Sunday, March 28, 2010

What to Watch Tonight (3/28/10)

AMISH GRACE (Sun, 8 p.m.)
Williams-Paisley stars as Grace, a goodly housewife who witnesses a horrifying act of Amish-on-Amish violence, when a rogue teen enters a one-room schoolhouse and opens fire with a blunderbuss, sharding three. Because the killer comes from her community, he knows where to find her. Enter Detective Rena Brooke (Michael Michelle), who in order to protect Grace whisks her off to the big city in Philadelphia. But how will Grace blend in and elude her assassin? Three words: girls night out. Grace confronts the challenges of modern life while teaching Brooke some lessons about family. Be sure to stay through to the end and a thrilling pursuit in a pornography silo. ★★★★ (TV 14)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Computer Is Dead, Long Live My Computer

Due either to old age or just bad luck, my computer is broken. Thankfully it's still under warranty. However, I've been told that it will take between two to seven days to fix it, meaning that this site will be out of commission for at least that duration. While our other contributors could surely post updates of their own, they were not expecting to have to do so, nor do they share my taste or zeal for editing, creating accompanying graphics, and naked hucksterism. That said, I do have a 12-year-old computer. It would be fascinating to use it if only to figure out how much it manages to fuck up navigating the Internet. I'm also currently using a fun iPhone app called Dragon dictation, which is making the process of composing this on an iPhone much easier. Even if it does want to censor "fuck." I suppose you could say this is a case of a computer program having more taste than I do, but I prefer to think it's a case of a computer program's being a big pussy. In short, please don't be alarmed if we go silent for several days due to technical issues. Expect us back in early April. However I might get antsy and just go ahead and use this dictation program or an older computer to tell the amazing tale of a 20-year-old at a restaurant tonight who apparently decided that being "dressed up" meant looking at a Lou Bega album cover and trying to reassemble it via whatever was in the closet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Talking Points Memo Throws Down

It's been a busy week. It was bound to happen, the sweet flow of new content stanched at some point. This news week didn't need anyone here to weigh in anyway. The hysteria of American conservatism and the self-conscious nail-picking prose of liberals unsure whether to gloat about a victory or lament a lack of progressivism to the healthcare bill was enough on its own.

Some good stuff came out of the events of this week, stuff that nobody here need comment on. Posting new content only to direct people someplace else represents a losing gambit. If people should read something else, why do they need you? You become little more than a Burger King just off the highway: people are going to keep going to a destination, but maybe you can draw a few off the road and to your profit before sending them right back on their way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'Raise your hand if you love freedom. Notice your dead mom didn't move a muscle, kid.'

Here's the story so far: Marcelas Owens is 11 years old and doesn't have a mom. She developed pulmonary hypertension, a potentially fatal but very treatable disease. Because she got sick, she lost her job. Because she lost her job, she lost her healthcare. Because she lost her healthcare, she lost her (potential) access to treatment. Because she lost her access to treatment, she lost her life.

A month ago, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) told Marcelas and his mother Tifanny's story to President Obama as an illustrative tale of how fragile people's lives and economies are without healthcare. This week, conservatives responded by telling an 11-year-old that his mom should have pulled herself up by her healthstraps and got undead, like, doublequick. She's just lazy. She lies around on her back all day.

Their response combines the best of ignorance, self-serving fabricated victimization and imperial unconcern with the little things, like whether someone lives or dies. Let's go to the McClatchy article on the subject, which describes their behavior as "ridicule":

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FOX News Poll: Gauging What We Told You Your Opinion Was

There's a poll up at FOX News right now about the healthcare vote. I don't usually read their site very much, but a friend who was trying to induce an Eastern European art-film level of despair in himself visited it today just to look at the paranoid ignorance of the comments section. While there, he spotted this awesome poll (a picture of it is posted below right, in case FOX decides to take it down):
Health Care on Track for a Vote: Will It Pass?

Yes -- Obama and Pelosi are doing whatever it takes to make this law.
No -- In the words of Tip O'Neill: 'All politics is local' -- and us 'locals' are ready to toss the 'yes' voters.
Not sure -- Either way the system needs reform.
I don't care -- We no longer have a say in what our 'representatives' do.
Other (post a comment)
Now, obviously this poll has substantial problems. The data it gathers is of no use to anybody. Asking the American people whether a bill will pass is a pretty stupid way of predicting a vote's outcome. There are only about 500+ people whose replies are going to be helpful at all, so really it's sort of like polling people today about who's going to win the 2009 World Series.

Maybe that's what they mean by the line at the bottom that, "This is not a scientific poll." Science is untrustworthy; poll the controversy.

What's fascinating here is that FOX News evidently isn't interested in its viewers' opinions even when it asks for them. The process of taking this poll doesn't mean selecting one action or another or advocating an outcome: it means selecting something because this must be what you already believe about it. It's quite impressive, actually. They've managed to transform the process of asking someone what they think into one of telling them whatever that might be. You have to admire a level of framing that manages to convert interrogatives to a list of imperative talking points.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

'NIGGER FAGGOT': All You'll Ever Need to Know About Those in the Front Ranks of the Teaparty Movement

The outrage demonstrated by teapartiers over the last year has always been incommensurate with the issues ostensibly causing it. The media were happy to chalk the intensity up to passion for some abstraction of limited government, but their cowardice thankfully didn't extend to the internet, where liberal bloggers noticed and condemned the dog-whistle rhetoric of racism, homophobia and islamophobia.

Even bored amateurs effortlessly exposed this. One got a sitting Republican congressman to follow his Twitter feed after demonizing the president as a muslim terrorist. A contributor to this site sometimes tweets quotes from Mein Kampf where the word "Liberal" has replaced the word "Jew," and dozens of acknowledged teaparty and 9/12 Project members re-tweet and follow him after every one. This happens because the movement has never been about limited government; it's been about hate.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two and a Half Mensch: How HuffPo and CollegeHumor Missed a Fat Comedy Target

Today's piece focuses on an inadvisable tactic. Huffington Post, which cannot generate humor on its own, farmed out the funny to another website. This is a bad idea. When you don't know what funny is, contracting for it is a disaster. It evokes an image of a newly rich and hapless software engineer calling a contractor with only a P.O. Box for an address and saying, "I want new floors in my house and I only have $50,000. Is that enough for floor? It is! By George R.R. Martin's beard, what luck!"

Still, they ran a takedown of the most popular sitcom in America, Two and a Half Men, with a groan track of the show produced by The only problem was, the track wasn't funny. You couldn't expect HuffPo to know that, but CollegeHumor screwed the pooch. You can't take aim at a beast this big and stupid and then miss. It only draws attention to yourself. Now the beast has something to run at and may also be aroused. CollegeHumor missed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deconstructing the Texas Board of Education

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: the mysterious Mr. Awesome, a law student who is not a pundit and fears nothing. He previously paid us a visit to describe how Newsweek Sucks Really Bad. Thanks to instant messaging and on-the-fly editing, plus trading jokes, this piece wound up being something of a joint effort. Full credit for all the funny and insightful bits to Mr. Awesome. The filler goes to Mr. Sese Seko.

American History (R)

The Texas State Board of Education has been overrun by hard-right fundamentalist types. If you’re familiar with that sort of thing, you expect them to try to remove evolution from the school curriculum. You expect Scopes Monkey Trial-type stuff.

However, this paradigm has changed. They’ve broadened their scope from a single pet peeve to an attack on facts they don’t like. This extends conservative America’s long-standing push towards a hermetically sealed alternative history for right-wingers, like the Politically Incorrect Guide to... series of "history books." They want to bring the reactionary world-view into the classroom and teach it as fact.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We Get Letters

Last Christmas I posted an article about how a conservative caller to a radio show began weeping and asking deranged questions about whether his prayers to Almighty God might have accidentally killed a Republican instead of his intended target, Democrat Robert Byrd. Economist Brad DeLong linked it off his site, which brought a steady stream of viewers, some of whom were really very nice about keeping me updated to developments in the story and making suggestions I hadn't thought of.

It turned out that Talking Points Memo ran a follow-up, suspecting that the call was a prank. At that point, I posted a response in which I outlined reasons why it might be serious, as well as my suspicion that the Republican party had stoked the flames of hard-right paranoia and rage so much that attempting to parody those attitudes might be beyond the point where doing so could seem implausible anymore. As one helpful reader pointed out, unbeknownst to me, I'd essentially drafted a political corollary to Poe's Law, which states that, "without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Keep Us White

Last week, we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, were pleased to help launch the premiere of "O.T.P. (One Term President)," the debut rap of Wolverines, a group of people who probably doubled their number of faithful listeners when their case was assigned to a Secret Service agent.

The group took their name from the American insurgents in the delusional right-wing fantasy and unintentional comedy classic Red Dawn. This seems only fitting, because, as we explained, these people are homophobic, racist, loathsome and insane, on loan to freedom from World Net Daily, the internet's #1 resource for Birther conspiracies and trying to figure out how the Toyota recall fits into the bigger picture of America's takeover by the New World Order. These are also the sort of people who would grow a skullet, wear a black bandana, dye a handlebar mustache and spray paint "nWo" on people's backs to protest the NWO and think it makes sense.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Newsweek, Part II: What They Talk About When They Aren't Talking to Themselves About Themselves

Note: unlike many of the other guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's editorial response comes from a real, live person: the mysterious Mr. Awesome, a law student who is not a pundit and fears nothing. He previously paid us a visit to relate his tale of seeing Barack Obama with The Devil and explain why dumb shit takes primacy over the survival of poor people.

Newsweek Sucks Really Bad

Newsweek is not journalism. They produce spun-sugar articles, thin on everything but verbiage. Their treatment of fact and fact-checking is so poor you have to think they have something to hide. You’d think they had an agenda, or that they’re spinning for someone. It’s not journalism, so it has to be something, right?

But Newsweek’s reporting is so consistently insubstantial and meaningless that identifying a coherent agenda in the information vapor is just divination through cloud-reading. Some Newsweek piece of analysis may look like a donkey or an elephant at one point or another, but it’s always just a big, cold, mass of wet shit, barely tethered to the Earth. Or so I thought.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

GOP 2010: Mindless Terror, Now with Collectibles!!!

Yesterday, Politico published a piece of investigative journalism whose ramifications could be sharply negative for the Republican National Committee. Good for them! You knew they'd have it in them — eventually... reluctantly. You can almost picture beads of sweat erupting on the tech guy's face as he queued the update, each keystroke resounding in his ears like a hammer striking an anvil.

In the piece, Politico excerpted details from a leaked 72-page RNC document explaining how to better raise funds for 2010 GOP campaigns. Politico summarized the RNC strategy thus:
The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to "save the country from trending toward socialism."

In neat PowerPoint pages, it lifts the curtain on the often-cynical terms of political marketing, displaying an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives...

[The] RNC has shifted toward a reliance on small donors, but the document reveals extensive, confidential details of the strategy for luring wealthy checkwriters, which range from luxury retreats in California wine country to tickets to a professional fight in Las Vegas...

One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Newsweek: Thanks for Making Me Feel Okay About Killing

It took just days, but there's already a video game where you can destroy the tentacular federal agency attempting to destroy your life. And here's the great thing: just like in reality, there's no way to lose! Sure, here it's impossible not to strike the building. But in real life, surely even a failure to hit the target is a can't-miss opportunity to point up the illegitimacy of... I dunno... government. Or whatever.

Even at this point, no one is really sure why Joe Stack flew a plane into an IRS building and murdered a man in the process. But, irrespective of whatever answers about his life might be forthcoming, they're bound to offer far less entertainment than the reactions his actions have inspired. I realize by now this news is about a week old — which, given the subject, is perfectly fitting — but Newsweek magazine treated THA STACK ATTACK as occasion to share an open discussion amongst all staffers about what constitutes terrorism. The results ran the gamut from stupid and hilarious to stupid and loathsome.