Saturday, January 16, 2010

Limabugh - Proud To Insult Haiti Rescue While Earning Millions of Dollars

An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh --
To: Rush Limbaugh
From: Roger Ebert

You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation. Having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you suggest the President might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims.

Here is a transcript from your program on Thursday:

Justin of Raleigh, North Carolina: "Why does Obama say if you want to donate some money, you could go to to direct you how to do so? If I wanted to donate to the Red Cross, why do I have to go to the White House page to donate?"

Limbaugh: "Exactly. Would you trust the money's gonna go to Haiti?"

Justin: "No."

Rush: "But would you trust that your name's gonna end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?"

Justin: "Absolutely!"

Limbaugh: "Absolutely!"
That's what was said.

Unlike you and Justin of Raleigh, I went to Obama's web site, and discovered the link there leads directly to the Red Cross. I can think of a reason why anyone might want to go via the White House. That way they can be absolutely sure they're clicking on the Red Cross and not a fake site set up to exploit the tragedy.

But let me be sure I have this right. You and Justin agree that Obama might steal money intended for the Red Cross to help the wretched of Haiti.

This conversation came 48 hours after many of us had seen pitiful sights from Port au Prince. Tens of thousands are believed still alive beneath the rubble. You twisted their suffering into an opportunity to demean the character of the President of the United States.

This cannot have been an accident. A day earlier, in a sound bite from your show, you said "this will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, 'credibility' with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them."

Setting aside your riff on Harry Reid, consider what you imply. Obama will aid Haiti to please African-Americans. Haiti has lost untold thousands of lives. One third of the population has lost its homes. Countless people are still buried in the rubble. Every American president would act quickly to help our neighbor. You are so cynical and heartless as to explain Obama's action in a way that unpleasantly suggests how your mind works.

You have a sizable listening audience. You apparently know how to please them. Anybody given a $400 million contract must know what he is doing.

That's what offends me. You know exactly what you're doing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Limbaugh - You're a Blockhead With Tampons In Your Ears

Offering water, food or just helping to claw through mountains of destruction in hopes of rescuing a wife, a husband, a child ... such are the efforts for Haiti from nearly every nation and aid group on the planet. But two mega-wealthy Americans call such efforts demonic and self-serving.

Showmen first and last, the TV star (and diamond mine kingpin) Rev. Pat Robertson and radio shock jock R. Limbaugh, know their first job when reporting on a disaster of untold lives in Haiti is to make sure the talk is about them, not about the horrors of destruction on an island nation.

Rev. Robertson warbled out anti-humanitarian cheers claiming that the loss of life in Haiti was due to some nefarious 'deal with the devil' ---

Something happened a long time ago in Haiti ... they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince. True story."

This myth is rooted in the days when more than a century again, the anti-colonial movement helped take Haiti out from under the boots of oppression:

Haitians are Christians. Pat Robertson's language is the reductio ad absurdum of the Christian right. It's so absurd it's almost funny. This notion of a pact with the devil is basically an echo of an old colonial response to the successes of the 1790s Haitian revolution.

What is this pact he's talking about?

Part of the revolution mythology is that one of the revolution leaders sacrificed a pig in Bois Caïmin in a voodoo ceremony and made a contract with Petwo [Haitian voodoo spirits]. It may or may not be true, but to call that a pact with the devil is a gross misrepresentation of what voodoo is. It's about anything but the devil. He's imposing an evangelical religious order on a much more sophisticated practice, and he's turning it into a cheap invocation of Satanism.

This is hate speech. It's saying these people are damned. It's a frequent theme among some Christians that Haiti is being punished for this supposed pact with extreme poverty and humanitarian crises.

The reason Haiti is poor is because Europe imposed a blockade on trade after the slave revolt in 1804, and you have an extremely polarized class structure in which a few families stepped into the positions of the former colonial plantation owners. There has been a horrible cycle of plundering and autocracy within Haitian leadership.

Do you think this has been holding Haiti back?

I think other factors are more important in holding Haiti back: the class structure, the dispossession of a largely illiterate populace, the links that the underclass increasingly has with drug gangs, which has generated a lot of violence, and the tradition of sweatshop labor."

As for the daily efforts of R. Limbaugh to distort, damage, and endanger America by calling for the failures of all U.S. policies under the Obama administration, he went a bit further this week, saying that the horrors of Haiti's disaster were just another element in Obama's plan to encourage voters to like him. Oh noes!! The horror that Americans approve of it's president as said president works to help relieve suffering where thousands are dead or dying.

And when a caller grilled RL on such statements, RL replies, naturally, that the comments were not made in error, but that the caller was an idiot:

What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a blockhead,” Limbaugh shot back. “What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a close-minded bigot who is ill-informed.”

“If you had listened to this program for a modicum of time, you would know it,” he said. “But instead, you’re a blockhead. Your mind is totally closed. You have tampons in your ears."

Read more:

Yes, only a tampon-stuffed blockhead would tolerate the idea that America works to help other countries in times of harrowing tragedy and loss of life. After all, we multi-millionaire celebs got ours, so screw you and go get your own. You want compassion? Go join a quilting bee with all the other weepy old ladies.

Stay classy, RL.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Absent GOP Reduces Public Debate on Healthcare Reform

During the presidential campaign of 2008, then-candidate Obama said he would make sure that "healthcare negotiations" were televised, so Americans could see who was making arguments for proposed changes (and who was voicing the concerns of business). But there has been a problem with that promise --

" ...
since no Republican voted for either the House or Senate versions, the legislation has become purely a Democratic creation for Democrats to shape (and to take the credit or blame).

So, the first hurdle for C-SPAN’s cameras is that there will be no public conference meetings to record."

However, there has been much coverage on C-SPAN of the discussions and decisions regarding healthcare changes:

Legislation is on the Web for all to read, and reporters will be working their sources. Nor is it the last chance for citizen input, as members still have to vote on the bill. Ultimately, voters will hold lawmakers accountable.To date, C-SPAN has televised hundreds of hours of committee hearings, markups, and floor debates on healthcare. That’s been a useful window into the process, but at the same time, the cameras have not stopped the flow of lobbying dollars or the intense partisanship surrounding healthcare legislation."

So what is making the media wheels spin today?

As Southern Beale writes, mostly celebrity gossip:

This morning’s news has all been about Simon Cowell leaving American Idol, Mark McGuire using steroids, the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien story, and Sarah Palin getting a show on Fox. None of which is actual news. I guess the assumption is that we’re getting our information about the world from somewhere, leaving the media to cover itself the rest of the time. Very odd."

Or just stories about where Tiger Woods is not, who is or isn't his lover.

Or, in Knoxville, lots of talk about a proposed sperm bank/music center in Sequoyah Hills has comments sure to make you laugh.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's legislature still refuses to enact rules to improve voting reliability and confidence two years after the measure passed. So, today, members are giving reasons why they are refusing to enforce their own laws and will likely vote to delay action on improving voting standards for as long as possible. Mary Mancini at Liberadio has been tracking this story -- the state's mainstream media outlets, however, barely mention the events in Nashville.

If the state media had applied one-tenth of the amount of coverage about cold weather to voting standards and hypocrisy in the legislature, then voters might understand what the legislature is doing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Simpsons - Television That Embiggens Us All

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man

Where do you beginulate praise for such a cromulent moment in American television history?

I had barely begun my career as an entertainment writer when a new TV network called FOX hit the television airwaves of America. Today, I still have a collection of posters the fledgling network sent out to promo their line-up of programs in 1987, featuring such shows as "Married With Children", "21 Jump Street" and "The Tracey Ullman Show". Airing only a few night a week to begin, the network added and trashed shows faster than most viewers could follow.

One element of Ullman's underrated show were these little animated segments of an oddball family created by cartoonist Matt Groening. In 1989, "The Simpsons" got their own half-hour show and the show marks it's 20th anniversary tonight -- a special show, "The Simspson's 20th Anniversary Special In 3D on Ice" airs tonight, and you can take a sneak peek at what's ahead in this special right here and learn how the show has saved at least one life.

20 years of broadcast history, 20 years of success that began with a family that looks yellow and whose only son, Bart, told the world to "Eat my shorts".

Think about it - without Bart Simpson, we would not have Glenn Beck, as the ever-growing Fox Network soon begat FOX News. In truth, Beck surely seems a twisted creation from the weird world of Springfield as he writes his bizarre theories on a blackboard, just as young Bart found fame by writing on a blackboard in the opening sequences of every episode.

I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are. -- Homer Simpson

In the early days of the show, Conservative politicians and religious leaders degraded the show, howled of the abysmal influence of the rude Bart, the drunken Homer and the very idea that America could even be satirized. It was not only a battle such figures lost, it was a war they lost. Just last month, the Pope hailed "The Simpsons" for promoting religion in an article titled "Aristotle's Virtues and Homer's Doughnuts".

That title alone is something to celebrate, commingling Aristotle, the Catholic church and Homer Simpson's love for doughnuts.

Without Homer Simpson and the other yellow-skinned characters "many today wouldn't know how to laugh .....

"Religion, from the snore-evoking sermons of the Rev. Lovejoy to Homer's face-to-face talks with God, appears so frequently on the show that it could be possible to come up with a "Simpsonian theology," it said.

"Homer's religious confusion and ignorance are "a mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels toward faith," the paper said.

"It commented on several religion-themed episodes, including one in which Homer calls for divine intervention by crying: "I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there, save me, Superman!"

"Homer finds in God his last refuge, even though he sometimes gets His name sensationally wrong," L'Osservatore said. "But these are just minor mistakes, after all, the two know each other well."

Astonishing, really, that authority figures might see such a view ... but since authority figures cannot beat them, then ...

The Simpson family too has changed the way America talks --

According to Mark Liberman, of the University of Pennsylvania Linguistic Data Consortium: “ The Simpsons has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture’s greatest source of idioms, catchphrases and sundry other textual allusions.”

How many among us, on those occasions when we have made a mistake, of judgment or communication or thinking, how many of us have learned to say the word "D'oh!" as Homer might, in order to earn some indulgence, some forgiveness.

Serious Simpson's fanatics debate which season is the best, which the worst, if the show has far-outlived it's genius, but, as Homer himself has said, there is really one thing we should all remember:

You can't depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there's a little Homer Simpson in all of us."

Bart's Blackboard
Make Your Own Blackboard
A Simpson's Dictionary
A Simpson's Database