Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Wishes...

...To Everyone

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Random Epiphay

What is more important?  Who Obama selects to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, or who he selects for his cabinet?  

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Definition Of Heartlessness


Everybody Hates Rick, Ctd.

The more this guy talks, the worse it gets. Obama really messed this one up.

Rick Warren, you are still a fucker.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Way Over My Head

If Mr. Rogers and Bill Nye The Science Guy ran off together to the UK and gave birth to a lovechild, this is what you would get.

Heh.  Cool.  

Everyone Hates Rick

I used to think the news that Obama had selected Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration was amusing. In one move, Obama managed to piss off the right and the left, and I thought that was rather impressive. But now I just saw the video below with an interview of Rick Warren airing tonight where he is asked about his stance on gay marriage. He answers with an incredibly homophobic and misinformed response. Then, when flat-out asked if he is homophobic, he has a huge laugh, as if to say "Preposterous!"

His nerve is appalling.

It is also nice to know that opposing someone's civil rights is okay, as long as you give them doughnuts while you do it.

Rick Warren, you are a fucker.

Why is Bill O'Reilly Such An Idiot?

Because he cannot hear anything beyond what comes out of his mouth. Case in point:

[Bill O'Reilly smackdown at 3:50]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh No

Please, someone tell me this article from The Sun newspaper in the UK is totally fake. The article supposedly announces the cast for the next Christopher Nolan Batman movie.

The big announcement? Eddie Murphy is going to play The Riddler. Now, I personally cannot see the Nutty Professor taking on the role of The Riddler, but I also remember a lot of skepticism about Heath Ledger playing The Joker, so I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But the big surprise for me? What am I praying is not true? Shia LaBeouf is slated to play Robin. Into how many movie franchises is this kid going to stick himself? Can we please make one big Hollywood movie that does not have this guy? Seriously.

Dear God, please don't let it be true.

Sounds of the Season

I love Christmas music. But there is one Christmas song that annoys the hell out of me (well, this song and then everything from Mannheim Steamroller... god they suck). It is this:

I do not know why, but it is just wayy too saccharin for me (and that is saying something).

Personally, I do not think there should be any new Christmas songs written. We have a glut of music already, and if it was not possibly sung by Bing Crosby, I do not want to hear it. Let's just please stick with what we already have.

Like this tune. This is Christmas:

You're Getting Warmer

Hey climate scientists and all you communist Al Gore-lovers out there! How do you explain stuff like this, huh??

That is snow. In Las Vegas. Hell may not be freezing over, but Sin City is.

Obviously, global warming is a bunch of silly liberal paranoia.

... Wait. What is that respected NASA scientists?

The year 2008 was the ninth warmest year since instrumental temperature measurements began in 1880, and all of the nine warmest years have occurred in the past 11 years, NASA reported on Tuesday.

The new data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and other government agencies on Tuesday adds to the evidence scientists have been observing about a warming Earth as fossil fuel burning emits heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

NASA also reported that the January to November global temperature was 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the 20th Century.

NASA also noted that the past year was cooler than any since 2000. Scientists note that global warming is a steady trend, but within it there are natural variations.

Oh. Nevermind.

Hot Hot Heat

The Yahoo! homepage has a story about the most dangerous places to live in the country when it comes to natural disasters. Here's the map they show:

I have had more than a few conversations about the dangers of living in California. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and the probability that the state will slide into the Pacific are very real dangers, people say.

But I would like to bring everyone's attention to the shade of California on that map. Light Grey.

See! California is totally safe. The reason?

"According to our results, the answer is heat," Susan Cutter and Kevin Borden of the University of South Carolina wrote in their report, which gathered data from 1970 to 2004.

"I think what most people would think, if you say what is the major cause of death and destruction, they would say hurricanes and earthquakes and flooding," Cutter said in a telephone interview. "They wouldn't say heat."

"What is noteworthy here is that over time, highly destructive, highly publicized, often-catastrophic singular events such as hurricanes and earthquakes are responsible for relatively few deaths when compared to the more frequent, less catastrophic such as heat waves and severe weather," they wrote.

The most dangerous places to live are much of the South, because of the heat risk, the hurricane coasts and the Great Plains states with their severe weather, Cutter said.

The south central United States is also a dangerous area, with floods and tornadoes.

California is relatively safe, they found.

"It illustrates the impact of better building codes in seismically prone areas because the fatalities in earthquakes have gone down from 1900 because things don't collapse on people any more," Cutter said.

"It shows that simple improvements in building codes in high-wind environments like hurricane coasts, and the effectiveness of evacuation in advance of hurricanes, has reduced the mortality from hurricanes and tropical storms," she added.

And for all of my friends and family living in the dark, dark grey state of Colorado: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tough Economic Times...

... Call for creative measures. Ladies and gentleman, I present the great Dan Gao:

Because nothing says cheap like sneaking your free refill from El Pollo Loco into an Italian restaurant.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let's Get Some Shoes

George W. Bush sat down with a report for ABC News to talk about the "shoe heard round the world" incident over the weekend in Iraq. (I should say for the record that I do not think it is nice to throw your shoes at a world leader... However... the metaphor, meaning and implications to Bush's legacy in the Middle East are too massive to ignore. We reap what we sow.) Here is a part of the interview that entirely captures why we are getting shoes thrown at us:
BUSH: Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...

RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that's right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they're going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand. And they're becoming defeated and I think history will say, one, the world was better off without Saddam, two, along with the Iraqi troops we have denied al Qaeda a safe haven because a young democracy is beginning to grow, which will be an important sign for people in the Middle East.
So what? So what? Are you kidding me?

First of all, Sadam Hussein did not pose a threat in the post-9/11 environment. Sure, he was a bad guy, but he was not a threat to the U.S. Can we all finally agree on this? Great. Moving on.

To shrug off the fact that the botched invasion of a sovereign nation that you orchestrated based off of cooked intelligence is the reason terrorism now exists in that country is appalling.

So what?

The willful ignorance and entire lack of responsibility in those two words makes me sick.

More U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq than Americans on 9/11. The Iraqi death toll is somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. The country was thrown into such disarray that they cannot even gather an approximate estimate about how many people who have been killed since the U.S. invasion. Our government has given itself permission to commit war crimes and torture other human beings. These actions in the Middle East are creating an entire generation of young men and women who are more likely to give themselves over to extremist religious groups aimed at killing more Americans. And to top it off, Osama bin Laden is still out there!

So what??

I love my country, but I am not blind to the horrendous mistakes of its leadership.

And you know what I am going to do about it?

I am mailing a pair of old shoes to the President.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you had a solid "What The Fuck??" moment today? No? You haven't?

Then I have just what the doctor ordered:

Click here.

[safe for work]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"God Bless America, That Is Funny"


Did anyone have any idea that the flute was the most awesome instrument ever??

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Public Transportation Wet Dream

I don't know if this is possible, but just thinking about that much rail transit in LA makes my heart skip a beat.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Have An Inexplicable Need To Start a Slow Clap

The most inspirational video on the internet: 

"They may take our lives, but they will never take... our Independence Day!"

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!!

From a wall of letters to Santa at a mall in Manhattan Beach, CA... I think this kid needs to be on a watch list.


[Click here for full size version]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

FMI (For My Information)

I am posting this video not expecting anyone to to actually watch it (it is nearly an hour and a half long), but it is a fantastic interview with Sam Harris covering all the bases of science, religion, thought, society, the brain -- everything. He has such a poetic way of stating his position on things, I just want a place where I can watch it again.

Huckabee Goes Down

My friend, Spencer, mentioned to me the other day that the best and most productive way to debate someone about an issue like gay marriage is to merely ask the right questions. Arguing will get you no where, but calmly asking follow up questions just makes the other person's circular talking points fall flat.

Case in point, this brilliant interview Jon Stewart did with Mike Huckabee. Huckabee keeps trying to change the subject and quickly pull the "well let's just agree to disagree" card, but Stewart hammers it home. So gratifying to watch.

Jon Stewart's best line I need to commit to memory (discussing redefining the word marriage): "semantics is cold comfort when it comes to humanity." Awesome.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Holidays Merry Christmas

The other night, my friend remarked about my relationship with the holiday season: "Travis is an atheist, but I think he is more into Christmas than most people I know.  Isn't that funny??"  Well, that is not the exact quote, but you get the idea.  

But it is true.  Right now it looks like Christmas vomited in my living room.  Last night I was inspired by the decorations in a bar, and I want to copy their ideas in my apartment.  But to prevent my living spaces from being overtaken with a total lack of tact, I will refrain (mostly because my ceiling isn't high enough).   

But overall, there is nothing Christian about Christmas that I celebrate.  

I agree with the Bill O'Reillys and Pat Robertsons of the world that the holiday season is over-commercialized.  I agree that there is a "spirit of Christmas," but I do not think it has as much to do with Jesus as it does with Santa Claus.  I may as well be celebrating the Winter Solstice, just a few days late.  

I bring all this up because I just came across a fun article from a few years ago talking about the relationship famous atheist writers have with Christmas.  An excerpt:
“It seems to me to be obvious that everything we value in Christmas — giving gifts, celebrating the holiday with our families, enjoying all of the kitsch that comes along with it — all of that has been entirely appropriated by the secular world,” [Harris] said, “in the same way that Thanksgiving and Halloween have been.”

Mr. Dawkins, reached by e-mail somewhere on a book tour, was asked about his own Christmas philosophy. The response sounded almost as if he and Mr. Harris — and maybe other members of a soon-to-be-chartered Atheists Who Kind of Don’t Object to Christmas Club — had hashed out a statement of principles. Strangely, these principles find much common ground with Christians who complain about the holiday’s over-commercialization and secularization, though the atheists bemoan the former and appreciate the latter.

“Presumably your reason for asking me is that ‘The God Delusion’ is an atheistic book, and you still think of Christmas as a religious festival,” Mr. Dawkins wrote, in a reply printed here in its entirety. “But of course it has long since ceased to be a religious festival. I participate for family reasons, with a reluctance that owes more to aesthetics than atheistics. I detest Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the obscene spending bonanza that nowadays seems to occupy not just December, but November and much of October, too.”

He added: “So divorced has Christmas become from religion that I find no necessity to bother with euphemisms such as happy holiday season. In the same way as many of my friends call themselves Jewish atheists, I acknowledge that I come from Christian cultural roots. I am a post-Christian atheist. So, understanding full well that the phrase retains zero religious significance, I unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”
While I partly disagree because there is a solid portion of the population that celebrate the holiday purely as a religious celebration and reject its secularization, I would argue they are in the minority.  The word Christmas will always retain some religious significance because... well... it has the word Christ in it.  But if you name me one religious aspect to Christmas, I will name five secular ones that have nothing to do with Jesus' birth.  

As corny as it sounds, this time of the year is ultimately about reconnecting and reaffirming your appreciation for family and friends.  It is a time of year to remind everyone to try to be a little bit nicer.  That giving can be more gratifying than receiving.  

If those are the ultimate goals, then Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

What The F***???

What do these three pictures have in common?





The most over-the-top and ridiculous music video the world has ever seen.

If you have ever wanted to see a dragon attacking a horse-drawn carriage, a battle in an ice palace, and stock footage of a crocodile, your day has finally come.

[note: different sizes of the video can be seen here]

Shameless Self Promotion

I uploaded some clips from my documentary, "Next Exit, Main Street," onto YouTube. Feel free to... you know... watch them.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Lake Zurich, Illinois

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lost Springs, Wyoming

"L-L-Let Me Finish"

For me, it will be difficult to look back on the past eight years of Bush's presidency and not cringe. I just stumbled across this 10 minute interview with Bush that claims to be banned in the U.S.:

After having followed Obama's speeches and campaign for nearly two years, I think I am only now beginning to fully understand the true incompetence and arrogance of our 43rd president. It is such a relief to usher in a leader and a style of government that does not model itself after a playground bully.

And another point, is it just me or does it feel like the media here in the U.S. never was as gutsy as the woman in the YouTube clip above. And even though Bush's reactions make her out to be rude and disrespectful, I'd argue she is being really nice. Compare Bush's handling of difficult questions to Obama's handling of a much more difficult interview:

Geez, the difference in the mental and thought capabilities in each of these men is stunning. Watching them one after the other really puts everything in perspective.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Could I Not Post This??

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


There are instances when a film's release is so perfectly timed and in tune with the happenings of the world that you would second guess whether or not some studio execs have psychics on staff.  Walking away from just watching Milk and trying to comprehend the timeliness (and ultimately timelessness) of this story is stunning.   Since previews always give away too much, here is Harvey Milk in a quick nutshell:

While the movie altogether is fantastic, there was one aspect that I cannot shake.  There is one scene with Harvey Milk having a meeting with a bunch of established rich gay guys, debating a mailer ad for a new piece of gay rights legislation Milk is pushing.  Milk is furious: "You don't mention the word gay on here once!  You've got to have at least one old queer on here somewhere."  The old-school stodgy gays response: This is what works.  But for Milk, the ultimate solution was visibility.  If people's awareness is raised to a level above the religious bigotry and fearmongering, their minds will be changed.  Simple, yet brilliant.  

But visibility, courage, and speaking up always has negative repercussions amongst the most insecure in our society, and Harvey Milk fell victim to those repercussions.  

For today's gays, the passage of Proposition 8 will probably be viewed as the most positive setback for equal rights.  Plenty of fingers have been pointed seeking blame for our loss against Prop 8, but no one can argue that we displayed enough visible during the campaign, whether it was in our commercials or in our organizing.  

"You've got to have at least one old queer on here somewhere."  

"But this is what works."  

No, not anymore.  

The gays of the 70's had decades of severe discrimination and harassment motivating them to become visible, and Harvey Milk helped them organize.  Now, the gays have Proposition 8 to thank for their motivation.  And now, with this film, we have a renewed figure -- our own martyr -- helping to show us the way... again.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Random Thought

It takes some gall to come back into CVS pharmacy and demand back the one dollar you accidentally donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital when going through checkout.

Bah Humbug much?


For those Californians who were opposed to Prop 1A, a huge bond to create a high speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, chew on this:

I-5, which stretches from the Bay Area down to the 405 just north of LA, was gridlocked yesterday with holiday drivers. Gridlocked.

That is 400 miles of road.

That train will not get here quick enough.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Random Thought

Pulling off a tasty and enjoyable thanksgiving is one of the most gratifying and humbling things to do.  Happy Holiday everyone :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh, That's Interesting

Just when I thought I had a pretty good grasp on this whole gay marriage controversy, this interview springs up online.  I can't figure out yet if I agree with the general thesis, but it is very compelling:

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.
I recommend the entire interview here.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You know you live in LA when...

... rain is so rare, it dominates your Facebook news feed:
Heather John thinks everyone who is soo happy it's raining is retarded. Remember how there were fires last week? Yeah, that beeping you just heard? Flash flood warnings.  15 minutes ago
Scott Stenholm is in Chicago, while it rains in LA, just my luck...  18 minutes ago
Alison Knox is still wide awake... listening to the rain (finally) fall.  27 minutes ago
Brianne Castillo-Huang : "...Or I'll just end up walkin' in the cold November rain..."  56 minutes ago
Full disclosure... my Facebook status:
Travis is sleeping with his bedroom window open to listen to the rain.  3 minutes ago

Friday, November 21, 2008

Socialized Medicine

As Obama fills all the positions within his future cabinet, there is a clear tilt towards picking people out of the legislative branch in government. And if Rahm Emanuel's recent comments are any indication, Obama does not plan to let the economic slowdown hamper his future plans. The big buzzword from the right during the presidential race was "socialism." The fear of socialized medicine is a very real thing for many Republicans.

I have never understood this. Just about every other modernized nation in the world has government sponsored health care. It does not destroy their economy. Civilization does not crumble.

I recommend this article about the possible ramifications for the GOP if the U.S. successfully introduces Universal Health Care to the country (a big if). Chew on this:

Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of "Marxist thought," puts it: "After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor supported governments."

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: "Blocking Obama's health plan is key to the GOP's survival."

Sounds good to me!

The Official Start of the Holiday Season

... is today. KOST 103.5 has begun playing Christmas music. Feel the Cheer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Affront to Christians Everywhere (from my hometown, too!)

Well, not really.  But there are a bunch of Christians in Denver up in arms about some new billboards about Atheism.  The billboard, which comes across to me as a new support hotline, is up in a few random places around the Metro Area proclaiming, "Don't believe in God?  You are not alone."  A quick news clip:

There are a couple reasons why this story is immensely amusing.  

(1) They are billboards.  Metro Denver is a pretty large place, and they'll have a whopping 10 billboards in total.  Big deal!  If no one feigned persecution, the billboards would have been forgotten as soon as they went down.  The Christians creating this fake controversy are only giving the atheist group more bang for their buck.  Thanks to them, people are now more likely to pay more attention to the ads.  

(2) There are religious billboards up all the time.  People do not care.  Atheists do not freak out over them.  How insecure are you in your beliefs that you are taken aback by these billboards?  The billboards are not even directed at Christians!  They are directed at people who already do not believe in God!  

Do not get me wrong.  Religious people have been persecuted throughout history.  But pretending to be persecuted or affronted over something as uncontroversial and harmless as these billboards is just plain silly.  If you do not want to encounter anything in public that goes against your view of the world, do us all a favor and stay home.  

W. Really Is An Asshole

January 20th can not get here quick enough.


Gay marriage is hot topic du-jour on the news. TV debates about gay marriage can make me cringe if they get some spokesperson who is too polite or too stupid to defend themselves against the empty noise of the opposition.

So thank God for Dan Savage. Not only am I addicted to his advice column and podcast, but damn he is good on television. My favorite moment (in the 2nd video):
Tony Perkins: Boy, you can't get a word in edgewise
with this guy.
Dan Savage: Well, you stripped me of my rights and I interrupted you. Who's really suffering here?

Mr. Savage, I owe you my sanity.


Queue the exciting music and fancy cable news graphics! The Associated Press is reporting this hour that the bellwether state of Missouri will go to Senator John McCain. Geez louise. Took them long enough. So much for being a bellwether.

I was actually sad this year that I did not get to watch all the election night ballot returns on CNN as commentators and pundits are literally interrupted mid-sentence with photos and graphics of big blue or red check boxes. There is a drinking game in there somewhere.

However, what is astonishing about Missouri is how few votes separated the two candidates. A mere 3,632. There were nearly 3 million people that voted in that state. That's about a 0.12% difference.


And in the state of Minnesota, there were about 200 votes separating the two candidates for U.S. Senate -- such a small amount, they are required by law to recount everything. There will likely be court fights about the validity of handfuls of individual absentee ballots.

Election after election, there are always races that come down to the smallest vote differences. I once met someone who ran for an office and lost by 3 votes. Three.

So the next time you hear someone whine, "voting is useless.. my vote does not count," be sure to remind them they are a complete fool.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Imagine for a moment you are quietly working from home one afternoon. A friend sends you a link to a funny video, you click it, and it takes a while to load. A work call comes into your cell, and you start helping them out. The video starts playing full blast. The volume control of your computer does not work. After a minute, you finally are able to pause the video. The person on the other line asks confusedly, "was that a little girl?" Enjoy the video:

Ted Haggard Finally Has It All Figured Out

Famed gay-sex-and-meth-loving Evangelical hypocrite, Ted Haggard, returned to the pulpit this week to make excuses for his closeted gayness. Here's a quick news clip about Haggard's nausea-inducing realizations:

The most "fascinating" finding: because Haggard was molested in 2nd grade, he developed an insatiable hunger for meth and man ass. Uh huh.

Of course his behavior probably has nothing to do with the serious psychological damage that must originate from being a self-hating closeted homosexual obsessed with furthering hateful and misinformed messages about gay people.

It is such an ironic depressing joke.

Dear Ted Haggard: you cannot write off your sexual identity due to vague sexual molestation events when you were in elementary school. Molestation of children is incredibly serious and can leave life-long psychological damage.

Haggard is not gay because he was molested. He became a right-wing, nut-job preacher because he was molested.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My How Times Have Changed

Wow. You leave the country for 11 days and everything changes. Of course, Obama becoming the president elect totally kicks ass, and I will post some stuff on that. But before you are able to enjoy the end of 8 years of Bush, Prop 8 slaps you across the face. There are so many things that infuriate me about this proposition, but for now you should just watch Keith Olbermann's take on the subject. I think one of his best Special Comments ever:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Time Machine

The past can be so unintentionally ironic and hilarious. I came across an article from 2006 in the Chicago Tribune discussing the possibility of Obama running for president in 2008. My favorite bits are below. The whole thing here.

About the Republican field:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani might be formidable in the general
election but is too moderate to survive the GOP primary process. Sen. John
McCain's time will have passed.
Ahn-old can't run because he's foreign-born.
There's talk of Bill Frist, George Pataki, George Allen, Mitt Romney, Bill
Owens, Chuck Hagel, Haley Barbour and Jeb Bush, but it doesn't leave Democrats
crumpled in despair and resignation.

The Republican POV:

But quite a few Democrats are unenthusiastic to sickened by the prospect of
another charmless loser at the head of the ticket -- frontrunner in the polls
Hillary Clinton; re-treads John Kerry and Al Gore -- and hold out hope that a
groundswell will change Obama's mind.
Some Republicans, meanwhile, are
licking their chops at the prospect of running against an inexperienced
blue-state liberal.

User comment:

I'd love to see a strong, charismatic Dem lead the ticket after the disasterous
Kerry fiasco, which followed the Gore-Lieberman thrill-a-minute ticket, but
after witnessing how the press savaged Dean, I don't think Obama has a prayer.
"'Obama - Rhymes with Osama.' Obama will be weak on NATIONAL DEFENSE! Save
America! Vote Republican."
I can see it now.

One More:

I voted "I lean Republican and I favor the idea" because I think, if he
were the Democrat nominee, he would be crushed in the election.

Introducing Michael Goldfarb

Perhaps the stupidest campaign spokesman this entire campaign season (although I'd argue not as stupid as the flag pin guy):

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Goddamn Liberal Media

I got an email a couple days ago complaining about the "biased" pro-Obama slant of the main stream media, with a link to this editorial.  "It may be an eye opener to some," the email sender wrote, "but I find it to be a scary future if not corrected."  

I partly agree with the article.  Obama does receive better news coverage.  A recent study:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s researchers found that John McCain, over the six weeks since the Republican convention, got four times as many negative stories as positive ones. The study found six out of 10 McCain stories were negative.

What’s more, Obama had more than twice as many positive stories (36 percent) as McCain — and just half the percentage of negative (29 percent).  
This morning, Politico published an article addressing the apparent tilt in election coverage.  It's a good read, and I recommend checking it out.  

The argument the article makes is not complicated.  Essentially, there is a bias in the media.  The bias, however, is not for or against any specific candidate.  The bias is for stories.  For narratives, the "horse race."  Or, as Politico describes, a "bias against boredom."  While this does skew the press, it is a prejudice that has always and will always be a part of the media, and it does not skew liberal or conservative.  

The campaigns are aware of this.  Sometimes more attention is paid within the campaigns to being "on message" and creating a "narrative" with which the press and voters will respond rather than creating cohesive policy for voters to evaluate.  So the reason why McCain is getting such negative coverage?  He has failed at framing the story, trying out new story angles multiple times per week, and then lashing out at the press when they do not buy into his preferred point of view.  

So, yes, there is some "bias" in the election coverage recently, but to shove all blame on the media gives them too much credit.  By and large, the McCain campaign is earning the coverage they are receiving.  

Throwing Some Mud

It is kind of fun to turn on Fox News or read a right-wing blog to find out how some people in the Republican Party are labeling Barack Obama today. Blogger, Eric Martin, describes this chaos:
This is the problem. It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem - although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable - it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from - wait for it! - the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense.
And don't forget to throw in Celebrity!

No wonder no one is buying this stuff. My guess is that picking just a few of those compatible memes listed would have actually been effective, but the sense that the noise machine is running around like a decapitated chicken grows with each new smear.

All of this plays directly into Obama's best strength: his demeanor. People want to be reassured from their leaders, and McCain has not displayed any stability in this election.

As Andrew Sullivan brilliantly points out about Obama:
And still he's calm. Not too cocky. A little aloof, but very professional. He learnt all of this as a black man in a white country: no sudden moves; no anger. That's how he managed his white mother in adolescence. That's how he manages a white electorate increasingly at ease with him. And, by a massive stroke of luck, that's what voters want right now. In an economy that is melting down, with two wars still raging, they want calm above everything else. They want to know that the man in charge will not panic, will not be flustered, will not blow up.

They need a Valium. They can now vote for one for president.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Closing Time

What were you doing today?

History is happening right now. Obama's rhetoric is soaring, and while part of the Republican strategy is to write off Obama's speeches as empty political drama, watching the clip below is real and inspirational. When has someone been able to move the people of this country to care so much about our future so effectively?


My New Phobia

"Wackophobia" -- The intense fear and anxiety that some nut job will try to do something to Barack Obama.


An Inalienable Right?

Dr. James Dobson of the right-wing, theocratic, anti-gay, Colorado Springs based evangelical powerhouse "Focus on the Family" is on the airwaves and in newspapers throughout the country this week with stories of doom and gloom about America's future after four years under President Obama. Some predictions:
"The Boy Scouts no longer exist."
"Tens of thousands of Christian (public school) teachers either quit or were fired."
"The Bible can no longer be freely preached over radio or television stations."
"Christian nurses, physicians, family counselors, lawyers and other professionals are being stripped of their right to work in those fields."

The common theme for these drastic domestic predictions: the gays. Or, more specifically, our society's successful inclusion of gays and lesbians as equal members of society.

Or, to read between the lines, Dobson is openly worrying about his right to discriminate. How can he still impose his religious beliefs on other people if he cannot force people to live their lives according to the rules of his ancient storybook? Of course, he would not call it "discrimination," but at that point you are merely playing with semantics. In his worldview, my civil rights are at odds with his religious freedom.


But that leaves the question: does Dobson have the right to openly support discrimination in both the private and public sector? In my opinion, of course he does. However, expecting the growing socially-liberal electorate to play along is going to be difficult.

After eight years of theocratic and divisive right wing politics, I think people have rightly developed a "live and let live" social attitude. By and large, people respond less and less to cultural "wedge" issues. They are tired of it. Dobson backfired. And consensus is mounting that supporting people like Dobson and his hateful rhetoric is prejudiced and discriminatory.

Society almost always moves towards inclusion. And reading Dobson cry about his view of the future only illustrates how out of touch he is with the real world.

So Dobson and his followers are more than welcome to their views and are free to pursue them, but they better not be surprised when more and more people call them out on their hate. If you want to behave like a bigot, you have to be comfortable being called a bigot. That's the new rule of the game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008


As this presidential race draws to a close, my favorite part of the election finally draws near: the recount.  No, no, not as in Florida and hanging chads.  The stories from high level advisers and other people "in the room" as they all give their takes on what went down within the campaigns.  

Just as the Democratic primary finally finished this summer, the blame game inside Clinton's campaign furiously took shape as political professionals played the exciting game of "Not My Fault!!"  And now, as McCain's presidential hopes have about the same level of probability as, well, a republican winning the white house after eight years of W, "high level" and "unnamed sources close to the candidate" are covering their collective asses.  Just this weekend we have some great reports of delicious in-fighting and conspiracies.  

This is like having director's commentary to a really good movie.  

The Obama campaign has been a very tight ship, considering this has been the longest presidential campaign in history.  I can't wait for the stories behind Obama's run.  And maybe a movie?  Primary Colors 2?  Where's Mike Nichols? 

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Man of YouTube

Maybe it is because I predominitaly read liberal blogs, but it seems to me like Democrats have a monopoly on awesome and hilarious youtube videos about the election. I do not think liberal are somehow more creative, but in terms of using the aparatus of the most democratizing force the world has ever known (the internet), conservatives are left in the dust. Seriously, have you seen font over at the Drudge Report? Hideous.

Here are a few of my favorite Obama-flavored YouTube clips:

My Hometown

... Is just like every other hometown:


Can we all be in total agreement that Emile Hirsch is really dreamy:

Wake Up Call, starring Emile Hirsch from ace norton on Vimeo.

The Backwards B

Perhaps the most stunning and ultimately ridiculous story about the presidential race of the past couple days is the story of Ashley Todd, a McCain supporter who was attacked by "big black man" who mugged her, beat her up, and carved a B onto the side of her cheek. A lot of right-wing press went nuts over the story about how horrible Barack Obama supporters are getting. I know news cycles are fast, but did anyone take 2 seconds to fact-check this story:

Yes, when you look at that photo, the "B" for Barack Obama is backwards. Perhaps what it would look like if someone with a low IQ mutilated themselves in front of a mirror.

Not even getting into the racist overtones of this story that inflated the sensation, the newly-famous Ashley Todd has admitted to fabricating the story after failing a lie detector test. Big surprise, it was a lie.

Media standards anyone?

Keeping Me Entertained

Recently, I've found myself wanting to post multiple articles and videos per day on facebook, so for the sake of my friends' news feeds, I am going to start posting everything here. I can't promise postings with any regularity, but I hope you at least find it randomly amusing.