President Can Only Do One Thing At a Time

We'll all feel his pain, soon enoughI’ve been trying to avoid the serious political commentary lately, just because there’s so much other stuff to talk about — oh, and because Sarah Palin is enough of a joke already — but I just couldn’t pass this up:

In light of America’s whole being-on-fire financially thing, John McCain’s people are calling for a timeout on the campaign. That debate he was going to have with Barack Obama tomorrow night? He’d like to postpone it.

And the VP debate, in which Joe Biden will presumably reveal to the American people that Sarah Palin is the most woefully unqualified candidate for executive office since … um … ever? Maybe we should take a moment and think about putting that off, too.

Oh, but it’s okay — the first presidential debate can take the place of the VP debate, which will buy Palin a little more time to memorize those empty rah-rah talking points she spouts whenever anyone asks her a question that requires specifics.

Admittedly, it’s a time-honored tradition.

But it’s time for a change.

Well, Frak Me

On November 4th, Vote StarbuckThis is either the sharpest bit of stealth marketing in weeks, or “Battlestar Galactica” is finally making the shift from cult hit to mainstream entertainment: The Associated Press has a lengthy piece on the infiltration of the Galactican obscenity “frak” into the English language.

It’s a really great article; Chris Talbott has done his (or her) research and gone much deeper than necessary, even if he (or she) did garble the spelling of Glen A. Larson’s other invented curse, “felgercarb“. I’m a little disappointed that one didn’t make it into the new show — just imagine Michael Hogan growling that in the middle of a particularly dramatic scene after stubbing his toe, or something.

And speaking of Hogan, I take no credit for the brilliant juxtaposition above; that’s the work of Jess over at Apropos of Something. Click the image to get the full effect.


Vetted by the finestInteresting.

And encouraging. Sounds like Obama’s picked someone who can throw a few punches, which is bound to come in handy in an election cycle quickly defining itself as little more than open race-baiting and charges of elitism that turn out to be, well, misapplied.

You know, I really hope the rumors about a McCain-Lieberman ticket pan out — Biden will take that sanctimonious douchebag apart at the veep debate.

Aaah! Boobies!

And now 'wardrobe malfunction' is in the dictionaryAmerica has a way of exploding in disproportionate horror at momentary offenses. Or at least certain Americans do — the sort who make a lot of money by pretending to be cultural shepherds, and spend a lot of time bleating in terror at the possibility of a flash of nudity on national television. Won’t someone think of the childrens?

Seriously, when has the U.S. looked dumber and more reactionary on the world stage than the January, 2004 kerfuffle over the appearance of Janet Jackson’s boobie shield, or whatever the hell that thing was, during the Super Bowl halftime show?

The country went bananas — or, at least, those portions of the country claiming moral superiority and the guardianship thereof, meaning that a bunch of Republicans had a new stick with which to beat them decadent, coke-snorting child molesters in Hollyweird, and pander to their terrified constituents with stories of how those godless liberal bastards were deliberately staging these provocative little accidents to erode America’s soul one boobie at a time, or something.

Eventually, the Federal Communications Commission slapped CBS with a $550,000 fine for broadcasting the scandalous non-flash, Americans had closure on their long national nightmare, and George W. Bush was re-elected later that fall. Way to go, moral guardians.

Anyhow, long story short: It seems that certain Americans have come to their senses. Not the moral guardians — they’ve long since bargained those away in exchange for their soapboxes — but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which just threw out the FCC’s fine, saying the commission “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in response to what was (a) an accident for which CBS could not have planned and (b) not really all that offensive, in the final analysis.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not arguing that CBS is a poor little Mom and Pop operation that deserves to be protected from the big, bad FCC. But l’affair boobie shield was an empty scandal kept alive so a few people could score some cheap political points, and it’s gratifying to see that four years later we’ve come a little bit further down the road to being grown-ups.

I expect John McCain and Barack Obama will be making statements about this later today. After all, wasn’t Super Bowl XXXVIII the darkest day in the history of American culture? I seem to remember that being the collective wisdom at one point.