When the mundane becomes revelatory, when banal pronouncements are considered startling epiphanies, when orchestrated spectacle is considered the apex of statesmanship; a society is fast approaching the finish line in its race to the bottom.
The corrupt leaders of society’s broken institutions remain busy spinning a self serving zeitgeist of denial, sowing gardens of ubiquitous ambivalence. The liturgy of mass self delusion anoints a polity comfortably numb and safely ensconced in a political paralysis; keeping the Bozos bouncing along on the bus sans wheels, happily enthralled in the reverie of their disillusionment.
Sarah Palin, looking slim and extremely fit slugs down a mega calorie Big Gulp on the CPAC dais. Sarah’s slurp becomes an iconic moment in GOP history, as fawning star struck conservatives believe it to be the symbolism of a new Statue of Liberty.
Morning Joe stuffing handfuls of Captain Crunch into his mouth to tweak the eat healthy nose of liberal manikin Mika, cheers the American driving public for making the 6 mpg Super Duty pickup the best selling truck in the USA. Morning Joe relishes any opportunity to confirm the resplendent truth of America’s voracious appetite for radical entitlement.
Newly elected Pope Francis closes his first Sunday address by advising visiting pilgrims to “have a good lunch” and the media falls all over itself with adulatory elation.
In a world understood as a branded sound bite, the affirming credo an individual adopts as holy gospel is self serving institutional propaganda that vigilantly defends the status quo.
In such a world, sound bites have become a school of famished piranhas that are devouring the body of rational understanding and the ability to peek beyond the veil of obfuscation.
The messages and symbolism signaled from our leaders and political celebrities is clear, loyal constituents are offered an absolution to remain stuck in the certitude ensuring the perpetuation of failing institutions badly in need of reform.
The CPAC crowd cheers Palin’s clownish moxie as she charges the battlements of Bloomberg’s Nanny State. Though I wonder if Palin’s salute to Seven Eleven was more of a product placement exercise than astute Kabuki theater; Palin’s masterful pandering played well to the partisans. She brought down the house and successfully sidestepped the issue of a commercial food chain that is progressively poisoning their customers with unhealthy food due to lax regulatory oversight, harmful food additives and corn fructose syrup infused processed food that is driving an obesity epidemic amongst the poor and minorities residing in the food deserts of America’s cities.
Palin’s showmanship appeals to the growing libertarian streak in the GOP. Let the market decide is the mantra. The jury is out but when the toxic food chain has killed off enough of the process food industries customers, General Foods will hire a Stanford MBA as a new product manager to design and market better foods for a better world. After all that’s how responsible job creators work.
Mornings Joe’s insistence on his free market right to be a mindless consumer is codified in the divine celestial ledgers of Laissez-faire capitalism. His fattened bank balance is the sole moral imperative to drive an inefficient gas guzzling truck that poisons the environment with carbon emissions. This is the same mind set that insists on building vacation homes on barrier islands. If a major storm destroys the dwelling so be it. FEMA and private insurance have socialized the risk to preserve the right of these homesteaders to settle on endangered land, tipping into the swelling seas, fueled by a changing climate brought on by excessive carbon emissions from Morning Joe’s Super Duty.
In the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre the yearning of citizens to strengthen gun control laws is met by the intransigent commercial interests of gun manufacturers. In a society bleeding from gun violence the NRA got busy greasing the palms of senators with filthy lucre to encourage diligence to protect 2nd amendment right to market high powered automatic rifles and 30 round magazines that can spray instant death into a room full of 1st graders.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA gave an impassioned speech at the same CPAC conference pointing to “the Washington elites” and “liberal media” as the root of all evil. States LaPierre, …gun control advocates “insult [us], they denigrate, and they call us ‘crazy’ for holding fast to [our opposition to gun control]. In their distorted view of the world, they’re smarter than we are; they’re special; they’re more worthy than we are; they know better than we do,” he said. “The liberal media can keep hating on me, but I’m still standing.”
How the CPAC attendees and the three million members of the NRA can fail to see the irony in Mr. LaPierre’s condemnation of “Washington elites” escapes me. To be sure, like many CPAC attendees, Mr. LaPierre and the NRA are fully integrated with the elites of Washington. In point of fact many are on the NRA payroll. His pernicious attack on a free press belies his unquestioned fealty to the constitution.
Which brings us back to Pope Francis. He is hailed as a much needed change in a scandal ridden Vatican. The global prevalence of sexual abuse by clergymen and the institutional protection of predatory pedophiles continues to trouble the church. Money laundering and other untoward financial transactions conducted by the Vatican Bank is another explosive issue that continues to fester. The rising voices of women and LGBT communicants seeking reforms to fully enfranchise them as equal citizens in the church are liturgical and theological issues that will continue to be repressed. These questions beg an urgent response from the ossified paternal hierarchy that resists transparency and fails to transcend practices that sacrifices the faith in service to the institutional religion.
Yes the monied pilgrims that made their way to Rome will enjoy the day and most surely find a wholesome meal to eat. What will sate today’s pilgrims and sustain the future generations will be to sit at an inclusive communion table to richly feast on the bread of truth. Throw the institutional banalities into the ovens to stoke the fires capable of baking a rich wholesomeness into the glorious bread of life.
Music Video: Fleetwood Mac, Hypnotized
Risk: political, religious, psychological, cultural
Bristol Palin is tap dancing her way into the hearts of Americans. The Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) gamboling Gidget seems poised to surpass the celebrity status of her political superstar Momma Grizzly in Chief Sarah. Despite consistently low scores Bristol and her dance card partner Mark Ballas tip toe over the competition each week due to the outpouring of support from devoted fans of Sarah’s sashaying youngster.
Last night to the chagrin of discerning DWTS affectionados, Bristol and her partner dispatched the elegant and clearly more talented Brandy and Maxwell to the loser circle. DWTS judges awarded Brandy and Maxwell higher scores then Bristol and Mark. In response to this misjudgment of the liberal mainstream media machine, Palin’s peeps overloaded the telephone banks and text message tally boards with a landslide of support for Bristol’s bouncy ballet. The will of the electorate would not be denied. The voice of the people will be heard and heeded.
The well oiled machinery of the Tea Party is suspected of stuffing the ballot box to aid Bristol, Sarah and ultimately country through the precise execution of Operation Bristol.
Operation Bristol is an example of the dangers of plebiscites and a good lesson about the perversion of the democratic process and the illusion of democracy. Tea Party zealots text their DWTS votes along party lines failing to consider the dexterity, skill and artful presentations of the other contestants. The pernicious political pursuit of Operation Bristol undermines the honest contemplation of aestheticism and defiles the artistic purpose of art to exclusively serve the bombast of politics. It is the hallmark of fascist culture that dresses up the banality of pedestrian art in service the higher ideals of idealogical purpose. Not that I consider DWTS even remotely connected to art. But you just gotta love those freedom loving, liberty for all Tea Baggers selling out their DWTS vote for a bit of political satisfaction. Operation Bristol is good practice for 2012. Yeah I know all about Woody Guthrie’s “This Machine Kills Fascists” slogan on his worn guitar. So in the interest of balance and in service to transparency Bristol should consider a “This Machine Kills Democracy” tattoo across her provocative thighs.
You Tube Music Video: Dizzy Gillespie, Things To Come
Risk: art, democracy, culture, entertainment, politics, political theater
I was one of the 5 million viewers that caught Sarah Palin’s Alaska Reality TV show last night. As one would expect, Alaska effectively mixed a number of conservative informed Sarahisms with a scripted version of her common man family life. If you consider common having airplanes pull up to your dock to fly you off to Denali for a day, or a luxury RV trucking you around the Alaskan Outback or having a TV studio room in your home so husband Todd can video you for this afternoons Fox News segment, Sarah is pretty much like the rest of us.
As America’s foremost conservative political celebrity, Alaska keeps the myth of Sarah alive and well. America’s impish sweetheart, Sarah is the adoring girl next door who might become president. Alaska will showcase Sarah in a most positive light to reinforce her connection with the millions of hockey moms and Joe the wannabe plumbers who can’t get enough of the Momma Grizzly in Chief. The segment I watched followed Sarah and family through a typical week of quality family time and the demanding work political celebrity requires. Last nights segment showed Sarah and Todd scaling Denali, navigating cravasse laden glaciers, baking cookies, RVing around with the extended family (while ignoring each other as they texted on Blackberries) fishing for sockeye and watching momma grizzles (brown bears actually) defend their young. Alaska combines image interlaced with conservative messaging that is produced to give Sarah’s countrymen reason to pause to consider what her role will be in America’s most compelling tale of political theater.
I’m will attempt to record some of Sarah’s comments from the show that capture the spirit and thoughts of this great political thespian.
The following Sarahisms were spoken last night:
On a journalist who rented a house next door to write an unflattering book about Sarah.
“He spies on us. So Todd built this fence to block his view. See how easy it is to keep the undesirables out.” If only Sarah were governor of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. Maybe we can make her Viceroy of Southern Territories, Prefect for The Gadsden Purchase.
Returning from a day of flying over Denali with family, disembarking plane and going into the house.
Said Sarah to her youngest daughter, “See the nosy journalist neighbor trying to get a good look at us. He was stuck in his house all day while we were out having fun.” Girls just wanna have fun.
On a gate that blocks access to upstairs rooms for baby Tripp.
“See this gate, it keeps boys out of upstairs bedrooms.” Kinda like closing the barn door after the horse got out?
On watching a mother brown bear chase off another brown bear getting too close to her young cubs.
“See how the momma grizzly protects the future of the species.” If only the oil companies would be so concerned.
On Todd landing a sockeye during their fishing expedition.
“Thats the way it should be. A man brings home the bacon to his family.” Whats TLC, Fox and Sarah’s PAC get paid with, chopped liver?
On Todd when he was video taping Sarah for a Fox News segment.
“Todd don’t speak much. He’s a man of few words but when he speaks he really got something to say. His words carry real weight. Still waters run deep.” So the First Iron Doggin Dude can actually speak! No Comment.
When Sarah was rock climbing, her progress was momentarily halted.
“I got to keep going. Nobody is going to rescue me.” At least she was attached to a safety rope. Thats more protection offered the millions of people falling through the cracks of America everyday.
Can’t wait till next week.
You Tube Music Video: Northern Exposure Theme
Risk: political theater
When Joe Wilson belched his infamous catcall “lair” during President Obama’s address to a joint session of the legislature, he revealed himself to be a poor example of a mature adult. Puddenhead Wilson’s emotional outburst may have played well with die hard Obama haters, indeed the next day his campaign war chest swelled by a million dollars; but it also sent a terrible message to America’s youth that its acceptable to disrespect your teachers, coaches, police officers or parents if you disagree with what they are saying. The fact that his campaign coffers swelled with contributions as a result of his offense compounded the power of the negative message it sent to youths and to the perpetrator himself. Awarding Puddenhead Wilson for his bad conduct only encourages him to repeat his offensive disrespectful behavior. It also sends a very poor message to America’s youth that bad behavior is OK and childish emotional outbursts may in fact find reward from enabling adults.
New Jersey Governor and emerging GOP superstar Chris Cristie, recently revealed himself to be a poor role model for the youth of America when he told a gathering of students that teachers greed was to blame for the lack of supplies and educational resources available for public schools. The Governors injection of politics into his presentation to Trenton students is a bit ironic. In his crusade against the teachers union, Christie has charged educators with using school children as “drug mules” to carry the message about the danger of funding reductions for public education. It would seem that the good Governor Christie needs to deliver a couple of kilos of his own to his adoring fans in the Tea Party and his financial backers in the GOP.
Putting partisan politics aside Christie’s message to public school students is extremely damaging. The public schools are under incredible pressure. All social institutions are engulfed in severe challenges and are fully engaged in crisis management mode. America’s public schools are not exempted from these pressures. The complex confluence of political, cultural and economic factors plaguing society are acutely manifested and constantly working to undermine the public school system. Governor Christie’s political rant to students throws gasoline on a combustible pile of institutional challenges confronting teachers and administrators. Like Puddenhead Wilson, the Jersey Doughboy gives tacit approval and encouragement for students to question the authority and motives of their teachers. Christie has just provided under-performing students a ready made excuse for failure and disruptive malcontents a lit match to throw onto a gasoline soaked pile of kindling encircling our public schools.
Christie’s partisanship places the context of his egregious mismanagement of the Race to the Top DOE grant in a new light. Perhaps Christie’s $400 million blunder was an intentional action to reduce resources to the public schools to undermine greedy teachers and their gluttonous union. Why would Christie enable the funding of whip cracking greed driven drug mule drivers? And like his killing of the DOT funded ARC tunnel project, Christie enhances his conservative street cred by punching the construction unions in the nose and telling the socialist government in Washington to spend its money elsewhere.
Like Puddenhead Wilson, Christie is cashing in on his actions and is building a nice portfolio of economic and political capital for himself. His remarks about the greedy teachers provide a convenient cover and solemn absolution for the grand practitioners of greed and avarice that have led this country to the brink of fiscal insolvency, cultural destitution and political bankruptcy. Christie’s narrative of blaming the needy plays well with large contributors who will be moved to put good 527 Corporation resources at his disposal to underwrite his political rise.
Christie’s midterm election barnstorming tour in service to the GOP booked him on a coast to coast tour that even his hero Bruce Springsteen would envy. Though Christie’s mojo clearly failed in helping Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina win election, the Jersey Doughboy’s political stock has risen so quickly that he felt compelled to send out a few tweets to deny he would run on a ticket with Sarah Palin for president in 2012.
So New Jersey is stuck with the doughy mess of big money winner take all partisan politics of Christie’s ideologically driven governorship for at least the next two years. Enjoying popular support for now, Christie’s considerable body mass currently displaces enough water to ride the wave of Tea Party conservatism. But if the fickle citizens of New Jersey make a slight left turn off Exit 16E on Thunder Road, Christie’s fortunes will drop faster then a lead sinker placed into the rancid brew seeping to perfection in a gaudy Royal Dalton Tea Pot.
You Tube Music Video: Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run (Live Acoustic Version)
Risk: political, labor unions, public education, consensus
The dismissal of Juan Williams from his correspondent position at NPR is a watershed event. Conservative pundits will be screaming about First Amendment rights and the abuses of government controlled media. Mr. Williams was fired by NPR for violating guidelines on a statement he made as a paid commentator on Fox News “The O’Reilly Factor.” When asked about the racial profiling of Muslim’s Mr. Williams stated:
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country,” Williams said Monday. “But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
At first glance it seems to be pretty innocuous stuff. Mr. Williams citing his unease at seeing a woman of the veil on an airplane is well within his First Amendment right to do so. The fact that I consider Mr. Williams fear to be based on a prejudice that prejudges someone based on appearances is beside the point. Its synonymous with police officers stopping motorists on interstate highways because of their race. The crime of driving while black should not be sufficient to infringe a persons right to privacy or impede their safe passage. Mr. Williams has the right to express those fears and prejudices and I will defend his right to do so.
Mr. Williams employer NPR also has a right to require that employees conform to certain guidelines that support the mission of a public news organization. NPR requires that its employees refrain from making public editorial pronouncements on public media outlets. It is understood that editorializing correspondents may injure or cause harm to the NPR brand as a trusted source of objective reporting. As such NPR is well within its right to protect its franchise by removing Mr. Williams from his position as a correspondent. Professional athletes and corporate executives all have clauses in their employment contracts that stipulate unbecoming conduct that hurts the company franchise is grounds for dismissal. NPR exercised that clause.
What is interesting about this event is the contrast of journalistic standards practiced by NPR and Fox. NPR receives some government funding and was originally chartered to assure that radio broadcast services would be available to the smaller rural markets ignored by commercial radio. Recently NPR programming consists of thoughtful up market features that has less mass appeal for profit oriented radio media outlets. Its news programing, All Things Considered and Morning Edition offered in depth reportage that is thoughtful, fair and balanced. It strives to be objective and for the most part is.
The contrast with Fox News is striking. Belying its marketing handle of “fair and balanced reporting”, Fox News is anything but fair or balanced. I find Fox News to be a consistent platform for the conservative movement and as such it’s reporting is hardly objective. Its commentators routinely express an opinion on the news that is editorial in nature. Fox News has built a profitable franchise on its editorial positions and its assemblage of commentators (Rove, Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly, Palin) that eagerly express the political bias of its corporate parent News Corp. Fox News correctness has been vindicated in the marketplace of ideas as its corporate sponsors and large viewer ship endorses its editorial positions.
The complex amalgam of the commercial viability of media channels, the branding of ideas, news as objective reportage, editorialism as a media commodity and the subtle distinction of opinion versus news are issues laying at the heart of Juan Williams dismissal from NRP. Though fired from NPR for expressing an opinion that NPR thought unfair and hurtful to Muslims, Fox News awarded Mr. Williams a $3 million contract to expand his presence with the fair and balanced network. Clearly the free market of ideas confirms that Mr. Williams prejudice and intolerance toward Muslims advances the commercial interests of Fox News.
Its alarming that the value of prejudice and intolerance is rising and that major corporate brands like News Corp find it so intrinsically linked to it he price of its stock as a publicly traded company. Truly a disturbing example of bankruptcy of the free market of ideas.
You Tube Music Video: Mott the Hoople, All The Young Dudes
Risk: free speech, commercial media, objective reporting, prejudice